News From The Industry

Diamond Rio and Ronnie Milsap will perform at the Great American Trucking Show.

TWO FREE CONCERTS FOR GATS
The Great American Trucking Show has lined up two big concerts, and organizers say the show, which runs Sept. 10-12 in Dallas, will be bigger than last year.

More than 39,000 trucking professionals representing all 50 states and 30 countries exhibited or visited the show in 2003 at the Dallas Convention Center.

“We expect the show to be considerably larger this year based on exhibitor sales and the improvement in the economy,” says Alan Sims, director of events for GATS.

Diamond Rio, sponsored by Mobil Delvac, will perform on Friday, Sept. 10. The group has won six Vocal Group of the Year awards from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. Diamond Rio combines bluegrass harmonies with a driving beat, and strong solo instrumental work.

Six-time Grammy-winning country artist Ronnie Milsap, sponsored by Volvo Trucks North America, will perform on Saturday, Sept. 11. In addition to his Grammies, he has been honored with six Billboard awards, eight CMA awards, three ACM and four Cashbox awards, and he has had 40 No. 1 singles and sold more than 23 million records in his 30-year career.

Tickets for the concerts will be distributed on the day of show, starting at 10 a.m. They are free to registered GATS attendees on a first-come, first-served basis, while ticket supplies last.

In addition to the concerts, there will be free seminars each day of the show, including Partners In Business. The main PIB workshop, “Five Keys to Success & Wealth as an Owner-Operator,” will be held 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. One-hour sessions on special topics, such as becoming an owner-operator and cost per mile, will be held Friday and Sunday.

Overdrive will sponsor the PIB seminars in conjunction with The Alliance, an owner-operator financial services firm based in Orlando, Fla. Accountant Kevin Rutherford of The Alliance, a former owner-operator, will present the sessions.

Overdrive’s Pride and Polish truck beauty show will showcase detailed, chromed-out rigs in an indoor arena. Also returning to the show will be Freightliner’s Big Rig Redo, in which trucks will compete with special themed interior makeovers.

Free onsite truck parking is available. The parking area features 24-hour security, restroom facilities, refreshments, entertainment, giveaways and more.

More information is available by calling (888) 349-4287 or visiting this site.


DIESEL PRICE SURGE HURTS CALIFORNIA TRUCKERS THE MOST
If truckers have done any California Dreamin’ lately, it’s about the days when diesel prices in the Golden State were a lot cheaper than they are now.

While diesel fuel prices nationwide have jumped a sharp 15 percent since Jan. 1, California prices have risen more than 40 percent in the same time. The high prices out West are driven by all the same factors as the national average: oil production cuts, high domestic and international demand, an unstable political situation in the Middle East and the ongoing war in Iraq.

But California truckers have had to deal with unexpected refinery shutdowns, a pipeline break and the state’s traditionally more expensive, low-sulfur diesel formula.

The resultant price pressures pushed diesel to more than $2.36 a gallon in mid-May, 60 cents a gallon higher than the national average. The high prices have caused several groups to launch protests or ask for additional compensation.

Owner-operators at California’s ports staged a work slowdown and gathered to protest high fuel prices at port gates. Independent truckers also blocked a freeway. Elsewhere, the Teamsters had presented several resolutions asking for fuel surcharges on behalf of its members and independent truckers.

In the freeway shutdown, the California Highway Patrol was tipped off about possible trucker protests on freeways, said CHP Officer Ron Burch. That allowed them to respond about five minutes after three tractor-trailer drivers parked their vehicles on I-5 at in rush hour traffic April 30.

The three truckers blocked the northbound lanes in Commerce, a Los Angeles suburb, before jumping into waiting sport utility vehicles. Patrol officers stopped the SUVs and told the truckers to move their trucks. When they refused, they were arrested on charges of failing to obey an officer. The truckers were jailed and will be arraigned this month before the Los Angeles County state superior court.

The lanes were blocked for about 30 minutes. “Interrupting the lives of thousands of people is no way to gain sympathy,” Burch said.

Ron Carver, head of the Teamsters port division, said 400 protesters, mostly owner-operators leased to small to medium carriers, gathered at the Port of Oakland May 4, but the demonstration was peaceful and the entrance to the terminal was not blocked. Carver said the Teamsters did not organize the protest.
JILL DUNN


HEARTLAND EXPRESS CONVERTING TO 2,800 INTERNATIONALS
Heartland Express has placed an order for 2,800 International 9400i trucks to replace its current fleet over three years. Deliveries began in May and will continue through the end of 2006.

The trucks will be powered by Cummins ISX and Caterpillar C-15 engines.

“Our goal is to have the newest fleet and the best-quality equipment,” says Russell Gerdin, president and chief executive officer of Heartland, an irregular route truckload carrier. Other factors in the decision were the performance of the 9400i and the service record and scope of the International dealer network, Gerdin says.


