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Transportation News Bulletins - LTL and TL

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Ferro outlines FMCSA “core priorities” to Mid-West truckers
Friday, 05 February 2010 00:00

PEORIA, Ill.—The top industry regulator—looking ahead to a series of wide-ranging policy initiatives this year—told truckers here that she has challenged her agency to think in new ways while advancing the federal safety agenda.

“It takes time to build that platform that we can launch from, but I think this is what the past decade has been about,” said Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is now in its 11th year. “We are in a better spot than we’ve ever been. That’s a great thing, but it’s not enough. We know that, and you all know that, because we live it every day.”

Opening the Mid-West Truck Show and Convention, Ferro acknowledged that she was “preaching to the choir” in calling for improved truck safety. She outlined the FMCSA agenda for the coming months, featuring a carrier safety assessment overhaul, Hours of Service reconsideration, distracted driving initiatives, and electronic on-board recorder mandates all in various stages of planning or implementation.

Ferro explained the agency’s “core priorities,” around which the safety programs are designed: “to raise the bar” for those trying to enter the industry; to maintain high safety standards for those who remain in the industry; and to ensure that high-risk operators are taken off the roads.

New entrant requirements, Ferro told the association gathering, are being put in place to prevent the “spiral down” that results when safe, established carriers have to compete with new trucking companies that are not up to federal standards—an issue that she knew was important from her days as a trucking association executive.

“If the agency is credentialing folks that aren’t safe and allowing them to operate, it hurts everybody,” Ferro said.

Similarly, Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA 2010) is designed to raise the safety bar for existing carriers through “a targeted approach” designed to identify and correct problems before accidents happen.

“I have never seen a program gain the attention of the industry so robustly as CSA 2010,” she said, adding the agency would be extending its education and outreach efforts as the program rolls out nationwide this summer.

She also noted “a point of confusion” regarding drivers.

“The CSA 2010 system is not rating drivers,” Ferro said. “It’s identifying motor carriers that may show a pattern of deploying unsafe drivers. It’s a measurement on the carrier.”

Ferro did leave open the possibility that FMCSA would establish a similar ratings system for drivers, “but not this year, and not next year,” and only after openly developing such a program.

“It’s not coming out of left field,” she said.

As for HOS, Ferro said FMCSA is “bound and determined to get it right this time.”

The agency’s timeline calls for delivering a draft rule by July. She noted that, of the four “listening sessions” to gather input on HOS rules, the best attended was the meeting held in Davenport, Iowa— located there to allow more convenient access for truckers.

“We had speakers every single hour (in Davenport). I was very impressed with the professionals who spoke,” Ferro said. “The others all ended early.”

In response to an audience question, Ferro assured the truckers that any new HOS rules were not being driven by the safety advocacy groups who have repeatedly challenged the standards in court, prompting the current reevaluation.

Ferro also credited drivers and carriers for supporting the recent texting-while-driving ban imposed on truckers, adding that criticism the rule is tough to enforce shouldn’t preclude the agency from acting on “grossly unsafe behavior.”

And while a texting ban should “absolutely” extend to all drivers, “professional drivers must be held to a higher standard, you’re the pros,” she said.

Ferro also encouraged truckers to be involved in the development of an industry-wide EOBR mandate.

“The carriers that are using EOBRs for safety and performance improvement have had a great experience with the technology,” she said, adding the agency would be looking into how to apply and phase-in a universal mandate, along with how to “keep it simple” and for potential loopholes., 2/5/2010

CVSA Releases 2010 Out-of-Service Criteria
Friday, 05 February 2010 00:00

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will release the 2010 North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria April 1. The annually published guide provides law enforcement and the motor carrier industry with guidelines for promoting uniformity in compliance and enforcement throughout North America.

The CVSA has maintained, updated and published the guide for more than 20 years. The Out-of-Service Criteria guidelines are used by certified state, provincial, territorial and federal law enforcement personnel in identifying Critical Vehicle Inspection Item violations following a roadside inspection. Officials are trained to identify hazards, and they can prohibit a motor carrier or operator from driving until the defective condition is corrected. The OOSC is a component of the North American Standard Inspection Program, and is developed through a collaborative process that includes government and industry experts.

Roadside inspection results are used in part to identify motor carriers that present a high degree of risk to the motoring public. The data collected helps determine which transportation companies will be selected for review under FMCSA’s new Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA 2010) initiative.

