Trucking to the Big D
Great American Trucking Show in Dallas packed with seminars, exhibits, show trucks, live music and much more
By James Jaillet
The Great American Trucking Show knows how to mix work and play.
The Aug. 26-28 show will feature the professional and lifestyle sides of trucking, capping off the activities with a free concert by leading country and bluegrass acts.
Country music singer Randy Houser will headline the show’s Friday night concert presented by Mobil Delvac. Bluegrass band The Grascals will open for Houser. Tickets for the show are free and will be available the morning of Friday, Aug. 27, in the registration lobby.
Along with aisles of recruiting and equipment exhibits, the show will have daily informational sessions on topics such as fuel management, tax issues, financial efficiency, money-saving technology and the federal Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 program.
New to this year’s show is the Health, Wellness and Safety Pavilion, sponsored by the Healthy Trucking Association of America and Truckers News’ Fit for the Road program. The pavilion will feature health-related exhibits and presentations and will host a 1.5-mile fun walk, health screenings and other events.
The show’s leading seminar for owner-operators will be Overdrive’s Partners in Business program. The workshop will be presented from 2-4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 27, by Todd Amen, head of owner-operator business services firm ATBS, and Overdrive columnist and trucking radio host Kevin Rutherford. The workshop will cover monitoring fixed and variable costs, building emergency funds, choosing loads, improving fuel mileage and staying ahead of industry trends. Attendees of the presentation will receive a free Partners in Business manual.
“From an owner-operator’s perspective, there are a lot of reasons to attend,” says the show’s director, Alan Sims. “The educational opportunities offer ways they can come gain insight and tools to help them in their business, and there’s a lot of fun to be had as well.”
Show truck enthusiasts will enjoy the Pride & Polish competition produced by Overdrive’s Custom Rigs and held indoors at the Dallas Convention Center. Staged at the Great American Trucking Show and four other venues this year, Pride & Polish will showcase trucks customized by individuals and some of the most innovative chrome shops in the country.
Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference
In conjunction with GATS, the Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference will bring together an impressive lineup of speakers Aug. 25-26 to share real-world insights on the state of the recovery and what the industry must do to survive and thrive in the fourth quarter and beyond.
Presenters confirmed to date include: Dan Sobic, executive vice president, Paccar; Max Fuller, co-chairman, U.S. Xpress; Rusty Rush, president and CEO, Rush Enterprises; Jim O’Neal, president, O & S Trucking; Eric Starks, president, FTR Associates; Donald Broughton, managing director and senior research analyst, Avondale Partners; and Stu Mackay, president, Mackay and Company.
The conference is presented by the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association and Randall-Reilly Business Media and Information. The event is sponsored by Castrol, O’Reilly Auto Parts and Utility Trailer. For pricing and registration details visit www.hdma.org or call 919-406-8814 or e-mail https://www.hdma.org/.
Thursday, Aug. 26: Noon to 5 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 27: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 28: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Registration | Attendees can register free online (www.truckshow.com) or via telephone until Aug. 25. On-site registration is $10.
Lodging | Special rates are available at nine hotels near the convention center. Visit www.gatsonline.com or call (800) 221-3531.
Truck parking | Parking will be available at the convention center’s Reunion lot at the intersection of Hotel Street and Memorial Drive.
Additional info | Visit www.gatsonline.com or call (888) 349-4287.
Agency Sets Up Traffic-Tracking Tool
The Federal Highway Administration has started an online tool that identifies traffic chokepoints using data from thousands of trucks. Called Freight Performance Measures, the tool determines average operating speeds for trucks that travel on interstate highways. Low speeds reflect congestion levels at a particular location and time of day. Users can set up an account and access the tool at www.freightperformance.org.
Two More States Pass Texting Laws
Kansas and Vermont became the 26th and 27th states to pass texting bans. Kansas’s new law will outlaw texting by all drivers. Drivers caught texting will receive warnings until Jan. 1, 2011, after which law enforcement will issue $60 fines for violations. The Vermont law also forbids all cell phone use for drivers up to age 18. The law prohibits drivers of all ages from texting and imposes a $100 penalty for the first violation and a $250 penalty for repeat violations that occur within a two-year period.
