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Overdrive Staff | September 01, 2011

New regs will increase truck cost

The first-ever regulation for truck fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions is expected to cut diesel use by 4 gallons per 100 miles traveled by the time 2018 models are sold.

New trucks are expected to cost $6,220 more because of the rule.

New truck fuel efficiency rules will cut fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions beginning with 2014 models.

President Obama announced the new standard would yield a total fuel savings of $73,000 over a truck’s life. Heavy-duty trucks should expect a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018 under a new Heavy-Duty National Program.

Many organizations applauded the development, but the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association criticized it, saying there are cheaper ways to achieve the same goals.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration describes the agencies’ standards for 2017 models in nine sub-categories of combination tractors based on weight, cab type and roof height. Class 7 and 8 day cabs and Class 8 sleepers should show fuel savings of between 9 percent and 23 percent more than 2010 standards.

A Class 8 sleeper with a low, medium or high roof would have a respective fuel consumption standard of 6.3, 6.8 or 7 gallons per 1,000-ton-mile.

The EPA’s final greenhouse gas emission standards under the Clean Air Act will begin with the 2014 model year. NHTSA’s final fuel consumption standards under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will be voluntary in model years 2014 and 2015, but mandatory for most categories beginning model year 2016.

OOIDA said the new standard had “ignored input from small-business trucking (and) overlooks less expensive options to achieve” reduced emissions and will result in higher truck costs.

The priority should have been driver training, citing a National Academy of Sciences report that driver behavior can account for 35 percent of fuel economy, said Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA director of regulatory affairs.

The American Trucking Associations said its members “have been pushing for the setting of fuel efficiency standards for some time.”

— Staff reports and Jill Dunn



Owner-operator pay expected to rise 4 to 6 cents per mile

Over the next 12 months, owner-operator pay will rise 4 to 6 cents a mile and company driver pay 3 to 5 cents a mile as carriers compete for drivers, forecast pay specialist Gordon Klemp Aug. 15 at an online seminar.

The lower end of those ranges will occur even if the national economy continues in the doldrums, while the higher numbers will be achieved if manufacturing improves, says Klemp, National Transportation Institute president.

The webinar was produced by Overdrive and Truckers News magazines and sponsored by Freightliner Trucks. A recording of it can be downloaded free under “Archives” at TruckerWebinars.com.

Sign-on bonuses will continue to re-emerge, Klemp says. He also forecast increased use of productivity pay programs.

Klemp says that a second-quarter survey of 350 carriers shows these indications:

• Quality of available driver candidates is “marginal at best.”

• Driver demand and supply is out of balance, so wages should increase.

• Factors such as the underground economy, part-time jobs and regulatory hurdles such as Compliance Safety Accountability and potential hours of service changes are reducing the pool of qualified drivers.

— Max Kvidera



Natural gas trucks catching on

Natural gas is slowly making inroads in trucking, executives reported Aug. 11 at a green trucking event presented by Kenworth.

Carriers are stepping up purchases of natural gas-powered trucks such as this Kenworth T800 running on liquid natural gas.

Carriers are making NG-powered truck purchases and more liquid natural gas and compressed natural gas fueling stations are being opened.

Fleets such as Heckmann and Ryder each have ordered 200 LNG-powered trucks, and C.R. England will take a small, unspecified number of Kenworth trucks to haul syrup for Coca-Cola, said Andy Douglas, Kenworth national sales manager for specialty markets.

Helping drive the interest in NG is the price of diesel and growing availability of NG fueling locations. NG costs about half diesel’s current price on an equivalent diesel basis and is projected to stay at that price for the foreseeable future, Douglas said. NG also releases about 25 percent fewer emissions when burned. Its attractiveness is enhanced because it can be used with existing diesel engine technology with a few modifications.

Interest in NG trucks is increasing despite a 30 percent to 40 percent higher cost. Most of the additional cost comes from more expensive fuel tanks that in the case of LNG are a tank within a tank to cool the gas, plus an auxiliary tank for diesel that ignites first before igniting the LNG in the engine.

