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Archive for December, 2011


Driver Fatigue Prevention Act Ignores Truckers Overtime Pay

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over-the-road bus drivers

over-the-road bus drivers

On December 12th, 2011 Senator Charles E. Schumer introduced to congress, bill S.1977, known as the Driver Fatigue Prevention Act

The purpose of the bill is to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide that over-the-road bus drivers are covered under the maximum hours requirements. 

The bill would add an amendment to the FLSA within Section 13(b)(1), by inserting the words:  “except a driver of an over-the-road bus.” 

At first glance, the Driver Fatigue Prevention Act sounds like a positive move toward preventing truck driver fatigue.  However, one must remember that this is government working at its finest.  The newly introduced bill, slipped in during the holiday season, has nothing to do with driver fatigue.  Its purpose lies soley within the provisions concerning overtime pay.

Section 13(b)(1) of the FLSA provides an overtime exemption for employees who are within the authority of the Secretary of Transportation to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service pursuant to Section 204 of the Motor Carrier Act of 1935.  Truck drivers, motor carriers and over-the-road bus drivers fall under this exemption, thus the reason professional truckers and bus drivers are not provided with overtime pay as are most employees.

Bill S.1977 would remove these bus drivers from the exemption, allowing them to be paid for overtime hours.  As over-the-road bus drivers complained about the long work hours, the bill would pave the way for these drivers to receive pay for anything over the regular 40 hour workweek.  Truck drivers, however, would remain under the standards of Section 13(b)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

This is the perfect example that the goal to establish further safety measures within the transportation industry, really has nothing to do with safety.  Which “cargo” is more important:  a  53 foot van trailer loaded with paper towels or a 45 foot Greyhound bus with 55 people onboard? 

These bus drivers face the same problem as truck drivers which is running hard and working well over 40 hours per week, all in order to earn a decent living.  Professional drivers do not work 70 hours per week because they want to, but because it is the only way to earn a living wage and for many, seventy hours in a week can still fall short of a decent paycheck.

 Lawrence J. Hanley, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), stated:

“Hundreds of intercity bus companies get away with paying their bus drivers criminally low wages, forcing drivers to work 100 hours a week or more, often balancing two or three jobs, just to make a living. The unsuspecting customers get on these buses and disaster can strike.  This bill extending intercity bus drivers the same overtime protections that have covered 85 percent of American workers for decades is not only the right thing to do; it’s the safe thing to do for our riders.”

Could not the same be said for professional truck drivers?  Low wages, forcing drivers to work over the HOS and truck drivers should be extended the same overtime protection because it is the safe thing to do for truck drivers?

The U. S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division states that drivers can receive overtime pay under the “Safety Affecting Activities” if:

  • The employer is shown to have an involvement in interstate commerce,  and
  • The employee could, in the regular course of employment, reasonably have been expected to make an interstate journey or could have worked on the motor vehicle in such a way as to be safety-affecting.

I write about these discrepancies between the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Motor Carrier Exemption and the authority of the Secretary of Transportation in a previous post: Overtime pay for truck drivers

The FMCSA continues to try to fix a safety problem by adding regulations to an already, over-regulated industry, while ignoring the true problem.  The entire industry is set-up for a non-safety standard.  Professional drivers, whether they are bus drivers or OTR truckers, accept the pay-per-mile basis; they accept the lifestyle and responsibilities that come with long-haul driving. 

However, as long as motor carriers are allowed to push their drivers beyond the hours of service rule;  as long as shippers and receivers are allowed to force drivers to sit for hours on end at the docks; as long as there is no true CDL training standards set for the industry; and most importantly, as long as drivers are forced to work 70 hour workweeks without receiving overtime pay for any time over forty hours . . . drivers will continue to run as hard and long as possible in order to earn as much of a paycheck as possible to pay their bills and support their families.

You can let them know what you think about Bill S.1977, by sharing your comment on the WashingtonWatch website.  If over-the-road bus drivers can be considered for exemption from the overtime provision, then over-the-road truck drivers should be included as well.



© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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New Trucking Hours of Service Rule Take Effect July 1, 2013

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FMCSAThe FMCSA issued their final ruling for the new hours of service rules which largely will take effect on July 1, 2013.  There are some provisions, such as changes in the definitions of egregious violations and on-duty time, which will take effect on February 27, 2012.

The current 11 hour driving rule will remain in place, while a driver’s work week within a seven-day period will be limited to 70 hours.  Furthermore, the driver will not be able to drive the CMV after working eight hours until a rest break of at least 30 minutes has been taken. Drivers will be able to take the 30 minute break anytime during the eight hour period.

The biggest change in the HOS rules will concern the 34 hour restart provision.  Professional truck drivers who maximize their 70 hour work week will be required to take at least two rest periods between the hours of 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. home terminal time. 

Furthermore, the final rule will allow drivers to use the 34 hour restart provision only once during a  seven day period.

The new rule is currently available on the FMCSA’s website for the HOS Final Rule.

© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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AireDock Introduces Truckers to their new Electrification Facilties

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AireDock Anti-Idling Units for Truck Stop Electrification (TSE)

AireDock Anti-Idling Units for Truck Stop Electrification (TSE)

On Monday, November 27 through November 30, 2011" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" >AireDock representatives converged on the North 40 Truck Stop located in Holliday, Tennessee to introduce truck drivers to the new AireDock electrification facilities that have been recently installed. As part of a grant from Tennessee DOT, AireDock installed 30 anti-idling units situated around the perimeter of the truck stop.

AireDock representatives manned a booth located inside of the truck stop and intercepted drivers as they entered the facilities. Many of the drivers expressed their interest in this new-state-of-the-art equipment and felt that it should be installed at more locations throughout the Nation. AireDock responded by stating that was the long term intent.

The purpose of meeting with drivers, during this period, was to introduce them to the technology. Representatives described that the AireDock System is the only technology that uses fresh air only and it is never recycled. In addition, the window unit is universal meaning that it fits any truck easily and no additional equipment is required nor are any additional personnel needed to assist.

Free night stays were offered and accepted. A trucker survey was also conducted as part of the grand opening and the results were very promising: AireDock equipment met the needs of the majority of drivers across all age brackets. All of the drivers indicated that they drove in excess of 86,000 miles per year and there was a balance between independent operators and private fleet drivers. Many of the drivers indicated that they use cellular phones, smartphones and laptop or notepad computers. The drivers that participated in the survey indicated two major reasons why, at this point, they would not use Truck Stop Electrification: (1) their company will not pay for it; and (2) it is not at all of the truck stops they visit.

AireDock’s commitment in the upcoming New Year is to work on turning around those negatives by working with fleet operators to inform them of the benefits of comfort and health for their drivers and environmental or “Green” credits that can be gained by using AireDock TSE. The second goal of AireDock is to spread the word throughout the trucker environment and Interstate Highway Public Sector interests to support TSE and construct more facilities in the United States.

More About AireDock:

Mission: To provide a healthier and more eco-friendly alternative to idling trucks.

AireDock Anti-Idling Units for Truck Stop Electrification (TSE)

Craufurd Manufacturing LLC, the owner of AireDock® was formed in 2006 specifically to develop and manufacture a totally new form of Truck Stop Electrification Equipment. The result after some 3 years of development was the AireDock Unit; the only stand-alone, surface mounted, self-service system that provides thermostatically-controlled, filtered fresh air, HVAC, internal/external electrification (TSE) and internet access directly to the drivers cab.

