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Shippers Seek to Overturn CSA Safety Scoring System

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Source: ttnews.com/articles/petemplate.aspx?storyid=32947

By Jonathan S. Reiskin, Associate News Editor

This story appears in the Sept. 16 print edition of Transport Topics.

WASHINGTON — Lawyers representing some shippers and brokers told a federal appeals court that the government’s Safety Measurement System is an improperly enacted rule that should be vacated.

However, an attorney for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said a PowerPoint presentation that some industry groups call a federal regulation is just a support document offering an explanation of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.

Continue reading at: ttnews.com/articles/petemplate.aspx?storyid=32947

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Schools, Rivals Help Carriers Fill Growing Job Vacancies

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Source: ttnews.com/articles/petemplate.aspx?storyid=32940

By Daniel P. Bearth, Senior Features Writer

This story appears in the Sept. 16 print edition of Transport Topics.

Freight carriers, commercial fleet operators and third-party logistics companies are all putting out “Help Wanted” signs.

Firms are stepping up efforts to recruit service technicians, sales executives, safety managers, information technology specialists and drivers, according to a first-ever Transport Topics survey of more than 125 transportation service providers.

Continue reading at: ttnews.com/articles/petemplate.aspx?storyid=32940

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Truckers Against Trafficking Announces First Winner of the Harriet Tubman Award

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National trucking anti-trafficking organization Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is pleased to announce the first annual winner of its Harriet Tubman award.

The award, which carries with it a $500 check, is named in honor of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, whose courageous personal actions resulted in the transportation of 300 slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad and whose overall role in the freedom movement was instrumental in the freeing of thousands more. Born into slavery in 1820, Miss Tubman was the first African American woman buried with full military honors and the first to have the inaugural Liberty ship named after her – the SS Harriet Tubman – by the US Maritime Commission.

“Because of Harriet Tubman’s connection to transportation through the Underground Railroad and her heroic work to free thousands of slaves, TAT believes she epitomizes the symbol of freedom a trucking anti-trafficking award represents,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director.  “TAT is dedicated to the prevention of and/or rescue from human trafficking through the intervention of members of the trucking industry. Each year, through a nomination process and the information collected by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, we will present the Harriet Tubman award to the member of the trucking industry whose direct actions help save or improve the lives of those enslaved or prevent human trafficking from taking place.

“For 2013, we’re pleased to announce that Tracy Mullins, general manager of the Petro Stopping Center® in Spokane, Washington, is our first Harriet Tubman award winner,” she continued. “Her ability to implement training into appropriate actions resulted in the possible prevention of human trafficking of two minors at her station.”

Mullins is a Spokane resident and a 14-year veteran of the transportation industry. She credits the TAT training required of all employees/managers of TravelCenters of America LLC or TA, with playing a pivotal role in her awareness of “something that could be wrong.”

In relating the incident which earned her the award, Mullins recounted that she was walking into a restaurant near her travel plaza to talk to the manager. She noticed two young girls sitting with an older man. “Not that the situation was odd,” she said, “but the man looked as if something could be wrong. I positioned myself close enough to the table to hear the young girls ask for a ride to Seattle. At this point, the images of all the young girls from the training video were going through my mind. I approached the table and asked the girls if everything was okay. One of the girls told me the man was her uncle. The man seemed very uncomfortable and removed himself from the situation. The young girls then asked other drivers for a ride.”

Mullins realized there was a problem and notified law enforcement. The girls turned out to be runaways from a neighboring state with only $5 between them.

Mullins stated, “This is a very special award for me, because, as a mother, I know we helped two young girls not become a statistic that day.”

“Human trafficking is a worldwide issue. We and TAT recognize that, in the United States, much of this activity relies upon the U.S. highway system for trafficking transport, and that because of our prime locations principally along the Interstate Highway System, our professional driver customers and our employees just might be in the right place at the right time to help a victim. We provide employees and drivers with information about what to look for through our company-wide training and awareness programs. We are honored by the news that Tracy received this award. We are proud of her and of the fact that she took the TAT training to heart and used it," commented Tom O’Brien, president and CEO of TA.

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ATRI Seeks Truck Driver Input on HOS Impacts

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Arlington, VA – The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) today announced the start of its second phase data collection on impacts from the recent changes to the Hours-of-Service rules, which went into effect July 1, 2013.  ATRI is asking commercial drivers to provide input on the changes through an online survey available on its website, www.atri-online.org.  The survey asks drivers about impacts related to miles, pay and on-duty hours since the changes to the 34-hour restart (requirement of two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. and the limit of one restart per 7-day/168-hour time period) and the addition of the 30-minute rest break.

