MORE STARS ADDED TO GATS LINEUP
A free concert by country singer John Michael Montgomery will be the big Saturday night event at this year’s Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Sept. 6-8. Montgomery’s hits include “Life’s a Dance,” “I Swear,” “I Can Love You Like That” and “Sold.” He is particularly known for his love songs, some of which have become wedding reception staples.
Montgomery isn’t the only country star at this year’s GATS. Tracy Byrd, whose hits include “Keeper of the Stars” and “The Watermelon Crawl,” performs a free concert Friday night, sponsored by Volvo Trucks North America. Some lucky GATS attendees who register online will win a backstage visit with Byrd.
Veteran Louisiana singer-songwriter Eddy Raven will sign autographs and meet fans for four hours Friday afternoon at the lobby booth of the Midnight Trucking Radio Network, which will also give away $1,000. Raven’s hits as a singer include “Bayou Boys” and “I Got Mexico,” while his hits as a songwriter include the Oak Ridge Boys’ Christmas favorite, “Thank God for Kids.” His most recent project is an all-Cajun album with Jo-El Sonnier.
Country singers aren’t the only attraction at GATS, of course. Focus on the Family, the Christian ministry founded by James Dobson, offers two seminars on “Strengthening Your Family for the Long Haul.” The one on Sunday morning will include a performance by former trucker Kenny Robbins, a member of the Country Gospel Hall of Fame.
Also at GATS, Truckers News will present the winner of its Great American Trucking Family contest, for which readers nominated families deeply involved in the industry.
New this year on the show floor is the New Products Showcase, where all the latest innovations to help your business will be on display in one place. Other GATS highlights include the Recruitment Pavilion, Overdrive’s indoor Pride & Polish contest, the Commercial Work Truck Pavilion for Class 3-7 trucks, the Internet & Technology Pavilion and the Ol’ Blue USA Safety Center.
GATS registration is free until Aug. 30. For more information call (888) 349-4287 or visit www.gatsonline.com.
– Andy Duncan
ECONOMIC REBOUND, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY HIGHLIGHT MEETING
Owner-operators and fleets that have survived the recession should be well positioned for a modest rebound in the U.S. economy, but spiraling insurance costs still threaten the industry, said Bob Costello, chief economist and vice president of the American Trucking Associations.
Costello’s remarks were to more than 300 attendees of the 2002 Randall Trucking Symposium, May 21-22 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., organized by Overdrive publisher Randall Publishing.
The keynote address was by retired Marine lieutenant colonel and former U.S. Senate candidate Oliver North, who worked for the National Security Council under President Reagan. He said truckers can play a crucial role in helping guard the nation against terrorists by watching for anything suspicious on the highways. “Most likely the next terrorist event is going to be a people, car or truck bomb in America,” North said.
North’s remarks were echoed by ATA President Bill Canary, who told attendees, “We’ve got 3 million drivers on the road every day. We’ve got patriots in those seats … I want motorists to look at our trucks and see a symbol of democracy. I want them to see Americans who will protect us.”
Costello said the gross domestic product, driven by gains in personal spending, government spending, exports and imports, grew 5.8 percent in the first quarter of 2002 from a year earlier. However, business spending fell 5.7 percent in the same period – one reason trucking did not see a corresponding growth in early 2002, Costello said.
His charts showed manufacturing slowing as inventory swelled in 2001. By the beginning of 2002, inventory had leveled out, and manufacturing appeared ready to grow. However, manufacturers are using only 74 percent of their capacity. The historical average is 83 percent, Costello said.
“Until business is convinced the recovery is real, that’s going to keep a lid on the potential for domestic manufacturing” and for trucking the materials and finished goods, he said.
The first trucking segment hurt by the recession was truckload, but it’s now coming back, while less-than-truckload is suffering, Costello said. Flatbed has seen the most growth since the late 1990s, while bulk and dry van saw modest expansion of their markets. Refrigerated had the slowest growth but stayed the most stable.
