The U.S. House’s Appropriations Committee this week passed 30-21 a 2016 DOT funding bill that would, if passed, keep in place the current hours-of-service suspension until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration can justify the HOS rule changes put in place in July 2013.

The $55 billion bill would also prevent FMCSA from continuing a rulemaking to raise the current minimum amount of liability insurance required to be held by motor carriers.

Read more: Bill Dictating Direction Of Hours-Of-Service Restart Rollback, Insurance Rule Advances →

As West Coast ports continue to recover from the cargo backed up during the final four months of contract negations between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, driver union members began picketing four trucking companies serving LA’s and Long Beach’s ports, demanding they be reclassified as employees and not independent contractors.

Read more: Teamsters Demand Employee Classification →

Truckers have been able to bypass weigh stations legally for 20 or so years now. For the truckers that can take advantage of them, Bypass Systems work well for carriers with a good safety-performance history to help them avoid the extra scrutiny involved in rolling over the scales.

Nowadays there are new technologies and new options in the market, the bypass networks are growing. Between PrePass and Drivewyze, two of the largest players, there are nearly 1,000 sites nationwide combined. PrePass has more than 300 bypass sites in 31 states. Drivewyze is up to 567 sites in 35 states.

Read more: Owner Operator Scale Bypass Options Grow →

Spot Market

Spot market loads increase, rates mostly flat: The number of available loads on the spot market rose 3.2 percent in the week ending April 4, according to DAT Solutions’ weekly Rate Trends report. Flatbed led the way with a 9 percent jump in available loads from the week prior. The segment also saw a 5-cent increase in the linehaul (base) portion of its $2.22 per mile rate — a 3-cent increase from the week prior.

Read more: CCJ Update: A Few Trucking Economic Indicators →

Truck drivers have a new resource to prepare for exams that are required by the Department of Transportaion. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) released a new Internet-based resource for truckers.

The new D.O.T. Doc website helps drivers get and stay informed when using the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Since May 2014, FMCSA has required that all DOT physicals be completed by an eligible Certified Medical Examiner.

Read more: Preparing for DOT Exam? Here's A Great New Resource For You →

TruckingInfo.Com: Used commercial vehicle transactions in Classes 3-8 exceeded 711,000 units in the 2014 calendar year, according to a new report from IHS Automotive. In the past decade, that was bested only by a record level of 791,000 units in 2011.

Used transactions were up 4.6% over the 2013 calendar year and accounted for 52% of total combined commercial vehicle transactions in the 2014 calendar year.

“Clean used commercial vehicles remain in strong demand, even with the continued strengthening of the demand for new commercial vehicles,” said Gary Meteer, director, commercial vehicle solutions for IHS Automotive.

Read more: 2014 Used Truck Sales Second-Best In Over A Decade →

Wal-Mart brought wider attention to how West Coast port congestion is hurting shippers, saying on Thursday that shipment delays are hurting its business and threaten its spring and Easter inventory. The company said it’s taking steps to reduce the impact of shipment delays, including moving more imports through Gulf and East Coast ports, according to MarketWatch. Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon told investors that the retailers would make “further adjustments if the issue persists.”.

Read more: West Coast Port Woes Threaten WalMart Spring Inventory →

Owner-operators, led by independents and flatbedders, had a record year for net income, according to averages from ATBS, the nation’s largest owner-operator financial services provider. Leased operators and independents together cleared an average $56,167 during 2014. That’s 7 percent above the 2013 average, $52,406. Strong freight demand, a driver shortage and plunging diesel prices contributed to the increase.

Read more: Max Heine: Record Year For Owner-Operator Income: Here Are The Numbers →

The US Energy Administration expects fuel prices to remain low through 2015.  Diesel is expected to remain below $3.00/gallon, averaging $2.83 for the year. If this holds true, it means that diesel in 2015 would be exactly $1 less than 2014’s average of $3.83.  Falling fuel prices will help trucker earnings across the board.

 

trucking 2015Results are in from polling that got going a week ago with Part 1 of Todd Dill's Year in Review: four in ten operators are staring down a year that they expect to be categorically better than the previous one, from a business perspective. Optimism could well be expected, given the above-average rate picture this year, the late downturn in diesel prices and the late-year regulatory victory that was the rollback of the restart restrictions introduced in 2013.

Read more: Is The Trucking Business Trending Better In 2015? →

CARB map Final 500x398The California Air Resources Board has finalized the compliance alternatives and extension amendments it proposed earlier this year, effectively allowing the owner-operators and small fleet owners who qualify some delays in complying with the state’s emissions regulations.

CARB’s Beth White, who is in charge of implementing California’s stringent Truck & Bus Rule, said the Board is pushing to have the changes to the rule legally effective by the end of the year.

Read more: California Air Resources Finalizes Owner-Operator Emissions Compliance →

truck wreckSay What? The current liability insurance requirement amounts for carriers is too low? Really?

That’s a question the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been grappling with since an April-issued report by the agency concluded that, yes, current levels are insufficient and that many crashes run well above the current base $750,000 minimum.

Read more: FMCSA’s Liability Insurance Questions For Truckers... Tell 'Em What You Think →

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A Final Rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices by drivers and fleets is expected to be published Sept. 30, 2015, according to a recent Department of Transportation report, meaning enforcement of the mandate would begin Sept. 30, 2017.

That publication date is a projection, included in the DOT’s monthly regulatory update.

The report also says a projected rule to mandate the use of speed limiters will be sent from the DOT to the White Houses’ Office of Management and Budget next month, in line for a March 16 publication date.

That projected rule’s action dates, however, have been pushed back several times this year already. 

Read more: Electronic logging device mandate rule expected Sept 2015 →

cross-borderA recent agreement between the U.S. and Mexico will allow carriers who carry freight to and from Mexico to become certified and therefore undergo fewer cargo exams and enjoy faster validation when crossing the border.

With the Oct. 17 Mutual Recognition Arrangement, Mexico became the eighth country the U.S. has partnered with under the Customs and border Protection’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program.

Read more: Cross-Border Haulers Can Now Streamline Mexico Border Crossings →

redTruckerIf a driver tests positive in a random drug test, they must satisfy a specific regulatory process before being allowed to drive again. Should an employer allow such a driver to resume driving? Is the employer immunized from being sued for negligence in the event the driver that is properly returned to duty is involved in an accident causing personal injury or property damage?

Read more: Carriers Are Liable When A Driver Who Has Failed A Drug Test →

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A new bill bolstering existing insurance requirements for ride-sharing companies awaits the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown after both sides of the debate struck a deal over coverage terms.

That’s good news for taxi-on-demand services such as Uber and Lyft, which both withdrew opposition to Assembly Bill 2293, introduced in the California Legislature in February to enact stiffer liability insurance coverage requirements for transportation network companies and their drivers.

Companies such as Uber and Lyft, both of which operate in Santa Barbara, use cell phones and maps to connect riders with the closest drivers. Passengers pay a flat rate with a credit card and can split the cost, touted as cheaper than regular cabs.

Read more: Ride-Sharing Companies And Lawmakers Cut A Deal on Insurance Coverage Requirements →