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ELD compliance delay sought by Sikh, Punjabi trucker groups

Read full article here. By Matt Cole

Two groups representing Sikh truckers and Punjabi truckers are petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a delay in complying with the electronic logging device mandate for members who haul agricultural products, as well as small business trucker members.

SikhsPAC and the North American Punjabiz Trucker Association are requesting the delay for their “fresh produce shipper and small truck business members,” the exemption request states, who the groups say are not fully prepared to meet the mandate’s requirements. The groups also voice concerns over driver privacy in their request, as well as that the ELD marketplace doesn’t accommodate the needs of the agriculture hauling industry and doesn’t factor in existing exemptions.

 

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Volvo eyes 2019 for electric truck sales

Volvo Trucks this week said it expects to begin selling electric trucks in Europe in 2019, with the first units put into operation with select customers later this year.

Göran Nyberg, President of Volvo Trucks North America, says electric trucks drastically reduce noise and exhaust emissions and create new opportunities to manage logistics. For example, more freight can be moved at night, resulting in fewer trucks competing for road space during peak traffic times.

“By using electrically powered and quieter trucks for goods transport in urban areas, we meet several challenges simultaneously,” he says. “Without disturbing noise and exhaust gases, it will be possible to operate in more sensitive city centers. Transport may also take place throughout less busy periods, for example in late evening and at night. This will reduce the burden on the roads during daytime rush-hour traffic, allowing both the road network and vehicles to be utilized far more effectively than today.”

Volvo Concept Truck

Nyberg says urban distribution and other pick-up and delivery applications are a starting point for battery-powered electric trucks, but he envisions broader deployment of electric trucks for freight movement in North America as technologies and the market mature. With well-developed logistics and more effective utilization of roads in the evenings and at night, it is also possible for many smaller vehicles to be replaced by fewer but larger vehicles, thus further contributing to lower emissions and less traffic. For example, distribution trucks have just over ten times the load capacity of a regular van. If a larger proportion of transport assignments could be carried out during hours when fewer people are on the road, this will also significantly reduce the risk of accidents.

“Volvo’s technology and deep understanding of electromobility are based on proven commercial solutions already used in Volvo’s electric buses, and solutions introduced in Volvo’s hybrid trucks as far back as 2010,” adds Keith Brandis Volvo Trucks North America vice president for product planning. “Electric vehicles will be part of our future, but the vehicles themselves are only one part of what is needed for large-scale electrification to succeed. Enabling long-term sustainable transport is a complex issue that requires a holistic and wide range of measures. We are working closely with customers, cities, suppliers of batteries and charging infrastructure, and other key stakeholders to create the necessary framework for battery-powered electric trucks.”

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Drivers meet with Sen. Ted Cruz to talk hours of service rewrite

Wednesday, January 17, a group of truckers took a meeting with United States Senator Ted Cruz in order to press concerns over the Department of Transportation’s electronic logging device mandate and the current hours of service rule.

Originally called for by trucker Dave McCauley after he made contacts with Cruz’s office on a trip McCauley and other haulers made to D.C. early this year, the meeting was also attended by a bevy of owner-operators and drivers regular readers may be familiar with from Overdrive‘s coverage of October demonstrations in D.C. and those in early December around the country.

Topics discussed included related issues of parking and training, but hours and ELDs were central to much of the discussion. Shelli Conaway, speaking Wednesday night in this edition of the Hammer Lane Radio network on Blogtalkradio.com, said Cruz and aides have asked for further information from the participants in order to assess potential legislative efforts in future. The Senator “wants us to come up with general ideas” for revisions to the hours of service, training protocols and parking fixes, Conaway said.

Several truckers in attendance are associated with the Monday Information Facebook group, originally formed to coordinate state-by-state efforts during the grassroots ELD Media Blitz of Dec. 4, 2017. That group said it had put out a call for hours revision ideas and today released a poll on several hours of service options at this link, where truckers can weigh in on their preferable option.Results, later, would be shared with Cruz’s office.
New Hampshire-based hauler John Grosvenor, speaking as part of this broadcast on the Hammer Lane network, said he came away with the impression that while Cruz was generally “very concerned” about issues presented by the ELD mandate, “he’s not as concerned about repealing the mandate as he is about the hours of service rules. …  Something’s got to give.”

