ELD Mandate Grace Period Coming to an End

Starting on April 1, drivers caught without an ELD will be placed out of service for 10 hours. Additionally, drivers may have points added to their safety and compliance scores, and could even be hit with a fine.

Eric Miller of Transport Topics writes:

The three-month law enforcement grace period for trucks to be equipped with electronic logging devices is almost over.

As of April 1, drivers caught without ELDs are due to be placed out of service for 10 hours, and may have points added to their Compliance, Safety, Accountability program scores, or could even be assessed a civil fine.

Collin Mooney, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, said that after the 10-hour out-of-service order is completed, drivers can use paper records of duty to get to their final destination.

“But they can’t be re-dispatched until they have an ELD installed,” Mooney said.

“Some inspectors or officers may just place the driver out of service for 10 hours,” Mooney said. “Others may place the driver out of service and issue a citation as well. It’s really up to the officer within each jurisdiction.”

Mooney added, “But we’re recommending that a roadside report is generated for points to be assigned. If no roadside report is generated then the violation wouldn’t appear on someone’s CSA score.”

With few exceptions, the rule mandates any driver required to previously keep a paper record of duty status must install an ELD.

Despite a variety of complaints by drivers about the new mandate, federal regulators are quick to point out that the ELD rule really doesn’t change the hours-of-service requirements that have been in place since 2005. However, the technology will help ensure that drivers comply with the 11-hour daily driving time and 14-hour on-duty time maximums.

Joseph DeLorenzo, director of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s office of compliance and enforcement, said during an ELD listening session at the Mid-America Trucking Show that some drivers preferred paper logs because they could “make the paperwork the way [they] want. But you can’t make it the way you want with an ELD.”

Indeed, cheating on paper logs has been widespread, according to FMCSA records.

For example, in 2017, roadside inspectors issued nearly 43,000 violations for false reports of driver record of duty status, 32,000 violations for no driver record of duty status, and nearly 54,000 violations for paper logs not being current.

Ken Evans, CEO of ELD provider Konexial, said the devices are nearly impossible to defeat because they are synchronized with the engine’s computer and record drive time when the truck’s speed exceeds 5 mph.

Evans said that when he was exhibiting the product at truck shows last year, drivers commonly said, “I don’t want to talk to you unless you can help me cheat.”

There are a number of specific requirements and suggested practices associated with the ELDs. Some of them include:

• Drivers and carriers must choose an ELD from a registration list of self-certified ELDs that are reviewed by FMCSA.

• The ELD must be capable of transferring data to inspectors during roadside inspections. Drivers may use one of two options, either by telematics such as e-mail or web services, or locally via the use of Universal Serial Bus or Bluetooth.

• When an ELD malfunctions, the driver must provide written notice to the carrier within 24 hours and maintain paper logs over the course of eight days, the maximum time FMCSA allows for a device to be repaired or replaced.

• Drivers or carriers can make edits to their ELD record, but drive time cannot be shortened. The driver, who has the last say on the edits, must re-certify the data after edits are made.

• Drivers should remember to log off the ELD at the end of the day. Officials say one of the biggest problems is drivers not logging out because it can create complications, for example, when a mechanic moves the truck to perform maintenance.

“I like to remind people that this transition on the industry side is difficult,” DeLorenzo said at the agency forum. “It’s a big change for people that are not technology users. But the things that you struggle with on the transition to technology, we also struggle with on the enforcement side.”

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Some Nor’Eastern States Ban Trucks from Highways During Winter Storm

In the span of just two weeks, the Northeast has gotten pounded with snow and severe weather conditions. This, of course, affects the roads and highways. Currently, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have placed a tractor-trailer ban on highways, as there have been several tractor-trailer involved accidents. Needless to say, drivers be careful out there and check your routes!

Matt Cole of Overdrive writes:

For the third time in two weeks, a nor’easter storm is wreaking havoc on the Northeast, causing some states to institute tractor-trailer bans on highways Tuesday, March 13.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation placed a travel ban on tractor-trailers on all state highways from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday. Gov. Gina Raimondo announced the truck ban late Monday night on Twitter.

