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FMCSA grants ATA petition to preempt California meal, rest break rules

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WASHINGTON – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Friday said it is granting petitions to preempt the State of California’s meal and rest break rules, which differ from current Federal hours-of-service regulations.

FMCSA’s granting of these petitions is in response to widespread concern from drivers, concerned citizens, and industry stakeholders.  In 1996, Congress preempted states from enacting or enforcing policies “related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier.”  California’s law is incompatible with Federal regulations and causes a disruption in interstate commerce.  In addition, the confusing and conflicting requirements are overly burdensome for drivers and reduce productivity, increasing costs for consumers. Additionally, safety issues have likely resulted from the lack of adequate parking solutions for trucks in the State.

“Safety is FMCSA’s top priority and having uniform rules is a key component to increasing safety for our truck drivers,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.  “During the public comment period, FMCSA heard directly from drivers, small business owners, and industry stakeholders that California’s meal and rest rules not only pose a safety risk, but also lead to a loss in productivity and ultimately hurt American consumers.”

The American Trucking Associations, the Truckload Carriers Association and the American Moving and Storage Association all applauded the decision.

. “This is a victory for highway safety, not trial lawyers,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “The trucking industry supports our nation’s economic growth by safely and efficiently moving goods across state lines, and this decision by the Department of Transportation will save jobs, unburden businesses throughout the supply chain and keep the prices Americans pay for food, clothing and countless other essential items affordable and accessible.”

In late September, ATA petitioned DOT to preempt meal-and-rest break rules imposed by California, but primarily enforced via private lawsuits against motor carriers, on the grounds that a patchwork of rules related to driver hours of service harms safety, is in conflict with federal rules and causes “an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.”

“We were forced to ask DOT and the Secretary for this important, common sense solution because congressional dysfunction and gridlock prevented Congress from reasserting itself – as it had in 1994 – as the primary arbiter of interstate commerce, despite bipartisan, bicameral support,” Spear said. “We hope today’s ruling will once and for all underscore the importance of a single, national standard for work and safety rules for professional drivers.”

“For fleets like mine, knowing the rules will be the same for my drivers regardless of what state they’re delivering to is important,” said ATA Chairman Barry Pottle, president and CEO of Pottle’s Transportation. “I’d like to thank Secretary Chao for taking this step to make our highways safer by simplifying the lives and schedules of America’s truck drivers, but also recognize the efforts and persistence of the ATA staff who successfully built bipartisan consensus around solving this issue for carriers across the country.”

“We applaud FMCSA for recognizing the valid concerns of our industry,” TCA said in a prepared statement. “TCA has been fighting for years on behalf of our members against California’s onerous meal and rest break laws. Ultimately, this action by FMCSA is an important step toward creating a more reliable and consistent regulatory environment for truck drivers. A consistent set of rules directly benefits drivers, consumers, small businesses, and the American economy.”

“As a driver, being safe and well-rested is my primary concern,” said Derrick Whittle, a professional driver with Cargo Transporters Inc., “and having a single set of rules to follow whether I’m in California or Colorado makes it easier for me to do my job.”

“We thank the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for agreeing with us that the California meal and rest break rules were incompatible with federal law, which holds that state regulations that have no safety benefits or cause an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce are unenforceable,” said American Moving and Storage Association Vice President of Government Affairs Paul Milotte. “These regulations would have made it tougher for moving companies to operate in the state of California while providing little to no safety benefit for consumers. We appreciate the FMCSA upholding the federal statute over this unnecessary and burdensome state law.”

In all, over 700 public comments were submitted to the Federal Register docket regarding the petitions.

 

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Report shows states have introduced 185 bill to boost transportation investment

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The ARTBA-TIAC report showed that mileage-based user fee studies are being considered in eight states. (FOTOSEARCH)

WASHINGTON — A new 43-page report issued by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center indicates 37 states have introduced 185 bills aimed at boosting transportation investment in the first two months of 2019, with 21 of those states proposing to increase one or more types of fuel taxes, according to an article  in the Journal of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Of those 21 states, 10 included altering or creating a variable-rate tax that fluctuates based on external factors such as the Consumer Price Index, average wholesale price of motor fuel, or other formulas.

Continuing a trend seen in recent years, the ARTBA-TIAC report indicates 16 states are introducing electric vehicle fees to help ensure all vehicles that create wear and tear on roads pay for their share of maintenance, with 10 of those states including an additional registration fee for hybrid vehicles.

Similar legislation is being pushed at the federal level by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo. They re-introduced a bill on Feb. 6 that Sen. Barrasso initially proffered last October in the waning days of the 115th Congress.

That legislation seeks to end electric vehicle federal tax credits while imposing a fee on operators of all alternatively fueled vehicles – be they powered by electricity, natural gas, hydrogen, etc. – that will be collected over the next 10 years and paid into the Highway Trust Fund.

The ARTBA-TIAC report added that mileage-based user fee studies – also known as a road user charge or a vehicle miles traveled tax – are being considered in eight states, while four states have introduced legislation to implement tolling.

So far, of the legislation introduced in January or February, ARTBA said 19 measures have advanced beyond one legislative chamber, with one bill – an electric vehicle registration fee increase in Wyoming – signed into law. Meanwhile, Arkansas and Alabama signed fuel tax increases into law this month.

