The Pre-Trip Inspection Dec. 12 – 19

White House Sets Tougher Standards For Truck Emissions

Ailing Glen Moore Sold to Celadon

Even though Glen Moore lost more than $10 million in 2011, Indiana’s Celadon announced the purchase this week, further solidifying the company as a national service leader. This recent acquisition is one of many for Celadon from the past few years, including a successful bid for the entire rolling stock of Frozen Food Express.

Celadon has made no secret of its growth ambitions, as a statement about the merger from CEO Paul Will indicates, “This is an exciting opportunity for Celadon. Glen Moore is recognized as an award-winning truckload service provider with leading edge technologies. Its national, regional and dedicated fleet services augment our existing expertise, adding to our scale and accelerating our growth.”

Steep Cost Increases for 2012 Send Truckers to D.C.

2011 was a banner year for federal and state regulatory measures aimed at the transportation industry. So truckers and carriers are bringing the fight back to lawmakers on their own turf. A massive coalition of transportation leaders have decided to demonstrate their economic might and considerable size by staging a Washington D.C. fly in so they can speak face to face with Congressional leaders and alert the press about the damage over-regulation can do. They’re calling it Stand Up for Trucking.

Brian Everett, executive director of NASSTRAC, said this to clarify the demands of the coalition, “Unfortunately, many issues currently being considered by lawmakers will have a negative impact on trucking productivity and efficiency if passed, possibly increasing transportation and supply chain costs by more than 10% next year alone. Along with significant cost increases, companies across America will suffer from significant decreases in efficient distribution and transportation. The recession, high fuel prices, roadway congestion, and a shortage of qualified drivers all have led to reduced capacity and increased transit times for trucking. That’s why we believe that now, more than ever, there’s a significant need to stand up for trucking.”

Independent and regional carriers are also encouraged to attend. There is no registration fee, but registration is required. For more information and to register, visit www.StandUpForTrucking.org.

Truck Driver Deaths Suddenly Rise in 2010

The DOT revealed that truck-related fatalities in 2010 increased for the first time since 2007 by nearly 10%.

Total truck-involved deaths rose to 3,675, including drivers and passengers. Truck driver fatalities increased 6 percent to 529. More than half involved single-vehicle crashes leading industry analysts to believe that driver exhaustion and distraction may be a higher risk than previously thought. The number of truck drivers killed in multi-vehicle crashes also increased 16 percent. Injuries from truck-related crashes also rose steeply from 2009 by more than 10%. New data also show an estimated 3,092 fatalities in distraction-affected crashes in 2010.

Modest Housing Market Recovery Driving Growth in Trucking Industry

A senior analyst from Transport Fundamentals Research announced that gains and growth in North America’s transportation industry is currently outpacing many other large industrial sectors. Noel Perry said his research indicated truckload growth and industrial production growth are growing more rapidly than gross domestic product (GDP). But to capitalize on the coming growth, carriers need to schedule gradual rate increases.

“So even though the economy is sort of slow from a GDP standpoint, from a transportation perspective, it’s not. This has been a pretty good time for transportation.”  Perry said he expects a moderate growth rate of about two to four percent for the American trucking industry. Couple this with the index of existing homes dropping to levels similar to the boom year 2005, Perry says this will kickstart a new phase of home building and materials shipping.

Challenges for 2012 will include rising fuel surcharges, regulatory hassles and qualified driver shortages, which Perry predicts will arrive late in the year.

New Federal Safety Bill Mandates EOBR’s

A new bill from The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee (known as S1950) was introduced Dec. 8, by Senate Democrates Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-AR, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-WV. Language in the bill dictates that electronic on-board recorders (EOBR) are to be federally mandated along with new standards for driver drug and alcohol testing. OOIDA Vice President Todd Spencer notes that while the bill avoids mandating electronic speed limiters and vehicle weight increases, his organization opposes stricter federal regulation of drug and alcohol testing, which he said would best be left up to private carriers to enforce.

