FMCSA denies small fleet's hours of service exemption request

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023:

Small fleet’s hours of service exemption request denied

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has denied a request for a temporary hours of service exemption from small fleet Flat Top Transport.

According to FMCSA’s SAFER website, Holland, Michigan-based Flat Top Transport operates 11 trucks and has 11 drivers.

On Aug. 31, 2022, Flat Top requested a four-month exemption for “immediate and emergency delivery of dry and bulk food grade products to locations that supply stores and distribution centers nationally.”

In its request, Flat Top said the exemption was necessary due to strict time constraints for the goods to be delivered, along with railroads being limited, a shortage of truck drivers, inflationary pressures on parts and services, and more. The company said it hauls products such as food-grade flour, corn meal, and salts used to produce cereals, baked goods, canned goods, and meat processing.

In denying the request, FMCSA said it “continues to monitor unique challenges motor carriers and drivers experience” while moving freight and “works to ensure that safety is not compromised. ... Supply chain issues alone, however, do not provide a sufficient basis to exempt motor carriers transporting dry bulk food grade products from the HOS regulations.” FMCSA concluded that Flat Top did not explain how it would achieve an equivalent level of safety if granted the exemption, a reason FMCSA has frequently given in denying specific requests from companies and owner-operators.

[Related: Three glaring problems with 'driver shortage' narratives]

More sentences handed down in New Orleans staged-accident fraud scheme

Six more individuals have been sentenced for their roles in a widespread staged-accident fraud scheme in New Orleans.

United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that Lucinda Thomas, Mary Wade and Judy Williams, all of Houma, Louisiana, were sentenced on Jan. 19 for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in relation to roles in staging accidents with tractor-trailers in New Orleans. They were sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $43,000 in restitution.  

Partner Insights
Information to advance your business from industry suppliers
The ALL NEW Rand Tablet
Presented by Rand McNally

On Feb. 6, Dashontae Young, also of Houma, was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $43,000 in restitution for conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Finally, on Feb. 14, John Diggs of Thibodaux, Louisiana, and James Williams of Gibson were sentenced to 10 months in prison after they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Diggs and Williams were involved in a staged accident and made claims for personal injuries, which resulted in the victim trucking and insurance companies paying out $272,500 for the fraudulent claims.

In addition to prison, Diggs and Williams were also sentenced to three years of supervised release, and a restitution hearing is set for April 5.

[Related: How the nuclear-verdicts threat rolls downhill to owner-operators, small fleets]

Nearly 70K Freightliner, Western Star models recalled for corrosion concern

Daimler Trucks North America is recalling certain 2017-'23 Freightliner Cascadia, 2022-'23 Western Star 47X and 49X; and 2022 Freightliner 114SD models, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

The brake modulator valves on the front axle of the affected trucks may corrode and cause the vehicle to pull to the affected side during braking initiated by Electronic Stability Control (ESC) or Roll Stability Control (RSC) systems.

Dealers will replace the front brake modulator valves, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed April 10. Owners can contact DTNA customer service at 800-547-0712 with recall number FL966. NHTSA’s recall number is 23V-073.

DTNA late last year recalled more than 200,000 trucks for an issue that could cause uneven braking during an adaptive cruise control (ACC) braking event, saying â€śchemical corrosion could affect the functionality of the brake modulator valve, which during an ACC braking event may result in full system pressure applied to one wheel end."

In July 2020 more than 160,000 Cascadia models were recalled due to possible corrosion of unpainted brake modulator valves.

Over a different issue, Daimler also is recalling approximately 189 model year 2021-'23 Freightliner Coronado trucks equipped with a foldable upper bunk. In the affected trucks, the mounting pivot bolt for the upper bunk may not have been tightened properly and may loosen, which could cause the bunk to fall.

Dealers will tighten the mounting pivot bolt, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed April 5. Owners can contact DTNA customer service at 800-547-0712 with recall number FL964. NHTSA’s recall number is 23V-063.

New partnership aims to prove out electrified trucking

Digital brokerage Uber Freight, electric-drive trucking and infrastructure developer WattEV and the CHEP shipper have announced a joint effort to deploy electric trucks on select routes in Southern California. As part of the collaboration, WattEV will provide electric trucking capacity to Uber Freight shippers, starting with CHEP. The companies hope the effort is a milestone in electric freight transportation, the first Uber Freight has been a part of, the company said.

The announcement follows December news from Uber Freight about a new partnership with Volvo's autonomous trucks wing to deploy such vehicles within the Uber Freight network.  

The companies will utilize the program to provide stakeholders insight into the logistical complexities of electrifying freight transportation. “Our business relies on heavy-duty road transport," said Marisa Sanchez Urrea, director of global supply chain decarbonization at CHEP parent company Brambles, which has a goal to "transition our value chain to net-zero emissions by 2040. ... We are proud to partner with our carriers and our customers as we together scale up electrification opportunities and deliver on our shared decarbonization goals.” 

[Related: Trucking like a locomotive in restored 1960s Kenworths: ELD-exempt, diesel-electric innovation]

The partnership builds on WattEV’s mission to develop a nationwide network of heavy-duty charging facilities that will serve fleets of electric trucks. Via the Uber Freight platform, CHEP will be able to book, schedule, and complete loads, track status and load performance indicators, and manage paperwork.

The companies believe widespread adoption of electric trucks will decrease the reliance on non-renewable fuels with volatile prices and reduce maintenance costs. “Electric trucks are finally here, and we’re proud to partner with WattEV to offer Uber Freight shippers even more ways to move freight more sustainably,” said Uber Freight Head of Sustainability Illina Frankiv. “Electric trucks will have a profound impact on logistics, and we’re excited to build the technology platform to enable their seamless integration into supply chains.”

Partnering with an EV carrier and charging network providers like WattEV, and shippers every step of the way, the broker and its freight platform hopes to be the "proven network of choice for shippers and carriers to integrate emerging technologies into their supply chains," the company said.