CDL Regulations Waived for C.R. England
The FMCSA is renewing an exemption for one of the largest refrigerated fleets in the United States, C.R. England. The exemption is for a federal rule requiring a CDL holder to be in the front seat of a truck with a student driver at all times. With the rule exemption, commercial learner’s permit holders that have passed the CDL skills test will be allowed to operate in a team with a licensed driver. There still has to be a CDL holder in the truck, just not necessarily in the front seat, which C. R. England says will allow them to operate more efficiently until they get back to their home state and the permit holder can obtain their CDL card. The exemption was first granted to the company in June of 2015, and ran through June of this year. This renewal will last until June 2022.
C.R. England stated in their renewal application that 3,046 drivers had utilized the exemption since it was granted, and their data showed better safety outcomes than non-exempt drivers. The FMCSA reported 11 accidents involving drivers using the exemption, none of which resulted in a fatality. England said that changes to the CDL issuance rules make it more difficult for drivers to physically get to their home state to receive their actual CDL card. They said that while the intentions of the FMCSA were good (reducing fraud), they did not grant states the power to issue temporary CDLs in order to allow drivers to return to their home state with the legal paperwork. The FMCSA has granted similar exemptions to other companies recently, and allowed the public to give their input before they allowed the renewals. The majority of comments against the exemption stated that the permit holders were too inexperienced and were safer with a CDL holder in the front seat. The FMCSA rebutted, saying that drivers that have passed the CDL skills test would already have their license had they been in their home state and therefore have the necessary skills to drive legally.
For more information about the exemption, checkout www.overdriveonline.com or www.truckersnews.com.
Written By: Shayla Powers
FMCSA Awards More That $70 Million in Grants
At the end of last month, the FMCSA announced that it has awarded over $70 million in grants for both states and educational institutions. These grants are another attempt to increase highway and motor vehicle safety. Of the funds $41.5 million is reserved for High Priority grants meant to enhance commercial motor vehicle safety efforts and advance technological capabilities at the state level.
The other significant portion of the grants is going toward Commercial Driver’s License Program Implementation. The FMCSA has awarded $30.7 million to the states to achieve compliance with regulations and license standards and programs. The CDLPI grant program also provides financial assistance to entities capable of executing national projects that aid states in compliance programs. The goal of these programs is to reduce the number of severity of commercial vehicle crashes by requiring states to conduct knowledge and skill testing before issuing a CDL. It will also require states to maintain an accurate and complete history record for each driver that obtains a CDL and impose disqualifications against any driver that violates certain offenses. This is directly linked to the Crash Preventability Demonstration Program that the FMCSA announced earlier this year.
The final allocation is set to be given to nine educational institutions that provide commercial and bus driving training. These institutions include public and private colleges, vocational schools, truck driver training schools, state and local governments, and recognized Native American tribal governments. Also included in the nine grants for educational institutions are provisions for training U.S. Veterans:
Primary funding priority is given to regional or multi-State educational or not-for-profit associations that recruit and train current and former members of the United States Armed Forces (including National Guard members and Reservists) and their spouses to receive training to transition to the CMV operation industry.
This grant program was established in 2005 as a safety-improvement measure and was amended in 2015 to included the provisions of the FAST act.
For more information on the details of the grants and their recipients, visit:
Written by: Shayla Powers
Driver Shortages and Pay Gap
In the United States, the average age of truck drivers is 52, a number that increases every year, and efforts to recruit and retain younger employees have been largely unsuccessful. Some think that the shortage in younger drivers is due to a industry-wide bad image and reputation, and other think that it has to do with a combination of long hours and low pay. However, an increasing majority thinks it’s both. Low fuel prices, a steady economy, and consumer demand for online products has skyrocketed the demand for industry, but the wages are not worth the long hours away from home like they used to be. The younger generation is also passing up the trucking industry for jobs that are less physically demanding and less regulated.
Although the millennial generation has overtaken the baby boomers as the largest group in the workforce, the number of 25- 34 year-olds in the trucking industry has dropped by 50 percent. Issuance of CDLs is up by 10 percent in 38 states, but the retention rate is less than half, with a third leaving in the first 90 days. Licensing fees add up, tickets can be fatal, and for most, the pay just isn’t worth the money that they need to shell out before they can even operate.
This labor shortage is no new complication– the industry has essentially been short of drivers since the 80s, when deregulation caused a jump in the number of trucking companies and therefore the need for drivers. It doesn’t seem likely that this shortage will end anytime soon, either. The American Trucking Association estimates that the industry will need around 890,000 new drivers by 2025 to meet the rising demand for online goods. Along with lower pay, drivers feel an increasing disconnect with their companies, stating that they feel like “throwaways,” although the shortage of drivers suggest otherwise. So while the solution seems simple (i.e. higher pay) there’s more to the issue than what meets the eye.
Written By: Shayla Powers
For more info, visit:
Crash Preventability Demonstration Program
The FMCSA has unveiled yet another plan to help improve highway and road safety: the Crash Preventability Demonstration Program. This program is designed to assess the preventability of the most common types of motor carrier involved crashes, and is expected to run a minimum of two years, starting August 1, 2017. If you were involved in a crash on or after June 1st and would like to report it, go to https://dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov.
