WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) March 13 announced a proposal to require interstate commercial truck and bus companies to use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) in their vehicles to improve compliance with the safety rules that govern the number of hours a driver can work.
The proposed rulemaking would significantly reduce the paperwork burden associated with hours-of-service recordkeeping for interstate truck and bus drivers – the largest in the federal government following tax-related filings – and improve the quality of logbook data.
“Today’s proposal will improve safety while helping businesses by cutting unnecessary paperwork – exactly the type of government streamlining President Obama called for in his State of the Union address,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “By leveraging innovative technology with Electronic Logging Devices, we have the opportunity to save lives and boost efficiency for both motor carriers and safety inspectors.”
The proposed rule will ultimately reduce hours-of-service violations by making it more difficult for drivers to misrepresent their time on logbooks and avoid detection by FMCSA and law enforcement personnel. Analysis shows it will also help reduce crashes by fatigued drivers and prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year for an annual safety benefit of $394.8 million.
“By implementing Electronic Logging Devices, we will advance our mission to increase safety and prevent fatigued drivers from getting behind the wheel,” said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “With broad support from safety advocates, carriers and members of Congress, we are committed to achieving this important step in the commercial bus and truck industries.”
The Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which was sent to the Federal Register to publish on March 12, supersedes a prior 2011 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking related to electronic on-board recorders. It includes provisions to:
Respect driver privacy by ensuring that ELD records continue to reside with the motor carriers and drivers. Electronic logs will continue to only be made available to FMCSA personnel or law enforcement during roadside inspections, compliance reviews and post-crash investigations.
Protect drivers from harassment through an explicit prohibition on harassment by a motor carrier owner towards a driver using information from an ELD. It will also establish a procedure for filing a harassment complaint and creates a maximum civil penalty of up to $11,000 for a motor carrier that engages in harassment of a driver that leads to an hours-of-service violation or the driver operating a vehicle when they are so fatigued or ill it compromises safety. The proposal will also ensure that drivers continue to have access to their own records and require ELDs to include a mute function to protect against disruptions during sleeper berth periods.
Increase efficiency for law enforcement personnel and inspectors who review driver logbooks by making it more difficult for a driver to cheat when submitting their records of duty status and ensuring the electronic logs can be displayed and reviewed electronically, or printed, with potential violations flagged.
In developing the updated proposal, FMCSA relied on input from its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, feedback from two public listening sessions and comments filed during an extended period following the 2011 proposed rule. The proposal also incorporates the mandates included in the most recent transportation bill, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, and other statutes.
Impaired driving, including fatigue, was listed as a factor in more than 12 percent of the 129,120 total crashes that involved large trucks or buses in 2012.
On Aug. 1, 2013, the Obama Administration announced another proposal to eliminate a burdensome daily paperwork requirement for professional truck drivers, daily vehicle inspection reports, and reduce costs to the industry by an estimated $1.7 billion annually while maintaining safety standards: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/news/news-releases/2013/FMCSA-46-13.aspx.
In December, I attended a school bus summit in Washington hosted by the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. Though the topics of discussion centered around school bus issues, many were pertinent to our global bus community.
Whether we are operating a tour bus, transit bus, school bus, van or shuttle, we are dealing with the same types of management and the same problems, concerns and health issues.
The one topic that really stirs my gut has to do with the practice of privatization. Privatization involves handing over control of public functions to private companies. The government pays a contractor to provide public services. Often, the contractors are foreign entities. Our tax dollars, that are used to fund public transit – rail or bus – that fund school bus systems and special-service transportation, are now going offshore. These contractors are running operations here and are doing it for a profit. How are they making a profit? Off of the backs of labor – by cutting wages and benefits. That’s how.
Our own tax dollars are being used to cheapen our labor, lowering the standard of living for our families and causing harm to our future and the futures of our sons and daughters. This is wrong – very wrong. We must have legislation that compels any company receiving one cent of public money to protect the employees and their families by providing decent wages and health benefits. And when they make a profit, so should the worker. Not one tax dollar should be used against the people that pay the taxes.
