Author

Raman Dhillon

Browsing

Following in the footsteps of last year’s California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision regarding misclassification of employees, the New Jersey Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Labor have joined in an agreement to help protect workers such as truck drivers and Uber drivers from being treated as independent contractors and denied full employee benefits.

The agreement has made New Jersey a “misclassification battlefront,” according to Greg Feary, a partner with the law firm of Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary, P.C., lawyers representing the transportation industry.

“It’s political and union-inspired. The misclassification issue tends to be a blue state-red state issue. New Jersey, along with California, Washington and Illinois are examples of blue states that are being very aggressive on the issue of misclassification, and trucking is among the top industries they’re looking at. Whether you want to be an independent contractor or not, the state has said we’re going to extend the social welfare umbrella over to protect you,” said Feary.

The joint agreement is a result of a report commissioned by first-term New Jersey Democratic Governor Phil Murphy which found that 12,315 workers were misclassified with $462 million in wages underreported as well as $14 million in unemployment, disability, and family leave insurance. The report also said that up to 30% of employers misclassify at least one employee as an independent contractor.

Phil Murphy NJ Governor

“Workers misclassified as independent contractors are ineligible for the wage and overtime protections afforded to employees, and can find themselves underpaid and without basic labor and OSHA protections,” said New Jersey labor officials.

The state and federal cooperation agreement “adds teeth to labor enforcement efforts by promoting coordinated investigations and shared resources,” the two agencies said in a recent statement. “The partnership sends a strong message to unscrupulous business owners that misclassification laws are being strictly enforced,” the statement continued. 

The issue is at the forefront of concerns for the trucking industry. American Trucking Associations Richard Pianka, deputy general counsel, labels the new report as a “shot across the bow” at the industry. “New Jersey has definitely been actively hostile to the independent contractor model in trucking,” Pianka said. “No question about that. New Jersey is becoming a very difficult environment for the independent contractor model,” he concluded.

Pianka also believes that New Jersey state agencies are “illegally interpreting” existing laws to make it very difficult for “motor carriers to satisfy the statutory criteria with respect to unemployment insurance.” Agencies continue to narrowly construct the state’s statutory exemption for owner-operators under the unemployment statute, according to Pianka.

Trucking industry leaders are particularly concerned over the usage of the ABC test which came as a result of Dynamex. The three-headed ABC test mandates that a worker should be considered an independent contractor if they are A) free from the control and direction of the hiring entity, B) perform work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business and C) is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature as the work performed. 

Carriers tend to struggle with the “B” section of the test because it is almost impossible for carriers to clear this stipulation if they plan to use independent contractors. In California, legislation making the Dynamex decision a state law is pending in the legislature.  

Volvo Trucks North America is introducing the next generation of its Turbo Compound technology, providing up to an additional 3% improvement in fuel efficiency over the current 13-liter Turbo Compound engine, the D13TC. This new engine delivers up to 11% fuel savings overall compared to model-year 2015 trucks. Other improvements include enhanced efficiency over a wider range of applications, more engine ratings, and a new EE Extra Efficiency drive mode. The new D13TC will be available for order in the fourth quarter of 2019 and go into production at the end of the first quarter of 2020.

 

“We developed our first generation of the Turbo Compound engine in 2017, and since then almost 300 million miles have been logged, validating the up to 8% fuel-savings benefits,” said John Moore, product marketing manager at Volvo Trucks North America. “This new D13TC builds upon this game-changing engine technology, further increasing fuel efficiency by up to 3% over the current D13TC engine, saving approximately $1,200 per year per truck, based on the average fuel price and 125,000 miles per year.”

Volvo Trucks’ new D13TC offers three individual drive modes, Dynamic Torque, an additional 405 horsepower rating, and the next evolution of the Volvo Trucks’ patented wave piston design. These updates enable further-increased fuel efficiency over a wider range of loads, vehicle speeds and engine RPMs. This offers a broader use of applications compared to the first generation of the D13TC engine, which was designed specifically for over-the-road, long-haul applications for trucks loaded at 80,000 pounds.

