Industry Insights

Trump orders agencies to freeze new regulations, ELD mandate likely shielded

January 25, 2017

President Trump issued Friday an order to executive agencies directing them to freeze all new regulations pending further review by Trump and his team. It’s unclear, however, whether this rule will affect any coming trucking regulations, especially since the administration’s memo, circulated by Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, allows for regulations related to “health, safety, financial or national security matters” to continue.

A spokesperson for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said the impact of Priebus’ memo on pending regulations by the agency is “being assessed.”

The agency’s most recent report on coming regulations, issued in December, showed no new regulations on its calendar, following a dash at the end of former President Obama’s presidency to publish new rules.

Lane Kidd, director for the Trucking Alliance, said such memos are standard procedures for new presidential administrations. Kidd says barring further action, the rule to mandate electronic logging devices does not fall under the order, as it’s already law and is backed by a Congressional mandate. Also safe are the recently published rules to establish a CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and a rule to set national driver training standards, says Kidd.


Industry Insights

221 cargo theft incidents reported in first quarter

May 23, 2016

The number of cargo thefts in the United States in 2016’s first quarter was up 8 percent, but the average value of the thefts was down 56 percent when compared to the first quarter in 2015, according to FreightWatch International’s quarterly report, released this week.

FreightWatch recorded a total of 221 thefts in the quarter with an average loss value per theft of $112,467. No thefts with a value over $1 million were reported in the quarter, FWI reports.

Of the 221 incidents recorded, 66 occurred in January, 90 in February and 65 in March.

Food and drinks continued to be the most stolen product type in the quarter, accounting for 20 percent of total thefts in the U.S. Home and garden ranked as the second most stolen product type at 14 percent of the total.

FWI saw “a dramatic increase” in the theft of building and industrial products, 263 percent, over the first quarter in 2015, and FWI noted a correlation between geographical surges in stolen building supplies in states where the housing market is growing, most notably Texas.

In 2016’s first quarter, California tallied the most thefts with 21 percent of all recorded thefts, which represented a 42 percent increase over 2015’s first quarter. Texas ranked second with 15 percent of all thefts, followed by Florida with 14 percent. Alabama saw the biggest increase year over year in thefts, seeing a 600 percent increase – 43 percent of which were building and industrial products.

Unsecured parking continues to be the No. 1 location for thefts, accounting for 89 percent, FWI reports. Theft of full truckload also continues to be most prevalent, making up 83 percent of thefts.

CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Carrier wins Colorado case brought by drivers wanting overtime pay, breaks

May 2, 2016

Colorado intrastate truckers who transport out-of-state shipments destined instate are exempted from federal and state wage law, according to a federal appellate court.

On April 21, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district’s court award of summary judgement to the Iowa-based Decker Truck Lines (No. 135 in the CCJ Top 250). This is an order issued when case facts are not in dispute and a ruling can be issued without a trial. The courts considered previous rulings regarding the Motor Carrier Act exemption of the Federal Labor Standards Act.

The for-hire reefer and dry van carrier contracted with a beer company to pick up and deliver at two facilities, located 5 miles apart in Fort Collins. Decker drivers took outbound shipments from the brewery to a warehouse, then backhauled empty kegs, pallets and hops from there to the brewery. Most of the company’s sales are to out-of-state distributors, who receive a payment for each keg and pallet returned.

The drivers say they should have received overtime pay and breaks for the repeating schedule they worked. They drove four 12 hour-and-15-minute days one week, followed by a three-day week with the same schedule.

Last year, a U.S. district court granted Decker’s motion for summary judgment after it agreed the drivers qualified for the MCA exemption. This act exempts overtime pay requirements when the federal Secretary of Transportation has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service.

The judges also considered the kegs, pallets and hops out of state distributors returned that the drivers backhauled from the warehouse to the brewery. Temporary warehouse storage does not alter the fact that these goods were returned across state lines and ultimately destined for brewery, they stated.

The court also disagreed with the drivers’ contention that they would be classified as equipment operators under the Colorado Minimum Wage Order. It affirmed Decker’s argument they are interstate drivers, which exempts them from this order.

CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Truck-related fatalities down, but injury crashes on the rise

May 2, 2016

Earlier this month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Analysis Division released its annual “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts” study examining truck- and bus-related crash statistics for 2014.

The first thing that caught my eye in the 120-page report was the decrease in large trucks involved in fatal crashes. Citing information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, FMCSA said 3,744 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes in 2014, a 5 percent drop from 2013. Even better, the fatality rate in truck-related crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by large trucks declined by 6 percent, from 0.143 to 0.134.

A look at the combination truck crash statistics – which provides a better representation of the Class 8 market – showed similar improvements. Combination trucks (defined as a truck tractor pulling any number of trailers and bobtails) involved in fatal crashes fell from 2,813 in 2013 to 2,717 in 2014. The rate fell from 1.67 to 1.60 on a 100 million VMT basis. There also was a slight decline in the overall fatality numbers, from 2,896 to 2,839.

The 2014 declines in fatality crashes follow a four-year period where such crashes steadily increased by 20 percent. Reversing that trend certainly is worth talking about.

