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The Pre-Trip Report | Feb. 13 – 20

Long Haul Truckers, Local Drivers and Florists Feel Valentine Pressure

It may be the slight upturn in the economy, it may be the slightly milder winter months, or it may be the rush of advertising – one thing’s for certain; people are ordering a lot of flowers this week all over the world. Companies in some parts of North America have doubled their staff and increased working hours in an effort to ensure no bouquet is left undelivered or chocolate box on the shelf.

After over the road truckers get the bulk of the materials, snacks and stuffed animals to the retail outlets, local drivers are punching the clock for longer shifts. Dunedin Courier Company co-owner David Lang expected to start his working day about 5am and not finish before 6.30pm. Nor did he expect a break, with upwards of 300 deliveries.

“It’s just flat tack all day, you don’t get a chance to stop. But it’s one of the best times to work.”

ATA Announces Lawsuit Against FMCSA Over HOS Rule Revision

American Trucking Associations is filing suit with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia to overturn the new hours of service rule. ATA said the agency overstated the safety benefits of the new rule, and that the costs outweigh the claimed benefits. The Teamsters union led by James Hoffa have yet to say if they will renew their own legal action against the new rule, although it is expected.

“We regret that FMCSA and the Obama administration have put ATA and its member companies in a position to take this legal action,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said in a statement. “The rules that have been in place since 2004 have contributed to unprecedented improvement in highway safety. The law is clear about what steps FMCSA must undertake to change the rules and we cannot allow this rulemaking, which was fueled by changed assumptions and analyses that do not meet the required legal standards, to remain unchallenged.”

New Headquarters Chosen for LinkAmerica

LinkAmerica annouced they will relocate their senior staff and their primary training center from Tulsa, Okla, to Fort Worth, Texas. The company already has a large terminal located in the Fort Worth area. The second location was chosen because of easy access to major interstate highways and the transportation infrastructure offered by the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

“Dallas is one of the largest logistics hubs in the nation and LinkAmerica must have a presence in this market in order to enhance our position in the industry,” said CEO John Simone in a statement. Simone was previously president and COO of Greatwide Logistics Services in Dallas; he joined LinkAmerica in August.

LinkAmerica operates primarily in the south-central and southeastern U.S. It announced last month a major upgrade of its fleet, replacing 575 pieces of equipment, 20% of its fleet, both tractors and trailers.

Ryder Systems Promotes Two From Within

Ryder System Inc. announced the promotions of Robert E. Sanchez to the position of president and chief operating officer and Dennis C. Cooke to president of global fleet management solutions.

Sanchez will continue to report to Ryder chairman and CEO Gregory Swienton, and will be responsible for the general management of all business operations of Ryder’s two business segments, fleet management solutions and supply chain solutions.

Sanchez served most recently as president of global fleet management solutions, Ryder’s largest business segment, and has been a member of the company’s executive leadership team since 2003.

ATA Officially Withdraws Lobbying for Truck Weight Increase Measures

Transportation industry groups and professional truckers have spoken loudly about their concern for safety. It seems their opposition has finally been heard. The American Trucking Associations announced today that they will no longer push to increase truck sizes and weights on interstate highways. The measure was initially attached to the 2012 Surface Transportation Bill, which was ready to pass final committee inspection before arriving on the floor of Congress next week.

During a recent hearing on the House’s five year, $260 billion surface transportation authorization bill known as HR7, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved an amendment to kill off a provision that would have increased truck weights to 97,000 pounds and allowed states to make decisions regarding longer combination vehicles including double and triple trailers.

Workers Rights Group Descend on Shipping Port, Experience Some Gains

Monday Feb. 13th saw an estimated crowd of around 200 people rallying by the fishing bridge north of the West Seattle low bridge.”  Police were there to monitor in case of traffic road effects, but none were reported. The rally was a show of support for independent port truckers who are off the job in protest of safety conditions and low wages. Their goal is to bring pressure for higher pay, better vehicles, and collective bargaining rights in the coastal port-trucking business.

According to truckers there, and Teamsters-affiliated union activists supporting them, Edgmon and another firm delayed January checks in retaliation for the slowdown. But office staffers handed the checks out Tuesday at the rally. Adrienne Calderon, dispatch manager, said the checks were ready Friday but one trucker asked to collect those on behalf of the group, and she declined.

Port Commissioner Rob Holland, who backs improved working conditions for West Coast truckers, showed up at the protest. In an interview, he said some customers are getting their containers late because the trucker walkout has slowed dock operations.

Obama Begins Selling His 2013 Transportation Bill During College Tour

The Obama administration has begun an extended speaking tour touting the new budget for federal transportation infrastructure. Analysts have noted that the bill pushes 34% more into the budget than the previous year. The new budget for the fiscal 2013 includes a $476 billion surface transportation re-authorization bill to invest in highway, bridge and mass transit projects through 2018.

President Obama also calls for $50 billion in immediate funding for 2012 to invest in critical areas of transportation to provide an economic boost. Fortunately for long haul truckers, the majority of the new budget seems to specifically go into rebuilding U.S. roads and bridges and modernizing America’s highway system while creating jobs. Other areas of budget expanse are to go toward upgrading and expanding many mass transit systems in larger urban centers.

OOIDA Pushes for Speed Unification in Idaho

The Owner-Operator  Independent Drivers Assn. are organizing industry groups and lobbyists to convince Idaho lawmakers to support state senate bill S1229. The bill will authorize trucks to travel 75 mph on Interstate highways, the same as 4 wheel commuters.  Currently, trucks are limited to 65 mph.

Discussion on the bill to do away with split speed limits on  Idaho Interstates, originally schedule for last week, has been moved to tomorrow  at 1:30 p.m. at the state capitol. On Feb. 2, a committee voted 5-4 to hold the bill from further discussion. There is still a chance that it will move forward, but the OOIDA says that all trucking and transportation industry workers who drive through Idaho for a living need to contact their state representatives and convince them to pass it. The majority of Senate Transportation Committee members said  at the time they were not convinced the change is necessary.