|Tuesday May 21, 2013 - After the storm: 'I thought that lady was gonna die in my truck'
By Tom Watkins, CNN
updated 10:51 AM EDT, Sat May 18, 2013
(CNN) -- Tina and Billy Clark saw the funnel cloud approaching and did what many of their neighbors did.
"We just ran and hid in the closet," Tina Clark told CNN after one of a swarm of tornadoes descended Wednesday night into their neighborhood in Hood County, 30 miles southwest of Fort Worth, Texas.
"I was holding the door shut," Billy Clark told CNN. "You could feel the pressure from inside the house. It was like pulling on the door a little bit. The whole house was shaking really bad. It felt like the house was getting ripped apart, but we couldn't see anything from inside the closet, so we didn't know what exactly was going on."
"You could just hear stuff hitting the house," his wife said.
Owner to dog: You were ripped from me Texas homes reduced to splintered wood Tornado 'just set down' on neighborhood Mayor: Houses have nothing left but carpet Code Orange after Texas tornadoes
Once the storm had passed, they emerged from the closet and noted that their house, perhaps because of its location on a slope, had escaped the brunt of the storm.
It was only after they got into their truck and began driving to get out of the impact zone that they began to realize that others had not fared so well.
"Once we turned the corner and got up the street a little bit, I mean, just everything was destroyed," said Billy Clark.
They came upon neighbors who asked them for a ride to a hospital. "So we started loading them up," Tina Clark said.
Among their passengers were two girls. "They couldn't even walk, they were just covered in blood," she said.
The couple then came upon a woman and her son. "They said that the wall got ripped off from the tornado and they got sucked out of the house," Billy Clark said. "The mom, it threw her into a tree head first and busted her head open."
"I thought that lady was gonna die in my truck," Tina Clark said.
"The son, he went outside to go get her during the tornado, and then it pulled him out of the house. He said it threw him through a field and he cut his head on a piece of sheet metal."
They picked up several other children, too. "The one little girl, all her teeth were knocked out," Billy Clark said. "And then the other girl, she had bones sticking out of her legs, she had a big gash in her arm."
The couple soon found the road blocked by downed trees and power lines. "There was no way out, so we took them back to the house and called the ambulance, and they just told us to wait," Tina Clark said.
Instead, they got back into the truck and drove their injured passengers as far as they could, then continued on foot. "We just had to carry them to the paramedics because they couldn't get to us," Tina Clark said.
Three people were taken to a nearby hospital, and 13 others were taken to hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, authorities have said.
Some of the patients underwent amputations, said Dr. Kerri Sistrunk, head of the trauma unit at Lake Granbury Medical Center.
By Friday afternoon, all seven people who had been reported missing had been found, police said.
But many more were homeless; 31 people slept in a shelter Thursday night.
"What always amazes me on visits like this is how fast lives can totally change," Gov. Rick Perry said Friday after touring Granbury.
Neighborhood hit hard
The devastation from what the National Weather Service said were at least 16 tornadoes that killed six people was centered in the Clarks' neighborhood of Rancho Brazos.
Of the 110 houses that had stood there Wednesday afternoon, "there's very few left untouched," said Mario Flores, director of disaster-response field operations for Habitat for Humanity, which built 61 homes in the neighborhood.
"Fifty-eight had damage, from minor to total destruction," Flores said. "It's a scene of total devastation."
"When you look down to where all the rest of the houses normally are, there's nothing there," Daniel Layne told CNN affiliate KTRK. "Piled-up cars, cars in trees, there's a car in our water tower."
He and his wife, Amanda, had waited two years to move into one of the Habitat homes.
"There literally is no Rancho Brazos anymore," Amanda Layne said.
Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds is no stranger to destruction. "I've seen bad," he said. "But this is about as bad as it gets."
A survey team for the National Weather Service concluded that the tornado that descended on this neighborhood was an EF4 -- the second-most severe classification on a scale of zero to five.
How to help or find help
For some, the extent of their loss remains unclear.
Families have not been able to return to their homes in Rancho Brazos since the storms rolled through. Deeds said Friday that "hopefully" they'll be able to go in at 8 a.m. Saturday, adding that authorities plan only to "open things back up on a limited basis." A curfew applies from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Ronna Cotten is one of those who haven't been gone back, having been warned it would be days before she couldn't re-enter her subdivision to "check to see if we have any belongings left."
