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Trucking Alliance 2019 priorities include zero deaths, expansion of ELDs

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Steve

WASHINGTON — Steve Williams, chairman and CEO of Maverick USA, and president of the Trucking Alliance board of directors Wednesday reaffirmed the organization’s priority objectives for 2019.

The alliance is a coalition of transportation carriers, logistics and supporting businesses solely focused on reforms to improve the safety and security of commercial drivers and to eliminate large truck fatal crashes.

Member carriers include Cargo Transporters, Dupré Logistics, J.B. Hunt Transport, KLLM Transport Services, Knight- Swift Transportation, Maverick USA and US Xpress.

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CAPTION FOR PHOTO

Courtesy: THE TRUCKING ALLIANCE

Steve Williams, president of the Trucking Alliance, said the trucking industry has too many large truck crashes that in the last reportable year killed 4,761 people and injured another 145,000 on our roadways. The number of truck drivers who lost their lives was the highest in 10 years, he said.

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“The U.S. trucking industry is indispensable to our economy and the standard of living we enjoy as Americans,” Williams said. “Yet, tragically, our industry has too many large truck crashes that in the last reportable year killed 4,761 people and injured another 145,000 on our roadways. The number of truck drivers who lost their lives was the highest in 10 years. For an industry that wants to improve its image, look no further than these statistics. We must aggressively address these tragic figures. But how can we when the trucking industry will deliver even more freight in 2019 over highways that are even more congested?”

A first step is to reverse priorities, Williams said.

“We must support progressive safety reforms that make sense for our country and citizens first, our industry second, and our companies third,” he said. “Second, safety groups, legislators, regulators and all segments of our diverse industry should leave their respective corners, meet in the middle, and responsibly deal with the unprecedented challenges we face.”

Williams pointed to the amount of return the American consumer has received with respect to what he or she pays to deliver goods.

“I am very proud of the millions of hardworking commercial truck drivers who make that happen,” he said. “But we must adopt initiatives to improve the truck driver’s lifestyle. We must eliminate the chance that truck drivers and their exemplary work ethic will be used against them. For example, truck drivers shouldn’t carry the burden to make up for an inefficient supply chain. Too often, giving truck drivers more ‘flexibility’ in their work day is simply code for ‘just get it there.’”

The Trucking Alliance wants to see an expansion of electronic logging devices.

“In the year since the ELD mandate finally took effect, the devices are already improving a truck driver’s work environment,” Williams said. “ELDs are making the supply chain more efficient. Most importantly, ELDs can help reverse the disturbing trend of large truck fatalities and save lives.

The alliance believes ELDs should be required in all large trucks, regardless of commodity, length of haul or whether they operate in interstate or intrastate commerce. Anything short of mandatory use of ELDs is purely political, unfair and frankly, unsafe.

Another area that needs improvement is drug testing, Williams said.

“Contrary to what you may think, like our nation, our industry has a drug abuse problem. In fact, the Department of Transportation’s only required drug test for truck driver applicants is actually missing as many as nine of every 10 lifestyle drug users,” Williams said. “We should utilize drug tests that verify an applicant has been drug free for at least 60 days. And we need a long awaited database to identify who has previously failed these drug tests. We must be able to assure the motoring public that our commercial drivers are properly rested, properly trained and drug and alcohol free.”
The Trucking Alliance has long advocated hair testing as a way to weed out prospective drivers and current drivers with a substance abuse problem.

Williams said the Trucking Alliance still wants to limit the speed of trucks.

“Excessive truck speeds increase fatalities and the severity of injuries in large truck accidents,” he said. “That’s why we must require large trucks to maintain reasonable speeds on all highways.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on speed limits for heavy trucks, but that work fell victim to President Donald J. Trump’s executive order to cut down on federal regulations.

Other priorities include:

  • Adoption of truck safety technologies. “Forward collision warning systems are available on new trucks now,” Williams said. “These systems can assist our drivers to avoid accidents, which is especially critical since distracted driving is so prevalent among the motoring public.”
  • Compensation for truck accident victims. “We must meet our promise to the victims of large truck accidents,” Williams said. “In 1980, Congress rightfully decided that a ‘commercial’ motor carrier has a moral and ethical responsibility to compensate the victims of large truck crashes. Congress set the minimum motor carrier insurance limits almost 40 years ago. But those insurance limits remain the same today and they should be dramatically increased.”
  • Elimination of all large truck fatalities. “In summary, owning a trucking company or driving a piece of equipment for a living is not an entitlement. It is a privilege. With privileges come responsibilities. What we do is important. But how we do it is much more important. No longer should anybody defend the actions of those who don’t deserve to be on the road,” Williams said. “That’s why it should be difficult for people to get into this industry. It will be increasingly hard to stay in this industry, as it should be. In so doing, we will have much safer highways for all and an economic opportunity to build a safe and efficient supply chain for the future.”

Williams said the Trucking Alliance would continue to work with stakeholders who believe that the nation can fully eliminate large truck fatalities.

“Our goal should be to achieve safety performance levels that are comparable with the U.S. airline industry,” Williams said. “Achieving that objective will require changes, and change is difficult. But let’s stop reminiscing about the way things used to be in trucking. Because, frankly, it hasn’t always been good. We have an opportunity to create a new paradigm. We must continue to build sustainable companies that can safely serve our Nation. By embracing the changes that are required of all of us…we will finally get the chance to properly compensate, respect and defend the work ethic of the American truck driver.”

