2016 Call on Washington set for Sept. 27-29

MTAC has scheduled its 2016 “Call on Washington” for September 27-29. Members interested in traveling to Washington, D.C. to meet with U.S. Senators and Representatives from Connecticut should mark their calendars for this event now.

This is a great event which allows MTAC members to get valuable face time with the members of Congress and/or their senior staff, so that the members of Congress can hear directly from business owners about some of their concerns.

MTAC adds industry news feed to website

MTAC is pleased to announce a new feature that has been added to its website. The “Industry News” is an automatically-updating news feed from some of the top publications focusing on the commercial transportation industry. This tab displays the titles and opening sentences to articles coming from well-respected publications such as Transport Topics News, Fleet Owner, Work Truck Magazine, and Overdrive magazine. This is a great tool that will allow members to visit MTAC’s website to get current industry news from multiple sources in one convenient location. Simply click the article’s title or the “read more” link to be taken directly to the publication’s website to see the entire article. Visitors to the Industry News page can also click the publication’s logo to be taken directly to their main web page.

The news feeds are set to automatically update so that the most recent articles from each publication are displayed. MTAC members are encouraged to visit this page often to stay up to speed on trucking industry news.

Use of current Certified Medical Examination form extended

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced that certified medical examiners may continue to use current driver examination forms until April 20, 2016.

As part of the 2015 Medical Examiner’s Certification Integration Final Rule, medical examiners were required to use the revised Medical Long Form (MCSA-5875) and Medical Examination Certification (med card) (MCSA-5876) beginning Dec. 22, 2015. However, in a recent notice published in the Federal Register, FMCSA announced that CMEs may continue to use the current forms until the grace period ends on April 20, 2016.

According to FMCSA, this action is being taken to ensure that Medical Examiners have sufficient time to become familiar with the new forms and to program electronic medical records systems.

MTAC will continue to sell the current forms, and will also let members know when the new forms are in stock and available for sale.

FMCSA launches streamlined URS process

On Dec. 17, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced they have launched a new, simplified online registration process for truckers, brokers and equipment providers. The system, which went active Dec. 12, is the first phase of the Unified Registration System (URS) that combines multiple reporting forms into a single “smart form” that streamlines the registration and renewal process, improves efficiency, reduces errors and strengthens safety for the motoring public.

From Transport Topics

“URS combines various forms that carriers, freight forwarders and brokers currently use to register and update their information with the agency into a single, online registration application,” FMCSA said. Only the initial registration by new applicants will be done using the URS online application. FMCSA estimates URS ultimately will reduce costs to industry by approximately $9 million in time saved and fees incurred over a 10-year period. “When fully implemented in 2016, URS will enable FMCSA to more readily identify unfit carriers and detect unsafe truck and bus companies seeking to evade agency enforcement actions, including civil penalties, by attempting to regain USDOT registration by registering as a purported different, unrelated business entity,” the agency said.

Additional information on the URS can be found at the FMCSA’s website.


FMCSA lowers random drug testing level to 25%

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced it will lower the random drug testing rate for controlled substances from the current 50 percent to 25 percent for the upcoming calendar year, effective Jan. 1, 2016. FMCSA conducts a random survey to ensure compliance with the set testing rates, known as the Management Information System (MIS) or MIS survey.

According to federal regulations, when the data received in the MIS for two consecutive calendar years indicate the positive rate for controlled substances is less than one percent, the FMCSA Administrator has the discretion to lower the minimum annual testing rate. While the MIS survey resulted in a positive rate of less than one percent for the 2011 and 2012 testing years, the acting administrator chose to maintain the 50 percent rate for another year. The 2013 testing year also showed a positive rate of less than one percent, so after three years, the acting administrator approved a lower testing rate.

If at any time the positive rate for controlled substances exceeds one percent, the testing rate will revert back to 50 percent. A copy of the announcement is available at the FMCSA website.

Note this does not change anything regarding the need for carriers to comply with the federal drug and alcohol testing regulation, nor will it change anything regarding MTAC’s drug and alcohol program administered by partner Gregory & Howe. Members participating in the drug and alcohol testing consortium will continue to be notified by Gregory & Howe when their drivers have been selected for a test. The only potential impact is that there is a possibility a company’s drivers will have a lesser chance of being selected for a random test.

MTAC president visits Gregory & Howe

This week, MTAC President Joe Sculley visited the office of Gregory & Howe, the company that administers MTAC’s highly successful drug and alcohol testing program. Through MTAC’s partnership with Gregory & Howe, the drug and alcohol testing program has grown to become one of the largest consortiums in the state.