AireDock sales crew plus Andy Warcaba from Warcaba & Associates

Roger Southall( AIreDock) Andy warcaba( Warcaba Associates) Patrick Gwyther(AireDock)

Some of the sites that have Aire Dock Units are:
Prudhoe Bay, AK — Lynden Transportation
– OKAHUMPKA REST AREA – Florida Turnpike, Mile Marker 299
– CANOE CREEK REST AREA – Florida Turnpike, Mile Marker 229

-Holladay, TN 38341 NORTH I 40, 15060 Highway 641 S

– INDIAN MEADOWS REST AREA, Ohio Turnpike I-90, Mile Post 20.8
– Alvarado, Texas ALVARADO SHELL, I-35, Exit 24, 1203 South Parkway Drive
— Willow Park, TX Signature Travel Mart 3910 E Interstate 20 Service Road

© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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Truckers’ Presence Being Felt by FMCSA

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Fred Schaffner EOBR Comments to MCSAC subcommittee 12-5-11
Click to listen to these powerful Comments

The American Driver

On Monday December 5, 2011 Fred Schaffner addressed the FMCSA advisory commitee, MCSAC, regarding EOBRS.

Fred has been a friend, colleague, and driver advocate, and attended the 2011 Truck Driver Convention where he addressed the supporting panel at the convention regarding the the rule-making process and the need for drivers to get involved.

Fred is no stranger to the legal system as he and brother Michael fought to change the 2 hour parking rule in Virginia and WON. Many of you remember the radio show we did on Truth About Trucking “Live” with special guest Jeffrey Caldwell, chief of communications of the VDOT, along with Fred and Michael Schaffner, discussing this 2 hour ordinance.

This past Monday, Schaffner stood up, and very eloquently made a  powerful statement to the FMCSA advisory committee, stating that to advise on a rule that has been vacated by the courts could be contemptuous and that it needed to go back to the regulatory committee

As Richard Wilson stated ( Regulatory speaker from Trans Products) during the panel discussion at the Truck Driver Convention….there 13 million truck drivers, how powerful would it be if everyone got involved!!

Fred’s statement touched on another major controversial issue in his comment to the MCSAC committee — harassment — and stated EOBR’s create aggressive driving … not safety.

Fred will be attending all of the public committee meetings of the FMCSA and will be one of our guest speakers at the 2012- 2nd Annual Truck Driver Convention in October.

Hopefully, more of us will be able to attend these meetings, even if it means taking time off from work to do so.

© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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Co-Founder of Truckers Against Trafficking Discusses Book: “My Life Crazy”

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My Life Crazy

My Life Crazy

Kylla Leeburg, co-founder of the Truckers Against Trafficking organization returns as our guest on Blog Talk Radio’s, Truth About Trucking “LIVE” on Thursday, December 8th, 2011 at 7 PM EST, to discuss her book, “My Life Crazy.”

The book details her two year missionary work in El Salvador, working and living among the two most powerful and dangerous gangs in the region: the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13 gang) and their rival, the Dieciocho (the 18th street gang). 

With the Mara Salvatrucha known as the most dangerous gang in America, Kylla was able to befriend both rival gangs, forming a friendship between herself and their very different cultures and lifestyles. 

Actually living amongst the poverty and violence, her friends consisted of gang members who carried names such as:  “Psycho”, “Snake”, “Ghost” and “Killer”, as well as the amazing bond she formed among those known as the “gluesniffers.”

Living inside the world of the violent Salvadoran gangs, she helplessly witnessed beatings and stabbings, while “learning” of planned killings and always on the edge for her own safety:

“You better be careful what you do.  You can’t be on both sides. Something can happen to you.”  He released my arm, and as he walked away, he shouted over his shoulder, “Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.”

Kylla Leeburg

Kylla Leeburg

A great way to spend your 34 hour break, it’s a great read.  Join us live on the air, Thursday, December 8th, 2011 — 7 PM EST for our show:  Kylla Leeburg on “My Life Crazy” and how her own personal convictions and experiences led to her co-founding of Truckers Against Trafficking.

© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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FMCSA Truck Crash Fatality Statistics Lack Serious Data

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Anne Ferro, Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, released information during her testimony on the pending truck driver hours of service (HOS) reforms before a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Wednesday, November 30th, 2011.

