Logbook – December 20081

The American Trucking Associations wants new Class 7 and 8 trucks governed at 68 mph when they leave the factory, the group announced at its annual winter meeting Feb. 14.

“With speeding as a factor in one third of all fatal highway crashes, it makes all the sense in the world to work to reduce this number,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and CEO.

The 68 mph setting was recommended by the ATA’s speed management working group, which found that 75 percent of the trucks it evaluated had speed governors, most of them set at 70 mph or lower.

The Valentine’s Day announcement, though, is getting no love from the industry’s largest owner-operator group.

“We think this is public relations,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “This is not about safety at all. Most accidents that involve trucks don’t take place on roads that have high speed limits. They take place in city congestion, where speed is not a factor.”

Many truckers argue that not allowing big rigs to reach the same speeds as four-wheelers would create a de facto dual speed limit that would impede traffic flow.

“When you limit the truck speed to 68 mph, and you aren’t limiting the cars, when you get in traffic you can’t accelerate when you need to,” said Ed Guerry, a company driver for Jowin Express of Columbia, Miss.

“If you put them on cars, too, then it’s fine with me,” said Howard Carden, a company driver for Evergreen Transportation of Evergreen, Ala.

Anthony Alimia, a company driver for Tiger Transport of Dental Springs, La., drives with his governor set at 80; Dale Compher, an owner-operator leased to Dart, drives with his governor set at 60. Both men called mandated governor settings unwarranted interference.

ATA said it would work with truck makers and government regulators to determine the best way to implement factory-set governors and to ensure those devices are not reconfigured after trucks leave the factory.

Truck production this year will be the “biggest in history,” Mack President and CEO Paul Vikner told Overdrive during the Technology & Maintenance Council annual meeting in Tampa, Fla.

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If that happens, it will be no small feat: In 2005 the industry sold a record 329,000 trucks in North America, with 341,000 units built. “Dealers are literally screaming for more product,” Vikner said. “And when mom-and-pop operations and small fleets start to realize the cost implications of the ’07 engines, demand will only increase.”

Mack has alerted its on-highway fleet customers to a price increase in the “$7,000 range” for trucks with the new engines, which will continue to rely on exhaust gas recirculation and will employ a diesel particulate filter to meet new emissions standards. Sister company Volvo announced during the TMC meeting a $7,500 premium for trucks powered by ’07 Volvo or Cummins engines.

Order boards are filling fast, Vikner said. “By May, customers will have to make a decision: Invest in ’07 technology or not have the equipment needed to meet the growing economic demand predicted for 2007.”

Looking to ’07 truck sales, “We are planning for the worst,” Vikner said, but added, “I think next year will be better than most people pessimistically think.”

The difference between the current situation and the pre-buy leading up to the introduction of the 2002 lower emission engines is that OEMs and component suppliers have “overwhelmingly been more responsible in how we’re managing this boom period,” Vikner said. “We don’t see people adding capacity and hiring to meet demand.”

A robust economy should drive strong used truck sales in the first quarter of ’07, and lower mileage trucks with pre-’07 technology “should be hot commodities,” Vikner said. However, the volume of used trucks coming into the market as trade-ins from fleets pre-buying new ’06 models could soften used truck prices, he said.

Truck makers’ investment in new engine technology continues to drive vertical integration, he said. However, “We’re not going to develop proprietary specs in a vacuum and find some axle in Russia for half price and force it on our customers,” Vikner said.

In years past, “Engineers would put a mirror on backward if a customer requested it,” he said. “That’s going to change.” But while spec’ing will be more restrictive, choices will be much broader than most people fear, he said.

For example, options on the Mack Vision currently include nearly 30,000 paint codes, 43 gauge clusters and 13 air dryers, Vikner said. “If customers could live with only maybe 25 different gauge clusters, we could still provide the right truck for their applications, no matter what they might be.”

Volvo lifted the veil on its 2007 D11, D13 and D16 heavy-duty diesel engines Feb. 13 at the Technology & Maintenance Council annual meeting in Tampa, Fla.

Like other manufacturers, Volvo will continue to rely on exhaust gas recirculation and will employ a diesel particulate filter to meet new stringent emissions standards.

“There is intense interest in these engines,” said Volvo Truck North America President and CEO Peter Karlsten.

The DPF features a catalyst and a particulate filter. Volvo will offer the DPF in two configurations, including a compact version that mounts under the cab on the right side of the truck.

Exhaust will move through the catalyst, made of ceramic and coated with corrosion-resistant metals, and transform into harmless gas. Other pollutants will be trapped in the particulate filter.

