Hazardous Materials Training program set for May 25

MTAC is pleased to offer a hazardous materials training class, which will be taught by Roy Roberts, on Thursday, May 25. Roy is an occupational health and safety specialist who focuses on compliance with U.S. DOT regulations.

Federal regulation requires all hazmat employees to be trained. This class will meet the requirements of 49 CFR Part 172.704, which provides for training requirements, and 49 CFR 177.800(c), which puts responsibility on the motor carrier. “A carrier may not transport a hazardous material by motor vehicle unless each of its hazmat employees involved in that transportation is trained as required by this part and subpart H of part 172 of this subchapter.”

The following employees should attend this class: Plant & Safety Managers; Packing & Shipping Supervisors; Traffic & Transportation Managers; Warehouse & Dock Supervisors; Distribution Employees; Dispatchers & Purchasing Agents; Hazmat Drivers.

Federal regulations state that employees must be trained within 90 days after their date of hire, and that re-training occur every 3 years. Attend this class in order to maximize safety, and ensure compliance with federal regulations.

A lunch will be provided for those in attendance. Finally, attendees will receive a Certificate of Training at the conclusion of the class.


Truckers already paying highway fees

MTAC President Joe Sculley’s Letter to the Hartford Courant Editor:

In your March 30 editorial “Save the Roads with Tolls,” you state that “trucks that wear heavily on our highways have been getting a free ride.” This is not true. Out-of-state commercial trucks that travel in Connecticut pay taxes and fees to Connecticut through interstate compacts.

Connecticut nets more than $14 million in fuel use tax revenue from out-of-state trucks annually, through participation in the International Fuel Tax Agreement. The truckers pay based on the fuel they use in Connecticut, regardless of where they purchased it.

Separately, Connecticut collects about $15.6 million in apportioned registration fees from out-of-state trucks annually, through participation in the International Registration Plan. The state Department of Motor Vehicles handles the registration plan compliance for Connecticut, and its most recent data, which covers Dec. 1, 2015, through Nov. 30, 2016, shows that out-of-state trucks pay the freight.

Through these two interstate agreements, Connecticut gets nearly $30 million from out-of-state trucks a year.

These two systems were created so that states can receive funds to maintain roads used by out-of-state trucks. Connecticut does not need tolls to get money from out-of-state truckers; we are already getting their money.

See the original post online.

Federal Court rules on minimum wage & per diems

By Bob Pitcher, State Laws Newsletter

The U.S. District Court for Nebraska has held that per diems paid by an interstate motor carrier to its drivers to cover meals and incidental expenses counted as wages for purposes of calculating the minimum wage. The carrier paid its drivers either a flat wage of so many cents per mile driven or, at a driver’s option, a lower cents-per-mile rate and a cents-per-mile per diem allowance, under an accountable plan approved by the federal Internal Revenue Service. Since per diems are not, for tax purposes, considered wages, no income tax was withheld from those payments, and drivers choosing to receive them wound up with somewhat higher take-home pay.

On the other hand, those drivers had, by accepting per diems, given up an opportunity to claim those expenses as deductions on their personal income tax returns. The carrier admittedly used the per-diem payment method as a tool in recruiting drivers.

A group of drivers who had chosen per diems sued the carrier, claiming that the cents-per-mile wage rate they were paid did not alone meet federal minimum wage standards, and that the per diems they got couldn’t be counted toward that requirement. The court disagreed, noting that prior decisions involving other industries had considered per diems that varied with the work performed to be wages, and that in this instance the per diems served more like wages than like reimbursed expenses.

Nor, concluded the court, was the carrier estopped by IRS’s acceptance of the payments as reimbursed expenses for tax purposes. All the carrier had to show the IRS, noted the court, was that the drivers were likely to incur expenses that the carrier had a business purpose in reimbursing. Baouch, et al. v. Werner Enterprises, docket no. 8:12CV408, decided March 23, 2017

Why old-fashioned highway rest stops are disappearing

Excerpt from USA Today via Pew/Stateline:

In Connecticut, a battle is raging over the state’s proposal to shut down all seven interstate rest areas.