As part of the press release by the Truck Safety Coalition (TSA), Ms. Ferro revealed that initial 2010 data on fatal truck crashes indicate truck crash fatalities have increased to nearly 4,000 people.  In 2009, 3,380 people were killed in truck crashes and 74,000 others were injured.

Supposedly, this data supports the position of safety groups, families of truck crash victims and labor groups who have been urging the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Obama Administration to issue a safer truck driver HOS rule to reduce driver fatigue.

What these statistics fail to reveal however, is the FAULT of these fatal crashes.  The statistics did not include who caused the fatal accidents:  the CMV driver or the non-CMV driver?

For accurate statistical purposes, this is a crucial piece of data that the FMCSA must include.

What are the true accident statistics?

  • Estimates of 41,000 to 45,000 traffic deaths occur every year within the U.S.
  • Fewer than 9% of those deaths involve commercial vehicles.
  •  More than 80% of those accidents are the fault of the non-commercial driver.
  • Of those death related accidents, only 4% of trucks are fatigue related.

What is the cause of the truck accidents?

  • More than 75% of truck driving accidents are due to the driver of the passenger vehicle.
  • Only 16% of all truck driving accidents are due to the truck driver’s fault.

According to the FMCSA, truck driver fatigue was a factor in just 1.4% of all fatal truck accidents last year.  Another fact that has not been included in Ms. Ferro’s announcement, is how many of those fatal truck crashes were the fault of the rising “automobile distracted driver” statistics?

Truck driver fatigue is being correlated with the need for changing the current HOS, yet the FMCSA has ranked truck driver fatigue low on its list of causes for fatal truck accidents. The agency placed fatigued driving at number seven on the list.

Statistics should also include other concerns regarding fatal crashes involving trucks, such as:  how many commercial drivers had less than one year of driving experience?

For years, many of us have questioned the adequacy of CDL training, including continual training after CDL school graduation.  Since there are no statistics for fatal crashes involving drivers with less than one year of driving experience, it is difficult to create an accurate description for adequate CDL training concerns.  The motor carriers may or may not keep this information, and if this statistical information is being maintained, nobody is sharing it.

We understand and empathize with Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.), statement:

“I am deeply saddened that more families have suffered the loss of loved ones in truck crashes last year.  I urge policy-makers to take heed of this new data and move forward on truck safety improvements including a revised, safer Hours of Service rule.  The trucking industry’s greed, evidenced by their manipulation of data, should not come before the safety of everyone on the roads.”

We understand her safety concerns, however, we believe that these safety groups should take a closer look at the data in its entirety which has not been included in the press release.  If they would, perhaps they would understand major concerns that should be addressed and investigated.  Furthermore, these non-commerical driver “safety advocates” have no understanding that our professional truck drivers are themselves, targets of “industry greed” as well.

By only focusing on truck drivers, fatigue and HOS, they are totally ignoring areas of safety that should indeed be seriously confronted.  The data has been manipulated by the omission of relevant facts and figures that have created a vague and biased picture.

Many people are opposed to the current HOS ruling, such as The TSC (Truck Safety Coalition) and have joined with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and other safety groups to urge the DOT to issue a safer truck driver HOS rule to reduce driver fatigue.  What they all have failed to realize is that driver fatigue is created by aspects other than the present HOS rules:

  • Lack of adequate truck parking.
  • Dispatchers pushing drivers to driver when they say they are either ill or tired.
  • Shippers and receivers holding drivers up at the docks for hours, cutting into their rest time.
  • Dispatch waking drivers up via qualcomm etc., to ask questions, failing to respect and abide by the HOS regulations.
  • Retaliation tactics from carrier if the drivers states he or she is too fatigued to drive (a topic that Paul Taylor of the Truckers Justice Center discussed at the 1st Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention.)

Unless the above concerns are addressed, professional truck drivers will continue to face added work-load pressure to complete their scheduled pickups and deliveries and fatal crashes could increase.

Public-health investigators, The Journal of Public Health Policy investigators, felt that a reduction of the economic pressure on the professional trucker would more effectively reduce the driver’s incentive to drive past the point of fatigue.

