Current federal hours-of-service rules have played a role in improving highway safety, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration should modify the sleeper berth provision to allow for additional flexibility to further improve driver alertness, the American Trucking Associations said April 21 in comments submitted to FMCSA.
Extensive federal data shows that trucking industry safety performance has improved substantially since 2004, when the basic framework for the current HOS regulations took effect. The most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation indicate the truck-involved fatality rate declined 12.3 percent in 2008 to 1.86 per 100 million miles, from 2.12 per 100 million miles in 2007. This decline marks the largest year-to-year drop ever and the fifth consecutive year the fatality rate has dropped.
Persons injured in large truck crashes went from 44.4 per 100 million miles to 39.6, an 11 percent reduction. Since 2004, the number of large truck crash injuries per 100 million miles has dropped 25 percent, and the truck-involved fatality rate has declined 22 percent. The fatality rate has dropped 66 percent since DOT began keeping those records in 1975 and is now at its historical low.
ATA says FMCSA, to better address the true causes of fatigue in transportation, should focus its resources on sleep disorder awareness, training and screening; promoting the use of fatigue risk management programs; evaluating the use of fatigue detection devices; increasing the availability of truck parking on important freight corridors; and partnering with the trucking and shipping communities to develop an educational process that identifies for drivers the location of available truck parking.
ATA’s comments are in response to questions posed to participants during the five public listening sessions recently held across the country as FMCSA again considers HOS changes requested by special interest groups.
FYI News Briefs
Diesel Prices Continue Upward
The national average retail price of a gallon of diesel for the first week of May jumped to its highest level in 18 months, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The price rose 4.4 cents to $3.122. The national price was the highest since Oct. 27, 2008, when it was $3.288.
NAFTA Surface Trade Increases
Surface trade between the United States and Canada and Mexico was 24.1 percent higher in February than a year earlier, reaching $59.5 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The 24.1 percent increase is the largest year-over-year rise on record but freight value remained 14.3 percent less than the value in February 2008.
ATA Tonnage Index Rises
U.S. truck tonnage rose 7.5 percent in March from a year earlier, the fourth straight year-over-year monthly increase, American Trucking Associations said April 27. The increase was the biggest since January 2005. For the first quarter tonnage gained 4.9 percent over last year’s first quarter, ATA said in its monthly seasonally adjusted for-hire truck tonnage index.
Michigan Begins Texting Ban
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm on April 30 signed an anti-texting bill into law, making the state the 24th with such a ban. The newly signed legislation explicitly prohibits a person from reading, writing or sending text messages while driving a vehicle in Michigan. Under the ban, texting while driving is a secondary offense that allows law enforcement officials to ticket drivers if they are pulled over for another offense.
Virginia Reopens Rest Areas
Gov. Bob McDonnell and the Virginia Department of Transportation on April 14 officially reopened the final seven of 19 safety rest areas along state highways that had been closed last year due to funding cuts. Eighteen facilities closed last July and the final facility — the Interstate 66 West Manassas Welcome Center — closed in September. The reopening of the final seven rest areas has restored all of Virginia’s rest areas to full operations.
N.M. May Close14 Rest Areas
Almost half of New Mexico’s public rest stops would be closed because of a funding shortfall, according to the state’s Department of Transportation. The New Mexico DOT has chosen 14 of the state’s 32 rest stops — 13 full-time and one seasonal — for possible closure soon. Ten of the rest stops are along Interstates 10, 25 and 40, and the rest are on U.S. highways 64, 70 and 180. The savings from closing all 14 rest stops is estimated at $1.6 million.
Idaho Rest Area Closed for Summer
A heavily used rest area in central Idaho will be closed for repairs for the summer. The rest area, located at the junction of U.S. 20 and Idaho Highway 75, will get an estimated $2 million makeover to add five parking spaces and create separate areas for trucks and passenger cars. The rest area is scheduled to reopen in September.
Daimler Engines Rank High
Daimler Trucks North America, based in Redford, Mich., ranked highest in satisfaction among drivers of trucks with heavy-duty engines, according to J.D. Power and Associates. The results come from a 2009 survey the company conducted of 2,421 owner-operators and heavy-duty truck fleet managers.
