FMCSA calls on fleets to apply for Truck Leasing Task Force

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Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, April 7, 2022:

FMCSA accepting applications for Truck Leasing Task Force

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced Wednesday the opening of applications for the Truck Leasing Task Force (TLTF), in consultation with the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Task Force is an initiative mandated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and a long-term effort of the Trucking Action Plan. As part of the plan’s initiatives, the TLTF will evaluate the impacts of commercial motor vehicle lease agreements and discuss best practices for future agreements.

“The Truck Leasing Task Force represents one of the important actions the Administration is taking to improve the trucking industry,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “America’s truck drivers need and deserve fair leasing agreements, and this work will help ensure that leasing is above board.”

FMCSA Acting Administrator Robin Hutcheson added that the task force “will be instrumental in expanding our understanding of the financial impacts of truck leasing and will reinforce our commitment to the quality of life and safety” of truck drivers.

TLTF will cover many areas related to truck leasing arrangements, including:

  • Exploring predatory truck leasing arrangements in coordination with DOL and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Evaluating common truck lease agreements and their terms, identifying and reviewing those that are potentially inequitable in the motor carrier industry
  • Reviewing agreements available to drayage drivers at ports
  • Studying the impact of truck leasing agreements on the net compensation of commercial motor vehicle drivers
  • Examining truck leasing arrangements and financing arrangements among motor carriers, entry-level drivers, driver training providers, and others involved in the industry
  • Assessing resources that assist CMV drivers in reviewing the financial impacts of leasing agreements

The task force will include a maximum of 10 members representing labor organizations, motor carriers, consumer protection groups, legal professionals, owner-operators and other relevant businesses. TLTF will examine the above issues and submit a report to FMCSA and the U.S. Department of Labor.

TLTF’s charter runs through February 11, 2024. FMCSA encourages diverse, non-traditional representatives, especially women and people of color, to apply to serve on the task force. The application period is open here through Friday, May 6.

Daimler Truck’s autonomous arm opens new tech center in Germany

Torc Robotics' new technology and software development center will support the development of Level 4 autonomous driving tech for the U.S.Torc Robotics' new technology and software development center will support the development of Level 4 autonomous driving tech for the U.S.Torc Robotics, an independent subsidiary of Daimler Truck, is opening a technology and software development center in Stuttgart, Germany. Torc is an SAE Level 4 self-driving vehicle software developer for heavy-duty vehicles.

Torc Europe GmbH will tap into the available talent pool in one of Germany’s prime automotive regions. The company says the team at the new location will support the ongoing development of the Level 4 autonomous virtual driver for deployment in autonomous trucks in the United States.

Torc’s new office is in close proximity to an existing Daimler Truck R&D facility and not far from the Daimler Truck headquarters.

“Torc is working closely with Daimler Truck to optimize the entire product stack including the virtual driver, sensing and computer hardware, and the redundant chassis, to be the first company to launch a scalable and profitable self-driving product,” said Torc founder and CEO Michael Fleming. “Torc’s Stuttgart technology and software development center will leverage the deep automotive and trucking technical and product expertise to make this a reality.”

Torc and Daimler are collaboratively pursuing a common goal of developing and bringing autonomous trucks for long-haul trucking to the roads within the decade. In 2019, Daimler Truck invested a majority share in Torc, the first autonomous vehicle company to enter an integrated partnership with a truck original equipment manufacturer.

Torc and Daimler Truck, with its North American entity, are currently ramping up development and testing in the United States. Torc’s testing facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, allows daily, multi-shift runs of Torc’s autonomous test trucks on highways in New Mexico and Texas.

Trucking school expanding in Florida

FleetForce Truck Driving School is opening two new training facilities in Florida's Gulf Coast region.FleetForce Truck Driving School is opening two new training facilities in Florida's Gulf Coast region.FleetForce Truck Driving School announced plans to open two new training facilities in Florida’s Gulf Coast region, as the need to get new drivers on the road continues to fuel the company’s growth throughout the state.

FleetForce President Tra Williams joined leaders from the trucking industry at an event in Bradenton, Florida, last week to announce the two new locations and celebrate the success of a newly launched pre-hire program designed to recruit more drivers.

“If we’re serious about addressing the growing truck driver shortage, we have to be innovative and create a new model for recruiting and training drivers,” Williams said. “Drivers are retiring faster than we’re replacing them, and we must be willing to do things differently if we want to attract people to the trucking industry. This collaboration is a big step in the right direction.”

The program — a partnership between FleetForce; Florida Trucking Association; State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota; and multiple trucking companies — removes the financial barrier for people who want to go through driver training school, the school said. Trucking companies that are FTA members pay the tuition costs up front, with an agreement to hire the student once they complete the course and receive their CDL.

FleetForce currently operates driver training schools in Winter Haven, Palm City and on the Bradenton campus of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. The new site in Venice will expand the partnership between FleetForce and State College of Florida.

Love’s helping fleets prep for Roadcheck with discounted inspections

Love’s Travel Stops is offering truck drivers discounts on select inspections to help in preparation for next month’s International Roadcheck inspection blitz, which is set for May 17-19.

Throughout April and May, drivers can receive $1 TirePass inspections and $10 off DOT inspections at more than 400 Love's Truck Care and Speedco locations across the country. During this time, drivers can also get a complimentary visual inspection with the purchase of any truck care service.

"Love's team members want to help drivers get back on the road quickly, safely and legally as they continue to deliver essential goods across the country," said Gary Price, executive vice president of truck care, hospitality and facility maintenance for Love's. "Our team will help professional drivers be prepared for this year's CVSA International Roadcheck and save them time by offering TirePass inspections while they fuel up.”

The focus of this year’s Roadcheck is on wheel ends. Violations involving wheel end components historically account for about one quarter of vehicle out-of-service violations discovered during International Roadcheck.