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Monthly Archives: September 2017

IANA Panel Agrees Transportation Needs Are Dire, But They’re Not Sure About Funding

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Politicians in Washington agree on the dire need to modernize the ports, railroads and highways in the United States, but the “how do we pay for it” question sparks a debate between Democrats and Republicans.

At the Intermodal Association of North American exposition here, stakeholders discussed two funding ideas that are already the buzz on Capitol Hill: taxes and public-private partnerships.

“Our funding stream for infrastructure, especially freight movement, needs tremendous help. What we’ve relied upon primarily, the gas tax, is a nonsustainable funding stream. It will decrease as we go forward with better efficiency and less reliance on gas,” Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), co-chair of the Ports Caucus, told members of the expo late last month. “Right now, [lawmakers] are laying out the parameters. But we haven’t dealt with the 800-pound gorilla of how we’re going to pay for all of this with sustainable funding streams.”

The federal tax on diesel is 24.4 cents a gallon. For gasoline, it’s 18.4 cents per gallon.

In June, Lowenthal introduced House Resolution 3001 — The National Multimodal and Sustainable Freight Infrastructure Act — that would institute a new 1% ground transportation tax on freight transportation on railroads or in Class 7 and Class 8 trucks. Lowenthal believes the funding stream would be more stable than the gas tax.

“We already have it on air transportation, but we don’t have that kind of thing on surface transportation. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates it would raise a minimum of $8 billion annually,” he said.

On public-private partnerships, or P3s, there was a skepticism that the idea should be used as frequently as President Donald Trump would prefer.

“I don’t think there should be this blatant, overall, ‘let’s do P3s for the sake of doing P3s’ mentality. In certain contexts, it might not be the most efficient way to deliver a project,” said Shant Boyajian, attorney in the infrastructure group of Washington, D.C., law firm Nossaman. “Every public agency should think when doing a project what’s the most efficient way to actually deliver it and maximize the value of money.”

Lowenthal added that while public-private partnerships make sense in some cases for urban infrastructure projects, they don’t make sense in the rural areas.

When revamping the nation’s infrastructure Jones Lang LaSalle economist Walter Kemmsies noted that the design should focus on a transportation network designed for imports and exports. He argued that when the national highway system was originally built, it was prioritized towards importing based on economic conditions after World War II.

“The problem is we’ve succeeded. We have a growing global middle class, but our industries do not get access to those markets,” he said. “If we’re to rebuild our infrastructure to support our exports, that’s where the employment and wage growth comes from. Does the U.S. produce what the global consumers are buying? Yes. But are we supplying the global customer? Increasingly, no. The world market is where we’ll get our best return on investment.”

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Emergency Freight: What Harvey Tells Us About Irma

 

Less than ten days after Hurricane Harvey, trucks were already moving freight out of Houston, with almost the same volume as before the storm. That doesn’t mean nothing has changed.

Harvey hit Houston on Friday evening, August 25, and hung over the metro area for days, dumping more than 50 inches of rain on Southeastern Texas and Southwestern Louisiana. Floods in the Gulf Coast region tragically cost the lives of at least 60 people. Economically, Harvey inflicted enormous damage on homes and businesses.

Houston is home to a number critical industries, including energy exploration, oil and gas refineries, and related manufacturing of petrochemicals and plastic resins, among others. Houston is also a major freight hub for rail and sea traffic, as well as trucking, including trade with Mexico by land and with South America and other regions by sea. The port has since re-opened, as have some portions of the railroads, but some capacity has yet to be restored. It could take months.

Houston Rates Remain Elevated, Due to Disruption and Pent-Up Demand

Immediately after the rain subsided, trucks began hauling in emergency relief supplies for residents of the storm-affected zone. Inbound rates skyrocketed, as trucks were likely to leave empty, and so were paid the equivalent of roundtrip rates, with additional compensation for detention and layovers.

Outbound freight has picked up by now, and rates have declined in both directions after the initial, post-storm peak. But rates remain elevated in the region due to supply chain disruptions and pent-up demand. Ripple effects from Harvey, and now Irma, extend across the country, and will be felt for months to come.

Irma’s Impact on Truck Freight is Different from Harvey’s

Hurricane Irma’s impact on freight appears to be following the patterns that are more typical of a big weather event, while Harvey was exceptional in many ways.