In normal over-the-road operations, the DPF will do its job in a passive regeneration mode, relying on hot exhaust gases to help the catalyzing process. In some uses, the engine will squirt a small amount of diesel into the DPF to improve the process.

The emissions systems will add between 120 to 150 pounds over a traditional muffler, which the DPF replaces. Ash will have to be cleaned from the filter.

The D11 will be available in the Volvo VNM and VNL models, with 325 hp to 405 hp. The D13, which is replacing Volvo’s popular D12, will be available in the VNM and VNL tractors as well as the Volvo VHD vocational truck and tractor. It will feature horsepower ranges from 335 to 485.

The D16 will be available with 450 hp to 600 hp, a drop of 25 hp from earlier models. The company says the engine will remain the most powerful torque and horsepower combination in its class, even though its horsepower will be down in 2007.

The engines will have an electrically actuated variable geometry turbocharger.

FedEx will appeal a National Labor Relations Board decision that some FedEx drivers were incorrectly classified as independent contractors instead of employees.

The National Labor Relations Board ruled Jan. 24 that 23 FedEx Home Delivery drivers at the company’s Northboro, Mass., terminal should be considered employees allowed to unionize. Teamsters Local 170 filed the suit.

The Tennessee-based company will appeal the decision, which does not affect FedEx’s 14,000 other owner-operators, said Perry Colosimo, spokesman for FedEx’s ground division.

“The recent decision by an NLRB regional director is one step in a long process often initiated by third-party organizers whose own agenda is threatened by the success of those contractors,” Colosimo said. “FedEx Ground has faced similar decisions by the NLRB in the past, but currently has no certified unionized facilities.”

Board regional director Rosemary Pye noted in her decision that the board had ruled in 2004 and 2005 in two New Jersey cases that FedEx contractors are statutory employees rather than independent contractors. The 2004 case involved pickup and delivery and line-haul contractors for FedEx Ground Packages Systems at the Fairfield facility. The 2005 decision affected FedEx Home Delivery contractors at the company’s Barrington terminal.

The 2005 case is still pending, Colosimo said. FedEx maintains the owner-operators are independent contractors and thus cannot elect to unionize.

Cummins said Feb. 12 its heavy-duty and mid-range diesel engines are ready to meet new stricter emissions standards set for 2007 and that its ISX and ISM Class 8 engines with ’07 emissions configuration will be in limited production by late 2006.

The engines will continue to rely on the company’s core exhaust gas recirculation technology introduced in 2002, including its variable geometry turbocharger. But to meet the 2007 emissions standard, which requires greater reductions of carbon and nitrogen oxides, the company unveiled a diesel particulate filter and a new system that will help catch and filter crankcase emissions.

“With more than 300,000 cooled-EGR engines on the road, and over 30 billion miles of experience, we are confident in the customer advantages provided by our 2007 engines,” said Ed Pence, Cummins vice president and general manager of heavy-duty engine business. Pence made the announcement at the Technology & Maintenance Council annual meeting in Tampa, Fla.

The Cummins DPF is manufactured by the company’s Fleetguard division. Exhaust passes through a ceramic wall-flow filter coated in palladium and platinum. Particulates trapped there are oxidized during regeneration and exit as less harmful carbon dioxide and oxygen.

The filter uses exhaust heat to create regeneration. Typically this occurs as a truck is running down the highway and will not affect a vehicle’s operation, Cummins engineers said. In some cases, the system will require active oxidation, which means the engine will automatically pump small amounts of diesel fuel to assist the process.

The particulate filter will last the life of the engine, although some maintenance will be required to remove ash every 200,000 to 400,000 miles. Cummins will deploy a filter-cleaning machine to its dealers.

For the fifth consecutive time, J.D. Power and Associates ranks the Caterpillar C-15 highest in customer satisfaction among vocational heavy-duty truck diesel engines.

The study was based on responses from 2,429 primary maintainers of 2-year-old Class 8 trucks from the 2003 model year. The study measured customer satisfaction in three areas: engine quality and warranty; engine performance; and engine noise and vibration.

“It’s clear that Caterpillar is once again raising the industry bar for quality and performance,” said Jim McReynolds, general manager for on-highway engines at Caterpillar Power Systems North America.

This year will be a “continuation of the hot market we’ve enjoyed for several years,” Jim McReynolds, Caterpillar general manager, on-highway engines, told attendees Jan. 23 at Heavy Duty Dialogue in Las Vegas.

Continued economic growth, low interest and inflation rates and strong carrier profits all contribute to the rosy outlook, he said.