The three individual drive modes available with the new D13TC engine are Extra Efficiency, Economy, and Performance. These modes will allow the driver to better optimize fuel efficiency for the vehicle with desired performance, depending on application, topography and driving conditions. This new engine also features a wider RPM efficiency band, which enables top fuel efficiency for longer periods of time

Dynamic Torque is an incremental torque system designed to provide the right torque at the right time. Rather than operating in silos of high-torque and low-torque modes, Dynamic Torque automatically sets a torque level dependent upon the weight of the truck, the grade and the road conditions at any given time. Dynamic Torque also features an automatic 12th gear lockout on heavy loads with Adaptive Gearing engine ratings. A kick-down switch along with performance drive mode allows access to full torque for customers requiring it on demand. This simpler, more effective system on the new D13TC engine will provide an even more consistent improvement in fuel efficiency across different applications, enabling customers to cut costs on a wider range of operations.

The new engine also features a revised wave piston, designed and patented by Volvo Trucks. The improved design optimizes wave technology to evenly distribute the air/fuel mixture in the cylinder, burning the fuel more consistently than a traditional piston. Volvo’s design increases the compression ratio from 17:1 to 18:1 while maintaining up to a 90% reduction of soot in the cylinder, further improving fuel efficiency in the engine.

“The individual drive modes allow drivers new heights in fuel efficiency without sacrificing performance. We are also taking it to the next level with a simpler torque package that delivers the right torque at the right time,” said Moore. “Not only is it cutting edge when it comes to sustainable use of diesel in the transportation industry, but it is the most fuel-efficient Volvo engine on the market for our customers, with trucks running cleaner at a reduced cost.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on changes to hours of service (HOS) rules to increase safety on America’s roadways by updating existing regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.  

“This proposed rule seeks to enhance safety by giving America’s commercial drivers more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving time,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

“FMCSA wants drivers and all CMV stakeholders to share their thoughts and opinions on the proposed changes to hours of service rules that we are putting forward today. We listened directly to the concerns of drivers for rules that are safer and have more flexibility—and we have acted.  We encourage everyone to review and comment on this proposal,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.

First adopted in 1937, FMCSA’s hours of service rules specify the permitted operating hours of commercial drivers.  In 2018, FMCSA authored an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to receive public comment on portions of the HOS rules to alleviate unnecessary burdens placed on drivers while maintaining safety on our Nation’s highways and roads. In response, the Agency received more than 5,200 public comments.  

Based on the detailed public comments, FMCSA’s proposed rule on hours of service offers five key revisions to the existing HOS rules:

* The Agency proposes to increase safety and flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by tying the break requirement to eight hours of driving time without interruption for at least 30 minutes and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on duty, not driving status, rather than off duty. 

* The Agency proposes to modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: one period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.

* The Agency proposes to allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than three hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift 

* The Agency proposes to modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.

* The Agency proposes a change to the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

Click for FMCSA Ray Martinez announcing changes

FMCSA’s proposal is crafted to improve safety on the Nation’s roadways. The proposed rule would not increase driving time and would continue to prevent CMV operators from driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute change in a duty status.

In Addition, FMCSA’s proposed rule on hours of service regulations is estimated to provide $274 million in savings for the U.S. economy and American consumers. The trucking industry is a key component to the national economy—employing more than seven million people and moves 70 percent of the nation’s domestic freight.

The public comment period will be open for 45 days. 

The Federal Register Notice, including how to submit comments, is available here: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/regulations/hours-service/474821/nprmfile08-08-2019-131534.pdf.

*

Despite promises from the Trump Administration that the economy, fueled by a 2017 multi-trillion-dollar tax cut, would continue to grow at 3% the reality is that GDP figures show a slowing economy, down to 2.1% in the second quarter of 2019. This has hit the trucking industry particularly hard as many companies vastly increased capacity last year amidst record high freight shipments.

Oct 5th & 6th at Cal Expo in Sacramento CA

Expecting white-hot growth to continue, many carriers used 2018 profits and tax cuts to buy a record number of new commercial trucks. At the same time, however, cargo volumes have shrunk and some are saying the U.S. is in a “freight recession.” 