NAFTA Trade Surges in March
Trade using surface transportation between the United States and Canada and Mexico was 37 percent higher in March than a year earlier, reaching $69.9 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The increase is the largest year-over-year rise on record but freight value in March remained 1.2 percent less than the value in March 2008, two years earlier.
ATA Truck Tonnage Index Rises
The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased for the sixth time in the last seven months, gaining 0.9 percent in April. This followed a 0.4 percent increase in March. The latest improvement put the SA index at 110.2, the highest level since September 2008. Over the last seven months, the tonnage index grew 6.5 percent.
House Extends Biodiesel Tax Incentive
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, legislation that, among other things, retroactively extends the biodiesel tax incentive through Dec. 31. The National Biodiesel Board says the biodiesel tax incentive helps makes biodiesel price competitive with the diesel fuel produced by petroleum companies.
Obama Orders Heavy-Truck Fuel Standard
President Obama has signed a presidential memorandum directing the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to jointly issue the nation’s first fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards on new medium- and heavy-duty trucks, beginning with model year 2014.
The announcement came at a White House signing ceremony May 21 that involved the senior executives of the major truck and engine manufacturers.
In announcing the directive, Obama said the fuel economy of commercial trucks could increase as much as 25 percent using technologies in place today. The announcement comes exactly one year after the Administration announced an agreement to increase fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks. In his comments, Obama said that medium- and heavy-duty vehicles account for about one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2007, Congress directed DOT to issue fuel-economy standards on medium- and heavy-duty trucks following a study. The National Research Council issued that report almost two months ago. Under the 2007 law, the standards were to come by the middle of this decade, which the presidential memorandum would accomplish.
As with the automobile standards announced earlier, the Obama administration has expanded the scope of the regulations to include not only fuel efficiency but greenhouse gas emissions, which is why EPA and NHTSA issued the new car and light-truck standards jointly earlier this year.
While fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions are linked closely, there are automotive functions — such as gases used in air conditioning — that affect greenhouse gases without necessarily affecting fuel economy.
Nominations Open for Annual Driver Contest
Truckers News and the Truckload Carriers Association are now accepting nominations for the 2012 Company Driver of the Year Contest. The contest co-sponsors also have announced changes in the selection process.
Each month in 2011, Truckers News will feature a Company Driver of the Month in the magazine. From those 12 finalists, a winner will be selected as the 2012 Driver of the Year and presented at TCA’s annual meeting, March 4-7, 2012, in Orlando, Fla.
The contest is open to all company drivers who log a majority of their miles in the truckload segment. For nomination forms and information about rules and eligibility, visit www.truckersnews.com/cd. The deadline for nominations is Aug. 15.
The 2011 Driver of the Year will be chosen from 2010 Company Drivers of the Month and presented at TCA’s annual meeting, March 13-16, 2011, in San Diego, Calif.
Truckers News’ sister publication, Overdrive, and TCA are sponsoring the Owner-Operator of the Year contest. For more information on that contest, visit www.overdriveonline.com/oo.
CARB Expands Funds for Independents
The California Air Resources Board on May 19 announced changes to an existing $28 million financial assistance program intended to help more California independent truckers qualify for the purchase of a cleaner-running vehicle.
CARB said the changes made to the statewide Voucher Incentive Program will make funding available to a larger variety of trucks that will help owners comply early with the statewide truck and bus regulation passed in 2008.
VIP is a streamlined diesel on-road voucher program intended to help small independent truck owners get a cleaner-running truck sooner. “The board understands the need to expand our financial assistance programs, and these changes give more small fleet and individual truck owners access to money to clean up their vehicles,” said CARB Chairman Mary Nichols.
The specific changes to VIP:
• Medium-duty trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 19,501 pounds and above now qualify. Previously, only heavy-heavy-duty trucks with a declared vehicle weight greater than 60,000 pounds qualified;
• Trucks with mileage as low as 15,000 miles per year now are eligible. Previously, a truck had to operate a minimum of 30,000 miles per year or consume 4,700 gallons of diesel fuel per year during the previous two years;
• High-mileage trucks can get up to $45,000 in voucher money. Previously, the maximum amount of a voucher was $35,000;
• Trucks with 2002 and older engines may qualify for a newer truck. Previously, only trucks with 1993 and older engines were eligible; and
• A new funding option of up to $10,000 per truck for an exhaust retrofit is available.
