White House to unveil efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks

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By Andrew Restuccia - 08/09/11 06:00 AM ET

The White House on Tuesday will unveil the first-ever federal fuel efficiency standards for a range of heavy-duty trucks, a move the administration is casting as a key part of its plan to cut foreign oil imports and slash harmful air pollution.

The planned announcement comes amid growing economic uncertainty and increasing jitters on Wall Street. The Obama administration is expected to argue that the standards will result in major benefits to the ailing economy.

The standards mark the latest effort by the Obama administration to ratchet up vehicle fuel-economy rules. Late last month, Obama announced a plan to set an average standard of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 for cars and light-duty trucks. The standard builds on rules finalized last year for model-year 2012-2016 cars and light-duty trucks.

Obama initially was to travel to Interstate Moving Services in Springfield, Va., to unveil the efficiency standards, but the White House on Tuesday canceled the trip. A White House aide told The Hill the truck efficiency standards will still be released on Tuesday.

Similar to how previous fuel-efficiency rules were made, the Obama administration worked closely with industry groups to develop the heavy-duty truck standards. Navistar, Volvo, Chrysler, Conway and others all support the standards, the official said.... Continue reading...


Lawsuits Follow Deadly Amtrak Crash

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DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of August 1, 2011
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance

Carriers who fail to conduct and document highway-rail crossing safety training may be putting their companies at an unnecessary risk in the event of an accident.

There still aren’t many answers about what caused a truck to plow into a California-bound Amtrak train on a sunny June day in Nevada. However, plaintiffs have been lining up to point blame at the Battle Mountain, Nev., trucking company that employed the deceased driver of the CMV involved in the incident.

Suits and Countersuits

At the end of last week, the 141-driver company filed a countersuit against National Railroad Passenger Corp. The company is arguing that the railroad company did not adequately warn drivers of approaching trains.

In an earlier suit against the trucking company, Amtrak claimed that the employer failed to properly train the driver and was therefore responsible for the driver’s negligent actions. Amtrak has cited $10 million in property damages.

There have also been a number of smaller lawsuits filed by individuals injured in the crash or the families of the deceased. A 38-year-old Amtrak attendant injured in the crash was among the first to file suit claiming negligence by the truck driver and his employer.

A Deadly Incident

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is in the midst of a thorough investigation into the incident, which killed six people and injured more than 20. The final report won’t be out until sometime next year.

A few days after the accident, a board member on the scene reported that the NTSB teams planned to look into what role driver distraction may have played in the accident. They also expected to take a close look at driver toxicology and autopsy reports as well as the driver’s medical history and training and experience. On the vehicle side, the teams initially focused on the big rig’s tires and brakes.

According to initial reports, the truck was leading a three-truck convoy on a stretch of highway with a posted speed limit of 70-miles-per-hour in the moments before it smashed into the rail car. The warning lights were flashing and the crossing gates were down at the time of the impact. Marks at the scene show the truck skidded 320 feet before smashing through the gates and into the train car.

Is It Time for a RR Safety Meeting?

In an effort to stay on top of DOT safety and regulatory trends, the Fast-Fax team spends much more time reading about horrific CMV accidents than we would like. And truck on train accidents are far too common. Just a few weeks after the Nevada Amtrak crash, another CMV driver was killed in a collision with an Amtrak train in Maine. Fortunately, no passengers were injured in that incident.

Talk to any professional driver out there and you’ll find that most have had a close call with a train or know someone who has. Many distribution hubs depend on both highway and rail and we’ve heard far too many drivers admit that they’ve been stopped on the tracks sandwiched between two other trucks waiting to drop off a load. Most drivers, no matter how experienced, could benefit from a refresher course on highway-rail crossing safety.

FMCSA’s Free Safety Guidance

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has developed a handy highway-rail crossing info sheet that carriers may want to review with drivers. The flyer offers practical tips for safely crossing rail tracks and emergency numbers that drivers can call if their vehicle stalls or gets stuck on the tracks. To request a PDF copy of FMCSA’s “7 Steps for Safety” send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Don’t forget to document your company’s safety efforts. Training records are invaluable in the unfortunate event of an accident.

Transportation Ticker

DOT Announces Safety Summit. DOT and FMCSA have been hosting a series of Regional Motorcoach Safety Roundtables. The sessions, which are open to the public, will serve as teasers for a National Motorcoach Safety Summit scheduled for September 23 in Washington, D.C.

The roundtables and summit are part of an on-going campaign to improve motorcoach safety in the United States. Over the last several months, the DOT has been handing out unsatisfactory ratings and removing unsafe carriers and drivers from the road. The motorcoach meetings are expected to increase awareness about motorcoach safety issues and result in programs and solutions to improve passenger carrier safety.

Visit for more information.