She has stayed in the home of a woman who picked her up from a rescue center Wednesday night.
The mother of four said she survived by clutching to a doorknob as winds tore through her home.
"I feel very lucky, because we are alive," she said.
CNN's Nick Valencia, Tristan Smith, Greg Botelho, Lateef Mungin, Dave Alsup, Chandler Friedman and Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report.
View Original Article
|Tuesday May 21, 2013 - Truck lane restrictions aim to prevent accidents
BY STEVE CLARK The Brownsville Herald
Although the Texas Department of Transportation announced April 25 that left-lane truck restrictions are coming to roads in Cameron and Hidalgo counties, they won’t actually be enforced until signs are posted.
There’s no set timetable for when that will occur, said TxDOT spokesman Mark Cross.
But when it does happen, drivers of commercial trucks with three or more axles will be required to void the left lane or run the risk of being written up by local law enforcement or a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper.
Once the signs are up, trucks along 78 miles of U.S. Expressway 77/83 and U.S. Highway 281 will be subject to the new requirement. Trucks will still be able to use the left lane for passing and exiting. Lane restrictions will only be implemented on stretches with at least three lanes per direction of travel.
It’s all about making Texas highways safer, according to TxDOT. The agency cites a 36-week study launched by the Texas Transportation Institute in 2000 that found lane restrictions along I-10E in Houston resulted in 68 percent fewer crashes along main freeway lanes.
In 1998, along the eight-mile stretch of road that TTI would later study, 391 vehicle crashes happened — an average of 7.5 a week. During the study, 852 citations were issued with fines up to $200 each.
A follow-up study of lane restrictions on I-20 in Dallas and I-30 in Forth Worth found lane restrictions reduced crashes by 78 percent and 22 percent, respectively.
TxDOT believes lane restrictions make the road safer because they reduce disparities in vehicle speeds and the frequency of lane changes and passing maneuvers. In general, lane restrictions allow highways to operate more efficiently and improve traffic flow, said the agency.
In a handout survey connected with the Houston study, 80 percent of automobile drivers who responded said they felt lane restrictions made the freeway safer, with 20 percent stating the opposite. In an online version of the same survey, the percentage was even higher: 93 to 7 percent.
Also, the vast majority of motorists who were surveyed reported using the left lane more frequently once the lane restrictions were in place.
Seventy percent of truck drivers who responded to the handout survey did not think lane restrictions increased their trip times, though 30 percent did. In the online version of the survey, opinions on the same question were split right down the middle.
On the question of whether the freeway is safer without trucks in the left lane, 70 percent of truck drivers said “no” in the handout survey and 30 percent said “yes.”
The response to online survey was almost completely reversed. the response was almost completely opposite, with 67 percent of truck drivers saying lane restrictions did make roads safer and 33 percent saying they did not.
John D. Esparza, president of the Texas Motor Transport Association, said he thinks the lane restrictions work.
“I think it largely comes from an effort to move traffic more freely,” he said. “We’ve all been stuck behind two trucks that are going up an incline and both are going 65 mph. That starts to back up traffic.”
While the TMTA doesn’t mind lane restrictions, a major reason the Houston study saw such a dramatic decline in accidents is due to the strong emphasis on enforcement, Esparza said. Whether lane restrictions are in force or not, a heavy DPS or local law enforcement presence equals fewer accidents, he said.
Fines for truckers ignoring lane restrictions are typically $200 per violation, though the amounts can vary according to jurisdiction.
Once the signs go up in Cameron and Hidalgo counties, 443 miles of Texas highways in 14 counties will feature lane restrictions. As for the truck drivers themselves, they’ve grown used to them, especially since Texas isn’t the only state to have them, Esparza said. Some states, meanwhile, have had truck lane restrictions for decades.
Esparza noted that while lane restrictions directly affect trucks, the aim is to provide ordinary motorists with fewer opportunities to make bad decisions. This is especially important with roads getting more congested and fatalities on the rise, he said.
Only 13 percent of highway fatalities involve trucks, Esparza said, though 84 percent of those accidents are due to the usual factors: motorists passing when they shouldn’t, overcorrecting and speeding. In 2011, an average of 250 people a month were killed on Texas roads.
