Arkansas Trucking Association

Hours of service 34 hour restart issue still stalled

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The U.S. House Appropriations Committee voted in May to send the full House a bill that would permanently restore 2011 regulations pertaining to the 34-hour restart provisions of the hours of service requirements.

The provisions would revert restart rules to those in effect in December 2011. A 34-hour restart would not be required to include the two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods, and its use would not be limited to once a week. The 30-minute break requirement would still be in effect, however, and would be the lone remaining element of the hours of service changes that went into effect in July 2013.

The House's hours reform differs from an earlier proposal passed by the full Senate. The Senate bill changes are contingent upon the outcome of a study currently being conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. If the agency's study determines 2011 rules are safer for fatigued drivers, then such rules would take effect permanently, but with a new 73 hour limit on weekly hours.

If the House passes its transportation funding bill, the two versions would go to conference to iron out the differences. Industry advocates, including the Arkansas Trucking Association, are working closely with all members of our delegation in support of the House language on hours of service. 

CSA scores likely to remain offline for two years

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Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told a Senate panel that Compliance, Safety, Accountability carrier ranking system changes will take about two years to complete, and the industry shouldn’t expect to see CSA scores—the percentile rankings in the CSA Safety Measurement System’s seven BASICs — return to public view until those changes have been made.

“Based on our preliminary assessment, it’s going to take a while to do the revised analysis,” Foxx said. The changes in the CSA score methodology were required in Congress’ 2015 FAST Act bill.

“We expect it to take a year or two, probably more like two, before that information (CSA SMS rankings) will be posted back up,” he continued.

The FAST Act required the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to pull CSA SMS rankings from public view to correct the flaws in the program’s data well and the methods used to calculate carriers’ scores. The resulting flawed scores were available for third parties like shippers, brokers and insurers to view and make determinations about carriers and their crash risk, in spite of the program’s seeming disconnect with crash risk.

Congress also directed the agency to work with the National Academies of Science and other government accountability agencies to work with FMCSA to develop a plan to reform the system before the agency can bring the scores back to public view.

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Governor signs Arkansas highway plan into law

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The Legislature's special session on highways came when Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a highway funding plan into law that will raise nearly $50 million for the state's highways in the coming year and qualify the state to receive an additional $200 million annually in federal matching highway funds.

The plan utilizes $40 million from Arkansas's surplus, $1.5 million investment returns and ends a requirement that $8.4 million from a half-cent sales tax for roads go toward a fund for constitutional officers.  

 After this year, $20 million in investment earnings and a quarter of the state's surplus will be designated for roads. Money raised by road users will be reserved for infrastructure as an annual $4 million in diesel tax revenue will no longer be directed to general revenue starting July 1, 2017.

Though democrats and a handful of republicans criticized the plan for being short-term and relying upon surplus funds that cannot be guaranteed each year, there was no traction for an alternative plan to raise fuel taxes. Hutchinson and the majority party-GOP were opposed to any tax increase without an equal tax cut somewhere else.

Senate Minority Leader Keith Ingram (D-West Memphis) criticized the plan, "I think it creates a lot of problems potentially for the budget down the road, and I think a lot of people – certainly the transportation committee – were ready to address the problem on a long-term basis instead of this one-year-at-a-time deal where you can’t make any plans. It’s not a good way to conduct business."

While signing, the Gov. commented, “I actually believe that … we’ve got a pretty good plan for the next five years here."

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Largest truck-only roadway planned

 

Georgia plans to build two lanes limited to trucks along 38 miles of Interstate 75, a heavily travelled freight corridor south of Atlanta. It will be the largest truck-only project in the nation and is expected to cost $2 billion.

The project is ambitious, said Robert Poole, a transportation expert and co-founder of The Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank. Truck-only lanes are usually reserved for short distances, such as moving heavy vehicles out of the way of faster car traffic climbing hills.

Georgia is the first state to build these kinds of lanes without utilizing tolling or public-private highway building partnerships as a way to pay for the truck-only lanes, he said.

“What the Georgia Department of Transportation is proposing is the only serious plan with a funding source,” Poole said.

The trucking industry says that truck-only lanes could ease congestion in heavily-travelled freight corridors.

“The Port of Savannah is expected to grow pretty substantially and generate a lot of traffic along the I-75 corridor, so yes, it might make sense to add truck-only lanes there,” said Darrin Roth, vice president of highway policy for the American Trucking Associations.

