Opposing parties

| April 01, 2006

Safety groups challenge HOS in federal court.

Safety and trucking groups are challenging provisions of the hours-of-service rule in court, though for different reasons.

Four safety groups – Public Citizen, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety – were joined by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in asking a federal court Feb. 27 to review the part of the rule which allows drivers to drive 11 consecutive hours before taking a mandatory 10-hour off-duty break.

Before 2004, drivers were allowed to drive 10 hours, but when the rule was revised the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration upped the total number of driving hours while increasing the required rest period.

“That FMCSA chose to expand driving hours is astounding given its statutory mandate to make safety its highest priority and Congress’s specific directive to the agency to reduce fatigue-related incidents,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “We fully expect the court to find once again that this rule violates the agency’s clear assignment to put safety first.”

Three of the safety groups, Public Citizen, CRASH and PATT, have challenged the law before. The groups won when the court ruled that FMCSA had failed to take driver health into consideration when drafting the rule in 2003. But actions by Congress and the agency mitigated the effects of that court ruling.

The agency reissued the rule Aug. 25, modifying regulations concerning sleeper berths but leaving on-duty driving provisions unchanged.

The groups petitioned FMCSA in the fall to reconsider the rule, but said Feb. 27 that they were withdrawing that petition and filing one with the court. The groups said they had not heard from FMCSA since filing their petition five months ago.

Those sleeper-berth changes, on the other hand, have spawned a court challenge by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. OOIDA is fighting changes made in August to the sleeper berth provision. It also wants to change a provision of the rule known as the 14-hour on-duty clock, which limits a driver’s day to a total of 14 hours once he or she goes on duty, unless the trucker takes a long enough break.

That challenge, which was filed earlier in 2006, is gaining momentum. Several trucking groups including the Truckload Carriers Association, the Ohio Trucking Association and the California Trucking Association have filed supporting documents to help the challenge; so has the Teamsters union.

“This means we have a great deal of support for our petition now,” says Paul Cullen Jr., a member of OOIDA’s legal team. “These groups support OOIDA’s position and will have the opportunity to present arguments of their own.”

Studies are mixed on the impact of the hours-of-service rule on fatigue. Drivers are getting more rest, but they are also reporting more instances of drowsy driving. The number of fatal accidents involving large trucks has not substantially increased since the new rule went into effect.

Both petitions have been filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
-Sean Kelley


ATA Recommends Trucks Factory Governed at 68 MPH
The American Trucking Associations wants new Class 7 and 8 trucks governed at 68 mph when they leave the factory, the group announced at its annual winter meeting Feb. 14.

“There has been a growing sense within the trucking industry for the need to slow down the large truck population as well as all traffic,” said Bill Graves, ATA President and CEO. “With speeding as a factor in one-third of all fatal highway crashes, it makes all the sense in the world to work to reduce this number.”

The 68 mph setting was the recommendation of ATA’s speed management working group, which found that 75 percent of the trucks it evaluated had speed governors, most of them set at 70 mph or lower.

The Valentine’s Day announcement is getting no love from the industry’s largest owner-operator group, which argues that truckers should be able to drive the posted speed limit like everyone else.

“We think this is public relations,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “This is not about safety at all. Most accidents that involve trucks don’t take place on roads that have high speed limits. They take place in city congestion where speed is not a factor.”

Many truckers argue that not allowing big rigs to reach the same speeds as four-wheelers would create a de facto dual speed limit that would impede the flow of traffic.

“When you limit the truck speed to 68 mph, and you aren’t limiting the cars, when you get in traffic you can’t accelerate when you need to,” said Ed Guerry, a company driver for Jowin Express of Columbia, Miss.

“If you put them on cars, too, then it’s fine with me,” said Howard Carden, a company driver for Evergreen Transportation of Evergreen, Ala.

Anthony Alimia, a company driver for Tiger Transport of Dental Springs, La., drives with his governor set at 80; Dale Compher, a owner-operator leased to Dart, drives with his governor set at 60. Both men said they were against mandated governor settings, calling it unwarranted interference in the trucking industry.

