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THAT WOULD BE NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE OR MAYBE EVEN TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO COMPLY WITH A


PATCHWORK OF LAWS AROUND THE COUNTRY AS IT RELATES TO HOW WE OPERATE OUR COMPANY.


—PAT THOMAS, AMERICAN TRUCKING ASSOCIATIONS’ CHAIRMAN AND SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR STATE


GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS FOR UPS, SPEAKING ABOUT THE CURRENT THREAT TO THE FAAAA PRINCIPLE


for highways over five years. At an aver- age of $45 billion per year, it represents a $5 billion per year increase over previ- ous funding levels. Thomas said passage of the bill was


one of his priorities as chairman. It fell short of the amount needed to really modernize the nation’s roadways, but it includes a modest increase, and state highway departments badly needed the stability of a long-term bill rather than the succession of short-term funding mechanisms that previously were being passed by Congress, often on deadline. The FAST Act also includes a $6.3


billion National Highway Freight Program and a $4.5 billion grant pro- gram meant to improve freight trans- port – an important priority for motor carriers. Thomas cited an April 2016 report by the American Transportation Research Institute that found that high- way congestion cost the trucking indus- try $49.6 billion in 2014. An estimated 728 million hours of productivity were lost, which would be equivalent to over 264,500 commercial drivers sitting idle for a year (See Stat View on page 48). The FAST Act also requires


the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to commission a Transportation Research Board study to determine how accurately the FMCSA’s CSA Safety Measurement System iden- tifies future crash risks. That report must be submitted to Congress within 18 months, with an action plan to cor- rect deficiencies submitted within the following 120 days. Thomas said this


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has been a priority for the ATA, which supports the concept of CSA but doesn’t like some of its specifics, including the fact that it makes no distinction between accidents that are the fault of motor carriers and those caused by oth- ers. With shippers increasingly using CSA scores to pick their carriers, it’s important that the data actually iden- tify unsafe carriers, Thomas said. In addition to the FAST Act,


Congress also passed a series of tax extenders that included an acceler- ated write-off for new equipment – an important provision considering motor carriers are replacing their fleets after holding off during the recession. Such a provision is especially helpful to small carriers, who are the backbone of the trucking industry. “While we tend to focus on groups


like ABF or Walmart or FedEx or some of the bigger carriers that are more noticeable, the reality is that 90-some percent of all carriers have 20 trucks or less, so it really is an industry of small businesspeople,” he told Arkansas Trucking Report.


STILL ON THE AGENDA The motor carrier industry also


has won victories regarding the hours of service “restart” provision, though it still has work to do. Legislation passed in 2015 and 2016 removed the require- ment that drivers rest two consecu- tive nights from 1 a.m. until 5 a.m., pending a study of whether or not the rule actually made the roads safer. The


ATA believes the rule actually makes the roads less safe because it puts a lot of trucks on the road in the morning when the roadways are more congested. Unfortunately, the 2016 law inadver- tently omitted a sentence saying the old restart provision would stay in place pending the study, leaving the law open to the misinterpretation that ended the restart completely. The ATA is work- ing to correct the error, and Thomas is hopeful for success because Congress has already expressed a desire to end the 1-5 a.m. requirement in previous legislation. Another priority is clarifying the


requirement that states not interfere with motor carriers’ rates, routes and services, a principle that was first stated by Congress in the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) of 1994. That principle is in danger in California, where motor car- riers are having to abide by that state’s meal and rest break requirements as well a requirement that could end the practice of paying drivers by the mile – even when they can make more money that way. Thomas said the FAAAA prin- ciple is in jeopardy in more than 20 states. “That would be nearly impossible or


maybe even totally impossible to comply with a patchwork of laws around the country as it relates to how we operate our company,” he said in an interview. In response, the American Trucking


Associations is looking for a congres- sional fix and is leading a coalition to ensure uniformity. It has provided at resource guide at http://trck.ng/f4a that includes driver testimonials, issue briefs and social media tools. Also on the regulatory front,


FMSCA passed a final rule requiring all motor carriers currently using paper logbooks to use electronic logging devic- es by Dec. 18, 2017. Relatedly, FMCSA now prohibits shippers, receivers, inter- mediaries and motor carriers from coercing a driver to continue driving past his or her hours.


 Issue 3 2016 | ARKANSAS TRUCKING REPORT


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