November 3, 2014: MCM Weekly Newsletter

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Nov 12    Billings Chapter Safety Meeting
                 Location:  Billings Hotel
                 Speaker:  Bruce Holmes, FMCSA District Administrator         
                 Lunch provided
                 Hosted & Sponsored by Stieg & Associates Insurance, Inc.

November 18  Missoula Chapter Safety Meeting 
                        Joker's Wild 
                        Topic & Speaker:  TBA

Nov 27 & 28 MCM Office Closed Thanksgiving Holiday 
November Driver of the Month Nominations

We are now accepting driver of the month applications for November 2014.

Click here
for an application.  You may also download an application from our webpage at, click on Driver of the Month tab, on the Home Page.

Applications must be in by Friday, November 21 at 12:00pm.

Safety Trailer
MCM is asking for a volunteer to transfer the Safety Trailer from Helena to Billings as soon as possible.

The sponsor logos on our trailer are in need of replacement.

If you are available, please contact Katie at MCM Office 406-442-6600.
2014 State Chain & Snow Removal Laws

We have gathered information from each state and alphabetically listed each state's chaining requirements.  

Click here for State Chain Laws

Click here for Snow Removal Laws 

ATRI Seeks Motor Carrier Input On Detention Time Impacts

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the trucking industry's not-for-profit research organization, today launched a new data collection effort on Detention Time Impacts on Industry Safety and Productivity.  The survey seeks motor carrier input to evaluate the impact that shippers and receivers may have on the industry's safety and productivity. 


This latest data collection represents the second phase in ATRI's research to quantify the impact of detention times on carrier and driver operations.  Earlier this year ATRI collected over 600 commercial driver responses to its detention impacts driver survey.  Additionally, ATRI is analyzing empirical safety and performance data through carrier case studies and completing an analysis of its extensive truck position database to model the impact of driver delay on truck travel times at key distribution points around the country.


The online survey is available on ATRI's homepage at The survey will be open through early January 2015.


ATRI is the trucking industry's 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization. It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation's essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.

FMCSA Plans to Test Impact of Split Sleep Breaks on Fatigue
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to conduct a 90-day on-highway pilot program that  
will evaluate if split sleeper berth breaks will affect truck driver fatigue, a top agency official said Oct. 27.

Martin Walker, chief of FMCSA's research division, told an agency advisory committee that the pilot could begin as early as January 2016 after the agency completes administrative requirements, gains White House clearance and recruits 200 drivers to participate in the pilot. 

The so-called flexible sleeper berth pilot would allow drivers to split their eight hours of sleep into two or more blocks, Walker told FMCSA's Motor Carrier Advisory Committee. For example, a 2-hour nap taken in the daytime will not count against a driver's 14-hour daily work time, he said.

The pilot will utilize technology to measure such possible signs of driver fatigue as eye closures, lane departures and hard braking among drivers splitting their sleep schedules.

Walker said a 2010-11 laboratory study with 53 participants showed that the daytime consolidated sleep group slept less, had increased sleepiness, and an increase in blood glucose and testosterone at the end of the work week.

The lab study results suggested that when consolidated nighttime sleep was not possible, split sleep is preferable to consolidated daytime sleep.
FMCSA Wants Stricter Prescription Narcotics Restrictions

Truck drivers who use prescribed narcotics should not be allowed to drive, say the doctors who advise the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on medical matters. While changing the rules could take years to get through a rulemaking process, a more near-term result could be a change in driver medical exams.

The recommendation by the FMCSA's Medical Review Board and the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, approved in an Oct. 27 meeting, would amount to a significant change in medical regulations if it were to become part of the official safety regime.

Right now drivers are permitted to work while taking these drugs, provided the drugs are prescribed by a doctor who is familiar with the driver's condition.

Any change in that approach would require a formal notice-and-comment rulemaking proceeding, which would require years of work.

