Agency to publish medical examiner registry rule by year’s end
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a new schedule of pending rulemaking, which includes anticipating publishing a Dec. 9 final rule establishing a national medical examiner registry.
Some rulemaking has been delayed for reasons that include a need for further analysis, insufficient resources or staffing and more pressing priorities. Explanations are not always provided for postponing publication and some schedule information is incomplete.
The Dec. 9 final rule will establish training, testing and certification standards for medical examiners; provide a medical examiner database; and require medical examiners to identify drivers they have examined to the FMCSA.
The agency anticipates publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for safety auditor certification May 29, 2012. It would require safety inspections or audits and compliance reviews be conducted by a certified inspector, auditor or investigator.
The agency did not provide publication dates for new rules regarding Mexican carriers to operate in the U.S. and distracted driving.
Other publication dates the FMCSA listed:
• Aug. 31 for a United Registration System Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The URS would replace the DOT number identification, commercial registration and financial responsibility systems with an online unified registration system.
• Nov. 2 for a Carrier Safety Fitness Determination rule notice.
• Nov. 25 for an Entry Level Driver Training for CDL holders’ final rule.
• Dec. 1 for a CDL Drug and Alcohol Database rule notice.
• Aug. 23, 2012, for a rule notice to amend the diabetes standard for CDL holders.
FYI NEWS BRIEFS
Trucking Conference Features Hebe, Rove
Jim Hebe, executive vice president of North American sales operations for International’s truck group, and other industry executives will be taking part in the second annual Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference at the Dallas Convention Center. The conference will include a keynote address by Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to President George W. Bush. Presented by the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association and Randall-Reilly Business Media and Information, the CVOC will be held Aug. 24-25, the day prior to and the opening day of the Great American Trucking Show.
April Tonnage Drops
April truck tonnage as measured by the American Trucking Associations’ seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index dropped 0.7 percent from March, the ATA reported May 25. April’s decline followed a revised 1.9 percent gain in March. The April figure was 4.8 percent higher than a year earlier.
Maine Bans Texting While Driving
Maine Gov. Paul LePage signed a new law that prohibits texting while driving. The law makes Maine the 33rd state to prohibit texting behind the wheel. Under the new law, which takes effect in September, violators will face a minimum fine of $100.
Trucking Adds Fewer May Jobs
The surge in trucking employment came to an abrupt end in May as the industry added a mere 100 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Through April, payroll employment in trucking for the year had risen by 18,000.
Volvo Presents Milestone Truck
Volvo Trucks recently presented Wilson Trucking Corp. of Fishersville, Va., keys to a new Volvo VNL 300, the 500,000th Volvo truck assembled in the United States. To commemorate Volvo Trucks’ North American milestone, company officials presented the new Volvo VN, assembled at Volvo’s New River Valley plant in Dublin, Va., to Wilson Trucking Chairman Chuck Wilson, President Guy Wilson and members of the Wilson Trucking staff.
PGT Driver Wins Pickup Truck
Raymond Virden, a Lisbon, Ohio, resident, received a 2011 Ford F-150 pickup from PGT Trucking as winner of the company’s Shift Gears and Win contest. Virden won in part for referring two new drivers to enter the contest, which the carrier hosts to encourage PGT recruitment.
222 Truck Stop Closes
The Ephrata, Pa., Milestone Restaurant and 222 Truck Stop closed May 31 and will be demolished, said Ephrata police officer B.F. Dell Isola. Parking is prohibited at the former truckstop. Planned for the truckstop is 222 Commons. The regional chain Sheetz will build a convenience store and fuel station, which could offer diesel.
Economy Growth Slows in May
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in May for the 22nd consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 24th consecutive month, according to the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business. However, the PMI for May registered 53.5 percent, which was 6.9 percentage points below the April reading of 60.4 percent. It also was the the lowest PMI reported for the past 12 months.
I-55 Rest Area Open in Missouri
Interstate 55 welcome centers near Hayti and Marston, Mo., are now open. Both sites feature truck parking spaces, restrooms, picnic areas, playgrounds and benches. Walking trails give drivers a chance to stretch their legs and explore the area. The southbound Marston Welcome Center at mile marker 42 includes 64 truck parking spaces. Northbound Hayti location at mile marker 20 features 60 truck parking spaces.
Driver Wins Smart Car
Everly Woodrow, a driver for P&W Logistics of Warsaw, Ind., was selected as the winner of the 2010 Smart Car in the Bosselman Boss Rewards Card Giveaway. Woodrow’s entry was drawn at random from a pool of Boss Shop Rewards Card users.
Redmon Discusses Ice Road Truckers
The History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers kicked off its fifth season last month as it follows seven drivers along dangerous roads in Canada — in Manitoba — and in Alaska, along the Dalton Highway.
