9th Circuit Court of Appeals Rejects Appeal to Stop Mexico Trucking in U.S.

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

Another chapter in the decades old saga over allowing Mexican trucking companies into the U.S. was recently written. This time the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc (meaning the whole bench heard the case), rejected arguments by trucking union groups over the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s decision to allow Mexican trucking long-haul companies to come into the U.S. The decision is an obvious blow to trucking companies and workers, though in the long run it may work in favor of the overall economy. For now, barring any additional appeals to the Supreme Court, or other litigation, it seems as if Mexican trucking companies will be allowed to do business in the United States. It also means that retaliatory steps taken by Mexico to punish U.S. producers will end as well. Short History of the Issues  These issues go back over 30 years to a time when the …

Changes to Drug Testing Coming

Kevin Anderson Employment and Labor, Regulations, Transportation

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is being asked to speed up the changes coming to the trucking industry regarding drug testing. Several congressmen recently petitioned the agency to begin allowing drug testing using hair as soon as the Department of Health and Human Services establishes guidelines for drug tests using hair. Currently the medium used to test whether a truck driver is using or has recently used drugs is urine. But thanks to a provision in the FAST Act of 2015, another medium, hair, will be allowed going forward. That is just one of many provisions that changed the trucking landscape when it was passed, but it could go a long way to improving the way drug testing takes place. At this point the only thing holding up the testing of hair instead of urine for many companies is the green light from the FMCSA. And they have not …

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Grants Health Exceptions

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

It was recently reported that the FMCSA will exempt over 90 truck drivers from regulations that would otherwise keep them off the roads. The exemptions were fairly routine, and were actually an extension of current exemptions to the drivers with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus. This is just one of the medical conditions that can keep a driver off the road. Before a driver can qualify for a commercial driver’s license and transport goods from state to state, they must have the physical ability to do so. This physical ability is determined by a doctor, and there are certain standards that must be met before a trucker is passed. In most cases a trucker of reasonable health will not have a problem, but there are cases where a license is denied. Regulations on Driver Health The rules regulating whether a driver qualifies for service can be found in 49 CFR 391.41. The …

Violating Trucking Regulations Gets More Expensive

Kevin Anderson Citations / Violations, Regulations, Transportation

If you or a member of your fleet goes awry of federal regulations, you can plan on paying higher penalties. This change was recently announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and is part of a larger federal scheme designed to get every last penny from fines. This change is happening whether truckers and trucking companies want it to. The changes are not drastic this time. The rise is supposed to track with the rate of inflation as recorded by the White House Office of Management and Budget. The old fines will be increased by about 0.16%, so it should not break the bank of anyone who would be getting a fine anyways, but it is part of a larger discussion about the regulation of the trucking industry in general. Trucking Industry Regulations It is hard to think of another national industry that is regulated more than the trucking …

New Federal Laws and Rules to Affect Trucking Industry

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

Just when you felt like the trucking industry could not be regulated any more, there is a sweeping new law that will affect every trucking company involved in transporting food from one place to another. The new law and its implementing regulations will affect trucking companies in several ways, including holding trucking companies responsible for ensuring that food is safe. The new law is known as the Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA. This is a shift from how things have been done in the past. The trucking companies will now be under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration, and this will not relieve them of the agencies they already fall under, like the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Key Points for Food Transportation Companies There are several areas that trucking companies involved with transporting food will need to understand better, and become …

Bid Adieu to Restart Regulations

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

After two years of studies, fighting, and going back and forth, truckers now have some certainty with their restart rules. The Department of Transportation recently released their report on whether federal rules regulating trucker rest and duty hours were effective and should be upheld, or should not be implemented. The industry has waited for this study for sometime now, in order to be able to plan for the future and have some sense of stability. Now that the report issued its findings, the whole issue should be put behind the industry. And the report was not kind to the 2013 regulations, which started the whole fight in the first place. History of the Restart Rules In 2013 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued rules changing trucker hours of service rules. Those regulations required truckers to rest for two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods per week, and only allowed …

Becoming an Imminent Hazard and Losing a CDL: What Not to Do

Kevin Anderson Citations / Violations, Regulations, Transportation

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a lot of power over the truckers and trucking companies in the United States. At any given point they can put a single driver, or entire fleet, out of business and take them off the road if they pose an imminent hazard to public safety. That is what recently happened to a driver in Tennessee, and it could happen to your company as well. When the FMCSA took the Tennessee driver off the road, he was relatively new to the profession. He only just received his CDL in 2016, and then ordered to relinquish it in January of 2017. What happened to him in losing his license is what happens in a lot of cases. He was caught driving while being suspected of recently drinking. Drinking a Driving: a Bad Idea This man’s first incident was logged by the police when they responded …

Beyond the Carmack Amendment: Alternate Theories of Liability

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Regulations, Transportation

When it comes to carrier liability for lost and damaged goods from an interstate shipment, the Carmack Amendment is the big law regulating most situations. It was created by the federal government to establish a uniform set of rules regulating how damages to goods shipped interstate should be handled. In part, this was to eliminate the applicability of state laws, which vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. When a carrier is sued over lost or damaged goods under a law or theory not involving the Carmack Amendment, it will in most cases be dismissed. But as one case recently decided from Illinois illustrates, that is not always the case. In fact there are many ways in which a trucking company can be held liable after a botched shipment. Starr Indemnity & Liability v. TRC, INC. The recent case out of Illinois involved the shipment of nearly $2 million worth of airplane …

Corporate Officers Under Increased Scrutiny

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

News came over the wires recently about the results of a years long investigation into malfunctioning airbags. The company involved, Takata, agreed to paying a $1 billion fine and pleading guilty to wire fraud because of the issues. Neither one of those events are particularly remarkable, though a $1 billion fine is very large. Indeed, the issue that raises eyebrows here is what happened to several executives at Takata. According to reports, the U.S. Department of Justice has indicted three former Takata executives over their roles in the malfunctioning airbags issue. They are being charged, according to the story, with wire fraud and conspiracy. The charges are largely based on revelations of several emails, and under the allegation that these executives worked to hide the malfunctioning issues. To take such steps in the face of a company-wide issue, particularly when the company is paying such a large fine, is remarkable. …

Is Regulatory Relief in Sight?

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

The year 2016 has come and gone, and it featured one of the most interesting and divisive presidential elections in U.S. history. No matter which side you were pulling for, there will be a new direction for the country in the new year, and that is particularly important for the federal government. The agencies and bureaus regulating in Washington D.C. have grown in recent years to make up almost an entirely new branch of government: the regulatory branch. For those highly regulated industries that are subject to Washington policies, this election could mean big change is on the horizon. And few industries are more regulated than trucking. Because it is an industry that travels (at high speeds) across state lines, it is subject to the many regulations issued every year by different Washington D.C. agencies. As a result, the trucking industry is wondering how a new administration will affect them. …