HOS Rules Driving Truckers Crazy

Beginning July 1, commercial motor carriers must begin operating under the new Hours of Service rules.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has yet to issue a ruling that will decide whether the new Hours of Service rules are arbitrary and capricious. Meanwhile, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will begin enforcing the new rules July 1.

The new parts to the rules are as follows:

1) the 34-hour off-duty restart provision must include two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

2) to restart the calculation of 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days, 168 or more consecutive hours (7 days) must have passed since the beginning of the last such off-duty period.

3) driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes.

Opponents of the new rule and some lawmakers have urged the FMCSA to delay implementation until after a ruling. However, FMCSA has denied those requests stating that staying the compliance date of the rule is not warranted.

The FMCSA is offering a downloadable visor card with rules at http://fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/hos/HOS-Regulations-7-1-2013.pdf.

Supreme Court Rules on Port’s Concession Agreement

In the lawsuit American Trucking Associations vs the City of Los Angeles, the Supreme Court ruled that certain parts of an agreement that trucking companies must sign before they can transport cargo at the Port of Los Angeles was preempted by federal law.
The American Trucking Association (ATA) challenged five provisions of the agreement:
1) displaying of placards; 2) compliance with truck routes and parking restrictions;
3) financial-capacity; 4) truck-maintenance; and 5) revoking or suspending the right to operate at the Port.

In an opinion delivered by the U.S. Supreme Court, two of the five challenges (displaying of
placards and compliance with truck routes and parking restrictions) were preempted by federal law reversing a judgment by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA), 49 U. S. C. §14501(c) (1), preempts a state law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier.

As the Port’s placard and parking requirements relate to a motor carrier’s price, route, or service, the only disputed question is whether those requirements have the force and effect of law. The agreement forced terminal operators—and through them, trucking companies—to alter their conduct by implementing a criminal prohibition punishable by imprisonment. Because of this, the court ruled that the force and effect of law exists.

The Court declined to decide whether or not the Port can enforce the financial-capacity and truck-maintenance requirements upheld by the Ninth Circuit.

Lastly the ATA argued that the Port cannot withdraw a defaulting company’s right to operate at the Port citing Castle v. Hayes Freight Lines, Inc., 348 U. S. 61. As the Port has never used its suspension or revocation power to penalize a past violation of the requirements, the court ruled that, at this juncture, there was no basis for finding that the Port will actually use the concession agreement’s penalty provision as in the Castle case. However, Justice Kagan stated, “There will be time enough to address the Castle question when, if ever, the Port enforces its agreement in a way arguably violating that decision.”

ATA President and CEO Bill Graves stated, “The decision is sure to send a signal to any other cities who may have been considering similar programs which would impermissibly regulate the port trucking industry.”


Castle v. Hayes Freight Lines rebuffed a State’s attempt to bar a federally licensed motor carrier from its highways for past infringements of state safety regulations.

Underride Guards Fail Critical 30% Test

Trailer underride guards, while improved, did not pass the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) critical 30% test. According to the IIHS, trailer underride guards on modern trailers do a pretty good job at keeping vehicles from sliding underneath them, but primarily when the crash occurs directly behind the trailer. IIHS tests show that when a vehicle strikes a portion of the trailer (overlap), most trailers fail to prevent potentially deadly underrides.

In a IIHS study of 115 crashes in which a passenger vehicle struck the back of a heavy truck or semitrailer, results showed that 80% were underrides. Of those crashes involving underride, 82% were fatalities; about half of those with severe underride had overlaps of 50% or less.

IIHS engineers most recently crash-tested trailers from eight of the largest manufacturers. In each test, a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu struck a parked tractor-trailer at 35 mph. When the car was aimed at the center of the trailer, all successfully prevented the underride.  When the mid-point of the car struck the trailer edge, only one guard failed to prevent the underride.  However, when the portion of the vehicle striking the trailer was reduced to 30%, all but one failed. The 30% overlap is used by the IIHS for testing because it is the minimum overlap under which a passenger vehicle occupant’s head is likely to strike a trailer in an underride guard failure. It is important to note that in successful tests where the guards held up, the Malibu’s structure and airbags protected the dummy.
Earlier test results from the IIHS showed that the size and strength of the guards were inadequate  leading the IIHS to petition the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2011 for tougher standards. In that set of tests, IIHS engineers crash-tested trailers from three manufacturers (Hyundai, Vangard and Wabash). The Hyundai trailer failed all tests. Vangard failed the 50% and 30% tests while the Wabash trailer failed the 30% test.

Since 2007, under Canadian regulation, a guard must withstand about twice as much force at the point where it attaches to its vertical support compared to the U.S. rule. It’s encouraging to note that while NHTSA has not issued any additional requirements on trailer underride guards, trailer manufacturers have responded to the IIHS results by installing guards that are much stronger than required. All eight manufacturers now have underride guards meeting the Canadian standard, and none of the current designs had any difficulty passing the full-width test.

According to the IIHS, the location of the guards’ vertical supports appears to be a problem. As the supports are attached to the slider rails which allows the position of the wheels to change depending on the load, the vertical supports are located an average of 28 inches from the trailer’s edge. Manac, a Canadian manufacturer and the only one to pass the 30% test, attaches its guards to a reinforced floor and spaced just 18 inches from the edge.

