News

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week; Taking a moment to thank drivers

By Ken Yeomans, Omnitracs / American Trucker, September 13, 2017

National Driver Appreciation Week 2017

Years ago, there were bumper stickers in support of America’s farmers that said something like “Don’t complain about food prices with your mouth full.”

Today, much the same thing could be said about America’s truck drivers—only the subject wouldn’t be limited to food but to the delivery of electronics, clothing, household supplies, cars, furniture, machinery … and, well, just about everything else.

In fact, that’s why this week America is celebrating the 30th annual National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. Now, we in the industry would be fooling ourselves to think that every other motorist we share the roads with this week, will be aware that this is the week set aside to say thank you to the 3.5 million men and women who drive everything from local delivery vans and service trucks to the biggest of big rigs as part of the $726 billion-a-year trucking industry.

Many big gas stations, truck stops, travel centers, trucking service companies and even restaurants are joining the party this year. Some are offering discounted or free on merchandise popular with truckers, discounted or free food and drink, or bonus frequent customer points worth millions of dollars in services, products or parts.

Don’t be surprised when you walk into a big truck stop to be greeted with extra enthusiasm, party whistles or even confetti tossed in the air by the checkout clerk. Some stops are decorating their entries with balloons, streamers and signs in honor of drivers.

Recent events have put a spotlight on the driving profession, and Americans are increasingly becoming more aware of just how important a job driving trucks really is.

Sadly, Hurricane Harvey – which recently tore through the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast region and left an astounding four-feet or more of rain water in its path – as well as Hurricane Irma, which delivered a wallop to the state of Florida, serve as strong reminders of just how important truck drivers are to both the national economy and to every family’s existence.

You probably know the statistics pretty well:

-Some 80% or more of all U.S. communities are totally dependent on truckers bringing them the food and other products they need.

-The other nearly 20% of U.S. communities are still largely dependent on truckers for food and other products and nearly 100% dependent on professional drivers bringing those products to stores in their neighborhoods.

-More than seven million people are directly or indirectly employed by the trucking industry, meaning that for every truck driver there’s at least one more person working behind the scenes in this economically critical industry.

-Nearly 100% of all products brought into our homes or workplaces travel at least part of the way on a truck or van driven by a professional driver. Even products that arrive by ship or air have to be moved to the warehouse, the retail store or to individuals’ homes somehow.

In short, truckers are involved in every aspect of the American family’s life.

They bring relief supplies after natural disasters, make sure the freshest food in the world reaches our supermarkets and dining tables in great condition, bring life-saving and life-enhancing healthcare supplies and devices to the ill among us, make it possible for us to fill up our personal vehicles with fuel, and haul the products we produce to market and bring the raw materials we require to produce them back to us.

What’s not as widely recognized is that today’s professional drivers do their jobs under arguably the toughest conditions ever.

Roads and highways are most crowded they’ve ever been. Just-in-time logistics systems and the rapidly changing demands of today’s pressurized and lightning-fast retail environment, along with the intense focus on keeping transportation costs under control, have added pressure to an already physically and mentally demanding job.

And tougher regulations covering everything from a truck’s operating condition to the driver’s own health and wellness are demanding ever-higher levels of professionalism among drivers, both while they’re on duty and off.

So it’s more than appropriate for America to dedicate this week to saying thanks to the great men and women who are dedicated to moving us all forward.

Have a great and safe National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, everyone.

Check out CAREER OPPORTUNITIES at Freight All Kinds!

Hurricane Irma Causing Chaos For Transportation Industry In Florida

By Go By Truck News, September 11, 2017

Palm whipped by the wind

Just two weeks after Hurricane Harvey devastated the Gulf Coast of Texas, Hurricane Irma has descended upon Florida and is set to cause major disruptions to shippers and supply chains.

Truckload spot rates will spike and analysts predict the industry could take up to six months to recover. Troy Cooper, chief operating officer at XPO Logistics, says at the very least, shippers can expect tight capacity and higher rates through January of next year.

Fortunately, Florida isn’t home to major distribution centers. The nearest distribution center that serves the state is in Atlanta, and the second-nearest is in Charlottesville. Also, Florida isn’t a major supplier of good to the rest of the United States with the exception of produce, and that shipping season is in the spring.

What this means is that the rate increases will be for cargo moving into Florida. Although the roads will be rough and difficult to drive for awhile, Mark Montague of DAT Solutions says there will always be some truckers up to the task and that will cost shippers more money.