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Congress and the Obama Administration have provided transit agencies with opportunities to replace and expand vehicle fleets, restore and modernize aging infrastructure, and engage in procurements that had been deferred or cancelled due to the current economic situation. The goal of that act was to ensure that these purchases “preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery.” Let’s apply the same principle to our service jobs and keep our tax dollars from going overseas. Let’s stop outsourcing our service jobs to foreign companies. It is time for our legislators to get to work on what is in the best interest of the American people.
BOSTON – Homeland Security in Washington DC has awarded the MBTA about $7 million to outfit buses with the latest in live video technology.
Sophisticated new 360-degree lenses embedded in the ceilings and walls of the buses will now capture everything. And on some buses, there will even be flat screens for passengers to see what is going on.
In a fundamental shift in the way tour buses are regulated, the federal agency that oversees the companies is implementing a long-sought rule to aggressively go after and shut down those that repeatedly violate safety laws, endangering the lives of tour bus riders as well as motorists and passengers sharing the road.
The move comes a year after a devastating Southern California tour bus crash that left 8 people dead and 32 injured. That crash prompted a year-long NBC4 I-Team investigation which revealed a disturbing pattern of potentially life-threatening tour bus company safety violations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) Jan. 10 announced that it is extending by one year, until Jan. 30, 2015, a requirement that interstate commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders retain paper copies of their medical examiner’s certificate and continue to make the document available for review upon request at the roadside by federal and state commercial motor vehicle inspectors.
In December 2008, FMCSA issued a Final Rule modernizing, streamlining, and simplifying recordkeeping obligations for drivers, carriers and state governments by requiring that a driver’s medical certification record be merged with state-issued CDLs.
States received support from FMCSA to implement the necessary IT system upgrades and merge the records into one, online database – the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS).
FMCSA announced the one-year extension today to protect commercial drivers from being cited for violations because some states are not yet in full compliance with the new system. For a copy of the Federal Register announcement, see: www.FMCSA.DOT.gov.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced Dec. 12 that 52 bus companies and 340 vehicles were put out of business and removed from the road as a result of Operation Quick Strike, an eight-month intensified effort to shut down unsafe motorcoach companies.
“Bus travel is increasingly popular because it is a convenient, inexpensive option for students, groups and families,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “But it must also be safe. Through Operation Quick Strike and our regular enforcement efforts, we’re shutting down companies that put passengers at risk and educating the public on safe motorcoach travel.”
The intensified effort was part of FMCSA’s three-phase Motorcoach Safety Initiative to raise the bar for safety in the motorcoach industry and to strengthen the agency’s oversight methods. More than 50 specially trained investigators were dispatched from April through November to conduct in-depth reviews into the patterns and practices of the 250 most at-risk motorcoach companies, identified using roadside inspection and safety data.
As a result:
214 top-to-bottom compliance investigations were completed*;
20 motorcoach companies were immediately shut down for violations and posing an imminent hazard to the public;
32 companies were issued “Unsatisfactory” safety ratings and shut down after failing to remedy critical and acute violations;
28 companies took corrective action to fix the safety violations investigators uncovered to avoid being shut down; and
340 vehicles, of the more than 1,300 vehicles that were inspected during the investigations, were put out-of-service for safety and maintenance violations.
Company-wide failures to adequately maintain their buses, inadequate drug and alcohol driver testing programs and widespread hours-of-service violations were among the reasons companies were shut down.
In addition, inspectors assessed the levels of safety for more than 1,300 carriers that had minimal inspection history or data with the agency. More than 240 have been targeted for follow-up investigations.
“This year we evaluated and enhanced our investigation methods to dig deeper than ever before and uncover dangerous patterns of unsafe behavior and business practices,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “Now we are training all investigators to utilize the new tactics we employed during Operation Quick Strike, and encourage everyone who travels by bus to ‘Look Before You Book’ using the safety information on our website.”
