Posts Tagged ‘Trucking


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


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


CSA2010 Sneak Preview

FMCSA announced today that the Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) 2010 Data Preview in now available, which will allow individual motor carriers to review their safety performance data by the CSA 2010 Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). The Data Preview begins on April 12, 2010 and ends on November 30, 2010, the national launch date for the CSA 2010 safety enforcement program.

During the data preview period, motor carriers are encouraged to closely examine their performance data and immediately address any safety problems. This is also an opportunity for motor carriers to update and verify their safety performance data online.

This important step is designed to focus motor carriers on identifying and addressing unsafe behaviors that can lead to crash risk.

FMCSA has added more stringent security measures for online access. Carrier’s will need to have their DOT number and login PIN to access the previewed data. Click here for details.

Down the Road – Mike


On the Road to Exercise

Health is important to all of us and when we are sick or just do not feel good it can affect every part of our lives. Whether we take action to live healthy lives is up to each individual’s commitment level. The number one suggestion made by health professionals on the path to good health, or to lose weight, is to exercise. Here are some simple suggestions for getting some exercise while on the road.

Commit to exercising 5 to 6 days a week for 20 minutes a day. Pick a time each day that works for you, but be a little flexible. I like to exercise when I get home from work, but sometimes I have to alter this and that may mean a 9:00pm jog. Are you committed?
If you travel be sure to pack your tennis shoes, shorts/sweats, Versastick and of course your MP3 player. Stay hydrated by drinking 2 to 3 8oz cups of water during the course of the day. Take a few minutes to stretch before and after you exercise. This can eliminate possible injury or soreness the next day.
If you are staying in a hotel that has a fitness center and you like to treadmill, great. I normally ask the hotel clerk at check-in if there are any parks or jogging trails in the area. Plan on exercising for at least 20 minutes.

I found this neat, easy to pack, strength exercise kit this week called Versastick.  It only weighs three pounds and looks like it can provide a nice strength or cardio workout. It’s not practical to carry dumbbells around when I travel and this looks like it might be a good alternative. If you have tried this out please let me know what you think of it.

Here is an in-room workout you can do in 20 minutes that uses a good combination of muscles.
Do 3 sets of 10 each Squats/Push Ups/Knee Raises.
To get the most out of this I recommend doing 10 squats, then 10 push up and then 10 knee raises one right after the other. Rest for one minute, then repeat the cycle 2 more times. You are not going to make any big gains with this workout, but it could be a good alternative to missing your commitment.

All you need is 20 minutes a day and a commitment. If you have not exercised for a while or have not had an annual physical please consult your doctor and let them know you are committing to an exercise program.
Down the Road – Mike


Carrier Manager Fined $35,000

On October 15, 2009, Charles D. Goodwin, Inc., (CDGI) doing business as Goodwin’s Trucking Company pled guilty in U.S. District Court, Winston Salem, North Carolina, to charges associated with the falsification of drivers’ duty status logs, which are regulated by FMCSA. CDGI is to be sentenced in May 2010.

The investigation was initiated as a result of an FMCSA compliance review of CDGI following a fatal accident involving one of its drivers. The review revealed that the driver violated FMCSA hours of service regulations but was not at fault for the accident.

DOT/OIG’s investigation determined that between June 2007 and May 2008 CDGI drivers made numerous false entries in their drivers’ duty status logs.  In addition to facing over $35,000 in civil penalties, the plea agreement requires the carrier to install an FMCSA approved computerized monitoring device on all CDGI trucks.

Liability is commonly being placed on carriers and managers of trucking firms. It is important for us to follow the regulations and equally important to make sure those that we are responsible for are doing the same. We need to audit our driver’s logs and communicate with them on any variances.

We audit our driver’s logs weekly and try to communicate to our drivers what they are doing right, along with any adjustments they need to make to stay safe and in compliance. I think it’s a simple task, yet it is important to give constant  feedback, and that takes a concerted effort.

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.

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