Industry New Briefs, Courtesy of PMTA
Clean Energy, GE Capital craft finance plan to cut natural gas truck cost
Clean Energy Fuels Corp. has a deal with GE Capital that will help make natural gas trucks more affordable. GE Capital will finance leases and purchases of any new Class 8 truck that runs on CNG or LNG for a creditworthy for-hire or private trucking fleet. Clean Energy will subsidize the lease or purchase payments so they are equivalent to those for the same truck with a diesel engine. In return, the truck operator must agree to buy at least 75% of its natural gas fuel from Clean Energy during the course of the lease. The program applies to all six manufacturers of heavy-duty natural-gas trucks—Freightliner, Kenworth, Mack, Navistar, Peterbilt and Volvo.
Cargo theft numbers increase
FreightWatch International, who produces a monthly report on reported cargo thefts, said the number of cargo theft incidents in the third quarter of this year rose 15% over the second quarter. The average value per stolen load dropped 5%. A total of 231 thefts were reported in the three-month period. The average loss value per incident was $154,866. FreightWatch's data shows food and drink loads remained the hottest targets, making up 21% of the quarter's total. Meats, dry and canned goods and water were the most targeted food and drink loads. Loads of electronics accounted for 13$. Thieves primarily went after loads of television and computer components. Home and garden loads accounted for 11 % of the total. Appliances and cleaning products were the hot targets there. Rounding out the top 5 are loads of metals (9%) and the miscellaneous category (8%).
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President signs sleep apnea bill
President Obama signed legislation that requires FMCSA to conduct a full rulemaking if it decides to address the testing and treatment of truck drivers for sleep apnea. The trucking industry considers this a victory. Testing and treatment could cost trucking $1 billion a year. The rulemaking process would allow carriers to provide input on a rule.
FMCSA exempts shorthaul drivers from rest-break requirement
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration formally amended its 2011 hours-of-service rule to exempt shorthaul drivers from taking a 30-minute rest break after eight hours of driving. FMCSA said the exemption pertains to all drivers, whether they hold a CDL or not, who operate within 100 miles of their duty location and all drivers who operate within 150 miles of their normal work reporting location and drive trucks that do not require CDLs.
FMCSA tweaks CSA public website
Officials are making changes to the public website of the CSA program to make it clearer what carriers' scores mean. FMCSA said it is focusing on how the existing SMS information is displayed to the public. It wants to make it clearer that SMS scores are on a percentile system, which ranks companies based on regulatory violations and compliance reviews relative to similar carriers. The agency's research about a system to incorporate crash accountability is still under review. A preview of the changes to the SMS website will be available in early November, and FMCSA said crash accountability research will be released to the public this year.
HOS back on top of ATRI survey
Hours of service returned to the top of the list of critical issues facing the trucking industry. According to a survey conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute, changes to the federal hours-of-service rule reached the top of the list for the first time since 2007 after placing as the number two concern for the past two years. HOS topped CSA, which slipped one spot on the list. Rounding out the top five concerns were as follows: the driver shortage, the economy, and the pending electronic logging mandate. To read the entire survey report, go to www.atri-online.org.
Phil Byrd new ATA chairman
Phillip Byrd Sr., CEO of Bulldog Hiway Express in North Charleston, S.C., is the 69th chairman of the American Trucking Associations. Bulldog is a truckload carrier offering intermodal, flatbed, dedicated contract carriage, heavy-haul and brokerage services. Byrd has been with Bulldog for 30 years. He said his focus as ATA chairman will be on the driver shortage, port operations and security, highway funding, CSA and safety, trucking's economic essentiality, driver HOS and technology.
Florida passes texting while driving law
Florida legislators passed a law making it illegal to test and drive. The prohibition on texting while driving comes after several years of trying by legislators. It is a secondary offense to read or send a text, email or instant message on a smart phone while driving. The ban covers tablet computers as well as mobile phone but excludes using a talk-to-text feature. It allows texting while stopped at a red light. Florida is now the 40th state with a texting while driving ban.
FMCSA unveils CSA website preview
A preview of the enhanced CSA public website is now live. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking comments on the website redesign of the CSA safety management system that is the direct result of feedback about how the information is displayed. FMCSA is not proposing changes to the SMS methodology at this time. FMCSA said it wants to make it clearer that SMS scores are based on a percentile system that ranks companies based on regulatory violations and compliance reviews relative to similar carriers. The website is http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/.
Bills would allow hair testing alone for driver drug tests
Legislation introduced in the House and Senate would allow trucking companies to use hair samples to conduct the required pre-employment drug tests on driver applicants. The bill would permit the hair testing to be used in place of urine testing, currently the only acceptable method for the pre-employment drug tests. Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), who introduced the bill in the House, said it establishes hair-testing guidelines that will help trucking companies identify drug-abusing drivers. The bill would allow trucking companies to submit positive hair test results to the national drug-and-alcohol database to ensure that we keep drug offenders out from behind the wheel of commercial trucks and off our nation's roads. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) introduce the bill in the Senate. Both the Senate and House have referred the bills to committees.
Bill seeks to suspend HOS restart changes
Three Congressmen introduced a bill to delay the latest changes to the 34-hour restart provision of the hours-of-service rule until a study of the changes is completed. The bill would suspend the 34-hour restart provision until six months after the Government Accountability Office completes an independent assessment of the methodology FMCSA used to come up with the new restart rule. Reps. Richard Hanna (R– N.Y.), Tom Rice (R-S.C.) and Mike Michaud (D-Maine) introduced the bill. Hanna said concerns are that the restart rule causes more congestion during peak morning travel and could push drivers to be more aggressive during the hours they do spend on the road. The rule could also cost businesses and consumers billions of dollars, and it could decrease safety on the roads, he said.
ATA refutes misleading "study”
American Trucking Associations leaders called on U.S. media outlets to stop their inaccurate and sensationalized reporting on a so-called ‘study' claiming that a number of commercial truck drivers use drugs or alcohol while behind the wheel.
The ‘study' which has been cited by several news outlets, was conducted by the Universidade Estadual de Londrina in Brazil. Its findings were based on self-reporting and limited biological testing of drivers from Latin America, Australia and (allegedly) the United States. The results stand in stark contrast to the ongoing data collected by U.S. authorities based on biological testing of professional truck drivers in the U.S.
"We know from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that in the most recent year available – 2011 – the drug use violation rate for professional truck drivers was 0.9%, in other words, less than 1%. Similarly, the alcohol violation rate for U.S. truck drivers was .19% (less than one-fifth of one percent) in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. In fact, in 2011 only 1% of large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 or higher, compared with 24% of car drivers and 29% of motorcyclists.
For more information on PMTA (Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association), go to www.pmta.org