The Pre-Trip Inspection Dec. 19 – 26

Trucking and Transportation News

Increased Tolls May Fund Washington Transportation Bill

Although voters will most likely have final say about what methods are best for raising revenue for highways and transportation systems in Washington state, right now lawmakers are proposing some options that make transportation industry leaders wary. Options that are expected are an additional tax hike of anywhere from 15 to 20 cents per gallon to Washington’s 37.5-cent fuel tax rate. It is estimated that such a hike would raise between $3.3 billion and $4.7 billion by 2022. Increased fees for gross vehicle weight have also been proposed, putting fleet carriers and owner/operators at a disadvantage.

Kane In, Copeland Out at Goodyear

Phillip Kane succeeds Joe Copeland as vice president of Goodyear’s North American Tire commercial tire business. Copeland recently announced he will be leaving the company. Kane joined Goodyear in 2004 as the company’s strategic initiatives director, then moving on to acting president of Wingfoot Commercial Tire Systems for motorist assist. He was promoted to senior director, channel sales in December 2008 before moving to his most recent role leading the Wingfoot operation.

Hours of Service Rule Could be Published Before Christmas

One of the most contentious provisions is the idea of limiting daily driving time to 10 hours. The agency said in its proposal that it was leaning in that direction, and in the public discussions and commentary over the past year there has been no indication from the agency that it has backed off the idea.

American Trucking Associations has indicated that it will challenge a rule that contains this provision, while safety advocates have indicated that for them the 10-hour limit is not negotiable. Both parties are pitching the bill as a cost vs. safety debate, and neither wants to give any ground.

“The rule appears to be a solution in search of a problem,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs. “It appears the current rules are working and strike a fair balance.”

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, the ranking minority member of the panel, said that the hearing was framed as an issue of cost to the consumer but it is more appropriate to focus on safety. “The evidence suggests that fatigue is a major factor in crashes,” he said.

Kevin Flaherty Named President of Mack, N. American Sales & Marketing

Flaherty will be responsible for all of the company’s North American commercial activities. He has been with the company for 38 years, and has served since 2001 as senior vice president for the U.S. and Canada. He will continue to be based at the company’s headquarters in Greensboro, NC.

Flaherty will continue to report to Dennis Slagle, who as part of a recently announced reorganization has been promoted to Volvo Group Executive Vice President for Trucks Sales & Marketing Americas. The promotion is effective January 1, 2012

Cell Ban Begins in 2012 With Concessions to Drivers

On January 3rd, the new federally mandated hand-held cell phone ban for commercial drivers takes effect. The result of a years-long lobbying effort from citizen and federal safety groups, the bill (known as 75 FR 80014) quickly gained momentum with lawmakers and was put into action by Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in November of this year.

Some transportation industry groups like the OOIDA have taken issue with some of the language of the bill, citing vague language regarding important truck driver tools such as software and hardware GPS units. The FMCSA acknowledges the discrepancy and has said certain devices and functions to be used while driving such as fleet-management systems, dispatching devices, CBs and music players will be allowed.

Lawsuit Over Fuel Tampering Begins in Kansas City

A judge has given the go-ahead to begin the court hearing over “Hot Fuel” and how much it has cost the transportation industry since it began. The OOIDA first called attention to this practice. Hot Fuel, the act of heating up diesel so it expands into a truck’s fuel tank which tricks electronic gauges into giving improper readings, may have already cost fleet and independent carriers thousands of dollars. The industry group says that temperature compensation gauges should be mandated for all fuel pumps. The hearing begins this spring.

State Toll Hikes Challenged by ATA and Senators

Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Michael Grimm introduced a bill giving the U.S. Department of Transportation the power to review and determine whether toll hikes proposed by cities and states are reasonable, and more importantly to make the accounting public and available for inspection. Driving the bill, known as the Grimm/Lautenburg Commuter Protection Act were recent toll hikes in New York and New Jersey that nearly doubled the previous rates.

“When it costs $12 to drive your car across a bridge in America, something is wrong. While the Port Authority and the two states are struggling to explain why these dramatic hikes were imposed, commuters are suffering,” Sen. Launtenberg said.  “Given these out of control toll hikes and the cloud of misinformation surrounding them, these federal protections for commuters need to be restored.” Read more about Grimm/Lautenberg Commuter Protection Act here.