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Parking Shortage Worsens

September 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

WASHINGTON — Concerns over the ongoing plight to park trucks safely is prompting a group of national and regional stakeholders to plan ways to improve parking availability, given a new Department of Transportation survey that found dire shortages in metropolitan areas. Deputy Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez said a National Coalition on Truck Parking would convene in a few months to develop recommendations. “We know truck parking has been a long-standing problem in our nation, and we need new approaches to fix it,” Mendez said. “Now more than ever, this country needs better planning, investment and innovation from those who have a stake in safe truck parking and transportation.” More than 75% of truck drivers and almost 66% of logistics personnel reported regularly experiencing problems with finding safe parking locations, according to the congressionally mandated report from the Federal Highway Administration, unveiled Aug. 21. “As states and private truck-stop operators reported only a few plans to expand truck parking capacity, the incorporation of truck parking analysis and planning into the state or metropolitan freight plan, if one exists, may help to galvanize stakeholders and champions and build off of freight analytical information derived for the plan to help advance opportunities for public, private or public-private investment,” the report said. The report, titled Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey, and the formation of the coalition stem from the 2009 murder of Jason Rivenburg. The New York driver was killed during a robbery while parked at an abandoned South Carolina gas station. His widow, Hope Rivenburg, has advocated for federal rules meant to ensure safe parking.

Members of the new coalition include American Trucking Associations, FHWA, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Natso and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. Trucking executives say a lack of parking for truck drivers is among the most pressing challenges confronting the industry because difficulties in finding places to park pose problems for truck drivers looking for safe stops to rest. “Real action includes better information for professional drivers, and it requires real money, making truck parking another reason our leaders in Washington must pass a robust, long-term highway bill and for the states to dedicate the resources we need to this critical, yet too often overlooked, necessity,” said Dave Osiecki, ATA’s chief of national advocacy. FHWA’s survey said drivers, state motor carrier safety officials and state DOTs cited parking problems in every state. The report indicated that shortages are primarily evident during nighttime hours, from the early evening into late morning. The shortages also occur mostly on weekdays throughout the year, although certain weekends present challenges. “State departments of transportation recognize that the issue of adequate parking for commercial truck drivers is a serious safety concern,” AASHTO Executive Director Bud Wright said. Natso, which represents truck-stop operators, praised DOT’s efforts in establishing a coalition focused on the issue but noted the report did not expand on how trucking fleets work to ensure drivers and trucks have safe, legal places to park. In the DOT report, truck-stop groups indicated there is a need for additional spaces. Very few of them, however, responded that there were actual plans to increase the facilities to accommodate more truck parking. The report highlights regions and corridors such as the Chicago region and the Interstate 95 corridor in the Northeast with a significant shortage of truck parking, as well as regions with strong showings of unofficial or illegal parking along shoulders and ramps, on local streets and in commercial areas.

Matt Hart, executive director of the Illinois Trucking Association, told Transport Topics that consistent parking options throughout the Chicago region and the Midwest are hard to find for many truckers — a well-known fact among drivers. “Our members’ hope is that [the coalition] finds a way to improve safety for truck parking — safety for the truck drivers and safety for the motoring public that we share the road with. As long as we keep safety as our top priority, I think we’ll be fine,” Hart said. Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, said she hopes the coalition stops studying the issue and starts proposing reforms that would provide safe parking. “We have a shortage of truck parking. No surprise. We have a couple of truck stops, by no means the size of something that you would find in the Midwest,” Toth told TT. “We already know we have a shortage of over a thousand parking spaces any given night of the week. So where do we put those guys?”

Read more at: http://www.ttnews.com/articles/petemplate.aspx?storyid=39300&page=3

© Transport Topics, American Trucking Associations Inc.

Kenworth Partners With Fastport, TCA on Recruitment of Military Veterans

September 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

KIRKLAND, Wash. — Kenworth Trucks Co. said it is partnering with Fastport and the Truckload Carriers Association in a bid to ramp up efforts to attract more military veterans to the trucking industry. As part of their agreement, Kenworth is showing its T680 model at local job fairs around the United States targeting veterans transitioning back to civilian life. Additionally, the company announced it will give away a 2016 T680 to the winner of “America’s Top Veteran Rookie Driver,” a competition being developed by TCA. “There are great driving and ultimately career opportunities in trucking, and we wanted to lend our support to the effort,” said Jason Skoog, Kenworth’s assistant general manager for sales and marketing. “The comfort and amenities in today’s truck is a stark difference from just five years ago, and we want to show our military veterans that driving a truck can be a comfortable and attractive occupation,” Skoog said. Kenworth said it recently participated in a trucking-focused job fair at Fort Benning, Georgia, with 27 employees and more than 1,000 available driving positions. The event was created by Fastport, which oversees the search engine JobMaps to make it easier to connect fleets with qualified local applicants. The tool displays a picture of jobs that best match drivers’ experience and passes right through their hometowns. CEO Bill McLennan said in a statement that about 15,000 veterans are transitioning into civilian life each month, and they are “hard-wired for success in trucking.” Preston Feight, Kenworth’s general manager, said he hopes showcasing the T680 at these job fairs will lead to newly hired veterans seeking to drive his company’s trucks. Regardless, he said the partnership is more than to gain exposure, it is “the right thing to do” to help veterans and the trucking industry.