The recommendation does, however, signal the deep concern in the medical community about the risks of driving while using Schedule II medications, which include some opioid pain relievers and medications for attention deficit disorder.

The concern arises from 
research conducted by the agency's Medical Expert Panel showing that the opioids used in prescription pain relievers add moderate risk to the driver's job. The research also found that stimulants used to treat attention deficit reduce the risk associated with that condition but can substantially increase driving risk if they are not closely monitored.

Since these medications are now permitted, the board and MCSAC recommended that the current medical guidelines should be revised to include a questionnaire that gives examiners more information about a driver's condition and medications.

The questionnaire would ask the examiner to list all the medications and dosages he has prescribed, as well as any medications he knows have been prescribed by another healthcare provider. It also would ask what conditions the medications are intended to treat.


The examiner then must say whether or not the medication prescribed, or the condition he or she prescribed it for, would adversely affect the driver's performance.


The agency will have to clear the questionnaire with the Office of Management and Budget, but it should be available to medical examiners within six months, said Larry Minor, associate administrator for policy and program development at the agency.


Members of the Medical Review Board said the questionnaire will improve safety by giving examiners a better way to account for these medications.


"It will make a difference as far as our examiners are concerned," said Gina Pervall, medical director for Occupational Medicine Services at Johns Hopkins University.


Will doctors overcompensate?

The decision by MCSAC to accept the board's recommendation was not unanimous, however. Trucking interests, including American Trucking Associations, were outvoted by the majority.


Rob Abbott, vice president of safety policy at ATA, said he is concerned that the questionnaire might encourage examiners to decline certification for drivers using these medications.


The requirement for the examiner to say if the medication would harm the driver's performance gives the examiner "everything to lose and nothing to gain" by saying the driver is qualified.


"So it seems like the default answer for many of them will be, well, there's some level of impairment there so he can't drive," Abbott said. "That's concerning."


He also worries that the questionnaire could push drivers toward not taking medications that they need.

"I think we have to ask those questions a little more carefully."


Abbott welcomed the possibility of a rulemaking on the question of whether or not drivers should be able to work while on Schedule II medications.


"A rulemaking would require that we put to the test the notion that there is a need, a real-world safety benefit," he said. "If we're confident that there is a problem and this will solve it, then it's appropriate that we take that step."


The discussion and voting on the medications issue took place Monday in Alexandria, Va., at a joint meeting of the advisory committee and medical board.


The 20-member advisory panel is made up of carriers, owner-operators, police, labor unions, bus operators and safety advocates who make policy recommendations to the agency.


The medical board has five members, all doctors who serve in leadership positions at leading universities or health care providers.


FMCSA Guidelines for Ebola

The safety of the traveling public is our highest concern at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation. We continue to closely work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), specifically the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other federal and local partners in responding to and preventing the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).


Information is made available to the public about the EVD. Here are some resources that we encourage you to share with your associates:


*          Basics of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) -  


*          Public Guidance for the Movement and Behavior of Persons with Possible

Exposure -  



*          Joint CDC-PHMSA Guidance on Handling and Movement of Waste Pre-Transport -   


PHMSA's toll-free hotline (operated Mon. - Fri. 9am-5pm ET)






*          Information on the Administration's response to Ebola Virus Disease -  

Battling EVD is a shared responsibility. We ask you to stay in close communication with your local, state authorities and emergency medical services.


Marissa Padilla | Director of Communications

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, U.S. DOT

Phone: 202.366.1927

FMCSA Advisory Committee on Insurance Rule

Members of the FMCSA's Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee spent the morning of their second day of meetings this week debating the agency's work in raising the minimum amount of liability insurance that carriers must hold to operate.

The upcoming rule proposal - which currently is being reviewed by the White House's Office of Management and Budget - will simply be a means of getting the industry talking about the rule, FMCSA says. And it will not include any specific numbers about what the new minimum will be, said FMCSA's Larry Minor at the Oct. 28 MCSAC meeting.

