February 13, 2017


Dear Port of Anchorage Freight Movers;


Starting on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, through Friday December 29, 2017, the Port of Anchorage will be collecting information on the destinations of cargo passing through the Port.  While this study will give the Port important information about just how much of the State cargo across its docks supports, this kind of information will prove an important follow-on to AMATS’ recently-completed Freight Mobility Study, and will help us better defend which road projects are important to the freight industry and why.  The process they’ve designed will, we hope, not be a burden on the truckers coming in and out through Checkpoint 1, because we have no interest in causing long lines or adversely impacting your efficiency!  The process will go something like this:


After a tractor-trailer/tank truck/car carrier/etc. approaches Checkpoint 1 and completes scanning the proxy card, the security guard will ask for the driver to stop at the checkpoint building.  The driver will be asked two questions:  Are you making a pick up?  What is your off-port destination for that pick up? 


We’re hoping for the answer to that second question to be worded such as:  “The Railroad loading yard,” “Carrs on Jewel Lake,” “Holiday at Minnesota & Spenard,” “JBER Commissary,” “JBER Exchange,” “FSA warehouses,” “Fred Meyers in Eagle River,” “Carrs in Palmer,” etc.  I hope you get the idea.


There’s a required number of counts per day needed for the sample to be statistically accurate.  Once that is collected, the inquiries will stop for that day.  If this is found to be burdensome for you and your drivers, I would like to know as soon as possible.  The Port is open to any advice you may have for how to make this process go faster.  I’m happy to pass that along for you.  Thanks for the help. 


ATA supports this effort and hope all Port Users will cooperate in this important data collection.  Please note that no individual motor carrier specific information is collected as the Port of Anchorage is only interested in total numbers. 



                                                                                   Aves Thompson

                                                                                    Executive Director





ATA Infrastructure Group Urges Action on Funding

WASHINGTON — Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and congressional funding leaders were urged to resolve the nation’s long-standing shortfall in infrastructure development during meetings with American Trucking Associations’ Infrastructure Task Force. The delegation convened Feb. 7-8 to speak with policymakers about how better roads and bridges can help broadly improve the country and the movement of freight. They insisted that politicians can no longer afford to postpone critical decisions on funding. “We have a significant stake in this issue, and we’re going to help get a bill across the finish line,” ATA President Chris Spear said. “Rebuilding infrastructure is not just important to us [in trucking] but to all Americans, and I can’t think of anyone better to speak about this than those in trucking.” Spear said he thinks there definitely will be a $1 trillion infrastructure program and that about one-third of that spending will go to road and bridge work. He said he expects the administration will provide a general framework for the program and that relevant House and Senate committees will fill in crucial details. “I’m confident we’ll get a long-term, sustainable solution to our nation’s infrastructure crisis,” said truckload executive Jim Burg of James Burg Trucking Co., a co-chairman of the task force. While Burg walked the corridors of congressional office buildings with his partner co-chairman, David Congdon of less-than-truckload carrier Old Dominion Freight Line, the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee heard testimony from state transportation officials about public-private partnerships — a funding strategy that often uses tolls to generate revenue to repay private investors for road construction. It also means legislators avoid raising taxes.

At the Senate EPW hearing, representatives from rural regions spoke of funding concerns. Committee leaders also rejected the Trump administration’s claim that private-sector capital fueled by tax breaks would be enough to help transportation agencies modernize crumbling roadways and bridges. The senators on the panel, which handles surface transportation, agreed that projects funded primarily with private money don’t work well for states and cities outside of large urban regions. “Funding solutions that involve public-private partnerships, as has been discussed by administration officials, may be innovative solutions for crumbling inner cities but do not work for rural areas,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the committee, said Feb. 8. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the committee’s ranking Democrat, said Congress could borrow a page from states that have approved increases in their fuel taxes, such as Wyoming and New Jersey. “You can make tough decisions for funding that people will forgive politicians for if they actually are convinced it’s going to meet a real need that they face every day,” Carper told reporters after the hearing. State transportation officials, however, also criticized infrastructure projects backed primarily by public-private partnerships, also known as P3s. “P3s and other kinds of borrowing don’t work in Wyoming. It doesn’t work in rural states because we simply do not have the revenue generation to support that kind of thing,” said Bill Panos, director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation. The Trump administration has not indicated when it would unveil an infrastructure funding proposal. During the campaign, Trump pledged to provide Congress with one during his first 100 days in office, which end April 30.



Vehicles stopping to view moose calves creating hazardous conditions on George Parks Highway.

 DENALI PARK, Alaska: Denali National Park and Preserve staff reminds visitors to use caution when stopping to view wildlife and that no photo opportunity is worth a human life.
 Park staff have observed visitors walking or running in highway travel lanes, crossing the road in front of fast-moving traffic, parking erratically in unsafe locations, and leaving vehicle doors open in order to view or photograph moose calves feeding along the highway near the intersection of Denali National Park entrance. The situation is causing extremely unsafe conditions for drivers, pedestrians, and the calves themselves.
 The George Parks Highway is the main travel route between Anchorage and Fairbanks and hosts a large amount of multi-use traffic. Seven miles of the highway runs through Denali National Park and Preserve, the route also known as Highway 3. The posted speed limit on the road varies between 45 mph and 65 mph.
 Thru-traffic such as tractor-trailers, which comprise a large amount of the overall traffic on the Parks Highway, have long stopping times and are unable to make quick, evasive maneuvers. These and other thru-drivers may be startled by unexpected pedestrians in the roadway or by vehicles stopping abruptly on road shoulders, narrowing the road and decreasing line of sight for all drivers.
 Park staff will be engaging in active traffic control in the area and making visitor contacts to educate the public about the ongoing situation.
 To help keep Denali’s animals healthy and wild, do not approach or attempt to feed them. National Park Service regulations require staying at least 25 yards away from moose.  Please, do not stop to view them without considering your safety, as well as that of others.
Additional park information is available at or 907-683-9532 from 9 am to 4:30 pm daily.
Stay Connected on social media with all of Denali’s centennial events using #NPS100, #FindYourPark, #EncuentraTuParque, #Denali100 and stay connected with "DenaliNPS" on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and iTunes – links to these sites are






Driver Turnover Up, ATA Says


The American Trucking Associations released new data Jan. 28 on driver turnover at large truckload carriers that showed the turnover rate was up a point to 97% in the third quarter last year.

At less-than-truckload carriers, turnover was also up, rising to 13% from 11% the previous quarter, ATA said. For small truckload fleets, turnover was unchanged at 94% in Q3.

The driver market remains tight, according to ATA’s chief economist Bob Costello, and that continued economic growth could make the driver shortage more acute in coming months.

To read ATA’s press release online, go to




Sleep Tips for the Professional Driver
A few simple steps to get the most out of down time
By Jake Sandau, MCM Safety Coordinator

    Many people who are not involved in the transportation industry may take this lifestyle for granted. To them, a truck is just another vehicle on the road. But those of us in the industry know that trucks are the lifeblood that moves this country. The trucking industry is responsible for delivering the majority of freight across America. Because of this, drivers often find themselves working long and demanding hours. Although this is a part of the job, proper sleep is an important tool in combating safety incidents as well as maintaining one’s health.

    Proper sleep can often be overlooked in the lives of many, especially professional drivers. Without it, drivers may experience slower reaction times, poor judgment, the weakening of your body’s natural defenses, and an increased appetite that may lead to obesity.

    Your sleep can also have an effect on others around you. Driving drowsy could mean the difference between stopping with a vehicle in front of you, or with that vehicle under you.

    Here are a few tips that may help in getting quality sleep while on the road:

o    Attempt to block out light and noise.
o    Keep the cab at a comfortable temperature.
o    Avoid spicy or heavy meals before bed.
o    Avoid alcohol.
o    Avoid nicotine and other stimulants.
o    Let family, friends, and dispatchers know when you will be sleeping to avoid disturbances.
o    Develop a relaxing routine. This will signal your brain that it is time to sleep.

    Good sleep can be a difficult thing for drivers while out on the road. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends that most people try and get seven hours of sleep each day. This may vary from person to person, so it is important for drivers to be aware of their own sleep cycles. Proper sleep will lead to better health and increased alertness.

    Fatigue may be an occupational hazard to professional drivers, but it doesn’t have to be. By following these tips, drivers can continue to move freight across this country safely!



Heavy Vehicle Use Tax

IRS Form 2290 Schedule 1 required when registering a truck with a gross vehicle weight of 55,000 pounds or more.

    Just a reminder that upon the purchase of a truck with a gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more, the owner must file with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a Form 2290 Schedule 1. The Motor Vehicle Division requires the Form 2290 Schedule 1, stamped by the IRS or the printed electronically filed receipt, to be submitted with the application for registration before the division will issue a license, unless the application for a certificate of title and registration are applied for within 60 days from the date of purchase. Vehicles owned by state agencies or political subdivisions and tribal government are exempt from the IRS 2290 requirements.

    Also, the current Form 2290 Vehicle 1 is required every time a transaction takes place for that vehicle, including renewing registration, and replacing a lost plate or tab. The Motor Vehicle Division cannot process your transaction until the current Form 2290 Schedule 1 is submitted. Remember, the Form 2290 Schedule 1 must be stamped by the IRS or have the watermark “e-file”.

    The Motor Vehicle Division is not responsible for the collection of the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax. You may contact the Internal Revenue Service for the forms and any further information.

    If you have any questions, please contact ATA @ 276-1149.


