A coalition of major carriers has petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to immediately allow hair sample tests to satisfy federal rules requiring trucking companies to drug test truck drivers pre-employment. Currently, the agency only recognizes urine sample tests.
The Trucking Alliance, a carrier advocacy group that includes fleets like Maverick Transportation, Knight Transportation, J.B. Hunt and Dupre Logistics, submitted the petition.
The FAST Act highway bill passed last year opens the door for the agency to recognize hair tests in lieu of urine samples, but not until the Department of Health and Human Services creates guidelines for hair sample testing. The FAST Act requires HHS to finalize guidelines within a year of the law’s enactment, which would be Dec. 5, 2016 of this year.
The guidelines have not yet been finalized, however, and the Alliance says HHS likely will request more time to do so, further delaying carriers’ ability to test driver via hair sample, the Alliance argues.
Final highway bill: CSA revamp in, younger truckers and carrier ‘hiring standards’ out
The FAST Act highway bill brings with it a bevy of big and small regulatory changes for the trucking industry. Here’s what did and didn’t …
“On this issue, the private sector is already far ahead of the public sector in utilizing the latest methods to detect drug users,” said Lane Kidd, managing director of the Trucking Alliance. “While we wait on HHS and FMCSA, we can possibly save lives with this exemption by keeping many hard drug users out of our trucks and off our highways.”
Some carriers like J.B. Hunt already test drivers via hair sample, but such carriers must still spend the money to test drivers via urine sample too, a practice that could be ended if the agency accepted drug screening via hair analysis, the Alliance members argue.
The US shipping community received a reprieve Monday from worst-case potential disruption caused by an electronic logging mandate for truck drivers that takes effect Dec. 18. An association representing state law enforcement agencies said it would postpone putting drivers out-of-service for not complying with the mandate until April 1, 2018.
“Beginning April 1, 2018, inspectors will start placing commercial motor vehicle drivers out of service if their vehicle is not equipped with the required device,” the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) said in a statement. The April 1 “effective date” for applying electronic logging device (ELD) out-of-service criteria will give truckers and shippers time to adjust to the rule with “minimal disruption to the delivery of goods.”
Starting Dec. 18, “roadside enforcement personnel will begin documenting violations on roadside inspection reports and, at the jurisdiction’s discretion, will issue citations to commercial motor vehicle drivers operating vehicles without a compliant ELD,” CVSA said in a statement. But carriers in effect will have an additional three-and-a-half months to install ELDs.
The CVSA’s action alleviates fears that thousands of truckers could be placed out of service for not having ELDs starting Dec. 18, stranding freight a week before Christmas. That holiday logistical nightmare would likely have spiked spot market rates as trucks were dispatched to rescue stranded cargo and drivers. Concern about capacity shortages is already rising.
The Aug. 28 announcement clarifies how events are likely to unfold as the mandate takes effect and gives motor carriers struggling to prepare for the requirement, which effects approximately 3 million drivers, more breathing room. “Phased-in” enforcement of the mandate also may blunt attempts to delay implementation of the rule on Capitol Hill.
“The December deadline for this important safety regulation was established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [FMCSA] in 2015 following a decade of regulatory inquiry, study, litigation, and ultimately a congressional mandate,” CVSA executive director Collin B. Mooney said in a letter to FMCSA Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson.
He expressed “strong opposition” to any delay in the mandate. “Despite what opponents of the mandate may argue, the enforcement community is ready to begin enforcement of the requirement on Dec. 18,” Mooney said.
In short, truckers may receive a citation (and associated fine) if they do not have ELDs installed and operating Dec. 18, but they will not be ordered off the road and out-of-service. Information on companies and drivers that receive citations could be used by regulators to identify and investigate carriers suspected of not complying with the mandate.
Starting April 1, however, truck drivers that do not have ELDs will not drive away from a roadside inspection. They will be placed out-of-service by the state regulatory officials, roadside inspectors, and police officers represented by the CVSA, using its North American Out of Service Criteria. Someone else will have to pick up the freight being hauled by that out-of-service driver.
The electronic logging mandate is expected to have a far-reaching effect on US businesses and domestic and international supply chains, starting with a potential spike in port drayage costs. Truckload carriers and owner-operators may feel the brunt of the impact, but the advent of the ELD era could affect supply chain strategies that extend well beyond trucking procurement.