Other factors have contributed to the slowdown, including bad weather, trade uncertainties and weak growth in overseas markets such as China, which is experiencing its largest economic downturn in more than 25 years. 

The current market is in contrast to last year’s situation which combined high freight volumes with limited capacity to send shippers scurrying to book transportation as demand reached record levels. 

In a stark reversal from last year, retailers and manufacturers have the advantage, often causing them to wait until the last minute in booking carriers, making prices far more unpredictable than they would be if contracts were negotiated ahead of time.

Not surprisingly, the average spot market price was down nearly 20% from last year to $1.89 per mile. In fact, in June of last year, there were six shipments for every truck compared with only three this year.

“Relative to last year at this time, there is less demand for capacity and that, coupled with an oversupply of trucks, means there’s little to no spot freight and all truckload prices have come down dramatically,” said Doug Waggoner, chief executive of freight broker Echo Global Logistics Inc.

This overcapacity has led industry leaders to slash profit outlooks. A spokesman for Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. said that “the oversupply of capacity in the truckload freight market” was lowering revenue per loaded mile, an important measure of pricing stability. Arizona based Knight-Swift saw revenue down 6.7% from the same quarter a year ago.

Likewise, Arkansas based J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. has also seen operating income fell 10% because of higher costs, preventing the company from meeting analyst predictions. Other big companies have also seen lower demand. Nebraska based Werner Enterprises saw only modest growth, up just 1%, causing it to lower its 2019 outlook for one-way truckload pricing. Werner expects rates to remain flat, down 3% from last year.

Nevertheless, trucking manufacturers are in full swing to meet order backlogs and carriers continue to take delivery of new trucks. “Freight as we measure it is growing at less than 1% in 2019,” said Kenny Vieth, president of transportation industry data provider ACT Research. “Our modeling suggests that we are adding about 7% to the U.S. Class-8 market capacity…. So the supply-demand equilibrium is tilting away from truckers right now.”

On the bright side, however, consumer confidence has surged recently, up 4.3% in the second quarter of 2019, and most economic forecasters do not predict a recession during the remainder of the year.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced a proposed rule to reduce burdens and costs for commercial driver’s license (CDL) applicants by allowing applicants to take general and specialized knowledge tests in a state other than the applicant’s state of residence.  This proposal will increase flexibility for driver applicants by reducing time and travel expenditures while having no detrimental impact on safety.

To promote further flexibility in the CDL issuance processes, FMCSA proposes to allow driver applicants to take the CDL knowledge tests in states other than the applicant’s state of domicile.  Under this proposed rule, a state would not be required to offer the knowledge tests to out-of-state applicants.  However, if the testing state elects to offer the knowledge tests to these applicants, it would transmit the results to the state of domicile, which would be required to accept the results.

“Reducing burdens and expenses on CDL applicants has the potential to increase the number of available drivers.  With the American economy continuing to grow at a record pace, the need for more commercial drivers is critical.  This proposal offers commonsense regulatory changes that will help CDL applicants, without compromising the safety,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.

FMCSA has been focused on reducing regulatory barriers for CDL applicants.  In March 2019, the agency authored a final rule streamlining the process and reducing costs to upgrade from a Class B to Class A CDL— a deregulatory action that will save eligible driver trainees and motor carriers $18 million annually.

Additionally, in June 2019, the Agency published a deregulatory proposal to streamline and simplify the process by which states are currently required to conduct skill tests for individuals seeking to obtain a CDL.  With the goal of reducing administrative costs and helping to alleviate testing delays, this proposal will eliminate needless inconvenience and expense to CDL applicants.

The proposed rule will have a 60-day public comment period.  A copy of the proposal, which includes information on submitting comments to the Federal Register docket, is available at:

 https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/commercial-drivers-license-out-state-knowledge-test.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s annual Operation Safe Driver Week is going to be focused on speeding. As we all know speeding is the main factor in all motor vehicle fatalities.

Law enforcement officers during the week will be looking for speeders during the week while promoting the message: “Late won’t kill you, speeding will.”

In addition to speeding, law enforcement will be looking for other dangerous driving behaviors, including distracted driving, texting, failure to use a seatbelt, following too closely, improper lane change, reckless or aggressive driving, failure to obey traffic control devices, evidence of drunk or drugged driving and more.

