Bigger and better

| October 05, 2005

GATS grows in exhibitors and attendees.

The Texas-sized Great American Trucking Show grew even bigger this year. The exhibits and entertainment drew 44,925 attendees to the Dallas Convention Center in August for the seventh annual show, an increase in attendance of 5.1 percent over 2004.

The show saw a 5 percent increase in owner-operators and a 12 percent increase in fleet attendees. Almost 100 more exhibitors than last year were on display at the show, and Western Star and Mack rounded out the truck manufacturing OEMs for the first time. The show also grew in trailer manufacturers and distributors.

This year’s show featured two free concerts, Terri Clark, sponsored by Mobil Delvac, and Sammy Kershaw, sponsored by Volvo Trucks North America. Other celebrity events were autograph signings by Overdrive Radio Network hosts Bill Mack and Larry Shannon; country singers Shelly Fairchild, Bobby Pinson and Carolyn Dawn Johnson at the Midnight Trucking Radio Network booth; and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders at the Freightliner booth.

The show also offered Partners in Business owner-operator success seminars and the first Fleet Forum, hosted by the Texas Motor Transportation Association and featuring keynote speaker, NFL great Bart Starr.

Truckers News booth events
Each day at the Truckers News booth, a chef cooked up reader-submitted recipes included in the free Cookin’ in the Cab cookbook. The cooking demonstration was sponsored by Interstate Distributors, who also gave away a microwave/coffee pot combo with inverter on Saturday.

The Truckers News booth was also the hub for the daily $1,000 Mardi Gras Giveaway. To enter, attendees visited various GATS booths to pick up Mardi Gras beads, then turned in the entry form in time for the daily drawing.

The three winners were Christina Shively of Belton, Texas, who owns Majestic Transport Company with her husband Dale and is leased to Panther Transportation Services; Lora Caudill of Brooksville, Fla., who drives for Prime, Inc.; and Bill Grose of Fort Wayne, Ind., who drives for Westside Transport.

Volvo introduces VT 800 daycab
Volvo introduced a daycab version of the VT 880 tractor Aug. 25.

Scott Kress, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Volvo Trucks North America, called the new VT 800 “a great daycab tractor for the heavy transport segment.”

Like the VT 880, the VT 800 daycab comes standard with the Volvo D16 engine, with up to 625 horsepower and 2,250 pounds-feet of torque. Ed Saxman, Volvo’s top expert in drivetrain spec’ing, said the new engine runs in a sweet spot that’s at a lower rpm than with the company’s D12 engine. He said over-the-road truckers would specify an axle in the range of 3.21:1 for highway applications with an overdrive transmission.

Volvo also introduced Volvo Link Sentry, a form of satellite communications that communicates with Volvo technical resources on an Internet-based network. It will provide remote diagnostics and monitor any of the truck’s fault codes. Drivers can read the codes on the truck’s Driver Message Center to be warned of a problem. The system is available at no charge on all 2006 model 880s.

Trucker Buddy Humanitarian Award
Trucker Buddy International honored the late Doug Holtzman with the Terry Tart Humanitarian Award on Aug. 25.

Holtzman’s widow, Judy Holtzman, and their son, Russell, received the plaque on Doug’s behalf in a ceremony conducted by Ellen Voie of Trucker Buddy International and Todd Bates of J&B Services.

The award was created to honor Terry Tart, who died in 2004 of lung cancer, after years of being a Trucker Buddy to Rebecca Nedeu’s special-needs students in Colchester, Conn.
Doug Holtzman, a driver for Wal-Mart in Menomonie, Wis., corresponded with Susan Epple’s third-grade class in Houston. He died this March of a heart attack.

“He insisted on staying beside the students no matter what,” his widow said.

J&B Services paid Judy Holtzman’s travel expenses to GATS and gave her $500. The company also gave $500 apiece to Susan Epple’s class, to Rebecca Nedeu’s class and to Trucker Buddy International.

New information on the eighth annual show in Dallas, Aug. 24-26, 2006 will be available soon at this site.
-Kristin L. Walters


Male Driver Wins Second Annual Gender Battle
The eternal war between the sexes reached a fever pitch Aug. 27 at the Great American Truck Show in Dallas.