Big weather events, like Super Storm Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, usually affect freight movements in three stages:

  1. Before the storm, if it is predicted in advance, shippers hustle to move freight out of the way of the impending onslaught. Outbound rates rise sharply in the zone that will soon be battered by wind and rain.
  2. During the storm itself, nothing moves in or out of the area. It’s just not safe. FEMA and other organizations may move emergency relief supplies to a location on the outskirts of the storm zone, so they are ready to act as soon as roads are clear.
  3. After the storm is over, those emergency supplies are brought in, and the inbound rates shoot way up. This is usually a temporary increase, because conditions are still iffy. Plus, very few loads are available so soon after the storm, so truckers will probably have to deadhead back out. They are glad to help, but they want to be compensated for their time and effort. Van and reefer freight moves in first, and flatbed demand follows when it’s time to bring in construction equipment and materials for cleanup and rebuilding.

As of now, Irma is almost finished assaulting the Southeast. It is sunny today in Tampa and Atlanta, with a light breeze. But Irma caused the deaths of at least 11 people in the U.S., and dozens more in the Caribbean. Homes and businesses were destroyed. Millions are still without power in Florida. On a more positive note, relief supplies are being delivered by FEMA and other groups, and cleanup will get underway as conditions allow.

It will take a very long time for freight transportation and logistics to return to normal, after two such monstrous storms in the same month. After Harvey smacked into Houston, some shippers started supplying the South Central region from distribution centers in the Southeast. So Atlanta,  Charlotte, Memphis and other regional hubs were moving freight to Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma, because Houston couldn’t do it.

Then Irma headed toward Florida, and those same Southeast hubs re-focused and moved freight south instead of west. Meanwhile, the Midwest had to supply the Northeast, to compensate for all the freight that would ordinarily arrive from Atlanta. And the Midwestern warehouses were also called on to supply Colorado, which is often served by Houston. So it’s not so surprising that rates went a little crazy last week, in between the two megastorms. The pressure intensified even more because it was a short work week following Labor Day.

We’ll see how this plays out, and you can score the accuracy of my predictions. Keep checking the DAT blog and DAT Trendlines for updates, as well as Facebook and Twitter, and let us know how the hurricanes have affected your business.

Stay safe out there!

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Want to Help With FEMA Loads? It’s Complicated.

https://www.dat.com/blog/post/want-to-help-with-fema-loads-its-complicated

 

First there was Harvey, then Irma. Clean-up and emergency relief efforts are still underway in Texas, Florida and surrounding regions. Now the Northeast is bracing for possible impact from Hurricanes Jose and Maria. So if you’re looking to haul FEMA freight, or to help with disaster recovery, there’s still plenty to do.

Trucks, warehouse space, and logistics services are needed in Florida, Georgia and even Texas, and they may be required soon in Massachusetts or New Jersey. You can volunteer or look for paid work. The paying jobs typically offer great rates, but that’s because they are complicated, difficult, and sometimes risky for the driver and the rig.

There are a few things you should know before you accept a load, especially if you’re the driver. Information is available online, but you may need to do extra research before you get started with emergency freight for FEMA and other organizations.

How can you help?

Find FEMA loads or trucks. Many freight brokers, including some of the largest 3PLs, have been charged with moving and warehousing emergency freight. They may be handling this work on behalf of FEMA itself, or for a non-governmental agency like the American Red Cross. If you’re a broker, and your customers have emergency freight, you may be working in an unfamiliar area where you don’t have a lot of carrier contacts. Look for trucks posted on DAT load boards with a destination near the storm-affected area, or use the LaneMakers tool in DAT Power to find carriers that run those lanes often.

Provide warehousing or trucks for non-FEMA relief. After the storm has passed, there will be a lot of stores and warehouses that need re-stocking, because inventory was either sold out or ruined by the floods. Brokers and carriers can learn about immediate needs at American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) which provides a handy map and list of aid requests. This won’t necessarily be FEMA freight, but it could still be emergency relief, because there is urgent need for so many products, as local people try to put their lives back together.

Don’t become part of the problem. Safety is your number-one priority at all times, of course, but when you’re heading into a disaster area, conditions can be hazardous well after the storm has passed. Be sure to check your routes. If you’re the broker or dispatcher, learn as much as you can about the loads, the routes and the loading or unloading environment before you assign the truck. For example, there are a couple of section of interstate highways that are still closed due to high water in Houston, and many other roads are closed or partially closed for repairs, usually at night. Look at a map of road closures in Houston or Florida, sign up for alerts in the states you expect to drive through, or call 511 before you go. Brokers and dispatchers should be sure to give the driver an emergency contact number and be sure you don’t encourage risky behavior.

