FMCSA’s Latest Actions in Response to COVID-19

Posted March 30, 2020 by Erin

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) continues to issue waivers, notices and guidance regarding compliance issues related to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

The latest actions include:

·    Frequently Asked Questions Related to the FMCSA Emergency Declaration Part 2: 03/25/2020 – A guidance that provides further clarity related to the National Emergency Declaration

·    FMCSA CDL Waiver from Certain Regulations (March 24, 2020) – A waiver from certain regulations applicable to interstate and intrastate commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders and to other interstate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) until June 30, 2020

·    FMCSA Enforcement Notice on Expiring CDLs (March 24, 2020) – A notice of enforcement policy, effective from March 24, 2020 to June 30, 2020, for CLP holders, CDL holders, and non-CDL drivers and motor carriers using those drivers, regarding expiring driver’s licenses and medical examiner’s certificates

·    FMCSA COVID-19 Drug & Alcohol Testing Guidance – A guidance for FMCSA-regulated employers regarding drug and alcohol testing disrupted by COVID-19

All FMCSA waivers, notices and guidance related to COVID-19 can be accessed on the agency’s website.

FMCSA officials held a conference call 3.26.20 with ATA officials. The attached pdf summarizes the content of that call. FMCSA Emergency Declaration Conference Call 3.25.20 ATA Summary

Business Diversification Ideas

Posted March 27, 2020 by Erin

Some of you are considering diversification of your business into sectors of trucking you have not previously operated in. I applaud your efforts. I have fielded multiple questions this week concerning two such sectors—HazMat and food transportation.

There are several regulatory requirements unique to these sectors you need to be aware of as follows:

HazMat Transportation

  1. Drivers must have a HazMat endorsement on their CDL to transport any HazMat load which requires placards.
  2. Drivers must have regulatory required HazMat training prior to transporting any HazMat loads.
  3. The motor carrier must be registered with FMCSA as a Hazardous Materials carrier.
  4. Transportation of certain HazMat loads requires an additional FMCSA HazMat Safety Permit and a written Hazardous Materials Security Plan.
  5. Drivers pulling any bulk trailers, with a water capacity greater than 119 gallons will need a tank endorsement on their CDL.

Food Transportation

  1. The safe transportation of human and animal food is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  2. Drivers transporting most human and animal food must complete the FDA training module per the Sanitary Transportation Rule.
  3. Drivers pulling any bulk trailers, with a water capacity greater than 119 gallons will need a tank endorsement on their CDL. This would include milk trailers and any food grade non-HazMat tank trailers.

 

Please let me know if you have any questions about these requirements or need any additional assistance.

Driver Safety Recommendations

Posted March 27, 2020 by Erin

There is a fear rippling through the trucking industry that a majority of drivers may eventually become sick with the Coronavirus. While most of us are at home avoiding contact with others, drivers are still out in society working hard to continue to deliver the supplies and goods we all need. The danger for drivers is when they come into contact with others during pickup and delivery and, probably the greatest danger, when they stop to get fuel and eat. Truck stops offer the greatest risk of exposure to most drivers. From the handle of the fuel nozzle, to the store door knob, to the shower, to the packaging their food comes in, drivers are potentially exposed to the virus on a variety of surfaces Please remind your drivers of the following safety and health recommendations:

  • 1. Avoid gatherings of more than ten people.
  • 2. Practice social distancing by keeping a distance of about six feet from others if you must go out in public.
  • 3. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • 4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • 5. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • 6. Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • 7. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; throw used tissues in the trash. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve, not your hands.
  • 8. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
  • 9. If surfaces are dirty, clean them – use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • 10. Wear a facemask if you are sick. You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.

CVSA Roadcheck Postponed Due to COVID-19

Posted March 26, 2020 by Erin

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) International Roadcheck, which was originally scheduled for May 5–7, 2020, has been postponed until a later date due to the coronavirus outbreak. Roadcheck is an annual high-volume, high-visibility enforcement initiative that highlights the importance of commercial motor vehicle safety through roadside inspections.

CVSA says that it will monitor the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, and “appropriately select the new dates when it’s safe and reasonable to do so.” It is important to note, however, that during the coronavirus crisis, regular roadside inspections will continue to be conducted.

At this point in time, CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver Week is still scheduled for July 12-18 and Brake Safety Week is still slated for August 23-29.

FMCSA updates to Emergency Declaration & DOT Guidance on Drug & Alcohol Testing

Posted March 23, 2020 by Erin

DOT Guidance on Drug & Alcohol Testing:

Just this morning, the DOT released guidance on complying with the Federal Alcohol & Drug Testing regulations during the current national crisis. The text is available at the following link.

https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/compliance-with-dot-drug-and-alcohol-testing-regulations

If you read carefully, just like with the other relief which has been granted, the motor carriers are receiving no relief from the responsibility to comply with the regs and no relief from the liability for failure to do so.

