Questions and answers on the impact of the suspension of the HOS restart provision approved by Congress (as supplied by American Trucking Associations):
On Dec. 13, Congress passed the fiscal year 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill, providing funding for the vast majority of the federal government, including the Department of Transportation, for the current fiscal year. The President signed the bill into law Dec. 16. Officially titled the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, the bill is over 1,700 pages long and has a host of detailed spending and policy-related provisions affecting many industries.
The most important trucking-related provision is language that provides relief from the two new restrictions of the hours-of-service restart rule. Specifically, the legislation suspends the requirement that all qualifying restarts contain two consecutive periods of time between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., and that it can only be used once every 168 hours (or seven days). In other words, the restart rule reverts back to the simple 34-hour restart in effect from 2003 to June 2013.
Below are some frequently asked questions to help understand the impact of this action.
1. What does the Congressional language actually say, and what does it mean?
The legislation says:
“Section 133 temporarily suspends enforcement of the hours-of-service regulation related to the restart provisions that went into effect on July 1, 2013 and directs the Secretary to conduct a study of the operational, safety, health and fatigue aspects of the restart provisions in effect before and after July 1, 2013. The Inspector General is directed to review the study plan and report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations whether it meets the requirements under this provision."
Essentially, this law eliminates, temporarily, the two new restrictions on the use of the 34-hour restart, namely the 1-5 a.m. provision and the 168-hour rule. Drivers will be permitted to restart their weekly hours by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty, regardless of whether or not it includes two periods of time between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. A driver can also utilize the restart more than one time per week if necessary.
2. When is the new 34-hour restart effective?
The 34-hour restart rule reverted to its pre-July 1, 2013 version on Dec. 16 when the President signed the bill into law.
3. How long will this change last?
Because the language resides in an annual spending bill, its terms expire at the end of FY2015, which is Sept. 30, 2015. It’s important to note that the legislation also directs the Department of Transportation to conduct a study comparing the effectiveness of the 34-hour restart rules in place before July 1, 2013 with those that took effect after. During 2015, ATA will continue to pursue strategies in an effort to keep the simple 34-hour restart rule in place for a longer period of time.
4. Does the legislation include any other changes to the hours-of-service rules?
No, all other hours-of-service rules, including the 30-minute rest break provision, remain unchanged and must be complied with.
5. If our trucks have ELDs, will we be able to use the simple 34-hour restart immediately?
Carriers are encouraged to work with their ELD suppliers to determine what software updates are necessary to comply with this legislatively directed rule change. A short transition period may be necessary, and ATA encourages fleets to be patient as ELD suppliers will need some time to write and deploy the software updates.
6. Will enforcement officials know about this change?
Soon after the law is signed, ATA fully expects the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to issue enforcement memos describing the changes and their impact to law enforcement personnel. The enforcement memos/guidance will be distributed by ATA to its members as they become available. Motor carriers may experience minor disruptions at roadside as law enforcement adapt to the changes. If a driver experiences a problem at roadside, you should contact head of the commercial vehicle safety program in that state’s lead MCSAP agency.
While Google Inc. plans to someday unleash driverless cars on public streets, the logistics industry will probably be one of the first training grounds for such automated vehicles.
Shipping companies will probably adopt the technology faster than other industries as moving cargo in non-public areas like storage facilities and warehouses offers a way to test such devices with less risk to human life, according to a study published by DHL, the freight and express arm of Deutsche Post AG. Eventually vehicles might bring packages to a pick-up station where a consumer could find them, the shipper said.
DHL plans to “maintain pole position in the world of self-driving vehicles,” wrote Matthias Heutger and Markus Kueckelhaus, the authors of the study. “The question is no longer ‘if’ but rather ‘when’ autonomous vehicles will drive onto our streets and highways.”
A boom in electronic commerce is making it harder for delivery companies from DHL to UPS Inc. to satisfy consumers who expect first-attempt delivery even though they’re not home during daytime hours.
With online retailers including Amazon.com Inc. and Google developing drones to push into the delivery business, companies are contemplating new solutions, such as making deliveries to the trunk of a customer’s parked car.
Warehouses have been using robots and automated pallet movers for decades, however, the systems typically stop when they encounter obstacles to ensure safety, the study said. The robots will in the future deploy vision-guidance technologies including depth cameras and lasers to improve efficiency, and include more steps of the shipping process.
Robots will also increasingly be used outdoors at shipyards, ports and airports to automatize movement of pallets and swap containers, the study said.
On roads, existing driver assistance systems will be enhanced to ensure vehicles stay in their lanes, obey speed limits and eventually automate functions like overtaking and leaving a highway, while semi-automatic trucks will develop from being able to drive parts of a journey themselves before driverless trucks become reality, the study said.
Automation will improve road safety and fuel efficiency and increase the economics of the logistics chain, the study said.
Komatsu Ltd. is already developing driverless dump trucks and Caterpillar Inc. deploys driverless hauling vehicles to improve productivity in mines for BHP Billiton Plc. Further out, the DHL study envisaged more “futuristic” solutions such as self-driving parcels that may one day arrive through small gates in consumers’ doors, similar to a cat flap.
Deutsche Post started a pilot project of sending urgent goods to the island of Juist in Germany’s Wadden Sea, beating Amazon and Google to offer the first scheduled parcel delivery service with drones this year. The company has said it will take time before such services become a widespread possibility.
Tom Petri (R-Wis.), the outgoing chairman of the subcommittee on highways, said he will become a co-sponsor of a bill that would increase federal fuel taxes to support the nation’s transportation system.
The measure would gradually raise the 18.4-cent gasoline tax to 33.3 cents a gallon starting in 2016 and the 24.4-cent diesel tax to 39.3 cents. The levies would be kept in place until 2025.
