Robert Davis, a driver for New Jersey Xpress from Vidalia, Ga., won a $1,000 Dahon folding bicycle Aug. 21 at Randall Trucking Media’s seventh-annual Trucker Appreciation Day. Randall employees served burgers, hot dogs and drinks to truckers at the Petro at Exit 100 on I-59/20 near Birmingham, Ala. Truckers also received promotional gifts and more valuable giveaways from sponsors, which included Shell, Interstate Connections, Howe’s Lubricators, Smokey 2, No-Rinse Products, Hammerlane Trucking Solutions, Wesmart Inc., Michelin/BF Goodrich, Diecast Promotions and Better Bicycle Co. Randall publishes Overdrive, Truckers News and Commercial Carrier Journal, and operates eTrucker.com.
CAT’S C13 GETS EPA CERTIFICATION
Caterpillar received 2004 certification by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the C13, the company’s fourth on-highway truck and bus engine equipped with ACERT technology.
The C13 is popular with general freight or line-haul truck fleets that carry goods such as home appliances, building materials and refrigerated foods. Offered in the 335 to 430 horsepower range, the C13 is also heavily used in tanker trucks and in vocational trucks, including dump trucks, refuse haulers and cement mixers.
“With the certification of this engine, we are another step closer to full certification of truck and bus engines with ACERT technology,” says Richard Thompson, Caterpillar group president for the engine division.
Caterpillar is the first engine manufacturer to offer medium- and heavy-duty truck and bus engines that meet EPA’s more stringent 2004 emissions standards. Earlier this year, the Caterpillar C7 and C9 engines were certified for use in on-highway trucks, school buses and transit buses. With certification of the company’s C15 engine in March, Caterpillar became the first engine manufacturer to earn EPA 2004 certification of a heavy-duty, on-highway truck engine.
ACERT technology reduces emissions at the point of combustion. All Caterpillar on-highway truck and bus engines will be equipped with ACERT technology in the fourth quarter of this year. The technology will also be used to meet future emissions regulations for the company’s diesel engines.
– Kristin Walters
INTERNATIONAL NAMES TRUCK GROUP HEAD
Dee Kapur has joined International Truck and Engine Corp. as president of the truck group.
Kapur, 48, will lead the company’s truck and school bus business, including engineering and product development, manufacturing, vehicle center teams and sales and support. He was also named a member of the company’s executive council, which has responsibility for the overall operating results and strategic direction.
“Dee has accomplished much in his career in the automotive and truck markets and has developed expertise in the areas of product quality and reliability and value engineering,” says Daniel Ustian, president and chief executive officer of Navistar International Corp., parent company of International Truck and Engine.
Kapur spent nearly 27 years with Ford Motor Co., which, through a joint venture with International, builds medium-duty commercial trucks and sells truck and diesel engine service parts.
Ustian served as interim head of the truck group following the departure of J. Steven Keate in April.
COURT SIDES WITH PRIME IN LAWSUIT
Prime President Robert Low says he feels vindicated after a federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s decision that the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association lawsuit against the carrier could not be certified as class action.
“We take great pride in being fair with operators and value them as partners in our business,” Low says. “We will continue to do what it takes to fight these types of lawsuits against our company.”
Prime’s attorney, Steve Crawford, says the ruling “should have a significant impact on these types of lawsuits across the nation.”
Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president, says the association is examining its options regarding legal action against Prime.
On Aug. 21, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a U.S. District Court’s rulings that the association did not have a class action suit. OOIDA originally filed a lawsuit against Prime in 1997, requesting class action status and alleging that the carrier violated federal leasing laws.
OOIDA claimed that Prime’s lease agreement had violated the truth-in-leasing regulations between owner-operators and the carrier, including the return of escrow funds.
In August 2002, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri dismissed OOIDA’s claims when it ruled that the members’ leases pre-dated the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, which allows a trucker private right of action against a carrier.
The court stated that application of the private right of action to leases before 1996 would create “impermissible retroactive effects,” meaning that it attaches new legal consequences to prior conduct.
The association’s stance is that federal law regarding escrow accounts has been effective since 1979 and unchanged by the allowance of private right of action in 1995. “It was a violation then; it’s a violation now,” Spencer says.
The court also ruled that Prime’s current lease does not violate the federal regulations.
– Jill Dunn
FMCSA STANDS BY NEW HOURS RULE
In similar letters to different companies and organizations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration declined to reconsider various aspects of the new hours-of-service regulations that take effect Jan. 4.
