ATRI identifies detention, diesel tech shortage, more as 2023 top priorities

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Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, May 9, 2023:

New research priorities for ATRI: Public truck parking investment, detention, more

At a mid-year meeting in Florida, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) Board of Directors approved a new list of top research priorities for 2023, as identified by ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee (RAC) and informed by driver/carrier surveys. ATRI’s RAC identified and prioritized the following list of recommended research topics: 

The cost of detention. Operators and motor carriers consistently rank driver detention at customer facilities as a top trucking concern, ATRI noted. This research, supported by shipper groups, will include quantitative data collection to identify detention impacts, including costs, and strategies for minimizing detention.

Expanding truck parking at public rest areas. The lack of available truck parking is perennially ranked by drivers as a top concern. This research will identify and map truck driver needs to rest stop attributes, develop best-practice case studies and utilize truck driver data to identify strategies for expanding truck parking capacity available at public rest areas. 

Identifying barriers to entry for female truck drivers. Women represent less than 10 percent of the truck operator workforce, yet ATRI research, the organization said, has documented that female drivers are generally more safe than their male counterparts in terms of outcomes. This research will identify gender issues and proactive steps trucking can take to make careers more appealing to women. 

"Complete Streets" impact on freight mobility. Complete Streets is a United States Department of Transportation program designed to make transportation accessible for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders. However, planning decisions to deploy "complete streets" can negatively impact freight transportation and those who rely on truck-delivered goods. This study will seek to quantify these impacts and recommend approaches for transportation planners to better facilitate freight movement. 

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Examining the diesel technician shortage. Challenges recruiting and retaining technicians are often cited as critical. This research will work with government and industry to identify factors underlying the shortage, including mapping career attributes to workforce needs, and assessing high school-level vocational training availability, industry recruitment practices and competing career opportunities, ATRI said.

[Related: How drivers, legal experts and insurers feel about driver-facing cameras]

Iveco assumes ownership of Nikola JV

Nikola Corporation and Iveco announced Tuesday morning that Iveco Group will assume full ownership of companies' joint venture in Ulm, Germany. The two companies entered into a partnership in 2019. 

Iveco Group will now concentrate on Europe for the further development and commercialization of its own battery electric and fuel cell electric trucks, which includes the roll out its financing business model. Iveco Group will be licensed to freely access and continue developing vehicle control software for the jointly developed BEV and FCEV. 

Nikola will focus its operations in North America, with an integrated approach to its customers, offering BEV, FCEV and hydrogen infrastructure via its HYLA brand. Nikola will be granted the IVECO S-Way technology license for North America and related component supply from Iveco Group, and will gain joint ownership of the intellectual property of Generation 1 eAxles, technology developed together with Iveco Group’s powertrain brand, FPT Industrial.

Hours of service regs waived for certain North Dakota ag haulers

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on May 5 issued a declaration suspending hours of service regulations for drivers transporting “agricultural inputs,” including dry fertilizer, liquid fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia, pesticides and seed.

In issuing the order, Burgum cited “a record-breaking snowfall winter season” that has delayed the spring planting season for North Dakota agricultural producers.

“Late winter storms and record-breaking snowfall have resulted in a compressed time frame for planning and treating fields,” Burgum said in a press release, “forcing truck drivers to move greater amounts of agricultural inputs in a shorter amount of time to allow producers to complete planting and other work.”

The waiver is effective through June 4.

Fuel haulers in Nebraska get HOS relief

Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen issued an executive order exempting in-state fuel haulers from the hours of service regulations in efforts to combat ongoing fuel-supply shortages. Haulers operating under the exemption are required to carry a copy of the governor's proclamation with them on the truck. 

Those eligible include haulers of gasoline or gas blends, diesel, fuel oil, ethanol, propane and biodiesel into or within Nebraska.

The waiver "is effective immediately and shall remain in effect until June 4, 2023," the governor's office said. It follows the expiration of a federal waiver extended for multiple states in March through mid-April for fuel haulers, prompted originally by an unanticipated shutdown of the Suncor refinery in Colorado, severe winter storms, and high demand resulting in difficulty in obtaining necessary fuel in the affected states -- Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

The text of Governor Pillen's order also notes that any "driver who notifies a motor carrier that he or she needs immediate rest shall be given at least ten consecutive hours off-duty before the driver is required to return to service."