By Staff Reports | October 01, 2009

Mexican carriers’ out-of-service rates for drivers and trucks were lower than those of U.S. carriers during the program.

Mexican driver safety is evaluated identically to that of U.S. and Canadian drivers and disqualifying violations on drivers is the same for the three countries, the audit said.

— Jill Dunn

Con-way driver named champion

Dale Duncan, a Con-way Freight driver based in San Diego, was named the 2009 National Truck Driving Grand Champion. Duncan’s driving skills and safety knowledge topped those of 415 other drivers in the National Truck Driving Championships, held in Pittsburgh.

The 72nd annual “Super Bowl of Safety” is sponsored by the American Trucking Associations. The contestants were the state champions in nine truck types from all 50 states.

— Staff reports

Speakers forecast sluggish freight recovery

The worst is over for the freight economy, but recovery will be slow and uneven, according to speakers at the Aug. 25-27 FTR Associates Freight Transportation conference in Indianapolis. Speakers represented the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, freight carriers, shippers, suppliers and consulting firms.

Some points made during the conference, according to FTR:

• Subdued consumer spending will slow the pace of recovery, leading to continued high unemployment. Unlike most previous recessions of this magnitude, economic growth will be subdued despite the depth of the current downturn. This indicates that growth in freight volumes will be gradual.

• We are at the bottom of the steepest decline in freight since the 1980-1982 downturn. Freight is down 15 percent from the previous peak.

• Freight transport will continue to be a buyer’s market for the near term, as depressed freight levels and substantial excess capacity will continue to be the rule. This will put continued pressure on carrier margins.

• High levels of excess capacity are expected to continue, in some instances due to banking’s current reluctance to foreclose on heavily discounted assets at near-bankrupt carriers;

• Equilibrium for carriers may not be reached until 2011 unless there is a more rapid recovery than currently expected.

• Both rail and motor carrier equipment sales are expected to lag the improvement in freight, and will recover slowly. Sales may not reach the peak 2006 levels for a decade or more.

— Staff reports

Short hauls

SWINE FLU was blamed for the death of a 45-year-old owner-operator who drove through several states before finally seeking hospitalization. Derrick Keel, who was leased to Landstar System, died Aug. 19 in a Maryville, Ill., hospital.

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