Make-A-Wish Connecticut Chapter Makes Dreams Come True

On Sunday, Sept. 13, Make-A-Wish Connecticut Chapter held its 15th Annual Wishes on Wheels Truck Convoy Fundraiser at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. All manner of big trucks were on hand to raise money for this event.

Make-A-Wish makes dreams come true granting wishes to children with life threatening illnesses. Steve Roy, MTAC’s director of safety, spotted quite a few member companies who were there to lend their support and be part of the 500 truck convoy.

Congress considers expanding tolls – Say “No”

The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates (ATFI) is working to ensure Congress does not implement a plan to expand the number of tolls on the nation’s interstates. We want to encourage all MTAC members to reach out to members of the U.S. House of Representatives Transportations and Infrastructure Committee and let them know you do not want the committee to take any steps to make tolling existing interstates easier.

Here is the full message sent by the ATFI group yesterday.

atfi-logoURGENT THREAT – INTERSTATE TOLLING EXPANSION

ATFI has learned that the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I), which has jurisdiction over the Interstate Highway System in the House, is considering expanding interstate tolling in its upcoming Highway Reauthorization Bill, likely to be released later this week. You remember that, last June, your emails helped minimize tolling expansion in the Senate’s bill – let’s repeat our success with the House! Please join us in urging the T&I Committee members to protect our existing interstates from the burden of new tolls.

Tell the T&I Committee “NO TOLLS” in just 15 seconds.

Over the past seventeen years, the Interstate Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program (ISRRPP) has served its purpose and demonstrated the unviability of tolling existing interstates. Over the years, six states have pursued tolls via the ISRRPP, and each effort failed due primarily to widespread public outcry over tolling’s negative consequences, which in some cases even triggered state legislative action to protect interstates from tolls. Pilot programs are meant to be temporary. Approaching twenty years in age, the ISRRPP has run its course and should be repealed, not expanded or made more flexible.

We all know that tolling existing interstates would have serious negative consequences. Businesses would face higher operating expenses and, where possible, seek to pass on those costs on to consumers. Commuters and travelers would face steep cost increases and hourly employees might have to work an extra hour per day just to pay the toll to and from work. Traffic diversion around tolls onto secondary routes would cause congestion, increased accidents, higher road-wear and repair costs for local governments, and slower first response times. The cost to drive will be dramatically higher.

Additionally, our Founding Fathers gave Congress the responsibility to regulate commerce; this now includes funding and maintaining the Interstate Highway System, and passing the buck to states is an abdication of duty and violates the spirit of the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause. It may be politically expedient to frame it as a “states’ rights” issue, but this ignores the safety, equity, and interstate commerce implications. Most importantly, it will not solve the highway funding problem.

Please take action by sending an email to Representative Shuster and the House T&I Committee – it only takes 15 seconds and your voice could save the interstate from new tolls.

To learn more about AFTI and join the Alliance please visit the website. In addition to joining ATFI you can stay connected by following the Alliance on Twitter at @No2Tolls and on Facebook.

Brake Safety Week – Sept. 6-12

During the week of Sept. 6-12, 2015, law enforcement agencies across North America will conduct brake system inspections on large trucks and buses to identify out-of-adjustment brakes and brake-system violations as part of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Brake Safety Week.

Outreach and educational efforts by commercial motor vehicle (CMV) inspectors, participating motor carriers and others in the industry also take place during Brake Safety Week and are integral to the success of the campaign.

Properly functioning brake systems are crucial to safe CMV operation. CMV brakes are designed to hold up under tough conditions, but they must be routinely inspected and maintained carefully and consistently so they operate and perform properly throughout the vehicle’s life. Brake Safety Week is an annual outreach and enforcement campaign designed to improve commercial vehicle brake safety throughout North America.

Brake-related violations comprised the largest percentage of all out-of-service violations cited during Operation Airbrake’s companion campaign in 2014, which is focused on both vehicles and drivers. Improperly installed or poorly maintained brake systems can reduce the braking capacity and increase stopping distance of trucks and buses, which pose serious risks to driver and public safety

Brake inspections conducted during Brake Safety Week include inspection of brake-system components to identify loose or missing parts, air or hydraulic fluid leaks, worn linings, pads, drums or rotors, and other faulty brake-system components. Anti-lock braking system (ABS) malfunction indicator lamps also are checked. Inspectors will inspect brake components and measure pushrod stroke where applicable. Defective or out-of-adjustment brakes will result in the vehicle being placed out of service.