DOT clarifies position on recreational-use marijuana

Despite some states now permitting recreational use of marijuana, the Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation – 49 CFR Part 40 – does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason. It is important to note that marijuana remains a drug listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. It remains unacceptable for any safety-sensitive employee subject to drug testing under the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana.

New round of engines targeted by CARB

As of January 1, 2013, California’s Truck and Bus regulation is now targeting 2000-2004 engine model year trucks.
If you are operating a 2000-2004 engine model year truck in California (including out-of-state vehicles) with a gross vehicle weight of 14,000 lbs or greater, your truck must be equipped with an approved particulate matter filter. Installing the filter on these trucks will satisfy state law through the year 2023 at which time you will be required to replace the engine with an engine model year 2010 or better.
The California Air Resources Board is warning truckers that
inspectors will be checking for compliance at random roadside locations, truck stops, weigh stations, distribution centers, fleet facilities and various other locations.
A non-compliant vehicle (including out-of-state vehicles) may not be legally operated in California. Penalties start at a minimum of $1,000 per violation
per month and increase over time.
More information on how to comply with the regulation is available at

What coverage(s) do you really need?

CASE #145 – Trucker delivers long arm tractor to bridge.

In the scenario described below, we briefly summarize a collision in an effort to highlight the importance of certain applicable coverages. When given the opportunity, your agent will analyze your policy(ies) to ensure adequate protection for the loads you’re hauling. Sometimes however, truckers take their insurance for granted thinking that they’re fully covered for whatever they choose to haul. That is the case here where an unfamiliar load is hauled which leads to a loss and an underinsured situation.

When this trucker decided to deliver a piece of heavy equipment, his problems began the moment it was loaded onto the trailer. First, this was not a normal load for this driver. His knowledge of heavy equipment was limited and his cargo limits were not adequate. His cargo (a long arm tractor) was improperly loaded onto the trailer which allowed the tractor’s arm to release, extending its height above 14 ft. – higher than the bridges on his route. Secondly, and very importantly, the trucker did not know the height of his load. According to the highway patrol, the trucker’s load was already higher than allowed on that route before the arm released.
As a result, his cargo struck a traffic light entering the freeway. Once on the freeway, the tractor’s arm extended and it didn’t take long before it collided with a bridge at roughly 40-50 mph.

The bridge sustained deep gashes in the concrete and a gaping hole roughly 6 ft. x 4 ft. which exposed the rebar inside. Debris from the collision was scattered all over the freeway – luckily there were no injuries to other motorists. The long arm tractor, the trailer and the truck all sustained serious damage. The roadway beneath the bridge had impact damage from the falling concrete. The driver was not critically injured, but did sustain cuts and bruises.

Coverage in this case is as follows: The damage to the bridge and roadway would be covered under a commercial auto liability policy. The damage to the truck would be covered under a physical damage policy. The damage to the trailer would also be covered under a physical damage policy if it is listed on the policy and owned by the insured. Otherwise, the damage to the trailer would likely be covered under an unidentified trailer physical damage policy. The damage to the long arm tractor would be covered under a cargo policy. Injuries sustained by the driver would be covered under workers compensation if the driver is an employee; or major medical or occupational accident if the driver is an independent contractor.

1) Anytime you haul commodities different from normal, it’s very important to check with your agent to be sure your coverage and limits are adequate for your equipment and cargo. While limits can easily be changed for different situations, policies often contain exclusions.
2) Check the contract that you have with your broker to be sure you’re meeting minimum required limits and not breaching the contract.
3) Whenever you are carrying a wide load or tall load, you should know the height and width of your cargo and equipment and plan your route accordingly.
4) When securing your cargo, be sure to check with FMCSA guidelines for the latest cargo securement rules. (www.fmcsa.dot.gov)

Not all situations are exactly the same and may require additional investigation to conclude actual coverage. The situation above is meant as a general overview of the claim described and not an actual account of the incident or the coverage(s) providing protection.

Thank you! For all you do . . .

This week (Sept 16 – 22, 2012) is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week (NTDAW). NTDAW was initiated by the American Trucking Association 24 years ago in an effort to celebrate and thank the hard working men and women who deliver life’s essentials. We couldn’t agree more.

In all you do as trucking professionals, know that all of us here at Commercial Carriers Insurance Agency are very appreciative of your service to the American way of life. You are truly “Kings of the Road”.

Smartway Deadline Approaches for carriers operating in CA

Beginning September 1, 2012, small motor carriers (fleets of 20 or less box-type trailers) operating in California with trailers 53 feet and longer are required to register with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their SmartWay program. The greenhouse gas regulation (Smartway) applies to both tractors and trailers. Owners of tractors subject to the regulation must either purchase new SmartWay certified tractors or retrofit existing tractors with low rolling resistance tires. Owners of trailers subject to the regulation must either purchase new SmartWay certified trailers or retrofit existing trailers with SmartWay-verified aerodynamic technologies and low rolling resistance tires. Full compliance in the program is expected by January 1, 2013.
Source: www.arb.ca.gov