FMCSA to reconsider HOS regs as part of suit settlement
By Avery Vise
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has decided to conduct another rulemaking regarding hours-of-service regulations as part of an Oct. 26 settlement with groups challenging the current regulations.
A federal appeals court has twice rejected hours rules FMCSA has implemented since January 2004, and several groups have been challenging the current regulations for allowing 11 hours of driving per shift and a 34-hour restart of cumulative on-duty limits.
The agreement with Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters places a hold on that litigation pending the completion of a rulemaking on driver hours of service.
Under terms of the settlement, FMCSA must begin a new rulemaking process and submit a notice of proposed rulemaking to the Office of Management and Budget within nine months. The agency will have another 12 months to issue a final rule. Meanwhile, the current rules will remain in effect.
“Safety is our highest priority at the U. S. Department of Transportation, and so we believe that starting over and developing a rule that can help save lives is the smart thing to do,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
The American Trucking Associations said it looks forward to participating in the upcoming rulemaking process to further demonstrate how the current hours rules are working and why they should be maintained.
“The current rules have been proven safe over the last five years,” said Clayton Boyce, ATA vice president of public affairs. “The crash rate, injury rate and fatality rate are all at historic lows. The science is on the side of the current hours-of-service rules.”
ATA noted that DOT figures show the trucking industry is the safest it has been since DOT began keeping crash statistics in 1975. Truck-involved fatalities have dropped by 19 percent since the new rules took effect, and the number of injuries has decreased by 13 percent since 2004, ATA said. Over that period, the number of registered trucks has risen by hundreds of thousands, while the number of miles driven by large trucks increased by more than 2 billion miles.
The settlement came one day before FMCSA was to file its brief in the litigation over the hours rules.
FYI: News Briefs
Senate Committee Approves Ferro
The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Oct. 27 approved the nomination of Anne Ferro to be administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Ferro must be approved by the full Senate, but a timetable had not been set at press time.
August Surface Trade Declines
Surface transportation trade among the United States, Canada and Mexico declined 24.9 percent in August from a year earlier, dropping to $54.3 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Trade rose 5.3 percent in August from July 2009. Total truck imports to the United States dropped 19.8 percent to $18.4 billion from a year earlier, while exports decreased 16.1 percent to $20.1 billion.
U.S. Traffic Deaths Decline
The number of traffic deaths on U.S. roads reached a record low in the first half of 2009, according to projections released Friday, Oct. 9, by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Estimates show that 16,626 people died in traffic crashes between January and June — a 7 percent decline from 17,871 for the same period last year.
I-40 Remains Closed After Rockslide
Interstate 40 is closed in North Carolina near the Tennessee state line due to an October rockslide that could take a couple more months to clear and repair the road. Motorists traveling west to Tennessee should take I-40 West to I-240 West in Asheville to I-26 West. Follow I-26 West from Asheville to I-81 South in Tennessee, back to I-40. Eastbound motorists will follow the reverse directions.
Mack, Volvo Complete Internal Merger
Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks North America, which already had common ownership under Volvo AB, merged Nov. 1 into a single organization called North American Trucks. A Mack spokesman said the company will continue to operate both the Mack and Volvo brands and maintain both sales organizations. The company is headed by Dennis Slagle, who was president of Mack Trucks. Per Carlsson, who was president of Volvo Trucks North America, is chief operating officer and reports to Slagle.
Arizona Closes 13 Rest Areas
The Arizona DOT has closed 13 of its 18 rest areas due to budget shortfall. The decision to close the 13 selected rest areas was based on the proximity of the rest areas to truck stops. The five rest areas staying open are the Texas Canyon located on I-10 between Benson and Willcox, Sunset Point on I-17 between Phoenix and Camp Verde, Painted Cliffs on I-40 near the New Mexico border, the Sentinel on I-8 between Gila Bend and Dateland, and Burnt Well on I-10 between Buck Eye and Tonopah.
Four Selected for Pride & Polish
The Randall-Reilly Events Division has selected Neal Holsomback, Victor Verret, Barbara Holsomback and Suzanne Stempinski to manage the logistics, judging and on-site operations for all 2010 Pride & Polish truck beauty events. The 2010 Pride and Polish series has truck beauty events scheduled at 75 Chrome Shop in Wildwood, Fla., April 24-25; The Great West Truck Show in Las Vegas, Nev., June 17-19; and The Great American Trucking Show, Dallas in Aug. 26-28.