When the roadway is completed in 2030, additional truck-only lanes in the opposite direction may be considered.

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Nuclear transporters practice maneuvers on Arkansas highway

Arkansas 549 in Fort Smith has become a smooth training ground for the National Nuclear Security Administration's Office of Secure Transportation. The highway closings were first publicly announced in October, and so far, no live nuclear warheads have been used in the night-time training sessions.

Arkansas 549 connects U.S. 71 in Fort Smith to Arkansas 22 in Barling. Since it is lightly traveled and able to be completely closed off, the new road has proven a perfect training ground for training the office's nuclear warhead transporters.

"549 has given us a real unique opportunity to train in by far the most realistic environment," said Kerry Clark, acting deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Secure Transportation within the U.S. Department of Energy.

Clark said no nuclear waste is ever transported by the division but interstates are the primary routes used when moving nuclear arms and warhead components by heavily armed convoys throughout the year.

Although weather is a factor in transporting nuclear weapons, the office is more wary of other drivers than anything.

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UPS partners with drone company for humanitarian efforts

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UPS is partnering with a tiny robotics company, Zipline, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to explore how drones can safely and effectively deliver medicines such as vaccines and blood across the world.

The goal is to examine whether drones can rapidly deliver key medical supplies to remote areas since the products often spoil or fail to reach people when using other means of transportation.

“We are extremely interested to learn if UAVs can provide a safe, effective way to make vaccines available for some of the hardest-to-reach children,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi.

Other groups are looking at how drones can be used for humanitarian aid.

Ford Motor Co. has planned an experiment where pickups will be electronically tethered to drones in rugged, natural disaster zones.

The Rwandan government plans to begin using Zipline drones later this year to transport blood to 21 medical facilities located in the western half of the country.

The operation is expected to save thousands of lives over the next three years, UPS said. It may also serve as a model for other countries.

“The inability to deliver life-saving medicines to the people who need them the most causes millions of preventable deaths each year,” said Keller Rinaudo, chief executive of Zipline. “The work of this partnership will help solve that problem once and for all.”

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International Roadcheck 2016 finds violations near Benton

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More than one in five commercial trucks inspected by the Arkansas Highway Police had violations severe enough for authorities to pull them off the road pending repairs during International Roadcheck 2016, 72 hours dedicated to roadside inspections for commercial vehicles, according to the state Highway and Transportation Department.

Police across the state randomly inspected 637 trucks between Tuesday and Friday morning, and they took 149 vehicles out of service. The most common reason police pulled trucks off the road was brake problems, department spokesman Danny Straessle said.

Officers also pulled 67 drivers out of service, including one who was cited on suspicion of drinking and driving. Others were cited for not updating their logbooks or for driving too long.

The rate of vehicle violations is similar to last year's inspection results, when officers pulled 168 trucks out of service from the 619 they inspected. But the number of drivers taken out of service increased by more than 50 percent from the 43 drivers taken out of service last year.

Straessle said most Arkansas carriers have good safety records because problems can lead to fewer trucks on the road and cut into profits.

"But there's always the out-of-state driver that comes through or the single owner-operator that's maybe trying to cut corners to make ends meet," he said. "That's the exception rather than the rule."

David O'Neal, director of safety services at the Arkansas Trucking Association, said that although one violation is too many, the top-line numbers don't account for the violations' severity.

Over the past generation, the trucking industry has undergone a "sea change" in safety standards, he said. Between 2002 and 2012, the number of trucks involved in fatal accidents dropped by 17 percent, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

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Toll lanes to be studied in Arkansas . . . again

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The Arkansas Highway Commission has voted to study adding part-time toll lanes to Little Rock area freeways, which supporters say could alleviate traffic for commuters and help efforts to expand mass transit in the region.

The commission approved partnering with Metroplan, the planning organization for the central Arkansas area, to study adding "high occupancy toll" lanes to Pulaski, Faulkner, Saline and Lonoke counties. The study will likely take six months to a year to complete.

"There are a lot of things being done in urban areas around the country and we want to see if it could be implemented in Arkansas and how it would work," Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Director Scott Bennett said.

Arkansas currently doesn't have any toll lanes in the state, though the idea has been debated in the past. Bennett said the department is currently studying HOT lanes for a portion of Interstate 30 between south Little Rock and Benton.

McKenzie and Bennett said the study would look at pricing options for using the HOT lane, demand for such a lane and who can have access to the lane during non-peak hours. In a letter to Bennett in March, McKenzie also said the time the lane is toll could expand as demand grows.