Grosvenor endorsed the notion of a “pause button” for the 14-hour on-duty clock, which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is attempting to study in a Flexible Sleeper Berth Pilot Program that would allow a small group of truckers to utilize a multitude of options between the currently allowed 8/2-hour split to break up the duty day. If such research showed no safety-negative, it could further set the stage for hours of service revisions to allow greater such flexibility.

FMCSA put out a call for commentary on the study plan, which it was then set to deliver for White House Office of Management and Budget approval, in late October and received fewer than 150 comments. The research request remains at OMB awaiting review and approval, said FMCSA external affairs rep Duane DeBruyne. The request “was submitted to on November 29, 2017,” two days after the comment period closed.

The ability to pause the clock with mid-duty-period rest could effectively combat pressure Grosvenor and plenty others see building up on drivers to maximize driving hours no matter the situations ahead. On-highway accidents, weather, unforeseen delays at shipper and receiver locations — “with a continuously running clock,” he said, drivers are more likely to push through and “burn up your time” when otherwise a nap or other break might allow for the situation to resolve itself without hurting the trucker’s productivity — and income in the end.
Meeting attendees continue to urge drivers supportive of these efforts to engage their own representatives locally and/or in the nation’s capital. With an infrastructure bill a definite priority this year, there could be chance for legislative change in truckers’ favor, a point the Senator was said to have emphasized.

Have you been engaged with your rep and/or senators on these or other issues?

 

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Carrier and driver info seemingly safe after hack of FMCSA site, agency says

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has said that a hack of the online tool drivers use to find medical examiners for DOT physicals is the cause behind the site’s now month-long outage. However, no data within the system, such as information on drivers, appears to have been compromised, the agency has told Overdrive.

“There was no evidence of exposure of the personal information of drivers, medical examiners or motor carrier operators,” the agency said in a statement to CCJ on Tuesday about the hack of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.

The registry’s website has been down since mid-December. However, examiners can still conduct exams of drivers and issue DOT-required medical certificates. The agency has instructed examiners to maintain results of physicals until the system is operational again, at which time they can upload results of the exams.

“The Department determined from its initial investigation that…there had been unauthorized access to the system. The incident remains under investigation, and the Department is working diligently to restore all impacted services to full functionality as soon as practicable.”

The registry was instituted in 2014 and requires drivers to use a DOT-certified examiner within the registry to receive their physicals and medical certifications. Examiners are required by a separate rule to upload the results of such physicals to FMCSA the same day.

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FMCSA Grants Agriculture and Livestock Haulers ELD Waiver

Federal trucking regulators have granted a 90-day waiver to agricultural commodities and livestock haulers from installing electronic logging devices in their trucks, and issued a separate clarification on potential miles that are exempt from hours-of-service requirements for agriculture haulers.

In a pair of announcements, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it is granting the limited ELD waiver in response to a request by the National Pork Producers Council on behalf of eight organizations that represent transporters of livestock and other agricultural commodities.

The ELD waiver for agriculture and livestock haulers, published in the Federal Register on Dec. 20, will be in effect through March 18.

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Indicators: Shippers ‘feeling the pinch’ of tight truck market

Tight capacity hammering shippers conditions: In the lead up to the year’s busiest freight season, market conditions for shippers continued to deteriorate, according to the monthly Shippers Conditions Index from FTR. The index’s reading in October plunged to one of its lowest points in recent years, with truck rates on both the spot market and contract market jumping due to tightened truck capacity, FTR reports.

The Shippers Conditions Index is usually a mirrored reflection of conditions for carriers, with negative conditions for shippers usually indicating positive conditions for trucking companies. Eric Starks, FTR’s chairman and CEO, said market conditions for carriers and shippers “have been diverging dramatically” since August.

“The hurricanes highlighted the lack of extra capacity available in the system. This has been followed by continued strong freight conditions in Q3 and into Q4. Shippers are really feeling the pinch right now, and there is fear that the ELD mandate will impact capacity in the spring,” he said. “We have essentially hit the 100 percent capacity mark – there is little, if any, excess truck capacity. Add in regulations, continued freight growth, or winter storms and we could be pushing that above 100 percent. That would leave shippers scrambling to get loads delivered. And that means paying premium rates for those deliveries. It may be a tough first half of 2018 for shippers.”