ATA said it would work with truck makers and government regulators to determine the best way to implement factory-set governors and to ensure those devices are not reconfigured after trucks leave the factory. Buyers could ask that governors be set lower than 68 mph, ATA said.

Speed has been an ATA safety concern for years. For example, the group recently asked for law enforcement to crack down on speeders, both truckers and four-wheelers.

ATA and OOIDA represent different segments of the trucking industry and have long held opposite views on some issues. OOIDA’s Spencer questioned whether ATA’s working group had its facts straight about the number of trucking companies with speed-governed trucks.

“The overwhelming majority of trucking companies out there are not members of ATA,” Spencer said. “This is proof positive these people probably don’t know a truck driver.”
-Sean Kelley and Lance Orr


Volvo Gears Up with Engine Line for 2007
Volvo lifted the veil on its 2007 D11, D13 and D16 heavy-duty diesel engines Feb. 13 at the Technology and Maintenance Conference in Tampa, Fla.

Like other manufacturers, Volvo will continue to rely on exhaust gas recirculation and will employ a diesel particulate filter to meet new stringent emission standards.

“There is intense interest in these engines,” said Volvo Truck North America President and CEO Peter Karlsten. “The technology is ready. The engines are ready. And Volvo is ready.”

The new technology will add to the cost of a new truck. Volvo will apply a $7,500 surcharge to the cost of a new Volvo whether a customer specs a Volvo D11, D11, D13 or Cummins ISX engine.

The DPF features a catalyst and a particulate filter. Volvo will offer the DPF in two configurations, including a compact version that mounts under the cab on the right side of the truck.

Exhaust will move through the catalyst, made of ceramic and coated with precious metals, transforming into harmless gas. Other pollutants will be trapped in the particulate filter.

In normal over-the-road operations, the DPF will do its job in a passive regeneration mode, relying on hot exhaust gases to help the catalyzing process. In some applications, the engine will squirt a small amount of diesel into the DPF to improve the process.

The emission systems will add between 120 to 150 pounds over a traditional muffler, which the DPF replaces. Ash will have to be cleaned from the filter, but Volvo says that PM event will take place well beyond the 150,000-mile government-required interval.

The D11 will be available in the Volvo VNM and VNL models, with 325 to 405 horsepower. The D13, which is replacing Volvo’s popular D12, will be available in the VNM and VNL tractors as well as the Volvo VHD vocational truck and tractor. It will feature hp ranges from 335 to 485.

The D16 will be available with 450 hp to 600 hp, a drop of 25 horsepower from earlier models. The company says the engine will still be the most powerful torque and hp combination in its class, even though its hp will be down in 2007.

The engines will feature an electrically actuated variable geometry turbocharger and other design element changes.
-Sean Kelley


Cummins Prepared for ’07 emissions
Cummins says its heavy-duty and mid-range diesel engines are ready to meet new stricter emission standards set for 2007 and that its ISX and ISM Class 8 engines with ’07 emissions configuration will be in limited production by the fourth quarter of 2006.

The engines will continue to rely on the company’s core exhaust gas recirculation technology introduced in its 2002 engine models, including its Variable Geometry Turbocharger. But to meet the 2007 emissions standard, which requires greater reductions of carbon and nitrogen oxides, the company unveiled a diesel particulate filter and a new system that will help catch and filter crankcase emissions.

“With more than 300,000 cooled-EGR engines on the road, and over 30 billion miles of experience, we are confident in the customer advantages provided by our 2007 engines and emissions solution,” said Ed Pence, Cummins vice president and general manager of heavy-duty engine business. Pence made the announcement at the Technology and Maintenance Council’s annual meeting in Tampa, Fla.

Manufactured by the company’s Fleetguard division based in Nashville, the Cummins Particulate Filter works with the engine to reduce emissions. Exhaust passes through a ceramic wall-flow filter coated in palladium and platinum. Particulates trapped there are oxidized during regeneration and exit as less harmful carbon dioxide and oxygen.

The filter uses exhaust heat to create regeneration. Typically this occurs as a truck is running down the highway and will not affect a vehicle’s operation, Cummins engineers said. In some cases the system will require active oxidation, which means the engine will automatically pump small amounts of diesel fuel to assist the process.

