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America Outdoors Association

April 27, 2011

Risk Management Training Video; Essential Risk Management Practices for Your Recreation or Adventure Travel Business

In this DVD renowned recreation and adventure sport defense attorney Tracey Knutson walks you through essential components of critical risk strategies for outfitters, recreation programs and adventure travel businesses.  This training DVD includes over two hours of risk management training in 5 distinct segments for your guides, management and marketing staff.  Each segment provides you with strategies to effectively deal with some of today’s emerging risk management issues.  Click here to order.

America Outdoors Association Bulletin

Arlo Needs Our Help

Senate Committee Set to Vote on Bill to Require CDL’s for 9 to 15 Passenger Vans

Absurd New Passport Application Requirements Proposed

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Arlo Needs Our HelpArlo Tejada

A long-time AOA member and tireless worker of behalf of the industry, 30 year old Arlo Tejada is battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Arlo was diagnosed last July and began chemotherapy treatments, traveling to Salt Lake City every two weeks for six months.  After initial success, Arlo’s Hodgkin’s has returned.  He is now facing several more doses of chemotherapy to be followed by a Bone Marrow Transplant. Unfortunately, Arlo’s health insurance policy has an EXCLUSION for “bone marrow transplant.” He has to make a $100,000 deposit before he begins the treatment.

This is urgent!  Please help Arlo with a donation by going to http://www.transplants.org/donate/arlotejada to make a tax deductible contribution.  Arlo has worked hard on your behalf as an AOA board member covering his own expenses to meetings and to Washington DC.  Now it is time to help him.  Please make a donation today.  You’ll receive a letter recognizing your tax deductible donation.

If you want updates check out Arlo's blog at http://blog.griffithrivertrips.com/blog/colorado-river-rafting

Senate Committee Set to Vote on Bill to Require CDL’s for 9 to 15 Passenger Vans

The Senate Commerce and Transportation Committee is poised to mark-up S. 453, the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2011 which includes a provision that requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to submit a plan to Congress within 18 months requiring CDL’s for all or certain classes of drivers of 9 to 15 passenger vans.  While the provision gives the FMCSA some flexibility, the intent is clearly designed to require CDL’s for 9 to 15 passenger vans used in interstate commerce.  Many states adopt federal standards automatically or as a condition of FMCSA grants. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are the primary sponsors of S. 453.  According to sources on the committee, Senator Hutchison is supporting the van provision in response to a church van crash in Texas.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report on 15 passenger van safety in 2009. The number of fatalities has declined dramatically in recent years despite claims from the plaintiff’s bar and others promoting increased regulation.  Fatalities declined from 127 in 2003 to 69 in 2009.  About 80 percent of the fatally injured van occupants in rollovers in the past 5 years were not restrained (not wearing seat belts, which is against the law in most states).  According to the report, “Clearly, restraint use drastically impacts survivability when a 15-passenger van rolls over.”

Since the 2007 data contained in the NHTSA report was compiled, manufacturers have made significant improvements to 9 to 15 passenger vans.  They are now equipped with electronic stability control (ESC) and advanced air bags.  Only Ford and GM currently manufacture 9 to 15 passenger vans in the U.S.

Fortunately, there is some question about whether S. 453 will pass in this Congress although it could pass the Senate.  There is momentum for legislation to increase driver qualifications for motorcoach operators, which could require a compromise between different versions of the legislation in the House and the Senate.  Representative Shuster (R-PA) recently introduced a bill in the House which does not contain the van regulation language.  Rep. Shuster’s BUSES Act of 2011 is designed to tighten up and increase the qualifications necessary to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License.  According to Representative Shuster website: “One of the first things my legislation does is require the USDOT to root out bad actors and unsafe and illegal motorcoach operators.  Shuster cites the driver in the Bronx bus crash, which killed more than a dozen, as someone who should have never been on the road.  “He fraudulently obtained his driver’s license and had multiple felony convictions,” according to Shuster.  (This is why background checks are a good idea.)

Ironically, the van provision in the Senate bill will probably not regulate many of the vans involved in crashes because the drivers were volunteers for churches or colleges outings.  Some were not operating interstate.  On the other hand, many small businesses operating on state borders will be faced with a new overlay of higher CDL standards if the provision takes effect.  Seasonal outfitting businesses with multiple drivers will have a difficult time finding a sufficient number of CDL drivers along with the other certifications and guide requirements.

Click here for a sample letter you should FAX to YOUR SENATORS today.  If you cannot fax a letter, call their offices and tell them that you oppose the regulatory requirements in S. 453 for 9 to 15 passenger vans FOR THE OUTFITTING INDUSTRY.  TELL THEM WE HAVE A GOOD SAFETY RECORD.  Get fax and phone numbers for members of Congress from Congress.org.  See the Members of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

In the meantime, we STRONGLY recommend that your drivers get background checks and are properly trained before they hit the road with customers.
• AOA has a cost effective background check program through Intellicorp.  Call Rob Clapacs at
(216) 450-5218.  Identify your company as an AOA member.
• Provide training to your drivers including over the road training.  For some sample protocols, contact the AOA office.  Click here for a great training video.

Absurd New Passport Application Requirements Proposed

The Consumer Travel Alliance and other groups are howling about new U.S. Department of State proposed passport application requirements that are so over the top the only way to describe them is “absurd”.  State is proposing a new Biographical Questionnaire for passport applicants: The proposed new  Form DS-5513 asks:
• for all addresses since birth;
• lifetime employment history including employers’ and supervisors names, addresses, and telephone numbers;
• personal details of all siblings;
• mother’s address one year prior to your birth;
• any “religious ceremony” around the time of birth;
• and a variety of other information. 

One question asks applicants to “Please describe the circumstances of your birth including the names (as well as address and phone number, if available) of persons present or in attendance at your birth.” According to the proposed form, “failure to provide the information requested may result in … the denial of your U.S. passport application.”  OMB claims the form only takes 45 minutes to complete.  That assertion is false. It will take days to pull the information together and is overly intrusive. 

Join Us For This Week's Online Class:

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Linkedin focuses on business to business selling. The big question is, how do I ensure that my tourism business gets found on Linkedin? By implementing new ideas and a greater understanding of how keyword research can help make you findable in Linkedin, you will discover tangible steps to optimize and design a successful Linkedin profile for you and your business.

Speaker: Heather Lutze
Date: Thursday, April 28, 2011
Time: 1PM to 2PM Central
Registration Fee $49.95 or $39.96 (20% Discount) for America Outdoors Members (Use Coupon Code AOA)

Click here to find out more.  
Click here to register.

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