Big Trucking Show Gets Bigger

GATS organizers expect an even larger crowd than last year when 39,000 trucking professionals attended the show.

Great American Trucking Show organizers are gearing up for a strong showing of exhibitors and attendees when the sixth annual event kicks off Sept. 10-12 in Dallas.

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

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

This year’s show boasts big-time entertainment with free concerts the first two nights.

Top country group Diamond Rio, sponsored by Mobil Delvac, will perform on Friday, Sept. 10. The group has won a total of 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, along with strong solo instrumental work. The group’s award-winning singles include “I Believe,” “Beautiful Mess,” “One More Day” and “Love A Little Stronger.”

Six-time Grammy-winning country artist Ronnie Milsap, sponsored by Volvo Trucks North America, will perform on Saturday, Sept. 11, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Milsap has influenced the genre for more than 30 years. 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.

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.

Truckers News will recognize the winner of its third annual Great American Trucking Family contest at the show.

GATS also offers opportunities to learn about the trucking industry through a free series of seminars covering topics such as “Fuel Purchase Optimization in the Real World” and “Hours of Service Regulations” and through the Partners in Business seminar, which gives drivers valuable lessons on running a profitable owner-operator business.

Partner Insights
Information to advance your business from industry suppliers

PIB workshops will be held each day of the show at the Dallas Convention Center.

Overdrive magazine will sponsor the free seminar 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 who now runs a three-truck fleet, will discuss business advice and money-saving ideas for new and experienced owner-operators.

One main seminar, “Five Keys to Success & Wealth as an Owner-Operator,” will cover understanding cost per mile, planning your future and other topics related to setting up a successful business.

Other show events include:

  • For the second consecutive year, the Truckload Carriers Association will hold its annual Independent Contractor Division Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Convention Center in Dallas, Sept. 9-10, 2004, in conjunction with GATS.
  • The third Commercial Vehicle Telematics conference, located next door to GATS, will bring together leaders and key industry figures in the commercial vehicle and telematics industries to discuss existing and future opportunities to increase profit and efficiency in the commercial vehicle arena.
  • Overdrive magazine’s Pride and Polish truck beauty show will showcase some of the most detailed, chromed-out rigs on the road.

Attendees of the show again have free access to a 20-acre paved parking lot adjacent to the Dallas Convention Center for onsite truck parking all three days of the show. The parking area features 24-hour security, restroom facilities, refreshments, outstanding entertainment, giveaways and more.
Kristin L. Walters

California’s record-setting diesel prices have set off separate protests from the state trucking association, independent truckers and the Teamsters.

The California Trucking Association asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to issue an executive order after the nation’s highest diesel prices leapt to even higher highs. In early May, the U.S. Department of Energy reported the average price per gallon for California diesel was $2.27. That’s nearly 65 cents higher than this time last year in California and 54 cents higher than the current national average price.

The association stated that California has set two national records: for diesel fuel prices, with San Diego reportedly selling diesel as high as $2.49 per gallon, and for lowest number of trucks base-plated in California.

In 1993, the California Air Resources Board set the strictest diesel fuel standard in the nation. Oil companies had said this state fuel formula would cost 4 to 6 cents per gallon more than national diesel. However, California diesel often has been 25 to 40 cents per gallon higher than the national average.

Al Nunes, CTA President and owner of the Manteca-based AC Trucking, said freight rates are based on national diesel fuel averages, putting California carriers at a disadvantage. “What started as a clean air program has created such economic ruin that it has brought drivers to the point of withholding their work in Stockton,” he said.

In late April, several hundred independent truckers reportedly refused to haul cargo from Stockton railroad yards until their diesel surcharges become based on California prices instead of national rates.

“How can a California trucker compete for freight when the majority of trucks are registered outside the state and are not required to refuel here?” he said. “The fuel surcharges some shippers use don’t even cover my costs because those surcharges are based on the national average price, not on California’s. We’ve also had a couple of suppliers of fuel who aren’t even able to quote us a price for diesel because the price has changed almost hourly.” u
Jill Dunn

Trucks will be barred from the left-most lane on Interstate 81 in Virginia, starting July 1.
Gov. Mark Warner signed the bill April 14. It also requires that commercial motor vehicles stay in the right-most lane if driving at least 15 miles per hour below the speed limit on I-81 when there are no more than two lanes in each direction.

The new rules do not apply to buses or commercial vehicles when exiting on a left exit.
Another bill would give toll discounts to motorists who drive during off-peak periods. The House speaker and Senate president signed the bill April 21.

