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Tag Archive for Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association

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.

The Hours of Service Rule is Successfully Rolled Back

Congress’ 11th hour Hail Mary pass to avoid a government shutdown not only kept Uncle Sam’s doors open, but also successfully rolled back the hours of service regulation for truck drivers.

As we reported last week, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine had inserted language into the government spending bill to suspend the requirement that a driver’s 34-hour restart include two early morning rest periods. It was debatable at the time whether or not the spending bill would pass, but in an effort to avoid a government shutdown, congress eked it through and actually got something done.

Industry Approves

For the past 18 months the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) have been lobbying congress hard to change the hours of service rule. They argued that it had the unintended effect of ensuring the bulk of truck drivers were on the road during the most congested times.

                                                                                                    

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In a statement ATA President and CEO Bill Graves stated that “we have known since the beginning that the federal government did not properly evaluate the potential impacts of the changes it made in July 2013. Now, thanks to the hard work of Senator Collins and many others, we have a common sense solution. Suspending these restrictions until all the proper research can be done is a reasonable step.”

Graves went on to highlight statistics that show the average drivers works a little more than 50 hours per week and only 2 percent work more than 61 hours. Additionally, he stated that “before the rule change in 2013, large truck-involved crashes fell 27 percent over ten years.”

The OOIDA similarly released a statement saying that “small business truckers know from personal experience that current restart restrictions compromise safety by forcing them onto the roads during the most congested and dangerous hours of morning traffic… our members thank Senator Collins for her commitment to safety and tenacity in fighting for sound policy.

Even trucking research firm FTR Associates released an estimate just before the bill passed saying that they believe there will be a 2 percent jump in productivity if the hours of service rule is suspended.

What Happens Now?

Once President Obama signs the spending bill, it will mean that carriers and drivers around the country will have to make immediate adjustments to stay in compliance. One thing they can expect is a large variation in levels of enforcement nationwide.

Steve Keppler, head of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance stated that “people can’t just turn on a dime when something like this takes place.” As usual, the bipolar nature of congress is creating a new kind of headache for industry.

Since state representatives enforce state law alongside federal law, the reversal of an original rule will cause widespread adoption disparities, as Keppler goes on to explain in saying “we’re likely to see inconsistency and uniformity issues for a while – that’s got implications for data quality and CSA.”

Back in November we outlined how the electronic logging device debate was heating up. Expect that topic to now come back into focus as current e-log applications programmed for 2013 rules end up flagging drivers for violation if their restart period doesn’t match the current, and soon to be suspended, hours of service rules.

Beyond potential device re calibrations, the new law will require the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) to perform a “naturalistic study” of the restart rule to properly determine what kind of real world impacts it will have on carrier operations. According to the language in the bill the study must be overseen by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) inspector general.

The law specifically states that the two rules in question will not go back into effect until the FMCSA completes the aforementioned study and can prove to congress that the rules “provide a greater net benefit for the operation, safety, health and fatigue impacts” on drivers.

Though the shifting political winds provide little permanent comfort to the industry, the results of Washington’s latest battle will have a lasting impact on the trucking industry.

The provision in this year’s spending bill will only last unto the next. Will the desire of congress remain same twelve months from now? Stay tuned.

FMCSA Asking for Input on Proposed Insurance Increase Rule

On November 26 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it is seeking input from the trucking industry regarding newly proposed rules to raise the liability insurance minimum.

The Agency’s Perspective

The current minimum of $750,000 was set in 1985 and does not “adequately cover catastrophic crashes,” the agency says. They claim that this is mainly the result of inflation and increased medical costs.

In a report published in April the FMCSA stated that if the current insurance minimum had kept up with inflation, it would be $1.62 million today. When annual increases in medical costs are factored in, the agency says that carriers would be required to have a whopping $3.18 million in liability insurance.

The agency’s study came as a result of the MAP-21 highway funding act of 2012. Couched in the legislation was a law that required the FMCSA to study whether or not the current minimum is adequate and if not, what is.

                                                                                                    

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In addition to their study, the FMCSA also points to a study by the Alliance for Driver Safety and Security that appeared to show that 42 percent of dollar settlements made by trucking companies come in above the $750,000 minimum insurance requirement. The study tracked 8,692 settlements from 2005 to 2011 and found that:

  • Carriers insured to $1 million had a 37.5 percent liability exposure.
  • Carriers with $4 million of insurance covered had 16.7 percent exposure.

Despite these reports, the industry maintains that an insurance hike is not currently necessary and points to its own analysis of the report.

The Industry Perspective

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) responded to the FMCSA report by stating that only one-tenth of all truck-involved crash claims exceed the current minimum.

In a statement the ATA said that it “has yet to see any evidence that increased insurance minimums will lead to improved highway safety” and expressed disappointment in the report. The ATA would consider a minimum rate hike if the data changes, but for now sees no reason to raise the current limit.

OOISA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer was even more candid in saying that “the agency seems to be bowing to the economic objectives of the personal injury attorneys and mega-trucking companies who have been campaigning for higher insurance requirements.”

Spencer then goes on to explain how this new rule could be “a death nail for small businesses” because “big trucking companies – who already use special exceptions in the law to avoid buying insurance on the open market – see an opportunity to drive up business costs and do away with their small-business competitors.”

Even though the agency has tried to quell fears about a hike in premiums by saying that rates have “declined slightly on average,” many remain unconvinced. Fortunately for those opposed to a rule change, the shifting political winds in Washington as an election approaches could prove to be its undoing.

The Political Equation

Dave Osiecki, the ATA’s chief of advocacy stated in a recent interview that he strongly suspects that “this is a rule that will get delayed and perhaps never even see the light of day.”

Since the White House generally slows down regulatory changes before an election, it is likely that the insurance increase could get caught in that logjam. Fortunately the new rule is more of a “pre-rule” because the FMCSA is publishing it as an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). Through this process the agency is soliciting feedback from trucking companies and other industry stakeholders.

The agency is reporting that the ANPRM will not have a number or any language that will change regulations. It appears it may be more for data gathering and industry input.

The FMCSA will accept comments on the proposed rulemaking until February 26, 2015 through their regulations.gov portal. If you want to add your voice to the discussion, click here.

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