“Something that we all have to learn is how to drive safely around trucks,” Esparza said. “It’s not working out well, texting and driving 75 mph. Eighty-thousand pounds versus 3,500 pounds is not a formula that works out well.”
View Original Article
|Tuesday May 21, 2013 - Trucker shot after attacking off-duty Merrillville cop
By Carlos Sadovi
9:54 p.m. CDT, May 20, 2013
A 43-year-old truck driver is hospitalized in Indiana, recuperating from a gunshot wound he sustained after he attacked an off-duty police officer working a second job as security in a Merrillville Planned Parenthood clinic, police said.
Lake County, Indiana officials are expected to charge the man with attempted murder of a police officer, said Robert Byrd, spokesman for the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force which is investigating the incident.
At about 2 p.m., the off-duty Merrillville, Ind. police officer, who was working security at the Planned Parenthood offices on the 8600 block of Connecticut Street in Merrillville, spotted an unattended semi-truck in the parking lot and ticketed the vehicle, said Byrd.
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The truck had Oregon plates and was hauling an empty refrigerated trailer but was vacant for several hours, said Byrd.
At 3:55p.m., when the trucker returned to his rig, the 8-year-veteran officer, who was in uniform and had a marked squad car, approached the driver to question him about leaving the vehicle behind and informing him about how to pay for the parking tickets, Byrd said.
"With that, the truck driver initiated this unprovoked (attack) on the police officer and began to beat the officer, the fight ended up in an adjacent parking lot," said Byrd.
The driver, who Byrd said was a "large-built man" had the officer pinned on his back with the truck driver on top of him, "delivering repeated punches to the officer's face."
After the officer tried unsuccessfully to fend the man off, he drew his duty gun and fired once into the man's stomach, Byrd said. The man then rolled off, allowing the police officer to call for backup, said Byrd.
The trucker sustained a non-life-threatening wound and was out of surgery on Monday evening. The officer remained in the hospital undergoing tests. The officer's wounds are also not considered life-threatening, Byrd said.
Police are still trying to determine where the trucker is from but the man has been arrested at least three times by Atlanta, Ga., police for domestic violence, criminal trespassing and driving with a suspended license. He also is wanted on a warrant in suburban Atlanta for a driving infraction, Byrd said.
Police do not believe the incident had anything to do with Planned Parenthood and do not believe he was an anti-abortion activist.
"It is not the case at all," said Byrd. "I don't know what made the guy flip that [he's] going to start beating a police officer."
Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC
View Original Article
|Monday May 20, 2013 - Georgia Carrier Owner Indicted for FMCSA Violations
May 20, 2013
By TruckingInfo Staff
The owner of a Georgia trucking company, Devasko Dewayne Lewis, has been indicted for ignoring out-of-service orders and lying about his role in the company.
Lewis, 34, allegedly continued to operate Lewis Trucking after it was placed out of service, and hid his involvement by filing an application for authority under a different name.
If he is convicted he faces five years in jail and a $250,000 fine, said Michael Moore, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, in a statement.
The prosecution reflects the increased authority obtained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in last year’s highway bill. That law gave the agency more legal tools to pursue “chameleon” carriers that disguise their identity in order to stay in business after being placed out of service.
The history in this case goes back to October 2008, when Lewis Trucking was involved in a fatal crash. FMCSA did a compliance review after the crash and found safety serious violations, the indictment says.
The agency determined that Lewis Trucking was an imminent hazard, and placed it out of service. That order remains in effect.
Then in July 2011, Devasko Lewis formed DDL Transport, which he operated under a Department of Transportation permit issued to another carrier he had formed, DL Transport, the affidavit says.
That September, after five roadside inspections, DDL Transport also was placed out of service.
The indictment lists two counts of false statements by Devasko Lewis. In forms submitted to the agency, Lewis allegedly obscured his ownership of yet another company, Eagle Transport.
Lewis and several other men also are charged with conspiracy to violate the out-of-service orders by obtaining DOT numbers without revealing Devasko Lewis’s association with the companies.
This is the second time Lewis has been indicted on similar charges. In November 2011, he was charged with false statements and continuing to operate after being placed out-of-service.
