Stamford Route 1 and I-95 closures Aug. 16-18

From CT DOT.

Starting Friday, Aug. 16 at 6 p.m. through Sunday, Aug. 18 at 6 p.m., the Route 1 (East Main Street) Bridge over I-95 in Stamford will be closed between Courtland Avenue and Seaside Avenue for the contractor to pour the bridge approach slabs. Traffic will be detoured from Route 1 to Courtland Avenue and Hamilton Avenue.

While the closure is in effect, the Exit 9 Southbound off-ramp and the Route 1 Northbound I-95 on-ramp will be closed. The following ramps will remain open:

  • Exit 9 Northbound on- and off-ramps at Seaside Ave
  • Exit 9 Southbound on-ramp

Travel lands on I-95 will be open and unaffected by the construction.

See the below map for the detour route.

More than 1,600 vehicles removed from roadway during safety initiative

From CVSA.

On May 15, 2019, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) law enforcement members conducted 10,358 commercial motor vehicle inspections focused on identifying brake system violations. Of those inspections, 16.1% of vehicles had brake-related critical vehicle inspection items. Those 1,667 vehicles were placed out of service until the violations could be corrected.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), more than half a million commercial motor vehicle violations in 2017 were related to brakes. CVSA aims to call attention to this serious issue through its targeted brake safety enforcement and awareness campaigns, such as the May 15 unannounced inspection blitz. This enforcement initiative highlights the work that’s done by inspectors every day to keep our roadways safe. Checking brake systems and their components is always part of roadside vehicle inspections.

Inspectors also paid close attention to violations involving brake hoses/tubing:

  • There were 996 units with chafed rubber hose violations.
  • 185 units had chafed thermoplastic hose violations.
  • There were 1,125 violations of 49 Code of Federal Regulations § 45 and Canadian equivalent violations that included chafed rubber hoses.
  • There were 124 violations of 49 Code of Federal Regulations § 45 and Canadian equivalent violations that included kinked thermoplastic hoses.

See the complete article from CVSA online.

Wilson Elser Legal Alert: DOL favors motor carriers in off-duty driver sleeper berth time

This legal alert has been written by MTAC partner Wilson Elser.

The Department of Labor issued an opinion determining that all time during which a truck driver is sleeping in a truck’s sleeper berth is non-working time that is not compensable.

Background

The DOL’s opinion was initiated when a motor carrier asked the DOL for guidance regarding paying truck drivers for time spent sleeping in a sleeper berth. According to the unidentified carrier, the drivers are often in the truck’s sleeper berth: (a) not performing work, (b) permitted to sleep, and (c) not “on call” to perform work duties. In a typical week, the carrier estimated that a driver may work around 55 hours per week, and spend around 50 hours in the sleeper berth. The carrier asked the DOL whether it satisfied its federal minimum wage obligation under the Fair Labor Standards Act to its drivers by only paying the driver for the 55 hours worked.

Under prior guidance, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) interpreted relevant regulations to mean that while sleeping time “may be excluded from hours worked where ‘adequate facilities’ were furnished, only up to 8 hours of sleeping time may be excluded in a trip 24 hours or longer, and no sleeping time may be excluded for trips under 24 hours.” 

DOL Opinion

The DOL concluded that its previous interpretation was unnecessarily burdensome for motor carriers. Instead, it favors a “straightforward reading of the plain language of [the regulation], under which the time drivers are relieved of all duties and permitted to sleep in a sleeper berth is presumptively non-working time that is not compensable.” It drew a clear distinction between on-duty sleeping time, and non-working time when the employer permits the employee to sleep in adequate facilities, the latter being non-compensable because it is presumptively off-duty.

Further, because WHD regulations classify sleeper berth time as non-working travel time, rather than on-duty sleeping time, such time is presumptively off-duty and non-compensable. The opinion continued by stating the presumption that non-working time in which the employee is relieved of all duties is not compensable holds true regardless of whether the truck is moving or stationary. Accordingly, the DOL determined the driver’s time in the sleeper berth was not compensable as the driver did not perform any work and was not on call to perform work. The DOL’s opinion concluded by stating “WHD is withdrawing the opinion letters” that conflict with this letter.

