Here’s how to avoid trouble during this week’s CVSA enforcement blitz


Starting tomorrow — Sunday, Oct. 15 — police agencies across North America are going to be even more vigilant than usual about enforcing the rules of the road.

Don't Text and DriveThe Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance‘s annual Operation Safe Driver Week is Sunday through Saturday, Oct. 21. During that time police say they want to “help improve the behavior of all drivers operating in an unsafe manner – either in or around” a commercial motor vehicle.

As safe a driver as you are, it never hurts to have a reminder of how how to avoid being among the truckers ticketed during the enforcement blitz. Last year, 11,182 commercial drivers got warnings (6,078) or citations (5,104), according to the CVSA.

Based on what the CVSA effort is focused on, doing these things could improve your chances of not becoming one of those statistics for this year:

  1. Ease up on the accelerator. Almost 20 percent of the citations written last year were for speeding. (Still, that compares to almost 40 percent for passenger vehicles.) We know, every trip is a game of “Beat The Clock,” but, you know the radar guns will be out in force.
  2. Put down the phone. Yes, yes, yes. You’re already required to be hands free on the phone, but we all know plenty of drivers who are still texting or taking photos to post on Facebook. States are cracking down on phone use and other forms of distracted driving. While you have to stay in touch with home or with dispatch, just do it safely; when you’re stopped if possible.
  3. Buckle up. By now, this ought to be a no-brainer, but still we read accident stories of drivers being killed or seriously injured because they weren’t buckled in. And, if you have a passenger, it’s up to you to be sure they strap in as well.
  4. Seatbelt BuckledRemember the basics. Aside from traveling at an appropriate speed, be aware that this week cops are going to be especially vigilant about truckers who are tailgating, making improper lane changes, not obeying traffic signals, and other basics of highway safety. And, even before you get rolling, do a thorough pre-trip and be sure your truck is operating at its best and that your load is properly secured.
  5. Pay attention. Lots of us “zone out” on the job. Because we daydream, get bored, or almost nod off because we stayed up too late the night before, our attention slips. But, when you do it even for a brief moment, 80,000 lbs. of truck and cargo may drift off the interstate.

The top five warnings and citations issued to commercial motor vehicle drivers (as a percentage of total CMV warnings and citations) during last year’s enforcement week were:

  • State and Local Moving Violations – 56.7 percent
  • Speeding – 19.6 percent
  • Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device – 7.6 percent
  • Failing to Use Seatbelt – 7.1 percent
  • Using a Handheld Phone – 2.4 percent

In addition:

  • 0.5 percent of CMV drivers were cited for inattentive or careless driving
  • eight citations related to a CMV driver’s failure to stop at a railroad crossing were issued
  • seven CMV drivers received citations for operating their vehicle while ill or fatigued
  • five warnings and nine citations were issued to CMV drivers for reckless driving




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Hurricane Harvey Expected to Hit Trucking Industry Hard


Freight transport nationally is being disrupted by Hurricane Harvey – and will be for a month or more – as the fierce storm leaves flooded and damaged roads, downed power lines and other wreckage in its wake.

The storm also could leave a rise in long-term trucking contract prices in its wake, according to a report by analysts at FTR Transportation Intelligence.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall this past weekend near Houston, and now is lingering as a wet tropical storm expected to dump as much as three feet of rain in some areas over the coming week. It could “strongly affect” more than 10 percent of all U.S. trucking this week and 7 percent next week, the FTR report said.

After a month, the storm’s impact on trucking will have lessened considerably nationally, but, but the damage it leaves still is projected to hamper operations at about a quarter of the trucking operations in the affected Gulf Coast region.

Indiana-based FTR has studied the impact of severe weather on trucking since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc throughout the Gulf States in 2005.

In addition to delaying shipments and damaging equipment, impacts include “significant pricing effects” according to the report, which FTR classed as a preliminary assessment. These impacts included an average 7 percentage points hike in annualized pricing nationally for the five months following Katrina and a 22 percent year-over-year increase in spot pricing following the severe winter storms of 2014.

Spot pricing for trucking services, especially in Texas and the central southern states, could jump as much as 5 percentage points in the next several weeks, said Nöel Perry, a partner at FTR.

Because Texas is home to about 30 percent of U.S. oil refining capacity – much of it centered around Houston – production of diesel fuel and other petroleum products is expected to be especially hard hit, according to the FTR analysis.

“We are talking about impacts on fuel and energy,” said Larry Goss, an analyst for FTR.

Houston also is a major intermodal shipping site and the storm may have a persistent impact on rail shipments as well as on trucking, Gross said.