Ninety-five percent of fleets said business in 2006 will be as good or better than last year’s, and half said freight will increase, said McReynolds, citing results of a survey conducted by FCC Equipment Finance, a Caterpillar company.

Most fleets said capital equipment budgets will stay at present levels, while 25 percent said they will increase.

At the same time, 75 percent said truck pricing will increase; one-quarter said these increases will be significant. Estimates are that truck prices could go up another $10,000 in 2007, McReynolds said.

Addressing 2007 low-emissions engines, many fleets responding to the survey said they will deal with higher truck prices and operational costs by extending trade cycles.

Engine reliability and fuel economy are fleets’ biggest concerns, McReynolds said. “Some 2002 engines have not performed lately,” he said. “The more complex engines get, the more fearful the market becomes.” Customers will rely on those who have taken care of them in the past, he said.

While all engine makers have had difficulty getting trucks with ’07 technology into customers’ hands, fewer problems are expected than with 2002 engines because engine makers have had more time to prepare than before, McReynolds said.

Another challenge is the availability of ultra-low-sulfur diesel to use in testing, he said. Some customers are paying up to $4.35 per gallon for ULSD, and Caterpillar has subsidized customers to help them test, McReynolds said.

Experts predict ULSD will have 1 percent less energy content than traditional diesel, which will result in about a 1 percent fuel economy penalty, McReynolds said.

How the fuel will perform in cold weather and how it can be stored to avoid contamination are other concerns, as are infrastructure and supply challenges.

Faced with these challenges, fleets are doing the same thing they did before the introduction of the 2002 engines, McReynolds said: pre-buying trucks with existing engines and buying used.

James Hebe, former president of Freightliner Trucks, has returned to the trucking industry as an International dealer in greater Vancouver, British Columbia.

Though he started his career at International Harvester in 1972, Hebe rose to prominence in the 1990s as head of Freightliner, helping the company become the market share leader for Class 8 trucks. He resigned in 2001 during a downturn in the industry.

After he left Freightliner, Hebe and a group of investors acquired Seagrave Fire Apparatus, a fire-truck manufacturer.

Hebe became president and CEO of the company, from which he later resigned.

Now he has come back to International Truck and Engine, where he began his career as a management trainee in Boston.

Hebe will own and lead Co-Van International Trucks, a dealership in business since 1973. It’s based in Coquitlam, just east of Vancouver.

Volvo Trucks North America told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Jan. 26 that it would voluntarily recall about 42,000 Volvo VN and VHD model trucks manufactured from November 2002 to January 2006 and equipped with the Volvo D12D engine.

Volvo Trucks sent letters to all affected truck owners telling them what precautions to take until repairs are scheduled.

Volvo found that the inlet pipes connecting the exhaust gas recirculation valve to the cooler could crack or break. If the pipes are not repaired, the air cleaner and inner fender could be affected by hot exhaust gases. Two confirmed fires were caused by this condition, Volvo said.

Volvo also reported that some trucks suffered heat damage to the inner fender or air cleaner because of these failures. No one has been injured, Volvo said.

International Truck and Engine is recalling 1,371 International 5000 and International 9000 trucks from model years 2004 and 2005 that have Caterpillar engines.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued the recall in December because on certain engines, the variable valve actuation oil line could wear against the cylinder head and break if not positioned correctly. An oil leak and fire could result.

Caterpillar and International will fix affected trucks free. Owners may call Caterpillar at (309) 675-6496 or International at (800) 448-7825.

Trucks idled for more than 243 million hours on bottlenecked U.S. highways in 2004, costing trucking companies $7.8 billion, according to a study prepared for the Federal Highway Administration.

The study estimates a cost of $32.15 per hour of delay based on four major types of bottlenecks along freight corridors: interchanges, intersections with signals, steep grades and lane reductions.

Bottlenecks account for 40 percent of vehicle delays, the study said.

According to the study, the Top 20 interchange bottlenecks for trucks are:

