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FMCSA Receives More Than 2,600 Comments on HOS Proposal

FMCSA Receives More Than 2,600 Comments on HOS Proposal

Trucks park for a rest break along the side of Interstate 66 in Manassas, Va. (Jim Galligan for Transport Topics)

The variety of the more than 2,600 written public comments on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed changes to its hours-of-service rules FMCSA HOS policiesillustrate the challenge of finding solutions that address the concerns of the trucking industry’s different segments.

The agency’s request for public comment on the HOS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ended on Oct. 21, and the agency must now digest the comments and craft a final rule, a process that could take months.

The proposal, announced Aug. 14, would allow truck drivers more flexibility with their 30-minute rest break and with dividing their time in the sleeper berth. It also would extend by two hours the duty time for drivers encountering adverse weather and extend the shorthaul exemption by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 hours to 14 hours and increasing the distance limit in which drivers can operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

American Trucking Associations said it mostly supports the proposed changes, but had a few precautionary comments on some of the provisions.

While ATA fully supports the agency’s proposed 7/3 split of the 10-hour sleeper berth period, it said that FMCSA should conduct a field pilot program and only propose further flexibility — such as a 6/4 or 5/5 split — if the results demonstrate that additional splits would not harm driver performance or road safety. FMCSA had planned to conduct such a pilot, but has since decided it has enough data to make a determination.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and some drivers would like to see the final rule offer an option of 5/5 hour or 6/4 hour split.

“Beyond expanding the split sleeper provision to 7/3, FMCSA should also include 6/4 and 5/5 splits in any final rulemaking,” OOIDA wrote, noting that 85% of members surveyed in 2019 supported the idea. “Drivers said they would use the 5/5 split an average of 2.02 times per week and the 6/4 split an average of 1.86 times per week,” the group said.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance expressed concern about potential confusion regarding changes to the 30-minute rest break rule. “FMCSA’s proposed change to the 30-minute rest break requirement eliminates the need for the existing exemptions to the rule,” it wrote. “Upon finalization of the change, FMCSA should revoke all existing applicable on-duty exemptions to the 30-minute rest break requirement.”

ATA said it supports the proposed expansion of the shorthaul exemption, but expressed concern that it could increase the number of drivers who would be no longer be required to use electronic logging devices or records of duty status relative to current rules.

The Truckload Carriers Association also expressed concern about the impact of this proposal on the ELD mandate.

“Many drivers who are currently required to log their HOS with an ELD could be exempted from this obligation under the proposed rule change. TCA is opposed to any proposal which would weaken the ELD mandate,” it said in its comments.

Like several other driver and trade organizations that filed comments, ATA and other trade organizations also expressed a lack of clarity regarding the adverse driving conditions provision in the proposal that would give drivers an extra two hours of driving time in bad weather.

“Although ATA supports the proposed changes allowing a driver to extend their on-duty time up to two additional hours, the agency should review and revise the existing definition and provide guidance on what constitutes ‘adverse conditions,’ ” ATA wrote.

Some organizations — including the National Transportation Safety Board, National Safety Council, Teamsters Union, Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety, and Road Safe America — oppose any changes to the HOS rules.

“Given this rulemaking combined with the FMCSA’s inaction on sleep apnea, fatigue risk management, and other fatigue countermeasures, the NTSB is concerned about the FMCSA’s efforts to mitigate fatigued driving among commercial drivers,” NTSB wrote. “The NTSB encourages the FMCSA to emphasize safety over flexibility in this and any future rulemaking pertaining to HOS and other fatigue rulemakings.”

The National Safety Council wrote, “If enacted, this rule would have a direct impact on driving safety by raising the risk for commercial motor vehicle drivers and all those who share the road with them.”

But Rachel Snow, a truck driver who lives in Tooele, Utah, filed comments that appeared to represent a widespread feeling about the proposal.

“I have been driving for 21 going on 22 years, accident-free,” Snow wrote. “I am 42 years old and I have always found the restrictions of the FMCSA HOS to be a burdensome restraint on my abilities. I understand that what is being proposed is not everything I would like to see offered, but it is a step in the right direction.

