FMCSA updates warning-letter protocol to hit more carriers | Expect I-35 delays in southern Okla.

Updated Jan 22, 2022

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022:  

FMCSA warnings to go out to more carriers, at lower CSA BASIC threshold

If you've gotten an unexpected warning letter from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration based on your Unsafe Driving BASIC percentiles recently, that's no accident.

The FMCSA made something of an under-reported change with its November CSA Safety Measurement System update. The agency made it considerably more likely that carriers would receive such warning letters -- generally an official notice that a carrier is at risk for further intervention (focused audits or compliance reviews) without percentile improvement. 

After the change, FMCSA is sending warning letters to any carrier with a percentile ranking of 50% in the Unsafe Driving BASIC, where moving-type violations contribute to scores. That's changed from the prior procedure of sending out warning letters only to carriers that "met the prioritization threshold for interventions or further monitoring," FMCSA said. Those thresholds are 50% for passenger carriers, 60% for hazmat carriers, and 65% for all other carriers. The agency explained its rationale for making the change as an attempt to help carriers "improve their safety performance and compliance sooner, and without further intervention."

FMCSA added that "percentile thresholds for prioritization are not changing." Carriers that have BASICs with an “Alert” symbol (gold triangle with an exclamation point) may still be prioritized for interventions or further monitoring, and warning-letter protocol isn't changed for other BASIC categories.

[Related: A 14-state speed trap: Where enforcement is most prominent

I-35 construction in Oklahoma to cause delays through summer

Truck drivers can expect slower traffic and possible congestion on part of Interstate 35 in Oklahoma for the next several months.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation said a statement that I-35 will be narrowed to one lane in each direction about three miles north of SH-153 (mile marker 8) between Thackerville and Marietta in Love County beginning Monday and continuing through early July for the next phase of ongoing bridge reconstruction.

The project to replace the I-35 bridges over at US-77 and the BNSF Railway continues through spring 2023.

This work zone is adjacent to the ongoing I-35 project to reconstruct the E. 2180 Road/Burkhart Road bridge over the interstate near mile marker 9, which continues through this Spring. 

Drivers can expect lengthy delays and traffic backups along the I-35 corridor due to several construction projects and should consider using an alternate route, such as US-81 to the west or US-69/75 to the east. Drivers are encouraged to plan ahead by checking current traffic conditions on the free Drive Oklahoma mobile app or by visiting https://www.oktraffic.org.

[Related: Roads 511: Highway information in real time]

Cummins acquires 50% interest in CNG developer

Cummins on Tuesday completed the acquisition of a 50% equity interest in Momentum Fuel Technologies, a company founded in 2015 by Rush Enterprises that develops compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling solutions for Class 6-8 trucks. 

The two companies signed a purchase agreement last year. 

The now-joint venture between Rush Enterprises and Cummins will seek to enhance production of near-zero-emissions natural gas powertrains by manufacturing Cummins-branded natural gas fuel delivery systems for the commercial vehicle market in North America. When powered by renewable natural gas (RNG), using methane collected from organic waste as the primary fuel source, the engines can be credited with a neutral to negative carbon index, resulting in net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at or below zero.

“Our range of natural gas powertrains, including our 15-liter engine, are important to advancing our path to zero emissions solutions strategy that reduces the greenhouse gas and air quality impacts ... in a way that is best for our customers and all stakeholders,” said Srikanth Padmanabhan, president of Cummins' engine business. “In order to truly achieve a zero-emission economy, we have to help customers transition seamlessly, which requires multiple solutions including natural gas, along with advanced diesel, electrified solutions, hydrogen fuel cell and other technologies."

In teaming up with Cummins, Rush Enterprises Chief Executive Officer and President Rusty Rush said Momentum Fuel Technologies would be able to serve CNG and RNG customers throughout the country through Cummins' and Rush Truck Centers' national network. Aftermarket support will be available through Rush Truck Centers dealerships and Cummins distributors which will be able to service both the engine and the fuel delivery system. 

Trucker Tools adds real-time shipment visibility service to app

Trucker Tools is again expanding the information available on its freight visibility platform with the addition of location data from electronic logging devices on AirIQ’s IoT platform. 

The addition of real-time data from AirIQ’s ELD solution provides another source of reliable shipment location information, complementing the Trucker Tools mobile driver app, which uses the embedded GPS features of the driver’s smartphone to provide real-time, accurate in-transit location updates as frequently as every 15 minutes.

The integration, which was completed last month and is now live, will provide Trucker Tools customers with richer, more comprehensive shipment visibility data.

“AirIQ joins nearly 70 of the most popular ELD/telematics providers who are connected to Trucker Tools,” said Prasad Gollapalli, the company’s founder and CEO. “Collectively, the integrated providers serve an aggregated base of over 200,000 fleets with some 3.5 million installed units,” he continued.

Gollapalli noted that the provision of ELD data into the Trucker Tools platform is completely permission based, with the truck owner and/or driver maintaining full control over access. Once user permission is received, a pre-built interface connects the Trucker Tools platform to the ELD, activating automated transmission of in-transit location data from the truck ELD unit.

Gollapalli noted as well that the integration benefits truckers by providing another choice to simplify and automate the provision of tracking data – and eliminate annoying “check calls” from brokers.

[Related: The gold rush for ELD data]

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