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FMCSA Awards $1 Million to Help Train and Place Veterans in Careers as Commercial Truck and Bus Drivers

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced October 21, 2014, it has awarded $1 million in grants to nine technical and community colleges across the country to help train returning military veterans for jobs as commercial bus and truck drivers.  The funding is provided through FMCSA’s Commercial Motor Vehicle – Operator Safety Training (CMV-OST) grant program.

“Those that we entrust to protect and serve our nation deserve opportunities that utilize the skills and training they received on the job on military bases overseas and at home,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “We can think of none more appropriate to safeguard our highways as commercial vehicle drivers than the thousands of veterans who have already proven they can safely handle large vehicles under extremely stressful circumstances.”

“These unique grants are designed to help recruit, train and place veterans and their spouses in good jobs that are in high demand and in an industry that is vitally important in keeping our national economy moving forward,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “Graduates of these training programs are continuing to serve our nation by ensuring that the goods and products we depend on are delivered professionally, efficiently and, most importantly, safely.”

FMCSA awards CMV-OST grants to organizations that provide truck driving training, including accredited public or private colleges, universities, vocational-technical schools, post-secondary educational institutions, truck driver training schools, associations, and state and local governments, including federally-recognized Native American tribal governments.  The funds are used to recruit, train, and provide students job placement assistance after graduation.

The 2014 FMCSA grants announced today will provide training for nearly 400 new students.  The awards were made to the following organizations:

  • Florida – South Florida State College, Avon Park, Fla., $58,003
  • Illinois – Joliet Junior College, Joliet, Ill., $165,800
  • Minnesota – Century College in White Bear Lake, Minn., $91,080
  • Missouri – Crowder College, Neosho, Mo., $72,160
  • Nebraska – Metropolitan Community College, Omaha, Ne., $47,614
  • Pennsylvania – Northampton County Area Community College, Bethlehem, Pa., $134,400
  • Pennsylvania – The Sage Corporation, Camp Hill, Pa., $249,968
  • Texas – Lone Star College-North Harris, Houston, Texas, $73,704
  • Virginia – Tidewater Community College, Norfolk, Va., $107,271

The Commercial Motor Vehicle – Operator Safety Training Grant Program was established by Congress in 2005 through the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), to expand the number of commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders possessing enhanced operator safety training to help reduce the severity and number of crashes on U.S. roads involving large trucks and buses.

In July 2014, FMCSA announced that the Military Skills Test Waiver Program had been expanded to include all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Under this program, state licensing agencies have authority to waive the skills test portion of the CDL application for active duty or recently separated veterans who possess at least two years of safe driving experience operating a military truck or bus. Waiving the skills test expedites the civilian commercial drivers licensing application process and reduces expenses for qualified individuals and operating costs to state licensing agencies.

FMCSA also announced this summer that, commencing with Virginia residents, returning military service personnel who possess a state-issued Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate due to a limb impairment will automatically be recognized as equivalent to an FMCSA-issued SPE certificate and allowed to obtain an interstate commercial driver’s license (CDL).  FMCSA encourages other state licensing agencies to establish comparable equivalency SPE programs.

To learn more about the Commercial Motor Vehicle – Operator Safety Training Grant Program, please visit http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/grants/cmv-operator-safety-training-grant/comme….

For a listing of last year’s CMV – OST grant recipients, please visit http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/federal-motor-carrier-safety-administr…

To learn more about the Military Skills Test Waiver Program, please visit http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration-licensing/cdl/Military-CDL-Waiver….

To learn more about the U.S. Department of Transportation’s dedication to our nation’s veterans, please visit http://www.dot.gov/veteranstransportationcareers.

DOT Expands Program to Help Veterans Get Jobs as Professional Truck and Bus Drivers

Military Skills Test Waiver Program Now Includes all 50 States and D.C.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced today that its waiver program that helps experienced veterans and active duty personnel transition into civilian jobs as commercial truck and bus drivers has been expanded to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“Our nation’s veterans deserve good-paying jobs when they return home from serving overseas and we are proud to help,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “Thousands of active duty service members and veterans have already transferred their skills to jobs driving trucks and buses through the Military Skills Test Waiver Program and we look forward to helping even more now that we’ve expanded to all 50 states.”