Most of the existing NG fueling stations are in California, where ports and utilities have led the way in adopting NG technology.

Despite the enthusiasm about increasing orders for NG-fueled trucks, only about 23,000 vehicles, primarily utility and refuse companies, operate in the United States, Douglas said.

Fleets will lead the way in using NG-powered trucks in the short term, said Kelly Mills, Western sales manager for Westport Fuel Systems Inc. Eventually, owner-operators will get involved when the vehicles enter used truck markets and are more affordable.

— Max Kvidera



Survey: Drivers concerned about CSA

New survey data indicate drivers understand several critical aspects of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance Safety Accountability program, but significant misperceptions still exist.

For example, 77 percent incorrectly believed companies inherit past violations from new hires, the American Transportation Research Institute noted. FMCSA materials say “only violations that a driver receives while working for a motor carrier apply to that carrier’s SMS evaluation.”

Nearly two-thirds of drivers were somewhat or extremely concerned they will lose their jobs as a result of CSA.

ATRI surveyed 204 company drivers and owner-operators at a trucking show in March. Additionally, a large motor carrier volunteered 4,351 of its company drivers to complete only the survey’s knowledge section.

Researchers noted drivers’ knowledge of CSA reflects rumor-based false beliefs, despite FMCSA attempts to educate drivers. These misperceptions will likely decrease as the program matures, they wrote.

Forty-one percent reported not receiving CSA training or education from their company, and 36 percent reported their employer had provided one learning session. The remainder, nearly 23 percent, received multiple sessions from their employer.

Still, the analysts stated “the truck driver community has relatively strong comprehension of several critical aspects of CSA.”

An FMCSA spokesman says that some findings are encouraging, including that most respondents understood some critical CSA aspects. The agency plans to continue its CSA educational efforts.

Also, FMCSA notes, more than 95 percent of respondents understood all violations count toward assessing driver and carrier safety. Nearly 83 percent were aware carriers cannot remove safety violations from their record by firing a driver.

To obtain a copy of the ATRI CSA Driver Survey Report, go to www.atri-online.org.

— Jill Dunn



New service offers detailed used truck reports

RigDig, a new service, provides history reports to help prospective buyers evaluate used truck purchases.

By logging onto RigDig.com and typing in a truck’s vehicle identification number, buyers and sellers can get vital records on a commercial vehicle.

“The launch of RigDig marks the first time buyers can check a truck’s background using a service designed specifically for the commercial truck market,” says James Vogel, RigDig general manager, noting that the service “gives truck buyers a level of confidence in making purchase decisions that’s unprecedented.”

RigDig was developed by Equipment Data Associates, a division of Overdrive’s publisher, Randall-Reilly Business Media & Information. EDA has compiled equipment-related data in trucking and construction for more than 20 years.

RigDig reports, which cost $34 each or three for $60, alert buyers when the truck may be:

• Junk or salvage yard vehicle. Through RigDig’s partnership with the Department of Justice’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS), RigDig alerts buyers to trucks that have been in junk or salvage yards.

• Total loss insurance claims. RigDig can help the used truck buyer know if a vehicle was written off as a total loss before they buy or sell.

• DMV title brands, such as Junked, Salvage or Flooded. RigDig delivers title information in real-time.

• Involved in a federally recordable accident. RigDig’s database includes more than 639,000 federally recordable, tow-away accidents for Class 3-8 trucks (for valid VINs) since 2000.

• Involved in a less-severe, non-federally recordable accident. RigDig’s database includes more than 139,000 post-accident inspections for Class 3-8 vehicles since 2000.

• Properly maintained. Inspections or out-of-service violations are identified.

• Truck specifications. Original factory specifications are identified.

• UCC Liens. Buyers can verify if any Uniform Commercial Code liens were tied to a truck’s VIN.

— Staff reports



Bill would allow heavy trucks on all interstates

U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) introduced The Commercial Truck Safety Act, legislation intended to ease interstate commerce and enhance safety on highways and secondary roads.