It wasn’t high noon, but it was at least 100 degrees when owner-operator Melinda “Stormy” Nunley of Springdale, Ark., leased to Contract Freighters, Inc., and Rider Integrated Logistics driver Ed “Big” Hutchison of Edmond, Okla., squared off to decide, for this year anyway, who better drives big trucks, man or woman.

But both drivers and most observers had bigger concerns: the Special Olympians who would benefit from the fund-raising event, the second annual Truck Challenge of the Genders. Karla Alfaro, Special Olympics Development Director for Dallas, says the exact donation amount this year had yet to be tallied, “but if all our pledges come through it’s going to blow our minds away.”

Last year’s competition at GATS raised $11,500 for Special Olympics. The event raises money from $1 (or more) votes from GATS attendees and mail-in donation-votes.

This contest between male and female truckers started as a friendly rivalry on Steve Sommers’ trucking radio show, when Garry Thomas expressed his opinion of female truck drivers and received a challenge from Ingrid Bell. Bell beat Thomas in last year’s contest.

Contest equipment included a CFI trailer and Nunley’s Kenworth 900. The course was simple but not easy: bobtail 100 yards between cones with six inches of clearance on either side, hook to the trailer and back it into a designated spot, coming as close as possible to, but not hitting, a marker behind the trailer. Then drop the trailer and go back to the starting line, but in reverse, without hitting cones on either side of or behind the truck.

Hutchison won this year’s event with an overall time of 10 minutes, 52 seconds, beating Nunley’s 15-minute, 12-second score by more than four and a half minutes.
-Andy Haraldson


2005 Pride & Polish Winners
Tim Thornhill’s 1986 Peterbilt 359 was named Best of Show Bobtail at the 2005 Overdrive Pride & Polish truck beauty contest. Thomas and Kim Turner’s 1995 Peterbilt 379 captured the Best of Show Combination honor.

The competition was held during the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, which ended Aug. 27.

Other winners were:

