HOS conflicts

| December 15, 2005

First, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sent a letter to carrier executives asking for support for its petition of federal officials to change the sleeper berth provision in the new hours-of-service rule.

In that Sept. 26 letter, OOIDA President Jim Johnston described ATA President Bill Graves’ recent interview in an industry publication as an indication Graves’ association had “thrown in the towel on changing HOS regulations.”

Graves responded with a letter to Johnston on what he termed OOIDA’s “attack” on the ATA’s efforts regarding the new HOS. Graves outlines his association’s recent actions on that issue, which include supporting a congressional bill that would delay HOS enforcement until January.

The ATA’s executive committee also endorsed a resolution Sept. 7 that included plans to collect data on sleeper berth usage. If that information indicates need for a change, the ATA said it would petition for rulemaking.

Johnston replied to that letter Oct. 14, which was also sent to carrier executives.

“The last thing we need is more studies and pilot programs,” Johnston wrote. “What we do need is a united industry stand against poorly reasoned regulations that detract from industry productivity and rob professional drivers of the flexibility to operate in what has already been proven over years of experience to be the safest manner possible.”

OOIDA has petitioned the agency to reconsider the change in the sleeper berth provision and its requests include wanting teams to be able continue to split sleeper berth time as they have for years before the new rule.

Coalition Wants Tighter Regs
Four activist groups, calling themselves the Truck Safety Coalition, held a press conference Oct. 17 in Washington, D.C., urging the U.S. Congress not to write the new driver hours-of-service rule into law.

Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and Public Citizen also renewed their pleas for the U.S. Department of Transportation to lower the maximum driving time.

The groups criticized the 11-hour drive times, the 34-hour restart provision and the absence of electronic onboard recorders.

The groups also criticized the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s “soft enforcement” period during the first three months of the new rule. Until Dec. 31, minor infractions will be given nothing but a warning, but obvious violations will be cited and the drivers penalized.

The groups issued what they called a Travelers Alert, saying they wanted to warn the public they were sharing the road with tired truckers.

“In giving states the green light to not enforce truckers’ hours of service, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is also giving the green light to unsafe driving conditions,” said PATT founder Daphne Izer. “No load of freight is worth a human life.”

The regulations issued Aug. 19 by the FMCSA are “a thinly veiled attempt to undermine federal safety laws and the U.S. court system,” CRASH said in its statement. “The new rule will endanger the lives of everyone on our nation’s highways at a time when truck crash deaths have increased.”

CRASH cited statistics from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System showing that 5,190 people died in large truck crashes in 2004, a 3.1 percent increase over 2003.

The 2004 FARS details only fatality locations, types of vehicles involved and the presence of alcohol as a factor, not who was at fault. Past studies have shown that most truck-car collisions are the fault of four-wheelers, not truckers.

Also not mentioned by the activists was the fact that according to the FMCSA, only 5.5 percent of truck-related fatalities are because of fatigue.

“We at FMCSA will continue to look at the science and the data to reduce fatalities in not only this 5.5 percent of truck crashes which are fatigue-related but in the other 94.5 percent of large truck crashes as well,” said FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg.

Jackie Gillan, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said: “Truck deaths are increasing, government safety goals are ignored, and enforcement of safety rules is suspended while special trucking interests continue to push a dangerous agenda in Congress. It’s time to stop coddling the trucking industry and make the safety of all motorists, including truck drivers, a priority.”

According to the 2004 FARS, “The most lethal state in the country, measured by truck crash fatalities per 100,000 population, is Wyoming, followed by Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, Mississippi, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Georgia,” the activists announced.

Wyoming had 8.09 truck crash deaths per 100,000 people. Hawaii was last on the list with 0.32 deaths per 100,000 people. The complete list is posted at www.citizen.org.

The press conference was part of the activists’ Sorrow to Strength conference for survivors and victims of truck crashes, which drew attendees from 15 states and the District of Columbia.
-Jill Dunn and Lance Orr


ATA Conditionally Supports Onboard Recorders
The American Trucking Associations approved, contingent on certain conditions, policy Oct. 18 endorsing mandatory use of electronic onboard recorders.

The ATA’s Board of Directors unanimously passed new language backing EOBR use to comply with the hours-of-service rule, providing that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration uses a pilot program determining EOBR effectiveness and addresses nine issues to ensure efficiency and cost-effectiveness of EOBR technology for carriers.

“There should be sound, consensus-based evidence that EOBR use leads to enhanced fleet safety performance by such means as accident rate reduction and improved compliance, therefore increasing the credibility of EOBR systems as a cost-effective technology for motor carriers,” the board stated.