As Dec. 18 draws closer, many smaller trucking companies reportedly are far from ready to switch from paper logbooks to ELDs. A variety of groups, led by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, are seeking either an outright delay of the regulation or exemptions for specific types of trucking operations, such as drivers of rental trucks.
Companies that have not yet placed orders for ELDs may face shortages of the devices as the Dec. 18 deadline approaches. “The vendors don’t have barges sitting off the coast loaded with thousands of these devices,” John Seidl, a transportation consultant with Integrated Risk Solutions and former roadside inspector, said during an Aug. 3 JOC.com webcast.
Logistics executives, including C.H. Robinson Worldwide CEO John Wiehoff, have expressed concern that implementation of the ELD mandate in December could get “very messy.” The CVSA decision to phase in enforcement should alleviate the threat of an immediate pre-Christmas capacity snap and make a more gradual tightening of capacity over the next year more likely.
“CVSA member jurisdictions have used this phased-in approach in the past when implementing a significant change in regulatory requirements,” Mooney said in his letter. He said the CVSA board and FMCSA agreed the two-phase enforcement strategy would be the best approach and would “promote a smoother transition to the new ELD requirement.”
However, truckers, fleet operators, brokers, and shippers should not delay compliance plans. Those that do not take advantage of the “wiggle room” the phased-in approach affords may find themselves in a tight spot April 1.
SUNNYVALE, Calif., Sept. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Trimble (NASDAQ: TRMB) announced today that its FieldMaster Logs application has been registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as a self-certified Electronic Logging Device (ELD) solution.
FieldMaster Logs adds Hours of Service (HOS) and Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) functionality as part of its robust Fleet Management portfolio. In order to prevent driver fatigue and reduce accidents, the FMCSA’s HOS rules restrict the number of hours a driver may operate his/her vehicle. Trimble’s FieldMaster Logs tracks driver activity, provides clear communication to the driver about hours remaining and gives robust reports to managers to measure their driver’s activity and availability. Using FieldMaster Log’s DVIR features ensure that drivers perform safety inspections of their vehicle and that vehicle issues are captured and communicated to the maintenance team.
Trimble’s Fleet Management portfolio offers reliable hardware and software solutions for capturing vehicle positions, tracking driver behavior and communicating with the vehicle’s engine bus to obtain diagnostic information. Monitoring these activities allows carriers to reduce fuel costs and improve driver safety.
“Trimble’s FieldMaster Logs application allows companies to improve productivity, profitability and most importantly, driver safety for our partners,” said John Cameron, general manager of Trimble’s Field Service Management Division. “We’re pleased to announce that our solution meets the FMCSA’s requirements for tracking HOS and DVIR activities, well in advance of the mandate’s deadline.”
In 2016, the FMCSA mandated that carriers who do not already have an Automatic Onboard Recording Device (AOBRD) installed on their vehicles must install a certified ELD solution by December 18, 2017. In addition, those vehicles that do have installed AOBRDs must replace them with certified ELDs by December 17, 2019.
To learn more about Trimble’s ELD options, join a webinar on Thursday, September 28 at 2:00 pm EDT. For more information or to register, visit: http://resources.trimblepulse.com/sign-up-for-our-eld-webinar.
About Trimble’s Field Service Management Division
Trimble’s Field Service Management Division provides visibility into field and fleet operations so businesses can streamline efficiency and increase productivity. The Field Service Management suite includes Fleet Management, Work Management and Scheduling, Worker Safety and Mobility solutions that transform the effectiveness of work, workers and assets in the field. The cloud-based portfolio allows Trimble to offer customers industry-specific, enterprise-level solutions for exceptional performance and ease of use. For more information, visit: www.trimble.com/fsm.
Trimble is transforming the way the world works by delivering products and services that connect the physical and digital worlds. Core technologies in positioning, modeling, connectivity and data analytics enable customers to improve productivity, quality, safety and sustainability. From purpose built products to enterprise lifecycle solutions, Trimble software, hardware and services are transforming a broad range of industries such as agriculture, construction, geospatial and transportation and logistics. For more information about Trimble (NASDAQ:TRMB), visit: www.trimble.com.
Costco, one of the world’s largest retailers, has stopped doing business with a California trucking company accused of trapping drivers in debt and then using it to force them to work overtime.
