FMCSA’s Proposed Hours-of-Service Rule Changes Are Available At Last

On August 14th, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) finally released the proposal to make changes to its hours-of-service rules. There are five main changes including wiggle room to split up off-duty time.

These proposed changes are meant to make truck drivers’ jobs better by revising five key elements of current HOS rules:

  • Increase safety and flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by tying the break requirement to eight hours of driving time without an interruption of at least 30 minutes, and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty status

  • Modify the sleeper berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off-duty into two periods: One period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off-duty or in the sleeper berth (neither period would count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window)

  • Allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than three hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift

  • Modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted

  • Change the shorthaul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles

Though none of the proposed HOS rule changes will increase the maximum time a driver is allowed to spend driving, they will allow for more flexibility. The driver will be able to change the number of hours driven or hours worked during a given work shift. These new flexibilities will allow drivers to change the times they drive and work to account for things like weather, or traffic.

“This proposed rule seeks to enhance safety by giving America’s commercial drivers more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving time,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez said the proposed changes represent a, “commonsense approach to crafting hours-of-service regulations that are more flexible for truck drivers and promote safety for all who share the road.” He also said the changes will help drivers. “They need some level of flexibility that allows them to work around. Many of them felt they were racing the clock with those AOBRDs or ELDs. We hope that providing this type of flexibility puts a little more power back in the hands of drivers and carriers to make smart decisions with regard to safety and the realities of what they’re facing on the roadways.”

 

The public comment period is open for 45 days and can be accessed by CLICKING HERE.

What You Can Expect with New Entry-Level Driver Training Regulations

After the better part of a decade, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is raising the professional standards for new drivers with a new training requirements.

The Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) should actually help the industry attract and hold more quality drivers and help off-set the current driver shortage.

Starting February 7, 2020, if you are interested in becoming a truck driver, you need to complete a training program before you can get a Class A or Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). This training requires aspiring drivers to complete a curriculum of basic working knowledge and behind-the-wheel (BTW) instruction with one of the FMCSA’s registered training providers.

What are the new ELDT rules?

  • Minimum training requirements will now be set at the federal level

  • Training providers must record and report hours spent behind the wheel to the Department of Transportation

  • Training providers are required to register and self-certify students

  • Instructors are now required to have a minimum two years of driving experience, a clean MVR, and a medical certification for classroom, both on the road and private range instruction

  • Curriculum consisting of 31 theory course topics and 19 BTW skills will be tested at the state Department of Motor Vehicles

Any organization that provides ELDT that meets state’s requirements can be a training provider. However, after February 7, 2020, the new Training Provider Registry (TPR) will require CDL training providers to apply in order to join the registry.

What are the costs for ELDT programs?

ELDT programs can cost up to $10,000, but because of the value of hiring a trained driver, there are companies that offer students reimbursement plans. In fact, a student could receive up to $300 per month towards the cost of tuition. There are no contractual agreements and the student receives the reimbursement money as long as they drive for the company.

What are the risks for carriers with ELDT?

Unfortunately, a lot of logistics companies are seeing their drivers quit just months after completing their ELDT. When this happens, the company is now down an employee and the thousands of dollars that paid for their training. This is a major financial risk and is the reason why more companies are opting out of paying for ELDT.

How does ELDT benefit the industry?

Undoubtedly, the stability that comes along with a company-paid training program is a big consideration for potential drivers, and companies that offer reimbursement for ELDT are showing drivers that they are dedicated to their employees. Another major benefit of the ELDT regulations is having more fully-trained drivers on the road who are safe. Moreover, the rise in quality drivers could help combat driver shortage in the industry.

 

What do the logistics economists see in our future?

After such a long period of economic recovery, some economists expect we are overdue for a recession. Is all this recession talk warranted or just media noise we should ignore?

We rounded up commentary from top logistics economists to see if a recession is on our horizon and how it could impact our industry.

 

ATA economist Bob Costello has concerns about the state of our economy but isn’t expecting a recession. He recently spoke at the American Trucking Associations’ National Accounting and Finance Council where he indicated the increased concerns about a recession mean many businesses will operate in a more conservative way which can negatively impact the economy.