  • I-90 at I-290 in Buffalo, N.Y., with 1.66 million hours of delay in 2004
  • I-285 at I-85 (Spaghetti Junction) in Atlanta with 1.64 million hours of delay
  • I-17 (Black Canyon Freeway) at I-10 in Phoenix with 1.61 million hours of delay
  • I-90/94 at I-290 (Circle Interchange) in Chicago with 1.54 million hours of delay
  • The San Bernardino Freeway in Los Angeles with 1.52 million hours of delay
  • I-94 (Dan Ryan Express- way)/I-90 Skyway Split (Southside) in Chicago with 1.51 million hours of delay
  • I-285 at I-75 in Atlanta with 1.50 million hours of delay
  • SR134 at SR2 in Los Angeles with 1.49 million hours of delay
  • I-77 at Tryon Road in Charlotte, N.C., with 1.48 million hours of delay
  • Long Beach Freeway in Los Angeles with 1.38 million hours of delay
  • I-20 at I-285 in Atlanta with 1.36 million hours of delay
  • I-80/I-94 Split (Southside) in Chicago with 1.34 million hours of delay
  • SR 60 at I-605 in Los Angeles with 1.31 million hours of delay
  • Pulaski Road at I-55 in Chicago with 1.3 million hours of delay
  • I-75 at I-85 in Atlanta with 1.29 million hours of delay
  • I-93 at I-95 in Boston with 1.28 million hours of delay
  • I-290 at I-355 in Chicago with 1.25 million hours of delay
  • I-405 (San Diego Freeway) at I-605 in Los Angeles with 1.25 million hours of delay
  • I-80 at Central in San Francisco with 1.20 million hours of delay
  • The San Gabriel River Freeway in Los Angeles with 1.19 million hours of delay


Trucking companies are investing more in idle reduction technology, and the demand for it will steadily increase, according to the American Transportation Research Institute, the trucking industry’s nonprofit research organization.

Users generally are satisfied with the performance of idle reduction technology, although the costs are higher than most are willing to pay, according to the results of an ATRI survey reported Feb. 13 at the American Trucking Associations winter meeting in Tampa, Fla. Respondents provided data on more than 55,000 trucks.

Thirty-six percent of survey respondents with sleeper cabs use on-board idle reduction technology, on which they have spent more than $8.8 million in installation costs. In the next five years, respondents expect to spend an additional $56 million on such technology.

Such devices as direct-fired heaters, auxiliary power units/ generator sets and battery-powered air conditioners all conserve fuel and reduce pollution by reducing the need to idle the main engine.

Washington has more traffic enforcement and fewer commercial-vehicle crashes than any other state, according to the American Transportation Research Institute.

The institute, the research arm of the American Trucking Associations, said the Washington State Patrol exemplified four highly effective strategies against unsafe drivers:

  • Initiatives that target aggressive driving.
  • An emphasis on the behavior patterns of both commercial motor vehicles and four-wheelers.
  • Both highly visible and covert enforcement.
  • A system to manage enforcement by specific crash types, driver behaviors and locations.
    Washington State Patrol commanders study collision and enforcement statistics to determine where serious collisions are most likely to happen and what behaviors are most likely to cause them.

“Using objective data allows us to move resources around and change our enforcement strategies to combat aggressive driving behaviors,” said Coral Estes, a captain in the Commercial Vehicle Division of the Washington State Patrol. “Commercial Vehicle Division statistics show that 68 percent of the fatality collisions involving a commercial vehicle and a passenger car were the fault of the passenger car.”

The 43 troopers who make up the WSP’s Aggressive Driving Apprehension Team patrol the state in unmarked cars. The WSP also has a website where citizens can report aggressive drivers.

The Commercial Vehicle Division has 10 unmarked cars that look for aggressively driven commercial vehicles and for cars driving unsafely around commercial vehicles.

Central Freight Lines has agreed to be acquired by Swift Transportation founder Jerry Moyes in a deal that values the trucking company at $2.25 a share, Central announced Jan. 30.

Based in Waco, Texas, Central will be bought by a company controlled by Moyes at a takeover price roughly 24 percent higher than the Jan. 27 closing price. The stock has traded between $1.50 and $7.50 in the past year.

Central’s largest stockholder, Moyes already controls about 31.5 percent of Central’s common shares directly or through family trusts.

Moyes and his family trusts are the only Central stockholders who will not receive the takeover price.

Central said the deal should close by summer subject to several conditions, including shareholder approval and “resolution of pending shareholder litigation.”

Central is a defendant in several shareholder lawsuits, including one filed by Moyes’ brother Ronald Moyes, who charges that Central executives operated the company “in a manner designed to enhance their own or Jerry Moyes’ wealth, to the detriment of CFL and its shareholders,” the Waco Tribune Herald reported Jan. 26.

Moyes founded Swift Transportation, based in Phoenix, in 1966 and served as its chairman and CEO for decades, but stepped down as president in November 2004 and as CEO in December 2005 in the wake of a federal lawsuit over his stock transactions. While neither admitting nor denying any wrongdoing, Moyes agreed in fall 2005 to pay $1.26 million to settle charges of insider trading with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In 2004, for the first time, Canadian truckers ages 55 and older outnumbered those 30 and younger, indicating the nation faces a driver shortage similar to that of the United States.

