Overdrive Extra

CSA 2010 – your bittersweet change agent

I’ve yet to speak to anyone in trucking who’s overjoyed about Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010. After all, a much more meticulous safety mindset will be required to avoid getting caught on the radar of this huge data-crunching machine when it cranks up in December.             Some carriers in CSA 2010 test states have been to the mountain, seen the New World Order, and report that yes, it is a massive, intrusive project. But there’s a good ...

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New trucks follow driver demand

We’ve been hearing that driver demand is coming back, so it’s not surprise that carriers are buying trucks for them. PayNet, which tracks lending activity across six industries, “found that the dollar value of new loans made to trucking companies that have never owed more than $10 million rose six percent in the first quarter of 2010 over first quarter 2009 levels,” reports DCVelocity.com. “The first-quarter results represent the first year-over-year increase in dollar-based truck lending ...

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A shortage of drivers — and quality

I've been hearing since at least March that many carriers are once again scrounging for drivers. This means a return to business as usual in terms of a driver shortage, only this time it could more severe than normal. The reasons by now are well-known. The economy has been bouncing back. Imminent safety-related regulations -- notably Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 -- are expected to push a significant number of drivers out of the cab. Our friends at the ...

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‘Flatbed is particularly strong’ and other upbeat news

Lots of good economic reports all around for trucking in the last few days. If you’re not with a carrier who’s keeping you busy, figure out why or look elsewhere. Morgan Stanley’s truckload freight research report “continues to show strong trends … Flatbed is particularly strong.” Consequently, by the fourth quarter this year, on an annual basis, “rate increases of 4-5% should now be the base case. If fuel prices spike and a material restocking takes place, ...

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Let us now rant over the unfairness of safety technology

You wouldn’t normally equate a person’s economic status with the safety of their vehicle, but a recent study links them. The study, appearing in the April issue of Traffic Injury Prevention, is talking about four-wheelers. However, the same principle could apply to heavy trucks’ history with anti-lock brakes and slack adjusters, or to current trends with truck stability control systems and disc brakes. The thesis is that safety features usually are introduced on luxury vehicles first, ...

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You gotta know when to hold ‘em, when to fold ‘em

Anyone who’s been to an intermodal port or seen the container ships that serve them knows there is no shortage of big colored boxes being stacked like giant Lego walls. They’re also shuffled all over the place, too often empty due to global imbalances in world trade. That deadhead costs the industry $7 billion a year, experts say. The Wall Street Journal reports, with an enviable headline, “Foldable Shipping Containers Try to Stack Up,” on a ...

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How recorders can protect you

If it seems electronic onboard recorders are becoming much more prevalent, it’s because they are. Thousands of units are in place in major carriers. The recent final rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration means that thousands more are on the way for fleets that rack up too many hours-of-service violations. The May Overdrive will examine what all this means. Some of the owner-operators interviewed by my colleague Todd Dills found, often to their surprise, ...

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Factories humming; inventories start growing

Today’s report on manufacturing shows it expanded in March for the eighth consecutive month, says the Institute for Supply Management, which does a monthly survey of supply executives. The good news mirrors what many in the trucking industry have said in recent weeks about freight demand – and driver demand with it – picking up. ISM also says the overall economy grew for the 11th consecutive month. “The rate of growth as indicated by the PMI (Purchasing ...

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Dollars and Sense

Catching problems with oft-overlooked maintenance items can pay big dividends.

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Hours of services changes: Sooner and later

If you have any doubt about whether the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., are getting the message about needed flexibility in the hours of service revision, worry no longer. I attended part of the fifth hours of service public hearing last week in Louisville, Ky., and the calls for a more sensible approach to sleeper berth splits came through loud and clear from speaker after speaker. Whether those pleas result in wise action is another matter, ...

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