The program allows motor carriers and drivers to submit Requests for Data Review through a FMCSA system; the data will then be looked over and the crash will be determined either Preventable, Not Preventable, or Undecided. Their preliminary decisions will be posted on the DataQ system and will make enforcers, as well as carriers, aware of the evaluations so that they can provide further documentation if available. For crashes found Not Preventable, the notice will provide the crash report number, DOT number, carrier name, date of the crash, the state the crash occurred in, and the crash type (i.e. infrastructure failure, being struck by a motorist/another carrier, etc.). However, before they issue their final decision, the general public can provide input in cases labeled Not Preventable, which provides insight from people that experience these problems first-hand. The final determinations will be located on the Safety Measurement System (SMS).
The FMCSA will use the data obtained from this program, along with others, to improve the agency’s ability to identify risks imposed by motor carriers and institute measurements to help combat truck-trailer involved accidents in the future, as well as examine the costs and benefits of further testing. These crash ratings will not retroactively pardon carriers for violations, nor will they impact other systems within the FMCSA. They will be used to reduce the frequency of accidents in the future. The list of eligible crashes can be found here, and a step-by-step video on how to submit a request is available here.
Written by: Shayla Powers
Michigan Speed Limits
After months of speed and safety tests, Michigan has begun the process of replacing speed limit signs on over 1,000 miles of highway across the state, following legislation that was passed at the beginning of the year. In January, Michigan passed a series of laws allowing the speed limits to be raised on certain stretches of road, including both freeways and trunk lines. This raised speed limits on a little over 600 miles of road, will give Michigan the highest legal speed limit of any of the Great Lakes states.
When considering these changes, experts looked at crash patterns and frequency, as well as the surrounding terrain. They also polled the people that travel on these stretches of road. These polls showed that drivers in these areas were already driving at these speeds prior to the new legislation, and newer safety regulations for vehicles make the higher speeds just as safe as the lower ones. Because of the newer safety regulations, residents of Michigan should not see an influx of car crashes, which should keep insurance premiums the same.
Michigan uses a split speed limit system that places the maximum speed for truckers lower than those for other motorists, which is meant to factor in the longer amount of time it takes for heavier vehicles to slow down. The new laws raise motorist speeds from 70 to 75, and the speed for trucks over 10,000 pounds from 60 to 65. The minimum speed limit remains at 55 MPH. Along with the new speed limit signs, MDOT will install advisory curve warning signs, shorten passing zones, move signs, and change pavement markings where necessary. Despite the added safety precautions and research, there is still a fair amount of opposition to the raised speeds– among these opposition groups are the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety and AAA Michigan.
If you would like to learn more about these changes, visit http://www.michigan.gov/mdot., or if you would like to see specific areas being affected, visit http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdot/MDOT_ProposedRoutesSpreadsheet_558270_7.pdf.
Written By: Shayla Powers
Electronic Logging Devices
The newest wave in the trucking industry is Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). These devices synchronize with a truck to automatically record driving times, and are intended to create safer work environments and provide more accurate hours of service. The new ELD rule will be implemented over a four year period and will ultimately replace the old automatic onboard recording devices. This rule is not only for carriers in the United States– Mexico and Canada domiciled drivers will also be required to use ELDs when operating in the U.S. For more information on exemptions and specifications, visit the FMCSA website.
ELDs must be certified, and it will be mandatory to register them with the FMCSA, and in theory, will make it much easier to share and manage driving logs– this also means that it will be much harder to lie on logs. Unfortunately, they can also be a money drain on small businesses; the FMCSA examined a number of ELDs and set a benchmark for what business owners can expect to pay for each vehicle. Annually, the devices (per truck) range from $165 to $183, with the most popular devices running close to $500. The FMCSA predicts that the long-term savings will largely outweigh the initial cost, but for some, that may be too late. The FMCSA estimates total ELD adoption costs to be around $975 million dollars, including driver and inspector training.
Despite high costs, fleet management using ELDs can also be beneficial– the constant monitoring of truck activity can help reduce fuel costs, downtime, and total crashes. The regulation also provides definitive precautions and protocols for harassment, which is defined as “an action by a motor carrier toward one of its drivers that the motor carrier knew, or should have known, would result in the driver violating [a rule],” suggesting once again that one of the main concerns is the safety of drivers.
Checklist for choosing an ELD.
Written by Shayla Powers
Expansion in Shipping and Delivery
By: Shayla Powers
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… a drone? We’ve all heard about them, and some of us may have seen them in action, but what threat, if any, do they pose to the trucking industry? Over the past few years, companies such as
Continue reading “Expansion in Shipping and Delivery”
Technological Advances in the Trucking Industry
By: Shayla Powers
Like most other things, technology is constantly evolving, and with it comes new regulations and standards for the trucking industry. Continue reading “Technological Advances in the Trucking Industry”