1. Unified Registration System (URS) Online Carrier Portal Delayed
The URS, an electronic portal system that will eliminate paper forms in the registration and record keeping process for all carriers, brokers, freight forwarders, and other transportation providers, has had its implementation date delayed.
The URS was originally scheduled to be implemented on September 30, 2016, but due to the FMCSA updating its servers and moving existing data to new servers, the official implementation date has been moved to January 14, 2017.
The first phase of the URS rollout went into effect in December 2015, which required all new carrier applicants to register on the new online portal. The second phase of the process is the one that’s been pushed back for existing carriers. Existing carriers are expected to do their biannual updates, name changes, and transfers of authority using the URS starting in January 2017.
2. Hours of Service Exemptions
The FMCSA recently published a final rule that includes a list of those drivers that will be exempt from the most recent hours of service (HOS) mandates. These same exemptions were mentioned in the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), but were only made official on July 22, 2016.
The exemptions include the following:
- Operators of pick-up style trucks, owned by a welder and equipped with a welding rig that is used in the construction or maintenance of pipelines, will be exempted for requirements relating to registration as a motor carrier, CMV maintenance requirements, and CMV hours of service requirements.
- Drivers of ready-mixed concrete trucks will be allowed to use time spent waiting with the vehicle at the job site or terminal to meet the FMCSA requirement for a 30-minute rest break (provided the driver does not perform any other work during the time spent waiting).
- Drivers of ready-mixed concrete delivery trucks may be exempted from keeping records of duty status under certain circumstances.
- Drivers of agricultural commercial motor vehicles will be exempted from the 30-minute rest break requirement provided they are transporting either livestock or bees in the vehicle as part of interstate commerce.
3. Fuel Prices Dropping
Both diesel and gasoline prices are on a downward trend, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA also pointed out that there has been an increase in natural gas use as primary energy source.
This summer, gas prices are the cheapest they’ve been since 2004. It seems that the reason for this is that there is actually an oversupply of gasoline barrels. In fact, there is said to be 241 million barrels of gas in the U.S. These numbers are typical during the dead of winter, when people aren’t driving as much, but it is unusual to have such a stockpile during the summer.
The current average gas price in the U.S. is sitting at $2.18, compared to $2.75 last summer. So, bottom line, go ahead and take that cross-country road trip this summer you’ve been putting off. Prices are expected to continue dropping for the remainder of summer and the foreseeable future.
Diesel is in good shape, too. The national average price dropped by 2.3 cents this week, landing at $2.38 per gallon, and diesel has fallen 3.5 cents per gallon overall during the last three weeks. The current average price is 34.4 cents per gallon cheaper than it was during this week in 2015.
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