ATA’s Summit on Natural Gas to Focus on Alt-Fuels for Fleets

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By Jonathan S. Reiskin, Associate News Editor
This story appears in the Nov. 26 print edition of Transport Topics.

American Trucking Associations this week will convene a two-day, public conference on the industry’s use of natural gas, a development that several executives said may significantly alter U.S. trucking operations by displacing much of the diesel fuel the industry burns.

The sold-out ATA Summit on Natural Gas in Trucking will run Nov. 28-30 in Arlington, Va., and has attracted more than 500 attendees, more than twice the number the trucking federation originally thought would attend.

The 11 sessions draw together executives from trucking, truck and engine manufacturing, truck stops, natural-gas producers and vehicle maintenance. There will also be representatives from the U.S. Energy Department, an environmental advocacy group and several policy groups, and two members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
 “This is a cutting-edge symposium,” said ATA Chairman Michael Card. “ATA is very concerned about the environment, engine exhaust and reducing our carbon footprint.”

“We also need our country to be more energy self-sufficient, and this has the potential to help America’s energy security,” said Card, who is also president of Combined Transport Inc., Central Point, Ore.

“We couldn’t be happier with the quality of the speakers we have attracted,” said ATA President Bill Graves.

“We’ve moved past the question of whether natural gas is viable as a fuel for trucking. It certainly is, but now we have to go fleet by fleet and look at the details,” Graves said.

In talking to fleet executives during the year, Graves said he has seen carriers fit into three groups: those that are already very involved with CNG or LNG — compressed or liquefied natural gas — and have already generated results; those that are seriously inclined toward using natural gas but aren’t entirely sold; and those that are pessimistic and far from being sold.

There will be information in this summit that is relevant for people in all three camps,” Graves said.

Among fleets with a demonstrated interest, Ryder System said Nov. 15 that it now owns 215 CNG tractors and 35 powered by LNG. Collectively, the vehicles have racked up more than 6 million miles, displacing 923,000 gallons of diesel that would have been burned last year and this year.

Ryder, based in Miami, ranks No. 10 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers and works in full-service truck leasing and dedicated contract carriage.
Ryder Vice President Scott Perry will speak at the summit about maintenance and shop considerations, along with executives from Navistar Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp. and supermarket chain Giant Eagle Inc.

If the use of natural gas spreads, it will be particularly important for truck stops.

“There’s a lot of discussion about this among truck stop operators. This could be the next big fuel,” said Lisa Mullings, president of Natso Inc., a trade group representing truck stop operators.
Mullings said many members of her industry have changed significantly in their attitude toward natural gas over the past 12 months.

“More and more of them are starting to put in natural gas. There’s a lot less uncertainty about this than there was a year ago,” she said.

Graves will moderate a panel discussion early in the program featuring top executives from three of the largest truck stop chains: Jimmy Haslam, CEO of Pilot Flying J; Tom O’Brien, CEO of TravelCenters of America; and Frank Love, president of Love’s Travel Stops.

All major North American heavy-duty truck and engine makers plan to send a representative to the panel moderated by Transport Topics Publisher and Editorial Director Howard Abramson. Executives from Freightliner Trucks, Kenworth Trucks, Navistar and Volvo Group will talk about their approaches to natural-gas power.

Joining them will be representatives from the three companies that currently make or adapt engines to run on natural gas: Cummins Inc., Westport Innovations and a joint venture of the two companies, Cummins-Westport.


New Members Appointed to ATRI Research Advisory Committee

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Arlington, VA – The Board of Directors of the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently appointed 17 new members to its Research Advisory Committee (RAC).  The RAC is charged with annually identifying the trucking industry’s top research needs.  RAC members represent a diverse group of industry stakeholders including motor carriers, industry suppliers, academics, government, driver groups and law enforcement.  The new members, along with 16 reappointed members, will serve a two-year term starting January 2013. 

The ATRI Board also appointed Steve L. Niswander, Vice President of Safety, Policy and Regulatory Relations for Groendyke Transport in Enid, Oklahoma as Chairman of the Research Advisory Committee.  Niswander has been a member of the RAC since 2009 and he will serve as Chairman of the 2013-2014 RAC. He will be responsible for leading the group’s identification, review and prioritization of the industry’s research agenda. 

Newly appointment members of the ATRI Research Advisory Committee:

Duane Acklie


Crete Carrier Corporation

Chris McLoughlin

Cargo Risk Manager

C.H. Robinson

Kirk Altrichter

Vice President, Maintenance

Gordon Trucking, Inc.