Feight said this year was shaping up to be strong for equipment suppliers and fleets, but the shortage of qualified drivers “is a bit of a throttle on the industry.” He also said he was hopeful efforts to attract veterans will extend to technicians, another profession hampered by an employee shortage that is projected to worsen. Feight said becoming a technician can provide an outstanding living and one that allows workers to control their lives by obtaining employment almost anywhere they want to call home. “This should be viewed as an elite job, not a lesser job,” he said. Though he could not provide exact data, Feight suggested the technician shortage extended to his dealers. “Rarely do I talk to a dealership owner who has everyone he needs and turns people away,” he said. Recruitment and hiring of veterans for trucking is a key issue scheduled for American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition next month in Philadelphia. During the conference, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, is due to discuss leadership and the benefits veterans can bring to trucking companies.

Read more at: http://www.ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=39320&page=2

© Transport Topics, American Trucking Associations Inc.

Transportation Activity ‘Mostly Positive’ as Economy Continues Expansion, Fed Says

September 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The overall economy continued to expand across most sectors and regions of the country from July to mid-August, and reports on transportation activity were mixed but mostly positive overall, the Federal Reserve said. Trucking activity was stable in the Richmond district but declined in the Atlanta district, with the Dallas district reporting only slight growth in transportation, the Fed said in its Beige Book report released Sept. 2. The survey is based on reports gathered by regional Fed banks to give an anecdotal picture of the economy. Shipments in the Richmond area strengthened in the second half of August, according to one executive with a trucking firm in that district. The report said that an electronic logging mandate scheduled to be issued this month “is expected to adversely affect smaller trucking firms and bring additional business to the larger firms that already are in compliance. Shippers have notified trucking executives that demand is expected to be high through the end of the calendar year.” The Cleveland district reported contraction in freight volume, but the Minneapolis district noted robust port activity. Trucking contacts in the Atlanta region cited slight decreases in overall tonnage but said tonnage was up notably year-over-year. Reports indicated that freight volume contracted slightly in the Cleveland area, but growth was seen in intermodal transportation, electronics and chemicals. Volume in the Cleveland area is expected to grow moderately along seasonal trends in the next few months, according to the Fed. Boston, San Francisco and Dallas districts specifically referenced the China slowdown as a source of weaker demand for some products, including chemicals, wood products and high-tech goods. The word “China” or “Chinese” was mentioned 11 times. It was not mentioned in July’s report, Bloomberg News reported. The Fed releases its Beige Book report eight times a year. The report, which covered July 3-Aug. 24, was prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. By Transport Topics

Read more at: http://www.ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=39341&t=Transportation-Activity-‘Mostly-Positive-as-Economy-Continues-Expansion-Fed-Says

© Transport Topics, American Trucking Associations Inc.

FMCSA posts guidance for drivers applying for hearing exemption

August 31, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has posted new guidance documents to help commercial drivers apply for an exemption from the hearing standard.

The guidance includes a list of the information that must be sent to the agency to get an exemption from the federal hearing standard in 49 CFR Sec. 391.41(b)(11).

The FMCSA’s hearing standard — adopted in 1970 — prohibits drivers who cannot pass the hearing requirement from operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. Drivers must be able to hear a whispered voice at five feet or have an average hearing loss of no more than 40 decibels in their better ear.

The FMCSA first started granting exemptions from the hearing standard in early 2013 and has since approved numerous applications.

To apply for an exemption from the hearing standard, the FMCSA says drivers should submit a list of six items, including a copy of the driver’s license, a “Release of Medical Information” form, and a three-year driving record from the state.

The agency is authorized to grant exemptions for up to two years if it determines that public safety will not be harmed. The agency must first evaluate each driver’s application, publish it and take public comments, and then decide whether to grant or deny the request.

The new guidance documents and release form can be viewed online at http://1.usa.gov/1J3FDZ3.

Also on the FMCSA’s website are documents to apply for exemptions from the diabetes and vision standards.

This article was written by Daren Hansen of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

Electronic logging rule still on track for September

August 24, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A long-awaited rule governing electronic logging devices (ELDs) for commercial drivers remains on track for publication in late September, according to the latest projection from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The rule has been undergoing review by the White House since July 28, 2015, and is expected to be published by September 30, 2015, the FMCSA says. Approval from the Obama administration is the last step before the final ELD rule can be put into effect.

Other significant rules now undergoing White House review include:
•A rule that would require the installation of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks, with publication expected around August 20, 2015; and
•A rule that would prohibit motor carriers, shippers, receivers, and others from forcing drivers to violate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations or Hazardous Materials Regulations, with publication slated for September 25, 2015.

The ELD rule will require most interstate commercial truck and bus drivers to begin using electronic recorders to track their hours of work, affecting more than 3 million drivers. Most drivers who currently complete paper logs will need to switch to ELDs within two years after the rule’s effective date, although exceptions will likely be granted for certain short-haul and intermittent drivers.

Drivers who currently use a compliant electronic logging system are expected to have four years to make sure their devices comply with the new ELD standards.

CDL Clearinghouse

The FMCSA has delayed its projected publication date for another rule, one that would create a central database of commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who have tested positive or refused a mandatory drug or alcohol test.

The agency had expected to publish the rule by mid-December 2015, but is now projecting a publication date of January 20, 2016.

The rule will eventually require employers of CDL holders and service agents to report positive and refusal test results into the database, and would require prospective employers to check the database before hiring a CDL driver.

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