FMCSA says no ELD needed for livestock haulers until further notice

The Federal Motor Carier Safety Administration (FMCSA) quietly announced this week that livestock haulers are free to run on paper logs instead of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) until further notice.

Using an update made to the ELD section of the FMCSA’s website, the agency broke the news this week that Insect and Livestock Hauler are official exempt from ELD regulations.

The update reads:

Transporters of livestock and insects are not required to have an ELD. The statutory exemption will remain in place until further notice. Drivers do not need to carry any documentation regarding this exemption.

Livestock Haulers

Since the ELD Mandate went into effect last December, the FMCSA has issued several short-term waivers designed to temporarily relieve livestock haulers from ELD regulations.

The new regulation coupled with the temporary waivers left many in the trucking community confused as to whether they needed to make the switch from paper logs and when they would be required to do so.

This week’s update is intended to provide livestock haulers and law enforcement officers with definitive answers about what is expected of them for now as lawmakers could spend months or even years trying to come up with a long term Hours of Service and ELD solution.

Adding side-guard rails to semi-trailer trucks could save hundreds of lives

We have seen some terrible semi-truck crashes and now there is a push to add side guard rails to those trailers to save lives.

Two years ago in Maryland along Route 22 in Prince George’s County, a vehicle trapped underneath a semi-truck trailer. Firefighters had to rescue the driver.

This past October in Urbana, Maryland along I-270 a driver was killed after their car crashes into the rear end of a tractor-trailer on in Frederick County.

Both accidents involved a semi-truck trailer. The federal government currently requires all semi-trailers to have rear underride guards that are designed to prevent a car from going under a trailer in a crash. It doesn’t require trailers to have side guard rails.

David Zuby, the Chief Research Officer with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says “Several hundred people a year die from underside crashes with trucks.”

Zuby believes many of these side underride crashes can be prevented.

“What our research has shown is, it’s possible by fitting trucks with stronger guards, adds Zuby.”

IIHS tested two aftermarket side guards. One called AngelWing and the other is a fiberglass side skirt intended to improve aerodynamics but not to prevent underride crashes.

The AngelWing bent but didn’t allow the car to go underneath.

“They are strong enough to prevent the vehicle from going under the trailer,” says Zuby.

The fiberglass side skirt didn’t stop the car from going under the trailer.

Test results show only 28 percent of a 53-foot trailer’s length would be protected from side underride crashes with no guards but if you add side guards a driver’s protection increases to 62 percent.

Right now Congress is considering making side guard rails mandatory. The Stop Underrides Act of 2017 would require underride guard rails to be placed on the sides of trailers and on the front of trucks.

FMCSA just released visor cards to help officers and drivers that can’t figure out ELDs

There is apparently so much confusion about the proper use of Electronic Logging Device (ELD) technology out there in the trucking and law enforcement community that federal authorities were forced to put together a graphic instructional guide.

The new visor card released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) offers troubleshooting tips for both truckers and safety officers who need to navigate through a complicated web of technological devices to share a driver’s electronic log information.

Some helpful tips include that “if all else fails” during your attempt to share your electronic data with a safety officer, just print out your logs on paper or show your device’s screen to the officer.

Visor Card

Visor Card 2

Having trouble viewing the visor card? Click here.

The FMCSA says that this guide is meant to be printed out and kept under the visor of the truck in case any data transfer trouble should arise. The agency also warns that the graphics chart is not intended to replace proper training on the use of ELDs.

Since the ELD Mandate went into effect in December of 2017 and into full enforcement in April of 2018, there have been number of other problems reported within the trucking industry with the “electronic” aspect of Electronic Logging Devices. These problems include confusion about whether a device is an ELD or an older automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD) along with problems with vendors who struggle to supply devices that comply with the hastily enacted federal ELD regulations

Trucker with Narcolepsy Asks DOT for Permission to Drive

The driver argues that his condition is controlled by medication and that he hasn’t suffered from a sleeping attack in 20 years.

An Illinois man has made an unusual request of federal authorities — he wants their permission to drive semi trucks even though he suffers from narcolepsy.

Terry Curtner has asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for the first exemption from the agency’s ban on truck drivers who suffer from conditions like narcolepsy, a condition that causes sufferers to unwillingly fall asleep without warning.

Current FMCSA regulations forbid the operation of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce by persons with either a clinical diagnosis of epilepsy or any other condition that is likely to cause a loss of consciousness or any loss of ability to control a CMV, or a mental, nervous, organic, or functional disease or psychiatric disorder likely to interfere with his/her ability to drive a CMV safely.”

Curtner’s exemption request explains that he is currently being treated for narcolepsy with medication and that he has not suffered from a narcoleptic attack in twenty years.

Since 2015, only five other truck drivers have asked for a similar exemption, but all of them have been denied. When considering these cases, the FMCSA pointed out that the current medical opinion showed that narcolepsy significantly increased the risk for a crash:

“…the currently available evidence (both direct and indirect) supports the contention that drivers with narcolepsy are at an increased risk for a motor vehicle crash when compared to otherwise similar individuals who do not have the disorder. The strength of the evidence was rated as strong.”

In denial letters to previous exemption requests from narcoleptic drivers, the FMCSA explained that even though the drivers were being treated with medication, they could not allow them to get behind the wheel of a CMV. “It is not FMCSA’s intention to impose hardship on commercial drivers,” the FMCSA explained. “CMV drivers are held to strict physical standards because of the extensive skill required to operate large trucks and buses. We regret that this action could not be more favorable.”

The FMCSA is accepting public comments on the exemption request through December 27,

(DOT) Is Asking Truckers for Help to Improve Truck Parking

Is finding safe truck parking a pain? Find out how to give DOT a piece of your mind.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is asking for input from truckers on the current truck parking situation in America.

The new survey will help federal agencies to update the inventory of truck parking for the first time since 2015. The information collected from truck drivers about the challenges they face finding safe parking will be used by authorities to allocate federal funds and shape solutions to meet the needs of the trucking community.

DOT will also be surveying each state to inventory truck parking at rest areas.

The survey is a follow up to a 2015 survey put in motion by Jason’s Law, named for Jason Rivenburg who was murdered in 2009 during a robbery attempt at an abandoned gas station that occurred because of a shortage of safe truck parking.

The 2015 survey found that 90% of drivers reported having trouble finding a parking spot, especially on weekdays. Additionally, 72.5 % of state DOTs reported that there was a problem with commercial vehicle parking in their state. The states with the worst trucking problems, according to the 2015 survey, were listed as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, Washington, and Oregon.