The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This declaration is the first time FMCSA has issued nation-wide relief and follows President Trump issuing of a national emergency declaration in response to the virus.
“Because of the decisive leadership of President Trump and Secretary Chao, this declaration will help America’s commercial drivers get these critical goods to impacted areas faster and more efficiently. FMCSA is continuing to closely monitor the coronavirus outbreak and stands ready to use its authority to protect the health and safety of the American people,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen.
FMCSA’s declaration provides for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs for:
To ensure continue safety on the nation’s roadways, the emergency declaration stipulates that once a driver has completed his or her delivery, the driver must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and 8 hours if transporting passengers.
To read FMCSA’s national emergency declaration, visit: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/emergency-declaration-under-49-cfr-ss-39023-no-2020-002
Three public hearings will be held in March on the New Jersey Turnpike Authority's proposed capital plan and the toll rate adjustments necessary to fund it.
The hearing dates and locations are as follows:
New Jersey Turnpike Authority Headquarters, 1 Turnpike Plaza, Woodbridge, NJ
Camden County College, Dennis Flyer Memorial Theater, Lincoln Hall, Jefferson Drive, Sicklerville, NJ
Trustee Pavilion Conference Center, Ramapo College of New Jersey, 505 Ramapo Road, Mahwah, NJ
Read the legal notice for full details.
The increase most likely would go into effect in May 2020.
New TSA Rule Will Allow Holders of TWIC Cards to Obtain Hazmat Endorsements
Arlington, Virginia – Today, the American Trucking Associations applauded the Transportation Security Administration for taking the long overdue, but important, step to allow drivers who hold a Transportation Worker Identification Credential to also obtain a hazardous materials endorsement on their license without an additional security threat assessment or associated fee.
“The announcement by TSA that they will now allow drivers with a TWIC to more quickly and easily receive a hazmat endorsement eliminates costly and duplicitous background checks for drivers,” said ATA Vice President of Safety Policy Dan Horvath. “ATA has long urged federal agencies to eliminate these redundant background checks for drivers, notably the TWIC/HME issue.”
In 2018, ATA along with National Tank Truck Carriers, submitted comments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regarding the issuance of a hazardous materials endorsements. As part of these comments, ATA and NTTC urged the agency to modify the requirements on states for issuing HMEs to align with federal law. Specifically, ATA and NTTC requested the agency acknowledge language in the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 2018, which explicitly empowers states to issue HMEs to drivers who already hold a valid TWIC. ATA and NTTC also requested that FMCSA issue guidance to the states regarding the best method to ascertain whether a TWIC is valid.
“We appreciate TSA making this common sense change, a change that will keep our highways safe while reducing the administrative burden on drivers and costs to our industry,” said Horvath.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's (CVSA) International Roadcheck will take place May 5-7. International Roadcheck is a high-volume, high-visibility three-day enforcement initiative that highlights the importance of commercial motor vehicle safety through roadside inspections. Over that 72-hour period, commercial motor vehicle inspectors in jurisdictions throughout North America will conduct inspections on commercial motor vehicles and drivers.
Each year, International Roadcheck places special emphasis on a category of violations. This year's focus is on the driver requirements category of a roadside inspection. According to the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) fiscal 2019 data (as of Dec. 27, 2019), of the 3.36 million inspections conducted, 944,794 driver violations were discovered, of which 195,545 were out-of-service conditions.
"With last year's federal electronic logging device full-compliance mandate in the U.S., the Alliance decided that this year's International Roadcheck would be the perfect opportunity to revisit all aspects of roadside inspection driver requirements," said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police.
During International Roadcheck, CVSA-certified inspectors primarily conduct the North American Standard Level I Inspection, a 37-step procedure that includes two main inspection categories: an examination of driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness. A third category, hazardous materials/dangerous goods, may also be part of a Level I Inspection. Depending on weather conditions, available resources or other factors, inspectors may opt to conduct the Level II Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection, Level III Driver/Credential/Administrative Inspection or Level V Vehicle-Only Inspection.
An inspector will start each inspection procedure by greeting, interviewing and preparing the driver. The inspector will collect and verify the driver's documents, identify the motor carrier, examine the driver's license or commercial driver's license, check record of duty status and review periodic inspection report(s). If applicable, the inspector will check the Medical Examiner's Certificate, Skill Performance Evaluation Certificate and the driver's daily vehicle inspection report. Inspectors will also check drivers for seat belt usage, illness, fatigue, and apparent alcohol and/or drug possession or impairment.
The vehicle inspection includes checking critical vehicle inspection items such as: brake systems, cargo securement, coupling devices, driveline/driveshaft components, driver's seat (missing), exhaust systems, frames, fuel systems, lighting devices, steering mechanisms, suspensions, tires, van and open-top trailer bodies, wheels, rims and hubs, and windshield wipers. Additional items for buses, motorcoaches, passenger vans or other passenger-carrying vehicles include emergency exits, electrical cables and systems in engine and battery compartments, and temporary and aisle seating.