Geotab, a smart transportation and telematics technology company, has created a timelapse map to present a clearer view of the scale and significance of Hurricane Irma’s impact on commercial fleet activity in Florida and Puerto Rico last week. Considered to be one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic, Hurricane Irma has already left a devastating trail of damage in the Caribbean and poses one of the most severe meteorological threats in Florida’s history. Geotab is sharing insights from vehicle data collected in the affected areas in an effort to shed light on how Hurricane Irma is impacting the fleet industry in particular.

By analyzing data from over 33,000 Geotab-connected vehicles in Florida, a 360 percent increase in commercial vehicle activity was calculated between August 23 and September 6. This rise can be attributed to businesses and employees evacuating to safer areas and increased driving as fleets respond to a growth in demand for disaster-related resources.

In addition to increased vehicle activity in the major cities of Orlando, Tampa and Miami, which typically have high volumes of commercial activity, Geotab found increases in Jacksonville and Pensacola to the north, which tend to have much less traffic.

“Our data shows a significant influx in sheer vehicle activity and not necessarily an increase of vehicles,” said Neil Cawse, CEO of Geotab. “Comparing vehicle data from last month to that of today, there is an explosion of activity in Florida’s largest cities and a massive increase in traffic up the I-95 and I-75 highways. As we did with Hurricane Harvey, Geotab is working closely with our partners to provide relevant data so that commercial and emergency response fleet vehicles can travel safely and respond urgently to the victims of Hurricane Irma.”

At least 40 percent of gas stations in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region were without fuel as many of Florida’s 20.6 million residents stocked up. On an average weekday in Florida, 36 percent of Geotab vehicles fill up their tanks at least once. Over the past few days, Geotab analysts have seen this number rise to over 45 percent of active vehicles representing over 7,500 vehicles fueling up at the pumps.

Source: Geotab, Journal of Commerce

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, wild fires expected to contribute to higher rates for months

By Brian Straight, FreightWaves, September 8, 2017

up

An already robust spot truckload freight market is now reacting to the effects of Hurricane Harvey, and with Irma on the horizon and wild fires burning out west, is now showing few signs of slowing down.

“You have a strong economy and now the natural disasters, all of this is going to put pressure on capacity and rates,” Ken Harper, director of marketing for DAT, tells FreightWaves. “I hate to be cliché, but it’s almost as if the U.S. is experiencing the perfect storm.”

Following Hurricane Harvey, DAT analyzed data from previous storms and other supply chain disruptions and found that the changes to lanes in and out of Houston are among the most dramatic ever seen. As expected, outbound loads from Houston dropped, falling 72% compared to the previous week (Harvey came ashore on Friday, Aug. 25). Nationally, loads posted on DAT’s network increased 2.9% and rates rose 12% for the week ending Sept. 2.

The effects of Harvey were particularly acute on van truckload rates, which climbed an average of 6.7% last week to $1.90 per mile, including fuel surcharge but not counting accessorial fees. DAT said that 78 of the top 100 van lanes in the country saw higher rates as the fallout from Harvey spread across the country due to rearrangement of supply chains and difficulty shipping into flooded regions.

Flatbed rates rose 2 cents to $2.20 per mile and refrigerated rates climbed 3 cents to $2.10 per mile. Mark Montague, senior industry analyst, says DAT expects flatbed rates to in the coming weeks.

“We didn’t see much movement in flatbeds and reefers, but I think flatbeds will come into play in reconstruction,” he says. Reefers, he notes, have already climbed 9 cents per mile to $2.19 per mile this week.

Bill To Delay ELD Implementation Failed In The House

By Go By Truck News, September 8, 2017

ELD Sept 8 17

The bill by U.S. Representative Brian Babin that would delay implementation and enforcement of the electronic logging device mandate scheduled to go into effect on December 18 failed to pass in the House of Representatives.

The American Trucking Associations expressed their support of the result.

“ATA has supported, and will support, this important regulation,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “Congress has now voted a fourth time to move forward with electronic logging of the existing hours of service information required for decades. Make no mistake, the time for debate about electronic logging is over, and we’re pleased that Congress has rejected this ill-conceived effort to delay their implementation.

“For a decade, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has repeatedly spoken, the Courts have spoken, law enforcement has spoken, the industry has spoken and Congress has spoken in favor of the benefits of electronic logging devices,” he said, “all the while, opponents of electronic logging have delayed, dissembled and deceived about this technology. This vote should end what is left of this debate so our industry can carry on with the business of complying with this regulation.”

