Posted on March 20, 2020
On March 18, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) expanded existing exemptions to further aid emergency relief efforts as the nation grapples with supply shortages. Fleets and commercial vehicles providing direct assistance in emergency relief support efforts benefit from the expanded exemptions. Examples of emergency relief support include:
- Delivering medical tools and supplies to aid in testing, diagnosing, and treating COVID-19
- Delivering sanitary supplies in addition to equipment needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, soap, hand sanitizer, etc.
- Delivering emergency food supplies to restock grocery stores
- Delivering tools, materials, or individuals required to establish and maintain temporary housing, quarantine, or isolation facilities related to COVID-19
- Transporting individuals identified by Federal, State, or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes
- Transporting individuals that perform medical or emergency services
- Delivering any raw materials needed to manufacture the above essential items
- Delivering fuel
The biggest changes to the order include the addition of raw materials and fuel as exempted cargo. FMCSA further stressed this only applies to legitimate emergency relief efforts. Fleets performing routine deliveries that add an insignificant amount of emergency relief items to their load do not meet the guidelines for exemptions.
Fleets that are exempt don’t need to maintain records of duty status (RODS) logs, but FMCSA recommends making a note in the remarks section of activity logs to identify the exempt hours. This will help mitigate confusion or discrepancies in the future. Like the original declaration, drivers must receive a minimum of 10 hours off-duty time after returning from transporting property and eight hours after transporting passengers.
6 Things Not Covered by the Expanded Exemptions
Fleets and drivers must still adhere to several other safety regulations related to the following:
- Testing for controlled substances and alcohol consumption
- Commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirements
- Insurance requirements
- Transporting hazardous materials
- Size and weight requirements
- Any other regulations not specifically exempted by the updated emergency declaration
Some states are allowing for temporary changes to weight requirements. Many states are also offering a temporary grace period for CDLs on the verge of expiring, as many government offices are closing to adhere to the CDC’s social distancing guidelines.
Interstate Motor Carriers understands there are more questions than answers in these uncertain times. We are here to help your fleet keep pace with emergency relief demands while keeping your drivers safe and your risks in check. Contact us to learn more.
Posted on September 06, 2019
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has finally issued their proposal relating to changes in the hours-of-service rules. During the comment period, the U.S. DOT agency received over 5200 comments. Based on that feedback, FMCSA is proposing the five following revisions:
- Amending the 30-minute break requirement. Current regulations dictate that drivers take a 30-minute break after eight hours of on-duty time and the break has to be off-duty status. Now, FMCSA is suggesting the 30-minute break follow eight hours of driving time and that not-driving status can satisfy the break (i.e. the driver can stop to grab something to eat to satisfy the break requirements).
- Splitting the 10 hours off-duty period. The new proposal would allow drivers to split their off duty time between a sleeper berth and another qualified off-duty status. Drivers could spend 7 to 8 hours in a sleeper berth and the remaining hours off-duty to satisfy the off-duty period without it counting against their 14-hour driving window.
- Revising the adverse driving conditions exception. The new ruling would grant drivers up to 16 hours of on-duty status in the event of adverse conditions affecting the roads such as severe weather or heavy traffic.
- Modifying off-duty breaks. Sometimes drivers need to take breaks, but they run the risk of pushing the 14-hour workday rule. The new ruling would allow drivers to take a break ranging from 30 minutes up to three hours while being able to pause their on-duty status. This would allow truck drivers to wait out heavy traffic to use their drive time more efficiently.
- Increasing the short-haul exemption hours and air miles. FMCSA is proposing an increase to on-duty hours and distance limiting rules for truck drivers that qualify for the short-haul exemption. This change would increase the maximum on-duty period from 12 hours to 14 hours and air-mile radius from 100 miles to 150 miles.
FMCSA estimates the proposed changes will save $274 million without sacrificing the safety of truck drivers or the motoring public. They also emphasized that the rule limiting drivers to eight consecutive hours of drive time followed by at least a 30-minute break remains in effect.
Interstate Motor Carriers understands the challenges fleets face trying to remain compliant with ever-changing regulations and truck insurance requirements. Contact us to learn how we can help your trucking business.
Posted on May 22, 2019
Truck drivers and carriers have complained that many of the existing hours of service (HOS) regulations are too restrictive if not outright impossible to adhere to while maintaining customer expectations for deliveries. However, it is not these complaints that sparked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s interest in revising the rulings. Instead, the DOT is pulling data from the much-contested electronic logging devices (ELDs) to guide their proposed changes.
How ELDs are Affecting HOS Regulations
ELDs are tamper-proof, unlike their paper records predecessor. The devices wrought an almost instantaneous decrease in HOS violations, resulting in less weary and therefore safer drivers. However, the data also revealed some truths about the transportation industry to FMCSA. Primarily that times and technology have changed customer expectations, and how people do business.
FMCSA’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
FMCSA is seeking commentary on proposed changes in an effort to reduce excessive burdens on truck drivers to remain compliant but without compromising safety on the roads. The proposed revisions include:
- Lengthening the short-haul 100 air-mile exemption from 12 to 14 hours on-duty. This would make the exemption consistent with existing regulations for long-haul commercial drivers.
