2016’s top trucking stories: ELD mandate and 34-hour restart survive, Trump on trucking, autonomous truck action and more

| December 30, 2016

2016 closed similarly to how it began: A healthy dose of activity from federal regulators, lingering uncertainty about freight, sluggish rates and .

Here’s a look at the year’s top stories:

A Volvo VNL equipped with the Otto retrofit autonomous system hauled a load of Budweiser 125 miles in October in Colorado.

A Volvo VNL equipped with the Otto retrofit autonomous system hauled a load of Budweiser 125 miles in October in Colorado.

10. Autonomous retrofit start-up Otto takes the lead on automated trucking

Engineers from major tech companies Google, Apple and Tesla announced in May they’d formed a new company, Otto, with the goal of developing an autonomous retrofit system for Class 8 trucks. Several months later, Uber announced it had acquired Otto, marking the ride-sharing company’s official entrance into the trucking market.

Just two months later, an Otto-equipped Volvo made autonomous history, hauling the first autonomous load in the U.S. and making the first autonomous delivery. The autonomous tractor-trailer made an early morning run from Fort Collins, Colo., to Colorado Springs, Colo., carrying a load of 51 cases of Budweiser. The 120-mile trek included a run through downtown Denver.  

Otto made a second autonomous run in November, on a 35-mile stretch on U.S. Route 33 from Dublin, Ohio, to East Liberty, Ohio.

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9. I-95 closed for hundreds of miles after hurricane-caused flooding, costing truckers millions

Torrential rain fall brought on by October’s Hurricane Matthew closed Interstate 95 for hundreds of miles in North Carolina, South Carolina and parts of Georgia and Florida. Flooding and debris left one of the country’s main freight arteries closed for nearly two weeks, which analysts said cost the trucking industry millions in lost revenue and wages.

8. Electric- and hydrogen-powered Class 8 truck unveiled

After touting plans and drawings earlier this year, tech start-up Nikola delivered in November, unveiling a futuristic-styled Class 8 truck powered completely by electric power and hydrogen cell. The Nikola One has a 1,200-mile range and about 1,000 hp, the company says. Nikola also says the truck produces no emissions. Several fleets have announced commitments to purchase a small number of Ones once they become available. Nikola has not said when it will begin manufacturing the truck.

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7. Owner-operator of the future examined in-depth

In March and April, Overdrive examined the future of the owner-operator business model, relative to rapid changes being seen in trucking equipment, freight-matching software, in-cab systems and driver health monitoring. See the series’ eight main parts at this link.

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6. Emissions regs crack down on glider kits

New emissions regulations finalized this year could dramatically alter the glider kit market, which had seen booming sales in the last half-decade in response to 2007 and 2010 emissions standards. The new regs allow much smaller sales of glider vehicles equipped with post-2010 engines, causing glider makers to either bring older engines into compliance or opt for newer engines in their glider builds.

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5. Trucking under Trump: Hope for hours of service, other regulatory reforms

After President-elect Donald Trump’s surprise November win in the presidential election, truckers and trucking trade groups expressed optimism for an improved regulatory environment in the industry, including greater accountability by the DOT for its regs. November’s Trump and Trucking article examines trucking groups’ wishes for the new administration and the impact Trump’s policies could have on the trucking industry.

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4. DOT proposes industry-wide speed governor mandate

After years of toying with the idea, the U.S. DOT and two of its sub-agencies officially proposed a mandate to require nearly all trucks to implement and use speed-limiting devices. The rule’s lack of specifics drew ire from the trucking industry, including groups like ATA that previously had supported a speed limiter mandate. See details on the rule at this link, and industry reaction at this link.

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3. 34-hour restart’s future uncertain till the end

Though 2016 was expected to be a quiet year on the hours-of-service front, the year started with a notice from the Truckload Carriers Association warning the industry that Congress inadvertently put the 34-hour restart at risk of being killed. The tool has been in place for truckers to manage their weekly on-duty time since 2004.

After several proposals from Congress to fix the issue, lawmakers finally cleared the air in December, spelling out two paths forward for the 34-hour restart.

ATA says the issue has effectively been put to bed, but FMCSA says it will follow Congress’ orders and wait on the results of a pending study to determine how restrictive the 34-hour restart’s use will be.

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2. Owner-operators took a beating from slow freight, bad rates

Rates remained poor in 2016, as slow freight demand kept trucking capacity loose and held rate leverage in favor of shippers and brokers. A July-issued report from investment firm Stifel said small carriers like owner-operators were falling out of the industry due to sinking rates and higher costs of regulatory compliance.

Overdrive reported on the subject throughout the year, including an updated look at the rates hall of shamethe states with the cheapest outbound freight.

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1. ELD mandate survives in court

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association in March filed a lawsuit against the DOT and FMCSA, seeking to overturn the December 2015-issued rule to mandate electronic logging devices. Judges for the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold the mandate and its December 2017 compliance date in an October-issued decision. OOIDA plans to continue the legal fight, even it it means appealing to the Supreme Court.