Attempts to reach Devasko Lewis for comments were not successful.
View Original Article
|Monday May 20, 2013 - Mad cow crisis put brakes on trucking
BY TAMARA GIGNAC, CALGARY HERALD
On the morning of May 20, 2003, Mark Wendorff’s trucks rolled across the Montana border loaded with cattle.
Hours later, Alberta’s beef industry was in chaos with ranchers, feedlot operators and truckers facing financial ruin after a case of mad cow disease surfaced on an Alberta farm.
“It’s like someone woke up that day and turned the switch off,” Wendorff recalls ruefully. “Everything changed for good.”
The discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, in a single cow, slammed the door shut on the $2-billion annual beef trade with the United States.
Canada’s largest beef market banned all imports — and it would be 26 months before live Canadian cattle crossed the border again.
The decision all but crippled Canada’s export-dependent beef sector, leaving various industry players struggling with multibillion-dollar losses.
Ranchers faced the worst crisis ever to hit the sector as Canada was left without a market for nearly one million head of cattle.
But the mad cow crisis also wreaked havoc on Alberta’s trucking sector — and 10 years after a lone BSE case was discovered in the province, some argue the industry has never fully recovered.
Wendorff figures close to half of the companies who haul cattle in the province buckled under the enormity of the crisis and disappeared.
“The trucking industry has not rebounded from BSE. I don’t know if it ever will,” says Wendorff.
“A lot of my lease operators went broke and lost their trucks.”
A decade ago, his family-run outfit in Raymond, 30 kilometres south of Lethbridge, had 35 cattle liners on the road, the majority of which regularly crossed the border to packing facilities as far away as Utah.
Today, he’s down to eight trucks.
In nearby Fort Macleod, the mad cow crisis has also taken a toll on John Vanee’s cattle hauling business. The family-run company used to send 100 loads a week south of the border.
Today, it’s maybe 30 or 40. Vanee, who also operates a feedlot, figures BSE cost him more than $2 million.
The company was forced to shed half its fleet and lay off employees.
“We didn’t know what hit us. It really put us back — there were big, big losses,” he said.
It’s difficult to say with any certainty how many trucking companies were forced into bankruptcy. Most of the big-to-medium sized firms survived but BSE was cruel to smaller firms and independent drivers.
Many seasoned livestock haulers fled for greener pastures rather than wait for the border to reopen.
Some trucking companies are still paying the price today, says Grace Cattle Carriers’ owner Kevin Horsburgh.
“The BSE thing was devastating when it happened. We lost 70 per cent of our business overnight. It just shut down — bang,” he says.
Money is flowing again at his Brooks operation and the wheels of his trucks continue to roll down Alberta highways full of cattle.
But some things have never returned to normal. Horsburgh lost 40 per cent of his driving team while waiting for the U.S. ban on live cattle imports to be lifted.
Many were drawn away by other jobs in Alberta’s oilpatch and never returned. There are no hard statistics, but it’s estimated that half of the province’s cattle haulers found jobs elsewhere.
“We lost a huge amount of expertise in the transport sector in a very short time. Everybody’s got commitments. It’s difficult to put life on hold and wait for things to turn around,” says Horsburgh.Indeed, a recent Conference Board of Canada study predicts that Alberta will have a severe shortage of truck drivers by the end of the decade.
According to the report, the province requires an extra 6,200 drivers to keep consumer goods and livestock flowing through the supply chain.
Older drivers are preparing to retire but the job doesn’t hold a lot of appeal for a younger generation interested in jobs close to home with better pay.
The Conference Board suggests possible solutions, among them offering higher wages and improved working conditions.
But cattle hauling firms say it’s difficult to boost salaries when the industry is already saddled with so many costs, from rising insurance fees to maintenance and fuel bills.
Repairs alone are a fortune, notes Vanee. “It costs about $425,000 to overhaul a diesel motor,” he says.
One option is to help new truckers pay for training costs.
“In Alberta, you can’t get a student loan to pay for a truck driving course. A full course can be $8,000. Who’s got that? People are looking for a job, they’re looking for money,” said Don Wilson, the executive director of the Alberta Motor Transportation Association.
In the 10 years since that fateful May day when the cattle rigs stopped rolling, Alberta’s trucking industry has survived with some hard lessons.