Drivers won’t notice when the trap is oxidizing particulates, said Steve Charlton, Cummins executive director of heavy-duty engineering.

The particulate filter will last the life of the engine, although some maintenance will be required to remove ash every 200,000 to 400,000 miles. Cummins will deploy a filter-cleaning machine to its dealers and approved maintenance providers starting in 2007.
-Sean Kelley


Trucking Sees AARP as Driver Source
The American Trucking Associations and the Truckload Carriers Association are among 20 groups in a range of industries joining to collaborate on recruiting and retaining baby boomer employees.

The associations have joined the Alliance for an Experienced Workforce, an effort to help employers create workplaces that attract and keep employees ages 50 and older. Another alliance goal is ensuring that workers 50 and older are prepared to accept the skills and jobs in demand and increase the importance of this demographic group.

The Alliance was developed from a National Advisory Council formed to advise AARP on workplace and workforce strategies.

More than 25 million workers will be eligible for retirement in the next decade, a good population to tap to mitigate the driver shortage, said ATA President Bill Graves.

“Motor carriers consistently have employed qualified workers over age 50 because of their proven track record as safe, professional drivers with well-developed judgment skills, strong work ethics and sound sense of responsibility,” Graves said. “We hope that this effort will facilitate a healthy dialogue between motor carriers and mature workers interested in a truck driving career.”

Alliance members will:

  • Communicate with their individual memberships about workforce trends and practices for engaging older workers.

  • Educate workforce stakeholders on the demographic shifts and trends of the older workforce.
  • Provide employers with resources to help them meet their employment needs with qualified workers.

-Jill Dunn


International Launches ProStar Series Tractors
After spending five years and $300 million in development, International Truck and Engine Corp. has unveiled its new line of Class 8 trucks.

The company initially showcased its ProStar Series tractors to trucking journalists in February in Chicago before officially introducing them to the public at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March.

International says the development of the ProStar relied heavily on the collaboration of dealer and customer advisory boards and millions of miles of testing.

International says the ProStar’s aerodynamic design puts it ahead of its competitors in styling, fuel economy, drivability and low ownership costs. “The new International ProStar will turn heads on the highway and at the pumps,” said Tom Baughman, vice president and general manager of the company’s Heavy Truck Group. “Owners will love the way this truck saves money and generates profits, and drivers will love the drivability and comfort we’ve packed inside.”

The truck’s aerodynamic package includes sculpted fenders, a sloped hood to increase visibility and a streamlined cab and roof to reduce wind resistance. In wind tunnel tests, International says the ProStar showed an 8 percent improvement in drag reduction over its previous models.

By using detailed measurements of hundreds of truckers, developers improved on the ergonomics with its seats, instrument panel, flexible steering wheel positioning and roomy sleeper berth.

“The integrity and durability of the new International ProStar cab delivers a smoother, quieter ride, minimizing driver fatigue and maximizing productivity,” Baughman said.

International also boasts the ProStar is unique because of its uptime promises and low ownership costs. Developers looked at the leading causes of downtime – tires, electrical harnesses, connectors, batteries, air leaks, air brakes and fuel systems. To respond to these issues, the company developed monitoring, prognostic and diagnostic systems to improve uptime performance and provide critical information to the drivers and fleet managers.

“We spent a lot of time with customers mining their maintenance records and discussing the top causes of downtime,” Baughman says. “Each targeted system improvement has been tracked ongoing from component testing through to vehicle testing to be sure we provide customers a product that stands up to the grueling and time sensitive demands synonymous with line-haul applications.”

The ProStar is designed to reduce time for maintenance and repairs. For example, transmission time has been reduced by 90 minutes and headlight bulbs and windshield wiper blades can be replaced by the driver without tools. The tractor also features innovations like the low-effort E-Z Tilt hood and Tilt-Away bumper to provide a walk-in engine compartment and allow easy engine and underside access.

International also synchronized service intervals for an average of 59 more days on the road over the life of the vehicle.

Initial production will be based on a 122-inch BBC (bumper-to-back-of-cab) tractor with daycab and high-rise sleeper configurations. The second phase of production will include additional BBC and sleeper configurations.

Shipments of the ProStar to dealers will begin in the first quarter of 2007.