“Earlier this year we released a study quantifying potential impacts from the rules changes.  This critical next step in the research will document how those expected changes are being experienced by drivers,” commented ATRI President Rebecca Brewster.

ATRI will also initiate data collection from motor carriers to quantify productivity impacts resulting from the rules changes.

Drivers are encouraged to participate in the confidential survey at www.atri-online.org.

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DOT Secretary Foxx Announces $474 Million for 52 TIGER 2013 Projects in 37 States

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Projects Support President Obama’s Calls to Create Ladders of Opportunity, ‘Fix it First’ and Contribute to Economic Growth

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that 52 transportation projects in 37 states will receive a total of approximately $474 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) 2013 discretionary grant program. Among these, 25 projects funded at $123.4 million will be designated for projects in rural areas of the country.  

“These transformational TIGER projects are the best argument for investment in our transportation infrastructure,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Together, they support President Obama’s call to ensure a stronger transportation system for future generations by repairing existing infrastructure, connecting people to new jobs and opportunities, and contributing to our nation’s economic growth.”  

The highly competitive TIGER program offers one of the only federal funding possibilities for large, multi-modal projects that often are not suitable for other federal funding sources. These federal funds leverage money from private sector partners, states, local governments, metropolitan planning organizations and transit agencies. The 2013 TIGER round alone supports $1.8 billion in overall project investments.  

TIGER has enjoyed overwhelming demand since its creation, a trend continued by TIGER 2013. Applications for this most recent round of grants totaled more than $9 billion, far exceeding the $474 million set aside for the program.  In all, the Department received 585 applications from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. 

The projects funded through this round of TIGER illustrate the President’s goals of creating “Ladders of Opportunity,” the need for a “Fix it First” approach to infrastructure, and contributing to America’s economic growth. The following are examples of how TIGER supports these goals: 

Ladders of Opportunity: A good example of a project connecting people to jobs and economic opportunities is the Atlanta Beltline Corridor, a 33-mile system of trails, transit and parks circling downtown Atlanta and connecting more than 45 communities throughout the city and region. A total of $18 million in TIGER funds will be used to build two miles of the trail. This project will provide connections for residents in primarily low-income and minority communities to bus routes, rail stations, schools, parks, and other recreational activities.    

Fix it First: The $10 million investment to reconstruct the Tacoma, Wash., rail trestle is a good example of a project that will repair existing infrastructure. Replacing the 100-year old single-track wooden trestle and bridge with a modern twin-track structure will double capacity and improve reliability and travel time for Sounder and Amtrak Cascades passenger rail service. This “fix it first” project also adds freight capacity on the Tacoma Rail line, contributing to economic growth and supporting Pierce County, the City of Tacoma and the Port of Tacoma.  

Economic Growth: An example of a project that will help jumpstart local and national economic growth is the $10 million investment in the Houston, Texas, Bayport Wharf extension project. The investment will allow the terminal to double its cargo capacity by 2033, supporting international trade with more than 1,000 ports in 203 countries. The project will increase the port’s ability to take advantage of the ships expected after the Panama Canal expansion and supporting President Obama’s goal of doubling exports. The project also will increase the productivity of the terminal by reducing truck waiting and idling times.  

On March 26, 2013, the President signed the FY 2013 Appropriations Act, which after sequestration provided approximately $474 million for Department of Transportation national infrastructure investments. Like the first four rounds, TIGER 2013 grants are for capital investments in infrastructure and are awarded on a competitive basis based on the published selection criteria. This is the fifth round of TIGER funding.  

Under all five rounds combined, the TIGER program has provided more than $3.6 billion to 270 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.  Demand for the program outweighed available funds, and during all five rounds, the Department of Transportation received more than 5,200 applications requesting more than $114.2 billion for transportation projects across the country. 

Click here for additional information on individual TIGER grants: www.dot.gov/tiger/

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ATRI Releases Updated Operational Costs of Trucking Report

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dan Murray
(651) 641-6162

Arlington, VA – The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) today released the findings of its 2013 update to An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking.  The research, which identifies trucking costs from 2008 through 2012 derived directly from fleets’ financial and operational data, provides carriers with an important high-level benchmarking tool and government agencies with real world data for future infrastructure improvement analyses.

