Industry news

In spite of opposition from various corners, at press time the cross-border trucking plan announced Feb. 22 was still set to begin in May. It would allow 100 Mexican carriers and 100 U.S. carriers to do business beyond the border commercial zone.

Two pieces of legislation introduced in the U.S. House on March 29 could delay the Bush administration’s plan to lift the longstanding ban on Mexican truck travel throughout the United States.

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., an opponent of the plan, introduced one of the bills, which would allow police to gain access to the same kind of criminal background information on Mexican truckers as they can pull up on American drivers.

U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., introduced a bill that would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to seek public comment on the pilot program before it is launched and would limit the program to one year. Boyda’s bill has the support of U.S. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

Public Citizen sued the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration March 13 on behalf of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety to compel the agency to release information about the program. AHAS says it filed a Freedom of Information Act request with FMCSA in October for information about the approval process for Mexico-domiciled motor carriers that would be permitted to operate beyond the border zone.

No details about the methodology for evaluating the project or its criteria have been revealed, yet public safety is at stake, Public Citizen said.

Public Citizen, AHAS and the Teamsters union also say the initiative violates the 2001 law that the border should be closed to Mexican trucks until certain safety measures are in place.

Prominent Democrats on Capitol Hill echoed those concerns and asked the DOT inspector general to audit the pilot program and determine whether it complies with the 22 conditions set by Congress. A 2005 inspector general’s report found that many of those conditions had not been met, but DOT officials say the follow-up report will show they have been.

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The American Trucking Associations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Foreign Trade Council support the program. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes it.

At the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., Goodyear named FedEx Freight driver Edward Regener of Perres, Calif., as the North America Highway Hero for 2006.

Regener saved the lives of three men in a three-vehicle collision on Interstate 10 near Goodyear, Ariz., on Nov. 4, 2006. The accident occurred when a car lost control, crossed the median and hit a pickup truck with such force that both vehicles struck Regener’s truck, which was carrying corrosive hazardous materials.

The pickup and Regener’s truck caught fire. Amid toxic smoke, Regener removed two men from the car and a man and woman from the pickup. A police officer said Regener was crucial in helping him move the pickup driver, a large man, away from the flames.

Regener was later treated for smoke inhalation. The passenger in the pickup died from her injuries.

Founded by Goodyear in 1983, the Highway Hero program recognizes the life-saving rescues and roadside assistance rendered by professional truck drivers.

Truck drivers “have become the eyes and ears of our highways,” says Steve McClellan, a vice president at Goodyear Tire & Rubber. “And when we’ve needed help, they stopped and put themselves in harm’s way.”

McClellan says fleets rarely nominate owner-operators, but owner-operators can nominate themselves, if necessary. “We know there are many deserving owner-operators that have answered the call in responding to accidents, and in many cases, they’ve saved lives,” he says.

For more information on the Highway Hero program, visit or call (330) 796-8183.

Cummins paid nearly $1.1 million and agreed to recall 11,600 engines for allegedly violating its 1998 agreement with the California Air Resources Board to perform clean air projects and certify its engines to reduce smog-forming emissions, CARB announced.

“We are very pleased that Cummins is taking steps to reduce excess emissions from the heavy-duty engines in question, and that they are cooperating by instituting recalls and retiring emissions credits,” said Catherine Witherspoon, CARB executive officer.

Among the violations of the 1998 agreement alleged by CARB, Cummins obtained state certification for 11,600 heavy duty engines equipped with emissions control systems that did not meet emissions requirements, omitted 26,347 engines from eligibility for the chip reflash program, and failed to complete work on and to submit reports for agreed-upon emissions reduction projects in a timely manner, CARB said.

Cummins officials declined to comment on the settlement.

Peterbilt Motors Co. announced at the Mid-America Trucking Show its progress in developing a full range of vehicles equipped with advanced hybrid technologies that increase fuel efficiency, reduce emissions and improve service requirements.

“Peterbilt’s hybrid initiatives include development of both medium- and heavy-duty vehicle platforms and for both on-highway and vocational applications,” says Bill Jackson, Peterbilt general manager and Paccar vice president.