International officials also gave an update on its entry into the diesel engine market for Class 8 trucks.

The company will initially offer two models in the 11-liter and 13-liter class starting in the fall of 2007. The engines will feature a lightweight block cast entirely from compacted graphite iron.

In other product news, International unveiled it new MXT pickup truck. It is the smaller cousin of two other colossal pickups – the CXT and RXT. The 300-horsepower MXT has a payload capacity of two tons and a towing capacity of eight tons. The MXT is the most affordable of the large International pickups with an estimated range of $69,900 to $85,000. The RXT is priced starting at $76,000, while the fully loaded CXT starts at $115,000.
-Randy Grider


America’s Traveling Truck Show Starts This Month
America’s Traveling Truck Show will stop at 20 Petro Stopping Center locations across the nation this spring and summer, beginning in Wheeler, Calif., on April 4.

The show will open from 1-7 p.m. daily and will feature truck makers, carriers, product and services providers, and entertainment.

The show will be in Las Vegas on April 11-13; Kingman, Ariz., on April 18-20; and Milan, N.M., on April 25-27. The tour will end in Weatherford, Texas, the week before the Great American Trucking Show, which starts Aug. 24 in Dallas. See the Events calendar on page 14 for more show dates.

The show is operated by Randall-Reilly Publishing, publisher of Truckers News and owner of GATS.

For information on ATTS, visit this site.


FMCSA Warned to Keep Tighter Rein on Suspect CDL Holders
The oversight office for the Federal Motor Carrier Administration wants the agency to better track the status of suspect CDL holders prosecuted in fraud schemes.

The Office of Inspector General based its Feb. 7 audit on information on drivers who obtained CDLs 1998-2003. Thirty-one states reported CDL fraud during that period. A total of 27 states provided specifics on 15,032 suspect CDL holders and took appropriate action, such as revoking privileges, against 55 percent of them, the OIG said.

The OIG noted in the draft report that it could not determine the status of the remaining 6,739 suspect CDL holders, 45 percent of the total, because of insufficient information from states. Most of those were from Florida or Pennsylvania, the OIG said. One state said there were too many suspect CDL holders to list. Another state reported it had no CDL fraud, though the OIG had an active fraud investigation in that state. The OIG report did not identify those states.

The FMCSA argued it could not direct states to provide status reports unless direct evidence of fraud was present. The OIG disagreed and noted federal and state officials would not be required to take action against suspect drivers unless a specific case warranted it – not if, for example, a driver was only coincidentally associated with a corrupt CDL examiner.
-Jill Dunn


NTSB Says Manually Adjusting Automatic Slack Adjusters is Dangerous
The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a warning that manually adjusting automatic slack adjusters is dangerous.

The board recommended Feb. 15 that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration develop with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance a North American Standard Inspection training materials module against this practice.

The FMCSA will work with the board to learn how often manual readjustment occurs and to keep this from happening, said Ian Grossman, FMCSA communications director.

“The agency has considered ways to deter manually adjusting automatic slack adjusters, but there is no information that indicates it is a widespread practice – though we do recognize that some drivers and mechanics do it,” Grossman said.

These adjusters are required on certain air-braked vehicles manufactured on or after Oct. 20, 1994. Motor carriers must ensure that the devices are properly maintained, Grossman added.

Manually adjusting automatic slack adjusters should be done only during installation or for an emergency move to a repair facility, the NTSB said.

Manual adjustment “fails to address the true reason why the brakes are not maintaining adjustment, giving the operator a false sense of security about the effectiveness of the brakes, which are likely to go out of adjustment again soon,” the NTSB said.

This practice also can cause abnormal wear to the internal adjusting mechanism, which can lead to brake failure, the board said.

The board also advocated that drivers of air braked commercial vehicles weighing less than 26,000 pounds undergo training and testing to demonstrate proficiency with such vehicles.
The board’s recommendations stem from a Feb. 7 report on a 2003 accident in Glen Rock, Pa,. involving a 1995 Ford dump truck on a steep two-lane residential street.

The driver for Blossom Valley Farms was unable to stop at an intersection where four passenger cars were stopped. The truck pushed one vehicle into the intersection, and the car in turn hit three children on a sidewalk. One vehicle driver and an 11-year-old passenger were killed.