It’s a sector accustomed to setbacks — although BSE has been harder to weather than the usual financial challenges.
For Wendorff, who’s been in the business since 1977, the BSE scare is the toughest obstacle he’s had to face.
A decade later, he’s still worries about the future. “I say to people all the time, ‘I’m glad I’m getting to this age and not just starting out.’
“Truthfully, I wouldn’t want to do this again. BSE was a big turning point for the whole sector. It’s been one big hurdle after another since then.”
View a map of BSE cases across western Canada
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/life/crisis+brakes+trucking/8405952/story.html#ixzz2TqaE5CED
View Original Article
|Monday May 20, 2013 - Opinion: It’s Not Too Late to Fight the Broker Bond
By James Lamb
Association of Independent Property Brokers & Agents
This Opinion piece appears in the May 20 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
As the United States and its trucking industry struggle to recover from what’s been dubbed the Great Recession, the new transportation bill — MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act — isn’t helping. If my own predictions are correct, the results will include:
• Thousands of businesses closing within the year.
• The loss of tens of thousands of transportation intermediary jobs.
• Shippers paying big brokerages more for transportation.
• Big brokerages paying owner-operators and carriers less to do the transporting.
• Americans being dealt a drastic rise in consumer prices because of the greed of the mega-brokerages that will control the industry from now on.
In today’s America, money wins out over sound judgment, and politics are used by powerful lobbies to secure laws and regulations favorable to them and their interests.
Take, for example, the $75,000 property broker bond, commonly referred to as the “freight broker” bond.
The Transportation Intermediaries Association, a trade group, wrote the provisions in MAP-21, which raises the property-broker bond from $10,000 to an astonishing $75,000 as of Oct. 1, 2013.
TIA first sought a $100,000 broker bond by introducing stand-alone legislation in both houses of Congress to that effect. However, a competing trade group for small and midsize brokers I founded in 2010 — the Association of Independent Property Brokers & Agents — managed, with help from other groups, to stop the TIA measure for two years. The bond amount ultimately was dropped to $75,000 via a Senate-House conference committee, even after the proposed $100,000 version already had passed the Senate.
Not wanting to be unfair toward the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and owner-operators, we argued that U.S. policy on property broker bonds should follow the just and conventional wisdom of the experts in transportation regulation, namely the administrative rulemakers at the Department of Transportation, who have the technical expertise needed to properly make these decisions.
During its recent rulemaking on household goods broker bonds, DOT released its opinion that any bond amount exceeding $25,000 (to merely adjust the current $10,000 bond set in the late 1970s for inflation) would have anti-competitive effects and do more harm than good.
We also noted that the states of Virginia and Florida, which regulate intrastate brokers, also maintain a $25,000 broker bond requirement.
But in today’s America, public policy is for sale, and the current leaders of Congress act like shepherds steering the flock in a general direction they have decided to go and encouraging the rest of the body not to worry about what’s actually in major legislation — just follow.
In this instance, TIA — unhappy with the DOT’s position not to impose higher bonds — sought to overrule the agency’s decision and convinced Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to introduce their previously rejected bill as an amendment to the Highway Bill. Without affording the people’s representatives the notice required by Senate rules, the more than 600 pages of the highway bill were rubber-stamped by the majority.
However, some members of Congress believe the House and Senate should actually read the bills they pass. We agree.
The present challenge is to help Congress understand what they’ve done and its effect on Americans and on the trucking industry before this law and its rules take effect in October.
TIA seems to think its method of pushing the bill through was honorable and praiseworthy. Notwithstanding what I think is its failure to perform its fiduciary duty to protect the rights and interests of all its dues-paying brokers, I believe the group has done a disservice to the country and the industry. I also believe many members of our industry agree with me, even some larger brokers who have recently started to come forward and remind the industry that they themselves would not have the businesses they have today if a chilling obstacle such as this new $75,000 bond had been placed on them decades ago when they were would-be entrepreneurs.
View Original Article
|Monday May 20, 2013 - Regulations, Drivers, Truck Capacity Focus of Shipper Meeting
Panelists warn shippers to treat drivers with respect — or risk not having reliable truck service as capacity tightens.
