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FMCSA Withdraws Increase of Financial Minimum Proposal

Monday, June 26, 2017
In 2013, we began sharing information about the House Bill to increase bodily injury/property damage insurance for motor carriers from $750,000 to $4.4 Million. We promised to keep our clients and friends informed.

On May 19th of 2014, our own John Burtch made a presentation to Congress regarding the proposed increase for financial minimums for motor carriers. He highlighted the history of the financial requirements, and how there was no data analysis to develop the current requirement. The limits were picked in order to force insurance carriers providing the limits to increase their scrutiny of the safety efforts of their motor carrier policy holders.

“If no cost analysis was utilized when setting the current rates, then how can an index factor be applied to a number that was not data based?” -John Burtch

Earlier this month, FMCSA officially withdrew the proposal to increase the financial responsibility for motor carriers. They provided the following explanation:

“FMCS has determined that it has insufficient data or information to support moving forward with the rulemaking proposal at this time.”

As result, we are happy to wrap up our four-year coverage of this topic.

If you have any questions, please contact us at any time.

Changes to the NMFTA Bill of Lading

Wednesday, November 02, 2016
The National Motor Freight Traffic Association recently made headlines with its changes to the Uniform Straight Bill of Lading. We’ve received calls from brokerage companies and motor carriers alike to better understand these changes.

Most concerns are about the rewording of Section 1 (a) and the removal of the “Party in Possession” wording. Several headlines falsely stated that the liability now lies exclusively on the Designated Carrier named on the Bill of Lading. The change in wording should not diminish the liability of others involved in the transportation. [1] (i.e. Brokers are not subject to Carmack).

Additionally, the issue regarding tariffs under section 5 (a) has been raising eyebrows. Though motor carriers have not filed tariffs since 1995, they have been permitted to use tariffs that are available to shippers upon request.  These tariffs constitute the requisite notice that a limitation of liability exists.

We hope this helps resolve some of your immediate concerns regarding these chances.

If you have any questions about how this or any other legislation affects your business, please contact us at any time.

Commenting on the USDOT Speed Limiting Devices Proposal

Monday, September 26, 2016
In the continued pursuit of safer roads, the USDOT is proposing speed limiting devices on all heavy trucks.  The proposal highlights projected safety and cost benefits that will help the transportation industry.

Though the DOT is clear on the pros of lowering the speed of heavy vehicles, they are not clear on where the limit should be set.  The proposal references the top speeds of:
  • 68 mph
  • 65 mph
  • 60 mph
The comments period is open through November 7, 2016.  However, the ATA is asking for an extension.

Please make your voice heard by submitting your comments here.

Click here to view the proposal. 

FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): The Series Part 3

Thursday, June 16, 2016

After 11 years of work, on April 6th, 2016, the FDA published the Final Rules regarding the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food (“STHAF” or “Rule”). The Rule apply to Shippers, Receivers, Loaders, and Carriers engaged in transportation operations for food whether or not the food is offered or enters interstate commerce. It also includes foreign entity that ship food into the United States for later consumption or distribution in the United States.

Click below for a quick reference to the key changes that will affect Motor Carriers.

Food Safety Modernization Act Webinar- Transportation Rules & Regs

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Final Transportation Rules and Regulations have been released for the FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act. 

For those who have stayed current with our blog, we are happy to report the majority of the Proposed Rules where adopted. There are a few changes we want to share with you. 

  • Trucking Companies employing less than 500 full-time equivalent employees; and/or that have less than $27,500,000 in annual receipts will be classified as Small Businesses and will have 2 years to becoming compliant. i.e. 04/06/2018
  • "Shipper" was broadened to include property brokers or any other entities that arrange for transportation of food in the United States.
  • "Loaders" is a newly defined term. Persons who load food onto a motor or rail vehicle (possible warehouse operation exposure)
  • The Motor Carrier must provide adequate training in basic sanitary transportation practices to its personnel (drivers, loaders) engaged in relevant transportation operations.
You can read all of the Final Rules here.

We will be hosting another webinar dedicated to the new rules and regulations on Wednesday, June 8th at 11am EST. It will be a 1 hour long and will allow you an opportunity to ask questions of industry experts.

If you are interested in participating, please contact:
Andy Engardio

If you have any questions, please contact us at any time.

Paper Work: Written Cell Phone Policy

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

A cell phone policy seems straight forward. Don’t Use Cell Phone on the Road. It’s the law in many states in personal autos, and it’s a written rule by the FMCSA. So why should you include a cell phone policy in your manual:

  • Drivers can face penalties up to $2,750 and disqualification for multiple offenses. Motor carriers are also subject to civil penalties up to $11,000.
  • All cell phone violations will also impact SMS results (10 Points)
  • MVR cell phone convictions are a disqualifying offense with any insurance companies
  • Cell phone records are listed as discoverable and can be used in court

When developing employee handbooks, we often think of the exposures of the drivers on the road; but what about the dispatchers? Look at (b) on the both of the rules from FMCSA:

§Part 392.80 Prohibition against texting
(a) Prohibition. No driver shall engage in texting while driving.
(b) Motor Carriers. No motor carriers shall allow or require its drivers to engage in texting while driving.
§Part 392.82 Using a hand-held mobile telephone
(a) No driver shall use a hand-held mobile telephone
(b) No motor carrier shall allow or require its drivers to use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV

One of the issues is that some dispatchers text drivers in reference to updating them on loads. Our policy reflects not only the drivers’ responsibility, but the dispatchers’ as well. How do you share load information, and locations, and exposures ahead? How do you communicate with your fleet?