Travelers and trip planners are encouraged to visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov/LookBeforeYouBook for tips and resources before buying a bus ticket or chartering a bus for a group trip. There they can find FMCSA’s free SaferBus mobile app for a quick and free way to review a bus company’s safety record, find multi-language check lists and report any safety violations.
Resources can also be found on FMCSA’s new “Look Before You Book” bus safety hub on Facebook.com/FMCSA.
*More than 30 companies had since transitioned to intrastate-only service, which FMCSA does not regulate, or had gone out of business.
New tour buses and buses that provide service between cities must be equipped with seat belts starting in late 2016 under a federal rule issued Wednesday, a safety measure sought by accident investigators for nearly a half century.
Beginning in November 2016, all new motorcoaches and some other large buses must be equipped by manufacturers with three-point lap-shoulder belts, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. The rule doesn’t apply to school buses or city transit buses.
First Student Bus Company/William Penn School District in Darby, Pennsylvania went to arbitration against the SMART Transportation Division and lost. Representing SMART TD was Bus Department Alternate Vice President Calvin Studivant who went to bat for local 172.
Studivant didn’t do it alone; he had help from General Chairperson Theresa Costantini, Vice Local Chairperson Denise Hall and Local 172 Secretary Kathleen Sitongia along the way. Both Costantini and Sitongia testified in the case against First Student.
“First let me say this case was very important. We arbitrated this case on July 30th which caused me to miss the regional in Anaheim,” Studivant said. “Prior to arbitration we had done mediation and the mediator had informed the company that they were wrong, but since mediation was not binding we pursued it through arbitration. I was the presenter of the union’s case and all the aforementioned were witnesses that together hold over 70 years of experience, therefore I was very confident in the case that we presented.”
Arbitrator Thomas G. McConnell Jr., found that the company was in violation of the Collective Bargaining agreement and ordered the bus company to pay it’s employees back-pay.
“I am ecstatic that we prevailed because it represents a substantial amount of money in back wages and wages going forward,” Studivant exclaimed. “First Student delayed us as long as they could but we refused to be denied. It took a year to hear the case and get an award but the victory was worth the wait.”
According to Costantini, Sitongia and management, members could bid on runs based on the run and the time it took to do the runs. Up until 2012 (the union has had a contract with the bus company since 2008, the most recent contract voted in lasts from 2011 to 2014), members were always paid by the estimated time listed on the job plus any extra time it took to do the run.
If a job was estimated to take two hours and 20 minutes but only took two hours, the member would be paid the two hours and 20 minutes that he or she bid on. If it took the driver two hours and 30 minutes, the driver would be paid the full two hours and 30 minutes.
In 2012, it was decided by management, without union approval, that members would be paid the actual time it took to do the job rather than the estimated time. According to this new policy, the member would only get paid for the two hours instead of the two hours and 20 minutes.
Members choose their runs based on seniority and have two concerns when choosing a run:
How much will I be paid?
When will I get home?
When First Student changed the way drivers are paid, this negatively impacted the seniority system and made these questions null because drivers could no longer have a guarantee of how much money they would be making per run.
Management of the company admits that no dry runs are ever done to determine the estimated times and that the company relies on VersaTrans system to estimate the times for them. VersaTrans is a software routing system that defines a bus route based on parameters put in by the District, including bell times and location of the schools. The VersaTrans system then provides an approximate time of how long the run will take.
Although the contract states that hours stated for a job are estimates and not exact times and that hours are not guaranteed, the contract does not state that actual times instead of the estimates would be used for payroll purposes.
McConnell found that since the company had followed the practice of paying the drivers by estimated times throughout the 2008-2011 contract the company would need to have negotiated a contract change in the 2011-2014 contract as precedence had already been set, which they did not do. It was therefore found that the company violated the collective bargaining agreement and was directed to return to their prior practice of paying by times estimated and not by actual time. The company was also ordered to pay members any lost wages due them.
