News

Four More States Asking Federal Government To Reconsider ELD

By Staff, Go By Truck News, February 19, 2018

Judge gavel, scales and books on wooden table, closeup

More states are drafting legislation asking federal authorities to provide truckers relief from the electronic logging device mandate or to limit funding for its enforcement.

Proposals have been introduced in the legislatures of Alabama, Missouri, Idaho and Wyoming, all in the last week.

Fifteen bipartisan members of Alabama’s House of Representatives are co-sponsoring a resolution offered by Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, D-Red Bay, that calls on Congress to “take steps to create more flexibility” in regulations relating to agriculture and small business industries.

A pair of ELD-related measures are under consideration in Missouri’s House of Representatives. A resolution by Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, calls on the federal government to waive the final rule on ELDs and exempt all Americans from its enforcement. The measure is similar to one offered by a bipartisan group of South Dakota state lawmakers earlier this month, calling on Congress to overturn the ELD because of the “unintended consequences” caused by the mandate and the “undue financial and administrative burden” placed on drivers and operators.

Another bill in Missouri would prohibit state enforcement agencies from enforcing or keeping records to show compliance with the ELD mandate. The measure is similar to a bill offered by Tennessee lawmakers and reported by Go By Truck News last week.

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Economist Says Driver Shortage Will Hurt Freight Market

By Staff, Go By Truck News, February 23, 2018

drivers needed

The freight market is booming, but the trucking industry will suffer unless companies can find enough drivers, according to American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello.

Attracting and retaining drivers will be the biggest challenge for freight companies, which are operating in an economy that is experiencing a period of accelerated growth.

“Freight is fantastic. I think it’s going to remain that way for a while,” Costello said. “Drivers is the biggest challenge. At the end of the day, trucking’s only as good as the drivers of freight.”

The driver shortage is again the trucking industry’s most pressing concern for the first time since 2006, the American Transportation Research Institute reported earlier this year.

Although the U.S. Department of Labor calculates there are 10 million Commercial Driver License holders, far fewer are actually viable candidates for companies hiring.

“[There are] probably around half a million drivers in that over-the-road, for-hire truckload space. We are short just under 51,000 drivers. When you’re short 51,000 on a base of 500,000, that’s a lot,” Costello said. “If things don’t change, and we continue up this progression, by 2026, we will be at 170,000 drivers short. If we get there, not only is our industry in a world of hurt, our economy is in a world of hurt.”

Fleets also struggle with turnover and struggle to keep drivers. Costello said the truckload fleet driver turnover rate will probably be about 90% this year.

Statistics show factors influencing the freight market, such as consumers, construction, factory output and inventory output, are all growing. But Costello thinks U.S. withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement would disrupt these positive trends.

Tennessee Introduces Bill To Avoid Enforcing ELD Mandate

By Staff, Go By Truck News, February 15, 2018 

White state trooper -decal on a black law enforement vehicle

New legislation introduced in Tennessee is aimed at prohibiting the use of state funds to enforce the federal Electronic Logging Device mandate.

The bill was introduced on January 29 by Rep. Dale Carr [R] and would “[Prohibit] state funding from being expended to implement or enforce electronic logging device (ELD) regulations in this state.”

The bill states “The Department of Safety and Homeland Security receives federal funding reimbursement of $4,054,347 for enforcement of ELD regulations in the state. Such funding is used to fund the operation of the Highway Patrol Division to manage the enforcement of the program, specific enforcement efforts, and other operational expenses to support the program.

In order to receive the federal reimbursement, the state is required to provide a match of 15 percent, or $608,152, to be used in enforcement of ELD regulations in the state.

Continuous enforcement of ELD regulations is required to receive the federal funding and be in compliance with federal regulations.

Prohibiting the state from expending any state funding to enforce ELD regulations will put the state out of compliance with 49 C.F.R Part 350. As a result, 100 percent of the federal funding of $4,054,347 will be reduced in FY18-19 and subsequent years.”

In other words, Tennessee would intentionally fail to provide a 15% match to the federal funding provided by the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Tennessee would then be considered out of compliance with federal law and would forfeit the federal funding of $4,054,347 for the year, leaving no money for ELD enforcement for the fiscal year.