“Peterbilt is actively developing and testing four distinct hybrid technology vehicle applications,” says Chief Engineer Landon Sproull.

The four platforms are:

  • A hybrid electric heavy-duty vehicle for long-haul;
  • A hybrid electric medium-duty vehicle for pickup and delivery;
  • A hybrid electric medium-duty vehicle for stationary PTO applications; and
  • A hydraulic hybrid heavy-duty vehicle for vocational and stop-and-go applications.

The heavy-duty hybrid electric Model 386 is being developed with Eaton and Wal-Mart Stores. It is expected to be commercially available in 2010. The Eaton Hybrid Power System has routinely achieved a 5 percent to 7 percent fuel savings versus comparable, non-hybrid models.

Kevin Greene of Cincinnati and his 1990 Peterbilt were announced at the Mid-America Trucking Show as the winners of Castrol Tection Extra’s second annual Big Honkin’ Truck Makeover contest.

Greene’s truck, which has 1.3 million miles, will receive a $50,000 interior, exterior and communications makeover from the Chrome Shop Mafia, stars of “Trick My Truck” on CMT. The result will be unveiled Aug. 23-25 at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.

Runner-up Bruce Faulk received a trip for two to the NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, and second-place winner Ronny Robin received a $500 Best Buy gift card. All three winners also receive a year’s supply of Castrol Tection Extra.

To follow the renovation, visit this site.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave 13 fleets a 2006 SmartWay Excellence Award to recognize their initiatives to save fuel and reduce emissions.

The 2006 winners include, among for-hire fleets: Bison Transport, Contract Freighters Inc., Langford Inc., National Freight, New Century Transportation, O&S Trucking, Roehl Transport, Schneider National and YRC Worldwide. Among private fleets: H-E-B, Quad/Graphics, Smithfield Transportation and Wal-Mart Stores.

EPA also has certified certain trucks as SmartWay-approved equipment, meaning they can reduce fuel consumption up to 20 percent by employing fuel-efficiency and emissions-reduction technologies. Each SmartWay truck can save 4,000 gallons of diesel per year – $11,360 at current prices, EPA says.

Freightliner, International, Kenworth, Mack, Peterbilt and Volvo are participating in the program. SmartWay-designated models include the International ProStar and Volvo VN and 2008 models of the Freightliner Century Class S/T and Columbia.

International Truck and Engine Corp., at the Mid-America Trucking Show, revealed power and torque ratings for its MaxxForce 11 and MaxxForce 13 Class 8 engines. Those engines will be available by year’s end, said Jacob Thomas, vice president of the Big Bore Diesel Engines business unit.

Six MaxxForce big-bore models offer ratings of 330 to 475 hp and 1,250 lb.-ft. to 1,700 lb.-ft. torque. The power characteristics of the MaxxForce 11 and MaxxForce 13 are made possible in part by a high-pressure common-rail fuel system, twin-series turbochargers with interstage cooler, and Eco-Therm, International’s heat-management system, Thomas said. Eco-Therm features a multiple coolant circuit design managed by an electronically controlled coolant control valve.

Shell Rotella T is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Shell SuperRigs truck beauty contest by increasing the prize money from $5,000 to $25,000. Contestants also can win a chance to appear in the 2008 Shell SuperRigs calendar. This year’s event is June 21-23 at the Petro Stopping Center on I-44 in Joplin, Mo. For more information, visit this site.

Shelley and Bob Brinker’s 2000 Freightliner Classic XL, Legend of the Black Pearl, won $5,000 and the first-place trophy for 2006 from the National Association of Show Trucks at the Mid-America Trucking Show. The painting depicts the Brinkers’ late daughter, Amie McKnight, with film star Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow from Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.

The speed limit at the intersection of I-20/59 and I-65 in Birmingham, Ala., the site of several steel-coil spills in recent years, has been dropped from 60 mph to 50 mph. The change is part of a public-private effort to mitigate what has become a regular occurrence at the interchange and elsewhere in the Birmingham area.

DRIVER BRUCE DOERING of Janesville, Wis., won the Great American Insurance Group Big Rig Giveaway at the 2007 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. Doering received a 2002 Freightliner Classic XL, enhanced by 4 State-Trucks, home of the Chrome Shop Mafia.