“I would like to thank GC Theresa Costantini along with secretary Kathy Sitongia who kept meticulous records and chairperson Denise Hall,” Studivant said.
I was recently informed of the passing of one of our best bus vice presidents. Kenny Moore was the vice president that helped us at Local 23 to become part of this great organization. Kenny Moore was my mentor. He was active in Washington, D.C., and on the state and local levels on all issues pertaining to the Bus and Transit Departments. He was what every vice president should be. I am honored that I had the opportunity to know him. He will be missed, and I will never forget what he stood for. Rest in peace, Kenny Moore. Our condolences to his family.
I would like to thank all the people that attended the 2013 regional meetings. For those that were unable to attend, the Bus Department had a very unique set of presentations regarding the health and well-being of operator and transit workers.
In Boston, the presenters were from both the medical field and the Transportation Learning Center. They presented information on how our health is impacted by our work. Both Dr. June Fisher, M.D., and Robin Gillespie talked about the health issues so many of us are dealing with on a day-to-day basis: long hours sitting, the lack of restroom breaks, and the inability to access good food on the road. The discussions hit home for many of us.
In Anaheim, Dr. Fisher discussed health issues in transit and transportation, both here and around the world. Dr. Peter Schnall, along with Marnie Dobson, led an interactive workshop on stress in transit and its impact on our health. Amy Calvin and John Tatman from the Los Angeles MTA presented a wellness program that they created and discussed results of the program they have seen at the MTA in Los Angeles. These workshops had some of the best attendance by our brothers and sisters that I have seen in a long time. We had between 30 and 60 participants at workshops in Anaheim and about 25 in Boston.
President Mike Futhey came to our open bus workshop in Anaheim. He spoke with the bus members, answered their questions and spoke about the involvement of SMART in our Bus Department. It was an honor. We received updates from our members on what is happening on their properties and spoke about how we could get stronger. If anyone wants information from the workshops, please contact me and I will be more than happy to provide it. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
WASHINGTON – Anne S. Ferro, Administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, in July announced the launch of the North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFMP), a website that provides training and education on commercial bus and truck driver fatigue management.
“We can help save lives and prevent crashes on our roads by providing drivers and companies with educational tools, like those contained in the North American Fatigue Management Program website,” said Administrator Ferro. “This is another supportive resource truck and bus drivers can utilize in addition to complying with our hours-of-service rules.”
“The launch of the program is very good news,” said Minister Raitt. “The collaborative work that has been done with partners will assist motor carriers and drivers in managing fatigue, and promote safety by reducing fatigue-related crashes.”
The NAFMP is a voluntary, interactive web-based educational and training program developed to provide commercial truck and bus drivers and carriers with an awareness of the factors contributing to fatigue and its impact on performance and safety. It provides:
Information on how to develop a corporate culture that facilitates reduced driver fatigue;
Fatigue management education for drivers, drivers’ families, carrier executives and managers, shippers/receivers and dispatchers;
Information on sleep disorders, screening and treatment;
Driver and trip scheduling information; and,
Information on Fatigue Management Technologies.
The program was developed by multiple partners, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Transport Canada, Alberta Employment and Immigration, Alberta Transportation, Alberta Worker’s Compensation Board, Alberta Motor Transport Association, Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail du Québec, Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec, and the American Transportation Research Institute.
The NAFMP fatigue management tool does not replace or override the FMCSA or TC’s regulations on hours-of-service. FMCSA and TC-regulated commercial motor carriers and drivers continue to have a duty to know and comply with the respective FMCSA or TC hours-of-service regulations.
For more information on the North American Fatigue Management Program, please visit www.nafmp.org. Additional educational tools for commercial drivers are available on FMCSA’s website at www.fmcsa.dot.gov.