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Transportation News Bulletins - LTL and TL

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FMCSA Agrees to Delay Chassis Rule Six Months to Set Up Database System
Monday, 04 January 2010 00:00

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it was delaying some intermodal chassis safety requirements for six months to give operators of that equipment more time to create a database to track the condition of each chassis.

The delay moves the requirement for ocean carriers to maintain a database of vehicle condition reports back to June 30 from Dec. 17.

“The large number of intermodal facilities and the significant variations in their operating practices make the implementation of the enhanced intermodal equipment safety oversight activities a challenging task,” FMCSA said in a Federal Register notice published on Dec. 18, the day after the rules took effect.

The new database will standardize reports about key components such as brakes and tires, and truck drivers will fill out the reports when they pick up and drop off chassis. Ocean carriers, and other chassis owners such as railroads, currently have their own chassis condition reporting procedures.

The Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association, a steam-ship line trade group whose members own most of the estimated 850,000 chassis in the United States, sought the delay.

The postponement was the latest setback for a program that was required by a 2005 federal law to create chassis safety standards and to end the practice of holding truckers responsible for chassis defects.

It took FMCSA two years to write the rules, which the agency will implement gradually, with the final requirements taking effect in July of this year when ocean carriers must have FMCSA-required markings on each chassis.

FMCSA is making life easier for drayage carriers by delaying the date when they must file equipment reports, said Curtis Whalen, executive director of American Trucking Associations’ Intermodal Motor Carrier Conference.

Drayage carriers tried to submit inspection reports to comply with the Dec. 17 deadline, only to find that there was no standardized system.

Transport Topics, 1/4/2010

FMCSA announces dates for three HOS listening sessions
Monday, 04 January 2010 00:00

WASHINGTON—The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced it will hold four listening sessions in January to gather information and comments as the agency prepares a rulemaking proposal on Hours of Service requirements for property-carrying commercial vehicle drivers.

The agency wants to hear about topics such as rest and on-duty time, sleeper berth use and the effect the current Hours of Service rule has on loading and unloading times for drivers, the FMCSA said.

A record of the listening sessions will be placed in the public docket for the rulemaking.

“Public input is critical to the rulemaking process,” FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said. “The public listening sessions will provide opportunities for a broad cross-section of stakeholders to present views, comments and relevant research on this forthcoming federal safety regulation proposal.”

As part of a settlement in a suit filed against FMCSA by safety advocate groups, FMCSA has agreed to issue a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2010.

Hours of Service requirements are designed to help prevent commercial motor vehicle-related accidents, injuries and fatalities by prescribing on-duty hours and rest periods for commercial drivers, Ferro said.

The FMCSA has scheduled three listening sessions to encourage public participation on this issue and will schedule a fourth listening session in the coming days.

  • Tuesday, January 19, 2010
    Doubletree Hotel Crystal City National Airport
    300 Army Navy Drive
    Arlington, Va. 22202
    9 a.m.–5 p.m. EST


  • Friday, January 22, 2010
    Hyatt Regency Dallas Forth Worth Airport
    DFW International Parkway
    Irving, Texas 75261
    9 a.m.–5 p.m. CST


  • Monday, January 25, 2010
    Doubletree Hotel Los Angeles International Airport
    1985 East Grand Avenue
    El Segundo, Calif. 90245
    9 a.m.–5 p.m. PST

For more information on the listening sessions, including several questions on possible alternatives to the current Hours of Service requirements, visit the FMCSA Web site at

Interested persons may also contact David Miller, Office of Policy Plans and Regulation, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, (202) 366-5011., 1/4/2010

Report Says New Record-Keeping System More Stringent Than SafeStat
Monday, 04 January 2010 00:00

As part of its Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 program, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is introducing its new record-keeping system known as SMS, or safety management system.

SMS will use every safety-related inspection violation, a more stringent approach than the outgoing data system called SafeStat, which included only moving violations and out-of-service orders.

SMS concentrates on seven safety issues, such as unsafe driving, that are compiled from federal, state and local law enforcement and used to determine what companies are investigated.

The other six categories are: fatigued driving, driver fitness such as licensing, drug and alcohol violations, cargo securement failures, other vehicle defects such as brake problems and crashes in which a fleet is involved.

Each carrier will receive a score based on those seven violation types and their severity, as judged by the agency with a score from 1 to 10, with 10 as the worst score.

“CSA 2010 has great potential to help us all achieve a reduction in truck and bus crashes and fatalities,” said Rose McMurray, associate administrator at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration during a Dec. 10 webinar. “Test results in 2010 are very encouraging. We are reaching a far greater base of carriers with a broader array of interventions.”

“We are moving from only discovering what’s wrong to identifying why it’s wrong and then working with carriers on how to fix it,” said Alan Pirowarski, CSA 2010 training manager. “We want to fix it and work with you on repairing what is wrong with your system so we have sustained compliance over time.”

One new tool the agency will use is a warning letter, which Pirowarski described as “a tap on the shoulder” to alert fleets to defects without issuing a formal violation.

During CSA 2010 tests in nine states, more than 5,000 such letters have been issued, according to Capt. Mark Savage, a Colorado state police officer who is assigned to the CSA program.

FMCSA will do both on-site investigations, as it does now, and off-site investigations based on data it’s gathered.

It’s also creating new options for carriers to comply, using a four-tiered approach.

Violations can be addressed through a voluntary safety compliance plan in the first tier of enforcement and an out-of-service order will be the toughest of the four penalties.

