By on May 25, 2016

"Mad Max: Fury Road" Tank Truck

In a post-apocalyptic world, tank trucks are driven non-stop to quench an unending thirst for fuel. Those drivers pilot their big rigs day and night, running on little sleep, as they plow through a desolate wasteland.

Now change “post-apocalyptic world” to “Michigan” and you have this week’s dumb decision made by governor Rick Snyder.

Snyder, as a way to deal with a “state of energy emergency” in the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula caused by a pipeline shutdown, lifted driving time restrictions on heavy-duty truck drivers carrying gasoline and other transportation fuels.

Because nothing — nothing — can go wrong when you combine tired truck drivers and tons of flammable liquid.

By virtue of the power and authority vested in the Governor by the state of Michigan, Snyder issued Executive Order 2016-10 declaring a state of energy emergency in the state, which suspends driving time limits for truckers delivering gasoline to dried out gas stations.

The shortage is due to the shutdown of the West Shore pipeline in Wisconsin, which pumps gasoline to six terminals in Green Bay, reports the Detroit Free Press. It’s from those terminals that the Upper Peninsula receives most of its transportation fuel.

The problem is exacerbated by the Alberta wildfires and a Marathon Oil refinery shutdown limiting fuel supplies, said Snyder, and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time — immediately before the Memorial Day long weekend.

The executive order (which you can read here) suspends 49 CFR Part 395, which is a key safety law that regulates how much time truckers can consecutively drive and be on duty without rest.

49 CFR Part 395.3 states:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in § 395.1, no motor carrier shall permit or require any driver used by it to drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, nor shall any such driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver’s services, unless the driver complies with the following requirements:

(1) Start of work shift. A driver may not drive without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty;

(2) 14-hour period. A driver may drive only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. The driver may not drive after the end of the 14-consecutive-hour period without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.

(3) Driving time and rest breaks. (i) Driving time. A driver may drive a total of 11 hours during the 14-hour period specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section.

(ii) Rest breaks. Except for drivers who qualify for either of the short-haul exceptions in § 395.1(e)(1) or (2), driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes.

But, hey, at least you’ll make it to grandma’s house — so long as you make sure to give those tanker trucks a very, very wide berth.

The executive order will remain in place until the end of the day, June 6, 2016, unless it’s rescinded beforehand.

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69 Comments on “In Michigan, You May Want to Give That Gas Tanker Truck Some Extra Space...”


  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    This is stupid. Just bring in more trucks or drivers from other jurisdictions.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I think you’d be surprised how little fault tolerance is built into the petroleum supply infrastructure in most areas. We had that problem in the Atlanta area when Katrina shut down the Colonial pipeline. There isn’t any viable alternative to the Colonial for us, there aren’t enough trucks in the area to haul that much fuel even if there was spare capacity at terminals in neighboring areas. How tight is the supply? The pipeline shut down for a couple of days for maintenance a few weeks ago, and one of our local chains started seeing spot shortages, even though the outage was brief and was announced in advance.

      The oil companies have no motivation to build redundant supply lines, when there’s a shortage they can jack up prices enough to more than compensate for the reduced volume.

      • 0 avatar
        Joe Btfsplk

        All petroleum road transport companies pay HUGE insurance premiums on tankers. I would think that the insurers would step up as this leads to a much higher exposure level.

    • 0 avatar

      A late evening update:

      Rick Snyder went a little further with his decree this evening, adding more controversy to an already incendiary situation, when he also ordered all petroleum transport drivers with over ten hours of active drive time to play Little Feat’s song Willin’ on continuous loop at high volume with the windows down to stay alert.

      “And if you give me weed, whites, and wine, then you show me a sign, I’ll be willin’ to be movin’ ” could be heard throughout the capitol building as the Governor left the podium singing the iconic tune at the top of his lungs.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Rick Snyder is the “nerd governor” who ran highly successful companies such as Gateway Computer ( /s ), and he’s really sleep deprived himself because of a $80-saving-per-day-decision-to-not-treat-flint-water-against-less-leeching-

    • 0 avatar
      FOG

      Okay DW, the decision to not pay the additional fee was made by the Flint fools long before the state got involved. Flint was warned by many different organizations about what they were doing and they ignored it.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        That fateful decision was actually made be the Emergency Manager who was appointed by Governor Snyder, but whatevs.

        http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2016/03/emergency_management_failed_fl.html

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        For the record, despite not identifying with either of the equally useless “different” political parties (an illusion intentionally projected by the true elite who meet to beat who control both “different” parties, just look at the funding and sources of funding – same people/companies mostly), I don’t blame Snyder for Flint.