Cargo Loss
A new and dangerous wrinkle in a century-old problem
By Greg Jones

    Cargo loss is a dirty word to any carrier, and the legal language that should protect carriers and shippers when the worst happens to very expensive commodities can get complicated quickly, especially on interstate loads. A 1906 federal statute known as the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act, has answered liability questions for over a century. However, recent cases may possibly serve as a dangerous new precedent for claims filed by brokers.
    The carrier risk is suddenly much higher. Consider what you would do if your liability for one lost load grew from thousands to millions.
    So business is a little slow. When a broker calls to offer twenty lucrative loads, your salesman thinks, “We’ve got the capacity, and we need the business.” The broker forwards a master services agreement, the initial contract that spells out most of the terms between parties. Your salesman alertly spots one key clause requiring you as the carrier to procure $100,000 per load in insurance coverage. That’s nothing new to your salesman, who has an insurance agent in the wings ready to bind the coverage with a quick phone call. Paperwork is signed, bills of lading are issued, and your drivers make the first deliveries. The money starts rolling in.

Losing Cargo

    But then the phone call comes in to dispatch from one of your drivers. He was in unfamiliar territory. He had just 50 more miles to go to get to the consignee, but had already driven eight hours without a break. He tells your dispatcher, “For the past year, you guys have drilled into my brain the need to take that new 30-minute break, so I stopped for a bite. And when I came out, the load had been jacked.”
    Your loss prevention folks spring into action. They ask to see the bill of lading for the load that had been stolen. Sure enough, they find it and confirm that it contains the normal language and shipper agreement that all the terms and conditions of the Uniform Domestic Straight Bill of Lading Control. Someone even remembered to insert a released value for the shipment, which is well under the $100,000.00 insurance coverage.
    Everyone relaxes until somebody thinks to ask, “Well, did we get that insurance for this load?” Your staff calls the insurance agent to report the loss, and the agent confirms the coverage. “Good job,” you think, “we dodged a bullet.”
    Your loss prevention folks now phone the shipper to report the bad news. You’ve trained your staff to be diplomatic about it. So they apologize, but quickly tell the shipper that they’ve already turned the loss over to the insurance carrier. They re-assure the shipper that the insurance more than covers the released value for the load.
    But then it gets sticky. The broker calls. He yells, “That load was worth $8 million. And the shipper is demanding to be paid in full.”
    You review the bill of lading, the $100,000 insurance requirement and the released value. Your salesman asks, “I know we might lose the balance of the deal, but should I be blunt and just tell the broker point blank that all the shipper is entitled to is the released value?”
    So what do you tell him?

Understanding the Carmack Amendment

    So now you pick up the phone and call your company’s lawyer and ask him.
    For over a century the interstate shipments by motor carriers have been largely controlled by a compromise of sorts that came about with the 1906 passage of the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act.
    Your lawyer explains “That Amendment was enacted to bring national uniformity to questions over a motor carrier’s liability for property losses associated with interstate shipments. Shippers got a valuable benefit – the ability to improve near-presumptive liability on motor carriers for cargo loss or damage occurring in transit.”
    You tell your lawyer, “That doesn’t sound good for us carriers.”
    “Well, in exchange, motor carriers got two critical benefits. First, by establishing a nationwide liability rule, motor carriers would no longer have to confront a bewildering state-by-state patchwork of liability rules that rendered risk assessment virtually impossible. We lawyers call that “preemption.”  Second, the Amendment formally recognized the motor carriers’ right to limit their liability for damage.”
    “That sounds better” you say, “but how does that play out for us now?”

Setting a New Precedent

    Your lawyer pauses, then says “As the industry has developed, shippers, motor carriers, and now freight brokers have addressed risk assessment through a variety of means, including indemnity agreements and contractual clauses requiring a motor carrier to procure a specified amount of cargo loss/damage insurance.
    “Yeah, I know” but you ask “what’s the upshot?”
    Your lawyer continues, “Some observers, including at least one Arkansas federal court in a case called Bay Machinery Services have asserted that, given industry standards and absent notice to the carrier that additional cargo insurance would be required, contracts stipulating a set amount of insurance coverage can limit a motor carrier’s maximum exposure to the stipulated amount of coverage.”
    But your lawyer continues, “But not all industry participants and courts agree. Just two months ago, one federal judge in Ohio addressed a dispute between a broker and a motor carrier under facts similar to what you’ve called me about. In Exel, Inc. v. Southern Refrigerated Transport, a shipper had contracted with a freight broker, Exel, to arrange for the shipment of pharmaceuticals. Exel enlisted Southern Refrigerated Transport (SRT) to carry loads, and SRT then signed Exel’s standard ‘Master Transportation Services Agreement.’ That Agreement contained one clause requiring SRT to indemnify the broker for any loss and another clause that required SRT to obtain cargo insurance coverage of $100,000 max per vehicle.”
    At this point, you jump in “And lemme guess, one of the loads transported by SRT was stolen, right?”
    Your lawyer says “Precisely. Though the bill of lading had a release value of under $57,000, the shipper claimed that the load was pharmaceuticals valued at over $8 million. So Exel presented a claim to SRT on behalf of the shipper for the full $8 million. And as you might expect, SRT rejected the claim, contending that its liability would be limited under the bill of lading to the release value.”
    This is starting to sound all too familiar to you so you ask “What happened?”
    Your lawyer continues, “Well, the shipper assigned its claim to Exel and then Exel sued SRT under several theories, including breach of the indemnity clause in the Master Agreement. In response, SRT argued that, in light of Carmack, Exel’s state-based contractual indemnity claim would necessarily be preempted.”
    “And that’s right, isn’t it? That’s that ‘compromise’ you mentioned earlier, right?”
    Your lawyer explains, “Nope. The Ohio court rejected SRT’s argument that Carmack preempted Exel’s indemnity claim. It pointed out that, while a claim brought by the shipper might have been limited to the release value, this suit had been brought by the broker, not the shipper. And while some courts, including one in Arkansas in a case called Propak Logistics, have determined that the Carmack Amendment’s preemptive effect extended not only to shippers, but also to brokers, other courts have ruled to the contrary.”
    Now you interject “I think I see where this is going.”
    “Yes” your lawyer says, “Since it ruled that Carmack did not preempt Exel’s breach of contract claim, the court found that SRT agreed to indemnify Exel for any loss of cargo. And while one provision of the Master Agreement had also obligated SRT to maintain a maximum of $100,000 in cargo insurance, yet another provision stated that the insurance provision did not limit SRTs liability under other sections in Master Agreement.”
    “Now wait a minute” you respond. “You’re telling me that, if the shipper sues for the loss of the shipper’s load, then the carrier could limit its exposure. But if the shipper has the broker file suit for the very same loss, then the carrier can get popped for the whole amount?
    Your lawyer responds, “Yes, that’s what the judge said.”
    “That seems nuts! You’re saying that even though SRT had that $100,000 in insurance – the very amount that the broker told SRT to have – the court refused to cap SRT’s liability at the $100,000 level?”
    “Yep” your lawyer replies. “SRT got stuck for the full $8 mil.”
    Now you’re starting to worry. You mutter “So what do we do?”



I’m Soooo... Tired!!!


Tired? Feeling drowsy at work? It may be lack of good quality sleep, but it may not. According to the October issue of Occupational Athletics, there are lots of things that can make you tired... and they are things that you can easily do something about.


Getting your energy back at work can be made easy:


o   Exercise. Exercising will actually increase energy, and even light exercise will help. New evidence shows that shorter intense workouts are more effective than long workouts, and regular exercise boosts strength and endurance, helps your cardiovascular system to run more efficiently, and has many other benefits both mentally and physically.

o   Eat Right. Breakfast is a must! A good breakfast should include whole grains, and/or fruit, lean protein and healthy fat.

o   Stay Hydrated. Dehydration, even just a little, can make you feel tired. So keep some lemon water handy to sip throughout the day.

o   Don’t Forget Iron.  Could you be iron deficient? Symptoms include feeling sluggish, weak, irritable, and unable to focus. Iron rich foods: lean beef, kidney beans, eggs with the yolk, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, and tofu.

o   Reduce Stress. Give yourself a break by not overworking or taking work home with you – at least not more than a day or two a week. If you are overworked and overstressed, your work, your health, and your psyche will suffer as a result.

o   Decompress. Do things that you enjoy: spend time outside, read, exercise, meditate, etc.

o   Organize! Declutter! Looking at a mess automatically makes us feel a bit frantic. Pick up at the end of the day so that you don’t have to look at overwhelming clutter first thing in the morning.





Train! Train! Train!

    This seems to be the motto of all companies.

    When a driver enters orientation, they are required to go through extensive training. This can include road tests, physicals, Hours of Service rules, FMCSA regulations, along with learning company policies and procedures. There is monthly safety meetings provided as well as the yearly safety updates. Any training given must be well documented for future reference. Training should be a continuing process throughout the driver’s employment with that company.

    Not only is training important and required for all drivers, but should be equally as important for all office employees that work with drivers. All employees should be aware of rules and regulations that a driver must follow.

    Office employees that are not trained properly can pass along wrong information to the drivers. The repercussions of a driver not aware of or not following all safety rules and regulations can be detrimental to a trucking company.

    The transportation industry can make a difference by making sure all safety rules and regulations are a big part of orientation and accessible at all times to the drivers and office employees.

    Train Everyone! Train Everyone! Train Everyone!

    Together we can make our roads a safer place!



Zero Is Not Taboo

By Lieutenant Rex C. Railsback
Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, Kansas Highway Patrol

    Over the years, numerous times I’ve heard motor carrier enforcement personnel say, “If you don’t find a violation the first time around, keep looking,” or “I can’t have a Level 1 with no violations” or “If you don’t have at least two or three violations per inspection, you’re not doing your job,” and so on. I’d like to state that each one of these statements is incorrect and inspectors should not be afraid of a zero violation inspection.

    Now I’m not saying that an inspector with only one violation in 50 inspections doesn’t possibly have training or other administrative issues that should be dealt with accordingly, but the occasional inspection with no violations is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s the ultimate goal of commercial vehicle safety: 100 percent compliance. If you really want to get down to the basics, the ultimate goal of industry, regulators and enforcement consist of four zeros:

1.    Zero fatality crashes
2.    Zero injury crashes
3.    Zero non-injury crashes
4.    Zero violations

    I know we won’t reach these goals during my career, but I have seen a substantial reduction in all types of crashes, and even critical inspection violations, since I started inspecting commercial vehicles in 1993. CVSA even has a reward program for commercial vehicles that have no critical inspection item violations.

