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News Digest

FMCSA Final Rule Helps Consumers Protect Their Move and Eliminates Unnecessary Burdens for Moving Companies.  This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a final rule that strengthens protections for consumers moving their property across state lines.  Under the new rule, if a household goods moving company and the consumer negotiate a revised written cost estimate for the move, all additional goods or services must be accurately listed on the revised estimate. The rule also removes undue burdens for moving companies by eliminating the requirement that they specify who would pay for collect calls from consumers.  It also clarifies that goods transported from the factory or store to a consumer’s residence are not covered by federal household goods regulations. To learn more about the Transportation of Household Goods in Interstate Commerce Consumer Protection Regulations Final Rule, visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov.  Contact Candice T. Burns: (202) 366-9999.

United States, Suriname Reach Open-Skies Aviation Agreement.  The United States and Suriname have successfully negotiated an Open-Skies aviation agreement, the first aviation agreement between the two countries.  Open Skies will allow the airlines of both countries to fly to, from and beyond the other’s territory, without restriction on how often carriers fly, the kind of aircraft they use and their ability to offer discount fares.  The agreement will make Suriname the 106th U.S. Open-Skies partner. Contact Bill Mosley: (202) 366-4570.

North American Transportation Statistics Agreement Signed. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and its counterparts in Canada and Mexico, along with other federal agencies, have signed an agreement to expand the joint development and maintenance of a comprehensive set of comparative transportation statistics for all modes of North American transportation.  The Memorandum of Cooperation, signed at the 26th annual meeting of the North American Transportation Statistics (NATS) Interchange Forum in Washington, D.C., formalizes the two-decade effort of the Interchange, which has resulted in the NATS Online Database. With the new agreement, the three nations intend to increase collection and sharing of commonly understood and comparable transportation data and statistics for data-driven planning and performance measurement to improve cross-border integrated transportation planning and operations. It was signed by DOT Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs Susan Kurland on behalf of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and the Maritime Administration, all of which are agencies of DOT. Also signing were the U.S. Census Bureau, Transport Canada, Statistics Canada, Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transport, the Mexican Institute of Transportation, and the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico. Contact: Dave Smallen: 202-366-5568.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary LaHood Awards $1.8 million for Station Improvements in Indiana  U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today awarded $1.8 million to the Town of Waterloo, Indiana, to complete a six-year passenger rail station improvement project. The improvements are necessary to make the station’s facilities compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The project will include new ADA compliant platforms, signage improvements, and new pathways, parking, and lighting. Contact: Kevin Thompson: (202) 493-6024.

DOT Launches Website to Help Reduce On-the-Job Fatigue of Railroad Workers.  U.S. Department of Transportation today launched an interactive, multimedia website intended to reduce on-the-job fatigue among railroad employees by advising them on the importance of obtaining healthy sleep to maintain individual well-being, safety and workplace performance.  The Railroaders’ Guide to Healthy Sleep website features an anonymous self-test to screen for possible sleep disorders, a sleep and wake diary for tracking sleep and various tailored and effective strategies for improving the amount and quality of sleep obtained.  Many railroaders work unpredictable schedules that can make it challenging to get proper sleep.  The Railroaders’ Guide to Healthy Sleep includes articles, videos, quizzes and illustrations to help workers understand their normal daily ups and downs in alertness, and improve their sleep while balancing work and family life.  The website was funded by the Federal Railroad Administration and developed by the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in collaboration with experts in sleep health from the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine and experts in educational media from the WGBH Educational Foundation.  Contact: Kevin F. Thompson: 202-366-6024.

Friday, June 22, 2012