The action comes as brands across the U.S. face increased scrutiny for ignoring labor abuses in their supply lines, a widespread problem first revealed in a USA TODAY Network investigation in June.
Earlier this month, four prominent Democratic Senators, led by Sherrod Brown of Ohio, sent letters to 16 retailers, calling on them to root out “shameful” labor abuses first outlined by the USA TODAY Network.
Soon after, Costco Wholesale dropped Pacific 9 Transportation, one of the biggest port trucking companies in Southern California.
Hewlett-Packard also sent an auditor to investigate the company’s labor practices.
Both retailers declined to comment on their actions. Alan Ta, chief operating officer for Pacific 9, said that even before Costco withdrew, his company had stopped leasing trucks to drivers and launched a series of reforms to improve their pay.
A wave of pressure from retailers and manufacturers has hit port trucking operations across the industry, according to drivers who say their employers have been fielding calls from clients.
Those clients include Walmart, which pledged in a letter responding to the senators that it would cancel contracts with any trucking company that did not provide “assurances” it was following fair labor practices.
“The stories profiled in that article are deeply concerning,” Executive Vice President Jay Jorgensen wrote of the USA TODAY Network investigation, “Rigged.”
“Any motor carrier that fails to comply with law, such as those alleged in the article, would be in violation of our contract and would therefore be subject to cancellation,” he wrote.
The series revealed how port trucking companies in southern California have spent the past decade forcing drivers to finance their own trucks through company-sponsored lease-to-own programs they could not afford.
The longer drivers worked, the more trapped they felt. After just a few months, drivers typically had paid thousands of dollars towards a truck.
If drivers quit or got fired for any reason, most of them lost the truck and everything they had paid in. Many worked 20 hours a day to keep up with their truck payment and feed their family.
For years, Pacific 9 used the same kind of lease-to-own program.
Forty drivers have won California labor commissioner cases against Pacific 9, accusing the company of using the leases to cheat them of fair pay. Half of them testified that they had to work up to 19 hours a day, violating federal fatigue laws for truckers.
As the USA TODAY Network began investigating and as labor judgments piled up against Pacific 9, the company stopped using leases. In April 2016, facing almost $7 million in court-ordered back pay and penalties, the company filed for bankruptcy protection.
It has since started rehiring drivers as full-time employees and stopped charging them truck expenses.
Ta and many of his drivers said the company is now working to become a model for the rest of the industry.
Pacific 9’s sudden loss of business comes at a precarious time for the company – the tail end of drawn out bankruptcy negotiation with truckers.
Drivers and their attorneys sent at least two letters to the senators pleading with them to ease pressure on retailers using Pacific 9.
Rivera and Shackelford, a San Diego firm representing some Pacific 9 drivers, said Costco’s decision might “lead to the closing of Pacific 9 altogether,” undoing months of negotiations and possibly leaving drivers empty-handed.
“We believe this would be a tragedy,” the attorneys wrote.
Some drivers feel the same — even those who once testified about pervasive labor abuses inside the company.
“Pacific 9 has followed through on its commitments to us drivers,” wrote trucker Santiago Aguilar, who filed a labor claim against the company in 2013 and has since been rehired as an employee with full protections. Aguilar’s letter was signed by 13 others at the company. “Now, I get a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work,” he said.
Pacific 9 is one of the busiest operators at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports, according to port truck data obtained through a public records request.
Using the data, reporters tracked the movement of the company’s 160 trucks and found that they were on the clock for more than the 14-hour maximum set by federal law at least 7,500 times over three years. Almost all of the company’s rigs exceeded the time limit set for commercial truckers at least once.
But executives say those practices are a thing of the past.
“We have made significant change in our company and to our industry,” Ta said in an email.
Other companies that have used Pacific 9, either directly or as a subcontractor, include Hasbro and Goodyear. Hasbro did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Goodyear spokesman Keith Price said the tire giant “took immediate action and ceased use of Pacific 9 within two weeks of the California Labor Commission’s ruling against them.”