David Redmon, a heavy-hauler from Riverside, Ala., discussed the show and his experiences on the ice road with Truckers News. This is Redmon’s second season on the IRT series. He joined the show last year for the History Channel’s spin-off show IRT Deadliest Roads when he and several other IRT drivers took on treacherous roadways through the Himalayan Mountains.
This season, Redmon was one of the four drivers to take on the Dalton Highway in Alaska.
Truckers News: What are some of the major differences between driving on a paved highway and driving on the Dalton?
Redmon: The difference between driving in Alaska on the Daltons and driving in the lower 48 is, up there, you literally can’t take your eyes off of the road for even a split second. A caribou could walk out in front of you, or a moose. The roads are so narrow that you can’t see what has been over plowed and under plowed, meaning, did the guy who plowed it go far enough out? Did he leave me enough road to drive on? Or did he go too far out, and what I’m seeing that looks safe is actually a ditch?
Down here you get relaxed and you get complacent. You drive on an Interstate highway for hundreds of miles, and you’re just following the guy in front of you. Up there you’re just driving on a sheet of ice for 526 miles, and they emphasize in the show to stay in your line, because if you top a hill — and there’s lots of them — someone could be coming right at you.
TN: What can we expect from the new season?
Redmon: This year, I think it’s going to be totally different than in previous seasons. Hugh [Rowland] is obviously on the show; Rick [Yemm] is on the show. But it’s me, Lisa [Kelly], Tony [Molesky] and Maya [Sieber] in Alaska. And they’re pitting the Canadian team against the American team. I think it’s going to be a lot more exciting as far as who’s doing what.
It sort of sets up a competition of who’s hauling the most loads, since we have two different teams in two different countries. It’s going to be a lot more interesting to watch this year — six or seven drivers in a competition as opposed to just two or three drivers running up and down the road.
TN: What are the differences between driving on the Dalton and driving in the Himalayas?
Redmon: Being in India, we were absolutely bombarded by traffic and crazy drivers. They’re not really crazy, that’s just the way they drive there and we weren’t used to it. People blowing their horns nonstop and climbing in on top of you really close.
On the Dalton, you can go several hours at night and never see another soul. And on the Dalton everybody looks out for everybody. If a guy in a pickup truck gets stuck, you stop and pull him out. I had an instance where I broke down, and, literally, I didn’t even get out of the truck and there were two guys standing there ready to help. In India, when you break down, everybody just drives by and laughs at you. It’s one total extreme to the other.
TN: What was it like working with Lisa Kelly again, and how was working with Maya Sieber for the first time?
Redmon: Working with Lisa there was just like working with her in India. We’re pretty good friends. We’ve got the whole big brother and sister thing going on. I didn’t really get a chance to work with Maya much. They had her with trainers most of the time there. I didn’t work with her a whole lot, but the little bit I did, she was pretty cool to work with.
TN: You were no longer a rookie TV star on this show — how did they change your experience?
Redmon: My time in India went by pretty fast. I was totally caught off guard with the way everything was done. There are massive amounts of people trying to put this show together, and you’re just one small part.
When I went to Alaska, I had a little bit better grasp of what was going on. The second show was just a lot easier to do than the first one. I knew exactly what to expect and what they were looking for. On the first show I was just really stupid.
I didn’t know what they wanted to get out of me and why the producer kept asking me the same question over and over and over. This time I knew why. It was a good experience.
Ice Road Truckers airs on Sundays, 9 p.m. EDT.
Court to Decide Sirius XM Class Action Case Aug. 8
Sirius XM Radio subscribers who sued the satellite radio corporation will learn in an Aug. 8 fairness hearing if the federal court will approve their class action settlement.
Judge Harold Baer Jr. for New York’s southern district gave preliminary approval to the agreement May 12. Baer will decide at that hearing if the proposal is “fair, reasonable, and adequate.”
Plaintiffs allege the 2008 merger creating Sirius XM violated federal anti-trust laws and Sirius XM raised prices because of the merger. Corporation officials deny any wrongdoing.
The suit affects those who subscribed between July 29, 2008, and July 5. These subscribers paid the U.S. Music Royalty Fee, a monthly multi-radio charge or a $2.99 monthly Internet fee if they previously did not pay for Sirius XM’s content via Internet.
Under the proposal, the company will not raise the base price for certain packages, not including lifetime subscriptions, before 2012. It also will not increase charges before next year for multi-radio subscriptions, Internet streaming, “best of” plans and the U.S. Music Royalty Fee.
Subscribers with long-term plans, not including lifetime subscriptions, may keep current rates by renewing subscriptions before Dec. 31.
Former subscribers may reconnect satellite radio without paying a reactivation fee and receive one month service free. The other option would be one month free of Sirius XM Internet streaming service.
