Public News


FMCSA Expands Pre-Employment Screening Program

on .

By TruckingInfo Staff

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration added a new feature to the screening program that gives carriers a look at the history of a driver who is applying for a job.

The agency is making data available on co-driver safety and post-crash violations, in addition to the roadside inspection and crash records that employers already can see. The agency said it also has begun showing the date that a driver's safety records were updated.

The Internet based pre-employment screening program (, gives employers five years of an applicant's crash history and three years of his inspection history - with the driver's permission.

The data is drawn from the Motor Carrier Management Information System and includes the same information that is used by agency staff and state police for enforcement. Drivers have access to the information, as well, and can make the report a part of their application if they wish.

There is a charge to use the system. Carriers with fewer than 100 power units must pay a $25 annual subscription fee and...
Continue to read more.


Women In Trucking Association representatives meet with DOT officials

on .

PLOVER, Wis. — Women In Trucking (WIT) President and CEO Ellen Voie was recently invited to meet with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood in Washington.  Joining them was Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne Ferro.

LaHood and members of his staff listened as Voie described some of the challenges facing women in the transportation industry and how WIT is addressing those needs.  Issues include driver harassment concerns, safety and security on the road, using technology to reduce physical limitations and other topics.

Prior to the meeting with LaHood, Voie and WIT chair Leigh Foxall spent time with Ferro and her staff exploring opportunities to encourage women to consider careers in typically male-dominated fields.  “Many of the issues women in the trucking industry face
... Continue to


Congress repeats truck weight bill

on .

By Jill Dunn

For the third consecutive year, Congress is considering a bill to allow states to increase interstate weight limits to 97,000 pounds for six-axle trucks.

On Feb. 17, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) introduced the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act, or H.R. 763, which was referred to committee with one co-sponsor.

The bill text is not yet available via Congress’ online website. The Coalition for Transportation Productivity, a group of shippers and other associations supporting the increase, said some trading partners, including Canada and Mexico, use limits higher than the U.S. 80,000-pound limit set in 1982.

The current weight limit means even if trucks have additional unfilled space, shippers must pay for additional trucks, adding to road congestion and emissions.

The American Trucking Associations supports the measure, which the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association opposes because of safety concerns.

The two previous years, the SETA was referred to committee the day of introduction. In 2009, Michaud’s bill had 54 co-sponsors and last year, Republican Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo’s bill had three co-sponsors.

States target licensing of illegal immigrants

on .
By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , Land Line state legislative editor

Two states still allow illegal immigrants to obtain full-blown driver’s licenses. One more state offers a permit that allows them to drive, but not use the license as an ID. In each case, lawmakers are trying to end the practice.

In recent years, the list of states providing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants has dropped from nine to two – New Mexico and Washington. In Utah, illegal immigrants can obtain licenses to drive, but they cannot be used as identification.

Supporters of stricter licensing rules say the current system allows for identity fraud and raises other public safety concerns.

Opponents say that cutting access to driver’s licenses would raise insurance costs because illegal immigrants wouldn’t be able to obtain insurance. The result would be many more uninsured drivers.

They also say that the purpose of a license is to show proof of the ability to drive – not be used for identification purposes.

In New Mexico, Gov. Susana Martinez said the system is a disaster waiting to happen. She campaigned a year ago on a pledge to stop letting illegal immigrants get driver’s licenses.

The governor’s administration said the change could affect 82,000 driver’s license holders in the state.

“As other states clamp down, New Mexico has become a haven for people looking to circumvent the law,” Martinez said during a recent news conference.

A House bill would require applicants to have a Social Security number to get a driver’s license... Continue to read more...


California Dump Truckers Sue CARB to Overturn Emission Rule

on .

Calling the regulation "overreaching," the California Dump Truck Owners Association has filed suit against the California Air Resources Board challenging the legality of board's Truck and Bus Regulation.

The lawsuit, California Dump Truck Owners Association v. Air Resources Board, was filed in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, Sacramento Division, on February 11.

Specifically, CDTOA asserts that CARB's regulation is unconstitutional as it is preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, and seeks an injunction prohibiting CARB from enforcing the rule.

CDTOA has attempted to work with CARB for more than four years to find reasonable solutions that accomplish the goal of cleaning California's air while avoiding the needless devastation of the state's trucking industry and specifically the dump truck industry, the group said in a press release.

The group says the dump truck industry is struggling with 50 percent unemployment and rampant construction price deflation in the state. It claims enforcement of the costly emissions rule will cause incalculable damage to the construction transportation industry.

