Appeals court says no to Public Citizen’s HOS request.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Jan. 24 issued an order denying Public Citizen’s request to invalidate the recently issued hours-of-service Interim Final Rule (IFR).
The 11-hour daily driving time limit and 34-hour restart provision now will remain standing pending further consideration of a final HOS rule by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Public Citizen claimed that the court’s prior decisions in the case effectively prohibited FMCSA from issuing an IFR that included the 11- and 34-hour provisions.
The American Trucking Associations, FMCSA and shipper interests all filed briefs opposing Public Citizen’s motion. Those filings argued the need for retention of the 11- and 34-hour provisions to avoid significant industry and law enforcement disruptions, as well as the safety gains achieved under the current HOS rules.
The court did note that its denial of the motion did not preclude Public Citizen from challenging the IFR in a separate legal proceeding. However, such a proceeding potentially would take months to pursue, even if expedited. A final HOS rule will likely be issued before any litigation could be completed.
Under the IFR made public Dec. 11, truck drivers will continue to be limited to driving only 11 hours within a 14-hour duty period, after which they must go off duty for at least 10 hours. The IFR also retains the provision of the hours rules that allows drivers to restart their cumulative on-duty limits by taking 34 consecutive hours off duty.
The agency issued the new hours-of-service rule in response to the decision by the D.C. appeals court vacating those two key provisions of the existing rules. The IFR took effect Dec. 27 – the same day that a stay granted by the appeals court expired. In order to ensure no gap in coverage of the rules, the IFR temporarily reinstated those two provisions while the agency gathered public comment on its actions and the underlying safety analysis before issuing a final rule.
In its July opinion, the court voided the 11 hours of driving and the 34-hour restart on the grounds that the public didn’t have adequate notice of FMCSA’s methodology for analyzing crash risk. The IFR was developed after new data showed that safety levels have been maintained since the 11-hour driving limit was first implemented in 2003, FMCSA said.
After the IFR became effective Dec. 27, a 60-day period began for the public to comment on the proposal and its underlying safety analysis. Further analysis after that could take “a few weeks or even a few months,” says FMCSA Administrator John Hill.
Once a final rule has been established, FMCSA will review longstanding concerns from drivers and carriers over the provision that restricts the sleeper berth split to eight-hour and two-hour periods, Hill said.
FMCSA also is working to finalize a proposed rule that would require drivers and trucking companies with serious or repeat hours-of-service violations to track their hours of service using electronic onboard recorders.
- From Staff Reports
Producer Offers Truckstops a Biodiesel Network
Renewable Energy Group, a biodiesel producer and marketer based in Ames, Iowa, announced a new service Jan. 29 designed to make biodiesel more available at truckstops nationwide.
REG’s Retail Biodiesel Blending Program, announced at the NATSO Show in Orlando, Fla., offers truck-stop operators both biodiesel injection equipment and a regular supply of high-quality biodiesel.
Because REG can remotely monitor fuel levels in its biodiesel tanks, truckstop operators can enjoy an automated reorder process to ensure they don’t run out, REG said. Truckstops also will be able to remotely adjust biodiesel blends daily, the company said.
The new service “offers a tremendous incentive for truckstops to adopt a biodiesel blend program while ensuring their customers have access to the highest-quality biodiesel available on the market today,” said Gary Haer, REG vice president of sales and marketing.
REG’s network of biodiesel plants includes seven in production, three under construction and two more in development.
- From Staff Reports
ATA Seeks More Uniform Contractor Definition
State trucking associations are reviewing the American Trucking Associations’ proposed model language that is hoped to lead to a more uniform definition of an independent contractor among states.
The effort began more than a year ago, said Robert Digges, ATA vice president and deputy general counsel. “We investigated getting a federal definition of uniform language for independent contractors for trucking, and we had a task force,” Digges said. “The political climate on the Hill is not conducive to achieving that.”
Not only do states differ in defining independent contractors, the definition often is a general one not specific to owner-operator truckers. “Bad case law” has ensued, Digges said.
Recent years have seen an increase in owner-operators suing carriers, some successfully, to be reclassified from independent contractors to employees.
