Your New Year’s Resolution: The Road to Better Health
Every new year many of us restart our engines, determined to change aspects of our lives for the better. We make resolutions to lose a few pounds. Eat better. Exercise more.
For most of us, however, after a few days or weeks of hitting the gym and swapping fast food with home-cooked food, we lose ambition and our healthy hopes fall by the wayside.
Much like office workers who sit at a desk 40 hours a week, your career as a truck driver provides you with a few extra challenges when it comes to weight loss in particular. Fortunately, life behind the wheel of a truck (or behind the keyboard of a computer) doesn’t have to be unhealthy.
Removing the roadblocks
There are factors that act as roadblocks and get in the way of making permanent changes in our lifestyles. Getting rid of these roadblocks will make our resolutions reachable. Some common challenges include:
- Unrealistic expectations. Fad diets or exercise plans that promise results in days set us up for failure.
- Attitude. When we set our mind on seeing immediate results, we aren’t in the mindset necessary for sustainable, long-term changes.
- Lack of support. Trying to make major change without letting people around us know our plans makes it even harder to make our resolutions a reality.
Making a change
Once we’ve gotten rid of the roadblocks it’s time to take those first stepts toward lasting change. To reach your resolution, you should”
- Make realistic exercise and weight loss goals. Have a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve.
- Create long-term lifestyle changes. Make plans for changes you can live with each and every day instead of reaching out to the quickest fix.
- Don’t get stressed out by failure. On those days when you don’t see immediate results or you fall off the wagon, don’t give up. Move past those steps backward to keep making progress.
- Work for steady change in both mind and body. Lasting lifestyle changes require gradual shiftsin both our thoughts and habits.
Getting help for weight loss with Profile™
Talk with your health care provider about whether an individualized plan could help you change your lifestyle . For example, Sanford Health now offers Profile™, a comprehensive personal approach to weight loss.
Sanford’s integrated weight management system can provide the extra guidance and tools you need to set and reach your goals. Profile ™ puts the research of physicians and scientists into action and helps you get past those days of stressful self-dieting and poor results.
A sustainable lifestyle change is easier with a coach to push you the right direction for all of the right reasons. Success is more than a diet or a wish for better health. It’s a matter of taking small steps in the right direction.
When you can eliminate bad habits and change behaviors that have not worked for you in the past, you can make steady changes that you can stick with.
Take the time to make your resolution a real one this year. Take the step s you need to make lasting change. Take on the road to better health.
For more information about Sanford Profile™, visit profileplan.net or call (877) 373-6069.
By Dan Heinemann, MD, Sanford Health
American Trucking Associations Annouce Finalists for 2013 - 2014 America’s Road Team
American Trucking Associations today named 32 professional truck drivers as finalists in the selection process to become Captains on the 2013-2014 America’s Road Team. America’s Road Team, a group of professional truck drivers with superior safety records, was created in 1986 to represent the trucking industry and is sponsored by Volvo Trucks.
The 32 professional truck drivers now move on to the final round of the selection process, which will be held January 6-8, 2013 in Arlington, Va. A panel of industry officials and trucking news media will judge the contestants on their knowledge of the trucking industry, dedication to safety, ability to communicate the industry’s messages and overall safe driving record.
The newly chosen 2013-2014 America’s Road Team will be announced on January 9th. New Captains, after receiving their signature, navy blue America’s Road Team blazer, will begin their two year term working to share the industry’s message of safety, essentially and sustainability with the motoring public, news media, business and community leaders, public officials and their fellow drivers across the nation.
"America’s Road Team represents the best of the best," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. "The 32 professional drivers selected as finalists all have impressive driving records, share a passion for safety and are engaged in their communities. We are honored to have them participate in this prestigious selection process."
To be nominated to serve as an America’s Road Team Captain, professional truck drivers must be employed or leased to an ATA member company. Each nominee should have an excellent safety record, and should demonstrate an ability to communicate his or her commitment to safety and passion for the industry. Nominees should also portray a positive image of the professional truck driver in all that they do.
2013-2014 America’s Road Team Finalists:
Name Company Home City, State
Bigalk, Mark FedEx Ground White Bear Lake, MN
Biggerstaff, Don ABF Freight System, Inc. Maiden, NC
Borman, John, Koch Trucking Lino Lakes, MN
Bramwell, Byron YRC Freight Centerview, MO
Carlson, Ted FedEx Freight Vancouver, WA
Conklin, Donald YRC Freight LaPorta, IN
Dean, Kevin YRC Freight Rockmart, GA
Evans, Herschel Holland, Inc. Bremen, GA
Galbraith, Mick Con-way Freight Knoxville, TN
Hamilton, Paul YRC Freight Sun City, CA
Halford, Jeffrey Con-way Freight Meridian, ID
Hatfield, Loren ABF Freight System, Inc. Maumelle, AR
Kirk, Neil Penske Logistics Middletown, NY
Klang, Stephanie Con-way Truckload Diamond, MO
Lex, John Walmart Transportation Monroe, GA
Logan, Don FedEx Freight Eskridge, KS
McKown, John UPS Freight Mechanicsburg, PA
Miles, Rod Con-way Freight Lauderhill, FL
Miller, Thomas Prime, Inc. Bunkerhill, IL
Miskiewicz, Kevin YRC Freight Royersford, PA
Morrow, Bradley Con-way Freight Fargo, ND
Putnam, Christine Walmart Transportation Hesperia, CA
Savill, Paul UPS Freight Hamilton, OH
Schmeckenbecher, Otto ABF Freight System, Inc. Little Rock, AR
Schutte, James UPS Freight Indianapolis, IN
Starr, James Groendyke Transportation Wichita, KS
Stine, Todd Carbon Express Altoona, PA
Weeks, Clarence “Eddie” AAA Cooper Silver Springs, FL
Weis, Kirk ABF Freight System, Inc. Rio Rancho, NM
Wick, Nathan UPS Freight Isanti, MN
Williams, Dale Trimac Transportation Centerville, AL
Wold, Bryan Con-way Freight Reiles Acres, ND
The America’s Road Team, sponsored by Volvo Trucks, is a national public outreach program led by a small group of professional truck drivers who share superior driving skills, remarkable safety records and a strong desire to spread the word about safety on the highway. www.americasroadteam.com.