The Legislature eliminated funding to operate, staff and maintain them about two years ago, and the transportation department has been shifting funding ever since to keep them open, said department spokesman Kevin Nursick.

The areas used to be staffed 24/7. But about six months ago, officials cut back, and the buildings at each stop, which have bathrooms, are now open only seven hours during the day. Portable toilets remain available outside.

That, too, may change. The department is proposing to close the buildings, remove the portable toilets and only keep the parking. Twelve positions for rest area attendants would be cut and the state would save $1.1 million over two years, Nursick said.

“We’ve been doing this on our own dime, scraping and picking up the pennies on the floor to keep the rest areas open,” he said. “There’s no more funding left to scrounge.”

Instead of the rest areas, motorists will be able to use nearly two dozen renovated state-owned service plazas operated by the private sector — what Nursick calls “rest areas on steroids” — that are staffed 24/7 and offer food, gasoline and other amenities.

But some, especially in the trucking industry, aren’t happy.

“We believe the rest areas should stay open and be fully staffed, for safety purposes,” said Joseph Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, which represents trucking companies. “The drivers are mandated by federal law to take breaks and there’s already a shortage of safe places where they can do that. This would make that situation even worse.”

See the full article online here.

Number of FMCSA-Certified Medical Examiners reaches 52,000

Excerpt from Transport Topics article:

The number of medical examiners certified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has reached more than 52,000, a top agency official said March 28.

Speaking at American Trucking Associations’ Safety Management Council and Transportation Security Council’s Policy Council, Larry Minor, FMCSA Associate Administrator for Policy, said the examiners conducted more than 14.7 million exams from May 2014 to February 2017.

Of the total 14.7 million exams administered, 14.1 million or 96.4% received their medical cards, Minor said.

More than 8.4 million of those who passed their exams, received two-year cards, while 4.4 million were issued one-year medical cards. Nearly 330,000 or 2.4% were issued less than one-year medical cards, according to agency data.

About 1% of the exams conducted resulted in drivers being temporarily denied a medical card, while 1.6% were permanently disqualified.

“The program seems to be working very well for us,” Minor told the group of mostly trucking executives discussing regulatory issues at the more than two-hour meeting of the SMC Regulations committee.

See the full article from Transport Topics online.

Note from MTAC: Find a Certified Medical Examiner (CME) located close to your business by using this website. Additionally, be sure to take advantage of CT DMV’s email address which was created specifically to accept medical cards. The email address is DMV.CDL@ct.gov, and the sender simply needs to attach a PDF file of their medical certification to the email that is sent to that address.

Rep. DeFazio introduces transportation infrastructure legislation

Excerpt from Transport Topics article:

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced a transportation infrastructure bill on March 22 that he said will increase the gasoline and diesel tax by about a penny, in order to provide about $500 billion in funding to rebuild U.S. roads, bridges and transit systems.

DeFazio’s “Investing in America: A Penny for Progress Act,” would index the federal gasoline and diesel tax to the National Highway Construction Cost Index and Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, he said.

While most users would pay a penny extra at the pump, DeFazio’s bill calls for a 1.5-cent cap.

To finance the additional investment, the bill authorizes the U.S. Department of Treasury to issue 30-year Invest in America Bonds annually, through 2030, with each bond being repaid at the end of its 30-year term using revenue from indexing the gasoline and diesel user fee beginning in 2017.

“The president’s key component in his campaign was a trillion-dollar investment in infrastructure,” DeFazio said at a news conference. “I’m trying to help deliver on that with real investment. There is some question and, I think, debate going on at the White House on whether they’re going to do real investment or are they going to do pretend investment.”

DeFazio said his legislation would bring roads and bridges up to good repair condition within 15 years and “put hundreds of thousands of people to work.”

Read more online at Transport Topics.

UPS honored as WBENC top corporation for women business enterprises

From UPS.

UPS, in partnership with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), is proud to be included on the 17th annual list of America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) – the only national award honoring corporations for world-class supplier diversity programs that reduce barriers and drive growth for women-owned businesses.

Gary Kallenbach, UPS chief procurement officer, and, Estrella Cramer, UPS supplier diversity director, received the Platinum distinction award on behalf of UPS and were recognized in front of an audience of more than 1,500 business leaders at the WBENC Summit & Salute to Women’s Business Enterprises award ceremony that took place March 23, 2017, in New Orleans.