The association stipulates before the agency can require recorder use, it must address issues that include:

  • Statutory protections to carriers on the control, ownership and admissibility and discoverability of EOBR data and to assure drivers’ privacy rights

  • That drivers are held responsible for operating EOBRs in compliance with regulations
  • Providing tax incentives for EOBR use
  • Any EOBR requirement should be made simultaneously applicable to all vehicles of the affected population of motor carriers
  • That carriers using compliant EOBRs be relieved of the burden of retaining supporting documents for HOS compliance and enforcement purposes.

The Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association does not support making EOBR mandatory, said Rick Craig, OOIDA director of regulatory affairs. Recorder technology varies, but will not necessarily ensure HOS compliance, he said.

FMCSA agency administrator Annette Sandberg said she expected to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on EOBR in early 2006.

In 2004, the agency announced an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and has continued review of feedback on the issue and analysis of cost and benefits.

The National Private Truck Council had said it expects that use of EOBRs will become common industry practice in the long-haul segment of the industry, but it had concerns about the possibility of mandatory EOBR use industrywide.
-Jill Dunn


Volvo Announces New Engine Family for 2007
Volvo Trucks North America will launch a new family of diesel engines for 2007 to meet stricter emission standards. The new platform will include 11- and 13-liter models, as well as the 16-liter Volvo D16 introduced earlier this year.

Volvo made the announcement in Boston during the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference and Exhibition in October. The company promised to provide greater details about the engines in the first quarter of 2006.

“These new engines are designed to surpass the excellent record of the Volvo D12, while also giving our customers the ability to fine-tune their engine choice, based on their application and other requirements,” said Peter Karlsten, president and CEO of Volvo Trucks North America.

Karlsten said Volvo will continue to offer customers the option of Cummins ISX engines. Currently, about 60 percent of Volvo’s truck customers spec Volvo engines, 40 percent Cummins engines.

He added that the new Volvo engines are designed with both 2007 and 2010 emissions standards in mind. As previously announced, Volvo will meet federal emissions standards for 2007 with high-performance exhaust gas recirculation and a diesel particulate filter. Whether to use EGR technology in 2010 is still being explored, Karlsten said.

The new family of engines will be easily adaptable to selective catalytic reduction in 2010 if Volvo opts for that technology, Karlsten said.

Tens of thousands of Volvo trucks already use EGR systems. Volvo’s 2007 engines will use a higher rate of EGR to lower nitrogen oxide emissions and particulate filters. All Volvo’s 2007 engines will use the ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel that was mandated by the federal government to be available in the second half of 2006.

The service interval for the 2007 diesel particulate filters is expected to be 150,000 miles or, on average, about a year and a half, with a cleaning cost at each interval of about $150, Karlsten said. Volvo will install warning lamps to let drivers know when the filter needs servicing, Karlsten said.

“We are where we need to be with our testing and development to ensure that our customers receive engines with the performance, fuel economy and reliability they demand from Volvo,” Karlsten said.

Other features of Volvo’s 2007 engines include:

  • Advanced, high-pressure fuel injection with multiple injections per stroke.

  • Increased peak cylinder pressures.
  • Single-stage variable geometry turbocharger.
  • Reinforced base components to handle internal loads.
  • High-capacity cooling system fully integrated into Volvo truck design.
  • Advanced centrifugal crankcase ventilation.

The current Volvo D16 is the first engine to use such architecture. The new family of engines will have the same level of fuel economy as the Volvo D12, Karlsten said.

The new family of engines will be built at the Volvo Powertrain North America plant in Hagerstown, Md.
-Randy Grider


Mack Introduces New Tractor
and Engine Mack Trucks unveiled a new flagship highway tractor called Pinnacle and new models of its Granite and Granite Axle Back construction vehicles. The announcement was made at the company’s national sales meeting in Las Vegas in October.

The truck maker also unveiled the MP7 engine, the first in a new Mack Power family of engines based on the same architecture as the one that will be used to meet the 2007 U.S. emissions regulations. Mack said customers in both highway and vocational applications can expect a significant improvement in fuel economy in the MP7 compared to current engines.

“This is truly the start of a new era for Mack,” said Paul Vikner, Mack president and CEO. “The new products that we’re debuting today directly respond to our customers’ requirements and represent the combining of our heritage of reliability and durability with the latest in breakthrough technology.”

Available in the initial offerings of both the Pinnacle and the new Granite, the MP7 is an 11-liter engine available in the three Mack engine families – Econodyne, Maxidyne and MaxiCruise – in six horsepower ratings between 325 hp and 405 hp, with torque ranging from 1260 pounds-feet to 1560 pounds-feet.

