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Short Takes

HOS primer
Eleven hours maximum daily driving (up from the current 10 hours); 14 hours maximum daily working (down from current 15 hours); 10 hours minimum daily off-duty time (up from current eight hours); two duty cycles of either 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days; a split-rest sleeper berth provision for single drivers, enabling one split per day provided that neither rest period is less than two hours; and a newly introduced reset provision enabling a driver to start a new cycle after taking 34 consecutive hours off-duty.

Just checking
Transportation Security Administration is now checking state and federal records on the nation’s 3.5 million truckers who haul hazardous goods. Those convicted of possession of a controlled substance within the past seven years can no longer drive. The same goes for anyone judged mentally incompetent and illegal immigrants. Those who lose their hazmat endorsement, though, may keep their CDL via an appeal to obtain waivers. Every driver eventually must submit a fingerprint.

Horses inside car wash trigger warning
If you’re hauling horses in Nebraska and want to wash them, don’t use a car wash. Jess Yager took his four horses to a car wash in North Platte, NE, recently but was told by animal control officer John Pettit the practice is illegal. The officer issued a warning.

The Superflushway hoax
At first, it seemed a good alternative for truckers tired of paying high Internet connection fees at truckstops. Supposedly, Microsoft in Great Britain would produce the iLoo, a standard portable toilet with a wireless keyboard and adjustable plasma screen in front of the seat. The system was said to include a hotmail station and a waterproof keyboard — as an added attraction, toilet paper with Web addresses were to be offered, too. Turned out to be either a hoax or April Fool’s Day joke by Microsoft’s Pythonesque offices across the pond — reportedly, Microsoft’s U.S. offices were not amused. Prediction: Reaction to the announcement was so immediate the company will actually decide to build the units. They’ll open an assembly plant in Flushing, NY.

Euphemism of the month — “congestion pricing” 
Some call it taxation, but the General Accounting Office likes the term congestion pricing — or, charging users a toll, fee or surcharge for driving on roads during peak periods of travel. GAO appears to like the concept, advocating pilot programs while adding, “fairness concerns could be mitigated depending on how the revenues that are generated are used.”

How to stop a truck
A California legislative committee wants to revive a goofy idea: allowing police to stop a truck by various means, including bumping the truck’s bumper to activate the air brakes. The CHP’s Stan Perez, deputy chief of enforcement services, told a group in Las Vegas last summer the department was only experimenting with the devices. The Legislature intends to go the next step. For more information, see Legislative Watch and page 88.

Gizmo security
The U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indication Technology system will begin using fingerprints or iris scans so known individuals can cross U.S. borders, but illegal visitors can’t. Meanwhile, security czar Tom Ridge said last month he liked truck radiation detectors and container gamma ray scans. Ridge said portable devices that could scan for biological, chemical and radiological hazards, as well as explosives and guns, would get prompt federal attention.

Explosive issue
The Safe Explosives Act signed into law May 24 may dampen July Fourth displays, as background checks on about 20,000 people who transport and handle explosives ranging from dynamite to fireworks are required. The list now includes illegal immigrants, people dishonorably discharged from the military and those who have renounced their citizenship. Some trucking and rail companies say they’ll refuse to move explosives because their drivers could be prosecuted if they have not undergone a background check.

DoD moves on movers
The Department of Defense wants to tighten household storage transport and storage rules. DoD spends about $1.7 billion each year on this, a GAO study said, which also noted commercial moving sector inefficiencies. To help, DoD would use performance-based contracts to improve “the generally low quality of service that DoD currently gets from the moving industry,” the report said. It would also use technology to monitor shipments and track the number and cost of shipments processed each year.

by Dick Larsen, senior editor Dick Larsen can be reached at