The average marginal cost per mile in 2012 was $1.63, a slight decrease from the $1.71 found in 2011.  After the Great Recession and a sharp decline in fuel prices resulted in decreased industry costs between 2008 and 2009, industry costs steadily rose through 2010 and 2011.  The slight decrease in average operating costs in 2012 was most likely due to the weak economic recovery and softening freight conditions experienced in the second half of the year. 

“Although we have seen conditions improve since the Great Recession of several years ago, an uncertain economic future means we have to be ever diligent in watching costs.  ATRI’s report provides critical financial data for carriers to use in benchmarking fleet performance and seeking opportunities for improved operations,” remarked Phil Byrd, Sr., President and CEO of Bulldog Hiway Express and First Vice Chairman of the American Trucking Associations. 

Since its original publication in 2008, the Operational Costs of Trucking reports continue to be one of the most requested ATRI reports among industry stakeholders.  In addition to average costs per mile, ATRI’s report documents average costs per hour and includes cost breakouts by industry sector.

A copy of this report is available from ATRI at www.atri-online.org

ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization.  It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.

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BTS Releases June North American Freight Numbers

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Trucks Transported 60.7% of U.S.-NAFTA Trade in June 2013

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the U.S. Department of Transportation today released June North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) freight numbers showing that trucks carried 60.7 percent of the $93.5 billion of freight moved in June 2013 between the United States and its NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico. Trucks were followed by rail at 15.8 percent, vessels at 8.2 percent, pipelines at 6.5 percent and air at 3.9 percent.

BTS, a part of the Department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.0 percent of the total NAFTA freight flows, $77.6 billion of the total of $93.5 billion carried by all modes, including air and vessel. The value of freight carried by the surface modes in June 2013 declined 1.0 percent from June 2012, compared to the 0.8 percent decrease for all modes. Freight value on all modes rose 56.7 percent from June 2009.

For freight flows with Canada, trucks carried 56.0 percent of the $52.7 billion of the freight, followed by rail at 16.8 percent, pipelines at 10.8 percent, vessel at 5.5 percent and air at 4.5 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.7 percent of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows.

For freight flows with Mexico in June, trucks carried 66.8 percent of the $40.8 billion of the freight, followed by rail at 14.5 percent, vessel at 11.7 percent, air at 3.2 percent and pipeline at 0.9 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.1 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.

Beginning with January 2013, BTS monthly TransBorder press releases contain data for all modes of transportation. Press releases and the BTS website now define surface transportation modes as truck, rail and pipeline. Data on surface modes can be found in Figure 3 and in Tables 2, 3, 4 and 7. See North American TransBorder Freight Data on the BTS website for additional data for surface modes since 1995 and all modes since 2004.

Data in this press release are not adjusted for inflation, except for the monthly totals illustrated in Figure 2 for comparison.

See BTS Transborder Data Release for summary tables, state rankings and additional data. See North American Transborder Freight Data  on the BTS website for additional data for surface modes since 1995 and all modes since 2004.

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Driver Shortage: Many are Called, Fewer Are Chosen

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Source: overdriveonline.com/driver-shortage-many-are-called-fewer-are-chosen/

 

FUELING DRIVER DEMAND | These key factors are creating a demand for nearly 100,000 new drivers each year over the coming decade as experienced drivers reach retirement age and trucking continues to grow, says the American Trucking Associations.

The last capacity crunch, roughly 2004-08, is considered to have been a great time for the industry by some participants.

Steve Williams, chief executive officer of Maverick USA, looks no further than his bottom line to know that the balance of transportation supply and demand again has shifted in favor of carriers, even if it’s not a repeat of 2004.

“The capacity shortage is very real,” says Williams, a former chairman of the American Trucking Associations. “But now I’ve got more business than I have drivers. The name of the game from here on out is recruiting, training and retention.”

Maverick, a longtime flatbed carrier that has expanded by adding specialized glass and refrigerated divisions, is “almost back” to its pre-recession seated truck count.

Williams calls 2012’s turnover “normal” at 58 percent, which is well below the industry average for large truckload carriers – typically about 100 percent. Maverick also grew by 250 trucks, its best total for a year without an acquisition. Along with financial and safety performances that were “stellar,” the year was the company’s best ever for recruiting, he says.

Why do so many carriers continue to experience difficulty finding new drivers?

By this summer, the fleet was reduced by 105 trucks, while turnover was up slightly. However, recruiting statistics are “unbelievably different,” as Williams details.

Year-to-date in 2012: 16,316 leads processed, with 674 drivers hired; YTD 2013: 30,210 leads – or nearly double 2012’s to-date total – yet only 559 hires, or 115 fewer.