The cost factor that has hurt trucking the most in recent years is insurance, Costello said. Primary truck insurance premiums rose 17 percent in 2000, then 32 percent in 2001, Costello said. Premiums for umbrella, or extended liability, coverage rose 33 percent in 2000, then 87 percent in 2001.
– Max Heine And Sean Kelley
Hauling boats, Christmas trees, household goods, race cars and other niche loads often requires certain equipment and skills. Read about the problems and rewards of special hauls in the Monthly Focus section of eTrucker.com in July.
OFFICIAL SAYS BORDER MAY OPEN BY JULY
Deputy Transportation Secretary Michael Jackson said Mexican trucks will be able to operate in the United States beyond existing border zones as early as July, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Speaking in San Antonio, Texas, Jackson said the inspection process must be established, and hundreds more people have to be hired to handle the increased workload, the report said. The border opening, mandated by the North American Free Trade Agreement, had been expected by June.
When the border finally opens, it will likely take several weeks until Mexican carriers actually enter the United States because they must first submit to paperwork reviews and safety audits.
FEDEX FREIGHT EXPANDS SERVICES
FedEx Freight announced it is expanding its services and launching its rebranding campaign.
The less-than-truckload company is expanding next-day reach, expedited shipping and money-back guarantee programs. The company is also applying a common branding system to its two independent operating companies, formerly American Freightways and Viking Freight. FedEx Freight East and FedEx Freight West will distinguish the independent operating units.
COLLAPSED BRIDGE TO BE FIXED BY YEAR-END
The Federal Highway Administration will immediately commit $3 million to Oklahoma as part of the effort to rebuild the collapsed I-40 bridge in eastern Oklahoma. Fourteen people were killed May 26 when a barge struck the bridge over the Arkansas River.
Mary Peters, FHWA administrator, says innovative contracting practices and construction techniques could allow the bridge to be rebuilt in half of the estimated rebuilding time of six months.
Westbound I-40 travelers are being directed to Exit 291, north on state Highway 10, then west on U.S. Highway 64, then south on state Highway 100, returning to I-40 at Exit 287. Total length of the detour is about 10 miles.
Eastbound I-40 travelers have a much longer detour: Exit 278, south on state Highway 2, east on state Highway 9, then north on U.S. Highway 59, returning to I-40 at Exit 308, for a total detour of 60 miles.
SIX TRUCKERS NABBED IN PROSTITUTE STING
Six truckers pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitutes during a sting in which a female state trooper fielded sex offers over the CB.
State police Sgt. Kevin Bickle says the June 6 sting in Brookville, Pa., resulted from truckers’ complaints about prostitutes who solicit over the radio.
“A lot of them are upset about the prostitutes on the radio while they’re trying to sleep or doing their paperwork, or whatever,” Bickle says.
Police targeted potential customers by having a female trooper pose as a seductive “party girl” over the radio. The truckers asked to meet the woman in a Brookville hotel – near I-80, about 90 miles north of Pittsburgh – and were arrested after offering the woman $20 to $100, depending on the sex act they requested.
All six men, who were from out of state, opted to plead guilty that afternoon and were fined $100, plus $93 court costs. The other option was to have paperwork sent to their homes, which would have required returning to Pennsylvania for a court date.
“I wish the cop had just shot me,” one defendant told District Justice Richard Beck. “I’ll probably end up in a divorce over this.”
Bickle says police are hoping publicity about the sting will make “truckers wonder whether the woman on the CB is a police officer or not.”
MICHELIN DONATES TO SAFETY PROGRAM
Michelin Americas Truck Tires contributed $25,000 to Ol’ Blue USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public, especially young people, about large vehicle safety. Michelin’s Don Pelley (left) and the Michelin man (right) presented R.J. Taylor (center) with a check. Ol’ Blue is a 1951 truck that hauls a 53-foot rolling billboard trailer and stops at schools nationwide.
CALIFORNIA BILL WOULD LIMIT SEAPORT IDLING TO 30 MINUTES
A bill making its way through the California legislature would prohibit the state’s seaports from forcing trucks to idle for more than 30 minutes when waiting to enter a terminal.
