Policymakers wrongly targeting small business truckers

Hartford Business Journal Op Ed by MTAC President Joseph Sculley.

Small business trucking companies have so much money, it’s like they are sitting on piles of cash and they don’t know what to do with it.

This must be what some leaders and policymakers in Connecticut, and elsewhere, are currently thinking. It’s the only way to explain recent comments and policy proposals that target the trucking industry.

The truth is that the trucking industry deals with high capital costs, thin profit margins, and many barriers to entry. Most trucking companies, otherwise known as motor carriers, are small businesses.

According to U.S. Department of Transportation data, 91 percent of motor carriers operate six or fewer trucks. Yet, public policy in Connecticut has been favoring handouts to huge corporations, while making it difficult for small businesses like motor carriers just to get by.

The state Bond Commission recently voted to loan or give $80 million in taxpayer funds to 16 companies to “retain jobs” in Connecticut. In a booming economy, in which the national unemployment rate is 3.8 percent, some large corporations, including a defense contractor and a Fortune 500 company, were given taxpayer money for the unmeasurable purpose of “retaining jobs.” To some, the natural next step is to target small businesses that have to fight hard for every dollar they earn.

This targeting includes talk about higher tolls for trucks, or even tolls only for trucks. These proposals are based on unsubstantiated statements about trucks “tearing up our roads” and doing multiple times more damage to roads than cars. The only thing that is quite literally tearing up our roads is the combination of chemicals applied to them, followed by plows scraping over them to clear snow. But that issue requires a separate discussion.

To see the complete Op Ed by Joseph Sculley in the Hartford Business Journal online.

Doyle says state should sue EPA over zombie truck pollution

From CT Post.

They’re sometimes called “zombie trucks,” and their franken bodies — old high-polluting diesel engines concealed by new exteriors — cruise I-95 and other highways spewing emissions that exceed federal vehicle standards.

In the last hours Scott Pruitt was administrator, the Environmental Protection Agency decided last week not to enforce an existing annual cap on these vehicles, also known as “glider kits,” through the end of 2019. The move could lead to an increase in freight trucks that emit up to 55 times the air pollution that vehicles with modern emissions controls do, according to a study by the EPA itself.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen is currently in communication with other states about this change, said Jaclyn Severance, spokesman for the attorney general’s office. Connecticut and 11 other states filed comments with the EPA in January against lifting regulations on these trucks, which they called “a pollution menace.”

A New England trucking thoroughfare, Connecticut environmentalists and lawmakers on Thursday decried the end of the Obama-era cap, which limited truck manufacturers to producing 300 gliders per year.

“It’s a sad day that the Trump administration has done this,” said state Sen. Paul Doyle, a Wethersfield Democrat who is running for attorney general. He held a news conference at the I-95 Northbound rest stop in Milford to highlight the issue. Connecticut’s next attorney general should oppose such deregulation, he said.

“It is incumbent upon us all to make sure we are doing everything we can to improve our air quality and not make it worse,” said state Sen. Gayle Slossberg, a Democrat from Milford.

Even the president of the Connecticut Motor Transport Association was not thrilled.

“Our industry for the past 10, 12 or more years, we’ve been at the table with the EPA,” Joe Sculley, the trucker association’s president, said in an interview Thursday. “Our industry feels we had great dialogue with the government on (emissions). We got, kind of, where we wanted to be, and then it’s unraveling a little bit.”

View the full CT Post article online.

Malloy does what legislators won’t: Orders $10 million study of tolling

Excerpt from CT Mirror.

During his first term in office, Malloy and a Democrat-controlled legislature did scale-back previously approved increases in transfers to the transportation program to help balance the General Fund.

“This is an irresponsible and egotistical waste of money as he heads out of office,” Fasano added. “Governor Malloy needs to get on his horse, ride into the sunset and leave taxpayers alone.”

“Borrowing millions to study how tolls would impact commuters is frivolous if not ridiculous,” said House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby. “We’ve seen other studies, we’ve heard from consultants. We already know the answer to the question he’s asking: it’s going to make it even more expensive to live in Connecticut. Republicans have spelled out how we’d fix roads and bridges—by prioritizing existing dollars.”