Fuel is not always available.  Gas stations in Florida were running out of every kind of fuel, as hundreds of thousands of people were attempting to evacuate. After the storm passed, the shortages got bad again in Southern Georgia, as the evacuees headed home. Check on fuel availability before starting out.

If you can’t go, you can still donate. The American Red Cross has a special donation site for hurricane relief. DAT employees are donating there, and the company is matching those funds. Many other organizations are  also helping out, including organizations like the ASPCA and the Humane Society that focus on evacuating shelter animals to make room for local pets who need a place to go during the storm. Unfortunately, some scamsters are also out there pretending to be relief organizations so they can steal your money. To be sure you are giving to a legitimate relief organization, check out National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD) which publishes “How to Help” advice and resources.

Remember that you can also help with disaster relief just by doing your everyday job. Massive numbers of loads have been re-scheduled and re-routed in recent weeks, and shippers are desperate for help, just to re-stock warehouses and distribution centers, which in turn, re-stock store shelves all over the country. That’s especially important in the storm-affected areas.

I have a cousin in Miami who made it through Hurricane Irma safely with her family, but they ended up with a week-long power outage and a stinky mess in the house from piles of seaweed, plus three kids and two dogs who could not go outside for days. You’d better believe that when it was safe to drive, my cousin was on her way to Publix or Walmart for carpet shampoo, bottled water, coffee, fresh food, and maybe a new bottle of ibuprofen. If you helped move those loads from Columbus to Atlanta, and those items eventually ended up on the shelf in that Publix store in Miami, you helped to restore hope and a sense of normalcy for my cousin and her neighbors. That’s a big win.

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Expedited Loads: 5 Tips for Fast Negotiations

Hurricane Harvey led to a lot of urgent loads on DAT load boards, and Hurricane Irma could lead to even more. Combined with already higher than usual demand for trucks, that’s creating some fast negotiating.

Why does the broker need a rate so fast? The load could be time-sensitive for the pick or drop-off. The agent could also be competing with other brokerages to be the first to secure a truck.

Tips for Negotiating Expedited Loads:

1. If you are posting your truck and getting so many calls that you are missing calls, then you need to add more details to your truck posting. Be the person who knows what they want.

2. In the past, I’ve had the best luck posting my truck when others don’t, either after business hours or on the weekend.

3. Try your best to quote the load now. Don’t tell the broker you will call back with a rate. It’s better to overprice the load than not price it at all. At least now the negotiation can begin.

4. Know the mileage. A laptop with Google Maps opened up and ready to go is a fast way to calculate mileage while on the phone. Often brokers know what the zip codes for the city names you need and this is faster than trying to spell complicated city names. There are a few things you’ll want to consider when it comes to mileage:

  • Where is the load picking up?
  • What is your deadhead to pick the load up?
  • Where is the load going?
  • What will your loaded miles be?
  • What would the miles be to get to a desired location?
  • What is the total number of miles, including deadhead?

If I am unsure about the market the load is going to — or I will be off-loading during the weekend and/or getting reloaded will be unlikely — then I like knowing what the mileage will be to get to my next destination. Remember, this needs to happen fast and with little time for research, but it’s almost impossible to give a realistic rate without knowing the mileage.

5. What are the inconveniences? There are no rules or formulas for fast broker negotiations. I like to look at each load differently, with the thought of how much discontent the load will bring to my life. I told a broker once that I didn’t want to sit in a truck stop parking lot over the weekend, so the agent agreed to pay an extra $300 for a hotel room. Personally, with van and power-only loads, I often use $2.30 times all miles as my magic number.

Thanks for reading, I really like running expedited freight and will share more tips and strategies in future blog posts.

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Coalition of large carriers press FMCSA to allow hair sample drug testing of drivers

A coalition of major carriers has petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to immediately allow hair sample tests to satisfy federal rules requiring trucking companies to drug test truck drivers pre-employment. Currently, the agency only recognizes urine sample tests.

The Trucking Alliance, a carrier advocacy group that includes fleets like Maverick Transportation, Knight Transportation, J.B. Hunt and Dupre Logistics, submitted the petition.

The FAST Act highway bill passed last year opens the door for the agency to recognize hair tests in lieu of urine samples, but not until the Department of Health and Human Services creates guidelines for hair sample testing. The FAST Act requires HHS to finalize guidelines within a year of the law’s enactment, which would be Dec. 5, 2016 of this year.

The guidelines have not yet been finalized, however, and the Alliance says HHS likely will request more time to do so, further delaying carriers’ ability to test driver via hair sample, the Alliance argues.