CARB, the association says, has repeatedly refused to address the association's concerns. Left with no remaining option, CDTOA has decided to pursue a solution through the courts.

"Our members are experiencing the worst economic conditions in living memory and CARB continues to place impossible regulatory burdens on them at a time they can least afford it," says Lee Brown, executive director of CDTOA. "Our members support clean air, but the air we breathe can't be more important than the people that are breathing it."

Brown says the CARB regulations would adversely affect the truckers' business model by forcing premature retirement or replacement of otherwise perfectly good assets...
Continue to


CARB holds "one stop" truck regulation meetings for truckers

on .

The California Air Resources Board is working with local air quality districts to host “one stop” events to help explain truck regulations already being enforced in the Golden State.

The events include regulation updates, financial information, and demonstrations of truck inspections, though no actual inspections will be performed.

Suppliers of exhaust retrofits and SmartWay approved equipment will be in attendance, and financial grant application assistance is available by appointment.

The next meeting is Feb. 19 at the College of Alameda in Alameda, CA. Other events will be held March 5 in Riverside, CA; March 19 in San Mateo, CA; and March 26 in Fresno, CA.

Click here for more information.



on .

Trucking is the predominant mode used by businesses to ship freight in almost all states, according to State Summaries: 2007 Commodity Flow Survey from the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported thatat least 60 percent of the total value of shipments for 42 states and the District of Columbia in 2007 was carried by trucks alone. By weight, trucks transported at least 60 percent of shipments originating in 40 states, including the District of Columbia.

The Commodity Flow Survey (CFS) is conducted as part of the Census Bureau’s Economic Census, occurring every five years. It is the primary source of national and state-level data on domestic freight shipments in the United States. Based on information from approximately 100,000 businesses, the CFS measures domestic freight flows from establishments in mining, manufacturing, wholesale, and selected retail industries, as well as shipments from auxiliary establishments. The 2007 CFS was undertaken through a partnership between BTS and the Census Bureau.

States by Value

In the South, eight states and the District of Columbia had more than 80 percent of the value of originating shipments transported by trucks. Only in Louisiana and Texas did trucks carry less than 60 percent of the freight. In the Northeast, New Hampshire was the only state where trucks carried less than 70 percent. The states in the West generally had the lowest percent of freight carried by trucks. Six states in the West had less than 60 percent of originated freight by value transported by truck, and trucks carried more than 70 percent only in Arizona and Nevada. See the report for a map with percentages for all states.

States by Weight

In all Northeast states, trucks carried more than 75 percent of the originating freight by weight. In contrast, in the West, trucks carried more than 75 percent in only four of 13 states. Trucks carried less than 50 percent by weight in North Dakota, New Mexico, Louisiana, Montana, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Trucks still carried the most freight in those states, except for Montana, West Virginia, and Wyoming, where rail was the predominant mode. Only 5.6 percent of Wyoming freight by weight was transported by truck. See the report for a map with percentages for all states.

Other Highlights

American businesses covered by the CFS shipped about $11.7 trillion worth of goods in 2007, weighing 12.5 billion tons and generating 3.3 trillion ton-miles. Trucking continued to dominate the nation’s movement of freight, accounting for 71 percent of the value ($8.3 trillion), 70 percent of weight (8.8 billion tons), and 39 percent of the ton-miles (1.3 trillion ton-miles).

Among the goods shipped, electronic and office equipment was the commodity with the highest value at $1.0 trillion. Gravel and crushed stone was the largest commodity by weight at 2.0 billion tons. Coal was the commodity accounting for the most ton-miles with 836 billion in 2007.

The report, available on the BTS website, summarizes and highlights freight shipments for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It provides tables for each state’s value and weight of shipments, major commodity shipped, mode of transportation used, distance shipped, state of origin, state of destination, and industry. CFS data in its entirety for 2007 is available through the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder at


Large vehicles' fuel efficiency to be regulated

on .

Future tractor-trailers, school buses, delivery vans, garbage trucks and heavy-duty pickup trucks must do better at the pump under first-ever fuel efficiency rules coming from the Obama administration.

WASHINGTON - Future tractor-trailers, school buses, delivery vans, garbage trucks and heavy-duty pickup trucks must do better at the pump under first-ever fuel efficiency rules coming from the Obama administration.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department are moving ahead with a proposal for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, beginning with those sold in the 2014 model year and into the 2018 model year.

The plan is expected to seek about a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption from longhaul trucks, according to people familiar with the plan. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to speak publicly before the official announcement, expected Monday.

Overall, the proposal is expected to seek reductions of 10 percent to 20 percent in fuel consumption and emissions based on the vehicle's size. Large tractor-trailers tend to be driven up to 150,000 miles a year, making them ripe for improved miles per gallon.