The MP7 engine’s key components include:

  • High-performance (cooled) exhaust gas recirculation system (HEGR)

  • Variable geometry turbocharger (VGT) with sliding nozzle ring
  • Electronically controlled unit injectors
  • Single overhead cam with four valves per cylinder
  • Wet sleeve cylinders with single-piece steel pistons
  • Rear gear train that offers a simple REPTO option.

The second member of the new engine family, the MP8, will be available in 2007. The MP8 is a 13-liter engine with horsepower ratings from 415 to 485 matched to torque levels from 1540 pounds-feet to 1700 pounds-feet.

The Pinnacle highway tractor is offered in a 116-inch bumper-to-back-of-cab daycab configuration, as well as 48- and 56-inch flat-top, 60- and 70-inch mid-rise, and 70-inch high-rise sleepers built on Mack’s Advantage highway chassis. The new Granite and Granite Axle Back models feature a 116-BBC dimension and are built on the Mack Cornerstone vocational chassis. Both product lines were built behind the MP engine, the company says.

New cab designs include:

  • A 4-inch increase in daycab depth

  • A wrap-around “cockpit style” dash, with a new primary gauge cluster and space for up to 25 switches
  • A one-piece windshield for enhanced visibility
  • A broadly adjustable steering column and new driver foot pedal controls that allow the driver to keep his heel in contact with the floor when switching between fuel and brake pedals.

In addition to bringing the new models and engines to market, Mack also plans to continue offering its 2004-certified ASET engines in current Vision highway and Granite vocational models in 2006.

“This approach gives customers interested in experiencing our new engine technology as soon as possible the opportunity to do so, and those who prefer to continue with our current offering for another year a similar opportunity,” said Tom Kelly, Mack’s vice president of marketing. “It also allows us to gradually ramp up our product offering and production capabilities to ensure preparedness for 2007.”
-Avery Vise and John Baxter


Former Energy Secretary: High Diesel Prices to Continue
Don’t expect any major relief in diesel prices in the near future, a former U.S. energy secretary said in October.

Former U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham told the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference and Exhibition in Boston that energy supply is a long-term problem facing this country.

Abraham noted that the U.S. Department of Energy’s latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, released Oct. 12, forecasts an average price of $2.58 a gallon for diesel fuel in 2006.

“On the supply side, we have a lot of self-imposed problems,” Abraham said. These issues include stringent environmental laws and a lack of refineries and nuclear-power plants to meet soaring demands, Abraham said. The last nuclear plant built in the United States was more than 20 years ago, he noted.

Energy demands around the world are increasing at an unprecedented rate, thanks in part to the surging industrial economies of China and India, Abraham said. Worldwide energy consumption is expected to increase 60 percent by 2030, and DOE forecasts worldwide oil consumption to grow from 80 million barrels per day in 2003 to 120 million barrels per day by 2025.

“When you ask any of these experts about solutions, none of them have clear-cut answers,” Abraham said.

Abraham served one term as a U.S. senator from Michigan, during which he called for the elimination of the federal Department of Energy. He ran unsuccessfully for re-election in 2000, after which President-elect Bush named him energy secretary. He resigned that post at the beginning of Bush’s second term. He now is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution and co-chair of the Committee for Justice, which supports conservative nominees to the federal bench.

Abraham said energy concerns need to be addressed by:

  • Building more nuclear power plants

  • Building more oil refineries
  • Importing more natural gas
  • More energy legislation
  • Reconsidering moratoriums on known domestic oil-rich areas
  • More fuel cell technology
  • More biofuel technology.

“We are headed in a direction where we no longer need catastrophic events like Hurricane Katrina to bring the challenges to the forefront,” Abraham said.

In the U.S. Senate, Abraham championed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where drilling is currently off limits. In the 1990s, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the equivalent of 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil lies beneath the refuge.
-Randy Grider


Freightliner Plans to Use SCR for 2010
Freightliner will use selective catalytic reduction technology to comply with the 2010 diesel emission standards in the United States, said Chris Patterson, president and CEO of Freightliner Trucks.

The SCR usage would be only for “our self-manufactured engines, marketed today as Detroit Diesel and Mercedes-Benz,” Patterson said, referring to engines made by Detroit Diesel and its sister brand Mercedes-Benz.

Competing heavy-truck engine makers have said they plan to use existing technology – exhaust gas recirculation or, in the case of Caterpillar, its proprietary ACERT technology – to meet standards in 2007 and 2010. Detroit and Mercedes heavy-duty engines now use EGR.

