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Nebraska senator makes good on effort to reform FMCSA

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) earlier this week filed a bill aimed at reforming the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) including making its rule-making process more open to industry stakeholders and Congress, and more transparent to the public.

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In March, Fischer criticized the FMCSA and vowed to initiate a reform process. If passed and signed into law, her Trucking Rules Updated by Comprehensive and Key Safety Reform Act (TRUCK Safety Reform Act) would do that.

One of the key provisions of the proposed law (S.1669) requires the FMCSA to, as stated in a summary of the proposed law, “…conduct a comprehensive review of all rules, regulations, regulatory guidance, and enforcement policies. “ It must also publish a schedule of the process and describe how it will accomplish that review.

When the review is complete, Fischer’s law requires the FMCSA to make public its findings. It then has 24 months in which to, if necessary, change its rules and enforcement procedures to make sure they are consistent and uniform.

Fischer’s bill also seeks to reform the process the FMCSA’s uses to create its regulations. At the heart of this provision is greater involvement of motor carriers of all sizes, and more scrutiny of the agency’s cost-benefit analysis including independent peer review.

The proposed law was sent to the Commerce Committee, which is chaired by Sen. John Thune (R-SD).

Fischer has been a critic of the FMCSA, especially the 2013 hours-of-service rule and its Compliance, Safety, Accountability scoring program.

She also this week introduced a bill to allow states to enter into interstate compacts to recognize similar commercial driver license driving-age laws.

Heroic 6-Year-Old Saves Grandpa from Drowning After Jet Ski Mishap

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An Alabama boy’s quick actions saved his grandfather from drowning after the two were thrown from a jet ski.

Six-year-old Gram Flowers and his grandpa, Carl Flowers, were out on the Tennessee River on Father’s Day, enjoying the family’s new boat.

When a wave crashed into Gram and Carl, both were thrown into the water. Carl, 67, hit his head and suffered a concussion.

“He was just laying there with his mouth and nose underwater,” Gram recalled.

Carl said he wouldn’t be here today if not for the heroism displayed by his grandson.

According to Today.com, the rest of the family was on the boat trying to take care of some engine problems while Gram and Carl went for the jet ski ride.

The family finally got the boat to start and when they caught up with the jet ski, Gram was in the driver’s seat and Papa Carl was lying on the back.

“At first, we thought it was so cute that Gram was pretending to drive,” David Flowers, Gram’s father, told TODAY.com. “We then realized something was wrong and got Carl, who was unable to move, onto the boat and called a boat ambulance.”

After Carl was taken to a hospital, the family quickly realized that six-year-old Gram had saved his life.

Driver Shortage Ripples Across Trucking Industry

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The shortage of drivers is having ripple effects throughout the transportation industry, squeezing carriers with smaller truck fleets and boosting the use of rail freight.

As freight volume gained momentum, “the trucking industry edged even closer to 100% utilization,” said a State of Logistics report released Tuesday by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. Industry indicators for hauling capacity indicate “that truck capacity has grown extremely tight.”

But with many Baby Boomer truck drivers retiring and fewer new drivers entering the profession to replace them, a growing driver shortage has made it difficult for companies with smaller fleets to stay afloat. The American Trucking Associations, or ATA, estimating a shortage of between 35,000 and 40,000 drivers, with new drivers entering the profession slower than older drivers are retiring.

In this climate, companies with smaller truck fleets are the most vulnerable, in part because it is increasingly common for larger carriers to offer sign-on bonuses that smaller companies can’t compete with, executives have said. Smaller companies have also been hit as drivers quit over new federal truck safety regulations that stepped up enforcement of hours-of-service rules and capping the number of miles and money they could earn.

Turnover rates for smaller fleets grew to 95% from 90% in the last quarter of 2014, “primarily due to the larger fleets attracting drivers away with higher pay, bonuses and better benefits,” the report said. Some 390 companies with an average of 27 vehicles declared bankruptcy in the first quarter of last year. Meanwhile, rising costs for retaining drivers have translated to higher prices for shippers.

The effect has been a boon, however, for intermodal shipments, or transportation of containers or trailers using a mix of truck and rail freight. Intermodal volume grew at a record high 5.2% rate last year. Overall rail traffic was up 4.5% reaching a record high of 28.7 billion carloads, containers and trailers, the report said, and the cost for rail transportation increased 6.5% in 2014.

That indicated railroads were better at charging higher prices for their transport, said Rosalyn Wilson, the CSCMP report’s author. “The railroad industry has been raising rates in markets where they can,” she said.

What would you do if you found a lost wallet?

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This is what YouTuber DennisCEETv wanted to find out in a recent prank video. In the first instance of his experiment, he drops his wallet on the street and gets saved by a good samaritan. In the second instance, a man with a prosthetic leg finds it and proceeds to go shopping at a nearby mall. Watch what happens as the owner follows him.

Truck driver who buzzed I-5 with millions of bees fined $550

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LYNNWOOD, Wash. – The driver of a semi-truck hauling more than 13 million honeybees that overturned last month on Interstate 5 near Lynnwood has been fined $550 for the accident that sent millions of bees buzzing onto the highway.
The Daily Herald reports the truck driver was cited by the Washington State Patrol with second-degree negligent driving. Trooper Mark Francis says the 36-year-old Idaho man was driving too fast for conditions and the weight of the truck.

The truck had just merged onto the freeway from I-405 around 3:30 a.m. on April 17 when it tipped on its side, dumping its load of 448 hives, or about 13.7 million bees, Washington State Patrol Trooper Travis Shearer said.

The wreck backed up traffic for miles. Beekeepers scrambled to save as many bees as they could, but eventually firefighters sprayed foam on the buzzing hives. Officials later said about 10 million bees perished.

The bees were being transported from Sunnyside, in central Washington, to a blueberry farm in Lynden, a city near the Canadian border about 100 miles north of Seattle, Shearer said.

The state Department of Transportation is billing the driver’s insurance company $6,400 for costs associated with traffic control and the extra crews needed to get the freeway moving again.