Posts Tagged “FMCSA”

FMCSA Announces New ELD Waiver for Ag Transporters

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A4By U.S. Department of Transportation

The U.S. DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced additional steps to address the unique needs of the country’s ag industries and provided further guidance to assist in the effective implementation of the Congressionally-mandated electronic logging device (ELD) rule without impeding commerce or safety.

The Agency is announcing an additional 90-day temporary waiver from the ELD rule for agriculture related transportation.  Additionally, during this time period, FMCSA will publish final guidance on both the agricultural 150 air-mile hours-of-service exemption and personal conveyance. FMCSA will continue its outreach to provide assistance to the agricultural industry and community regarding the ELD rule.

“We continue to see strong compliance rates across the country that improve weekly, but we are mindful of the unique work our agriculture community does and will use the following 90 days to ensure we publish more helpful guidance that all operators will benefit from,” said FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez.

Since December 2017, roadside compliance with the hours-of-service record-keeping requirements, including the ELD rule, has been steadily increasing, with roadside compliance reaching a high of 96 percent in the most recent available data. There are over 330 separate self-certified devices listed on the registration list.

Beginning April 1, 2018 full enforcement of the ELD rule begins. Carriers subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) that do not have an ELD when required will be placed out-of-service. The driver will remain out-of-service for 10 hours in accordance with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) criteria.  At that point, to facilitate compliance, the driver will be allowed to travel to the next scheduled stop and should not be dispatched again without an ELD.  If the driver is dispatched again without an ELD, the motor carrier will be subject to further enforcement action.

The Agency is committed to continuing the ongoing dialogue on these issues.

The waiver and guidance will be published in the Federal Register.

For more information on ELDs please visit:

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Cool Runnings: President Discusses Economy, Fuel and Electronic Logs

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DSCN1372+1Owner operators working with Cool Runnings Ltd. seem to be doing a little better financially this year, but company president Fred Plotsky would still like to see a more robust economy.

Based in Kenosha, WI and observing its 29th anniversary this month, Cooling Runnings  has the majority of its business hauling produce out and California and the Northwest.

Plotsky cites lower diesel fuel prices as a primary factor in produce truckers doing better this year.  Despite less money going for fuel, the owner operators his truck brokerage works with are saying they still need $2 per mile as freight rates continue to struggle keeping up with the increasing cost of operation.

“Business is better than last year,” Plotsky observes, “but it still could be better.  There is an up tick in the economy, although I still see it as pretty flat to maybe slightly better at best.”

Cool Runnings has a history of working on a regular basis with the same produce truckers.   The company provides advances to drivers, but Plotsky says one sign they are doing better, is fewer advances in pay are requested.  “This leads me to believe the drivers have more money in their pockets,” he says.

Still, Plotsky knows that excessive rules and regulations on the trucking industry are taking its toll.  For example, he points to the electronic logs being pushed this year by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

“A lot of the older guys are not going to plug it (electronic logs) into the engine.  They are saying, ‘you know what, I’m not going to do this, and they are hanging it up,” Plotsky says.  While implementing electronic logs is not that complicated, he says it is matter of excessive FMCSA government oversight.

His truckers generally feel they are doing a good job of providing service and doing it safely.  They are not hurting anyone, and trucking legally for the most part.

At the same time, Plotsky notes in produce trucking it is a challenge when there are so many multi pick ups.  Delays at loading docks make it more difficult to operate legally.  Yet, drivers are going to have to find a way to do this when the electronic logbooks become mandatory.

“With the multiple pick ups and delays in loading, it makes it a challenge to make on time deliveries.  If you don’t get out of California on Monday night or early Tuesday morning, you can’t make it to Chicago on Friday.  You can drive it, but not legally,” Plotsky concludes.





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Obama Signs Bill Suspending Enforcement of HOS Rule

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DSCN4326President Barack Obama signed on December 16 the appropriations bill that halts enforcement of the requirement that a drivers’ 34-hour restart include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods and the once-per-week limit of the restart.

Though the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is required by the law to produce a Federal Register notice to alert drivers, enforcers and other stakeholders of the change, the stay of enforcement is now legally in effect, meaning truck operators no longer have to abide by the restart provisions put in place in July 2013.

Aside from the suspension of the restart provisions, however, the law requires the FMCSA to study the rules’ impacts on drivers, carriers and safety. The agency must present a report to Congress concluding the rules boost safety before the restart provisions can go back into effect.

