Wednesday, January 9, 2013 by
Illinois House Bill 5101 prohibits texting or using a hand-held cell phone while driving a commercial motor vehicle - making it a serious traffic violation. Illinois previously prohibited texting while driving for all vehicles, but cell phones were permitted. Illinois statutes have since been amended to be in compliance with the Motor Carrier Safety Regulations law that prohibits texting and cell phone use by commercial motor vehicle drivers.
Senate Bill 2488 also prohibits cell phone use in construction or maintenance speed zones regardless of the speed limit in those zones. Drivers can only use cell phones in voice-operated mode, which includes the use of a headset or cell phones used with single button activation.
Friday, April 20, 2012 by
Beginning in 2014, Kansas will no longer have a motor carrier property tax. The tax has applied to for-hire motor carriers operating in Kansas (regardless whether the motor carrier is actually based in the state) since 1956 as an ad valorem tax on the value of their rolling stock. The new law, which was signed by the Kansas governor on April 6, does impose an additional registration fee on intrastate and interstate carriers operating in Kansas. Unlike the repealed tax, however, the registration fee will apply equally to both for-hire and private carriers.
Monday, January 30, 2012 by
Pursuant to recently released Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) FAQs on its new handheld mobile telephone ban, drivers are allowed to use the push-to-talk function on a mobile telephone as long as the driver is not required to reach for, dial, or actually hold the mobile phone while driving. According to the FMCSA, if the mobile phone is mounted in a cradle or similar device near the driver, or there is a remote push-to-talk button near the vehicle controls, the driver may use the push-to-talk function.
Monday, December 5, 2011 by
Carriers should be aware that their drivers will continue to be required to keep a copy of their medical certificate with them for at least another year (in addition, carriers are required to keep a copy in their file and submit a third copy to the applicable state licensing agency). The medical certificate possession requirement was due to end on January 30, 2012, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) says it must give states additional time to get an automated electronic tracking system in place. The planned system will be designed so that drivers can submit their certificate to a state licensing bureau, which will then add the applicable medical data to the Commercial Driver Licensing Information System database. Roadside enforcement officials will then have direct access to this database. Unfortunately, it seems many states will be unable to get their data together in time to meet the original 2012 deadline so the FMCSA has extended it until January 30, 2014.
Friday, September 16, 2011 by
After eight years of legal proceedings, the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that Swift truckers who claim that the company routinely shorts drivers for mileage may take their case to trial. The drivers claim that Swift uses an artificial calculation that results in drivers being paid for significantly fewer miles than they actually drive. The suit claims that by basing per-mile pay on mileages calculated by software rather than actual miles driven, Swift underpaid drivers by seven to ten percent. The class action case encompasses all drivers and owner-operators who worked for Swift since January 30, 1998.
Friday, September 16, 2011 by
An analysis of the CSA enforcement system found that it needs improvement but that most elements are working well. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute conducted a 30-month field test of CSA, concluding that the system worked better than SafeStat, improved carrier behavior, and reached more carriers.
However, the study indicated that the FMCSA needs to make adjustments to two of the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), the Cargo-Related and Driver Fitness BASICs, which show a weaker relationship to crash risk than do other BASICs. The institute also found that there was a lag time in measureable safety performance improvement after investigations.
Friday, September 16, 2011 by
If the California Air Resources Board adopts the recommendation of its staff, it will not extend the seven-year legal life of 2004-model transport refrigeration units (TRUs), which is set to expire on December 31. Fleets and trucking associations requested that the ’04 TRUs be allowed to run for up to ten years, but CARB’s staff advised against any extensions, stating that soot pollution from the units is “unacceptably high” at grocery distribution centers located near residential neighborhoods.
Friday, September 16, 2011 by
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's anticipated pilot program for long-distance trucking across the Mexican border remains on hold. The Inspector General of the Department of Transportation indicates that the program is close to being ready, but that the FMCSA must first explain how it will conduct certain safety audits of Mexican carriers in Mexico before getting the green light to move forward. Ultimately, the goal of the program is to test the system devised by the FMCSA to ensure that Mexican trucks are safe and in compliance with U.S. cabotage regulations. Of course, even once it is green-lighted, the program faces additional opposition - i.e., the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has sued to halt the program, and several congressmen have introduced legislation to limit the program.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 by
The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit tossed out the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (“FMCSA”) electronic onboard recorder (“EOBR”) rule because it does not do enough to prevent the harassment of drivers or provide details on how it will prevent such harassment by motor carriers using the devices. Following challenges by industry groups, the rule was vacated and sent back to the FMCSA for further analysis and review.
This proposed EOBR rule is scheduled to take effect in June 2012 and will only apply to repeat Hours of Service rules violators – requiring them to install EOBRs. A broader EOBR rule covering virtually all carriers is coming, but still several years away.