 Several tractor trailer accidents in Massachusetts Tuesday morning prompted the Massachusetts State Police to issue a truck ban on the Massachusetts Turnpike(I-90) from the New York state line to exit 14, just west of Boston. There is no timetable on when the restriction will be lifted.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy issued a statement Monday night acknowledging Rhode Island’s truck ban, but said his state didn’t have plans at the time for a similar ban.

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ATA President Addresses Trucking Efforts at the 2018 Technology and Maintenance Council Annual Meeting

Trucking is the backbone of the American economy, which is why the American Trucking Association’s (ATA) President, Chris Spear, stated that trucking deserves a seat at the negotiating table. Spear went on to say that while we’re experiencing a booming economy, that also means that demands go up.

Jack Roberts of Heavy Duty Trucking (HDT)/Truckinginfo writes:

American Trucking Associations president Chris Spear told a packed room at the 2018 Technology and Maintenance Council Annual Meeting that the time was right for trucking to take its rightful seat at the negotiating table, tell its story and make certain it was not cut out of the picture in the legislative, policy and technology issues both today and in the future.

“We believe the best way to to that is to tell the truth and pack it to the brim with data is the best way to insure positive outcomes in those negotiations,” Spear told attendees at TMC’s Town Meeting, Monday evening in Atlanta. “You are driving those outcomes. You are framing the future that will allow this industry to grow.”

The Strong Economy

Spear began his remarks by acknowledging recent changes made to TMC’s leadership structure and program to reflect both a changing industry and attendee and exhibitor wishes. He then noted strong economic conditions in the United States today, pointing out that trucking today moves 71% of all domestic freight in the country today. Trucking also employees 7.4 million Americans in today, with 3.5 million truck driving jobs in the mix. Spear also noted that 1 in 16 of every job in the U.S. today is in the trucking industry, with trucking now the top job employing Americans in 29 states.

“This is our time to shine,” Spear said. “We are the backbone of this economy today, which is booming thanks to the largest tax code reform since 1986. All the key ingredients are coming into place to insure a wonderful future for this industry.”

But, Spear cautioned, a booming economy also mean demands to move even more freight and expose the industry’s weaknesses. “The economy is strong, but it shows we have a lot of work to do,” Spear summed up. “We are short of 50,000 truck drivers now. And that shortage could grow to 100,000 drivers in five years if current trends continue.”

Finding the Next Generation of Drivers

The time has come, Spear told TMC attendees, to stop talking about problems and start solving them, instead. To that end, he pointed out recent ATA efforts to address the 18 to 21 year old hiring ban that keeps young drivers out of truck cabs — often until they’ve already been snapped up and started careers in other industries. “The fact that we can’t hire these young people to drive our trucks, but they are old enough to go overseas and fight our wars and operate multi-million dollar pieces of equipment is absurd,” Spear said. “To counter this problem, ATA is working on new solutions with built-in controls to protect the public while attracting young talent and nurturing them and helping them eventually earn a Commercial Driver’s License.”

A key part of this effort, Spear said, was for ATA to work closely with the U.S. Department of Labor to initiate President Trump’s new Apprenticeship Program. “There is no better industry than trucking to partner with the Federal government and wisely use taxpayer dollars to bridge that relationship,” Spear added.

Spear also called out the media for what he called “hyping” emerging technologies in ways that could scare potential workers away from the trucking industry. Trucking should embrace new technology, Spear said, and not fear it.

“We need to get past the hype, however,” Spear warned. “For the media to suggest that drivers will be taken out of the picture — that we’re going to have trucks with no steering wheels, or pedals or drivers tomorrow can drive potential employees away. Who would want to join an industry where autonomous technology will take their job away in a few short years. So, I say to the media, let’s be realistic and solve the problems new technology will create. But let’s not blow new technology out of proportion.”