“It is a tragedy whenever there is a fatality on our highways, but the trucking industry is pleased to see that it is a tragedy that fewer and fewer Americans are experiencing,” said Bill Graves, ATA president and CEO. “While the one-year decline being reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is positive, the long-term trend is of paramount importance, and that trend is impressive. The number of crashes involving large trucks has fallen 39 percent since 2004, and while there is much more to do, that is a figure our professional drivers, our safety directors, our technicians and our safety partners in federal and state law enforcement can be proud of.”

But before the industry celebrates too much, the report shows – and as Graves said in his statement – there is much more to do to improve safety. According to FMCSA’s report, large trucks involved in injury crashes rose sharply in 2014, from 73,000 to 88,000. Persons injured in large truck crashes per 100 million VMT rose from 34.6 to 39.8, the highest number since 2006.

The combination truck injury crash numbers aren’t any better: 45,000 combination trucks were involved in injury crashes in 2014, compared to 38,000 in 2013. On a 100 million VMT basis, the rate rose from 22.6 to 26.4.

Large trucks and combination trucks were not alone in the increase. Passenger vehicles involved in injury crashes also rose, from 2.74 million to 2.82 million, as did passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes, from 34,886 to 34,984. Of all vehicle types included in the report, only buses showed a reduction in injury statistics, and it was dramatic: Buses involved in injury crashes fell from 18,000 to 11,000 and from 118.0 to 69.7 on a 100 million VMT basis.

It’s important to note that FMCSA’s report doesn’t measure crash accountability for any of the vehicle groups, and some industry estimates say as much as 80 percent of all truck-involved crashes are not the fault of the truck driver. But there’s no argument that the year-over-year truck-related injury crash statistics aren’t flattering.

However, if you take a step back and look at the data from a historical perspective, it shows a 33 percent decrease in combination trucks involved in injury crashes going back to 1994. The reduction in fatality crash data is even more impressive. Fatalities in combination truck crashes fell from a high of 5,148 in 1979 (before deregulation) to 2,839. And those numbers are something for which we all can be proud.

CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Driver turnover at large fleets surges above 100%

April 29, 2016

Latest figures on driver turnover: The turnover rate at large truckload fleets continued to rise in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to quarterly data released April 25 by the American Trucking Association, who pegged the annualized turnover rate for large truckload fleets at 102 percent in the quarter.

2015’s fourth quarter was the second straight in which turnover at large fleets was at 100-plus, the first time since 2012.

Turnover rate at small truckload carriers also rose, climbing 21 points from the third quarter to 89 percent. ATA sets the cutoff for small and large carriers at $30 million in annual revenue.

Despite the surge in turnover at small truckload fleets, the segment’s turnover rate was still six points lower than the same quarter in 2014, per ATA’s data.

“The rising turnover rate, coupled with anecdotal reports from carriers, shows what a premium there is on experienced, safe drivers,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “And those drivers have and will continue to benefit from rising wages and benefits.”

The turnover rate at less-than-truckload carriers rose one point to 11% in the final quarter, and averaged 11% for all of 2015.

CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Fuel prices rise for second week in a row, remain below $2

March 3, 2016

For the second week in a row, fuel prices climbed slightly, according to the Department of Energy’s weekly report, with prices increasing by six-tenths of a cent during the week ending Feb. 29.  The average price of a gallon of on-highway diesel now stands at $1.989, remaining below $2 a gallon for the third consecutive week.  Prices increased in all regions except New England and the Central Atlantic, where prices dropped by six-tenths of a cent and 1.3 cents, respectively.  The most significant increase came in the Rocky Mountain region, where prices increased by 2 cents.

The nation’s most expensive diesel can be found in California at $2.302 per gallon, followed by the Central Atlantic division at $2.171 per gallon.

The cheapest fuel is in the Gulf Coast region at $1.874 per gallon, followed by the Rocky Mountain region at $1.881 per gallon.

Prices in other regions are as follows:

  • New England – $2.154
  • Lower Atlantic – $1.945
  • Midwest – $1.937
  • West Coast less California – $2.054

ProMiles’ numbers have the average price of a gallon of on-highway diesel at $1.941 per gallon nationwide, matching the DOE’s increase of six-tenths of a cent during the week.

According to ProMiles’ Fuel Surcharge Index, the most expensive diesel can be found in California at $2.246 per gallon, and the cheapest can be found in the Rocky Mountain region at $1.854 per gallon.


CCJ Digital



Industry Insights

Driver coercion rule published, takes effect in January; fines carriers up to $16k for coercion instances

November 30, 2015

The U.S. Department of Transportation published Nov. 30 a Final Rule that sets up new fines for carriers, brokers, shippers and others for pressuring truck drivers to operate outside of federal safety regulations. Such coercive acts generally come in the form of threatening truck drivers with fewer miles, fewer loads or other economic harm.  The rule goes into effect Jan. 30, 60 days from its publication date in the Federal Register. It enacts fines of up to $16,000 for any carrier, broker, shipper, receiver or anyone else in the supply chain who attempts to force drivers to operate their vehicles when it would violate federal rules to do so, such as when a driver is out of hours.