With efforts to derail or delay the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s long-in-process electronic logging device mandate having taken yet another hit with the defeat of the House appropriations bill amendment that would have delayed the Dec. 18 deadline, some truckers are determined to raise the profile around the issue on their own. As you’ll hear in the latest Overdrive Radio podcast in players up top and below, two officially unaffiliated groups have marked Tuesday, Oct. 3 as the beginning date for staged demonstrations in Washington, D.C., with the professed support of some individual operators around the country shutting down throughout the four-to-five days following. Owner-operator Erick Engbarth, meanwhile, though not involved in either of those efforts, offered a clear distillation of objection to the mandate by owner-operators. Take a listen (more on the two groups below):
ELD or Me
Regular readers will recognize the name of the Facebook group started in mid-May by East Tennessee-based trucker singer-songwriter Tony Justice with the express purpose of firing up drivers around opposition to the ELD mandate. Very early on in the group’s history, as I reported in late May, it was settling around early October for a demonstration in the national capitol. For several weeks now, they’ve been promoting the Doswell Truck Stop in Doswell, Va., as a rally point for trucks South of D.C., the TravelCenters of America location in Jessup, Md., to the north. At Doswell, Justice reports in the podcast, shuttle vans will be on hand to transport truckers downtown, though many involved with the effort have reported plans to stay inside D.C. itself and rendezvous with the group near the White House over the dates they’ve scheduled for their demonstration: October 3-7.
Material circulating with that information lately has also encouraged those who can’t be in attendance, but who are sympathetic to the ELD or Me cause, to shut down and rally in or around their own location.
ELD or me, as you’ll hear in the podcast, is also working on getting Congressional reps’ ears directly while in the capitol, with hopes of spurring on support for Texas Congressman Brian Babin’s H.R. 3282 ELD mandate delay bill, which would extend the enforcement date two years. In the podcast, you’ll also hear from Delaware-based former small fleet owner and longtime compliance consultant Richard Wilson about the group and its efforts as well.
Justice offers advice to those preparing to come to Washington, D.C., in the podcast, and noted an information page on Facebook was in development to provide further information. You can access that page via this link, which is pretty sparse as yet.
Catch the story of its origins in the following archived post and a past podcast in which Justice shared his reasons for leading the effort:
Driverless trucks are seen as one of the most promising – and fraught – elements of the coming autonomous future on U.S. roads. Convoys of robo-trucks guided across the country by a single human driver – or none at all – could become a major economic force. They could be a boon to safety, or a particularly potent hazard, opposing advocates say.
They could also gobble up plenty of good-paying jobs.
And so lawmakers seeking bipartisan backing for the so-called Self Drive Act made clear that their definition of a “highly automated vehicle . . . does not include a commercial motor vehicle,” as the legislation puts it.
That means it doesn’t cover trucks bigger than 10,000 pounds, or vehicles meant to carry more than 10 passengers or hazardous materials.
The bill would block states from regulating “the design, construction, or performance” of automated vehicles, clarifying that such power is in federal hands. Many technology and car companies have warned that state legislators are leaving behind a “patchwork” of regulations that could dampen innovation and thwart travelers crossing state lines.
Some state officials, meanwhile, argue that federal guidelines on autonomous vehicles, which are voluntary, do too little to guarantee safety.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has been working on changes to the Obama-era policies, and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will travel to Michigan next week to describe updated guidelines.
The House legislation set to be considered Wednesday also allows automakers and tech companies to seek exemptions, totaling in the tens of thousands, from federal vehicle safety standards, as long the companies can ensure a car’s safety won’t be downgraded. That would allow, for example, an automaker to ditch the steering wheel to allow more creative driverless designs. The legislation also instructs Chao, within two years, to require “safety assessment certifications” that demonstrate driverless vehicles “are likely to . . . function as intended and contain fail safe features.”
The Self Drive Act came out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee with unanimous support this summer, offering a rare bipartisan win on a high-profile issue on which members are eager to show results.
A separate House committee, Transportation and Infrastructure, has jurisdiction over trucking, which meant backers of the Self Drive Act could avoid the touchy and potentially perilous driverless truck issue. But the Senate Commerce Committee, which handles transportation issues and which is crafting its own bill, has wrestled with trucking, and it’s not clear how the House and Senate approaches will eventually mesh.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters was among the groups pushing Congress to stay clear of trucks.
James P. Hoffa, president of the Teamsters, said many issues remain with the House bill. But the union, which represents 600,000 drivers, commended Congress “for recognizing that a starting point for any discussion on this subject was that no legislation should impact commercial motor vehicles or traditional commercial drivers,” Hoffa said in a statement.
