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30 members of U.S. Senate send letter asking for HOS improvements

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WASHINGTON — Thirty members of the U.S. Senate have sent a letter to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator Ray Martinez asking the agency to “explore improvements” in the Hours of Service regulations that would ensure drivers across differing businesses and operations can safely and efficiently comply with such requirements.

The letter was sent on the letterhead of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, although several signees are not on that committee.

The first signature was that of Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who is chairman of the committee.

The letter was signed by both Republicans and Democrats although the committee’s ranking member, Bill Nelson of Florida, did not sign.

The senators told Martinez that it had become more apparent that HOS rules do not provide the appropriate level of flexibility for the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles, and that because the trucking industry provides for over 3 million jobs in the U.S., and because the industry is the “backbone” of the country’s economy, it is important that HOS regulations provide for a commonsense framework for drivers, rather than a one-size-fits-all model.

“We suggest FMCSA examine a wide range of options to address HOS issues and ensure safety, including, but not limited to, providing certain allowances for unique businesses or driver operations, elimination of unnecessary requirements or improved utilization of non-driving time,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter comes in the heels of the implementation of the electronic logging device mandate as the industry is calling for flexibility in such areas and sleeper berth rules and the ability to stop the 14-hour clock.

A bill introduced in the House in March permit drivers to pause the 14-hour on-duty clock for up to three hours a day, although the House has not acted on the proposal.

Also introduced in the House in April was an amendment to a larger bill that would allow FMCSA to more quickly enact HOS reforms by skipping a step in the rulemaking process. The amendment was later withdrawn, and a bill to allow a three-hour pause for the 14-hour clock has seen no action.

FMSCA is also preparing to conduct a study on sleeper berth flexibility once it gets the go-ahead from the Office of the Secretary of Transportation.

Current rules require eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth during a 24-hour period.

Many drivers say they would prefer to break up the eight hours into shorter increments.

 

 

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Robert lewandowski

    May 25, 2018 at 2:33 am

    I’m sorry too say but politicians don’t have a clue about truck driving, how about this hire some retired truck drivers too put together a system that works for industry and safety i have 40 years experience with 4 million miles call me i can make this work in a way that’s best for everyone

  2. Anthony Falcone

    May 25, 2018 at 4:14 am

    Is stoppage of a clock would do wonders to make delivering and picking up easier It would also give us time to stop l the day and take a break but not worrying clock running Out

    Thank you Anthony Falcone

    • Todd Brown

      May 27, 2018 at 6:09 am

      I agree with Robert Lewandowski, His statement makes sense. Almost 30 years in the trucking industry we need common sense rules. Every true trucker wants to be safe. I don’t know anybody that wants to jeopardize their career for not being safe.

  3. Angelo smith

    May 25, 2018 at 6:43 am

    Yes go back to the old clock 8 hour’s sleeper berth. Drive for 10.a pause in the clock would only make longer days and hour’s. Fatigue drivers.

  4. Daren Gentry

    May 25, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    It would be nice to not run out of hours before getting to the truckstop around dinnertime. Some of us do not sleep more than eight hours at night. Some do. Let us take our 34 hr break at home, not on the road.

  5. Shana L King

    May 26, 2018 at 1:01 am

    1. Get rid of the 30 min. break for OTR drivers. We stop enough throughout the day! This rule should apply to local drivers only!
    2. Get rid of the 14 hour rule altogether and instead provide a set of options to choose from such as “8 on 2 off 6 on 8 off” etc…
    3. Quit trying to regulate every little thing we do! Off duty is just that! OFF DUTY! The truck is not moving! It shouldn’t matter if we are eating, sleeping, or dancing! We are OFF DUTY!!!
    ON DUTY should include ALL on duty activities including driving!!!
    4. All shippers and receivers should be FCFS (no appointments). This would eliminate the need for drivers to feel rushed. Most companies do not have available parking for drivers to take their 10 hour break. Most companies don’t want us there until our appointment time and make us leave as soon as we are loaded!