American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils, ATA is the voice of the industry America depends on most to move our nation’s freight.ã Follow ATA on Twitter or on Facebook. Good stuff. Trucks Bring It!ãã www.trucking.org.
Truck Drivers Offer Safety Tips For Thanksgiving Travel
Over 43.6 million motorists are expected to travel over 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving Holiday (Wednesday - Sunday), making it one of the busiest holiday travel times of the year.
A group of elite professional truck drivers with millions of accident-free miles are offering advice on how to navigate through highway traffic and arrive at your destination safely. Tips include:
1. Prepare you vehicle for long distance travel: Check your wipers and fluids. Have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road before you leave your home.
2. Plan ahead: Before you get on a highway, know your exit by name and number, and watch the signs as you near the off-ramp. Drivers making unexpected lane changes to exit often cause accidents.
3. Do not cut in front of large trucks: Remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.
4. Be aware of truck blindspots: When sharing the road with large trucks, be aware of their blind spots. If you can’t see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, then the truck driver can’t see you.
5. Check your emergency kit: Contents should include: battery powered radio, flashlight, blanket, jumper cables, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable foods, maps, tire repair kit and flares.
6. Be aware of changes in weather: Weather conditions across the U.S. will be changing - especially during early mornings and evenings with the cold. Watch for ice, snow and other weather related obstacles.
7. Keep your eyes on the road: Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents. Even just two seconds of distraction time doubles the chances of an accident. Use your cell phone when stopped and never text while driving.
8. Leave early and avoid risks: Leave early so you won’t be anxious about arriving late and to accommodate delays. Road conditions may change due to inclement weather or traffic congestion.
9. Avoid extreme weather conditions: Ice, hail and snow make roads difficult to travel. Try to avoid driving through extreme weather conditions, and travel during daylight.
10. Remove ice and snow from your vehicle: Clear your windows and roof of snow to insure you have maximum visibility and avoid creating a hazard for the vehicle behind you. Don’t allow ice and snow to create additional blindspots on your vehicle.
11. Be aware of the vehicle in front of you: Leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front so you can avoid snow and ice blowing onto your windshield or maneuver around patches of ice.
12. Slow Down: With the extra highway congestion due to Holiday travel, speeding becomes even more dangerous. Allow plenty of a space cushion and reduce your speed.
13. Buckle up: Safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent and are a simple way to increase your safety on the road.
"Thanksgiving is a challenging time on the highways," said Share the Road Professional Driver Brooks Washburn (FedEx Freight). "Between motorists visiting families or shopping during the start of the holiday shopping season, our highways are busier than ever. There is nothing better than patience and safe driving practices behind the wheel, he added."
"Always buckle up," said Share the Road Professional Driver Tim McElwaney (ABF Freight System). "Weather can also be a factor during this time of year so check weather conditions before you get in your vehicle," McElwaney added.
The Share the Road Professional Drivers would like to remind the motoring public that from driveway to highway, safety requires patience and dedication.
*Editors: Share the Road Professional Drivers in your area are available to speak about Thanksgiving and Winter safe driving tips during the holiday weekend.
Share the Road is a highway safety outreach program of the American Trucking Associations that educates all drivers about sharing the roads safely with large trucks. An elite team of professional truck drivers with millions of accident-free miles deliver life-saving messages to millions of motorists annually. The safety program is sponsored by Mack Trucks, Inc. and Michelin North America, Inc. www.atastr.org. Follow the Share the Road on Twitter and Facebook.
American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils, ATA is the voice of the industry America depends on most to move our nation’s freight. www.trucking.org.
Exercises You Can Use: Staying Active on the Road
By Dr. Dan Heinemann
When I have to sit in a car or at my desk for hours at a time, I know it’s’ bad for my health and my body tells me it’s time to move around. We all know we need to stay active. Getting exercise keeps our minds and body strong.
Those of us who drive long distances regularly face some extra challenges in fitting exercise into their daily life. However, my colleague Steve Bliss, senior exercise specialist at Sanford Wellness Center, regularly works with truck drivers and others whose jobs require sitting for long stretches of time.
“The biggest thing to remember is to plan out a schedule,” says bliss. “It’s hard for any adult to make time to work out an hour and a half every day, but you can put in a 10 minute break here and another there and the next thing you know you have a 30-minute workout.”
There are several types of exercise that can be easily done even while on the road, he says.
Rest stop stretches: Drivers behind the wheel of a truck spend most of the day with their muscles tightening or contracting. Dynamic movement is the opposite, extending and bending to stretch those muscles the opposite direction. Try the following:
Get out of your truck and stand on solid ground with your hands on your hips. Bend forward with your lower back arched in, past the neutral position. Then go the opposite direction, bending as far backward as is comfortable.
Shoulder Blade Squeeze:
With your feet about shoulder width apart, stick your chest out, pull your arms back and squeeze your shoulders together.
In a comfortable sitting position with your legs slightly apart, sit up straight and breath in deeply. Relax your shoulders as you inhale, letting your arms lay relaxed at your sides as you blow the air out. Repeat five times.
Getting Stronger: Those hours on the road also take their toll on your muscles. Regular strength training will make you feel better and give you the energy you need for the day, Bliss says. Investing in an inexpensive set of exercise bands with handles will give you a way to add strength training to your day, even if you are sleeping in your truck cab at night.