It should be noted that the opinion is not absolute as it provides several circumstances that would require a carrier to pay its drivers for time spent in the sleeper berth. First, drivers are considered to be “engaged to wait” and due to be paid if their time in the sleeper berth belongs to and was controlled by the carrier. An example of this scenario would be if a driver is required to wait at a job site for goods to be loaded into the truck. Second, if a driver is unable to use the time in the sleeper berth effectively for their own purposes, the driver needs to be paid for that time. The opinion notes that drivers who are required to remain on call, do paperwork, or perform similar activities while in the sleeper berth may be unable to effectively sleep, and as such, a carrier would have an obligation to pay the driver for that time.

Impact

The DOL’s opinion is overall a favorable turn in the debate on payment to truck drivers for sleeper berth time. It is consistent with previous DOL regulations, the overall weight of judicial authority, and the understanding of the truck industry. Further, the opinion clarifies previous court decisions by federal district judges in Arkansas and Arizona that truck drivers are entitled to compensation for time spent in the sleeper berth, though both decisions were preceded by federal cases ruling in favor for carriers. American Trucking Associations believe this opinion will help the industry better understand its compliance obligations prospectively, rather than settling such matters only after the fact. 

Though this opinion by the DOL is legally non-binding, it will carry weight in court cases involving disputes over whether sleeper berth time is compensable. This decision comes from the agency that enforces the law and regulations and thus will give clarification to courts, as well as employers, to make certain they structure their operations to ensure that drivers are relieved from duty when they are in a sleeper berth.

For further information on transportation or employment issues, please contact MTAC partners, Attorney Brian Del Gatto at (203) 388-2400 or Attorney Joseph Baiocco at (203) 388-2403 of Wilson Elser’s Transportation Law practice. Additional information can be found at the Wilson Elser’s website.

Commercial Vehicle Safety Summit to be held Nov. 19 & 20

Held on Nov. 19 & 20 in Northampton, Massachusetts, the 2019 Commercial Vehicle Safety Summit will feature demonstrations of innovative programming and technologies for reducing roadway crashes, while also providing a venue for the exchange of ideas and resources between safety stakeholders and industry.

The Summit will feature resources for trucking and motorcoach associations, covering topics that include marijuana legalization’s impact on fleet operations, addressing the driver shortage, employer notification systems, and much more. Space is limited and hotel rooms are going fast, so make arrangements today!

Trucking industry asked to rank top concerns

The American Transportation Research Institute, the trucking industry’s not-for-profit research organization, today launched the 2019 Top Industry Issues Survey. The annual survey asks trucking industry stakeholders to rank the top issues of concern for the industry along with appropriate strategies for addressing each issue.

Now in its 15th year, ATRI’s annual analysis not only ranks the issues overall but also provides details on where critical topics are ranked differently by motor carriers and professional drivers.

“This survey gives everyone in trucking, from drivers to executives, a chance to weigh in on the industry’s most pressing issues and strategies for addressing each. By participating you are helping our industry speak with a collective voice on what is most important to us,” said ATA Chairman Barry Pottle, president of Pottle Transportation, LLC, Bangor, Maine.

The results of the 2019 survey will be released at the ATA Management Conference and Exhibition, to be held October 5-9 in San Diego, California.

Industry stakeholders are encouraged to complete the survey, which will remain open through Sept. 20.

FMCSA proposes delay of Entry-Level Driver Training Rule due to IT glitches

From Transport Topics.

Federal trucking regulators have proposed a two-year delay for compliance with certain provisions in the Entry Level Driver Training rule to allow more time for development of the secure electronic transfer of information to the certified training provider registry and state driver licensing agencies.

“The proposed two-year extension would delay the date by which training providers must begin uploading driver-specific training certification information into the Training Provider Registry, an electronic database that will contain entry level driver training information,” the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced July 18 in the Federal Register.