In April, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced it would begin negotiation with STAR Solutions to improve and widen I-81. VDOT said that process would last until mid-summer or fall.

The STAR proposal separates car and truck lanes and would be contingent on receiving $1.6 billion in federal aid.

Last November, Smart Solutions, a coalition of manufacturers, shippers, trucking companies, safety experts, chambers of commerce and industry associations, stated its opposition to imposing tolls on I-81. Additionally, 16 affected localities had voiced opposition.

When the I-81 project is complete, STAR’s proposal would institute truck-only tolls of 37 cents per mile, the coalition said.
Jill Dunn

The Iowa 80 truckstop opened in 1964 as a little building in the middle of nowhere – what late manager/owner Bill Moon thought of as the ‘perfect spot.’ Today the truckstop covers 225 acres.

80 IS 40
Famous Iowa truckstop celebrates a birthday and an anniversary

Back when Lyndon Johnson was president and the Beatles were fresh young faces, Iowa 80 opened as a small back-road truckstop in Walcott, Iowa. It featured two diesel pumps, one lube bay and a small family restaurant.

Today, Iowa 80, the megatruckstop that bills itself as the largest truckstop in the world, is celebrating two milestones – its 40th birthday and the 25th anniversary of the Walcott

The Jamboree is a celebration of the trucking industry that began at the Iowa 80 as a way of thanking drivers and customers.

The Jamboree on July 8-9 will feature annual events such as the Iowa Pork Chop Cook Out, an antique truck display, fireworks, Trucker Olympics and this year two live concerts from Keep’n Tyme, a country-western dance band from Illinois and Iowa.

Iowa 80 will also celebrate its success with a giant birthday cake and special deals at all Iowa 80 Group locations.

“We’re wheeling and dealing,” says Iowa 80 Group marketing manager Heather DeBaillie. “Each month new products go on sale.”

Iowa 80 began its operation in 1964 when Interstate 80 wasn’t even complete. Standard Oil built and opened the truckstop in a small white building right in the middle of some Iowa cornfields just west of the Mississippi River.

Bill Moon became manager of the truckstop in September of 1965 and purchased it from Amoco in 1984 with his wife Carolyn after Amoco bought Standard Oil. After closing the deal, the Moons were able to remodel and continue building the truckstop into the empire it is known for today.

“My father was a great visionary,” Delia Moon Meier says. “He always said that Walcott was the perfect spot.”

Even though Iowa 80 remains independent, it became part of the TravelCenters of America franchise in 1992 shortly before Moon’s death.

The Moon family continues to run and expand the business. Today it covers 225 acres and offers a long list of benefits and services for drivers such as a 300-seat restaurant run by the Peel family – the original owners – a movie theater, dentist, game rooms, warehouse, and gift and travel stores.

A den and fireplace make this like a home away from home for many drivers.

Iowa 80 is scheduled to open a trucking hall of fame in the summer of 2005 that will feature antique trucks and memorabilia from the Moons’ collection.

“My father loved trucks and trucking,” Delia Moon Meier says. “This is going to be a great way for us to share that with others interested in trucking and its history.”
Kristin Buck

In keeping with the Department of Transportation’s campaign to increase safety belt usage among truck drivers, this month’s three-day Roadcheck effort will focus more attention on the issue than in the past, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration official said this week.

“We will be putting guys on overpasses looking for seat belt use,” Charles Horan, FMCSA’s director of enforcement and compliance, told attendees at the National Private Truck Council annual meeting in Atlanta.

Federal motor carrier safety rules require use of safety restraints (Sec. 392.16), but a recent DOT research effort found that only 48 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers use them. By comparison, an estimated 79 percent of personal vehicle drivers use seat belts.

FedEx officials said recently that the company would begin spec’ing orange safety belts to make it easier to determine whether truck drivers are using their belts. Other carriers, including NPTC member Praxair, have used orange seat belts for many years for the same reason.

“I’m going to get me a can of orange spray paint,” quipped Bruce Perkins, chair of NPTC’s Safety Committee and head of a small private fleet operated by Red Lion, Pa.-based Yorktowne Inc.

Roadcheck, a nationwide truck safety and compliance event sponsored by the
Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, is scheduled for June 8-10. For more on the safety belt campaign, visit this site
Avery Vise

A Texas congresswoman is sponsoring a bill that would provide a federal tax credit of up to $3,500 per truck for buying idling reduction devices.

U.S. Rep. Kay Granger said the “Idling Reduction Tax Credit Act of 2004” would create a credit that pays for about half the cost of a qualifying device.