Final highway bill: CSA revamp in, younger truckers and carrier ‘hiring standards’ out

The FAST Act highway bill brings with it a bevy of big and small regulatory changes for the trucking industry. Here’s what did and didn’t …

“On this issue, the private sector is already far ahead of the public sector in utilizing the latest methods to detect drug users,” said Lane Kidd, managing director of the Trucking Alliance. “While we wait on HHS and FMCSA, we can possibly save lives with this exemption by keeping many hard drug users out of our trucks and off our highways.”

Some carriers like J.B. Hunt already test drivers via hair sample, but such carriers must still spend the money to test drivers via urine sample too, a practice that could be ended if the agency accepted drug screening via hair analysis, the Alliance members argue.

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ELD enforcement to be ‘phased in’ through April 2018

The US shipping community received a reprieve Monday from worst-case potential disruption caused by an electronic logging mandate for truck drivers that takes effect Dec. 18. An association representing state law enforcement agencies said it would postpone putting drivers out-of-service for not complying with the mandate until April 1, 2018.

“Beginning April 1, 2018, inspectors will start placing commercial motor vehicle drivers out of service if their vehicle is not equipped with the required device,” the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) said in a statement. The April 1 “effective date” for applying electronic logging device (ELD) out-of-service criteria will give truckers and shippers time to adjust to the rule with “minimal disruption to the delivery of goods.”

Starting Dec. 18, “roadside enforcement personnel will begin documenting violations on roadside inspection reports and, at the jurisdiction’s discretion, will issue citations to commercial motor vehicle drivers operating vehicles without a compliant ELD,” CVSA said in a statement. But carriers in effect will have an additional three-and-a-half months to install ELDs.

The CVSA’s action alleviates fears that thousands of truckers could be placed out of service for not having ELDs starting Dec. 18, stranding freight a week before Christmas. That holiday logistical nightmare would likely have spiked spot market rates as trucks were dispatched to rescue stranded cargo and drivers. Concern about capacity shortages is already rising.

The Aug. 28 announcement clarifies how events are likely to unfold as the mandate takes effect and gives motor carriers struggling to prepare for the requirement, which effects approximately 3 million drivers, more breathing room. “Phased-in” enforcement of the mandate also may blunt attempts to delay implementation of the rule on Capitol Hill.

“The December deadline for this important safety regulation was established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [FMCSA] in 2015 following a decade of regulatory inquiry, study, litigation, and ultimately a congressional mandate,” CVSA executive director Collin B. Mooney said in a letter to FMCSA Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson.

He expressed “strong opposition” to any delay in the mandate. “Despite what opponents of the mandate may argue, the enforcement community is ready to begin enforcement of the requirement on Dec. 18,” Mooney said.

In short, truckers may receive a citation (and associated fine) if they do not have ELDs installed and operating Dec. 18, but they will not be ordered off the road and out-of-service. Information on companies and drivers that receive citations could be used by regulators to identify and investigate carriers suspected of not complying with the mandate.

Starting April 1, however, truck drivers that do not have ELDs will not drive away from a roadside inspection. They will be placed out-of-service by the state regulatory officials, roadside inspectors, and police officers represented by the CVSA, using its North American Out of Service Criteria. Someone else will have to pick up the freight being hauled by that out-of-service driver.

The electronic logging mandate is expected to have a far-reaching effect on US businesses and domestic and international supply chains, starting with a potential spike in port drayage costs. Truckload carriers and owner-operators may feel the brunt of the impact, but the advent of the ELD era could affect supply chain strategies that extend well beyond trucking procurement.

As Dec. 18 draws closer, many smaller trucking companies reportedly are far from ready to switch from paper logbooks to ELDs. A variety of groups, led by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, are seeking either an outright delay of the regulation or exemptions for specific types of trucking operations, such as drivers of rental trucks.

Companies that have not yet placed orders for ELDs may face shortages of the devices as the Dec. 18 deadline approaches. “The vendors don’t have barges sitting off the coast loaded with thousands of these devices,” John Seidl, a transportation consultant with Integrated Risk Solutions and former roadside inspector, said during an Aug. 3 JOC.com webcast.

Logistics executives, including C.H. Robinson Worldwide CEO John Wiehoff, have expressed concern that implementation of the ELD mandate in December could get “very messy.” The CVSA decision to phase in enforcement should alleviate the threat of an immediate pre-Christmas capacity snap and make a more gradual tightening of capacity over the next year more likely.

