FMCSA resources for CDL drug and alcohol clearinghouse

From FMCSA.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today released additional online resources for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders, employers, state driver licensing agencies, medical review officers, and substance abuse professionals regarding the upcoming implementation of its CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse in January 2020.

The new clearinghouse resource webpage provides commercial motor vehicle (CMV) stakeholders with a variety of informative resources about the clearinghouse, including a comprehensive fact sheet, implementation timeline, frequently asked questions, and more. Additionally, CMV stakeholders can sign-up to receive clearinghouse-related email updates as the implementation progresses.

“As this Congressional mandate is enacted, FMCSA’s goal is to provide as many resources and updates as possible to those who will be using the upcoming Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. As we transition to the use of the clearinghouse, we will ensure drivers, employers, and state licensing agencies are kept up-to-date throughout the implementation process. FMCSA is here to be helpful and to assist all CMV stakeholders who have questions regarding the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.

The clearinghouse will be a secure online database that will allow FMCSA, CMV employers, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and law enforcement officials to identify – in real-time – CDL drivers who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing program requirements, and thereby improve safety on our nation’s roads.

More information available at the  FMCSA’s new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse resource website.

Connecticut carbon tax legislation

From Connecticut Energy Marketers Association (CEMA).

On Monday, March 18, the Environment Committee will hold a public hearing on a bill that would impose a tax on fossil fuels sold in the state: Raised Bill 1064, An Act Establishing a Carbon Price for Fossil Fuels Sold in Connecticut.

Heating oil, propane, diesel, gasoline and even natural gas and electricity would all be subject to the tax if it passes.

The cost of diesel for trucks will go up 16.8 cents per gallon in the first year, costing about $490 per truck, increasing to about $2000 per truck by 2030.

The tax on gasoline will be 14.7 cents per gallon in year one costing you an additional $96.43; 34.3 cents per gallon in year five costing you $225.016, and 58.8 cents per gallon in year 10 costing you $385.73.

Visit the Stop the Carbon Tax website for more information.

Does Connecticut need a transportation authority?

From CT News Junkie.

As the legislature gets closer to approving tolls, it’s also distancing itself from the process by debating legislation that would create a transportation authority, like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“I don’t understand why anyone wants to be like the MTA in New York,” Joe Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, told the Transportation Committee Monday. “They have sky-high tolls … and they’re $38 billion in debt.”

Sculley was testifying on a bill that would “create an authority dedicated to overseeing and prioritizing transportation projects.”

Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, said the bill was added to Monday’s public hearing agenda because Monday was their deadline to have a hearing on proposed bills. He said the concept is also included in other bills that more directly deal with revenue ideas like tolls to fund improvements to Connecticut’s roads, bridges, and rail.

Sculley said if these transportation authorities are so great, then how come none of them have any money?

He also asked why the state of Connecticut would want to “abdicate” all its control to an unelected board that’s going to establish tolls on almost every highway in the state?

“This is worse than just tolls,” Sculley said. “If people want tolls, then put up a tolls bill and just vote for it, don’t try to go through this quasi-government body.”

See the complete story from CT News Junkie online.

Transportation authority debate sets stage for larger battle coming on highway tolls

From Hartford Courant.

A public hearing Monday on a bill to create a state transportation authority served as a warmup for a much bigger hearing coming this week on the divisive topic of electronic highway tolls.

The state’s truckers’ association believes the authority would be a front for tolls. A key legislator said that is not the case. But the battle over tolls is expected to continue Wednesday before a large crowd at the state Capitol when a public hearing is held on the two main toll bills of the legislative session.

“I think the only reason for this bill is for tolls,” Joseph R. Sculley, executive director of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, said at Monday’s hearing. “I’m not exaggerating when I say that running tolls through this unaccountable, quasi-government body would be a step worse than adding tolls and running them through [the state department of transportation]. It’s not good either way. But when you set it up so that blame can be deflected … I just can’t believe that most people in the state of Connecticut would want something like that.”

Sculley said other authorities, like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York, had not set good examples.

See the complete article from the Hartford Courant online.

Dueling toll bills on Transportation Committee’s agenda

From Waterbury Republican American.

Naugatuck businessman John Pruchnicki guesses that highway tolls could cost his petroleum transportation business $200,000 to $300,000 a year.

Without an actual tolling plan, he can only ballpark an estimate of how much the fleet of 22 tanker trucks operating out of the Ansonia and Bloomfield terminals of Coastal Carriers of Connecticut would pay.

“There are people throwing around all these crazy numbers, but we don’t really know 100 percent,” said Pruchnicki, the president and co-owner of the Ansonia-based trucking company.

State lawmakers and Gov. Ned Lamont could finally authorize the state Department of Transportation to develop a full-fledged plan to answer all the lingering questions concerning how an all-electronic tolling system might operate here, including who will pay what.

 

FMCSA to upgrade ELDT regulations, slash regulatory costs

From FMCSA.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced a final rule streamlining the process and reducing costs to upgrade from a Class B to Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). By adopting a new Class A CDL theory instruction upgrade curriculum, the final rule will save eligible driver trainees and motor carriers $18 million annually.

