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Overdrive Staff | November 01, 2010

Proposal: Slash emissions, fuel use

The Obama administration on Oct. 25 proposed the first-ever national fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction standards on medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses. They are intended to achieve up to a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and fuel consumption in combination tractors by the 2018 model year.

The proposal, affecting trucks in model years 2014-2018, would provide a strong incentive for truck makers to use only the most aerodynamic designs.

The proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets out standards for three categories of trucks: combination tractors; heavy-duty pickups and vans; and vocational vehicles.

Engine and vehicle standards for combination tractors would begin in the 2014 model year. EPA and NHTSA are proposing differentiated GHG emissions and fuel economy standards for nine combination tractor subcategories based on weight class, cab type and roof height. So there are separate standards for Class 7 day cabs, Class 8 day cabs and Class 8 sleeper caps in each of the following configurations: low roof, mid roof and high roof.

For vocational vehicles, the agencies are proposing engine and vehicle standards starting in the 2014 model year that would achieve up to a 10 percent reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 2018 model year.

EPA says an owner-operator could pay for technology upgrades in a new heavy-duty truck within a year and save up to $74,000 over the truck’s useful life. Payback on lower-mileage trucks would require up to five years.

Less optimistic about the overall economic impact was Kyle Treadway, chairman of American Truck Dealers and owner of Kenworth Sales Co. While “dealers support improving fuel economy,” he said, the proposal “is expected to add thousands of dollars to the cost per truck. We are concerned that this could price some buyers out of the market.”

The American Trucking Associations’ backs the national fuel economy standard for trucks as a means of reducing carbon emissions as opposed to less attractive alternatives, such as mandating use of alternative fuels.

At a recent ATA meeting, Bill Kozek, general manager of Kenworth Truck Co., said the proposal means buyers will have fewer spec’ing options. Truck makers will have to shift more toward aerodynamic styling, meaning the days of the long-hood conventional – at least in over-the-road applications – may be numbered, he said. “These regulations will be the death of the W900L,” Kozek said at the ATA meeting.

Some truck and engine suppliers are opposed to the notion that the engine and vehicle are regulated separately and favor a total vehicle standard. Moreover, there is no credit given for engine downsizing, noted Anthony Greszler, a vice president for Volvo Powertrain North America.

— Avery Vise n



Bill would mandate recorders

The trucking industry has a mixed response to a congressional bill that would require electronic on-board recorders on all trucks.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes the measure, but some carriers support it.

On Sept. 29, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) introduced the Commercial Driver Compliance Improvement Act, which would mandate the devices for commercial vehicles. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) co-sponsored the bill, which would require EOBRs provide real-time tracking of a vehicle’s location and enable law enforcement to access this information during roadside inspections.

If passed, S.3884 would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue regulations within 18 months.

Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president, said EOBRs do not track all driver activities and drivers still have to input hours worked.

The American Trucking Associations said it supports the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new rule, effective last June, which requires the devices only for trucking companies with more significant compliance problems.

Craig Harper, chief operating officer of Arkansas-based J.B. Hunt Transport, and Don Osterberg, a senior vice president of Wisconsin-based Schneider National, support the mandate approach.

“The problem isn’t with the HOS (hours of service) rules, but a lack of compliance with the rules,” Osterberg said. “Electronic logs take the non-compliance issues off the table.”

The bill has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

— Jill Dunn



SHORT HAULS

HIGHER DIESEL FUEL PRICES for this year and 2011 are forecast by the U.S. Department of Energy. DOE expects diesel to average $3.14 next year.

REPORTED SALES of used Class 8 commercial vehicles were up 55 percent in August compared to the prior year on a “same dealer” basis, according to ACT Research Co. Average sales prices topped $40,000 for the first time since February of 2009, ACT says.

SEPTEMBER CLASS 8 total net orders for all major North American manufacturers increased 22 percent over August and were 39 percent higher than a year earlier, says FTR Associates. The preliminary total was 14,872 units. Net order activity for the six-month period through September measures 163,100 units on an annual basis. 

ESTIMATED PAYROLL employment in trucking was almost unchanged on a seasonally adjusted basis in September, dipping by 100 jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since the beginning of March, trucking companies have added 15,200 jobs.

GOODYEAR’S HIGHWAY HERO Program is accepting nominations for trucker valor through Nov. 30. Incidents must have happened between Nov. 16, 2009, and Nov. 15. Call (330) 796-8183 or visit www.goodyear.com/truck/news for a nomination form.



Cat to launch vocational truck line

Caterpillar will unveil the first model in its line of Cat vocational trucks, the Cat CT660, at the CONEXPO trade show on March 22.

