INDIANA CARRIER GETS SHUT DOWN
Last month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ordered U & D Service, Inc. of Indianapolis, IN to immediately cease all transportation services in or affecting interstate commerce, declaring the commercial truck company an “imminent hazard” to public safety. This order follows an extensive review of the company’s operations, which found multiple federal safety violations including a continuous pattern of using drivers without valid CDLs and using drivers that do not meet the federal English proficiency requirements. The FMCSA ordered U & D Service to immediately shut down after agency investigators discovered that the company was using drivers who did not have valid CDLs or could not read/speak the English language sufficiently to safely operate a commercial vehicle on our nation’s roads. The FMCSA may also take enforcement action against the non-CDL-holding drivers, including civil penalties and/or driver disqualifications. I have seen some tickets issued for these fairly new rules, but this is the first time I have seen an outfit actually shut down over them!
SEVERAL VIOLATION POINTS INCREASED
The FMCSA has enhanced their Safety Measurement System Methodology (the way they calculate points) so that it now includes violations based on new cellular phone use regulations and provides more information on existing brake, wheel, and coupling regulations. With this enhancement, the points for several violations were increased, including: 177.804(b) Texting While Operating a CMV – Placardable Hazmat Load – is now 10 points; 177.804(c) Failure to Comply with 392.82 – Hazmat – 10 points; 392.82(a)(1) Using a Hand-Held Mobile Telephone while Driving a CMV – 10 points; and 392.82(a)(2) Allowing or Requiring Driver to Use a Hand-Held Mobile Telephone while Driving a CMV – 10 points.
PUSH-TO-TALK UNITS AND TEXTING
Recently, the question has come up about drivers using push-to-talk units. Drivers can use such devices, provided the driver does not reach for, dial or hold the actual mobile phone in his/her hand while driving, and the driver is able to touch the button needed to operate the push-to-talk feature from the normal position with the safety belt fastened. In regards to texting, the FMCSA has added four new texting and cellular phone use violations to the Unsafe Driving BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories).
MAINTENANCE VIOLATIONS ADDED
The FMCSA has added 22 more violations to the brake, wheel and coupling regulations, which will also help clarify who the responsible party is for the violations (either the carrier or the intermodal equipment provider).
NEW MEDICAL CARD REQUIREMENTS
Don’t forget, starting back on January 30, 2012 (and no later than January 30, 2014), all CDL holders must provide information to their state driver licensing agency regarding the type of commercial motor vehicle operation they drive in, or expect to drive in, with their CDL. Drivers operating in certain types of commerce will be required to submit a current medical examiner’s certificate to their state licensing agency to obtain a “certified” medical status as part of their driving record. CDL holders required to have a “certified” medical status who fail to provide and keep their certificate up-to-date with their state licensing agency will become “not-certified” and they may lose their CDL. In California, if you haul intrastate freight, you will need a DL51 form. If you haul interstate freight, you will need a 649-F form. Always remember, in law, federal laws supersede any state laws. When you go in for your physical, be sure to tell the doctor you need a 649-F form, and then you can drive in either status, local or cross country. But this brings up a bigger question: how do you determine your type of trucking operation?
INTRASTATE OR INTERSTATE?
The type of operation you run is always determined by your freight, not where your wheels roll. The origin and/or destination of your freight are what constitute the authority you need. So, if you are picking up or delivering to a railroad, airport or port, for freight coming into or going out of the state you are in, you are an interstate driver and subject to the FMCSA regulations. Interstate freight usually involves a vehicle crossing state borders and intrastate freight never leaves a state, but this is not always true. The FMCSA actually provides the definition of interstate transportation in 49 CFR 390.5. Any evaluation of interstate or intrastate begins with this definition: “Interstate commerce means trade, traffic or transportation in the United States; 1) between a place in a state and a place outside of such state, including a place outside of the US; 2) between two places in a state through another state or a place outside the US; and 3) between two places in a state as part of trade, traffic or transportation originating or terminating outside the state or the US.” The first two are pretty clear, but the third definition complicates things. When either the vehicle, its passengers or cargo cross a state line, or there is “intent” to cross a state line, the motor carrier is considered an interstate carrier. Interstate commerce is defined by the essential character of the movement, manifested by the shipper’s fixed and/or intent at the time of the shipment, and is ascertained from all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the shipment. But, when it comes to state taxation matters, i.e. vehicle licensing/IRP, fuel tax reporting and IFTA, the only thing that matters is where the vehicle itself travels. You could, in theory, be operating vehicles that are intrastate as far as IRP and IFTA are concerned, but interstate, for DOT safety and UCR compliance.
CHANGES COMING TO CA BIT PROGRAM
It has been brought to my attention that you will see some major changes in the BIT program next year in California, including changing its name from “Bi-Annual Inspection of Terminals” to “Basic Inspection of Terminals.” Also, the entire “every two year” thing is going out the window and the fee will now be paid as part of the MCP process with the California DMV. From what I understand, the California DMV is working on revising the “non-expiring MCP” process to be able to capture fees from interstate carriers that have escaped paying them in the past. Stay tuned…