TRUCKERS STOP BUS HIJACKING NEAR ATLANTA
Several truck drivers helped foil an April school bus hijacking in Doraville, Ga., police said.

Police responded to an accident between a private school bus with no passengers and a car. Before police could stop him, the driver of the passenger vehicle got into the empty bus and drove away slowly, police said. When the hijacker attempted to pass a trucker, the truck driver placed his truck in front of the bus. The truck blocked the hijacker, who then turned the bus around and began driving south in the northbound lanes.

The bus didn’t go far before the hijacker found himself blocked again – this time by a concrete pumper truck. Police arrested the suspect, but did not immediately release his name. According to published reports, the hijacker began stripping off his clothes as soon as he got on the bus; after his arrest, he was taken to a local hospital for a mental evaluation.
JILL DUNN


IOWA 80 TURNS 40
When Standard Oil built and opened a truck stop on I-80 near the sleepy Iowa corn farming community of Walcott in 1964, there wasn’t much fanfare. Neither was there much in the way of trucker amenities: a small store, one lube bay and a restaurant.

“When Standard Oil owned the facility, it was a small white enamel building nestled in a cornfield on a freshly paved interstate that didn’t go anywhere but Iowa City,” says Heather DeBallie, marketing manager of what is now the world’s largest truck stop. “It had a few gravel lots, a couple of diesel pumps, restaurant and store. That whole facility probably would fit in the main store today.”

Nearly 40 years later, Iowa 80, as it has been known to several generations of truck drivers, has become one of the most diverse truck stops in services and amenities.

“When you’re driving from the East and West and see this big light in the distance, you think you’re coming to Des Moines or Iowa City,” DeBallie says. “It really is a small city.”

She’s not exaggerating. Iowa 80 has an on-staff dentist, vinyl graphics shop, a 12,000-square-foot chrome shop, a leather shop, a movie theater, a travel store, a gift shop, 24 private showers and four restaurants – including the 300-seat Iowa Kitchen, with its 50-foot salad bar.

The company is still expanding: it broke ground recently on a truck museum, which should open next summer. The museum was something former Iowa 80 owner and manager Bill Moon, an antique truck collector, dreamed of for years. When finished, the museum will feature 27 antique trucks out of Moon’s more than 100, and will have a restoration expert on staff to answer questions about antique trucks.

After Moon took over management of the truck stop for Amoco in 1965, he developed a loyal following and expanded the stop. He eventually bought Iowa 80 from Amoco. Moon, who died in 1992, is also well known among his most frequent customers as the man who founded the Walcott Truckers Jamboree, which celebrates 25 years July 8-9.

The festival started in 1979 as a little cookout and a few hay bales, DeBallie says. That year 500 people came to the event, which lasted two days and was designed to give back something to the truckers who frequented Iowa 80. “It’s just grown exponentially since then,” DeBallie says. “It took up that little part of the parking lot. Now
it takes up half the facility.”

The two-day event, which is expected to draw 30,000 this year, will feature a truck beauty show, trucker Olympics and a big fireworks display.

“We’re having a giant birthday cake – a replica of Iowa 80 – celebrating the 40th anniversary of Iowa 80,” DeBallie says. The wife of the late Western author Louis L’Amour, a popular novelist among truckers, will also be there. “It’s a special event for many truckers. It’s a real homecoming.”
SEAN KELLEY


TRUCK-RELATED DEATHS INCREASE, REPORT SAYS
A preliminary report on 2003 highway deaths issued April 28 by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that truck-involved fatalities may drop below 5,000 for the second year in a row.

If the count is confirmed, the estimated 4,942 truck-involved fatalities for 2003 would mark a 0.9 percent increase from the 4,897 deaths reported in DOT’s 2002 report.

Trucking was the only highway user group to record a drop in fatalities in 2002; the industry this time recorded the smallest increase of all highway user groups.

“Of special concern to us is the number of solo truck drivers who died in crashes because they weren’t wearing their safety belt,” says Bill Graves, American Trucking Associations president and CEO. “These deaths are preventable and unnecessary. We’ll continue to work within DOT Secretary Norman Mineta’s Safety Belt Partnership to address this serious issue.”

The final NHTSA report is usually available in early fall.


STRONG ECONOMIC FIGURES FOR TRUCKING
Two key indices of trucking performance saw recent increases, further evidence the trucking economy has rebounded.

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted Truck Tonnage Index rose 1.0 percent to a record high 156.5 in March. That advance was the sixth in the past seven months and followed an increase of 1.8 percent in February. The index is based at 100 in 1993.

On an unadjusted basis, from February to March the index surged 17.3 percent. Compared to March 2003, the unadjusted index jumped 12.3 percent, the strongest year-over-year gain since December 2002. Year-to-date, compared to the same period in 2003, truck tonnage was up 6.7 percent.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello attributed the record high to steady economic growth. “And I believe the factors are in place for continued robust truck tonnage growth in the foreseeable future, including strong manufacturing production, inventory rebuilding and solid consumer spending.”

