California toughens pollution rules for ’08
As of Jan. 1, truckers in California cannot idle a diesel engine, including a diesel-fueled auxiliary power unit, for more than five minutes. Violators face a maximum fine of $1,000 per day and possible criminal charges.
Some exemptions are allowed, including trucks that are stuck in traffic or idling as part of an inspection or service. Another exemption allows a truck to idle while queuing, if the truck is no closer to a residential area than 100 feet.
The former minimum civil penalty for an idling violation was $100, but the amount will increase to $300 on New Year’s Day, bringing it in line with other traffic violations.
The law also now requires state officials to refuse registration, including renewal or registration transfer, if the vehicle has broken air-pollution laws, until after the violation is cleared. The California Trucking Association supported that bill.
Starting with the ’08 model year, engines on trucks weighing more than 14,000 pounds must have a non-programmable and tamper-resistant system that shuts down the engine after five minutes of idling. The only exceptions are ’08 or newer engines that meet a NOx idling standard of 30 grams per hour or less. At press time, no ’08 on-highway engines were approved by the California Air Resources Board as meeting this standard.
Also beginning Jan. 1, a 2007 or newer engine with a diesel-fueled APU or fuel-fired heater must meet additional requirements. The CARB lists approved fuel-fired heaters at its website, www.arb.ca.gov, though no diesel-fueled APUs were approved at press time. When an APU receives that certification, a compliant truck must feature a “Verified Clean APS” label on the hood.
Moreover, diesel-fueled APUs cannot be used within 100 feet of a residential area, even if they are CARB-approved.
One CARB-approved idling alternative is Kenworth Clean Power, available as a factory-installed option only on Kenworth’s T660 with 72-inch AeroCab sleeper. Its dedicated deep-cycle batteries power a thermal storage cooler and provide engine-off cooling and heating, plus 120-volt power for hotel loads.
Truckers using certain zero-emissions technologies may qualify for financial incentives through CARB’s Carl Moyer program, named for a pioneer in air quality.
Reefer owners and operators in California must meet new emissions standards, too, starting Dec. 31, 2008, with 2001 and older engines. State law will require reefer engines and reefer generator-set engines to meet in-use standards varying by horsepower range.
For more information, visit www.arb.ca.gov.
– Jill Dunn
Forecast: A year of $3-plus diesel
The average retail price of a gallon of diesel soared to a new record, $3.30, in the week ending Nov. 5, and then broke that record the next week to reach $3.43, marking a record eight consecutive weeks of average prices above $3, the U.S. Department of Energy reported.
Diesel prices won’t fall below $3 until November 2008, and even then the decrease will be slight, projects a U.S. Energy Information Administration specialist.
“Oil will still stay well above $80 a barrel,” says the EIT’s Jonathan Cogan. “The big driver of prices now is high crude oil prices, and the price of everything made from it has gone up.”
Diesel is expected to average $3.18 per gallon this month and will continue to drop slightly through March, when it will average $3.13, Cogan says. In April, however, diesel will begin its climb to a predicted high in May of $3.18, then descending to its low for the year of $2.96 in December, Cogan says.
“There will be some easing of crude oil prices because prices cannot be sustained at this level,” Cogan says. Contributing to a slight drop in oil prices will be a mild softening of the U.S. economy and slightly increased production by nations inside and outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Cogan says.
Several factors contributed to crude oil’s dramatic price increase this year. West Texas Intermediate prices shot from an average of nearly $55 per barrel in January to more than $95 per barrel in early November.
“Previous oil shocks were driven by disruption, such as the 1973 Arab oil embargo,” Cogan says. While there is still disruption in oil-producing countries, notably Iraq, this shock is driven more by booming fuel demand worldwide, especially in Asia.
As usual, when oil prices spike, some observers advocate drawing down the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Instead, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded contracts in November to add to the reserve, at a rate of 70,000 barrels daily for six months beginning in January.
Until recent years, retail diesel generally cost less than gasoline. Since September 2004, however, diesel has cost more than gasoline because of increased world demand and tight global refining capacity.
In the United States, the transition to ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel also has affected production and distribution costs – and the pump price.
– Jill Dunn
FMCSA withdraws plan for hours documents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has withdrawn plans for collecting and using supporting documents to verify truckers’ duty status, stating it would publish a new notice of proposed rulemaking later.
A 1994 law directs the FMCSA to specify the number, type, and frequency of documents used to verify drivers’ record of duty status. The agency published its supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking in 2004 but published a withdrawal of that notice Oct. 18.
The FMCSA says it withdrew the notice because of issues with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The agency discovered that the PRA analysis proposed for this rule did not account for the additional burdens of collecting and retaining documents under the existing requirements.