Quotes from article:  Driver Fatigue In Truck Drivers

  • “If drivers are accurate in their reports, carriers and shippers are contributing to the problem by assigning unrealistic pick-up and delivery deadlines and penalizing drivers for late arrivals, the investigators wrote. Changes in the hours-of service regulations to put more burden on the carrier and the shipper should be made… Carriers and shippers must go beyond merely having a policy against violating hours-of service rules; they must take effective action to prevent violations when giving driving assignments, to monitor the logbooks to detect violations, and to discipline drivers who do break the rules…Effective actions are urgently needed to protect the public from the risk posed by the many tractor-trailer drivers who spend illegally long hours at work and behind the wheel. These actions must be directed toward the carriers and shippers, who set schedules that cannot be met even under current regulations, as well as the drivers themselves.”
  • “In the last several years, some safety advocates have called for new regulations requiring the use of monitoring devices to track sleep periods. These devices have merit, but only if and when their costs can be substantially lowered. The problem of fatigue will only be effectively solved when unfair shipper pressure is sharply reduced.
  • “Recently, a new factor has arisen to exacerbate the driver-fatigue problem. In many parts of the country, local and county officials have rejected requests by truckstop owners and developers to open additional rest-stop facilities where long-distance truckers can sleep, eat, shower, shop, make phone calls, and have their vehicles serviced. Lack of safe, comfortable and reasonably priced rest stops makes truck driving unnecessarily difficult and increases the likelihood that a driver will push himself past the fatigue point in an effort to find a place to pull off the road and sleep.”

 From article:  Truck driver hours of service regulations: the collision of policy and public health:

“The article supports the position that although federal government regulators attempt to promulgate regulations based on current circadian science, the regulations are ineffective as stand-alone measures. Labor policies and practices must foster a work environment that facilitates sleep and safe driving performance.”

In other words, regulations alone are not the “fix all” when resolving  fatal truck accidents, nor is truck driver fatigue the only culprit.

There are many variables that the FMCSA is not looking at, nor including in their “studies” and unfortunately, if these variables are not considered, highway safety can actually be compromised and worsen.

Problems we see:

1) The safety advocacy groups are not researching the entire problem. Their tunnel vision of changing HOS as a solution to reduce fatal truck accidents, and then only focusing on truck driver fatigue as the ONLY cause of those accidents, has not allowed them to look at the entire picture of the true causes of fatal accidents involving big trucks.  If they would research more, they would be investigating ALL the reasons and causes of fatal truck accidents, not just truck driver fatigue.  In doing so, they would most likely be advocates for truck drivers rather than opponents.

2) The FMCSA must also look at the entire picture of fatal truck crashes, the true statistics,  including those non-CMV drivers at fault.  Their recent announcement, correlating truck driver fatigue to a need of new rulemaking for hours of service, has too many unanswered gray areas and contradictions that need to be confronted.

Education of non-cmv license holders, such as Share the Road on FaceBook, created by Kari Fisher to create awareness and teach drivers how to drive around large trucks is a must, especially since 80% of fatal truck crashes are the fault of the non-commercial driver.

3) The need for more statistics on drivers involved in fatal truck crashes, which would include a very serious look at the lack of CDL training standards in this country, by measuring fatal truck crashes involving drivers with less than one year experience.  Simply put: create CDL training industry standards.

4) Truck Driver Salary- What would you rather do?  Work 40 hours for your present paycheck or 70 hours?  The answer is obvious, but unfortunately for drivers it is not a choice.  They only get paid when the “wheels are rolling” and when events occur which interfere with their miles ( weather, traffic, mechanical breakdown, being ill, shippers and receivers holding them up at docks etc.,)  they have a reduced paycheck.  Perhaps we should be taking a closer look at the Fair Labor Act which exempts truck drivers from receiving fair pay.

To provide a direct response to the FMCSA, the U.S. trucking industry and the safety groups involved,  I will tell you that this industry can not have professional skilled drivers who are well rested as long as they are having to fight to earn a living because of over-regulation and current industry conduct.