May 2013, TruckingInfo.com - WebXclusive
By J.K. Jones, Contributor
Shippers must work smarter and cooperate closely with their carrier partners to offset expected losses in truck capacity caused by government regulation, according to presentations at the 11th Annual Transplace Shipper Symposium held earlier this month in Dallas.
“Everyone is in favor of safety. The trucking industry has done a phenomenal job,” Transplace CEO Tom Sanderson told the gathering of shippers, carriers, industry experts, analysts and academics. “But regulations that drive up our costs, that make life for the trucking industry more difficult and don’t improve highway safety, are not benefitting anyone.”
In a session to explain recent legislative and economic impacts on freight transportation, attendees heard updates on the regulatory ABCs so familiar to the trucking industry — CSA, HOS, and EOBRs — along with the driver shortage, the rise in intermodal freight, and the possibility of a capacity crunch to rival 2004.
But shippers were told they won’t need a complex economic model to predict the arrival of a truck and driver shortage.
“Just look at your own service record,” said trucking analyst Thom Albrecht, managing director at BB&T Capital Markets, who shared the stage with Sanderson. “When you start to see a decay in either on-time pick up or on-time delivery, there’s probably a reaction up the chain and it’s probably tied to drivers. And watch your load tender/acceptance figures. When those begin to deteriorate, it’s either someone having problems with drivers, or your fleets are starting to play poker with you and they may not be honoring their commitments.”
While carrier representatives in attendance might have been disheartened to learn of innovative methods designed to reduce truckload freight costs, the event is a valuable gauge of shipper sentiment and a look at trends in industry practices.
Transplace was founded by a group of large carriers, so the meeting historically emphasizes cooperation, regardless of the swings in the transportation supply and demand marketplace.
Why Shippers Shouldn't Use CSA
Sanderson opened his presentation with a discussion of his latest blog post, an update to his running criticism of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Compliance, Safety, Accountability enforcement program launched in late 2010.
Sanderson is also the front man for ASECTT, a group suing to remove carrier scores in the CSA performance categories (BASICs) from public view.
Starting on a positive note, Sanderson characterized CSA as a mechanism designed to prioritize the enforcement resources of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
“The original intent was good, and that’s still valid,” he said.
He also noted that many carriers appreciate the feedback and have used CSA data to improve safety within their operations.
His remaining remarks, however, were detailed and critical.
Sanderson told the shippers’ meeting that CSA is “in flux” and “not ready for prime time.”
Among its numerous flaws, he said, CSA still doesn’t measure most carriers. Of those carriers with enough inspection data to be scored in one of the BASICs, about 55% have at least one score above the intervention threshold, according to Sanderson’s analysis.
“That is absolutely crazy. When you look at the track record of the motor carrier industry, it’s a phenomenal record of safety over the last 30-plus years,” Sanderson said. “To brand over half the carriers that FMCSA measures as having some kind of deficiency is absurd.”
Additionally, the BASIC scores do not correlate with a carrier’s accident frequency, he suggested.
“The system is not suitable for use by the shipping public to determine which carriers they’re going to do business with,” Sanderson said.
Hours of Service and Productivity
The expected July 1 changes to the hours of service rule will take capacity off the highway, Sanderson said, which will lead to higher prices for shippers. He cited specifically the new 34-hour restart provision and its impact on scheduling for some segments, particularly those who rely on early morning deliveries.
The new 30-minute driver rest break may or may not prove to have a significant impact on productivity, he noted. Still, he pointed out a possible safety risk if drivers feel compelled to “make up for lost time” after the mandated mid-shift pause.
Tightly scheduled routes with multiple deliveries will feel the change more than over-the-road operations, Albrecht agreed. He also questioned how many drivers actually are going to be back on the road in exactly 30 minutes, and not 45 minutes or more.
“Some organizations are going to be left with a 1% to 2% impact on productivity, while others are going to see at least 10%,” he said. “The food warehouse industry is going to very vulnerable. It’s going to be very challenging.”
The net effect will be a 2% to 5% reduction in productivity, Sanderson said. Doing the math, even a comparatively modest impact will result in the need for another 100,000 drivers.
“Where are we going to find 100,000 more truck drivers?” Sanderson said. “And does anyone think that new drivers are going to be safer than the 3 million professional drivers on the road today? Not a chance.”