    When it comes right down to it, the only HOS rule we should have is 14 on and 10 off every 24 hours! Let the drivers decide when we need to sleep and when we need to drive!!!
    There is not nearly enough safe parking for us and we lose driving time just to find parking!
    God forbid that I run out of drive time 10 miles from a truck stop! Forcing me to stop at the next nearest safe place which could be a hundred miles or more! Causing me to lose almost two hours of driving!

    There is nothing consistent about what we do! All loads are not created equal! How we drive and sleep is dictated by the load we are currently under!!!

    I could say a lot more but my finger is getting tired!

  6. Fred Samuelson

    May 26, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    I have 36 years driving, 5 million miles. The biggest problem has always been the shipper,and the consignee. They give you an appointment time that they NEVER keep. That makes following the DOT rules nearly impossible. All of the changes that have been made in an effort to be SAFER really have just the opposite effect.

  7. Craig Matte

    May 26, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    As above, eliminate the manditory 30 minute break. It makes no sense. First, you break a driver’s rhythm so that, once his break is over, now he is tired. He has lost his running edge. Second, you put the driver further away from his sleep period which induces even more fatigue. It is irrational and incompetent rule making.
    Give the driver 14 driving hours and if he stops for more than 2 hours, the HOS stop as well. His work day should not be eaten up by his taking a nap (smart) to assure that he is awake and alert. That would enhance driver safety, not detract from it. Keep in mind the young driver with a wife and 2 children who needs to maximize his income so he is tempted to keep on driving and perhaps do harm to himself and/or others when, in fact, he should lay down for awhile. But he can’t because he can’t afford to. Rules need to be rational, not arbitrary the way they are currently. The current rules do NOT encourage safe operation. Quite the contrary.

  8. Jeffrey R. Smith

    May 28, 2018 at 7:34 am

    When you are sitting at the shipper or receiver waiting for them to load or unload you it shouldn’t count on your HOS. How about letting us catch a snooze and not count it against us while we wait up to several hours for them to get to us.

  9. That is probably the reason they want to pause the clock. Then they can say the driver doesn’t need to be paid for loading/unloading.

  10. Richard Davis

    May 31, 2018 at 10:05 am

    The 70 hour rule needs to be done away with. Drivers are doing this job and being away from home to make money. They don’t need to be setting in a truckstop for 34 hrs. catching up on their hrs. 10 hrs. a day is enough rest for most.

  11. Bob Fredrickson

    May 31, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    I agree with Richard Davis. I’ve thought for a long time that there is no reason to keep track of on-duty and sleeper berth. It should be just either driving or OFF. If you have had a 10 hr break, you should be able to drive for 10 hours. The 70 hour rule makes no sense.

  12. William

    May 31, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    This is what we have when nobody wants to stand together and strike. I’ve heard company drivers and owner operators both say “I can’t afford to shut down for 3 days or let alone a week, but you can let the government control when you drive and when you get home.” Maybe one day everyone in this industry will stand up for our rights without being afraid of the government.

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The Nation

CVSA’s Brake Safety Week scheduled for September 15-22

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During Brake Safety Week, CVSA is highlighting brake hoses/tubing as a reminder of their importance to vehicle mechanical fitness and safety. (The Trucker file photo)

GREENBELT, Md. — The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Brake Safety Week is scheduled for September 15-22.

Throughout that week, enforcement officials will conduct roadside safety inspections on commercial motor vehicles throughout North America.

Vehicles with critical brake violations, or other critical vehicle inspection item violations, will be restricted from traveling until those violations are corrected. Vehicles without critical vehicle inspection item violations are eligible to receive a CVSA decal indicating that the vehicle passed inspection.

During this year’s Brake Safety Week, inspectors will be paying special attention to brake hoses/tubing.