A key determination in classification is the extent to which the individual has the right “to control manner and means of work,” Digges said.
The proposed language defines an independent contractor in the trucking industry as “an individual who owns or holds under a bona fide lease a motor vehicle which the individual leases to a motor carrier and who personally operates such leased equipment under a written agreement with the motor carrier that specifies that such operations involve an independent contractor relationship.”
Fifteen to 18 states have definitions the ATA describes as good, especially Indiana. To the best of Digges’ knowledge, however, the ATA’s suggested language has not received significant play in state legislatures yet.
- Jill Dunn
Mack Names Slagle New President, CEO
Mack Trucks has announced that Dennis R. Slagle will succeed Paul L. Vikner as president and chief executive officer of the company, effective April 1.
Slagle, 53, has served since 2003 as president and CEO of Volvo Construction Equipment North America, based in Asheville, N.C. He has more than 25 years of experience in the North American construction equipment industry, including serving as president of L.B. Smith, Volvo Construction Equipment’s largest North American dealer at the time.
In his new position, Slagle will be based at Mack’s headquarters in Allentown, Pa.
Vikner, who has served as president and CEO since 2001, will become vice chairman of the Mack board of directors. He also will continue to represent both Mack and its parent company, the Volvo Group, in their work with the federal government and industry organizations.
Mack is one of North America’s largest producers of heavy-duty trucks, and Mack vehicles are sold and serviced in more than 45 countries worldwide. Mack also is a sponsor of Share the Road, an American Trucking Associations public information campaign aimed at enhancing the safety of our nation’s roadways.
Mack is a member of the Volvo Group, a publicly held company based in Gothenburg, Sweden.
- From Staff Reports
Paccar to Use SCR for 2010 Engines
PACCAR announced that it will join Detroit Diesel, Volvo and Mack in the use of selective catalytic reduction as an element in their engine platform to meet 2010 Environmental Protection Agency standards for NOx emissions.
In the Paccar platform, SCR will be used in concert with exhaust gas recirculation, the primary emissions component of most 2002 and 2007 heavy-duty engine technologies.
“The combination of SCR and EGR will provide Paccar customers a highly efficient solution to meet the rigorous 2010 emission requirements,” said Paccar Assistant Vice President Craig Brewster. He said that the company’s vehicles have operated SCR emissions systems in Europe successfully for years.
“Paccar is working with SCR distributors to ensure a nationwide infrastructure is in place to serve our customers,” Brewster said. The infrastructure is needed to supply urea for the engines.
Current work on Paccar’s $400 million engine production facility in Columbia, Miss., is expected to wrap up in late 2009. The facility will produce the 12.9-liter and 9.2-liter MX and PR engines, respectively, for Kenworth and Peterbilt tractors, launching Paccar heavy-duty engines in the North American market.
“Paccar premium-quality engines will be offered to our customers to complement the engines available from our existing suppliers in North America in 2010,” said Brewster.
- Todd Dills
First Roadside Medical Clinic Opens
Roadside Medical Labs and Clinics and Pilot Travel Centers announced the opening Jan. 13 of their first medical clinic, in Cartersville, Ga.
The companies have teamed up to create a coast-to-coast network of retail medical clinics to address the health risks faced by over-the-road drivers. In addition to the management of the medical clinics, Roadside Medical will offer a driver wellness program designed to travel with drivers working within their schedule.
The new Roadside Medical Lab and Clinic is at 968 Cassville-White Road along I-75 north of Atlanta at the Pilot Travel Center. Roadside Medical Lab and Clinic requires no appointment; anyone can receive medical care 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Roadside Medical offers telephone health coaching, in which a dedicated and trained health and wellness professional is available via phone to help drivers on the road stick to a healthier lifestyle. Individuals work with their personal health coach to create and follow their customized plan.
For more information on the Cartersville clinic and its programs, call (602) 692-2734.
- From Staff Reports
Truckers News ‘Fit for the Road’ Series Named Neal Award Finalist
Editors from Truckers News, Commercial Carrier Journal, and Overdrive magazines will head to New York City March 14 to attend the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Awards luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria. The awards are sponsored by American Business Media.