The measure, supported by the California Trucking Association, is aimed at improving air quality by reducing emissions of idling trucks. State lawmakers say growing international trade has increased truck traffic and congestion at the state’s seaports, and cite reports that truck drivers spend more than two hours on average waiting to enter a terminal.
The volume of cargo trucks servicing the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, for example, is estimated at 35,000 per day and could reach 90,000 per day in the next 20 years.
Terminal owners or operators would be fined $250 per vehicle, per violation and would be prohibited from passing the expense on to truck owners or operators. Also, terminals would be fined $750 if caught diverting idling trucks to freeways or alternate staging areas to avoid violating the 30-minute limit.
SURVEY: BOSTON DRIVERS MOST AGGRESSIVE, SEATTLE’S TAMEST
Boston is home to the nation’s most aggressive drivers, while Seattle’s drivers are the safest and most polite, according to a survey done by North American steel producers.
Two thousand drivers in 10 cities participated in the Nerves of Steel survey. In Boston, 44 percent of drivers reported committing at least four or more aggressive acts on the road. Among Seattle’s drivers, 23 percent admitted to aggressive driving.
In Miami, 57 percent of drivers said that Miami drivers are ruder than drivers in other cities. Only 11 percent of drivers in Seattle felt that they are ruder than drivers in other cities.
WATCH THOSE BRIDGES
Minty’s Moving of Onanole, Manitoba, Canada, moved this 95-foot-tall, 800,000-pound wooden grain elevator from Lipton to Markinch, Saskatchewan. Owner Harold Minty used a 128-wheel self-leveling dolly system. Operators adjust the dollies for side-to-side level, while the system automatically adjusts for end-to-end level. A 1992 Kenworth T800 with a 425-hp Caterpillar and an 8-speed double-under transmission with a 4-speed auxiliary provided power in the front while a 1980 Kenworth W900 with a 450-hp Cat and a 1969 W900 with a 290-hp engine pushed from the back. The 25-mile journey, with a top speed of 5 mph, took a day and a half.
MISSOURI TO VOTE ON FUEL TAX INCREASE
Missouri residents will vote Aug. 6 on whether to approve a 4-cent fuel tax increase, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The increase would boost the state’s diesel tax from 17 to 21 cents per gallon. Missouri estimates that the tax increase, along with a half-cent sales tax hike, would generate more than $400 million in funding for state transportation projects, according to the report.
Also, Gov. Bob Holden signed a bill making permanent a 6-cent-per-gallon fuel tax that had been scheduled to expire in 2008, the report said.
REPORT RECOMMENDS HEAVIER, LONGER TRUCKS
Heavier trucks with longer trailers than current regulations permit should be allowed on interstates as long as their safety and road impact is monitored, says the Transportation Research Board.
The board’s report, prepared by a committee of university professors and transportation officials, says Congress should establish a federal organization to study the impact of trucks on highways so that regulations could be based on facts.
Past proposals to increase weight and length restrictions have been opposed by owner-operators, highway safety groups and some carriers for safety and economic reasons.
The report says larger trucks provide economic and safety benefits because existing federal size limits force larger trucks to bypass interstates onto more dangerous and less well-made secondary roads. The report also notes that an increasing number of special exemptions for large trucks, at federal and state levels, have already eroded the federal standards.
The report says states should be allowed to issue permits for six-axle tractor-trailers weighing up to 90,000 pounds; the current limit is 80,000 pounds. The lower weight-per-axle ratio of a six-axle truck would reduce highway wear, the report says.
Double trailers as long as 33 feet each should be permitted, says the board; these trailers would be 5 feet longer than today’s common 28-foot doubles. The report says the longer trailers should prove more stable than shorter doubles without adding any turn problems at intersections.
– Tony French
Recent $1,000 winners in the eTrucker.com Money for Miles program are Scott Scov of Sutherland, Neb.; Dennis Hill of Benton, Ark.; Robert Buendia of San Andreas, Calif.; Lawrence Collier of LaVernia, Texas; Stephen Hall of Kingsport, Tenn.; and Dustin Howard of Hamilton, Ohio. For more information on the sweepstakes visit www.etrucker.com.