- Permit a temporary two-hour increase for the 14-hour on-duty limitation when drivers encounter unfavorable driving conditions.
- Reinstating the option to allow truck drivers to split the mandatory 10-hour off-duty rest time so long as the driver’s truck has a sleeper-berth.
- Amending the existing ruling requiring a 30-minute break after eight hours of unbroken driving.
FMCSA’s primary concern is always to keep roads safe for drivers and the motoring public. However, they understand the difficulties truck drivers encounter while operating their vehicles. After reviewing the data from ELDs, the DOT agency is proposing changes to keep pace with modern challenges, expectations, and business requirements without increasing risk.
Since releasing their advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR), FMCSA received over 5000 comments. Most of the comments focused on known pain-points for truck drivers, underscoring just how challenging existing HOS regulations are for drivers.
Interstate Motor Carriers is intimately familiar with the challenges both fleets and independent operators encounter when trying to remain compliant with HOS regulations while running a successful business. Contact us today to learn more about our innovative solutions designed to help reduce your transportation risk without adding undue stress to drivers.
Posted on October 22, 2018
Truck drivers and fleets are aware of the importance of CSA scores. While FMCSA can’t suspend a CDL license due to CSA scores, they can target drivers for interventions and levy heavy fines against them. This is why it’s critical for both owner-operators and company drivers to keep their CSA scores low. Drivers can follow these 5 steps to improve their CSA scores.
- Harness the power of electronic logging devices (ELDs). One of the most common violations roadside inspectors see are “form and manner” violations. These types of violations include outdated logs, hence the usefulness of an ELD. While FMCSA regulations required all motor carriers to upgrade their vehicles to include an ELD in December of 2017, some can continue to use an automatic on-board recording device (AOBRD) through 2019. While the technology has a temporary grandfather clause, it’s worth the peace of mind to make the change to an ELD.
- Focus on the brakes. With Brake Safety Week in the recent past, many carriers are feeling the sting of brake violations. Given the importance of braking for truck safety, it’s surprising how often drivers overlook them during pre-trip inspections. While checking brakes is harder and messier than other aspects of pre-trip inspections, brake violations add up quickly.
- Perform thorough pre-trip inspections. Brakes aren’t the only element that drivers need to inspect before hitting the road. In addition to problems with brakes, the most common violations relate to lights and tires. A broken light alone carries a 6-point penalty. Problems with tires carry an 8-point penalty. Several light and tire violations can rack up CSA points and hurt a carrier’s safety rating in one roadside inspection alone. Performing a complete pre-trip inspection can help drivers and carriers avoid these hefty penalties.
- Challenge violations. Fleets and drivers aren’t without recourse following a violation. They have two years to challenge the violation, which can result in a smaller penalty or a dismissal of the charge. Even if the charge isn’t dismissed, reducing the severity means reducing the point value assigned to it. It’s always worth the effort to challenge violations.
- Drive healthy. Failing to produce a valid medical certificate carries a relatively small fine of one point. However, driving while ill is one of the most serious violations and carries a 10-point penalty. Fleet managers need to make sure drivers have valid and up to date medical cards certifying their health and fitness to drive as well as monitor any health concerns.
Implementing regular training on driver safety can go a long way toward avoiding these violations. Companies that put a focus on driver safety can implement proactive measures to improve safety and reduce risk. Contact Interstate Motor Carriers to learn more about managing your fleet’s safety and risk needs.
Posted on December 06, 2016
Join Interstate Motor Carriers for this educational webinar to learn how to survive FMCSA compliance reviews. Expert speaker Rob Dowling, Transportation Safety & Loss Control Director at The Capacity Group, will review the key components of the compliance review, the procedures you’ll need in order to achieve a satisfactory rating, and the consequences of failing to do so. Topics include:
* What is a Compliance Review (CR)
* Compliance Review Process
* When Do I Begin The Process
* Six Factor Review Process
* Continuous process to Remain Compliant
Date & Time: Wed, Dec 14, 2016 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST
Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3269874292259164674
Posted on August 09, 2016
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate began to go into effect on February 16 of this year. But we’re still in phase 1 of the three-phase implementation process. Currently compliance is voluntary, as the FMCSA encourages motor carriers to prepare for their upcoming compliance requirements. Phase 2 begins on December 18, 2017. In this phase, carriers will be permitted to use only AOBRDs (Automatic On-Board Recording Devices) installed prior to this date, or ELDs certified and registered after the inception of phase 1.
In the third and final phase beginning December 16, 2019, all applicable carriers must enlist certified and registered ELDs in their transportation efforts. Currently ELD manufacturers certify their own devices for compliance with federal guidelines. Increasingly widespread use of ELDs is intended to help protect drivers from excessive road-time, reduce the likelihood of falsified logs, and standardize data across the industry. The mandate applies to most commercial vehicles with a GVWR over 10,000 pounds.
There have been legal challenges filed by some businesses and organizations – perhaps most notably the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which has claimed that the FMCSA has failed in proving the cost-benefit ratio of the new regulations are beneficial to the industry. This transitional period in the industry is likely to provoke a number of challenges, both legal and logistical, but many carriers have already initiated compliance efforts with the forthcoming regulatory phases. To learn more about the ELD mandate and how your organization can comply and benefit, contact us.