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The Nation

House endorses adopting California AB5 provisions at federal level

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U.s. house of representatives passes pro act; endorses adopting california ab5 law at federal level
Owner-operators and carriers are weary of California's AB5 morphing into federal law. Introduced as the PRO Act, the proposed legislation will have far-reaching impacts on all sectors of the trucking industry.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation similar to California’s AB5 law in that it requires employers to prove that independent contractors used in conducting business should not be classified as employees. The controversial California law, as applied to the trucking industry, is currently under an injunction imposed by a U.S. District Court judge that prohibits its enforcement. California-based carriers, the California Trucking Association (CTA) and owner-operators doing business in the state, as well as trucking organizations on national and state levels, have all publicly opposed AB5. The Trucker previously reported that industry leaders feared a law like AB5 would spread beyond California’s borders. With Congress considering the “Protecting the Right to Organize” (PRO) Act (HR 2474), those fears appear credible.

As widely discussed in trucking-industry circles, AB5 places the burden upon employers when classifying workers as employees or independent contractors. If a worker’s circumstances do not pass all components of a three-prong test, the individual is deemed an employee, a classification impacting company operations and the individual’s ability to choose working status. For this reason, many owner-operators who entered the business for its self-employment opportunities oppose AB5.

The federal PRO legislation incorporates the same tests imposed under AB5 and applies them nationwide. CTA contends that AB5 is prohibited under federal law, an argument with which the judge ruling in favor of the request for an injunction was noted as appearing to agree. With the injunction in place, the PRO Act could be considered a case of amending federal law for the purpose of allowing a state law to be enforceable.

The language in the federal act as included in Section 2(a)(2) defines an employee under the same terms as discussed in AB5. As with the California law, the sticking point relates to the (B) prong of the test. Under the (B) prong, a company cannot hire an independent contractor to perform tasks, inherent to the company’s business, which other employees already perform. A carrier in the business of moving freight and employing individuals who move freight could not hire an independent contractor to perform similar tasks.

Should PRO receive U.S. Senate approval, something political pundits doubt is possible, it would be passed to President Donald Trump to either sign into law or veto. Of the two, a veto seems most likely, as the administration has stated PRO “appears to cut and paste the core provisions of California’s controversial AB5, which severely restricts self-employment. AB5 is actively threatening the existence of both the franchise business sector and the gig economy in California. It would be a serious mistake for Congress to impose this flawed job-killing policy on the entire country.”

Truckers nationwide should remain in tune with further action on PRO. It may impact many careers.

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The Nation

OKC police confirm security guard who shot truck driver at TA has died by suicide

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A security guard who discharged his weapon, shooting a truck driver during an altercation at an Oklahoma City TA Travel Center, has taken his own life.

OKLAHOMA CITY — A security guard who shot a truck driver earlier this month during an altercation with a truck driver in Oklahoma City has died by suicide.

Sgt. Brad Gilmore, assistant public-information officer with the Oklahoma City Police Department, confirmed that 45-year-old George Bischoff went to a local shooting range, Big Boys Guns, Ammo & Range, on Feb. 20 around 1:35 p.m. and took his own life with a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Bischoff had been questioned twice regarding an altercation that took place Feb. 14 around 4:30 a.m. in which he confronted a truck driver, 42-year-old Paul Sisk, at a TA Travel Center in Oklahoma City regarding a reserved parking space.

“Somewhere during that altercation, it became physical and the security guard fired one shot, hitting the truck driver,” Gilmore said. “The truck driver was transported to a local hospital, where he was treated and has since been released.”

Gilmore said the security guard was initially questioned following the incident but at that time, Gilmore said, police had not yet had a chance to talk to the truck driver.

“The security guard was brought back in and questioned again, and we were in the process of discussing the case with the district attorney’s office; and on our end, charges had not been filed,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore could not confirm whether the gun used at the range was rented or owned by Bischoff, but he said local news outlets have reported that the gun was rented.  Gilmore said the incident remains under investigation.

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The Nation

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse identifies nearly 8,000 substance-abuse violations

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Fmcsa’s drug and alcohol clearinghouse identifies nearly 8,000 substance-abuse violations in first weeks of operation
FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse program is designed to improve road safety by identifying drivers who are barred from driving commercial vehicles due to drug violations. (iStock photo)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released data on Feb. 21 following the first weeks of operation of its Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The information released showed the clearinghouse has detected and identified nearly 8,000 positive substance-abuse tests of commercial drivers since Jan. 6. 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 Jim Mullen, FMCSA acting administrator.

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:

  • Employers of commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders, or their designated service agents, and medical review officers who report drug and alcohol program violations that occurred on or after Jan. 6, 2020;
  • Employers or their designated service agents who conduct required queries that inform them whether prospective or current employees have drug and alcohol program violations in their clearinghouse records. Employers must purchase a query plan before conducting queries in the clearinghouse – query plans must be purchased from the FMCSA clearinghouse website only;
  • Drivers who respond to employer consent requests or would like to view their clearinghouse record when applying for a job; and
  • Substance abuse professionals who report on the completion of driver initial assessments and driver eligibility for return-to-duty testing for violations committed on or after Jan. 6, 2020.

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.

For information about FMCSA’s clearinghouse program, including user brochures and instructional aids with step-by-step registration instructions, visit clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov.

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