Click here to read more at Transport Topics.
Workers at a FedEx Freight terminal in Charlotte, North Carolina, voted to be represented by the Teamsters union, while Teamsters withdrew a petition for an election at FedEx Freight’s terminal in South Newark, New Jersey.
“The union would only take this step if it anticipated losing the election,” FedEx Freight said of the New Jersey vote withdrawal.
FedEx Freight said it may appeal the Nov. 19 Charlotte vote. The Teamsters said that vote affects 222 drivers at the terminal. Neither the company nor the union disclosed the vote tally.
“No other drivers at our more than 360 service centers are impacted by this vote,” FedEx Freight said in a statement. “It remains business as usual at FedEx Freight. and our nationwide network won’t miss a beat.”
Over the past two months of stepped-up Teamsters organizing activity, Con-way and FedEx have won some contests, and the union has prevailed in other representation votes.
FedEx Freight is part of FedEx Corp., which ranks No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.
November 20, 2014: The 222 city and road drivers at the big Charlotte terminal voted Yes for the Teamsters Union in an NLRB election. It’s the largest union win at FedEx Freight to date, and brings the number of Teamster-represented FedEx Freight workers to about 400.
Congratulations to the FedEx Freight brothers and sisters, and to Local 71.
The IBT press release on the vote is here.
Record-breaking snowfall and winds have stranded truckers and other travelers on a 132-mile stretch of the New York State Thruway that’s been shut down for nearly two days.
“It’s bad; it’s definitely an emergency situation out there,” said Kendra Hems, president of the New York State Motor Truck Association.
“I don’t know what the exact number is, but they have vehicles that are basically buried, both cars and trucks,” Hems said. “And it’s not just the Thruway. It’s other roads in the area.”
Cars and trucks are stranded on shoulders, in highway lanes and on access and exit ramps, she said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency, and the National Guard is helping clear snow and rescue stranded motorists.
“They’re running against time, though, because there’s another storm system coming through that could dump another 2 to 3 inches of snow,” Hems said.
Tandem trucks were ordered off at about 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, and within two hours, the stretch of the highway running east-west through Buffalo into Pennsylvania was closed, she added.
Right now, the most important task is to rescue stranded motorists and get vehicles off the roads so they can be reopened, Hems said.
“I think their decision to shut the road was made in a fairly timely fashion based on the information they were given,” she added. “I think where the questions are going to be and what needs to be discussed to hopefully prevent this in the future is ‘OK, well, now you’ve shut the road down, what do we do about getting everybody off it and where do you put everybody that’s trying to get on it?’ ”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not expect to publish its final rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices for carriers until Sept. 30, 2015, the agency said in its November significant rulemakings report.
The rule would not be effective until two years after it is finalized.
Other regulatory projections affecting truckers:
• The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it will send its heavy-duty truck speed-limiters proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget next month, and publish the rule March 16, 2015.
• FMCSA plans to send its carrier safety fitness determination rule to OMB in late December and publish its proposed rule April 2, 2015. The rule would replace the current SafeStat system using Compliance, Safety, Accountability data to rate carriers as satisfactory, conditional or unsatisfactory.
• FMCSA left unchanged its plan to publish an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking this month that will explore whether to raise the current $750,000 insurance minimum for carriers. The ANPRM will seek comments from carriers to assist the agency in deciding whether to move forward with a proposed rule.
• FMCSA expects to issue its final drug and alcohol clearinghouse rule Oct. 30, 2015, and a final rule prohibiting the coercion of drivers by carriers and brokers on Sept. 10, 2015.
We're finishing up this week SCDigest's regularly quarterly review of the results and comments from leading transportation carriers by mode, this week for the less-than-truckload carriers, as the last of them finished up their Q3 2014 earnings reports in the last few weeks.
Last week, we covered the US rail carriers (see Rail Carriers Enjoy Mostly Blow Out Q3 on Strong Volume Growth) and the week before the truckload sector (see Q3 2014 Truckload Carrier Review and Comment).
Click here to read more.
More than 100 groups that are concerned about the direction of newly contentious West Coast port contract talks asked President Obama to name a federal mediator to foster a settlement.
“While the parties to the negotiation stated earlier this year that they would continue operations throughout the negotiations, we have seen crisis levels of congestion at the ports since September,” said the letter signed by American Trucking Associations, the National Retail Federation and the Transportation Intermediaries Association. “Both parties recently issued press releases accusing each other of reneging on this commitment.”
Earlier this week, the Pacific Maritime Association, the management negotiators representing ocean carriers and terminal operators, claimed the International Longshore & Warehouse Union orchestrated slowdowns in Pacific Northwest ports. After the union denied that was the first public outburst since talks began, PMA said similar disruptions began in Los Angeles and Long Beach, the largest U.S. ports.
“The sudden change in tone is alarming and suggests that a full shutdown of every West Coast port may be imminent,” said the letter, also signed by the Retail Industry Leaders Association and groups representing importers of goods including shoes and wood products. “The impact this would have on jobs, downstream consumers, and the business operations of exporters, importers, retailers, transportation providers, manufacturers and other stakeholders would be catastrophic.”
There was no immediate comment from the White House.
The six-year port contract expired July 1. Talks began six months ago. The groups expressed concern that there could be a repetition of a 2002 lockout, which for 10 days paralyzed freight transport in the world’s largest consumer market.
Third quarter net income for Fort Smith-based ArcBest was $19.618 million, well ahead of the $13.982 million in the same quarter of 2013, and thanks in large part to an almost 10% gain in ABF Freight revenue.
Per share earnings of 72 cents missed the consensus estimate of 75 cents. Excluding a one-time charge for a pension settlement, the per share earnings were 74 cents.
Click here to read more at The City Wire.