At the end of your day, use the bands (which usually come in different colors to signify different levels of resistance) to strengthen your muscles. Generally two sets of 10 repetitions work well. Here are a few ideas:
Wrap the band around something, like a pole or piece of furniture, and pull the handles toward your chest. (Generally two sets of 10 reps)
Keeping the band wrapped, turn your body around make the opposite movement, pulling your arms away from your chest.
Stand on the band and lift your straightened arms into the air.
Moving Around: Plan for some aerobic activity every day, Bliss advises. Brisk walking or a short run can be fit in during a five or 10 minute rest stop. Or call ahead to make sure that your hotel (if you’re staying out of town) has a treadmill or other exercise equipment that you can use to get a cardiovascular workout at the end of your day.
“If you take the time to move around you’ll feel better, have more energy and even sleep better at night,” says Bliss. “You’ll find you feel better both on and off the road.”
ATA to Host Trucking Natural Gas Summit November 28-30 in Arlington, VA
ATA will host a first-ever national summit on the growing use of natural gas as a fuel for moving freight across the country. The event will be held Nov. 28-30 just outside Washington, D.C., at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Arlington, Va.
Natural gas is a subject of critical importance to trucking, and this executive level Summit will put the entire natural gas picture together – from suppliers and engine manufacturers to distributors and end users. The Summit will kick off with an opening reception on Wednesday, Nov. 28, followed by a full day of panels and speakers on Nov. 29. On Nov. 30, panels will be held until mid-afternoon. A more detailed agenda will soon be released by ATA.
Registration will open for ATA members on July 2 and for nonmembers approximately four weeks later. The event will cost $199 for ATA members and $499 for nonmembers. Seating is limited. More information is available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (703) 838-1935.
26 States Waive Driving Portion of CDL Test Under Federal Program for Military Veterans
More than half of U.S. states are now taking advantage of a federal program that allows some military veterans and reservists who have driven heavy vehicles during their service to skip part of their commercial driver license test. Waivers for the driving portion of the CDL test are available in 26 states as of the end of August, the Federal motor Carrier Safety Administration said.
Another 12 states and the District of Columbia are now working toward a waiver system, FMCSA said. The regulation is meant to help current and former members of the military to find jobs, while making it easier for the trucking industry to tap into another pool or potential employees. “The military skills test waiver is a great step in the right direction,” Boyd Stephenson, director of hazardous materials policy for American Trucking Associations, told Transport Topics.
As part of the changes made to the CDL program in May 2011, FMCSA allowed the skills test waiver for applicants who drove military trucks safely for two years and have otherwise clean driving records. An applicant’s military supervisor must certify his or her driver training and experience, and the driver is subject to restrictions on the CDL, based on the kind of vehicle he or she drove while in the military.
“The process allows states to assist veterans and active duty personnel in their transition from their military occupation to a civilian career,” FMCSA said.
Virginia, which has more than 20 major military installations and one of the highest concentrations of veterans, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, created its waiver program earlier this year. “The waiver allows us to streamline the CDL process for military personnel and eliminate the burden for them of providing a [vehicle] for the test,” said Rick Holcomb, commissioner of Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Virginia’s “Troops to Trucks” program is designed to help the problems of unemployment and a shortage of truck drivers, said Holcomb, who was American Trucking Associations’ general counsel 2001 to 2010.
“We are very, very supportive of the program, and we think it’s very worthwhile,” said Dale Bennett, president of the Virginia Trucking Association. On the one hand, the waivers bring more employment options to current and former members of the military, he said. “It also helps the trucking industry fulfill its mission of delivering our state and nation’s goods by getting good, qualified employees to be truck drivers,” Bennett said. Bennett predicted the waiver could put a “good dent” in the driver shortage problem.
Holcomb said that 31 veterans had obtained CDLs with the skills test waiver since it was launched on July 1. Larry Davis found that it was easy to convince Ohio legislators to vote for the skills test waiver in the legislature’s recent session. “Every time we talked to a legislator about it, they all said ‘that makes sense,’” said Davis, who is president of the Ohio Trucking Association. Davis said the waivers are a logical extension of the training military men and women get for driving vehicles. “They’re coming back across the pond. They’ve been driving trucks for two years over there. They have the experience,” he said. “Why should we make them jump through hoops?”
Ohio State Sen. Dave Burke (R) echoed that reasoning when he introduced the legislation last year. “Many of the men and women in our armed forces have already demonstrated their ability to drive a commercial vehicle, and I see no reason why they should have to prove their qualifications again to obtain a CDL here in Ohio,” he said in a statement.
The waiver provision passed easily in Kansas as well, said Tom Whitaker, executive director of the Kansas Motor Carriers Association. “Any way that we can ease the transition of our military personnel back into the employment sector . . . can be a benefit both for military personnel as well as for our motor carrier members,” Whitaker said.
Transport Topics – October 2012
Interest Groups Relied on Faulty Arguments to Challenge HOS Provision, ATA Asserts
A coalition of interest groups relied on faulty arguments that were often out of context and used little or no data in their objections to a recent truck driver hours-of-service rule that kept both the 1-hour workday and the 34-hour restart, American Trucking Association told a federal court last week.
The groups, led by Public Citizen, used “misinterpretations, non sequiters, statements torn from context, unpreserved arguments, and conclusory assertions backed by only occasional – and misleading – citations to actual data,” ATA said in its brief, which defended the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in the interest groups’ lawsuit challenging the 11-hour day and 34-hour restart provisions.
Public Citizen filed the lawsuit in February, saying FMCSA was derelict in its duty to prevent driver fatigue when it issued a rule in December that kept both provisions, which have been in place since 2003.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit combined that lawsuit with one ATA filed earlier that month, which said the agency should not have put restrictions on the 34-hour restart or required rest breaks during the driving day.
ATA’s brief, filed Oct. 1, responded to Public Citizen’s opening brief from July. Public Citizen and the Truck Safety Coalition did not respond to requests for comment. Henry Jasny, general counsel for Advocates for Highway Safety, another petitioner in the lawsuit, declined to comment.