Each year, the Neal awards draw more than 1,000 entries from business-to-business publications covering all industries. Less than 3 percent become finalists. No other trucking magazine publisher has as many trucking-related finalists this year as Randall-Reilly Publishing Company, Truckers News’ publisher.
Truckers News editors won a Neal award in 2005 for their feature on anti-idling regulations. The magazine was also a Neal finalist in 2004 for its feature on cargo theft.
“Our editors adhere to the highest-possible editorial standards,” says F. Mike Reilly, Randall-Reilly president and CEO. “It’s gratifying to see them honored in the publishing community for the journalistic excellence our readers and advertisers have come to expect from our products.”
- From Staff Reports
MaxxForce Engines Available for Order
International dealerships across North America now are taking orders for the MaxxForce 11 and MaxxForce 13 big-bore diesel engines.
The engines are offered as an option exclusively in International ProStar line-haul tractors, TranStar regional-haul tractors and WorkStar severe service vehicles. Six models range from 330 horsepower to 475 horsepower and 1,250 lb.-ft. to 1,700 lb.-ft. of torque.
Built on a compacted graphite iron block, the engines feature fuel-system electronics, air management, EGR and aftertreatment technologies developed by International specifically for high performance with low emissions. International says these features deliver outstanding fuel economy, excellent power and torque, quiet operation with low noise and vibration and strength without added weight.
The new engines are a collaboration between International and MAN Nutzfahrzeuge. They will be manufactured at a new International plant in Huntsville, Ala.
- From Staff Reports
FYI | News Briefs
Country Star Advocates Fair Financing
Country music legend Charlie Daniels is partnering with National Bankers Trust to promote fair financial practices in the trucking industry. The sponsorship coincides with the release of Daniels’ latest CD Deuces and will feature him as a spokesperson and advocate for ethical, reasonable and sound financial services for truck drivers and owners. Daniels is the official voice of Sirius Radio’s Road Dog channel 147, a 24-hour channel geared toward professional drivers and trucking culture.
California Engine Emissions Label
California now requires every truck traveling into the state to have “Engine Emission Certification” labels as part of the state’s roadside inspection program. If a truck doesn’t have a label, a fine of $300 could be issued immediately and another $500 if “proof of repair” isn’t provided within 45 days. Labels are created by the engine manufacturers only. Most engines will have the labels, unless they are old or have been rebuilt. If you are missing the labels, consult your local dealership.
Next Generation 9-1-1 Test
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration recently announced the selection of five partnership sites that will test its Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG-911) network prototype: Helena, Mont.; Rochester, N.Y.; Seattle; St. Paul, Minn.; and the state of Indiana. Under the NG-911 model currently being developed, call takers and dispatchers at 9-1-1 centers will be able to send and receive digital pictures and video, e-mail and text messages, and other modern communications from computers and handheld devices instead of relying solely on the traditional 9-1-1 telephone calls. The demonstrations are expected to begin in April.
NAFTA Surface Trade at New High
Trade using surface transportation between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico was 11.1 percent higher in October 2007 than in October 2006, reaching $74.2 billion, the highest monthly level ever recorded, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Alabama Trucking Service Online
Alabama now offers trucking.alabama.gov as a one-stop online source for CDL and trucking business information. Available through the website are seven-day trip and fuel permits, oversize/overweight permits, hazardous materials endorsement, full-fee registration and renewals. A driver’s record search is available through subscription.
Bridgestone Firestone, TA Ink Deal
Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire has signed a seven-year agreement with TravelCenters of America to sell Bridgestone and Firestone brand commercial tires at sites operated by TravelCenters of America and Petro Stopping Centers. The agreement makes Bridgestone the exclusive premium commercial tire offered by both TravelCenters of America and Petro:Lube truck maintenance and repair centers.
CAT Scale to Buy Interstate Scales
CAT Scale has agreed to buy Interstate Scales from its owner, Hargett Enterprises. For the time being, CAT Scale will operate all 143 Interstate Scales locations while sites are evaluated. The world’s largest truck-scale network, CAT Scale has more than 1,000 locations in North America. It was founded in 1977 by the late Bill Moon, also the visionary behind the Iowa 80 truckstop and its annual Walcott Truckers Jamboree.