“Today’s action demonstrates the Department’s commitment to reducing regulatory burdens and addressing our nation’s shortage of commercial drivers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

FMCSA is amending the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) regulations published on December 8, 2016. The ELDT rule requires the same level of theory training for individuals obtaining a CDL for the first time as for those who already hold a Class B CDL and are upgrading to a Class A CDL. FMCSA recognizes that because Class B CDL holders have prior training or experience, they should not be required to receive the same level of theory training as individuals who have never held a CDL. FMCSA has concluded this change will maintain the same level of safety established by the 2016 ELDT rule.

See the complete post from FMCSA online.

MTAC members testify in support of dealer registration bill

This week, MTAC members Jim Rizzo from Gabrielli Trucks and Luis Tejeda from Freightliner of Hartford testified in support of HB 6771, which would “permit motor vehicle dealers to register large commercial motor vehicles online and thereby create efficiencies and make the process more convenient.”

Jim Rizzo said, in part, “Currently, we are only allowed to issue registrations and transfer plates for commercial vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of up to and including 26,000 lbs. which are vehicles exempt from Commercial Driver License requirements. Vehicles above this capacity rating require the same documentation. What dealers are seeking, through the passage of this bill, is the ability to issue registrations and transfer plates for commercial vehicles above the 26,000 lb. GVWR and up to the maximum GVWR of 80,000 lbs. which would include straight trucks and tractors. This would apply only to vehicles involved in INTRASTATE transport (travel within the State of Connecticut) and NOT interstate transport (travel over state lines).”

Luis Tejada said, in part, “Since the bulk of our sales involve vehicles over this weight class, all of our current Motor Vehicle transactions must be done in person at any of the Connecticut DMV branches. I can’t tell you the man hours this task requires on a regular basis.

The Connecticut ORS has checks and balances that ensure the necessary information is entered in order to generate an accurate transaction. A registration cannot be completed unless all required documentation is entered. I see no reason why this service cannot be expanded to cover vehicles over 26,000 lbs. GVWR and up to a maximum GVWR of 80,000 lbs. involved in INTRASTATE transport (travel within the state of Connecticut). The required documentation is no different than those allowed under the current restrictions.”

MTAC thanks Representative Stephen Meskers (D-Greenwich) for introducing this legislation.

MTAC testifies on commercial truck GPS mandate bill

This week, MTAC President Joe Sculley testified in opposition to a bill that would require truck-specific GPS devices to be in use on all trucks with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds.

Sculley’s testimony said the bill was likely introduced in response to trucks driving through no-through truck zones in certain municipalities. He said that MTAC has met with state and local leaders in certain municipalities where violations of no through truck restrictions have occurred. MTAC has urged that local law enforcement (as well as any state enforcement agency with proper jurisdiction) enforce any alleged violation of no through truck restrictions which are authorized by state law. Town leaders have plainly stated to MTAC that they will not do that.

Sculley’s testimony said that current laws must be enforced before new laws are made. A PDF copy of the testimony is available online.

MTAC testifies on non-consensual tow surcharge bill

This week, MTAC President Joe Sculley testified in opposition to a bill that would add a $10 surcharge on to the cost of a non-consensual tow.

Sculley said that the bill is an attempt to circumvent the regulation of rates for non-consensual tows. He said that the regulation of non-consensual tows is an important aspect of consumer protection for both individuals and small businesses who own and operate vehicles. Without this, wreckers have been known to charge tens of thousands of dollars for non-consensual tows and subsequent storage, although some have referred to these as ransom charges rather than storage charges. It should be noted that this type of situation is sometimes the cause of an abandoned vehicle, whether it be a passenger vehicle, or commercial motor vehicle or commercial trailer. Owners may decide that it is less expensive to just go purchase a new vehicle.

Some of the excessive charges that have been seen are driven by an attitude that the insurance company will pay for it, rather than the individual or small business owner. All that this does is drive up the cost of insurance for everybody, regardless of whether or not the policy holder will ever be a part of a non-consensual tow.

A PDF copy of the written testimony is available.

Recent slowdown concerns trucking industry after stellar 2018

From CT News Junkie.

Connecticut’s trucking industry is cautiously watching a recent slowdown in activity that follows a highly successful 2018, because it could be a harbinger of economic slowdown.

Freight hauling, truck orders and trailer orders all declined in November and December. And while January numbers crawled back up just a bit, there’s reason to think about whether those numbers are a sign of a coming recession for the state, said Joe Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut.

“What made us start watching was the monthly tonnage numbers at the end of 2018 after having a really good January through October [of 2018],” Sculley said. “November and December, they both took a step backward. Our industry is always on the front end of whatever is about to happen economically, good or bad.”

Sculley and officials from the American Trucking Associations said the recent performance may be just a moderation of unsustainable 20-year-high numbers over the prior 12 months.

But since most consumer products and commercial materials spend a lot of time in trucks, the industry is often seen as an economic indicator. If less goods are being hauled around the country, an economic slump could be ahead.

The next few months will tell a lot about the regional economic conditions, Sculley said.

“If there is an economic slowdown, generally consumer spending declines if there’s not enough money in the economy for consumers and businesses to buy things, and that’s less freight to be moved,” Sculley said. “If truck orders are being cancelled, that means fleets are realizing they won’t have the freight to move.”