FMCSA’s decision to preserve the 11-hour day “did not result from the application of a faulty legal standard,” ATA told the court. The agency used proper discretion in concluding that any safety benefits of a 10-hour driving day would be offset by the cost of losses in productivity, the group said.
Public Citizen also had no basis for its assumption that FMCSA overstated the amount of sleep truck drivers get and understated the average number of hours they drive, ATA said. The trucking group public Citizen’s contention that “at least 13%” of all truck-involved crashes are caused by truck-driver fatigue: “Public Citizens has failed to point to any evidence competent to support that claim.”
Public Citizen relied in part on a study of crash causation that ATA criticized in its July brief, in which it said the 13% figure counts crashes in which a driver was fatigued, not just crashed caused by fatigue.
The interest group also cited analyses from the National Transportation Safety Board, but those reports do not prove the group’s point, ATA said. “Neither analysis even purports to say anything about the overall rate of truck-driver fatigue,” ATA said. “Instead, both are confined to a small subset of accidents fatal to the truck driver.”
In its defense of the 34-hour restart, ATA called it a “flexibility tool” that was not intended – nor is it used – to maximize the amount of driving time. Public Citizen’s argument “that the restart is a nefarious device basically used by unscrupulous drivers and carriers to maximize hours cannot be squared with the record,” ATA said.
Trucking safety also has improved since the restart was first allowed in 2003. The number of fatalities from truck-involved crashes fell 33% from 2003 to 2009, and injuries dropped 39%. “Public Citizens does not even pretend to have any actual evidence suggesting that either version of restart is unsafe,” ATA said, referring both to the original restart provision and to the amendments that FMCSA made to it in the most recent rule, which is set to take effect in July 2012.
The interest groups are scheduled to respond on Oct. 24 to ATA, as well as to FMCSA’s Sept. 24 brief defending the entire rule. The court has not yet scheduled oral arguments in the case.
Public Citizen and the Truck Safety Coalition convinced the court to overturn hours-of-service rules in 2004 and 2007 that allowed an 11-hour day and a 34-hour restart, but FMCSA kept both provisions each time.
A 2009 lawsuit against the provisions by those groups, as well as Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Teamsters, was settled when the agency agreed to reconsider the rule, resulting in the December 2011 version.
Transport Topics – October 2012
Study Blasts CSA BASICs
ATRI Says 2 of 5 Safety Categories ‘Defective’
Motor carrier scores in two of the five public safety categories in the federal government’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program are “defective” in predicting crash risk, according to a new study. “There is no statistical support for making intended safety inferences based upon the Driver Fitness or Controlled Substances and Alcohol percentile rankings. In fact, carriers with higher scores in these two BASICs seem to present lower crash risks,” according to the study by the American Transportation Research Institute.
The new study of 471,000 fleets’ safety measurement data also said that CSA carrier “alerts” from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration do not consistently identify the riskiest carriers. “It’s more than troubling to discover that the safer your score, as in the lower your score, the higher your crash rate,” Dan Murray, vice president of research for ATRI told Transportation Topics. One or both of the defective BASICs are “beyond problematic” and in need of “major re-evaluation and recalibration,” Murray said.
However, ATRI’s detailed analysis of CSA program scores and federal crash data also found “high levels of confidence” in predicting crash risk in the other three public safety categories, known as Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories, or BASICs.
There is “ample evidence” to support FMCSA’s methodology for assigning scores to the Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving and Vehicle Maintenance BASICs because scores in those three BASICs accurately reflect crash risk, the study said. Scores in those three BASICs were more accurate predictors of crash risk, with the strongest relationship in the Unsafe Driving category, the study said.
The study also concluded that in four of the five public BASICs, carriers with an “alert” had crash rates exceeding those of carriers in all other groups. “The one exception was Driver Fitness, where below-threshold carriers posed greater safety risks,” the study said.
Rob Abbott, vice president of safety for American Trucking Associations, said it’s also important to note that ATRI’s study was limited to publicly available BASICs. “Scores in the current Cargo-Related BASIC and future Hazmat Compliance BASIC that will replace it are also not related to crash risk,” Abbott told TT. “Coupled with the ATRI findings, we can conclude that scores in at least three of the seven measurement categories – 43% of the system – don’t reflect crash risk. That’s a significant problem.”
Two of the seven carrier BASICs, the Cargo Related (soon to be renamed Hazmat Compliance BASIC) and Crash Indicator BASICs, cannot be viewed by the public and therefore were not analyzed by ATRI.
The CSA program, which was designed to replace FMCSA’s SafeStat program, relies on a measurement system that ranks motor-carrier safety performance relative to other carriers that have similar levels of on-road exposure. An FMCSA spokesman said ATRI’s findings “reinforce that CSA is a positive change for safety.”
“The agency is conducting an in-depth review of ATRI’s analysis and will consider this information as we work to further strengthen our ability to identify unsafe carriers and address safety problems before crashes occur,” the spokesman said. In the past, agency officials have called the CSA program “a work in progress.”
Scott Mugno, vice president of safety for FedEx Ground, who testified last month on behalf of ATA at a congressional hearing on generally supports CSA but that ATRI’s research “identifies a key weakness in FMCSA’s safety measurement system.”
“The conclusions in ATRI’s study support what many motor carriers have found to be true in their operations – namely, that scores in the CSA’s Driver Fitness BASIC do not bear a statistical correlation to crash risk,” Mugno said in a statement.
Murray said BASICs scores are very important to the trucking industry, not only because bad ratings can draw enforcement attention from FMCSA but also because many shippers and brokers use them to help identify which carriers are safe. A first step toward correcting the flawed scores would be to increase the availability of information for all motor carriers, ATRI said.
FMCSA has said that only about 200,000 of the more than 500,000 active carriers it regulates have enough roadside inspections or crash data to be scores in at least one of the BASICs.