Owner-operators looking for information on available ELDs can check Overdrive’s ELD buyer’s chart at this link.

21 comments
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2069354830

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JimwithMaxam
JimwithMaxam

Morning All,


Could someone please explain to me why we continue respond to Bill's postings here?

Just curious. A truck driver who bashes other truck drivers because of their opinion or comments, whether justified or not is not worth the time it takes to come up with any sort of retort. Come on guys, lets raise the bar a bit.  No matter what the government throws our way, we will survive and always have. This industry cannot survive without the owner operator model. Embrace it and find your niche under the new laws to make money and be efficient. YOU can do it!  Don't give up!  I'm not!


Drive with pride
Drive with pride

Thank you for your honest experience and impute. Keep sharing your continued service, maybe we'll all be herd. The squeaky wheel gets the greese? Or replaced. Could you in vision Otto drive in a tanker in bad weather? Or at anytime? Just asking?

JamesTaylor12
JamesTaylor12

lawsuit against the government? They are putting our lives on the line and don't know what they are doing. People will die because of this rule

tankeryanker111
tankeryanker111

Im a owner operator pulling tanker and our company has switched to elogs about 6 months ago .i have not ever in my 24 years driving driven so tired and wore out from trying to plan your pick up and delivery times and 10 full hrs off , what a mess and then most of shipper and receivers dont have room to park at nite.before elogs i would sleep when i said i was tired and truck when i was rested now i have some government employee telling me when im tired and when i shood be driving and they say its safety. It is way less safe on elogs . Our company was at 100% on time delivery with no accidents for 6 year on 40 owner operators and since elogs we are at 65 % on gime deliveries and have had 3 accidents from falling asleep. We all drive same miles as before just are forces to stop and not stop when the computer says and not our bodys.i average 3700 miles a week and have been for about 17 years and have not one accident not one bumber ding nothing but i can see it happening very easily now.

jsstranahan2
jsstranahan2

Excellent job with your post tankeryanker111, I could not have said it better. We need way more of us o/o as well as quality drivers to come together and speak out, we have the power to stop this believe it or not. It's a question of whether we can collectively unite and act as a one with power and authority that comes from a place of wisdom, experience and with great concerns for public safety and the future of our industry and profession as owner/operators. Way to many of us are content to sit back and let people that are not qualified to do our jobs make the rules and tell us how to do it then get on the CB radio or Facebook and complain. We need to be contacting OOIDA, ATA, FMCA, USDOT, etc, as well as all of our representatives from the local town, village, city, county and state levels right on up to our Congressmen, Senators and the President himself. These new laws will destroy not just our industry but our economy and quality of life as well. Ever hear the saying "Your silence is deafening"? Our silence by the majority is consent for them to do as they wish. No action is action, it's a choice to do nothing!

JamesTaylor12
JamesTaylor12

@jsstranahan2  please don't contact the ATA because they are the cronie group trying to do everything they can to push out o/o's for their own advantage...

Vin kumar
Vin kumar

Let's all go ahead n file for government subsidies. We will live happily ever after.

Vin kumar
Vin kumar

Trucks bring goods but how will u be buying goods with no money?

jsstranahan2
jsstranahan2

Well by all means feel free to enlighten us with your infinite wisdom and tell us what's wrong with this "crybaby" post?

It's simply a bulletin of some of the top issues we face, it's up to us to fill in the blanks. Share your wisdom, experience, failures, successes, do's and dont's and whatever you have to offer to help our industry. Unless of course you're just like the rest of the CB and FB jockeys who complain but do nothing to get involved in a solution?

We have a very powerful voice if we would communicate, unite and then act. Be safe driver, God Bless!

bob walker
bob walker

@WilliamLFields We need to have more rules that will keep fat people out of trucks. The fact is they are not safe and should be forced to slim down or get out of the truck. They need to have a scale for drivers at the scale house if they are overweight shut them down until they comply. 

blue21614
blue21614

@bob walker @WilliamLFields are you kidding me there's people in all kinds of jobs that are OVER WEIGHT SHOULD HAVE ALL OF THEM STOP WORKING TOO,GET A BRAIN BEFORE YOU SPEAK!!!!!!

bob walker
bob walker

@WilliamLFields There you go all you know is crybaby, Wussy, spilled milk. Did you ever get pass the 3rd grade.!!!

WilliamLFields
WilliamLFields

And its ones like you that is much not needed in this industry.

You have to resort to little kid attempts at a put down and little do you know that I'm UNAFFECTED by attempts of attack. Your attempts just shows that you and your kind are not man enough to think for themselves!

Wussy !

WilliamLFields
WilliamLFields

I roll with the changes and prosper in this industry, all you do is cry over spilled milk.

bob walker
bob walker

@WilliamLFields You look like you could roll, all you do is sit back and make some smart ass comment to any person that post their opinion. If you don't have an opinion about anything just shut up and drink your milk. You look like you never spilled a drop.!!!!