“Our UPS supplier diversity process ensures that the small, minority and woman-owned businesses that drive economic development in the communities we serve are at the forefront of our procurement operations,” said Larry Darrow, president, UPS Global Business Services. “We are honored to collaborate with WBENC to make the business world a more diverse and competitive environment and foster a climate for entrepreneurial success.”

In 2016, UPS spent close to a billion dollars in procurement with small and diverse businesses in the United States. The company is working to increase that number significantly over the next few years. A recent third-party study on the economic impact of UPS spending with small, minority, women, veteran-owned businesses and other diverse suppliers led to over $2.3 billion in contributions to the U.S. economy (U.S. GDP) and sustained more than 14,200 jobs in the supply chain and local communities.

See the full post on UPS’s Pressroom website.

Brake training classes

Brake training classes that will be held at the MTAC building have been scheduled for spring/summer 2017.

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).

Attend these classes in order to meet the federal standards, and add a Certificate of Training to the personnel file of everyone who works on your brake systems. Instructor John White of FleetPro® is certified in all types of braking systems and has been responsible for training hundreds of mechanics and drivers in commercial brake systems. John’s teaching style and his active classroom environment makes him one of the most sought after instructors in the Northeast.

  • Air System Brake Seminar will be held at MTAC on May 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Commercial Brake Seminar will be held at MTAC on June 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • ABS Seminar will be held at MTAC on July 11 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Register online today.

Online supervisor training from Fleet Screen

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) (49 CFR part 382.603) require that supervisors be trained so that they can properly determine whether reasonable suspicion exists to require a driver to undergo drug and alcohol testing as required under §382.307. MTAC is pleased to announce that our new vendor partner, Fleet Screen, can provide this training through an on-line web course. The Fleet Screen course complies with federal regulations, which state that the training shall include the physical, behavioral, speech, and performance indicators of probable alcohol misuse and use of controlled substances.

Fleet Screen’s DOT training courses are “mode specific” and include rules and guidance from their respective agency. This means that their convenient, web-based training will train your Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulated employees. They do also have mode-specific training for Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) regulated employees as well.

Fleet Screen is willing to provide a discount on the supervisor training to MTAC members. They will offer the training for $35, down from the usual cost of $44 for each session. To take advantage of this, your company must be a MTAC member AND a participant in the drug and alcohol testing consortium run by Fleet Screen.

To take advantage of this offer, contact Fleet Screen by phone at (866) 622-0044 ext. 701 (Laurie Biggs) or ext. 204 (Shelley Sullivan).

To transfer to the MTAC testing consortium run by Fleet Screen, click here to download an enrollment form, and then submit it to Laurie and Shelley.

FMCSA withdraws proposed safety fitness determination rule

Excerpt from Transport Topics article:

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has withdrawn its proposed motor carrier safety fitness determination rule as it awaits a major study of the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program by the National Academies of Science, according to the agency’s March 22 announcement.

FMCSA previously announced that, rather than move to a final rule, a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking would be the next step in the rulemaking process.

“However, after reviewing the record in this matter, FMCSA withdraws the NPRM and cancels the plans to develop a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” the agency wrote in a prepublication Federal Register posting. “The agency must receive the correlation study from the National Academies of Science, as required by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, assess whether and, if so, what corrective actions are advisable, and complete additional analysis before determining whether further rulemaking action is necessary to revise the safety fitness determination process.”

Proposed in January 2016, the rule’s new methodology would have determined when a motor carrier is not fit to operate commercial motor vehicles based on the carrier’s on-road safety data; an investigation; or a combination of on-road safety data and investigation information.

“[American Trucking Associations] has long supported using data to target enforcement activities against bad actors in our industry,” said ATA President Chris Spear. “However, numerous reviews have shown flaws in the data and in the CSA system, so it makes sense to withdraw this rule which would have used CSA data to create publicly available fitness ratings.”

The withdrawal decision follows a request made by several dozen truck and bus trade organizations to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to rescind and delay the proposal.

Read more online at Transport Topics.