In addition to ATA’s index, another major index, which measures output provided by trucking and other for-hire transportation industries, also increased. The Transportation Services Index rose 1.4 percent in February following a drop in January, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The new reading of 120.4 is the second highest level in the 14-year period covered by the index, which is based upon a reading of 100 in 1996.

The February level of 120.4 was only slightly below the all-time high of 120.5 in December 2003, and 5.1 percent higher than the February 2003 level of 114.5. The drop in January followed four consecutive monthly increases.


DIESEL PRICE SURGE HURTS CALIFORNIA TRUCKERS THE MOST
If truckers have done any California Dreamin’ lately, it’s about the days when diesel prices in the Golden State were a lot cheaper than they are now.

While diesel fuel prices nationwide have jumped a sharp 15 percent since Jan. 1, California prices have risen more than 40 percent in the same time. The high prices out West are driven by all the same factors as the national average: oil production cuts, high domestic and international demand, an unstable political situation in the Middle East and the ongoing war in Iraq.

But California truckers have had to deal with unexpected refinery shutdowns, a pipeline break and the state’s traditionally more expensive, low-sulfur diesel formula.

The resultant price pressures pushed diesel to more than $2.36 a gallon in mid-May, 60 cents a gallon higher than the national average. The high prices have caused several groups to launch protests or ask for additional compensation.

Owner-operators at California’s ports staged a work slowdown and gathered to protest high fuel prices at port gates. Independent truckers also blocked a freeway. Elsewhere, the Teamsters had presented several resolutions asking for fuel surcharges on behalf of its members and independent truckers.

In the freeway shutdown, the California Highway Patrol was tipped off about possible trucker protests on freeways, said CHP Officer Ron Burch. That allowed them to respond about five minutes after three tractor-trailer drivers parked their vehicles on I-5 at in rush hour traffic April 30.

The three truckers blocked the northbound lanes in Commerce, a Los Angeles suburb, before jumping into waiting sport utility vehicles. Patrol officers stopped the SUVs and told the truckers to move their trucks. When they refused, they were arrested on charges of failing to obey an officer. The truckers were jailed and will be arraigned this month before the Los Angeles County state superior court.

The lanes were blocked for about 30 minutes. “Interrupting the lives of thousands of people is no way to gain sympathy,” Burch said.

Ron Carver, head of the Teamsters port division, said 400 protesters, mostly owner-operators leased to small to medium carriers, gathered at the Port of Oakland May 4, but the demonstration was peaceful and the entrance to the terminal was not blocked. Carver said the Teamsters did not organize the protest.
JILL DUNN


TRUCKERS STOP BUS HIJACKING NEAR ATLANTA
Several truck drivers helped foil an April school bus hijacking in Doraville, Ga., police said.

Police responded to an accident between a private school bus with no passengers and a car. Before police could stop him, the driver of the passenger vehicle got into the empty bus and drove away slowly, police said. When the hijacker attempted to pass a trucker, the truck driver placed his truck in front of the bus. The truck blocked the hijacker, who then turned the bus around and began driving south in the northbound lanes.

The bus didn’t go far before the hijacker found himself blocked again – this time by a concrete pumper truck. Police arrested the suspect, but did not immediately release his name. According to published reports, the hijacker began stripping off his clothes as soon as he got on the bus; after his arrest, he was taken to a local hospital for a mental evaluation.
JILL DUNN


STRICTER LIMITS SET FOR OFF-ROAD DIESELS
The May 11 signing of the Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule was met with widespread approval from the off-road industry and mostly supported by environmental groups.

“We are going to make that burst of black smoke that erupts from diesels a thing of the past,” says Mike Leavitt, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator.

The new rule dramatically cuts emission levels from agriculture, construction and industrial-use diesel engines. This introduction of emission control systems, comparable to the advent of catalytic converters in 1970s cars, “will result in reductions of pollution equivalent to having some 2 million fewer trucks on the road,” he says.

Standards will begin with the smallest engines in 2008 and lead up to the biggest diesel engines meeting nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) standards in 2014. The largest engines, with more than 750 horsepower, are given an extra year to meet the standard.

The agency estimates that after all older non-road engines are replaced with cleaner engines, it will eliminate 12,000 premature deaths annually. The new rule will cut off-road diesel fuel’s sulfur content from 3,000 parts per million to 15 ppm by 2010.

The engines’ prices will increase as much as 3 percent, and it will cost about 7 cents more per gallon to buy the ultra-low-sulfur fuel, EPA estimates. However, while fuel will cost more, the net cost should average only 4 cents per gallon more because the low-sulfur fuel should reduce maintenance expenses.