For more information on the North American Standard Inspection Program, which oversees the Out-of- Service standards, or on how to obtain the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria, visit CVSA. For more information on CSA 2010, visit CSA2010, 2/5/2010

Hazmat Registration Fee Could Triple
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 00:00
PHMSA proposes increase on large, for-profit carriers for grant program

Nearly 7,000 companies that qualify as large, for-profit haulers or shippers of hazardous materials would see their federal annual registration fee triple, to $3,000 under a plan designed to shore up a hazmat training grants program.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration proposed the fee increase through a Feb. 2 notice in the Federal Register, and told industry participants they have one month to submit comments. The plan would take effect as of the registration year that begins July 1, and allows PHMSA to re-bill firms that have already pre-paid their registrations.

Those affected could be large manufacturers of hazmat shipments, as well as large firms that would carry them by highway, rail, barge, ship or even air.

The agency says those fee hikes are needed to fund a $28 million annual program that awards grants to train hazmat first responders throughout states, territories and 45 Native American tribes. The grants also pay for development and updating of emergency plans, event-simulation drills that test responses, and the updating and distribution of guidebooks.

But after handing out grants of more than $200 million since 1993, PHMSA said its grant pool is down to just a $1.5 million surplus and needs a substantial boost.

In all, PHMSA said it gets about 41,000 registrations a year from those who either transport certain hazmats that are subject to the fee or offer them up for transport. But it figures 83 percent or 34,025 are small businesses or not-for-profit organizations that pay a low fee of $250 plus $25 for processing. That nets about $8.5 million for the grant program.

Large firms, however, already pay $1,000 a year—$975 for the actual registration plus that $25 handling charge—and PHMSA would tack on another $2,000 for each of those 6,975 applicants. Their new fee level would generate over $20 million, compared with less than $5 million now.

Applicants can register and pay in advance for up to three years at a time, and about 2,100 in the largefirm target group have already done so. While PHMSA would go back to them for the fee increases, the agency points out that it also paid refunds totaling $2.3 million after it lowered fees in 2003.

The Journal of Commerce Online, 2/3/2010

Oil, trucking groups file Calif. fuel suit
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 00:00

The American Trucking Associations on Feb. 2 joined petroleum refiners and other end-users in a legal challenge to California’s recently enacted low-carbon fuel standard.

The regulation adopted by the California Air Resources Board requires annual reductions in the carbon intensity of gasoline and diesel over the next 10 years. The LCFS regulation falls directly upon fuel providers (refiners, importers and blenders of fuel), but is likely to impact end-users because of associated fuel price increases.

ATA says the legal challenge is based largely on the Commerce Clause with assertions that the “shuffling” of low-carbon fuel to California and away from other states will burden fuel providers and consumers significantly without any net change in fuel’s carbon intensity on a global scale, resulting in no reduction—and a likely increase—in greenhouse gas emissions.

“The LCFS would essentially ban imports to California of fuels derived from unconventional sources such as oil sands from Canada, oil shale from the Western U.S. or domestic coal supplies that can be converted into transportation fuels,” says Rich Moskowitz, ATA vice president. “Discouraging these fuels will simply increase costs while failing to prevent their export to and consumption by other nations.”

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in California, also challenged the regulatory scheme as discriminating in favor of California-produced fuels by assigning them lower carbon-intensity ratings because of shorter transportation distances to users. Others joining the suit include the Center for North American Energy Security, Consumer Energy Alliance and National Petrochemical and Refiners Association., 2/3/2010

Diesel Drops 5.2¢ to $2.781 in Third Straight Decline
Tuesday, 02 February 2010 00:00
Prices Are Lowest This Year; Gas Falls 4.4¢.

Diesel’s national average price fell 5.2 cents to $2.781 a gallon, matching the biggest drop in six months, the Department of Energy said Monday.

Trucking’s main fuel has fallen 9.8 cents in the past three weeks, and the drop left it 53.5 cents higher the same week last year, DOE said.

While that decline is well below the 15.3-cent increase of the prior three weeks, it left Monday’s price at a 2010 low, according to DOE records. The decline matched the 5.2-cent downturn on July 13, when the price fell to $2.542.

Gasoline also fell for a third week, declining 4.4 cents to $2.661, its biggest drop since late September. Gas has fallen 9 cents in the past three weeks.

Prior to the three-week run at the beginning of this year, diesel had fallen for seven straight weeks, though the decline over that time was a modest 7.6 cents.

Diesel has fallen in 10 of the past 13 weeks, though the price is just 2.7 cents below the start of that cycle, when it averaged $2.808 a gallon on Nov. 2.

Oil prices have declined steadily in the past two weeks, closing Friday below $73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Crude futures rose about $1.50 to finish the trading day Monday at about $74.40, following positive economic reports, Bloomberg reported.

Each week, DOE surveys about 350 diesel filling stations to compile a national snapshot average price.

Transport Topics, 2/2/2010

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