Albrecht added that a driver currently gets 660 minutes of time behind the wheel in the daily duty cycle.
“The challenge for your organization is how can you help carriers find 20 or 30 more minutes a day,” Albrecht said. “A carrier can work smarter, but are you working with them to help them accomplish their goals? They can’t do it as a solo effort.”
Electronic Logs and Sitting at the Dock
The new rule mandating electronic on-board recorders, or electronic logging devices as they're now being called, will probably be published sometime next year, Sanderson said, likely to be followed by legal challenges and a grace period for universal adoption.
“From a practical standpoint, it’s going to be five or six years from now,” Sanderson said, adding that he supports EOBRs and sees the potential for modest productivity gains rather than losses.
“The real pinch point could be when EOBRs are scheduled to be implemented,” Albrecht said, noting that while most large carriers have already adopted EOBRs, many, many small carriers have not. “However, until there is a level playing field, [shippers] are going to have a little bit of a relief valve from carriers willing to ‘run hot and heavy.’ There’s going to be a part of the carrier population willing to operate that way, and they’re not going to change. “But think twice,” he cautioned shippers.
“A lot of driver dissatisfaction has to do with hassles at the dock, when that driver has to sit and wait,” Sanderson said, adding that electronic logs can’t be fudged. “When the clock’s up, it’s up. And sitting really takes money out of the driver’s pocket. Just make sure that you’re better than the next guy by being a shipper that is friendly to drivers, and that you’re a shipper that a trucking company wants to do business with.”
Next Page: Why shippers should care about the driver shortage
View Original Article
|Saturday May 18, 2013 - Flat volumes and ample capacity collide with higher spot rates; is HOS to blame?
Spot rates brace for a July 1 government enforcement deadline.
By Mark B. Solomon DC Velocity
Trucking volumes are flat and capacity is relatively ample, yet spot market truckload rates are rising.
This seeming paradox could be explained by the calendar. Barring a stay by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., the federal government will start enforcing new standards July 1 governing a driver's hours of service (HOS). As the date nears without any court action, more observers are forecasting that the enforcement will begin as scheduled. As a result, rates are rising as the marketplace anticipates fewer truck miles driven and reductions in driver productivity.
Bradley S. Jacobs, chairman and CEO of XPO Logistics Inc., a Greenwich, Conn.-based truck broker, expedited transporter, and freight forwarder, said truck volumes are neither rapidly accelerating nor precipitously declining, a trend that mirrors the lackluster performance of the overall economy. Truck capacity remains abundant, as it has for months, he added.
Yet the rise in spot market rates reflects the belief of most carriers that they will need to boost prices to offset the negative impact of the rules on driver productivity and the costs of replacing that lost productivity, he said. Jacobs expects productivity levels to be affected from day one, rather than it having a phased-in effect. That's because he expects everyone to obey the law from the start, with predictable consequences on truck miles driven.
The rules, implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a sub-agency of the Department of Transportation, will reduce a driver's maximum weekly work hours from 82 to 70. For the first time ever, drivers will have limits placed on their traditional 34-hour minimum restart period, requiring it to occur once every seven days and to include two rest periods between 1 am and 5 am over two consecutive days. FMCSA left unchanged a key provision allowing 11 hours of continuous drive time after a driver has spent 10 consecutive hours off duty.
Most shippers and carriers oppose the new rules as a safety hazard and an unnecessary disruption to their supply chains. While estimates vary, the consensus is that the rules will result in a 3- to 5-percent decline in truck productivity.
Oral arguments on the matter were held March 15 in Washington. The FMCSA has already denied an industry request for a three-month delay of the enforcement deadline.
VOLUMES FALL, BUT RATES STILL RISE
DAT, a Portland, Ore-based information consultancy, said spot market rates in April rose over March levels for all three equipment types: dry van, flatbed, and refrigerated, or "reefers." Yet spot volumes fell 5.8 percent over March levels, according to the firm's freight index. The decline—which was surprising given that better weather in April usually drives strong sequential traffic gains—was due in part to unusually inclement weather, such as floods in the upper Midwest, DAT said.
Year-over-year volumes in April fell 16 percent from record levels in April 2012, DAT said. Van and flatbed rates dropped, while reefer rates rose, it said.
