Feds seek input on speed limiters

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Freight Transportation Services Index rose 0.8 percent in December to 108.4 from the November level of 107.6, following two monthly declines, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported. Still, the annual Freight TSI declined for the second consecutive year.

Federal Railroad Administration is proposing legislation to allow it to regulate railroad worker hours of service for the first time. If adopted by Congress, the proposal would replace railroad hours-of-service rules first enacted in 1907. A copy of the full legislative proposal can be found at this site.

American Trucking Associations named Clayton Boyce vice president for the Office of Public Affairs. Since 2004, Boyce has served in the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General, most recently as public affairs officer. Previously, he was editor-in-chief and publisher of Traffic World magazine after 17 years as a news editor and reporter.

Florida State Sen. Victor Crist introduced legislation (Bill S912) that would prohibit the use of retreaded truck tires on Florida highways. Specifically, the proposal would ban the “use of recapped or retreaded tires on truck tractors, pole trailers or semitrailers operated on public roads, streets or highways of this state.” The Tire Retread Information Bureau is opposing the proposed legislation.

The first National Summit on Agricultural and Food Truck Transport for the Future – set for April 25-26 at the Holiday Inn at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. – aims to develop legislative and policy initiatives in agriculture and food trucking for
possible inclusion in the 2007 farm bill and other appropriate federal legislation. For more information, go to this site.

NATSO, which represents truck stops and travel plazas, named Dan Alsaker chairman for 2007. Alsaker is the president of Broadway Truck Stops, a chain of eight truck stops in Iowa, Montana, Nevada and Washington.

Two federal agencies are requesting public comment by March 27 on whether they should mandate speed-limiting devices on certain large trucks and prohibit truck owners and operators from adjusting those devices.

In a Jan. 26 Federal Register notice, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sought input on a petition filed by the American Trucking Associations and on a joint petition submitted by safety advocacy group Road Safe America and nine motor carriers. The agencies said they would weigh public comments along with their own evaluations of available data in deciding whether to move forward.

The biggest difference between the ATA and Road Safe petitions is the scope of the mandate. Road Safe and the nine carriers – Schneider National, C.R. England, H.O. Wolding, ATS Intermodal, Dart Transit, J.B. Hunt, U.S. Xpress, Covenant Transport and Jet Express – are asking that the feds mandate speed limiters on all large trucks manufactured after 1990, a regulation that would require governors on virtually all on-highway trucks operated today. ATA, however, is seeking to mandate speed limiters only on new trucks built after a rule is adopted.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association criticized the request for comments. “Since very few highway accidents involving trucks take place at speeds greater than 68 mph, you don’t have to be a highway safety expert to conclude a singular focus on truck speed could hardly produce a safety breakthrough,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said. “But that’s not how it works in Washington, D.C., where perception is spun to be reality.” OOIDA accuses NHTSA and FMCSA of being “all too willing to appease big business” by even agreeing to seek comments on the petitions.

For a copy of the request for comments, visit this site and search Docket No. 26851.
– Avery Vise

ATRI studies speed differential
The American Transportation Research Institute is working with industry partners to analyze the potential safety impacts of speed differentials that may exist between cars and trucks on the road due to differing posted maximum speeds, use of speed governors and excessive speeds by cars and trucks. Preliminary data and analyses will be incorporated into a sophisticated model to better understand exposure issues and crash outcomes.

In Phase I of this study, ATRI is conducting a confidential survey to better understand the use of speed governors in the industry and the related safety impacts. ATRI is seeking the participation of motor carriers that use or have experience with speed governors. Survey responses will be analyzed, and carriers may be asked to participate in a follow-up survey. The survey can be accessed online at this site.

ATA seeks faster info on drivers
The American Trucking Associations petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to amend its safety regulations to promote greater motor carrier use of “employer notification systems.” ATA says this initiative is part of its ongoing campaign to improve truck safety. Employer notification systems is a term for programs that allow trucking companies to register their drivers with state licensing agencies, which then notify the trucking company when a truck driver receives a traffic violation, conviction or change in commercial driver’s license status. This notification process allows trucking companies to take timely action to address any unsafe driving behaviors.

“These programs address a regulatory loophole that allows some serious traffic convictions to go undetected for several months,” says ATA President Bill Graves. “Promoting their use allows motor carriers to monitor driver violations in a timely manner so corrective action can be taken. This is an important step in advancing road safety.”