Among the petitioners were Wal-Mart Stores, which wanted FMCSA to reverse its decision to require that all driving be completed within 14 hours after the workday begins.
Other organizations sought relief from that provision. Others wanted to exclude utility service vehicles from the new rule, allowing them to continue operating under current rules as motor coach operators will be allowed to do.
“The breadth and diversity of commercial vehicle uses and users means that any set of regulations will have a variety of impacts, depending on the type of motor carrier operation,” said FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg in each of the eight letters denying petitions for reconsideration. “FMCSA believes the new rule strikes the appropriate balance between practicality, uniformity and enforceability, while at the same time improving safety for all.”
Although utilities lost their bid for reconsideration, they have won a victory. The House Appropriations Committee in July approved a transportation funding bill that blocks FMCSA from changing the hours-of-service regulations on drivers of utility service vehicles.
– Avery Vise
N.Y. HIKES FINES FOR ROUTE VIOLATORS
Fines for violating New York truck routes, currently ranging from $50 to $200, will increase to as much as $2,000 beginning Nov. 1.
Gov. George Pataki signed a bill increasing the minimum and maximum fines for first and repeat violation of truck route signs to $200 and $2,000, respectively. The bill states that too many truckers cut through residential neighborhoods to avoid delays.
“The current $50 fine is written off as a cost of doing business,” the bill reads. “The increased fines and potential imprisonment will send a clear message to operators that they must comply with truck route signs.”
– Jill Dunn
NTSB ISSUES ‘MOST WANTED’ SAFETY IDEAS
The National Transportation Safety Board’s Most Wanted recommendations for 2003 include better safeguards regarding medically unfit truck drivers and a more effective method of determining carrier safety.
“The fact that we suffer almost 43,000 road fatalities each year in this country is both tragic and unacceptable,” says NTSB Chairman Ellen Engleman.
The board’s annual Most Wanted list includes two new issue areas, Engleman says. One recommendation relates to hard-core drinking motorists, and the other recommendation concerns preventing medically unfit commercial vehicle drivers from operating trucks or buses.
Research indicates repeat offenders with prior driving-while-intoxicated convictions or those arrested with a high blood alcohol concentration pose a greater risk of crashes and are over-represented in fatal crashes.
The board also added to its Most Wanted list recommendations that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration continue to develop tougher medical certification procedures to keep medically unfit drivers from driving trucks or buses.
The board stated that the FMCSA also plans to develop a more performance-based means of determining carrier fitness, which will address the board’s recommendations.
To see that the recommendations are better implemented, the board directed NTSB to schedule Most Wanted board meetings to more closely coincide with congressional and state legislative sessions. It also asked the NTSB staff to track the timeliness of responses to recommendations, to develop intra-agency advocacy teams and detailed work/event plans for Most Wanted issue areas.
More information on the NTSB’s Most Wanted list is available at the board’s website at www.ntsb.gov.
– Jill Dunn
TRUCKER CLINGS TO HIS STOLEN TRUCK
A parade of police cruisers in Texas trailed an unusual sight: a trucker clinging to the outside of his speeding truck.
The incident began when Bobby Murray, 42, of Houston, stopped at a Shell station outside Houston on Aug. 21, said Jim Sumner, chief of Harris County Precinct 4. When Murray noticed a man getting into the cab of his 1999 International 4-ton truck, Murray attempted to get in but the thief locked the doors.
Murray told police he originally planned to try and talk him out of stealing the truck, which he drives for Preferred Gas Services of Houston. The truck carried non-flammable gasses, but “if a bullet hit, there could be an explosion,” Sumner said.
The thief drove off, with Murray holding onto the grip bar on the driver’s side. “At first Murray was trying to talk him into pulling over, but then when the truck started going fast, he was just hanging on for dear life,” Sumner said.
The truck turned onto Texas Highway 249 and headed south, at times reaching speeds of 60 mph to 65 mph.
The truck rammed two vehicles at an intersection, injuring one driver. The truck then went through a chain link fence before reaching a parking area. At that point, Murray jumped off and an officer fired at the truck’s tires.
The truck returned to the road and struck four vehicles at an intersection, injuring four occupants. Finally, with his front tires flat, the driver came to a halt and police arrested him.
Sumner identified the man as Theodis D. Walls, 31, of Houston. Walls told police he had taken an illegal substance before stealing the truck, but refused to identify what he took.
Video of the 15-minute chase was broadcast nationally on Fox News.
BEC COMPANY TO BUY CANADIAN FREIGHTWAYS
Quebec-based TransForce Income Fund, a transport and logistic company, says it will buy Canadian Freightways and assume its loans.