About 18 percent of Canadian truckers were ages 55 and older, compared to an average of 13 percent for all other industries, according to Statistics Canada, the nation’s central statistics agency.

Canadian truckers also stay on the job longer than most of the rest of the labor force.
Trucking was the sixth-most popular occupation among employed men aged 65 and over in 2001, the agency reported. Owner-operators made up a fifth of Canada’s 271,000 truckers.

By June, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will issue a notice seeking comment on a proposed rule regarding electronic onboard recorders, FMCSA’s Larry Minor told attendees during a technical session at the Technology & Maintenance Council annual meeting in Tampa, Fla.

Former FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg had originally announced that the notice would be issued by February.

The comment request is to help FMCSA determine whether EOBRs should be mandatory for all carriers, for some carriers, or whether their use should continue to be voluntary, Minor said. EOBRs, which cost from $300 to $4,100, will give only an accurate record of driving time, Minor said. “It’s not going to tell you if a driver is in the sleeper berth.”

Of today’s approximately 100,000 voluntary EOBR users, most are private fleets, said Brian McLaughlin of Peoplenet, a member of a TMC task force developing performance specifications recommendations for EOBRs. “Most use them for broader vehicle efficiencies such as GPS, dispatch, mobile communications and fuel taxes,” he said.

Reasons for adopting recorders include reduced risk for hours-of-service compliance and the ability to manage drivers’ hours, McLaughlin said. Detractors cite lack of driver acceptance, information exposure and cost vs. benefit trade-offs.

Once the NPRM is issued, FMCSA will seek input from trucking on the rule.

THE TOP OFFICIAL of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Annette Sandberg, resigned effective March 1. The American Trucking Associations noted that during Sandberg’s two-and-a-half-year tenure, the injury rate from crashes involving large trucks dropped 13 percent.

POWER SERVICE PRODUCTS of Weatherford, Texas, maker of diesel additives, was named the state’s fastest growing family-owned business of 2005 by the Institute for Family Business at Baylor University.

MICHELIN NORTH AMERICA will double its capacity to make X One wide single truck tires with an $80 million expansion of its Waterville, Nova Scotia, plant. To date, X One tires have been made only at Michelin’s plant in Spartanburg, S.C.

THE HUB GROUP, based in Downers Grove, Ill., will buy Comtrak, based in Memphis, for $38 million cash. The deal is expected to close by spring.

THE PROFESSIONAL TRUCK DRIVER INSTITUTE has certified three new schools: Baker College in Cadillac, Mich., and Schneider Training Academy in Green Bay, Wis., and Dallas. Also, the institute has recertified two Texas schools: ATDS in Elm Mott and Houston Community College Northeast Commercial Truck Driving Center in Houston.

YOUR SHORT STORY or essay could earn you $1,000. The Truckers News Mark Twain Essay Contest is open to all truck drivers and immediate family members. The postmark deadline is April 1. A printable entry form with contest rules is online at the Truckers News portion of eTrucker.com.

Four GULF COAST STATES will share $868 million in federal funds for road and bridge projects, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced. Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas will use the money to rebuild federally supported highways and bridges damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

THE TRUCK TONNAGE INDEX fell 3 percent in December, the largest one-month drop of 2005, as automakers trimmed production, the American Trucking Associations reported. The total 2005 index was 2 percent higher than in 2004.

CORRECTION: Tim Cummings, featured as the January 2006 Trucker of the Month, did not drive team with Scott Schultze, though both drove for Commercial Services. The name of Cummings’ daughter, Cassie, was misspelled, as was Autumn Transport, the fleet for which James Nelson drives. Overdrive regrets the errors.

CONNECTICUT. Nine new commercial truck inspectors will be hired in 2006, bringing the state’s total to 27, but the governor has no immediate plans to extend the hours of the Greenwich weigh station on I-95.

KENTUCKY. The state will no longer issue overweight permits beyond 120,000 pounds.

OREGON. Adding a guardrail and a continuous turn lane to a mile-long stretch of U.S. 26 in Manning will cause regular lane closures until October. U.S. 26, a.k.a. the Sunset Highway, connects Portland to the Pacific coast.

PENNSYLVANIA. Two old bridges across I-70 in South Strabane Township, south of Pittsburgh, were demolished and are being replaced, with delays expected through summer. One of the bridges partially collapsed in December, dropping 125 tons of debris into the eastbound lanes.

WYOMING. Two new sites on I-90 at the Montana border near Sheridan complete the Camino Real Corridor of automated PrePass inspections from Juarez, Mexico, to Coutts, Alberta.

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