Hours of Service Study Required

Congress is requiring the report study provide data that determines whether or not the 2013 restart provisions can provide a greater net benefit for the operational, safety, health and fatigue impacts they cause.

To gain the necessary data, the FMCSA will have to study two groups of drivers that are “each large enough to produce statistically significant results, according to the bill. One group will operate under post-2013 restart provisions and the other under pre-2013 restart provisions. The study must be conducted for at least five months with the FMCSA comparing the two groups based on safety critical events — crashes and over fatigue levels of drivers.

The law orders that the drivers being studied, which will be derived from a range of applications and fleet sizes, will have their fatigue levels gauged by Psychomotor Vigilance Tests, actigraph watches and cameras and “other on-board monitoring systems that record or measure safety critical events and driver alertness.”

After complete data collection, the FMCSA must submit a final report that would be sent to a review panel consisting of “individuals with relevant medical and scientific expertise.”

Throughout the entire process, however, the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General must keep tabs on the agency to ensure the methodology used in the data collection is appropriate and the panel to review the study is qualified.

Timeline of the Study

The FMCSA must initially submit a report to the DOT’s Office of the Inspector General within 60 days of the bill signing (December 16), outlining how it plans to execute the study. Within 30 days of receipt of the report, the OIG must report back to the agency and House and Senate committees with any changes.

After receiving the OIG’s recommendation, the FMCSA then has up to 210 days to produce its final report based on its research. The agency must also make its report available to House and Senate committees and post it online.

The OIG must review the report and within 60 days tell the FMCSA and Congressional committees if the agency complied with the requirements of the funding law.

Only after it addresses any concerns of the OIG — and if it concludes the restart provisions enhance safety — would the FMCSA be cleared to enforce the 2013 restart rules again.


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Driver Rex Criddle: Has a Million-Mile Award and Some Good Advice

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DSCN0583Too often, if not most often it seems, company drivers and leased owner operators have plenty of criticism for the carrier with whom they work.

Driver Rex Criddle of Downey, ID can’t say enough good things about his company, Doug Andrus Distributing LLC of Idaho Falls, ID.  It is a family owned carrier that has been around a long time (DOT number is 000234).

“They (Andrus) are a religious, hard working people who treat their people right, plus they maintain good values,” Rex says.  He notes the fleet owner drove trucks for 20 years and got a good understanding of the profession before moving into the office.  Andrus runs about 250 trucks with flatbed, reefer and bulk divisions.

Rex says even though he is happy working for the fleet operation, he takes nothing for granted.

“They could sell out tomorrow to a Swift (Transportation),  and things could change,” he states.  “I always tell my kids, the first check that bounces, you get another job.  The first fuel card that won’t work, you start looking elsewhere for work.”

He also pragmatically states the DOT may appear at your door one day and shut down your operation.  Again, he doesn’t take anything for granted.

One change in trucking Rex likes are the new electronic logbooks.  He says they are more simple, plus easier to fill out.

“It’s not worth having logbook violations on your record,” he states.  “It seems the DOT is more interested in safety violations than anything.”

For example, he points to the CSA-2010 rules administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA),  which many in transportation view as unfairly rating the safety of motor carriers.

“I seriously wonder how many of the older drivers want to continue putting up with all these rules, while the younger kids want to be home more often,” he says.

At one time in his career Rex was farming, then 12 years ago began driving for a regional carrier.  He says both trucking and farming have a lot in common and both provide a lot of independence.

Rex has been driving for Andrus Distributing for 10 years.  He had an accident while driving early in his career, but since this time has had a perfect driving record.  This also has resulted in Rex receiving his Million Mile Safe Driving Award.

“It always seems to be the (truck) driver’s fault in an accident.  These four wheelers don’t seem to realize how dangerous getting hit by an 80,000-pound truck can be.  You have to learn how to relax while driving.  I learned this driving a farm tractor.”

Rex does a lot of team driving with his wife Lori Criddle, except when she is spending time at home with her grand children.

“I think my wife is a better driver than I am.  We make a good pair.  Team driving can either strengthen your marriage, or it can ruin it,” he observes.  “She’s done a great job of raising the kids.  One of daughter just recently got married.”

Rex and Lori have one child, while he has another six children from a previous marriage.

