Small fleet's hours of service exemption request denied

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Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023:

Small fleet’s hours of service exemption request denied

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has denied a request for a temporary hours of service exemption request from small fleet Flat Top Transport.

According to FMCSA’s SAFER website, Holland, Michigan-based Flat Top Transport operates 11 trucks and has 11 drivers.

On Aug. 31, 2022, Flat Top requested a four-month exemption for “immediate and emergency delivery of dry and bulk food grade products to locations that supply stores and distribution centers nationally.”

In its request, Flat Top said the exemption was necessary due to strict time constraints for the goods to be delivered, along with railroads being limited, a shortage of truck drivers, inflationary pressures on parts and services, and more. The company said it hauls products such as food-grade flour, corn meal, and salts used to produce cereals, baked goods, canned goods, and meat processing.

In denying the request, FMCSA said it “continues to monitor unique challenges motor carriers and drivers experience” while moving freight and “works to ensure that safety is not compromised.”

“Supply chain issues alone, however, do not provide a sufficient basis to exempt motor carriers transporting dry bulk food grade products from the HOS regulations,” the agency added. FMCSA concluded that Flat Top did not explain how it would achieve an equivalent level of safety if granted the exemption.

Volvo surpasses 25 certified EV dealerships

Volvo Trucks North America has surpassed an important milestone in preparing its national dealer network to support customers with the deployment of its zero-tailpipe emission Volvo VNR Electric model.

More than 25 dealer locations across North America have now completed the rigorous Volvo Trucks Certified Electric Vehicle (EV) Dealer program that was designed to ensure a comprehensive ecosystem of customer support for heavy-duty battery electric vehicle adoption.

“Volvo Trucks is leading the deployment of Class 8 battery-electric trucks across North America by collaborating with our dealer network to provide customers comprehensive sales and service support,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president, Volvo Trucks North America. “Selling the truck is only part of the equation; it takes an entire support ecosystem to successfully transition to battery-electric trucks. Without our dealer partners, accelerating the shift towards the widespread commercial adoption of electric vehicles would not be possible.”  

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Volvo Trucks has announced certified EV dealers in 15 states — California, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia — and three Canadian provinces — British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. The company said it is on track to certify numerous additional dealer locations across North America in 2023 as it progresses toward its goal of building a robust coast-to-coast dealer support network for battery-electric trucks.   

More sentences handed down in New Orleans staged-accident fraud scheme

Six more individuals have been sentenced for their roles in a widespread staged-accident fraud scheme in New Orleans.

United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that Lucinda Thomas, Mary Wade and Judy Williams, all of Houma, Louisiana, were sentenced on Jan. 19 for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in relation to the role in staging accidents with tractor-trailers in New Orleans. They were sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $43,000 in restitution.  

On Feb. 6, Dashontae Young, of Houma, Louisiana, was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $43,000 in restitution for conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Finally, on Feb. 14, John Diggs of Thibodaux, Louisiana, and James Williams of Gibson, Louisiana, were sentenced to 10 months in prison after they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.  Diggs and Williams were involved in a staged accident and made claims for personal injuries, which resulted in the victim trucking and insurance companies paying out $272,500 for the fraudulent claims. In addition to prison, Diggs and Williams were also sentenced to three years of supervised release, and a restitution hearing is set for April 5.

ContainerPort Group opens new Jacksonville terminal

National drayage provider ContainerPort Group (CCJ Top 250, No. 81) has announced the opening of a new terminal in Jacksonville, Florida, which expands the company’s existing footprint in the Southeast. 

“The Jacksonville Port Authority (JaxPort) continues to invest in their facility, and several of our commercial partners already utilize the port for both imports and exports, making now the perfect time for us to plant our flag in this market,” said Joey Palmer, President of CPG. “We are confident that we will swiftly establish ourselves as the premier trucking outfit in the Jacksonville market, strengthening our position in the southeast and furthering our vision of covering every port and every rail across the US.” 

Jacksonville provides an ideal geographic location to capture additional market share in the Southeast region, the company noted. Its recently completed harbor deepening project provides a 47-foot channel depth, which can accommodate newer and larger post-Panamax vessels. And with three major highways, three major railroads, and 152 million square feet of distribution and warehousing space near the port, CPG and its customers can be assured that their freight will move quickly to and from the port. 

CPG intends to expand its fleet by contracting drivers who are certified to handle hazardous materials and tankers, in order to provide diverse solutions to its customers. To facilitate the rapid growth of the CPG fleet in the market, the Jacksonville terminal will have a fleet of private chassis on site, elevating driver efficiency in and out of ports and terminals. Drivers can also utilize DrayPal, CPG’s custom mobile app, to help streamline their day-to-day operations and improve the efficiency of their business.

Freightliner Coronado models recalled for bunk issue

Daimler Trucks North America is also recalling approximately 189 model year 2021-2023 Freightliner Coronado trucks equipped with a foldable upper bunk. In the affected trucks, the mounting pivot bolt for the upper bunk may not have been tightened properly and may loosen, which could cause the bunk to fall.

Dealers will tighten the mounting pivot bolt, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed April 5. Owners can contact DTNA customer service at 1-800-547-0712 with recall number FL964. NHTSA’s recall number is 23V-063.