Currently, motor carriers obtain and review the motor vehicle record of each of the drivers they employ through semi-annual or annual motor vehicle record checks. In the months between these MVR checks, commercial drivers are required to self-report traffic violations, convictions or license status changes to their employer. Unfortunately, these self-reports are not always made by some drivers.

ATA is aware of 10 states that currently have some type of employer notification system. ATA also is aware of commercial programs that provide multistate ENS coverage.

ACE to be mandatory on southern border
Starting in April, trucks entering the United States in California, Texas and New Mexico will be required to file electronic manifests, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced. The Automated Commercial Environment Truck Manifest System, or ACE, is meant to protect the United States from terrorism and was mandated by the Trade Act of 2002. The e-manifest is an electronically filed version of the paper manifest carriers already are required to submit before crossing the U.S. border.

ACE has been mandatory at ports of entry in Arizona since Jan. 25, the same day it was required in Washington and seven ports in North Dakota. Eventually, e-manifests will be required at all land border ports of entry, so the federal government is encouraging all truckers to begin using the system. For more information on ACE, e-mail acenow@dhs.gov or go to this site.

California eyes fines to enforce retrofits
California is considering levying fines on older-model trucks when they enter state ports and intermodal rail facilities if the trucks have not been retrofitted. The fines would be levied, however, only if the state receives Proposition 1B funds to pay for truck replacements and retrofits, said Karen Caesar, a California Air Resources Board information officer. “If we do not get these funds, we will have to come up with another proposal that would not financially hinder the drivers,” Caesar said in an e-mail.

Proposition 1B is the Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality and Port Security Bond Act, which California voters approved in November. The Legislature now must decide, however, how to apportion the money. “The details of providing financial assistance, how much, for how long, who receives it, tax implications, etc., have yet to be worked out,” Caesar said. “They are legitimate concerns expressed by a number of individuals.”

The plan would phase-in replacement trucks or retrofits over a four-year period ending in 2011. While newer trucks could be retrofitted with diesel particulate filters and other emissions control devices, trucks older than model year 1993 would have to be replaced entirely. About 175 people attended a Jan. 31 meeting in Wilmington to discuss the idea after 10,000 fliers were distributed, Caesar said. “The main concerns voiced by the drivers were who would pay for the retrofits and whether their trucks would be targeted by the regulation,” Caesar said.

Several more public meetings are expected, but times and locations haven’t been set. More information is available at this site.

LA port tests electric tractors
The Port of Los Angeles will test all-electric tractors to tow cargo containers to local warehouses and railyards. The port and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the regional agency responsible for controlling air pollution in the Los Angeles area, have funded the $527,000 initiative to explore the feasibility of replacing diesel trucks with the all-electric units, according to a joint announcement. The project is the first approved under the $15 million Technology Advancement Program contained within the Clean Air Action Plan approved by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in November. As part of that plan, the Port of Los Angeles has committed $85 million in the next five years for truck replacement and retrofits. The regional air-pollution agency has committed $48 million to replace older diesel trucks and tackle related projects, such as the electric tractors.

ATRI outlines latest idling regs
The American Transportation Research Institute recently announced that the latest version of its Idling Regulations Compendium is available online at www.atri-online.org. Since first publishing the compendium in 2003, ATRI has distributed more than 50,000 copies to truck drivers and motor carriers alike.

Designed to help truck drivers reduce idling and comply with idling regulations throughout the United States, the compendium identifies 34 different state, district, county and city regulations that establish idle limits for commercial vehicles. Maximum idling limits and fines are listed, as well as specific exemptions. In addition to the online compendium, ATRI provides the information on a cab card that is designed to be printed, folded and kept conveniently by drivers in the cab of the truck.

Groups representing various highway users and others have joined to fight the sale or lease of existing toll road facilities to private investors. The issue came to the forefront in the past couple of years when the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road were leased to private entities. Other states have been eyeing similar moves.

Known as “Americans for a Strong National Highway Network,” the coalition includes the American Trucking Associations, the American Automobile Association, the American Highway Users Alliance, the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“The sale or lease of existing toll facilities generates revenue at great expense to taxpayers and the trucking industry and carries potential negative impacts on highway safety, security and the motoring public,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “We must consider the long-term impact privatization will have on our nation’s transportation system and explore all available financing options to ensure that the government is motivated by public good and transportation purposes.”