 

FMCSA updates to Emergency Declaration – FAQ

The FMCSA issued additional guidance last week for motor carriers who choose to pursue regulatory relief under the agency’s emergency declaration. The guidelines are available via a FAQ on the FMCSA website, but are included in their entirety as follows (Last updated: Thursday, March 19, 2020):

Are loads that include supplies related to direct assistance under the emergency declaration mixed with other, un-related materials covered under the declaration?

Generally, yes, however, mixed loads with only a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration are not covered.

 

Is a driver required to take a 30-minute break?

No, none of the hours of service regulations apply while the driver is engaged with providing direct assistance under the emergency relief exemption.

 

How do the hours a driver worked under the emergency exemption impact the 60/70-hour rule when the driver goes back to normal operations?

The hours worked providing direct assistance under the emergency relief exemption do not count toward the 60/70- hour rule.

 

Is a 34-hour restart required after providing direct assistance under the emergency declaration?

No, however, upon completion of the direct assistance and prior to returning to normal operations, the driver is required to meet the requirements of §§ 395.3(a) and (c) and 395.5(a), which include, for example, the requirement to take 10 hours off duty (8 hours for passenger carriers) and to comply with the on-duty limit of 60/70 hours in 7/8 days before returning to driving.

 

Is the driver required to use a paper logbook or ELD?

No, the emergency exemption includes relief from all the hours-of service regulations in 49 CFR part 395, including the recordkeeping requirements (i.e., records of duty status (RODS)).

 

If there is an ELD in the truck, what should a driver do to account for the miles driven?

There are three options

  1. Use the “authorized personal use” (personal conveyance) function of the ELD to record all of the time providing direct assistance under the exemption.  Use of this function will result in the time being recorded as off duty and requires an annotation.
  2. Use the ELD in its normal mode and annotate the ELD record to indicate they were driving under the emergency relief exemption; or
  3. Turn off the ELD, in which case the carrier would address the unassigned miles in accordance with the current regulation.

 

What does a driver need to do if taking a backhaul not covered by the exemption after transporting an exempt load?

Upon completion of the direct assistance activities and prior to returning to normal operations, the driver is required to take 10 consecutive hours off duty before driving.  All the time the driver spends engaged in work-related activities that are not associated with providing direct assistance must be counted under the HOS rules.

 

Are livestock a covered commodity under the terms of the emergency declaration?

Yes, Livestock are covered as a precursor to food. The emergency declaration covers “immediate precursor raw materials—such as paper, plastic or alcohol—that are required and to be used for the manufacture of items” including food needed for the emergency restocking of stores.

 

Are haulers of household waste and medical waste covered under the terms of the declaration?

Yes, transportation for removal of both household and medical waste is covered as “supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19.”

 

What documentation is needed to verify that the driver is operating under the exemption?

There is no specific documentation required for verification.  Retention of ordinary business records, such as the bill of lading, may be useful later for the convenience of the motor carrier and driver, to document use of the exemption during a future inspection or enforcement action.

 

Does FMCSA have preemptive authority over states that decide/attempt to close highway rest stops?

No, however FMCSA is working closely with the States to ensure adequate truck parking and facilities are available.

 

To read the latest on the Coronavirus Disease please visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

To read the latest on the FMCSA Emergency Declaration, please visit their website: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/taxonomy/term/16621

To Visit MMA’s COVID-19 Resource page for our insureds please visit: https://mma.marshmma.com/coronavirus-outbreak-resource-page

Preventing Rear-End Crashes

Posted December 23, 2019 by Erin

Studies conducted by two Federal agencies reveal sobering facts about rear-end collisions.  The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that almost half of all two-vehicle collisions were rear-end crashes which resulted in the deaths of more than 1700 people each year¹.  Many of the crashes analyzed by the NTSB involved one or more commercial motor vehicles (CMV).  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) discovered that 87 percent of rear-end crashes involved a driver failing to properly respond to the traffic conditions ahead¹.

Prevention of rear-end crashes depends on drivers making sound, well-planned decisions. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recommends that professional truck drivers faithfully practice the following safe driving principles:

  • Maintain a safe following distance since large trucks take much longer to stop than passenger cars.  One of the most common crash types is when a CMV strikes the vehicle in front of them²
  • Double the following distance in adverse conditions including inclement weather, poor road conditions, low visibility and heavy traffic²
  • Avoid distractions outside of the vehicle including billboards, buildings and people³
  • Do not text or use a handheld electronic device while driving including cell phones, tablets or dispatch devices³
  • Do not read or write while driving including using paper maps³
  • Do not eat or drink while driving³

In addition to observing safe-driving practices, both the NTSB and the NHTSA strongly advocate for the use of available technologies which have proven to be very effective at eliminating or mitigating rear-end crashes. Specific technologies include collision warning systems and autonomous emergency braking. The NTSB further recommends that CMV fleet owners transition to fleet vehicles equipped with such technologies¹.