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Firefighting’s Finest Moving & Storage named top independent mover

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Offering a full range of services including moving, packing and storage has allowed Firefighting’s Finest to grow to four locations, with over 160 employees, a sizable fleet with warehouse facilities, and military approval as a TSP. (Courtesy: AMSA)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Firefighting’s Finest Moving & Storage, based in Fort Worth, Texas, has been named the nation’s top independent moving company for 2018 by the American Moving & Storage Association.

The company has earned the Independent Mover of the Year Award for exceptional business growth, strong customer satisfaction and award-winning service.

This award, also known as “the Indy,” reflects the association’s and the industry’s commitment to outstanding performance among independent movers as demonstrated through innovative business methods and practices, community involvement, customer service practices, employee relations, and operations that address a current and compelling social or economic issue, according to Scott Michael, AMSA president and CEO.

The recipient is selected by a panel of industry experts.

“Firefighting’s Finest Moving & Storage is honored to receive this prestigious award. It reflects our team’s hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence. The true desire ‘to serve’ shines through with this incredible achievement,” said Derrick Potter, president of Firefighting’s Finest Moving & Storage.

Since opening in 2001, Firefighting’s Finest has earned an impeccable reputation, providing customers with an exceptional, service-first moving experience, Potter said.

“Our focus on customer service provided by well-trained crews has allowed for continued growth, while our commitment to excellence has ensured that the growth is well managed, and quality is not lost,” he said.

Still owned and operated by military veterans and off-duty professional firefighters, Firefighting’s Finest’s commitment to serve customers and the community is what sets them apart.

The company’s teams of professional movers are carefully selected to ensure that a commitment to quality and service is shared by them, and that the company’s vision is the team’s vision—an exceptional move exceeding expectations on every move, Potter said.

Offering a full range of services including moving, packing and storage has allowed Firefighting’s Finest to grow to four locations, with over 160 employees, a sizable fleet with warehouse facilities, and military approval as a TSP.

Potter said Firefighting’s Finest Moving and Storage’s commitment to serve has led the company to earning many awards, including the prestigious Pro Patria Award, Small For Business of the Year Award in 2016 from the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, and several Torch Awards from the BBB for Marketing Ethics. Firefighting’s Finest is also proud to be the first ever Mover of the Year awarded by Move For Hunger.

“Firefighting’s Finest has set a high bar for excellence in the industry with an outstanding track record of success. They are well-deserving of this high honor that puts them up there among the elite moving and storage companies nationwide,” Michael said.

More information about the AMSA Awards at .

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Intelligent Imaging Systems installs truck parking signs in Ohio

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Through IIS Smart Parking, 18 rest stops along Ohio’s Interstates 70, 75 and U.S. Route 33 were fitted with in-ground sensors, which provide information on how many parking spots are open and available for use. (Courtesy: INTELLIGENT IMAGING SYSTEMS)

DALLAS — Intelligent Imaging Systems (IIS) is now providing state departments of transportation with its IIS Smart Parking solutions for trucks at rest stops.

Installations were recently completed in Ohio as part of the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO) initiative, which unites eight Midwestern states in the nation’s first Regional Truck Parking Information Management System (TPIMS).

Through IIS Smart Parking, 18 rest stops along Ohio’s Interstates 70, 75 and U.S. Route 33 were fitted with in-ground sensors, which provide information on how many parking spots are open and available for use. That information is then relayed and broadcast — in real-time — on highway signs so truck drivers will know the availability of parking spaces at the upcoming rest stop.

The IIS Smart Parking locations join others implemented through MAASTO to provide truckers with parking availability.

The TPIMS was deployed along the region’s high-volume freight corridors through Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Its goal is to have all truck drivers, dispatchers and others see and benefit from a cohesive parking availability system that crosses state borders. In addition to dynamic highway message signs, websites will provide information on parking space availability.

“This service is badly needed in the trucking industry,” said Brian Heath, president and CEO of IIS. “Parking is a huge concern for drivers. Studies by the Federal Highway Administration show that 83 percent of drivers routinely take 30 minutes or longer to find parking and that 37 DOTs reported problems with commercial parking.”

According to Heath, the real-time display of parking spots at rest areas gives drivers time to plan. “In Ohio, it’s set up where a highway reader board shows the number of spots available at the upcoming rest area,” he said. “And in many cases, it shows the spots available at the rest areas that are further down the road. This takes out a lot of the guesswork of ‘where do I park?’ Plus, if a rest area is full, the driver doesn’t have to pull in and search – wasting time trying to find a spot that doesn’t exist.”

IIS’ partner in the venture, IPsens, is a leader in cloud-based parking and transportation management solutions.

“Our hardware and parking management software integrates well with IIS to make for a turnkey solution for state DOTs,” said Gorm Tuxen, president of IPsens. “We look forward to working with more states – putting our technology to work — to make a difference in the lives of truckers searching for parking spots.”

Federal grant money is available to help states offer rest stop parking notifications.

“The federal government has recognized the parking issue and has stepped up to offer states funds to implement a truck parking management system,” Heath said. “We expect states with parking issues to take advantage of the funding to make highways safer, and drivers more productive. If a driver can’t find a spot, and their hours of service are about to expire, they’ll often resort to using unauthorized parking spaces, or park on highway shoulders or ramps. By providing real-time information on parking spots, states have the ability to make an impact on the problem.”

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