• Just hours after the 2013 government shutdown ended last week, President Barack Obama signed into law a succinct sleep apnea bill.  While only three sentences in length, the bill sets forth legislation which has been desired by all those invested in and employed by the trucking industry.  In the past, the issues of sleep apnea impacting the safety of fleet operators have only been addressed by regulatory guidance. However, after unanimously passing through both the House of Representatives and Senate, it is now law that:

    "a requirement providing for the screening, testing, or treatment (including consideration of all possible treatment alternatives) of individuals operating commercial motor vehicles for sleep disorders only if the requirement is adopted pursuant to a rule-making proceeding."

    This piece of legislation (Public Law #113-45) is so highly touted throughout the industry because it requires that the FMCSA must execute a full cost-benefit and regulatory impact analysis before setting policy regarding sleep apnea as opposed to the loosely adhered to 'guidance'.

    Prior to this bill being signed into law, the FMCSA could set policy without taking into account the high costs to the industry (estimated to be greater than $1 billion) – which would most likely fall on the shoulders of the safer fleets controlled by small businesses. Now, with the law passed, Todd Spencer of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has thanked Representatives Bucshon and Lipinski for their efforts and stated that this law "is common sense legislation that has the support of the entire industry." Spencer went on to say that "anything FMCSA does regarding sleep apnea should absolutely consider the costs such a policy will pass on to truckers."

    While it was explicitly announced that a rulemaking process will be followed, the FMCSA stated to the press that "Congress should still weigh in by passing legislation and guaranteeing that a transparent and sound process is used."

    While this Sleep Apnea bill is important for the costs imposed on the industry and passed through Congress in record time, don't expect the same ease of passage to be seen next year as the Highway Trust Fund reaches its limit.

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  • Think your fleet is one of the best in the trucking industry?  The Truckload Carriers Association's (TCA) 6th annual Best Fleets to Drive For® award is right around the corner, so now is the time to see how your fleet stacks up against the rest.

    Best Fleets to Drive For® is an annual evaluation of North American for-hire trucking companies that provide an exceptional workplace environment for drivers and owner-operators.  Conducted by CarriersEdge in partnership with the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), the Best Fleets to Drive For® award highlights the best employers in the trucking industry.

    This annual contest and survey promotes positive elements and great opportunities within the trucking industry. In addition to these accolades, this award sets higher employer standards for companies to follow through the documentation of success stories and showcase of fleets providing exceptional workplace environments.

    "This program publicly recognizes and celebrates the fleets that are working to provide exceptional workplace environments," said Mark Murrell, president of CarriersEdge. "As we survey the participants, we're documenting a series of success stories that model best practices for other companies to adopt or follow. It's good for the carriers, the drivers, and the image of trucking, which is why the number of nominations seems to double every year. As we head into the next round, I have no doubt that this trend will continue."

    The contest guidelines are straightforward for drivers or owner-operators: nominate your fleet for the award and complete the driver survey which is conducted to gain deeper feedback. In addition to the operator submitted metrics, company safety and driver retention data are collected, as well as corporate interviews of each nominated company. After data is compiled of all applicable fleets, it is reviewed to determine the Top 20 Best Fleets to Drive For®. Before voting, read the full list of evaluation metrics.

    There is no fee to nominate a company and the Best Fleets to Drive For® 2013 survey is open to all North American, for-hire trucking companies with 10 vehicles or more. Since this is a vote of the best fleets to drive for, only those employees that operate the vehicles can complete a nomination; i.e. office staff, management, and company owners cannot nominate their fleet.

    To nominate a fleet, drivers can fill out the nomination form  or send an email to Nominate@BestFleetsToDriveFor.com, and include the full name and contact info for both the nominated fleet and the individual submitting the nomination.  Nomination deadline is 5:00 pm EST November 1st, 2013.

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  • On October 1, 2013 the government figuratively "shutdown" due to bipartisan disagreement in regards to the proposed budget. This inability of Congress to provide a federal budget has impacted millions of Americans in a myriad of federally funded industries. Is the transportation industry, a staple in the American economy, going to come to a halt because of this shutdown?

    According to the Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, the trucking industry will not be directly affected. In a statement to Department of Transportation (DOT) employees, Foxx mentions that "some employees will be excepted [from the shutdown] because their work directly addresses emergency circumstances". He goes on to address that in addition to these "emergency circumstance" employees, there is another segment of employees whom are not "subject to furlough because their positions are not supported by annual appropriations". While the DOT employs 58,000 people within varied sectors of the transportation industry, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, agencies regarding trucking and safety programs are funded by the Highway Trust Fund and not the Federal budget.

    With funding being provided in grants from the Highway Trust Fund, and state agencies, these safety programs that appear in the form of roadside trucking enforcement, weigh stations and inspection stations will not be affected by the shutdown.  However, there are agencies that conduct business in tandem with the trucking industry that are impacted by the impasse that is seen in Washington, D.C. this week; most notably the Federal Railroad Administration and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The effect that this halt in production has on the shipping and logistics firms of the country has yet to be seen due to the shutdown still being in its infancy.

    Americans have numerous questions regarding the 2013 Government Shutdown. USA Today is a great reference and has provided access to a slew of questions and answers regarding the 2013 Shutdown.  CNN also provides a list of agencies being affected the shutdown and to what degree.