PARTICIPANTS’ CHOICE:2001 Freightliner XL132, Mark Pounds
CHARITY’S CHOICE: 1995 Peterbilt 379, Camille and Eric Carnaggio
CONVENTIONAL BOBTAIL 1998-2000: 1st (tie) 2000 Kenworth W900, Thomas and Maryann Quick; 1st (tie) 2000 Peterbilt 379, John Schmitz; 2nd (tie) 2000 Kenworth W900, Cindy Stowe; 2nd (tie) 1999 Peterbilt 379, John Wesley Perry
CONVENTIONAL BOBTAIL 2001-2002: 1st 2001 Peterbilt 379, Lee Little; 2nd 2001 Peterbilt 379, Truett Novosad; 3rd 2001 Kenworth W900-L, Jeff Hamilton
CONVENTIONAL BOBTAIL 2003-2004: 1st 2003 Peterbilt 379, Dave and Vicki Weldon; 2nd 2003 Peterbilt 379, George (Rusty) Conn; 3rd 2003 Kenworth W900L, Daryl Rodman
CONVENTIONAL BOBTAIL 2005-Newer; 1st 2005 Peterbilt 379, Mike Ladd; 2nd 2005 Peterbilt 379, Terry Weir Jr.; 3rd 2005 International 9900ix, Carol Ann Schlussler
FLEET-OWNED BOBTAIL: 1st (tie) 2000 Peterbilt 379, Terry and Clint Dicks; 1st (tie) 2006 Volvo VNL 780, James Thomas; 2nd 1996 Peterbilt 379, David Kosar; 3rd 2006 Peterbilt 379, Art Clubb
FLEET-OWNED COMBINATION: 1st 2005 Peterbilt 379, Thomas Ritterbach; 2nd 2005 Peterbilt 379, Danny Wolf; 3rd 2005 Freightliner Century, Jim Derkson
CUSTOM PAINT MURAL BOBTAIL: 1st 2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander; 2nd 2000 Freightliner Classic, Robert and Shelly Brinker
CUSTOM PAINT MURAL COMBINATION: 1st 2002 Peterbilt 379, Terry Moore; 2nd 2003 Western Star 4964EX, Lester Sullivan
CUSTOM PAINT NON-MURAL: 1st 1986 Peterbilt 359, Tim Thornhill; 2nd 2000 Peterbilt 379, Terry and Clint Dicks; 3rd 2001 Freightliner XL132, Mark Pounds
1984-1991 COMBINATION: 1st 1986 Peterbilt 359, Jeff Hardage
1994-1999 COMBINATION: 1st 1995 Peterbilt 379, Thomas and Kim Turner; 2nd 1994 Kenworth WL900, Richard Harper; 3rd 1998 Peterbilt 379, Calvin Long
2000-NEWER COMBINATION: 1st 2002 Peterbilt 379, Wayne Baker; 2nd 2006 Peterbilt 379X, Phil Wiebe; 3rd 2006 Peterbilt 379, George Elosegui
CABOVER COMBINATION: 1st 1981 Peterbilt 362, Robert Young; 2nd 1987 Freightliner 9642T, Mark Pounds
ANTIQUE: 1st 1969 Peterbilt 359, Brett Wilkins; 2nd 1963 Mack B-83, Eric Hardage
ENGINE: 1st 1986 Peterbilt 359, Tim Thornhill; 2nd 2002 Peterbilt 379, Wayne Baker; 3rd 2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander
CUSTOM AFTERMARKET
INTERIOR: 1st 1995 Peterbilt 379, Thomas and Kim Turner; 2nd 2005 Freightliner M2 112, Donald and Yvonne Gibson; 3rd 2000 Freightliner Classic XL, David and Cindy Cloud
INTERIOR OEM SLEEPER: 1st 2003 International 9900ix, Harvey and Karen Zander; 2nd (tie) 2000 Peterbilt 379, Terry and Clint Dicks; 2nd (tie) 1994 Kenworth WL900, Richard Harper; 3rd 2000 Kenworth W900, Tom and Maryann Quick
INTERIOR EXCLUDING SLEEPER: 1st 1986 Peterbilt 359, Tim Thornhill; 2nd 2003 Peterbilt 379, Dave and Vicki Weldon; 3rd 2001 Peterbilt 379, Truett Novosad
PETERBILT COUNCIL OF CLASS: 1st 1995 Peterbilt 379, Camille and Eric Carnaggio; 2nd 2000 Peterbilt 379, Terry and Clint Dicks; 3rd 2005 Peterbilt 379, Terry Weir, Jr.
SPECIALTY: 1st 1995 Peterbilt 379, Camille and Eric Carnaggio; 2nd 2005 Peterbilt 379, Paul Stanchio; 3rd 2005 Freightliner M2 112, Donald and Yvonne Gibson
BRIDGESTONE-FIRESTONE MOST TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED CAB: 1st 2005 Freightliner M2 112, Donald and Yvonne Gibson; 2nd 2005 Peterbilt 379, Larry Christopherson; 3rd 1995 Peterbilt 379, Thomas and Kim Turner
-Lance Orr


Eight on the Break
No more five on, five off. Most other split-time scenarios will also soon come to an end. It’s now eight and two or 10 straight.

The new hours-of-service regulations will require all drivers using sleeper berths to satisfy their mandatory rest requirements by taking at least eight consecutive hours off duty and another two consecutive hours off duty throughout the work day.

The rule announced Aug. 19 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also grants two work days of up to 16 hours within a week to short-haul drivers operating within 150 air miles of their base and returning home each night, provided the equipment is smaller than that requiring a commercial driver’s license. Such operations may use payroll time sheets rather than log books for compliance purposes.

“We hope this new rule ends the uncertainty that the enforcement community and the industry have experienced regarding hours of service,” said FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg. “We are confident that these regulations are an important step toward highway safety and will prevent motor carrier crashes.”

The sleeper berth and short-haul provisions were the only two significant changes under the new regulations, which take effect Oct. 1. FMCSA announced a transition period through Dec. 31.

“The research shows that this new rule will improve driver health and safety and the safety of our roadways,” Sandberg said. “Ensuring drivers obtain necessary rest and restorative sleep will save lives.”