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Indiana DOT Announces $99 Million for Local Roads

Indiana DOT Announces $99 Million for Local Roads

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Indiana DOT announces funding for local projects. The Indiana Department of Transportation and Gov. Eric Holcomb recently announced the distribution of $99.2 million in state matching funds across local government agencies to fund infrastructure construction projects.

The funding, made possible through the Next Level Roads: Community Crossings Initiative, will be dispersed across 229 cities, towns and counties, according to an INDOT press release issued Oct. 10. Community Crossings, which Holcomb signed into law in April 2017, has awarded more than $612 million in state matching funds to local government agencies.

The purpose of the program is to boost economic vitality by helping communities with projects such as road resurfacing and preservation, bridge rehabilitation and replacement and road reconstruction to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Material costs associated with crack filling and chip sealing also are eligible for funding. Chip sealing involves adding a coating of liquid asphalt and aggregate to protect the surface of the road.

“High-quality local roads and bridges are an important part of our formula for attracting jobs, growing our economy and building strong communities,” Holcomb said. “Our fully funded Next Level Roads plan and record-b

Holcomb

reaking level of construction has gained Indiana national recognition for our approach to infrastructure, and Community Crossings takes that commitment to the local level all across the state.”

The Community Crossings program has grown in popularity since its inception. According to the press release, the latest round of funding attracted more applications than there were dollars available. INDOT accepts applications for the program twice a year, in January and July. There is a $1 million cap annually per community for local government agencies interested in applying.

There will be an estimated $100 million available to communities that apply during the January 2020 call for projects. INDOT evaluates projects on a basis of need, traffic volume, local support, regional economics and impact on mobility.

“Efficiently and safely moving people and commerce is vital to the quality of life and vitality of our communities,” said Indiana DOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness. “INDOT is excited to partner with communities through this matching grant program to make infrastructure investments that contribute to the success of all Hoosier cities, towns and counties.”

Indiana DOT announces funding for local projects.

In order to be considered for funding, local government agencies must provide matching funds from a source approved for road and bridge construction. Larger communities must match 50%, while smaller ones must match 25%. They also are required to submit an asset management plan approved by INDOT for maintaining existing roads and bridges.

The funding is meant to help smaller communities, although all Indiana city, town and county government agencies are eligible to apply. State law requires that 50% of the available matching funds annually get awarded to places within counties that have populations of 50,000 or fewer people.

In November 2018, INDOT divided $100 million across 283 cities, towns and counties for local road projects through the Next Level Roads: Community Crossings Initiative.

INDOT also has used federal funds to support local road projects. In March 2018, the agency directed $161 million to rural road, bridge and sidewalk projects. The money was divided among 66 towns, cities and counties to support bridge rehabilitations, resurfacing efforts and traffic safety projects. The federal funds were supplemented with local funds, creating $212 million for those infrastructure projects.

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California Passes Bill That May Affect Independent Contractor Status for Truckers

California Passes Bill That May Affect Independent Contractor Status for Truckers

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California lawmakers have passed a bill that codifies into law a 2018 state Supreme Court decision that makes it easier for independent contractors to become reclassified as employees of motor carriers.

Assembly Bill 5, passed along party lines by the state Senate on Sept. 10 and Assembly on Sept. 11, was the latest development by officials in California attempting to reduce what they have called widespread misclassification of independent contractors.

The bill was signed into law on Sept. 18 by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who had publicly voiced his support for the legislation.

California has passed a bill to reclassify independent contractors, owner-operators working for motor carriers.

The bill has been opposed by the California Trucking Association because the trade organization said it will require many motor carriers to use an employee standard known as the “ABC test” that truckers have said makes it difficult, if not impossible, to continue the use of independent contractors.

The test was upheld by the California high court in a case styled Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles.

The B-prong of the ABC test is the most troublesome, carriers have said. It dictates that for a motor carrier to establish that a worker is an independent contractor that the worker must perform work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.

Greg Feary, a partner in the Indianapolis-based trucking law firm Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary, P.C., called the California legislation “Dynamex on steroids.”