Participating truck dealerships or retrofit installers can help business owners check eligibility and apply for a voucher. Grants are made on a first-come first-served basis, and qualifying applications are reviewed and approved within five business days.
FMCSA Sets Routine Rules Process
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration May 28 established direct final rulemaking procedures for use on routine or noncontroversial rules.
Under these procedures, FMCSA will make regulatory changes that will become effective a specified number of days after publishing in the Federal Register, unless FMCSA receives any written adverse comments or written notice of intent to submit adverse comment.
FMCSA said these new procedures, effective with the May 28 notice in the Federal Register, will expedite the introduction of routine or noncontroversial rules by reducing the time and resources necessary to develop, review and publish proposed and final rules.
The agency said it will not use the direct final rule procedures for complex or controversial issues.
For more information, go to www.regulations.gov and search docket number FMCSA 2009-0354.
August 13-15, Great Salt Lake Kidney Kamp Truck Show at Thanksgiving Point. Take Lehi Exit 284 from I-15 30 minutes South of Salt Lake City. General & vendor info: Jeff England (800) 877-1320. Judging & Classes: Doyle Elison (208) 251-0987.
Aug. 26-28, Great American Trucking Show, Dallas Convention Center. (888) 349-4287,
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.
Agency Revises CSA 2010 Schedule
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has developed a revised schedule for the rollout of Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010.
Here are the important dates in the rollout timeline:
• Now until Nov. 30 — Motor carriers can preview their own data by seeing their roadside inspections/violations and crash events organized by Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC).
• June 30 — The Operational Model (Op-Model) Test ended.
• July — The four “50/50” Op-Model Test states, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri and New Jersey, will join the five 100 percent Op-Model Test states in implementing the program.
• August — Motor carriers will be able to see an assessment of their violations based on the new Carrier Safety Measurement System (CSMS) that will replace SafeStat later in 2010.
• Fall/Winter 2010 — SafeStat will be replaced by the CSMS. CSMS will be available to the public, including shippers and insurance companies. FMCSA/states will prioritize enforcement using the CSMS. FMCSA will begin to issue Warning Letters to carriers with deficient BASICs. Roadside inspectors will use the CSMS results to identify carriers for inspection.
• Winter 2010 — Safety Fitness Determination Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is scheduled to be released.
• 2011 — Enforcement staff will be trained, and new interventions will be implemented in each state.
CSA 2010 does not give FMCSA the authority to remove drivers from their jobs and cannot be used to rate drivers or to revoke a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). FMCSA does not have the authority to take those actions. Only state agencies responsible for issuing licenses, CDL or otherwise, have the authority to suspend them.
CSA 2010 does introduce a driver safety assessment tool to help enforcement staff evaluate drivers’ safety as part of motor carrier investigations.
FMCSA has created a Just the Facts flyer that sets the records straight on the most common myths about the program. It is available at csa2010.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/JustTheFacts.pdf.
Firms Roll Out New Sleep Apnea Reporting Service
By Jeff Crissey
On May 26, Affiliated Computer Services and Sleep Pointe announced ACS’ new sleep apnea reporting service through the company’s TripPak Truck Stop SCANNING Network at TravelCenters of America and Petro locations.
The program is aimed at carriers looking to monitor driver usage of sleep apnea devices and is an answer to the National Transportation and Safety Board’s recommendation that commercial drivers who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea provide evidence of effective treatment.
“With this service, carriers can help prevent accidents by pinpointing at-risk drivers who suffer from sleep apnea,” said Kelley Walkup, division vice president and general manager for ACS. “Most fleets lack the national infrastructure to collect and evaluate the treatment information from drivers on the road, so we see considerable demand for this type of end-to-end sleep apnea compliance reporting system.”
