NTSB Recommends Banning All Cell Phones in Trucks

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The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that all cell phone usage — including hands free — be banned in Commercial Motor Vehicles.

The National Transportation Safety Board, an independent government body, made its recommendations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and to the states earlier this week. The NTSB does not actually have the power to create regulations itself. Instead, it makes recommendations to FMCSA based on detailed studies that it performs.
In this case, the NTSB was investigating a crash that occurred in March 2010. Ten people died when a tractor-trailer hit a van holding 11 people. NTSB investigators say that cell-phone usage was a primary factor in that crash. The driver of the CMV was killed in that accident and was not charged. (Driver fatigue and the failure of highway crash barriers were also key factors in the accident).

Are These New Laws or Recommendations?

This is just a recommendation for now. However, FMCSA does tend to follow the NTSB’s recommendations in the majority of cases. This particular case has a reasonable chance of becoming regulation as the distracted driving is somewhat of a favorite cause of the Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood.

LaHood’s tenure in the position has been marked with a strong crackdown on distracted driving with numerous new laws and advertising campaigns against the use of cell phones — particularly texting — while driving.

Another interesting note about the NTSB’s recommendation is that it jibes with what the general consensus from safety experts has been for a long time: that it is the conversation that is distracting, not the holding of a cellphone. The experts have long advocated that hands free cellphones should be banned as well as hand held.

What is Currently Banned?

Currently, the regulations ban hand-held cellphone usage and ‘texting’. The texting definition is particularly broad.

Texting means manually entering alphanumeric text, or reading text from an electronic device.
This action includes, but is not limited to, short message service, e-mailing, instant messaging, a command or request to access a World Wide Web page, or engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or electronic text entry for present or future communication.
Beyond that, the majority of states have laws regarding cellphone usage while driving. Below is an updated edition of the State Laws grid first featured in Fast-Fax 695. When in an unfamiliar state, our recommendation is always to pull over before using a cellphone.

Cell Phone Ban by State

Transportation Ticker

I-64 Bridge in Louisville Closed. The I-64 bridge in Louisville, KY — a major thoroughfare, especially for truckers — has been closed indefinitely. A crack was found during a routine inspection necessitating that the structure be closed to traffic. The bridge is operated by the Indiana DOT, who have already indicated that there will be no problem fixing the crossing, however a timetable has not yet been offered.

Obviously, this is going to cause some serious issues in regards to crossing the Ohio river. The best advice is to use the I-65 bridge further upstream and use I-265 to link between I-64 and I-65. Baring heavy traffic, this should only add about half an hour to your journey.

A map is available on the Transportation Ticker Blog. To view it and for the rest of the top indsutry news, visit

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • • Vol. 111, No. 704 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011

9/12/2011 Natural Gas for Trucking Building Momentum

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From Trucking Info.Com

9/12/2011 Natural Gas for Trucking Building Momentum
By Deborah Lockridge, Editor in Chief

Sales of trucks powered by natural gas will grow faster than the rest of the North American Market over the next several years, according to Frost & Sullivan, an industry analysis firm.

A new report predicts that North American sales of Class 6-8 LNG and CNG vehicles will rise to nearly 30,000 by 2017. That's up from just 1,950 last year, slightly less than 1% of North American sales.

The researchers estimated that the total truck market will grow from 226,400 vehicles last year to 371,700 in 2017, and by that point nearly 8% of sales will be powered by some form of natural gas.

One of the stumbling blocks to fleets using natural gas is the higher up-front cost. The Frost & Sullivan report said while a basic Class 8 diesel tractor costs $100,000 to $150,000, but natural gas engines add $28,000 to $72,500, depending on the type of natural gas ignition technology used.

In some areas, government programs are helping out. For instance, the Ryder/San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) Natural Gas Vehicle project has allowed the company to secure lease agreements for 90 natural-gas trucks in its Southern California fleet.

The Ryder/SANBAG project is part of a joint public/private partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Energy Commission, San Bernardino Associated Governments, Southern California Association of Governments, and Ryder.