    That program provides CVSA decals, with the purpose to assist inspectors on deciding which vehicles should or should not be selected for inspection. If CVSA chooses to reward vehicles with clean and/or no critical inspection item violations, why can’t some inspectors do the same and list, “no violations detected,” instead of stretching to list something to avoid that zero violation inspection? If an inspector’s supervisor is evaluating them based on violations per inspection, that can push inspectors to reach for violations. In fact, evaluations based on violations per inspection could be looked at in the same light as a quota for citations issued.

    In this day and age of DataQs, inspectors need to be more articulate and sure of a violation than ever before. No longer should an inspector think, “When in doubt, pen it out,” but instead he or she should think “When in doubt, punt,” or “The tie goes to the runner.” There is nothing wrong with calling other inspectors for guidance either. Even calling instructors you’ve had in the past can help if you’re in doubt. If an inspector can’t get guidance to help avoid the doubt, then let it go. Do the research and get the violation next time. Just eliminating the mindset of always having to have an inspection with violations could reduce the total number of DataQs a state has to investigate.

    As a long-time instructor, I’ve taken numerous calls and emails over the years to help confirm if something was or was not a violation and I know other instructors have done the same. There is no shame in asking if you’re not sure. Just remember, the only dumb questions are the ones not asked. Citing a violation that you’re not sure of would be the same as citing someone for speeding when you weren’t sure you had the correct vehicle.

    I’ve been inspecting commercial vehicles for 20 plus years and I’ve even made note of possible violations without listing them on the inspection report, and researched said possible violation(s) later. After I found the answer, I called the carrier and advised them of my finding on what I had questioned, and whether it was a violation. If this research was completed after the vehicle was released, but before the inspection was uploaded, I’ve even added notes to the inspection report about my findings. No matter how you notify a carrier of what your findings were, you‘re still helping the motor carrier obtain compliance. Again, isn’t that our ultimate goal?

    So after all of the above, I hope inspectors continue to do the outstanding job of helping to reduce crashes, the operation of unsafe commercial motor vehicles and non-compliant motor carriers. By always remembering that occasionally you might run across a commercial vehicle without any violations, you should not be afraid to note it as such. Just remember that “zero is not taboo” and, in fact, is the ultimate goal of all of us in the commercial vehicle field.




CNG Fuel System Inspections
The Key to Mitigating Risk Now – and in the Future

By Annalloyd Thomason
Vice president/General Manager, NGVi

    NGVi’s executive director, Leo Thomason, recently served as an expert witness in a legal action involving a vehicle compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel system. The defendant was a major U.S. corporation that operates natural gas vehicles (NGVs) nationwide, and contracted with a third party to dispose of depreciated vehicles at auction. One of the key factors in the case was whether the corporation had conducted proper CNG fuel system inspections during the life of the vehicle – and whether they had maintained adequate records to document those inspections.
    The circumstances surrounding this lawsuit reinforce the extreme importance of adequate training for vehicle technicians on the entire process of CNG fuel system inspections – not only to ensure employee safety as they drive the company-owned NGVs – but also to mitigate risk after vehicles are released from the fleet into the secondary vehicle market.

    Industry best practices recommend that a General Visual Inspection be conducted on the visible elements of the CNG fuel system regularly to assess signs of gross external damage or abuse. During these inspections, technicians are looking for loose or damaged mounting brackets or any type of damage to the high-pressure fuel system and especially the CNG cylinders and shields.

    If the technicians find evidence of damage during the General Visual Inspection, a Detailed Visual Inspection should be conducted. In addition, in accordance with NGV-2 and FMVSS 304, a Detailed Visual Inspection must be conducted by a qualified person every three years or 36,000 miles – whichever comes first – and after any fire or accident.

    The Detailed Visual Inspection covers the complete high-pressure fuel system installation, brackets, pressure release device (PRD), piping and CNG fuel storage cylinder(s). The inspection should be guided first by the cylinder manufacturer’s cylinder maintenance and inspection requirements and secondarily by CGAC-6.4 – Methods for External Visual Inspection of Natural Gas Vehicle and Hydrogen Vehicle Fuel Containers and their Installations.

    As a general rule, the cylinder manufacturer’s requirements are more stringent and help ensure safety for the specific type and brand of cylinder installed on the vehicle.

    While all the details are not listed here, the basic steps involved in conducting a detailed visual inspection include:

o    Research vehicle record for collision damage, fire inspection records, etc.

o    Obtain cylinder manufacturer maintenance and repair guidance; if manufacturer is out of business or the guidance document is not available, use CGA Pamphlet C 6.4;

o    Prepare the vehicle of inspection;

o    Conduct the CNG fuel system inspection, and

o    Determine the final disposition.

    Equipment required to conduct a detailed visual inspection includes adequate light, inspection mirrors, hand tools, torque wrench, depth gauge, rule and straight edges, leak test fluid, both pass and fail inspection stickers and a digital camera.

    While all the steps in the detailed visual inspection are important, one of the most critical elements is the cylinder inspection. Shields must be removed, cylinders must be cleaned, and technicians should use a high-intensity light and a mirror to aid in inspecting each entire cylinder.

    During the inspection process, technicians must be able to visualize any damage and determine its type. For instance, a technician might see some type of damage but needs to be able to understand and assess what the type of damage is. Was the damage observed caused by heat? Impact? Corrosion? Abrasion? Chemical attack? Weathering? Technicians must be able to determine the cause of the damage – especially because with heat damage of any type, the cylinder was exposed.

    Next, the depth and length of all damage, including cuts, scratches or abrasions observed on each cylinder must be measured, photographed and recorded on the inspection data sheet. This quantitative data is used to determine the Damage Level Assessment, which ranges on a scale from 1 to 3:

o    Level 1 damage is defined as no damage or damage that is acceptable and repair is not required. The cylinder can be returned to service.

o    Level 2 damage requires repair, more thorough evaluation, testing or destruction. The manufacturer’s guidelines will determine the final outcome.

o    Level 3 damage is sufficiently severe that the cylinder shall not be repaired and shall be condemned.

    The quantitative differences between the measurements for the different levels are small and accuracy is imperative. For technicians to be able to conduct effective CNG fuel system inspections, they need not only classroom training, but hands-on practice assessing the causes of damage, measuring and recording the damage, and then comparing the measurements to the manufacturer’s guidelines to determine the levels of damage and the required action.

    While CNG fuel systems are extremely safe, technicians must be able to determine when damage has occurred and what action must be taken. Training is the key – and protects not only the employees driving natural gas vehicles currently in the fleet, but also protects the company against liability after vehicle disposal.



 FMCSA Implements New Adjudicated Citation Policy

     In late August, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) began to require states to reflect the results of adjudicated citations related to roadside inspection violation data in the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). This new policy impacts how violations are used and displayed in the Safety Measurement System (SMS) and Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP). The changes are part of the Agency’s continued effort to improve the quality and uniformity of violation data to sharpen the focus on unsafe carriers and drivers.

    FMCSA originally published the proposed changes in a Federal Register Notice on December 2, 2013, followed by a second Federal Register Notice on June 5, 2014. The Agency considered more than 100 public comments – from states, motor carriers, drivers and industry associations – to that initial notice and solicited feedback from the field and state partners. Comments indicated that the Agency’s approach has a widespread support within the commercial motor vehicle industry.

    The policy applies to inspections occurring on or after August 23, 2014. Motor Carriers and drivers are now able to request through DataQs that results of adjudicated citations be recorded in MCMIS when a driver is found not guilty or the violation is dismissed in court. Violations that are the subject of dismissals or acquittals will not be displayed or used in SMS and PSP. The SMS and PSP will continue to retain and display violations that result in a conviction or payment of the fine. Where motor carriers or drivers plead to or are convicted of a different or lesser charge, SMS and PSP will reflect that information. Carriers logging into the portal or SMS with their account will be able to see all of their violations and any adjudicated citation results that have been transmitted to MCMIS.

    FMCSA has implemented the policy across all states with the intent of creating a more consistent approach to the collection and review of data used to prioritize carriers for interventions. States are required to implement the policy change given that it is within the scope of the current Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP).  FMCSA’s State Programs Division has issued direction to the MCSAP agencies explaining the expectations and responsibilities related to the adjudicated citation process.

    To ensure successful implementation of the policy, FMCSA provided SafetyNet updates to states after conducting testing of the software. Updates to SafetyNet allow states to enter adjudication results into a new field created to record this information. SafetyNet provides data to MCMIS that interfaces with the Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) system, PSP and SMS.

For more information about the policy, visit the Federal Register Notice published in June at


TWIC “One Visit” Now Available Everywhere

    TWIC cards can now be mailed directly to your home, or other location, instead of returning to an enrollment center to pick up your card. This applies to new or renewed enrollment cards, Extended Expiration Date (EED) TWICs, or replacements for lost, stolen, or damaged cards.

    If you choose to receive your card by mail you will only be required to make one visit to an enrollment center to complete the enrollment process. When you receive your card it will be activated and ready to use. A mailer with the card’s present Personal Identification Number (PIN) will be sent to you separately.

    You may also choose to pick up your card at an enrollment center. If you pick up your card at an enrollment center you can select your PIN.  If you receive your card by mail and want to change your present PIN, you can visit any enrollment center to have it set to your selected PIN at no cost.


Medical Examiners Must Continue to Issue Medical Examiner’s Certificate
By the FMCSA

    Currently, medical examiners must give drivers a hard copy of their medical certificate so they can submit it to the state driver’s licensing authority to obtain or maintain their Commercial Driver’s License.