Severe weather impacts trucking in four principal ways, according to FTR:

  • Idling trucks as they wait for water to recede from roads and loading docks;
  • Prioritizing shipment of relief and emergency construction supplies over regular freight;
  • Slowing overall operations due to congestion on roadways and in freight loading areas;
  • Reducing productivity with out-of-cycle supply chain demands.

A longer-lasting impact of Harvey, said FTR’s Perry, could be increased long-term shipping contract rates.

The combination of regional and fuel effects from Harvey, coupled with the federal Electronic Logging Device mandate that takes effect in December, “could be the catalyst to a pricing spiral” for trucking contracts, he said.

While the storm has wreaked havoc with trucking, logistics, oil refining and other business across a wide path of the South, it might have created a selling opportunity for the recreational vehicle and temporary housing industry.

Following Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency spent $2.7 billion on roughly 145,000 trailers and mobile homes to those displaced by the storm.

“It is likely that FEMA will again purchase temporary housing for displaced residents and emergency personnel aiding in the relief efforts,” said analyst Michael Baudendistel of Stifel Financial Corp.  But in a report to investors Monday, he said the number of displaced residents from Hurricane Harvey is probably smaller than Katrina and the need for temporary housing might be as low as 15,000 units.

Cummins Beats Tesla To The Punch, Unveiling Heavy Duty Electric Truck


Cummins, a leading maker of diesel and natural gas engines for commercial trucks, unveiled a Class 7 heavy-duty truck cab Tuesday featuring an advanced 140 kWh battery pack that it will sell to bus operators and commercial truck fleets starting in 2019.

The 18,000-pound tractor cab, dubbed AEOS after one of the four-winged horses driving the chariot of the Sun God, Helios, across the sky in Greek mythology, is just a demonstration model. But the Class 7 urban hauler tractor is fully operational and capable of hauling a 22-ton trailer.

With a 100-mile range, the Cummins electric power train is being targeted at urban delivery vehicles (like a beer truck or food delivery truck) as well as for short haul trips in and around ports and other terminals. It can be recharged in about an hour at a 140 kWh charging station, and Cummins’ goal is to get that down to 20 minutes by 2020, reducing down time for its business customers. Production begins in 2019.


An extended range version, which uses an efficient diesel engine as an onboard generator, will be available a year later, offering up to 300 miles between charges and 50 percent fuel savings compared to today’s diesel hybrids with zero emissions.

Because of the limits of today’s battery technology, Cummins’ Chief Executive Thomas Linebarger said the Class 7 truck cab represents the “stretch application” for a heavy-duty electric truck. An electric powertrain does not yet make sense for a Class 8 semi tractor-trailer, also known as an 18-wheeler, because of the larger loads they carry and the longer distances they travel, he said.

Cummins will not build trucks, but will instead supply a fully integrated battery electronics system and will buy the cells from an unnamed provider. Tesla famously makes its own battery cells at a massive “Giga factory” in Nevada.

Cummins’ announcement comes a few weeks ahead of Tesla’s planned reveal of an electric “semi” truck. The maker of premium plug-in cars hasn’t provided any details of its project, including the truck classification, but last week Reuters reported that Tesla will apparently target the regional hauling market with an electric big-rig with a working range of 200 to 300 miles.

By getting a jump on Tesla’s announcement, Cummins is getting across loud and clear that it intends to remain a major player in the commercial truck business, even if that market shifts away from its core diesel engine business.

“There are more technologies coming into economic relevance than we’ve seen in my career, ever,” Linebarger said in an interview. “This is what we do. We feel we do better when technologies are shifting.”

Indeed, the 98-year-old company has stayed successful through innovation, especially when regulations and customer preferences are changing. Over the years, it’s been at the forefront of environmental shifts, embracing stricter clean air standards, for example, when other manufacturers resisted. It led the shift from 2-stroke to 4-stroke diesel engines, for example, and was a leader in developing after treatment systems for NOx particulates.

Cummins has been working on electrified powertrains and fuel cells for about a decade and feels confident it is well-positioned to remain a leader, despite competition from new players like Tesla, Proterra, and Nikola Motor Company.

“All those competitors we take very seriously,” Linebarger said. “They’re innovative, well-funded and have a technology mindset, much like Cummins.” Where Cummins has an edge, he said, is in understanding its customer’s needs.

“We know that we cannot have one solution for everybody,” he said, which is why Cummins will continue to provide a variety of power technologies — including electric, diesel, natural gas and future alternative fuels — for different applications. “We need to make sure we have the right technology for the right application,” he said. “Even if the electrified power train replaces the internal combustion engine completely, that’s still a 20- to 25-year transition period customers have to manage through. If we have good technology, they’ll want to buy it from us.”