Costello said “The risks for a mild recession have increased. It’s not my forecast. All I am saying is, the risks have increased … The theme is slowing but growing.” He also noted the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 1969. “We now have significantly more job openings than we have unemployed people,” he said. In a recent Transport Topics article, Costello’s break down of freight statistics noted inventories have gone up in the first quarter of 2019, driven by fear of possible Chinese tariffs, not poor consumer demand. [1]

For fleets, the economic uncertainty poses the biggest danger to smaller carriers who are at the mercy of spot markets, which have seen rates drop in recent months. Spot market rates dropping comes at a time when smaller carriers increased pay to attract drivers. The increased pay and lower spot rates are coming together at a bad time, Costello said.

Nariman Behravesh is the chief economist with HIS Markit and predicts the chance of a recession in 2019 is only about a third or lower according to a Supply Chain Brain article. He spoke at the TPM 2019 conference where he expressed a less alarmist outlook than some other economists. While he noted troubling trends, he still believes we have a positive short-term outlook in the U.S. Looking to the year ahead, “unless we make some serious policy mistakes, U.S. growth of around 2 percent is in the cards,” Behravesh said. “But we can still blow this one if we’re not careful.”[2]

Noël Perry is the chief economists for the TIA and for Truckstop.com. He spoke at the TIA’s conference in April and noted he sees another year of growth before an economic downturn in 2020 according to an article in Transport Topics. “Recessions can be very nasty,” says Noël Perry, “especially for spot markets.” “Contract freight is doing better than the spot market,” he said. “The spot market has been hit hard … I think you are going to see more and more fleets going out of business.”[3] While he is optimistic for 2019, his 2020 outlook is a bit more pessimistic. Mr. Perry stated in his TIA commentary, “If China and Mexico tariffs go into effect, it could mean up to a .5% drop in GDP.  Enough to kick off a recession.  Probably not, but the drag could combine with other downside risks.”

 

The consensus seems to be that there are certainly market risks we all need to be aware of, but fears of an impending recession are overblown.

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.ttnews.com/articles/ata-economist-bob-costello-recession-remains-uncertain-expect-more-carrier-closures

[2] https://www.supplychainbrain.com/blogs/1-think-tank/post/29472-a-recession-may-be-coming-but-not-just-yet-one-optimistic-economist-believes

[3] https://www.ttnews.com/articles/growth-continues-risk-recession-looms-larger-economist-says

LOGISTICS INDUSTRY NEWS IN 2 MINUTES: Q2 2019

Only have a few minutes to gain insight into the latest news? Our quick logistics update is perfect for you. 

Tightened Capacity During International Roadcheck Week June 4-6

Each year the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) conducts a three-day commercial motor vehicle and driver inspection and enforcement event. During this 72-hour period the North American commercial vehicle inspectors perform tens of thousands of intensive 37-step Level 1 inspections on drivers and vehicles. This year, extra emphasis is being placed on steering and suspension systems. Many drivers would rather not deal with these intense inspections and take their trucks off the road causing a capacity crunch during the time period.

  

New Report Finds Trucking Industry Revenues Topped $700 Billion

American Trucking Associations just released the latest edition its annual compilation of trucking industry data – ATA American Trucking Trends  – highlighting the industry’s dominance over the freight market.

Among the findings in this year’s edition of Trends:

  • Trucks moved 10.77 billion tons of freight, 70.2% of all domestic freight tonnage

  • The industry generated $700.1 billion in annual revenue in 2017, 79.3% of the nation’s freight bill

  • The industry moved 69.1% of all trade between the U.S. and Mexico, and 57.7% of Canada-U.S. trade

  • Roughly 7.7 million people were employed in jobs related to trucking activity, including 3.5 million drivers

  • Of those 3.5 million drivers, there were 1.7 million heavy and tractor-trailer drivers. Minorities account for 40.6% of all drivers and 6.2% of truck drivers are women.

 

The TIA Presses Congress For Infrastructure Investments

The Transportation Intermediaries Association will hold their annual 3PL Policy Forum in Washington, D.C., June 11-12 to meet with members of Congress and their staff. They are seeking to rally behind the need to invest in infrastructure and gain commitment from our elected officials to fund projects to improve our roads and bridges.

 

Competitive Market Boosting Driver Pay and Benefit Packages

New data reveals that driver pay has increased with the rising demand for freight transportation services. “This latest survey shows that fleets are reacting to an increasingly tight market for drivers by boosting pay, improving benefit packages and offering other enticements to recruit and retain safe and experienced drivers,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.

Along with increased pay, Costello said fleets were offering generous signing bonuses and benefit packages to attract and keep drivers. “I expect that trend to continue as demand for trucking services increases as our economy grows.”

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