While checking these brake system components is always part of the North American Standard Inspection Program, CVSA is highlighting brake hoses/tubing as a reminder of their importance to vehicle mechanical fitness and safety.

Routine brake system inspections and component replacement are vital to the safety of commercial motor vehicles. The brake systems on commercial motor vehicles are comprised of components that work together to slow and stop the vehicle and brake hoses/tubing are essential for the proper operation of those systems. Brake hoses/tubing must be properly attached, undamaged, without leaks and appropriately flexible. Brake hoses/tubing are an important part of the braking system so when they do fail, they can cause problems for the rest of the braking system.

“We all know how important a properly functioning brake system is to vehicle operation,” said CVSA President Chief Jay Thompson with the Arkansas Highway Police. “All components of the brake system must always be in proper operating condition. Brake systems and their parts and components must be routinely checked and carefully and consistently maintained to ensure the health and safety of the overall vehicle.”

Out-of-adjustment brakes and brake-system violations represented 45 percent of all out-of-service vehicle violations issued during last year’s three-day International Roadcheck enforcement campaign.

And, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 2018 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics, brake-related violations accounted for six of the top 20 most frequently cited vehicle violations in 2017.

Thompson said the goal of Brake Safety Week is to reduce the number of crashes caused or made more severe by faulty brake systems on commercial motor vehicles by conducting roadside inspections and identifying and removing unsafe commercial motor vehicles from our roadways.

In addition to inspections and enforcement, outreach and awareness efforts by law enforcement agencies to educate drivers, motor carriers, mechanics, owner-operators and others on the importance of proper brake maintenance, operation and performance are integral to the success of this safety initiative.

In the 14 jurisdictions using performance-based brake testers (PBBT), vehicle braking efficiency will be measured using that tool. PBBTs determine overall vehicle braking efficiency or the total brake force over the effective total gross weight. The minimum required braking efficiency for trucks or combinations with gross vehicle weight rating above 10,000 pounds is 43.5 percent, required by § 393.52 of the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and the CVSA North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria.

Brake Safety Week is part of the Operation Airbrake Program, sponsored by CVSA in partnership with FMCSA and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Nation

Diesel prices drop everywhere, and by more than a nickel in California

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The average price for a gallon of diesel nationwide fell by 3.5 cents for the week ending June 17, to currently stand at $3.07 per gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

For the second week in a row, diesel prices fell in every region of the country, with California seeing the largest drop, 5.2 cents, to stand at $4.006 per gallon. This is in contrast to roughly a month ago, when California was seeing price increases while most of the rest of the nation was experiencing a drop in diesel prices.

Overall along the West Coast, diesel fell 4.9 cents this week, to $3.666. Not including California, diesel prices along the rest of the West Coast are down to $3.23 per gallon, down 23.5 cents from a year ago.

East Coast diesel prices didn’t drop quite as far. In New England, the price dropped 3.2 cents, to finish at $3.153 per gallon. The Central Atlantic region continues t have the highest prices on the East Coast, at $3.282 following a decrease of 2.6 cents. The Lower Atlantic saw a decrease of 2.5 cents. The price for a gallon of diesel there is currently $2.964, one of three regions where diesel has fallen below $3.

With a drop of 4.5 cents, the Midwest claims the second-lowest current price for a gallon of diesel, $2.957, well off the low-price leader, the Gulf Coast region, where diesel is now $2.820 after a drop of 2.3 cents.

The Rocky Mountain region also saw a sharp drop, 4.2 cents, to stand at $3.072, which is 26.7 cents lower than a year ago, the largest year-to-year drop.

On Monday, Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose 70 cents, or 1.13%, to settle at $62.01 a barrel. U.S.-based West Texas Intermediate crude rose 23 cents, or 0.44%, to settle at $52.51 a barrel.

Click here for a complete list of average prices by region for the past three weeks.

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The Nation

Truck Driver: A job for some, a game for others

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When people ask me about my job, one of the most common questions is where we get stuff to write about.

