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Entry-Level Driver Training Rule For New Truck Drivers

The Department of Transportation (DOT) released the final rule on the Entry-Level Driver Training rule. The rule essentially establishes a core curriculum that new truck drivers will be required to learn. They will also be required to go through 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training. Finally, the rule outlines a minimum level of qualification for instructors, tests, vehicles and more. All this information would be used to create a truck driving trainer registry.

While some argue this is an unnecessary measure, something like this has been in the works for a long time, and industry players from all sides have waded in on the matter. Let’s dig a little deeper.

The Details

The proposed rule is set to thoroughly outline how classroom and practical training should go.

New truck drivers would be required to learn:

  • The basics on driving the truck
  • Operating the controls
  • Reading the instruments
  • Pre- and post-trip inspections
  • How to safely back into a dock
  • Hours-of-service regulations

The training will also require a minimum of 10 hours driving on a range and either 10 hours on public roads or 10 trips at 50 minutes a piece, again, on public roads.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has estimated that the 10-year cost of the rule will ring in at just a little over $5.5 billion. This cost considers carrier, driver, trainer and state agency costs.

The Costs

Digging deeper into the estimated costs, it looks as though the bulk of the program costs will be carried by the truck drivers themselves. By 2020 these costs are estimated to ring in at around $27 million dollars. By 2029? Almost $30 million.

Still, the FMCSA defends these numbers by saying that the rules perceived benefits will outweigh the high price tag, though they do admit some of those benefits are indirect. As an example, they cite that better training will lead to safer, more efficient driving techniques. This will result in a reduction in fuel consumption and lower environmental costs.

They point to trained truck drivers saving the industry $75 million in fuel costs by 2020 and almost $180 million by 2029. Lower maintenance and repair costs could bring in almost $45 million by 2020 and more than double that by 2029. Indirect benefits could include less severe crashes.

Voices at the Table

Fortunately, the FMCSA underwent a thorough negotiation session with the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). They also consulted major training school and trucking safety advocacy groups. Finally, they took public comment before submitting their text to the Office on Management and Budget.

The fact is, the DOT has been working on something like this for over 30 years. They began the process in 1985, as a part of the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

The question now is how the final rule will impact trucking’s bottom line. From the truck driver to the motor carrier and state level, what kind of impact will this have on trucking operations? With the final rule set to land any day now, you can bet we’ll be back here telling you all about it here at the QuickTSI blog.

Potential Reactions to the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Phase 2 Rules

Earlier this month the White House, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration put out their final “Phase 2” rules for greenhouse gas/fuel economy for medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles.

The rules are set to cover all semi-trucks, vans and large pickup trucks. They will also govern buses and work trucks manufactured during the model years 2021 – 2027. Once the standards have been completely phased in, future tractor-trailer combinations will be required to knock a full quarter percent off of their carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption when compared to an equivalent vehicle with a 2018 manufacturing date.

What it Covers

When it comes to what kind of equipment you buy and how that equipment will function when getting the job done, these rules will apply. While there were some negative early reactions, most of the response has been positive. The fact is, fuel economy and carbon emissions are a reality, and the trucking industry is facing them head on.

With the United States facing some serious challenges in greenhouse gas reduction, manufacturers and government agencies will need to partner up to develop innovative new solutions to fuel economy and emissions problems.

For many, building on existing industry leadership will be crucial in this endeavor. Many major manufacturers are already showing support for regulations designed to lower greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption.

What many wanted to see in the new rule was a collaborative effort. They expected the final rule to provide clear, long-term targets that apply not just to the engine, but to the entire vehicle itself. They also wanted the rule to give industry players enough time to adapt and choose how to achieve the reductions in a way that doesn’t harm their business.

Potential Engineering Challenges

There are also engineering feats to consider. Although many are proud of their achievements, manufacturers understand that it will take a serious effort, backed up with a lot of brain power, to achieve a 25% reduction in both emissions and fuel consumption.

Considering big players like Cummins and Daimler have already proven their capability in meeting Phase 1 efforts, getting to Phase 2 shouldn’t be extraordinarily difficult. With industry players getting to work with the EPA and NHTSA during the draft review process, the final rule is able to better clarify how it impacts the needs of both motor carriers and their customers.

Trailer makers are, of course, definitely a concerned participant in the conversation, and the final ruling does include trailers. Some trailer manufacturers have called the final eco2 targets “more stringent,” but are vowing to find ways to comply.

One manufacturer, Great Dane Trailers, has reported working on some of the lightest reefer and flatbeds on the market. While they expect to see a jump in initial acquisition costs, they do note that their customers will see improvements in their cost of ownership over the long-term.

What Does the ATA Say?

Unsurprisingly, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) quickly came out with an extensive statement evaluating the GHG proposals. According to their statement, they “developed and adopted a set of 15 guiding principles.” These guiding principles would serve as parameters for inclusion once the rule was finalized.