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • • Vol. 111, No. 698 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011

Obama To Offer Tax Credit For Hiring Vets

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From the UP

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Spurring U.S. companies to hire veterans can help men and women returning from war zones move into routine civilian jobs, a senior White House adviser said.

"The president feels that our veterans ... deserve all the support that we as a country can give them to find new careers," a White House economic adviser told The Washington Examiner as President Barack Obama was to unveil a plan that offers tax credits to companies that hire veterans.

The proposal, which Obama was to make at the Washington Navy Yard at 11 a.m. EDT Friday, will call for a

$4,800 "Returning Heroes" tax credit to companies that hire veterans unemployed for six months or more and a

$2,400 tax credit if they hire one without a job for less than six months, the adviser told the Examiner.

Companies would get a $9,600 "Wounded Warriors" tax credit -- an extension of an existing program -- if they hired a disabled vet who was unemployed for six months or more or $4,800 if the vet was without a job for less  than six months, the adviser said.

The administration estimates the cost of the tax credits will be $120 million over two years and will be funded from the existing budget.

Obama was expected to order the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to head up a task force on
reforms, including a "reverse boot camp" to help veterans make the transition to civilian careers.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management would be directed to publish a manual showing business managers how they can locate veterans with skills and training that match open positions, CNN reported. And the U.S. Labor Department would unroll an "enhanced career development and job search service package."

Obama planned to challenge private-sector businesses to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses during the next two years.

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Will Your Drivers Survive A Roadside Inspection Unscathed?

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Roadside inspections are the major source of data for CSA, and violations discovered during them can lead to FMCSA interventions.

A properly executed vehicle inspection and maintenance program can help your drivers:

  • Maintain a healthy CSA BASIC score
  • Discover unsafe conditions before they cause accidents or crashes
  • Find mechanical problems before they lead to costly breakdowns
  • Avoid being placed out of service during a roadside DOT inspection, or being subject to infractions and fines
Visit J. J. Keller's Vehicle Inspections & Maintenance page for more info, solutions, and tips for surviving roadside inspections.

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Stevens Earns Thermo King Energy Efficiency Leader Award

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Contact:: Joan Schimml
(651) 260-4983, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Stevens Transport Incorporates Innovative Solutions that Reduce Fuel Consumption by 6.6 Percent and Idle Time by 48 Percent

Bloomington, Minn., Aug. 2, 2011 – Leaders at Stevens Transport, an eco-conscious, refrigerated transport carrier headquartered in Dallas, have applied innovative thinking to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Using a variety of solutions that include fuel management efforts, new technology and a proactive driver training program, Stevens has decreased its fuel usage by 6.6 percent and idle time by 48 percent.

The company, which offers over the road, intermodal and logistical solutions within the continental United States, Canada and Mexico, has also incorporated a program to refurbish refrigeration units which allows them to keep certain equipment in service twice as long, helping reduce their environmental footprint. Stevens Transport leaders are committed to environmental initiatives, and they meticulously manage their efficiency and sustainability efforts.

Several factors motivate the sustainability efforts undertaken by Stevens Transport, including the need to control rising fuel costs, which are currently one of their largest expenses. Company leaders addressed this by analyzing fuel burn against engine run and idle time reports.

Their research discovered large variances among their fleet of drivers. In response, Stevens outfitted their entire fleet with Thermo King Tri-Pak auxiliary power units (APUs) to address the variances and to enable idle time reduction of 48 percent.

Stevens Transport undertakes many energy-saving and sustainability efforts which reflect their environmental philosophy, such as clean idle engines, auxiliary power units (APUs), energy-efficient refrigeration units, aerodynamic trailer skirts, oil recycling, fuel efficient tires, tire retreading and continued training. Overall, their efforts have reduced the fuel consumption of their 2,000 tractors and 3,000 refrigerated trailers by millions of gallons while paving the way for future improvements.

This week, leaders from Thermo King, a manufacturer of transport temperature control systems for a variety of mobile applications and a brand of Ingersoll Rand, will recognize Stevens Transport with the Thermo King Energy Efficiency Leader Award. The award recognizes Stevens Transport for their commitment to energy and operational efficiency.

Details of the award presentation:
  • Ray Pittard, president for Thermo King North America, will present the award for Stevens Transport to Clay M. Aaron, president.
  • The award presentation will be at 10 a.m. on Aug. 3 at Stevens Transport corporate headquarters in Dallas at 9757 Military Parkway.
Stevens Transport Incorporates Innovative Solutions that Reduce Fuel Consumption by 6.6 Percent and Idle Time by 48 Percent – 2

“We are honored to be recognized for our commitment to maximizing sustainability throughout our organization,” said Clay M. Aaron, president of Stevens Transport. “We find that our success – whether increasing energy and operational efficiency or lowering costs – all comes down to the human touch.”

Stevens Transport identifies customized solutions
Stevens Transport also implemented a replacement program to take well-maintained APUs off tractors that have reached the end of their service life and to recycle them on new tractors. The APU generates environmentally conscious power while heating or cooling the cab without idling the tractor engine.

