A new law, which was announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on November 23rd, 2011, prohibits bus and truck drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. The ban officially goes into effect on January 3rd, 2012 and also applies to intrastate drivers while they transport hazardous goods or materials.
Two U.S. Senators introduced legislation that would renew the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and tack on tough new regulations on trucks and buses. One of the Senators sponsoring the bill, Democrat Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, said the federal government needs to prevent buses and trucks from becoming more of a safety hazard on American roads. He also said he wants to make sure the drivers of those vehicles meet higher standards. Lautenberg is the chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation.
Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a new measure that should be of interest to anyone in truck driving jobs: distraction-affected crashes, a method for quantifying the number of deaths related to driver distraction.
While a new NHTSA national survey reveals that drivers generally feel unsafe if they are a passenger with someone who multi-tasks while driving, these same drivers still engage in these troublesome activities when they themselves are trucking.
Congress recently included Maine and Vermont to a list allowing freight trucks to exceed the national highway weight limit of 40 tons. This list includes at least 20 other states and allows trucks up to 100,000 pounds to operate on interstates in Maine and Vermont for the next 20 years. This change hasn't come without controversy. Two groups in particular, advocates for highway safety and trucking companies, are in strong disagreement about the decision.
The West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has rolled out a new online permit process that will allow truck driving jobs in the state to be completed and managed much more easily. Anyone in the trucking industry should check out their website at http://dmv.wv.gov/trippermits .
Because trucking companies that are not registered in West Virginia have to obtain permits to send their trucks on travel through the state, this permit acquisition process allows trucking to be done on short notice so that routes and jobs can be completed more easily.
With Americans expressing an overall attitude of pessimism regarding the U.S. economy, the consistent growth of the trucking industry as statistically expressed in the Truck Tonnage Index indicates that economic conditions are continuing to improve. Retail sales are directly gauged by the revenue generated by trucking companies as well as pallet and packaging services.
Those who are in training for truck driving jobs are now in a position to help feed the hungry while gaining experience hauling real loads. The Arkansas Foodbank has partnered with the Diesel Driving Academy in Little Rock. Three trucking students have been driving about 25,000 pounds of food three times a month from the foodbank's Little Rock location to its branch in Warren since the spring.
Transportation legislation currently destined for the Senate incorporates Jason's Law, named in honor of 35-year-old trucker Jason Rivenburg, who was murdered in 2009 during a robbery at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina that was frequently used as a rest stop by truck drivers. The assailant walked away with a mere $7. Rivenburg left behind a wife who was carrying twins as well as a 23-month-old son.
Trucking bankruptcies are continuing to fall and the total numbers fell to a new low in the third quarter of this year. Fleets managed to successfully raise their charges without losing a substantial section of their business. This moved the recent higher regulatory fees under the increase from higher rates, according to Donald Broughton's report for Avondale Partners.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that truck driver deaths have decreased from 4,245 in 2008 to 3,380 in 2009. This is welcome news for the trucking industry and for the drivers of other vehicles on the road as their safety is also at stake when trucks are involved in accidents on high ways. In addition to the decreased number of deaths, there was also a decrease in the number of accidents involving trucks with 2,987 highway accidents involving trucks in 2009 compared to 3,784 accidents involving trucks in 2010.