Additional inspections may include some Level I Inspections and, in the 10 jurisdictions currently using performance-based brake testing (PBBT) equipment, overall vehicle braking efficiency will be measured.These systems include a slow speed roller dynamometer that measures total vehicle weight and total brake force from which braking efficiency is determined. The minimum braking efficiency for trucks is 43.5 percent, required by U.S. federal regulation and the CVSA Out-of-Service Criteria.

The Annual Brake Safety week is designed to concentrate on the importance of good brake maintenance. During the week, truck inspectors select trucks, for detailed brake inspections, from the millions that pass by them every day. They do not inspect every truck but look at the ones that appear to have some brake issues.

Last year, inspectors from participating agencies selected 13,305 vehicles for detailed inspection during 2014 Brake Safety Week. Of those vehicles, 2,162 were placed out of service (OOS) for brake violations.

While the out of service rate for those selected and inspected vehicles was 16.2 percent, it in no way implies that that is the OOS rate for all trucks operating in this country. It is actually good news. Of the millions of trucks that operate around this country in a week, trained inspectors found only 2,162 that had serious brakedefects. Since the program’s inception in 1998, more than 3.4 million brakes have been inspected.

“Call on Washington” set for Sept. 29 & 30

MTAC is preparing to make our third “Call on Washington” Sept. 29 and 30. Arranged by the American Trucking Association (ATA), Call on Washington provides a rewarding opportunity for MTAC’s members to visit their congressional delegation in the nation’s capitol.

mtac-delgation

Mike Riley, Mike DeGrand, Mark Giuffré, and Norm Bolduc in Washington, DC.

Last year, Norm Bolduc, of Kay’s Trucking, Mark Giuffré, of UPS, and Mike DeGrand of DeGrand & Sons joined MTAC’s Mike Riley visiting the five congressional offices and both United States senators. We met personally with members and their staff, and we received a great reception from our elected officials.

ATA does a great job of organizing the meetings. Full briefings on all current issues are provided with staff experts from the National Trade Association. This year, we’ll squeeze in a little socialization, site-seeing, and have a lot of fun.

The ATA will help us secure rooms, which will be individually billed. MTAC will pick up dinners. Transportation to and from Washington is up to you.

If you are interested in attending, contact us here at MTAC. The tentative schedule is as follows.

Tuesday, Sept. 29

  • Briefings at ATA capitol office – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Cocktail reception at ATA Capitol Hill office – 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Dinner (TBD) – 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 30

  • Breakfast at ATA Capitol Hill office & follow-up briefings – 8 a.m.
  • Depart to meet with Connecticut members of Congress – 9:30 a.m.
  • Cocktail reception at ATA Capitol Hill townhouse – 5 p.m.
  • Dinner (TBD) – 6 p.m.

 

Fall 2015 MTAC – Looking ahead

As summer ends, MTAC looks forward to cranking up the gears to some big issues and activities ahead.

Transportation Finance Authority –Governor Malloy appointed this group to make recommendations to provide the funding to pay for his ambitious 30-year $100 billion transportation infrastructure program. They have been discussing congestion pricing, tolling, public private partnerships and mileage taxes. It’s anticipated that their report will be released in October. That release will precipitate the calling of a special session of the Connecticut General Assembly to act upon their recommendations. MTAC will be very busy dealing with whatever is proposed and fighting for a constitutional amendment to protect transportation funding from further raids.

In September, Connecticut Academy of Scientists and Engineers (CASE) will release their report on the corrosive effects of chemicals used to treat roads during winter weather. The academy has held several sessions, which MTAC has attended. On a couple of occasions MTAC, with the help of Bob Hamilton of Bozzuto’s and Kim Pelletier of Truck Builders, was able to graphically illustrate, with actual corroded components, the damage these chemicals cause in motor vehicles. MTAC has been leading the charge pointing out the downside risk of the products used in many states to pre-treat road surfaces and to minimize the effects of snow and ice on roads and bridges.

At the end of September, a delegation from MTAC will participate in our third Call on Washington. This program, coordinated by American Trucking Associations, provides briefings on all of the current federal legislative issues to local business leaders. They then visit with members of Congress to lobby their own representatives. It has been called the most effective lobbying effort ever undertaken by the trucking industry. This year reauthorization of the federal highway bill, longer combination vehicles, hours of service, electronic logging devices and air quality standards will be among the topics we discuss with Connecticut’s five representatives and two senators. We would welcome others to join us on what has become an effective and enjoyable association tradition.

American Trucking Associations will hold its 2015 Management Conference and Exhibition in Philadelphia in mid-October. This annual event brings the top management of trucking companies all across the nation, manufacturers and service professionals for some high level discussions and economic activity.