“CVSA member jurisdictions have used this phased-in approach in the past when implementing a significant change in regulatory requirements,” Mooney said in his letter. He said the CVSA board and FMCSA agreed the two-phase enforcement strategy would be the best approach and would “promote a smoother transition to the new ELD requirement.”

However, truckers, fleet operators, brokers, and shippers should not delay compliance plans. Those that do not take advantage of the “wiggle room” the phased-in approach affords may find themselves in a tight spot April 1.

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Trimble Registers FMCSA-Compliant ELD Solution

SUNNYVALE, Calif.Sept. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Trimble (NASDAQ: TRMB) announced today that its FieldMaster Logs application has been registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as a self-certified Electronic Logging Device (ELD) solution.

FieldMaster Logs adds Hours of Service (HOS) and Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) functionality as part of its robust Fleet Management portfolio. In order to prevent driver fatigue and reduce accidents, the FMCSA’s HOS rules restrict the number of hours a driver may operate his/her vehicle. Trimble’s FieldMaster Logs tracks driver activity, provides clear communication to the driver about hours remaining and gives robust reports to managers to measure their driver’s activity and availability. Using FieldMaster Log’s DVIR features ensure that drivers perform safety inspections of their vehicle and that vehicle issues are captured and communicated to the maintenance team.

Trimble’s Fleet Management portfolio offers reliable hardware and software solutions for capturing vehicle positions, tracking driver behavior and communicating with the vehicle’s engine bus to obtain diagnostic information. Monitoring these activities allows carriers to reduce fuel costs and improve driver safety.

“Trimble’s FieldMaster Logs application allows companies to improve productivity, profitability and most importantly, driver safety for our partners,” said John Cameron, general manager of Trimble’s Field Service Management Division. “We’re pleased to announce that our solution meets the FMCSA’s requirements for tracking HOS and DVIR activities, well in advance of the mandate’s deadline.”

In 2016, the FMCSA mandated that carriers who do not already have an Automatic Onboard Recording Device (AOBRD) installed on their vehicles must install a certified ELD solution by December 18, 2017. In addition, those vehicles that do have installed AOBRDs must replace them with certified ELDs by December 17, 2019.

To learn more about Trimble’s ELD options, join a webinar on Thursday, September 28 at 2:00 pm EDT. For more information or to register, visit:  http://resources.trimblepulse.com/sign-up-for-our-eld-webinar.

About Trimble’s Field Service Management Division

Trimble’s Field Service Management Division provides visibility into field and fleet operations so businesses can streamline efficiency and increase productivity. The Field Service Management suite includes Fleet Management, Work Management and Scheduling, Worker Safety and Mobility solutions that transform the effectiveness of work, workers and assets in the field. The cloud-based portfolio allows Trimble to offer customers industry-specific, enterprise-level solutions for exceptional performance and ease of use. For more information, visit:  www.trimble.com/fsm.

About Trimble

Trimble is transforming the way the world works by delivering products and services that connect the physical and digital worlds. Core technologies in positioning, modeling, connectivity and data analytics enable customers to improve productivity, quality, safety and sustainability. From purpose built products to enterprise lifecycle solutions, Trimble software, hardware and services are transforming a broad range of industries such as agriculture, construction, geospatial and transportation and logistics. For more information about Trimble (NASDAQ:TRMB), visit:  www.trimble.com.

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ELD mandate protest efforts set to stage October 3

With efforts to derail or delay the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s long-in-process electronic logging device mandate having taken yet another hit with the defeat of the House appropriations bill amendment that would have delayed the Dec. 18 deadline, some truckers are determined to raise the profile around the issue on their own. As you’ll hear in the latest Overdrive Radio podcast in players up top and below, two officially unaffiliated groups have marked Tuesday, Oct. 3 as the beginning date for staged demonstrations in Washington, D.C., with the professed support of some individual operators around the country shutting down throughout the four-to-five days following. Owner-operator Erick Engbarth, meanwhile, though not involved in either of those efforts, offered a clear distillation of objection to the mandate by owner-operators. Take a listen (more on the two groups below):

ELD or Me
Regular readers will recognize the name of the Facebook group started in mid-May by East Tennessee-based trucker singer-songwriter Tony Justice with the express purpose of firing up drivers around opposition to the ELD mandate. Very early on in the group’s history, as I reported in late May, it was settling around early October for a demonstration in the national capitol. For several weeks now, they’ve been promoting the Doswell Truck Stop in Doswell, Va., as a rally point for trucks South of D.C., the TravelCenters of America location in Jessup, Md., to the north. At Doswell, Justice reports in the podcast, shuttle vans will be on hand to transport truckers downtown, though many involved with the effort have reported plans to stay inside D.C. itself and rendezvous with the group near the White House over the dates they’ve scheduled for their demonstration: October 3-7.