 

¹Source: https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-alerts/Documents/SA-046.pdf

²Source: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/driver-safety/cmv-driving-tips-following-too-closely

³Source: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/driver-safety/cmv-driving-tips-driver-distraction

 

Why Trucking Companies Need Rate Increases – and How It Relates to Insurance

Posted December 23, 2019 by Erin

A common theme among the vast majority of trucking companies in 2019 is increased operational costs, and the corresponding need to negotiate rate increases in order to pay the bills and remain profitable. It’s a conversation that insurance agents are typically having with trucking company management around renewal time. In short, trucking companies need more money coming in the door, or face the very real potential of sudden business shut down, trucks and cargo stranded on the highways, etc. See example of Falcon Transport Co., who closed its doors without warning.[1](link here)

What is driving this increase in costs?

The American Transportation Research Institute (or ATRI) is helping to answer this question. They recently released the 2019 version of “An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking,” which relies upon detailed financial data provided directly by motor carriers. Among the ATRI’s findings were the following:

  • The average marginal cost per mile incurred by motor carriers in 2018 increased 7.7 percent to $1.82.
  • Costs rose in every cost center except tires, with fuel costs experiencing the highest year-over-year growth of 17.7 percent.
  • As a strategic response to the severe driver shortage that existed in 2018, driver wages and benefits increased 7.0 and 4.7 percent, respectively – representing 43 percent of all marginal costs in 2018.
  • Repair & maintenance (R&M) costs, at 17.1 cents per mile in 2018, have increased 24 percent since 2012;
  • Insurance costs saw the second fastest year-over-year growth at 12 percent.[2]

As one industry executive put it: “ATRI’s 2019 Operational Costs Research highlights the extent of the cost increases our industry experienced in 2018. Savvy carriers will continue to use this cost data as a benchmarking tool, and to better educate our customers on the financial and operating pressures our industry faces.” [3]

Insurance Costs Continue to Increase

As the severity (i.e. the total dollar amount paid and in reserve) of trucking accidents continues to increase, that cost is passed on to trucking companies in the form of increased insurance premiums in 2019 and 2020, which in some cases are increasing as much as 25 percent or more. The primary factors influencing the continued rise in accident severity include: ever-increasing medical expenses, attorney fees and nuclear jury awards (i.e. awards in the tens of millions). See $40.5 million verdict against Werner Enterprises.[4] (link here)

How to Reduce Insurance Costs

Accident prevention is the best way to ensure a reduction in insurance claim costs. For most companies, a great place to focus or refocus efforts is on prevention of distracted driving, as it is unfortunately the root cause of many serious and fatal accidents involving trucks. The proliferation of cell phones, tablets and other portable devices is a reality for most truck drivers – and these devices can take their attention away from the road, other vehicles and pedestrians at critical points in time. However, companies who are investing in safety training and technology such as inward-facing dash cameras and facial recognition software – are ahead of the curve when it comes to identifying and addressing distracted driving risk factors before a serious accident occurs. More importantly though, are the catastrophic injuries that never happen, and the lives that are saved as a result of accident-free driving on our country’s highways.

 

If you would like more information on accident prevention or safety resources, please reach out to your local Marsh & McLennan Agency representative.

 

 

[1] Barradas, Samuel. “585 Truckers Stranded When Company Shuts Down Without Notice.” TruckersReport.com, 10 May 2019, https://www.thetruckersreport.com/585-truckers-stranded-company-shuts-without-notice/.

 [2], 3 Murray, Daniel. “ATRI’s Newest ‘Operational Costs of Trucking’ Research Shows Dramatic Increases in Industry Costs.” American Transportation Research Institute, 4 Nov. 2019, https://truckingresearch.org/2019/11/04/7851/.

 [4] Hawes, Clarissa. “Jury Slaps Werner Enterprises with $40.5 Million ‘Nuclear Verdict’ in Fatal Crash.” FreightWaves, 14 Oct. 2019, https://www.freightwaves.com/news/jury-slaps-werner-enterprises-with-405-million-nuclear-verdict-in-fatal-crash.

Happy Holidays!

Posted December 23, 2019 by Erin

We would like to wish all of you a very warm and happy holiday season! We are grateful for your partnership in 2019, and look forward to a safe and successful 2020! Our offices will close at 1 pm on December 24th and resume normal business on December 26th. 

Please enjoy these photos of our Leawood and Arlington offices celebrating the holiday.

Happy Holidays!

 

The holidays are approaching fast – beware of CARGO THEFT!

Posted October 18, 2019 by Erin

The holidays are approaching fast – beware of CARGO THEFT!