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Diesel prices start 2018 near $3 a gallon mark

With the change of the calendar to 2018, diesel fuel prices across the U.S. shot up by seven cents during the week ending Jan. 1, according to the Department of Energy’s weekly report.

The country’s average price for a gallon of on-highway diesel starts 2018 just shy of the $3 mark — $2.973. This puts diesel at its highest point in nearly three years, when prices topped $3 per gallon during the week ending Jan. 12, 2015.

Prices increased in all regions during the most recent week, with the most significant increase coming in the Central Atlantic region, which saw an 8.3-cent increase.

The nation’s most expensive diesel can be found in California at $3.59, followed by the Central Atlantic region at $3.151 per gallon.

The cheapest fuel in the U.S. can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $2.774 per gallon, followed by the Lower Atlantic region at $2.854 per gallon.

Prices in other regions, according to the DOE, are:

New England – $3.01
Midwest – $2.935
Rocky Mountain – $2.981
West Coast less California – $3.073

ProMiles’ numbers during the week saw diesel prices jump by 7.8 cents to $2.93 per gallon nationwide.

According to ProMiles’ Fuel Surcharge Index, the most expensive diesel can be found in California at $3.628 per gallon, and the cheapest can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $2.773 per gallon.

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How the two basic types of ELDs operate

All compliant electronic logging devices will share a common bond: They can record data coming in from the system that controls the truck’s engine and component parts. The ELD final rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was specific in requiring synchronization with the electronic control module. That’s one of the reasons the agency didn’t require ELDs in trucks of model-year 1999 or older.

The rule requires ELDs to automatically record date, time, location information, engine hours, vehicle miles and identification information for the driver, carrier and vehicle itself. Unless the driver is enabled for use of the vehicle in a “personal conveyance” mode outside of work hours, ELDs are required to record all of those elements “when the driver indicates a change of duty status or a change to a special driving category” such as a yard move, the rule states.

When in motion, ELDs are required to record all of the information on an hourly basis at a minimum. Many ELDs are offered as part of systems built for detailed tracking purposes, useful to fleets and owner-operators for purposes such as automatic notification of arrival times.

Those systems are capable of recording in a much more refined manner, and some may default to that. Providers may or may not have the ability to adjust the refinement.

Though there are plenty of variations, two types of ELDs have emerged.

In dedicated unit configurations, the device is supplied by the provider and is likely to remain in the truck.

BYOD (“bring your own device”) systems allow buyers to purchase their own hardware for the driver interface, such as an owner-operator using an app on a personal Android- or iOS-powered smartphone. A carrier may seek out a deal on tablets to dedicate to its power units and drivers.

Dedicated units

Most older forms of electronic logging devices, known as electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs) or automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs), have been the dedicated-unit type. Two examples that have been available for years are Omnitracs’ MCP series and PeopleNet’s current products used by many drivers employed by or leased to larger carriers.

Many of these units provide ELD functionality in a single device package tied directly to the ECM by a cable and plug.

Like mobile phones, such units use connections to the cellular network and GPS functionality to deliver on the ELD rule’s requirements for recording location, mileage and engine hours. Data storage occurs using a combination of the internet cloud, back-office servers and the device itself.

A notable exception among devices available for years now exists in the base model of the Continental VDO RoadLog, which is limited to hours of service recording and inspection-report functionality. With no connection to the cellular network with the device, fleets and owner-operators manage data storage via a USB-connected drive to transfer records to a laptop or other computer.

Other dedicated devices may pair two pieces of hardware, bridging the gap between the traditional single-unit EOBR and the two-piece BYOD systems readily available today. In most cases, those devices are in evidence on the quick-comparison chart when a BYOD and a dedicated version exist from one manufacturer. While the J.J. Keller Encompass and Rand McNally DC200 systems both are BYOD-capable, they also are offered with company-branded Android tablets that come preloaded with software: the Compliance Tablet from Keller and the TND from Rand McNally.