        Snyder’s pretty much a moderate governor who really had no way to know the EM would do such an idiotic and random thing.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      More people die or are seriously injured daily being swallowed while by Michigan’s potholes than all fatalities/injuries thus far as a result of Flint’s lead-tainted water.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “In a post-apocalyptic world, tank trucks are driven non-stop to quench an unending thirst for fuel. Those drivers pilot their big rigs day and night, running on little sleep, as they plow through a desolate wasteland.”

    I figured you were talking about present-day Detroit.

    • 0 avatar
      FOG

      DID, that is so funny and original! I am sure that up until now no one has ever tried to get a laugh out saying Detroit is a dump. You must have gone to some prestigious institute of higher learning. Oh, wait, it looks like you might be a Duke fan. Nevermind.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    The area is sparsely populated. The businesses that deliver oil across the upper peninsula are mom and pop shops with no margins. This regulation you cite is barely five years old.

    The governor made absolutely the right decision to bring short term relief to those people.

    The Yoopers survived before 2011 without this regulation. They will survive long past the death of most of the rest of America. They will be absolutely fine. They’re mostly Finns, anyway – descendants of a people whose motto is “Cut Him [The Invader] Down” who drink more than Americans or Germans – they know how to handle things not completely sober.

    Michigan is precariously positioned with only two pipelines. I wish they had enacted this sort of relief when we had our first taste of $4.50 a gallon well before the rest of the nation because the Wolverine pipeline burst back in the early Noughties.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    A Republican? Using an executive order? Oh my, I might have come down with the vapors…

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    What’s going on with the wildfires in Alberta, anyway? I read the excellent article in Maclean’s about the Fort MacMurray fire:

    http://www.macleans.ca/fort-mcmurray-fire-the-great-escape/

    but that was a couple of weeks ago. Are the fires still burning like they were? We don’t hear much about them down here in the US.

    • 0 avatar

      Fort Mac is fairly clear now, as far as I know, and oil workers are starting to go back to surrounding camps. But those camps have a lot of cleanup to do before oil production resumes again.

      It’s an absolute disaster up there.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Most of city itself didn’t get burned, but everything surrounding it did. The fires are still going, mostly off to the south and east.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Fire is still burning but is coming under control at least around Fort MacMurray. They don’t have it under control to the North. Last I checked it is over 522,000 hectares or 1.29 million acres. That is roughly the size of Delaware.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      dukeisduke,
      Here in Australia we live by the “El Nino and La Nina” weather pattern. This is the weather pattern that destroyed much of NE Alberta with the unusually hot weather.

      The latest El Nino weather pattern is transitioning to a La Nina according to our weather bureau. El Nino brings drought and hotter weather to Australia and Western Canada. La Nina I do know brings cooler and wetter conditions in Australia. I don’t know what impact it has on Western Canada. The current drought in India is caused by the El Nino.

      I do read about the impact of the Gulf Stream, but the one to watch is the El Nino and La Nina events to determine the longer term weather pattern pretty much around the globe.

      The last El Nino was supposed to be the strongest one recorded so far, hence the unusually warm and dry weather we have had in Australia and Western Canada. It just on winter here in Brisbane and we have had relatively consistent weather in the 80s. Now it just started to lower down into the high 70s.

      Apparently the up and coming La Nina event is supposed to be as strong as the El Nino we are leaving. The weather bureau is predicting massive flooding and a much wetter weather event than is normally associated with the La Nina.

      http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/el-nino-bows-out-after-driving-year-of-record-heat-as-la-nina-lurks-in-the-wings-20160524-gp2l21.html

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        BAFO – a climate expert was saying that El Nino was the cause but several fire experts stated that there has been a definite trend to earlier forest fire seasons and longer fire seasons. The fires are also larger and more frequent. Part of that is due to “managed” forests and past fire control efforts. We have older more mature timber combined with dryer weather.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I was not aware that STATE Governors can overrule part of the Code of FEDERAL Regulations (CFR) by simple fiat. Isn’t this the exact sort of thing these very same governors are always complaining Obama does?