Hoffa said that the Teamsters must be at the center of any separate discussion on autonomy and trucking to make sure technology is “not used to put workers at risk on the job or destroy livelihoods and chip away at the middle class.”
But Michael Cammisa, vice president of safety and connectivity at the American Trucking Associations, said that the industry doesn’t think “it makes sense to write legislation without it applying to all vehicles, and that includes commercial trucks which account for 33.8 million registered vehicles and 450 billion miles traveled annually.”
Cammisa added that “it continues to be our belief that the technologies being developed today will assist, rather than supplant, drivers on the road.”
After hurricane Harvey devastated Texas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that 700 inspector positions were open to the public. No experience needed; inspectors would be required to temporarily relocate to affected areas in Texas.
Inspectors will be trained on how to conduct field inspections using FEMA software. Personnel will be reimbursed for travel expenses and will be paid weekly. The application deadline is August, 31, 2017.
By: AJOT | Aug 17 2017 at 09:37 AM | International Trade
Infrastructure is the backbone of developed nations. Our ability to move raw materials and finished products between domestic and world markets is critical to economic success. Right now, the U.S. freight transportation industry is at a crossroads and infrastructure funding is urgently needed to grow our economy. In recent years, transportation infrastructure investment has lagged, impacting the flow of goods for farmers, manufacturers, workers and consumers who must have access to the global marketplace.
This spring, an important roundtable was held in Indianapolis during national Infrastructure Week where a group of national and Midwest experts discussed the most critical issues facing America’s freight transportation system and our economy. Representatives from manufacturers, ports, steelmaking, mining, logistics, trucking, agriculture, departments of transportation, Corps of Engineers and academia shared their concerns about the urgent need for new infrastructure funding and the catastrophic consequences if we don’t act. Topics included:
- U.S. infrastructure lagging behind: American Society of Civil Engineers graded U.S. infrastructure as a D+ in 2016 and estimated that 56,000 bridges are structurally deficient, while over half of our locks and dams have exceeded their design life. Meanwhile, China lifted 400 million people out of poverty by heavily investing in infrastructure.
- Congestion killing productivity: Road and rail systems are carrying volumes beyond what they were designed for, which increases congestion. American Transportation Research Institute reported congested highways cost the trucking industry $63 billion in 2015 and caused 996 million hours of lost productivity. That’s equal to 362,000 trucks sitting idle for a year.
- 11 million jobs depend on one aging lock: U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported that if the Poe Lock failed for six months, the nation would be plunged into a recession resulting in the loss of 11 million jobs. Rebuilt in 1968, the aging lock is the only feasible passageway for raw materials to get to the U.S. steel industry, and upgrades are critical.
- $66 billion needed for U.S. ports: American Association of Port Authorities has identified a need for $66 billion in federal investments for critical port-related infrastructure over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, the port industry generates $320 billion annually in taxes, supports 23 million jobs and is investing $31 billion per year in infrastructure. Currently, the harbor maintenance taxes paid by shippers are much greater than the federal funds being allocated to maintain our harbors, and that needs to change.
- Indiana’s model could benefit nation: Indiana recently passed groundbreaking legislation that provides $1.2 billion in new annual funding for roads and bridges over the next 20 years. By building a strong coalition and developing a collaborative process for identifying needs and sources of funding, a statewide logistics council was able to build a comfort level with legislators and the public about the need for tax increases. Raising taxes used to be considered a “death knell” for re-elections, but that is no longer the case when it comes to infrastructure.
The answer is…
Funding is obviously needed to improve infrastructure, but securing sufficient support for the needed investing requires key components:
- Speak with one voice. This is a non-partisan issue that affects all modes of transportation and essentially every type of business.
- Support a comprehensive national strategy. States have taken the lead on developing highways, but a broader multimodal perspective is needed to invest wisely in a national freight system.
- Act now! It would not be wise to sit idle when the U.S. President is talking about making major investments in our country’s infrastructure. The time is now.
To that end, we call upon federal, state and local leaders to make infrastructure funding a top priority so that we can take our country’s economy to the next level.
This column was jointly written by Kurt Nagle, CEO/President of the American Association of Port Authorities, and Rich Cooper, Ports of Indiana CEO and board member of AAPA, to share industry concerns about the U.S freight transportation infrastructure. We thank you for considering this op-ed.