If no critical vehicle inspection item violations are found during a Level I or Level V Inspection, a CVSA decal will be applied to the vehicle, indicating that the vehicle successfully passed a decal-eligible inspection conducted by a CVSA-certified inspector. However, if a required rear impact guard is inspected during a Level I or Level V Inspection and violations are present, a CVSA decal will not be issued.
If an inspector does identify critical vehicle inspection item violations, he or she may render the vehicle out of service if the condition meets the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria. This means the vehicle cannot be operated until the vehicle violation(s) are corrected. A driver can also be placed out of service for driver credential-related issues or driver conditions, such as fatigue or impairment.
In the past, International Roadcheck usually took place during the first week of June. However, this year, International Roadcheck was moved up by one month, from June to May, when the weather may be more favorable for many jurisdictions.
"Announcing the dates of International Roadcheck has always been a deliberate, thoughtful and purposeful decision by the Alliance," said Sgt. Samis. "By announcing the dates in advance, we hope to remind motor carriers of the importance of proactive vehicle maintenance and remind drivers to be prepared for inspections and to always conduct pre- and post-trip inspections. We want every vehicle and driver inspected during this initiative to pass inspection with no violations."
Sgt. Samis added, "We're aware that some drivers opt to stay off roadways during the three days of International Roadcheck. Although there is certainly an increase in the number of inspections conducted during International Roadcheck, it's important to remember that inspections are conducted every day of the year. Inspectors will be inspecting commercial motor vehicles the day before International Roadcheck starts, the day after it ends, as well as any other day of the year."
International Roadcheck is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial motor vehicles in the world, with approximately 17 trucks and buses inspected, on average, every minute in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. during a 72-hour period. Since its inception in 1988, more than 1.6 million roadside inspections have been conducted during International Roadcheck campaigns.
International Roadcheck is a CVSA program with participation by FMCSA, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada and the Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (Ministry of Communications and Transportation) of Mexico.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration today released data following the first weeks of operation of its Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The information released showed that the clearinghouse has detected and identified nearly 8,000 positive substance abuse tests of commercial drivers since January 6, 2020. The clearinghouse now has more than 650,000 registrants.
“We’ve seen encouraging results from the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, but there’s still work to do to ensure we identify more drivers who should not be behind the wheel. The clearinghouse is a positive step, and the Agency continues to work closely with industry, law enforcement, and our state partners to ensure its implementation is effective,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen.
The clearinghouse is aimed at improving road safety by providing FMCSA and employers with the necessary tools to identify drivers who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing program requirements and are prohibited from operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle. The goal of the clearinghouse is to ensure that such drivers receive the required evaluation and treatment before they have the opportunity to resume driving.
Those required to register for the clearinghouse include:
There is no cost for registration. Commercial drivers are not required to immediately register for the clearinghouse, but will need to register to respond to an employer’s request for consent prior to a pre-employment query or other full query being conducted. In addition, employers must be registered during the first year of implementation to ensure they are able to conduct the required annual query on all employed drivers.
Combatting drug abuse has been a top priority of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Trump Administration. President Trump has brought attention to the nation’s opioid crisis by declaring it a nationwide public health emergency and has implemented critical federal initiatives to help reduce opioid abuse.
FMCSA’s clearinghouse website contains important resources, including user brochures and instructional aids with step-by-step registration instructions for all users. Users can visit https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.govto access these resources.
The clearinghouse is a secure online database that allows FMCSA, employers of CDL drivers, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and law enforcement officials to identify – in real time – CDL drivers who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing program requirements, and thereby improve safety on our nation’s roads.
The American Transportation Research Institute today released its annual list highlighting the most congested bottlenecks for trucks in America.
The 2020 Top Truck Bottleneck List assesses the level of truck-involved congestion at 300 locations on the national highway system. The analysis, based on truck GPS data from over 1 million heavy duty trucks uses several customized software applications and analysis methods, along with terabytes of data from trucking operations to produce a congestion impact ranking for each location. ATRI’s truck GPS data is also used to support the U.S. DOT’s Freight Mobility Initiative. The bottleneck locations detailed in this latest ATRI list represent the top 100 congested locations, although ATRI continuously monitors more than 300 freight-critical locations.
The intersection of I-95 and SR 4 in Fort Lee, New Jersey is once again the Number One freight bottleneck in the country. The rest of the Top 10 includes:
2. Atlanta: I-285 at I-85 (North)
3. Nashville: I-24/I-40 at I-440 (East)
4. Houston: I-45 at I-69/US 59
5. Atlanta, GA: I-75 at I-285 (North)
6. Chicago, IL: I-290 at I-90/I-94
7. Atlanta, GA: I-20 at I-285 (West)
8. Cincinnati, OH: I-71 at I-75
9. Los Angeles, CA: SR 60 at SR 57
10. Los Angeles, CA: I-710 at I-105
“ATRI’s bottleneck analysis is an important tool for TDOT as we work to maximize the safety and efficiency of our transportation system, and ensure we are making the smartest investments possible,” said Tennessee Department of Transportation Assistant Bureau Chief Freight & Logistics Dan Pallme. “The additional capacity we are providing as part of the ongoing I-440 Reconstruction Project should improve the safety and reliability of this important corridor, which we know is critical to freight movement.”
