Amendment addresses NAFTA trucking program
Next fiscal year’s federal transportation bill directs the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish and report on a cross-border trucking program with Mexico by October.
Sen. Patty Murray inserted the requirement in the Fiscal Year 2011 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill July 26. The Washington state Democrat added the language to S. 3644 to end retaliatory tariffs Mexico instituted last year following Congress’ vote to discontinue the pilot project program, which allowed a limited number of carriers from both nations to deliver beyond the commercial border zone.
The amendment requires the program maintain road safety, enhance efficient movement of commerce and eliminate retaliatory tariffs on agricultural products.
The bill passed the Senate subcommittee, which Murray chairs, and the Appropriations committee, and will go to the full Senate for consideration.
President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderón discussed cross-border trucking May 19, but the issue was not resolved, according to a congressional report released last month.
“The cost to federal taxpayers of ensuring Mexican truck safety, estimated by the U.S. DOT to be over $500 million as of March 2008, appears to be disproportionate to the amount of dollars saved thus far by U.S. importers or exporters that have been able to utilize long-haul trucking authority,” the researcher reported.
If Mexican carriers receive long-haul authority, the short-term impact in the United States is expected to be gradual. These carriers face a lack of prearranged back hauls, higher insurance and capital costs, as well as customs processing delays. In the long term, use of drayage companies will probably decrease as they lose market share to Mexican long-haul carriers.
U.S. companies leasing Mexican trucks and drivers may become a major implementation issue. North American Free Trade Agreement implementation ends the prohibition on leasing to allow Mexican trucks and drivers to operate beyond the border zone. If a U.S. firm also arranges for work visas for leased Mexican drivers, it could make them available for more cabotage loads. This could have Mexican drivers competing more often against American drivers in the United States. If this is the case, the researcher suggested Congress may want to revisit the issue.
FYI NEWS BRIEFS
Truck Tonnage Index Falls
The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 1.4 percent in June, although May’s reduction was revised from 0.6 percent to just 0.1 percent. May and June marked the first back-to-back contractions since March and April 2009.
Class 8 Orders Increase 93 Percent
Net orders for heavy-duty Class 8 commercial vehicles reached the highest level of the year in June, posting an increase of 93 percent compared to June 2009, according to ACT Research Co. In the latest release of the State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Vehicles, ACT reported 15,999 net orders of Class 8 vehicles, 21 percent higher than May.
Idling Regulations Adds Three
The American Transportation Research Institute has added three new idling regulations to its listing of state and local regulations. North Carolina and Detroit have established 5-minute idling limits and West Virginia a 15-minute limit — all with notable temperature exemptions. TRI’s complete online listing can be found at www.atri-online.org.
FedEx Settles Classification Suit
FedEx Ground will pay $3 million to Massachusetts to settle claims that the company misclassified drivers as independent contractors. State Attorney General Martha Coakley announced the agreement with Pittsburgh-based FedEx Ground July 15. She alleged the misclassification resulted in less revenue in payroll taxes, worker’s compensation and unemployment assistance for the state.
Freight Up Over Year
TransCore announced July 19 its North American Freight Index for June showed a 112-percent increase in spot market freight availability compared to the same period last year. Spot market freight availability for the second quarter of 2010 was 60 percent higher than first-quarter volume and 331 percent higher than the recession-plagued activity of last year’s second quarter.
NAFTA Trade Surges in May
Trade using surface transportation between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico was 39.5 percent higher in May than in May 2009, reaching $66.8 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The increase was the largest percentage year-over-year increase in total U.S.-NAFTA trade by surface modes on record back to April 1994.
Distracted Driving Summit This Month
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the second National Distracted Driving Summit will be held Sept. 21 in Washington, D.C. Key topics will include research, technology, policy, public outreach and best practices in enforcement. Additional details will be released at www.distraction.gov/2010summit.
New PrePass in Florida
A new PrePass site has opened in Martin County, Fla., on the northbound side of Interstate 95 near Port St. Lucie. PrePass is an automated vehicle identification system that allows commercial vehicles to bypass certain weigh stations by being pre-screened. A full map is available at www.prepass.com.
Chicago-Area Peterbilt Dealership Opens
A Peterbilt dealership has opened in Bensenville, Ill., the truck maker announced. The parts and service facility is at 142 Thorndale Ave., west of Chicago O’Hare International Airport off of York Road. For details, call the dealership at (630) 616-3933.
The American Trucking Associations has asked a federal appeals court to resume consideration of its lawsuit to force the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to issue long-overdue regulations governing supporting documents for hours-of-service compliance.
