Preparation: The Key to Managing Government Regulation With Speed
Commercial trucking is the backbone of the economy. Between 1980 and 2009, the number of trucks on America’s highways nearly doubled, from 5.8 to 10.9 million, making up a growing proportion of overall traffic.
But along with most economic booms come new federal and state rules and regulations. They encompass a wide variety of subjects: safety, homeland security, labor, environment, energy issues, hours of service, border crossings, hazardous materials, and speed limits.
Preparing To Get Across The Border
Crossing the border into Canada was once easy as pie – display your driver’s license and shipping documents and you were most likely good to go. Not anymore. Security has tightened on both sides of the border since the events of 9/11, strongly impacting the trucking industry.
About 20% of vehicles are shuttled over to a Secondary Inspection area where drivers will most likely be directed to an examination or X-ray dock.
Having all paperwork processed and ready can ensure drivers clear customs quickly. To pass through Primary Inspection in a timely manner, a trucker needs to have his/her personal identification, such as driver’s license and passport, up to date and ready for presentation. Fumbling around inevitably leads to delays. Drivers should also turn on their interior cab lights and open drapes for easy inspection.
Taking advantage of the Pre-Arrival Processing System (PAPS) can also save time. PAPS, along with the Border Release and Selectivity System (BRASS), or the FAST-National Customs Automation Program (FAST-NCAP), can be used on overland port entries to Canada or the U.S.
The carrier faxes the required information on a PAPS release form to a customs broker. Then when the truck arrives at the Primary Inspection point, all the officer has to do is call up the trip information and truck & cargo can be released immediately.
2. Documenting Shipments of Hazardous Materials
Transporting hazardous materials such as hot asphalt is a dangerous task and must be carried out only by drivers who are properly qualified and trained.
The United States and Canada have a hazardous materials transportation agreement whereby, as long as the shipment is in compliance with the originating country’s regulations, it will be accepted.
Shipping documents must be prepared in advance. The driver must state the name of the place of business of the consignor or importer and the classification of the cargo. The documents must also include a telephone and reference number for the emergency response assistance plan, in case of need.
In addition, a label, placard or a sign must be affixed to the truck to illustrate the nature of the danger posed by the substance within.
Getting – And Staying – Up To Speed
Freight carriers are under more pressure than ever to bring their businesses in line with new regulations. Everyone on the team – from owner, to director of operations, right on to the driver and mechanic – need to make an effort to understand and incorporate administrative requirements quickly and seamlessly into daily work. Only carriers who are able to learn new rules, adapt and comply will be able to thrive in an increasingly regulated economy.