Diesel continues slow, steady upward climb

From Transport Topics.

The national average retail price of diesel rose for the fifth consecutive week, up seven-tenths of a cent to $2.437 a gallon, the Energy Information Administration reported July 6.

Even with the increase from $2.43, the price of trucking’s primary fuel is 61.8 cents a gallon less than it was a year ago.

Read the full article online at Transport Topics.

McConnell expects new virus relief bill this month

From Transport Topics.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted Congress will pass one final coronavirus rescue package later this month and appealed to everyone in public life to urge people to wear masks to control the spread. …

McConnell said he’s “pretty sure” that a bill will come together in the next couple of weeks. He said it will be crafted in his office with consultation from the administration and then negotiated with Democrats, who endorsed a $3.5 trillion package approved by the House in May. Senate Republicans have dismissed that plan and are discussing a package of as much as $1 trillion in total spending.

Read the full post at Transport Topics online.

FMCSA may “Exercise Discretion” enforcing random drug testing

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that in some locations, it may “exercise discretion” and not enforce minimum annual random drug and alcohol testing rates in areas still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the ongoing impacts of the emergency, motor carriers may not be able to fully comply with 49 CFR Part 382, that mandates certain testing requirements.

The notice, dated July 6, 2020, can be found online at the FMCSA website. In part, the notice states…

In recognition of these barriers to full compliance in some locations, the Agency may exercise discretion to determine not to enforce the minimum annual percentage random testing rates for drugs and alcohol, and the requirement that each employer ensure that the dates for administering random drug and alcohol tests are spread reasonably throughout the calendar year, as set forth in 49 CFR 382.305(b)(1) and (2) and 49 CFR 382.305(k), respectively. FMCSA emphasizes, however, that employers capable of meeting these requirements must continue to do so.

Employers must continue to select drivers at the required rate of 50 percent of their average number of driver positions for controlled substances, and 10 percent for random alcohol testing during the calendar year 2020. If a test is unable to be completed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the motor carrier must maintain written documentation of the specific reasons for non-compliance.

Read the complete notice [PDF].

Senator Crighton visits J&S Transport

A recent visit by State Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Third Essex) to J&S Transport in Lynn gave John Hamel the opportunity to share some valuable information.

They discussed new technologies in the industry and reviewed the different features of today’s trucks. The senator is a strong advocate for the trucking industry. John was able to provide him information on various topics to help him get a better understanding of what it takes to run a trucking operation.

They discussed general cost of operation, clean diesel technologies, on-road safety protocols, data collection mechanisms and many other facets of the operation. John spoke to the damage the Rolling Stock tax has on trucking companies operating in Massachusetts.

They also discussed the impact of COVID-19 in our industry, and concluded with a ride around the city in one of J&S Transport’s new vehicles.

IRP plates expiration extended by three months

The RMV has extended the expiration date for International Registration Plan (IRP) plates from June 30 until Sept. 30, 2020.

Law enforcement agencies have been made aware that many jurisdictions have granted waivers or extensions for registration dates.

While the new expiration date for IRP registrations provides flexibility for RMV business partners and customers, the RMV currently accepting and processing IRP registrations and encourage you to renew your plates now.

Click here for information on how to renew your IRP plates.

Jury awards in trucking cases rising at “exponential pace”

From Fox Business.

While lawmakers weigh raising the mandated insurance coverage minimum for the trucking industry, new data shows that cases with so-called nuclear verdicts have increased dramatically throughout recent years.

Read the full post online at Fox Business.

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut – New quarantine restrictions on travelers

The Governor’s of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have announced a joint incoming travel advisory that all individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 quarantine for 14 days. Unfortunately, as of this moment, the announcement did not indicate whether the quarantine requirement would include truck drivers.

Our understanding is that essential workers, including truck drivers, are not subject to the 14-day quarantine as long as they are practicing social distancing precautions and other measures that safeguard the public health. It is expected that the additional protocols for essential workers will be issued soon since these new travel restrictions went into effect today.

FMCSA grants waiver from some CDL and CLP regulations

Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 National Emergency – For States, CDL Holders, CLP Holders, and Interstate Drivers Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles.

Summary

FMCSA grants, until September 30, 2020, a waiver from certain regulations applicable to interstate and intrastate commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders and to other interstate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). FMCSA has initiated this action in response to the President’s declaration of a national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b) and the public health emergency declared by the Health and Human Services Secretary related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and section 4 of Executive Order No. 13924, Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery, 85 FR 31353 (June 9, 2020).

This waiver is effective July 1, 2020 and expires on September 30, 2020.

The full waiver, including a PDF is available online at the FMCSA website.

A Notice of Enforcement Policy Regarding Expiring Driver’s Licenses and Medical Examiner’s Certificates During COVID-19 National Emergency has also been posted.

FMCSA will exercise its enforcement discretion to not take enforcement action for the following:

  • 49 CFR 383.23(a)(2) – a CLP or CDL holder operating a CMV with an expired license, but only if the CLP or CDL was valid on February 29, 2020, and expired on or after March 1, 2020.
  • 49 CFR 383.37(a) – a motor carrier that allows a CLP or CDL driver to operate a CMV during a period in which the driver does not have a current CLP or CDL, but only if the CLP or CDL was valid on February 29, 2020, and expired on or after March 1, 2020.
  • 49 CFR 391.11(b)(5) – a CMV driver (i.e., CLP, CDL, or non-CDL license holder) or motor carrier that allows a CMV driver to operate a CMV during a period in which the driver’s operator license has expired, but only if the driver’s license was valid on February 29, 2020, and expired on or after March 1, 2020, and the driver is otherwise qualified to drive under 391.11.
  • 49 CFR 391.45(b) – a CMV driver or motor carrier that allows a CMV driver to operate a CMV during a period in which the driver does not have the current medical certificate and any required medical variance as required by 49 CFR 391.45(b), but only if the driver has evidence of a medical certification and any required medical variance that was valid on February 29, 2020 and expired on or after March 1, 2020.

FMCSA extends Emergency Declaration

Please review the most recent updated FMCSA update.  It is important to note that it does not cover all the carriers that have been covered up to now, so please review carefully.

New online tool: Commerce routing during disasters

The Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and Idaho National Laboratory has launched a Commercial Routing Assistance app that could help fuel distributors and others navigate through emergencies.

The federally funded app is free to users and was developed in partnership with trade groups, including the Petroleum Marketers Association of America. The app incorporates vetted data to plot routing options, providing state-by-state information on regulatory waivers, government closures, prohibitions, restrictions on movement, and other orders that affect intrastate and interstate commerce, PMAA said in an announcement.

There are two URLs to access the Commercial Routing App.

The All Hazards Consortium website includes a brief video tutorial with an overview and directs you to the Commercial Routing Assistance website.