    FMCSA believes there is confusion because of two regulations being published near the same time:

1.    The National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners which is the current regulation that went to its compliance date on May 21, 2014.

2.    The Medical Integration rule making called “National Registry II”, for which a Notice of Proposed Rule making was published but has not been made a final rule yet.


 We need YOU to Rally For Our Troops!


Date: Feb. 23, 2015
Time: 5 – 6 p.m.
Location: Dena’ina Civic & Convention Center

Show your support!
Live Music from the Carhartt Brothers
Clark Middle School Drumline
FREE to the public
Listening Session: Begins at 6 p.m.

The situation:

    The U.S. Army is tasked to reduce its personnel. The first round of reductions must be made by 2017, and two brigade combat teams in Alaska are being considered. On Feb. 23, a delegation of military officials is traveling to Alaska to learn more about brigade combat teams at JBER and Fort Wainwright. If a decision is made to dissolve the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at JBER, Anchorage could lose more than 5,300 military personnel with more than 8,900 dependents. These are our neighbors and friends. The impact to the community would include a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in the local economy, jobs, workforce and more.

    In his article for the Alaska Journal of Commerce, Tim Bradner writes: 

    “The loss of a major combat unit at either base could be severe, said Bill Popp, president of Anchorage Economic Development Corp.

    ‘The loss of a brigade at JBER could [equal], a total loss of 14,000 population, which is 4.5 percent of Anchorage’s overall population,’ Popp said. The Army payroll in Anchorage is over half-a-billion dollars yearly with additional Army civilian worker payroll, according to AEDC data.

    Jim Dodson, CEO of Fairbanks Economic Development Corp., said the impact on that community could be even more severe because it is smaller than Anchorage. “We see a potential of losing 5,800 troops plus dependents, which could mean a total loss of 14,000 population. That’s a big deal for us,” Dodson said. The military accounts for 30 percent of employment in the Fairbanks region and 35 percent of total wages, he said.”

How you can help:

    Join together as a community for the Rally For Our Troops event on Feb. 23 at the Dena’ina Civic & Convention Center in downtown Anchorage. The military leaders will be attending a Listening Session at the Dena’ina. We need to show them our affection for and appreciation of armed forces stationed in Alaska. The rally will take place from 5 – 6 p.m. This is our opportunity to demonstrate how much we, as a community, value and appreciate the military.



A Driver Shortage Fix?

Automated manual transmissions could help inexperienced drivers

    I was attending Western Star’s launch of its eye-catching 5700XE aerodynamic truck in Las Vegas in September when an offhand remark by Ann Demitruk, the company’s director of marketing caught my attention. Demitruk said that with automated manual transmissions rapidly gaining market share in Class 8 applications, it seemed to her that fleets and driving schools should use AMT’s as a marketing tool to help attract new drivers to the industry.

    This struck me as a sensible and viable suggestion. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website, it is perfectly legal and acceptable to train, test and receive a commercial driver’s license without learning how to operate a heavy-duty manual transmission. The agency gives such drivers an “E” endorsement code on their CDLs to indicate they are restricted to AMTs only.

    But the thinking at the moment – both on the fleet and driver school sides of the equation – seems to be that all drivers should know how to operate a manual transmission. I called David Johnson, president and chief instructor at my driving school, Premier Driving Academy in Theodore, Alabama, to get his thoughts on this idea.

    As a graduate of the school, I was surprised to hear Johnson tell me he still believes in training students on manuals because, in his opinion, it gives them a better overall feel for the vehicle. He also thinks it is vital for drivers to understand the mechanics and physics of up- and down-shifting. Finally, as a point of pride, he wants to graduate fully trained drivers capable of operating any truck on the road today and – just as importantly from the students’ perspective – able to go after and get any driving job they want.

    At the same time, however, Johnson admitted that AMTs can be a make-or-break factor for some students who don’t test well. In limited cases – about one in five students he estimates – he’ll let a student who is trained and proficient on a manual but also nervous about using one with an examiner sitting the passenger seat take the CDL driving exam with an automatic transmission.

    Johnson mentioned a fleet customer of his school that recently had dropped two competitive driving schools from its “acceptable” list because those schools were sending Class E drivers to them – but the fleet doesn’t run any automatics. So, Johnson said, he had a vested interest in emphasizing manual training in his school.

    All of which seems to prove Demitruk’s point: bias against AMTs still exists. Fleets, which desperately need drivers, are turning qualified candidates away because they can’t drive a manual-equipped truck. Meanwhile, FCMSA policy clearly states that the ability to operate a manual transmission is not a requirement to obtain a CDL.

    The basic question here seems simple. If you’re running a fleet, which is more important: your desire to run manual transmissions, or your need for drivers?

    Taking a larger view, as an industry struggling to attract talent, perhaps highlighting the fact that Class E endorsements are a viable option for potential students can be a make-or-break move that encourages inexperienced drives to take a leap and earn their CDLs.

    But that’s only going to happen if this industry steps up and offers viable jobs to new drivers with “automatic only” endorsements on their CDLs.



Avoiding Common 401k Problems

BY Zac Walters and Bear Walters

    Three years ago the Department of Labor (DOL) hired additional staff to scrutinize the compliance of 401k plan sponsors. This coincided with the new EFAST 5500 filing system. What most sponsors don’t realize is the new improved form 5500 is an excellent data collection source for the DOL and IRS. With this data, the regulators have been busy identifying 401k plans that may be easy targets for a DOL audit (not to be confused with the annual required 401k plan audit for plans with over 100 participants) or inquiry.

    In 2013, the DOL launched 3,677 401k investigations which resulted in over $1.6 billion in fines. In addition, over 26,000 plan sponsors took advantage of the “Voluntary Fiduciary Compliance Program and Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program”. It appears the most common reason for increased DOL activity is missing or late contributions followed by issues with loans, hardship withdrawals, forfeitures and fee disclosures. These results indicate each Plan Sponsor should carefully consider their responsibilities when offering a 401k plan as an employee benefit.

    As the Plan Sponsor you can minimize the chance of a DOL inquiry or audit by following the 401k “best practices”. This starts with making sure you keep an updated IPS (Investment Policy Statement) in your 401k file. The purpose of the IPS is to provide a written set of guidelines governing how your plan will operate. The IPS will memorialize how you or the 401k committee will select the following service providers: Investment Consultant, Platform Provider, TPA (Third Party Administrator) and CPA if needed.

    The IPS also establishes the criteria used to select the participant investment options and QDIA.  Lastly, the IPS will provide the process to evaluate each provider annually. It is vitally important to assure all plan related business is conducted in accordance with the IPS. One of the worst mistakes is to make a decision in conflict with the IPS.

    Being prepared is the best way to survive a DOL inquiry or audit as preparedness usually takes you off the radar. Concentrating all your pertinent plan information in one file is a good start, and should contain the following: Plan Document, SPD, IPS, provider contracts, beneficiary forms, annual reviews, notes of participant education events, investment reviews with separate review for the QDIA, fee disclosures notices, participant enrollment forms, documentation of automatic enrollment notification, annual fee comparison, loan documents, hardship withdrawal documents, copies of the yearly 5500 and plan audit, SMM’s (these are the updates to the SPD) copies of any corporate minutes and minutes of any investment committee review.

    Every 401k plan document identifies the NAMED Fiduciary of the plan. Usually this is the company owner or president. The Named Fiduciary is personally liable for the plan operation. Not following time tested ‘best practices’ can result in some unintended consequences for the Named Fiduciary.

    Following the information above certainly will help reduce your exposure to a DOL 401k plan inquiry or audit. Keeping abreast of the above information can prove to be time intensive and costly. You may also want to consider using the CTA 401k MEP for your 401k plan and transfer 95% of these responsibilities and the requirement to perform a plan audit.



House Passes 2015 Federal Spending Bill Containing HOS Restart Study Provisions

    The House, on Thursday evening, passed a $1.1 trillion "CRomnibus" spending bill that funds the government for the remainder of the 2015 fiscal year. By a 219 to 206 vote, the GOP majority, with assistance from 57 Democrats, passed the measure.

    Included in the package is language authored by Senator Susan Collins of Maine, and passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee 21-9 earlier this year, which would suspend provisions of the new Hours of Service (HOS) Restart requirements for the remainder of the fiscal year and require they be further studied. Specifically, the proposal will suspend the restrictions imposed on drivers using the 34-hour restart: requiring two periods between 1am and 5am and arbitrarily limiting the use of the restart to once per week. These restrictions - according to the government’s own limited study data push more trucks onto the roads in the early morning hours, statistically the riskiest time of day for crashes. FMCSA failed to consider this increased risk when making these changes and the Collins Amendment would suspend these changes until further research is conducted.

    ATA has been actively advocating for the changes proposed by Senator Collins, and thanks the Senator for her for tireless work on behalf of the trucking industry to address these harmful provisions in the new HOS Restart requirements. ATA would also like to thank House and Senate Appropriations leadership for their thoughtful consideration and inclusion of the Collins provision in the spending package, all ATA members who have been actively engaged on this issue, and the broad coalition that has stood with ATA in voicing support for Senator Collins language.

    We hope by the time you read this the senate will have also passed the bill and it will be on its way to the President’s desk for his signature.



DOT Slams on the Brakes for Size and Weight

From Safety Bulletin

    A new Federal Truck Size and Weight Study isn’t expected to be presented until later this year, delaying the initial view lawmakers may have of the analysis which is intended to help them make a decision on spending levels in the next highway bill.  The current highway bill has been extended to May 2015 after it became clear there was no resolution in Congress on how to fund repairs to America’s infrastructure.

    Lawmakers are expected to rely on the study by the Federal Highway Administration to evaluate current truck weights, and whether they should be adjusted to accommodate more productive vehicles. The safety of the nation’s highways and bridges, and a look into the impact of truck and rail competition are also part of the ongoing study.

