RAISING THE SPEED LIMITS
As you know, the NTA endorses the National Motorists Association (NMA), which supports the idea that higher speed limits do not affect highway safety. In fact, the NMA did a study of federal fatality rate data and found that states that raised speed limits had a significant safety improvement, slightly better than the nation as a whole. Back in 1995 the national maximum speed limit was repealed, allowing each state to establish its own speed limits, thanks in part to the efforts of the NMA. During 1996, 33 states did just that. Well, after more than 17 years, four more states are finally raising their speed limits. First it was Texas, who raised the speed limit to 85 mph on Hwy 130 between Austin and San Antonio. Next was Nevada, which raised maximum speed limits from 75 mph to 85 mph on some stretches of isolated highways. The Governor of Ohio signed a transportation bill that includes higher speed limits, too. Speed limits along rural interstates will move up to 70 mph under the new law, matching that along the Ohio Turnpike, up to 65 mph on urban outer beltways and congested highways, and up to 60 mph on some nonurban, two-lane highways, as determined by the Ohio DOT. Speed limits along some Utah interstates could move higher for both trucks and cars as soon as this spring due to legislation signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert, which expands the area along 1-15 where 80 mph is permitted from Brigham City to the Idaho border. It also allows for higher limits along I-80 from Grantsville and to the Nevada state line. So keep your fingers crossed, because it requires that the Utah DOT do studies before any changes are made. If you agree with this philosophy of keeping your trucks running faster, and want help in fighting traffic tickets, I strongly suggest that you join the NMA. Simply go to the NTA website (www.ntassoc.com) and click on the NMA logo at the bottom of the homepage. It’s only $35.00 per year to join. You get a quarterly magazine, weekly newsletters, your own “Fight that Ticket” e-book, access to practicing attorneys, experts on radar and laser technology, and many other vital resources that are helpful to both motorists and truck drivers alike.
MILLIONS AWARDED IN LAWSUIT
A Santa Fe New Mexico jury has awarded what is believed to be the largest verdict in New Mexico history to the family of a man killed several years ago when a truck driver slammed into Kevin Udy’s car, killing him on impact. What makes this case unique is that Udy’s wife and children will receive $58.5 million in damages and another $47 million in punitive damages. If you are not familiar with this term, “punitive damages” are awarded to punish the guilty and are usually NOT covered by insurance. This basically means that you have to pay for these damages out of your own pocket. This is one reason to incorporate your business – to protect you from losing everything. The punitive damages were assessed against Standard E&S, Zia Transport and Bergstein Ent., because the jury agreed that the firms’ truck driver, Monte Lyons of Carlsbad, had been inadequately trained, and that the firms had a record of past safety violations. Here is the kicker – the jury held the truck driver just 1% guilty. Well, 1% of $58 million is – you guessed it – $580,000! Now, CSA points on your drivers and SMS scores against your company may not mean much to you as a motor carrier, but to a jury, that is a totally different thing. You need to identify drivers who are creating these points on your SMS scores and do something now, before it is too late. Being that drivers are hard to find, maybe it’s just a matter of having these drivers take a CSA Corrective Action Course so they can continued to work for you. I’m sure drivers would be willing to take the course, rather than get the boot out the door.
PHONY DOT LETTERS ARE BACK AGAIN
Once again, fraudulent DOT letters are being sent out by fax to motor carriers in an attempt to get banking information. The letters have been dated March 12, 2013 and appear to be from the U.S. Department of Transportation Procurement Office and are signed by a fictitious person named Julie Weynel, senior procurement officer, who is claiming to be an employee of the DOT. The FMCSA warns that “Motor carrier officials and their employees, as well as government and law enforcement officials, should be vigilant and on the lookout for fraudulent attempts to gather financial or other personal identifiable data by fax, e-mail, or telephone. Requestors should be verified and authenticated before such data is provided.”
NVOCC & SHIPPER’S CORNER
Because of our notoriety on the web, we have attracted quite a lot of shippers who are looking for trucking companies to utilize their services. At the same time, they have requested NTA to keep them abreast of general news that might affect them. So, with that said, a bill to amend part of the Customs Tariff Law was passed on March 30, 2012 establishing the Advance Filing Rules for Japanese imports. The new rule requires a vessel operator or a NVOCC to electronically submit to Customs information on maritime container cargoes to be loaded on a vessel intended for entry into a port in Japan, in principle, no later than 24 hours before departure of the vessel from a port of loading. The ruling will be implemented in March of 2014. NTA’s in-house service provider will support all of your 124 filings. Although the ruling is a year from being implemented, it is never too early to begin preparing and test your filings to insure a smooth transition. For more information, call NTA at (800) 805-0040.