Turn Signals – Issue 57

The Supreme Court ended the judicial process attempting to overturn the federal requirement to install electronic logging devices in heavy trucks by this December 18th. Without comment the Court rejected hearing the case, effectively upholding the prior decision of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The only remaining hope for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the case’s plaintiff, is to convince Congress or the White House to step in and stop implementation of the ELD regulations.

The trucking industry was relieved to hear the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ended its review to possibly increase motor carriers’ minimum insurance requirements. The agency noted it received almost 2,200 public comments, including one with 11,366 signatures, which in general lacked “a substantive rationale for their opinion.” FMCSA said it could not perform a required cost/benefit analysis with the data it received. It was unable to determine how increases in minimum insurance would affect crash victims, motor carriers’ ability to afford higher policy costs, and the financial viability of insurance companies to remain in the marketplace and protect consumers.

Carriers have long urged FMCSA to reinstate a driver’s ability to split the required 10-hour daily rest into two separate periods in a truck’s sleeper berth. The agency ended this practice in 2004, only allowing one exception of 8 hours in a sleeper berth followed later by 2 off-duty hours. By using a split sleeper birth for rest, a driver can manage any fatigue during the workday or delays at customer facilities without losing available driving hours. FMCSA recently announced it will study 200 or more drivers who will utilize the split sleeper berth technique for 90 days. The agency hopes to produce statistically reliable evidence whether split sleeper berths affects fatigue levels and safety performance. FMCSA is soliciting public input on how the study is conducted.

USDOT reports that in 2016 the rate of positive random drug tests of drivers rose to its highest level since 2009, although it remains below 2 percent. The increase from 2015 to 2016 was 1.85% to 1.98%. The failure rate was highest for drivers using marijuana, but even more disturbing was the rapid rise of amphetamine use. After decreasing the 3 previous years, the rate of failed tests for cocaine also increased in 2016.

FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee is pouring over obsolete and unnecessary regulations in hopes of eliminating them. Referred to by the group as “nothing burger” rules, the action is prompted by the President’s executive order to ease regulatory burden on business. Some rules go back to the defunct Interstate Commerce Commission and archaic duties of motor carriers. Other provisions have no modern application. Before any removals, public notice will be given with a chance to comment.

Did you know…Why do women drivers quit a trucking job? A study by Stay Metrics found, different from their male counterparts, a woman’s #1 reason for leaving is tractor dissatisfaction. They also are more concerned about maintenance issues and avoiding breakdowns. Unlike men, dispatcher dissatisfaction is not as important an issue to them.

Turn Signals is published by Nicholas Wingerter (210.863.9759) and TRUCK SAFETY.
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