Posted on March 16, 2016
Several potentially significant transportation regulatory items have recently surfaced in the news causing much discussion and preparation for motor carriers across the country. These include:
- CSA raw data once again available to public
- Highway safety improvement reporting requirement for states removed
- High risk rural roads provision removed
- Greenhouse gas regulatory documents released
- EPA & NHTSA legal policy memo & engine test results
CSA raw data was originally legislated to exist in the public eye, but was pulled from view almost immediately after being signed into law. FMCSA claims that their analytics represent a fair, accurate, and important picture of safety culture and records throughout the transportation industry.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has released revisions to its Highway Safety Improvement Program, which could have numerous effects on transportation professionals across the country. These revisions stem from MAP-21 and the FAST Act, and include a removal of reporting requirements as well as the high risk rural roads provision. This reduced transparency could alter the efficacy of the program.
Private meetings with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have resulted in the release of a variety of documents by federal regulators regarding greenhouse gas emissions. These include memos on the legality of the greenhouse gas policy, selective enforcement and inspection of aerodynamic compliance among transportation power units, effects of tire rolling resistance on stopping distance for Class 8 vehicles, and more.
Is your transportation business prepared for these and other regulatory changes? Do you know the potential cost savings or increase associated with each policy change? To learn more about the impact these and other regulatory changes could have on your business, contact us.
Posted on February 22, 2016
Interstate Motor Carriers and Sentry Insurance invite you to a complimentary, educational web seminar to learn how the new ELD Final Rule will impact your transportation business. Subject matter expert speaker Daniel Grant, Director of Safety Services at Sentry Insurance, will provide an overview of the ELD mandate, including compliance requirements and implementation timelines. Mr. Grant will also detail how the final rule integrates driver harassment/coercion guidelines. Featured topics:
* Impact of ELD Mandate & Adoption Timelines
* Device Specifications & Hardware Requirements
* Roadside Inspections & Supporting Documentation
* Exceptions to New Final Rule
* Implementation Challenges
* Driver Harassment Rule
Date & Time: Thu, Mar 10, 2016 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM EST
Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2927157611217343745
Click here to learn more about Interstate Motor Carriers & Sentry Insurance.
Posted on February 11, 2016
Safety is a primary concern for any commercial driver. The Hours of Service regulations exist to promote and enforce uniform safety practices. Understanding and complying with these rules helps to ensure safe vehicle operation while avoiding fines and penalties. So let’s review the latest round of regulatory changes.
An interstate property-carrying driver is allowed to drive their truck up to 11 hours. All their time spent behind the wheel of the CMV in operation is considered “driving time.” After 11 hours of driving time, the driver must have at least 10 consecutive hours “off duty” before they can drive again. In order for time to be considered off duty, the driver must be relieved of all duty and responsibility for performing work. Also, the driver must be able to leave the place where their vehicle is parked.
The 14-hour rule is known as the 14 hour “driving window” limit. A driver is allowed a period of 14 consecutive hours in which they may drive up to 11 hours of those 14 hours on duty. Under the 14-hour rule, a driver may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
The 14-hour window begins the moment the driver starts any kind of work. “On duty” time includes all the time a driver is working or is required to be ready to work. Examples include time spent at a terminal or facility of a motor carrier or shipper, time inspecting and servicing the truck, time loading and unloading and all driving time. Once the driver reaches the end of the 14th hour on duty period, they cannot drive again until they have been off for 10 hours.
The window is limited to 14 consecutive hours, even if you have some off-duty time such as a 30-minute lunch break or nap during those 14 hours. Your 30-minute break will not extend this 14-hour period, rather the 30-minute meal break will count against the 14-hour driving window. An exception to this rule would be with drivers in the 100 air-mile radius of their work reporting location who are not required to take the minimum 30-minute breaks.
A driver may only drive if 8 hours or less has passed since end of driver’s last off duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes. Meal breaks or other off duty time of at least 30 minutes qualifies as a break. Within the 14-hour window and 11-hour driving rule, a driver may drive a total of 11 hours during their 14-hour driving period; but, driving will not be permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last 30-minute break. Of note, the FMCSA has exceptions to the required rest break, such as the short-haul exceptions in 395.1(e). Further, if a driver is working but not driving after 8 hours, no break is required.
To learn more, contact the transportation experts at Interstate.
Posted on January 04, 2016
As of the first of this month, motor carriers will only have to test half of the previous portion of employees for use of illegal substances. The FMCSA reduced the threshold from 50% to 25% in an effort to reduce financial burden on the transportation industry while maintaining the same level of safety standards. Studies have indicated that a 25% random drug screening rate is sufficiently high to discourage use of illegal substances, making any testing beyond this threshold likely superfluous.
This comes as a result of three consecutive years with an industry-wide positive rate of less than one percent, indicating a high degree of compliance among transportation professionals. Though subject to further change, it is expected that these levels of random testing will continue for the foreseeable future. To learn more about these and other transportation issues, contact us.