National Registry of Certified DOT Medical Examiners Goes into Effect May 21, 2014

In 2012 a final rule was published in the Federal Register requiring DOT medical examiners to be certified, and complete minimum education, on the medical standards required for CMV drivers. The rule goes into effect two years after the Final rule was published, in this case the new rule will go into effect May 21, 2014. It is about time!

I have handled a number of cases where the medical provider clearly didn't know what they were doing and provided a medical card to an unsafe, unqualified driver. A trucking company could require use of one of these certified examiners now, but in my experience they don't. Unsafe CMV drivers remain on our roads.

I anticipate LOADS of CMV drivers will be trying to get a 2 year medical card from their "favorite" medical provider on May 20, 2014. Since they wont have to re-certify for two years, don't expect safer roads until at least May 21, 2016!

You can learn more HERE.

For the dangers of, and prevalence of, sleep apnea see my prior blog HERE

Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Regulation to be Issued Friday

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's regulation requiring electronic logging devices (ELD) is scheduled to be published in the Friday, March 28, 2014, edition of the Federal Register.

 

MAP-21 Change: Companies MUST Prevent Bad Truck Drivers from Driving

MAP-21 made significant changes in the trucking industry regulatory scheme. One change is that Section 32307 of MAP-21 was amended to prohibit employers from allowing employees to drive when the employer knows or should reasonably know that the the driver is disqualified,or when the employee's driver's license was suspended, revoked, or canceled. This final rule, issued October 1, 2013, amends 49 CFR 383.37

Sleep Apnea Trucker's Bill to President

Congress, despite a government shutdown, has a sleep apnea bill ready for the President's signature. While the trucking industry estimates that “the impact of screening, diagnosis, and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea could exceed $1 billion annually.” The industry failed to mention that $1 billion annually is a bargain compared to the death, carnage, and destruction caused by a fatigued truck driver behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound tractor trailer.

The legislation requires the FMCSA to go through a full rule making process which will add years of delay to the implementation of this much needed legislation.

Untreated sleep apnea can lead to fatigued driving and is thus a medically disqualifying condition for truck drivers. FMCSR 391.41(b)(5) see also: FMCSA Medical Advisory HERE 

 

Spoliation Letter Updated - Version 5

 Every so often I need to revise and update my standard spoliation letter (a letter telling the trucking company to save evidence that shows who is, and is not, at fault for a wreck). In part because of changes in the trucking industry, in part because it can always be made better.

 

In this latest update I strengthened some areas and added a request to save documents used in preventability determinations. My thanks to Jen Ojeda, a brilliant Atlanta, GA trucking lawyer,  for the idea which was brought to my attention by Steve Gursten, a superb Michigan tractor trailer lawyer.  For those of you counting, here is version 5!

 

Do you have a good tractor trailer lawyer? If the lawyer you are considering cant produce a spoliation letter upon demand, even at the initial meeting,  I STRONGLY suggest you consider looking for another lawyer.

 

If we know the trucking company and driver involved, our firm practice is to send our spoliation letter (often modified for the specific case) out the same day we are hired, or the next day if the mail has run. In some cases our clients are hospitalized - or worse - and we have to wait till the police report is available to identify the trucking company and driver so we know to whom we need to send the letter. Only in rare cases do we find that the spoliation letter shouldn't be out within the first month of accepting a case.

Qualcomm Sells Omnitracs Trucking Division to Vista Equity Partners

Semiconductor technology firm Qualcomm Inc. said it has sold its transportation and logistics business, Omnitracs, to Vista Equity Partners for $800 million. This includes the Commercial Motor Vehicle tracking or "telematics" systems.
 
The acquisition by Vista Equity Partners will include all Omnitracs operations in the United States, Canada and Latin America as well as the companies it purchased in 2011, Sylectus and FleetRisk Advisors, according to the company.
 
“The opportunity for fleet management and telematics is evolving rapidly, and we believe Omnitracs is well positioned to continue its leadership position as a stand-alone entity,” Qualcomm Executive Vice President Derek Aberle said.
 
Qualcomm said it expects the sale to be completed during the first quarter of its 2014 fiscal year.
 
Omnitracs is part of Qualcomm’s Wireless & Internet segment, or QWI. Omnitracs has not been making the company a profit. The division posted a fiscal third-quarter loss of $16 million before tax, compared with a loss of $6 million in the same quarter last year. QWI revenue slipped 1% to $158 million.