The bill would eliminate what Snowe identifies as inequitable government regulation permitting six-axle trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to travel on some states’ interstate highways and not others.

“The Department of Transportation has created an inequitable system where some states, including Maine, must seek individual exemptions from year to year while 27 states benefit from permanent exemptions,” said Snowe, a senior member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Presently, trucks weighing more than 80,000 pounds in the remaining 23 states must either unload cargo or travel to their destination on winding secondary roads through small towns.

During a recent pilot program allowing six-axle trucks up to 100,000 pounds on Maine’s interstates, there were 14 fewer crashes compared to the previous year and no fatalities involving six-axle trucks.

The Commercial Truck Safety Act would end the need for states to seek individual weight limit exemptions from Congress by granting states like Maine the authority to petition the Secretary of Transportation for a permanent waiver.

The legislation would authorize the Secretary to institute a three-year pilot program waiving the weight limit and requiring the creation of a safety committee, which would determine whether the exemption should become permanent.

— Staff reports


Illinois changes weight regs

Beginning Jan. 1, Illinois will begin allowing a maximum truck weight of 80,400 pounds if an auxiliary power unit is used.

Also, when a truck’s registered gross weight is 77,000 pounds or exceeds certain weight limits by up to 2,000 pounds, the owner or operator must remove the excess weight.

A law that became effective July 28 allows dual semi-trailer hitching using a single pivot point.

— Staff reports



Wanted: Truck stops for electrification

Shorepower Technologies is seeking truck stops with at least 75 parking spaces to participate in a national truck stop electrification program to reduce idling.

Through the federally funded Shorepower Truck Electrification Project, qualifying truck stops can receive a complete TSE system at no cost to them. Shorepower will handle everything from construction through grand opening. Truck stop operators will share revenues with Shorepower.

Installations will take place over 18 months, but Shorepower needs to select the sites by September, the company says.

The first TSE installation of a planned 50 truck stops around the country is at the Baker Truck Corral off I-84 in Baker City, Ore.

Drivers will be able to access 120-volt, 208-volt or 240-volt AC power sources. Power will be sold at $1 an hour, and cable TV will be included at most locations, with wireless Internet available for an additional charge. Access and payment can be handled with a card, smartphone, laptop or telephone activation system.

A second component of STEP is providing equipment-purchase incentives to about 5,000 vehicle owners who will commit to using the TSE hook-ups to reduce engine idling.

The program is being administered by Cascade Sierra Solutions, in partnership with Shorepower.

Around the country, EnviroDock completed electrification on 30 parking spaces at TR Auto Truck Plaza, off of I-40 in Dandridge, Tenn. More than 50 electrification units were completed at Eco Travel Plaza in Crossville, Tenn. EnviroDock and Shorepower Technologies installed units.

A New York state grant has allowed EnviroDock to complete its installation of five E-Dock Stationary units at Canaan Truck Stop, off I-90.

This summer, Florida Turnpike officials opened electrification units at Okahumpka and Canoe Creek, while IdleAir recently has said it has started services at new locations in Shepherd, Texas, and Claysville, Pa.

— Staff reports and Jill Dunn



Cat fined $2.55M in clean air case

Caterpillar agreed to pay a $2.55 million penalty – $2.04 million to the United States and $510,000 to California – as part of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged Clean Air Act violations.

Cat allegedly shipped more than 590,000 highway and off-road diesel engines without correct emissions controls, according to EPA. Caterpillar also allegedly failed to comply with emission control reporting and engine-labeling requirements.

The settlement requires Cat to recall the known defective engines, install the correct aftertreatment device, and reprogram the fuel injector and fuel map settings. The recall will continue until all engines with incorrect catalysts, fuel injectors or fuel map settlings have been addressed, or until Dec. 31, whichever is earlier, according to EPA.

In addition to the recall, Caterpillar will mitigate excess emissions through permanent retirement of banked emission credits, according to the settlement. 

Caterpillar fully cooperated with the government, says company spokesperson Bridget M. Young.

“Caterpillar denies any wrongdoing, but does agree that the decree represents a good faith effort,” she says.