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Indeed the pot calling the kettle black.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      You were not aware of it because it is unconstitutional; that pesky Supremacy Clause in Article VI provides that federal law trumps state law. Pretty funny, how this joker complains that Obama executive orders are unconstitutional, which is debatable at best, and then goes and issues one himself that clearly is.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Responding to my own comment to correct it: there is a specific provision of this federal law that allows a state executive to override it in case of emergency. Dumb idea, if you ask me, but what he’s doing turns out to be legal in this case, and my previous comment wrong.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    First glance, I thought the Norks had rolled out the latest No Dong.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If this order was intended to prevent people from freezing in their homes during winter, I’d understand.

    Are police, fire, and ambulance services at risk of not receiving gasoline?

    How will a few more man-hours of tanker truck driving over the next two weeks supposed to solve their problem?

    Great pic, by the way.

    • 0 avatar
      scottcom36

      In Maine the governor takes this step routinely during extremely cold weather so that everybody can get their oil deliveries. Snyder’s declaration is similarly short term. It’s no big deal, everything will be fine.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    C’mon mark, we were just talking about this yesterday, your better than this. I realize this site leans heavy to the left but you could at least be objective in the article, how do the people of Michigan feel? Why is your opinion and only yours the correct opinion?

    You can’t allow an area to go fuel dry just because some guy at the state house thinks truckers (in a business that’s been run this way for 100 years) suddenly can’t continue to work the hours they request because of some politicians belief that require a certain amount of sleep for these people.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “You can’t allow an area to go fuel dry just because some guy at the state house thinks…”

      It doesn’t matter what anyone at the state house thinks. This is federal law. It’s beyond Snyder’s constitutional powers to suspend it, and I hope the truckers don’t think federal authorities will pay any attention to his executive order.

      The rules are also in place for a very good reason: under-rested truckers have been amply proven to be a danger to motorists and pedestrians.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Ahh well if it’s federal laws then so be it, for some reason I thought I remembered it being a brewhaha a couple years ago about State laws changing in regard to hours.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Actually, it turns out that I was wrong and this particular federal law has a specific provision that allows state officials to override it in case of emergency. So what he’s doing is legal, although I’d hate to be him (or his attorney) if there’s a truck crash in the UP where driver fatigue is a factor.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Odd,where I live in Northern BC we don’t have to change laws when it gets cold and other than the occasional street person, I rarely ever hear of someone freezing to death.

      @Hummer -“truckers (in a business that’s been run this way for 100 years)”

      My dad was a trucker and as a kid I went to multiple funerals for truckers. They would push everything to the limit in attempt to make more money but as profits increased companies would just readjust rates. It was a vicious circle. off highway it was even worse.

      We are our own worst enemy.

      How about harping on people to be more self reliant?
      Isn’t that supposed to be one of the pillars of right-wing ideology?

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        If they need more fuel they need to find a way to get it there, maybe >14 hours is too much, but whether or not the answer is to allow truckers to work longer is right or wrong, at least an attempt is being made to help the situation. It’s not within the governments power to get the trucking companies to increase the number of drivers, however what the government can do (or can’t) is temporarily relax the law.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @HUmmer – the government can’t force companies to hire more drivers or bring in more trucks but they can get the National Guard involved or hire trucks themselves if it is an actual emergency.
          Fuel tax rebates for increased fuel delivery during tight times might be more effective than changing the law. At least some money would be getting back into the economy and safety standards are maintained.
          Ensuring adequate public transit is another option. Fuel delivery for heating is critical but it isn’t an emergency if you can’t drive your pickup to work every day.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Hummer,
      Leans to the Left??

      WTF?

      Do you know the difference between the Left and Right in political ideology?

      Or, do you think complete freedom is owning a V8 and a gun?

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Big Al, trying to reply to half of my posts with random crazy talk doesn’t really help either of us.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Hummer,
          It just seems the lens of life you view the world through has little to do with what actually occurs.

          If that’s how you are then so be it. Distorted and maligned it is.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I don’t give a damn about the rest of the world. If every culture had the same views and beliefs this would be one very boring world.

      • 0 avatar

        “Or, do you think complete freedom is owning a V8 and a gun?”

        Yes indeed! That’s a huge part of our American heritage and there’s not anything wrong with that at all.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, you could put truckers and other road users at risk of sleepy drivers … or, you know, let the free market do its thing and add more drivers as demanded by the need for fuel.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        If the current problem is due to a shortage caused by factors outside the trucking companies normal working conditions, then assuming the problem will be resolved – it defies logic to hire more workers.