Robert Moseley, Jr.

Transportation Group Lead

Smith Moore Leatherwood

Andrew Boyle

Executive Vice President

Boyle Transportation

Scott Mugno

Vice President, Safety and Maintenance

FedEx Ground

Michael Conyngham

Director of Research

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Vidya Mysore

Manager, Systems Traffic Modeling

Florida Department of Transportation

John Freeman

Vice President Sales

Pilot Travel Centers

Richard Plewacki


Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Arnoff

Matt Hart

Executive Director

Illinois Trucking Association

Webb Shaw

Vice President, Editorial Resources

J.J. Keller & Associates

Sanford Hodes

Senior Vice President and

Deputy General Counsel

Ryder System, Inc.

Frank Southworth

Principal Research Scientist

Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Keith Klingenberg

Senior Vice President, Logistics Practice Group Leader

Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA

Keith Tuttle


Motor Carrier Services, Inc.

Michael Kray

Principal Planner

Atlanta Regional Commission



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.


OSHA Urges Hurricane Recovery Workers to Protect Themselves

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US Labor Department’s OSHA urges hurricane recovery workers to protect themselves against hazards

BOSTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is urging workers and members of the public engaged in Hurricane Sandy cleanup and recovery efforts in New York, New Jersey and the New England states to be aware of the hazards they might encounter and the steps they should take to protect themselves.

“Storm recovery workers are working around the clock to clean up areas impacted by the storm,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s New York regional administrator. “We want to make sure that workers are aware of the hazards involved in cleanup work and take the necessary precautions to prevent serious injuries.”

OSHA field staff members are providing safety assistance, technical support, and information and training to those involved in the recovery efforts. For more information about unsafe work situations, workers and the general public can contact OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

For more information about protecting workers during Hurricane Sandy recovery, visit This comprehensive website offers fact sheets, concise “quick cards,” frequently asked questions, safety and health guides, and additional information in English and Spanish.

Cleanup work can involve restoring electricity, communications, and water and sewer services; demolition activities; removal of floodwater from structures; entry into flooded areas; cleaning up debris; tree trimming; structural, roadway, bridge, dam and levee repair; use of cranes, aerial lifts and other heavy equipment; hazardous waste operations; and emergency response activities.

Inherent hazards may include downed electrical wires, carbon monoxide and electrical hazards from portable generators, fall and “struck-by” hazards from tree trimming or working at heights, being caught in unprotected excavations or confined spaces, burns, lacerations, musculoskeletal injuries, being struck by traffic or heavy equipment, and drowning from being caught in moving water or while removing water from flooded structures.

Protective measures include evaluating the work area for all hazards; assuming all power lines are live; using the right personal protective equipment (hard hats, shoes, reflective vests, safety glasses); conducting exposure monitoring where there are chemical hazards; following safe tree cutting procedures to prevent trees from falling on workers; and using fall protection and proper ladder safety when working at heights.

For additional information on grants, cleanup efforts and recovery resources, visit the Labor Department’s Hurricane Recovery Assistance Web page, which is being continuously updated at Also, a checklist of activities to be undertaken before, during and after a hurricane is available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information about the agency, visit


The Lonesome Road - America’s trucking industry faces driver shortages

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(scroll down for the article)

The trucking industry is facing a significant driver shortage as baby boomers retire and younger people are unwilling to replace them. The shortfall eased a bit during the recession as fewer trucks took to the road, but with the economy recovering, industry leaders say the shortage is becoming problematic.

The American Trucking Associations predicts the industry will be short approximately 110,000 drivers by 2014, while other estimates peg the figure up to three times higher. That deficit has been paying dividends for those who remain.

“Driver salaries are on the rise,” says Michael Shaw, a spokesman for the California Trucking Association. “Demand is outstripping supply.”


U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Festivities For November 15th

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Chris Spinks
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 214.978.4824
Ken Coffin, US Forest Service
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
, 970-878-6001

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Festivities Scheduled For November 15th At House of Blues Dallas

Dallas, TX (11/5/12) – On November 15, 2012, the U.S. Forest Service with help from their nonprofit partner, Choose Outdoors will be bringing the US Capitol Christmas Tree ( to Dallas, TX and invites all people young and old to come celebrate this annual holiday tradition.

