Latest Trucking News | FMCSA, ELD, OOIDA, IFTA, ATA, CDL | Rig Hauler

FMCSA

A large and complex industry like trucking requires meticulous and thorough regulation to ensure the safety of those involved, as well as to the people outside the trucking industry. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established with exactly this objective in mind. The FMCSA was set up within the Department of Transportation (DOT) on January 1, 2000 in accordance with the Motor Safety Improvement Act of 1999. Previously a part of the Federal Highway Administration, the FMCSA issues and enforces the FMCSA safety regulations to reduce commercial motor vehicle (CMV) related accidents and injuries. The headquarters of the FMCSA is located in Washington DC and employs more than a 1000 people in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, all with one mission in mind: to ensure the safety of truckers.

The primary function of the FMCSA is to bring about highway safety as well as ensure safety of CMV drivers. Thus they are responsible for:

  • Introducing data driven regulations for motor carrier safety without compromising efficiency.
  • Creating awareness among carriers, truckers and the public.
  • Networking with Federal, State, and local enforcement agencies, as well as other agencies tied up with the various aspects of trucking to bring down bus and truck-related accidents and ensure highway safety.

The main programs of FMCSA are:

  • Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)
  • The CSA ensures that bothtruckers and agencies comply with the required fmcsa safety regulations in order to warrant highway safety. They oversee this by conducting safety checks and crash investigations. Instances of noncompliance are subject to penalty. The Safety Measurement System or the SMS consolidates data and keeps a tab on trucking companies that violate regulations and don’t pay attention to safety.

  • National registry
  • The FMCSA maintains an extensive list of medical examiners who are deemed proficient to carry out medical procedures and issue medical certificates to commercial motor vehicle drivers. These medical examiners are required to attend regular quality training and testing. It is mandatory for all commercial motor vehicle drivers to get their medical certificates issued by the medical examiners who are listed in the National Registry.

OOIDA

The Owner Operator Independent Drivers' Association (OOIDA) was brought into existence in 1973 with a single, guided objective: to protect and fight for the rights of Commercial motor vehicle drivers. The trucking industry forms a vital part of our society and the OOIDA is an international trade organization that works in the interest of truckers as well as owner operators. Owner-operators as the name suggests are essentially small business people who own and operate their own fleet of commercial motor vehicles. The OOIDA has its headquarters near Kansas City in Grain Valley, Missouri and its 158,000 members include truckers (both men and women) from all 50 states and from Canada, who own and operate more than 240,000 individual heavy-duty trucks as well as truck fleets.

The functions of OOIDA are to:

  • Promote equal and fair business environment for truckers.
  • Encourage highway safety and responsibility
  • Be actively involved in making rules and regulations that affect commercial motor vehicle drivers.
  • Participate in organizations and conferences.

The decision making body of the OOIDA consists of 21 members, all of who were or are currently professional truckers. This board of 21 truckers dictates the OOIDA's stance on any and all issues pertaining to truckers and the trucking industry.

The OOIDA has a trade publication which goes by the name of Land Line Magazine which keeps professional truckers abreast of the latest developments in the trucking industry. For years now the OOIDA has been serving as the voice of commercial motor vehicle drivers and plays a crucial role in ensuring that they receive the benefits they are rightfully entitled to.

Department of Transportation

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT or DOT) is a federal Cabinet department of the U.S. government concerned with transportation. It was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, and began operation on April 1, 1967. It is governed by the United States Secretary of Transportation.
Its mission is to "Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible, and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future."
Prior to the Department of Transportation, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Transportation administered the functions now associated with the DOT. In 1965, Najeeb Halaby, administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency – the future Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) – suggested to U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson that transportation be elevated to a cabinet-level post, and that the FAA be folded into the DOT.
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HOS

