Four Bus Companies Shut Down

Four Bus Companies Shut Down Following Multi-State FMCSA Strike Force Investigation

March 14, 2016 – WASHINGTON – Following a four-month, multi-state investigation, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced that it has revoked the operating authority registration of four commercial bus companies for willfully failing to comply with federal safety regulations.

Each of the four passenger carriers intentionally provided a false physical address as its principal place of business. Federal safety regulations prohibit such false and misleading information.

The bus companies who had their USDOT operating authority registration revoked are:

  • Homewood, Alabama-based AKAI LLC, USDOT No. 2444704
  • Norcross, Georgia-based Luxury Express Bus Company LLC, USDOT No. 2442687
  • Waltham, Massachusetts-based Magnum Coach Lines, LLC, USDOT No. 2489680
  • Raleigh, North Carolina-based Hermes Luxury Coach LTD, USDOT No. 2430448

These companies could be fined for operating without a valid USDOT operating authority. The fines could be up to $25,000 for each violation.

As part of the recent strike force investigation, two additional bus companies will be fined. The fines are for multiple violations of federal safety regulations.

  • Doraville, Georgia-based Transtate Travel Inc., USDOT No. 2450783. Transtate Travel violated two federal statutes. (1) Making a fraudulent or intentionally false entry on a USDOT operating authority registration document. (2) Operating beyond the scope of its USDOT-granted authority. Transtate Travel has received a proposed Conditional Safety Rating.
  • New York City-based Forever Yours Tours, Inc., USDOT No. 2042615. Forever Yours Tours also violated two federal statutes. (1) Aiding, abetting, encouraging, or requiring a motor carrier or its employees to violate federal safety regulations. (2) Making fraudulent or intentionally false entry on a USDOT application for operating authority registration. Forever Yours Tours has received a proposed Unsatisfactory Safety Rating.

Companies getting Conditional or Unsatisfactory Safety Ratings have 45 days to submit an acceptable corrective action plan. That plan must outline in detail the steps it will take to bring the carrier into compliance with FMCSA safety regulations. Or a company can submit a formal Administrative Appeal to the agency. A company can also contest the proposed Safety Rating.

Commercial bus and truck companies that receive a final Safety Rating of Unsatisfactory cannot operate in interstate and intrastate commerce.

Operating in violation of a final Unsatisfactory Safety Rating may result in federal civil penalties of at least $25,000, as well as a criminal penalty, including a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment not to exceed one year.

Travelers planning a bus trip are also encouraged to think safety first. Before buying a ticket or chartering a bus, use FMCSA’s passenger carrier safety checklist. The checklist is available in multiple languages: – click here.

Recalled Volvo Trucks Unsafe

Recalled Volvo Trucks not repaired and still operating on the nation’s roadways are unsafe.

Volvo Truck
Volvo Truck

March 23, 2016 – WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in collaboration with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has determined that vehicles subject to Volvo Trucks’ Safety Recall (NHTSA Part 573 Safety Recall Report No. 16V-097000) that have not already received the interim or permanent recall remedy repair specified by Volvo in the recall and are still operating on the nation’s roadways are in an unsafe condition and should not be operated; such vehicles are to be immediately ordered out-of-service by federal and state roadside safety inspectors.

On March 10, 2016, Volvo Trucks North America announced the recall of certain model year 2016-2017 VNL, VNX, and VNM trucks manufactured from May 11, 2015 through March 8, 2016. The trucks may have been manufactured without a roll pin on the steering shaft.

If the roll pin is missing, the lower steering shaft may disconnect from the junction block. Also, the bolt connecting the upper steering shaft to the lower steering shaft may not have been properly tightened. Either condition can lead to separation of the steering shaft without warning, resulting in a complete loss of steering, which may lead to a crash.

The recall affects nearly 20,000 Class 8 motor vehicles, with nearly 16,000 affected vehicles in the U.S.