September ATA Tonnage Slips
Even though U.S. truck tonnage fell 7.3 percent in September from the same month last year, it was the best year-to-year monthly showing since November 2008, American Trucking Associations said Oct. 23. ATA’s seasonally adjusted for-hire truck tonnage index dipped 0.3 percent in September from August after rising 2.1 percent in August from July. The August index was down 7.5 percent from a year earlier.
Health Hero Jeff Clark Featured in Runner’s World
By Misty Bell
Truckers News’ 2008 Health Hero of the Year Jeff Clark is featured in the December 2009 issue of Runner’s World magazine. The article points to his having lost 30 pounds while hauling full-time as an inspiration to other truckers aspiring to lose weight.
Truckers News contributing editor Carolyn Magner is quoted in the article. The piece also references Truckers News’ continuing program to help drivers adapt and maintain healthier lifestyles.
Clark, 50, has completed six marathons, while maintaining a Midwest route Sunday through Friday. “The healthier you are, the more alert you are,” Clark told Runner’s World. “And that helps when you’re driving 700 miles in one haul. Driving is like running long. You need endurance for it.”
First featured in the March 2008 issue of Truckers News as part of the magazine’s Fit for the Road series, Clark was chosen as the 2008 Health Hero because of his dedication to helping other truckers get fit and his personal fitness achievements.
Runner’s World Senior Editor Katie Neitz said she believes this is the first time a trucker has ever been featured in the magazine. “When I heard about Jeff Clark, I thought it would be a great story to share with our readers,” she said. “I think that Jeff is inspiring — the nature of his job makes it difficult to fit in training and to make healthy food choices. The fact that he has been able to overcome these challenges and successfully complete marathons is pretty incredible. … I also think it’s wonderful that Jeff is making an effort to educate his peers and to help break the stereotype that truckers are unhealthy and unfit.”Runners World is a monthly magazine dedicated to helping runners of all ages and abilities achieve their goals.
Truckers News will expand its Fit for the Road offerings in 2010, with redesigned monthly features on important health topics, a new website dedicated to truckers’ health and new ways for drivers to get involved.
TN Announces Redesigned Websites for Magazine and Fit for the Road
Truckers News announces the launch of the newly redesigned www.truckersnews.com and www.fit4theroad.com.
The new truckersnews.com features greater interactivity, building off the magazine’s existing social media presence. Readers will now have the ability to comment on articles and participate in online forums. The site also will be more frequently updated with important trucking news, new products, technical stories and features on trucking-related topics.
“We are the No. 1 news source for truckers,” said Truckers News Editor Randy Grider. “Through our new Web offerings, we are taking our service to them to another level.”
The Fit for the Road site (fit4theroad.com) will focus on truckers’ health. The site will be updated daily with information on various health topics, eating healthy and exercising on the road and health-related regulations. Readers will find healthy recipes, along with videos outlining how to prepare these recipes in the cab.
Additionally, the site will feature a 2010 weight-loss challenge where readers can sign up for special updates and events and report their health victories.
Grider says the Fit for the Road site embodies Truckers News’ dedication to seeing truckers succeed and be healthy. “We want to provide the best information possible for drivers to stay healthy and on the road,” he said. “Our proven track record with the Fit for the Road program has allowed us to move to bigger and better things as we provide routinely updated health information online in addition to the Fit for the Road section that will re-appear in our print version in January.”
The truckersnews.com site was scheduled to launch in late November, and fit4theroad.com has a planned launch date later this month.
Jan. 18-21, Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week, The Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas. (708) 226-1300, www.hdaw.org.
Jan. 24-28, Cooperative Hazardous Materials Education Conference, sponsored by Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), Hyatt Regency San Antonio. (202) 775-1623, www.cvsa.org.
If you have a trucking event you would like to publicize, send information six weeks in advance to Truckers News Events Calendar, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403, or e-mail email@example.com. Truckers News makes no guarantee that information submitted will be published.