ATA Executive Vice President of Advocacy Bill Sullivan said “This vote is important. Complying with existing laws will make all who share the roads safer, and ATA will continue to work with FMCSA, carriers, drivers, and law enforcement to ensure smooth implementation of this bipartisan effort on schedule in December. We commend the leadership of Representative Rick Crawford and bipartisan champions in the House who support compliance with existing laws and rules.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association disagreed with the vote but still thanks those members of the U.S. House of Representatives that showed support for certain trucking-related amendments to H.R. 3354, the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act.

There were three amendments passed by voice vote that the Association supported, however, OOIDA remains disappointed that an amendment to delay the electronic logging device mandate did not pass.

Two of the three amendments that passed would prevent federal funding being used to toll certain interstates in Washington, Oregon and Pennsylvania. The Association contends that tolling decreases overall highway safety by diverting traffic and is not the solution to infrastructure needs.

The third amendment passed would prevent the use of federal funds to finalize a notice of proposed rulemaking to require speed limiting devices on trucks. OOIDA strongly opposes efforts to mandate speed limiters.

“We thank Representatives Jaime Herrera-Beutler, Glenn Thompson and Mike Kelly for their efforts in getting the tolling related amendments passed,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA.

“We also want to thank Representatives Scott Perry, Doug LaMalfa and Mark Meadows for their work on the speed limiter issue.”

Regarding the ELD mandate delay, OOIDA thanks Representative Brian Babin for his support of professional truck drivers.

“The concerns raised by us, by Congress and industry stakeholders have not changed. There are too many unanswered questions about the technical specifications and enforcement guidelines of the mandate,” said Spencer. “This includes issues related to enforcement, connectivity, data transfers, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and many other legitimate real world concerns.”

“The agency refuses to certify any ELD as compliant with the rule, thus leaving consumers with no idea if a device they purchase is indeed compliant,” said Spencer.

Spencer said that the Association encourages OOIDA members to get involved in its “Knock Out Bad Regs” campaign and will continue to communicate with Congress and the Administration about these and other issues.

Source: Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, American Trucking Associations

OOIDA to FMCSA: 26 states not ready for ELD implementation

By The Trucker News Service, TheTrucker.com, August 29, 2017
e-log
GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a petition Tuesday with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration pointing out that 26 states have not yet incorporated an electronic logging regulation into state law and are not authorized to enforce the rule until they do so.

OOIDA supports a proposed delay to the mandate because of what it says are a growing number of reasons including the lack of preparedness of all law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Earlier this week, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance notified the FMCSA that its members will delay full enforcement of the ELD rule until April 1, 2018. This is despite the fact that the rule goes into full effect in December 2017.

“These are just examples of the monumental reasons this mandate is not ready for prime time,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA. “Too many states are not ready to rollout the mandate and can’t possibly be ready by the December 18 deadline.”

OOIDA’s petition says that more than 20 states are years behind in adopting amendments and additions to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations into state law. In order to qualify for federal grants under the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, states are required to incorporate the FMCSRs or their equivalent into state law.

In 2016, 95 percent of motor carrier and driver enforcement violations were issued by MCSAP states. OOIDA’s petition points out that serious legal problems arise because states are attempting to enforce federal safety standards that have not been made part of state law. OOIDA contends that when FMCSA amends its regulations, the states must incorporate those amendments into state law before they can enforce them.

“We are concerned about numerous states issuing citations for the violation of non-existent state laws,” Spencer said.

For example, Delaware has not updated its incorporation of the FMCSRs since 2006, while Arizona last updated in 2012 and Kansas in 2013.

“That means that new regulations and amendments to old regulations promulgated by FMCSA since the last incorporation date for these states are not part of state law,” Spencer said. “We know that state enforcement officers lack the training and equipment to operate in an ELD environment. This lack of preparedness should come as no surprise given that half the states have not even adopted FMCSA’s ill-conceived ELD rule into state law.

“No state law enforcement should be implementing the ELD mandate until they actually adopt the mandate into state law and train and equip their enforcement personnel to enforce it properly.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the only national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 158,000 members nationwide.

ONE20 extends free services and low cost ELD to members of NASTC

By The Trucker News Services, TheTrucker.com, August 24, 2017

ONE 20

MINNEAPOLIS — ONE20, a driver focused community with the singular goal of making life on the road easier and less expensive for professional drivers, has announced the extension of its membership tools and services to all members of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC).

ONE20 membership is free and provides professional drivers and carriers with benefits such as free truck-safe navigation, free roadside assistance and the lowest-cost electronic logging device (ELD) on the market, free of monthly service fees.

“Drivers and small carriers shouldn’t be charged extra to access discounted tools and services — a difficult life on the road is payment enough,” said Christian Schenk, CEO and president of ONE20. “If we can help drivers who are members of other associations, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We are and will remain an inclusive trucking community, extending our benefits to all hard-working professionals in the industry regardless of other membership affiliations.”

