Monthly Edition (June 18, 2020)
REMINDER – MMTA Has Resumed Training Schedule
June 19, 2020

The month of June brought about many changes relating to gatherings in Maine. In keeping with the Governor’s plan to restart the Maine economy, MMTA has opened up its training facility in an effort to keep the trucking industry informed, compliant and safe.

However, a few safety protocols have been implemented that our visitors need to know about. For the full reopening plan, limitations, restrictions and instructions please visit our website.

Coming up are the following training sessions:

Unified Carrier Registry – UCR Database Issue

MMTA was recently made aware of an issue with the communication between Maine BMV’s UCR System and the National Registration System. The result of the problem is that UCR payments made to Maine BMV, prior to 2020, may not be reflected in the National Registration System when law enforcement officials perform a check of the database. This is impacting carriers from Maine and Canada who utilized Maine BMV to pay UCR, and has resulted in some carriers being issued a summons for failing to pay UCR when in fact it was paid.

Maine BMV is aware of the issue and is working with both vendors to rectify the problem. Any carrier that has an issue can reach out to Maine BMV for proof of payment in order to provide to law enforcement agencies that have taken enforcement action based on incorrect information.

As always, please feel free to contact staff at MMTA to help with this or any compliance issue you may have.
Driver Shortage Likely to Return as Economy Recovers, ATA Economist Says

The perennial driver shortage looks to have been quelled temporarily as the trucking industry continues to reduce staff amidst the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Meanwhile, the health crisis has yet to impact the availability of technicians for carriers and service providers, a survey shows.

In May, the seasonally adjusted number of truck transportation employees fell by 1,200 to 1.43 million, from April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of employees declined 6.6%, or by 100,800 jobs, in May, from 1.53 million in the same month in 2019.

ATRI Issues Call for Motor Carriers to Participate in Annual Operational Costs Data Collection
American Transportation Research Institute

Arlington, VA – The American Transportation Research Institute has issued a call for motor carriers to participate in ATRI’s annual update to its Operational Costs of Trucking report.

Now in its 12th year, ATRI’s annual Operational Costs of Trucking collects cost information derived directly from trucking fleets and owner-operators, and is among the most requested ATRI research studies. ATRI’s annual analysis is used as a key benchmarking tool by motor carriers of all sizes. Public sector agencies also utilize ATRI’s real-world data analysis to make better-informed transportation planning and infrastructure investment decisions.

Among the for-hire fleet metrics being requested by ATRI are driver pay, fuel costs, insurance premiums and lease or purchase payments. Carriers and owner-operators are asked to provide full-year 2019 cost per mile and/or cost per hour data using the easy-to-use online data entry form.

“We constantly strive to improve. In our quest for competitive excellence, one of our most valuable resources is ATRI’s annual report,” said Cari Baylor, Baylor Trucking President. “ATRI provides us with the detail to understand how our operations and costs compare to our industry peers.”

For-hire motor carriers are encouraged to provide operational cost data to ATRI by Friday, August 21, 2020. ATRI’s data collection form, which protects all confidential information, is available for download here. Participating motor carriers will receive an advance copy of the full report.
Perspective: Federal Excise Tax Relief Can Aid Recovery
Transport Topics

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world. In the United States it altered the way our country operates and wreaked havoc on American businesses, but leaders in Washington responded with actions that helped mitigate the damage. I applaud these efforts and am confident that our economy will bounce back. But the work is not done.

Our nation’s economic recovery depends in large part on maintaining a flow of goods provided by trucks. To help ensure this important work gets done, Congress must provide a catalyst to boost production at domestic truck factories and bring customers back to our stores. The fastest and most direct way for Congress to aid this part of the economic recovery — and the trucking industry — would be to suspend the 12% federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks and trailers. As Congress considers the next phases of virus-related economic recovery legislation, it should include suspension of the FET on new trucks and trailers until the end of 2021.

Commentary: How new HOS rules can help truckers improve safety

The new federal hours of service (HOS) rules have the potential to advance highway safety though better fatigue management. However, we must recognize that any regulation, no matter how well-intended, merely establishes the minimum needed to squeak by. To achieve real results, trucking companies and professional drivers must look beyond compliance to the behaviors that truly drive safety.

The new rules announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Association (FMCSA) become effective Sept. 29, 2020 and provide much-needed flexibility to our country’s professional truck drivers to better manage fatigue. The FMSCA, listening carefully to many stakeholders, took more than two years to develop these rules.

FMCSA yet to receive evidence of broker transparency law violations

Despite widespread complaints by small business truckers that they are being gouged by freight brokers that refuse to offer financial transparency under a federal rule, the industry’s top regulator has yet to see formal evidence backing their case.

“It’s a hot topic now – there were protesters here in D.C., and the President has spoken on some of these issues,” Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Acting Administrator Jim Mullen told attendees of a webinar hosted by the Intermodal Association of North America, or IANA, on May 28. However, he said, “the vast number of complaints we have about the freight brokerage space and the rates right now aren’t relative” to the federal broker transparency laws covered by 49 CFR 371.3, he said.

“In fact, we don’t have a specific complaint that a broker failed to abide by 371.3, in a situation in which the motor carrier hadn’t waived, contractually, the ability to get that financial data that the regulation encompasses.” But Mullen added: “We don’t expect this to go away anytime soon, and we take our regulatory obligations very seriously.”

Marijuana Use Top Finding in First Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Report
Heavy Duty Trucking

The first monthly report on the clearinghouse summarizes data reported to the Clearinghouse through May 2020. The report includes information on the number of clearinghouse registrations, queries conducted, violations reported, and drivers in the return-to-duty (RTD) process.

The clearinghouse went into effect in January. This electronic database tracks commercial driver’s license holders who have tested positive for prohibited drug or alcohol use, as well as refusals to take required drug tests, and other drug and alcohol violations, and those who have completed the return-to-duty process.

“The number of positive marijuana tests jumps off the page,” said Dave Osiecki, president and CEO of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting and a longtime trucking safety and regulatory expert. “It’s clearly the drug of choice among the small percentage of drug-using truck drivers. In fact, marijuana positives account for almost 50% of the positive tests reported to the Clearinghouse, and are three to four times greater than the number of cocaine positive tests (the second highest number of reported positives),” he said, noting that the numbers confirm the marijuana use findings of prior DOT studies.

There were 10,388 positive tests reported for marijuana, compared to 3,192 for cocaine, the next most common drug reported.

New Jersey Turnpike announces rate hike to fund $24 billion construction project
The Trucker

TRENTON, N.J. — The New Jersey Turnpike Authority voted Wednesday (May 27) to increase tolls on two of the state’s major highways and approve a $24 billion construction plan that the hike will fund.

The board’s 7-0 vote came despite pleas from many people to delay the vote, saying. They said the agency should not have gone ahead with the hearing process while residents are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The construction plan includes $16 billion to widen sections of the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, permanently implement cashless toll payment and replace a bridge between New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

We will keep MMTA members posted as new information comes in. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to email Tim, Randy or Brian if you have questions.