VOLVO TRUCKS North America is giving away a $10,000 grand prize, plus a set of Michelin premium tires and a matching set of Alcoa Dura-Bright wheels, in its “When You Know, You Win” contest. Through May 12, CDL holders can enter at this site.

THE TOTAL STANDARD FEE for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential applicant is $137.25, or $105.25 for applicants who already completed a comparable threat assessment, announced the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. It will take 18 months to issue TWIC cards to the 750,000 workers who will be affected.

MOBIL DELVAC is giving away a trip to December’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. For more information, visit

THE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES INDEX for freight fell 0.2 percent in February to 107.7, down 4.6 percent from its January 2005 peak, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported.

BUSINESS ADVICE for owner-operators and company drivers is the focus of “ATBS Trucking Business & Beyond,” a new show on XM Satellite Radio’s Open Road (Channel 171). Hosted by Kevin Rutherford of ATBS, the show airs live at 4-7 p.m. Eastern on Saturdays and Sundays, with encore broadcasts at 3-6 a.m. on Sundays and Mondays.

PRICE INCREASES of around 5 percent for truck tires were announced by Bridgestone Firestone and Yokohama. The costs of raw materials and transportation were blamed.

AN ENERGY BILL introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, would increase the federal highway weight limit from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds and mandate an annual 4 percent increase in the fuel economy of all new vehicles, including heavy trucks, from 2012 to 2030.

A PROPOSED BAN on retreads on heavy trucks in Florida has been tabled and “is now a dead issue,” according to Harvey Brodsky of the Tire Retread Information Bureau. The bill was introduced by state Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa.

LOVE’S TRAVEL STOPS opened a new location at Exit 3 off I-8 in Yuma, Ariz.

SMITHWAY MOTOR XPRESS will be bought by Western Express for $90 million in a deal expected to close this summer, the companies announced. The combined company would operate about 1,600 tractors in dry-van operations and 1,400 tractors in flatbed operations and place among the top 15 truckload carriers by revenue.

BAKER’S TRANSPORT SERVICE of Lakeland, Fla., which provides bulk trucking for Florida utilities, has been bought by Dedicated Transport of Cleveland, Ohio, for an undisclosed amount. Dedicated Transport plans to retain Baker’s 20 drivers and hire another 10.

JEFF OLESIAK of Cloquet, Minn., a driver for Wayne Transport, won the Harley-Davidson Sportster given away by the Midnight Trucking Radio Network at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

NATIONAL FLEET SAFETY AWARDS for 2006 went to Bison Transport of Winnipeg, Manitoba, among fleets with more than 25 million annual miles, and to Don Hummer Trucking of Oxford, Iowa, among fleets with fewer than 25 million annual miles, the Truckload Carriers Association announced.

CUMMINS ANNOUNCED that biodiesel B20 blends can be used in its 2002 and later emissions-compliant ISX, ISM, ISL, ISC and ISB engines.

INDIANA. Electronic tolling will be available along the entire Indiana Toll Road by September. Transponders can be ordered at this site.

MARYLAND. A 2.5-mile stretch of I-68 near Flintstone is being resurfaced, including new rumble strips and reflective markings. Expect lane closures in both directions through the summer.

MICHIGAN. The per-axle toll for the International Bridge at Sault Ste. Marie has increased to $3. Bridge traffic is half what it was in 1993, and toll rates in U.S. currency have not increased since 1968, the bridge authority says.

NEW JERSEY. The state plans to build a 10-foot-high security fence along the 2.6 miles of the turnpike known as “Chemical Alley,” where freight trains carrying toxic chemicals are mere feet from northbound highway traffic.

VIRGINIA. Automatic cameras now take photos of toll violators on the Powhite Parkway Extension in the Richmond area, the Dulles Greenway in Northern Virginia and the Coleman Bridge in Hampton Roads. Notices are mailed to violators, who must pay the toll plus a $25 fee.

WASHINGTON. The Seattle traffic page is now formatted for the small screen of Internet-capable cell phones and PDAs. Visit this site.

WEST VIRGINIA. Construction of a new U.S. 220 bridge over the Potomac River at Keyser won’t begin until late 2008.