On July 22, ATA told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that settlement discussions have been unsuccessful and that FMCSA’s apparent attempt to resolve ATA’s concerns actually has created more uncertainties for carriers. Nor has FMCSA committed to a specific date for a rule, ATA said.
ATA’s court filing followed its request earlier in July that FMCSA stay a new policy on supporting documents pending revisions the association proposes. Though the agency did not respond, it implicitly disregarded ATA’s request by notifying the court that it had adopted the policy, which addresses retention of documents and the use of electronic mobile communication/tracking technology as an alternative to certain documents.
In comments on the policy, which was published June 10 and made effective July 12, ATA said it had serious concerns with portions of the guidance “that we believe depart substantially from prior agency policy and go well beyond the bounds of what the agency may do in guidance.”
ATA’s primary concern is a statement in the guidance that carriers using electronic communication and tracking systems are “expected” to use the information and records from these systems in their hours-of-service oversight activities. The mandate departs from FMCSA’s longstanding regulatory directive — confirmed even in the June 10 policy notice — that the applicable regulation speaks only of document retention and does not mandate the use of any particular document or set of documents in carrier log-verification efforts, ATA said. “Therefore, for the first time, this guidance proposes to create a use requirement that will greatly affect motor carriers’ substantive rights and which could significantly increase their compliance costs.”
FMCSA can require motor carriers to use a particular supporting document in their hours-of-service oversight only through a proper rulemaking process, ATA said in its comments on the policy. The agency should amend the guidance to state that the use of data from electronic tracking systems in motor carriers’ oversight activities remains only one of the options available to motor carriers to fulfill their oversight responsibilities, the association said.
For FMCSA’s policy and comments filed by ATA and others, go to www.regulations.gov and search FMCSA-2010-0168.
Trucking and construction industry personnel and enthusiasts will find plenty to see and do Oct. 8-9 during the inaugural Charlotte Diesel Super Show at the Charlotte Motor Speedway z-Max Dragway in Concord, N.C.
Produced by Randall-Reilly Business Media and Information, which also produces the Great American Trucking Show and Great West Truck Show and publishes Truckers News and other trucking magazines, the Charlotte Diesel Super Show will be a one-of-a-kind outdoor extravaganza. Activities include industry-related displays, truck drag races and a Custom Rigs Pride & Polish truck beauty contest where contestants will compete for cash and prizes.
Attendees also can register to win a free 150-mph ride around the Charlotte Motor Speedway track in a NASCAR racecar. On Saturday night, country music star John Rich, formerly of Big & Rich, will perform a free concert.
“Attendees at the Charlotte Diesel Super Show will be able to see the latest truck and construction equipment, watch live demonstrations, be able to participate in ride and drives and enjoy all sorts of activities,” says Alan K. Sims, vice president/executive director, Randall-Reilly Events. “There will truly be something for everyone.”
The Charlotte Diesel Super Show offers free truck and vehicle parking and there’s RV parking and campsites available on-site. Tickets can be purchased at the event, or group sales are available at a discount for 10 or more tickets by calling (888) 349-4287. Adult admission is $20 for a two-day pass or $15 for a one-day pass. Tickets for children ages 7 to 16 are $10 for two days or $7 for one day. Children 6 and under can attend for free.
For more information, go to www.dieselsupershow.com.
Transportation groups are backing a congressional bill meant to improve and coordinate freight policy in the federal government and states while adding an infrastructure grants program. Trucking is not mentioned in the bill, which focuses on rail, ports and intermodal.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Focusing Resources, Economic Investment, and Guidance to Help Transportation Act July 22. The FREIGHT Act, or S. 3629, would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation develop and implement a National Freight Transportation Strategic Plan and create an Office of Freight Planning and Development.
Projects that can receive grants are for port development or improvement, multi-modal terminal facilities, land port of entries, freight rail improvement or capacity expansion and an intelligent transportation system project primarily for freight benefit that reduces congestion, improves safety or plans that improve port or terminal access.
Rail has received increased attention nationally as a method to reduce diesel pollution and road traffic. Some ports have added or are implementing short-haul freight services to decrease truck trips.
The groups backing the legislation include the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors, Environmental Defense Fund, Transportation for America and the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association. Trucking organizations have not publicly issued a statement on the proposed legislation.
The act’s goals include reducing freight transportation-related fatalities 10 percent by 2015 and cutting national freight transportation-related carbon dioxide by 40 percent by 2030.
The strategic plan is to guide and inform of goods movement infrastructure investments. The act also establishes an Office of Freight Planning and Development, headed by an Assistant Secretary for Freight Planning and Development. The legislation would require the transportation department to report the plan’s progress.