Material circulating with that information lately has also encouraged those who can’t be in attendance, but who are sympathetic to the ELD or Me cause, to shut down and rally in or around their own location.

ELD or me, as you’ll hear in the podcast, is also working on getting Congressional reps’ ears directly while in the capitol, with hopes of spurring on support for Texas Congressman Brian Babin’s H.R. 3282 ELD mandate delay bill, which would extend the enforcement date two years. In the podcast, you’ll also hear from Delaware-based former small fleet owner and longtime compliance consultant Richard Wilson about the group and its efforts as well.

Justice offers advice to those preparing to come to Washington, D.C., in the podcast, and noted an information page on Facebook was in development to provide further information. You can access that page via this link, which is pretty sparse as yet.

And here’s a link directly to the 17,000-plus-member ELD  or Me Facebook group.

Catch the story of its origins in the following archived post and a past podcast in which Justice shared his reasons for leading the effort:

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U.S. House set to vote today on driverless legislation. But how do trucks fit in?

WASHINGTON – When the House votes on a slate of self-driving vehicle policies Wednesday, members will take up a bill with a big unanswered question at its core: what to do about commercial trucks.

Driverless trucks are seen as one of the most promising – and fraught – elements of the coming autonomous future on U.S. roads. Convoys of robo-trucks guided across the country by a single human driver – or none at all – could become a major economic force. They could be a boon to safety, or a particularly potent hazard, opposing advocates say.

They could also gobble up plenty of good-paying jobs.

And so lawmakers seeking bipartisan backing for the so-called Self Drive Act made clear that their definition of a “highly automated vehicle . . . does not include a commercial motor vehicle,” as the legislation puts it.

That means it doesn’t cover trucks bigger than 10,000 pounds, or vehicles meant to carry more than 10 passengers or hazardous materials.

The bill would block states from regulating “the design, construction, or performance” of automated vehicles, clarifying that such power is in federal hands. Many technology and car companies have warned that state legislators are leaving behind a “patchwork” of regulations that could dampen innovation and thwart travelers crossing state lines.

Some state officials, meanwhile, argue that federal guidelines on autonomous vehicles, which are voluntary, do too little to guarantee safety.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has been working on changes to the Obama-era policies, and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will travel to Michigan next week to describe updated guidelines.

The House legislation set to be considered Wednesday also allows automakers and tech companies to seek exemptions, totaling in the tens of thousands, from federal vehicle safety standards, as long the companies can ensure a car’s safety won’t be downgraded. That would allow, for example, an automaker to ditch the steering wheel to allow more creative driverless designs. The legislation also instructs Chao, within two years, to require “safety assessment certifications” that demonstrate driverless vehicles “are likely to . . . function as intended and contain fail safe features.”

The Self Drive Act came out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee with unanimous support this summer, offering a rare bipartisan win on a high-profile issue on which members are eager to show results.

A separate House committee, Transportation and Infrastructure, has jurisdiction over trucking, which meant backers of the Self Drive Act could avoid the touchy and potentially perilous driverless truck issue. But the Senate Commerce Committee, which handles transportation issues and which is crafting its own bill, has wrestled with trucking, and it’s not clear how the House and Senate approaches will eventually mesh.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters was among the groups pushing Congress to stay clear of trucks.

James P. Hoffa, president of the Teamsters, said many issues remain with the House bill. But the union, which represents 600,000 drivers, commended Congress “for recognizing that a starting point for any discussion on this subject was that no legislation should impact commercial motor vehicles or traditional commercial drivers,” Hoffa said in a statement.

Hoffa said that the Teamsters must be at the center of any separate discussion on autonomy and trucking to make sure technology is “not used to put workers at risk on the job or destroy livelihoods and chip away at the middle class.”

But Michael Cammisa, vice president of safety and connectivity at the American Trucking Associations, said that the industry doesn’t think “it makes sense to write legislation without it applying to all vehicles, and that includes commercial trucks which account for 33.8 million registered vehicles and 450 billion miles traveled annually.”

Cammisa added that “it continues to be our belief that the technologies being developed today will assist, rather than supplant, drivers on the road.”

 

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FEMA Announces 700 Inspectors Needed – Pay Ranges 4K-5K Weekly

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