        You don’t search out a new driver and only hire them for 3 or so weeks, for one it doesn’t make business sense. Finding someone willing to do that work with the correct certifications and filling out the large amount of paperwork for a couple weeks of work is a lot when existing employees could simply work an extra hour or two and fill needed demand.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Hummer,
          The there is a deficiency in the logistics model for the movement of fuel.

          The system must be safe and flexible enough to cater for these “3 week” anomalies, ie, storing fuel at one end or the other to make up for these “3 week” cycles.

          Investement is needed, just taking the cheapest option is not necessarily the best. Sometime it takes money for improvement, as it appears to be the case here.

          Systems and models must evolve, knee jerk reactions that you speak are just that, work arounds are developed which increases risk unnecessarily.

          • 0 avatar
            Toad

            A few points: a gasoline tanker trailer costs between $105,000 and $150,000; the tractor to pull it costs about $140,000. Pile on insurance, taxes, inspection requirements, etc.. In addition pulling fuel is a low margin business, especially in an area with a very low population like the Michigan upper peninsula. Also, the rig requires an experienced CDL driver with tanker and HAZMAT endorsements; the vast majority of those drivers already have a job.

            For those reasons nobody has extra capacity or personnel sitting around to deal with short term fuel shortages in out of the way places. It is similar to ice storms that hit the South: it just does not make sense to spend millions of dollars on snow and ice removal equipment (and staff training) that only gets used once every 10 years.

            Allowing drivers to add an hour or two to their workday may allow them to make a complete round trip to a fuel depot vs. being forced to sleep in their truck only an hour from home base. Trust me, most drivers would much rather sleep at home in their own bed than in the back of a truck.

            The author could have called somebody in the logistics business and found out what the impacts of this temporary rule change would (or would not) be and if it would help solve or create any problems. In short, will this rule change have any real world positive or negative effects?

            Instead the article read like a thinly veiled press release from the Teamsters or whoever is running for office against the current governor. There seem to be more of these news stories that inspire fear among low information voters that just happen to have a political slant.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        … or, there’s this:

        http://qz.com/656104/a-fleet-of-trucks-just-drove-themselves-across-europe/

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          You would still need someone to fill the tankers and then fill the tanks at the gas stations. Though it would be an opportune time for the self driving testers to put their work to the test.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Snyder’s just doing God’s work, wiping out those pesky regulations that are stifling the glory of the Free Market in the name of so-called “safety”. What kind of freedom-hating communist are you Stevenson?

  • avatar
    RS

    Nothing but good can come from this – because pipelines are all sorts of evil…

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    It’s not just laws and regulations that affect truckers. I do support any measures to reduce risk associated with driving on our roads, so long as the regulations to take into account the impact it has.

    Many regualtions and controls placed on us road users doesn’t make sense as the secondary implications are sometimes overlooked. These secondary implications can be causing traffic to slow down to much increasing traffic density, which in turn increased risk.

    We can’t be overly risk adverse when designing regulations. We are humans and we do screw up.

    What about other road users?

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-24/calder-freeway-reopens-after-fatal-truck-crash/7442554

  • avatar
    markf

    Typical nanny-stateism whiners. As if gas trucks were exploding left and right before these regulations were put in place. Now the world will end because some truckers doesn’t get a break mandated by some bureaucrat and has never set foot in a truck, good grief is there no depths Canadians will sink to in order to bash Republicans in America?

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @markf – I don’t see any mention of “Republicans” anywhere in Mark’s post.

      I have “set foot in a truck” and as I pointed out earlier;

      “My dad was a trucker and as a kid I went to multiple funerals for truckers. They would push everything to the limit in attempt to make more money but as profits increased companies would just readjust rates. It was a vicious circle. off highway it was even worse.”

      There is a reason for safety regulations. Fatigued drivers are more likely to crash. It is well documented the effects of extended work hours. There tends to be a jump in errors at the end of a 7-8 hour shift and after that it is exponential. You get into that 8-10th hour and it goes up again and 10-12th hours even worse.

      “As if gas trucks were exploding left and right before these regulations were put in place.”
      An empty tanker is more likely to explode than a full one. If a full tanker catches fire they eventually BLEVE. There are various risks associated will spills.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    @markF – it took me all of three minutes to find this abstract.