Further, it would add the National Freight Infrastructure Grants initiative, for competitive, merit-based grants with broad eligibility for multimodal freight investment. It would strive to maximize fund benefits.
Democrat Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are bill co-sponsors.
FMCSA Official Outlines Medical CDL Requirements
Though health-related conditions can take you off the road and put your CDL in jeopardy, steps and treatments can be taken to ensure medical certification, said Dr. Maggi Gunnels, director of the Office of Medical Programs for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Gunnels presented a Truckers News’ Fit for the Road webinar, “Health Regulations and Your CDL,” July 22, in which she said the required biannual exam for certification covers a driver’s health history, vision, hearing, blood pressure and vital signs. A urine test is also required, she said.
High blood pressure is one of the more common conditions that can prevent drivers from passing the medical certification, she said. However, only drivers diagnosed with Stage 3 hypertension are disqualified from driving.
Stage 1 and 2 diagnoses are required to have annual and quarterly certifications, respectively. Stage 3 hypertension is classified as any blood pressure measured at 180/110mmHG or higher.
Gunnels said no regulations would disqualify drivers for weight, body-mass index or neck size. “These are factors that are indicators that are evaluated during an examination by practitioners. But it’s unrealistic to expect us to set specific regulations about signs and symptoms like that,” she said.
Obstructive sleep apnea regulations are being worked into a broader set of rules categorized under respiratory system conditions. It is included in a regulation that says drivers cannot have a respiratory condition that interferes with safe driving, Gunnels said.
If sleep apnea has been diagnosed and treatment has been prescribed, drivers must be able to demonstrate they’ve been treated to pass a medical certification exam.
Drivers diagnosed with diabetes can work with an exemption and a waiver if they are being treated with insulin. During the exemption process, however, drivers will have to stay off the road for roughly a month, Gunnels said, while paperwork is cleared.
More than 40,000 examiners around the country are qualified to perform the medical certification exam, Gunnels said. Medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners also are generally qualified. FMSCA is working on building an interactive map on its website to locate qualified examiners.
Other health-related topics:
• Vision: Visual acuity of at least 20/40 in each eye with or without corrective lenses; distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 in both eyes with or without corrective lenses; field of vision of at least 70 degrees; must have the ability to recognize colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green and amber.
• Prosthetic devices: Amputees can drive if they have no other medical disqualifications, can successfully pass a road test and a skills performance evaluation, and wear a prosthetic device.
• Medications: Drivers can use drugs prescribed by medical practitioners who are familiar with their history and duties, as long as the substance does not hamper the driver’s ability to operate safely.
• Gunnels said state and company regulations sometimes can be more strict than federal rules.
Daimler, Volvo Challenge Navistar Test
Daimler Trucks North America and Volvo Trucks North America July 22 issued sharp rebukes of a “fluid economy” road test commissioned by Navistar International Corp. The test compares the performance of trucks equipped with selective catalytic reduction to trucks equipped with exhaust gas reduction technology. Both technologies reduce emissions of nitrous oxide.
Earlier, Navistar announced it was challenging claims by its competitors that diesel trucks equipped with SCR were achieving notably improved fuel economy. Instead, Navistar proposed “fluid economy,” tracking consumption of both DEF and diesel fuel, as a better measuring stick for diesel engine efficiency and performance.
In a statement, DTNA’s Freightliner said, “The credibility or validity of the test published by Navistar cannot be judged without revelation of more details. We run stringent fuel economy tests which are both accurate and substantiated. The combination chosen by our competitor does not comply with these basic premises for proper engineering work and thus doesn’t provide a trustworthy result.”
The company added that the 440-mile test run by Navistar is too short for testing modern EPA 2010-compliant trucks in a working environment.
Meanwhile, Volvo Group strongly defended the effectiveness of SCR and warned against revamping the regulations with the roll-out of EPA 2010-compliant engines already well under way. “We question the need to make modifications to SCR strategies just six months after SCR products were brought to market,” said Steve Berry, director of government relations with Volvo Powertrain.
Navistar is the only U.S. heavy-duty truck manufacturer to use only an EGR solution to meet stringent 2010 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations limiting diesel pollutants. All other North American engine manufacturers have elected to use SCR technology, which sprays hot diesel exhaust gas with a urea-based diesel exhaust fluid.
ATA Sponsors Video Contest for Truck Driver Appreciation Week
The American Trucking Associations will sponsor a video contest for National Truck Driver Appreciation Week Sept. 19-25.
ATA is seeking amateur video submissions from professional truck drivers, driver’s families, shippers, suppliers, allied companies or community members explaining why professional truck drivers are essential. Entries can be produced with cell phone or home video cameras — with the emphasis on creativity and message, rather than production values.