Subway Opens at Kenly 95
The Kenly 95 Truckstop, located at I-95 and Exit 106 in Kenly, N.C., will be opening a new Subway restaurant. The Subway is part of the newly built food court that also features Wendy’s. The Kenly 95 Truckstop has already opened a new chrome shop and relocated the gas islands and convenience store. There is also a Moonstruck Java coffee station, gift store, movie theatre and recently opened Lighthouse Restaurant, which serves a full menu 24 hours a day.
Pilot Truck Care Centers Renamed
Pilot Truck Care Centers adjacent to Pilot Travel Centers are being renamed Wingfoot Truck Care Centers, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s Wingfoot Commercial Tire Systems announced. Along with the name change, Wingfoot Commercial Tire Systems plans to build 10 new locations in 2010 to increase its on-highway network to 41.
An American Trucking Associations representative told carrier executives that upcoming Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 rules will rely on inconsistent state accident reporting and that carrier safety performance scores will be based on a flawed formula.
Rob Abbott, ATA vice president of safety policy, made his remarks to carrier executives gathered in April for the 2010 Pegasus TransTech Users Conference in Clearwater Beach, Fla. Pegasus TransTech provides Transflo, Transflo Express and other technologies that speed the billing cycle and help carriers go paperless.
At the same conference, Cynthia B. Witty, safety investigator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said enforcement under the new rules would stress compliance with hours-of-service. If a carrier is found to have numerous HOS violations, “I’ll be coming in for an audit,” she said. Witty also noted that current out-of-service criteria at roadside inspections will remain substantially unchanged with CSA 2010.
Abbott said the ATA generally supports CSA 2010 but finds fault with some of its features. He said CSA 2010 safety scores will be based on reports from FMCSA inspectors, state agencies and sometimes from regional authorities, but only those agencies that participate in the federally funded Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program will report violations, and most law enforcement below the state level is not part of MCSAP. That means accidents in some states are far less likely to be reported to FMCSA than in others, resulting in uneven enforcement under CSA 2010. “Carriers with operations in high reporting states may find it harder to maintain good CSA 2010 scores than those who operate in states where reporting is low,” Abbott said.
According to Abbott’s presentation, states that most consistently report truck accidents to FMCSA are Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and New Jersey; those four states report between 80 percent and 90 percent of truck crashes. The lowest proportion of reporting comes from Florida and New Mexico, which report fewer than 30 percent of such incidents, and Mississippi, which reports between 30 percent and 40 percent. The same information shows that variations exist among other major trucking states, such as California at 50 percent to 60 percent, Ohio at 40 percent to 50 percent, Pennsylvania at 70 percent to 79 percent, and Texas at 60 percent to 70 percent.
Abbott also said the formula for arriving at a CSA 2010 safety score is flawed. At its most basic, he explained, the formula divides the number of carrier violations by the number of U.S. Department of Transportation-registered trucks in the fleet — without regard to miles actually driven. “That can hurt efficient carriers with high equipment utilization because they travel more miles and do more work with fewer trucks,” Abbott said. Conceivably, Abbott said, a carrier could improve its safety score under CSA 2010 simply by adding trucks to the fleet.
State reporting data was gathered and published by the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Missouri.
Navistar, EPA Settle Suits over SCR
By Avery Vise
Navistar International Corp. said it had reached an agreement May 3 with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that settles lawsuits it had filed in March 2009 concerning the agency’s certification policies for diesel-powered trucks equipped with selective catalytic reduction (SCR).
The agreement calls for EPA to hold a public workshop or hearing to address the issues Navistar raised in its challenges before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
EPA must publish the agreement in the Federal Register for comment before it can become final, Navistar said. The settlement comes a week before the parties were set to square off in oral arguments before a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court.
Navistar had argued EPA’s guidance documents for SCR implementation were invalid because the agency had adopted them without the required public process and had relied only on input from the SCR engine makers. Navistar contended that EPA’s guidance would allow SCR-equipped trucks to operate for extended periods without any control of NOx emissions, resulting in certification of SCR engines as meeting NOx emission requirements when they do not.
The day before, Navistar and EPA filed an emergency joint motion to cancel the May 10 oral arguments and hold the case in abeyance pending approval of the settlement by the Justice Department and public comment on the settlement in principle, which is required by the Clean Air Act. The settlement affects two related lawsuits, one directed at the February 2009 guidance memorandum to SCR engine makers and the other addressing issues related to EPA’s 2001 rule setting NOx standards.
