October 2002

TRUCKERS FLOCK TO DALLAS FOR GREAT AMERICAN TRUCKING SHOW

Thousands of truckers and their families filled the Dallas Convention Center in September for the fourth Great American Trucking Show. More than 33,000 truckers and their families enjoyed three days of exhibitions, concerts, seminars and show trucks. That attendance was up almost 10 percent from 2001.

“The spectacular turnout for GATS proves that truckers see this convention as the best show to attend in the second half of the year,” says Jeff Mason, group publisher for Randall Trucking Media, which sponsors the event.

In addition to the sparkling rigs at Overdrive‘s Pride and Polish show, equipment makers showed off new models and enhancements to old ones. Volvo Trucks of North America displayed its VN series, which combines a comprehensive redesign with new engine technology for meeting the Oct. 1 emissions standards and incorporates enhancements to productivity, aerodynamics and styling. Ford Motor Co. unveiled its 2004 model F-650 and F-750 Class 6 and 7 commercial trucks, offering an expanded range of options for wheelbase, engines, transmission, axles, seating and other components.

Attendees enjoyed free concerts by country stars Tracy Byrd, who was sponsored by Volvo, and John Michael Montgomery, sponsored by Ford.

Several lucky people took home prizes. Joe Charboneau, of Millington, Tenn., won Caterpillar’s Racing Package Giveaway. He gets four free tickets to the 2003 Winston Cup Race at Texas Motor Speedway, along with two nights’ accommodations and $500 cash, compliments of Caterpillar.

James McBryde of Walnut Cove, N.C., won $1,000 in the Proud American Sweepstakes, which is sponsored by Randall Trucking Media, publisher of Overdrive. Robin Goracke, of Denison, Texas, won $1,000 from the Midnight Trucking Network.

Overdrive‘s Trucker of the Year, Butch Barnes, was introduced at the Pride & Polish awards ceremony.

The Snyder clan of Port Huron, Mich., composed mainly of owner-operators in the household moving industry, was recognized as the Truckers News Great American Trucking Family. The family has 18 owner-operators.



ENGINE MAKERS DISPUTE DIESEL-CANCER LINK

A 10-year Environmental Protection Agency study of diesel exhaust released in August says the fumes may cause cancer and pose a threat to the public’s health. But diesel engine trade groups say the results are irrelevant because the research is based on pre-1990s engines.

“Diesel trucks and buses built today are more than eight times cleaner than just a dozen years ago,” says Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, which represents manufacturers of engines, fuel and emissions control systems.

The EPA report says that long-term exposure probably “poses a lung cancer hazard to humans, as well as damaging the lungs in other ways, depending on exposure.” Short-term exposure can cause temporary irritation and inflammatory symptoms, and it can aggravate problems with allergies and asthma, the report says.

The report says that as new engines replace current engines, the study’s conclusions would have to be re-evaluated. Diesel engines produced after Oct. 1 will have to meet even stricter standards for nitrogen oxide emissions.

Forum spokespeople say the data was gathered prior to the 1990 Clean Air Act. They argue that the agency did not find scientific evidence clearly linking diesel exhaust exposure and lung cancer. The Engine Manufacturers Association also supports that view.

– Jill Dunn


OOIDA, FLEET SETTLE SUIT FOR $1 MILLION

A class action suit brought by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association yielded a $1 million settlement, OOIDA says. A U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved the settlement, which divides proceeds among 1,100 drivers who leased equipment and services to New Jersey-based Gilbert Express between October 1996 and June 2001. Current Gilbert Express drivers will have escrows guaranteed by companies affiliated with Gilbert for three years.

OOIDA says Gilbert illegally kept owner-operator escrow monies and overcharged owner-operators on insurance and equipment. In June 2001, the company sought bankruptcy protection and listed the OOIDA litigation as its main reason for filing, the association says. The carrier did not return a phone call seeking comment.


CONSOLIDATED FREIGHTWAYS FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY

Consolidated Freightways, one of the nation’s largest and oldest trucking companies, filed for bankruptcy Sept. 3, laying off 15,500 employees.

The less-than-truckload company, which started truck-maker Freightliner in Portland, Ore., more than 50 years ago, employed 20,000 truckers and operations personnel and had 350 terminals in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The company had more than 30,000 over-the-road trucks and vans.

Operations of CF AirFreight and Canadian Freightways will continue, and employees of those subsidiaries will not be terminated.

The company had revenues of $2 billion in 2001, but lost more than $100 million. It was ranked eighth by revenue in Commercial Carrier Journal’s Top 100.

-Sean Kelley


MONTHLY FOCUS

Oil additives, synthetic oil, new requirements for the low-emissions engines – catch up on what you need to know about oil by reading eTrucker.com’s Monthly Focus in October.