The $38.7 million project includes:

* 202 natural gas vehicles available for lease or rent
* three strategically located natural gas compliance maintenance shops in Rancho Dominguez, Orange  
and Fontana
* two fueling stations.

Even without government subsidies, analysts at Frost & Sullivan said fleets can get their money's worth as long as natural gas prices are $1.50 less per gallon-equivalent than diesel fuel. The researchers said most fleets they have studied pay $1.65 to $1.80 per natural gas gallon equivalent, significantly lower than the $4 a gallon diesel is running at the pump these days.

The other main limitation to broader natural gas adoption is the absence of a broad-based fueling infrastructure, which makes the vehicles more suited to certain types of trucking, such as refuse fleets, drayage operations at ports, regional fleets, private fleets and dedicated contract carriage. Right now, the area of California to Texas is most densely developed as far as natural gas fueling infrastructure is concerned, and is still growing.

In recent months, major energy companies have announced big investments to push further natural gas infrastructure.

Chesapeake Energy, the country's second-largest producer of natural gas, is creating a $1 billion venture capital fund, Chesapeake NG Ventures Corp. The fund will identify and invest in companies and technologies that make it easier to move from imported oil to domestic natural gas resources. The company's redirecting about 1-2% of its annual drilling budget to the effort.

Over the next 10 years, the company anticipates committing at least $1 billion to natural gas vehicle initiatives. One of its first investments is $150 million in Clean Energy Fuel to accelerate its build-out of LNG fueling infrastructure along U.S. interstates.

Last week, Shell and Westport Innovations announced they've teamed up to encourage transportation companies to switch over to natural gas and develop standards for its use.  The two will launch a co-marketing program in North America aimed at giving customers a better economic case when buying and operating liquefied natural gas-powered vehicles.

As soon as next year, Shell will make LNG available to some heavy-duty fleet customers at truckstops in Alberta, Canada's energy hub. Shell wants to produce LNG by 2013 at its Jumping Pound gas-processing facility in the foothills of Alberta.

"We really see this as the starting gun for the whole industry," Westport CEO David Demers said on CNBC's "Mad Money."

NLRB Rulemaking Causes Stir Trucking Industry

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The trucking industry has reacted vocally to a National Labor Relations Board rulemaking requiring motor carriers to display information about their employees rights to unionize.

There has been widely disparate reactions from industry insiders in response to a new rulemaking by the National Labor Relations Board. The new rules require that employers post information about the right to unionize along side other mandatory postings (such as disability and minimum wage laws).

What are the New Rules?

Employers will now be required to display a standard posting informing employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

When do They Go Into Effect?

Employers are required to begin posting the notices on November 14, 2011.

Where do I get the Posting?

The posters (11x17s) will be provided for free by your NLRB local office. Alternatively, you can download them from the NLRB website (

Are the Postings Available in Other Languages?

Yes. If you need a translated version of the posting, contact your local NLRB office. Note: If your workforce is at least 20% non- English speaking, you are required to post a translated copy.

Does Every Company Have to Post this Notice?

According to the NLRB:

The posting requirement applies to all private-sector employers (including labor unions) subject to the National Labor Relations Act, which excludes agricultural, railroad and airline employers.”

The US Postal Service is also exempt from the rule, per comments made during the rulemaking process.

Do I Need to Keep any Paperwork Regarding the Notice?

No. There is no record keeping requirement.

What Happens If I Don’t Post the Notice?

If you don’t post the notice, you will technically be committing an unfair labor practice under the NLRA. Note, however, the following from the NLRB website:

The Board expects that, in most cases, employers who fail to post the notice are unaware of the rule and will comply when requested by a Board agent. In such cases, the unfair labor practice case will typically be closed without further action. The Board also may extend the 6-month statute of limitations for filing a charge involving other unfair labor practice allegations against the employer. If an employer knowingly and willfully fails to post the notice, the failure may be considered evidence of unlawful motive in an unfair labor practice case involving other alleged violations of the NLRA.