I wish I could say we keep our company Lear Jet on permanent standby to whisk us from Little Rock to wherever the action is.  The truth is nowhere near as cool. We get most of it right here at our desks.  Some of it comes to us in the form of press releases. We find other stuff on the news wire services, like Associated Press. A lot of the rest of it, we get from Googling.  If we see something big or breaking, or cool and weird, we look into it.

My day usually starts with a keyword search of the world. A few days ago, it appeared that one item was by far the most important thing happening on planet Earth, at least under the headings “truck,” “trucking” and “tractor-trailer.” There were about a half-dozen websites posting on it. Immediately, I refreshed my coffee, then my fingers sprang into action to investigate.

Stop the presses, everyone, the story was about a new video game called Truck Driver due to be released in September. The game is produced by a Dutch company called SOEDESCO. Personally, I haven’t played a video game since the last time I ran out of quarters at the 7-Eleven. That was 1986, as I recall, so I couldn’t tell you if SOEDESCO is a major player in the game design world, but the press release and preview video for the game had apparently set the gaming world agog.

Apparently, this new game is going to put all previous truck driving video games to shame. “Really?” I thought. “There’ve been others?” I checked. Yes, there have — several, in fact. But this one promises to be the most realistic trucking experience available.

According to the official literature, some of the most exciting aspects of Truck Driver is you get to (and this is word for word): “Enjoy a trucking experience focused on your career as a truck driver, build stronger relationships with the local community with each job, customize your truck with tons of parts and tune it to your liking, explore a vast open world and watch it progress with you, navigate through beautiful landscapes and fully explorable cities.”

All without leaving mom’s basement.

I watched the preview video and read the literature. The premise of the game is that you’ve inherited a truck from your uncle, and the game is to become a successful independent owner-operator. You have to “interact” with fictional “customers,” building “relationships” by successfully hauling loads. The game features fun-filled challenges like backing up, hitching a trailer and pulling up to a fuel pump, and then traversing artificial highways and byways without crashing into stuff.

The first thing you do is pick your avatar. You can be male or female, white or black. All the choices are young, good-looking and incredibly fit, you know, just like real truck drivers.

I started to wonder if the game’s realism might be overstated. I had some questions the promotional video didn’t address. Does the game include being stuck at a shipper for hours on end? Do the challenges include finding parking for the night? How many braindead four-wheelers do you have to share the simulated road with?

Given the addictive tendencies of some of these gamers, is there a penalty for HOS violations?

On one of the websites that was sharing this major announcement, someone commented they looked forward to playing this game, right after they get done with “Hanging Sheetrock” and “Ditch Digging.” My reaction had been similar. Granted, as I said, when I left video games behind, they consisted of shooting space bugs, apes who threw things at you and round things trying to eat other round things. I know video games have gotten much more sophisticated and diverse and immersive.

Still, when I think of interactive fantasy play, hauling logs is never the fantasy.

I wasn’t sure how real truck drivers would react to this game. Would they find it ridiculous, maybe even insulting that their profession has been packaged into an oversimplified, sanitized game? Or that some of these passive dolts will think they now know all about trucking because they reached Level 4, or whatever?

If they really want to know what being a truck driver is like, hey, there are plenty of jobs available. They can pry their butts out of the La-Z-Boy and come find out.

Then again, it’s kind of flattering. Truckers often complain how disrespected they are, how people look down on them. The mere existence of a game like this shows that on some level, the opposite is true. Now, as always, the truck driver holds a certain mystique to outsiders. People are fascinated and intimidated at how you handle those enormous vehicles. You represent the romance of the open road. You’re mysterious in a cool way, kind of like a cowboy.

OK, maybe the game doesn’t show what it’s really like to be a truck driver. Maybe that isn’t the point. It’s about fantasy.

I looked to see if I could find any “pretend you’re a journalist” video games out there. Not a one.

If there is, I doubt I’d recommend it

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