The rules will cover big rig tractor-trailers, "vocational trucks" such as garbage trucks and transit and school buses, and work trucks such as heavy-duty versions of the Ford F-Series, Dodge Ram and Chevrolet Silverado.

The White House has pushed for tougher fuel economy standards across the nation's fleet as a way to reduce dependence on oil and cut greenhouse gas emissions tied to global warming.

The fleet of new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs will need to reach 35.5 mpg by 2016, and the government is developing plans for future vehicle models that could push the standards to 47 mpg to 62 mpg by 2025.

Medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks are much less fuel-efficient than conventional automobiles; the fleet of tractor-trailers typically get about 6 mpg to 7 mpg, while work trucks can achieve 10 to 11 mpg. But they still consume about 20 percent of the transportation fuel in the U.S.

Margo Oge, director of the EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality, told reporters last week the proposed rules would be a "win-win situation for the country, the economy, climate change and energy security." She declined to release details.

President Barack Obama was joined by truck manufacturers in the Rose Garden in May when he said the government would release the first-ever proposed standards for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency for large trucks this year. Obama estimated then that the fuel efficiency of tractor-trailers could be improved by 25 percent using existing technologies.

"This is going to bring down the costs of transporting - for transporting goods, serving businesses and consumers alike," Obama said on May 21, flanked by executives with Daimler Trucks, Volvo, Cummins and Navistar, and trucking industry and union officials.

The improvements in fuel efficiency will come through a combination of more efficient engines, improved aerodynamics and better tires.

Environmental groups have pointed to a National Academy of Sciences report this year that said the trucks could make broad improvements during the decade through existing technologies. The report found that using advanced diesel engines in tractor-trailers could reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 percent by 2020 while hybrid versions of garbage trucks and buses could see a 35 percent cut in fuel use by 2020.

"Whether you are a company or an individual truck owner, you will be saving money on day one because you'll be saving more on fuel than increased loan payments on a big truck," said David Friedman, research director for the clean vehicles program of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

LaHood reaffirms DOT’s commitment to combat distracted driving

on .

By CCJ Staff
Published January, 20 2011


At an event marking the one-year anniversary of FocusDriven, the first national nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for victims of distracted driving, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood reaffirmed his commitment to putting an end to distracted driving.

Joined by family members of distracted driving victims, including FocusDriven President Jennifer Smith, and representatives from Safeway and the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, LaHood unveiled a number of new public education initiatives and discussed the important leadership role businesses play in promoting safe driving behavior.

“Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic, and when it comes to road safety, we will not take a backseat to anyone,” LaHood said. “That’s why distracted driving will continue to be a major part of DOT’s robust safety agenda. Together with advocates like FocusDriven and NETS, and employers like Safeway, we can put an end to this deadly behavior and save lives.”

To show the devastating real-life effect of distracted driving, DOT unveiled the latest in its “Faces of Distracted Driving” video series, which explores the tragic consequences of texting and cell phone use while driving. The video features people from across the country who have been injured or lost loved ones in distracted driving crashes. This week’s video features 17-year-old Emily Reynolds. Emily’s older sister Cady was killed in 2007 when a teen driver texting on her cell phone struck Cady’s car in Omaha, Nebraska. To watch, or find out how to submit a video, visit:

Also at Thursday’s event, FocusDriven President Jennifer Smith launched a new anti-distracted driving PSA. Titled the “5500 campaign,” the 30-second public service announcement includes pictures of hundreds of distracted driving victims, putting faces to the fatalities that occur on American roadways.

“In our new PSA, we want to remind people that each and every distracted driving fatality is someone’s loved one, and that person’s family is in tremendous pain,” said Smith. “Our new campaign will urge the public to put down the phone and focus on the drive. We cannot wait until others are killed or injured to take action. The statistics show that it’s no longer ‘if’ someone you know will be affected by distracted driving, it’s ‘when.’ ”

On the employer side, Shannon Campagna, vice president of Federal Government Relations for Safeway grocery stores, spoke about the company’s decision to institute an anti-distracted driving policy for all Safeway truck drivers. The policy prohibits Safeway’s 1,525 truck drivers from talking or texting on cell phones, or from using hands-free devices while driving.

“The safety of our employees, customers and residents in the communities where we operate is and always has been of the utmost importance to Safeway,” Campagna said. “This policy not only helps keep our employees and customers safe, but we believe it is a good business practice as it ensures that our products arrive safely and on time. Implementation of policies limiting use of phones and mobile devices by more private companies will help minimize distractions for drivers and keep Americans on the road safe and healthy.”