The Detroit Diesel plans were mentioned by Andreas Renschler, head of DaimlerChrysler’s Commercial Vehicle Division, during a meeting in Germany. DaimlerChrysler owns Freightliner and its Detroit Diesel subsidiary.

“DaimlerChrysler sees selective catalytic reduction, using urea as a post-combustion catalyzing agent, as the optimal technical solution to the challenge of meeting the Environmental Protection Agency’s announced restrictions on NOx and particulate matter for 2010 and beyond,” Patterson said. “To this end, we are working with other engine producers, and with fueling infrastructure owners, to assure the agency that this approach meets both the letter and the intent of the regulation.”

Urea is a crystalline solid found naturally in human urine but also produced synthetically for industrial purposes, for example the making of plastics and fertilizer. SCR pumps urea into the exhaust stream, reducing the NOx back into nitrogen and oxygen. The system has a urea tank on the truck that must occasionally be refilled by the driver. Engine makers have shied away from SCR in part because of the requirements of creating sufficient nationwide distribution of urea.

Reducing the NOx outside the engine in this way allows a combustion process that is quite similar to that of pre-2002 engines. This means fuel economy, performance, and stress levels of engine and lubricating oil are more typical of earlier diesels.

Cummins will announce its decision on emissions technology for 2010 during the second half of 2006, said company spokeswoman Cyndi Nigh. “What I can say is that we are continuing to look at our options,” Nigh said. “SCR is a viable solution for 2010 when it is combined with cooled engine gas recirculation.”

Mack spokesman John Walsh said, “We have not yet announced our 2010 solution, but SCR is certainly one of the technologies we’re strongly considering.”
-Paul Richards and John Baxter


Mack Introduces New Tractor and Engine
Mack Trucks unveiled a new flagship highway tractor called Pinnacle and new models of its Granite and Granite Axle Back construction vehicles. The announcement was made at the company’s national sales meeting in Las Vegas in October.

The truck maker also unveiled the MP7 engine, the first in a new Mack Power family of engines based on the same architecture as the one that will be used to meet the 2007 U.S. emissions regulations. Mack said customers in both highway and vocational applications can expect a significant improvement in fuel economy in the MP7 compared to current engines.

“This is truly the start of a new era for Mack,” said Paul Vikner, Mack president and CEO. “The new products that we’re debuting today directly respond to our customers’ requirements and represent the combining of our heritage of reliability and durability with the latest in breakthrough technology.”

Available in the initial offerings of both the Pinnacle and the new Granite, the MP7 is an 11-liter engine available in the three Mack engine families – Econodyne, Maxidyne and MaxiCruise – in six horsepower ratings between 325 hp and 405 hp, with torque ranging from 1260 pounds-feet to 1560 pounds-feet.

The MP7 engine’s key components include:

  • High-performance (cooled) exhaust gas recirculation system (HEGR)

  • Variable geometry turbocharger (VGT) with sliding nozzle ring
  • Electronically controlled unit injectors
  • Single overhead cam with four valves per cylinder
  • Wet sleeve cylinders with single-piece steel pistons
  • Rear gear train that offers a simple REPTO option.

The second member of the new engine family, the MP8, will be available in 2007. The MP8 is a 13-liter engine with horsepower ratings from 415 to 485 matched to torque levels from 1540 pounds-feet to 1700 pounds-feet.

The Pinnacle highway tractor is offered in a 116-inch bumper-to-back-of-cab daycab configuration, as well as 48- and 56-inch flat-top, 60- and 70-inch mid-rise, and 70-inch high-rise sleepers built on Mack’s Advantage highway chassis. The new Granite and Granite Axle Back models feature a 116-BBC dimension and are built on the Mack Cornerstone vocational chassis. Both product lines were built behind the MP engine, the company says.

New cab designs include:

  • A 4-inch increase in daycab depth

  • A wrap-around “cockpit style” dash, with a new primary gauge cluster and space for up to 25 switches
  • A one-piece windshield for enhanced visibility
  • A broadly adjustable steering column and new driver foot pedal controls that allow the driver to keep his heel in contact with the floor when switching between fuel and brake pedals.

In addition to bringing the new models and engines to market, Mack also plans to continue offering its 2004-certified ASET engines in current Vision highway and Granite vocational models in 2006.