Joe Sculley, president of the state’s largest trucking coalition, the Connecticut Motor Transport Association, said the governor’s new study is “a waste of $10 million.”

Sculley, whose group also argues transportation upgrades can be paid for by prioritizing state borrowing for transportation, said he believes the public’s opposition to tolls is clear.

“We’re spending even more money, clearly, on things businesses and residents in Connecticut don’t want,” he said.

See full article from CT Mirror online.

Ray Dunaway: Diesel motorists face tax hike (Audio)

From WTIC Radio.

Joseph Sculley, President of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, which represents more than 800 trucking and trucking-related businesses joins the show. He talks with Ray about Connecticut’s truck drivers and other motorists that use diesel fuel and how they face their first tax hike this week in five years. Motorists using diesel will end up paying an extra $0.02 cents per gallon. How much will this impact motorist’s wallets over the long run? Why is there even a tax hike and how is the increase calculated?

To listen to the archived radio interview, visit the WTIC website or play the audio below.

CVSA’s annual driver-focused enforcement blitz this month

From Commercial Carrier Journal.

Operation Safe Driver Week, an annual enforcement spree put on by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, is set this year for July 15-21.

During the weeklong blitz, enforcers will be focusing on traffic violations, seat belt enforcement, driver roadside inspections and driver regulatory compliance. CVSA says driver behavior is the cause of more than 88 percent of large truck crashes and 93 percent of passenger vehicle crashes.

Driving behaviors that will be targeted during the week include speeding, distracted driving, texting, failure to use a seat belt, following too closely, improper lane change, failure to obey traffic control devices and more.

Last year, nearly 39,000 citations and warnings were issued to truck drivers during Operation Safe Driver Week. More than 84 percent of these violations were for state and local moving violations.

See full article from CCJ online.

Reminder: July 10 ABS Brake Training Class

Federal regulations require that any employee responsible for brake inspections, maintenance, service, or repairs on any commercial motor vehicle must understand the brake service or inspection task to be accomplished. The best way to do that is through “participation in a training program sponsored by a brake or vehicle manufacturer or similar commercial training program.” (FMCSR 396.25).

ABS has raised the art of stopping to a science. Conventional braking simply cannot compare. Therefore, your maintenance personnel need to be trained in maintaining and servicing this advanced brake application. Working with FleetPro®, the MTAC ABS Training Seminar will provide the training necessary to safely diagnose and repair Bendix and Rockwell/Wabco systems. Don’t be fooled into thinking that years of experience in general brake repair is a substitute for detailed training in this technology.

Register for the class online.

Truck stop to be named for Connecticut trucker

A Connecticut truck driver is set to have a commercial truck stop named in his honor. At a ceremony on Saturday, July 7 at 1:00pm, the TravelCenters of America (TA) truck stop in Branford, CT will be renamed as the “Roland Bolduc Branford Travel Center.” This honor of Mr., who drives for FedEx Express out of Windsor, CT will happen as part of TA’s Citizen Driver program.

TravelCenters launched the Citizen Driver program in 2013 in an effort to honor the many great, hardworking professional truck drivers that keep our economy going. Citizen Drivers not only have an exemplary career in trucking, they are great examples of the kind of people who honor the great profession of truck driving by demonstrating their good citizenship, safety, community involvement, and leadership.

“This recognition of Roland is well-deserved. He lives and breathes trucking safety, as well as community involvement. I know it means a lot to him that the trucking community is supporting him with this award,” said Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (MTAC) President Joseph Sculley.

Mr. Bolduc is the 2017 Grand Champion of the National Truck Driving Championship. This essentially means that he is currently the safest truck driver in the country. New employees at FedEx Express will certainly learn from the best, as Mr. Bolduc often trains drivers who are pursuing their Commercial Driver’s License.