They went on to express pleasure that their concerns were heard and included in the final rule. A few things they recommended included:

  • Adequate lead time
  • Technology development markers
  • National harmonization of standards
  • Manufacturer flexibility

In the end, the ATA reports that they will continue to work with the EPA and NHTSA, though they did highlight transparency and accommodation to industry-sensitive concerns as sticking points. As the GHG Phase 2 rule is rolled out, we’ll see how this story evolves over time.

The fact is, improved fuel economy is a goal that shouldn’t be hard for stakeholders to unite around. While the new targets may represent a challenge to some in the industry, most are focused on meeting their goals in a way that has a minimal impact on fleets or other industry participants.

How Can Trucking Companies Prevent Tire Violations

Well, the news is in, RoadCheck 2016 has officially passed. In case you don’t know, RoadCheck is a program put on by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance every year for the past 29 years.

During the two-day period, almost 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial, territorial and federal inspectors across all of North America perform inspections on large truck and busses. Each year the group puts particular emphasis on a particular aspect of the check. This year, they focused heavily on tires. Were you prepared?

They measured tire tread depth, tire pressure, overall condition and a visual inspection to ensure items were not lodged between dual tires. Things like bulges and cuts received particular attention. Fortunately, it’s easy for you to avoid tire-condition violations. If you know what to look for, they are usually pretty easy to spot.

What to Look For

The fact is, there are more than a dozen tire-related violations contained within the CVSA’s Out-of-Service handbook, and you could be hit for any number of them. At least a half dozen finds themselves at the end of an inspector’s pen with predictable regularity.

One such example is those related to tread. They include:

  • Casing separation
  • Extremely worn tread
  • Visible cords or belts
  • Tread depth below the minimum standard
  • Air leaks
  • Sidewall damage
  • Bulges
  • Cuts
  • Deformities

While tire inflation used to be an issue, it is no longer. The American Trucking Associations requested the FMCSA remove the rule from the book, so they did. A victory, in this case.

The main reason for this is that coming up with a definition of “underinflated” that would work across the board for all applications, truck models and types, would be incredibly difficult to do. Because of how complex the issue was, the rule was stricken from the book.

A flat tire could cause you problems, however. If the tire has separated from the wheel, or is shredded at all, of course it will be considered flat.

If a tire appears soft, it could still be measured. In this case use the simple formula of 50 percent of what is printed on the sidewall of the tire. If the tire is measured to 120 psi, then anything below 60 would be considered flat and could be placed out-of-service.

Other Considerations

For 2016, a new violation was added, perhaps to account for the one that was removed. Now you must watch for items lodged between a dual set of tires. This includes anything from rocks to road debris. If the object is in direct contact with your tire sidewalls, it would be considered a violation in the rulebook.

While some violations only result in fines, others can put you or your vehicle out of service. No matter how you look at it, you could be out of pocket for a while you wait for the vehicle to be serviced. Never mind the few CSA points you’ll get out of the deal.

Whether you were caught in the RoadCheck, or whether you are simply running your loads out on the road, there are quick and simple ways you can ensure your tires are in good working order. First, check out this good, common-sense list compiled by the CVSA to help you ensure your equipment is in good working order.

Other than that, always make sure you are looking for unusual wear patterns. Anything from feathering to cupping should warrant the attention of one of your fleet technicians.

Also make sure you are staying on top of your wheel alignments. A correctly aligned truck is not only good for your tires, but it can have a measurable impact on fuel consumption.

Finally, ensure you aren’t running mismatched tires. Incorrect matching diameters can create problems like scrubbing patterns for the smaller tire.

In the end, make sure you are always keeping a close eye on your tires. You don’t need a RoadCheck to ensure you are staying safe on the road.

Truck Driver – Don’t Part With Your Truck Wheels

While it may seem like keeping your wheels on is an easy matter, you’d be surprised. Although manufacturers regularly issue manuals, procedures and bulletins regarding wheel separation, somehow wheels manage to separate from rigs at a rate of two or three per day every day across the country.

In order to ensure your tractor and wheels don’t have a messy divorce, you’ve got to make sure you are taking the right steps. Today we are going to dive into four different factors in ensuring you don’t become a victim of wheel separation.

Bearings

There are a number of different wheel bearing and hub systems on the market today. Because of the variety of design, it is imperative that fleet technicians know what procedures to use when working on the bearing in question. The American Trucking Associations Recommended Practices Manual outlines this information in the RP618A section.

In the manual, it discusses the need to use dial indicators to verify bearing adjustment. Even so, using dial indicators is often cited as left out, despite being a critical part of the process. Still, some would say even getting technicians to use torque wrenches represented a huge step. Getting them to consistently use dial indicators will also take time.

Fleet technicians must also be on the lookout for incorrectly installed or LMS-type systems. If the technician doesn’t know the type of system he or she is working with, the standard procedure of torqueing down and then backing off might damage the spacer and bearings. Not all setups are conventional single- or double-nut systems.