On March 18, FMCSA issued an Urgent Safety Bulletin advising operators and carriers of recalled vehicles to immediately contact Volvo Customer Support at 1-877-800-4945 (Option 1) before continuing driving operations.

Today’s announced declaration is not intended to provide a basis for further enforcement action, but seeks only the immediate cessation of the unrepaired, unsafe trucks. Operators of vehicles declared out-of-service must comply; violating a federal out-of-service order may result in civil penalties as well as criminal prosecution. A full copy of the Federal Register notification is available here.

Contact: Duane DeBruyne: (202) 366-9999.

To read the complete notification – click here.

Training Standards for New Truck Drivers

FMCSA Proposes National Training Standards for Entry-Level Truck and Bus Drivers

March 4, 2016 – WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today proposed a set of comprehensive national prerequisite training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus drivers. The proposal applies to all those seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) reflects consensus recommendations of a negotiated rulemaking committee comprised of FMCSA representatives and 25 stakeholders and responds to a Congressional mandate imposed under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. Public comment is sought as the next phase of the rulemaking.

“Well-trained drivers are safer drivers, which leads to greater safety for our families and friends on our highways and roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “With the help of our partners, today’s proposal serves as a major step towards ensuring that commercial vehicle drivers receive the necessary training required to safely operate a large truck or motorcoach.”

Applicants seeking a “Class A” CDL must have a minimum of 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training from an approved program. Training must also include a minimum of 10 hours driving the vehicle on a practice driving range. All training programs must meet FMCSA standards. The Class A CDL applies to vehicles weighing 26,001 lbs. or more.

A “Class B” CDL needs a minimum of 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training. It also requires an extra seven hours minimum of practice range training. The Class B CDL applies to heavy straight trucks, school buses, city transit buses, and motor coaches.

There is no proposed minimum number of hours that driver trainees must spend on classroom instruction.

“A diverse group of commercial motor vehicle stakeholders completed a tremendous amount of work, and that effort resulted in an unprecedented consensus,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “We’ve designated 2016 as our ‘Year of Partnerships’ and these comprehensive entry-level driver training standards exemplify our commitment to working closely with our safety partners, including state and local law enforcement, the safety advocacy community, and all other stakeholders to reduce crashes and to save lives.”

Training Standards

Mandatory, comprehensive training in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories would apply to the following individuals under the proposal:

First-time CDL applicants;
Current CDL holders seeking a license upgrade (e.g., a Class B CDL holder seeking a Class A CDL) or an additional endorsement (necessary, e.g., to transport hazardous materials, operate a tank truck, school bus, or motorcoach, or pull double and/or triple trailers); and
A previously disqualified CDL holder seeking to reacquire a license.

These individuals would be subject to the proposed entry-level driver training requirements and must complete a course of instruction provided by an entity that:

Meets the minimum qualifications for training providers;
Covers the curriculum;
Is listed on FMCSA’s proposed Training Provider Registry; and
Submits electronically to FMCSA the training certificate for each individual who completes the training.

Under the proposal, military drivers, farmers, and firefighters would continue to remain generally exempt from the federal CDL requirements.

FMCSA’s Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC) met for six two-day negotiating sessions starting in February 2015 until reaching consensus in May 2015. The ELDTAC included FMCSA representatives and a cross-section of 25 representatives from motor carrier transportation, highway safety, driver training, state licensing, law enforcement, labor union, and insurance organizations.

For more information on entry-level driver training – click here.

California Truck Driver Imminent Hazard

FMCSA Declares California Truck Driver Imminent Hazard to Public Safety

February 19, 2016 – WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared commercially-licensed California truck driver Edward Herbert Crane to be an imminent hazard to public safety. Crane has been ordered not to operate any commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. FMCSA served the federal order to Crane on February 9, 2016.

In May 2015, an FMCSA investigation revealed that Crane, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder, was medically unqualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle. During the investigation, it was found that Crane had tested positive for the use of prohibited controlled substances, amphetamines or methamphetamines, on three separate occasions since 2012. Additionally, the results of a test that was still pending during the investigation received by the carrier on May 12, 2015, subsequently was positive for methamphetamines.