Outside of work, Roland volunteers a lot of his time to trucking-focused causes. He is the Chairman of Connecticut’s Truck Driving Championship committee. He also volunteers and raises money for the Wishes on Wheels convoy to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut. Roland is also a previous recipient of the FedEx Humanitarian Award, among many other honors.

MTAC congratulates Roland Bolduc for earning this great honor.

HOS flexibility provided under House bill

From Transport Topics.

Legislation that would provide hours-of-service flexibility for certain truckers as a way to promote highway safety and boost the economy was introduced June 21 by a bipartisan group of U.S. House lawmakers.

The Honest Operators Undertaking Road Safety, or HOURS, Act would exempt truckers hauling livestock or agricultural products from hours-of-service rules within 150 air-miles of their load’s source.

The exemption would apply regardless of harvesting season or state-designated planting.

The bill also would harmonize hours-of-service rules for shorthaul truck drivers with an exemption for those who operate within 150 air-miles of their reporting location, and also complete their workday in 14 hours.

Additionally, truckers would only be required to verify the start and end time of their daily on-duty period, and federal efforts to facilitate split sleeper berth flexibility would be expedited.

See the full story from Transport Topics online.

FMCSA ELD support information

From FMCSA.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has updated their website to provide a centralized location for its ELD Support email inboxes. The update includes the centralization of the following email inboxes:

  • General Information: For general information regarding electronic logging devices (ELD) or automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRD), please review our frequently asked questions (FAQs). If your question is not addressed in the FAQs, submit your question to FMCSA at ELD@dot.gov.
  • Agricultural Operations: For additional information on agricultural operations, including new agricultural commodity compliance diagrams, please visit our website or email us at agricultural@dot.gov.

ELD Malfunctions Extension Requests

If you would like to file an ELD malfunction extension request per 49 CFR part 395.34 by email, please submit your extension request to ELD-Extension@dot.gov. Include the legal name, principal place of business address and USDOT number of the motor carrier.  To request an extension from the FMCSA Division Administrator in the Field Office in your state, you may contact the office directly. FMCSA Division Administrator contact information can be found here.

Electronic Logging Device HOS Violation Information Graphic

FMCSA has posted an informational graphic that tracks daily and weekly HOS violation information.

Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Frequently Asked Questions

The ELD Frequently Asked Questions have been updated with questions that address Non-compliant drivers and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Out of Service Criteria, Malfunctioning Automatic Onboard Recording Devices (AOBRD), and Malfunctioning AOBRD extension requests

If you have additional questions, please click here.

Conn. DOT increasing over-dimensions permit allowances

Message from Conn. DOT.

The Department would like to announce a change in some of the restrictions that have affected travel times for various permitted loads.

1)   Due to the many bridge replacements/rehabilitations along the I-95 corridor from New Haven to the NY Line over the past 10 to 20 years, the restriction on I-95 for weight related permits for Indivisible Loads will be changed. Starting July 1, 2018, weight-based permits for Indivisible Loads up to 160,000lbs on the appropriate number of axles (up to 14’ wide) will now be considered for permits, Monday through Friday, along the entire I-95 corridor, with the following exceptions:

  • the Gold Star bridges are still restricted to legal weight only
  • no change to Divisible Load movements (not permitted from NY Line to Exit 18)
  • no change to self-propelled crane (or similar vehicle) travel.

2)   Starting July 1, 2018, Non-Divisible loads that, due to their excessive dimensions, had previously been restricted to Tuesday through Thursday travel (loads 13’-6” or wider, loads over 14’ high, or loads 120’ long and above) will now be allowed to obtain permits for travel Monday through Friday — travel times are limited to the hours of 9am to 4pm.

3)   This will confirm that the Department’s Pilot program for weekend travel of Indivisible Loads will be continued. Indivisible Loads that are legal height, 12’ wide or less, 80’ long or less, and weigh less than 160,000lbs may travel on Saturday and Sunday from ½ before sunrise to 12 noon.

As always, the Department reserves the right to limit/prohibit travel on any particular route based on adverse roadway or traffic conditions that result from highway construction/maintenance work, known geometric conditions, time-of-day travel, known bottleneck areas, etc.