The deadline for contest submissions is Sept. 13. Submissions should be posted to YouTube, tagged with “ATATrucksBringIt” and the URL e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternately, entries can be sent to email@example.com or American Trucking Associations, ATA Image and Outreach, 950 N. Glebe Road, Suite 210, Arlington, VA 22203.
Diesel Price Watch
Prices are the average, self serve, cash at truckstops July 1-31, 2010*
NEW HAMPSHIRE 2.92
NEW JERSEY 2.81
NEW MEXICO 2.91
NEW YORK 3.09
NORTH CAROLINA 2.85
NORTH DAKOTA 2.99
RHODE ISLAND 2.93
SOUTH CAROLINA 2.75
SOUTH DAKOTA 2.85
WEST VIRGINIA 2.99
Source: T-Chek Systems Inc., Eden Prairie, MN.
For more information, (877) SOS-CHEK or www.tchek.com
*Some prices may not include certain state taxes.
Agencies to Consider SCR ‘Loopholes’
By Jack Roberts
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board have presented preliminary proposals aimed at the alleged compliance loopholes found in current 2010 liquid-based selective catalytic reduction systems on diesel engines.
SCR technology doses hot diesel fuel with a urea-based diesel exhaust fluid. The resulting chemical reaction reduces emissions of nitrous oxide (NOx) pollutants to levels mandated by EPA’s 2010 diesel emissions regulations.
Concerns about SCR’s environmental compliance were brought to the organizations’ attention by truck and engine manufacturer Navistar International, which uses a competitive technology, exhaust gas recirculation, to meet EPA 2010 regulations.
Navistar contended that independent tests show new commercial vehicles that must contain liquid urea to meet federal NOx emissions standards continue to operate effectively when urea is not present. Navistar said the vehicles throw off levels of NOx as much as 10 times higher or more than when urea is present.
The research cited by Navistar was conducted by EnSight, an independent environmental consulting firm, using two long-haul vehicles and one heavy-duty pickup, all of which used SCR. According to Navistar, EnSight’s research showed that when liquid urea was not present, there was little or no effect on the vehicles’ operations; this included long periods of time when the vehicles’ urea tanks were empty or were refilled with water instead of urea.
Fuller Gets 50,000th Freightliner
By Avery Vise
Few trucking executives buy 50,000 trucks over the course of their careers, but Max Fuller has accomplished something even more unusual. On Aug. 5, the co-chairman and chief executive officer of Chattanooga, Tenn.-based U.S. Xpress took delivery of his 50,000th truck of a single make – Freightliner.
In a ceremony at U.S. Xpress’ headquarters, Fuller officially took possession of the 2010 Freightliner Cascadia 72-inch sleeper with Detroit Diesel DD15 engine. Martin Daum, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, also presented Fuller with a memento of the occasion – a Freightliner etched into a block of crystal. “It might be the only Freightliner you ever get for free,” Daum quipped as he handed the trophy to Fuller. Closing out the ceremony, Fuller handed the keys to the 2010 Cascadia to its driver, James Waldo, who has worked for U.S. Xpress and Southwest Motor Freight for 38 years.
In 1974, Fuller took over purchasing responsibilities for his father Clyde, owner of Southwest Motor Freight, representing the beginning of his relationship with Freightliner. Fuller recalls that Freightliner’s marketing materials then – just after the big OPEC oil embargo – touted the trucks’ fuel efficiency and light weight. Fuller’s first order was about 150 trucks, which was almost half the Southwest Motor Freight fleet.
Fuller continued to buy Freightliners when he and Patrick Quinn struck out on their own in 1985 to launch U.S. Xpress. As the company grew quickly, U.S. Xpress bought 3,000 or 4,000 trucks a year in some years. Fuller also emphasized the relationship with Freightliner by signing a 12-year exclusive agreement that began in the late 1980s.
Sept. 17-19 Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show. St. Ignace, Mich. For information, call (906) 643-8087 or visit www.nostalgia-prod.com.
Sept. 24-25 20th Annual Music City Chapter ATHS Antique and Working Truck Show, sponsored by American Truck Historical Society. Hyder-Burks Ag Pavilion, Cookeville, Tenn. For information, call (931) 200-3203 or visit www.aths.org
If you have a trucking event you would like to publicize, send information six weeks in advance to Truckers News Events Calendar, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Truckers News makes no guarantee that information submitted will be published..
Affected trucks include model year 2008-2018 Freightliner Cascadia and Western Star 4700, 4900, 5700 and 6900 trucks. DTNA says after hard brake applications, the brake light pressure switch may not activate the brake lights with the light application of the brake pedal.