In June 2015, Crane was disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce by order of FMCSA.

Since his first positive controlled substances test in 2012, Crane has been evaluated by multiple substance abuse professionals; however, he failed to comply with the follow-up testing requirements and he failed to obtain a certificate of completion from any substance abuse program provider.

On January 8, 2016, Crane lost control of the commercial vehicle he was operating resulting in the vehicle leaving the highway, striking a concrete barrier and overturning as it was reentering the roadway. Crane was cited by local law enforcement officers for failing to maintain control of his vehicle.

Following the crash, Crane was instructed by his employer to undergo drug and alcohol testing and was provided with the address of a facility. Crane has failed to report to this facility and has refused to submit to a post-crash drug and alcohol test.

Violating an imminent hazard out-of-service order by a CDL holder may result in civil penalties of not less than $2,750 and disqualification from operating a commercial vehicle for not less than 180 days for a first offense. A second offense may result in civil penalties of not less than $5,500 and disqualification from operating a commercial vehicle for not less than two years.

Failure to comply with the provisions of the imminent hazard out-of-service order may also result in criminal charges brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

– See more at: FMCSA Declares California Trucker Imminent Hazard to Public Safety

New Motor Carrier Safety Rule

Safety Fitness Determination CalculatorFMCSA Proposes New Motor Carrier Safety Rule for Determining Safety Fitness
January 15, 2016 – WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced a rulemaking proposal designed to enhance the Agency’s ability to identify non-compliant motor carriers. The Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), to be published in the Federal Register, would update FMCSA’s safety fitness rating methodology by integrating on-road safety data from inspections, along with the results of carrier investigations and crash reports, to determine overall motor carrier safety fitness on a monthly basis.

“Ensuring that motor carriers are operating safely on our nation’s roadways is one of our highest priorities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Using all available information to achieve more timely assessments will allow us to better identify unsafe companies and get them off the road.”

“This update to our methodology will help the agency focus on carriers with a higher crash risk,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “Carriers that we identify as unfit to operate will be removed from our roadways until they improve.”

The proposed SFD rule would replace the current three-tier federal rating system of “satisfactory–conditional–unsatisfactory” for federally regulated commercial motor carriers (in place since 1982) with a single determination of “unfit,” which would require the carrier to either improve its operations or cease operations.

Once in place, the SFD rule will permit FMCSA to assess the safety fitness of approximately 75,000 companies a month. By comparison, the agency is only able to investigate 15,000 motor carriers annually – with less than half of those companies receiving a safety rating.

The proposed methodology would determine when a carrier is not fit to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. Determinations are based on the following criteria.

  • Carrier’s performance in relation to a fixed failure threshold established in the rule for five of the agency’s Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs)
  • Investigation results
  • A combination of on-road safety data and investigation information
  • The proposed rule further incorporates rigorous data sufficiency standards and would require that a significant pattern of non-compliance be documented in order for a carrier to fail a BASIC

When assessing roadside inspection data results, the proposal uses a minimum of 11 inspections with violations in a single BASIC within a 24-month period before a motor carrier could be eligible to be identified as “unfit.” If motor carrier safety performance meets or exceeds the failure standards in the rule, it would then fail that BASIC. The failure standard will be fixed by the rule. A carrier’s status in relation to that fixed measure would not be affected by other carriers’ performance.

Failure of a BASIC based on either crash data or compliance with drug and alcohol requirements would only occur following a comprehensive investigation.

FMCSA estimates that under this proposal, less than 300 motor carriers each year would be proposed as “unfit” solely as a result of on-road safety violations. Further, the agency’s analysis has shown that the carriers identified through this on-road motor carrier safety data have crash rates of almost four times the national average.

FMCSA encourages the public to review the NPRM and to submit comments and evidentiary materials to the docket following its publication in the Federal Register. The public comment period will be open for 60 days. FMCSA will also be providing a reply comment period allowing for an additional 30 days for commenters to respond to the initial comments.

