June Transportation News Update

CDL Skills Test Waived for Vets

U.S. Veterans who are interested in transitioning to a civilian commercial driving job now have a little more flexibility to do so without taking the CDL skills test. The FMCSA recently announced that military vets who drove commercial vehicles while they served will now have up to a year after their release from the military to get their CDLs without needing to take the skills test.

Essentially, this means that the transition from military to civilian life could be a bit easier for those looking to get into trucking and other driving jobs. This waiver period before the recent update was only 90 days. The FMCSA realized this was just too short of a period for a vet to reasonably get their affairs in order as well as take care of their license when getting back on home turf.

DOT’s Driver Detention Efforts in Collection Phase

The issue of detention time at shippers and receivers for truckers is under investigation by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Since the hours of service (HOS) regulations are in full effect, the DOT is also taking into consideration what role loading and unloading has on the times drivers are on the roadways in conjunction with their regulated hours of service.

The DOT is now collecting data on the delays at loading and unloading docks to then relate the possible effects it has on drivers and their burden to comply with the hours of service regulations. A concern the DOT wishes to explore is the possibility of drivers rushing to get to their appointment times after being delayed at a dock and the accidents and injuries that may follow.  

The data collected in this study will be used to adjust or create new regulations to allow for the safety of not only drivers to be taken into consideration, but also those they share the roadways with. One possible outcome could be mandatory detention pay for those drivers delayed at a shipper or receiver.

New Panama Canal Opens

If you didn’t already know, there has been an ongoing project to expand the Panama Canal. This project was expected to be finished in 2014 for the Canal’s 100th anniversary, but due to a more complex construction schedule and other setbacks, it just didn’t happen.

However, the Canal reopened on June 26 after nine years of construction. The new canal allows for ships up to 12,000 feet long and 160 feet wide to pass, versus the original 965 feet long and 106 feet.

It’s been forecasted that this new capacity in Panama may lead to changes in U.S. freight patterns, specifically, shipping containers moving from West Coast ports to East Coast ports. Meaning, shipments on the rail and long-haul trucking volume may diminish, but there may be more activity on the U.S.’s East Coast.