On November 2, the 2012 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was harvested in the White River National Forest, near Meeker, CO. The tree was then wrapped and will be transported to Washington, D.C. on a custom-decorated Mack Pinnacle model truck which will be driven by former U.S. Senator, Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will to be on display at 4:00 PM, Thursday, November 15th at House of Blues Dallas. This stop will be one of many along the tree’s 23-day tour across Colorado and the country on its way to the nation’s capital. All festivities with the Tree are open to the public and free for all to enjoy.

As the Tree travels the country, it will carry a message about sustainable forestry as well as invite people to assist with raising funds for the Forest Restoration Challenge. This challenge was set up to help areas impacted by the massive wildfires which devastated areas near Colorado Springs and Fort Collins in the spring of 2012. Those interested in donating can text any dollar amount to 303-502-5858 then donors will then be ask for some basic information to complete the donation. In addition, Toys for Tots will be accepting donations of toys, and ROTARY will accept contributions of coats and nonperishable foods.

Festivities being held while the Tree is in town will include presentations by public officials, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, ornament decorating, and a free performance by Country singer, Lindsay Lawler, who is also the spokesperson for the Truckload Carriers Association’s Highway Angel program. Lawler will perform Standing Tall, the winning song from more than 300 entries in the Sing 4 The Trees songwriting contest.

Special events and opportunities to view the tree are being planned in every stop across the country. Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be traveling with the Tree so be sure to have the little one's bring their list so they can show Santa.

“We’re working with city officials and volunteers across the country to make the 2012 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree tour an unforgettable experience of both giving back and celebrating the holiday season,” said Bruce Ward, founder of Choose Outdoors.

Upon arrival in Washington, D.C., the tree will be placed on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol and decorated with more than 5,000 ornaments handmade by Colorado children depicting the tree’s theme, “Celebrating the Great Outdoors.” In early December, a tree lighting ceremony will take place and will be available for public viewing throughout the holiday season.

Costs associated with the tree's transportation and tour events are made possible by contributions by individuals, corporations and local communities. Major sponsors include the Colorado Tourism Office, Mack Trucks and The National Association of Convenience Stores and Randall Reilly Publishing.

For more information on the Dallas, TX tour stop, visit To track the tree’s route, visit or you can also follow the tree on Facebook (, Twitter ( and Pinterest (


Freight Shipments Rose 0.2% in September from August

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BTS Releases Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI); Freight Shipments Rose 0.2% in September from August

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 0.2 percent in September from August, rising after a one-month decline, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today. The September 2012 index level (109.2) was 15.8 percent above the April 2009 low during the recession.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments in September measured by the Freight TSI (109.2) dropped 4.2 percent below the all-time high level of 114.0 in December 2011. BTS’ TSI records began in 1990.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.

Analysis: The Freight TSI in September 2012 continued a pattern of little change since January as some other indicators showed an uptick in economic growth. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 2.0 percent in the third quarter, up from 1.3 percent growth in the second quarter (though below 4.1 percent in fourth quarter of 2011), according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Employment grew by 0.6 percent in September. Almost all freight modes experienced some increase in September, but rail freight showed a significant decline.

Trend: Since peaking in December 2011 (114.0) at the highest level in the 22-year history of the Freight TSI series, the index has remained in a narrow band during the nine months of 2012. It reached a high of 110.6 in February and a low of 109.0 in August. After dipping to 94.3 in April 2009 during the recession, freight shipments increased in 27 of the last 41 months, rising 15.8 percent during that period.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in September 2012 (109.2) were 15.8 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.3). In April 2009, freight shipments were at their lowest level since June 1997 (92.3). The September 2012 level is down 4.2 percent from the historic peak reached in December 2011 (114.0).


New FMCSA Initiative - Driver Medical Card Validation

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and its State partners will be conducting random verifications of driver Medical Examiner's Certificates (MEC) during enforcement activities. The purpose of these validations is to obtain verbal confirmation that the medical examination was conducted and the information on the Medical Examination Certificate is accurate. It is not to evaluate the driver's medical fitness to operate a CMV.

The FMCSA will take the following steps to validate the authenticity of MECs:

1. Contact the Medical Examiner's (ME) office at the telephone number indicated on the certificate;
2. Explain the inquiry's purpose and indicate that it is intended solely to confirm that the document presented by the driver matches the records maintained by the ME. Direct contact with the actual ME is not required - an authorized staff member may provide the requested information; and
3. Provide the driver's name and date of birth, the date of issuance of the MEC and any restrictions indicated thereon and request verbal confirmation of the information provided.

The FMCSA appreciates the MEs' cooperation in our effort to eliminate the use of fraudulent MECs and to keep medically unqualified drivers off our nation's highways.