    The Department of Transportation (DOT) was mandated in the 2012 highway bill to perform the analysis.  When announcing the delay, DOT said it “is committed to producing the most objective, data-driven report possible,” and to do it justice, needed extra time. After hearing of the delay, some of the responses questioned the worth of the study.

    “I have serious concerns about the study that the Department of Transportation is conducting on this critical issue,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-D 2nd).  “We want and need the best possible study, and if the process is flawed, this will all be an exercise in futility.”

    Some advocacy groups chimed in and said that a recent university study showed that “longer and heavier” trucks have a higher fatal crash rate. The arguments on this issue have stretched over decades.

    Reps. Lou Barletta (PA-R 11th) and Rep Jerry Costello (IL-D 12th) in 2012 co-authored an amendment to a highway bill that led to a truck size and weight study. They were interested in potential local and state costs any increases in truck size and weight might bring. There would be significant safety and cost implications of such changes, as larger and heavier trucks are involved in a large percentage of fatal traffic accidents and cause greater damage to roads and bridges, said Barletta’s office.

    Congress ordered the study to help answer the difficult policy and political question of whether or not to raise the national size and weight limits. Some thought it was a good idea, or one whose time had come.

    In the 113th Congress, Maine Democrat Rep. Mike Michaud introduced the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act. The bill would allow states to increase Interstate truck weights to 97,000 pounds. SETA or H.R. 612 would require these tractor-trailers have a sixth axle to decrease per-tire weight and improve braking. A check of records indicates that SETA has been introduced four times since 2009.

    A peer review by the Transportation Research Board criticizes the approach by which DOT conducted its size and weight study. In none of the five areas to be measured did the DOT explain how their methods and sources were superior to any alternative. Available methods that were used had some major flaws that seem small on the surface but can have major consequences on the impact of new regulations, according to the review.  The Transportation Research Board (TRB) suggested that the literature does not reveal any of these flaws have been reduced in the study.



FMCSA Issues Sleeper Berth Exemption

    On October 10, 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a Notice of Final Disposition granting a limited two year exemption to Van Hool N.V. and Coach USA (Van Hool/Coach USA) that will allow Coach USA/Megabus to operate double deck motor coaches containing a sleeper berth with an exit that does not meet the minimum dimensional requirements specified in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).

    Section 393.76 ( c)(1) of the FMCSRs requires sleeper berths installed after January 1, 1963 to have an exit that is at least 18 inches high and 36 inches wide. The exemption will allow Coach USSA/Megabus to operate double deck motor coaches with an exit area from the sleeper berth that, while not meeting the specified dimensions, is only slightly smaller in overall size from what is required in the FMCSRs.

    FMCSA believes that permitting the reduced exit area size will maintain a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety achieved without the exemption. The exemption is effective from October 10, 2014 until October 10, 2016.



FMCSA Seeks Comments on Revising Minimum Levels of Financial Responsibility

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced through an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that the Agency is seeking comment from the public, liability insurance providers, motor carriers, brokers, and freight forwarders on the safety and financial impacts of revising minimum levels of financial responsibility.

    The Federal government has long required motor carriers to maintain certain levels of financial responsibility, either through insurance, a bond, or other financial security, as a means to protect the public in the event of a crash. An April 2014 Report to Congress found that while catastrophic motor carrier crashes are rare, in less than 1% of these crashes the costs for resulting sever and critical injuries exceed $1 million. The report concludes that current insurance minimums would not adequately cover the costs for these few examples, which are primarily due to increases in medical expenses and other crash-related costs.

    To provide a basis for proposing changes to insurance rules and estimating those impacts in the future, the Agency is seeking additional information on 26 questions.

    Whenever possible, commenters should provide data in support of their responses. FMCSA recognizes that an individual commenter may choose to respond to all of the issues or only a subset, based on his or her interest or area of expertise.

    A copy of the ANPRM and instructions for submitting comments is available at

    Comments will be accepted through February 26, 2015.


FMCSA to Award Contract for HOS Study in January
By Eugene Mulero

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to name a research that would conduct its yearlong review of a new hours-of-service rule suspended through the end of September, a senior agency official said Jan. 13.

Martin Walker, head of FMCSA’s research division, said the firm that receives the contract would need to measure fatigue and performance levels of drivers who take a two-night rest period during a 34-hour restart to those who take less than a two-night period.

The agency is seeking drivers for the study who record about 60 to 70 hours a week, and work primarily at night. The drivers would need to come from various sectors of the industry at small and large fleets. By law, the firm has a year to complete the study, Walker said.

“FMCSA is working very diligently, and we are … working very hard to ensure that this study is contracted and awarded later this month,” Walker said, at a panel at the annual Transportation Research Board conference here. “We’re going to compare five months of driver work schedule” to review safety data.

Information about how to participate in the study is on FMCSA’s website.

On Dec. 16, President Obama signed a $1 trillion fiscal 2015 funding bill into law that suspended through Sept. 30 FMCSA’s requirement that drivers take off two consecutive periods of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. during a 34-hour restart.

Key congressional leaders had the suspension of the new restart rule included in legislation.

The suspension was backed by the trucking industry, which argued the new hours-of-service rules had not been sufficiently studied. Proponents of the rule countered that suspending it would add tired drivers on roadways.

Truckers still are required to account for a 30-minute break during their shifts, and follow pre-July 2013 hours-of-service regulations.



Comments Being Accepted on Minimum Driver Training Requirements

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published its intention to create a negotiated rulemaking committee on minimum training requirements for entry-level commercial drivers. The agency is seeking comments from commercial driver and training organizations, truck and bus associations, motor carriers, state licensing and law enforcement agencies, labor unions, safety advocacy groups, insurance companies, and the public on recommendations for me membership of the committee.

    The committee will examine minimum training requirements, including classroom and behind-the-wheel time; accreditation versus certification of CDL training programs and schools, instructor qualifications and other areas, FMCSA said.

    The Federal Register notice solicits nominations for members to the committee.

    The MAP-21 transportation bill directed FMCSA to establish minimum training requirements for commercial truck and bus drivers.

    To read the Federal Register notice online, go to and type “minimum training requirements” into the search pane.



IRS Provides Guidance of Fuel Extenders

     The federal Internal Revenue Service has issued guidance for taxpayers who can take advantage of the tax breaks related to alternative fuels that were extended by Congress at the end of last year. 


      A variety of credits offered under Internal Revenue Code sections 6426 and 6427 for biodiesel manufacture and the sale or use of other alternative fuels expired at the end of 2013, and the recent Congressional action extended them, but only through calendar 2014, after which they have once again expired. (This has happened before, and IRS issued similar guidance on at least the most recent such occasion.)


     Congress provided for a six-month window in which those eligible for the fuel credits for 2014 could apply for them. Included among the extended provisions is the 50-cent per-gallon fuel tax credit for the use of propane in forklifts. The IRS guidance says that all claims must be filed by August 8, 2015, and specifies the various forms, schedules, and information needed before the agency can pay a refund or apply a credit. The guidance is to be found in IRS Notice 2015-3, issued January 16, 2015, and available on-line here:




FMCSA Finds Few Cases of Fleet Harassment Among Truckers Who Use Electronic Logs

By Eric Miller

    A federal survey of truck drivers concluded that instances of carrier harassment are rare, and that drivers who use electronic logging devices generally are not subjected to harassment more frequently than those who use paper logs.

    About 2% of truck drivers who use electronic logging devices have experienced a carrier interaction they considered to be harassment and associated with the use of ELDs, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s recently released driver survey.

    “Attitudes toward ELDs are broadly positive with respect to reducing the burden associated with paper logging; however, there are still some drivers who feel that ELDs limit their independence and give management too much insight into their days,” the survey said.

    FMCSA said the main purpose of the survey of 628 drivers – at 24 different truck stops – was to enable the agency to determine whether the mandatory use of ELDs could result in driver harassment. Drivers surveyed included 341 who used ELDs, 285 who used paper logs and two who used a tachograph.

    They were given a list of 14 interactions between carriers and drivers that could be considered harassment.

    Fewer than 30% of surveyed drivers considered any one of the 14 interactions to be harassment, while 42% said that none of the items on the list would be considered harassment.

    The survey found that the actions most commonly considered harassment were: interrupting a driver’s off-duty time with a message, asking a driver to operate a vehicle even though he judged himself to be fatigued; and asking the driver to log hours inaccurately to get more work time or to delay a break.

    Drivers who use ELDs were more likely:

o    To be paid for customer delays when picking up or delivering freight at least once per month.

o    To be required to wait between loads for more than two hours without pay at least once per month

o    To be interrupted when off-duty at an inappropriate time at least once per month

o    To experience management asking customers to adjust load schedules so they were more realistic for the driver at least twice per month.

    “The evidence in this survey research does not support concluding that harassment occurs due to being in a situation where hours of service are logged using electronic logging devices,” the survey said.

    The survey was taken after an appeals court in August 2011 revoked FMCSA’s February 2011 proposed ELD rule. The court chided the agency for not including language in the rule that ensured drivers would not be harassed as a result of using ELDs.

    FMCSA issued a supplemental proposed rule in March, and plans to issue a final rule in September 2015.

    Reactions to the study were mixed, and especially skeptical about whether ELDs improve highway safety.

    The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association – the group that first raised the potential for driver harassment in the 2011 lawsuit – said the group has “serious concerns” about the limitation of the study.

    “FMCSA failed to address the safety impacts of harassment or provide evidence of any safety benefits of ELDs,” an OOIDA spokeswoman said. “According to the data in this study, mandated ELDs could mean nearly 300,000 truck drivers would experience harassment issues on a regular basis. We disagree with FMCSA’s conclusion that this is a negligible consequence.”

    However, Rob Abbott, vice president of safety policy for American Trucking Associations said, “What the study says effectively is that drivers on ELDs generally aren’t treated any differently than drivers with paper logs. We believe that this research will be helpful for the agency to deflect claims that the devices are used to harass drivers.”



