Traffic volumes growing, affecting driver jobs

April 8th, 2015

The Federal Highway Administration has released some statistics showing that traffic volumes are growing, which will impact driver jobs.

Americans drove 237.3 billion miles this January, a significant increase over the previous January, prompting calls for greater investment in transportation infrastructure to address projected record-setting traffic volume in coming years.

The new estimates underscore projections made by Secretary Foxx in “Beyond Traffic,” a 30-year framework for the future of transportation, which projects a 43 percent increase in commercial truck shipments and population growth of 70 million in the next 30 years.

All states recorded traffic increases in January, except for five: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, which is likely due to unusually high snowfall in those states.  At 12.1 percent, Indiana led the nation for the second month in a row with the largest single-state traffic increase compared to the same month a year earlier, followed closely by Colorado at 9.3 percent and Alaska at 9.1 percent.

“These estimates are a central part of the research we conduct to understand and anticipate changing conditions on our roads and bridges,” said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. “Increased demand on America’s interstate system requires long-term infrastructure investment to ensure our nation can compete globally.”

Crash weighting analysis will affect driver jobs

April 2nd, 2015

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will focus their efforts on a new crash study to determine (1) whether Police Accident Reports provide sufficient, consistent, and reliable information to support crash weighting determinations, (2) whether a crash weighting determination process would offer an even stronger predictor of carrier crash risk than the current assessment method, and (3) how the agency might reasonably manage and support a process for making crash weighting determinations, including the acceptance of public input, a move that will affect driver jobs.

The study examined Police Accident Reports obtained from two national dataset: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS).

Various statistical and analytical approaches were employed to assess crash weighting benefits including an analysis of motor carriers involved in single-vehicle fatal crashes over time.

Presently, the agency considers all recordable crashes involving a commercial motor vehicle occurring in the preceding 24 months as an assessment within its Safety Measurement System, which quantifies the on-the-road safety performance of motor carriers to prioritize enforcement resources.

It is estimated that the annual costs for operating a system to process Police Accident Reports, including the acceptance of public input and reviewing appeals, would be between $3.9 million and $11.2 million.

The public is invited to review the full report and provide feedback.

New smartphone app for driver jobs

March 25th, 2015

Those with driver jobs will now have a new Smartphone app to provide safety data on interstate commercial truck and bus companies.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued the app.

Called “QCMobile,” (QC standing for “Query Central”), the new app is expected to be a particularly valuable tool for state and federal law enforcement personnel, as well as insurers, brokers, freight-forwarders, and others interested in reviewing the USDOT registration and safety performance information of motor carriers.

The new QCMobile app, which requires no log-in, immediately reveals whether the federal operating status of the carrier is authorized while helping to expedite an “inspect/pass” decision by a certified commercial vehicle safety inspector.

“FMCSA will continue to use all the tools, resources, and partnerships available to further strengthen commercial vehicle safety across the country,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling.  “Aggressive safety enforcement, research, and technology development and deployment, combined with strong stakeholder participation, will continue to be directed toward removing unsafe trucks and buses from our roadways and protecting every traveler from needless harm.”

“By making currently available safety information on interstate truck and bus companies more easily accessible for both law enforcement personnel and the general public, we are providing greater transparency while making our roadways safer for everyone.  Safety is our highest priority, so we are committed to using every resource available at our finger tips to ensure the safety of travelers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Will crash weighing analysis affect driver jobs?

March 9th, 2015

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) just released a crash analysis that may affect driver jobs.

The study examines whether Police Accident Reports provide sufficient, consistent, and reliable information to support crash weighting determinations, (2) whether a crash weighting determination process would offer an even stronger predictor of carrier crash risk than the current assessment method, and (3) how the agency might reasonably manage and support a process for making crash weighting determinations, including the acceptance of public input.

The announcement invites public comment along with a request for feedback on what steps the agency should take regarding the weighting of crash data in the agency’s systems based on the carrier’s role in a crash.

The study examined Police Accident Reports obtained from two national dataset: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS).

Various statistical and analytical approaches were employed to assess crash weighting benefits including an analysis of motor carriers involved in single-vehicle fatal crashes over time.

Changing the crash weights based on a motor carrier’s role in the crash did not appear to improve the ability to predict future crash rates when all crashes are considered.

There also was concern about the reliability of using Police Accident Reports to make this determination.