Bill Windsor, NETS chairman, also announced the results of their 2010 Drive Safely Work Week (DSWW) campaign. The campaign, which promoted anti-distracted driving employer policies, reached 5,000 public and private organizations representing more than 20 million U.S. employees. Of the 4,690 unique organizations that downloaded the NETS electronic tool kit, 88 percent currently have or expect to have a cell phone policy in place within the next 12 months.

“Employers can make a real difference in keeping their associates safe both on and off the job by educating them about the dangers of distracted driving and adopting policies to prevent it,” said Windsor.

While public awareness about America’s distracted driving epidemic has grown in recent years, the problem still looms large. In 2009, nearly 5,500 people died and half a million were injured in accidents involving a distracted driver. To learn more about DOT’s efforts to stop distracted driving, go to


From Trucking.Com - We've got trucking covered

on .

Economy, Trucking Looking Up for 2011
By Deborah Lockridge, Editor

A string of economic experts and industry analysts offered a more optimistic look at the economic and trucking industry outlook for 2011 -- albeit with some downsides -- during the annual Heavy Duty Dialogue event put on Monday by the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association in Las Vegas.

The Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. "But a recession ending doesn't mean the economy is operating anywhere near a normal type of level," said Bill Strauss, chief economist with the Chicago Federal Reserve. "In a technical sense, the words we would use is the economy still stinks."

Actually, when measured by Gross Domestic Product, the economy has been growing at a pretty good clip -- 3.2 percent growth over the last four quarters which is above the trend growth of 2.5 to 2.75 percent. But "it doesn't FEEL like we're doing all that well," Strauss said. The main reason for that, he said, is that rebuilding of inventories accounted for 62 percent of that growth. "This is truly a story of the tail wagging the dog," he said, because inventories represent a fraction of 1 percent of GDP.

Inventories, he explained, are goods that are produced but not sold in the marketplace. If we remove the inventory number from GDP, that's called final sales. Final sales also normally trends to 2.5 to 2.75 percent, but it's only been growing at just over 1 percent. "Here you can see why it hasn't felt so good," he said. But he predicted that number will more closely match GDP growth in 2011 and 2012.

In 2011 and 2012, growth will accelerate somewhat, Strauss said. "But more importantly, it's going to feel better, for two key reasons." Number one, he said, the inventory bullwhip effect is probably coming to an end. Number two, he said, government stimulus is unlikely under the new Congress.

"But even with the pullback in inventory and government spend, we're going to be looking at growth that is going higher," Strauss said. "And that's why it will feel better."

The Fed's forecast is for GDP growth of 3.5 to 4 percent this year and close to 4 percent for the next couple of years. That is more optimistic than the Blue Chip Economic Indicators, a monthly survey of 50 forecasters. That consensus puts GDP growth at 3.3 percent through 2011 and about the same for 2012.

That's less than we've seen coming out of previous deep recessions, pointed out Eric Starks, president of FTR Associates, where 5 to 10 percent was more the norm. "We cannot completely discount history and say it won't be there," he said. "If that happens things get a little crazy."

Unemployment is expected to keep edging down, with the Blue Chip forecast projected for 9.1 percent by the fourth quarter of 2011 and 8.4 percent by the end of 2012.

The Manufacturing-Led Recovery

The one sector of the economy that has been the true growth sector is manufacturing, Strauss said. Manufacturing has been expanding for 18 months - and it has not been slightly above trend, it has been well above trend, growing at a 7.8 percent annual rate. The sector has recovered 56.6 percent of what it lost during the recession, and by second quarter of 2012 should have recovered all of that and will again be looking at record numbers.

Looking at industrial output numbers from December 2007 to June 2009, Strauss noted that the two that fell the most were motor vehicle/parts and primary metals, which kind of go hand in hand. "But much like a tennis ball, the industries that fell the worst are the two sectors that are leading the way" in the recovery. "You're seeing spectacular increases."

The relatively better performance of manufacturing is expected to persist over the next couple of years, Strauss said, although perhaps not quite so drastically. The Blue Chip forecast puts industrial production rising 4.1 percent through 011 and 3.8 percent in 2012. Strauss said he's optimistic it will be even higher.

And, of course, manufacturing is an important figure for trucks, as the services portion of the economy can't exactly be transported on a truck.

Manufacturing was also cited as a strong economic figure by Donald Broughton, partner with Avondale Partners, citing the Institute for Supply Managements's Manufacturing Business Survey, ISM's Purchasing Managers Index was at 57 percent for December. (A PMI reading above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding.)