The board said the accident’s cause was the lack of oversight by Blossom, which resulted in an untrained driver improperly operating an overloaded, air-braked vehicle with inadequately maintained brakes.

The 21-year-old driver had worked for Blossom less than two weeks. He had never driven an air-braked vehicle before joining the company and had received no training on how to drive one, the board said. Also, the rear truck brakes were out of adjustment, the board said.
Moreover, mechanics misdiagnosed the truck’s brake problems, the board said. Having readily available and accurate information about automatic slack adjusters and stronger warnings against manual adjustment would have helped, the board said.

The accident was similar to a California truck accident the same year in which mechanics did not look for underlying problems with the slack adjusters or other brake components, the NTSB noted.
-Jill Dunn


New Hazmat Penalties Go Into Effect
Revised penalties for federal hazardous materials transportation violations became effective Feb. 17. Some fines went up; others went down.

The changes result from the long-term transportation bill President Bush signed in August.

The changes include:

  • The maximum civil penalty was increased from $32,500 to $50,000 for a knowing violation, and to $100,000 if the violation results in death, serious illness or severe injury to any person, or substantial destruction of property.

  • The minimum civil penalty has dropped from $275 to $250, except a minimum civil penalty of $450 applies to a training violation.
  • Criminal penalties now apply to both reckless and willful violations of federal hazardous materials transportation law or the regulations, orders, special permits and approvals issued.
  • The maximum criminal penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a corporation were retained. But the maximum imprisonment has been upped to 10 years in any case in which the violation involves the release of a hazardous material that results in death or bodily injury.

-Jill Dunn


FYI
GATF Contest
Truckers News is looking for its 2005 Great American Trucking Family. Members of the winning family will be featured on the cover of the August Truckers News and will be our guests at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. An entry form is included in this issue and must be postmarked by May 1 or e-mailed by that date to Executive Editor John Latta at jlatta@rrpub.com. Online entry forms are available at this site.

Judge Halts Toll Increase
West Virginia Turnpike tolls have been rolled back to 2005 rates after a state judge issued a temporary injunction against a 65 percent increase for trucks. On Feb. 13, Kanawha Circuit Judge Irene Berger granted a temporary injunction against rates that increased tolls on Jan. 1 from $4.25 to $7 for a five-axle truck. Passenger car rates climbed 60 percent, from $1.25 to $2.

Anti-Idling Tax Break
Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, would give a tax credit to commercial fleets that buy idle-reduction equipment. The Idle Reduction Tax Act of 2006, H.R. 4672, proposes a 25 percent tax credit, up to $1,000, for each such device a fleet buys.

Aging Canadian Driver Force
In 2004, for the first time, Canadian truckers ages 55 and older outnumbered those 30 and younger, indicating the nation faces a driver shortage similar to that of the United States. About 18 percent of Canadian truckers were ages 55 and older, compared to an average of 13 percent for all other industries, according to Statistics Canada, the nation’s central statistics agency.

Cat Takes Top Ranking
For the fifth consecutive time, J.D. Power and Associates ranks the Caterpillar C-15 highest in customer satisfaction among vocational heavy-duty truck diesel engines. The study measured customer satisfaction in three areas: engine quality and warranty, engine performance and engine noise and vibration.

International Recalls Trucks
International Truck and Engine is recalling International 5000 and 9000 trucks from model years 2004 and 2005 that have Caterpillar engines – 1,371 trucks in all.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued the recall in December because on certain engines, the variable valve actuation oil line could wear against the cylinder head and break the line if not positioned correctly. An oil leak and fire could result.

Caterpillar and International will fix affected trucks free. Owners may call Caterpillar at (309) 675-6496 or International at (800) 448-7825.

Big Swings for Trucker Buddy
Truck executives and commercial tire dealers used proceeds from two golf outings to raise $5,180 for Trucker Buddy International. A February golf outing at the Bandag Fleet Executive Symposium in Phoenix generated $2,500 of that contribution. In a second golf outing, for independent commercial tire dealers an additional $1,340 was raised through mulligan ticket sales. Bandag matched that with an additional $1,340.

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