Medical card, CDL link proposed

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New Jersey Department of Transportation proposed new routing restrictions on 102-inch-wide standard truck and double-trailer truck combinations after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a court ruling striking down the old restrictions. The new rules expand somewhat the roads that can be used by large trucks and apply both to interstate and intrastate trips. For more information, visit this site.

American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted for-hire Truck Tonnage Index gained 1.7 percent in September after falling 1.9 percent in August. September’s improvement was the best month-to-month gain since April 2006, when the index increased 2.0 percent. However, compared to a year earlier, the index was off 1.7 percent, and year-to-date, the index was down 1.9 percent, compared with the same period in 2005.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is accepting nominations until Jan. 4, 2007, for membership on the new Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee. Representatives of motor carriers, safety advocates and safety enforcement will be chosen based on their education, training or experience. For more information, visit this site and search Docket No. 26367.

FMCSA issued a notice specifying the federal statutory and regulatory provisions that states may enforce pertaining to household goods consumer protection. Last year, Congress gave state household goods regulatory authorities and state attorneys general the right to enforce certain consumer protection provisions that apply to individual shippers and are related to interstate movement of the goods. For more information, visit this site and search Docket No. 25886.

Trucking will increase slightly its share of the nation’s freight pool and continue to dominate domestic freight movement into the next decade, the American Trucking Associations reports in its newly released U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast to 2017. The forecast projects trucking’s total tonnage share to rise to 69.2 percent in 2011 and to 69.5 percent by 2017 from 68.9 percent in 2005.

The Freight Transportation Services Index rose 1.3 percent in September to 109.5 from the August level of 108.1, rising after two consecutive monthly decreases, the U.S. Department
of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported. However, the September 2006 level fell 1.0 percent from the September 2005 level of 110.6. For the first nine months of 2006, the Freight TSI has fallen 1.3 percent.

American Transportation Research Institute, the trucking industry’s not-for-profit research institute, released its Top 10 critical issues facing U.S. truckers, and issues related to driver availability and fuel costs top the list. The report is based on a survey of more than 4,000 trucking industry executives. For more information, visit this site.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed regulations that would merge information from drivers’ medical certificates into the commercial driver’s license process. The rulemaking was required by the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999.

A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published in the Nov. 16 Federal Register would require interstate CDL holders subject to the physical qualification requirements of the federal motor carrier safety regulations to provide a current original or copy of their medical examiner’s certificates to their state driver licensing agency. The state agency, in turn, would be required to record on the Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS) driver record the certification the driver made regarding applicability of Part 391 medical standards and, if Part 391 applies, the medical status information as proposed in the NPRM.

The driver’s certification as to the applicability of Part 391 and the specified medical certification status information would be made available to authorized personnel under Part 384 by way of CDLIS and National Law Enforcement Telecommunication System electronic inquiries and on the CDLIS motor vehicle record obtained by employers and drivers. Because certification would be verified electronically, CDL drivers no longer would be required to carry the medical examiners certificate if the proposal is adopted.

FMCSA proposes to begin enforcement of the requirements three years after the effective date of a final rule. Comments on the proposal are due Feb. 14, 2007. For a copy of the NPRM, visit this site and search Docket No. 2210.

ATA honors Mac McCormick
The American Trucking Associations board of directors posthumously appointed Clarence James “Mac” McCormick III as the group’s chairman on Oct. 31 – less than a week after McCormick died in a private plane crash near Lawrenceville, Ill. McCormick, who had been serving as first vice chairman, had been slated to take the chairmanship at the ATA annual meeting in Dallas.

McCormick started Bestway Express in Vincennes, Ind., in 1981 with four trucks. The company now operates a regional and dedicated fleet of more than 400 trucks, as well as warehousing and logistics services. McCormick also was a past chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association and the Indiana Motor Truck Association.

“Mac was a tireless ambassador for the trucking industry,” said ATA President Bill Graves. “This is truly an enormous loss.”John Hill, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, called McCormick “a forward thinker, someone who was always looking to make things better.” Hill and McCormick had worked on commercial vehicle safety issues for many years when Hill was with the Indiana State Police.

After formally electing McCormick chairman, the ATA board agreed that previous Chairman Patrick Quinn of U.S. Xpress would continue as chairman until June 2007. At that time, ATA First Vice Chairman Ray Kuntz of Watkins & Shepard in Helena, Mont., will take over as chairman.

