NEW RULES FOR NEW DRIVERS
Efforts to train entry-level truck drivers go back many years. And let’s face it – even hairdressers are required to be trained and certified before they’re allowed to style and cut someone’s hair. So, it’s inconceivable that commercial drivers are not held to a training standard beyond getting a CDL. Well, the training has now finally arrived with Part 380 (the Mandatory Entry-Level Driver Training Requirements) from the Transportation Safety Institute (TSI). But before we get into the details, let me explain what the TSI is.
The TSI was established in 1971 to help the DOT administrators in accomplishing their mission essential to training requirements. Over the years, TSI has expanded to keep up with the needs of the DOT and the rest of the transportation industry. The Institute now offers premier transit, aviation, motor carrier, highway safety, hazardous materials, risk management and other training courses, both nationally and internationally. TSI also provides a variety of transportation and safety-related courses to federal, state and private industry audiences, such as NTA, including hazardous materials, risk management and motor carrier compliance.
I’d like to remind everyone that when hiring a new driver with less than one year of experience operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) with a Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL) in interstate commerce, it is now MANDATORY that the entry-level driver get the proper training in driver qualification requirements, hours-of-service, driver wellness and whistle-blower protection, as appropriate to the entry-level driver’s current position, in addition to passing the CDL test. Also, an employer who uses an entry-level driver must ensure that the driver has received a proper mandatory training certificate containing all of the information contained in 380.513 from the training provider.
The NTA (NorthAmerican Transportation Association), in conjunction with the TSI and AdvanceOnline Solutions, is now pleased to announce that we have just added this formal course for entry-level drivers to our online institute at www.ntassoc.com. The course is three hours and thirty minutes in length and is currently being offered at the reduced priced of $39.95. If you or your company is looking for a refresher type of course for your drivers, we also have the CSA BASIC 1 course and the CSA Manager’s BASIC 1 course. For your sales people, or anyone else who drives a company car, we have a new one-hour Safe Driving Practices course for $24.95. Be sure to check with your insurance agent for any discounts that you may receive for taking these TSI courses.
MEAL & REST BREAKS IN CALIFORNIA
This is going to be a game changer for all interstate trucking companies across the United States because it sets a precedent, which has already been used in other cases regarding the same issue – mandatory meal and rest breaks for California truck drivers. California law mandates that employers provide employees who work more than five hours with a 30 minute break prior to the sixth hour of work, and a second meal period for employees who work more than ten hours. Employees are also entitled to a 10 minute rest period for every four hours, or major portion thereof, worked. California-based trucking companies have fought against these mandatory breaks, citing that they should be exempt because they impede their business, and in the initial rulings, the courts agreed.
In California’s Supreme Court ruling in the Brinker vs. Superior Court case, motor carriers demonstrated that mandatory meal and rest break laws should be prompted as having an impermissible effect on motor carrier prices, routes and services. These laws tend to prescribe the length and frequency of breaks an employee must take, and applying them to professional truck drivers thus directly affects drivers’ routes (as not every route between two points offers a safe place to park a large commercial vehicle) and reduces the time truck drivers can spend performing their work (thereby limiting carrier services).
Then, in the San Diego federal court ruling in the Dilts vs. Penske Logistics case, the courts again agreed with the motor carrier’s concerns. In this ruling, the court found that California’s meal and rest break laws deprive drivers of the ability to take any route that does not offer adequate locations for stopping, binds carriers to a smaller set of possible routes, and impacts service by affecting the frequency and scheduling of transportation.
A few months later, another federal court in Los Angeles, in Esquivel vs. Vistar Corp., relied heavily on the Dilts’ case analysis and dismissed California meal and rest break claims as preempted by the federal laws. A state trial court in Tacoma, Washington, in the case of Mynatt vs. Gordon Trucking, also followed the reasoning in the Dilts case and found the federal law preempts Washington’s meal and rest break laws. More recently, in Aguiar vs. California Sierra Express, a federal judge in Sacramento followed the Dilts case and dismissed the plaintiffs’ meal and rest break claims. Importantly, the analysis these courts employed should make it easier for other carriers to obtain the same results, as the rulings were not predicated on facts that were particular to each case.
But, all of that changed on July 9th when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court ruling in the Dilts vs. Penske Logistics case and found that the federal law DOES NOT preempt California’s meal and rest break laws as they apply to motor carriers. The court did so despite the fact that those laws compel deviation from routes and cessation of services at prescribed times throughout the day. The court reasoned that “California’s meal and rest break laws plainly are not the sorts of laws ‘related to’ prices, routes, or services that Congress intended to preempt. They do not set prices, mandate or prohibit certain routes, or tell motor carriers what services they may or may not provide, either directly or indirectly, therefore the laws do not ‘bind’ motor carriers to specific prices, routes, or services.” Stay tuned, folks, because this issue is about to get very interesting (and messy)!