Diesel Price Watch
NEW HAMPSHIRE 2.66
NEW JERSEY 2.59
NEW MEXICO 2.63
NEW YORK 2.85
NORTH CAROLINA 2.63
NORTH DAKOTA 2.73
RHODE ISLAND 2.71
SOUTH CAROLINA 2.48
SOUTH DAKOTA 2.62
WEST VIRGINIA 2.76
By Jill Dunn
In 2010 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hopes to implement a new safety compliance system for carriers and owner-operators and other drivers with a greatly expanded database. The new system could eventually thin out the ranks of drivers and carriers who don’t measure up to stricter requirements.
The agency’s Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 contains a new Safety Measurement System to replace the current SafeStat system, as well as new intervention options and a proposed change for evaluation through a new approach to the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD). The CSA will group company drivers and owner-operators as drivers.
FMCSA proposes changing the safety determination by tying it to current safety performance, instead of today’s limitation to compliance review acute/critical violations. Also, under the new program, every carrier and driver will have a safety determination, instead of just carriers.
Joe Beacom, Landstar vice president and chief of compliance, security and safety, described CSA as a “fundamental change in regard to enforcement and measurement.”
Beacom describes the new system as providing “essentially a driver scorecard. [CSA] is generally a positive and smart thing to do,” he said.
In an October Congressional report, FMCSA said it expects to publish an SFD Notice of Proposed Rulemaking before 2010. CSA implementation does not depend on this rulemaking, however, and it missed earlier deadlines this year.
Until the rulemaking takes effect, if a carrier has a poor safety performance and is unresponsive to the new CSA interventions, it will undergo a compliance review and be rated in accordance with FMCSA’s current compliance and enforcement process.
Perhaps the biggest change for drivers is in the information that will be used to rate drivers and carriers. The current SafeStat program only assesses carriers and uses roadside inspection information on out-of-service and moving violations. CSA will assess carriers and drivers using all safety-based roadside inspection violations, such as equipment and log book violations.
Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said CSA will use “all violations on inspection reports, even if there is no citation issued.”
The CSA will provide a Driver Safety Measurement System of 36 months of road safety performance and 24 months for carriers through the Carrier Safety Measurement System.
Jay Thomas, who heads safety and compliance for the Illinois-based Packard Transport, said many owner-operators doubt whether CSA 2010 will become a reality. Still, he said, “Sixty percent are very concerned because they have so much invested in being an owner-operator.”
There are four safety evaluation areas under the current system: accident, driver, vehicle and safety management.
By contrast, the proposed system quantifies performance through seven behavior analysis and safety improvement categories (BASIC), which are unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, controlled substances/alcohol, vehicle maintenance, cargo-related (including hazmat) and crash indicators.
FMCSA has proposed using BASIC scores to create safety fitness determinations for drivers and carriers and will update that information monthly.
CSA will allow safety investigators to see a driver’s complete safety record, according to a September FMCSA presentation to OOIDA. Investigators will be able to examine drivers cited for severe driver violations, in conjunction with carrier interventions.
Currently, only CSA test state carriers have access to Carrier Safety Measurement System data through the Comprehensive Safety Information (CSI) system. The Carrier SMS data will be assessable beyond the test states when CSA begins full implementation next summer, according to an agency presentation to OOIDA.
In an Oct. 22 Congressional report, FMCSA sent 4,046 warning letters from February 2008 to August 2009 asking carriers in test states to address safety deficiencies.
As of September 2008, the agency tested Colorado, Georgia, Missouri and New Jersey, putting 34,000 carriers in test or control groups. During the first six months, more than 2,100 of these carriers received at least one of the following progressive interventions:
• Warning letter
• Targeted Roadside Inspection
• Off-Site Investigation
• On-Site Investigation — Focused
• Cooperative Safety Plan
• Notice of Violation
Those are the CSA carrier interventions used in increasing severity, which could be followed by a comprehensive on-site investigation, notice of claim or settlement agreement and unfit suspension.
FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne explained the process under CSA when a carrier’s safety performance is deficient and triggers an intervention. “Among the aspects that will be reviewed by the safety investigator will be the safety performance of the drivers associated with that carrier,” he said. “Should any of the drivers have a deficient safety ratings, this matter will be raised to the carrier — along with the other possible safety performance concerns for that carrier that may exist.”
But if a driver’s safety rating is particularly troublesome, regardless of the carrier’s rating, “CSA 2010 will automatically flag that driver and trigger an intervention with the carrier he/she is associated with,” he said.