For more information on FMCSA’s Safety Fitness Determination proposed rule, including a full copy of the NPRM, an instructional webinar, and a Safety Fitness Determination Calculator, click here.

USDOT Registration Unified

FMCSA Launches Online Unified Registration System that Strengthens Safety and Improves Efficiency

USDOT Unified Registration System
USDOT Unified Registration System

December 17, 2015 – WASHINGTON – On Dec. 12, 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched a new, simplified, online registration process that truck and bus companies, freight forwarders, brokers, intermodal equipment providers, and cargo tank manufacturing, inspection and repair facilities use as new applicants for USDOT registration.

The first phase of the Unified Registration System (URS) combines multiple “legacy” reporting forms into a single, online “smart form” that streamlines the registration and renewal process, improves efficiency, reduces errors and, most importantly, strengthens safety for the motoring public.

When fully implemented in 2016, Unified USDOT Registration will enable FMCSA to more readily identify unfit carriers and detect unsafe truck and bus companies seeking to evade Agency enforcement actions, including civil penalties, by attempting to regain USDOT registration by registering as a purported different, unrelated business entity.

FMCSA estimates URS will ultimately reduce costs to industry by approximately $9 million in time saved and fees incurred over a 10-year period.

For more information about URS visit: FMCSA/urs.

Electronic Logging Devices Required

Electronic Logging Devices to be Required Across Commercial Truck and Bus Industries

Electronic Logging Device Rand McNally ELD
Electronic Logging Device Rand McNally ELD

December 10, 2015 – WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced the adoption of a Final Rule that will improve roadway safety by employing technology to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations that prevent fatigue.

“Since 1938, complex, on-duty/off-duty logs for truck and bus drivers were made with pencil and paper, virtually impossible to verify,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This automated technology not only brings logging records into the modern age, it also allows roadside safety inspectors to unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk.”

The Final Rule requiring the use of electronic logging devices (ELD) will result in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion – largely by reducing the amount of required industry paperwork. It will also increase the efficiency of roadside law enforcement personnel in reviewing driver records. Strict protections are included that will protect commercial drivers from harassment.

On an annual average basis, the ELD Final Rule is estimated to save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles.

“This is a win for all motorists on our nation’s roadways,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “Employing technology to ensure that commercial drivers comply with federal hours-of-service rules will prevent crashes and save lives.”

Electronic Logging Devices automatically record driving time. The ELD monitors engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information.

Federal safety regulations limit the number of hours commercial drivers can be on-duty and still drive, as well as the number of hours spent driving. These limitations are designed to prevent truck and bus drivers from becoming fatigued while driving, and require that drivers take a work break and have a sufficient off-duty rest period before returning to on-duty status.

Electronic Logging Devices – Final Rule Elements

  • Requiring commercial truck and bus drivers who currently use paper log books to maintain hours-of-service records to adopt ELDs within two years. It is anticipated that approximately three million drivers will be impacted.
  • Strictly prohibiting commercial driver harassment. The Final Rule provides both procedural and technical provisions designed to protect commercial truck and bus drivers from harassment resulting from information generated by ELDs. [A separate FMCSA rulemaking further safeguards commercial drivers from being coerced to violate federal safety regulations and provides the agency with the authority to take enforcement actions not only against motor carriers, but also against shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries.]
  • Setting technology specifications detailing performance and design requirements for ELDs so that manufacturers are able to produce compliant devices and systems – and purchasers are enabled to make informed decisions.
  • Establishing new hours-of-service supporting document (shipping documents, fuel purchase receipts, etc.) requirements that will result in additional paperwork reductions. In most cases, a motor carrier would not be required to retain supporting documents verifying on-duty driving time.
  • The ELD Final Rule permits the use of smart phones and other wireless devices as ELDs, so long as they satisfy technical specifications, are certified, and are listed on an FMCSA website. Canadian- and Mexican-domiciled drivers will also be required to use ELDs when operating on U.S. roadways.