The NLRB does not have the authority to levey fines against non-compliant employers.

What Has the Industry Reaction Been?

The Teamsters have applauded the legislation. However, trucking associations, including the ATA, and other business groups, have come out en-masse against it.

In comments to the NLRB during the rulemaking process, ATA wrote the following:

In an industry that has seen several of its unionized carriers fail in the past decade, this outright promotion of union interests is a threat to the hundreds of thousands of carriers that remain vital to the country’s economic recovery,”

Others outside the industry opposed the rulemaking as well. “Just when we thought we had seen it all from the NLRB, it has reached a new low in its zeal to punish small-business owners,” Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses’ Small Business Legal Center, said in a statement.

On the other hand, Teamsters president James Hoffa cheered the ruling. In a statement he said:
Employers have only one reason to oppose this rule: They don’t want their workers to know about their legal protections and fundamental right to organize into [a] union.”

Transportation Ticker

Independent Review of CSA is In. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) independently evaluated of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program’s Operational Model Test (Op-Model Test) on August 31, 2011. The review was generally favorable:

Court Smacks FMCSA Over EOBR Rule. A Federal Court of Appeals has rejected a 2010 FMCSA rule requiring that truckers with a problematic history of hours-of-service violations be forced to use an EOBR. That rule had been scheduled to go into effect in 2012 but was rejected on grounds that it does not protect against harassment of individual truck drivers. The court also stated that it was likely to find other issues with the rule in the future.

For more on these stories and for the rest of the top indsutry news, visit

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • • Vol. 111, No. 703 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011

Help Wanted: Trucking Job Applicants on the Decrease

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By Olivia Vidal - bio | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - Driving for a living can bring a decent wage, but the number of applicants has gone down over the past few years according to at least one transportation provider.

Sentinel Transportation, LLC Terminal Manager Keith Porter said most companies have become more competitive with the hiring process.  They're also looking closely at driving records of applicants.

Porter also said with the decrease in applicants, salaries and benefit packages have become significantly better so as to attract more people to the trucking industry.

"Right now, our drivers here in Lake Charles are earning between $55,000 to $70,000 per year," Porter said. "We have terminals within our company that are earning in the $90,000 to $100,000 range."

But many drivers are nearing retirement and companies like Sentinel will need to fill the spots.

"Within our company we've got about 25-percent... Continue Reading...


Del Mar, Coastal Bend Colleges See Increased Demand for Commercial Drivers

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Area colleges issue calls for trucks, trailers

By Elaine Marsilio

CORPUS CHRISTI — If you want to get a commercial driver's license through Del Mar College, you are going to have to wait — until mid-October, at least.

"The demand in the industry is so huge right now," said John M. Rojas, director of Transportation Training Services at the college's West Campus.

Some trucking associations nationwide estimate the driver deficit will reach 300,000 full-time positions in a year.

In the Coastal Bend, the Eagle Ford Shale exploration has put increased demand on local truck driving schools at community colleges.

At Del Mar, Rojas' program is turning potential students away or putting them on waiting lists because he doesn't have enough trailer trucks to meet the demand. His courses are booked through Oct. 17.

Some potential students end up going to over-the-road, or cross-country driving, companies with schools, Rojas said.

But there could be some relief as Del Mar College officials have budgeted $54,000 this year for the purchase of a used trailer truck for the college's program. The college also is looking for local nonprofit agencies to donate trucks to the program.

At Coastal Bend College, officials expanded the truck driving program to include the Beeville, Kingsville and Pleasanton locations because of local demand, college spokeswoman Adrian Jackson said.

The college had a lone Alice site last year that trained more than 100 drivers... Continue Reading...


Schools in Ohio Try to Fill Need for Truck Drivers

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Denver Hamrick

In this July 21, 2011 photo, Dave Mayfield of Panther Expedited Service, left, talks with Hamrick Truck School owner Denver Hamrick during a career fair, in Medina, Ohio. MANDATORY CREDIT Photo: Akron Beacon Journal, Phil Masturzo / AP

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A nationwide shortage of truck drivers has truck-driver schools in Ohio working to help trucking companies fill that need with newly-trained drivers.

