In Case of Emergency: FMCSA’s Ability to Suspend Regulations

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

This fall has brought with it two devastating storms that ravaged a large part of the continental United States. Many of us watched the massive Hurricane Harvey dump feet of rain on the Houston, Texas area. As if this storm was not enough, it was followed by a category five hurricane, the biggest ever recorded in the Atlantic, which pummeled Florida. Both storms did much to destroy everything in their path, and leave the people who live there to rebuild their lives. Because of the tremendous destructive power of the storms, people left behind and those who fled require emergency supplies like food, water, and shelter. Of course our system of transportation revolves around moving goods by truck, so it makes sense that trucks and truckers would provide much of the much needed relief supplies to those affected by the storms. FMCSA Authority to Suspend Rules In order to expedite …

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 …

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 …

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. …

New Legislation to Fix Restart Rule

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

Few issues related to the trucking industries have garnered as much attention as the 34 hour restart rule. Now it looks like a permanent fix is in the works that will resolve the issue once and for all. Thanks to legislation recently passed by congress, there will no longer be any questions and fighting about the rule, unless the results are bad. We saw in this legislation that Congress once again got involved in the rulemaking of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It seems to be a trend where the FMCSA will make a rule, the industry will balk at it, and either the rule is subject to a lawsuit or a lobbying effort to overrule it. Changes in 2013 In 2013, the FMCSA issued a new regulation that changed how the 34 hour restart rule could be used by truckers. Under that final rule, anyone who wanted to …

Before a Court Hears Your Case

Kevin Anderson Judgments, Transportation

There are major differences between state and federal courts. State courts are commonly referred to as general jurisdiction courts, where a judge’s courtroom is able to hear and decide issues ranging from common law to state and federal statutes. But federal courts do not enjoy the same latitude in hearing and deciding cases. The role of the federal judiciary is constricted to hearing cases and controversies as defined by the U.S. Constitution in Article III. This limitation on federal courts prevents a federal judge from deciding a case based primarily on state law (unless the parties are from different states). This concept is known as subject matter jurisdiction. Court Balks at Deciding Case This legal principle of subject matter jurisdiction was recently put on display by a federal court out of California. In that case, a trucking company was suing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration over a pending stop …

Court of Appeals Upholds ELD Rule

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

In a lengthy opinion, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the legality of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s newest electronic logging device rule. Barring an appeal to the Supreme Court, in the coming years many truck drivers will have to install these ELDs to stay on the road. The final rule was published by the FMCSA in 2015, and it immediately faced a legal challenge by the OOIDA. But this legal challenge failed, in part, because of the mandate issued by Congress in 2012 which directed the Department of Transportation to issue an ELD rule that would apply to most trucks. Despite that mandate, the petitioners in this case felt they could get a ruling in their favor. Petitioners Arguments for Overturning the Rule The petitioners in this case based their challenge on five different argument: ELDs do not record enough information automatically; the rule fails to …