Here at Mike Byrnes & Assoc., Inc., we've been writing short "how to" pieces for publication on various Web sites. Our first piece was "How to Climb into a Truck Cab." .. . Since then, we've done several others: "How to Test Trailer Air Brakes for Leaks," "How to Adjust Fifth Wheel Trailer Height" and our latest, "How to Hook Up a Tractor Protection Valve." Collect 'em all. Just click on the links to view the stories. You can easily email them, share them and even print them out using the buttons at the top right of the Web page.
If you've got an iPhone, iTouch or iPad, check out our latest release, BUMPER TO BUMPER ® Easy CDL, an app for the iPhone. It's a great supplement to a formal training program. Students at even the best truck driving schools might appreciate a little extra review and opportunities to practice with the sample test questions so we've attached a poster about it. Download the poster and hang it in the classroom to let your students know about this resource.
It's also a great tool for CDL holders who want to add Endorsements to their license. We're hearing that applicants for the Haz Mat Endorsement are especially nervous about that written test. Easy CDLBUMPER TO BUMPER ® Easy CDL in the iTunes store or go to Study By App on the Internet. (A celebrity does the audio; can you guess who it is?) We'd love to hear your reactions and, like others who have downloaded the app, you can also leave your comments right on the iTunes Easy CDL page.
Annual Safety Belt Partnership Art Contest Extended:
The annual Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Safety Belt Partnership “Be Ready. Be Buckled.” art contest for children of relatives in the truck and bus industries in grades K-6 (ages 5-12) has been extended. The new deadline is February 28, 2011.
The “Be Ready, Be Buckled” art contest focuses on urging truck, bus and all drivers to buckle up to saves lives and reduce injuries. This year’s theme focuses on the motto “Safety Belts Save Lives!” Children with a relationship with individuals or organizations in the trucking and bus industries can participate as per entry requirements.
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: www.distraction.gov/faces.
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 www.distraction.gov.
DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of January 17, 2011
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance
In this week’s issue, Fast-Fax will answer the most common questions we’ve received about the new CSA website, including how to log in.
As you may know, in December, FMCSA released (a limited amount of) CSA information to the general public. At the same time that the public information was released and CSA was formally ‘switched on’, FMCSA made a number of key changes to how the information is presented. (They also enacted some other changes to the system, such as, changing the name from CSA2010 to CSA). We’ve had a number of calls and emails from confused carriers trying to find their information.
The first change is that the web address of the CSA portal has changed. To view your information you now need to go to http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/sms/. (If you visit the old CSA page, look for a link for ‘SMS Data’ to find the new site).
Another change to the web interface is that, by and large, FMCSA is referring to the CSA data as SMS data. SMS — the Safety Measurement System — is the name of the CSA system that actually measures carrier compliance.
How To Find Your Information
When you arrive at the SMS page you will see, prominently placed at the top right hand side of the screen, a log-in box asking for your DOT Number or your Motor Carrier Number. This is actually the public log in. If you were to use this, you would only receive the limited information available to the public. To get the full CSA information available to motor carriers, you need to do the following:
Step One: Log into FMCSA’s Portal
- Scroll down to where it says “Click Here To Log In With Your USDOT Number and Motor Carrier PIN Number.”
- Where prompted, input your DOT number and then your PIN Number.
Step Two: Return to the CSA Page
- To view your information you will actually need to log in again.
- Go up to the main login, type in either your DOT number or MC number. Your DOT number may automatically appear in the box.
- Click search.
This will open up the SMS data site. At first glance it will look identical to the public site however, on closer inspection, you should see that the Cargo-Related and Crash Indicator BASICs are viewable.
Problems With The Site
One criticism of the new site is that it is very graphics heavy. It may be slow to load on older computers. You should also be sure that your Flash and Java plug-ins are up-to-date. If you are having a problem, look for a message from your browser telling you you need to update (often found in a yellow drop-down bar at the top of the page).