Hours of Service (HOS) regulations are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and govern the working hours of anyone operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in the United States. These regulations apply to truck drivers, commercial and city bus drivers, and school bus drivers who operate CMVs. These rules limit the number of daily and weekly hours spent driving and working, and regulate the minimum amount of time drivers must spend resting between driving shifts. For intrastate commerce, the respective state's regulations apply.
The HOS's main purpose is to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue. This is accomplished by limiting the number of driving hours per day, and the number of driving and working hours per week. Fatigue is also prevented by keeping drivers on a 21- to 24-hour schedule, maintaining a natural sleep/wake cycle (or circadian rhythm). Drivers are required to take a daily minimum period of rest, and are allowed longer "weekend" rest periods to combat cumulative fatigue effects that accrue on a weekly basis.
Enforcement of the HOS is generally handled by DOT officers of each state, and are sometimes checked when CMVs pass through weigh stations. Drivers found to be in violation of the HOS can be forced to stop driving for a certain period of time, which may negatively affect the motor carrier's safety rating. Requests to change the HOS are a source of contentious debate, and many surveys indicate some drivers get away with routinely violating the HOS. These facts have started another debate on whether motor carriers should be required to use ELDs in their vehicles, instead of relying on paper-based log books.

Women in Trucking

Over the last few years, the trucking industry has seen an increase in the number of women workers. This is no mean feat considering the challenges the industry offers.. But, despite the possible challenges, several women are stepping out of their comfort zones and gearing up to work in their 18 wheelers. This growing involvement of women in the trucking industry brought about the formation of the Women in trucking (WIT) association in 2007. The organization was established with the objective of encouraging women to join the industry. The WIT is dedicated in its mission and works to promote the accomplishments of professional female truckers and to address the difficulties faced by them. The WIT also mentors and assists female truckers in order to keep them updated about world of trucking.
The CEO of WIT, Ms Ellen Voie is an inspirational figure to the women in this industry. She holds a Class A commercial driver's license (CDL), which is issued for professional truckers who handle vehicles weighing over 26,001 pounds and transport sizeable quantities of hazardous materials. Moreover, she was honoured as Transportation Innovator Champion of Change by the White House.
The WIT regularly conducts functions like the Annual Salute to Women Behind the Wheel dedicated to celebrating the service of professional women truckers. Through such events, the WIT continues to reinforce its mission and offer a pillar of support to the women who have dared to make a change.

ATA

The American Trucking Associations (ATA), founded in 1933, is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. ATA represents more than 37,000 members covering every type of motor carrier in the United States through a federation of other trucking groups, industry-related conferences, and its 50 affiliated state trucking associations. Former Governor of Kansas Bill Graves is the ATA's President and CEO.
According to the ATA's mission statement, their goals are ATA's mission is to "effectively advocate and communicate efforts designed to improve safety and profitability for our members," in accordance with the organization's strategic plan and vision."
ATA is composed of motor carrier members and is governed by a board of elected carrier representative members. A smaller executive committee is composed of elected members that set policies and priorities. Allied members, representing suppliers to the trucking industry, also have representation within the organization. All ATA members are provided access to experts in safety, engineering, law, finance, communications, information and logistics technology, regulatory and legislative affairs, and a number of other areas of service to the trucking industry. As members of the federation, ATA's councils are dedicated to continuing education and policy in specific trucking disciplines including safety management, maintenance, finance and accounting, information technology, logistics, and more.

HVUT

The heavy vehicle use tax or HVUT is a fee assessed annually on heavy vehicles operating on public highways at registered gross weights equal to or exceeding 55,000 pounds.
The gross taxable weight of a vehicle is determined by adding:

  • the actual unloaded weight of the vehicle fully equipped for service
  • the actual unloaded weight of any trailers or semitrailers fully equipped for service customarily used in combination with the vehicle, and
  • the weight of the maximum load customarily carried on the vehicle and on any trailers or semitrailers customarily used in combination with the vehicle

If the gross taxable weight is from 55,000 to 75,000 pounds, the HVUT is $100, plus $22 per 1,000 pounds over 55,000 pounds. For over 75,000-pound vehicles, the maximum HVUT is $550 per year. The table below illustrates these categories.