ONE20 membership benefits are:

•Free roadside assistance powered by RoadsideMASTERS.com

•Free Silver Level service for all ONE20 members

•Free upgraded Gold Level service for ONE20 F-ELD users

•Free truck-safe navigation

•Free access to exclusive deals and discounts for savings on the road

•Free Type 2 Diabetes medication for a year and other discounts on prescription medications through Blink Health

•Low cost ELD solution, ONE20 F-ELD, with zero monthly service fees

•Discounted tires through ONE20 Tire, and

•Access to more than 200 wholesale warehouses and more than 75,000 service centers across the country with installation in four days or less.

ONE20 will provide all fleets that are part of NASTC free monthly F-ELD service, should they select the F-ELD as their ELD solution.

To learn more about ONE20 and its benefits and services, visit the ONE20 booth (No. 36050) at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas August 24-26. Or, visit www.one20.com and download the ONE20 app from Google Play or the App Store.

ONE20 is a free membership community built exclusively for professional truck drivers, with the purpose of making life on the road more convenient, enjoyable and cost-effective, stated a company news release.

Time marches on toward ELD mandate, but many carriers are still dragging their feet

By Klint Lowry, The Trucker.com, August 4, 2017

ELD time marches on

Summer’s here and the heat is on — or it will be soon when it comes to ELDs. In mid-July, the staff at The Trucker noticed we’d been hearing the same thing throughout the trucking industry — the assertion that somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of carriers had not yet been fitted with ELDs.

In an age of viral misinformation, we wondered if this was just a popular myth making the rounds. The thing about myths, though, is that very often they’re based on at least a kernel of reality. With the ELD deadline, December 18, barely four months away, if the number of carriers that still need to get ELDs is anywhere close to that high, is it even possible to get everyone fitted in time?

Before asking that, the first question is where was this estimate was coming from? Collin Mooney, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, said no agency or entity he knows of is trying to keep track.

“I haven’t seen or heard of any studies or any numbers to actually get a pulse on what the numbers really are,” Mooney said.

Neither has Tom Cuthbertson, vice president of regulatory compliance at fleet management company Omnitracs. “That’s a hard number to hang your hat on,” he said. CVSA did estimate that the mandate would apply to about 3.1 million vehicles, and Cuthbertson had recently heard that 800,000 and 900,000 have ELDs.

That would put the percentage without ELDs at about 70-75 percent.

Tom Bray, an industry consultant with J.J. Keller & Associates, said he believes the estimate is based on individual ELD company observations.

“The providers are looking at the carriers that are out there that they know about or they work with and coming up with these numbers,” Bray said. Among Keller’s regular customers, indeed, 75-80 percent had not transitioned to ELDs yet.

OK, so the next question is, considering it’s been more than a year and a half since the mandate was announced, why are so many carriers dragging their feet on this?

Not all of them are, Bray said. Among large carriers, about 81 percent are already using ELDs, he said, and “the other 19 percent are well on the way.”

That comes as no surprise to David Owen, president of the National Association of Small Truck Companies. Owen says from its very inception the mandate has been a big guy vs. little guy issue. The big companies are all for ELDs, he said, and smaller companies see the mandate as just one more unnecessary layer of regulation and technology being foisted upon them. Some older drivers are deciding whether they even want to stay in the business.

“It’s just kind of the final straw theory, I think, or they talk like it is,” Owen said.

Bray concurred. Many are hoping that somehow the mandate “just goes away,” he said. “They’re hoping someone steps in.”

Owen noted that in early June when the Supreme Court rejected a petition by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association to review its lawsuit to halt the ELD mandate, ELD sales jumped.

Owen added that a lot of small carriers are hesitant to lay out the money on a system and then get out on the road and find out it isn’t compliant after all.

“One of our arguments is that FMCSA was negligent in not spelling out exactly what an ELD was months ago,” he said. Instead, the FMCSA left manufacturers “to play badminton in the dark” in designing their systems, and then let manufacturers self-certify their systems.

Cuthbertson disagrees. The FMCSA has a great deal of ELD information on their website, he said. “Even in their FAQs, they put information of what things you should look for to be sure that this is a certified product. It’s still up to the carrier to take a look and make sure that they’re doing some due diligence that the product met the specifications.”

Bray noted there’s a segment of the industry that just hasn’t done its homework. Some don’t think the mandate applies to them. Others may be planning to get an ELD but don’t realize how involved a process it is.