ATRI said that carriers with sufficient roadside inspection data, but no BASICS scores, are just as safe as and even present a slightly lower crash risk than carriers with scores below FMCSA’s percentile thresholds.
“This is particularly important since many shippers, brokers and other trucking stakeholders currently perceive the SMS (Safety Measurement System) to only indicated safety when a carrier possesses a below-threshold score,” the study said.
Transport Topics – October 2012
Restart Changes ‘Reasonable,” FMCSA Says in HOS Court Brief
The federal government defended its latest hours-of-service rule last week, telling a U.S. court that it “acted at the height of its expertise and discretion” when it decided in December to put new restrictions on the 34-hour restart provision, while retaining the 11-hour driving day.
“The HOS rule reflects [the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s] weighing of scientific evidence and its careful consideration of the potential impacts of health and safety, as well as the costs and the effects of the rule on the public and the regulated industry,” the agency wrote in a Sept. 24 filing.
The restart changes are “reasonable and adequately explained,” and any potential safety improvements from cutting back truckers’ workdays would be outweighed by a loss in productivity, the agency said. The court brief was the first action from FMCSA in two separate lawsuits filed in February challenging different parts of the HOS rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
FMCSA asked the court to dismiss both cases, one from American Trucking Associations challenging the restart and another from a coalition of interest groups led by Public Citizen over the driving hours. The agency said the lawsuits lack merit, and the court should defer to the agency’s expertise and judgment.
ATA last week criticized FMCSA for asking the court to rely on its judgment. FMCSA should be allowed to exercise its discretion only “if its rule is based on reasonable conclusions – from reliable evidence – that are adequately explained,” Rich Pianka, ATA’s deputy general counsel, told Transport Topics. The brief showed that FMCSA “cannot demonstrate the reasonableness of its conclusions” in the rule, Pianka said.
Public Citizens and the other groups did not respond to requests for comment. ATA said it will defend FMCSA’s 11-hour limit in an Oct. 1 court brief. All the groups that brought the latest lawsuits are scheduled to file briefs responding to FMSCSA by Oct 24.
The court has not scheduled oral arguments in the lawsuits. The cases remain separate, tough they are on the same schedule and are set to be argued the same day. In briefs filed this summer, ATA said FMCSA’s cost-benefit analysis regarding the restart provision relied on unjustifiable assumptions, while Public Citizen argued that keeping the 11-hour workday does not adequately prevent driver fatigue.
However, FMCSA took issue with both groups in its brief last week. “The cost/benefit analysis is based on appropriate data and scientifically sound methodologies, despite petitioners’ claims to the contrary,” FMCSA said of ATA’s argument. “The contention of ATA . . . that an unlimited restart is the only rational decision FMCSA could have made here is therefore incorrect,”
On the 11-hour driving day, FMCSA said it “conducted a scientifically valid cost/benefit analysis on this issue, and [Public Citizen’s] challenges to the assumptions methodologies of that analysis are unsound.”
“If increased safety invariably trumped cost savings, then the agency would be required not only to reject an 11-hour limit in favor of 10 but to reject a 10-hour limit in favor of a safer 9-hour limit, and then to move down the scale of lower (and therefore ‘safer’) limits,” FMCSA said.
The HOS rule, currently set to go into effect in July, limits use of the restart to once every seven days and requires two overnight periods within the restart. It also requires drivers to take half-hour breaks before working more than eight hours, another provision ATA challenged.
Public Citizen, along with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition and two truck drivers, are seeking to have the 34-hour restart completely eliminated.
Also in its brief, FMCSA deflected criticism from ATA over its conclusion that 13% of truck-involve crashes are caused by truck driver fatigue. While ATA had accused FMCSA of assuming that “whenever truck driver fatigue is present at the time of a crash, fatigue caused the crash,” the agency called that figure a “reasonable choice,” based on its cost-benefit analysis.
Public Citizens and the Truck Safety Coalition convinced the court in 2004 and 2007 to overturn prior versions of HOS rules that allowed 11 driving hours, but FMCSA reinstated the limit both times.
A 2009 lawsuit, joined by Advocates and the Teamsters union, was settled when FMCSA agreed to reconsider the regulation, which resulted in the December rule.
Transport Topics – October 2012
FMCSA Steps up Hazmat Compliance As Part of Planned Changes to CSA
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced it is moving ahead with changes to its safety ratings program in December, including stepping up hazardous materials compliance and eliminating a perceived enforcement bias against flatbed carriers. FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said the tweaks to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program will only cause “modest” changes to carriers’ percentile scores, but “enough to sharpen our focus on the carriers that need to have our focus.”
She confirmed the changes, initially proposed in March, during an Aug. 24 news conference. Trucking officials said they were pleased changes were being made, but suggested more needs to be done to ensure the system is a fair representation of fleets’ safety. Ferro said the existing Cargo-Related Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category, or BASIC, will become the Hazardous Materials Compliance BASIC – a stand-alone category that will “better identify hazmat-related safety and compliance problems.”
Scores in this new BASIC will be withheld from public view until December 2013, as the agency continues to make adjustments. Hazmat violations, currently posted in the Cargo Related BASIC, are not public. FMCSA said it will subject carriers to a more stringent hazmat intervention threshold only when they have at least two hazmat vehicles inspections within the past 24 months – with one being in the past year – and at least 5% of their total inspections involved a vehicle transporting placarded hazmat.
Currently hazmat carriers are subject to the more rigorous threshold only if they have a hazmat safety permit or have had one inspection while transporting placarded quantities of hazmat within the past 24 months. Ferro said the agency in December will begin incorporating cargo load security violations into the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC. FMCSA is also going ahead with a plan to break out crashes-with-injuries and crashes-with-fatalities in carrier profiles, a provision that American Trucking Associations has opposed.