Sports Concussion Seminar Free for Chattanooga, TN Coaches, Parents and School Administrators

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Concussion Prevention Initiative are excited to host a FREE sports concussion seminar for community coaches, parents and school administrators in conjunction with Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center.

The details of the seminar are outlined below:

When: Tuesday, August 13, 6:30 p.m.- 8:00 p.m.

Where: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, University Center Auditorium, (642 East 5th Street, Chattanooga, TN)

Seating will be limited, so please click here to RSVP and for other details. A brochure is available here, and a flyer here.

Attendees will be educated on signs and symptoms of a concussion, short and long-term effects of a concussive injury, baseline testing, medical management, rehabilitation, prevention and more.

We are asking your help to encourage your coaches, parents and school administrators to attend this seminar and educate themselves on sports related concussions. 

I work with a lot of people with brain injuries. It is not something I would wish on any family. Please make sure your coaches attend this FREE program! 

Please Nominate My Blog to the ABA Journal Blog 100

Nominations are now open for the American Bar Association (ABA) Journal Blawg 100 and close on August 9 at 700 pm EST.

If you enjoy my blog, please nominate the Truck Injury Lawyer Blog for the ABA Journal Blawg 100.

You can nominate more than one blog for the Blawg 100 by sending in a  separate nomination for each blog you think worthy of the list.

Voting Information:

Truck Injury Lawyer Blog: http://www.truckinjurylawyerblog.com

Nomination Link: http://www.abajournal.com/blawgs/blawg100_submit/

 

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MAP 21 Changes Trucking

MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (P.L. 112-141), was signed into law by President Obama on July 6, 2012. It is the first long-term highway authorization enacted since 2005. It sets highway safety as a national goal. 

The changes brought about by MAP-21 are extensive and impact almost every area of the trucking industry. A complete copy of the legislation can be found HERE Lawyers handling trucking cases should make sure they review this legislation in detail. Much of the legislation has gone into effect, other provisions go into effect in October. 

 

New Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations Start Today

 The new Hours of Service (HOS) regulations go into effect today. In many ways these regulations are simply the old, pre-President Bush, regulations with some minor changes. Nonetheless, you can expect the trucking industry to be up in arms. I have posted on the new HOS previously HERE

The outrage is primarily because the trucking industry still imposes the burden of  all road delays on a truck driver. It is commonly known in the trucking industry that if the wheels aren't turning, trucker's ain't earning." This causes many truckers to push the HOS. I have previously posted on the need for truckers to be paid hourly, with overtime, HERE.

The FMCSA sent out a press release on the topic which states: 

New Hours-of-Service Safety Regulations to Reduce Truck Driver Fatigue
Begin Today

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that new federal regulations designed to improve safety for the motoring public by reducing truck driver fatigue took full effect today, July 1, 2013.

"Safety is our highest priority," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "These rules make common sense, data-driven changes to reduce truck driver fatigue and improve safety for every traveler on our highways and roads."

Trucking companies were provided 18 months to adopt the new hours-of-service rules for truck drivers. First announced in December 2011 by FMCSA, the rules limit the average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours to ensure that all truck operators have adequate rest. Only the most extreme schedules will be impacted, and more than 85 percent of the truck driving workforce will see no changes.

Working long daily and weekly hours on a continuing basis is associated with chronic fatigue, a high risk of crashes, and a number of serious chronic health conditions in drivers. It is estimated that these new safety regulations will save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year.

"These fatigue-fighting rules for truck drivers were carefully crafted based on years of scientific research and unprecedented stakeholder outreach," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "The result is a fair and balanced approach that will result in an estimated $280 million in savings from fewer large truck crashes and $470 million in savings from improved driver health. Most importantly, it will save lives."

FMCSA's new hours-of-service final rule:

 

  • Limits the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, a decrease from the current maximum of 82 hours;

  • Allows truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week to resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights when their body clock demands sleep the most - from 1-5 a.m., and;

  • Requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.

 

The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day.

Companies and drivers that commit egregious violations of the rule could face the maximum penalties for each offense. Trucking companies and passenger carriers that allow drivers to exceed driving limits by more than three hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.

Further information, including "Hours-of-Service Logbook Examples," is available on FMCSA's web site atwww.fmcsa.dot.gov/HOS.