The study pointed out that implementing a crash weighting effort on a national scale would require a method for uniformly acquiring final Police Accident Reports, a process and system for uniform analysis, and a method for receiving and analyzing public input.

Will new trade opportunitie affect driver jobs?

March 2nd, 2015

Mexican motor carriers will soon be able to apply for authority to conduct long-haul, cross-border trucking services in the United States, a move that will certainly affect those holding driver jobs.

The news is a significant milestone in implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Fifteen trucking companies from Mexico enrolled in the pilot that concluded in October, crossing the border more than 28,000 times, traveling more than 1.5 million miles in-country, and undergoing more than 5,500 safety inspections by American officials.

Companies from Mexico that apply for long-haul operating authority will be required to pass a Pre-Authorization Safety Audit to confirm they have adequate safety management programs in place, including systems for monitoring hours-of-service and to conduct drug testing using an HHS-certified lab.

Additionally, all drivers must possess a valid U.S. Commercial Driver’s License or a Mexican Licencia Federal de Conductor, and must meet the agency’s English language proficiency requirements.

“I am pleased that the Department of Transportation has published its analysis of its very rigorous long-haul, cross-border trucking pilot program. The successful conclusion of the pilot program provides the basis for the permanent resolution to this dispute,” said Ambassador Froman. “We have been, and will continue to work with Mexico to ensure that the threat of retaliatory duties will now be brought to a swift conclusion as well. Formally concluding this process will help us continue our work to expand trade and investment opportunities between our countries.”

Will training for driver jobs change?

February 18th, 2015

A committee has been established by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to update classroom and behind-the-wheel training requirements for professional truck and bus drivers, which may impact driver jobs.

FMCSA reported that it intended to establish a committee to examine minimum training requirements, including length of classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel experience, accreditation versus certification of Commercial Driver’s License training programs and schools, curricula for passenger, property and hazardous materials carriers, instructor qualifications, as well as other areas.

The first meeting of the advisory committee is scheduled for Feb. 26 and 27 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va. and will be open to the public.
The MAP-21 transportation bill directed FMCSA to establish new minimum training requirements for individuals seeking to obtain an intrastate or interstate commercial driver’s license and become a professional truck or bus operator.
“Over the next 30 years, we’re going to be relying on trucks – and truckers – to move more than 40 percent more freight than they currently do,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “With more people and freight crossing our country than ever before, this committee’s work will be critical to ensuring that commercial drivers are fully capable of operating their vehicles safely.”
“Ensuring roadway safety starts with the driver,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling.  “Finalizing new training requirements for truck and bus operators is one of my top priorities and we have tapped a group of uniquely qualified stakeholders to help us work through the details and meet this goal.”

Grants to help those with driver jobs

February 8th, 2015

A slew of grants awarded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will help those with driver jobs advance safety technology.

About $30 million in state grants are designed to strengthen commercial vehicle safety by assisting states to modernize their technology infrastructure to more efficiently collect and disseminate real-time safety data to roadside inspectors and law enforcement personnel.

FMCSA works closely with state commercial vehicle inspectors and law enforcement personnel to monitor the compliance of truck and bus companies and commercial drivers with federal safety regulations.

All violations discovered during unannounced roadside inspections, as well as all driving violations by truck and bus drivers, are entered into a national data system that can be retrieved throughout the country.

The availability of timely data to roadside inspectors and law enforcement personnel is crucial to improving safety on the nation’s highways and roads.

Through the Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks (CVISN) program, up to $25 million will be awarded to improve technological capability and promote the deployment of intelligent transportation systems applications for commercial vehicle operations.

The CVISN program focuses enforcement on high-risk operators, improves efficiency through electronic screening of commercial vehicles, and enables online application and issuance of Registration and Fuel Tax credentials.

“FMCSA has long embraced the latest technology in pursuit of our mission reducing the number and the severity of crashes involving large trucks and buses,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling.  “With advanced, real-time data tools, roadside inspectors are able to prioritize carriers for detail inspections based upon their past performance, while assisting law enforcement officers conducting on-scene crash investigations.  The value of these technological tools cannot be overstated.”

Drug testing rates will affect driver jobs

January 8th, 2015

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has reported that the annual minimum random controlled substances testing rates for those with driver jobs will remain at 50 percent through 2015.

