FMCSA Gives 30 Day Extension on Safety Ratings:
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended the deadline for public comments on a potential overhaul of the carrier safety rating system, as industry stakeholders asked for more time to formulate thoughts and comments. The agency initially sought public feedback on the development of a new methodology for assessing carrier safety on August 29th, with a 60-day comment period scheduled to end on October 30th. However, as of October 20th, only 12 comments had been received.
In response to the limited response, the FMCSA officially extended the comment period on October 23rd, giving industry more time for comments until November 29th. The agency aims to gather public input on several aspects related to carrier safety ratings, including the need for rulemaking to revise safety fitness determination regulations, scientific and technical information for analyzing safety fitness determination alternatives, feedback on current safety fitness determination regulations and their impacts, data and costs associated with regulatory alternatives, and responses to specific questions outlined in the advance notice of proposed rulemaking.
TIA wants to see a revision of the current ratings process to a simple red light green light rating for carrier fitness and switch to a data-driven system that relieves stress off of FMCSA’s current physical audit that has left 92% of carriers unrated.
If you would like to submit your own comments, the official docket can be found here: https://www.regulations.gov/commenton/FMCSA-2022-0003-0019
Traffic Proves Costly to Carriers:
Traffic congestion on U.S. highways cost the trucking industry a record-high $94.6 billion in 2021, according to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). ATRI's Cost of Congestion study used various data sources, including its truck GPS database, to analyze trucking delay impacts from 2017 to 2021. While congestion costs decreased in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they surged in 2021, with 1.27 billion hours of lost productivity.
This increase reflects the strong post-COVID economic recovery, driven by high GDP growth and consumer spending, leading to significant freight demand. The 2021 congestion levels equate to over 460,000 commercial truck drivers sitting idle for a year, marking a 27% increase from the baseline year of 2016.
ATRI's analysis also broke down congestion costs by state and metropolitan areas. The top 10 states with the highest costs included California ($9.00 billion), Texas ($7.26 billion), and Florida ($7.16 billion). These states accounted for 53% of the total congestion costs. New York City ranked highest among cities, with annual costs nearing $5.5 billion.
The report highlighted the potential for addressing congestion through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which could allocate up to $350 billion in funding for transportation improvements.
The study also revealed that trucking wasted over 6.7 billion gallons of diesel fuel in 2021 due to congestion, resulting in an additional $22.3 billion in fuel costs. The impact of congestion extends beyond the trucking industry, as these costs are ultimately passed down to consumers, resulting in higher prices for goods and services throughout the economy.
We have a Speaker:
Congressman Mike Johnson (R-4th/LA), a fourth-term Republican from Louisiana, has been elected as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives. He secured victory with 220 votes, surpassing the 215 votes needed for election on the House floor. This marked a significant turnaround after weeks of uncertainty in the House following the removal of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-20th/CA) and the failure of three other speaker candidates. Johnson did not lose a single GOP vote from lawmakers who were present for the election. He previously served as vice chair of the GOP conference and was seen as somewhat outside the mainstream party leadership by hardline conservatives. Before entering politics, Johnson practiced constitutional law for two decades.
As the new speaker, Speaker Mike Johnson will face several pressing challenges, including an impending government funding deadline and the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas. He has outlined an ambitious schedule for moving appropriations bills and has proposed canceling next year's August recess if all 12 spending bills are not advanced through the House by then. Johnson takes over from Rep. Patrick McHenry, who served as acting speaker after McCarthy's removal. Johnson voted against a stopgap measure to keep the government open, which ultimately led to McCarthy's removal, but he did vote to retain McCarthy as speaker earlier.
The House is now back in session!