CF’s parent company, Consolidated Freightways, is under Chapter 11 proceedings in the United States, but Canadian Freightways was not under bankruptcy protection in the United States or Canada. TransForce, one of Canada’s top for-hire carriers, will operate Canadian Freightways as an independent division. It will retain its current management and staff of approximately 1,500 people under the current CF president.
The purchase is expected to be complete this year.
FLAGS TWO LEADING SPEED TRAPS
Since 1995, AAA has found only two towns nationwide that meet its definition of speed traps. Now it has erected billboards outside Lawtey and Waldo, Fla., lest motorists forget the towns’ distinction.
The two billboards were installed on U.S. 301, the main drag between Gainesville and Jacksonville. Both are lettered in yellow on a black background and carry caution signs that read “speed trap.”
“Waldo and Lawtey top the charts statewide in terms of the portion of city coffers filled by traffic fines,” says Kevin Bakewell, senior vice president for AAA Auto Club South, in a press release. “This type of ‘enforcement for profit’ is not only unethical but illegal in some states, including Georgia.”
The association defines Waldo, population 803, and Lawtey, population 656, as “traffic traps.”
AAA Community Relations Director Randy Bly said in an Aug. 19 Miami Herald story that an analysis of city budgets indicated the fines levied by Waldo Police more than pays for the town’s police department’s budget and 34 percent of the town’s budget. Waldo Police Chief A.W. Smith told the Herald that tickets accounted for 22 percent of the town’s budget.
In Bradford County, Lawtey officers issued 545 tickets in 2002, which yielded 98 percent of the police department’s budget and 38 percent of the town’s budget, the AAA said in the Herald story.
AAA also designated the following four routes as “strict enforcement,” which it defined as aggressive but legitimate enforcement in high-risk areas:
– Jill Dunn
JULY TRUCK TONNAGE HITS HIGH MARK
Truck freight picked up further in July, according to the American Trucking Associations’ seasonally adjusted Truck Tonnage Index. The preliminary July index reached nearly 156, its highest level since December 1999, when it totaled more than 157 during the peak of the late 1990s economic boom.
The July level reflects more than 5 percent growth over June. “Compared to July 2002, the unadjusted index increased by 2.3 percent,” ATA says. July’s increase marked the second consecutive monthly index rise.
The association says the data is especially significant because it was gathered during summer, when manufacturing plants often close for several days to retool assembly lines.
Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist, says the July increase indicates “trucking is on a recovery path” and freight numbers should increase along with improvement in the economy.
– Jill Dunn
FMCSA PROPOSES HAZMAT PERMITS
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed requiring North American motor carriers to have a hazardous materials safety permit for transporting four types of hazardous materials.
FMCSA spokeswoman Suzy Bohnert says the new permit program affects carriers both in interstate or intrastate commerce.
The permit program will now require permits for highway route-controlled quantities of radioactive materials, more than 55 pounds of Class A or B explosives, more than one quart of hazardous material designated as extremely toxic by inhalation and a package of 3,500 gallons or more of liquefied natural gas.
Permits would be valid for two years.
The safety permit requirement would be phased in starting Jan. 1, 2005.
Written comments on this should be sent by Oct. 20 to the USDOT Docket Facility, ATTN: Docket No.FMCSA-97-2180, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
– Jill Dunn
ADMINISTRATION FIGHTS DELAY IN OPENING BORDER
U.S. Solicitor General Thomas Olson has asked the Supreme Court to review a lower court’s decision to require a lengthy environmental impact statement before opening the border to Mexican trucks.
The request was filed Sept. 8 in response to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that a detailed EIS and a general conformity evaluation, required under the Clean Air Act, were necessary. The court ruled in favor of the petitioners in January and upheld that decision when it reheard the case in April.
The case was brought by Public Citizen, the California Trucking Association, Teamsters and other environmental and labor groups.
“The court of appeals misapplied the nation’s environmental laws and constrained the President’s discretion to conduct foreign affairs,” Olson wrote.
“The court of appeals’ decision also prolongs a significant trade dispute between the United States and Mexico, which the President has sought to resolve in accordance with the requirements of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the decision of an international arbitration panel finding the United States to be in violation of its obligations under NAFTA.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator is soliciting public comment on what should be included in the EIS, which is expected to take 12 to 18 months. Comments should be sent by Nov. 7 to: NAFTA EIS, P.O. Box 4050, Merrifield, VA 22116-4050 or faxed to (800) 260-9702. Comments also may be submitted at: www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
– Jill Dunn
PETERBILT TOPS IN THREE J.D. POWER CATEGORIES
Peterbilt Motors Co. achieved the highest rankings in the first-ever J.D. Power and Associates Heavy-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study in the over-the-road, vocational and dealer service segments – three of the four segments measured.