The couple drives a Freightliner Cascadia.  It is equipped with an automatic transmission.   The truck has a 70-inch sleeper and pulls a 53-foot Utility trailer with a Carrier Transcold reef unit.

Rex had just delivered a load of Idaho potatoes to the Atlanta State Farmers Market.  He was then going to pick up a load of beer in Albany, GA for delivery to Vancouver, WA. 




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Jimmy DeMatteis: Takin’ It to the Streets Fighting the Feds

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JimmyDeMatteisWhen it comes to being proactive in working for improvements in the trucking industry, by speaking out and pushing for improved, if not fewer regulations, Jimmy DeMatteis certainly seems to do his share.

You might say he’s takin’ it to the streets fighting the bureaucracy in an effort to improve the trucking industy for everyone.

As the president of Des Moines Truck Brokers in Norwalk, IA, his company was named in 2009 as the National Broker of the Year by the National

Jimmy DeMatteis                                       Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC).  DeMatteis serves on the executive committee of ASECTT (Alliance for Safe Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation) and  is chair of the Transportation Intermediaries  Association (TIA) Political Action Committee.

While involved in these groups, not to mention others, he recently led a $12 million building project that now is the new headquarters for Capital City Fruit and Des Moines Truck Brokers.

A lot of DeMatteis’ efforts have been through the ASECTT trying to get some sanity put into the CSA-210, which is administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).  In the past he has blasted federal bureaucrats over the program which rates the safety of motor carriers.  It also ends up rating many safe carriers as being unsafe, he states.

“The CSA scores are unproven, unreliable and based on factors the FMCSA doesn’t even understand,” DeMatteis states.  “There has been  massive amounts of costly research conducted and proven to be faulty.  Yet every motor carrier on the road is subject to the CSA score at any given time.  This could result in them being black balled from hauling freight.”

DeMatteis accuses the FMCSA of refusing to recognize their responsibility in this whole equation.  His problem with this federal agency is it wants to “deputize” the trucking industry to police and do the job the bureaucrats should be doing.  Instead, the FMCSA expects shippers and brokers to judge  carrier fitness.

He points out  FMCSA bases its safety program on percentages and no matter how many bad carriers are removed from the industry, there are always going to be 35 percent that are going have “alerts.”  This is because the system only allows 65 percent of carriers to be considered safe operations at any one time.

As a result, DeMatteis contends some shippers are including requirements in contracts based on CSA scores that blacklist many good, small trucking companies.  This results in many of these good small fleets going out of business because shippers and brokers refuse to work with them, due to so-called unsafe scores.

In the April issue of  Dashboard, DTMB’s online newsletter, it lists goals of the ASECTT regarding CSA-210.  They are:

Short Term Goal:

 To require the FMCSA to redact publication of CSA 2010 methodology pending rulemaking or to otherwise affirm that data cannot be used in a court of law to establish vicarious liability and that shippers and brokers may rely upon the Agency’s current fitness determination of satisfactory, unsatisfactory or unrated (which is equivalent to satisfactory).

Long Term Goal:

To reestablish primacy of FMCSA for certifying safety, including preemption of state law.

For more details, visit



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Feds Issue Exemption for Carriers Helping with Oklahoma Tornado Destruction

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IMG_5935Darrell L. Ruban, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Field Administrator, declared a regional emergency as of 10 a.m. EDT, May 21, 2013, for the state of Oklahoma following the May 20 tornado that cut a wide swath of destruction through the town of Moore and surrounding areas.

The declaration provides broad regulatory exemptions to CFR Parts 390-399 for truck carriers and operators providing emergency relief materials and services to Oklahoma customers. Drivers for motor carriers operating under the declaration must obtain and keep a copy of the declaration in their possession. Carriers, drivers and vehicles currently under an out-of-service order are not eligible for the exemption.

The declaration will be in effect “for the duration of the emergency or 15 days (June 5, 2013), whichever is less.”

In reply, refer to: MC-EFS-SV


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Des Moines Truck Brokers, Inc.: Advocates for Small Carriers Being Successful

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It is difficult to find anyone in the trucking industry more aware of the checkered past of truck brokers than Jimmy DeMatteis.  For this reason, and simply because it is the right thing to do, Jimmy goes out of his way to make sure those people behind the wheel of the big rigs get a fair shake.