MTAC will hold its 95th Annual Meeting and Conference on October 29. The results of a recent survey of members will allow us to tailor this meeting to provide the value of most relevance to Connecticut based members. This will be Mike Riley’s 28th and last annual conference. This year, the person who will succeed Mike, as president of MTAC, will be introduced for the first time to the general membership and annual meeting.

The Dump Truck Division Christmas Party will hold its traditional holiday celebration for construction companies and their drivers. Great door prizes and the camaraderie of friendly competitors ensure a fun night will be had by all.

Take the trucking industry critical issues survey

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the trucking industry’s not-for-profit research organization, launched their annual survey in August. The survey, commissioned by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), asks trucking industry stakeholders to rank the top issues of concern along with appropriate strategies for addressing each issue. The survey is in its 11th year and participation by trucking stakeholders has grown each year.

“In complex times like this it is critical that we do our part to help ensure a thriving future for the trucking industry,” said ATA Chairman of Logistics Duane Long. “With your participation, we can speak with a collective industry voice on the issues most important to us.” The results of the 2015 survey will be released at the ATA Annual Management Conference and Exhibition, held Oct. 17-20 in Philadelphia.

ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization.  It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system

Review: FMCSA DataQs system and challenges

When regular citizens receive traffic tickets incorrectly, they can contest their charges in court. While the court could still find them guilty, the prosecutor or judge may dismiss the case, reduce the charges and fines, or the case could go to trial and result in a not guilty verdict. In these cases, no points are charged to the citizen’s driver’s license.

Things are different for holders of a commercial drivers license (CDL), where points are placed on their license before a court hearing. Additionally, those points remain on the CDL unless the driver or motor carrier affirmatively submits evidence to the state in a separate proceeding proving the ticket was dismissed. Even then, the points may not be removed. That is the reality facing truckers under Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA). CSA analyzes safety-based violations and attaches a percentage score to the driver/carrier. A low score is supposed to correlate to the safety record of drivers or carriers. Therefore, it is important to strive to have the lowest possible CSA score.

The DataQs system is an electronic means for filing concerns about federal and state data released to the public by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Any user, including motor carriers, drivers, and even the general public, can submit a request for data review using the DataQs system. Interested parties can register via the FMCSA portal or through the DataQs system directly.

DataQ requests require filling out simple forms with information from the relevant report, such as the report number, date and time of event, state, and an explanation for why the data should be changed. Filers may also submit documentation to support the request. All information is routed to the organization responsible for the data. Electronic correspondence is used to communicate with the requestor when additional information is needed. DataQs is open to the public and the website provides an online help function to walk users through the process.

If one believes that information on the FMCSA websites (SMS, FMCSA Portal, MCMIS, etc.) is incorrect, they should “DataQ” immediately and submit evidence supporting the contention that the data is flawed. Challenging violations found during a roadside inspection should be done only after careful documentation and review of the situation. Claimants should investigate, verify, and submit evidence supporting their position courteously and professionally. Clear photos and statements can help substantiate a challenge.

The DataQs system is an online method for drivers and carriers to appeal charges that will negatively affect their CSA scores. The information entered is known as a Request for Data Review (RDR). Data eligible for challenges include crash data, roadside inspections and specific tickets issued to drivers. These challenges can be filed by either a driver or a carrier.

A CSA score is comprised of data reported to the FMCSA through federal and state agencies. Typically, data regarding crash accidents and roadside inspections are reported by the states. As a result, the majority of DataQs challenges are reviewed by analysts from the state that issued the citation. Once the state makes a final determination, the FMCSA cannot overturn it without the state’s consent. This leaves open the possibility of discrepancies of challenges by states.

Consider the return polices of different retail stores. Some accept returns without much consideration while others are very strict. The same applies to states reviewing challenges. Some states are more liberal than others. There are no federal standards for states to follow.

Examples of things to submit to challenge DataQs (This list is neither comprehensive nor a guarantee that your submission will be approved.)

  • Either the truck, driver or both are not related to the carrier
  • Driver’s name, CDL, CDL state, DOB is incorrect
  • A different violation is listed with the FMCSA than is listed on the roadside inspection
  • An inspection or crash has been duplicated on the federal register.
  • If a ticket has been thrown out of court, it may be possible to have the violation removed
  • If a violation has been mis-coded (say the inspection lists “393.24(d) – Improper head/auxiliary/fog lamp aiming” a 6-point violation VS. “392.33 – Improper required lamps” a 2-point violation.)
  • A tow-away in a crash for a vehicle that was drivable but the driver not available.

It is important to be selective about DataQs challenges. Throwing everything at the system and hoping something sticks is not likely to be a successful strategy. All DataQ challenges are reviewed by individuals and not computers. Petitioners should make their best case, submit substantiation for their position, be courteous, and accept the outcome resolutely. It’s a flawed system. There are often discrepancies in the process and the likelihood of success is not guaranteed. But, until the system can be improved, it is the system within which the commercial transportation industry must operate.