"I generally don't like confidence indexes because they tend to be squishy," Broughton said. "It's all about feelings. Except purchasing managers. When I ask them how they feel and they say they feel good, it means they're signing POs. So there's a strong correlation with truck tonnage." However, he notes, it's only good for short-term predictions. After a month or two the accuracy drops off.

The capacity question

Much has been made of the issue of capacity coming out of the industry thanks to trucking bankruptcies, truck exports and other factors.

Broughton pointed out that during the previous recession, 11 percent of gross capacity was taken off the road by bankruptcies. But the remaining players added trucks, bringing the next capacity reduction to only 7 percent. By contrast, in this cycle, trucking failures took 12 percent of gross capacity off the road - and the remaining players cut the size of their fleets, bringing the net capacity reduction to 15 percent.

Equipment is not the only factor in capacity, however. Those truck must have drivers in order to haul freight. As Starks said, "the looming driver shortage keeps getting delayed, but it is only a matter of when." The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's new CSA enforcement program and proposed changes to hours of service will have a negative impact on the number of available drivers.

"The most important thing is fleets are not looking to add capacity," Starks said. "They are using current units and searching for more 'desirable' freight." While truck orders are picking up, he said, they are to replace aging equipment, not to enlarge the fleet.

FTR measures "active capacity" - the number of trucks out there actually looking for a load, not the trucks parked against a fleet's fence or on a used truck lot. "We're sitting at about 95 percent utilization of active capacity right now," Starks said. "And as we get into the middle of the year, the system is going to hit 100 percent capacity."

Fleets will be less likely that in the past to just go out and add equipment to expand the fleet, Starks said. Those turcks are just more that can be penalized by CSA. And if you don't have a driver for that truck, you're not going to buy a new truck.

However, Broughton said he doesn't believe that pricing will improve as much as some analysts have predicted as a result of this tightening capacity. Yes, rates will go up, he said, but he thinks predictions of 15 percent or more by the second quarter of 2011 are unrealistic.

And margins will be flat despite higher rates, Broughton said, because utilization is going down thanks to the government's new CSA program and proposed changes in hours of service, but costs are going up for fuel, labor, equipment and more.

Starks responded in a later presentation to Broughton's comment, saying FTR expcts to see a 10 to 15 percent increase in rates. "Does that mean that's all profit? No! We're going to see costs go up 10 percent or more, so their profit margins are going to continue to get squeezed."

Starks also pointed out that freight is the most important indicator to be watching in order to understand the recovery. "What we've seen is that freight had flattened out over the last six to nine months, but we see things are going to start picking back up." In fact, Starks predicts a 3.5 to 5 percent growth in freight over the next several years, which is significantly higher than the usual rate of around 2 percent. However, it will still take a lot of growth after such a large downturn to get us back to the peak freight levels we saw in 2006, he said.

Finding Drivers

One of the most critical factors for trucking companies in 2011 and 2012 will be the ability to find drivers and owner-operators, Broughton said. "That will be the single biggest differentiating factor between trucking company A and trucking company B," he said.

Starks said the hours of service changes could result in a productivity drop of as much as 6 percent. "That means we would need another 150,000 trucks on the road overnight to move the same amount of freight."

Between the new regulations and a pipeline issue - the ability for trucking companies to actually bring people in, hire them and put them in a truck - the industry could be facing a peak shortage of 600,000 drivers.

"Let's say fleets increase their productivity, so the driver shortage gets down to 400,000 - that's twice as bad as what we saw in 2004."
In order to deal with it, Starks predicts we could see more drop and hook freight and increase in demand for trailers as trucking companies try to keep their tractors as productive as possible despite reduced driver hours and drivers available.

Broughton said he likes to follow over-the-road truck driver pay as a predictor of unemployment. That's because there is a part of the economy that views driving a truck as a last resort. "So when I talk to trucking companies and they say their recruiting department is finding plenty of great drivers, I sell all my truck stock and get into a fetal position in the corner of the room, because that the plant went from three shifts to two, or it means the construction job finished and there wasn't another one to go to."

On the other hand, he said, when you have to start paying more for drivers, it means unemployment is going to start coming down. "As long as truck driver pay is going up, I'm confident unemployment will keep going down."

Buying Trucks

"Things are definitely turning around in the Class 8 market," Starks said. FTR predicts 201,000 in truck production for 2011 and 258,000 for 2012. Trailer orders are accelerating, as well, and FTR has upped its forecast over the last several months to reflect higher order activity they're seeing. Their current forecast is 170,000 trailers this year and 220,000 for 2012.