March 2014

Trucking Industry Sees Rising Volume, Rates in 2014

Trucking companies anticipate rising freight volumes this year that will tighten capacity and boost rates, according to a Bloomberg Industries/Internet Truckstop survey.

About 68 percent of the companies polled said volumes will rise in the next six months as warmer weather arrives in the spring, after severe winter weather reduced loads, according to the survey. It was the most optimistic outlook in nine months.

“Our Bloomberg/Internet Truckstop survey is pointing towards a tighter trucking environment from increased demand, additional regulations, and higher equipment costs,” said Lee Klaskow, a Bloomberg Industries analyst, said. “This should have a positive impact on truckload rates in 2014.”

About 59 percent of trucking carriers and brokers said they expect 2014 to be better than last year for the industry. Of members surveyed, about 60 percent said they were optimistic that prices would rise within the next three to six months.

The year is off to a good start. In January demand rose 3 percent from a year earlier, even as winter weather posed difficult conditions, according to the survey.

FMCSA Proposes National Drug and Alcohol Testing Clearinghouse for Commercial Truck and Bus Drivers

Employers would be required to check clearinghouse before hiring and annually

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced a proposed rule to establish a drug and alcohol clearinghouse for all national commercial driver's license (CDL) holders. The clearinghouse would help improve roadway safety by making it easier to determine whether a truck or bus driver is prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle for failing to comply with federal drug and alcohol regulations, including mandatory testing.

"Safety is our highest priority, and we will continue to embrace new tools and opportunities that protect the travelers on our nation's roads," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Today's proposal will help ensure dangerous drivers stay off the road, while encouraging the employment of the many safe drivers who follow our drug and alcohol requirements."

Current federal regulations require employers to conduct mandatory pre-employment screening of a CDL driver's qualifications based upon his or her driving record. However, there has not been a single federal repository recording positive drug and alcohol tests by CDL holders that employers would be able to search to ensure that the driver is able to perform safety-sensitive duties.

The proposed rule announced today would create such a repository and require employers to conduct pre-employment searches for all new CDL drivers and annual searches on current drivers.

"We are leveraging technology to create a one-stop verification point to help companies hire drug and alcohol-free drivers," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "This proposal moves us further down the road toward improving safety for truck and bus companies, commercial drivers and the motoring public everywhere."

Under the proposed rule announced today, FMCSA-regulated truck and bus companies, Medical Review Officers, Substance Abuse Professionals, and private, third party USDOT drug and alcohol testing laboratories would be required to record information about a driver who:

  • Fails a drug and/or alcohol test;
  • Refuses to submit to a drug and/or alcohol test; and
  • Successfully completes a substance abuse program and is legally qualified to return to duty.

Private, third-party USDOT drug and alcohol testing laboratories also would be required to report summary information annually. This information would be used to help identify companies that do not have a testing program.

To ensure the privacy of drivers involved, each CDL holder would need to provide his or her consent, before an employer could access the clearinghouse.

Drivers who refuse to provide this information could still be employed by the truck or bus company; however, they could not occupy safety-sensitive positions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle.

It is a violation of federal regulations to drive a truck or bus under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol. Federal safety regulations require that truck and bus companies that employ CDL drivers conduct random drug and alcohol testing programs. Carriers must randomly test 10 percent of their CDL drivers for alcohol and 50 percent of their CDL drivers for drugs each year.

For each of the past three years, federal and state safety inspectors have conducted approximately 3.5 million random roadside inspections of commercial vehicles and of their drivers.

In 2013, on 2,095 occasions, or in 0.23 percent of the unannounced inspections, a CDL holder was immediately placed out-of-service and cited for violating federal regulations governing alcohol consumption. In 2012, FMCSA records show that there were 2,494 violations of this regulation.

In 2013, on 1,240 occasions, or in 0.13 percent of the unannounced inspections, a CDL holder was placed immediately out-of-service and cited for violating federal regulations governing controlled substances. In 2012, FMCSA records show that there were 1,139 violations of this regulation.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. –Chinese Proverb