On June 27, 2014, Alaska became the 50th state to participate in the FMCSA Military Skills Test Waiver Program.  Begun in 2011, the Program grants state licensing agencies, including the District of Columbia, the authority to waive the skills test portion of the commercial driver’s license application for active duty or recently separated veterans who possess at least two years of safe driving experience operating a military truck or bus. Waiving the skills test expedites the civilian commercial drivers licensing application process and reduces expenses for qualified individuals and operating costs to state licensing agencies.

The effort is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative to promote expanded employment and career development opportunities for veterans and military spouses.

Today’s announcement also includes two additional expansions of the program.

First, the eligibility period for qualified individuals to obtain an FMCSA Military Skills Test Waiver has been extended from 90 days to one year, nationwide.

Second, commencing with Virginia residents, returning military service personnel who possess a state-issued Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE)certificate due to a limb impairment will automatically be recognized as equivalent to an FMCSA-issued SPE certificate and allowed to obtain an interstate commercial driver’s license (CDL).  FMCSA encourages other state licensing agencies to establish comparable equivalency SPE programs.

“Commercial drivers fulfill a vital role ensuring that America’s economy continually moves forward,” said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro.  “Service members who have clocked countless miles safely working behind the wheel of a military vehicle will now have more time and opportunity to find long-term employment in the commercial driving industry.  Reducing the burden of finding civilian jobs is one of the best ways we can thank members of our military and their families for their service to our nation.”

From 2010 to 2020, the need for heavy-vehicle drivers is expected to grow by more than 17 percent – faster than the national average for other occupations.

To date, more than 6,000 current and former military personnel – including Reserves, National Guard, and U.S. Coast Guard service members – have taken advantage of FMCSA’s Military Skills Test Waiver Program, which has been conducted in close cooperation with the Department of Transportation, Department of Defense and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA).

Additional information, including a standardized application form accepted in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, is available at:http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/military.

 

Source: FMCSA News

Use of hand-held mobile devices by drivers of commercial motor vehicles

An FMCSA rule restricts the use of all hand-held mobile devices by drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). This rulemaking restricts a CMV driver from holding a mobile device to make a call, or dialing by pressing more than a single button. CMV drivers who use a mobile phone while driving can only use a hands-free phone located in close proximity.

Research commissioned by FMCSA shows that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event (e.g., crash, near-crash, unintentional lane deviation) are 6 times greater for CMV drivers who engage in dialing a mobile phone while driving than for those who do not. Dialing drivers took their eyes off the forward roadway for an average of 3.8 seconds. At 55 mph (or 80.7 feet per second), this equates to a driver traveling 306 feet, the approximate length of a football field, without looking at the roadway!

Learn more about the rules surrounding mobile phone use by truck drivers HERE.

 

Source: FMCSA

FMCSA Announces Enhancements to Safety Measurement System Website

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announces a package of enhancements to the Safety Measurement System (SMS) website. SMS is an automated system that quantifies the on-road safety performance of commercial truck and bus companies that is used to identify and prioritize high-risk carriers for enforcement interventions, including increased roadside inspections and compliance reviews. The enhancements provide clearer descriptions and easier, more intuitive navigation features. The enhancements were derived from feedback solicited from motor carriers, law enforcement personnel, industry representatives and other stakeholders who were given an opportunity to critique various website enhancement proposals. The changes to the SMS website do not alter the SMS methodology or affect a carrier’s safety rating, which is subject to 49 CFR part 385, Safety Fitness Procedures. The enhancements are a continuation of FMCSA’s efforts, first announced in April 2010, to provide the motor carrier industry and other safety stakeholders with more comprehensive, informative, and regularly updated safety performance data. FMCSA will implement the SMS website enhancements by August 4, 2014. To assist users in adapting to the SMS website enhancements, FMCSA will hold three educational webinars, with two on August 20, 2014 (10:00-11:30 a.m. and 2:00-3:30 p.m.), and a third to be held on August 21, 2014 (2:00-3:30 p.m.). Webinar participants will be able to ask questions and receive real-time responses. Additionally during the webinars, FMCSA staff will discuss and answer questions on the Agency’s new adjudicated citations policy, which takes effect August 23, 2014. A full copy of the Federal Register notice is available here.