According to Navistar, the agreement provides that EPA will “engage in a public process to reexamine its policies, for future 2011 and later model year engines,” during which it will “provide a thorough review of EPA’s policies regarding operation of SCR-equipped engines.” EPA also has promised to “ensure, among other things, that SCR-equipped heavy-duty diesel engines are designed to properly control emissions as required under applicable regulations.”
Navistar wants to participate in the public process, said Jack Allen, president of Navistar’s North American Truck Group. “We believe that with full and open public participation, EPA will develop a new approach that will result in equal enforcement of the 2010 NOx requirements for all engine makers.”
The EPA settlement mirrors an agreement struck just two weeks prior with the California Air Resources Board. Navistar had sued CARB in San Francisco Superior Court for applying EPA certification standards regarding SCR-equipped trucks. The truck maker argued that in doing so, CARB was allowing SCR-equipped trucks to operate for extended periods without controlling NOx emissions. In that settlement, CARB stated that EPA’s guidance was not its policy and agreed, as EPA has done, to hold a public workshop on the issues Navistar has raised.
Navistar’s own MaxxForce DT mid-range diesel engines and its MaxxForce 13 big bore diesel engines received EPA approval for model year 2010 earlier this year.
TN Cover Subject Jazzy Jordan Involved in Accident
Lee and Jasmine “Jazzy” Jordan’s Ford F250 pilot truck in the latter’s cross-country truckers’ benefit and medical awareness run was rear-ended in Burlington, N.C., on May 5 just before Truckers News went to press.
Jazzy, the subject of this month’s cover story (p. 22), is running cross-country to bring awareness to trucker health concerns and benefit the St. Christopher Fund.
Before the accident, she had made great progress, traveling from Nashville, Tenn., to the mark in Burlington in a single month across the Appalachians. Neither she nor Lee was injured in the wreck, though both reported soreness and stiffness the day after. The vehicle that rear-ended them was traveling at approximately 45 mph, they reported on Jazzy’s Facebook page.
“[It happened] just as we were coming to a stop right around her J (mark left on shoulder of road to identify where Jazzy’s previous run ended),” said Lee Jordan, to get ready to run. “I had the four-ways on, and I guess this woman, she didn’t even look.”
Though initial assessments suggested the Ford F250 was totaled, a Durham repair facility indicated it may be otherwise, Lee said, adding as quick as insurance companies could sort things out, “we’ll need to see about a rental vehicle.”
The Jordan Enterprises pilot car company doesn’t have another vehicle capable of towing the RV, compounding the problems resulting from the accident.
Jazzy was unequivocal about continuing: “This will not mess up my run,” she said. Lee said they were likely to be down for a few days, still on schedule to make a June finish in Times Square in New York City.
The California Air Resources Board on April 23 began to revise its strategy for the cleanup of on- and off-road diesel engines by directing staff to return in September with specific proposals to provide additional flexibility.
“We fully recognize that the economy has had an effect on the owners and operators of big rigs, buses and construction equipment, and has also resulted in emissions from these vehicles being lower than we expected,” says CARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “We are committed to taking those impacts into consideration for our diesel cleanup program.”
CARB has asked staff to draft changes to the regulations that will mitigate the potential effects of an unfavorable economy on affected businesses, while keeping in mind the need to protect public health, meet federal clean air deadlines and continue moving forward even through uncertain times. CARB also directed staff to consider approaches to give credit to firms that already have complied with the regulations, and to examine the possibility of additional loans and incentive funding for the program.
CARB staff presented an update on diesel emissions estimates and the approach for incorporating new information on diesel fuel use, emissions factors and equipment use; a new emissions estimate will be used in the rule revision process. CARB staff began to conduct a series of workshops in May and June in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Fresno with stakeholders and the public to solicit information about proposed revisions to the regulations that will be presented to CARB in September.
The agency already has extended deadlines for off-road equipment owners through AB8 2X, including delayed compliance and credits for those who have reduced their fleet size or operating hours in response to the recession. In addition, CARB will continue its program of financial support to help owners and operators of these trucks and equipment. More than $100 million in Proposition 1B funds have been allocated for cleaning up on-road diesel trucks through retrofits or replacement. Additional funds have been made available through the Carl Moyer Grant Program, along with loans via AB 118 and federal stimulus funds.