Gross Taxable Weight Heavy Vehicle Use Tax Rates
Below 55,000 lbs No Tax
55,000-75,000 lbs $100 plus $22 per 1,000 pounds over 55,000 lbs
Over 75,000 lbs $550

There are a number of groups that receive exemptions from the HVUT, including:

  • The Federal Government
  • State or local governments, including the District of Columbia
  • The American Red Cross
  • Nonprofit volunteer fire departments, ambulance associations or rescue squads
  • Indian tribal governments (for vehicles used in essential tribal government functions)
  • Mass transportation authorities

There are also a number of vehicles exempted from the HVUT:

  • Commercial vehicles traveling fewer than 5,000 miles annually
  • Agriculture vehicles traveling fewer than 7,500 miles annually
  • Vehicle not considered highway motor vehicles — e.g., mobile machinery for non-transportation functions, vehicles specifically designed for off-highway transportation, and non-transportation trailers and semi-trailers
  • Qualified blood collector vehicles used by qualified blood collector organizations

Exempt carriers may be required to file tax forms with the IRS or notify the local department of motor vehicles (DMV) of the exempt status being claimed.

VMT

A vehicle miles traveled tax, also frequently referred to as a VMT tax, VMT fee, mileage-based fee, or road user charge, is a policy of charging motorists based on how many miles they have traveled.

It has been proposed in various states in the United States and elsewhere as an infrastructure funding mechanism to replace, or supplement the fuel tax, which has been generating billions less in revenue each year due to increasingly fuel efficient vehicles.

In the United States, a VMT fee currently exists as part of a limited program for 5,000 volunteers in Oregon and for trucks in Illinois. Internationally, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Switzerland have implemented various forms of VMT fees, limited to trucks. New Zealand also has such a system applying to all heavy vehicles and diesel-powered cars. France, Belgium and Russia all have truck-based systems under development.

Instead of using a tax on fuel consumption as a way of financing transportation infrastructure, a VMT fee charges motorists based on their road usage measured in mileage. These charges can be either a flat fee (e.g., a fixed number of cents per mile, regardless of where or when the travel occurs) or a variable fee based on considerations such as time of travel, congestion levels on a facility, type of road, type and weight of the vehicle, vehicle emission levels, and ability to pay of the owner. Or it can be a combination of flat and variable fees.

There are different ways a VMT fee can be implemented. In a broad sense, the application of VMT fees is envisioned through the use of an onboard vehicle device to capture the distance driven by a vehicle through GPS or other technology and relate that to a method of charging, which could involve payments at the gas pump, billing, or automatic deductions for a prepaid customer account. GPS units on board a vehicle can record distance, assign it to the appropriate taxing jurisdiction, and calculate the amount owed. Only the final billing information would have to be released outside the unit, to protect privacy.

IRS

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The government agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The IRS is responsible for collecting taxes and administering the Internal Revenue Code, the federal statutory tax law of the U.S. Its duty to maximize tax revenue entails providing tax assistance to taxpayers, as well as pursuing and resolving instances of erroneous or fraudulent tax filings. The IRS has also overseen various benefits programs, and enforces portions of the Affordable Care Act.

The IRS originated with the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, a federal office created in 1862 to assess the nation's first income tax, which was to raise funds for the American Civil War. The temporary measure provided over a fifth of the Union's war expenses and was allowed to expire a decade later. In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified authorizing Congress to impose a tax on income, and the Bureau of Internal Revenue was established. In the 1950s, the agency was renamed the Internal Revenue Service and significantly reorganized. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 modernized the IRS and restructured it along a private sector model.

In the 2015 fiscal year, the IRS processed almost 240 million returns and collected approximately $3.3 trillion in revenue, spending 35¢ for every $100 it collected.

