Common Misconceptions about CSA

I often get calls from drivers letting me know they have gone through a D.O.T. inspection and when I asked if they had any violations they reply “no, the officer wrote me up for a violation but said it is no big deal, it is only a warning.”

The F.M.C.S.A. says when a trained inspector writes a violation for any roadside inspection (whether it is on the shoulder of the road or at a fixed inspection station) that violation will be scored through the CSA system. This violation is scored against the company for two years and against the driver for three years and time weighted so the more recent the violation, the bigger the penalty imposed. If the company gets too many violations in any category (BASIC) that category enters the alert zone. Going into this alert zone will discourage our customers from wanting to use us as their carrier, and encourage the D.O.T. to audit us or initiate an intervention in that particular BASIC.  The D.O.T. reviews every carrier’s violations each month and scores them. The D.O.T. does not pay any attention to a drivers CSA score until the D.O.T. has cause to audit the carrier. Only at these audits will the D.O.T. review a drivers CSA score putting the driver’s career at risk. For these reasons it is in the driver’s best interest to remain violation free and keep the entire companies CSA scores low. Keeping these scores low is mostly a matter of doing good pre trip, post trip and periodic inspections as well as keeping your vehicle maintained and keeping your logs current and legal.

So the next time an inspector says “it is no big deal” or “it is just a warning” remember, IT ISN’T JUST A WARNING AND IT IS A BIG DEAL.

Lane Changes

One of our most frequent motorist complaints is when someone calls and complains that they were trying to get onto the interstate and our “discourteous” driver would not move over into the left lane to allow them to merge on.

First of all; I want to remind you that changing lanes is one of the most dangerous maneuvers a driver can make. This is true for me in my car and is magnified greatly when you are driving a large tractor trailer. Get in the right lane while traveling from point to point on the interstate and stay there. In most cases any traffic you will come up behind will only slow you down by one or two miles per hour and the time it costs you to remain behind them is not as consequential as the danger involved by changing lanes. Occasionally there will be times when the speed difference is so great you have to change lanes and go around them but in most cases staying in that right lane is the best thing to do.

Now back to our disgruntled motorist, explaining to the irate traveler that they are on an entrance ramp controlled by a sign telling them that they must yield never makes it easier on me receiving the motorist complaint. The “complainer” always tells me in uncertain terms that it is the truck drivers responsibility to move over into the next lane and allow them in. For some reason they feel that even though there are miles of empty highway in front of you and behind you they absolutely MUST enter the highway in the exact 65 feet of space you are occupying. After telling this person on the phone that you did the right thing, the safest thing by remaining in your lane the call always ends with a lot of screaming, a few curse words and a threat to call corporate to handle the situation properly along with a promise to have me fired.

Watch the road signs as you enter the city limits and if you must change lanes ahead do it well in advance so you can be sure there is no one beside you. Keep your mirrors clean and properly adjusted. If you suddenly find yourself about to pass your exit or not in the lane you need to be in to be on your designated route never make a sudden lane change. Continue straight ahead, calm down and find a safe place to stop even if it takes you miles out of the way. Stop, regroup, re-route yourself and continue to your destination safely. Remember, changing lanes is one of the most dangerous maneuvers you can make.

Let them in, let them by, let them pass,,,, don’t get involved in their accident.

State-By-State Transportation Issues

A summary of some of the major transportation issues being addressed in state capitals and state legislatures across the country.


The General Assembly is voting on major tax reforms a bipartisan panel of senior legislators presented that would fundamentally change the way the state finances its roads for the first time in a generation.

The five delegates and five senators signed off on a compromise that would yield nearly $900 million annually, replacing Virginia's 17.5 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax with a 3.5 percent wholesale tax on gasoline. At current prices, that equals about 10 cents per gallon.

It would apply a 6 percent tax on diesel fuel, equal to about 22 cents per gallon at late February’s average statewide price of about $3.70 per gallon.


Sen. Mike Kehoe, a Republican, and Sen. Ryan McKenna, a Democrat, have introduced a bill to increase the state sales tax by 1 cent for 10 years to pay for transportation needs.  Supporters estimate it would generate nearly $8 billion over a decade and could support more than 250,000 jobs.


Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval is proposing using alternative tax revenues to support more than $50 million in general obligation bonds the state wants to issue to pay for significant infrastructure improvements. Since the state won’t have enough property tax funds to pay back the bonds, the governor proposes issuing $58 million in general obligation bonds that would be repaid from the state's liquor tax. Sandoval has budgeted $85 million for capital improvement projects.


Gov. Rick Snyder is calling for an additional $1.2 billion in annual transportation funding, arguing that investing now in Michigan roads will help the state avoid a $25 billion repair bill, reduce vehicle maintenance costs, create jobs and likely even save lives. The governor wants to increase the 19-cents-per-gallon state gasoline tax and 15-cents-per-gallon diesel tax to the equivalent of 33 cents for both.


A bill has been proposed to allow township boards of supervisors to levy an additional tax of up to 50 cents per $1,000 of property value to raise money for local highways, roads, bridges and culverts. Opponents of the legislation said the plan was flawed because the levies wouldn’t be subject to referral to voters.


TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson has told lawmakers that Texas needs to spend about $4 billion more per year on roads to handle a booming population, even after a decade-long spike in highway construction and maintenance. Without that money, the state is a facing a "perfect storm" of more people using Texas roads, increased construction costs and unreliable federal funding that could leave motorists stuck in traffic.


Senate Finance Chairman Joey Fillingane wants gamblers to help fund Mississippi’s dire infrastructure needs by paying a tax he says they are already supposed to be paying. Gamblers in Mississippi casinos are supposed to pay a 3-percent state tax on winnings on top of state income taxes.


Gov. Tom Corbett's transportation secretary has told a Senate committee he doesn't know how much of a proposed wholesale gas tax increase would be borne by consumers. Corbett and Secretary Barry Schoch are trying to strike a delicate balance: They must satisfy lawmakers, many of whom want more money more quickly for transportation, and a general public that is unenthusiastic about paying for it. If the whole increase is passed along to consumers, it would cost the average motorist $2 a week, Schoch said.


Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has signed into law an extra $1.5 billion in spending for road construction and child welfare investigations, even as Republicans decried the measure as including ill-timed, pork barrel money.


A proposal to raise state fuel taxes by a dime a gallon has cleared its final vote in the state Senate on Thursday. It now heads to Gov. Matt Mead, who has said he favors the tax hike and will sign the bill. The measure would raise the tax from the existing rate of 14 cents a gallon up to 24 cents for gasoline and diesel. The tax hike would raise about $70 million a year, of which roughly two-thirds would go to the Wyoming Department of Transportation and one-third to local governments.


Transportation Department Director Brian Ness isn't proposing plans to boost his agency's revenue this year, but he wants to "start having the discussion" about funding for improvements and repairs to Idaho's aging road and bridge system. Ness has spoken with budget writers on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Monday, telling them he has "no specific proposals" to boost ITD funding. The last time the agency brought a plan to boost revenue was 2009, when proposed hikes to gas and registration fees failed.


Several bills have been introduced that reflect lawmakers' concerns over the proposed east-west highway, a 230-mile route across Maine that would connect Canadian points. The highway would be operated privately and maintained with tolls. The bills are being drafted so all of their details are not known. But the titles show one would take away the $300,000 state appropriation for a feasibility study on the massive project, and another would modify that appropriation.


Gov. Deval Patrick is considering several options to raise about $1 billion a year, including raising the state’s 21-cents a gallon gasoline tax, raising the sales tax or imposing a tax based on the miles a vehicle travels.


Lawmakers wrestling with how to pay for road and highway needs amid a growing funding shortfall are considering using money from the state's sales tax on gas to pay for transportation projects. Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley says the General Assembly should consider guaranteeing some or all of the roughly $500 million the tax generates each year. And Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane says the state should take a modest chunk from that pool to give to cash-strapped areas.


House Democrats have unveiled a transportation revenue package that would raise $9.8 billion over the next decade with the help of a 10-cent bump in the gas tax, a new annual car registration fee pegged at 0.7 percent of the vehicle's value and more than $3 billion in new bonds. In addition to $1 billion for both the state and local governments to maintain infrastructure, the package is meant to fund $3 billion to help pay for new and existing road projects, plus $123 million to pay for a third new 144-car ferry.

