ELD comment deadline nears, TSA adjusts TWIC/hazmat fees

Updated Nov 19, 2022

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Nov. 14, 2022:

TWIC, hazmat endorsement fees get more affordable

The Transportation Security Administration announced recently it is reducing the fees associated with obtaining a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) and a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME). The new lower fees took effect Nov. 3.

TSA conducts security threat assessments (STAs) of applicants to these programs and collects fees from the applicants to recover its costs to conduct the vetting and credentialing. The administration said fees are impacted by several factors, such as changes in contractual services. TSA reviews its fees every two years, and upon review, if it finds that the fees collected exceed the total cost to provide the services, or do not cover the total cost for services, it must adjust the fee.

Prior to Nov. 3, the application and renewal fee for the TWIC Program was $125.25, while the reduced application fee for applicants who possess a comparable STA, such as an HME, was $105.25. The replacement card fee for lost, stolen, or damaged TWICs was $60.00. 

In August, TSA implemented a new online renewal process for certain TWIC applicants, allowing permits-eligible applicants to renew their TWIC without visiting a TSA enrollment center. Online renewal will now cost $117.25, with in-person renewals or new applications remaining at $125.25.

The revised fee for an eligible reduced-fee enrollment decreased from $105.25 to $93, and the fee for a replacement card is the same at $60.

For the hazmat endorsement, the fees will remain the same for new enrollments and renewals. However, TSA is revising the fees that apply when using a comparable threat-assessment to obtain an HME. The fees for applicants with a comparable assessment was reduced from $67 to $41.

[Related: TWIC card now satisfies requirements for hazmat endorsements]

Comment period on potential future ELD regs changes closes Tuesday

The final day to file a comment on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s notice soliciting feedback on a number of potential changes to the electronic logging device mandate is Tuesday, Nov. 15. Comments can be made here.

Back in September, the agency published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking asking for public comment “on ways to improve the clarity” of current ELD regulations, specifically as it relates to five areas:

On the issue of pre-2000 engines being exempt from ELD regs, FMCSA posited that many trucks with pre-2000 engines do in fact have ECMs that could accommodate an ELD. "Should FMCSA re-evaluate or modify the applicability of the current ELD regulation for rebuilt or remanufactured CMV engines or glider kits?" the agency asked.

[Related: FMCSA official re-emphasizes exploratory nature of ELD pre-2000 exemption attention]

A good many of the nearly 1,200 comments received up until now on the notice pertain to that question, largely coming from truck owners who invested heavily in glider kits when the pre-2000 engine exemption was announced. When FMCSA published the ELD mandate final rule in 2015, it cited comments from the then-California Construction Trucking Association (now the Western States Trucking Association) that detailed research into the cost to bring many pre-2000 engines' electronic controls up to date such that they could satisfy the rule's technical specifications. While some ELD providers in their own commentary cited less-costly figures than CCTA, ultimately the agency agreed that retrofit may be cost-prohibitive for many, thus justifying the pre-2000 exemption in the current rule. 

"Comments have indicated and FMCSA’s research has confirmed that pre-2000 model year trucks may not allow the ELD to connect easily to the engine," the agency wrote. "While the Agency has confirmed that there are ways of equipping older vehicles to use an ELD consistent with today’s rule technical specifications, these are not always cost beneficial or practical. Further, the Agency lacks confidence that the technology will be available to address this entire segment of the market (pre-2000 model years) at a reasonable cost."     

[Related: ELDs and highway safety: Crashes, injuries and fatalities rise post-mandate]

Highway Angel recognized for stopping to help at crash scene

Madison, Alabama-based truck driver Michael Lee has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association for stopping to offer help to crash victims after a multi-vehicle accident with injuries. Lee hauls for Melton Truck Lines, out of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

On Saturday, Sept. 17, Lee was traveling in Florida on I-95 North just before exit 337, when he approached a five-car accident that had just taken place.

“The traffic started to part ways like the holy waters,” Lee said, “and when I got up there, I saw more and more of it.”

Lee described the accident as happening between five cars that had a chain reaction, swerving to avoid one another, and crashing and stopping mid-highway.

“When I got up there, there’s a whole bunch of people around the white Buick" involved in the accident, Lee said. “The door was caved in, and I asked if the lady was trapped in there and they said, ‘yes, she is.’”

Lee jumped into action and tried to rescue the trapped, injured woman with the binder bar from his truck, but was unable to get her out. As a former member of the U.S. Air Force and a volunteer firefighter, he had training that helped him assess the situation.

“The best that I could do was just to try to keep her comfortable and keep her still,” he said. “I did what I could to keep her awake and calm until the paramedics and rescue arrived.”

Police asked Lee, who has been a trucker for the past 10 years, to use his CB to get other truck drivers to make room for the emergency vehicles. Three people were taken to the hospital -- all three were alive and are going to recover. The lady that was trapped will probably have a long hospital stay, but she will recover, according to paramedics.

“I don’t feel like a hero mainly because that would entail being more involved in the process than what I was,” Lee said.

Fortunately, due to Lee’s emergency training, he knew not to move the woman from the car and risk further injury. Keeping her calm and focused was the most helpful thing to do, under the circumstances.

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