OOIDA has been a particularly vocal opponent of toll-road privatization in recent months. “We recognize elected officials are confronted with difficult funding decisions, but these deals are akin to a pawn-shop mentality of hocking your assets for cash now, but paying much more down the road,” says Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA. “Rest assured the companies lining up to buy our roads aren’t doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. They see long-term cash flows and guaranteed, healthy profits at the public’s expense.”

The group has key friends on Capitol Hill. Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) – who chair the House committee and subcommittee, respectively, that oversee highways – are skeptical about privatization of existing facilities.

“For the Bush administration, the rush to promote public-private partnerships is based in ideology, not a critical evaluation of how public-private partnerships might help meet the goal of an improved, integrated national transportation system and further the public interest,” DeFazio says. He is concerned that private toll-road owners would increase tolls dramatically and short-change maintenance unless strong checks were
in place.

More rules for household goods brokers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is inviting comments until May 9 on its proposal to require brokers who arrange the transportation of household goods to comply with additional consumer protection requirements. This rulemaking responds to provisions in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), and to a petition for rulemaking from the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA).

Based on complaints and comments submitted to an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, FMCSA says it believes some household goods brokers “are acting deceptively, particularly on the Internet.” Problems and challenges FMCSA has identified include:

  • Minimal or no requirement to disclose contact and nature of operations information;
  • No protection of consumers from unlicensed, illegal motor carriers;
  • The practice of quoting estimates of charges without providing written documents;
  • No requirement for brokers to disclose refund policy for customers’ deposits when shipments are cancelled;
  • No significant identifiable capital investment, reputation and standing in the community, or insurance concerns;
  • Consumer lack of knowledge and experience with moving transactions; and
  • Internet brokers providing false or inaccurate information on their websites.

FMCSA says its proposal addresses those problems. The agency proposes to amend the current broker regulations in part 371 by adding a new subpart B specifically for household goods brokers. For the most part, those rules reflect mandates from SAFETEA-LU and recommendations from AMSA in its petition for rulemaking. Some language would echo certain provisions of part 375 applicable to motor carriers of household goods.

The proposal adds some teeth to FMCSA’s oversight of household goods brokers by incorporating civil penalties required by SAFETEA-LU. Specifically, the proposed regulations would specify minimum penalties for household goods brokers that operate without the necessary FMCSA registration or make estimates without the necessary contracts with household goods motor carriers in effect. FMCSA also would increase the amount of surety bond or trust fund currently required for household goods brokers to $25,000 from the current $10,000.

For a copy of the notice of proposed rulemaking, visit this site and search Docket No. 17008.

CCJ Hot Spots: Encore performance for Midwest
For the second consecutive month, the states of Illinois, Ohio and Indiana led the nation in January in spot-market freight opportunities. 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.

Illinois (Outbound)
Destination State Avg Rate Min Rate Max Rate Avg Fuel Surcharge Avg Accessorial
Van MN 1.5154 1.3246 1.7061 0.31 165.92
MS 1.4496 1.2598 1.6395 0.25 189.36
SC 1.4086 1.2873 1.5299 0.36 309.84
Reefer MS 1.8861 1.651 2.1212 0.21 275.03
SC 1.7281 1.5442 1.912 0.2 332.46
AR 1.5689 1.3162 1.8215 0.29 239.4
Flatbed AR 1.7763 1.4018 2.1508 0.17 156.74
SC 1.6601 1.4732 1.847 0.05 117.78
MS 1.6473 1.4681 1.8265 0.12 161.59
Ohio (Outbound)
Destination State Avg Rate Min Rate Max Rate Avg Fuel Surcharge Avg Accessorial
Van SC 1.4699 1.318 1.6219 0.3 202.06
MS 1.4128 1.2061 1.6195 0.15 201.12
AR 1.3744 1.2254 1.5234 0.27 249.85
Reefer SC 1.557 1.4132 1.7008 0.23 229.92
MN 1.4552 1.2057 1.7047 0.15 236.17
MS 1.4485 1.2792 1.6178 0.13 292.92
Flatbed AR 1.8101 1.463 2.1573 0.12 176.42
SC 1.7165 1.4837 1.9493 0.06 45.59
MS 1.6476 1.4283 1.867 0.26 214.68
Indiana (Outbound)
Destination State Avg Rate Min Rate Max Rate Avg Fuel Surcharge Avg Accessorial
Van AR 1.5424 1.3548 1.7301 0.27 186.86
SC 1.5257 1.3839 1.6675 0.29 221.36
LA 1.5198 1.357 1.6827 0.23 275.3
Reefer MS 1.6783 1.479 1.8775 0.26 221.29
SC 1.6702 1.5091 1.8314 0.22 231.43
AR 1.5571 1.4274 1.6868 0.27 184.33
Flatbed LA 1.8541 1.4477 2.2605 0.21 210.58
MS 1.6958 1.4129 1.9787 0.16 121.46
AR 1.6457 1.4989 1.7924 0.13 77.67