FURTHER INDICTMENTS IN OKLAHOMA

More state tax officials have been indicted in Oklahoma’s continuing investigation into an alleged scheme involving the Oklahoma Tax Commission and trucking service agents.

A grand jury indicted Herbert Coles, 35, and Jason Frias, 23, both of Oklahoma City, on one count of conspiracy against the state.

“The indictment details 29 overt acts where more than $44,000 due the state was converted to the personal use of the accused,” said Drew Edmonson, state attorney general. Coles is a former commission employee who worked as an encoder and operated a service agency, Oklahoma Truck Tags for Less in Moore.

Edmonson said that either Coles or Frias allegedly submitted tax commission bills to trucking companies. The carriers paid the men, who would then provide the companies with proof of registration. The two allegedly kept the money for themselves instead of paying it to the state.

The indictment also charged that Coles, under the guise of E&H Service or M&H Expediting, made transactions with the tax commission as a service agent. On Aug. 1, a grand jury indictment named three tax commission employees and two trucking company agents allegedly involved in the scheme that bilked the state of more than $328,000 in less than a year. The crimes are supposed to have occurred between Dec. 1, 2000 and Sept. 30, 2001.


EPA EMISSIONS DEADLINE PROMPTS FACTORY LAYOFFS

Heavy truck and engine manufacturers have announced layoffs due to the slow sales of new trucks equipped with new low-emission engines. Light sales are expected through the first quarter of 2003.

Detroit Diesel was producing 270 engines a day in three shifts at the end of the summer, but had orders for only 50 to 60 engines a day after Oct. 1. It planned to lay off as many as 700 employees, including temporary employees hired to handle an influx of orders prior to the Oct. 1 deadline for new engines to meet low-emissions standards. Caterpillar announced in early September that it would lay off 470 workers.

Kenworth notified 268 workers at its Renton, Wash., plant that they could lose their jobs starting Nov. 1. A day earlier, 500 employees at the Peterbilt truck plant in Madison, Tenn. were notified that they could lose their jobs in November, as well. International Truck and Engine Co. will lay off 1,100 workers at plants in Indianapolis and Springfield, Ohio.


EBAY TO RUN HOOKUP.COM’S AUCTION SITE

Hookup.com, a 3-year-old online truck auction site, says it expects more buyers and sellers now that eBay is powering its auction service. eBay, the giant Internet auction house, began running Hookup.- com’s truck auction through its eBay Motors site Sept. 30.

Under the arrangement, bidders and sellers can access eBay commercial truck listings and Hookup.com auctions through both sites.

Hookup.com’s Bob Vance says the deal will bring more traffic to auctions placed through his service while offering more trucks to truck buyers who access the auctions through Hookup.com.

“We’ve done a great job with the auction, and we hate to see it go,” Vance says. But now that eBay will run the auction portion of Hookup.com, the company can focus on other ventures, such as a new classified section that was planned to launch Sept. 30.

Sean Kelley


NTSB BLAMES BRAKES FOR STUDENT DEATHS

Improperly maintained brakes caused the collision between an 18-wheel truck and a school bus in Arkansas last year, the National Transportation Safety Board said Sept. 4. The board also criticized the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for being too lax in its carrier inspections.

Three school children died on May 31, 2001, when a tractor-trailer failed to stop at the bottom of an interstate exit ramp near Mountainburg, Ark., and collided with a school bus.

Max Heine


TSA OFFICIAL CALLS FOR SECURE TRAILERS

The nation’s effort to tighten cargo security might include locking every trailer with high-tech seals, says George Rodriguez, director of cargo security for the Transportation Security Administration.

Rodriguez told attendees at a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance workshop that his agency is not letting trucking fall into the shadow of aviation as a potential transportation security risk. “Trucking is bigger than aviation,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said one change he would like to see is “locking all trailers, whether in linehaul or P&D. There will be objections, I know, from parties such as labor. But, we need to do this and to have penalties for those who fail to go by the rules. We will have to answer such questions as whether there should be 50 sets of state rules, or federal regulations.” He foresees technology that might include “electronic seals with manifest information coded into them.”

– John Baxter


TRUCKERS URGED TO PROTEST TOLL HIKE

Truck tolls will more than quadruple for seven toll bridges spanning the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border this fall. James Runk, president of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, asked truckers to speak out against a fourfold increase. The hike will mean that one of his member carriers, a milk hauler with 23 trucks, would pay $28,000 more annually in tolls, Runk says.