“This approach gives customers interested in experiencing our new engine technology as soon as possible the opportunity to do so, and those who prefer to continue with our current offering for another year a similar opportunity,” said Tom Kelly, Mack’s vice president of marketing. “It also allows us to gradually ramp up our product offering and production capabilities to ensure preparedness for 2007.”
-Avery Vise and John Baxter


California Includes Sleepers in Idling Rule
The California Air Resources Board ruled Oct. 24 that heavy-duty trucks with sleeper cabs are now included in the current provision that prohibits diesel engines from idling for more than five minutes.

The ruling applies to current and future trucks and will go into effect in 2008.

Barbara Riordan, the acting ARB chair, said the ruling will create a more healthy environment for people – especially truckstop, warehouse, distribution center and port terminal workers – exposed to truck emissions for long periods of time.

“Fortunately several new technologies have been developed that provide for truck cabin cooling and heating when the truck’s main engine shut off. These technologies reduce harmful emissions and reduce fuel use as well,” Riordan said.

The California Trucking Association strongly opposed the ruling.

“There is more protection for animals than drivers in the state of California,” said Stephanie Williams, the senior vice president of the CTA, referring to how it is illegal to leave a pet in a parked car with the heat off in the state. “But they expect truckers to live like that?”

Williams blames the rule on the suddenly environment-oriented Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “We have a governor who is trying to make way in the environment and he’s just letting everything go through!”

There are two parts to the new rule. The first part requires 2008 and subsequent model year heavy-duty diesel engines to have a non-programmable engine shutdown system that automatically kills the engine after five minutes of continuous idling. The second part requires truckers with earlier model rigs to shut off their engines before the five-minute idling time is reached. Alternative technologies may be used to power the cab and on-board accessories. These technologies must have zero or very low pollution emissions.
-Lance Orr


Class 8 Customer Satisfaction Trends Downward
Customer satisfaction with heavy-duty trucks declined in the past year, according to the 2005 Heavy Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study released Oct. 12 by J.D. Power and Associates.

Owners reported more problems with their trucks than in 2004, averaging nearly twice as many days of downtime. Owner satisfaction with fuel economy also declined compared to 2004, with the average reported fuel economy dropping below six miles per gallon for the first time in the study’s 10-year history.

“As operating costs, including diesel fuel prices, continue to rise, truck owners grow more sensitive to areas such as fuel economy and truck downtime,” said Brian Etchells, a senior research manager at J.D. Power.

The study is based on interviews with 2,429 primary maintainers of Class 8 trucks. It focuses on smaller fleets and owner-operators, with an average fleet size of 53 trucks at a single location. The study measures satisfaction with services received from authorized truck dealers’ service departments.

In the study’s segmented results, Kenworth took the top slots in over-the-road, pickup and delivery, and dealer service.

“Kenworth is very proud and honored to receive three 2005 Class 8 awards presented by J.D. Power and Associates,” said Bob Christensen, Kenworth general manager and Paccar vice president.

Kenworth led in six of the seven service categories: dealer attitude, dealer facility, service delivery, service initiation, service adviser and price.

Volvo Trucks of North America ranked highest in customer satisfaction in the vocational segment. Volvo led the vocational segment in quality, ride/handling/braking and interior.

Peterbilt came in second in the study’s dealer service rankings. The company received strong service quality and service adviser scores.
-Lance Orr


Randall Publishing Sells to Wachovia
Randall Publishing Co., publisher of Truckers News, announced Nov. 1 that its controlling shareholders have sold all of their interests to Randall-Reilly Publishing LLC, a new entity formed by F. Mike Reilly, chief executive officer, and Wachovia Capital Partners of Charlotte, N.C.

Terms of the sale and the new equity interests were not disclosed.

The company also publishes Overdrive, CCJ, eTrucker.com, Equipment World and Modern Woodworking, and owns the Great American Trucking Show.

“The management of Randall Publishing Co. is excited to begin a new chapter in the company’s history and believes that this partnership with Wachovia Capital Partners will enhance the company’s profitability, security and growth,” Reilly said.

Randall Publishing Co. was founded in 1934 by H. Pettus Randall Jr. His son, H. Pettus Randall III, assumed the leadership of the company in 1976. Reilly joined the company in 1975 and became president in 1984. Under their leadership, the company developed into one of the country’s fastest-growing business-to-business publishing firms.

Upon the death of her husband in 2002, Dr. Cathy J. Randall became chairman of the company, and Reilly became CEO.

Wachovia has invested in more than 200 businesses since 1988, many of them in publishing, said Sean M. Smith, principal of Wachovia Capital Partners.

Under the new company, Mike Reilly will remain as CEO, with David Wright as COO and Shane Elmore as CFO. The company’s headquarters will remain in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and no staffing changes are planned.
-From Staff Reports

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