Uber: Trucking to become more localized, driver jobs should be safe

By CCJ Staff, CCJ News, February 14, 2018

Freightliner autonomous truck

Silicon Valley giant Uber, whose ridesharing platform upended the taxi business a half-decade ago and who more recently has set its sights on self-driving technology and freight-matching systems, said in a recent report that it doesn’t expect truck driving jobs to dissipate should autonomous trucks become prevalent.

Rather, the company says, it sees a shift in the types of truck driving jobs available. While long haul driving jobs could succumb to the market pressures of self-driving rigs, the company concludes there will be a spike in the number of drivers needed for localized driving jobs. “We would expect to see close to 1 million jobs shift from long haul to local haul,” the company wrote in a blog post published this month. “Plus about 400,000 new truck driving jobs will be needed to keep up with the higher demand” of local freight movement, the company says.

Uber researchers also project that the industry will move away from per-mile pay structures in favor of hourly pay. And don’t expect the bottom to suddenly fall out with any of the changes, Uber says, saying “any of these impacts would happen gradually over time.”

Uber’s Feb. 1 report comes amid growing concerns among drivers and regulators about the impact that a sudden uptake of autonomous truck tech would have on the millions of workers employed as truck drivers.

While long-haul operations are better suited for autonomous tech, says Uber, local driving applications such as urban delivery and transfers to and from so-called transfer hubs “will be hard for self-driving trucks to match for a long time.” Such local routes are projected to become more prevalent due to economic trends like e-commerce and urbanization.

These factors will make driving jobs more appealing, says Uber, as they promise more home time and more consistent pay.

In sum, Uber ran nine scenarios of how autonomous tech adoption could change the trucking industry. In all nine, the industry shifted toward more localized hauls and away from long haul operations. “This research doesn’t give us a definitive answer on the future of trucking, but it helps us understand what could happen, using real economic data and insights about the actual products we’re working to build.”

“As the trucking landscape evolves with the introduction of self-driving technology, we hope to help drivers gain more control over their daily lives,” the company writes. “We don’t know exactly how fast self-driving trucks will become part of the industry, or how much impact they will have in the coming years, but we believe that they will help the industry, and the people who keep it running.”

ELD May Already Be Driving Up The Cost Of Produce

By Staff, Go By Truck News, February 2, 2018

Fruit market with various colorful fresh fruits and vegetables

The new federal mandate requiring electronic logging devices could result in shoppers seeing grocery prices rise.

Some truckers are experiencing difficulties and delays as they switch from paper logbooks to the devices, which plug into a truck’s engine.

Those delays mean truckers aren’t covering as much distance or making the same number of runs as before, driving up the cost of produce coming from California, Arizona and Florida, according to longtime Chicago produce wholesalers like Anthony Marano Co. and Testa Produce. And those price hikes eventually will be passed on to consumers, they say.

“You’ve created this whole logistical nightmare and for what? Why?” said Peter Testa, president of Testa Produce.

The electronic devices hold drivers to a more rigid compliance with hours-of-service regulations, which federal regulators and law enforcement officials say is needed to prevent fatigued driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates the devices will eliminate 1,844 crashes, prevent 562 injuries and save 26 lives annually. Time will tell if those numbers prove true, but the mandate’s already affecting local businesses.

Both Testa and Jason Nitti, transportation manager of Anthony Marano, said they’ve had to pay significantly more for produce, though factors like high diesel prices also likely contributed.

For Pete’s Fresh Market, a 12-store grocery chain in the Chicago area, truckloads of produce from Mexico have roughly doubled in cost since the new devices were mandated — from about $2,400 for 40,000 pounds of produce to more than $5,000, said produce buyer Kenneth Moore. Pete’s has been able to absorb much of those costs, but the company’s had to mark up items like bananas and lettuce, for example, by 20 cents, Moore said.

“When you’re talking $3 to $4 more a box, that really has an impact on retailers,” Moore said.