Thomas said the U.S. Department of Transportation will contact drivers rated as marginal or unfit, and they will have to undergo intervention.
“Only after the intervention, and if the driver continues to demonstrate unsafe or risky behavior, then could the driver be declared unfit by the DOT and removed from the road,” Thomas said.
The plan is for SMS to replace SafeStat and inspect carriers with deficient BASICs on the roadside next summer. From July to December 2010, the agency will send warning letters notifying carriers nationwide with unacceptable BASIC scores.
SafeStat’s reliance on compliance reviews results in inspecting only 2 percent of carriers. In testing, CSA has allowed agency officials to investigate 20 percent more carriers. In April, FMCSA predicted its divisions should be able to contact 40 percent more carriers.
CSA’s progressive carrier interventions increase in severity and interaction with carriers and their drivers. Carrier interventions are triggered by one or more deficient BASICs, a high crash indicator, or a complaint or fatal crash.
More information is available at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/csa2010.
EPA to Decide If SCR Guidance Binding
By Avery Vise
With the potential for a disruptive court ruling looming, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has told a federal appeals court it will reconsider its Feb. 18, 2009, guidance letter to truck and engine makers regarding selective catalytic reduction (SCR).
In an Oct. 23 motion for a 60-day stay of Navistar’s lawsuit, EPA said its reconsideration of the guidance “may resolve or otherwise moot some or all of the issues that are the subject of Navistar’s petitions for review.” Any party dissatisfied with EPA’s final action then could seek judicial review, so a stay would not prejudice Navistar’s case, the agency argued.
Navistar sued EPA in March, charging that the agency had inappropriately issued the Feb. 18 guidance without allowing an opportunity for public comment. The truck maker contended that the document in effect imposes regulatory requirements and, therefore, must follow procedures outlined in the Clean Air Act.
In the ensuing weeks, Navistar and EPA squabbled over the record in the case after EPA sought to withdraw certain documents that Navistar argued helped prove its own case. Meanwhile, Navistar’s competitors joined the case in support of EPA’s guidance.
Under the schedule outlined by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, briefing in the case was to continue into March 2010 with the possibility for a hearing and decision to follow. If EPA ultimately were to lose, truck and engine makers could be many months into selling SCR-equipped trucks based on guidance that might have to change.
Navistar Rolls Out 2010 Engines
By Jack Roberts
Rolling west on Interstate 90 out of Chicago behind the wheel of an International ProStar 122 powered by Navistar’s Big Bore 13-liter engine, it was clear Navistar officials weren’t kidding when they promised near-transparent performance from their 2010 family of advanced exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) engines.
Navistar is the only engine manufacturer that will not switch to selective catalytic reduction (SCR) next year. Thanks to a combination of credits issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rewarding superior emissions performance and early compliance with pre-2010 regulations, Navistar has been able to rely solely on its existing emissions reduction technology to meet next year’s NOx reduction levels.
The company insists it is completely dedicated to its advanced EGR engine solution, and that a proprietary combination of high-speed onboard electronic control modules controlling high-pressure common-rail fuel systems gives its engineers unprecedented control of the entire combustion process in a diesel engine beyond the expiration date of the EPA emissions credits.
Work continues on the company’s 2010-compliant 15-liter diesel engine, based on Caterpillar’s discontinued C-15 diesel engine. The new engine will be available sometime next spring.
Meanwhile, Navistar’s three 2010-certified diesel engine families are ready to go come January. Navistar will offer two medium-duty models, as well as heavy-duty Big Bore 11- and 13-liter engines to meet a wide variety of trucking applications with power ratings from 330 to 475 horsepower.
NTSB Supports Sleep Apnea Program
By Jill Dunn
The National Transportation Safety Board wants the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to begin a program to identify commercial drivers at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea, and if treatment is required, show that it has been conducted.
The NTSB also issued these recommendations to the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration. It’s now up to the Coast Guard to ensure these operators are screened, evaluated and treated for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
On Oct. 20, the board issued the recommendation for commercial drivers, noting “relative risk of accident involvement for individuals with OSA is clearly elevated and quite clearly associated with the untreated disease.” The FMCSA’s research suggests at least 10 percent of commercial drivers have at least moderate OSA.