Many industry comments on the 2004 notice argued the requirement to verify, inspect and maintain all records generated by a driver was unrealistic and burdensome, particularly for small motor carriers. Many comments argued, moreover, that the definition of “supporting documents” was too broad.
– Jill Dunn
Showdown expected on funding for cross-border plan
A federal transportation spending bill that included a ban on funding for the Bush administration’s cross-border trucking program cleared the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 14. The Senate was expected to pass the same bill when it returned from recess the week of Dec. 3.
While approved 270-147 by the House, the bill’s future was in doubt. President Bush had threatened to veto the $105.6 billion package – which included spending for housing and urban development as well as transportation — and the House vote fell eight short of the number needed for an override. Bush said the bill would spend $5.5 billion more than the White House wanted, a 5 percent difference.
The fiscal 2008 transportation spending bill was approved Nov. 8 by a House-Senate conference committee. The committee’s version retained language that would block funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s program allowing certain carriers to do long-haul trucking across the U.S.-Mexico border.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters regretted the inclusion of the ban, but wasn’t giving up on the cross-border program until a prohibition became law, DOT spokesman Brian Turmail said Nov. 9.
The Teamsters also are suing to block the cross-border program in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. That case is expected to be heard in February.
The final spending bill also included:
Language that would prohibit interstate tolling in Texas. The amendment was introduced to the Senate’s version of the bill by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and was kept in the final version.
$195 million for a new Interstate 35 West bridge in Minneapolis to replace the one that collapsed into the Mississippi River on Aug. 1, killing 13 and injuring more than 100 people.
$1 billion to repair deficient bridges nationwide, a 25 percent increase in current funding.
That bridge outlay still would lag behind the spending envisioned by U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., in a separate authorization bill that would have created a $25 billion long-term bridge-repair plan financed with a fuel tax hike.
– Staff reports
International’s MaxxForce engines won’t use SCR
International Truck and Engine became the second major engine maker, after Cummins, to announce that it would meet 2010 emissions standards without using selective catalytic reduction, or SCR.
Detroit Diesel, Mack and Volvo have announced plans to use SCR. No 2010 plans so far have been announced by Caterpillar or by Paccar, which plans to introduce new heavy-duty engines for Peterbilt and Kenworth in 2009.
Instead of SCR, International’s MaxxForce engines will address 2010 emissions requirements for core applications through an advanced fuel system, air management, combustion and controls, the company announced Oct. 31. In addition, no incremental NOx aftertreatment beyond the current technology will be required on any core International on-highway application in 2010, the company says.
“This approach will best serve our core customers who value reduced product and service complexity as well as business planning continuity through another period of industry uncertainty,” says Jack Allen, president of International Engine Group.
MaxxForce heavy-duty engines will be introduced in 2008.
– Staff reports
Michelin cites benefits of efficiency initiative
Michelin North America launched an initiative to halve tire-related fuel consumption for every vehicle by 2030, when the number of vehicles worldwide is projected to have doubled from today, announced Chairman and President Jim Micali at a press event in New York City.
Michelin plans to double tire life over the next two decades, thereby reducing the amount of raw materials needed by half, Micali says. The company also plans to reduce tire rolling resistance for passenger car tires by an additional 50 percent in that period. Braking distance also will be reduced.
The production of more efficient tires will result in major reductions in oil consumption, Micali says.
He touted the Michelin Energy Saver tire, a European passenger tire that reduces CO2 emissions by 3 percent, and the X One that “converts 18-wheelers to 10-wheelers by replacing two dual tires with one wide single. Michelin X One tires save 4 percent in fuel economy and reduce the weight of a tractor-trailer by up to 720 pounds,” which ultimately means fewer tractor-trailers on the road.
– John Baxter
Probe shows ease of drug test cheating
It’s simple for truckers to cheat federal drug tests, according to a U.S. House subcommittee investigation that resulted in a Nov. 1 congressional hearing.
After a Minneapolis TV station reported in February that four of the five local DOT drug test collection sites allowed ways to cheat on urine tests, the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit asked the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to investigate undercover.
Investigators invented two trucking companies, created bogus driver’s licenses and posed as truckers to test 24 collection sites nationwide. They gained access to all 24, showing that a drug user could send someone else to take a drug test using fake identification.
Twenty-two of the 24 selected sites did not adequately follow testing protocols. For example, 75 percent of sites tested didn’t restrict access to items that could be used to change the specimen, such as running water, soap or air freshener.
Investigators also demonstrated that commercially available drug-masking products such as adulterants easily could be brought to the sites undetected. Many such products work well and destroy the evidence of their presence. In 2005, 400 products were marketed to mislead drug tests, the GAO testified.