If you want to add a cell phone policy to your employee handbook, give us a call.

Keeping the Forward Facing Camera in Focus

Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Focus. Focus on the road. Focus on the conditions. Focus on the mini-van in the next lane. On your route. On your fuel. On your hours. Focus on the distracted drivers that surround you. The ability to focus for 11 hours is incredibly difficult. The average commercial driver makes 160 decisions per mile, and that adds up to over 28 million driving decisions annually.

Studies have shown that passenger vehicle drivers are at fault for 80.6% of crashes between a truck and a passenger vehicle [1]. In a court of law however, responsibility is assigned to the motor carrier in full or in part a majority of the time.

The biggest benefit of forward facing cameras (Dash Cams) is the guaranteed record of critical events. This helps protect the driver and the motor carrier from frivolous litigation because forward facing videos will help identify the truth in many accidents.

Recently a passenger vehicle slammed into the side of one of our insureds. The video shows our truck driving down the center of his lane and suddenly the camera shakes from the crash. The passenger vehicle claimed the trucker swerved into him. The video cleared the driver and the claimant’s insurance had to pay for the damages, NOT the motor carrier. If your driver didn’t do anything wrong, you will have proof.

However, if the video reveals the motor carrier to be at fault, then it’s a learning opportunity for the driver and the motor carrier. We at Dawson Transportation Services feel it’s better to know the truth than to rely on a “he said/ he said” argument.

Many owner operators have begun purchasing their own dash cams from truck stops to confirm their story. They realize the importance of having 10 seconds of video if something were to happen. The footage can be used to improve safety systems and driving practices.

Insurance companies are beginning to team up with fleet monitoring companies to offer discounts on services and equipment. With the new EDL rules coming out we expect more teaming up from motor carriers, EDL companies, and video recorders. Make sure to research the best system for your company.

[1] Blower, D. The Relative Contribution of Truck Drivers and Passenger Vehicle Drivers to Truck-Passenger Vehicle Traffic Crashes, Publication No. UMTRI-98-25, University of Michigan Transportation Research Instituted, Ann Arbor, MI June 1998

FMCSA – Safety Fitness Rule Proposal

Thursday, January 21, 2016
The FMCSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register to establish new methods for determining a motor carrier’s fitness to operate in interstate and intrastate commerce.

The proposed rule will eliminate the existing three-category rating system of “satisfactory-conditional-unsatisfactory” in favor of a single determination of “unfit.”

Unlike the current system, which is based entirely on the FMCSA’s on-site investigation, the proposed safety fitness determinations will be based on roadside inspection, on-site investigations, or a combination of the two.

While the proposed rule does afford carriers that receive the “unfit” rating the opportunity to petition the FMCSA to upgrade the rating in limited circumstances, carriers whose proposed ratings become final will be prohibited from operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate or intrastate commerce.

According to the proposed rule, the FMCSA will assess carriers on a monthly basis using fixed failure metrics for each of the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (“BASICs”). Carriers that fail two or more of the BASICs in a given month will receive a proposed “unfit” rating. BASIC failures can stem from:

1. On-road safety data exceeding the “absolute failure standards” of a given BASIC

2. A single acute or critical violation discovered by the FMCSA in a given BASIC during an investigation

3. Some combination of the two

The proposed “absolute failure standards” for each BASIC differ from the current intervention thresholds in that they would reflect the carriers’ own performance against the failure standard and would not be impacted by other carriers’ performance.

The NPRM, is available on the FMCSA’s website (click here). They are seeking comments on several components of the proposed rule. Initial comments are due by March 31, 2016. The FMCSA will be accepting response comments through the end of April.  

FMCSA Lowers the Drug Testing Rate

Tuesday, January 05, 2016
Starting January 1st, 2016, the FMCSA has lowered the annual minimum random drug-testing rate for CDL holders from 50% of the average number of CDL driver positions to 25%.

The decision was based on three consecutive years of federal surveys that found less than 1% of tests to be positive for controlled substances. This change will help reduce the testing burden faced by the industry, and has received support from the American Trucking Association.

If at any time the positive rate for controlled substances exceeds 1%, the testing rate will revert back to 50%. But for the calendar year of 2016, carriers should plan for 25%.
This change does not alter the minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing. That will remain at 10% for 2016.

 If you have any questions, please contact us at any time.

Anti-Indemnification Language

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

We are proud to report that Ohio has become the 44th State to enact Anti-Indemnification Language for Motor Carrier Contracts.

Some shippers have been passing their liability onto the trucking industry and forcing the motor carriers to bear the weight of the shippers’ actions, as they have the power in the relationship. This Bill will help level the playing field for trucking companies when negotiating contracts.

Dawson Transportation Services’ President, John Burtch, provided testimony as part of the process and is pleased with the outcome. 

“We are very excited regarding the passage of this legislation and proud the Ohio Trucking Association, under the leadership of Tom Balzer, spearheaded the effort. Tom asked our office for some case support and for personal testimony, which we were happy to provide. This legislation is fair and brings Ohio into line with several other states that have passed similar laws. Kudos to Tom B and his staff at the OTA for a strong lobbying effort.”- John Burtch

The law will go into effect in March 2016.

If you have any questions regarding any of your contracts, please contact us at any time.

Dawson Transportation Services

Dawson Companies
- An AssuredPartners Agency
3900 Kinross Lakes Parkway #300 •
Richfield, Ohio 44286 •
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