Changes in Terminology
If you checked your information during the data preview this fall you may have seen the terms ‘Deficient’ and ‘Investigative Deficiencies’ being used to describe BASICs with percentiles above the threshold. You may also have seen a logo that looked like a red spray painted X.
Since the public launch, FMCSA has made the terminology and appearance of the CSA information less aggressive. If you are deficient in a BASIC you will now see a box that says ‘ALERT!’ We have had several questions on this matter. Please note that ‘ALERT!’ is the same as ‘Deficient’. Some carriers have been working under the assumption that ‘ALERT!’ was a more mild status message; again, it is not, ‘ALERT!’ is the same as ‘Deficient.’
The logo has also been removed (it just has a text ‘ALERT!’ now) and the colors have been changed from red to orange. This was an effort to allay concerns that outsiders to the industry would be unduly concerned by FMCSA’s previous choice of terminology.
Analysis by: John Schulz
Analysis of: U.S. Factories Buck Decline
Published at: online.wsj.com
American manufacturing, long written off as a economic loser, is making a comeback. For the first time since 1997, the number of manufacturing jobs grew last year by 1.2 percent, of 136,000 new jobs. And it's not a one-shot deal. Economists are predicting a 2.5 percent gain, or 330,000 new manufacturing jobs, this year.
This may be the best thing to happen to the trucking industry since economic deregulation in 1980. The number of net U.S. manufacturing jobs increased last year for the first time since 1997. Manufacturing jobs grew by 1.2 percent, of 136,000 jobs, and that growth is expected to more than double this year. As one who has never bought into the Great Globalization Theory, I welcome this news. And so should everyone connected with the trucking industry.
These are jobs that will directly affect freight volume, and thus rates and profitability, in the industry. As the offshoring craze begins to show cracks -- anybody else had an offshore call center experience worthy of "Saturday Night Live?" -- U.S. manufacturers are beginning to see value in keeping plants here.
Economists for Moody's Analytics and IHS Global Insight insist this is not a one-shot deal. They expect this trend to continue at least for the beginning of this decade.
Ford, Caterpillar, and Whirlpool are some of the names taking advantage of tax breaks, excess capacity and infrastructure and other built-in advantages of employing a U.S.-based work force.
As trucking volume is roughly divided 50-50 by retail and industrial, any increase in industrial utilization in this country is good news for the big industrial truckload carriers such as Werner Enterprises, Schneider National, J.B. Hunt and many others. LTL firms such as beleaguered YRC Worldwide, Con-Way and FedEx Freight also figure to gain from this growth.
Of course, it will take more than a year or two of manufacturing increases to get the U.S. economy out of its doldrums. More than 144,000 factories -- that's factories, not jobs -- were lost during the George W. Bush administration. Manufacturing now accounts for merely 11 percent of U.S. total economic output, compared with 27 percent in 1950.
Entire domestic industries -- furniture and footwear come immediately to mind -- have been wiped out because of cheap labor and non-existent environmental regulations in places such as China.
With Chinese president Hu Jintao in the Nation's Capital for talks with President Barack Obama, I would like to submit a question to his excellency: there will be no U.S. middle class to buy your cheap Chinese-made goods if you continue your mutually destructive economic path. There, I said it.
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.
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."
"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.
- U.S. Xpress places order for 1,000 Peterbilt Model 587 tractors
- Annual Fast-Fax Year in Review: Part Two
- We've Got Stars in Our Eyes!
- HOS Proposal Finally Hits the Federal Register
- Access Has a New Weapon in the War Against Driver Turnover
- California delays diesel emission rules till 2014
- Rule to Ban Hand-Held Cell Phone Use
- FMCSA Launches New Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Program
- ATA recently launched www.SafeDriverHours.com
- FMCSA Aims to Publish Revised HOS Rule, EOBR Mandate Before Jan. 1, Ferro Says