Comment period open for FMCSA HOS changes

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Opponents of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed Hours of Service (HOS) changes have until the end of the month to comment on the limits.

With comments due by Feb. 28, drivers can voice their concerns about a proposed cut from 11 hours of driving in a 14-hour to 16-hour window, down to 10 hours over the same time frame.
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The Rules of the Road

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These days, trucking companies will let just about anyone train a new driver. As a result, there are more and more drivers who know less and less about the common courtesies truckers are supposed to extend to each other. To combat this problem, we’ve come up with a list of trucking rules that used to be common knowledge. Maybe if we all start following them again, we can all just get along!
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Kentucky Updates

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Kentucky has a lot going on this April- from construction projects to law enforcement blitzes. Bottom line; keep your eyes peeled, your ducks in a row and your life on the straight and narrow.
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Weigh Station News that Matters- February 2007

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When truckers know there is a weigh station ahead, they will get into the right lane to be ready to exit. If they have a transponder in their truck for a pre-clearance service (PrePass, Best Pass, Green Light or Norpass), they may not exit, but they’ll get in the right lane until their transponder gives them “the green light.” Sometimes the weigh station is closed and the truckers don’t have to exit the freeway.

But when truckers don’t know there is a weigh station ahead, they may get caught out in the left lane. If they are passing slower moving vehicles (most likely other truckers who have slowed down in preparation to exit to the weigh station), they may have to do some tricky driving to get over into the right lane in time. Or they may miss the exit altogether and pull over on the shoulder of the freeway. These truckers walk into the scale house with their paperwork in hand and their heads hanging low.

You can blame the trucker for not being prepared in those instances, but what about weigh stations that have been closed down for a while? What about new weigh stations or scale houses that aren’t marked correctly on the trucker atlas? Truckers want to be prepared, but sometimes there are factors that at truck driver just can’t control.
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Bone-Weary Haulers

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Thumbs down to Stephen Franklin and Darnell Little, the authors of the Chicago Tribune article Bone-Weary Haulers Raise Risks on Road (subheading: As truckers struggle to make ends meet, they push the limits of endurance and highway safety).

The article, published December 10, 2006, uses anecdotal stories, incomplete statistics and ignorance of the trucking lifestyle to paint truckers as sleepy menaces. A more appropriate title for the article might be “The Hassles Truckers Handle Make Trucking Hard.” But that wouldn’t be nearly as eye-catching. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fritos on Fire

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A Frito Lay trailer burnt to the ground on Saturday in Clines Corners, New Mexico. There will be no shortage of chips, however, and no one was hurt.

Driver Mark Hobgood had hauled his last load out of the Frito Lay distribution center in Lubbock and was on his way back with empty cardboard boxes when the trailer he was pulling caught on fire. He was just a few miles north of I 40 on route 285 in New Mexico when the ABS light on the dash of his International lit up. He also noticed as slight loss of air in his tanks. He decided to pull over next to the New Mexico Department of Transportation lot just a mile north of I 40 rather than continuing down to the truck stop at the junction. Read the rest of this entry »

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Have You Checked Your Brakes Today? - Brake Safety Week 2006

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That’s the slogan for this year’s CVSA (Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance) Brake Safety Week [PDF File]. From August 27 through September 2, 2006, the CVSA is focusing on brake safety. This is part of the CVSA’s annual Operation Air Brake Campaign.

Anyone who has seen a truck driver flying down the Grapevine, Black Mountain, Snoqualmie, or any other well-known down grade with a trail of smoke behind him and terror in his eyes knows the importance of good brakes. We all know the smell of burning brakes- which can be avoided by planning for the down grade and using engine brakes when your truck brakes are in good condition. But if your tractor or trailer brakes go, nothing is going to stop you except- if you’re lucky- a truck escape ramp. Keeping your brakes adjusted is just plain smart. Read the rest of this entry »

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New Jersey’s Closed, Business as usual for Truckers

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The New Jersey government may have a budget crisis, but, for truckers, it’s business as usual.

Many of the state’s government offices will be shut down until the state legislature finalizes a budget, but the state police will be in operation.

According to Captain Al DellaFave of the New Jersey State Police, truck weigh stations will be operating under normal procedures. “The weigh stations are run by the state police, so they won’t be affected,” he said.

Atlantic City casinos are closed because gaming officials are not working. State lottery, construction, motor vehicle offices and maintenance for hospitals, parks and beaches will be affected. Paychecks for state employees are not being written and courts are not in session. But the truck weigh stations, according to state police, will be running normal hours.

Generally, the only active truck scales in New Jersey are on I-78 Eastbound in Bloomsbury and I-295 Northbound at Carney’s Point.

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Guardian Angel Sod Truckers

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If ever there was a guardian angel disguised as a trucker, he drives a sod truck in North Carolina.

I was on the road alone to give my husband some much needed R&R at the house. I had confidence in our truck–it was well maintained and in good running order. What I was unsure about was the trailer we were dragging around.

The company we were leased to at that time required us to pull their trailer. We were responsible for maintenance on the trailers, but they were somewhat jerry-rigged. We had routine maintenance done at various truck stops and truck shops, but you can only do so much with what you’re given. The trailers were old. Rumor had it they were not designed for over-the-road use, but were supposed to haul freight locally to and from rail yards. They had been converted to carhaul trailers, and, considering their humble beginnings, they did a bang up job.
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Log Book, Schmog Book

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Every truck driver knows what a log book is. It’s a grid-style graph they use to keep track of the hours spent driving, working, off duty and in the sleeper birth. It is lovingly referred to as the comic book, funny pages, or cheat sheet.

The rules are confusing. They changed near the end of 2005 and the powers that be in Washington (none of whom, I’m sure have ever driven an 18-wheeler) haven’t decided if these changes are the final draft. We used to be able to drive 10 hours before needing an 8 hour break. Now we can drive 11 hours (not straight, of course) but must take a 10 hour break.

To be quite honest, I don’t know all the details of the new rules, but I’m sure if I’m ever involved in a trucking accident, the lawyers will fill me in.
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