Thursday, May 24, 2012 by
Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") released its 2012-2016 strategic plan, which lays out the agency's safety-focused initiatives over the next five years. The strategic plan is built around a three-pronged approach to truck and bus safety: raise the barrier to entry to the industry; enforce high safety standards; and eliminate high-risk carriers and drivers.
Among other things, the agency plans to development a smartphone application called the "SaferBus App" in order to assist consumers in selecting a particular carrier. Additionally, the FMCSA hopes to increase accessibility to its data management system. The FMCSA plans to complete rulemaking revisions to the Safety Fitness Procedures, in accordance with the CSA. Through this rulemaking FMCSA would establish safety fitness determinations based on safety data from crashes, inspections, and violation history rather than the old compliance review. The intention is to permit the FMCSA to assess the safety performance of a greater segment of the motor carrier industry with the hope of reducing large truck and bus crashes, injuries, and fatalities. The FMCSA will also work on rulemaking revisions to the Electronic On-Board Recorders for Hours of Service Drivers to require motor carriers to install and operate Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs).
Further, the FMCSA will create a single comprehensive safety ranking system that covers all regulated carriers (ie, passenger, HAZMAT property, and HHG carriers, as well as shippers, including intermodal freight, brokers, drivers, and cargo tank manufacturers or repair facilities.) The Agency hopes to expand CSA and the number of carriers with SMS BASIC scores.
The FMCSA's strategic plan is available at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/what-we-do/Strategic-Plan/Strategic-Plan.aspx.
Monday, December 19, 2011 by
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") proposed a new rule that would make it tougher for sanctioned carriers to reincarnate themselves under a new identity.
In the recently released notice of proposed rulemaking, the FMCSA proposed changing its procedures in several areas affecting truck lines, intermodal equipment providers, brokers, freight forwards and hazmat proceedings. The proposed rule would clarify that paying the full civil penalty in an enforcement proceeding would not give the entity the ability to avoid admitting liability.
Additionally, the FMCSA proposes the ability to review out-of-service orders before they go into effect on reincarnated operations that have a history of rule violations, along with consolidating the records of reincarnated entities together with that of the predecessors'.
The notice was posted in the Federal Register on December 13th. Comments are due by Jan. 12, 2012.
Thursday, November 17, 2011 by
On Wednesday, November 9, the Senate Environment and Public Works ("EPW") Committee unanimously reported a bill that would reauthorize the federal highway program for two years. However, the measure must pass the full Senate before passage, which challenging.
The bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), consolidates some 90 federal transportation programs down to fewer than 30, in order to eliminate duplication and focus resources.
In addition, it boosts funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation program, which leverages federal money by providing loans, loan guarantees and lines of credit to pay for highway projects of national and regional significance. Funding would go from $122 million to $1 billion a year, and the cap on federal cost-sharing would go from 33% to 49%.
Additionally, MAP-21 would create a new National Freight Network Program, which would provide funds to states to improve cargo movement and intermodal connectors.
Furthermore, MAP-21 also contains a "Jason's Law" provision, which would provide funding for truck parking facilities. This commemorates truck driver Jason Rivenburg, who was murdered in March, 2009, while parked at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina, a place drivers frequented because they could not find space at established rest areas.
The bill does not address truck weight issues. The leaders of the EPW Committee decided not to accept any weight amendments in order to move the bill quickly, according to a spokesperson for the Coalition for Transportation Productivity.
The bill calls for $109 billion over the two years, which would keep spending at current levels plus inflation, but the funding that will be available from the Highway Trust Fund falls about $12 billion below that.
The EPW Committee is counting on one of its key members, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who also chairs the Senate Finance Committee, to find the $12 billion.
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking Republican on the committee, made it clear that if the money cannot be found, the bill will not move forward.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 by
On Nov. 9, debates and votes are scheduled in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee regarding its two-year surface transportation bill, titled Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP 21), . The Committee's strategy is to produce a two-year measure funded at current levels, plus inflation. This will require about $12 billion more than will be available from the Highway Trust Fund, a difference that Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., a member of EPW and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has said he believes can be found.
The committee's bill, MAP 21, consolidates a number of highway funding programs. For instance, it would merge the Interstate Maintenance, National Highway System and part of the Highway Bridge programs into one program that focuses on the most critical stretches of road.
The bill includes a specific program for freight, providing funds to states to improve cargo movement and intermodal connectors. Furthermore, the bill would expand innovative contracting methods, create dispute resolution procedures and allow for early acquisition of rights-of-way. The hope is to improve project delivery.
It would also boost funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation ("TIFIA") program from $122 million to $1 billion a year. TIFIA leverages federal money by providing loans, loan guarantees and lines of credit to pay for highway projects of national and regional significance.
If the schedule holds, EPW will be the first congressional committee up for debates with a detailed proposal for the long-postponed legislation.
Monday, June 13, 2011 by
The FMCSA has moved ahead with a proposal that would relieve drivers of the obligation to provide driver-vehicle inspection reports ("DVIRs") to intermodal equipment providers ("IEP") if the driver has neither found nor been made aware of any defects in the intermodal equipment provided by the IEP. The FMCSA is accepting comments on the proposal until August 8, 2011.
