Trucking groups appeal California court's latest AB 5 decision

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, April 16, 2024:

AB 5 appeal takes injunction request back to the Ninth Circuit

Following a California district court judge last month ruling against trucking groups' attempt to block the AB 5 independent contractor classification law’s applicability to trucking, on April 12, the California Trucking Association and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association each filed appeals to the Ninth Circuit Court. The appeals court was the one that, in April 2021, reversed a previous injunction that had been in place exempting the trucking industry from the law.

AB 5 codifies the ABC test for worker classification determinations in California. The “B” condition is especially problematic for trucking in that it requires that the worker’s tasks be “outside the usual course of business of the company” they are contracting with to be a valid independent contractor.

In the March ruling siding with California, District Judge Roger Benitez essentially told the trucking groups to take their arguments up with California lawmakers rather than the court system.

“Remedying complexities and perceived deficiencies in AB 5 are the kind of work better left to the soap box and the ballot box than to the jury box,” Benitez said in his March ruling. “If sufficient political or economic pressure can be brought to bear by Plaintiffs and their supporters, the more onerous provisions of the statute can be amended. The courts, on the other hand, are not the proper bodies for imposing legislative amendments.”

As for the appeal to the Ninth Circuit, dates for additional filings and arguments have not yet been released.

[Related: Trucking loses latest attempt to block California's AB 5]

Attorneys launch digital version of trucking regs

Owner-operators and motor carriers can now digitally access, annotate and better navigate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). That's thanks to a new app released by transportation attorneys Brandon Wiseman and Jerad Childress, with the Trucksafe consulting firm.

eRegs appThe new eRegs app gives fleets and operators up-to-date access to the FMCSRs, along with educational content from Trucksafe Consulting.

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Their eRegs app aims “to revolutionize the way trucking companies and their drivers interact with and internalize the FMCSRs,” they said.

“For too long, carriers and drivers have purchased and relied on physical copies of the regulations, which do little to help them and their drivers actually understand the complexities of the regulatory text,” Wiseman said. “With eRegs, carriers have an always up-to-date version of the regulations at their fingertips on any of their devices, which they can annotate with highlights, bookmarks, and notes.”

In addition, Wiseman said the app offers access to educational content developed by Trucksafe “to help them better understand regulatory nuances.”

[Related: Roadcheck refresher on the OOS violations for lights, hours

eRegs offers fleets a fully digital alternative to the process of distributing physical regulation books to drivers, Wiseman and Childress noted.

“Many carriers are paying thousands of dollars each year to source and distribute physical regulatory pocketbooks to their drivers,” said Childress. “It’s no secret those books are quickly outdated and often end up in the trash. With eRegs, fleets can easily add drivers to their accounts for a nominal one-time fee. From there, drivers can access the always up-to-date regulatory text right from their mobile devices, and carriers receive digital receipts to prove they’ve distributed the regulations across their fleet.”

eRegs integrates directly with the electronic Code of Federal Regulations, ensuring access to the latest version of the regulatory text. User annotations and Trucksafe educational content is synced across devices and accessible via the web and the eRegs mobile app, now available in the App Store and Google Play Store.

Fleets and operators can try eRegs for free for 14 days and subscribe online at Subscriptions are then available for $4 a month or $40 a year. Additional driver invites can be purchased for each subscription for a one-time $4 per driver fee.

[Related: CVSA's new out-of-service criteria: What owner-operators need to know]

FMCSA hosting two-day Safety Research Forum

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration next week will host its annual Safety Research Forum as a virtual event over two days, Wednesday, April 24 and Thursday, April 25, from 1-4 p.m. Eastern each day. 

This year’s event will feature presentations from the Analysis Division and new Crash Data Analytics Division (April 24) and Applied Research Division and Advanced Technology Division (April 25). 

The event will focus primarily on the work being performed by FMCSA’s Office of Research, with staff members presenting short summaries of some of what they see as the most interesting/ important projects. 

Registration for the event is required, and attendees are encouraged to send any questions they may have in advance to [email protected]. An agenda for the meeting can be viewed here.

Virginia opens state’s first ‘truck arrestor ramp’

Virginia runaway truck rampThe new runaway truck ramp on U.S. 250 on Afton Mountain in Virginia uses stainless steel nets to slow trucks down without injuring the driver.Curtis Contracting, Inc.

A new truck arrestor ramp is opening on U.S. 250 (Rockfish Gap Turnpike), and it’s the first of its kind in Virginia. This $5.5 million safety feature is designed to put the brakes on runaway trucks and passenger vehicles descending Afton Mountain.

It's part of a design-build bundle funded through the state's Smart Scale initiative and also with Albemarle County. The project includes a new roundabout at U.S. 250 and Route 151 (Critzer Shop Road). The truck arrestor ramp addresses a safety issue for 18-wheelers heading down the mountain to that intersection. 

The arrestor ramp system consists of 10 stainless-steel nets arranged to safely stop vehicles as large as a tractor-trailer combo weighing up to 80,000 pounds and traveling up to 80 miles an hour. The first net is designed to stop a passenger vehicle.

The remaining nine nets will slow a big rig at a deceleration rate that will avoid injury to the driver. As a fail-safe, a heavy-duty safety net is located at the end of the ramp designed to stop even heavier vehicles.

“Runaway Truck Ramp” and “Runaway Vehicle Only” signs are installed to alert drivers of the ramp as they descend Afton Mountain.

[Related: Tales of three runaway trucks: Crises endured, and averted]