Carrier News
Schneider National has been granted authority to operate as a domestic carrier and logistics services provider in the People’s Republic of China. Schneider Logistics (Tianjin) Co. Ltd. has been established under the new authority and will offer domestic transportation, logistics (warehousing, cross-docking and third-party logistics) and other related services through organic growth and acquisitions.

Ruan Transportation Management Systems acquired Jim Aartman Inc., a California trucking company that primarily hauls dairy products across the nation. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Aartman operates in 13 locations in California, Oregon, Nevada, Indiana, Florida and New Mexico with 950 employees.

Private equity firm Fenway Partners has acquired a majority interest in Gemini Traffic Sales, a regional less-than-truckload and nationwide full truckload carrier specializing in the transportation of time- and temperature-sensitive products. Gemini represents Fenway’s first all-temperature-controlled trucking investment and its 17th acquisition in transportation and logistics space. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Performance Transportation Services Inc. announced that it has met all requirements to emerge from Chapter 11 protection, and that it has implemented its court-approved plan of reorganization. The Detroit-based transporter of automobiles, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in January 2006, said secured creditors will be fully repaid in cash and shares under the plan.

Saia acquired Waunakee, Wis.-based LTL carrier Madison Freight Systems, which provides 100 percent direct coverage to the state of Wisconsin and limited coverage in Illinois and Minnesota. Founded in 1943, MFS has five terminals and 200 employees; its operations will be integrated into Saia’s direct service in Wisconsin.

Werner Enterprises promoted Gregory Werner to chief executive officer, succeeding C.L. Werner, who founded the company as an owner-operator in 1956. Gregory Werner also will retain the position of president, which he has held since 1997. C.L. Werner, the company’s largest shareholder, will remain chairman.

USA Truck promoted Jerry Orler to chief executive officer and president. Orler, who succeeds Robert Powell as CEO, was one of the founders of the Van Buren, Ark.-based company in 1989. Powell will remain chairman.

Boyd Bros. Transportation Co. promoted Richard Bailey to president from chief operating officer and chief financial officer. Gail Cooper remains chief executive officer, and Chris Cooper has been promoted to COO from vice president and general manager.

FFE Transportation Services named John Hickerson division president of American Eagle Lines, FFE’s 500-truck dry truckload fleet. Hickerson, who also will lead FFE’s freight brokerage operation, previously was chairman and CEO of Pacer Transport.

Randall-Reilly buys Truck Show Las Vegas
Randall-Reilly Publishing, CCJ’s parent, announced last month that it had purchased all assets of the Truck Show Las Vegas, held annually in June in Las Vegas, Nev., at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This year’s show is scheduled for June 7-9.

“This is an opportunity to grow our tradeshow platform, while serving the marketing needs of our customers,” says Mike Reilly, Randall-Reilly president and chief executive officer.

In a related development, the California Trucking Association has signed a multiyear agreement to sponsor The Truck Show Las Vegas and will discontinue its International Trucking Show in Southern California, the Randall-Reilly Events Group announced. “By pooling the resources, exhibitors and attendees of both The Truck Show Las Vegas and the International Trucking Show, we will be able to re-create over the next few years what once existed in the West,” says Alan Sims, vice president and executive director of the Randall-Reilly Events Group.

“We are pleased to sponsor The Truck Show Las Vegas,” says Michael Campbell, CTA executive vice president and CEO. “It will be good for our members – and the entire industry – to be able to attend one annual event in the West where they can meet face to face with OEMs and suppliers and take part in educational sessions.”

For more information on the Truck Show Las Vegas, go to this site.

The Equipment InFocus piece in our January 2007 issue (“Doing nothing about idling?”) contained several errors that mischaracterized RigMaster’s technology and product offering. Contrary to the article, the RigMaster system’s heating and air conditioning system operates in an automotive manner and does not consume power from the APU’s generator. In addition, the RigMaster system features a 60-amp alternator – not 30 amps as reported – and the generator is 120 volts, not 110. Also, although a Caterpillar engine for the unit is available, most are sold with Perkins engines.