Last year, nearly 11,000 citations were issued to truck and bus drivers. Law enforcement pulled over or inspected more than 42,000 commercial vehicle drivers during 2018’s Operation Safe Driver Week and issued 10,709 citations and 29,908 warnings for unsafe driving. The top five citations issued were for violations of state and local laws (6,008 citations), speeding (1,908), failing to use a seat belt (1,169), failure to obey a traffic control device (754) and using a handheld phone (262).

Volvo Group North America and the Construction Climate Challenge, an initiative of Volvo Construction Equipment, recently sponsored the California Climate Cup, a competition among innovative startup entrepreneurs whose companies address climate resilience and carbon reduction measures.

“The Volvo Group, like the state of California, is committed to sustainability, innovation and advancing new ideas that are accepted by society,” said Dawn Fenton, director of public affairs for Volvo Group North America. “Sponsoring the California Climate Cup enables the Volvo Group to support innovation that ultimately will help create a cleaner, improved future for the transportation of people and freight, and we were pleased to help support the competition.”

The California Climate Cup spotlighted startups during competitions in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento. Those selected to compete were categorized by business focus including Clean and Smart Grid, Energy/Transportation Nexus and Zero Emissions Transportation.

About 100 innovators competed before judges, including some judges from the Volvo Group. Competitors were scored on several parameters, including innovation, deployment, scalability, carbon impact and climate resilience. Nine finalists were chosen, three from each category, and competed before policymakers June 27. One winner was chosen from each category. They are:

  • Reginald Parker – Optimal Solar, Clean, and Smart Grid
  • Joshua Aviv – SparkCharge, Energy / Transportation Nexus
  • Michael K. Opoku – SurgePower, Zero Emissions Transportation

From the three category winners, Joshua Aviv with SparkCharge was named the overall winner of the 2019 California Climate Cup. In addition to the recognition, Aviv received a cash prize of $25,000.

The Volvo Group also hosted a reception June 26 at its Mountain View, California, Innovation Lab for the semi-finalists and key Silicon Valley-based innovation leaders.

“The California Climate Cup offered the Volvo Group a unique opportunity to host participants at our Volvo Group Connected Solutions Innovation Lab – or what we call Hub335 – and to spotlight the types of initiatives that meld with our priorities,” said Jenny Elfsberg, a judge for the competition and director of the Volvo Group Innovation Lab. “It was inspiring to participate in this event, and to see several great innovations that will impact transportation and society to become more sustainable in the future.”

Along with the Volvo Group’s support, the Construction Climate Challenge also sponsored the program to build stronger relationships with California-based stakeholders. The purpose of the Volvo Construction Equipment Construction Climate Challenge is to promote sustainability throughout the construction industry value chain and provide funding for environmental research. The Construction Climate Challenge is a part of Volvo Construction Equipment’s commitment to the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Savers Program.

“Collaboration is crucial to accelerate climate solution innovations through the value chain and across industries, as well as with academia and policymakers,” said Elin Svanström, co-founder of Construction Climate Challenge

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced a proposed rule to streamline the process for men and women interested in entering the trucking workforce. The proposal is intended to allow states greater flexibility in conducting skill tests for individuals seeking a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The proposal would alleviate testing delays and eliminate needless inconvenience and expense to the CDL applicant—without compromising safety.

“The Department is committed to reducing unnecessary barriers to employment for men and women interested in obtaining jobs in the trucking industry,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

Federal rules currently do not permit a CDL skills instructor who is also authorized by the state to administer the CDL skills test to perform both the instruction and the qualifying testing for the same CDL applicant. The proposal announced today would eliminate that restriction and permit states the discretion to allow qualified third-party skills trainers to also conduct the skills testing for the same individual.

“We continue to examine opportunities to provide common-sense regulatory relief to states and to individuals seeking to obtain a CDL. This proposal will provide states more flexibility while maintaining safety on our roadways,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.  “I encourage all interested parties to review the proposal and to offer their comments to the docket.”