Other changes include removing 1-to-5 mph speeding violations from carrier and driver safety scores, assigning the same severity weights to paper logs and electronic logging device violations and renaming the Fatigue Driving BASIC to the Hours-of-Service Compliance BASIC. In addition, vehicle violations derived from driver-only inspections and driver violations from vehicle-only inspections will be eliminated, Ferro said.
“These changes, while appreciated, point to the issue ATA has been urging FMCSA to address for some time: CSA scores are not necessarily indicative of elevated crash risk,” ATA President Bill Graves said in a statement. “Several studies have told us this, and FMCSA’s changes indicate they believe it as well.” However, Ferro credits the CSA program with being “a change agent for safety.”
In 2011, violations for per roadside inspection were down 8% from 2010, and driver violations per roadside inspection were down 10%. “These are the most dramatic decreases we have seen in violations in a decade,” Ferro said. “Most importantly, our preliminary estimates show that last year fatalities involving commercial motor vehicles dropped by an estimated 4.7%, compared to 2012.”
In a Federal Register posting the same day as Ferro’s announcement, FMCSA rejected nearly all of the arguments made in opposition to creating a Hazmat BASIC and changing the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC. Several commenters on the Hazmat BASIC changes said that most of the citations issued are “paperwork violations that to not correlate with crash risk or severity.”
“While violations of shipping papers and placards do not cause crashes, the absence of them during mitigation of a crash where hazmat is present can result in injury or death to emergency responders and the public,” FMCSA said.
FMCSA also rejected the argument that carriers that have hazmat scores over the agency’s percentile threshold are necessarily otherwise safe carriers.
“FMCSA’s analysis indicated that nearly half of the motor carriers above the 80th percentile intervention threshold in the [hazmat] BASIC are also above the threshold in at least one other BASIC,” FMCSA said.
The agency also rejected arguments that cargo securement violations do not belong in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC, but instead in the Unsafe Driving BASIC. “The Vehicle Maintenance BASIC is focused on the physical condition of the vehicle, of which the cargo is a part, whereas the Unsafe Driving BASIC is focused on how the vehicle is being driven,” FMCSA said.
In an Aug. 27 CSA briefing to members of FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, Associate Administrator William Quade said that an agency analysis showed that there is a strong correlation between high carrier percentile scores in several BASICs and crashes. However, Rob Abbott, vice president of safety policy for ATA, a member of the advisory committee, suggested that the committee do its own analysis. “We have long contended that FMCSA should be more frank about the limitations of the program and the reliability, accuracy and significance of CSA scores,” Abbott told Transport Topics. “Mr. Quade’s presentation offered the agency’s perspective but failed to present other perspectives.
Transport Topics – September 2012
Virginia Submits Application for I-95 Tolls As trucking Industry Continues Opposition
Virginia officials submitted an application late last month to the federal government seeking formal permission to toll Interstate 95, while the trucking industry and other opponents continued to push back against it. Virginia said in the application for the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program that tolling I-95 is essential to its economic vitality and the safety of motorists.
“Tolling on I-95 will better enable the commonwealth to sustain a balanced and enhanced funding program to address the backlog of maintenance and new capacity projects,” Sean Connaughton, Virginia’s secretary of transportation, wrote in a letter to Victor Mendez, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.
States cannot usually put new tolls on existing interstate highways, but the federal pilot program allows FHWA to grant permits for up to three tolling programs. North Carolina and Missouri have also been given conditional approval for tolling projects, pending successfully completed applications.
Virginia wants to put a single tollbooth on I-95 near the North Carolina border. The booth would collect $12 per truck each way. Days after Virginia’s application became public, American Trucking Associations called the plan “wrong for Virginia and for the country.”
“I understand, perhaps as well as anyone, the struggles these states have in paying for infrastructure, but tolls are not the ‘conservative solution’ to the problem,” ATA President Bill Graves said in an Aug. 28 statement. Graves is a former two-term Republican governor of Kansas.
“At a time when many in this country are looking to limit the size of government, creating an entire bureaucracy to collect a toll, a bureaucracy that then needs to be paid for from those same tolls, is just wrong,” he said. Graves suggested that a 1-cent increase in the state’s fuel tax would provide the funding Virginia has said it needs.
While 99 cents of every fuel tax dollar go to transportation projects, toll collection is far less efficient, Graves said, adding that it will cost $95 million in the first six years of tolling for Virginia to collect the funds. In the application materials Virginia made public on Aug. 24, the state said the toll amounts to about 2 cents per mile for cars traveling the 179-mile stretch of I-95 within the state, far lower than other states that have I-95 toll charges. The per-mile charge for trucks would be about 7 cents.
The tolls will generate $1.14 billion for Virginia in the first 25 years of operation, the state estimated. “Toll revenues will enable the commonwealth to accelerate the highest-priority capacity, maintenance and safety projects in regional transportation plans,” Conaughton said in a video that accompanied the application. “Without toll revenues, these projects will not be funded.”
Gregory Whirley, VDOT’s commissioner of highways, said in the video that in the first six years of tolling, Virginia would replace four I-95 bridges and rehabilitate 75 lane-miles of the highway in its southernmost section. “We want to make improvements that will reduce fatalities and injuries,” he said.
However, a business and local government coalition opposed to the project called Republican Gov. bob McDonnell’s assertion that the state needs tolls “clearly misinformed.”
“The governor is trying to ram this through without fully understanding the consequences on the commonwealth as a whole,” Peggy Wiley, chairwoman of the Greensville County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement published by Virginia Toll-Free I-95. The highway runs through Greensville County.
Virginia expects to hear from FHWA by Sept. 21. If all goes as planned for the state, officials hope to finish the requirements for the federal program by January and start planning to build tolling infrastructure shortly thereafter.
Transport Topics – September 2012
Congressman Vows to Battle EOBR Mandate as ‘Catastrophic’ Burden on Small Businesses
If an amendment to block funding for an electronic onboard recorder mandate does not make it into law, its main sponsor, Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.), said he is prepared to do whatever he can to stop the federal government from mandating such devices. Landry told Transport Topics that he will continue working to make sure the devices are not required on trucks, as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed to do in a move it said would increase compliance with hours-of-service regulations.