Truck Platooning

  • Truck Platooning comprises a number of trucks equipped with an advanced driving support systems – one closely following the other.
  • Forming a platoon with the trucks driven by smart technology and mutually communicating.
  • Truck platooning is innovative and potential for the transport sector.
  • Platooning combines advanced technologies to improve safety and fuel efficiency.
History
  • 1939 - American futurist Norman Bel Geddes put his visions forward on magnetic trails built into the road to move and guide cars along for the Futurama ride that General Motors showed off at the 1939 World’s Fair.
  • Mid-1950s - GM played with all of that in a more practical way with real experiments, especially the magnetic road.
  • 1972-73 - European ARAMIS project had "trains" of as many 25 small transit vehicles running at about 50 mph -- just a foot apart -- using ultrasonic and optical range sensors.
  • late 1980s until 1995 - the Prometheus Project aimed to create intelligent vehicles within an intelligent road system to encompass all the key areas like communications, vehicle control, and artificial intelligence to produce driverless cars.
  • 1994 - the California Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH) project in a joint effort with state and federal governments showed an Automated Highway System that used automated longitudinal control of a four-car platoon.
  • 1997 - They ramped that up to an eight-car platoon and not long ago it successfully operated several three-truck platoons at intervals of about 14 feet.
  • More recently we had SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment), a European Commission co-op project that ran from 2010 to 2012. Its goal was to develop strategies and technologies that will ultimately make platoons viable on public highways and bring environmental and safety benefits. It was the first such trial to use automated control in both lateral and longitudinal directions.
  • More importantly, it was the first such project to demonstrate platooning on public roads, in Spain. With the use of vehicle-to-vehicle communications (V2V), local vehicle signals such as speed and sensor data are shared among the vehicles in the platoon. The results clearly showed a benefit, with measured fuel savings of up to 20%.
  • Interestingly, SARTRE people see the possibility of monetizing a platoon. Followers might pay a fee to join, with the lead vehicle earning an income for his trouble. What an interesting idea.
Newer Projects
  • Peloton Technologies, a Silicon Valley outfit that's been working with Volvo and Peterbilt and others. Volvo is an investor, as is Denso.
  • Peloton’s truck platooning system is an integrated safety, efficiency, and analytics platform that builds on advanced safety technologies such as collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control systems.
Peloton – How it works?

Connected Braking & Acceleration

  • It uses Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) communication to connect the braking and acceleration between the two trucks.
  • The V2V link allows the lead truck to control the acceleration and braking of both trucks virtually simultaneously, reacting faster than a human or even radar sensors could.

Aerodynamic Benefit

  • The reduction in aerodynamic drag of two-truck platoons provides unprecedented fuel savings for both the trailing and the leading truck.
  • Independent fuel efficiency testing by a major fleet, NACFE, and the U.S. Departments of Energy and Transportation has shown double digit fuel savings.
  • The aerodynamic improvement allows the front truck to save fuel along with the rear truck.
Technology behind Peloton
  • Forward looking Camera - A video camera allows drivers to see views from the other vehicle on the in-cab system display when platooning.
  • System Display with Real¬-Time Video - Drivers use the system display to identify platooning opportunities, view system status, and view the linked video. When platooning, the front driver can see his or her blindspots from the back driver's perspective. The back driver sees a clear view of the open road from the front driver’s perspective.
  • Driver-centric Design - The Peloton System has been designed from the ground up to be intuitive for drivers to use via a simple set of controls dedicated to platooning. The system ensures only trained, validated drivers are able to engage the platooning system.
  • Radar-Based Collision Mitigation System - A radar mounted to the front bumper of every truck tracks dozens of objects simultaneously 50 times per second, constantly monitoring the road ahead. In the event of a sudden slowdown or obstacle, the system can engage the brakes faster than a human driver to avoid a collision. When platooning, the rear truck is linked to the front truck's radar so the braking of the two trucks is synchronized.
  • Acceleration & Braking Controller - An acceleration and braking controller allows the Peloton system to maintain a steady gap between two platooning trucks by controlling the speed of the rear vehicle to match the front vehicle. Each driver maintains steering control during a platoon. This link, combined with shared collision mitigation systems, allows for closer platooning following distances.
  • GPS - Highly accurate GPS provides precise location data, enhancing vehicle control safety and location-based functionality.
  • Cellular & WiFi Communications - Cellular & WiFi modems connect vehicles through an encrypted channel to Peloton's cloud-based Network Operations Center (NOC). The NOC tells trucks where and when they can platoon and under what conditions. Trucks relay information about road conditions and truck status to the NOC. The Peloton system minimizes the cost of transmission by only sending high-priority data over cellular. Low-priority is retained on the truck until it reaches a WiFi hotspot.
  • DSRC V2V Communications - Platooning is the first commercial application of Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communications technology to improve safety and fuel efficiency today. We use 5.9 GHz Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) for a reliable truck-to-truck link. We ensure its security through a variety of strong encryption protocols.

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