The Class 8 trucks will be sold and serviced exclusively through the Cat North American Dealer network, with production beginning after CONEXPO. The trucks are being developed with Navistar International.

Caterpillar says the trucks will have wide applications, such as logging, moving rock and hauling trash.

Caterpillar will offer the heavy-duty Cat vocational day cab trucks with a full range of engine ratings and torque capability options.

— Jack Roberts



Hoover Dam bridge opens

The recently opened Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge towering over Hoover Dam becomes the Western Hemisphere’s longest single-span concrete arch bridge and saves truckers considerable time and expense.

The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge eliminates a 75-mile detour from truckers running between Arizona and Nevada.

The 1,900-foot-long bridge is part of a $240 million four-lane bypass that reroutes traffic for 3.5 miles from the two-lane bottleneck on U.S. 93 across the dam.

Security concerns after 9/11 led authorities to ban commercial trucks from traveling across the dam, forcing truck drivers to use a detour.

— Staff reports




CSA 2010 ready for nationwide rollout

A new safety enforcement program, the Safety Measurement System, will start in December as Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 goes into effect in 50 states.

During its 30-month field test, CSA 2010 testing uncovered a large amount of safety violations among carriers in certain states, says the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. FMCSA summarized the testing in a September report to Congress.

Next month the SMS will replace Safestat to identify high-risk carriers. It will form the basis for assigning interventions with safety-deficient carriers, as well as their drivers and leased owner-operators. Once the SMS is in place, the agency will begin issuing warning letters to carriers.  

Phase I of the testing was conducted from February through October of 2008, involving about half of the carriers in Colorado, Georgia, Missouri and New Jersey. Compared to non-test carriers in those states, the test carriers had nearly 50 percent more enforcement-related contact with the agency.

Of the CSA 2010-initiated investigations, 62 percent resulted in interventions to address safety deficiencies, including cooperative safety plans and fines. Only 32 percent of the carriers in the non-test control groups received enforcement actions.

Phase II, begun in October 2008, expanded the testing to incorporate the entire CSA 2010 enforcement methodology, the agency reported. From June through November of 2009, the testing was broadened to include carriers and drivers in Minnesota, Montana, Kansas, Maryland and Delaware.

— Staff reports



SHORT HAULS

THE FREIGHT Transportation Services Index fell 0.6 percent in August from July, declining after two monthly increases, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports. Through the first eight months of 2010, the index has declined 1.9 percent. Meanwhile, truck tonnage rose 2.9 percent in August, the ninth straight year-over-year increase, says the American Trucking Associations.

OPERATING A HANDHELD device is the leading cause of distracted driving incidents that led to collisions or near-crashes, according to a study by SmartDrive Systems. The study analyzed activity captured on video prior to those traffic events. Ranked second and third were eating/drinking/smoking and talking on a mobile phone.

U.S. SURFACE transportation trade with Canada and Mexico in July increased 19 percent over July 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. U.S.-Canada surface transportation trade totaled $36 billion in July, up 17 percent from a year ago. U.S.-Mexico surface transportation trade in July increased 22 percent, to $25 billion.



Trucks improve in CVSA brake check

Fewer vehicles were taken out of service for brake defects this year than in 2009 during Operation Air Brake’s Brake Safety Week, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance announced Oct. 15.

Overall, a record 30,472 vehicles were inspected, up from 26,630 inspections in 2009. Also, 2,717 vehicles were placed out of service for brake adjustments (8.9 percent in 2010, 9 percent in 2009); 2,435 vehicles were placed out of service for brake components (8 percent in 2010, 9.2 percent in 2009); and 4,117 vehicles were placed out for brakes (13.5 percent in 2010, 15.1 percent in 2009).

Brake Safety Week is a component of the Operation Air Brake campaign, an ongoing international truck and bus brake safety program dedicated to improving commercial vehicle brake safety throughout North America.

— Staff reports



Survey: Economy top trucking concern

The state of the economy leads the list of the American Transportation Research Institute’s top 10 critical issues facing the North American trucking industry, based on a survey of more than 4,000 trucking industry executives.

The results were released Oct. 17 at the 2010 Management Conference and Exhibition of the American Trucking Associations meeting.

Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new regulatory framework for evaluating carrier and driver safety, is on the list in a close second to the economy this year.

Government regulation, which was the second most pressing issue last year, remained near the top of the list (No. 3). The driver shortage returned to the top 10 list this year (No. 5), a sign of increased freight demand as the economy rebounds.

Also making the list of top 10 concerns are hours of service (No. 4), fuel issues (No. 6), transportation funding/infrastructure (No. 7), onboard truck technology (No. 8), environmental issues (No. 9) and truck size and weight (No. 10).

