DRIVER HESITANCY ABOUT ELDs
As we approach the second phase of the three-phase compliance time line, there has been increasing hesitancy and even full-blown refusal from those in the trucking industry. Some of the complaints are reasonable: they are worried about the high costs of the logging systems themselves, as well as the upkeep of the devices draining the resources of smaller companies and ultimately putting them out of business. The ELDs can cost anywhere from $160 to $500 and the upkeep depends on the system. If you want more information about those costs, check out this blog I wrote when the initial ruling was made. Some of the other fears, however, can easily be soothed.
The trucking industry is typically very slow to change, and most major compliance rules are met with a lot of initial push back. One concern that emerged following the ELD mandate that has snowballed within the last few weeks, is the security of the systems themselves in regard an outside person’s ability to hack into them. There are a number of people that are under the belief that because the ELDs are a computer system that monitors the activity of the engine and the brake system, that a hacker can take control of the system from outside of the vehicle. That is not quite true. ELDs, while they do operate on a computer system, do not automate the vehicle, and do not have the capability of doing so. They are completely safe to use. The FMCSA addressed this issue and many others on their FAQ page. There is no current requirement for the automation of truck-tractors, and it is unlikely that there will be any time soon. The nation, or really the world in general, cannot function without the trucking system as it currently stands, and human skills and reasoning in this area are not things that can easily be replaced by a machine. Truckers do not need to worry about ELDs subjecting them to harm or a violation of their safety. If you would like to learn more about ELDs and the FMCSA’s rule, visit their website, or check out our blog.
Written by: Shayla Powers
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
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