Nominations Open for Influential Woman in Trucking Award

Women In Trucking Association (WIT) and Navistar, Inc. are seeking candidates for the 2015 Influential Woman In Trucking award.

Now in its fifth year, the award recognizes women who make or influence key decisions in a corporate, manufacturing, supplier, owner-operator, driver, sales or dealership setting. The winner must have a proven record of responsibility and have mentored or served as a role model to other women in the industry.

WIT and Navistar teamed up to develop this award in 2010 as a way to honor female leaders in trucking, and to attract and advance women within our industry. Winners have included Marcia Taylor, Bennett International Group; Rebecca Brewster, President and COO, American Transportation Research Institute; Joyce Brenny, President of Brenny Transportation; and Rochelle Bartholomew, CEO of CalArk International.

“This award has become a great platform to gain visibility for the leadership of women in trucking,” said Lisa Hartenberger, Director, Corporate Communications, Navistar. “As we’ve recognized the contributions of women in our industry, we’ve also had the opportunity to build dialogue around ways to promote further diversity.”

Last year, nearly 100 women were nominated, representing a variety of leadership positions in the trucking industry.
“This award supports our mission to celebrate the success of women in the trucking industry by highlighting women who have been pioneers and role models for those of us working in the transportation careers,” said Ellen Voie, President and CEO, Women In Trucking.
Nominations will be accepted through January 31, 2015, at

The winner will be announced at the Truckload Carriers Association annual convention held in Orlando, Florida, March 8-11, 2015. If you nominate a candidate, please ask her to save the date for this event in case she is named a finalist.

For more information, please contact Ellen Voie at 920-312-1350.



Driver Demographics Begin to Shift
Training Schools, Statistics Show Uptick in Immigrants, Women
By Rip Watson

    Changing demographics among new truck drivers are beginning to shatter the stereotype of an industry dominated by aging white males, fleet and training school officials said.
    “What was once considered strictly a male-dominated industry is rapidly becoming extremely diversified,” Michael Herrin, general counsel for Truck Driver Institute, told Transport Topics.
    “Truck Driver Institute has trained a significant number of driver candidates from Africa, the Middle East and Europe,” said Herrin, whose company has 12 school locations. Along with the increase in immigrants, more women and couples are enrolled as well, he said.
    Robert Synowicki, executive vice president of Werner Enterprises, told TT, “We are hiring more women today and hiring more drivers from more ethnic groups” as the population of white males declines. Synowicki said the number of women has virtually doubled to around 10%.
    The latest statistics from the Census Bureau and the Education Department illustrate the changes. Census statistics show that 73% of all commercial drivers are white and about 12% each are black or Hispanic. Less than 5% are women.
    However, Education Department statistics, compiled from demographics submitted by schools show 51% of those completing driving programs in 2012-13 were white, down three percentage points from 2009-10, compared with 28% African American and 12% Hispanic, which are both increasing. Eight percent are women.
    Nationwide, non-Hispanic whites were 64% of the U.S. population in the 2010 Census, down from 69% a decade earlier.
    “Because of the different demographics, we have created a lot of new opportunities,” said Werner’s Synowicki, whose company ranks No. 14 on the Transport Topics Top 100 List of the largest for-hire carriers in the United States and Canada.
    Martin Garsee, director of the truck driver training program at Houston Community College, noted a similar pattern, saying enrollment “has definitely gone up significantly with the ethnic population from virtually every corner of the world.”
    “Now there are people who are just now coming into our country,” Garsee said. “People are looking to better themselves. People can see truck driving can be a good profession.”
    The influx of immigrants is a change from years past, he said, when students largely came from other fields, such as construction, after being laid off.
    John Diab, president of New Jersey-based driving school operator Smith and Solomon, noted similar changes.
    “We have seen a definite increase in the last two years in enrollment of minorities and women,” he told TT. “You will also see other ethnic segments that are entering the country enter the field.”
    He said increased driver-friendly assignments with more frequent home time and investments in new technology and equipment are attracting drivers.
    There are other signs of change.
    Mark Greenberg, president of the New England Tractor Trailer Training School, said he has seen some shift toward a slightly older population, and more students for whom English is a second language.
    Garsee said the average participant age has risen to late 30s from the early 30s at his school.
    On the other hand, Synowicki said, Werner’s fleet wide driver age dropped slightly to 42 from 43.
    Joe Weigel, a spokesman for Celadon Group, No. 44 on the TT for-hire list, said the fleet wide driver remains in the late-40’s though students on average are 10 years younger and 14% are women.
    The bureau of Labor Statistics found that truck drivers on average are 46 years old, four years above the median for the workforce as a whole.
    “There are a lot of people changing professions,” Mark Brown, director of the Central Tech truck driver training program in Drumright, Oklahoma said, citing the influence of pervasive advertising for CDL jobs.
    “I think many of them are looking for freedom,” Brown said, including couples who are seeking new careers after children leave home, as well as other professionals.
    Bob Behnke, who heads the training program at Appleton, Wisconsin-based Fox Valley Technical College, agreed with Brown about those seeking new careers, particularly couples.
    Behnke said the cadre of students in their 20s is also growing.
    Older students seek stability and higher income, while younger ones are attracted by new technology and the prospect of eventually moving from driving to other industry jobs.
    “The trucking industry, like the country, is becoming more diverse every day, “American Trucking Associations spokesman Sean McNally told TT. “Now more than ever before, trucking is a merit-based industry. With CSA and other programs, good drivers will rise to the top regardless of race or gender.”
    Strong freight markets also are fueling driver demand.
    “We have seen a massive increase in the number of company sponsored students,” as oil and gas exploration in the state has boomed and companies need drivers, Brown said.
    The American Transportation Research Institute last week released a report labeling the aging of the driver corps “alarming.”
    “The industry appears to be disproportionately reliant upon a single generation,” the report said, noting the percentage of drivers older than 45 rose to 56% from 43% over a decade. The under-35 age group shrunk to 21% from 27% over the same period, ATRI said.



Heavy-Duty Natural Gas Vehicles Require Increased Technician Electrical Diagnostic Skills

By Robin Skibicki
Marketing Coordinator, Natural Gas Vehicle Institute (NGVi)


    Do you (or your technicians) know the answer to this question? While performing a voltage drop test on the power side of the 12 volt fuel shut-off solenoid, you get a reading of .04 volts. Technician A states this indicates a properly operating circuit. Technician B states that the reading for a properly operating circuit would be 12 volts. Who is correct?

o    Technician A
o    Technician B
o    Both Technicians
o    Neither Technician

(Find the answer at the end of this article)


    NGVi Training Manager, ASE Master Certified automotive technician and CSA Certified CNG Fuel System Inspector Paul Pate, answers commonly asked questions about natural gas vehicle (NGV) electrical systems.

What general skills do technicians need in order to effectively diagnose and repair NGVs?

    In order to be proficient at NGV diagnostics, heavy-duty technicians require a complete understanding of three areas:

1.    The operation of the natural gas fuel system components
2.    Differences between Diesel Cycle and Otto Cycle engines and their ignition method
3.    How basic electrical/electronic circuits operate

What specific skills do technicians need to effectively diagnose NGV electrical systems?

    Technicians specifically need to know the operation of electrical circuits and their diagnosis. Electrical diagnostics is an area that is often confusing to the uninformed technician. One key way to tell if a technician really understands diagnostics is to see what function they use on their meter.

    If a technician typically uses his DMM only to make resistance measurements, or voltage source measurements, they’re not effectively diagnosing electrical circuits.

    Resistance measurement has its place, but only shows two things: whether a component is electrically open or electrically shorted, and this is while the component is at rest.

What is the advantage of a voltage drop test over a resistance measurement?

    A voltage drop test shows how a component acts while under a loaded condition. Since the majority of electrical problems do not typically occur until the component is loaded, this is the most valid way to diagnose a circuit.

    Additionally, voltage drop testing can show you where the fault exists within the circuit. Is it in the supply side, on the ground side, or in the component itself? Technicians properly trained in electrical systems diagnosis find these methods make the diagnostic process quick and efficient.

Are there other effective electrical tests technicians should use for diagnosis?

    Yes. Depending on the electrical device or sensor, tests may include amperage measurements using an inductive amp clamp and/or wave form analysis using a digital oscilloscope. In addition, technicians need to be comfortable with scan tool operation as well as understanding on-board diagnostics.

Where can I learn how to effectively apply diagnostic principles to NGVS?


    Our new Heavy-Duty NGV Maintenance and Diagnostics training covers all aspects of the electrical system on a modern CNG powered vehicle. This includes each component from the fueling receptacle to the engine fuel system, how they work, how to effectively test each component electrically, what type of electrical signal each sensor generates, and how to properly read and use the wiring schematics to develop a diagnostic and repair strategy.

    More information about this training, visit our website at

Answer: a) Technician A. If you answered correctly, congratulations – you understand voltage drop testing! If not, you might benefit from a refresher in electrical diagnostics. We include this information in our Heavy-Duty NGV Maintenance and Diagnostics Training.



 Alert Driving Improves Safety for all Road Users

    The tragic death in July of a mother bicycling with her two young children in Rock Count, MN, is a horrifying reminder that distracted driving is a growing problem...  According to the criminal complaint, the driver admitted to taking his eyes off the road to check his cell phone when he hit the bicycle and bike stroller.

    Driver inattention is a leading contributing factor in fatal crashes. Cell phones and other electronic devices are commonplace in our lives today, but using them while we are driving is unsafe, irresponsible and can be deadly.

    The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) reports that one in four crashes are related to distracted driving, although such crashes are likely underreported. Distracted driving was a contributing factor in 175 fatal crashes resulting in 191 deaths. More than half of those crashes occurred in rural areas, and cost more than $269 million.

    Citations for texting and accessing the web while in motion offenses are rising in every state.  In Minnesota, for example, they increased from 388 in 2008 to 2,189 in 2013. That’s an alarming trend that must be reversed.