The Environmental Protection Agency has placed Fort Worth, in Granger’s district, and other urban areas on notice that air quality must improve soon.

“We have to attack the problem one source at a time,” Granger said. “The trucking industry has been looking seriously at alternatives, and it makes good sense to encourage the use of affordable and proven new technology.”

The legislation would require that EPA and the federal energy secretary certify alternative idling power devices that qualify for the tax credit.

Bill Graves, American Trucking Associations president, said he supports the Republican congresswoman’s measure. “Given the constant financial pressures on trucking companies to comply with costly federal equipment mandates, a tax credit for new stationary power sources makes a lot of sense and should help encourage their use,” he said.

Granger has introduced other legislation that could affect truckers. She sponsored a bill that would allow individuals a refundable credit against income tax for buying private health insurance.
Jill Dunn

Freightliner has unveiled a new wind tunnel designed specifically for commercial vehicles, the first of its kind to be owned by a truck manufacturer.

The facility is on Swan Island in Portland, Ore., not far from Freightliner’s corporate headquarters.

“The wind tunnel will help us make further gains in aerodynamics and fuel efficiency, which will ultimately lower operating costs for our customers,” said Freightliner President and CEO Rainer Schmueckle in his dedication of the facility.

These improvements in aerodynamics would in turn reduce the effect of commercial vehicles on the environment, Schmueckele said. He thanked scientists at Portland State University and the NASA Ames Research Center, along with those in the Mercedes-Benz truck analysis team, who were consulted in designing the facility.

Freightliner executives say most wind tunnels are really designed for airplanes and sought to create a facility optimized for the development of commercial vehicles. This facility is much smaller and less costly than traditional wind tunnels. The walls are much closer to the vehicle whose airflow is being studied than in traditional designs, yet the smooth flow characteristics engineered into the tunnel make the results just as reliable. Standard building materials were used in innovative ways in its building, rather than custom designing the entire structure.

Costs were also cut as compared with most designs by purchasing 10 commercially available HVAC building fans, rather than using a single, custom-built unit to provide the airflow. Each of these provides 250 horsepower, rotates at 1,200 rpm and has variable vanes for airflow regulation. Sophisticated computer controls allow proper coordination of the units, which allows the wind speed inside to be varied, provides staged starting to avoid excessive current demand on the electrical grid in the area at startup and also prevents unstable airflow conditions.

The fans would ordinarily produce an intolerable level of noise, much like a jet engine. However, each has long intake and cone-shaped exhaust silencers that are perforated like the baffles in a muffler. The tunnel itself is further surrounded by the walls of the facility to lower external environmental noise down to an acceptable level.

Sophisticated instruments will not only allow the computer system to operate the facility and precisely control airflow, but will also record aerodynamic data. A simple load cell mounted behind the rear axle measures the truck’s backward force as the wind flows around it. Other sensors will provide further information about wind load and pressure on various parts.

Wind speeds during testing in the facility will normally vary from 30 to 60 mph, with speeds over 65 mph available. Engineers will use the facility to study how air flows over the hood, under the vehicle and past windows and mirrors. They will also learn how airflow affects engine cooling and splash and spray generation. The facility will be used to refine the aerodynamics on existing vehicles and test upcoming products.

“We have subjected our vehicles to extensive wind tunnel testing in the past at off-site facilities,” said Michael von Mayenburg, senior vice president, engineering and technology for Freightliner. “Now, we will be able to perform extensive development programs to optimize the aerodynamic of all our vehicle models. And we can do this at a facility specifically designed to study heavy and medium-duty trucks.”
John Baxter

A three-judge panel for the District of Columbia’s U.S. Court of Appeals Columbia heard oral arguments for and against the current hours-of-service rule April 13.

Public Citizen, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, and Parents Against Tired Truckers brought suit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration over the agency’s hours-of-service rule, which became effective Jan. 4.

Public Citizen argued that the FMCSA should issue a new rule because the current rule does not accomplish the agency’s goal of improving safety.

FMCSA and the American Trucking Associations, which had filed a brief supporting the agency, argued in support of the current rule.

The court did not say when a decision would be rendered, but is likely to take more than 90 days, according to an attorney representing the safety and consumer group.

On April 21, FMCSA and Public Citizen will present their arguments on a separate issue. In December, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the Bush administration’s request that it review a court decision delaying the opening of the border to Mexican trucks.

Public Citizen, the Teamsters, the California Labor Federation and the Environmental Law Federation believe that Bush granted Mexico-domiciled trucks full access to U.S. highways without sufficient study of the impact the Mexican trucks would have on air quality.