Spear wrapped up his remarks by noting that a strong, modern infrastructure was also crucial for trucking to continue to power the U.S. economy and compete globally. To counter this trend, Spear said ATA was continuing to advocate Congress for a fuel tax “baked into the price of fuel and hardly noticeable to consumers,” as a way to short up the U.S. highway trust fund and generating $340 billion in real revenue that can be used to repair the nation’s degrading roads and bridges. “This is an investment in our future, which is why Ronald Reagan signed two similar bills into law during his presidency,” Spear said. “If we don’t invest in our infrastructure now, our roads and bridges will continue to deteriorate at a rate that we will eventually not be able to recover from.”

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Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Backs Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Plan

Tolls. Private Investments. Higher fuel tax rates. These are a few of the issues surrounding the proposed $1.5 trillion dollar infrastructure plan. And Elaine Chao, Transportation Secretary, stands by the plan amidst backlash.

Eugene Mulero, Staff Reporter for Transport Topics writes:

 In her first appearance on Capitol Hill since the White House presented to lawmakers its $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao sparred with Senate Democrats skeptical about the proposal’s funding goal.

Appearing March 1 before the Environment and Public Works Committee, Chao was challenged on the plan’s reliance on $200 billion in unspecified federal funds to achieve the topline $1.5 trillion over 10 years, primarily through nonfederal funds.

White House officials have said the proposal’s “principles,” unveiled Feb. 12, are meant to help guide legislation, but committee members were nonetheless pointed in their questioning.

“The states tell us they’re cash-strapped and we know the vast majority of projects to repair or replace infrastructure will not attract private investment,” committee ranking member Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said.

He also cited a Penn Wharton Budget Model analysis published last month that determined the White House had exaggerated its $1.5 trillion topline claim.

That analysis maintains that much of the new federal aid would lead to state and local governments increasing total infrastructure investment by less than the value of the aid itself. It estimates that total new infrastructure investment would increase between $20 billion to $230 billion, including the $200 billion federal investment.

Chao dismissed the analysis, telling Carper marketplace experts would best understand the White House’s $1.5 trillion claim.

“It actually takes people with real-life business experience to know how it works,” she said.

Chao also told the committee that administration officials had reviewed the performance of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s loan programs to conclude $1.5 trillion would be achievable under the proposal.

Chao batted back a question about President Trump’s reported support for a potential increase in fuel taxes.

Asked by Sen. Chris Van Hollen about Carper’s assertion that Trump during a Feb. 14 meeting with transportation leaders endorsed an increase, Chao said she would not “divulge conversations with the president.” She added the Trump administration would collaborate with Congress on identifying “pay-fors” — or funding mechanisms — for the proposal’s $200 billion ask.

“We’re talking about a $200 billion plan, which many of us think it’s already too small to start with. The leverage assumptions, many of us think are way off,” Van Hollen said. “But even that $200 billion is a hallucination until we have a real funding source.”

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), meanwhile, questioned the soundness behind proposing to shift long-standing transportation funding dynamics between states and the federal government by tapping the private sector to take on a greater role.

“My fear is, I’ll be honest with you, I just think that Wall Street will say, ‘Well, we’ll come in and help.’ But they’re going to have to be paid. And that’s going to be tolls,” Markey said. “I have a big problem with the math. I just don’t think it’s going to work.”

Democrats also criticized the proposal’s allocation for rural districts, and its push to streamline the permitting process for infrastructure projects.

The hearing came a few days after Republican leaders sounded doubtful whether an infrastructure bill would be considered this year. EPW committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) did not address the chances a bill would advance in the coming months.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), suggested Congress meet during weekends, if necessary, to finalize a bill this year. His colleagues did not comment on his suggestion.

Much of the transportation community continues to urge lawmakers to approve a higher fuel tax and to advance a sustainable infrastructure funding package soon. Funding authority for federal transportation projects expires in less than three years.

Several groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Society of Civil Engineers, support a fuel-tax increase as a model for boosting the depleting Highway Trust Fund. Last year, American Trucking Associations proposed the establishment of the Build America Fund, which the group estimates could generate about $340 billion over 10 years through a 20 cents per-gallon built-in fee on transportation fuels.

The federal Highway Trust Fund, backed primarily by revenue from the excise tax on gas and diesel fuel, is used to assist states with infrastructure projects.

 

U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Holds Discussion On Infrastructure And U.S. Economy