The agency’s decision to maintain the current testing rate was based on data from motor carrier industry controlled substance lab test results, the 2012 drug and alcohol testing survey, and additional investigations, which showed that:

  • Positive test rates following an initial positive result increased by 4.1 percent from 2011 to 2012;
  • Reasonable suspicion positive test rates continued to rise sharply from 5.6 percent in 2010, to 15.7 percent in 2011 and 37.2 percent in 2012, marking a five-fold increase over the 3-year period;
  • The rate of total positive drug test results reported to DOT from independent Health and Human Services-certified laboratories increased from 95,427 positives in 2011 to 97,332 positives in 2012.  FMCSA-regulated industries comprise approximately 80 percent of the reported tests;
  • Serious controlled substance and alcohol testing violations were identified in 24 percent of recent compliance investigations; and
  • A two-week 2014 Strike Force focusing on the identification of drivers who tested positive resulted in 205 driver enforcement cases, and 138 enforcement cases against carriers for violations relating to drivers with positive test results operating a commercial motor vehicle.  These include drivers operating passenger carrying vehicles and transporting hazardous materials.

Amount of freight carried by those with driver jobs rises

January 2nd, 2015

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by those with driver jobs, rose 0.3 percent in October from September.

This is according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS).

The September index was revised to 121.4 from 121.5 in last month’s release.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.

The Freight TSI increased for the fourth month in a row in October, reaching an all-time high. The increase was a return to growth after a decline in June.  This October rise was the eighth monthly increase in 2014. However, due to the decline in June and the more substantial decline in January, the total 2014 increase has been only 2.2 percent, less than the 2.8 percent increase during same period in 2013. After dipping to 94.6 in April 2009, the index rose 28.8 percent in the succeeding 66 months.

Freight shipments measured by the index were up 2.2 percent in October compared to the end of 2013.

Freight shipments are up 23.9 percent in the five years from the post-recession level of October 2009 and are up 9.2 percent in the 10 years from October 2004.

The TSI for passengers rose 0.4 percent in October from its September level (Table 6).  The Passenger TSI October 2014 level of 120.1 was 1.6 percent above the October 2013 level.

Holiday tips for those with driver jobs

December 29th, 2014

The American Trucking Association has delivered some holiday tips for those with driver jobs.

“Safety for all motorists is our industry’s highest priority,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “While wishing everyone a happy holiday season, we also want to wish them a safe one. Following the rules of the road and sharing the road can help everyone – including certain jolly old elves – to arrive at their destinations on time and safely.”

The ATA recommends that drivers:

Buckle up: Safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45% and are a simple way to increase your safety on the road.

  • Slow Down: With the extra highway congestion due to holiday travel, speeding becomes even more dangerous. Allow plenty of space between you and other vehicles and reduce your speed.
  • Remove ice and snow from your vehicle: Clear your windows and roof of snow to insure you have maximum visibility and avoid creating a hazard for the vehicle behind you. Don’t allow ice and snow to create additional blind spots on your vehicle.
  • Don’t drive impaired: The holidays are often a time for merriment, but if you’ve had too much to drink, don’t get behind the wheel.
  • Prepare your vehicle for long distance travel: Check your wipers and fluids. Have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance before you leave your home can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road.
  • Be aware of the vehicle in front of you: Leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front so you can avoid snow and ice blowing onto your windshield or maneuver around patches of ice.
  • Do not cut in front of large trucks: Remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.
  • Be aware of truck blind spots: When sharing the road with large trucks, be aware of their blind spots. If you can’t see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, then the truck driver can’t see you.
  • Keep your eyes on the road: Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents. Even just two seconds of distraction time doubles the chances of an accident. Use your cell phone when stopped and never text while driving.
  • Plan ahead: Before you get on a highway, know your exit by name and number, and watch the signs as you near the off-ramp. Drivers making unexpected lane changes to exit often cause accidents.
  • Check your emergency kit: Contents should include: battery powered radio, flashlight, blanket, jumper cables, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable foods, maps, tire repair kit and flares.
  • Be aware of changes in weather: Weather conditions across the U.S. will be changing – especially during early mornings and evenings with the cold. Watch for ice, snow and other weather related obstacles.
  • Leave early and avoid risks: Leave early so you won’t be anxious about arriving late and to accommodate delays. Road conditions may change due to inclement weather or traffic congestion.
  • Avoid extreme weather conditions: Ice, hail and snow make roads difficult to travel. Try to avoid driving through extreme weather conditions, and travel during daylight.