November 2002

| December 09, 2002


Sterling Truck Corp. has made enhancements to its Acterra line of Class 5-8 trucks. The changes are focused on the chassis, and bring further advantages in handling, maneuverability, ride, weight savings, serviceability and ease of body installation. Sterling is already producing the trucks.

The truck’s frame features stronger single-channel steel rails rated at 50,000, 80,000 and 120,000 pounds per square inch, reducing the need for rail inserts for many applications. With less need for rail inserts, the frame is lighter. The rails’ single-channel design also helps diminish the chance of corrosion and reduces maintenance requirements.

The new front suspension incorporates single-leaf springs as standard equipment. Taper-leaf suspensions are also available in a range of capacities and feature maintenance-free rubber bushings.

- John Baxter


Federal changes to commercial driver’s license regulations that went into effect Sept. 30 could force some truckers off the road.

The CDL rule, which was revised over the past two years as part of a Congressional mandate, has seven new provisions ranging from disqualification for driving on a suspended license to emergency disqualification of a driver posing an imminent hazard.

There are also new notification requirements for states that administer CDLs and new regulations requiring disqualifications of CDL holders for violations that occur in a car or other non-commercial motor vehicle. Those changes remove avenues such as driving school that truckers could use in the past to keep a violation from showing up on their records, says Jim Klepper, an attorney with Interstate Trucker. Now truckers have only two choices: accept a conviction or fight the ticket.

“As a CDL holder, I can no longer go to traffic school or get probation,” he says. “Every trucker who gets a ticket will get punished.”

Klepper expects drivers to fight citations more often because they have more on the line. A conviction for a moving violation in an automobile could affect their ability to earn a living. Spending $500 to fight a ticket may save thousands if pleading guilty means a 60-day suspension.

Fleets are concerned, too, because many drivers are unaware of the changes. Donnie Sims, recruiting manager for Merit Distribution Services, says his company sent out copies of the changes in recent pay settlements. “They needed to know,” he says. “A driver makes his living with a license.”

Sims says he favors the changes because they will affect only marginal or bad drivers. A driver’s record in his car is a good indication of his safety on the job, Sims says. “We support those regulations,” he says.

In the past, some drivers had circumvented suspension by applying for a CDL in a state where their driving records were blank. The new rule seeks to stop that illegal practice and puts big penalties in place for drivers and states that fail to follow the rules. Under the rule, applicants for a new CDL and those transferring or renewing a CDL must provide the name of all states where they held any kind of vehicular license in the past decade.

States will now be required to check a driver’s history and to maintain a CDL driver-history record noting an individual’s convictions for state or local traffic law violations. Information on these convictions and other licensing actions must be kept at least three years.

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