Truckstop Coupons App Available
Randall-Reilly has debuted Truck Stop Coupons, a free iPhone application that lets truckers and other motorists locate, clip, print and share coupons from more than 5,000 truckstops across America.
Developed in conjunction with Salebug.com and Promiles, the application can be downloaded for free in the iTunes App Store. Versions for Blackberry and Android will be available in upcoming months.
Truckstops can update an unlimited number of coupons daily on the app’s parent site www.TruckStopCoupons.com. Powered by TruckStopGuide.com (www.TruckStopGuide.com), the app can also locate truckstops within a 50-mile radius of the phone, show available coupons at all locations within that radius and also provide detailed route and turn-by-turn driving directions to any of the 5,000 truckstops in the database.
“In these tough economic times, we’re offering a tool that can help travelers save money, while helping truckstops promote the vast array of products and services they offer truckers and other motorists,” said Robert Lake, Randall-Reilly senior vice president, acquisitions/business development.
Diesel Price Watch
Prices are the average, self serve, cash at truckstops April 1-30, 2010*
NEW HAMPSHIRE 2.96
NEW JERSEY 2.94
NEW MEXICO 3.05
NEW YORK 3.22
NORTH CAROLINA 2.98
NORTH DAKOTA 3.11
RHODE ISLAND 3.08
SOUTH CAROLINA 2.90
SOUTH DAKOTA 2.96
WEST VIRGINIA 3.09
Source: T-Chek Systems Inc., Eden Prairie, MN.
For more information, (877) SOS-CHEK or www.tchek.com
*Some prices may not include certain state taxes
Peterbilt’s Model 384 was named heavy-duty winner of the American Truck Dealers (ATD) Commercial Truck of the Year for 2010.
The announcement was made at the 47th annual ATD Convention & Expo in Orlando, Fla., in April.
“Peterbilt is honored to be selected as ATD’s Commercial Truck of the Year,” said Bill Jackson, general manager of Peterbilt Motors Company and vice president of PACCAR Inc., referring to the truck’s win in the heavy-duty category. “Our team listens to the voice of the customer along with our dealer network, and works with our supplier partners to design and manufacturer trucks that offer value, innovative features and exceptional maneuverability for a wide range of applications.”
The trucks were judged on innovation and design, driver satisfaction, ease of maintenance and safety, Hall said. The winners were chosen by a panel of journalists from leading truck publications in North America.
The other heavy-duty truck nominees were: Kenworth T660 Extended Day Cab and Freightliner Coronado.
Last year, International LoneStar was named the winner in the heavy-duty category.
June 17-19, Great West Truck Show, Las Vegas Convention Center. (888) 349-4287, www.greatwesttruckshow.com.
August 13-15, Great Salt Lake Kidney Kamp Truck Show at Thanksgiving Point. Take Lehi Exit 284 from I-15 30 minutes South of Salt Lake City. General & vendor info: Jeff England (800) 877-1320. Judging & Classes: Doyle Elison (208) 251-0987.
Aug. 26-28, Great American Trucking Show, Dallas Convention Center. (888) 349-4287, www.gatsonline.com.
If you have a trucking event you would like to publicize, send information six weeks in advance to Truckers News Events Calendar, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403, or e-mail email@example.com. Truckers News makes no guarantee that information submitted will be published.
Truckers Cope with Crisis in Tennessee Flooding
By Todd Dills
Several LTL and intermodal carrier terminals east of downtown Nashville, which sustained record rainfall the weekend of May 2-3 that left the Cumberland River at flood levels not seen since the 1930s, were still underwater three days after the rain stopped. Milan Express President Mike Stone, however, insisted his company was fully operational into and out of Nashville, as were other companies.
“We are up and running in Nashville,” Stone said. “We had an emergency and disaster plan in place and got that going immediately. We were able to rescue most of our freight and our equipment before the police made us leave Sunday” as waters rose.
Milan and other carriers moved operations to temporary warehouses and other space, in many cases donated, and scrambled to keep business going amid nearly a week’s worth of high floodwaters.