Related Post:  FMCSA Hours of Service Listening Session Review

© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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Truck Driver Convention Sparks Drivers to Attend FMCSA-MCSAC Meetings Dec 5-8th

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Fred Schaffner

Fred Schaffner

A major goal of the 2011 Truck Driver Convention this past October, was to allow voices to be heard in order to create public awareness regarding the concerns of the professional truck driver. Another goal was to inform those within the industry about the regulations, demonstrating how to use the appropriate processes in order to declare and state their opinions to the DOT/FMCSA.

Richard Wilson of Transport Products and Services, the convention regulatory speaker, explained in a very detailed and powerful presentation, how to properly proceed in addressing FMCSA proposals and rulemakings.

Fred Schaffner, a former veteran OTR driver and owner operator who has been active in addressing many driver issues over the years, also played an important part at the First Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention, as he sparked interest and concern from drivers, to be more active and participate in the meetings that are held by the DOT/FMCSA.

Last month, Fred attended his first FMCSA meeting after the convention, on October 22nd-27th as the FMCSA’s MCSAC subcommittee discussed the technical specifications related to wireless communications protocols. [Docket No. FMCSA–2006–26367]

This month, December, 5th-8th, Fred Schaffner, along with his brother Michael “JB” and other drivers, will be attending in Alexandria, Virginia, as the FMCSA  Federal Motor Carrier Advisory Committee holds a joint meeting with the Medical Review Board. (Docket Number FMCSA-2006-26367)

The meeting will be held at the following location:

Hilton Alexandria Old Town
1767 King Street
Alexandria, Virginia  22314
Phone: 703-837-0440

All meetings will be held in the Washington and Jefferson Rooms on the 2nd Floor.

Subjects to be discussed:
Dec 5th and 6th

  • Presentation of EOBR Implementation Subcommittee Draft Report and Technical Workgroup Recommendations on Task 11-04 to the MCSAC.
  • Preparation of Report on Task 11-04
  • Task 11-05, Development of Regulatory Guidance on Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
  • Task 11-06, Hours-of-Service Requirements for Passenger-Carrying Vehicles
  • EOBR regulation, 49 CFR § 395.16
  • And the Medical Review Board Joint Meeting Agenda
    Dec 7th

    • Task 11-05, Development of Regulatory Guidance on Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
    • Obstructive Sleep Apnea and CMV Driver Safety:  The Evidence
    • Addressing Obstructive Sleep Apnea in CMV Drivers
    • Screening for Obstructive Sleep Apnea in CMV Drivers
    • The Cardinal Manifestations of Sleep Disorders

    Introductory Remarks on Task 11-06, Hours-of-Service Requirements for Passenger-Carrying Vehicles
    Dec 8th

    Motorcoach Driver Research
    Establishment of Subcommittee on Task 11-06
    Public Comment Period

NOTE:  MCSAC Task 11-04: Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBR) Communications Protocols, Security, Interfaces, and Display of Hours-of-Service Data During Driver/Vehicle Inspections and Safety Investigations.

Oral comments from the public will be heard during the last hour of the meetings on Monday-Wednesday, and during the last 15 minutes of the meeting on Thursday.  Members of the public may submit written comments on the topics to be considered during the meeting by Wednesday, November 30th, 2011, to Federal Docket Management System (FDMC) Docket Number FMCSA-2006-26367 using any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to  Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Fax: 202-493-2251.
  • Mail: Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590.
  • Hand Delivery: U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W12-140, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., E.T. Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

The meetings begin promptly at 8 AM and we urge all those who would like to attend these meeting to arrive early.  Also note that truck parking is limited at nearby facilities.

For those who have sent or who are sending in written comments to the Portal, the committee does not read these comments at the meetings, rather they “take them into consideration.”

If you have a comment to make and cannot attend, please send your comments to Fred Schaffner  at .  We also urge you to send your comment to the Portal.

© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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