“The potential impact it has on small businesses is catastrophic,” Landry said. FMCSA has “not been able to prove to us that the cost of implementing this is going to make a difference.” The House voted in June to pass an appropriations bill that included Landry’s amendment blocking a mandate for EOBRs. Though the transportation law signed July 6 tells FMCSA to write the regulation, it could not do so if Landry’s appropriations provision becomes law.
The Senate’s transportation spending bill, which the Appropriations Committee passed in April, contains no such provision and encourages FMCSA to write the regulation. Senate leadership had not scheduled a vote on the measure as of last week. Landry said he doesn’t buy the federal government’s assertion that an EOBR mandate would create a benefit of $344 million to the country. “I’d like to know who put that study together,” he said. “I want to know if the person who put that study together is a business owner.”
Landry specifically mentioned a stand-alone bill to block the regulation as a possible move, but he did not reveal much more of his strategy. At a July 11 congressional hearing about the effects of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program has on small businesses, Landry assailed FMCSA Deputy Administrator Bill Bronrott on EOBRs. “I don’t understand how the president gets up in front of the national media and says to the American people that he is for small business, and that he is for doing away with regulations that burden small businesses,” Landry said. “And yet you, as his representative, you as his mouthpiece, come over here and tell us that you are willing to promote a regulation that imposes a $2 billion cost on small business in this country.”
Bronrott said little to defend the regulation, except to say that the cost-benefit analysis of the proposal resulted in a net benefit. “Fatigue is a leading cause of crashes, and far too many of them cause death and injury,” he said.
An FMCSA spokeswoman refused to comment on Landry’s accusations.. For Landry, the top reason to oppose an EOBR mandate is its costs for small businesses, which comprises the vast majority of the trucking industry.
“The president gave a speech . . . he stood up and said, ‘I have instructed my administration to comb through needless regulations and to identify those regulations which are going to be burden- some to small businesses,’” Landry told TT, adding that he believes FMCSA is going against the president’s wishes. “So was he disingenuous?”
Landry maintained that, if trucking companies believed that EOBRs would save them money, they wouldn’t need a government mandate to adopt the technology. He referred specifically to Daniel Miranda, a witness at the hearing who owns a small trucking company.
“The government didn’t have to force him to buy a fax machine to see that there’s a benefit to putting one in his office,” Landry said. The same day as that hearing, FMCSA posted a notice on its website to respond to questions and criticisms of a mandate.
The agency plans to release a supplement to its previous EOBR proposal late this year, it said. A federal court overturned a previous mandate for carriers with the worst record of hours-of-service violations, and because that rule used the same technological standards as the agency’s universal mandate proposal, it needed to tweak that proposal.
In the new notice on its website, FMCSA said the estimated $2.4 billion cost of the mandate will fall when it unveils its new proposal this year because of the wide availability of low-cost EOBRs.
“While FMCSA is still assessing cost data and projections, the availability of these cheaper devices should significantly decrease the estimated cost of the rule, compared to that of the 2011” estimate, the agency said.
FMCSA used a $1,775 EOBR as the basis for its 2011 proposal, but devices as cheap as $500 are now widely available. The lower cost doesn’t sway Landry at all, however. “That’s not going to spur my interest,” he said. “If it is going to save those small businesses money, they will figure it out on their own.”
Transport Topics – July 2012
Diesel, Gas Prices Increase
The average price of a gallon of diesel fuel in the United States rose 3.5 cents a gallon last week to $3.683, the first increase in three months, the U.S. Department of Energy reported. Diesel had declined 50 cents a gallon since April 9 before the increase, DOE said after its July 9 survey of fueling stations. DOE also said the average retail gasoline price jumped 5.5 cents to $3.411 a gallon, the first increase in that average in 13 weeks. Gasoline had fallen 53 cents since April 2 before the jump.
Following last week’s increases, diesel now costs 21.6 cents a gallon less than it did a year ago and gasoline is 23 cent cheaper than the corresponding week in 2011. “Based on where the market is right now, it’s a possibility that prices have reached their bottom,” said Tancred Lidderdale, senior economist with DOE’s Energy Information Administration. “We’ve enjoyed a pretty nice drop and that’s now over, given where crude is at.”
Since crude oil closed at $106.16 a barrel on May 1 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, it steadily declined to $77.69 on June 28, the lowest level this year. However, since then, it rose as high as $87.66 on July 3 and has remained about $86 a barrel.
Trucking company executives lamented the halt of diesel’s 12-week slide, but few seemed surprised. “I could have used another month or two, and then we would have made up what it cost us in February and March,” said Bob Holman, president of Idaho reefer hauler Holman Transportation Services Inc.
The diesel increase comes at an inopportune time because Holman Transportation’s fuel costs usually triple in the summer heat, he said. That is because refrigerated carriers not only burn fuel to move freight, they must use diesel to run their refer units, which use more energy in hot weather.
Greg Brown, CEO of truckload hauler BR Williams Inc., Oxford, Ala., said cheaper prices did help carriers recover some fuel costs from the earlier price hikes. “We made most of it back, but we did not get all of it back,” Brown said. “We were at $3.15-$3.18 for a month, and now it’s back up to the $3.35,” he said on July 11.
Meanwhile, in its July 10 short-term energy outlook, EIA projected that retail diesel will average $3.79 per gallon in 2012, down 11 cents from last month’s projection. EIA cited lower crude prices in May and June for large revision. Higher prices earlier this year, peaking at $4.148 in April, inflated the average for the 12-month period.
EIA also projected stable diesel prices for the remainder of this year, ranging from $3.58 for July to $3.65 for October and November. For 2013, diesel will decline another 21 cents to an average of $3.58 per gallon, EIA said. Similarly, gasoline will average $3.49 for 2012 and $3.28 in 2013.