“I think it will ripple through the industry and cause some changes for sure,” Feary told Transport Topics. “For the most part, the ABC test would be used under this statute for courts or other adjudicators in the government to determine whether an owner-operator providing truck driving services to a motor carrier is an independent contractor. It’s a controversial bill.”

“AB 5 could have been amended to address worker misclassification issues, as well as protect the 70,000 [predominantly minority] truckers currently operating as independent contractors,” California Trucking Association’s CEO Shawn Yadon said in a statement. “There is no reason why protecting workers does not include defending the right of tens of thousands of drivers who have built their businesses as independent truckers, invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in clean trucks and have operated successfully.”

Fuel Tax Hike Repeal

Yadon added, “AB 5 will have implications that will go beyond worker classification. Like the rest of the nation, California is experiencing a shortage of truck drivers, this measure will aggravate the problem by removing thousands of drivers from rosters as many have indicated they will move to other states or seek a different line of work altogether.”

AB 5 proponents created a scenario in which they chose winners and losers by carving out exemptions for some professions while excluding others, California Trucking Association said.

It added that AB 5 was amended to allow drivers working within the construction industry a narrow window to continue operating as independent truckers for a two-year grace period. However, the bill will severely limit work opportunities for tens of thousands of independent owner-operators in other business sectors.

In California, more than 136,950 trucking companies remain primarily small, locally owned businesses with small fleets and independent drivers, according to California Trucking Association.

“Today the Legislature made it clear: we will not in good conscience allow free-riding businesses to profit off depriving millions of workers from basic employee rights that lead to a middle-class job,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the bill’s author. “Employers looking to cut costs at the expense of workers have misclassified more than a million Californians and in turn, we have seen income inequality increase, union membership decline and the power of working people diminish.”

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What is USMCA?

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, also known as the USMCA, is a trade deal between the three nations which was signed on November 30, 2018. The USMCA replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which had been in effect since January of 1994. Under the terms of NAFTA, tariffs on many goods passing between North America’s three major economic powers were gradually phased out. By 2008, tariffs on various agricultural and textiles products, automobiles, and other goods were reduced or eliminated. USMCA came about as a result of U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to replace NAFTA based on an argument that the terms of NAFTA were unfair to the United States. USMCA began as the U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement, announced in late August of 2018. A few weeks later, on September 30, 2018, the United States and Canada formally agreed to replace NAFTA with the new agreement, and the USMCA was finalized a few weeks later.

On May 31, 2019, a day after the three countries began the formal process for the revision of NAFTA, Trump said starting June 10 the U.S. will impose a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports. The tariff will gradually increase until Mexico stops migrants from crossing the border into the U.S. Experts say this policy will jeopardize the ratification of the trade deal.

The USMCA is a result of U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to replace NAFTA based on an argument that the terms of NAFTA were unfair to the United States.

Important Provisions

Per the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the USMCA is a “mutually beneficial win for North American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.” NAFTA aimed to create a free trade zone between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and the USMCA utilizes NAFTA as a basis for a new agreement. While the USMCA has a broad impact on trade of all kinds between the three named nations, some of the agreement’s most important provisions include the following:

  1. Dairy and Agriculture
    Under the terms of the USMCA, the U.S. enjoys tariff-free access to 3.6% of Canada’s dairy market. U.S. farmers can now sell more of their agricultural products in Canada without being subject to Canadian pricing provisions which place limits on imports of some of those products. U.S. agricultural exports to Canada may increase by about $70 million; while this is not an insignificant figure, it nonetheless represents just a fraction of a percent of U.S. GDP. On average, the U.S. has sent well over $600 million worth of dairy products to Canada for each of the past several years.
  2. Automobiles
    One of the most significant portions of the USMCA stipulates new trade regulations for automobiles and automotive parts. Under NAFTA, cars and trucks with at least 62.5% of their components manufactured in one of the three participating countries could be sold free of tariffs. The USMCA increases that minimum requirement to 75%. A major reason behind the change in policy was a desire among all three nations to incentivize the manufacturing of cars in North America. At the same time, the USMCA stipulates minimum wages for workers in the automotive manufacturing process: 30% of the work done on eligible vehicles must be accomplished by workers earning at least $16 (USD) per hour, as of 2020. The agreement stipulates an increase in wages over subsequent years, as well.
  3. Intellectual Property
    The USMCA makes provisions for intellectual property and digital trade which were not included in NAFTA. Among other changes to trade policy, the new agreement extends the copyright period to 70 years beyond the life of the creator, an increase of 20 years in some cases. The USMCA also addresses new products which were not part of international trade when NAFTA was drafted in the early 1990s: the new agreement prohibits duties on music, e-books and other digital products. Internet companies were also removed from liability for content generated by their users.
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California Gov. Gavin Newsom Signs Heavy-Duty Truck Smog Inspection Program Bill Into Law