About 20 percent of all truckload volumes move under spot rates, based on DAT's estimates. The balance moves under contract.
A monthly index of shippers' conditions published by Bloomington, Ind.-based consultancy FTR Associates came in with a March reading of -7.3, an improvement over the February read of -9.5. However, the March reading gives only marginal relief to shippers as any level below zero indicates a sellers' market for truck services.
Lawrence Gross, a senior consultant for FTR, said that although FTR's estimate of the hit that HOS will have on productivity is less than the consensus, "even a 3-percent decline will be sufficient to tip the balance of supply and demand significantly away from shippers, assuming the economy continues to maintain at least the anemic growth levels seen recently."
Gross said HOS enforcement will "usher in an extended period of difficulty for shippers, as there is an array of new regulations lined up behind the HOS change that will further impact trucking in the months and even years to come."
HOS is the latest, but not the only, trigger driving up freight rates. Carriers and their customers must also cope with the impact of CSA 2010, a government safety initiative designed to winnow out unsafe drivers; the cost of recruiting and retaining drivers; compliance with new federal engine emission standards; and escalating expenses for all types of equipment ranging from trailers to tires.
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|Saturday May 18, 2013 - Late planting means long hours for farmers
By Tim Landis ([email protected])
The State Journal-Register
Central Illinois farmers added a night shift this week.
“I started about 5:30 in the morning and went to 11 last (Wednesday) night,” Rochester farmer Larry Beaty said Thursday, adding that he was back planting corn at 5:30 a.m. Thursday and planned to go well into the evening — weather allowing.
“It just depends on how long the rains hold off,” Beaty said. There is rain in the forecast into the weekend.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported earlier this week that farmers across Illinois are playing catch-up after the fourth-wettest April on record brought planting to a halt for much of the month.
At the start of the week, only 17 percent of the crop was in compared with 94 percent at this point in the unusually dry year of 2012 and the five-year average in Illinois of 64 percent of corn planted by mid-May.
But thanks to technology and corn hybrids that are more resilient and grow faster, the USDA this week also predicted a big crop.
‘Head high by July’
“New hybrids in general are better than the older ones, and by ‘better,’ I mean they grow more vigorously,” said University of Illinois crop specialist Emerson Nafziger. “That means they tend to grow larger plants, including larger root systems.”
Faster-growing plants allow farmers to get into fields later and still produce good crops, Nafziger said. But he said faster-growing hybrids also mean faster use of water and nutrients.
Seed companies promote hybrids that reach maturity in as little as 90 days, though Nafziger said central Illinois corn hybrids typically are in the 110- to 113-day range. The ranges are based on reaching maturity before the normal first frost in the fall.
Diana Beaty, who farms with her husband, Larry, said they decided to stick with their traditional 112-114-day corn this year, despite the wet spring and late planting start.
“With the longer-growth corn, you get better yields,” she said. “We have always used the longest.”
The seed industry rule of thumb is the longer corn has to develop, the greater the yields. But shorter growing times are useful when time is running short, as it is this year in Illinois.
Whatever the maturity guidelines, said Diana Beaty, modern corn hybrids grow much faster and are more resilient than the seeds that went into the ground when she started farming in 1977.
“My grandpa used to say, ‘knee-high by July.’ Now, it’s head-high by July,” she said.
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|Friday May 17, 2013 - Former WV transportation firm broker pleads guilty to wire fraud
By Andrea Lannom - email
A former West Virginia transportation management firm broker recently pleaded guilty to wire fraud after federal prosecutors say he created 230 fake cash advances and took more than $100,000 to deposit in his personal bank account.
Richard Maurice Haddix, 33, worked for MegaCorp Logistics LLC, which is a transportation management firm based in North Carolina and which has an office in Elkins.
As a broker, Haddix's job was to match client company shipment orders to available trucking carriers and negotiate terms of the shipment deal, court documents state.
Haddix issued cash advances to truck drivers from the MegaCorp Logistics account by using the software program Via TMS.
Federal prosecutors say between July 23, 2011, and February 19, 2012, Haddix used the software program to create 230 fake cash advances and deposited $102,260 into his personal bank account.
Haddix will make restitution. He is free on bond and faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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