Any fleet or owner-operator willing to make the investment in dedicated tablets can turn a BYOD system into a dedicated one. For years, Bill Frerichs of St. Louis-based Frerichs Freight Lines has run the BigRoad logging app on Android tablets dedicated to his 10 trucks. Though Frerichs at press time still was evaluating his options for mandate compliance, moving all 10 of his trucks’ tablets to ELD functionality could be as simple as signing on with BigRoad’s program for leasing engine-connection hardware to pair to the tablets.

Jack Schwalbach, who manages the private fleet of Reinders, a Wisconsin-based turf and irrigation products company, did just that with Geotab. “We have dedicated tablets,” Schwalbach says. “The tablets are used just for logging – the data plan, we have locked down. Everybody’s got their smartphone on their own, so they use that” for anything else.

Bring your own device

The KeepTruckin BYOD-style ELD “black box” connects to the ECM via cable and plugin. KeepTruckin recommends users mount the device in the dash to maintain a clear GPS connection. The device pairs with the KT app on a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth connection.

The “bring your own device” phrase and its BYOD acronym came into use with the profusion of smartphones over the past decade. In trucking, it’s a common term to describe a major part of today’s ELD market.

Dozens of providers are offering their own versions of BYOD systems. A BYOD-configured ELD consists of a “dongle” that connects to the ECM via the cab’s onboard diagnostics port. The dongle typically pairs via a Bluetooth connection with a smartphone or tablet to transmit data.

Software from the ELD vendor on your smartphone or tablet enables you to change duty status manually when you stop. When your vehicle goes into motion, the ELD automatically will shift to the drive line in the log book.

Variations exist. The engine-connection dongle may or may not have a cellular connection. In the case of the KeepTruckin ELD, the ECM-connected device maintains a GPS connection but no cellular connectivity itself. For that, the system relies on the connected smartphone or tablet and its data plan.

Meanwhile, Geotab’s Go — also a BYOD solution (and marketed as the Transflo ELD T7 by Pegasus TransTech) — maintains its own cellular connection and is capable of being updated and troubleshot over the air if software/firmware updates are needed.

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OOIDA, NASTC to testify in House committee on impact of trucking regs on small carriers

The House’s Small Business Committee on Wednesday will hold a hearing featuring owner-operators and other small business truckers intended to examine the impact federal regulations have on small trucking companies and “explore ways to to provide regulatory relief to the industry.”

Testimony will be heard from Monte Widerhold of B.L. Reever Transport, who’s testifying on behalf of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association; Marty DiGiacomo, owner of True Blue Transportation, who’s testifying on behalf of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies; Stephen Pelkey, CEO of Atlas PyroVision Entertainment Group, who’s testifying on behalf of the American Pyrotechnics Association; and Tommy Phillipou, a partner at DKN Ready Mix, who’s testifying on behalf of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association.

The hearing will take place at 11 a.m. EST at the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

“Many trucking companies can be as small as a one-person business and are subject to many of the same federal requirements as large trucking companies, including transportation safety regulations, environmental regulations, worker safety regulations and labor regulations,” the meeting’s notice says.

The session, dubbed “Highway to Headache: Federal Regulations on the Small Trucking Industry,” will feature prepared statements from the aforementioned witnesses, as well as a question and answer session.

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Diesel prices continue upward trend

Diesel fuel prices continue to creep up as 2017 draws to a close as prices increased by 1.4 cents during the week ending Nov. 27, according to the Department of Energy’s weekly report.

The increase brings the national average to $2.926 per gallon, the highest diesel prices have been since March 2015.

During the week, prices increased in all regions except California, which saw a two-tenths of a cent decrease. The most significant increase was seen in the Gulf Coast and Rocky Mountain regions, which saw 2.3-cent increases.

California is still home to the most expensive prices at $3.597 per gallon, followed by the West Coast less California at $3.113 per gallon.

The cheapest diesel can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $2.712 per gallon, followed by the Lower Atlantic region at $2.794 per gallon.

Prices in other regions, according to the DOE, are:

  • New England – $2.881
  • Central Atlantic – $3.074
  • Midwest – $2.884
  • Rocky Mountain – $3.026

ProMiles’ numbers during the week saw diesel prices increase by 1.9 cents to $2.884 per gallon nationwide.

According to ProMiles’ Fuel Surcharge Index, the most expensive diesel can be found in California at $3.592 per gallon, and the cheapest can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $2.72 per gallon.

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