“It’s a severe penalty for a lot of companies not prepared for it,” he says. “The industry has just now turned around from being in the doldrums.” The seven bridges affected are Trenton-Morrisville, New Hope-Lambertville, I-78, Easton-Phillipsburg, Portland-Columbia, Delaware Water Gap and Millford-Montague.

Implementation is expected by December, Runk says. The commission approved the plan in December 2001 to fund a 10-year, $526 million capital improvement program. The rates would increase tolls for a five-axle truck from $4 to $16.25 when crossing the I-78 Easton-Phillipsburg bridge. The E-Z Pass rate would be $15.50 during peak commute time and $19.50 during off-peak. A six-axle truck crossing the same bridge would see a jump from $4.50 to $19.50.

-Jill Dunn


TRUCKER APPRECIATION DAY

Randall Publishing staffers passed out free food and drinks during a Trucker Appreciation Week celebration Aug. 21. They served burgers and barbecue to drivers at the Petro Stopping Center off I-59/20 near Birmingham, Ala. “All the food’s good,” said Billy Greeson, an owner-operator of 15 years from Calhoun, Ga., as he held a barbecue sandwich.

SHORT HAULS

NOMINATIONS FOR GOODYEAR’S 20th annual North America Highway Hero program will be accepted through Dec. 31. Nomination forms can be obtained by calling the Goodyear Highway Hero Hotline at (330) 796-8183 or by visiting www.goodyear.com/truck.

THE U.S. DOT will begin a two-year project to test intelligent transportation systems for effectiveness in protecting hazardous material loads. Among the technologies to be tested are biometric driver verification, off-route vehicle alerts, stolen vehicle alerts, cargo tampering alerts and remote vehicle disabling.

DETROIT DIESEL CORP. named J. James “Jim” Morrow to succeed the retiring Robert Allran as president. Morrow was senior vice president of aftermarket sales and remanufacturing as well as president of Detroit Diesel Remanufacturing Corp.

Short Hauls

WINNING $1,000 in the eTrucker.com Money for Miles program during August was Wendy Perkins of St. George, Kansas.

SECURITY CAMERAS and emergency call boxes will be added to Illinois’ 53 interstate rest areas by mid-October, making Illinois the first state to install such extensive security, officials says. Six to seven cameras and two to five call boxes are being placed in parking lots and inside rest area buildings.

FREIGHTLINER’S RESTRUCTURING plan is “well ahead of schedule,” company officials announced at a trade show in Germany. The head of DaimlerChrysler’s Commercial Vehicle Division, Eckhard Cordes, said the plan had improved results by more than $500 million. In addition, Freightliner reached the breakeven point in profitability in the second quarter of this year, earlier than projected.

ARROW TRUCK SALES plans to open a new facility in Calgary, Alberta, by year-end, and expand its inventory selection, especially of Volvo and Mack, at the Toronto, Ontario location. That facility also will be renovated. Arrow has become the sole remarketing arm for used trucks for Volvo and Mack in the United States and Canada.

SHELL IS AGAIN offering a 12-song collection of country and classic rock music, “Farther Down the Road,” free to consumers who purchase two cases or 12 gallons of Shell Rotella T. The 59th edition includes songs by such artists as Alabama, Brooks and Dunn, The Doobie Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Diamond Rio and .38 Special. The order form, due by Oct. 31, is available at Shell distributors, select truck stops, in some magazines and at www.rotella.com/promotions.

MOTOR CARRIERS that aren’t properly registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will be placed out of service and penalized under a new rule. The rule also applies to motor carriers who are registered, but are operating beyond the scope of their registration. The rule can be viewed at www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

NEW HAMPSHIRE is cracking down on violators of its height rule, says Bill Boynton, spokesperson for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. New Hampshire’s road height limit, which is 13 feet 6 inches, is being rigorously enforced after rigs hauling manufactured housing began crossing the state above that limit. Surrounding states allow loads as tall as 14 feet 2 inches without permits, but New Hampshire requires anything over 13 feet 6 inches to have a permit.

CUMMINS AND DETROIT DIESEL have submitted additional engines to the Environmental Protection Agency for certification. The engines must pass strict new emission standards or the companies will have to pay fines for each one sold, depending on the level of pollutants. Cummins submitted its 11-liter ISM engine in August and Detroit Diesel submitted its Series 50, a four-cylinder version of the company’s Series 60. Both companies have submitted other engines; Cummins received certification on its ISX engine.

CLASS 8 RETAIL SALES should approach 182,000 this year in North America, up from 174,000 in 2001, says Freightliner President Rainer Schmueckle. “Financing is starting to come back,” he says. “Owner-operators are coming back and asking for trucks.”

UTAH’S Department of Transportation has developed a website that provides truckers with easy access to tax laws and other information: www.dot.utah.gov/poe/default.htm.

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