The sleep apnea reporting service provides fleets with the infrastructure to collect sleep data from drivers from the road and better manage and mitigate sleep apnea risks.
“Driver health and driver rest are critical parts of public safety,” said Duke Naipohn, president and CEO of Sleep Pointe. “The idea behind this is to allow drivers to be monitored for compliance without forcing drivers to break their stride in their normal driving routine.”
Last year, ACS and Sleep Pointe partnered to help carriers collect and evaluate sleep apnea treatment information from auto-titrating positive air pressure machines. ACS says establishing the reporting service at TA and Petro locations helps carriers better monitor fleet safety. The sleep apnea compliance reporting service is available at 68 TA and Petro locations, and will eventually be offered at all 187 TA and Petro company-operated locations nationally.
The first two fleets to implement the new program are Prime Inc., Springfield, Mo., and Crete Carrier Corp., Lincoln, Neb.
Diesel Price Watch
Prices are the average, self serve, cash at truckstops May 1-31, 2010*
NEW HAMPSHIRE 3.00
NEW JERSEY 2.97
NEW MEXICO 3.06
NEW YORK 3.22
NORTH CAROLINA 2.99
NORTH DAKOTA 3.13
RHODE ISLAND 3.08
SOUTH CAROLINA 2.88
SOUTH DAKOTA 2.98
WEST VIRGINIA 3.10
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
Research Shows Safer Trucking
In an effort to answer questions over whether current hours-of-service regulations have hurt safety, the American Transportation Research Institute on May 19 released a report concluding that trucking safety has improved since 2004.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s first major rewrite of hours rules took effect on Jan. 4, 2004.
ATRI’s analysis of data from approximately 260 motor carriers representing 127,000 commercial drivers shows that the total collision rate dropped 11.7 percent from 2004 to 2009. Preventable collisions declined 30.6 percent, ATRI said.
Moreover, regulations governing drivers’ working hours seem to have little effect on safety anyway, ATRI concluded. Based on 2009 data, 87 percent of commercial motor vehicle crashes occurred within the first 8 hours of driving. ATRI also found that drivers generally used the 34-hour restart provision three or fewer times per month.
Navistar Launches New Electric Truck
By Max Kvidera
Navistar Inc. launched its eStar all-electric truck in Portland, Ore., May 25, the first in a series of introductions for its zero-emissions vehicles.
Additional launches are scheduled for June in Sacramento, Calif., and this summer in Chicago. Future introductions are proposed for Detroit and East Coast locations, a Navistar spokesman said at a press event.
The company has selected the initial International dealerships to offer the truck aimed at the Class 2-3 market. Dealers in Tacoma, Wash., Sacramento, Los Angeles and Chicago will be offering the vehicle, which has a 100-mile driving range between battery recharges.
Asked if businesses are ready to buy a $149,900 short-haul truck, Jonathan Wyman, president of Cascadia International in Tacoma, said, “There are plenty of companies in the Seattle area and Portland that want to go green and are willing to step up to the plate.”
Westrux International in Los Angeles will be servicing the first four eStars that were bought by FedEx for use in that area.
Production of eStars is under way at a Navistar plant in Elkhart County, Ind., which also makes Monaco motorcoaches. The goal is to build 400 units this year and 1,000 in 2011, says Mark Aubry, vice president of sales and marketing for the Navistar-Modec Electric Vehicle Alliance that is producing the vehicles.
Those production numbers were promised by Navistar to receive a $39.2 million federal stimulus grant last August. Since then the company has received certifications from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.
Aubry said that as battery technology improves and the charging network infrastructure expands, the driving range for all-electric vehicles could widen to 200-300 miles. Electric vehicles serving the long-haul market “will probably never happen,” he said.
Aubry added that cargo van-delivery truck is not the only application for eStar. Flatbed and pickup models are being developed.
Current eStars are outfitted with a 7 kilowatt charger, running on 220 volts and 32 amps and requiring 8-12 hours to recharge. A version planned for 2011 equipped with a 10 kilowatt charger will reduce charging time to 6-8 hours.
