News roundup, March 5: FMCSA suspends hours regs in Tenn. following severe storms, tornadoes

Updated Mar 6, 2020

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, March 5, 2020:

FMCSA suspends hours regs in Tennessee following tornado outbreak
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a Regional Emergency Declaration for Tennessee as a result of severe storms that included a tornado that hit downtown Nashville early Tuesday morning. The declaration suspends Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for those responding to the disaster providing emergency relief.

Motor carriers hauling supplies, goods, equipment and fuel into Tennessee and providing other forms of direct assistance in the state can operate under the temporary exemption. Direct assistance ends when a driver or the truck is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services not directly related to the emergency.

The exemption is effective immediately and will stay in effect until the end of the emergency, or through April 2, whichever is sooner.

Autonomous truck manufacturer TuSimple expands testing with UPS
TuSimple, a 2015 start-up aiming to bring Level 4 autonomy to heavy-duty trucks, announced March 5 it will expand its partnership tests with UPS to 20 trips a week, including a new route from Phoenix, Arizona, to El Paso, Texas.

TuSimple operates as a motor carrier and contracts loads from UPS. The two companies partnered on autonomous testing last spring to run 10 trips a week between Phoenix and Dallas.

TuSimple says that, with its current 18 contracted customers, it runs around 20 autonomous trips per day with real loads.

Meritor recalling nearly 2,000 steer axles
Meritor is recalling approximately 1,883 steer axles that could have insufficient lubrication, which could damage wheel end bearings, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

Affected axles include Meritor MX10-120EVO, MX12-120EVO and MX14-120EVO models.

Meritor will notify the vehicle manufacturers that purchased the axles, and dealers for those manufacturers will inspect and replace the wheel end components, as necessary, for free. Owners of trucks with affected axles can contact Meritor customer service at 1-866-668-7221. NHTSA’s recall number is 20E-006.