Electronic prenotication to include truck manifests
Soon Canadian transborder carriers won’t just be worrying about whether their shippers have managed to supply US Customs with adequate and timely electronic prenotification on shipments.
They’ll also have to worry about providing adequate and timely electronic information about their own truck manifests.
US Customs recently announced testing will begin on electronic transmission of truck manifests Nov. 29, just weeks after electronic prenotification for transborder shipments becomes mandatory.
Participating trucking companies will transmit their manifests to US Customs via the Automated Commercial System, (ACE). Testing will start with select Canadian and US carriers at the Blaine, Wash., and Buffalo, NY, crossings. Subsequent testing will be conducted at Champlain, Detroit, Port Huron and southern US/Mexico ports on dates to be announced.
As far as time frames go, reporting of truck manifests will mirror that of shipment prenotification – one hour for non-FAST carriers and a half-hour for FAST carriers. (For LTL carriers that means all items must be reported at least one hour ahead of time if just one of them isn’t FAST approved. Items covered by the Bioterrorism Act – FDA items – will still have to be reported within the prescribed FDA imposed time frames.)
Information items to be reported on the manifest can number up to 70, depending on the kind of goods the carrier is hauling. At the very minimum, truck manifests must include the carrier identification number (assigned by CBP), the trip number, the transportation reference number for each shipment, the container numbers (and seal numbers for items coming in at the southern border), the place where the truck took possession of the shipment, its destination, the numbers and quantity of cargo on board (eg. 200 cartons on 10 pallets), the weight of the cargo, a detailed cargo description, etc.
For hazmat carriers there are a whole slew of other information items that must be provided. And for in-bond shipments there are still more. Also required is information regarding the equipment being used to transport the cargo, the identity of any and all passengers etc…
All of which leaves carriers wondering how they’re going to manage the correct and timely transmission of all this information.
US Congress extends HOS rules for one year
While the trucking industry, both north and south of the border, breathed a sigh of relief upon learning US Congress voted Sept. 30 to extend the current HOS rules for one year, there’s more trouble on the horizon.
The hours of service rules, implemented Jan. 4 of this year, were vacated July 16 by a federal court, after they were challenged by a lobby group calling itself Public Citizen. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit vacated the rule “in its entirety” stating that the government “neglected to consider a statutorily mandated factor of the impact of the rule on the health of drivers.” Other considerations were cited, yet alleged failure of the new HOS rules to address driver health issues was foremost among the court’s reasons for vacating them.
US Congress’ Sept. 30 bill pre-empted the court’s ruling on the stay, stating the new hours of service rules implemented in January will remain in effect until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) develops a new set of regulations governing hours of service, or Sept. 30, 2005, whichever comes first.
The decision was welcomed by carriers who have already spent millions in equipment and hours retraining drivers to comply with the new rules.
However, the FMCSA is now moving to address other criticisms made by the court. These criticisms included the FMCSA’s failure to address the issue of on-board recorders in the new hours of service rules. The agency has published its intent to investigate the possibility of a rule regarding the use of on-board recorders to enforce hours of service compliance.
The move came as a surprise to some industry insiders, who didn’t understand what on-board recorders for compliance purposes had to do with the court’s main criticism of the failure to address driver health issues.
In fact, the FMCSA had already dropped the idea of mandating the use of on-board recorders in 2000, when the industry objected to the devices because they violated driver privacy and weren’t yet technologically viable.
But times have changed, assert other industry insiders, to whom the FMCSA’s move came as no surprise.
Rick Schweitzer, general counsel and government affairs specialist for the National Private Motor Truck Council, said there has long been substantial pressure on the FMCSA to mandate the use of on-board recorders to replace written logbooks. As far back as 1990, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended the agency require “automatic/tamper-proof on-board recording devices.”