    Occupational and Environmental Medicine

    Occup Environ Med 2005;62:588-597 doi:10.1136/oem.2004.016667
    Original article

    The impact of overtime and long work hours on occupational injuries and illnesses: new evidence from the United States

    A E Dembe1,
    J B Erickson2,
    R G Delbos2,
    S M Banks1

    +
    Author Affiliations
    1University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA
    2Environ Health Sciences Institute, USA

    Correspondence to:
 Associate Professor A Dembe
 Center for Health Policy & Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 222 Maple Avenue, Higgins Building, Shrewsbury, MA 01545, USA; [email protected]
    Accepted 8 March 2005

    Abstract

    Aims: To analyse the impact of overtime and extended working hours on the risk of occupational injuries and illnesses among a nationally representative sample of working adults from the United States.

    Methods: Responses from 10 793 Americans participating in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) were used to evaluate workers’ job histories, work schedules, and occurrence of occupational injury and illness between 1987 and 2000. A total of 110 236 job records were analysed, encompassing 89 729 person-years of accumulated working time. Aggregated incidence rates in each of five exposure categories were calculated for each NLSY survey period. Multivariate analytical techniques were used to estimate the relative risk of long working hours per day, extended hours per week, long commute times, and overtime schedules on reporting a work related injury or illness, after adjusting for age, gender, occupation, industry, and region.

    Results: After adjusting for those factors, working in jobs with overtime schedules was associated with a 61% higher injury hazard rate compared to jobs without overtime. Working at least 12 hours per day was associated with a 37% increased hazard rate and working at least 60 hours per week was associated with a 23% increased hazard rate. A strong dose-response effect was observed, with the injury rate (per 100 accumulated worker-years in a particular schedule) increasing in correspondence to the number of hours per day (or per week) in the workers’ customary schedule.

    Conclusions: Results suggest that job schedules with long working hours are not more risky merely because they are concentrated in inherently hazardous industries or occupations, or because people working long hours spend more total time “at risk” for a work injury. Strategies to prevent work injuries should consider changes in scheduling practices, job redesign, and health protection programmes for people working in jobs involving overtime and extended hours.

    http://oem.bmj.com/content/62/9/588.full

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      The industry I’m in plus my place in our food chain requires me to have a relatively comprehensive education regarding human factors.

      When I was in our college developing the courseware for our technicians I had to compile a reference book/precis on Human Factors. The first such in our organisation for technicians.

      Human Factors played a large role in aircrew and associated disciplines ie, ATC, etc and has moved on to the guys in the hangars, workshops and flight line.

      I think I learnt more regarding Human Factors than most.

      Again it was the Aviation industry that leads in this area of work. Many other industries are adopting our training now.

      You will find that Human Factors will gain more and more traction across more industries as the benefits in productivity vs safety does increase the bottom line for business and government.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Fort Muck is a folksy barbecue compared to Japan’s 2011 Tsunami. Now there’s a people who know how to handle huge difficulty.

    Surprised big al from oz didn’t offer a road train solution. Keep your regular trucker hours Mich. Hitch a trailer.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “Now there’s a people who know how to handle huge difficulty.”

      Damn straight. TEPCO told all the pensioned-off industrial workers with unemployed kids: “Clean-up work. Big bucks while you last. Sign here.”

      And they signed. A Japanese Trump could never get a foothold.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> Keep your regular trucker hours Mich. Hitch a trailer.

      When I was a kid, that’s exactly what they did in Michigan. Gasoline tankers with trailers were the norm. Not sure if they still do that.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Joss – each disaster has its own unique issues to contend with. A Tsunami happens then you go into clean up mode.(Yes, an understatement).

      A fire like the one around Fort Mac has temperatures significantly higher than normal ground fires. Russia offered bombers but at the temperatures involved plus the fact that it is no longer a ground fire, retardant/water drops are of little use other than controlling flare-ups occurring several kilometres out from the original fire lines. That fire creates its own wind and own lightning storms. It also covers long distances rather quickly.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    The UP is where all us snowmobilers from MN & WI head during the winter, especially the dry ones. The hotel lots are littered with vehicles that have trailers hooked to the back of them,

    I suspect a lot of this has to do with protecting the summer tourism in the area as much as anything else. All the mom & pop businesses in the UP mentioned above depend on it.

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