— Tina Barbaccia



SHORT HAULS

TRANSCORE’S North American Freight Index in July marked the seventh consecutive month of record year-over-year increase. The index, measuring spot market truckload freight volume, increased 22 percent since July 2010. Compared to June, July freight volume declined 24 percent, following the typical seasonal pattern.

EVENTS AND PROMOTIONS to honor truckers during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, Sept. 11-17, are being compiled on a searchable website, www.DriverAppreciation.com.

TRUCK TONNAGE as measured by the American Trucking Associations seasonally adjusted index rose 6.8 percent in June from a year earlier and 2.8 percent from May, ATA said.



NHTSA raises stopping distances

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it slightly increased its new stopping distance requirements for new truck tractors at lower initial speeds in response to petitions for reconsideration of the agency’s 2009 final rule.

NHTSA said that based on testing results and the agency’s concerns, the stopping distance for typical loaded tractors tested at an initial speed of 20 mph is being increased from 30 feet to 32 feet, and for unloaded tractors from 28 feet to 30 feet.

NHTSA’s final rule amended the federal standard for air brake systems by requiring improvements in stopping distance on new tractors. This rule, which became effective Aug. 1, reduced the maximum allowable stopping distance at 60 mph from 355 feet to 250 feet for most loaded heavy trucks. For a small minority of loaded, very heavy tractors, the maximum allowable stopping distance was reduced from 355 feet to 310 feet.

Petitions for reconsidering the stopping distance performance requirements at lower initial speeds were filed by the Truck Manufacturers Association, the Heavy Duty Brake Manufacturers Council of the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association and Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake.

— Staff reports


SHORT HAULS

USED TRUCK SALES in June increased 9 percent over May despite low inventory, said ACT Research Co. For the year, used sales are 6 percent behind last year’s pace. Used truck mileage is increasing as fleets hold on to vehicles longer, the firm said.

CLASS 8 NET ORDERS for North American truck makers fell 12 percent in July from June to 18,532 units, the lowest monthly total since September 2010, according to FTR Associates. Although July marked the third straight month with declining orders, the total was up 63 percent from July 2010, FTR said.

DART NETWORK, whose holdings include Dart Transit, has eliminated 67 non-driving jobs to allow the company to focus on recruiting and retaining truckers.



CARB to fund $40M for clean vehicles

The California Air Resources Board has approved up to $40 million for the third year of funding to promote the purchase of next-generation clean cars, trucks and off-road equipment.

Californians will be able to use vouchers or rebates on a first-come, first-served basis toward the purchase of zero-emissions or plug-in hybrid cars and zero-emissions or hybrid trucks and buses.

CARB approved the following funding:

• $15 million to $21 million for continued funding of consumer rebates of up to $2,500 toward the purchase of zero-emissions or plug-in hybrid passenger vehicles;

• $11million to $16 million to continue providing vouchers for California businesses to buy lower-emitting and fuel-efficient hybrid and zero-emission trucks and buses; and

• $2 million to $3 million toward promising locomotive, truck and bus technology demonstration projects.

The Air Quality Improvement Program invests in new emissions-reduction technologies. In its first two years, the program funded about 2,000 zero-emissions passenger vehicles and more than 1,000 hybrid and zero-emissions trucks and buses, totaling $58 million. Funding for these programs is generated from expected revenues from smog abatement, vehicle and vessel registration fees.

— Staff reports



SHORT HAULS

FEDERAL TAXES on diesel fuel, truck tires, heavy equipment and heavy-vehicle road use are set to expire Sept. 30 unless Congress acts on a transportation bill when it reconvenes after its summer recess. The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) expired in 2009, but taxes going into the Highway Trust Fund were collected for an additional two years.

TRUCKING JOBS GREW for the sixth straight month in July as for-hire trucking companies added 1,300 new positions, according to preliminary estimates. Compared with July 2010, trucking employment is up by 43,000 positions, or 3.5 percent.



Con-way driver wins National Championships

Paul Phillips, a Con-way Freight driver from Coarsegold, Calif., was named 2011 Bendix National Truck Driving Championships Grand Champion Aug. 13.