Notices of violation or fines are the two intermediate compliance options. A notice of violation will require carriers to prove that violations have been corrected. Fines, the second most severe penalty, also are a compliance option.

Savage emphasized the importance of accumulating and communicating accurate information to FMCSA about roadside violations and accidents.

“We’re not only going to use that information to determine who to investigate, but also how to allocate our resources,” Savage said. “The data reflects the overall integrity of the program. The importance of this data cannot be underestimated.”

Inaccurate information in SafeStat was highlighted in government reports beginning in 2003 and prompted FMCSA to conceive and develop CSA.

To demonstrate the progress that has been made in improving data quality, Savage said that 41 states had the highest rating of “green” for data accuracy in 2009, compared with just 24 in 2004.

The agency has taken several steps to improve SafeStat’s data quality, former Administrator John Hill testified at a 2007 House hearing. The steps included funding to states for a program to upgrade data quality, and publication of a nationwide map that showed how much improvement states made in providing accurate, timely data.

In that testimony, he said states reported details of 32% more crashes involving large trucks though the actual number of accidents actually declined.

Just two jurisdictions, Arizona and the District of Columbia, had the worst grades in 2009, compared with 14 jurisdictions five years earlier.

Transport Topics, 1/4/2010

CSA 2010 Test Results Raise Some Concerns
Monday, 04 January 2010 00:00

Testing of CSA 2010, a new safety protocol, is under way in nine states. The results have generated some praise but also have raised some hackles among carriers and trucking industry association executives.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began a 30-month test of the safety protocol in February in four states: Colorado, Georgia, Missouri and New Jersey. The test covered 50% of carriers in those states, with the remaining carriers serving as a control group.

All carriers were included when FMCSA extended testing to Minnesota and Montana in May, Kansas in September and Maryland in November. Delaware was added in December.

“Most carriers really like [CSA 2010],” said Patti Olsgard, safety director for the Colorado Motor Carriers Association and chairwoman of the American Trucking Associations CSA 2010 Task Force.

Olsgard said FMCSA officials have done a “really good job” of responding to questions and concerns raised by carriers.

One Colorado-based carrier that saw a spike in equipment violations has “reworked” its maintenance department and has hired additional personnel to improve “weaknesses” in its vehicle maintenance practices, Olsgard said.

Tom Crawford, president of the Missouri Motor Carriers Association, said a lack of data in states with the split testing format has made it difficult to assess the effects of the new safety rating system.

“It’s caused some difficulties,” he said, but he added that most carriers applaud the “intention and direction” of CSA 2010.

Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, said she has noticed an “uptick” in people stopping by to inquire about safety compliance, mostly operators of dump trucks or construction fleets and port drivers that are being “caught in the loop.”

Freight haulers have expressed some concerns, but “no one’s panicking,” Toth said.

In Kansas, nearly 600 motor carriers received warning letters indicating that their safety performance was “unacceptable,” even though many of the companies have good safety and compliance records, said Thomas Whitaker, executive director of the Kansas Motor Carriers Association.

Although there is support for a performance-based safety rating program, Whitaker said CSA 2010 “creates a program based on penalties with little or no consideration of positive initiatives.”

In a Nov. 18 policy statement, KMCA’s board of directors insisted that FMCSA address five areas “immediately to provide fairness.”

KMCA said it wants documents other than violations to be excluded from the database being used to score safety; steps to assure that fleets aren’t penalized for crashes caused by passenger vehicle operations; use of vehicle miles traveled instead of power units to determine crash exposure; limited public release of safety information that could be misconstrued; and a revised system of weighting the severity of crash risk indicators.

John Hausladen, president of the Minnesota Trucking Association, said members have raised several “serious” issues based on recent test results. They include:

  • Inconsistent enforcement from one state to another.
  • Unreasonably severe weighting of some violations. Moving or changing residences from one state to another and not transferring a driver’s license has a severity weight of 6, for instance, and improper loading and cargo securement has 108 possible 10s (on a scale of 1 to 10), which puts flatbed carriers at greater risk than other carriers.
  • Unfair enforcement burden. Motor carriers in test states face greater scrutiny than carriers in neighboring states.
  • Insufficient access to information on drivers. FMCSA has flagged some drivers for violations but has yet to make the information available to carriers for use in hiring.
  • Inadequate means to challenge violations. Carriers cannot easily remove violations when a court has overturned the infraction.
  • Damage to carriers that are “wrongly rated.” Some carriers with good safety records and favorable SafeStat scores are being found deficient in the test program, which could lead to loss of business, higher insurance premiums and increased litigation unless data are “proven to work.”

Transport Topics, 1/4/2010

Group Lists Top Transportation Issues for 2010
Monday, 04 January 2010 00:00

Funding transportation projects, creating jobs and eliminating distracted driving lead the list of transportation priorities and topics that may be addressed in 2010, said the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Drivers will see more construction zones this year as federally funded projects get under way.

“But we will still need a long-term solution to address everything from fixing potholes to making needed repairs to our aging infrastructure," Larry "Butch" Brown, association president, said in a release. Brown is the executive director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

AASHTO’s list of transportation issues that may be addressed in 2010 include:

  • Adopting a long-term transportation funding bill;
  • Adopting a new jobs bill;
  • Deterring distracted driving;
  • Ensuring safer roads;
  • Moving on high-speed rail grants;
  • Addressing climate change;
  • Responding to increased congestion due to capacity issues;
  • Using social media for traffic and travel updates;
  • Enhancing safety through roadway improvements; and
  • Creating more livable communities.

Light & Medium Truck, 1/4/2010

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