The underlying rules for driving time haven’t changed; just the tool for measuring compliance. Truckers can drive no more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period of time, followed by at least 10 hours of mandatory rest, according to federal regulations.

So far, the Illinois Trucking Association has remained neutral on the issue because its members are divided, said Matt Hart, the group’s executive director. More than half of members surveyed were already using the devices before the mandate, Hart said.

Controversy over the devices is bringing to light needed changes in the underlying hours-of-service regulations to allow drivers more flexibility in determining when they rest, Hart said.

“At the end of the day, drivers know best when to get some rest — not some bureaucrat in D.C.,” Hart said.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Report: Driver detention costs carriers and drivers big bucks, contributes to crashes

By James Jaillet, CCJ News, February 7, 2018

truck-at-dock

In one of the first reports of its kind, the U.S. DOT has concluded that time spent detained at shipper or receiver facilities cuts truck driver pay by between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion annually, in addition to crimping industry safety. An extra 15 minutes spent detained beyond the standard two-hour window causes industry crash risk to climb 6.2 percent, the DOT has estimated. That’s an average of about 6,500 additional crashes annually, the report notes.

Drivers see an average annual pay loss of between $1,281 and $1,534, the report concludes, and carrier income is cut by between $250 million and $302 million annually due to detention time, the DOT says.

However, the report concludes that little data exists on detention time. The DOT’s Office of Inspector General, who produced the report, has called on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to boost data collection efforts around the issue. FMCSA took steps in 2016 to try to collect anecdotal data from carriers and drivers about detention time. But “the agency has no plans to verify the data that motor carriers and drivers would provide,” the DOT says in its report, issued last week. “As a result, the data may not accurately describe how the diverse trucking industry experiences driver detention, which would limit any further analysis of the impacts.”

The DOT notes a need for electronic data, which is more hard and fast than anecdotal data. However, it does not make mention of the potential for collection and use of electronic log data in determining the scope of detention time and its effects on industry earnings and safety.

The 2015 FAST Act highway bill directed FMCSA to collect data on driver detention time, which prompted the agency’s 2016 initiative on collecting anecdotal data from industry stakeholders. The report notes that an FMCSA official has said “the costs of rigorous data collection and analysis would likely outweigh the benefit and [FMCSA] primarily views detention as a market efficiency problem best addressed by private industry,” according to the report, despite the safety issues detention time can create.

The DOT determines that the increased crash risk stems from “fatigue or desire to recover lost income” by drivers who experience detention time beyond the two-hour benchline. The report is based on data from 2013, collected by several studies performed by private parties like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Transportation Research Institute, as well as data from FMCSA. Analysis was conducted for the report in 2016 and 2017 by the DOT OIG. Researchers extrapolated from this data set and others on industry revenue and crash statistics to form the figures presented in the study.

The OIG has recommended that FMCSA “collaborate with industry stakeholders to develop and implement a plan to collect and analyze reliable, accurate and representative data on the frequency and severity of driver detention times.”

Trump’s Call for More Infrastructure Spending Scant on Funding Details

By David Cullen, Truckinginfo.com, January 31, 2018

Trump SOTU 2018

In his first State of the Union speech, President Trump upped the ante for infrastructure spending by requesting that Congress craft a bipartisan bill that “generates” at least $1.5 trillion to invest in the “safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.”

However, Trump did not indicate at all how he would pay for that largesse. What’s more, the $1.5 trillion figure is $500 billion more than the president has previously called for to fund infrastructure.

It was the only new detail mentioned about his long-anticipated infrastructure plan during his 80-minute SOFU address to a joint session of Congress on Jan. 30.

“I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve,” said Trump.

How to Pay for Infrastructure Improvements

Based on what the Trump Administration has previously stated – as well as a recently leaked draft document – the president’s approach to financing infrastructure improvements apparently remains fixed on priming the pump with $200 billion in cash and tax credits, which presumably will stoke spending by state and even local governments as well as private investors, to actually fund most of the price tag that Trump has hung on improving highway, railroad, airport, marine, and other infrastructure.

“Every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment — to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit,” Trump added, suggesting yet again that he does not expect Congress to come up with all the $1.5 trillion he is seeking now.