    If you text while driving, on average you take your eyes off the road for up to .6 seconds out of every six seconds. That’s like traveling the length of a football field at 55 mph without looking up, according to DPS. Using a cell phone while driving, whether hands-free or hand-held, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having an alcohol-concentration level of .08 percent.

    The popularity of mobile devices and services, and the dangerous and deadly consequences of their use while driving, require each of us to make some personal decisions, whether we are driving, bicycling or even walking. Our personal decisions can save lives. It’s time for us to take that next step.

    We should turn off cell phones or place them out of reach to avoid the urge to answer. We should pledge to never text and drive. We should plan our trips in advance to avoid fiddling with a GPS device or application while driving. We should pull over to a safe location if we must look at a map. We should designate a passenger to help with directions or when using devices such as a GPS. We should speak up if we’re a passenger to stop drivers from distracted driving behavior.

    Distracted driving goes beyond just mobile devices. Anytime we take our eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and our minds off our driving, we’re putting lives at risk. Children should be taught the importance of good behavior in a vehicle. Drivers who tend to children are distracted drivers. So are drivers who are eating, drinking or grooming.

    Let’s all heed the lessons that too many people learn the hard way. Let’s pay more attention to our driving, biking and walking.



FMCSA Implements New Adjudicated Citation Policy


    In late August, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) began to require states to reflect the results of adjudicated citations related to roadside inspection violation data in the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). This new policy impacts how violations are used and displayed in the Safety Measurement System (SMS) and Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP). The changes are part of the Agency’s continued effort to improve the quality and uniformity of violation data to sharpen the focus on unsafe carreirs and drivers.

    FMCSA originally published the proposed changes in a Federal Register Notice on December 2, 2013, followed by a second Federal Register Notice on June 5, 2014. The Agency considered more than 100 public comments – from states, motor carriers, drivers and industry associattions – to that initial notice and solicited feedback from the field and state partners. Comments indicated that the Agency’s approach has widespread support within the commercial motor vehicle industry.

    The policy applies to inpsections occurring on or after August 23, 2014. Motor carriers and drivers are now able to request through DataQs that results of adjudicated citations be recorded in MCMIS when a driver is fouond not guilty or the violation is dismissed in court. Violations that are the ubject of dismissals or axquittals will not be displayed or used in SMS and PSP. The SMS and PSP will continue to retain and display violations that result in a conviction or payment of fine. Where motor cariers or drivers plead to or are convicted of a different or lesser charge, SMS and PSP will reflect that information. Carriers logging into the portal or SMS with their account will be able to see all of their violations and any adjudicated citation results that have been transmitted to MCMIS.

    FMCSA has implemented the policy across all states with the intent



What is your BMI?
CDL Medical Certificate Debacle

By Ted Griggs

    Trucker Troy Lanegrasse’s unemployment problems started with his new job. The Thibodaux resident had a valid commercial driver’s license and medical card, but his new employer, Acme Truck Line, requires its drivers to get a new physical. Acme sent Lanegrasse to a doctor who promptly denied the trucker’s medical certificate because his body mass index was over 34. The doctor told Lanegrasse he would have to undergo a sleep study to determine whether he suffered from sleep apnea.

    That was in June.

    A lengthy waiting list for the sleep lab meant Lanegrasse didn’t get tested until August. He has to use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine for a month before he can retake his physical.

    “If we’re lucky my husband can go back to work in October,” said Julie Lanegrasse, a secretary for Arabie Trucking Services LLC in Thibodaux. “If you’re used to two incomes coming in and you’re down to one, that’s kind of rough.”

    The Lanegrasses are among many trucking families suffering thanks to confusion over the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s rules for medical exams.

    Some medical examiners are apparently enforcing a proposed rule the agency issued in 2012. The proposed rule, which FMCSA withdrew almost immediately, would have required drivers to undergo sleep testing if they had a BMI of 35 or higher or a 17-inch neck, 15.5 inches for women.

    According to the Louisiana Motor Transport Association, some medical examiners have added a new sleep study trigger: weighing 250 pounds or more.

    The trucking industry says there has been no conclusive study supporting those criteria.

    The industry believes the current disqualification problem lies with the medical examiners’ training. Doctors are being taught to subjectively apply rules that have yet to be put in place.

    Dr. Danielle D. Angeron, a certified medical examiner in Houma, said the FMCSA handbook has around 80 pages of examination guidelines. What the handbook doesn’t contain are those particular triggers – 17-inch neck, BMI of 35 or more, or weight of 250 pounds – for sleep apnea testing.

    The sleep tests are required only if an examiner thinks them necessary, Angeron said.

    “It’s the same CDL physical that they’ve been having,” Angeron said.

    However, there are some differences. FMCSA now requires doctors go through certification. Angeron took a 12-hour online class and then had to pass a test. She took hers in New Orleans.

    FMCSA also specifies which type of medical conditions have a waiting period and how long that driver can be certified with that condition.

    If a driver is diagnosed with sleep apnea, he would have to bring in a printout from his CPAP machine showing:

o    He was using the machine.

o    He had no symptoms of daytime sleepiness since at least the last reading.

o    He had been on the machine for at least a month.

    Angeron said some patients have had to have sleep tests but there haven’t been that many.

    But Arabie Trucking Chief Executive Officer Sandy J. Arabie said the impact on drivers and carriers could be enormous.  

    “It’s going to affect a lot of companies dramatically, including us, once our drivers start coming up for renewal,” Arabie said. “I can guarantee you out of the 30-something drivers I’ve got, I probably only have maybe five drivers that will be able to pass this between body mass index and neck size.”

    The financial costs to truckers are also very high, Arabie said. A sleep test and a CPAP machine, plus the loss of income, could easily run to $5,000.

    Julie Lanegrasse said those kinds of expenses are crippling to trucking families, who don’t make that much money.

    Most drivers’ health insurance won’t cover those expenses, which mean almost all of that money will be out-of-pocket.

    “It baffles me that they (federal regulators) put this process in place with no answers or remedies on the who, what, when or where about who’s going to pay for this,” Arabie said.

    Stephen F. Campbell, Commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles, said the state has no control over the federal rules or the physicians doing the exams.

    “In the end, we have to accept their medical findings,” Campbell said. “The OMV can’t overturn doctor’s opinions.”

    Campbell said federal regulators have a different opinion than the trucking industry when it comes to whether the 17-inch neck/35 BMI/250 pound criteria support a diagnosis of sleep apnea.

    A 2014 study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and sponsored by the FMCSA and the American Transportation Research Institute, the not-for-profit research group of the American Trucking Associations, found that 28 percent of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea.

    Campbell said he realizes it’s expensive to get a sleep test and to buy a CPAP machine, and that some truckers don’t have insurance that will cover those expenses. “But we and they are required to follow federal regulations,” Campbell said.

    The question for drivers and truckers remains what to do when certified medical examiners are enforcing regulations that don’t exist?

    The ATA and the LMTA are asking Congress to provide some clarity.

    LMTA Executive Director Cathy Cautreaux said the industry is in something of a stalemate because the fix will have to come from Washington, D.C.

    Arabie said right now nobody has the answers, and that’s a frightening prospect for carriers and drivers.

    “You’ve got a whole bunch of people in the trucking business that don’t know this train wreck is coming down the pike,” Arabie said.




ATRI Research Finds Trucking Costs on the Rise

    The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released a 2014 update to their publication, An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking. The report updates include trucking operational cost data from 2008 through 2013.

    The data is derived directly from participating fleets’ financial and operation data and reveals that the average marginal cost per mile in 2013 was $1.68, up from $1.63 in 2012.  ATRI attributes the increase in average cost in 2013 to ongoing driver shortage and the resulting wage increase in effort to retain experienced, qualified drivers.

    To view a copy of the report on CTA’s web site, go to




High Cost of Compliance

    Motor carriers, because they generate very thin profit margins, are particularly attentive to all expenses. They add devices to eke out more fuel efficiency, adopt strict maintenance schedules for the equipment, and negotiate the best insurance rates. In short, they do everything within their power to keep expenses as low as possible. The trouble is many costs are not within their power

    The government dictates the cost of compliance with safety and environmental regulations, and the economy determines freight rates (revenue).  As Kim Berg, vice president of Mustang Expediting, Inc., said, “Every time the government lays down a new regulation, it costs us more to comply.” The cost of compliance is over running the truck transportation industry.  If this continues, many small carriers will consolidate, sell or go out of business.

    When the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 eliminated control over trucking rates and services, the federal government turned its focus to reducing the number and severity of crashes involving large trucks and reducing emissions from heavy-duty trucks. Enter the commercial driver’s license, mandated drug testing for drivers, cut backs on the hours of service, new fuel standards and a dramatic reduction in the level of emissions permitted for diesel-powered trucks.

    In 2010 when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration launched CSA, it changed the way it targets enforcement and altered the way most trucking companies measure safety performance. In the meantime, the Environmental Protection Agency set new fuel efficiency standards to control carbon dioxide emissions.

    The efforts paid off. Fatal crashes involving large trucks continue to decline, and pollution has been cut by 90%. Certain regulations are necessary, but meeting all the new regulation requirements requires equity and risk.

    Former American Trucking Associations’ chairman Mike Card said trucking is the most over-regulated industry out there. The hours of service regulations, CSA, drug testing, electronic logging, emissions standards, heavy vehicle use and excise taxes, sleep apnea testing are all good regulations, but almost all of them raise the cost of owning a trucking company.

    The hours of service rules continues to create friction in the industry. Obviously, it means fewer miles driven per day. Drivers don’t want a lower weekly paycheck, so the company has to increase the cost per mile. In turn, taxes and workers’ comp premiums go up.