September 25, 2019 4:45 PM, EDT

California Gov. Gavin Newsom Signs Heavy-Duty Truck Smog Inspection Program Bill Into Law

Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom by Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law a bill that directs the California Air Resources Board and other state agencies to develop and implement a new smog inspection program for heavy-duty diesel on-road trucks.

The inspection and maintenance program would begin with a two-year pilot program to develop and demonstrate technologies that show potential for bringing heavy vehicles more than 6 years old and with a gross vehicle weight of more than 14,000 pounds into a permanent testing program similar to one already in place for cars.

“Just as car owners have to get their own personal cars ‘smog checked’ every two years, so too should truck operators be required to maintain their emissions controls so that we can ensure long-lasting air quality improvements here in California,” Democratic state Sen. Connie Leyva, author of the bill, said in a statement. “With Governor Newsom’s signature, SB 210 reinforces California’s leadership on improving air quality and public health, while also leveling the playing field for law-abiding truck owners and operators in our state.”

Calif. Democratic state Sen. Connie Leyva

The new law would authorize CARB to assess a fee and penalties as part of the program and would create the Truck Emission Check Fund, which would be available upon appropriation by the legislature to the state board for “the regulatory purposes of the program.”

Mike Tunnell, California-based director of energy and environmental affairs for American Trucking Associations, said the future system would eventually sunset the current program requiring motor carriers to conduct annual smoke tests and replace it with a program that is more emissions-based.

“What that will look like is still to be determined,” Tunnell said.

But CARB is hoping to accomplish the goals of the new law with an emissions-testing program that would not have to follow the station-based model of the smog check program currently used for cars.

Instead, the agency has been working on a program concept that could be based on the use of telematics and other data collection and submission tools to enable the inspection process from the vehicle’s location, officials have said in discussion documents.

Mike Tunnell, California-based director of energy and environmental affairs for American Trucking Associations

One potential program design concept couples periodic on-board diagnostics system checks as the primary test method with on-road emissions monitoring that would use remote sensing devices and plume capture systems to identify high emitters and verify program effectiveness.

The program should be designed to ensure both in-state and out-of-state vehicles have adequate methods to demonstrate compliance with program requirements, according to CARB.

Currently, there is no smog check-type program for heavy-duty vehicles to ensure their emissions control systems are functioning properly and repaired in a timely manner, according to CARB.

CARB’s current Periodic Smoke Inspection Program requires diesel and bus fleet owners to conduct annual smoke opacity inspections and maintain records of the tests, and repair those vehicles with excessive smoke emissions to ensure compliance. In addition, CARB randomly audits fleets, reviews maintenance and inspection records, and tests a representative sample of vehicles. A fleet owner that neglects to perform the annual smoke opacity inspection on applicable vehicles is subject to a penalty of $500 per vehicle per year.

CARB officials say that even with modern emissions controls and on-board diagnostics monitoring systems, 2019 estimates indicate that heavy trucks contribute approximately 58% of the statewide on-road mobile source oxides of nitrogen emissions and about 82% of the statewide on-road mobile source particulate matter emissions. Some of these emissions are attributed to broken or failing emissions-related equipment.