While you’re making preparations for company gatherings and thinking about holiday shopping, be sure to take some time to review the processes your company has in place to prevent cargo theft – because thieves are already making their plans to take their presents early. In fact, according to a Dec., 2018 Commercial Carrier Journal article, during the last five winter holiday periods, cargo theft recording firm SensiGuard has recorded about two thefts per day, with an average loss value of $182,260 – which is 6 percent higher than throughout the rest of the year.1

If you’ve ever been the victim of cargo theft, you’re likely familiar with what that terminology means.  However, the Criminal Justice Information Services Advisory Policy Board developed the following legal definition: “The criminal taking of any cargo including, but not limited to, goods, chattels, money, or baggage that constitutes, in whole or in part, a commercial shipment of freight moving in commerce, from any pipeline system, railroad car, motor truck, or other vehicle, or from any tank or storage facility, station house, platform, or depot, or from any vessel or wharf, or from any aircraft, air terminal, airport, aircraft terminal or air navigation facility, or from any intermodal container, intermodal chassis, trailer, container freight station, warehouse, freight distribution facility, or freight consolidation facility….”2

Most cargo theft occurs at truck stops, parking lots and warehouses – or in other words where most commercial vehicles are found. There are a couple common theft scenarios: First scenario involves a thief following a driver from the warehouse until he stops, then stealing the cargo at that location. Second scenario involves, what’s generally called, “fictitious pickups” or pickups where a thief impersonates a legitimate carrier and fraudulently secures a contract to transport cargo. The cargo is taken in this scenario with typically no trace of the thief upon discovery of the crime.3

So what can your company do to help prevent this kind of theft?  In his Dec. 2017 webinar (which can be viewed on our Recorded Webinars page HERE), NICB Special Agent Steve Covey suggests vetting potential business associates by way of internet checks (Safersys.org, FMCSA) and word of mouth/calling other companies; contacting local Cargo Security Councils and national associations to access the latest information and resources; and, making friends with the police before your problem happens. Other measures that can help include high visibility lighting, secured yards, high security locks, GPS tracking, and confirming receiving facilities holiday hours to help prevent unnecessary layovers with loaded trucks.1

For more information or assistance, please contact us at safetrucking@clinewood.com.  We appreciate your safety efforts!

1CCJ Staff. (2018, December 21). Be wary of increased cargo theft activity around Christmas, New Year’s. Retrieved October 11, 2019, from https://www.ccjdigital.com/be-wary-of-increased-cargo-theft-activity-around-christmas-new-years/.

2Cargo Theft, 2016, Crime in the United States (p. 1), U.S. Department of Justice – Federal Bureau of Investigation – Criminal Justice Information Services Division.

3Lienau, L. (n.d.). 2014 NICB Identified Cargo Thefts: NC, SC, VA (pp. 1–2). National Insurance Crime Bureau.

 

CVSA Brake Safety Week

Posted September 16, 2019 by Erin

“The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Brake Safety Week is scheduled for Sept. 15-21. 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.” ¹

Many states start these inspections early and run later than the announced event date to work with inspector’s hours, facility hours and to accomplish several thousand inspections. We also know that tools used to normally by-pass the scale for carriers with Green/Pass CSA SMS Scores are turned off thus bringing more tractor trailers through the scale house for inspection.  Other states select designated highways in which they will assign numerous state troopers to work multiple sections pulling tractor trailers over to ramps for road side inspections

 It seems like we finish one inspection focus just to be followed by another.  Though the official violation counts and OOS data from some of the 2019 inspections are not in yet, it is still alarming to see the counts of violations being found, whether out of service or not, when we always know to expect these inspections each year.

 As safety advocates, most of us work with our state troopers numerous times a year at the scale houses or through our safety organizations where we can visualize and learn what they are finding during inspections. “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.” ¹

“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 (FMCSA) 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.

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.” ¹

Hopefully you are well ahead of this reminder and have decided to reduce your odds in becoming a statistic in these inspections. Remember to keep your entire company involved, accountable and ready for these inspections and the daily safe operation of the fleet. Many of our clients have added additional pre-maintenance programs to their fleet to not only combat these inspections but to reduce road repair costs. Often times road repair costs are 3 to 4 times of that in your own facility or with your selected vendor.  Many have also taken advantage of trailer pool locations and created the time to accomplish repairs and inspections to help avoid breakdown and prevent inspection violations.

What a great accomplishment it would be to have our clients’ teams show either “No Violation” inspections or a major reduction in all inspection violations affecting your CSA SMS scores for the next two years.

 

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.

 

Source: ¹ Brake Safety Week is Sept. 15-21 (June 18, 2019). Retrieved from: https://www.cvsa.org/news-entry/2019-brake-safety-week/ , accessed 9/6/19.