This proposal, if adopted, would be a deregulatory action as defined by Executive Order 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.”

FMCSA has been focused on reducing regulatory barriers for CDL applicants. In March 2019, the agency authored a final rule streamlining the process and reducing costs to upgrade from a Class B to Class A CDL— a deregulatory action that will save eligible driver trainees and motor carriers $18 million annually.

Upon publication in the Federal Register, a 60-day public comment period will commence.

A copy of the proposal, which includes information on submitting comments to the Federal Register Docket, is available at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/newsroom/468636/cdl-3rd-party-testers-nprm-signed.pdf

Estimates of the number of Sikh truckers vary. In California alone, tens of thousands of truckers trace their heritage to India. The state is home to half of the Sikhs in the U.S. — members of a monotheistic faith with origins in 15th century India whose followers are best recognized by the uncut hair and turbans many men wear. At Sikh temples in Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield and Riverside, the majority of worshipers are truck drivers and their families.

Over the last decade, Indian Americans have launched trucking schools, truck companies, truck washes, trucker temples and no-frills Indian restaurants modeled after truck stops back home, where Sikhs from the state of Punjab dominate the industry.

Please click here to read full article

Beautiful articles written  by Jaweed Kaleem at LA Times.

Thanks Jaweed Kaleem for writing a great article.

This year marks the 60th anniversary since the first Volvo drivers pulled Nils Bohlin´s innovative three-point seat belt over their shoulders in 1959. Today the seat belt is still seen as the world´s most important traffic safety innovation ever and is estimated to have saved more than one million lives. However, even with these facts in hand, too many truck drivers neglect to use this simple device. “This is clearly a waste of lives,” declares Anna Wrige Berling, Volvo Truck’s newly-appointed Traffic & Product Safety Director. “The record shows that there would be so many fewer casualties if all drivers used their belts.”

In 1959, the Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin developed the modern three-point seat belt. Although the design was patented, the company decided the patent was to be left open, making it available to all vehicle manufacturers to use for free. This rather unconventional decision was made in the greater interest of public safety, to ensure that everyone, independently of whether they drove a Volvo or not, could be safer in traffic. This decision proved to be very beneficial to the world.

“There is no safety system that comes even close to the seat belt in terms of saving lives, and the three-point safety belt has protected more people in traffic accidents than any other safety device,” says Anna Wrige Berling.

A life-saving innovation – but not always used

In many parts of the world seat belt usage among heavy truck, occupants are still far from 100%, unfortunately.

“The Volvo Trucks Safety Report for 2017 showed that half of all truck drivers killed in traffic accidents would have survived if they had been wearing their seat belt,” explains Anna Wrige Berling.

So what are the reasons it’s not used? Some truck drivers mistakenly believe that there is no need for a belt in a truck, due to the size of the vehicle.

“The facts are clear: Using the belt is very important also in trucks. For example, in rollover accidents, the belt can help protect the driver from being jammed between the truck and the ground,” continues Anna Wrige Berling.

The Zero Accident vision

Volvo Trucks has a vision of zero accidents and believes that truck manufacturers, traffic authorities, infrastructure planners, other experts, and drivers around the world need to work together to achieve a safer traffic environment.

“We are sharing our traffic safety findings widely and have offered our knowledge and expertise to universities, research laboratories, and partner organizations. Whenever traffic safety is discussed, we want to participate. This helps us learn even more about the issues, the potential solutions and how to design the trucks of the future,” concludes Anna Wrige Berling.

Anna Wrige Berling, Traffic & Product Safety Director

Anna Wrige Berling brings in-depth knowledge of traffic safety issues to her new position. She has extensive experience from working with both active and passive safety issues within the Volvo Group´s product development, advanced engineering, and research organizations.

During 2008-2013, Anna led the Volvo Trucks Accident Research Team, which since 1969 has investigated traffic accidents on site and compiled traffic safety data for use in future product development. She has represented Volvo in external traffic safety forums and has had a prominent role in the communication of Volvo’s safety offering to the transportation industry.

Most recently Anna has been managing the area of Traffic Situation Management within automated driving at Volvo Trucks. She holds a Master of Science in Engineering Physics from the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.