ATRI’s analysis, which utilized data from 2019, found that the number of locations experiencing significant congestion – with average daily speeds of 45 MPH or less – has increased 92 percent in just five years, far outpacing the 10 percent growth in traffic congestion for that same time period.
“ATA has been beating the drum about the continued degradation of our infrastructure, and thanks to ATRI’s research we can see exactly how decades of ignoring the problem are impacting not just our industry but our economy and commuters everywhere,” said American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear. “This report should sound the alarm for policymakers that the cost of doing nothing is too high and provide a roadmap of where to target investments to really solve our nation’s mounting infrastructure crisis.”
For access to the full report, including detailed information on each of the 100 top congested locations, please visit ATRI’s website at TruckingResearch.org.
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) today released new research that documents the collection and distribution of $14.7 billion in U.S. toll revenue, representing 82 percent of U.S. toll collections. The research sheds light on many questions about tolling, including how much toll revenue is generated versus reinvested in toll facilities, and contrasts truck-generated toll revenue versus truck utilization of toll roads.
This study was identified as the top research priority for the industry by ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee in 2019.
To better understand tolling, researchers collected public financial data from Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) published by toll systems, and attempted to standardize financial comparisons across systems. Key metrics included toll facility charges by user type, toll facility expenditures and toll revenue diversion to non-toll entities.
ATRI’s research found that the 21 major toll systems analyzed collected more than $14.7 billion in revenue with nearly 50 percent of toll revenue diverted to other uses. In addition, toll revenue increased more than 72 percent over the last decade compared to inflation growth of just 16.9 percent.
The report includes a first-of-its-kind data analysis to better understand the relationship between interstate commerce and toll road utilization. Through an analysis of truck GPS data, the researchers were able to quantify toll revenue impacts on local truck activity versus interstate commerce.
“It is clear from this research that highway funding mechanisms that return our tax investments to highways are far superior to tolling,” said Darren Hawkins, YRC Worldwide Chief Executive Officer. “We need greater oversight and transparency to ensure that the billions of dollars paid by our industry goes back into the roads and bridges that generate the revenue.”
This bulletin provides guidance for verifying compliance with the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) Agreement during a roadside inspection and encourages roadside enforcement for the 2020 registration year, effective Jan. 1, 2020.
The UCR Board has suspended enforcement of the 2020 registration period until further notice. The start of the 2020 UCR registration period is delayed while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) completes its rulemaking process on fee levels for 2020.
Once the final rulemaking is published, the UCR Board of Directors will recommend that states delay enforcement for three months from the start of the registration period.
Click below for copy of Bulletin
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) today released new research that identifies both the positive and negative impacts associated with numerous government policies, programs and regulations that target autonomous truck development and testing. ATRI’s study proposes a framework by which autonomous truck standards could be developed.
This study was identified as the top research priority for the industry by ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee in 2018.
More specifically, the report documents the dozens of local, state and federal activities that guide and regulate autonomous truck activities. While most attempt to create a framework for the safe testing of autonomous trucks, the myriad state and local activities ultimately impede the creation of a seamless and standardized autonomous truck (AT) network. Even those government rules that ostensibly support autonomous truck development often are too prescriptive to generate meaningful outcomes. For example, multiple vendors highlight Level 4 testing, even though regulations require constant control of the vehicles by both drivers and onboard engineers – making it difficult for motor carrier executives to accurately assess the real value of ATs.
“The pace of technology development in the autonomous truck sphere is moving at lightning speed,” said Jeff Reed, Skyline Transportation President and chair of the ATA Automated Truck Subcommittee. “Our industry needs states to collaborate on seamless policies and regulations, and we need more proactive federal guidance on AT development. Government activities at all levels must be dynamic enough to address the constantly evolving technology landscape.”
The PA Turnpike Commission (PTC) today reminded customers that beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 5 tolls will increase six percent for cash, E-ZPass and TOLL BY PLATE customers. The increase, approved by the commissioners last July, takes effect on all sections and extensions excluding three western PA “cashless” tolling facilities.
The most-common toll for a passenger vehicle will increase from $1.40 to $1.50 for E-ZPass customers and from $2.30 to $2.50 for cash customers. The most common toll for a Class-5 tractor trailer will increase from $3.70 to $4.00 for E-ZPass and from $16.30 to $17.30 for cash. The cashless toll at the westbound Delaware River Bridge will increase from $5.30 to $5.70 for E-ZPass customers and from $7.20 to $7.70 for those who use PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE.
Since 2009 the PTC has increased tolls annually to fulfill a funding obligation required by Act 44 of 2009. As a result, the PTC has delivered more than $6 billion in funding to PennDOT in the last decade. By law, these payments support mass transit statewide, with the bulk of funding supporting transit in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
The PA Turnpike Commission strives to provide a reliable roadway that outpaces national averages in ride quality, safety and incident-response rates. More than 85 percent of the PTC’s capital plan reflects a focus on mobility and safety. To date more than 144 miles of its roadway system, which turns 80 years old this year, have been reconstructed.
To check toll rates for any Turnpike trip visit https://www.paturnpike.com/toll/tollmileage.aspx.
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