Even before Stevens Transport introduced the refurbishment program, they significantly increased energy efficiency and lowered exhaust emissions by adding APUs to the company’s entire fleet in 2010.

The company originally committed to installing APUs for direct efficiencies they could gain as well as to help retain drivers. “A well-rested driver typically operates a vehicle in a more efficient and safe manner,” said Aaron. “Although having the right equipment is important, the driver still plays a pivotal role in fuel consumption.”

With ongoing safety regulations and limits on the number of hours drivers can operate put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Stevens Transport has found that drivers have responded positively to the use of APUs.

Stevens Transport has further increased operational and energy efficiency with OptiSet™ Plus, a customized temperature control system. This solution uses controls that run refrigeration units only as needed to precisely control temperatures. Use of these controls protects cargo and reduces engine run time, emissions and costs.

This temperature control solution offers more than 500 preset temperature options and streamlines product decisions in advance. Fleet managers and drivers can collaborate to identify a tightly controlled temperature range based on the products commodity to yield more consistent product quality and more efficient refrigeration.

Sustainability efforts have also included a driver training program that diligently informs them on system capabilities so they can use the technology to its fullest. The company offers a driver fuel bonus program to reinforce efficient equipment operation.

Moving forward, Stevens Transport leaders are testing un-tethered two-way communication applications to increase research by monitoring trailers and refrigeration units. They are also evaluating trailer pre-cooling, correct operating modes for refrigeration units, proper product temperatures for cargo and options for minimizing fuel theft.

# # #

About Steven’s Transport
Founded as a family-owned and -operated business, Stevens Transport has matured into a leading North American refrigerated transport carrier. In 1980, Steven L. Aaron envisioned a refrigerated transport company unlike any other -- a company where people came first; where forward-thinking employees could be matched with the latest technological advances and superior equipment; and where customers could become partners. He founded Stevens transport, giving rise to what has since become one of the most successful privately held companies in the United States.

Shortage of Drivers Looms for U.S. Trucking Industry

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Federal agency predicts shortage will hit 200,000 next year.

MIDDLETOWN — As the trucking industry prepares to face a shortage of hundreds of thousands of drivers, local transport industries are confronting more than just a shortage of manpower.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says the current shortage will grow to 200,000 drivers by next year, and two million truck driving positions will need to be filled by 2018. The industry employs close to 3.5 million drivers each year. “There’s no doubt there’s a shortage,” said Ken Henderson, president of JP Transport in Middletown. “The average driver is 51 years old, but we’re not getting people to replace them.”

Henderson said as prospective truckers graduate from academies and get certified, they are put into a precarious position.

Transport companies that deliver regionally — which may allow for relatively normal hours and weekends off — are not always self-insured and regulations put on by insurance companies may require certain years of experience before being hired onto a regional transport company. The larger freight movers, however, operate on different hours and have people away from home longer, which creates a situation Henderson calls a “Catch-22”: recent graduates need experience to get the job they want but cannot get it unless they “pay their dues” working for companies that may have them out for longer periods of time — something many new truckers want to avoid.

Dennis Bailey, director of the Ohio Business College Truck Driving in Middletown, said that truck driving in its essence is a job that is unique in many ways.

“The trucking industry is the first to see any downturn of the economy and the first to see the upturn,” Bailey said. “But the economy’s changed (the industry).”

The problem is one that may be unique to only a select few industries, Bailey said.

“It’s not a nine-to-five job,” he said. “It’s just a different lifestyle.”

Trucking could be a boost in income for some. Drivers of heavy loads and tractor trailers earned $19.55 per hour at the end of 2010 and made an average of $40,664 per year, according to the latest Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services statistics available... Continue reading...


Trucking Industry Needs More Drivers

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200,000 drivers needed by year's end

PHOENIX - A boost in the economy and a jump in job orders means that if you're looking for work, you might want to take your search on the road.

The U.S. trucking industry is experiencing a nationwide shortage of workers. The industry will need to hire 200,000 drivers by the end of 2011, according to several nationwide trucking associations.

With record high unemployment rates, FOX 10 asked local truckers why they think applicants aren't more enthusiastic about the job.

“Right now there are plenty of loads. I’m an owner operator, so there's plenty of freight. If there was too many drivers, everybody would be skuttling for it,” said truck driver Tom Hockett.

Hockett has been on the road for 24 years and says while there's plenty of work, there's a shortage of quality drivers.

An aging workforce means more skilled truckers are retiring, and the transportation industry today has stricter requirements and guidelines than in previous years.

“We’re allowed to work 14 hours a day, and out of that 14 hours a day, we can drive 11 of it,” said truck driver Junior Bashor.

Bashor's truck is equipped with a GPS system that tracks his hours, so the days... Continue reading...