FMCSA on Entry Level Driving

Tucked into the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21, the current federal highways and infrastructure funding law) is Section 32304, which requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to issue final entry-level driver training regulations by Oct. 1.

FMCSA is still determining what elements it should require in that training, so it will host a March 22 listening session at the big Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. to solicit ideas. The 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. session will be webcast; FMCSA will post information on how to participate at one week ahead of time.

FMCSA implemented a training rule in 2004 that was not focused on behind-the-wheel training at all. Instead, it relied on the commercial driver’s license tests to encourage training in operating a vehicle. A federal appeals court in 2005 held the agency’s rule was arbitrary and capricious because it ignored behind-the-wheel training component.

Since then, FMCSA has planned to enact a final rule that would require people applying for a new or upgraded CDL to successfully complete classroom and behind-the-wheel training from an accredited program. MAP-21 adds some urgency to the process, and the listening session could give many drivers and fleet safety managers an opportunity to be heard.

Truck Maker Dana Holding Corp Makes New Axle

Truck and auto component maker Dana Holding Corp. said it introduced a new driveshaft and inter-axle shaft, designed for greater torque and durability.

The new SPL-350 driveshaft and SPL-250 inter-axle shaft are designed to withstand the stress placed on the driveline by high-efficiency on-highway trucks, Dana said.

“As vehicle manufacturers down speed engines, torque demands on the rest of the drivetrain increase dramatically,” Pat D’Eramo, president of Dana Commercial Vehicle Driveline Technologies, said in a statement.

“These new, more robust driveshafts have been designed to provide the optimal combination of durability, size and weight needed to help heavy-duty truck owners maximize the productivity of their fleets,” D’Eramo said.

The company also announced the opening of a new 129,000-square-foot research and development center in China.

The new research center, staffed by 50 engineers, will provide product and applications engineering for manufacturers in the light-vehicle, commercial-vehicle and off-highway markets in China and throughout the Asia-Pacific region, Dana said.

Congressional Transportation Leaders want hours of Service Rule Delayed

Congressional transportation leaders have made several requests to postpone implementing the hours-of-service rule until after the ongoing lawsuit between ATA and the FMCSA has been resolved.

On March 15, the American Trucking Associations presented oral arguments against the Federal Motor Carrier’s rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It is not known when the court will issue a ruling, but the rule is currently scheduled for implementation July 1.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster asked Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to delay implementing rule changes until 90 days following resolution of the ATA’s litigation.

Most law enforcement training will take place 90 days before the implementation date, the Pennsylvania Republican wrote. It would be wasteful exercise of enforcement and industry training if the court’s decision alters the rule, he stated.

Shuster’s letter also was signed by ranking committee member Rep. Nick Rahall, (D-W.Va.), Rep. Tom Petri, (R-Wis.), chairman of the highway subcommittee and Pete DeFazio (D-Ore.), ranking subcommittee member.

The FMCSA already has rejected similar requests from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and the ATA to postpone the new rule until after the litigation is resolved.

March Newsletter From TLC

Attached is the March Newsletter for Cypress Truck Lines, Inc. and Sunbelt Transport LLC, look inside to see who the top dog winners are!!!

Download: TLC Safety Newsletter - March 2013

2013 Average Price of Diesel Update

Diesel will average $3.90 a gallon this year, the Department of Energy said, lowering its most recent forecast by 2 cents.

Trucking’s main fuel, which averaged $3.97 last year, will average $3.80 in 2014, DOE said in its monthly short-term energy outlook released Tuesday. That’s also a 2-cent decline from last month’s forecast.

DOE held both its 2013 gasoline price forecast at $3.55 a gallon and next year’s projection at $3.39 a gallon.

The monthly outlook often lags DOE’s weekly price surveys. Both fuels declined in the past two weeks following multiple weeks of increases, with diesel now at $4.088 and gas at $3.71, the department said Monday.

DOE lowered its forecast for the price of crude oil, the main component of refined fuels, by about $1, saying it will average $91.92 a barrel this year, down from last month’s $92.81 forecast.