The need for a good drug and alcohol testing program is so vital to the transportation industry that MTAC maintains an open-enrollment policy. Hundreds of companies in Connecticut and beyond trust MTAC and Gregory & Howe to help them achieve compliance with federal regulations regarding drug and alcohol testing.

Federal regulations state that Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders must be randomly tested throughout the year. In addition to random testing, CDL operators are also subject to pre-employment testing, post-accident testing, reasonable suspicion testing, return to duty testing, and follow-up testing as a consequence of testing positive in an earlier test.

These regulations can be difficult for individual companies to comply with, especially smaller businesses. However, getting involved with this program greatly simplifies compliance for participants. Members simply sign up once with MTAC, and then work directly with Gregory & Howe from everything to adding/dropping drivers from the pool, to having the actual testing conducted. Members interested in joining the program can complete this enrollment form to get started.

Hours of Service Provision

Congress is set to pass an omnibus spending bill that would fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2016. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) portion of the bill contains a provision regarding one aspect of the 34 hour restart provision in the Hours of Service (HOS) regulation. The specific provision is one in which FMCSA had mandated that the 34 hour restart must contain two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods.

Congress temporarily suspended that requirement last year, meaning that the restart could be used during any 34 hour period. The language in this omnibus bill requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to demonstrate a statistically significant improvement in “all outcomes related to safety, operator fatigue, driver health and longevity, and work schedules…” before the1 a.m. to 5 a.m. requirement is reinstated.

This is important because FMCSA specifically cited driver health as the justification for rewriting the rule and including that provision. This language would effectively permanently suspend the consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. and 168 hour/week restart provisions.

The language states that the provision is suspended until FMCSA “establishes that commercial motor vehicle drivers who operated under the restart provisions in effect between July 1, 2013, and the day before the date of enactment of such Public Law demonstrated statistically significant improvement in all outcomes related to safety, operator fatigue, driver health and longevity, and work schedules, in comparison to commercial motor vehicle drivers who operated under the restart provisions in effect on June 30, 2013.”

Once the spending bill is passed by both the U.S. House and Senate, it will be sent to President Obama who is expected to sign it into law.


MTAC members can save with BestPass

Through MTAC’s agreement with BestPass, members can save time and money on tolls in surrounding states. MTAC members can get a discount on service fees, and, because of our bulk purchasing power, save as much as 20 percent on tolls by using the service.

BestPassMembers should consider using BestPass in order to take advantage of using one transponder that allows for quick toll payment (including additional/volume discounts) on major thoroughfares such as: the New York State Thruway, Pennsylvania Turnpike, New Jersey Turnpike, NYC Bridges & Tunnels, and the Maryland Transportation Authority highways, bridges & tunnels, among others.

Additionally, getting involved in this program will allow for simple, consolidated account management. Invoices will be an inclusive monthly statement of all toll fees, normalized to the calendar month, which will ask for a single, simple payment for all toll usage.

Visit the BestPass website and contact MTAC if you have questions.

MTAC visits Coastal Carriers

This week, MTAC President Joe Sculley visited MTAC Vice Chairman John Pruchnicki’s business, Coastal Carriers of Connecticut. Coastal Carriers has built a reputation for safe and reliable transportation services to the petroleum industry. They are a 24/7/365 carrier that efficiently responds to all scheduled and emergency deliveries. Their state of the art dispatch technology assures efficiency and cost savings for customers. Their professional and knowledgeable staff is always available to respond to the needs of customers.

With three terminals strategically located in Ansonia, Conn., Bloomfield, Conn., and Newburgh, N.Y. they are able to efficiently serve customers throughout the region. They are dedicated to professionalism and quality service achieved through their commitment to safety, reliability, efficiency, and personalized service.

FMCSA releases Electronic Logging Device rule

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has released its long-awaited final rule required Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). The four main elements of the ELD Final Rule include:

  • Requiring commercial truck and bus drivers who currently use paper log books to maintain hours-of-service records to adopt ELDs within two years. It is anticipated that approximately three million drivers will be impacted.
  • Strictly prohibiting commercial driver harassment. The final rule provides both procedural and technical provisions designed to protect commercial truck and bus drivers from harassment resulting from information generated by ELDs. (A separate FMCSA rulemaking further safeguards commercial drivers from being coerced to violate federal safety regulations and provides the agency with the authority to take enforcement actions not only against motor carriers, but also against shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries.)
  • Setting technology specifications detailing performance and design requirements for ELDs so that manufacturers are able to produce compliant devices and systems – and purchasers are enabled to make informed decisions.
  • Establishing new hours-of-service supporting document (shipping documents, fuel purchase receipts, etc.) requirements that will result in additional paperwork reductions. In most cases, a motor carrier would not be required to retain supporting documents verifying on-duty driving time

You can read more about the final rule at the FMCSA website.