Monday, May 23, 2011 by
The FMCSA has announced that the June 30, 2011 deadline by which motor carriers are required to provide certain Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports ("DVIRs") to Intermodal Equipment Providers ("IEP") has been extended to June 30, 2012, and that in the interim, the agency expects to propose a rule for public comment that does away with the requirement altogether. Under the current motor carrier regulations, a motor carrier is required to provide a DVIR to an IEP with respect to intermodal equipment used by the carrier even if there are no damages, defects or deficiencies discovered with respect to the equipment. If the FMCSA follows through with its intent of doing away with the rule, motor carriers will be relieved of the burden of providing a DVIR to the IEP if no defects are found. On the other hand, a motor carrier's failure to provide a DVIR will be argued by the IEP, in the event of an accident, as evidence that the equipment at issue was in good condition and therefore that the IEP is not liable for the accident. Thus, while the rule will provide some benefits to motor carriers, it also increases the burden on motor carriers to identify any patent defects in equipment and to identify those defects in a DVIR that is provided to the IEP.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011 by
According to Intermodal Association of North America("IANA"), a near 17-percent surge in volume in the fourth quarter pushed 2010 intermodal volumes up by 14.7 percent overall for 2010. IANA's stated that the strong fourth quarter international results also helped overall 2010 international volume to increase 18.5% - the highest increase since IANA began reporting intermodal statistics in 1996. After several previous quarters of decline, international intermodal volume surged every quarter of 2010, driven primarily by retailers rebuilding inventories.
Total domestic volume during the fourth quarter was the highest ever recorded by IANA, topping 1.6 million loads, helping make 2010 the best growth year for overall domestic business. This increase followed a 7.0 percent gain in 2008 and 2.9 percent growth in 2009. Unlike international volumes, domestic container volumes never declined during the recent recession.
Friday, September 10, 2010 by
On June 29th we reported that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's "roadability" rule on intermodal container chassis would go into effect on June 30th. While the majority of the "roadability" rule did take effect on that date, on August 20, 2010 the FMCSA extended until June 30, 2011 the compliance date for the portion of the rule requiring drivers and motor carriers to prepare a driver-vehicle inspection report ("DVIR") on an item of intermodal equipment if no damage, defects, or deficiences are discovered by, or reported to, the driver.
This action was taken to provide the FMCSA with sufficient time to address, through a notice-and-comment rulemaking proceeding, an issue raised in a petition for rulemaking submitted on March 31, 2010 by the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association ("OCEMA"). The OCEMA's petition argues that requiring the preparation and transmittal of no-defect DVIRs imposes an undue burden on drivers, motor carriers, intermodal equipment providers, and intermodal facilities nationwide.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010 by
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's "roadability" rule on intermodal container chassis goes into effect June 30.
49 C.F.R. §§ 390.40 and .42 govern chassis “roadability” and require, among other things:
- Registration by Intermodal Equipment Providers (“IEP”) with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”);
- Written, driver-signed pre-trip reports on the condition of each chassis, as the chassis is delivered to an equipment provider,
or their agent;
- Copies of driver reports, available for FMCSA audit, to be accessible at every IEP;
- Numbering of each chassis to conform to federal regulations, regardless of the current chassis numbering system;
- Annual chassis inspections; and
- IEP repair and maintenance record-keeping systems;
These regulations were meant to originally take effect on December 17, 2009, but, because of concerns expressed by industry groups, the deadline for compliance has been pushed back. Now, partial compliance is required by June 30th (i.e., IEPs must have a database to track and report the condition of each chassis, etc.) with full compliance due by December 17, 2010 (i.e., IEPs must have the chassis properly marked, etc.).
Monday, June 21, 2010 by
As previously reported on this blog, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. v. Regal-Beloit Corp. involved a rail carrier. However, the case also affects motor carriers since motor carriers are also subject to the Carmack Amendment. Unfortunately, the case is not clear as to its affect on motor carriers. As noted, the issue in the case was whether the Carmack Amendment or the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA") applies to cargo claims arising during the inland leg of an import ocean move. The court ruled that COGSA applies. This is generally thought to be favorable to motor carriers defending cargo loss and damage claims because COGSA includes a $500 per package limitation of liability and it is possible that the entire intermodal container will be considered a package for purposes of the limitation. However, the decision raises questions with respect to whether Carmack applies to export moves that will move by steamship under a through bill of lading, or to import moves from Canada and Mexico.
Monday, June 21, 2010 by
Today the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Carmack Amendment does not apply to the inland rail portion of international, multimodal import shipments moving under through bills of lading (i.e., those covering both the ocean and inland portions of transport in a single document) and that the forum selection clause contained in the bills is enforceable. The bills designated COGSA (the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act) as the law governing the carriers’ responsibility for cargo loss and damage claims during the entire shipment; contained a “Himalaya Clause,” which extends the bills’ defenses and liability limitations to subcontractors; and designated a Tokyo court as the venue for any dispute. The 6-3 decision was issued in the companion cases of Union Pacific Railroad Company v. Regal-Beloit Corporation
and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha v. Regal-Beloit Corporation
Thursday, December 31, 2009 by
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extended the Dec. 17 deadline for compliance on its "roadability" rule for intermodal container chassis to June 30, 2010, according to the American Trucking Associations.
The extension applies to Intermodal Equipment Provider (IEP), motor carrier and driver compliance with the Driver Vehicle Inspection Report recordkeeping requirements. It does not, however, apply to FMCSA inspection, repair and maintenance requirements.
Monday, January 4, 2010 by
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has amended its rules governing intermodal equipment which became effective in December 2008. The amendments are effective immediately. Among other things, the amendments permit use of the Global Intermodal Equipment Registry, developed by the Intermodal Association of North America, to meet equipment identification requirements, and extend, from December 17, 2009 to June 30, 2010, the deadline for compliance with certain provisions pertaining to driver-vehicle inspections. The FMCSA’s announcement appears at 74 Fed. Reg. 68703.