    Gladys Knox of Wright-Knox Motor Lines in Armagh said there are also increased costs of hiring due to the need for more background checks. “There is a smaller ‘qualified’ driver pool as carriers set their standards so high as to only hire drivers who are defensible in a lawsuit, meaning the backgrounds are absolutely clean.”

    It also exacts a price in driver morale. “There is a visible decrease in morale as they lose the ability to control their time to best suit their body clock, spend more time from home and incur more costs on the road. They have to break when regulation dictates rather than when tired, as they are trying to make the most of the legal hours available,” Knox said.

    The new HOS rules also reduce the hours available for packing and loading. This increases the pressure on already strained industry capacity.

    Berg said the HOS change hasn’t hit them because their drivers are home every night. But they have struggled with another new regulation. Mustang asks all drivers to get their hazmat endorsements. At each license renewal, they have to pay an additional $60 to get their fingerprints taken.  “It makes no sense. Drivers don’t want to get their fingerprints done again.” Mustang pays for the fingerprints, and for this small company, it’s a huge expense.

    Mustang picks up the costs of the endorsements, but the rule still discourages the drivers. “It takes more drivers off the road. We’re seeing the driver shortage. Between the drug screenings and the physicals and sleep apnea tests, it discourages them. Many are coming out of school with loans. I’m not sure it’s an industry that will attract anybody,” Berg said.

    The sleep apnea rule will create increased costs as well. Berg said almost every one of Mustang’s drives will have to be tested, another drain on the budget for the company.

    The pending electronic logging device rule is causing some stress for trucking company managers. Knox said equipment costs keep escalating because it needs to meet the mandates. “Some of the cost is the initial equipment, but the ELDs all come with monthly fees per truck (for information gathering) that will continue for the life of the company. For a 50-fleet company, the initial cost of the cheapest ELD is $50,000 and [the] continued maintenance fee is approximately $20,000 annually.”

    Berg said they are reluctant to adopt ELDs until they know what equipment is required and what it needs to do. “The investment is huge, and we will not see the return of that investment,” she said.

    Maintenance costs are increasing as well, up by as much as 25% because of issues with new equipment components designed to meet new regulations and implemented before they were fully tested for durability in the working environment. “We are also experiencing a lack of technicians and a lack of training on new equipment. That has increased the amount of downtime which translates to increased cost of operations,” Knox said.

    CSA is perhaps adding more costs than all the other regulations, and that’s saying something. It is forcing carriers to add equipment and drivers to do the same amount of work. The consequence is carriers have to work harder to attract and retain drivers, adding dollars to improve their pre-employment screening. CSA also forces companies to accept a higher level of responsibility for driver health and compliance with HOS rules.  Hidden costs are increased spending for office staff, technology, and third-party administrative support and equipment.

    Many carriers, including PMTA members, lobby the federal government to use a data-driven approach to regulation. “The government needs to do due diligence to make sure the regulations do something to help,” Berg said. The government needs to consider how it can use technology to enforce existing regulations before taking on new ones, she said.


Congressmen Give a Beat Down to FMCSA

    Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) and Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), who serve on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, have asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to back off from suggesting that medical examiners adhere to FMCSA guidance language when testing truck drivers for obstructive sleep apnea.

    In an early October letter to Acting Administrator Scott Darling, the congressmen reminded him that HR 3095 (passed in October 2013), compels FMCSA to begin a formal rulemaking relative to any “implementation or enforcing a requirement providing for the screening, testing or treatment of individuals operating commercial motor vehicles for sleep disorders....”

    The letter gives FMCSA a beat down for allowing organizations that provide training for certified medical examiners to appear on the FMCSA website as “legitimate training organizations,” when, in fact, their training materials provided to these medical examiners adheres to the language in a guidance document that has been rescinded.

    “If FMCSA is going to continue to advertise these organizations on their web site, they have a responsibility to make sure that they are providing legitimate training in accordance with the law,” read part of the letter.

    In order to provide DOT physicals, medical examiners must pass a curriculum and be tested and certified by a nationally-accredited institution.  FMCSA names the companies on its web site.

    The letter excoriates FMCSA for listing organizations offering “faulty” OSA training: “FMCSA has a responsibility to fully vet organizations that they recommend to ensure that their training curriculum is consistent with federal regulations and law.”

    Bucshon and Lipinski urged FMCSA to:

o    Communicate to all approved training organizations that examiners are not to be instructed to follow any specific steps with respect to sleep apnea testing and treatment;

o    Instruct approved training organizations to remove all references to MRB, MCSAC and FMCSA recommendations on sleep apnea from their training materials; and

o    Provide specific instructions to examiners who have already been trained to correct the previous training they received.

        “It is imperative that FMCSA address these issues as soon as possible,” the lawmakers stated. “These faulty training courses are keeping qualified drivers off the road. We would request a written response as to how FMCSA plans to address these issues and their progress in this endeavor.”

    American Trucking Associations adopted a policy on OSA in 2011 at its Management Conference & Exhibition. Fatigue and driver health are two serious issues facing the trucking industry.  ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said: “However, as important as it is to address those issues, it is equally important for the federal government to use the regulatory process – with its emphasis on science-based outcomes and cost-benefit analyses,” he said.

    ATA’s new policy reads in part that any effort to address sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, should be done “through rulemaking and not through the publication of regulatory guidance,” and that those rules focus on “conditions that pose a substantially elevated crash risk based on sound data and analysis, be cost beneficial, and promote effective treatments that minimize the impact to motor carriers.”

    As many as a third of the commercial driver population would be affected. The costs for screening and treatment could reach as much as $1 billion per year.

    “There’s potential that in the future, guidance could be made effective immediately, and that would not be a good idea from our perspective,” says Dave Osiecki, senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs. “A rulemaking requires public input,” which would allow the trucking industry and ATA to comment on how it would affect them.

    “It also requires a cost benefit analysis, which goes to the point that there has to be enough benefit to outweigh the cost,” Osiecki says. “We’re a little concerned that this is not the current plan of this administration.”






Fleets Say Insurance Standards Make Hiring New Drivers Hard

By Jonathan S. Reiskin

    Truck-driver training schools are the obvious place for fleets to look for new drivers, but the recruiting challenge for small trucking companies is being made more difficult by underwriter standards, insurance and fleet executives said.

    Underwriters have long preferred motor carriers to hire experienced drivers over rookies because veterans usually have fewer accidents that would need to be covered. However, executives say the underwriting standard is starting to change because trucking is in such profound need of new drivers.

    “It’s a lot easier for a larger guy to get the blessing of an underwriter,” said Thomas Dickmeyer, CEO of Three Points Insurance. His Glen Carbon, Illinois, company is a brokerage that finds policies for small and medium-size carriers.

    Dickmeyer said he has seen fleets approach this issue in two ways: either do it, don’t tell the underwriter and see if the insurer catches on at renewal, or try to work with insurers.

    “It’s better to work this out as a partner with the underwriter,” he said. “Trucking companies and underwriters need each other, so they should get together and try to make things work.”

    “There’s a paradigm shift going on. The driver shortage is an issue everywhere. There is more and more of a need in trucking for available drivers,” said Ronald Chipman, vice president of risk management for Atlanta-based Watkins Associated Industries.

    Watkins’ two trucking companies provide refrigerated, dry van and tank truck services. Chipman said the carriers blend in new drivers on an incremental basis as part of a training program.

    A lead, seasoned driver is paired with a new recruit, and the experienced driver serves as a mentor.

    “You can’t just put new drivers out there by themselves,” said Chipman who is incoming chairman of the Insurance Task Force of American Trucking Associations. He spends much of his time talking to insurers and said he never wants to ambush them.

    “When I have meetings with underwriters, I tell all to them. They’ll be aware up front,” Chipman said.

    The insurance-driver shortage linkage received attention in October at ATA’s Management Conference & Exhibition, when the trucking federations’ Philip Byrd Sr. mentioned it at a press conference.

    Byrd, ATA’s immediate past chairman, said smaller carriers are hemmed in because of underwriting standards that make hiring rookies straight out of driving schools extremely difficult.

    “We deal with his daily, trying to get 22-year-olds insured,” said Brett McGinnis, executive vice president for transportation at insurance broker McGriff, Seibels & Williams.

    Larger carriers that manage a sizable portion of their own risk have an easier time hiring new driving graduates, “but small carriers don’t have that luxury,” McGinnis said. Underwriters don’t want to insure drivers with less than two years’ experience, he said.

    “It’s very true [what Byrd said]. It’s a major challenge for the industry,” McGinnis said.

    As is often the case, the problem can be overcome with money. McGinnis said some underwriters have collected new-driver surcharges of $1,000 to $1,500 a year per driver.

    Base rates for insurance vary widely by many factors, McGinnis said, but insuring a truck and driver for a year often ranges from $8,000 to $12,000 for a small company, or $6,000 to $8,000 for a medium-sized fleet.

    In Arkansas, there has been a truck-driver training pilot initiative running on and off since 2008. Home to some of the nation’s largest trucking companies, as well as many small ones, the Arkansas industry has been eager to increase the total pool of drivers, said Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association.

    Newton said Arkansas trucking executives have been working with underwriters to develop driver training and finishing programs that will pass muster with insurers, allowing carriers to hire rookies.

    “They were able to get some inroads. It can be done, but it’s taken work and resources,” said Newton, who added that changing the underwriting standards is imperative.

    “It’s a critical issue to get people into trucking by the time they turn 23,” she said. “Otherwise, we’ll never be anything more than an employer of second choice if people can’t join by 23.”

    People cannot drive in interstate commerce until turning 21 according to federal law. Newton and Three Points’ Dickmeyer said in separate interviews that drivers younger than that often can get experience in intrastate commerce.

    Dickmeyer used Illinois as an example, saying a 20-year old driver could make an intrastate run from East St. Louis up to Chicago’s northern suburbs, a distance of more than 300 miles. However, from East St. Louis across the Mississippi to St. Louis in Missouri, or Chicago to nearby Gary, Indiana, would be prohibited interstate moves.