Posts Tagged ‘Transportation


Mexican Border Concerns Getting Worse

This past week, we’ve read about the latest mass grave uncovered along the border. In this week’s Houston Chronicle story, as many as 122 of the 177 bodies found in the most recent mass grave discovery were believed to be passengers dragged off of buses at drug cartel roadblocks.

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Also in the last week, five beauty parlor workers were brutally murdered in Acapulco.

Sadly, every time we read about the U.S.-Mexico border, the news is getting worse.

News stories that once popped up once every few weeks are occurring daily. The news is getting worse, and more gruesome.

In the last week, the U.S. State Department has released yet another travel warning to U.S. citizens heading to or traveling throughout any part of Mexico. In short, the warning says to stay in tourist areas during daylight hours.

Yes, the same administration that wants U.S. trucks heading south of the border is asking its citizens to stay visible and travel there only in broad daylight.

“According to Government of Mexico figures, 34,612 people have been killed in narcotics-related violence in Mexico since December 2006,” the State Department warning reads. “More than 15,000 narcotics-related homicides occurred in 2010, an increase of almost two-thirds compared to 2009.”

Many of those murdered have worked with criminal organizations, but a growing number of victims are innocent bystanders, and even police officers, the State Department says.

Credit: Charlie Morasch

Down the Road – Mike


DOT May Have it’s Day

Did I hear President Obama right this week?

DOT Road

“Our infrastructure used to be the best, but our lead has slipped,” Obama said, referencing the infrastructure boom in Europe and parts of Asia including China. “Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure, they gave us a ‘D.’ We have to do better.”

Part of President Obama’s speech was dedicated to infrastructure and he also included a nod to roadway and bridge investments as way to improve the economy.

“We’ll put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We’ll make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based on what’s best for the economy, not politicians,” he said.

I am sure that Mr Lahood was standing up and gleeming with excitement over that speech.

Down the Road – Mike


Another Transportation Fee Doubles

Last week I received a letter from the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration PHMSA letting me know that the Hazardous Materials Registration fee that we paid in June of 2009 for the 2009-2012 period had gone up as of March 30, 2010.

Now we owe an additional $3,200 on top of the $2950 we paid last year. This, along with the notice received last month concerning the increase in Unified Carrier Registration UCR fees for 2010 (almost double the 2009 fee) from $3800 to $7511 has me wondering what will be next.

The Hazmat Registration fees for small hazmat carriers remain relatively unchanged, but the fee for large motor carriers jumps from $975 to $2575 annually. Ouch!

So far in 2010 it is costing carriers an additional $6,911 in government fees to operate, not including the increase in fuel spending.

The registration fees for the 2010-2011 year are due by July 1, 2010. Motor carriers can register with the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration by clicking here.

Remember “Road Check 2010” is June 8 – 10. If you have any vehicles due for their periodic inspection in June, now would be a good time to step it up and get them done.

Down the Road – Mike


What’s up with the 2010 UCR?

If you have tried to renew your Unified Carrier Registration for 2010 you proboably already know that you can’t. Strange as it may sound the Department of Transportation DOT is currently not accepting the 2010 UCR fees that were due in January.

This is already causing some states problems as they depend on these fees to help enforce DOT regulations. The Secretary of Transportation, Mr. LaHood, did not send the new proposed rule increasing the UCR fees to the Office of Management and Budget OMB until March. The OMB could take up to 90 days to review the rule. Some states have been forced to layoff safety enforcement personnel due to lack of funds.

Expect fees to double if the new proposal is approved by OMB. In 2009 we paid $3800, so that is quite a hit if fees double.

Down the Road – Mike


New CSA2010 Safety Rating

The new CSA2010 safety rating system, safety measurement system or safety fitness determination system, whatever you want to call it,  is coming soon.

Here are the BIG differences as I see them.

1) Under the old Safestat system only the “out of service” violations were weighted against a carrier’s fitness rating. The CSA2010 will use all safety based violations to effect a carrier’s fitness rating.
2) Although it could be used to randomly trigger an on-site DOT audit, the Safestat rating had no direct impact on a carrier’s safety fitness rating. CSA2010 will use roadside data to adversely affect a carrier’s fitness rating.

Those are the two hard hitting changes. The CSA2010 will also use seven BASIC behaviors where Safestat was organized into four evaluation areas, and violations will be rated by recent dates and crash risk, where current violations will count heavier than older ones.

CSA2010 will make it very important to be pro-active with our CDL drivers in order to prevent violations. We will need to sit down with them now and brief them on the new rating system. Below is a view of my CSA2010 training outline.

Down the Road – Mike


Driver Training Outline:

There are four major elements to CSA 2010 – 1) measurement, 2) intervention, 3) safety evaluation, and information technology, 4) COMPASS.