The company estimates the value of plaintiffs’ compensation will be $180 million and is not providing cash awards.
Sirius XM had planned to increase subscription plan fees and other charges, including the multi-receiver discount, by $2 per month. That increase had been slated to start July 28, the day the Federal Communications Commission’s prohibition against the company raising prices expired.
Also at the hearing, the court will consider the plaintiffs’ request that the company pay attorneys’ fees and costs up to $13 million, plus interest.
Current subscribers scheduled to renew before Dec. 31 do not need to do anything to benefit from the lawsuit. Following settlement approval, current subscribers scheduled to renew after Dec. 31 who want to restart their long-term plan at current rates, along with former subscribers who want one month basic service or to receive Internet streaming service should go to www.siriusxm.com/blessingclassaction.
The court’s deadline to request exclusion from the settlement is July 5 and objections to the settlement must be made by July 11.
Driver of the Year Nominations Open
The Truckload Carriers Association has teamed up with Truckers News to name the nation’s top company driver. Nominations will be accepted until Sept. 15.
Finalists will be featured in Truckers News during 2012, and the 2012 Company Driver of the Year will be announced during the TCA Annual Convention, March 3-6, 2013, at the Wynn Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The competition is open to drivers who log the majority of their miles in the truckload segment. Nominees should have strong records in safety, professional accomplishment, and contributions to the industry and their communities.
Truckers News sister publication Overdrive has a similar contest for owner-operators.
Nominations can be submitted at www.truckload.org by clicking on the Contests & Awards tab.
SPECIAL REPORT: Calm After the Storm
Trucking industry provides relief to tornado victims
Story and photos by Caroline Taylor
Drivers, trucking companies, truckstops and other industry-related companies have collaborated with local business and relief organizations in many tornado-ravaged areas to donate tractor-trailers, money and labor to help storm victims in Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Nationally, the trucking industry has become a crucial asset to relief efforts. Fleets are stepping up to do their part, hauling supplies from one place to another.
Con-way donated $200,000 to relief efforts in Joplin, Mo., after the town was hit on May 22, killing over 141 people and destroying over 2,000 businesses. Love’s Travel Stores donated a total $150,000 to Heart of Missouri United Way and United Way of Central Oklahoma.
Alabama, primarily Tuscaloosa, continues to rebuild after 55 tornadoes struck the state on April 27, killing 241 people, hospitalizing 2,500 more, and erasing entire neighborhoods from the map.
USA Truck spokesman Jeremy Scott says his company decided to set up a trailer at a Walgreens in Fort Smith, Ark., for volunteers to bring donations. “We filled the trailer from top to bottom in 2 days and drove the 588 miles straight to Tuscaloosa,” Scott says. Much of Tuscaloosa was destroyed after a mile-wide tornado dug a 15-mile long track through the town and the surrounding area in late April.
USA Truck also partnered with local hospitals, restaurants and churches to donate trucks to haul supplies to Joplin and Denning, Ark.
Derrick Clark, an owner-operator leased to Landstar, says he’s hauled four truckloads of ready-to-eat meals from Montgomery, Ala., to Tuscaloosa, and will “continue hauling supplies until there isn’t a need for them.”
Susan Tait, also driving for Landstar, says she was contracted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She and her dog Dopper traveled from Pensacola, Fla., to Tuscaloosa, hauling a trailer full of bottled water.
Buddy Allen, of the New Era Trucking fleet in North Ridgeville, Ohio, persuaded people to help fill his 53-foot dry van with food, water and non-perishable goods by broadcasting his efforts on a local TV station.
He says he is still in awe after seeing how quickly his community responded. “It just brings tears to my eyes to see that people have such big hearts when it comes to helping others,” Allen says.
Coalition Objects to Driver Test Restriction
Industry groups have asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reconsider a final rule that would, with one exception, prevent third-party testers from administering skills tests to applicants trained at the testers’ commercial school.
The American Trucking Associations, Commercial Vehicle Training Association, National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools, Truckload Carriers Association and the Professional Truck Driver Institute filed a Petition for Reconsideration May 31 with the FMCSA.
The coalition wants to reconsider the prohibition contained in the May 9 Commercial Learners’ Permits rule, which was slated to become effective June 8. The FMCSA will allow an exception if the nearest alternative third-party tester or state skills testing facility is more than 50 miles from the training school.
The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the petition, but stated in the rule that the provision is intended to reduce the chance of fraud and bias in testing.
The FMCSA did not provide opportunity for commentators on the 2008 proposal to respond to the new stipulation inserted in the rule, which they say lacks a valid cost/benefit analysis. “It will substantially impact literally hundreds of training organizations that currently use third-party test administrators to test their students,” the petitioners said.
The rule provides adequate safeguards to insure the quality of third-party testers, the coalition said.