To register for one of the upcoming three educational webinars, visit:http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/SMS_Display_Changes-New_Adjudicated_Citations_Policy_Webinar_2014.pdf.

FMCSA Shuts Down Minnesota-based Bus Company as an Imminent Hazard to Public Safety

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered Lakeville, Minn.-based On Eagles Wings Charters, Inc., USDOT No. 1100785, to immediately cease all passenger transportation operations after finding that the company was endangering the traveling public by failing to ensure the safety of its vehicles and drivers.

“Safety is our highest priority and we will continue to insist that bus and truck companies also put safety of the motoring public first and foremost,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Companies that choose to disregard vital safety regulations and put innocent lives at needless risk will be prohibited from operating on our highways and roads.”

FMCSA safety investigators found that On Eagles Wings Charters had failed to ensure that its buses were systematically inspected, repaired and maintained.  Of five motorcoaches available for dispatch and inspected onsite as part of the federal investigation, four vehicles were immediately ordered out-of-service for serious safety defects.  In all, 40 separate safety violations were recorded for the four vehicles, including inoperative brakes and broken frame rails.  The fifth motorcoach inspected was cited for inoperative brakes on one axle and multiple air leaks in the braking system, as well as a damaged windshield.

Investigators also found that that the company had failed to ensure that its drivers were properly qualified, licensed and adhering to federal hours-of-service limitations to prevent fatigued driving.  On Eagles Wings Charters was cited for missing records of duty status, exceeding hours of service limitations, and falsifying records of duty status.

Individually and cumulatively, these violations substantially increase the likelihood of serious injury or death to On Eagles Wings Charters and the motoring public.

“Our FMCSA safety investigators and inspectors will continue to work diligently to block unsafe commercial drivers from getting behind the wheel, and dangerous buses and trucks from getting on the road,” said Administrator Anne S. Ferro.  “Compliance with our safety regulations is not optional because even a seemingly minor infraction can potentially lead to a tragic consequence.”

A copy of the imminent hazard out-of-service order can be viewed atwww.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/ihoos-eagles-wings-charters-inc

As part of FMCSA’s work to make safety data readily available to the traveling public, the SaferBus mobile app gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company’s safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel. The app, available for iPhone, iPad, and Android phone users, can be downloaded for free by visiting FMCSA’s “Look Before You Book” webpage at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/saferbus.

Travelers planning a bus trip are also encouraged to think safety first before buying a ticket or chartering a bus by using FMCSA’s multilingual passenger carrier safety checklist at:http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/lookbeforeyoubook.

FMCSA urges consumers and whistleblowers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle, or driver to the agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or FMCSA’s consumer complaint web site: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/HomePage.asp.

Consumers who bought a ticket on a bus company that FMCSA has recently placed out-of-service may be entitled to a credit from their credit card company under the Fair Credit Billing Act if they paid for the ticket by credit card. For more information, visit:http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/bus-credit-refund.aspx.

 

Source: FMCSA News

More Than 30,000 Medical Professionals Now Listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced that 8,000 more health professionals have been added to the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME) since the new system for USDOT medical examinations launched last month with 22,000 providers.  Another 22,500 medical professionals have also initiated the process for gaining their certification.  All interstate commercial truck and bus drivers must pass a USDOT medical examination at least once every two years in order to obtain a valid medical certificate and maintain their commercial driver’s license (CDL).  As required by federal regulation, effective May 21, 2014, all new USDOT medical examinations for interstate truck and bus drivers (both CDL and non-CDL drivers) are required to be performed by a medical examiner who has completed the required training and passed a certification test.  The USDOT medical examination looks at a range of conditions to assess a driver’s ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory and muscular functions, vision, and hearing.  To meet the needs of professional drivers throughout the country, there are certified examiners in every state, and dozens or hundreds in most cities that can be located by visitinghttp://nrcme.fmcsa.dot.gov/.