Indicative of the pushback Trump can expect from Democrats in Congress was the reaction of House Transportation Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR). “President Trump cannot pretend to solve our infrastructure woes by slashing real investments to states and local governments, pushing the responsibility off federal balance sheets, cutting existing transportation programs to pay for Wall Street and foreign investors to toll our roads, and gutting bedrock environmental protections,” DeFazio said, according to a Politico.com report.

The president also again called for slashing the red tape that can slow infrastructure projects by years. “Is it not a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?” Trump asked rhetorically, before demanding that any infrastructure bill must “streamline the permitting and approval process — getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one.”

Beyond infrastructure

In his far-ranging address, the president also declared that the U.S. has “finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals.” While offering no details, he stated that his administration will “work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones.”

Trump also made a pitch for investing more in workforce development and job training. “Let us open great vocational schools so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential,” he said. In addition, he declared his support for providing workers with paid family leave.

Five things worth knowing in the world of trucking

By Cristina Commendatore, American Trucker, Jan 31, 2018

5 things to know

Here are five things worth knowing in the world of trucking today, Jan. 31:

 1. Truckers deliver for America’s Big Game

To illustrate just how big of an impact the trucking industry has on the Super Bowl, the Minnesota Trucking Association and American Trucking Associations created an infographic to show the role trucking will play in delivering perhaps one of most important parts of the game – the snacks, Markets Insider reports. On Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 4, Americans will consume over 100 truckloads of popcorn, 350 truckloads of potato chips, 668 truckloads of avocados, 1,562 truckloads of chicken wings, and over 36,166 truckloads of beer. And, in addition to the thousands of truckloads of construction materials it took to build U.S. Bank Stadium, trucks will deliver everything from sports equipment, production equipment, paper products, fuel to get everyone to the game, and much more.

2. Could self-driving trucks combat the driver shortage? 

According to a Motherboard report, autonomous semis may help combat the growing truck driver shortage. However, the Teamsters Union, which represents many American truck drivers, has maintained automation and self-driving trucks will actually take jobs away from truckers. According to Motherboard: “That’s why all eyes are on the US government’s proposed legislation to regulate autonomous vehicles, namely the SELF DRIVE Act and AV START Act … Protecting existing jobs, however, won’t be enough to solve trucking’s increasingly urgent staffing crunch.” Motherboard has more. 

3. Uber seeks to acquire Load Delivered Logistics 

Earlier this month, Uber looked at acquiring Load Delivered Logistics, a Chicago-based freight logistics company, to complement to its UberFreight services. According to a Recode report, “deal talks fell apart,” and Load Delivered is still deciding whether to sell itself to any of the big players in the logistics market. Recode has more. 

4. Nation’s crumbling bridges endanger drivers 

More than 50,000 bridges across the U.S. are falling apart and endangering drivers, according to an NBC News report. The American Road & Transportation Builders Association compiled a report showing that 54,259 American bridges are “structurally deficient.” In addition, the report found cases from Florida, Georgia, Michigan and other states where pieces of crumbling bridges broke off and fell to the roadway, sometimes hitting vehicles, according to NBC. “So many bridges are in need of repair, says the report, that if placed end-to-end they’d stretch nearly from New York City to Miami,” NBC said. “And experts say that at the current rate of repair or replacement it would take 37 years to fix all the bridges.” 

5. Reminder: FMCSA to receive ELD exemption comments by Feb. 1

The FMCSA announced that the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has requested an exemption from the electronic logging device (ELD) requirements for motor carriers considered to be a small transportation trucking business. OOIDA requests this exemption to allow small trucking businesses that do not have a carrier safety rating of “unsatisfactory,” and can document a proven history of safety performance with no attributable at-fault crashes, to complete paper records of duty status (RODS) instead of using an ELD. OOIDA maintained it believes that the exemption would not have any adverse impacts on operational safety as motor carriers and drivers would remain subject to the hours-of-service regulations as well as the requirements to maintain paper RODS. FMCSA requests public comment on OOIDA’s application for exemption. Comments must be received on or before Feb. 1.

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