The NTSB wants the agency to identify these drivers and show, when necessary, they are effectively treated through the medical certification process of evaluation, before being granted unrestricted medical certification.
“Commercial motor vehicle drivers at risk for obstructive sleep apnea is a safety issue we take seriously,” said FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne. “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is already considering a rule to tighten its standards for medical certification of commercial drivers.”
The FMCSA has a question on its medical certification that asks about sleep disorders. It also offers this under “Is Sleep Apnea Disqualifying?”
“Drivers should be disqualified until the diagnosis of sleep apnea has been ruled out or has been treated successfully,” and “a driver with a diagnosis of (probable) sleep apnea or a driver who has Excessive Daytime Somnolence should be temporarily disqualified.”
Last year, the FMCSA Medical Review Board recommended the FMCSA require screening for OSA for drivers with a Body Mass Index over 30, but the agency has not acted on this.
The NTSB also wants the FMCSA to develop and disseminate guidance for commercial drivers, employers and physicians regarding the identification and treatment of individuals at high risk for OSA.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has said on its website that OSA has almost always been linked only anecdotally to some crashes. Drivers should be able to freely discuss medical conditions with physicians without damaging their career or causing them unnecessary medical expense, OOIDA said.
“The industry knows apnea is a problem, and many companies have their own apnea screening and treatment programs,” said Clayton Boyce, American Trucking Associations spokesman. “Also the current FMCSA required medical screening process includes checks for apnea.”
IRS Raises Per Diem to $59
By Jill Dunn
The amount truckers can deduct for meal money has increased.
The Internal Revenue Service upped the per diem amount truckers may deduct as business expenses for income tax purposes, said Angie Bruskotter, marketing director for ATBS, a Colorado-based owner-operator financial services provider.
On Oct. 1, the per diem — the amount to cover food costs while working on the road — increased from $52 per day to $59 per day. As before the change, truckers may deduct 80 percent of the per diem, which now comes to $47.20.
The amount lowers net income, which is then taxed at the individual’s bracket. For most owner-operators, that is 15 percent or 25 percent at the federal level.
Per diem expenses for the first nine months of 2009 are to be calculated at $52 per day, Bruskotter said.
Arrow Launches Back On The Road
By Staff Reports
Arrow Truck Sales has launched its Back On The Road 2010 campaign, presented by Volvo Trucks North America.
In its third year, the campaign is designed to benefit a trucker in need of a truck and a job and also will consider nominations from truckers who help others or otherwise support the trucking industry.
Arrow is soliciting stories from truckers across the nation who may have lost their truck — and their livelihood — through circumstances beyond their control. Arrow also is accepting nominations based upon stories of truckers who put others before themselves.
The chosen trucker will receive a 2007 Volvo VNL670, courtesy of Volvo Trucks North America, and a one-year work agreement with Heartland Express.
In addition to the truck and work agreement, the winner of Back On The Road will receive:
• X One tires courtesy of Michelin;
• TriPac auxiliary power unit courtesy of Thermo King;
• Business consulting tools courtesy of ATBS;
• Insurance provided by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association;
• A three-year/300,000-mile warranty from National Truck Protection Inc.;
• Monthly $500 fuel cards courtesy of Pilot Travel Centers;
• One year’s worth of filter products courtesy of Genuine Volvo Parts; and
• Truck accessories and fenders courtesy of Minimizer products.
Country music star Aaron Tippin plans to return as celebrity spokesman for the 2010 campaign. A former truck driver, Tippin will play an active role with the program and serve on the winner selection committee. Tippin’s latest album, In Overdrive, is dedicated to classic trucker songs.
“I’m honored to continue working in support of the American trucker,” said Tippin. “The Back On The Road program goes to the heart of the trucking world to provide assistance in this most personal way.”
Applications must include a compelling 250- to 750-word story. Stories about family loss, loss from natural disaster or a recent return from military service could all be considered valid submissions, as well as accounts of truckers helping others.
Arrow will accept nominations until Dec. 6 at
Affected tractors are equipped with an automated Eaton UltraShift Plus or Eaton Advantage Transmission with right hand stalk shifter. In the affected trucks, the display on the instrument panel can indicate “N” when the shifter is set into “D” or “R,” causing the truck not to move.