Issue Brief

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are agencies within the U.S. Department of Transportation that support state and local governments in the design, construction, and maintenance of the Nation’s highway system and various federally and tribal owned lands. These groups also work to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities as well. SC&RA works to educate FHWA and FMCSA on the viewpoints of its carrier members and how the decisions that these groups make can adversely affect the safe, productive and overall profitability of moves across the US.

SC&RA Working Positions

SC&RA is currently working with FHWA and FMCSA on multiple issues:
  1. Interchange & Intersection Design - Over the past decade, there has been an emerging change that is destined to impact intersections and interchanges throughout the United States, and in some states, more rapidly than others. As civil engineers work diligently to increase safety and efficiency at our nations cross roads, the primary focus has been on the volume of cars. The focus is arguably at the expense of permitted specialized transport or oversize overweight (OS/OW) trucks. The increase in this alternative intersection design is occurring while load size and volume is also increasing, and unlike cars, OS/OW trucks cannot use every road and bridge. SC&RA shares in federal, state, and local efforts to increase safety at our intersections and interchanges. However, SC&RA believes this goal can be achieved in harmony with the needs of the specialized carriers operating equipment through these same intersections and interchanges.

  2. Truck Parking Availability -  The National Coalition of Truck Parking was created by FHWA to address well documented shortage of truck parking across the nation, especially for OS/OW loads. SC&RA was named to the coalition and advocates for solutions to unique parking shortage issues confronting its members because of a lack of adequate space for oversize loads and restricted permit provisions including hours of service. SC&RA was successful in advocating final recommendations included specific language acknowledging unique challenges of specialized transportation industry:

    Develop an updated national design standard for parking facilities, considering the needs of oversized trucks, security, and lighting needs while also maximizing the capacity of a truck parking area within the highway right-of-way.

    All findings and recommendations can be found in the FHWA final report

    SC&RA hopes that recent parking space wins in the states of Maryland, New Jersey, and Wisconsin lead to future truck parking wins in the future.

  3. Hours of Service (HOS) - Transportation
    SC&RA and its members have achieved a five-year exemption (through 2020) from compliance with the 30-minute rest break requirement of the agency’s Hours of Service Rule for OS/OW loads. This working exemption includes many examples of situations that could extend the workday beyond normal hours and into the 14-hour limit condition of the HOS regulation. SC&RA members that conduct OS/OW moves now enjoy financial and time savings because of this exemption.

  4. Hours of Service (HOS) – Crane and Rigging
    SC&RA requested a limited exemption for crane operators from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulation for commercial drivers. SC&RA specifically requested exemption “on behalf of individuals who operate cranes with a rated lifting capacity of greater than 30 tons, who engage in specialized training and certification.”

    Because of the Crane exemption request - All qualifying motor carriers and drivers operating mobile cranes with a rated lifting capacity of greater than 30 tons are exempt from the 30-minute break provision.

    The Agency subsequently denied SC&RA’s further request for exemption from the 14-hour driving window of the HOS rules citing: “The absence of this limit would allow drivers to operate without any restriction on the length of their duty day. The risk that safety would deteriorate in the absence of this requirement is high.”

  5. On Duty vs. Off Duty -  In SC&RA requested clarification from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regarding the terms “personal conveyance” and “laden” as referenced in the agency’s regulations in the form of a letter to the FMCSA. The letter noted that association’s members carry various tools of the trade in service trucks used at remote job sites. Among these tools are items such as slings, shackles, dollies, jacks, levels and hand tools that remain in the vehicle at all times when they are not in use, noted the letter. However, these service vehicles carry neither freight nor cargo. SC&RA received a very favorable response from Larry Minor, FMCSA’s Associate Administrator for Policy, who wrote that the agency considers the term “laden” to refer to cargo or freight, not to include “tools of the trade” that are customarily stored on the vehicle when not in use. Based on the success of this request for clarification, SC&RA has also requested similar clarification concerning when employees may unhitch a trailer and drive the cab a reasonable distance to a motel, restaurant, home, or other non-work related activity at the end of the work day. SC&RA member companies have access to a copy of the letter from FMCSA’s to use as they see fit. The Association encourages members to print the letter and disseminate it to drivers to carry in the cabs of their trucks as protection in cases in which inspectors misinterpret the rule.

  6. Automated Permitting Harmonization - Improving permit turn around time has historically been the highest priority for OS/OW carriers. The less time waiting for a routine permit, the better chance for a safer move. However, the amount of time waiting to receive returned permits continues to be poor in many states and provinces. SC&RA advocates all state and provincial permitting offices to employ automated permit routing and analysis systems to auto issue most permits efficiently within a minimum threshold. This will in turn improve safety and efficiency for SC&RA member companies.

  7. Establishing Emergency OS/OW Routes – SC&RA advocates for state and federal officials to streamline the process for permitting and moving oversize/overweight loads both safely and efficiently in emergency situations. Examples of emergency loads delivered by SC&RA members include transformers and generators to restore power for communities, hospitals and industries, cranes to respond to emergency railroad derailments, and temporary shelters. In 2016, SC&RA was named to the Emergency Route Working Group (ERWG) which provides the U.S. Secretary of Transportation advice and recommendations for the implementation of best practices for expeditious State approval of special permits for vehicles involved in emergency response and recovery.

  8. Electronic Data Logging (ELD) Mandate – As part of the FMCSA’s final electronic logging device mandate, carriers and drivers who are using paper logs or logging software must transition to ELDs no later than December 18, 2017. Carriers and drivers who use AOBRDS prior to the compliance date must also transition to ELDs no later than December 16, 2019 as well. To assist SC&RA members with this transition, a “Top Ten Questions to Ask Your Prospective AOBRD/ELD Vendor” was developed in partnership with SC&RA member ISE Fleet Services.  For more information about the ELD mandate please click here.

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