As president of Des Moines Truck Brokers, Inc. (DMTB) he knows the reputation of the company’s 43 year history is on the line with each load.  It all began in 1951 with his dad, James A. DeMatteis (Jim Sr.) hauling produce.  By 1960 he was a small fleet owner and three years later became a broker of exempt commodities.

Jim DeMatteis Sr. with LJ Mack circa 1960

Jim Sr. started DMTB in 1969 and remained a one-man operation until 1984 when James R. DeMatteis (Jimmy) came aboard.

“We have always been advocates for small carriers and their success,” Jimmy says.   To back up his claim, just go the company’s website at:  where it states, “Our reputation for paying carriers is second to none”.  DMTB has a policy to pay all carriers within one day of receiving the carrier’s freight bill.

Jimmy has served on the board of the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) for the past 6 years “because I believe in our industry and I want to see us do it right.”

Jimmy also serves on the Executive Committee of The Alliance for Safe, Efficient Competitive Truck Transportation (ASECTT) whose main focus is addressing “all the fallacies and flaws in CSA-2010.”  He notes the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) decided it was “going to ram this program down the throat of every motor carrier.”  As a result ASECTT filed a lawsuit.  It resulted in the FMCSA having to reevaluate the way it rated carriers through alerts in its safety management systems.  The ratings system has resulted in safe carriers being rated as unsafe. “We want FMCSA to do their job. Their job is to determine the safety fitness of the motor carrier community. Instead they have chosen to deputize the motor carrier, shipper, and broker communities to do their work”

“We want the FMCSA to state they are the party responsible for a carrier’s safety fitness, not the shipper, not the broker,” he states.  “Shippers are putting things in contracts based on CSA scores that black list many good small trucking companies. Carriers get put out of business because shippers or brokers won’t work with them as they are deemed unsafe by these scores or alerts.”

The problem comes from the FMCSA basing its program on percentages.  “No matter how many bad carriers you get rid of, you are always going to have 35 percent that are going to have alerts.  This is very damaging to small carriers.  It works well for large carriers and gives them a distinct advantage,” Jimmy states.

Based inNorwalk,IA, DMTB recently moved into new facilities shared with a sister company, Capital City Fruit, with whom it has a 43-year relationship.

Jimmy emphasizes small trucking operations are the backbone of the trucking industry.

“I want to think we at DMTB get it.  We treat others with respect, we pay fast and take time to talk to our drivers,” he says.  Des Moines Truck Brokers has a policy if a driver walks into its office with bills of lading and the staff has not met that trucker before, everyone stands up, and introduces themselves and shakes his or her hand.

“We in the logistics industry all do important work, but at the end of the day, the person doing the most important work, is that guy or gal out there behind the wheel,” Jimmy states.

For more information about Des Moines Truck Brokers, Inc. go to or call 800-247-2514

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Troy Pecka: Small Fleet Owner Still Loves the Business

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Troy Pecka has been in the trucking business for nearly a quarter of a century and has pretty much seen it all, or at least come fairly close to it.  There is something to be said for someone who started out trucking out as a 19-year-old, and now owns his own small fleet at the “ripe” old age of 43.

The owner of Troy Pecka Trucking Inc. doesn’t have the time to get behind  the wheel of a big rig anymore as much as he’d like, in part because he’s dealing with all the rules and regulations to keep the drivers of his 15 trucks and three leased owner operators doing what they do best – truck.

Troy is following in the footsteps of his dad who started trucking at age 18 and didn’t stop until his was 76.

Troy’s small fleet, based in East Grand Forks, MN, specializes in hauling a lot of loads of frozen foods and fresh red potatoes to the Southwestern and Southeastern USA.  Return trips lean heavily towards mixed fresh produce going into Edmonton, Alberta.

When asked what rules and regulations in trucking he disliked most, Troy would not commit to any particular ones.  “All of these things increase your cost of operation,” he notes.

There could be the refusal of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to delete inspection reports from a driver’s record, even after that driver is found not guilty by the courts.

Or how about the FMCSA’s flawed enforcement program in CSA’s Safety Management Systems.  There have been reports of safe drivers being listed as unsafe in the system.

Another example, could be the Federal highway legislation passed last July.   It calls for the FMCSA to  require electric on-board recorders (EOBRs) in all heavy duty trucks.  Many in trucking are concerned it will lead to driver harrasment by authorities.  This could involve electronic recording of a driver’s hours of service, vehicle location (through a GPS), with information available to law enforcement.