1)  The measurement system – Will group the safety performance data of motor carriers and drivers into seven categories, called BASICs – Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Categories.  The seven BASICS are:

                         (1) Unsafe driving,

                         (2) Fatigued Driving,

                         (3) Driver Fitness,

                         (4) Controlled Substances/Alcohol,

                         (5) Vehicle Maintenance,

                         (6) Improper Loading/Cargo, and

                         (7) Crash Indicator.

The data would be scored and weighted based on its relationship to crash causation. Based on a carrier’s score within each BASIC, the measurement system would trigger when the Agency should begin to intervene with a motor carrier, and when its performance has reached the proposed “unfit” threshold.

2)      Intervention – Once the measurement system signals the need to intervene, CSA 2010 would draw upon a broad array of progressive interventions that are designed to advise the motor carrier or driver that their safety performance has come to the government’s attention.  These steps are meant to improve unsafe behavior early.

These include:

> Warning letter

> Targeted Roadside Inspection

> On-Site Investigation – Focused Cooperative Safety Plan Notice of Violation Increasing   Severity On-Site Investigation

> Comprehensive Notice of Claim/Settlement Agreement

3)  Safety Evaluation – Safety fitness determination would be based on performance data processed through the measurement system, and would not necessarily be tied to the current FMCSA compliance review.  Depending on the motor carrier’s BASIC scores, the safety fitness determination could be “continue to operate”, “marginal” (with ongoing intervention), or proposed “unfit”.  Each motor carrier or driver for which there is sufficient data would receive a safety fitness determination that would be updated every 30 days.

4)  Compass – CSA 2010 is closely aligned with COMPASS, an FMCSA –wide initiative that is leveraging new technology to transform the way that FMCSA does business.  By optimizing FMCSA business processes and improving the Agency’s IT functionality, COMPASS will help FMCSA and State enforcement personnel make better decisions, identify high-risk carriers and drivers more effectively, and apply a wider range of interventions to correct high-risk behavior early.

What does CSA2010 mean for drivers? CSA 2010 will provide enhanced tools for Safety Investigators to identify and address drivers with poor safety records as part of motor carrier investigations in order to increase driver accountability for safe driving behavior. So drivers need to perform or they could receive intervention from the DOT.

How is a company’s management involved? One key change was made is in Article 444. They changed one word in the article. It used to say that carriers had a moral and legal obligation to DETECT violations. Now it says they have a moral and legal obligation to PREVENT violations. Additionally, the article used to say that the CEO of the carrier encompassed all the influence over drivers. The article now states that all persons in contact with the drivers have influence. So management now knows their actions or inaction has a significant impact on our safety rating. They can individually be held accountable, not just the CEO.


Moving Towards Safety

For the past two years my work has revolved around DOT Compliance and Transportation Safety. In 2010 I am working on expanding that into construction site safety, so I ended 2009 by gaining my certification as a Contruction Site Safety Technician “CSST,” an NCCER certification. This happened because someone took an interest in me and had a vision for the future. Thanks Paul Savoie for mentoring me in this area.

At the moment I am still trying to lift the DOT rock and at least get one foot out on the ground in construction safety. Where I am ready for that, my responsibilities dictate that I may not have a real opportunity at the moment.

Sometimes after you have done the necessary work to improve yourself, you may have to wait for the opportunity to utilize your skills. God may have different plans for you, or he may be using you and you may not realize it is even happening.

Keep doing what’s necessary. God has plans for us.

Down the Road – Mike


DOT UCR Fees Doubled

I am getting ready to take off the last week of the year and wanted to make sure everything was in place to start out 2010 as caught up as possible. So, I found in my yearly planner that our annual Unified Carrier Registration UCR fee is due each January.

I remembered that can be done easily online by updating your MCS-150 on the FMCSA site and then completing the UCR online. Then, I ran across this message at the top of the UCR site,

“2010 UCR registrations are not being accepted. At this time all information to finalize registration is not complete. You will be notified by your base state when it is time to register or you can check back on our website for an update.”

So, I called the DOT to find out what I can do to get my registration complete and off my checklist. I was politely told that they would not be accepting 2010 UCR’s until sometime late January or February. I thought that was a little peculiar since normally the DOT agencies are pretty religious about things being filed and paid on time.

Here is what I have found out since. The FMCSA has proposed doubling the annual UCR fees. I had to look really hard to find the proposed rule changes on the USDOT website. The proposal came out on September 3, 2009 and comments were required by September 18, 2009.

My UCR fee last year was $3840 and it looks like in 2010 it will now be $8373. WOW! The top bracket jumps from $37,500 to $82,983 in fees.

Thanks for the notice Mr. LaHood.

What’s next?


Down the Road – Mike

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