Turn Signals – Issue 40

Published by Nicholas Wingerter and TRUCK SAFETY

The Federal Motor Carrier Administration will accept public comments for 60 days on its recently proposed rules to replace motor carrier safety ratings. Under the Safety Fitness Determination, the agency would no longer classify trucking companies as Satisfactory or Conditional. They will simply be authorized to operate. Carriers that FMCSA wants to shutter for safety reasons will be designated as “Unfit”, the equivalent of today’s Unsatisfactory rating. An Unfit finding can be made if a company has
“failed” two of the seven CSA Basic evaluation areas, either by an extremely high number of highway violations in certain Basics, or by acute and critical violations or a high accident rate found in any type of audit, or by a combination of failed Basics from highway performance and audits. The agency will review public input before publishing final rules.

FMCSA withdrew a June proposal requiring commercial motor vehicles to display a manufacturer’s label certifying compliance with safety regulations. If the rule had been adopted, equipment lacking the label might have been impounded if found operating on the highway. After receiving abundant public comments against the proposal, the agency decided approval was unnecessary to enforce vehicle safety rules.

The American Trucking Associations reported heavy trucks traveled 4 billion more miles in 2014 versus 2013, and there were 61 fewer highway deaths involving trucks in 2014 than in the prior year. These numbers do not reflect who was at fault for the crashes. The fatality rate now is 1.4 per 100 million miles, and it has fallen 40.6% in the last 10 years. Total truck miles in 2014 were 279 billion miles. Wow!

Radar detectors still remain forbidden onboard commercial vehicles. While not in the public eye as they once were, motor carriers should remind drivers these devices cannot be in their truck. A trooper does not have to prove the detector was in operation. Mere possession warrants a ticket for the driver and a CSA write-up against the company.

The head of FMCSA told the Senate Commerce Committee that the National Academy of Science would begin a review of the CSA scoring evaluation method in February. Provisions of the FAST Act passed by Congress in December removed CSA scores from public view. Before fully reinstating CSA, FMCSA must conduct a study for Congress, and then devise and approve an action plan to correct the methodology’s faults.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration announced it was withdrawing its proposed “wet-lines” regulations. Congress killed the rules in the FAST Act. PHMSA wanted to require tank truck carriers hauling flammable liquids to install devices to either protect the tanker hoses or to purge the hoses of the tank’s product.

Did you know… An study published by the University of Utah Medical School finds long-haul drivers are becoming less healthy and more prone to disqualifying medical conditions. 53% of drivers are considered to be obese or morbidly obese. Carriers should promote more wellness programs and drivers need to make better lifestyle choices.