It is examples such as these which makes it more difficult to get good qualified drivers.  He says the older drivers are leaving the industry and there are not nearly enough young drivers coming on board.  After all, long haul trucking certainly is not an 8 to 5  job.

Despite all the government red tape, Troy still  enjoys the business.  He just doesn’t have the time to truck as much as he used to, although taking command of one of his big rigs to someplace like Fargo isn’t out of the question.

“I just can’t get it (driving) out of my blood,” he states.

One of his favorite trucks (pictured) is a 2007 red conventional Kenworth.  It houses a 475 hp Caterpillar diesel, riding on a 260-inch wheelbase with a 13-speed transmission.  He also like the 72- sleeper featuring all the amenities.  It pulls a 53-foot Utility trailer housing a Thermo King reefer unit.




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Is Mexican Truck Pilot Program Falling Apart?

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Is the Mexican truck border program falling apart?  If so, that would be music to the ears of many, if not the majority in the trucking industry.  On the other hand, produce shippers and others will not be too happy.

As reported here on August 23rd, a federal audit would be coming soon on the cross-border pilot program involving Mexican based trucking companies being allowed to operate in the USA.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimated that 46 Mexican carriers would participate in the three-year pilot program.  The feds were planning to conduct 4,100 inspections during this time.  However, only four Mexican trucking companies have participated, involving only four trucks and five drivers.  A total of 89 inspections have been conducted by the FMCSA.  Ouch!

The controverisal program has created some strange bedfellows in trucking.  For example the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters seldom agree on much of anything.  However, they’ve tightly held hands fighting this issue based around fears that a flood of Mexican trucks in the USA will drive down freight rates, many of which are not much different from 20 years ago.  There also are concerns by owner operators over safety issues with Mexican equipment and lack of training among Mexican drivers.

Meanwhile produce shippers and others favoring Mexican trucking access to USA markets like the idea of greater competition leading to lower freight rates.

If the pilot program falls apart, with few Mexican trucking companies interested in participating, some produce shippers are concerned the Mexican government will re-implement tariffs of everything from apples to pears and potatoes – with some tariffs being as high as 20 percent.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), under which this pilot program is operating, requires the USA to permit cross-border trucking.  However, legal challenges over the years by American carrier groups have prevented Mexican trucks from operating north of the border for over 10 years.



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Senate Bill has “Big Brother” Mandate

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(Grain Valley, Mo., April 25, 2012) – Despite being previously struck down by a federal court, a costly and unnecessary mandate has been included in the U.S. Senate’s highway surface transportation funding legislation.

U.S. truckers see it as the last thing a struggling trucking industry needs right now and want to see it removed from the bill.

 A provision in S.1813, also known as MAP-21, requires all long-haul trucks to be outfitted with electronic on-board recorders, or EOBRs, capable of real-time tracking for monitoring of trucks and drivers. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the largest trade organization representing professional truckers and small-business truckers, contends EOBRs are an unproven technology, providing no cost benefit or highway safety improvement.

  “It’s exorbitantly expensive while providing no safety benefit whatsoever,” says Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president. “This is being done under the guise of compliance with federal hours-of-service regulations, but it is actually a way for large motor carrier companies to squeeze more ‘productivity’ out of drivers and increase costs for the small trucking companies they compete with,” said Spencer.

 A regulatory version of an EOBR mandate was struck down by a federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit because the FMCSA failed to deal with the harassment of drivers. Noted in that ruling was the fact that no research has shown how such a mandate would do anything to improve highway safety. 

 “EOBRs are no more reliable than paper log books for tracking hours of service,” said Spencer. “The device only tracks when the wheels are moving, not taking into consideration the colossal waiting times spent by truck drivers at shipping docks. Plus, we hear every day from truckers whose companies use the devices to  harass truckers into driving more hours.”

 The current EOBR rulemaking has been estimated by the Obama administration to cost the industry $2 billion if enacted.  In response to a request made by U.S. House Speaker John Boehner to disclose all rulemakings in excess of $1 billion, President Obama listed the current EOBR rulemaking as one of the seven most expensive regulations pursued by the administration. 

 “It is more than twice the cost of hours-of-service regulations, which by the way are still in flux and not truly finalized. Yet the FMCSA presses on, seeking additional authority from Congress for yet another mandate,” said Spencer.

 OOIDA sent a letter to the Senate conferees April 25th on behalf of its members expressing all of these concerns.

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