New sentencing in ongoing emissions 'delete' case | 'Frost law' weight restrictions hit in this state

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, Feb. 2, 2024:

Diesel Freak employee sentenced in ongoing emissions ‘delete’ case

Dustin Rhine, who was an employee of the Diesel Freak truck shop, has been sentenced to 12 months probation, a $2,000 fine and a $100 special assessment for his role in a scheme to disable emissions control systems on trucks, according to the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General.

Rhine had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act. In April 2023, Rhine was charged along with 10 other individuals and 3 companies for their involvement in a scheme to disable the emissions controls on hundreds of trucks. Tampering with or removing emissions controls can drastically increase the emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and non-methane hydrocarbons found in vehicle exhaust, OIG said.

In September and October 2023, seven individuals and two companies were sentenced for the scheme. 

[Related: 11 people, three companies charged for ‘deleting’ emissions systems]

Michigan’s annual ‘frost law’ weight restrictions now in effect

Michigan spring weight restrictions Feb. 2, 2024The Michigan DOT has imposed and is enforcing weight restrictions on all state trunkline highways in the entire state.MDOT

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and local agencies are enacting spring weight restrictions, commonly referred to as “frost laws,” an annual move to protect roads.

Effective 6 a.m. Friday, Feb. 2, weight restrictions have been imposed and enforced on all state trunkline highways in the entire state. All state trunklines will have weight restrictions imposed and enforced. State routes typically carry M, I, or US designations.

When roads that have been frozen all winter begin to thaw from the surface downward, melting snow and ice saturate the softened ground. During the spring thaw, the roadbed softened by trapped moisture beneath the pavement makes it more susceptible to damage. This contributes to pothole problems already occurring due to this winter's numerous freeze-thaw cycles.

In the restricted areas, the following will apply:

On routes designated as "all-season" (designated in green and gold on the MDOT Truck Operators Map), there will be no reduction in legal axle weights.

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All extended permits will be valid for oversize loads in the weight-restricted area on the restricted routes. Single-trip permits will not be issued for any overweight loads or loads exceeding 14 feet in width, 11 axles, and 150 feet in overall length on the restricted routes.

On routes designated as "seasonal" (designated in solid or dashed red on the MDOT Truck Operators Map), there will be a posted weight reduction of 25% for rigid (concrete) pavements and 35% for flexible (asphalt) pavements, and maximum speed of 35 mph for some vehicles.

Drivers must follow the speed limits for weight restricted roads, per state law.

County road commissions and city public works departments put in place their own seasonal weight restrictions, which usually, but not always, coincide with state highway weight restrictions. Signs are generally posted to indicate which routes have weight restrictions in effect.

[Related: How to navigate 'frost laws' in northern states]

Ryder acquires North Carolina-based Cardinal Logistics

Ryder System on Thursday acquired Concord, North Carolina-based Cardinal Logistics, a provider of dedicated fleet services, including last-mile delivery and contract logistics services, as well as a complementary freight brokerage service.

Cardinal primarily serves the consumer packaged goods, omnichannel, grocery, building products, automotive and industrial verticals. 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

The Cardinal acquisition accelerates growth in Ryder's dedicated business. Ryder said it will fully integrate Cardinal operations, facilities and equipment into its dedicated transportation, fleet management and supply chain businesses. 

Cardinal co-founders Tom Hostetler and Vin McLoughlin, who each spent the first eight years of their careers at Ryder in the 1980s and early 1990s, will join Ryder as part of the transition.  

“We’ve come full circle, back to where we started,” said Hostetler, who serves as Cardinal CEO. 

Ryder last October acquired Impact Fulfillment Services (IFS), a provider of contract packaging, contract manufacturing and warehousing for some of the largest consumer brands in the U.S. As part of the transaction, Ryder acquired 15 operations across Florida, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and California. 

[Related: ELS sells flatbed division to PS Logistics]

Trucker recognized for helping human trafficking victim

Ronald Harvey, a truck driver from Hardington, Ohio, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association for helping a woman who was a victim of human trafficking. Harvey drives for America’s Service Line out of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Ronald HarveyRonald HarveyOn Sept. 7, 2023, around 10:30 a.m., Harvey was at a truck stop store in Kenly, North Carolina, where he saw a woman who was crying and seemed upset. 

 “While she was in there getting a soda, I asked her, ‘Are you OK?’” Harvey said. “She said ‘no.’” 

Harvey noticed she was quite disheveled and asked her for the last time she ate anything. It'd been three days, she said. Harvey bought her a meal at the truck stop, and he learned she was a victim of human trafficking and had been kicked out of a truck at the truck stop. She had no money and no phone, and was visibly shaken.  

He contacted his dispatch, then a nonprofit organization who gave the woman information about how to obtain help. He also allowed her to make phone calls to her family to let them know she was safe. He came to understand she may have addiction issues as well. 

“I used to be a drug and alcohol counselor for the Marine Corps, so I kinda know what to ask and how to ask,” Harvey said. “I kept telling her, ‘I’m not going to leave you here. You’re gonna get to a safe place.’” 

 In the end, he bought her a phone and a bus ticket to go home to her family, where he hopes she is receiving the care and help she needs. 

 “It’s kinda in my repertoire -- it’s the right thing to do,” Harvey said.