Furthermore, the required test covers only five drug categories and may provide a clean result if a person simply has not recently used any of these drugs.
The GAO found a significant lack of compliance among carriers, particularly small carriers and self-employed owner-operators.
According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data, only 1.3 percent to 2.8 percent of randomly tested commercial drivers tested positive for illegal drugs from 1994 to 2005, a percentage often cited by the American Trucking Associations. However, in two 72-hour sessions this year, Oregon roadside inspectors collected 500 urine samples from commercial drivers, mostly heavy truck drivers, and found that positive results were nearly 9 percent and 10 percent.
– Jill Dunn
Arrow to give away 2005 VNL 670
Arrow Truck Sales is giving away a 2005 VNL 670 from Volvo Trucks North America and other business-related prizes to an owner-operator whose misfortune has left him or her in need of a truck and a job.
The winner also will receive a one-year work agreement from Heartland Express, insurance from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a warranty from National Truck Protection and business services from ATBS.
Arrow is accepting nominations for its Back on the Road competition through Jan. 15 at www.backontheroad2008.com. The winner will be announced in March and will receive the truck during the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.
Arrow invites anyone to nominate friends, family members, co-workers, even themselves.
Applications will include a story explaining the nominee’s circumstances, such as a natural disaster, an extended period of military service or a family crisis.
“We are excited for the opportunity to help someone get their life back on track,” says Carl Heikel, president and CEO of Arrow. “Back On The Road is about more than simply giving a truck away. It is about giving someone back their livelihood.”
– Staff Reports
Federal bills introduced to prevent tolls
U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, has introduced the Toll Road Prohibition Act, which is designed to prevent tolling on federally built highways.
HR 3802, introduced Oct. 10, would require states and cities to repay the U.S. government all federal funds used for construction of highways, bridges or tunnels, along with “reasonable interest,” before introducing tolls. “The American people should not be required to pay for the same highway twice, once through their tax dollars and again through new tolls on federal interstate highways,” Boswell says.
The legislation would not prohibit the states from entering into public-private toll agreements, but it would force them to repay the federal Highway Trust Fund first. The bill has been referred to the House transportation and infrastructure committee.
Also before that committee is a bill introduced Sept. 7 by U.S. Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa. HR 3510 would prohibit tolls on federal highways and on any highways bought back from the federal government by states. Peterson says it was part of his opposition to his state’s plan to toll Interstate 80.
Peterson’s bill is the House companion to S2019, introduced by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. The Texas Department of Transportation wants a change in federal law to allow state buybacks of federal highways for the purpose of tolling.
Hutchison’s bill is a rare instance of a Republican on Capitol Hill at odds with a Republican governor’s administration at home. Many of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s ambitious toll-financed transportation plans, including the Trans-Texas Corridor, have proved unpopular within his own party.
– Jill Dunn
Long Beach port to ban older trucks
Long Beach harbor commissioners voted Nov. 5 to ban the oldest, dirtiest trucks from the Port of Long Beach, through approval of a rule that gradually will limit access to all but the cleanest vehicles.
The rule, which matches one enacted the previous week by the Port of Los Angeles, will ban pre-2007 diesel rigs from waterfront terminals by 2012, with exemptions for emergency vehicles, yard hostlers, fuel trucks and auto transports. Commissioners believe the ban will cut air pollution from short-haul (or “drayage”) trucks by nearly 80 percent.
The rule is based on a progressive ban. The schedule is:
Oct. 1, 2008: All pre-1989 trucks will be banned from port service.
Jan. 1, 2010: 1989-1993 trucks will be banned along with unretrofitted 1994-2003 trucks.
Jan. 1, 2012: All trucks that do not meet the 2007 federal emissions standard will be banned.
Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times the board hoped to approve the plan’s remaining components Dec. 14, including a mechanism to fund truck replacements, a concession program to administer truck operations, a cargo fee to fund the plan, and a transportation workers’ security system.
The L.A.-Long Beach port complex is the largest in the United States. Currently, 1,300 motor carriers and 16,000-plus independent owner-operators provide intermodal drayage services to these facilities, through which moves more than 40 percent of all containerized trade in the nation.
– Staff reports
EPA recognizes SmartWay partners
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership recognized 34 companies and organizations, including 16 freight carriers, with its Environmental Excellence Award.
The awards were announced Oct. 22 at the annual conference of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals in Philadelphia.
Honored carriers were Contract Freighters Inc., CSX Transportation, John Christner Trucking, Knight Transportation, Langford, Meijer, Metropolitan Trucking, Orlicks, P.A.M. Transportation Services, Quad/Graphics, Roehl Transport, Schneider National, Smithfield Transportation, Swift Transporta-tion, TransAm Trucking and Wal-Mart.