The rule will be published as an Advanced Notice of Proposed rulemaking meant to solicit input from trucking industry stakeholders, including carriers. Another Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will have to be published before a Final Rule, FMCSA says.

MCSAC members in the Oct. 28 meeting were varied on their stance on the increase, with a consensus that the issue had been rushed, especially given the large amount of data that must be analyzed to determine current claim costs, along with the small percentage of claims that exceed current minimum limits.

A May 2014 MCSAC report offered core and medical inflation numbers as ones worth consideration in the rulemaking. As reported by FMCSA, today's $750,000 minimum, set in 1985, would be $1.6 million if it had kept up with inflation, when measured by the Consumer Price Index. Adjusting for Medical CPI, however, it would be over $4 million, FMCSA noted.

MCSAC members, however, noted that an increase that large could put business-breaking strain on small fleets and owner-operators.

TCRG Consulting's Richard Wilson said he said new owner-operator businesses could spend well above $20,000 annually for liability insurance if the end minimum is near $5 million. Wilson said he based his analysis on conversations with insurance companies.

The American Trucking Associations' Rob Abbott said at MCSAC's meeting the goal of a new higher minimum has been construed as one to cover "all but the rarest" crashes. However, any number must take impacts on businesses into consideration.

"You could cover every last one of the crashes and have the limit set at $50 million," Abbott said, using it as an extreme example to make a point. "We're trying to balance 'all but the rarest'" with considerations of carriers.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association's Todd Spencer said the amount of total claims that cross the $750,000 threshold is less than 1 percent - a number that has not changed since the 1980s.

Spencer also said a large increase could have big impacts on small business truckers - and on safety, he said, as an increase could inadvertently push otherwise safe operators out of business and off the road.

Schneider National rep and MCSAC member Don Osterberg, however, called the increases in claims that have occurred since 1980 "exponential." And to find an appropriate number, the agency needs to look at the actual modern claim settlements. "I'm not at all sure that looking at core or medical inflation based on the number will capture the exponential increase in the cost of claims settlements," he said. FMCSA needs to look "at the rate of increase of the cost of claims get a sense of what's going on," he said.

MCSAC members, however, did urge FMCSA to consider a phase-in period to allow businesses to catch up with any increases in their premiums.

Whatever happens, FMCSA is required by law to conduct a cost-benefit analysis and to specifically review the impact of any hike on small businesses, Larry Minor emphasized. Whether too many would "end up going out of business as a result of this rulemaking, or come close to it," he said, would be a primary consideration in the end.

Wanted Carrier to Move Historic Firetruck from Libby

My name is Tom Wood, I am chief of Libby Volunteer Fire Department in Libby, MT.  We have a 1917 American LaFrance fire truck that made its way to Montana back in the 50's.  We have done some research and found that the original home of this truck was Border Town, New Jersey.  We have been in contact with the fire department there and they would love to have this unit for their museum.  The original fire department had three units.  They have found two of them and have them restored and in the museum.  Now that they have found the third unit they would love to make the three of them a display for all to see.  We are willing to give the truck to them but it needs to get hauled there.  We are both very small town volunteer fire departments and don't have any funds to make this happen.  I am writing to ask you if you have any ideas that might help us get the truck back to its home.  Someone mentioned that sometimes truckers have deadhead backhauls or something like that and they may be able to work out a way to haul this back for little or no money.  If that is true, how would we find out anything about this?  If we can make this happen, I am sure we can get some very good news stories out on this and get some good PR for the trucking company and or your association.  Please let me know if you have any ideas or contacts that you can give me.  I am attaching a photo of the old gal for you to look at.  It is my understanding that there was only ten of these units built and they had found nine of them and now this makes the full ten with whereabouts known.  Thanks for any help you may be able to provide.  Tom Wood, Chief   LVFD


Contact Tom Wood at : 


P.O. Box 1546
Libby, MT  59923



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