— Staff reports



California agency may amend truck rules

Due to tough economic times, the California Air Resources Board will consider amending three truck emissions rules at its Dec. 16-17 meeting.

The recession resulted in less truck activity, which yielded better air quality but tightened business operations. The board has held several workshop series to gather public reaction.

It is considering changes to the truck and bus rule that would delay implementation of particulate matter rules from 2011 to 2012 and truck replacement from 2013 to 2015. It would exempt trucks with a GVW rating of less than 26,001 pounds from particulate matter filter requirements. No engine less than 20 years old would be replaced until 2020.

— Jill Dunn



Arrow’s Back on the Road accepting nominations

Arrow Truck Sales has launched its Back On The Road 2011 campaign, presented by Volvo Trucks North America.

In its fourth year, Back On The Road is designed to help a deserving trucker in need of a truck and a job. Country music singer Aaron Tippin is again lending his support to the program.

Arrow is soliciting stories from truckers who may have lost their truck and their livelihood through unfortunate circumstances beyond their control. Other eligible nominations can be for truckers who have served as champions for the industry. Applications include a 250-word story explaining why the nominee deserves to win.

“We’re proud to help a deserving driver climb back in the cab and start hauling again,” says Steve Clough, president of Arrow Truck Sales. 

The winning trucker will receive a one-year lease on a Volvo VNL tractor, courtesy of Volvo Trucks North America; a one-year work agreement with Heartland Express; and other products and services from companies such as Michelin, Pilot Flying J, Thermo King and ATBS.

Arrow will accept nominations until Dec. 5 at www.backontheroad2011.com. The winner will be announced in March.

— Staff reports



Congress eyes diesel tax hike

The American Trucking Associations is backing a bill that would establish a national freight planning process, financed through a 12-cent increase in diesel taxes and use of federal funds.

Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) introduced the Freight is the Future of Commerce in the United States Act, or the Freight FOCUS Act.

It would prioritize funding via a new assistant transportation secretary, who would lead a new Office of Freight Policy. H.R. 6291 would have public and private sector involvement in freight planning, use funding to alleviate highway choke points and provide money to mitigate the effect of goods movement on the environment and health.

It would create a Goods Movement Trust Fund for merit-based grants for transportation projects. This fund would require money from a specific mode be limited to projects benefiting that form of transportation. The private sector would have a say in funding through a new National Freight Advisory Committee.

The legislation would be financed by a diesel tax increase and a $3 billion annual transfer from the General Fund into the Goods Movement Trust Fund.

The bill’s diesel tax increase will be insufficient to address current surface transportation problems, ATA said. For this reason, the association is encouraging Congress to pass a similar hike in gas taxes to fund additional projects.

The bill was referred to the Transportation and Infrastructure committee, along with the Ways and Means and Rules committee.

On July 22 the Focusing Resources, Economic Investment, and Guidance to Help Transportation Act was introduced in Congress. The FREIGHT Act, or S.3629, would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop a National Freight Transportation Strategic Plan and create an Office of Freight Planning and Development.

Trucking is not mentioned in this bill, which focuses on rail, ports and intermodal freight. It was referred to a Senate committee and has two co-sponsors.

— Jill Dunn



Speed top cause of fatal truck crashes

Speeding was the leading factor among large trucks involved in fatal crashes, says the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration.

The report compiled by Ralph Craft in FMCSA’s Statistics Division found that driving over the speed limit was the leading factor in 7.3 percent of fatal crashes. Following that was failure to keep in the proper lane, at 6.5 percent, and inattentive driving, such as talking or eating, at 5.7 percent.

The number 7 factor is drowsy or fatigued driving, at 1.4 percent, tied with driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medications. Other factors ranked ahead of fatigue were failure to yield right-of-way, failure to obey traffic signs and overcorrecting.

Overall, large trucks were involved in 7 percent of fatal crashes in 2009.

— Staff reports



CARB studies reefer rule

The California Air Resources Board, in response to questions about 2003 transport refrigeration units and TRU generator sets, will enforce the January compliance deadline, but will soon consider an option for meeting this standard.

On Oct. 8, CARB announced that affected owners without the compliance technology should order now to ensure delivery by deadline. The TRU Airborne Toxic Control Measure requires 2003 and older engines be retrofitted to meet the Ultra-Low-Emission TRU in-use standards by Dec. 31. The rule requires a Level 3 verified diesel emissions control system, which reduces diesel particulate matter by at least 85 percent.

At its Nov. 18-19 meeting, CARB will consider a proposal to allow a less stringent compliance standard proposal for these products because of limited availability of Level 3 control systems.