“There’s a segment of the industry that’s out there that think, ‘I’ll buy one on December 17th and plug in and be good to go on the 18th,’” he said. “They don’t understand the learning curve you have to go through so you’re not making foolish mistakes and hurting yourself.”

Small carriers with multiple drivers should give themselves two to three months to make the transition, Bray said. “Something like 92 percent of the industry is under 20 power units,” he said, so even though there are a lot of carriers who need get an ELD system, most of them still have the time to get it done.

“We fully expect a pretty significant curve in demand, a steep curve in the next two quarters,” said Tom Neppl, vice president of hardware solutions at Omnitracs. Companies are gearing up to meet that demand.

However, Neppl warns, “There is a significant supply challenge right now in the electronics industry as a whole.” Between recent jumps in memory technology and a plethora of new products that have hit the market, Neppl expects there will be component shortages that might hinder ELD production just when demand is at its highest.

Bray is a bit more cautiously optimistic. “Your small guy is going to want something inexpensive that’s easy to install, easy to work with,” he said. Those can be rolled off the assembly line fairly quickly.

“But there’s going to be a crunch come November, December, no ifs, ands or buts.”

ELD Mandate on Track, Spear Says

By Seth Clevenger | Technology Editor, Transport Topics, August 17, 2018

spear-tmw-pn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear said he is confident that the federal electronic logging device mandate will take effect on schedule on Dec. 18 after years of debate and legal challenges.

That regulation will require most interstate motor carriers to record drivers’ hours of service with ELDs rather than paper logbooks, a change that Spear said will help make the trucking industry safer and more productive.

The rule, finalized by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in late 2015, gave carriers two years to make the transition to ELDs. The implementation deadline is now just four months away.

It’s “highly unlikely” that the mandate will be delayed, Spear said here Aug. 14 at the In.sight user conference held by trucking technology suppliers TMW Systems and PeopleNet.

“There are no surprises here,” he said. “It’s going to happen, and it’s going to be enforced.”

Spear pointed out that the ELD regulation was not only an FMCSA initiative; it was mandated by Congress, including a Republican majority House of Representatives, in the Map-21 highway bill passed in 2012.

The ELD rule later withstood court challenges, culminating in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case.

“It’s been litigated, it’s been debated, it’s been regulated,” Spear said. Come Dec. 18, “it will be the force and effect of law.”

Spear said ATA does have questions about the rollout, especially the enforcement plan, but FMCSA has indicated that it is on track to enforce the rule on the effective date.

“We feel very confident they’re going to be on time,” he said. “This thing will be enforced. It’s coming, and it’s our job — our responsibility — to make certain we’re ready for it.”

Beyond ELDs, the regulatory environment is shifting in Washington.

President Trump’s directive that the federal government cut two regulations for each new one created has led to greater scrutiny of both existing and proposed rules within each agency, including FMCSA, Spear said.

An advance notice of proposed rulemaking on sleep apnea, for example, has been withdrawn.

Speed limiters, meanwhile, have been relegated to the Department of Transportation’s long-term agenda, a “clear indication” that the proposal brought forth in October was “flawed,” Spear said.

He criticized the fact that the proposal listed three potential top speed limits instead of one, and didn’t specify which speed the regulators recommended.

“As written, that rule is abysmal, and it deserves to be pulled,” Spear said, adding that ATA will continue to engage in dialogue on this issue.

Spear also provided an update on ATA’s efforts to give commercial trucking a strong voice in shaping the regulatory framework for automated driving technology.

In the past 12 months, ATA has taken steps to ramp up its work in this area, he said. “I deem it a high priority.”

Spear cited ATA’s hiring of Mike Cammisa, a 16-year veteran of global automakers, as its vice president of safety and connectivity.

The federation also has created a subcommittee on autonomous vehicles, with members that provide input on what the framework for autonomy should look like.

In addition, Spear was named one of 25 members of the Department of Transportation’s advisory committee on automation.

“We took a seat at the table,” he said.

Spear also said the industry needs to displace the “hype” about autonomous trucks with reality.

“To say we’re going to displace our entire workforce in a matter of five years is just absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “It’s creating anxiety — completely unnecessarily.”

The focus really is not on driverless trucks, but on driver-assist technologies that could make drivers safer, more productive and better rested while reducing emissions and traffic congestion, he said.

ATA also continues to emphasize the need for trucking to tell its story to legislators. Those efforts could lead to action on issues such as infrastructure improvement, Spear said.

The driver shortage also remains a key concern. Spear said that issue will be a “very big centerpiece” of ATA’s annual Management Conference & Exhibition in October in Orlando, Fla.

“This is a problem we have to address — not just talk about it, but do something about it.”

Our Latest News

Accolades