ATA much like the emperor with his new clothes on ELD mandate



So, the American Trucking Associations came out throwing wild punches this past week on the electronic logging mandate.

The prose of the letter can easily be described as frenzied and blustering. It was the letter version of someone so mad that they stammer, yell and spit. In the end, all you get out of it is they are mad that a delay of the ELD mandate is picking up steam.

What ATA tried to convey is that as, in their words here, the “most authoritative voice” for the trucking industry, mandatory electronic logs have universal support. Except, of course, for those rogue agents over here at OOIDA (and about 17 other industry stakeholder groups and counting).

What was intriguing about this letter is how ATA purported to represent such a wide swath of support.

We’re not hearing that same sort of thing around here. In fact, the grumblings about ATA forcing this position down on its members is causing a rift. Not everyone the mega-fleet group purports to represent is happy this is going down.

How loyal to the position are they really?

So, to test our theory, and to see how loyal ATA’s membership is to the group’s ELD position, Land Linepolled the ATA state partners. The questions were pretty simple:

  • Does your association have a position on the pending ELD mandate? If so, what is it?
  • What concerns are you hearing from your state officials and are they dire enough to support a delay?

We sent the request out Thursday this past week, asking for responses by Monday at noon.

Our Staff Writer and Research Associate Tyson Fisher, who sent the request, did not come in on Monday to a flooded inbox. In fact, you could hear the crickets chirping from his computer.

 Out of the 50 requests sent out, eight responded. Just eight. Of course, the Arkansas Trucking Association (which could not be any more lockstep with ATA) came in swinging hard in supporting the mandate. The responses from there quickly devolved to not having a position to sounding somewhat under duress.

Florida actually mustered the strength to type the words “put us in the ‘in favor of the mandate’ box.” Nebraska’s response was a bit conflicted sounding as well. They even admitted not all regulations can be a “one size fits all solution” but they were working to inform and educate their members.

The responses don’t tell as much as the lack of response from the other 42 states.

What’s not being said

Remember the old tale about the Emperor’s New Clothes. Short version, a couple of cons convinced an emperor they made him a magical suit. Anyone who was dumb or not suited for the position would not be able to see the clothes. In reality, the emperor was naked.

Everyone fell into line telling the emperor how fabulous he looked. The sham continued until an honest child pointed out, while the Emperor was literally being paraded through the city, that he was actually naked.

ATA, I think in all the flailing around and beating your chest, you’re standing there a bit naked. We didn’t get a roar of response from your state chapters backing the ELD mandate.

Here we actually invited them into Land Line with their position, right in OOIDA’s back yard. They could have really toed the company line and thrown you some cover. Rather, the silence of the masses is speaking volumes on the lack of cohesiveness of this “authoritative” voice you claim to have.

ATA, your members are sending a very clear message by saying nothing at all.

Van Rates Remain 2-Year Highs


National average van rates remain at their highest level in nearly two years.

Two weeks ago van load-to-truck ratios spiked. That was the result of going from a 4-day work week (Memorial Day week) to a 5-day week, which coincided with the annual Roadcheck inspection blitz. Van rates jumped 6¢ per mile that week. But instead of dropping back again, van rates held steady at $1.79 per mile last week.

Over the past month, Los Angeles and Atlanta have led the rising rate parade, and outbound volumes continue to climb in those markets. Elsewhere, some of the price gains have subsided.

All rates below include fuel surcharges and are based on real transactions between carriers and brokers.


Houston continues to have strong demand.

  • The lane rate from Houston to New Orleans rose 22¢ to $2.65 per mile, and the lane from Houston to Oklahoma City hit a new high of $2.30 per mile
  • Prices continue to fall out of Florida, as the inbound lane from Atlanta to Lakeland in the central part of the state also hit a new high, rising 22¢ to $2.74 per mile
  • Out West, van rates from Stockton, CA to Portland, OR averaged $2.80 per mile last week, a 20¢ increase
  • The lane from Los Angeles to Seattle also rose by double digits, up 15¢ to an average of $2.69 per mile


There were still more rising rates than falling ones on the top 100 van lanes, but the gap closed a bit last week. Prices fell on 40 lanes, including:

  • Columbus to Buffalo slipped 12¢, averaging $2.73 per mile
  • Atlanta to Philadelphia dipped 11¢ to $2.61 per mile
  • Charlotte to Atlanta also lost 11¢, to $2.25 per mile, which is still higher than usual for that lane

Operation Airbrake


Operation Airbrake is a comprehensive program dedicated to improving commercial vehicle brake safety throughout North America. The goal is to reduce the number of highway crashes caused by faulty braking systems on commercial motor vehicles by conducting roadside inspections and educating drivers, mechanics, owner-operators and others on the importance of proper brake inspection, maintenance and operation.