The Supreme Court will review the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that upholds a federal law requiring a detailed environmental impact statement and a general conformity evaluation before allowing Mexican trucks to do business in the United States. A ruling is expected by June.

FMCSA began the environmental analysis in October and said the evaluation was expected to take 12 to 18 months. Public Citizen said federal officials have indicated the reviews required by the court might be complete as early as this summer.
Jill Dunn

The location of a gasoline tanker stolen from a New Jersey terminal in April remained unknown at press time.

The New Jersey Motor Truck Association issued an alert April 13 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 wheel rims.

It was stolen from the TK terminal in Pennsauken. According to published reports, the tanker was last seen there April 7 or 8 and was empty.

Anyone with information about the tanker should call any local 911 or the New Jersey State Police.

Pilot Travel Centers plans to build maintenance shops at more than half of the company’s 260 locations, said Bill Mulligan, director of development.

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. They will feature Kenworth parts, Shell and Mobil Delvac oil, and Goodyear, Michelin and Bridgestone tires.

The first center will open in May off Interstates 40 and 55 in West Memphis, Ark. Locations in Valdosta, Ga., Dalton, Ga., Brunswick, Ga., Indianapolis, Ind., Gary, Ind., and Beaver Dam, Ohio, will open this year.
From Staff Reports

On April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s decision that would have allowed a California district to prohibit private fleets from buying certain new trucks.

Justice Antonin Scalia authored the court’s 8-1 decision, which sided with the plaintiff, the Engine Manufacturers Association.

Scalia stated the federal Clean Air Act preempts local jurisdictions from adopting regulations that would limit private fleet owners to only buying trucks with the lowest- pollution new engines. “A manufacturer’s right to sell federally approved vehicles is meaningless absent a purchaser’s right to buy them,” he wrote.

The defendant was the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the air pollution control agency for Orange County and much of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Barry Wallerstein, district executive officer, said after the decision that the AQMD would continue its battle.

“We are determined to continue implementing the rules for publicly owned fleets,” Wallerstein said. “We will also consider asking the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to allow us to continue to regulate privately owned fleets.”

The district also maintains that the Supreme Court ruling “left the door open for fleet rules governing leased and used vehicles, and rules that ‘can be characterized as internal state purchase decisions,’ which may well encompass more than publicly owned fleets.”
The Supreme Court has remanded the case back to the lower court.

The EMA argued that only the EPA or the Air Resources Board can establish emission standards for new vehicles. A local district barring fleets from buying otherwise legal vehicles violates the Clean Air Act, which preempts state and local governments from establishing such standards.

The EMA first sued the AQMD in a Los Angeles U.S. District Court in 2000 after the district passed its first fleet rules. That court dismissed that lawsuit in 2001 because it did not increase emission requirements on OEMs.

The following year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s decision, and last summer the Supreme Court agreed to review the case.

The EMA was joined by several industry groups, including the Western States Petroleum Association, the American Trucking Associations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Five environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, intervened as defendants in support of the district.
Jill Dunn

Record Tonnage

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted Truck Tonnage Index rose 1.0 percent to a record high 156.5 in March. The advance was the sixth in the last seven months. 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.

Truck-Related Deaths Up Slightly
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.

Bridge Escort
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 policy began April 1 for the bridge that connects Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., with Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, on Interstate 75. Vehicles with placards, width greater than 12 feet or weight more than 144,000 pounds will require an escort.

Work Zone Fine Increases
On July 1, Mississippi will increase fines for exceeding the posted speed limit in a work zone beyond the current maximum of $250. Gov. Haley Barbour signed the bill April 12. It sets fines at $250 for the first offense, $400 for the second offense and $1,000 for the third offense. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is supporting a similar bill, which increases fines for first-time offenders from the current $150 to a $375 maximum. For subsequent offenses, fines would increase from $300 to a minimum of $750. The bill would also implement a pilot program that allows use of cameras to capture images of license plates of drivers speeding through work zones.

Paccar CEO Among Best
Forbes magazine recently rated Paccar Chairman and CEO Mark C. Pigott in its top 10 best-performing CEOs with an A+. In the pay-versus-performance rankings, Forbes evaluated 194 CEOs who met the qualification criteria of a minimum six-year tenure as chief executive. The rankings were calculated by company stock performance (including dividends) versus peer companies and relative to the S&P 500 Index.

Western Star Expansion
Western Star Trucks has continued to build customer service by expanding its dealer network with eight new locations.