Logistics companies honored were Alliance Shippers, Exel, Limited Brands and National Logistics Management.
Shippers honored were IBM, J.C. Penney, Johnson & Johnson Sales & Logistics, Kimberly-Clark, Lowe’s, Michelin North America, Office Depot, Sharp Electronics and Steris.
Affiliates honored were the American Trucking Associations, Cascade Sierra Solutions, 4 State Trucks, the North Central Texas Council of Governments and Superior Financial Group.
SmartWay encourages practical, money-saving techniques to increase fuel efficiency, reduce idling and slash emissions. The 34 SmartWay partners recognized in October are among more than 600 nationwide.
The program also recognizes SmartWay Grow & Go truck owners, which are those who use biodiesel and other renewable fuels.
– Staff reports
ILLINOIS will keep its split speed limit, as the legislature failed Oct. 10 – for at least the third time since 2004 – to override Democrat Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s veto of a bill that would have raised the speed limit for trucks on rural highways to 65 mph, the same as four-wheelers.
CALIFORNIA GOV. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, vetoed legislation Oct. 12 sponsored by Democrat state Sen. Alex Padilla that would have penalized companies for willfully misclassifying employees as independent contractors with the intent of denying wages or benefits. The California Trucking Association opposed the bill, saying it would have exposed owner-operator fleets to frivolous lawsuits.
RYDER INTEGRATED LOGISTICS told the U.S. Government Accountability Office it would withdraw its protest against rival Menlo Worldwide, a Con-way subsidiary, being awarded a $1.6 billion contract for the Pentagon’s Defense Transportation Coordination Initiative. The GAO subsequently dismissed the case Oct. 31.
ELECTRONIC MANIFESTS submitted in advance to U.S. Customs now are required at all Maine and Minnesota land border crossings. On Dec. 16, Customs will begin to deny admittance to any carrier that arrives without submitting or attempting to submit an e-manifest. Attempts no longer will be good enough, and maximum penalties of $10,000 will begin to be issued, no sooner than Jan. 16.
NAVISTAR INTERNATIONAL said Oct. 25 it was in advanced discussions with General Motors to buy the Detroit automaker’s medium-truck unit. The deal would include the rights to manufacture GMC and Chevrolet brand trucks, the Warrenville, Ill., company said.
TOP CONCERNS of trucking executives — according to an American Transportation Research Institute survey — are, in descending order: hours-of-service regulations; the driver shortage; fuel; congestion; other government regulations; tolls and highway funding; tort reform and legal issues; driver training; environmental issues; and on-board truck technology. The full report is at www.atri-online.org.
WATSON AND CHALIN Manufacturing, maker of truck and trailer suspensions, is being bought for an undisclosed amount by the Boler Co., parent of Hendrickson International. Founders Don Watson and Tom Chalin will continue to manage the company, which will operate independently.
FREIGHTLINER will move about a tenth of its headquarters staff, 341 people, from Portland, Ore., to Fort Mill, S.C., the company announced. While the company’s Western Star trucks still are made in the Northwest, production of Freightliner-brand trucks moved to the Carolinas and Mexico in 2006, after a 60-year history in Portland.
A TAX CREDIT would be granted to buyers of commercial vehicles equipped with certain safety devices, including collision warnings, lane departure warnings, vehicle stability systems and brake stroke monitors, in legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif.
PER CARLSSON will take charge Jan. 1 as president and CEO of Volvo Trucks North America, the company announced. Currently in charge of Volvo Powertrain Sweden, Carlsson will succeed Peter Karlsten, who becomes president and CEO of Volvo Powertrain.
CALIFORNIA. The state will get $1 million in emergency federal funds to repair roads and bridges damaged by wildfires, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced Oct. 29.
COLORADO. The state has spent almost $2.5 million building new chain-up sites and adding lights and signs to existing sites, and it urges truckers to use them. During the season’s first snowstorm, unchained trucks jackknifed and closed I-70 for hours. The ticket for an unchained truck, normally $500, is $1,000 if the truck causes a lane to close.
MARYLAND. Work begins this spring on a project to sink 191,000 tons of granite to replace eroded sand and shore up piers on the bridge portion of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. The project will take more than a year.
VIRGINIA. Work in the Big Walker Mountain and East River Mountain tunnels, on I-77 between Wytheville and the West Virginia line, will close lanes through December 2008, especially in afternoons and evenings. Four-lane alternates include Route 19 between Bluefield, W.Va., and Abingdon, Va., and Route 460 between Princeton, W.Va., and Blacksburg, Va. Loads more than 12 feet wide can use either 19 or 460 as detours. For real-time traffic info, call (866) 7-TUNNEL, or (866) 788-6635.