In addition to the top ranking in the OTR segment, Peterbilt led in six of seven product factors – quality, exterior, ride, handling and braking, sleeper, engine and transmission.
Peterbilt also led the rankings for customer satisfaction in the vocational segment of the study, consisting of truck applications without sleepers where vehicles operate in particularly rugged or demanding environments. In this area, Peterbilt ranked highest in quality, exterior, engine and transmission, tied for first in ride and handling and braking, and was second in interior.
In the other product area of the study, pickup and delivery, Peterbilt ranked second.
Additionally, Peterbilt led in customer intention to repurchase for over-the-road and vocational segments, and tied for first in customer intention to repurchase for the pickup and delivery segment.
Peterbilt ranked highest for customer satisfaction in its dealer network’s delivery of service.
In December, Peterbilt announced that it ranked highest in the 2002 J.D. Power and Associates Medium-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study in the conventional medium-duty truck segment.
– Jon Gargis
NEW INTERNATIONAL AWAITS TCA’S TOP CONTRACTOR
The Truckload Carriers Association is looking for the nation’s top owner-operator and International Truck and Engine Co. will give the lucky winner a new rig.
The Independent Contractor of the Year contest, sponsored by TCA and Overdrive, is open to any independent contractor (or team) who owns a power unit used in a five-axle or more tractor-trailer combination.
TCA, with Truckers News, is also sponsoring a Company Driver of the Year contest.
Nominees for the Independent Contractor of the Year contest must drive full-time and have five years of commercial truck driving, with the last three years as an independent contractor. Nominees are judged on performance, safety, enhancement of the industry’s image, and community contributions.
Finalists in both contests will be selected from applications that are due by Oct. 17. Finalists will then complete a more detailed application.
The Grand Prize Winner of each contest will be announced at the TCA Annual Meeting in Waikoloa, Hawaii, March 14-27. The top five drivers in each category will receive cash, equipment and gift certificates among other prizes.
Previous grand prizewinners are not eligible to enter the contest; second and third place winners are not eligible to enter the contest for two years from the year of their award. Grand prizewinners have received a new International Eagle or 9000i. Last year’s winner was Carol Ann Schlussler, an owner-operator with Dart Transit Co.
FMCSA TO ISSUE DIABETES EXEMPTION
Some insulin-dependent diabetic truck and bus drivers may now apply for an exemption from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s diabetes prohibition.
The agency says that it will issue exemptions for commercial driver’s license holders engaged in interstate commerce, but it has not amended its diabetes standard. The maximum exemption period is two years and can be renewed.
“FMCSA believes that thorough screening of exemption applicants and periodic monitoring of their safety performance is the most practical way to ensure safety on the nation’s highways,” says FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg.
The exemption process consists of a screening component to identify qualified applicants, followed by providing guidelines for diabetes management when operating a commercial vehicle. The third component details how the agency will monitor these drivers.
The agency issues its final decision on exemptions within 180 days of receiving an application. To apply for an exemption, send a request and documentation to: FMCSA Diabetes Exemption Program, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590.
KENWORTH TRUCK CO. won the J.D. Power and Associates 2003 Heavy-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction award in the Pickup and Delivery segment for Class 8 trucks. Customers gave Kenworth products top ratings in quality, exterior, interior, engine and ride/handling/braking.
JIM JOHNSTON is the new president of Indiana-based Autocar Trucks, which manufactures the Xpeditor, a low cabover truck. Johnston served as a vice president of McNeilus Truck and Manufacturing for the past two years.
THE CONDITION of the roads, bridges and other public works shows little improvement since they were graded an overall D+ in 2001, concluded the 2003 Progress Report for America’s Infrastructure, released Sept. 4 by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
MESHING DRIVETRAIN components from engine to tires is one key to a great-running truck. Check eTrucker.com’s Monthly Focus in October to see what manufacturers are offering and how to spec the components.
THE RIGS FOR KIDS kick-off highlighted 100 trucks going on the road with trailers featuring a billboard-size picture of a missing child. The kick-off began Aug. 18 in Bowling Green, Ky., the headquarters of OTR Media, a mobile billboard company. OTR has partnered with Child Watch of North America, the Puerto Rican Family Institute and Shell Oil Products U.S. in the program.