Phillips’ driving skills and knowledge of transportation and truck safety information topped those of 428 other drivers in the championships, held in Orlando, Fla.

The 74th annual “Super Bowl of Safety” is sponsored by the American Trucking Associations. Phillips has logged 35 years as a professional driver, with more than 1.6 million miles behind the wheel. He began competing in his state truck driving championships in 2004, and this year he made his second trip to the National Truck Driving Championships.

The contestants were state champions in nine truck types from all 50 states.

Phillips also won the individual straight truck driving competition. Joining Phillips as champions in their respective classes:

• Three-Axle: John Hazlett, ABF Freight System Inc., Philadelphia;

• Four-Axle: Gary Harms, Wal-mart Transportation, Olathe, Kan.;

• Five-Axle: Hershel Evans, Holland, Bremen, Ga.;

• Flatbed: Edward Hawkins, Leavitt’s Freight Service, Springfield, Ore.;

• Tank Truck: Leo Flack, A. Duie Pyle Inc., West Chester, Pa.;

• Twins: Jeffrey W. Payne, Reddaway, Cedar City, Utah;

• Sleeper Berth: Joshua Carr, Wal-mart Transportation, McCall, Idaho; and

• Step Van: James Sheehan, FedEx Ground, Hendersonville, Tenn.

— Staff reports



SHORT HAULS

FOR-HIRE FREIGHT as measured by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s index rose 2.6 percent in June from May and 4.1 percent from a year earlier.

SURFACE TRANSPORTATION trade between the United States and Canada and Mexico was 16 percent higher in May than in May 2010, totaling $77 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

MANUFACTURING expanded in July for the 24th consecutive month, but just barely, according to the Institute for Supply Management. New orders are contracting, says ISM.



HIGHWAY HAPPENINGS

GEORGIA. The state has received a federal loan from the Federal Highway Administration for the proposed Northwest Corridor Project that would add express toll lanes to I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties. The $1 billion project is to include a private operator that will repay the federal loan using toll revenue.

ILLINOIS. Beginning Jan. 1, truckers and four-wheelers will share a 65 mph speed limit on four-lane highways outside the Chicago area.

INDIANA. I-70 lanes will be closed from State Road 59 to two miles east of State Road 267 for a resurfacing project that’s scheduled to be completed by Nov. 22. Additional work will extend the project until May 18.

NEW YORK. A new law will require truck drivers traveling in New York City to mount front-end mirrors. Beginning Jan. 18, trucks weighing at least 26,000 pounds and base-plated in New York must have the mirrors when traveling through any of the city’s five boroughs.

NEW JERSEY. A proposal by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey could sharply increase tolls on bridges and tunnels starting in September. The plan would raise cash tolls for five-axle trucks to $85 from $40 roundtrip. E-ZPass users would see peak fees increase to $70 from $40 and off-peak would go up to $65 from $35. The E-ZPass overnight fee would remain at $27.50 and the overnight window would be expanded to 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

RHODE ISLAND. The state has toughened its seat belt law by making it a primary offense, authorizing law enforcement officers to stop drivers for not wearing a seat belt, a violation carrying an $85 fine. An estimated 32 states have primary enforcement of seat-belt laws.

TEXAS. The Federal Highway Administration has approved a state request to add 6.2 miles of U.S. 77 between I-37 and State Highway 44 in South Texas to the interstate highway system. Other procedural steps must be completed before the segment receives the I-69 route number.

VIRGINIA. By early next year, state officials should have detailed proposals for creating 55 miles of new tolled roadway south of Route 460 between Petersburg and Suffolk. Public subsidy, user fees and sources would pay for the limited access, four-lane, divided highway. The highest projected toll for trucks was a flat rate of $75 for tandem trailers.

WASHINGTON. A proposed $3 billion project connecting the state with Oregon is in danger of getting axed in federal budget cutting. The 10-lane bridge across the Columbia River on I-5 would replace an existing six-lane bridge.

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