Transport Topics – July 2012
Obama Signs Highway Law that Draws Cautious Praise
President Obama signed a new transportation reauthorization law on July 6 that drew measured praise from truckers, shippers, road builders and others who said they were relieved a new law was enacted, even if it does not address long-term funding for the nation’s highway system.
The new reauthorization bill – names MAP-21 for “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” – was signed a week after Congress approved the measure and nearly three years after the previous transportation authorization law expired.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which drafted the highway section, said that, “with a stroke of the president’s pen, nearly … 3 million American jobs will be saved and created nationwide.”
American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves said that, while MAP-21 contains many positives, the measure does not provide “adequate” funding to improve the nation’s infrastructure network. “If America is to maintain its place as the world’s pre-eminent economy, then we must do more to maintain and improve our… roads and bridge to ensure that goods move freely and efficiently from factories to ports and from farms to markets,” Graves said in a statement of the day of the White House singing.
MAP-21 authorizes $105 billion in spending for highways and public transit over two years - $52.2 billion in fiscal 2013 and $52.95 billion in fiscal 2014. The measure replaces the 2005 transportation authorization law known as SAFETEA-LU, which expired in 2009 but was extended temporarily nine times when congress could not reach agreement on a new law to authorize funding for highway construction and public transit.
ATA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have urged Congress to raise the 24.4-cent diesel tax and the 18.4-cent gasoline tax to generate more money with which to support the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for construction and maintenance of the highway system. Revenue flowing into the fund no longer is adequate to meet the nation’s transportation needs, which means billions of dollars in general fund money will continue to supplement transportation spending.
The bill must be seen “as the start of a broader effort to address the long-term funding challenges that still threaten the federal transportation program,” said Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America. “That is why we look forward to resuming work on an even longer-term transportation measure that includes key revenue reforms as soon as Congress returns later next month.”
The law has provisions that ATA supported, such as a mandate that trucks have electronic onboard reorders and that a federal drug and alcohol clearinghouse be set up to so employers can check driver records. However, the bill does not address the truck size and weight issues ATA and the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council hoped to see. Both want heavier trucks and longer double trailers to be allowed on highways. The bill calls for a national freight program and for more safe parking for drivers, but does not provide funding for either.
Natso, a national association representing truck stops, praised the truck-parking provision in the bill called “Jason’s Law” orders the U.S. Department of Transportation to assess truck parking in each state. States that want to build parking can use some funding mechanisms that have been restricted to other uses.
Despite the bill’s failure to deal with long-term funding, it is positive because it improves “the public perception of transportation,” said Greg Cohen, president, American Highway Users Alliance. “Under the previous . . . series of bills, the public became less enchanted with transportation policymaking, and that . . . had to do with earmarking and the number of diversions” to non-highway uses, he said.
Transport Topics – July 2012
House Moves to Block Funding for Implementing EOBR Rule
The House approved a bill on June 29 that would block any federal mandate requiring the use of electronic onboard recorders on vehicles, including a regulation included in the highway funding legislation President Obama was expected to sign late last week. The measure, from Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.), was included as an amendment to an appropriations bill that would fund transportation and housing programs in fiscal year 2013. It would prohibit the Department of Transportation from using funding to develop and EOBR mandate or any other requirements that vehicles use tracking devices.
“The Department of Transportation has become obsessed with electronically monitoring vehicle movements,” Landry said in a June 27 speech proposing the amendment. Landry told his colleagues that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is currently developing an EOBR mandate. “Even the name sounds scary,” he said. “This regulation is so costly that even President Obama has singled it out as a regulation which needs more studying. He did so because it is estimated that the mandate will cost the trucking industry at least a billion dollars to implement. The truckers in my district cannot afford this cost,” Landry said.
FMCSA did not respond to a request for comment on the legislation. Shortly after voting on the appropriations bill, representatives approved highway funding legislation that had come from conference negotiations between the Senate and House. It directs DOT to write an EOBR mandate within a year after the law is signed, to take effect two years later. The president planned to sign the bill July 6.
Landry’s EOBR provision faces an uphill battle. A House-Senate conference is likely because a bill the Senate Appropriations Committee passed in April lacks the EOBR language. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees transportation, opposes Landry’s amendment, and the Senate bill includes nonbinding instructions to DOT to develop an EOBR mandate, her spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association praised the passage of the Landry amendment. “We’d like to thank the co-sponsors for their bipartisan opposition to the [EOBR] mandate,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said in a statement. “The association and its members see no reason for the costly government surveillance that such a mandate would entail.”
However, American Trucking Associations accused the House of using a backdoor method to cripple the measure. “Though opponents of honest, fair and efficient enforcement of important safety rules have used this back door to thwart the will of Congress, we fully expect that the language of the conference report – agreed to by House and Senate leaders of both parties – will be the final word on the use of electronic logs and that DOT will quickly move to require this important safety technology on all trucks.” ATA President Bill Graves said in a statement.
ATA is confident that the anti-EOBR language will not be in the final Senate bill or the conference bill that would be written if the Senate and House language differs, spokesman Sean McNally said. Lane Kidd, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association, blamed OOIDA’s lobbying for the amendment. “It was really disheartening to see OOIDA be so effective at getting some misinformation out there early,” he said. “And unless the Senate would concur on it, it’s a puff of smoke,” Kidd said. “Nothing will happen.”
During debate on the measure, Landry told his colleagues he had bipartisan support, including support from Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the top Democrat in the House’s transportation appropriations subcommittee, opposes the amendment, his spokeswoman said, declining to comment further.
Landry’s spokesman cited support from Americans for Tax Reform, which referenced the EOBR mandate’s estimated $1.1 billion cost to the trucking industry I a recent white paper, in which it encouraged lawmakers to support the amendment.
Transport Topics – July 2012