LP Gas

Hours-of-service changes on table

Carriers would have to develop a system to verify compliance with hours-of-service regulations, under a federal plan. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed a “self-monitoring system,” which carriers could keep electronically or on paper.

FMCSA wants carriers to maintain an inspection, verification and maintenance system to verify the accuracy of the times and locations of each driver for every working day on each trip, as well as mileage for each trip.

The agency says electronic-based record-keeping methods is preferred over traditional paper records. It proposes to allow carriers to use electric, laser, global positioning systems, automatic vehicle identifier transponders or other technology.


Charles Pekow

Carriers would have to develop self-monitoring systems to provide either paper or electronic verifiable records to document drivers’ mileage, locations and times they were at them. (Current rules require drivers only log their mileage; the change would require them to monitor and verify hours of service and records of duty status.)

Carriers would have to monitor and verify time on duty, driving, sleeper berth, off duty, times reporting and released from work each day, as well as number of hours worked. They can verify records through odometer readings, dispatch records, bills of lading, call-in records, shipping and receiving invoices, toll receipts or automatic vehicle identifier transponder records.

FMCSA would allow carriers to transfer paper documents to electronic or laser systems, including ones that require signatures, as long as they can be printed and made available at the carriers’ businesses within two business days. They’d have to keep records at least six months at locations of their choice. FMCSA reserves the right to release a carrier from document-keeping requirements if it finds compliance.

Carriers who seek relief could apply for “exemptions” rather than “waivers,” as law limits waivers to three months.

FMCSA also points out that under existing rules, “each motor carrier has the duty…to verify the accuracy of drivers’ hours of service and records of duty status,” including those of independent drivers and owner-operators. The new proposal incorporates and supercedes previous proposals of 1999 and 2000.

The proposal also would clarify definitions of “supporting documents,” “employee,” etc. The term “independent contractor,” for instance, would include owner-operators. If you want more details, check the Nov. 3 Federal Register. FMCSA is taking comments until Jan. 3.

Also, see http://dms.dot.gov. It also seeks suggestions on ways to help develop electronic record systems.

Briefly Speaking

Notes from Capitol Hill

The Research & Special Programs Administration proposed rules governing direct assessment of pipelines to evaluate risks. Check the Oct. 21 Federal Register.

The average residential propane price per gallon increased 36.2 cents to 168.7 cents at the end of October from a year earlier. Wholesale prices went up from 63.9 cents per gallon to 100.8 cents, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy issued new final rules for efficiency standards for various commercial and industrial appliances and the procedures to test them.

Revisions cover water heaters, hot water supply boilers, unfired hot water storage tanks, commercial packaged boilers, warm air furnaces, air control systems, water heating equipment and heat pumps. For details, see the Oct. 21 Federal Register.

FMCSA has proposed amending its motor carrier safety and hazmat rules. The changes only affect enforcement procedures, public awareness and technicalities. For details, see the Oct. 20 Federal Register.

Propane-powered vehicles will no longer need to come with a label indicating their emissions information.

The Federal Trade Commission has instead decided they will only have to refer buyers to the Environmental Protection Agency’s green vehicle guide Web site. The change is effective as of March 31, 2005.

The Research & Special Programs Administration proposed rules governing direct assessment of pipelines to evaluate risks. Check the Oct. 21 Federal Register.

The average residential propane price per gallon increased 36.2 cents to 168.7 cents at the end of October from a year earlier. Wholesale prices went up from 63.9 cents per gallon to 100.8 cents, according to the Energy Information Administration.