The new rule on sleeper use makes no distinction between solo and team drivers. The rule currently in place allows drivers to split a minimum of 10 hours’ rest in a sleeper berth in any combination of two periods, provided the shortest period is at least two hours. Drivers not using sleeper berths for mandatory rest still must take 10 consecutive hours off duty.
The short-haul rule that took effect in January 2004 allowed one workday of up to 16 hours for short-haul drivers, but no distinction was made based on the type of equipment. Short-haul drivers operating smaller equipment represent about half of all commercial truck registrations but only 10 percent of truck crashes and only 7 percent of fatal truck crashes, Sandberg said.

This latest revision of the hours rule results from a lawsuit by Citizens for Safe and Reliable Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers and Public Citizen. A federal appeals court judge ruled in July 2004 that FCMSA had to rewrite the rule because it had failed to consider driver health in devising it.

In its revision, the agency indeed focused on driver health, Sandberg said. The rule changes were based on research by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which collected data from 87 drivers using in-cab monitoring equipment, as well as 1,000 health research articles, Sandberg said. The agency also gave consideration to approximately 1,800 public comments.

The other controversial provisions of the current rule, such as 11 hours of driving time and the 34-hour restart of cumulative rest, remain justified by the need to protect both public safety and the vitality of the U.S. economy, Sandberg said.

Electronic onboard recorders – another issue raised by the appeals court – were not addressed in the new hours-of-service rule. Technical specifications and costs need further study, Sandberg said.

“The importance and complexity of electronic onboard recorder issues warrants a specific and separate rulemaking,” Sandberg said.

Sandberg said she expects to announce a rulemaking on onboard recorders in early 2006.

The president of Public Citizen called the new rule a disappointment, “virtually unchanged” from the previous rule. “Like the 2003 rule, today’s proposed rule makes permanent a dramatic increase in the allowable weekly driving time and on-duty hours for truckers,” said Joan Claybrook, who led the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under President Carter.

“The overall increased driving and working time is not supported by the vast body of scientific literature that exists about fatigue and driver safety,” Claybrook said. “Nor does this proposal help drivers get on a 24-hour circadian schedule.”

The new hours regulations “are as we expected, because the agency indicated they wanted to keep the rules they had in place,” said Todd Spencer, spokesman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “From the drivers we talked to, that change in the regulation is going to take some flexibility away from them.”

Teams especially will be affected, Spencer said. “Team drivers rarely sleep eight consecutive hours. That will create a challenge. How great that challenge is, and what will we do about it, remain to be seen.”

Bill Graves, American Trucking Associations president and chief executive officer, agreed that team drivers are a focus of concern. “We need to closely examine the impact of the new sleeper berth rule on trucking companies and their drivers, particularly team drivers, that are so critical to our just-in-time economy,” Graves said.

Overall, the rule announcement confirms ATA research that the current hours rule has improved highway safety, Graves said.

The new rule means couples who drive trucks with sleeper berths “are not going to have the flexibility of dividing” their driving time, said Buster Anderson, vice president of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies.

Still, Anderson said the new regulations “could have been a whole lot worse.”

The Truckload Carriers Association is pleased that most regulations, including drive time for single drivers, remained intact, said Dave Berry, TCA chairman. Beyond that, “It’s just a little early to jump to any conclusions” about the impact of the new rule, Berry said.

Whether the latest rule will prove to be “bullet-proof” from litigation remains to be seen, Sandberg said. “There’s always a good chance that someone might challenge it,” she said.

In her initial response, Claybrook of Public Citizen did not mention further litigation, saying only, “We sincerely hope that in the coming weeks the agency will reconsider this issue and redraft the rule.”

Henry Albert, an independent owner-operator who pulls a flatbed on the East Coast, was more blunt. “It’s going to go right back to court now,” he said when he heard the news. “They didn’t change enough.”

Albert was pleased, however, by the change in the sleeper rule. “That’s a very abused thing, the split sleeper berth,” he said. “It’s used way more for time spent at shippers. That’s a massive hole they closed up. If nobody could do it, you’d have to charge accordingly for that.”

Albert calls mandatory recorders “inevitable.” “I wish we didn’t need one,” he added. “As soon as that happens, there will all of a sudden be plenty of places to park. People would have to pay to park, and then someone could make money from it. Make the market, and it will come.”

