Originally this article appears in a local Illinois newspaper Downstate Illinois Advocate. Although it’s related to American trucking first of all, it is well known how intertwined our industries are. Below is a reduced version of the story.
I have a great deal of contact with truck drivers where I work at. What do you think is on their minds right now? The economy? Nope. The BP oil spill? Nope. Gas prices? Wrong again. The answer is a little heard of trucking regulation called CSA 2010. The general public has no idea that the federal government is about to regulate the trucking industry like never before. The Department of Transportation will claim these rules have been needed for quite some time and that it will produce better safety on the roads by safer drivers in safer vehicles. In reality outside of Washington DC, this regulation means truck drivers out of work, trucking businesses out of business, and higher costs of products in grocery stores to department stores. If drivers accumulate too many points, they cannot drive because a company can only hire "safe" drivers.
Companies will fail DOT inspection under CSA 2010 for the following:
Failing to implement an alcohol and/or controlled substances testing program.
Using a driver who has refused to submit to an alcohol or controlled substances test required under Part 382.
Using a driver known to have tested positive for a controlled substance.
Failing to implement a random controlled substances and/or alcohol testing program.
Knowingly using a driver who does not possess a valid CDL.
Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting, or authorizing an employee with a commercial driver’s license which is suspended, revoked, or canceled by a state or who is disqualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting, or authorizing a driver to drive who is disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
Operating a motor vehicle without having in effect the required minimum levels of financial responsibility coverage.
Operating a passenger carrying vehicle without having in effect the required minimum levels of financial responsibility coverage.
Knowingly using a disqualified driver.
Knowingly using a physically unqualified driver.
Failing to require a driver to make a record of duty status.
Requiring or permitting the operation of a commercial motor vehicle declared "out-of-service" before repairs are made.
Failing to correct out-of-service defects listed by driver in a driver vehicle inspection report before the vehicle is operated again.
Using a commercial motor vehicle not periodically inspected.
Likewise, drivers will be penalized for some of the same above, receiving points on their CDL and/or face fines. In addition, CSA 2010 will be retroactive 24 months. That means any safety violations, tickets, accidents, log book citations, or other violations a truck driver has had in 2 previous years gets counted against him or her. If these drivers have already been penalized for these infractions, and they are getting penalized again under CSA 2010, how does this not violate the double jeopardy section of the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution?
One of the largest problems with CSA 2010 is the physical requirements for truck drivers. If you are sick, you cannot drive. If you are overweight, you cannot drive. If you have sleep apnea, you cannot drive. If you have high blood pressure, you cannot drive. If you are "fatigued", you cannot drive. Truck driving has got to be one of the worst health related jobs out there. Truck drivers are generally on the road 10 hours a day (as per DOT regs), they are eating out nearly every single day, and they have little to no access to exercise equipment. And we wonder why some truck drivers are overweight or have high blood pressure? It is still unclear whether a driver's BMI will be used against them during physical checkups. I found some sources that said the DOT will use BMI, and DOT says they won't. We'll have to see. Either way, placing such stringent physical requirements on truck drivers is laughable. How many people driving cars are on the road now that would not even come close to meeting those requirements?
Another issue is the truck driver being fined or hit with points against their license because of improperly maintained equipment, whether that equipment is lights, tires, engine, exhaust, etc. What if a company driver refused to take a load because his company won't fix his truck properly? Does he or she turn their company in to DOT? Will they face any kind of retribution by the company for refusing a load or turning in a company to the DOT? What about the driver who has all their lights working when they left, but at some point during the day, a trailer light goes out, and they get nailed by DOT? Is that fair for the driver to get points against their CDL? I don't think so. In addition, a driver can get nailed for an improperly loaded trailer. How can a driver be responsible for a load that the driver did not load? For instance, when I worked at R.R. Donnelley's, our fork truck drivers loaded the trailers, not the truck driver. So if one of our forklift drivers stacked the load wrong and it shifted, how is that the truck driver's fault and why should they be penalized?
What is this going to cost the trucking industry? According to Jay Thomas of Packard Transport, it'll cost 175,000 truck drivers their jobs or in other words, there will be 175,000 drivers that do not qualify or are eligible to drive a truck. Furthermore, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's own research, 47.9% of trucking companies will fail the new safety regulations thereby putting them "out-of-service". Companies will have 60 days to become compliant of lose their operating license. 45 days for passenger and haz-mat operators.
Many questions remain about the effects of CSA 2010's launch in November 2010. How will the Teamsters union react to their members being told they can't drive because of this new regulation? How many of those possible 175,000 drivers will file for disability because of being unable to qualify for the physical requirements? What will the costs be to implement CSA 2010 for businesses and will they ultimately pass those costs on to you and me? What will happen when trucking companies fire "unsafe" or "risky" drivers? Who will they replace them with? How does this effect Mexican or Canadian trucking companies - especially NAFTA related trucking?
Truck drivers are the lifeblood of our economy. We expect our products to cost less and get to us faster, yet our federal government is on a mission to ensure that costs will rise, ensure more people will be out of work, and ensure there is more red tape to cut through. I hope someone in Congress takes this issue up before CSA 2010 is implemented and puts a stop to this. As I write this, I can think of about 10 of my truck driving friends that would not be able to drive after this regulation is put into place. I'm sure there's more that fit in that boat as well.
Plan for a New Bridge between Windsor and Detroit Takes Big Step Forward
At the end of May, the Michigan House of Representatives voted 56-51 to proceed with the construction of a new bridge between Windsor and Detroit, as proposed by the bi-national Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) partnership. While the vote was close, it does mean that the DRIC proposal has passed its first major legislative hurdle in the Michigan Legislature. The second, and final, challenge for the project is to secure passage in the Michigan Senate, which is expected to hold hearings and then vote on the DRIC proposal in the near future.
Ontario Trucking Association President David Bradley, welcomed the news that the House of Representatives had voted in favour of DRIC, saying, “Construction of a new border crossing in the Windsor-Detroit gateway is crucial for the safe, reliable and efficient movement of goods between not only Ontario and Michigan, but between Canada and the US. While there is still much work to be done to secure passage in the Senate, this is a big step forward towards making a new bridge facility a reality”.
Bradley went on to say that, “We’ve been calling on governments to address the inadequate border infrastructure in the Windsor-Detroit area for years. We need to get the trucks off of the Windsor city street that leads to the current bridge and create a freeway to freeway border crossing in this region. We need to ensure that there is redundancy in our border crossings in this area so that a problem at one crossing doesn’t disrupt the flow of goods that manufacturers, like the auto sector, need in order to keep production lines working smoothly. We need improved, state of the art, customs facilities that aren’t possible on the footprint of the current plazas at the existing bridge. And finally we need to provide enough capacity to provide for the inevitable growth in truck traffic servicing the trade between Canada and the US over the coming years. The DRIC project is the only available solution that meets all of these goals and we can’t lose this opportunity to build this much needed trade link.”
OTA has been actively engaged in the debate in the Michigan capital, appearing before the House Committee on Transportation, supporting DRIC in the Senate Committee on Transportation, as well as meeting with individual legislators. With the fight to pass DRIC in the Senate about to begin in earnest, Bradley vowed that the OTA would continue to play a key leadership role and would maintain its strong presence in Lansing in support of the DRIC project.