The Engine Manufacturers Association says the new standard would be met through improvements in engine technology, aftertreatment control devices and use of the new low-sulfur fuel.

Also on May 11, the EPA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for diesel engines used in locomotives and marine vessels. New marine engines and new and existing diesel locomotives would be affected. If the proposal is not implemented, these engines will cause 27 percent to 45 percent of all NOx and PM pollution from mobile sources, EPA says.
JILL DUNN


TRUCKING FAMILY DEADLINE AT HAND
Truckers News is accepting applications for the third annual Great American Trucking Family through June 15. The magazine is looking for drivers whose family has deep roots in the industry, as well as industry and civic involvement.

The winner will be announced at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Sept. 10-12. The top family will also be featured in the September 2004 issue of Truckers News.

You can mail your entry, including a detailed history of your trucking family, to:
GATF c/o Truckers News
3200 Rice Mine Road NE
Tuscaloosa, AL 35406


OREGON CONSIDERS ENGINE TAX CREDIT
Oregon officials are considering a proposal to provide tax credits for the purchase of heavy-duty truck engines between Jan. 1, and Dec. 31, 2007, that meet lower emission standards.

In 2003, the legislature approved the tax credits. The Department of Environmental Quality is in charge of implementing the program, which provides $3 million in tax credits annually for buyers of federally certified diesel engines in trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds.

Still, the new tax rules must first be adopted by the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission, which will do the administrative procedure for credit review and approval. The DEQ will meet in September.


STATE LEGISLATURES TRY TO REGULATE CARELESS DRIVING
Some state legislatures are battling driving behaviors such as aggressive driving and lingering in the passing lane.

Among the many proposals, South Carolina is considering adding a $10 surcharge to tickets for aggressive driving offenses. The Senate referred that bill to a transportation committee in April.

Colorado succeeded in making motorists guilty of a traffic infraction if they are convicted of hanging out in the passing lane when the speed limit is 65 miles per hour or more. The exceptions are when a motorist is passing another vehicle, when it is not safe to merge back into the right-hand lane and when remaining in the passing lane does not present a safety hazard. The bill was signed in March.

In Florida, Sen. Steve Geller told newspapers he was tired of aggressive driving and proposed a bill that prohibits driving outside authorized lanes. But the bill died in committee April 30, according to the state legislature website.
JILL DUNN


SHORT HAULS
A GASOLINE TANKER stolen from a New Jersey terminal in April remains unaccounted for. The New Jersey Motor Truck Association issued an alert for the four-compartment Fruehauf with a T-118 trailer, marked on the sides with the carrier’s name, TK Transport Inc. The vehicle’s New Jersey license plate is T-852SC, and its motor or fuel tag is 15148. The truck has aluminum wheels. The tanker was empty when it was stolen from the TK terminal in Pennsauken.

NEW JERSEY OFFICIALS are looking for ways to decrease truck travel to and from the Port of New York and New Jersey, even as container imports are increasing. New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey recently outlined several upgrades to the facility, including building dedicated roads to connect distribution sites with the rail yard and building warehouses closer to the port. McGreevey has directed the Port Authority to dedicate $240 million for rail development around the port.

MID-AMERICA TRUCKING SHOW management has changed the 2005 show dates to March 31 through April 2. The show will take place at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville.

ILLINOIS TRUCKERS are registering their trucks in neighboring states, according to the Mid-West Truckers Association, which blames the migration on Illinois’ higher registration fees and recent loss of tax exemptions. The group estimates Illinois registrations have dropped by more than 25,000 in the last three years.

FINES FOR SPEEDING in Mississippi work zones have increased. Truckers ticketed in a construction zone now face $250 to $1,000 for an offense.

PILOT TRAVEL CENTERS plans to build maintenance shops at more than half of the company’s 260 locations. The Pilot Truck Care Centers will consist of four repair bays open 24 hours, seven days a week. The shops will provide oil and tire changes as well as lubrication, maintenance and automated washes.

SAULT STE. MARIE International Bridge now requires an escort for oversized, overweight or placarded vehicles unless the driver has a pre-certification permit card. The bridge connects Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., with Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, on I-75. Vehicles with placards, width greater than 12 feet or weight more than 144,000 pounds will require an escort. The escort fee is $75 ($100 Canadian), to be paid in addition to the toll charge.

WERNER ENTERPRISES has implemented TripPak Express, a drop box network that provides daily transportation document collection service. Werner is retiring its proprietary drop box system.

LOVE’S TRAVEL STOPS & Country Stores has completed installation of Pegasus TransTech’s Transflo Express truck stop document scanning service in 98 of Love’s Travel Stops.

The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
Overdrive editors and ATBS present the industry’s best manual for prospective and committed owner-operators. You’ll find exceptional depth on many issues in the 2021 edition of Partners in Business.
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