Immediate reactions to the new rule from other truckers was mixed.

“I want the government to stay out of my truck,” said Lester Nicholson of Centreville, Ala., who drives for Crete. “I’m 59, and I have never slept eight straight hours in my life.”

In agreement was Jacinto Costilla of San Jose, Texas, who drives for STS Transport. “How are you going to get eight straight hours of sleep? You can’t force your body to sleep.”

Mark More of Cartersville, Ga., who drives for Georgia Southern Transport, said he preferred the old hours regulations. “Everybody was used to them,” he said. “Not everyone can drive like the experts think they can.”

George Kelly of Milwaukee, who drives for American Eagle, sees good and bad in the new rule. “It cuts back on the drive time,” he said, “but it is good safety-wise.”

On the other hand, Joey Williams of Augusta, Ga., who drives for Club Car, said, “I think it’s fine. If I run 14 hours, I take 10 hours off anyway.”
-Randy Grider, Avery Vise, Lance Orr


Outdoors-themed Truck Wins Big Rig Redo
The green team – Texas Christian University design students Stacey Berman, Lizzie Hyde and Christina Beene – won the third annual Freightliner Big Rig Redo contest with a hunting/fishing-themed interior and exterior.

Before and during the Great American Trucking Show, Indiana Custom Trucks worked with the two teams competing to redesign the two Freightliner trucks inside and out.

ICT provided a custom exterior paint makeover, and the design students used $500 to redesign the interiors. GATS vendors supplied bonus bells and whistles.

The winning conversion, which was valued at $15,012.25, involved removing the factory cabinets and bed; upgrading the cab with a Gaucho bed with a fold-down table, customized as a fishing lure shadow box; installing rear overhead cabinets; installing a natural wood-finish vinyl floor; setting up a 20-inch flat-screen TV with a built in DVD player; and fabricating and installing antler door handles, in addition to other improvements.

Show attendees chose the green truck over the car-themed red truck by five votes.

Students on the red team were Megan Grover, Christy Thompson, Alicia Fisher, Abby Bradley and Leslie Greegen.
-Lance Orr


FYI
New TA

TravelCenters of America has added a facility in Wapakoneta, Ohio, to its network. Located on I-75, off Exit 111 and U.S. 33, the full-service TA Wapakoneta – formally the L and G Truck Stop – offers restrooms, diesel fuel pumps, a convenience store, a 24-hour Freightliner Service Point truck maintenance shop, a sit-down restaurant, a CAT Scale, showers and approximately 140 truck parking spaces.

Goodyear Seeks Highway Hero
Goodyear is seeking nominations for its annual Goodyear North America Highway Hero award. The program celebrates truckers who have saved a life, or been of aid to another person, while on the job. All nominations must be received by Nov. 30. Incidents must have occurred between Nov. 16, 2004, and Nov. 15, 2005. Nomination forms and program details can be obtained by calling (330) 796-8183 or by visiting www.goodyear.com/truck. Send completed forms to Goodyear Highway Hero Award Headquarters, Dept. 798A, 1144 East Market Street, Akron, Ohio 44316.

Volvo Parts Distribution Center
Volvo Trucks North America opened a new parts distribution center in Baltimore. Volvo already has distribution centers in Reno, Nev., Memphis, Tenn., Columbus, Ohio, Chicago, Dallas, and Toronto, Ont. The Baltimore facility covers 314,000 square-feet and is expected to fill more than 400,000 orders for parts per year.

Utility Opens New Dealership
Utility Trailers of New England, in Boston, has opened a second location in Hopedale, Mass. The new dealership has a parts department, a service department complete with four oversized service bays and offers a full range of trailer repairs.

New Mack Truck Locations
Kriete Group of Milwaukee, a Mack Trucks authorized distributor organization, opened two state-of-the-art facilities near Green Bay and Racine, Wis. The Green Bay facility is on Highway 41. The 32,000-square-foot building includes a full drive-thru wash bay capable of handling an entire tractor-trailer, a drivers’ lounge with washer/dryers, full showers and work stations with wireless Internet access. The Racine facility, which will operate as a Kriete’s Milwaukee Truck Sales satellite, is located on I-94. The satellite is a 29,000-square-foot building.

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