Wheel and Hub

One of the big areas where fleet technicians miss steps is in the area of wheel and hub preparation. Always remember to ensure the contact surfaces between the hub and inner and outer wheels is completely free of any debris, including dirt, rust and grease.

When you allow foreign material to build up on the wheel-end mounting surfaces, you cause there to be extra thickness in the joint itself. This can lead to decreased tension in the bolt, which in turn can lead to a loss of clamping force. When this happens you could be looking at potential nut and/or wheel loss.

Ensure you rigorously clean all contact surfaces with a wire brush before you set about mounting the wheel. Wheel studs should also be cleaned with a wire brush. You want to make sure the thread grooves are free of rust or any other foreign material that might impact the torque on the nut.

Torque Fastening

If you live by one principle, let it be this: Tighter is not better. While many a fleet technician will try their best to achieve maximum clamping force, usually by applying force in excess of 500 ft-lbs. of torque, they are failing to take the consequences of such action into account.

Too much pressure on a wheel stud could cause it to stretch past its yielding point. If this happens, the joint will actually exhibit less clamping force. Avoid this by using a calibrated torqueing device to bring them up to their optimal torque setting. Also avoid impact guns.

Above all, remember that a stud stretches like a spring, so if you don’t apply the right amount of torque, you won’t get the proper clamp load. As it stands, over-torqueing is one of the most common mistakes made by fleet technicians.

Constant Inspections

The fact is this: Both fleet technicians and truck drivers have a role to play in keeping a watchful eye for potential problems. One example of this would be lubricant leaking from an inner wheel seal. Since it leaves oily streaks on the inside of the tire tube, this problem can be easily spotted.

Other things to look out for are abnormal tire wear, evidence of lubrication leaking or contamination, hubcap window discoloration and gasket striation.

Although fastener tightness can’t be verified without special tools, truck drivers can check for rivulets of rust appearing around the wheel stud. Nut position indicators are also available and can show the position of a nut compared to its neighbor. Movement indicates a potential problem.

Above all, one must always be on the lookout for these systems to avoid wheel separation. The last thing you want as you charge down the highway with a full load is for one of your wheels to fly off.

Welcome To The Trucking Industry

Here at QuickTSI, we want to take a long term look at the basics of the trucking industry, how it is regulated, what sort of qualifications you must meet, and the various terms that you must understand if you want to get into the industry. This is going to be a long term project and we are going to bring it to you right here.

We are going to provide you with a wealth of information, all laid out in a blog series; short training snippets that are easy to digest and quick reads. As we go through every aspect of the trucking industry, you will learn everything you need to know about it. We will lay it out in understandable, actionable terms.

Are you ready? Here we go.

What is Trucking?

We all know one thing: Without trucking, commerce wouldn’t exist. Trucks deliver everything, from raw materials to completed products. They haul freight to and from warehouses, retailers and even your home. Whether it is crude oil or olive oil, chances are at some point in time it is moved on a truck or in a trailer.

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), in 2013 9.7 billion tons of freight was transported by a truck. It’s a whopping number, and it represents over two-thirds of shipped domestic tonnage.

And it’s not only shipping that trucking has a major impact on. It’s also employment. In 2012, seven million people worked in jobs relating to the trucking industry. Over three million of them were employed as truck drivers. So when you ask what trucking is, we can tell you. It’s the heartbeat of commerce.

Types of Trucking

There are two main types of trucking. Motor carriers can run operations in interstate commerce, intrastate commerce, or both. While it may seem trivial, in light of specific compliance regulations, it is important to understand what each term means.

Interstate Commerce: If you are driving freight from state-to-state, from overseas, or across U.S. borders in a commercial motor vehicle, you are hauling interstate commerce. The same applies if you are hauling interstate cargo within a state.

Intrastate Commerce: If you are driving freight in a commercial motor vehicle and it never crosses state lines, you are participating in intrastate commerce. The cargo’s trip must begin and end within the same state and cannot cross a state line in any form, whether it be by truck, rail, ship or air.

No matter what type of trucking you embark on, you have to understand that this is a highly regulated industry. It is also important to remember that different states regulate their industries differently, so you need to know a state’s specific regulations before operating within its borders.

Rules and Regulations

The trucking industry is governed by governmental regulation. This is intended to ensure safety and create an umbrella for fleets to work under – where regulation is concerned. So if you want to be a professional truck driver or operations, you need to know how your industry is regulated.

The trucking Industry is overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The FMCSA issues and enforces most of the regulations that interstate fleets and truck drivers must follow. These regulations are called Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).

The FMCSRs were created to establish basic safety rules and measureable standards for fleets, truck drivers, or employers of motor drivers. The FMCSRs cover everything from driver qualifications and disqualifications, how long they are on the road, the commercial driver’s license (CDL) standards, how drug and alcohol testing is carried out, and how vehicles are inspected and what type of condition they should be in.

Join us next time when we finish out this section with an explanation of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA). Then we will get into the details of CDL licensing. Are you ready for trucking? Well then join us in our next installment, because trucking is ready for you.

About QuickTSI

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