CCJ Hot Spots: Another great month for Illinois, Ohio

Illinois (Outbound)
Destination State Avg Rate Min Rate Max Rate Avg Fuel Surcharge Avg Accessorial
Van ID 1.5384 1.2843 1.7925 0.25 441.62
MN 1.5094 1.311 1.7078 0.31 165.14
OR 1.4888 1.2862 1.6913 0.28 624.17
Reefer MN 1.9351 1.4199 2.4504 0.12 271.94
MS 1.8814 1.6347 2.1282 0.21 282.49
OR 1.4661 1.3376 1.5946 0.23 752.97
Flatbed ID 1.9232 1.6548 2.1916 0.26 518.32
AR 1.8612 1.4201 2.3024 0.19 161.72
MN 1.8429 1.6287 2.0571 0.13 80.33
California (Outbound)
Destination State Avg Rate Min Rate Max Rate Avg Fuel Surcharge Avg Accessorial
Van WA 1.8159 1.5961 2.0358 0.3 392.75
ID 1.6949 1.4911 1.8986 0.3 279.38
MN 1.2671 1.128 1.4062 0.27 528.3
Reefer WA 1.9003 1.6806 2.12 0.3 490.69
MS 1.6656 1.3226 2.0087 0.18 441.33
ID 1.6654 1.4993 1.8314 0.28 340.81
Flatbed ID 1.6889 1.3223 2.0554 0.22 251.08
WA 1.523 1.2767 1.7694 0.24 312.84
MN 1.2286 1.0515 1.4057 0.09 415.73
Ohio (Outbound)
Destination State Avg Rate Min Rate Max Rate Avg Fuel Surcharge Avg Accessorial
Van ID 1.4736 1.2046 1.7426 0.28 868.27
WA 1.4551 1.2317 1.6785 0.24 728.57
OR 1.4153 1.2821 1.5486 0.28 948.38
Reefer MN 1.4797 1.2198 1.7396 0.12 180.32
MS 1.4595 1.2706 1.6484 0.13 277.9
AR 1.417 1.351 1.4829 0.26 267.44
Flatbed AR 1.9565 1.6276 2.2546 0.13 183.08
WI 1.7398 1.5001 1.9796 0.09 58.46
MS 1.7078 1.4303 1.9853 0.29 231.78

For October, the CCJ Hot Spots for spot-market freight opportunities were Illinois, California and Ohio. In cooperation with freight-matching leader TransCore, we highlight the nation’s three hottest states – those where the outbound load-to-truck imbalance is most in favor of the carrier.

We then pair these states with market rate data to identify the three best outbound paying lanes by each of the three most popular equipment types – van, reefer and flatbed. And like the three origin states, each of these destination states have positive load-to-truck ratios. Load-to-truck ratio and market rate data are courtesy of TransCore. The goal is to highlight not only the best states for spot-market freight but also the best outbound opportunities from those states.

Fleischer: Tough politics ahead for trucking
Now that Democrats control the House and Senate, “It’s going to be a tough couple of years in business,” Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary, told attendees at the CCJ Fall Symposium in Scottsdale, Ariz. The business environment will be particularly difficult for industries, like trucking, that are impacted by environmental and regulatory rules, he said.

The climate in Washington will depend on “whether Democratic leaders can keep from going too far” or if they will “seek vetoes, seek confrontations, all in advance of the 2008 presidential election,” he said. For example, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may push through an increase in the minimum wage by the end of January, Fleischer said.
If the Democratic Congress passes an increase as part of a package that also includes tax cuts to help small businesses deal with the impact of this increased cost, it might go through. If they pass the increase with no concessions to small business, Bush might veto the measure, he said.

The Democratic-led Congress also might pass middle-class tax cuts funded by tax hikes on the top 2 to 5 percent of earners. If that happens, “Bush will veto it and they’ll say he’s for the wealthy,” Fleischer said. “It creates a perfect box for a Democrat to put a Republican in,” he said. “Either you’re for the rich, or you take a bigger and bigger bite” out of the incomes of the top 10 percent of earners who already pay 2/3 of all taxes. Fleischer also said that unless Democrats and Republicans work together, “it’s hard to imagine the Death Tax being extended” past 2010.
– Linda Longton

Graves: Election has ‘significant implications’
Bill Graves, president of the American Trucking Associations, said the gains by Democrats in the Nov. 7 midterm elections had “significant implications” for the trucking industry. Graves, speaking at the CCJ Fall Symposium in Scottsdale, Ariz., said ATA had worked well with a Republican-led Congress and administration to address issues of concern to the trucking industry.

“That dynamic changes now,” Graves said, adding that transportation funding may be spent in a much more diverse way than ATA would like. “I wish the money we paid in taxes was targeted and more effective in solving the challenges we face.”

Speaking about Republican losses in the elections, Graves – a two-term Republican governor of Kansas – said he wasn’t surprised at the outcome. “In politics, you reap what you sow,” he said. “Republicans didn’t do a good job of taking care of the people’s business. In my opinion, you have to focus on governing and not the politics of the moment.”

Politics aside, Graves forecasted a bright future for the volume of freight moved by truck. The U.S. population, now 300 million, is expected to reach 400 million in 2040. The top issue for the industry in the long run is whether or not this country is willing to make the investment in infrastructure to move freight economically, efficiently and safely, he said.
–Aaron Huff