Jim Hebe, Navistar senior vice president North American sales, used the eStar introduction to note that Navistar has developed vehicles powered by compressed and liquefied natural gas that are helping to reduce dependence on oil. “In long haul, nothing will replace clean diesel,” he said.
IdleAire to Restart 23 Locations
By Jill Dunn
Two months after new investors indicated they intended to restart IdleAire, the truck shore power provider has announced it soon will reopen 23 locations.
The locations scheduled to restart include independent truck stops, Pilot Travel Centers, All American Travel Plazas and franchise-operated locations at TravelCenters of America and Petro Stopping Centers. Five of the planned locations would be in Texas, and five more in Pennsylvania.
A manager for one store where IdleAire is scheduled to restart, Sapp Bros. of Salt Lake City, said she was told May 17 her location would have electrification available in four weeks.
Thomas O’Brien, who heads TravelCenters of America, said in a May 10 conference call with stock analysts that he expected IdleAire equipment to eventually be removed from TA locations.
Rush Truck Center Opens New Oklahoma City Facility
By Todd Dills
Two miles west of its old facility just off the I-40 Council Road exit due west of downtown Oklahoma City, Rush Enterprises opened a brand-new 115,000-square-foot truck sales and service facility with grand opening festivities June 2.
The new facility rivals the larger among the Rush Truck Center locations in size. It boasts a service and body shop structure capable of housing 125 trucks at capacity; laser-guided frame-straightening and alignment bays; high-tech downdraft paint prep capability and a configurable paint booth (extra large to accommodate at one time more than one tractor or trailer unit); brand-new drivers’ lounge complete with available showers, flat-screen TVs, wireless Internet access and laundry facilities; and more.
The Oklahoma City Rush center sells and services Peterbilt, GMC, Hino and Isuzu heavy- and medium-duty trucks and used trucks of other makes. Twenty thousand square feet of parts inventory space, including Rush’s proprietary Rig Tough line of customizing components, help make the center what Rush calls a “one-stop shop” for truck sales and service.
Festivities included dedication of a new access road named after longtime Oklahoma City Rush Truck Center Diesel Technician Melvin Young, who passed away in 2007. “Melvin really stood for what Rush Truck Center, and Rush Enterprises, stands for,” said Michael Mayer, general manager of the Oklahoma City facility. “Taking care of the customer, taking care of the family and taking care of the employees — he was the total package.”
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee member and Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate Mary Fallin addressed a crowd gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was attended by representatives of both state and national government. “I have great appreciation for the trucking industry,” Fallin said. “I know how important it is to our state’s economy. It’s especially important to our national economy.”
With the new facility, Rush and its employees, she added, had “set the bar high for the industry.”
More than 30 suppliers exhibited at a product fair set up in the new facility’s service area, and the lucky among customers and associates attending the opening festivities walked away with one of several prizes.
On the rebound?
Talking with Rush Enterprises chairman W. Marvin Rush
Amid recent headlines trumpeting growing manufacturing activity, freight volumes and truck and trailer sales, it’s tempting to look at Rush Enterprises’ expansive new facility in Oklahoma City as yet another sign that the trucking industry is in full-bore recovery from the Great Recession. But Rush Chairman W. Marvin Rush was careful to note the long-in-process nature of such a large endeavor as the new sales and service location.
“The economy has been very, very bad in the truck business,” he said. “I’m in my 46th year now — I’ve seen it this bad, but never this long. But it’s turning, and we figured it was going to turn. On this place, we were already committed to building before we really wanted to build it, but it turned out perfect because it’s turning now, and we’re going to get ahead of the curve. …
“You read about truck orders picking up, but the problem with that is there are some major fleets … they made big orders, but they’re two-year orders. Problem is, when you pick it apart, there aren’t many [among those trucks] that will be delivered this year.”
All the same, Rush Enterprises continues to expand with, among other developments, the recent acquisition of Lake City International, with dealerships in Utah, Idaho and Oregon. The company is in the planning stages of new facilities in San Antonio, where the company is headquartered, and Fort Worth, Texas, as well as several other remodels, all coming in the next few years, Rush said.
For video of our interview with Rush, in which he tells the story of the company’s founding in Houston, visit www.truckersnews.com.