Members are advised to look for the MTAC training calendar for an upcoming training seminar regarding the process. This program will be presented by the appropriate personnel from the Connecticut DMV Commercial Motor Vehicle Division familiar with and responsible for the DataQs function in this state.

Proposed OSHA record-keeping obligations could be costly

The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing an amendment clarifying its record-keeping rules that could provide the agency greater ability to cite and fine an employer.

OSHA already requires employers to create and maintain records about workplace injuries and illnesses that meet certain criteria. Specifically, employers must:

  • Create and update a log of work-related injuries and illnesses (OSHA 300 Form);
  • Create and maintain injury and illness incident reports (OSHA 301 Form); and
  • Create and display an annual summary of workplace incidents (OSHA 300A Form) between Feb. 1 and April 30 of each year.

Employers must keep these records for at least five years. The five-year retention period begins on Jan. 1 of the year following the year covered by the records. For example, the five-year retention period for incident reports created on Jan. 23, June 15, and Nov. 4 of this year begins on Jan. 1, 2016.

OSHA can issue a citation and assess a corresponding fine on employers who don’t comply, but not more than six months after a violation.

A potentially costly interpretation

Under the amendment, however, OSHA interprets a violation as existing until corrected. Therefore, the six-month period to issue citations and assess penalties begins on the date of the last instance of the violation. For example, if a violation that started on Feb. 1 was corrected on May 15, the six-month period would begin on May 15 and OSHA would have until Nov. 15 to issue a citation.

OSHA also asserts that uncorrected violations are considered ongoing violations, and that each day of noncompliance is subject to a separate penalty.

Bottom line

This amendment makes it possible for OSHA to penalize employers for a record-keeping violation within six months of the last date of noncompliance, not the first date when a violation occurs. This exposes an employer to greater possibility of fines and emphasizes the employer’s responsibility to create and maintain records.

The amendment also justifies OSHA’s ability to assess penalties against a violating employer for each day of noncompliance, until the maximum penalty amount is reached or the employer corrects the violation.

marty-sheaThe comment period for this proposed rule is open to the public until Sept. 28, 2015. Individuals who would like to submit an opinion may do so via mail, fax, or electronically.

Contact Sinclair Risk & Financial Management if you have questions about this proposed amendment or OSHA record-keeping and reporting requirements.

This article was written by Marty Shea, MTAC’s insurance program manager and vice president of Sales at Sinclair Risk & Financial Management. If your organization needs assistance with job descriptions, HR compliance documents or want to review your risk management program, you can contact Marty at (203) 284-3208.

CT Mirror: Connecticut traffic likely to get worse

CT Mirror reported on a study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and the traffic-monitoring firm INRIX that the Bridgeport-Stamford area is the second-most congested area of its size in the nation, and motorists there spent an average of 49 hours in traffic tie-ups each year.

Connecticut has some of the worst traffic in the nation, with jams that cost drivers about 20 gallons of wasted fuel and dozens of hours of lost time each year, and things are likely to get worse, a new report says.

… the Urban Mobility Scorecard … [reported] Hartford was the fifth most congested medium-sized city in the nation, with drivers’ spending an average of 45 hours a year in traffic delays. New Haven came in 11th, with an average of 40 hours a year in traffic jams.

Read the full article at the CT Mirror.

Good news on alcohol and drug testing results

MTAC receives quarterly reports from the Gregory & Howe/MTAC Alcohol and Drug Testing Program. We have the largest consortium for transportation professionals in the state. I always find the results interesting and encouraging.

Our program tests CDL drivers for a variety of substances identified by law. The report for January through March 2015 shows impressive results. We conducted DOT tests on 806 specimens with eight pre-employment positives (of 284), and only one random test positive out of 477. All reasonable cause (1), follow-up (25), post accident (8), and return to duty (1) tests were clean.

This is evidence that the professional truck drivers of this state are responsible and compliant. I don’t understand why people who use drugs even bother applying for truck driver positions. Pre-employment tests, immediately disqualify them, yet they continue to apply for other driving jobs. Don’t ever put a driver into a truck without that important pre-employment drug test.

We can all be proud of the results of our random testing program. Only one positive out of 477 in a three-month period produces a positive rate of 0.0029 %.

September is Truck Driver Appreciation Month. It’s a good time to let drivers know how much we all depend upon them and appreciate them for their professionalism. And, we can all be proud of these results that prove that we don’t have a drug problem in the Connecticut trucking industry.