Motor carriers who have previously installed compliant Automatic On-Board Recording Devices may continue to use the devices for an additional two years beyond the compliance date. Eventually, all carriers must install and use Electronic Logging Devices on all commercial vehicles.

A copy of the ELD Final Rule announced today is available at: ELD Final Rule.

Further information, including a comprehensive, searchable list of frequently asked questions, and a calendar of upcoming free training webinars, is available

Image source: Rand McNally, hd-100

Safety Belts Required for Truck Passengers

FMCSA Proposed Rule Would Close Safety Gap On All Large Commercial Trucks – Safety Belts Required For Passengers

December 9, 2015 – WASHINGTON – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced it is seeking public comment on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) making safety belts required for all passengers riding in property-carrying commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).

Federal rules have long required all commercial drivers to use safety belts (49 CFR 392.16); this proposed rule would hold both trucking companies and commercial truck drivers responsible for ensuring that any passenger riding in the truck cab are also buckled up.

Approximately 275 occupants of large trucks killed in crashes in 2013 were not wearing their safety belts, according to the most recently available data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For a copy of today’s Federal Register announcement, see: Federal Register.

Property Carrier Safety Data Removed

FMCSA Removes Property Carrier Safety and Compliance Data from Public Display

December 4, 2015 – WASHINGTON – As of December 4, 2015, pursuant to the FAST Act of 2015, much of the information previously available on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) website related to property carrier safety performance and compliance will no longer be displayed publicly. While the agency is not prohibited from displaying all of the data, no information will be available for property carriers while appropriate changes are made. This also applies to information provided to the public through the QCMobile app. FMCSA is working to return the website and app to operation as quickly as possible. All information on passenger carriers remains available, and enforcement users and motor carriers can view safety data by using their login information. If you are a motor carrier and do not have login credentials, please click here for more information on how to obtain your PIN.

This change makes it harder for reporters and citizens to see relevant safety data. The ruling essentially requires non-industry members to seek access through third parties. Any enforcement agent can access the data through the QCMobile app. The same access arrangement is available through any commercial motor carrier.

– See more at: Compliance and Safety Data Removed

Student Art Contest Encourages Bus Safety Belts

Safety Belts Art Contest 2015 Winner Julia Ou
Safety Belts Art Contest 2015 Winner, Julia Ou

Student Art Contest Takes Aim at Reducing Fatalities by Encouraging Truck Drivers, Bus Drivers and Children to Use Safety Belts

December 4, 2015 – WASHINGTON – Submissions are now being accepted for the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership’s “Be Ready. Be Buckled.” annual student art contest, which aims to reduce the number of fatalities by encouraging commercial truck drivers, bus drivers and children to use safety belts.

Approximately 275 occupants of large trucks who were killed in crashes in 2013 were not wearing their safety belts, according to the most recently available data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The contest is open to students in kindergarten through sixth grade with relatives or sponsors in the commercial truck and bus industries.

Submissions will be accepted through March 1, 2016. Contest rules and information on how to submit an entry are available at: FMCSA/safetybelt.

The art contest lets children encourage truck, bus, and all drivers to buckle up for safety. Children K-6th grade (ages 5-12) are eligible if they have relatives who work in the truck or bus industry. Others may enter if sponsored by a CMV Safety Belt Partnership member.

Safety Belts Contest Awards

Awards are made in two categories:

• Kindergarten through second grade, and
• Third through sixth grades.

The Partnership makes one grand prize and five honorable mention awards for each category.

Grand prize winners receive a cash award and framed copy of their winning artwork.

All 12 winners receive a certificate, have their artwork featured in a calendar, and are invited to an awards ceremony at the Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, DC. Winners are also invited to a special event at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. Remember to enter by March 1, 2016!

Safety Belts Information

A manual for increasing safety belt use by motor carriers is available: Safety Belts.

– See more at: Safety Belts Student Art Contest