Trucking organizations' estimates on the need for drivers over the next couple of years range from 100,000 to 500,000, the Akron Beacon Journal ( reported. Industry officials say the aging of the current driver population and increased trucking regulations are some of the reasons contributing to the tight market.

The shortage is forcing companies to look more at hiring students from schools, even though carriers typically prefer drivers with one or more years of experience, said Kreigh Spahr, program manager at the Euclid-based truck-driver school at Cuyahoga Community college in northeast Ohio.

"Every major carrier is hiring," Spahr told the newspaper

The founder of the Hamrick Truck Driving School in Medina County says most trucking companies he deals with come to the school to recruit. First-year pay typically is in the low $30,000 range, Denver Hamrick said.

Many trucking companies also will reimburse new drivers for tuition, starting at about $100 to $140 a month, if they stay with the company for a set time, Hamrick said.

Schools say many students are turning to trucking as a second career.

Gladys Tejada, 37, of Cuyahoga Falls, previously worked in quality control at a Summit County business, but expects to graduate from Hamrick's school in September and start driving a truck for a living.

While it's been more difficult than she expected, Tejada said it's what she has always wanted to do.

"Every time I drive, I like it more," she said.

Scott Shy, driver recruiter for Maverick Transportation LLC in Little Rock, Ark., recently attended an open house at the Hamrick school aimed at matching students and drivers with employers.

"There's just not enough drivers to fill the needs of the public," said Shy.

Maverick provides extensive training for new drivers, but turnover among its drivers is 73 percent every three months, Shy said.

Rusty Napier, of Napier Truck Driver Training Inc. in Hamilton, told The Associated Press that the school in southwest Ohio gets calls from companies around the country, but doesn't always have students available.

"Most students — once they have their license — have companies waiting for them," he said

The school's five-week classes cost $4,195 and only have about 10 or 12 students, "but these companies pay people to come talk to them," Napier said... Continue Reading...


Louisiana's Unfilled Jobs Require Experience, Education

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dda student

Charles Dalton (left), checks his mirrors as his trainer, Jonas Anderson, watches on during truck driving training at Diesel Driving Academy. / Henrietta Wildsmith/ The Times

Louisiana continues to outperform the South as the country's economic recovery remains in doubt, but many jobs in the state requiring experience and higher education remain unfilled.

With the South's lowest unemployment rate — 7.6 percent at the end of July — and what many economic advisors see as a newly adopted pro-business attitude, Louisiana has weathered the nationwide fiscal meltdown better than many other states, but competition for jobs remains stiff.

Competition for the available jobs in Louisiana has allowed employers to be pickier, according to Jacques Lasseigne, director of field operations for the Louisiana Workforce Commission in Shreveport. Many of those jobs aren't what people are looking for and either pay too little or are in a foreign line of work, he said.

But some industries are hurting for labor, Lasseigne said, and trying to fill those vacancies might be an indicator of recovery. Truck drivers, industrial mechanics and almost anyone with medical training are now in demand, he said.

"Trucking reacts to the economy first. If no one is making orders, trucking is the first business to see that hit," said Bruce Busada, president of Louisiana's Diesel Driving Academy. "A truck touches everything."

Busada said companies are hiring truckers because the economy has picked up some. Much of the trucking labor pool is near retirement, he said, and there are fewer people trying to get into the industry. Wages are up and demand for drivers has rarely been higher, he said.

Within the first month at the Diesel Driving Academy, Busada said students usually see two or three companies talking to them about potential jobs.

Kristen Gary, spokeswoman for Christus Shumpert Health Systems, said it is trying to fill vacancies across the board from professional disciplines to support services. Gary said experience and education are essential, but to what point they are requirements depends on the specific job.

Statewide Report

Kurt Foreman, president of the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, attributed Louisiana's ability to hold against poor economic tides in part to a pro-business environment developed by local, state and business leadership as well as the elimination of noncompetitive taxes... Continue Reading...