McKenzie said the lanes are far from a certainty and cautioned drivers to not expect to pay for driving on any of the region's highways anytime soon.

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ATRI releases sleep apnea research data

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The American Transportation Research Institute released the results of its sleep apnea survey, which highlights a number of issues related to truck driver screening and treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). With data from over 800 commercial drivers, ATRI's report is the first to quantify the costs and other impacts that truck drivers are experiencing as they address diagnosis and potential treatment regimen for OSA.

The study found that among drivers who had been referred to a sleep study, 53% paid some or all of the test costs, with an average of $1,220 in out-of-pocket expenses, representing just over 1.5 weeks of median driver pay at $805 per week.

Even some drivers with health insurance (32%) incurred out-of-pocket costs exceeding $1000, while 61% of drivers with no health insurance met more than $1000 in sleep study bills. None of these costs include pay lost for time away from work. Forty-one percent of participants spent 1 – 30 days away from work for sleep apnea screening.

The study also found the number of drivers who report not adhering to a prescribed OSA treatment, most commonly use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, was only 1.95 percent optttttmoderate/severe OSA diagnosed respondents moderate/severe OSA diagnosed respondents.

"ATRI's research clearly shows what my fellow drivers and I have been experiencing. The costs associated with sleep apnea screening and treatment are not inconsequential for drivers and the flexibility to utilize lower cost options for both screening and treatment will be critical if FMCSA moves forward with a formal rulemaking," said Barbara Beal, an Owner-Operator and member of OOIDA.

Find the full findings and a copy of the white paper at www.atri-online.org.

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Telemedicine approved for Arkansas

Under proposed regulations approved by the Arkansas State Medical Board, doctors would be allowed to use video and audio technology to remotely treat patients they have never examined in person.

The regulations would allow doctors to establish "a proper physician/patient relationship" through an examination using "real time audio and visual telemedicine technology" as long as the technology "provides information at least equal to such information as would have been obtained by an in-person examination."

The changes came in response to Act 887 of 2015, which allows doctors to treat only patients they have examined at some point in person, have an ongoing professional or personal relationship with or have been referred by another doctor or when they are filling in for the patient's regular doctor.

The law also allows the State Medical Board to specify other ways the physician-patient relationship can be established.

Representatives of 15 groups, including the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, the Arkansas Trucking Association and America's Car Mart, wrote a letter to the board stating the regulations "protect the health and safety of Arkansans while expanding access to affordable, high-quality healthcare."

 

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ATA announces $950,000 dividend from workers' compensation fund

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The Arkansas Trucking Association Self-Insurers' Fund has declared a $950,000 dividend to its 47 trucking companies enrolled in the workers' compensation insurance trust, bringing the total amount distributed from the fund to over $23.4 million since its creation in 1993, and over $8.7 million paid since 2010.

Employees of trucking companies that enrolled in the insurance group are covered to pay the workers' compensation claims for employees injured on the job. Since 1993, the trucking insurance fund has paid out almost $44 million to injured workers.

"Our member companies deserve to be rewarded for excellent performance," said Shannon Newton, the association's president. "When small businesses come together for mutual benefit, it makes us all more self-sustaining and financially stable."

Dividends can be declared by the fund's board of trustees after injury claims and other expenses are paid, and distribution is subject to approval by the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission.

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ATA Board of Directors elects new members for 2016

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The Arkansas Trucking Association held elections for three new members for the Board of the Directors at its annual conference in Little Rock, Ark. May 18 - 20.

New board of directors members include Martin Tewari, USA Truck; Jeff Loggins, Loggins Logistics, Inc.; and Carl Boja, TravelCenters of America.

Tewari, president of trucking at USA Truck, replaced Tom Glaser, USA Truck’s former president at USA Truck, in one of the at-large seats on the Board.

Loggins, the president and CEO of Loggins Logistics, Inc. was appointed to one of the Arkansas Trucking Association (ATA) Board of Directors for-hire positions, previously held by Gary Salisbury of FTL Transport.

The Board also includes two allied positions to represent members of the association who provide supplies, equipment or other services to the industry. TravelCenters of America’s Boja was elected to the allied seat previously held by Philip Mahoney of Great West Casualty Company.

Butch Rice, president and CEO of Stallion Transportation Group, will continue to serve as chairman for 2016-2017.

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Contact Us

Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
  • SERVE our members to help them to grow their business and their profits
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