Approximately 12 million residents across California live in communities that exceed federal ozone and PM standards, according to state environmental officials. Increased exposure to harmful emissions has been directly associated with serious health impacts, particularly for the elderly, small children and people with pre-existing respiratory issues, it said.

“There’s work to be done on a new system,” Tunnell said. “Hopefully with the telematics on the truck, something can be designed that is less intrusive than what most of us know as a smog test program.”

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TFS Through Networking

Transport Financial Services (TFS) offers solutions to the industry’s logistical challenges through “Collaborative Partnerships”, entailing a single location for transportation services provided by the only BMC-85 Trust Bond provider able to refer BMC-84 Broker Bond’, and all transportation services for full compliance with all Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Regulations.  Essentially, such a 24/7 commitment facilitated by mobile devices provides immediate access to a network of transportation professionals.  Obtain and Retain authority for carriers, brokers, and freight forwarders through our automated E-commerce program.  Start a business, and learn from “Experts”.

Furthermore, TFS manages the complexities of the transportation industry with cutting edge technology, improving customer service to nurture both foreign and domestic markets, thereby enabling development of training certification for “Today’s Broker”, as well as services for the most important commodity in this vast industry, the motor carriers, including funding requirements (factoring). All found in the business platform located at www.eTruckBook.com.

More particularly, TFS Shopping Mall’s Transportation Directory is a yellow- pages for easy access to locate shippers, brokers, and bona-fide carriers.  Shop 24/7 at www.TFSMall.com, a Central location with timely information for better management of logistic operations. This is an excellent tool for factoring companies assuring that carriers never over- extend themselves, and does not provide service to non-solvent brokers, thus keeping honest people honest.  A great example of that is the new “Cancellation Policy” proposed by TFS and implemented by the FMCSA and DOT to identify in bold red letters, “This Entity is pending Cancellation” which prevent shippers from providing loads to brokers, and carriers from accepting loads, saving approximately billions of dollars in claims.

Significantly, TFS prides itself in same-day-delivery for most services, unless additional information is required.  TFS assist carriers to meet the significant compliance requirement of Electronic Logging Device (ELD) imposed by the federal government, and is ready to answer the hard questions on:

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Supplemental Comments – Agency ANRPM for RIN 2126-AC10

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FMCSA to allow year-long learner’s permits for new truck drivers

Some trucking groups argue that this will allow carriers to keep their seats filled with cheaper trainee drivers for longer.

 

FMCSA to allow year-long learner's permits for new truck drivers

 

A newly published Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rule will give states the choice to issue learner’s permits that are valid for a full year to truck driver trainees.

 

In documents to be filed in the Federal Register on Friday, the FMCSA gives states permission — but does not require them — to issue Commercial Learner’s Permits (CLPs) that are valid for a whole year instead of the six months that they are currently valid for.

 

The new rule also gives states permission to allow trainees to renew their CLP for an additional six months after the one year mark.

 

If a trainee fails to obtain their CDL before the permit expires, he or she would be required to reapply for their CLP.

 

When the rule was first proposed by the FMCSA back in June of 2017, the FMCSA argued that it would help to fight the “truck driver shortage.” They also said that the year-long CLPs would cut down on paperwork for states and reduce “hassle and cost” for CDL applicants.

 

Some trucking groups have spoken out against the year-long CLPs because they believe that it could give carriers a way to keep cheaper trainees behind the wheel for longer. OOIDA’s director of legislative affairs Collin Long said, “We have some concerns about that and how it could be used to keep trainees in that training mode for an extended period of time and pay them significantly less because they don’t have their full CDL.”

 

OOIDA also argued that relying more heavily on trainees instead of licensed truck drivers would have a negative impact on safety.

 

Original article can be found at:

 

https://cdllife.com/2018/new-fmcsa-rule-opens-door-year-long-learners-permits-new-truck-drivers/

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ANPRM Submission

Subject: Comment- Agency ANPRM for RIN 2126-AC10 Broker and Freight Forwarder Financial Responsibility

Download document here or visit the downloads page in the TFS Transportation Directory https://www.tfsmall.com/tfsdownloads/

https://www.tfsmall.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/AMPRM-Submissions.pdf


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