“We’ve got freight destined for Nashville from 37 other terminals,” said Stone, “and we can’t let that freight backlog — we have to get it going, and we’re committed to that. Even though we’ve had issues with flooding at our terminal, like a lot of people we’re feeling fortunate compared to the homeowners and everybody else going through this. Some of us personally have had issues with our own homes and everything else. We appreciate everybody’s support. We’re up and running, and we want our customers to know that. We need them to continue to give us their business, and we’ll make sure we handle it with the same care and efficiency that we’ve done before.”
Some carriers may not have been so lucky. Pictures of the industrial area showed several waterlogged trucks of carrier Vitran, with a terminal in the area.
TCW driver Paul Joyner was parked May 6 on Willow St., high ground overlooking his carrier’s and Vitran’s flooded terminals. His carrier was also operational, he said, cranking the Peterbilt 387 daycab and rolling out to hook a load.
Reacting to a crisis
As rain continued to fall Saturday, May 2, Milan’s Stone said, the company’s disaster team began meeting every two hours, and company employees acted on their own accord, in some instances, to attempt to rescue equipment. “We have a lot of heroes in all this,” he said. “Sunday, some of them were going into water up to their chins and grabbing and getting stuff out of there somehow,” before in a couple cases, he adds, “police came in a boat and made them leave. That’s dedication. We’d have never asked our people to do anything like that.”
The record rainfall and subsequent flooding was responsible for untold losses to carriers all around the nation, as it swamped freeways and stranded hundreds of truckers and other motorists.
Eleven of the initial 19 reported deaths due to flooding were in western and central Tennessee, where the deluge closed Interstates 24, 40 and 65 in and around Nashville, among numerous other highways.
The situation at the downtown Nashville TravelCenters of America location, just a few blocks from the Cumberland River, was dire for truckers from early Sunday, May 2, on. “About 6 a.m. [Sunday],” said Roehl Transport company driver Ryan Lavengood, of Marshfield, Wis., “the northeast corner of the lot started filling up.”
“By 11 o’clock that night, the TA was filling up in the shop. And about 1 o’clock they shut it all down,” said James Williams of Tonitown, Ark., a P.A.M. Transport driver who was on his way to pick up a load in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., when he was stranded in downtown Nashville.
As early as 10 a.m. Sunday, Williams said, drivers and TA personnel were calling 911, requesting rescue assistance in the flooded lot, but removal of people from a nearby Salvation Army facility and elsewhere took priority. Some drivers moved their trucks from the TA lot under the adjacent James Robertson Parkway to an empty lot next to the Limelight Bar, where they waited out the storm and rising waters. Monday morning, said Williams, that lot was “full of trucks,” including his and Lavengood’s.
Monday noon CDT Lavengood said, “I was supposed to be in Lakeland, Fla., at 13:15 Eastern. I’ve heard that 24 east is still shut down, though. My dispatcher told me just to stay put. There’s no sense in getting out there and not being able to go anywhere.”
Lavengood later that day utilized the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s webcams after he finally got reliable word that I-24 eastbound was open and flowing. Via those cams, he could confirm it on his own: “Next time I get into some situation I’ll pull up the website and look at the cameras,” he said, “not wait on somebody to tell me what’s what.”
He noted that he was apparently not the only Roehl driver stuck there — one, he said, got his truck stuck in the inundation at the TA. Lavengood said the driver got out just fine but was uncertain where he was: “He must live in the area,” he noted. Lavengood had made his delivery three days later, all told, in Lakeland, Fla., by Thursday.
The Marathon diesel terminal adjacent to the TA likewise was underwater, and the entire area smelled of fuel as hazmat teams attempted to identify leaks.
John Naff of International Corporate Security, which provides security services for the Nashville TA, said West Nashville Towing was conducting hazmat operations at the TA Monday. A WNT rep set off in a boat to do a sweep of the trucks in the lot to double-check for possible stranded drivers in the two-dozen rigs remaining, then go on to recovery and securement efforts in the shop and around the submerged fuel islands. No drivers, Naff later said, had been found in the trucks, some with water halfway up their doors.
Naff, a southeast Nashville resident, said he’d never seen anything like it at the truckstop. “They’re saying this has never happened in 130 years,” he said.