Out-of-adjustment brakes and brake-system violations combine to represent half of all out-of-service violations issued for commercial motor vehicles on the road. Brake systems that are improperly installed or poorly maintained can reduce the braking capacity and stopping distance of trucks or buses, a serious safety risk.

This Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) model has been used successfully in other areas of traffic concerns (most notably seat belt usage), and has been adapted to address the issue of brake violations. The Operation Airbrake campaign was initially developed in Canada in 1998.

Amazon is building a $1.5 billion hub for its own cargo airline The Northern Kentucky facility will eventually employ more than 2,000 people.

Need another sign that Amazon is dead serious about building a giant logistics network to challenge UPS and FedEx? The online retailer will open its own cargo air hub in Northern Kentucky, where it plans to employ 2,000 people, it announced today.

The Amazon facility will be the eventual home to 40 Amazon Prime Air planes the company is leasing to transport packages between its own warehouses. Amazon said 16 of the planes are already in service.

The Cincinnati Business Courier pegged the cost of the project at $1.49 billion and said Amazon is in line to get $40 million in tax incentives from local governments. The company has received approval to lease 900 acres in total, the publication reported.

Amazon has said it began leasing planes to keep up with customer demand for packages that shipping partners like UPS can’t handle. CEO Jeff Bezos has said that Amazon isn’t trying to compete directly with UPS, though the Wall Street Journal has reported otherwise.

The company’s foray into air cargo has come with some bumps. This holiday season, hundreds of pilots that operate Amazon’s planes went on strike to protest understaffing issues.

Beyond planes, the company has bought thousands of its own truck trailers and is also starting to act as an ocean freight shipping operator to move goods between China and the U.S.

Trucking under Trump

ELDs and emissions regs

The ELD mandate, which became law last December and gave carriers two years to comply, was mandated by Congress in 2012 with a strong Republican majority in the House. Lane Kidd, head of the carrier coalition the Trucking Alliance, says he doubts Congress will walk back regulations it initiated. “To roll back Congressional actions — that would be far-fetched,” he says.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, agrees. “We’ve had Republican control of both the Senate and the House for quite a while. Unfortunately, the ELD rule was pushed through by Republicans in Congress, even some Tea Party Republicans,” he said.

However, tractor-trailer emissions regulations finalized this year by the U.S. EPA could be a target for the Trump administration, both Kidd and Spencer said. The new standards take hold next year and will be phased in through 2027. “I can see where Congress could roll back or stall regulations initiated at the agency level,” Kidd says. “There’s a chance, but whether there’s probability — that’s the big question.”

Spencer said his group hopes to engage the Trump administration on Phase 2 tractor-trailer emissions regulations in hopes of having the regulations reevaluated and expanding the 10-year implementation period.

Infrastructure, privatization, and tolls

Trump said throughout his campaign for the White House he wants major investments in U.S. infrastructure, calling for $1 trillion on infrastructure projects during his presidency.

He reiterated the point in his victory speech the night of the election. “We’re going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals,” Trump said. “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none.”

Major infrastructure packages are challenging to pass, says Spencer, especially since Congress changed little in the election. “Pretty much all the same players are still there,” he says.

Like all spending bills, the challenge is finding funding, says analyst Jonathan Starks, Chief Operating Officer of transportation research group FTR. “Lots of candidates have called for good investment in infrastructure, but the trouble is coming up with mechanisms to pay for it,” he said. “So far we haven’t come up with that plan.”

Trump says he would incentivize private businesses to invest in infrastructure projects by offering them tax incentives. Such privatization of U.S. roads could lead to more tolls, Spencer says.

“The closest Trump came to suggesting how things might be paid for is through privatizing. That sounds good to the financial community but it generally doesn’t play out that well on Main Street — it simply means more tolls,” he said. OOIDA is “open to sustainable funding that’s fair to highway users. The tried and true mechanism of paying for roads and bridges is through fuel taxes. If that’s ruled out, the dilemma gets bigger and harder to resolve,” says Spencer.

Kidd says Congress could act as early as next year on a major infrastructure funding bill. He also says the funding source is unclear, yet paramount to such legislation. “The big question is how will it be paid for? I think Trump at one point hinted at bonds being one avenue. Bonds have proven to be an effective way to finance infrastructure by borrowing against future fuel tax revenue,” he says. “It will be interesting to see what would be supported by trucking companies. We always want better roads, until we look around and see who’s going to pay for them.”

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