Friday, June 3, 2011 by
Update to Feb. 16th post:
On May 6th, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") reopened the Hours Of Service (“HOS”) comment period, which previously closed on March 4, 2011. While it did not say how long this new comment period would stay open, the FMCSA did say that this action was meant to allow for the review of four newly presented fatigue studies. It looks like industry groups, including the American Trucking Association, are skeptical about these new studies – viewing them as likely an 11th hour ploy generated by the FMCSA to prop up the proposed changes.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 by
A leading trucking industry group has now come out in support of an expanded Electronic Onboard Recorder ("EOBR") rule being pushed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA"). The Truckload Carrier Association ("TCA") recently announced publically that it now supports the FMCSA's EOBR proposal, which would require all 500,000 U.S. motor carriers to maintain driver logs electronically via EOBRs. The FMCSA's new EOBR rule would take effect three (3) years after being made final.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 by
Earlier this month (March), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration ("PHMSA") issued a final rule prohibiting texting on electronic devices by drivers hauling hazardous materials. The final rule will be effective beginning March 30, 2011. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") already prohibits texting by commercial motor vehicle drivers operating in interstate commerce, but does not have jurisdiction over intrastate driving. The PHMSA enjoys authority over ALL drivers hauling hazmat so this new rule will assure both interstate and intrastate hazmat haulers are prohibited from texting while driving.
Monday, February 14, 2011 by
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced it will hold an additional public listening session on proposed revisions to hours-of-service (HOS) requirements for commercial truck drivers on February 17, 2011 in Arlington, Virginia. The entire listening session will be live webcast at www.fmcsa.dot.gov and FMCSA officials will take online comments and questions from the public starting at 12 noon EST. According to FMCSA, the goal of the listening session is to gather a broad range of comments, ideas and relevant data as the agency analyzes responses to its December 23, 2010 HOS regulatory proposal.
For additional information, please go to: http://fmcsa.dot.gov/about/news/news-releases/2011/Feb-2011-public-listening-session.aspx.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011 by
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) is proposing a new rule on the use of electronic onboard recorders (“EOBRs”). This new proposal will significantly expand upon the current rule set to take effect on June 4, 2012, which will require all carriers that violate hours of service rules 10 percent of the time to use EOBRs to track driver hours. The proposed rule would expand the EOBR mandate to all drivers who are currently required to complete paper logs, and would take effect three years after the FMCSA issues a final order. The proposed rule would also mandate carriers to implement driver hours of service oversight programs to ensure compliance, and would modify the current supporting documents requirement.
The FMCSA will enforce the current rule taking effect on June 4, 2012 from that date until the compliance date of the new rule. Motor carriers are being encouraged to submit comments to the proposed rule on or before April 1, 2011.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011 by
A federal mandate for heavy trucks to be outfitted with speed limiters could be coming to the trucking industry. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") will begin rulemaking procedures to this effect and expects to have a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published sometime in 2012. Several leaders in the trucking industry, including the ATA and a number of larger motor carriers, have openly supported such a mandate in the past - citing emphirical evidence that trucks with speed limiters installed are safer and account for less serious highway accidents than those without limiters.
Saturday, November 20, 2010 by
Effective as of November 11, 2010, the California Highway Patrol has adopted regulations affecting motor carriers usinig equipment they do not own. The language closely mirrors the federal leasing regulations found at 49 CFR 376 ("Lease and Interchange of Vehicles" to Title 13). Under the new California regulations, all intrastate carriers using owner-operators on a non-temporary basis will have a new regulatory obligation, and CHP may now enforce the provisions of CFR 376 "Lease and Interchange of Vehicles" on interstate carriers. This includes the authority to examine lease agreements in order to determine which entity (overlying motor carrier or underlying independent contractor) is responsible for vehicle safety and maintenance during BIT inspections.
Note that while they are effective now, subsection (g) of the regulations provides for a transition period:
“For those business entities which have engaged in some sort of vehicle leasing relationship enacted prior to the filing of these regulations, the terms of these regulations will be met no later than June 30, 2011.”
Cal. Admin. Code Tit. 13, § 1235.7(g) (Westlaw 2010).
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.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 by
On September 11, 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") will eliminate the practice of allowing non-motor carrier registrants to obtain registrant-only USDOT numbers. The "registrant-only" USDOT number was developed by the FMCSA as a way to identify registered owners of commercial motor vehicles ("CMVs") that are not motor carriers, but lease their CMVs to entities that are motor carriers.
Ultimately, the FMCSA determined that the registrant-only USDOT numbers were having an adverse affect on its ability to track motor carriers' safety violations. In too many cases, law enforcement personnel were being presented with registrant-only USDOT numbers during inspections and crash investigations. As a result, the data that should have been assigned to the record of the offending motor carrier operating the CMV was being erroneously assigned to the registrant-only USDOT number - a number that should have no safety events assigned to it.
Thursday, August 5, 2010 by
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") announced yesterday its next step in the phased rollout of Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 now simply called ("CSA “). Starting August 16, 2010 the FMCSA will allow motor carriers to see how they are performing in each of the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories ("BASICS").
The FMCSA also said it has improved the system to address certain trucking industry concerns. For example, exposure under two of the BASICS - Unsafe Driving and the Crash Indicator - will no longer be based on only the number of power units, but will instead use a calculation based on a combination of power units and miles driven. In addition, Carriers will now be grouped by the number of inspections with a violation (for Unsafe Driving) and the number of crashes (for the Crash Indicator); the number of power units will be replaced by the number of relevant inspections when grouping under the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASICS; etc.
Finally, despite speculation to the contrary, the FMCSA confirmed its intention to proceed with CSA 2010 implementation in accordance with its published schedule available at: http://csa2010.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/csa_when.aspx
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.).