More information is available by calling (916) 445-5516.The board will receive comments on the proposals until noon Nov. 17 electronically at www.arb.ca.gov.

— Staff reports



Charlotte hosts inaugural Diesel Show

The inaugural Diesel Super Show in Concord, N.C., held at the z-Max Dragway at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Oct. 8 and 9, featured trucking- and construction-related exhibits, truck drag races, a free country music concert with country star John Rich and Custom Rigs Pride & Polish. The show was produced by Overdrive’s publisher, Randall-Reilly Business Media and Information.

— Staff reports



Recorder rule challenged by OOIDA

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is legally challenging a regulation that requires carriers with the most serious hours-of-service violations to install electronic onboard recorders.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit registered the suit brought by OOOIDA and three of its members against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on June 3. The plaintiffs filed a brief Oct. 7 asking the court to vacate the EOBR rule and to require the agency do further consideration consistent with the court’s findings.

FMCSA spokeswoman Candice Tolliver declined comment on the lawsuit. The court gave the agency until Nov. 4 to file a reply brief.

Carriers with a 10 percent or greater occurrence of HOS non-compliance in a single compliance review are mandated to use EOBRs for two years. The American Trucking Associations supports this rule, which has a June 4, 2012 deadline.

OOIDA argues it is unproven that the devices can accurately and automatically record a driver’s HOS and duty status.

— Jill Dunn



MARK YOUR CALENDAR

NOV. 12-14: MECA SOUTH FLORIDA TRUCK SHOW, Medley, Fla., Eric Garcia, (305) 884-2028.

NOV. 13: ANTIQUE TRUCKS SHOW of Northwest Chapter of ATHS, Walrath Trucking, Tacoma, Wash., (360) 866-7716.

JAN. 29-30: PAPAGO MILITARY VEHICLE SHOW, Arizona National Guard Building, Phoenix, (480) 497-9722.

FEB. 4-5: MID-WEST TRUCK SHOW, Peoria Civic Center, Peoria, Ill., www.midwesttruckers.com.

MARCH 8-10: THE WORK TRUCK SHOW, Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, www.ntea.com, (800) 441-6832

MARCH 31-APRIL 2: MID-AMERICA TRUCKING SHOW, Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville, www.truckingshow.com, (502) 899-3892.

APRIL 8-10: 75 CHROME SHOP ANNUAL TRUCK SHOW, Wildwood, Fla., www.75chromeshop.com, (866) 255-6206.



HIGHWAY HAPPENINGS

ARIZONA. The Arizona Department of Transportation has reopened four rest areas closed since 2009: Bouse Wash (I-10), Hassayampa (U.S. 60), Haviland (I-40) and McGuireville (I-17). ADOT reopened five other rest areas last summer.

CALIFORNIA. Most rest areas closed because of a state budget impasse have been reopened. The Brookside rest area on I-10 west of Beaumont remains closed. Rest areas at Buckman Springs and Sunbeam on I-8 and Hunter Hill and Donner Summit on I-80 remain closed for construction until 2011.

IDAHO. Traffic disruptions will continue into 2011 with the widening of I-84 to eight lanes near Boise. Two lanes are open in both directions during construction. Speed limit is 55 mph.

INDIANA. Nighttime traffic is restricted to one lane on I-65 southbound for resurfacing. The work covers four and a half miles from U.S. 231 and runs 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. nightly. Contract completion date is April 30.

MARYLAND. A new law prohibits hand-held phone use except to call in an emergency. The law is a secondary offense that requires law enforcement to stop the driver for another offense before ticketing for cell-phone use. The state already had an anti-texting-while-driving law.

NEW YORK. Six rest areas on Interstates in New York State are scheduled for temporary closure this year to save money. On Nov. 1, the State Department of Transportation planned to close Brewerton/Hastings on I-81 and Schodack on I-90, though both will be used for commercial vehicle inspections. On Dec. 1, rest areas slated for closure are Lewis and Schroon Lake on I-87 and Worcester and Wells Bridge on I-88. Vehicle inspections will continue at both sites.

TEXAS. Four of the top seven most congested highways in the state are in Harris County-Houston. IH 45 ranks 1, 6 and 7 on the congested list, while U.S. 59 is second. The state calculates more than 4.5 million hours of delays annually on nine miles of IH 45 from SL 8 North to IH 610.

WYOMING. Variable speed limits have replaced the seasonal 65 mph speed limit on I-80. The state’s Transportation Management Center is able to reduce limits in 5 mph increments to 35 mph when weather conditions dictate on 52 miles of Interstate between Laramie and Rawlins.


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