There are a few items of concern that remain in the bill such as mandating EOBRs.  We have fought issues like this for a long time and will continue to do so, Spencer said. However, the bill does not mandate speed limiters, nor does it raise truck weight limits.  For that, we thank the committee for not bowing to special interests. At this time, it is unknown how the government suggests funding for these new regulations. It is currently being debated. The proposed bill is available for inspection here.

Truckload Turnover Rate Increases Dramatically in 2011

For four quarters in a row, increased demand for qualified drivers has spurred a turnover rate for drivers in large fleets to nearly 90%. The ATA’s Chief Economist Bob Costello credits the reviving economy and tightening regulations as key factors. Costello goes on to say, “Freight continues to rise, so we expect the need for quality drivers to become more acute going forward, particularly if regulations either force current drivers out of the industry or force fleets to put more trucks on the road.”

The third-quarter of 2011 sets the benchmark rate at its highest level since the first quarter of 2008 – a healthy 79%. Small fleets are also noticing dramatic jumps to nearly 60%, the highest level since the third quarter of 2008.

Occupy Wallstreet Groups Plan West Coast Port Block

Organizers of westcoastportshutdown.org and occupyoakland.org have announced an attempted economic disruption for ports in San Diego, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Tacoma, and Seattle during the morning of Dec. 12th.  Isaac Kos-Read, a spokesman with the Port of Oakland, said port officials there are in communication with our labor, business and government partners “ including law enforcement “ to prevent any further disruption of maritime operations. However, at time of press, no visible effects have been observed. Authorities say that the situation continues to evolve and that they are prepared to respond to the protest appropriately.

Previous attempts at shipping port blocks have yielded little, if any effect so far. The group has said they will attempt to block gate entrances at terminals used by major retailers. It is not planned to be an extended disruption, but merely action designed to alert more people to the group’s cause. The protests will be an effort to temporarily stop business for the 1 percent of people who primarily benefit from trade at these ports, Kari Koch, a West Coast Port Blockade Team spokesperson stated to the press.

UPDATE: 12/12 3pm CST: The Occupy Wall Street movement have forced the closure of the Oakland and Houston Ports by enacting civil disobedience and lying in the entrance ways, blocking all motor traffic. Read more about this breaking story as reports arrive, here.

Transportation Research Firm on Class 8 Construction

ACT Research, one of the transportation industry’s preeminent consulting firms has announced that despite recent economic upswing and a strong holiday season, shipping carriers continue to keep new class 8 tractors and trailers in strong demand. As of October, manufacturing orders for trailers shot up 31%, and new tractor orders were predicted to be over 250,000 units. The high demand for new tractors began stirring in May of 2011, reaching its peak sometime in October.

“Recently released U.S. economic data have been stronger than anticipated,” said Sam Kahan, ACT’s chief economist Examples include the declines in initial claims for unemployment, climbing consumer confidence, robust holiday sales for both online and brick & mortar businesses, and the better performance of the U.S. equity markets.

FMCSA’s Mexican Pilot Program Consists of Single Driver

The program designed to circumnavigate Mexican shipping tariffs has seen little cross-border action since being signed into law in June of this year. While we tried to point out specific facts surrounding this development, the reality on the ground is that American companies have shown little interest in qualifying their drivers to cross national borders to take part. At press time, no American companies are utilizing the program, and only a single driver from Mexico has begun making trips inside the USA. As of the end of November, there have only been 7 freight deliveries.

Currently, there are 10 Mexican shipping companies hoping to qualify for the special federal permit in addition to the 3 companies that have been approved. No official from the FMCSA or the DOT have issued a statement regarding these developments. Officials from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), said at least 20 trucking companies will need to be approved before officials can consider extending the 18-month program into a permanent arrangement. If the baseline requirements for registered shipping companies are not met, the program can be terminated.