The rule defines coercion as: “A threat by a motor carrier, shipper, receiver or transportation intermediary, or their respective agents…to withhold business, employment or work opportunities from or to take or permit any adverse employment action against a driver in order to induce” the trucker to drive “under conditions which the driver stated would require him or her to violate one more more of” FMCSA regulations. The agency made a slight change to the definition after the public comment process was complete, following concerns about the wording from broker and carrier groups. The $16,000 penalty is also $5,000 higher than the $11,000 proposed last year by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in the proposed version of the rule. The agency cited inflation and concerns of commenters as its reason.

The rule also establishes protocol for drivers to report instances of coercion to FMCSA for a follow-up investigation and minimum criteria for FMCSA to investigate such claims. Drivers must file their complaints with the agency within 90 days of the occurrence of any alleged coercion acts and must provide FMCSA with any evidence they may have, such as messages or recorded phone conversations. The rule is at least in part related to the agency’s coming electronic logging device mandate, though it stands alone in its own right and was required by Congress in its 2012-passed MAP-21 highway bill.

CCJ will have more coverage the rule and what it means for carriers this week.

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Industry Insights

FMCSA director gives preview of safety fitness rule

March 7, 2015

A spokesperson for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration gave some insights into what motor carriers can expect from the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rule, which the agency expects to publish in June.

Joe DeLorenzo, FMCSA director, Office of Enforcement and Compliance, spoke at the Omnitracs Outlook user conference, Feb. 8-10 in Dallas. Compliance, safety, and accountability is a three-part program. The Safety Measurement System (SMS) and CSA intervention process comprise the first two parts; the SFD rule is the third, he said. SMS is a computerized process that identifies unsafe carriers by mapping violation data from 3.5 million roadside inspections that take place every year to seven assessment categories, called BASICs, and by using Peer Group rankings. (more…)

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Industry Insights

Volvo adds long-haul VAH auto-hauler

March 7, 2015

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Volvo has added a VAH 630 premium sleeper tractor designed for long-haul transport to its auto-hauler line.

The new offering rounds out a line of auto-haulers that already include a VAH day cab and small sleeper model.

“We are pleased that we now have a solution specifically tailored to the long-haul segment of this highly specialized market,” said Göran Nyberg, president, Volvo Trucks North American Sales & Marketing. “As with other VAH models, the Volvo VAH 630 is designed to maximize payload capacity while still delivering the efficiency, driver productivity and uptime benefits that all customers expect from Volvo Trucks.”

The newest offering is available now for order. It features a 61-inch sleeper, offering a full-sized bunk, ample storage cabinet capacity and space.

It can be spec’ed with Volvo’s D11 or D13 engine with 355-500 hp and 1,250-1,750 lb.-ft. of torque.

A low ride height allows for optimal loading flexibility in auto-hauler applications, Volvo says. A vehicle as large as a minivan can be positioned over the trucks’ cab to maximize payload. The truck also boasts a clean top-of-frame behind the VAH cab to allow for easier body-mounting and trailer hook-up.



Volvo adds long-haul VAH auto-hauler

Claim Spotlight

Parking Wisely

October 28, 2014

Parking Wisely

Davie was nearing the end of his fourteen hours on the road. He was hungry and exhausted. Every other driver must have felt the same way because the truck stop parking lot was almost completely full. There was another rest area a few miles up that usually had a lot of spaces available, but they didn’t have a restaurant on premises. He managed to squeeze between two semis halfway down one of the aisles. His car carrier, fully loaded with new vehicles, stuck out several feet beyond the trucks next to his, and the SUV on the headrack several feet beyond that. However, Davie saw the parking lot was well-lit and there was little risk of a passing truck hitting the cargo. He knew that he should just grab something to eat and drive up the road, but when he finished supper, all Davie wanted was to close his eyes. It was midnight and he was fast asleep in seconds.

Three hours later, a huge jolt shook his sleeper. Davie jumped out of the tractor just in time to see the white semi that had been parked across the aisle from him drive to the exit and leave. He looked up and saw the SUV on the headrack was dented, scraped, and the rear windows were shattered. The semi that had backed into the SUV was now long gone and there was no hope of identifying the tractor trailer or its driver. Davie knew that the cargo repair bill was coming right out of his paycheck and he was about to have a tight month.

Lessons Learned:

The average length of an auto transporter is 75 feet (plus front and back overhang), whereas the average length of a typical tractor trailer combination is approximately 69 feet. This presents a hazard unique to auto transporters, as other tractor trailer drivers may not think about the additional length of your car carrier when maneuvering through parking lots. When you pull into a parking lot, keep the following guidelines in mind:
• Select parking spaces on the perimeter of the lot when available
• Do not park in spaces that have another parking space across the aisle or that back up to another spot
• Consider moving spaces if the tractor trailer next to you is damaged, as that driver may be careless
• If it is dark, park near a streetlight and make sure any overhanging cargo is clearly visible
• When possible, leave several empty spaces between you and the vehicles around you

Remembering this advice will help you prevent avoidable and expensive cargo and physical damage claims.

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