Five toddlers were saved when quick-thinking trucker Terry Lee Esch of Midland, Mich., maneuvered his rig into the path of a van rolling backward across U.S. 31 near Charlevoix, Mich. A 1-year-old somehow got behind the wheel of the van and started it rolling after the driver stepped away. Esch stopped the van moments before it would have gone over an embankment.
A PTP truck stop opened at 653 W. 1400 North in Beaver, Utah.
Engine makers lost their appeal of the government’s 2007 diesel emissions requirements, which were upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The manufacturers argued they couldn’t meet that deadline.
Truckers helped dig a conductor out from beneath a burning coal car after the head-on collision of two freight trains in Clarendon, Texas. “The death toll would have gone up by one if it weren’t for these people,” said Wayne Beighle, a Department of Public Safety spokesman.
Anti-trucker judge Lawrence Reid, town justice of Pavilion, N.Y., on Highway 63 between I-90 and I-390, was censured by the state for handing truckers illegally high fines in order to scare them away from his town. Reid told the state Commission on Judicial Conduct he would stick to the state maximum from now on.
XM satellite radio opened a 1,500-square-foot performance studio at its broadcast complex in Washington, D.C. XM’s studio can accommodate 50 people or a 40-piece orchestra. It was designed to closely simulate a chamber concert hall, including audience space.
Shot in the shoulder while driving on I-59 in east Alabama, trucker Willie Woodley Jr. of Baltimore declined to press charges when he learned the culprit was a 13-year-old boy shooting a .22-caliber rifle at birds and cans. Woodley did, however, give the boy a lecture on gun safety.
Sirius satellite radio was on schedule at press time for its July 1 nationwide launch, said Guy Johnson, executive vice president. Sirius broadcasts 100 channels of digital radio for a monthly subscription fee of $12.95.
PrePass opened its first site in Virginia, on U.S. Highway 13/460 near Suffolk. It is coming to seven other sites in Virginia: I-64 at Sandston; I-77 at Bland; I-81 at Stephens City and Troutville; I-85 at Alberta; and I-95 at Carson and Dumfries.
V. Cheryl Womack, founder and CEO of the National Association of Independent Truckers and trucking insurer VCW, was named a Leading Women Entrepreneur of the World, one of 40 honorees at a spring gala in Paris. Previous honorees include designer Donna Karan and diet expert Jenny Craig.
Gov. Jim Hodges threatened highway blockades to stop plutonium trucks from entering South Carolina. The federal government plans to truck surplus weapons-grade plutonium from the old Rocky Flats plant in Colorado to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.
Terrorists blew up a tanker truck just as it entered Israel’s biggest fuel depot, but the fire was put out quickly, and no one was hurt. Police believe the weapon was a mine planted on the truck in an unguarded lot the night before, then detonated via cell phone by someone watching the depot. Truckers in the United States are reminded to be vigilant and inspect their trucks frequently.
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Cell Phone Facts, a federal website at www.fda.gov/cellphones/index.html, answers health and engineering questions.
Donaldson has catalogs, product listings and literature at its redesigned website, www.donaldson.com.
A diesel tax break for truckers in France, Italy and the Netherlands was OK’d unanimously by the other European Union nations, which said in a statement that helping truckers was warranted because of their “exceptional” economic hardships in recent years.
A truck-stop robbery in Selma, Ala., ended with a suspect dead and an 80-year-old security guard under arrest. Keiffer Bohannon had no right to shoot the fleeing, unarmed suspect in the back of the head, the district attorney said.
After crashing his rig intentionally into buildings at Evans Trucking in Butler, Ind., an Evans driver then tried to run over a police officer, who shot him in the arm, troopers say. Larry E. Seals of Montpelier, Ohio, was charged with criminal recklessness.
Trippak Express drop boxes will be available at more PTP truck stops, thanks to an agreement between the network and TripPak’s parent company, TMI.
Tailgating and negligence caused a fiery crash that destroyed an I-80 bridge in Denville, N.J., in June 2001, says the state of New Jersey, which is suing four trucking companies and three of their drivers for $6 million.