“Frequency is up,” he says. “More leads and more apps, but we’re rejecting an unprecedented number for one reason or another.”

Williams points out that Maverick is particularly cautious in its hires: The process includes hair follicle testing and sleep apnea screening. But Williams and Maverick have long advocated strict driver qualifications: Now other carriers must think twice, in the CSA environment, about looking the other way when it comes to new hires with spotty driving records.

“It’s time to continue to make it difficult to get in this industry and stay in this industry,” he says. “If you can’t cut it, get out.”

Given that the economy has not been robust, Williams says the growing supply/demand imbalance is capacity-driven.

“When we have little spot surges, like we’ve had in building materials, there are no trucks to haul it,” he says. But a sustained shortage of equipment – one that will allow carriers to set consistently higher prices – has yet to emerge.

“There’s a solution – pay drivers more money,” Williams says. “That attracts better talent. But you can’t have just one shipper that sees the light and gives you more money. You’ve got to have all the shippers see the light so you can raise your rates across all your lanes.”

Plan B: No experience required
For many carriers, a new driver is preferable to an experienced driver with bad habits, especially one with the bad driving history to prove it.

Lou Spoonhour, president of DriveCo and a former chairman of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, says it’s about time for such a shift.

“I’ve been at this for 34 years, and we’re hearing from trucking companies that I’ve never heard the names of before,” Spoonhour says. “All of a sudden, entry-level is opening up as if it’s a brand-new field.”

Most CVTA schools also have regular, direct contact with carrier safety departments to stay up to date with hiring criteria.

“Sometimes the experienced driver is set in his ways, whereas a student is a clean slate and can be molded,” Spoonhour says. “That’s what we claim to be our advantage – they’re coming out with no extra baggage.” Typically, driving school graduates will go on to a carrier’s finishing school for more advanced training.

The average student age is “probably 35 to 40, where it used to be 28 to 33,” Spoonhour said. “We’ve started to get an increase in skilled workers, like electricians, carpenters, plumbers who made a living in the construction trades. We’ve found that trucking is a good option for ‘hands-on’ people. Or they have friends or relatives who drive.”

Students also see truck driving as a lasting opportunity that won’t be shipped overseas, Spoonhour says.

In order to maintain a 95 percent placement rate for its 200 to 300 students each year, DriveCo screens extensively. Students have to be able to pass a physical and a drug screen, and they’re subject to random drug tests while in school. Additionally, the school checks the prospective student’s driving record and criminal history. Pre-enrollment interviews are designed to make sure the students understand trucking and that the business will be a good fit with their personal goals.

Source: overdriveonline.com/driver-shortage-many-are-called-fewer-are-chosen/

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The U.S. DOT Opens On-line Dialogue on our Next Strategic Plan

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has been working on our strategic plan for FY 2014 to FY 2018 since early this spring.  Developing and implementing our strategic plan is an important step in helping the Department address key priorities that represent the diverse interests of our stakeholders across the country.

Transportation is an engine for growing our economy and creating American jobs. Every day, people and businesses rely on a multi-modal transportation system to travel and to move goods to consumers at home and abroad. We know that wherever we invest in transportation infrastructure, opportunities for countless Americans follow. So we want to ensure that our strategic plan serves as a foundation for building, operating, and maintaining a safe and efficient transportation system. 

We also want to ensure that all of our stakeholders have an opportunity to read the plan and weigh in. And that means you.

For the next few weeks, you can review the plan and submit your ideas and comments at the DOT Strategic Plan Online Dialogue.  The dialogue also provides an opportunity to read and respond to what others are saying about the plan. Your participation will help us shape the future of transportation in America.

I appreciate any time you can offer to provide this important feedback, and I encourage you to give the Online Dialogue site a visit.  If you prefer, you can also email your comments directly to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thank you!

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U.S. Bridge Spending Lags as Repair Needs Dwarf Funds

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Source: ttnews.com/articles/petemplate.aspx?storyid=32732

By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the Aug. 19 print edition of Transport Topics.

Despite the nation’s efforts to upgrade its bridges in recent years, a staggering 151,500 are still labeled as deficient, the cure for which is to spend $20.5 billion every year between now and 2028.

That estimate comes from the Federal Highway Administration, which oversees the health of the nation’s bridges and which says that current spending on the spans is $12.8 billion annually.

Continue reading at: ttnews.com/articles/petemplate.aspx?storyid=32732