The Pre-Trip Inspection | Jan 9 – 15

Trucking and Transportation News

Texas Extends Reduced Tolls for Truckers

Texas Dept. of Transportation has announced that it is extending a reduced toll rate for all freight trucks for another three weeks.

The department came up with the idea to spur extra commerce during the holidays by making the tolls that freighters pay the same amount as cars ” a savings of more than 67 percent for trucks with four or more axles. They have said these cuts will extend to the last week of January.

A spokeswoman for TxDOT could not say if the rate change will be permanent but said it could be a possibility in the future.

Don Schneider 1935 – 2012

Don Schneider, one of the transportation industry’s brightest leaders, died at the age of 76 from complications from Alzheimer’s Disease today.

In a statement released by Schneider President and CEO Chris Lofgren, Schneider was described as intensely committed and focused. “Don was clearly a man of great intellect and compassion. But it was also how he led with both his heart and his head that allowed him to achieve such distinction.”

Schneider is survived by his wife of 53 years, Pat, five children, 13 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Truckers Reunite Pets With Owners for Operation Roger

Operation Roger is the brainchild of retired Texas trucker Sue Wiese, who came up with the idea in 2005, after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. A pet lover herself, Wiese owns an American bulldog and a dachshund. She named the program in memory of her toy Manchester terrier, who used to accompany her in the cab.

“I heard all the horror stories about pets being left behind,” she recalls, “and I was driving on one of those East Coast roads, listening to all of this, praying, and said, ‘Lord, what can I do? I’m just a truck driver.'”

Operation Roger’s drivers have delivered more than 600 companion animals to homes since 2005, including 87 so far this year. The pets range from dogs, cats and ferrets to chinchillas, rats and hamsters.

If you would like to learn more about Operation Roger and offer your driving services, visit their website here.

Court Battle Over EPA’s Fuel Efficiency Rules Will Begin in California

Although the ATA under CEO Bill Graves supports the new fuel efficiency standards devised by the federal government in 2011, some industry groups and small carriers are going to court over it. They believe such standards are too costly to small carriers and unconstitutional.

The Environmental Protection Agency is ordering large trucks and buses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20 percent and overhaul engine design starting with models built in 2014. The lawsuit from Pacific Legal Foundation claims the EPA failed to properly submit the regulations to a blue ribbon panel called the Science Advisory Board, as is required. The SAB is a group of top scientists who’ve been empowered by federal law to review new regulations that the EPA proposes to issue under the Clean Air Act.

The EPA argues it posted all relevant information on its website, providing access for scientific and peer review. But critics say that’s not good enough, and contend the new greenhouse gas rules are less about clean air, and more about the big trucking fleets pushing smaller operators out of the way. Most operators will need to spend thousands upgrading their rigs or buying new vehicles, with prices starting at $50,000 and going up from there, depending on the model.

Time to Update Your MCA-150 Forms

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is reminding commercial motor carriers they they need to update their Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) and Power Unit (PU) data on their Motor Carrier Registration form, known as the MCS-150.

These numbers are used to calculate Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) percentiles. If the VMT data is 2009 or older, it will not be used in your calculations when the January Safety Measurement System (SMS) snapshot is posted at the beginning of February.

Motor carriers that currently receive a VMT-based adjustment due to high truck utilization (i.e. more VMT per PU than the average) will cease receiving that adjustment if they do not update their MCS-150 form to reflect more recent data (i.e. VMT year of 2010 or 2011).

NAFTA Trade Rates Increase During 2011

The DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported that the value of U.S. surface transportation trade with Canada and Mexico, the United States’ North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, in October rose 28.7% over the past two years and by 65.9% over the past 10 years. All in all, increased trade from 2010 to 2011 totaled nearly $80 billion, according to DOT reports.

Flying J Acquires Bosselman’s Midwest Network

Pilot Flying J announced its completed purchase of seven Bosselman travel centers in the Midwest. The centers are located in Altoona, IA; Colby, KS; Salina, KS; Big Springs, NE; Wood River, NE; Elm Creek, NE; and Rapid City, SD.

The centers opened for business on Jan. 5 under the Pilot name. The plans for purchasing the centers were originally announced in November, and Pilot Flying J made the purchase to achieve a bigger presence in the Midwest.