The Kansas-based trucking company, YRC Worldwide, had a difficult year in 2019. It had lost more than $100 million and was being sued by the Justice Department for allegedly defrauding the federal government. But, as The New York Times reports, YRC received a $700 million loan in exchange for a 30 percent stake in the business.
Keeping the supply chain moving in the midst of a pandemic has been a significant challenge for businesses. With local and regional travel restrictions, essential supplies in short supply, and backups and decreased availability of freight capacity, the trucking industry is stretching for ways to keep goods moving.
“The volume of goods that are being transported, particularly to grocery stores right now is unfathomable, its 2-3 times the Christmas rush, Black Friday type volume,” said Tom Crawford, President and CEO of the Missouri Trucking Association.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a tidal wave of regulatory changes in the trucking industry that are intended to help carriers meet the demands of the supply chain amidst increasing public health restraints.
One responsibility carriers have is to ensure their drivers stay in compliance with the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requirements. These requirements cover everything from licensing to health screening to vehicle maintenance. But what do drivers and carriers do when they are unable to meet these requirements because the necessary service providers are closed or unable to book appointments?
Across the country, Americans are feeling the effects of scarcity as anxious buyers snatch up large quantities of household essentials like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and dry goods. This has caused rising concern not just among consumers, but also among pharmacies and medical providers who are struggling to keep up with the very real and serious needs of the critically ill.
To alleviate the pressure of empty shelves and supply cabinets, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a national emergency declaration on March 13 to help ensure that supplies are delivered quickly so stores and clinics can be restocked.
Although it had planned to institute universal training standards for entry-level truck drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced that it will be delaying the training requirements for two years.
The Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) guidelines were intended to take effect on February 7, 2020, but the compliance date has been pushed back to February 7, 2022. According to the FMCSA, the delay will help establish important IT infrastructure that will act as a registry of compliant programs. However, the delay will also result in a continuance of under-trained entry-level truck drivers on the road, creating risk for travelers.
A total of 4,102 people died in truck crashes in 2017, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The majority of those people (82 percent) were occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorists. The most common fatal injury in trucking accidents is being crushed by falling in the exposed space between the front and rear wheels of a truck. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, truck crashes are more likely to be side impact crashes. In fact, between 2005 and 2009, 556 pedestrians and bicyclists in the U.S. were killed after side-impacts with trucks.
Lives can be saved by implementing measures to help prevent side-impacts with trucks. One such measure is the installation of side guards on trucks with high ground clearance. A number of studies conducted in the United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden, and the Netherlands show that side guards dramatically decrease the number of fatalities in trucking accidents. After truck side guards were mandated in the U.K., cyclist fatalities dropped 61 percent and pedestrian fatalities dropped 20 percent for side-impact accidents.
The trucking industry, through the American Trucking Association (ATA), submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), requesting a determination that the state of California’s meal and rest break rules are pre-empted by federal law. In response, 19 Democratic members of the House of Representatives and the Senate have “strongly” urged the DOT to deny said petition.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released their annual Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) numberson October 3rd 2018, which shows that roadway fatalities were down 2 percent year-over-year in 2017. In spite of this, the NHTSA warned that this decrease did not necessarily indicate “an across-the-board trend.”
The American Association for Justice (AAJ) has submitted comments in response to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) advance notice of proposed rulemaking for hours-of-service (HOS) for commercial truck drivers. The rulemaking process was first announced at the end of August 2018, when the FMCSA declared that they would be reviewing the existing HOS regulations which limit the total operating hours a commercial truck driver works on duty.
According to the U.S. federal government statistics, over 4,300 people have been killed in crashes involving tractor-trailers and other large trucks in 2016, which is a 28 percent increase over 2009. Fatal truck crashes are growing at almost three times the rate of deadly crashes overall in the U.S. For years, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has supported life-saving legislation that would require all heavy trucks to be equipped with crash-avoidance technology.