Tag Archive for FMCSA

2013 ATA Critical Issues and the Road Ahead

TheRoadAhead

Last week at the 2013 Management Conference and Exhibition, Bill Graves’ “State of the Industry” keynote address quoted from Bob Dylan’s classic song, “The Times They Are a Changin’”, and this year’s Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry – 2013 report by The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) gives further fuel to idea that the trucking industry is in the midst of profound changes.

The Report’s opening salvo describes “no shortage of changes and challenges” and then goes on to innumerate the new federal House of Service rules that went into effect July 1, 2013, unknown safety impacts stemming from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) CSA Initiative, pending changes to regulations around electronic logging devices (ELD), and even driver shortages resulting from a revitalizing economy and more stringent CSA regulations.

How Its Top-Ten Issues are Calculated

To create the report, respondents from the industry are surveyed and asked to give values to the issues affecting the industry based on the Industry Concern Index (ICI). From that, the top-ten list is developed with particular attention paid to the top-three spots.

2012-ATRI-Survey-Stats

Hours of Service

This year, Hours of Service achieved top billing for the first time in three years. Its promotion is due largely to the new US Federal HOS rules surrounding 30-minute mandatory breaks and the 34-hour restart rule.

  • 30-Minute Mandatory Break – Drivers of a CMV operating in the US cannot drive if more than eight hours have passed since the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper break of 30 minutes or more.  When a driver reaches the eighth hour into the work shift, before continuing the driver must take a 30-minute break.
  • Restart Rules – A 34-hour restart is a “valid” restart only if the driver ensures that the period includes two back-to-back nighttime rest periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. The restart rules restrict how often a restart can be used. If a driver restarts more often than what’s allowed by US rules, the driver must indicate on the log which restart will be the one that’s being used as the valid restart.

CSA

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) was eclipsed by HOS this year, but it still held the number two spot. According to ATRI, “Two of the most significant areas of concern surrounding CSA are the lack of crash accountability in CSA scoring and the inability of CSA scores to accurately predict carrier safety performance”.

Driver Shortage

While the concern over driver shortages has dropped since its heyday back in 2006, it still rocks the top-three concerns for trucking. Even with the economy growing again and increased CSA regulations, opinions vary regarding the true source of driver shortages. Most agree that it’s a multi-faceted issue. According to ATA, estimates of the driver shortage run between 20,000 and 25,000 drivers.

Get the full report

At Webtech Wireless, we anticipate changes to HOS rules and provide regular software and hardware updates well in advance of change deadlines to ensure our customers never experience downtime and business interruption. In addition to readying all of our customers for the new HOS rules last July, in the previous December, we released an update of our In-Cab solution to offer HOS Oil Well Waiting capability for fleets in the Oil and Gas sector. Our new Webtech Driver Center is our latest solution to provide a single software platform for Hours of Service.

If you’d like a full copy of the Report, contact ATRI and complete their request form.

Avoiding a Bridge Too Low

ABridgeTooLow

Known as the “truck-decapitator”, a bridge in Durham, North Carolina found wider fame last fall when it was featured in an Atlantic Cities article on aging infrastructure. An accompanying video, ­“The Toughest Bridge in the World”, featured a montage of ill-fated trucks (set to music from the film Rocky) getting peeled like sardine cans as they career under the century-old railway bridge. To make matters worse, wilting commentary from amused readers specifically targeted the hapless truckers. There were also some helpful suggestions, but none thought to propose a GPS navigation system that could route truckers away from these kinds of dangerous roads.

Bridging the Knowledge Gap

Many small and independent trucking companies, in a misguided attempt to put cost savings ahead of other concerns, purchase off-the-shelf GPS navigation systems that don’t provide enough detail for truckers to avoid these disasters. They’re buying consumer GPS navigation systems designed primarily for cars where there is little concern about height clearances and other routing conditions needed by commercial truckers.

The situation is serious enough that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is now distributing visor cards to truck drivers warning them that consumer-oriented GPS navigation devices pose life-threatening risks to truck drivers. FMCSA also faulted trucking operators with ineffective driver training and therefore advised operators to get their drivers trained on industry-standard commercial grade GPS navigation systems.

Truck-Specific GPS Navigation

In a complementary article in Overdrive (March 11, 2013), U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer stated that trucks using inappropriate GPS systems, which don’t support routing around “low bridges, hazmat routes and other information relevant to truckers”, are the chief cause of bridge strikes.

FMCSA Recommends

Michael Scott, Software Engineer at Webtech Wireless says, “We have chosen to integrate our MDT 3100s with a truck-specific GPS navigation solution that supports the kind of truck routing the FMCSA wants truck drivers to use”. He’s referring with our partnership with ALK Technologies to enhance our Quadrant® In-Cab solution by adding ALK CoPilot® In-Cab navigation.  Michael went on to point out that while we meet all the requirements the FMCSA recommended for “safe use of GPS navigation systems”, drivers still need to be alert to road signage. “No GPS navigation system absolves drivers from responsibility on safe routes”.

By selecting a GPS navigation system intended for use by professional truck and bus drivers, ensuring drivers are properly trained in its use, and remaining alert to changing conditions, you can expect to navigate safely to your destination.

How Transportation is Recovering from Sandy

When parts of New York’s subway system sank beneath the waves, and lower Manhattan’s Wall Street district became awash, and when the most reliable solution for getting basic supplies like fuel and food to city dwellers was cargo bicycle, and when the city’s airports inundated up to the aircraft loading bridges, it became deeply apparent how important a great city is dependent on one thing for its survival—the transportation routes feeding it.

Webtech Wireless brings your trucks in from the storm

Airports

Most major airlines repositioned their planes away from the storm’s wrath well in advance and even after the storm Associated Press reported that airlines “are carrying extra fuel when they fly into the New York region in order to ensure they have enough to leave the area without filling up”. Moving all these planes was a good idea, although it meant 20,000 flights were canceled, because it saved the planes even as the airports themselves all but disappeared beneath the waves.

Highways

As Sandy bared down on the East Coast of North America, the traffic ban amplified the already crowded truck stops—particularly those from New Jersey to Massachusetts. And with Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts already considered by many truckers to be “the least friendly states to the trucking industry because they don’t provide enough truck stops and parking”, the crowding was amplified.

According to one lucky driver, on route from Florida with 23,000 pounds of refrigerated goods, who got through, “If I was here when they shut down the roads, I would have been screwed. Those winds would have knocked me all over the place.”

Hours before Hurricane Sandy arrived, many truck stops were already full and with the travel ban affecting commercial trucks, drivers started filling up parking spots normally reserved for cars and even the bays used for diesel fill ups. Storm conditions at various truck stops lit up the Twitter waves with storm-related tweets, such as Travel Center of America’s “TA Lamar, PA #068 does not have hot water due to weather issues“.

Fuel Supplies

While Sandy hasn’t affected diesel prices adversely, The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced it would ensure efficient movement of fuel to the region devastated by Hurricane Sandy. According to the DOT, “The team will serve as a single point of contact for states, the trucking industry, and other agencies to assist in the removal of barriers to the quick delivery of fuel.”

DOT Waivers

The DOT has set up a hotline (800 832-5660), and is using an innovative strategy of providing waivers to a number of transportation regulations for the most impacted regions, including the following waivers:

  • Driver Hours of Service
  • IFTA Fuel Tax Waiver
  • IRP (International Registration Plan) Vehicle Registration Waiver
  • Low Sulfur Diesel Waivers
  • Oversize and Overweight
  • Toll Waivers