“It would also delay the date by which state driver licensing agencies must confirm that applicants for a commercial driver’s license have complied with ELDT requirements prior to taking a specified knowledge or skills test,” the agency said.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

Second round of Diesel Emissions Mitigation Program launches Aug. 1

From CT DEEP.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is pleased to announce that the second round of funding under Connecticut’s Diesel Emissions Mitigation Program is expected to launch on August 1, 2019. Complete program details, including application forms, will be available on that date at the DEEP VW Settlement website.

Funds for this round of the Diesel Emissions Mitigation Program will finance projects that replace or repower an array of aging diesel mobile sources and/or non-road equipment to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions across the state. Eligible source categories and funding allocations are specified in the State of Connecticut Beneficiary Mitigation Plan and limited by the Environmental Mitigation Trust Agreement for State Beneficiaries.

Note: At this time, we will not be accepting funding applications for Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). We expect to announce EVSE funding opportunities at a later date in 2019.

DEEP will hold an informational webinar on Aug. 7 at 1:30 p.m. discussing Round 2 of the Connecticut Diesel Emissions Mitigation Program.

The webinar will provide a brief background on the VW Settlement, a review of Round 1 funding, an overview and timeline for Round 2 of the Diesel Emissions Mitigation Program, a walk-through of the application form, and a Q&A period. Please note that we will not be taking any project specific questions during the webinar. Any project specific questions should be directed to DEEP.MobileSources@ct.gov.

You will be required to pre-register for this event. If you are unable to participate in the webinar, it will be recorded and made available at the DEEP VW Settlement website.

Note from MTAC: Several MTAC members were approved for grant funding in Round 1 of this program. Members are encouraged to watch the webinar and subsequently apply for funding. Contact the MTAC office with questions.

Register for live ELD Q&A FMCSA session

After Dec. 16, 2019, all motor carriers and drivers subject to the ELD rule will be required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to record hours-of-service data. To help the motor carrier industry and ELD providers prepare for this important deadline, FMCSA is hosting a series of live question and answer sessions.

To keep these sessions as informative for the participants as possible, FMCSA is segmenting the question and answer sessions by audience. Select the most relevant session for you and register using the links below.

Due to high demand, FMCSA has added additional sessions for motor carriers and drivers. For all sessions, FMCSA is also offering a conference call option; callers will not be able to access the webinar but will be able to listen in to the discussion.

Sessions for Motor Carriers and Drivers

Sessions for ELD Providers

Space is limited. Recordings of the sessions will be made available on the ELD website.

Trucks-only tolling back on table, top lawmakers say

From CT Post.

Unable to secure enough support to pass a plan for widespread tolling on the state’s major highways, top Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Ned Lamont are now discussing ideas they previously rejected: tolling trucks only and placing tolls on select bridges in need of repair.

“There has been discussion back and forth where the governor has indicated his support for a consensus compromise for transportation infrastructure that would include a more limited amount of tolling,” Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said Tuesday. “The concept is tolling on a certain number of bridges that have not been specified yet and possibly returning to an earlier version of his proposal of tolling on trucks only.”

Democrats’ goal is to devise a limited tolling proposal that will win some Republican votes, kick start transportation investment and pass legal muster.

Either proposal involving tolls or bridges would represent a significant retreat from Lamont’s proposal for numerous gantries on interstates 95, 91, 84 and the Merritt Parkway.

See complete article from CT Post online.

Economist Noel Perry warns of more shutdowns after LME padlocks doors

From Transport Topics.

One of the trucking industry’s leading economists says the abrupt shutdown of New Brighton, Minnesota-based carrier LME Inc. is an indication that trucking companies that are poorly run could be in deep trouble if the economy slows.

“There is no question industry conditions are not nearly as strong as they were a year ago,” Noel Perry of Transport Futures told Transport Topics. “If you’re a carrier that was barely breaking even a year ago, despite all of the wonderfulness we had a year ago, you’re in trouble now because industry conditions are tougher. Fleets that can’t make money have run out of time and money.”

Less-than-truckload carrier LME posted an updated notice on its website July 14 that said the employees who were unexpectedly laid off July 11 would not be getting paid soon.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.