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Raman Dhillon

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Citing federal regulations stemming from the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) of 1994, a California state court applied a temporary injunction to block enforcement of AB5—the landmark gig-work law that went into effect on Jan. 1—in the trucking industry. 

The ruling from Judge William Highberger of the Superior Court of Los Angeles follows a similar ruling recently handed down by a federal district court. The federal ruling was a result of a lawsuit filed by the California Trucking Association. Highberger’s decision, however, came in a lawsuit filed by the State of California against drayage operator Cal Cartage Transportation Express LLC over misclassification of drivers.

Highberger declared that big-rig owner-operators could not be reclassified as employees under AB5. The new law was the result of the California Supreme Court decision called Dynamex. AB5 and Dynamex utilize the ABC test which made it difficult for companies to argue that independent contractors were indeed independent and not entitled to regular employee pay and benefits.

Highberger argued that neither AB5 nor Dynamex should apply to truckers because the FAAAA regulates interstate commerce. To do so would be in violation of the Supremacy and Commerce Clauses of the U.S. Constitution which say that all 50 states should follow the same rules.

Highberger pointed out that the B part of the ABC test would, in virtually every case, prohibit trucking firms from hiring independent contractors. The B part establishes that an employee is someone hired to perform duties related to a company’s primary task. Thus, a driver who hauls freight for that company would need to be classified as an employee and not an independent contractor. 

Citing the FAAAA, Highberger said the law prevented “a state’s direct substitution of its own governmental commands for competitive market forces in determining (to a significant degree) the services that motor carriers will provide.” 

He further noted, “The question remains whether such a prohibition (the ABC test) has sufficient direct or indirect effects on motor carrier prices, routes, and services and is therefore preempted by the FAAAA. This court, like many others before it, concludes that it does.”

Cal Cartage, a subsidiary of NFI Industries, was represented by the law firm of Gibson Dunn. In a statement, Joshua Lipshutz of Gibson Dunn applauded the ruling, saying, “Independent owner-operator truck drivers have been a vital part of the trucking industry, and a path to achieving the American dream, for many decades. Judge Highberger’s decision confirms that California cannot simply eliminate that business model and force truck drivers to be employees. This is a win for trucking companies and independent truckers nationwide.”

Bridgestone’s M704 all-position tire is designed for regional pickup-and-delivery service and is suited for the steer and drive axle positions in high-scrub and wet-weather environments. The tread pattern’s edge design promotes wet traction, while a 20/32nds tread depth promotes long tread wear life. Wide flow-through tread grooves are engineered to expel water and deliver solid wet traction, and block sipes in the tread pattern help slice through water and improve road contact. It is available in size 225/70R19.5 with an N speed rating.


 

 

MONROVIA, Calif., December 17, 2019 – Double Coin and CMA, a leading tire
manufacturer and marketer is pleased to announce the addition of two new sizes in the FT115 and
the RDS3 product lines now available for purchase.
The FT115 is a fuel-efficient tire part of Double Coin’s Opti-Green Series and is now
available in the new 295/75R22.5 size. “With its shallow tread design, the added size in our
FT115’s daily haul ability will have better wear for a trailer application,” said Tim Phillips, Vice
President of Marketing and Operations. The FT115 has a load index of 144/141, and 14 PR (Load
Range G).
The RSD3 is a premium tire designed for all-season and severe winter conditions. “Built
to handle all types of road conditions but performs exceptionally during winter conditions. The
RSD3’s dynamic design delivers optimal traction on harsh road surfaces,” said Mr. Phillips. The
225/70R19.5 RSD3 has a load index of 128/126N, 14PR (Load Range G), and N speed rating.
Both the FT115 and RSD3 tires are backed by Double Coin’s 7-year warranty, and their
casings are warrantied for 3 retreads. “We hope to offer more tires in the future to meet the
demands of the diverse set of applications for our valued customers.” Concluded Mr. Phillips.

Despite being at the forefront of the effort to combat climate change, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has postponed enforcement of greenhouse gas (GHG) Phase 2 trailer standards until at least 2021, to match with implementation of federal GHG standards which have still not been finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Coinciding with this decision, the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA) has filed a petition in a federal court for review of trailer standards under GHG, claiming that trailers cannot be regulated in the same way as motor vehicles and that any regulations would be “arbitrary and capricious” because they don’t measure the actual day to day use of a trailer. The court placed the case in abeyance pending EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reconsideration of the matter. 

In 2016, the EPA under the Obama administration released the GHG Phase 2 regulations which not only tasked manufacturers with designing more fuel efficient trucks but to produce trailers which would also comply with federal standards. The final standards expected CO2 emissions to be cut 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle fuel costs of about $170 billion and to reduce oil usage by approximately two billion barrels over the lifetime of vehicles sold under the regulations. Final implementation has been held up under the Trump Administration, partly due to litigation such as that filed by TTMA, but also the result of agency inactivity.

In 2018, CARB, however, approved the state plan, setting Jan. 1, 2020 as the implementation date even though there was still a good deal of uncertainty regarding the federal rules which make up the basis for the California plan. Industry analysts have noted that because the federal rules are still in limbo the state isn’t ready to fully implement its standards because of problems with compliance and certification issues. OEM’s (original equipment manufacturers) have also worried that, absent a federal standard, states will release their own regulations making it tough for interstate fleets to comply with different rules. 

Mike Shuemake, President of Fresno-based Central Valley Trailer Repair has pointed out that enforcement of any set of new rules would be problematic for CARB, saying, “I have not yet heard of one enforcement violation being issued for the original GHG rule that I believe went into effect in 2011. They are well known for writing rules but not having the resources to enforce them, which can be proven by looking at current compliance rates with various rules affecting our industry.”

Shuemake also said, “I think they finally realized the rule had some issues, especially with the definition of model year, and that it might be easier to take a breather for two years and let that part of the rule become moot.” Additionally, only one OEM—conveniently based in California—has been approved so far for sales in California.

Because of inaction by the EPA and NHTSA, the TTMA has recently asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to render a final decision on trailer standards and not wait for the feds. With Jan. 2021 as the date when the NHTSA’s GHG Phase 2 standards are set to go into effect, TTMA argues that it cannot wait for federal action with the deadline just around the corner.

“Trailers are highly customized and are ordered months in advance because they are built to order, meaning that TTMA’s members will begin taking orders for 2021 in the coming months,” court documents reveal. “TTMA’s members need to know whether the Rule will apply to the trailers they sell for the 2021 model year, and they cannot realistically continue to wait for the Agencies to engage in the rule making that has been promised since 2017.”

 

The court has yet to rule on TTMA’s request.

 

How can the environmental and climate impact of heavy goods traffic be reduced while the demand for transport continues to increase? Volvo Trucks, having recently started sales of electric trucks for urban transport, believes that electrification can become a competitive alternative also for heavier trucks. To explore and demonstrate the possibilities, Volvo Trucks has developed electric concept trucks for construction operations and regional distribution.

“We see great potential for heavy-duty electric trucks for regional transport and construction in the longer term. With our concept trucks, we aim to explore and demonstrate different solutions for the future while evaluating the level of interest in the market and in society. To increase demand for electrified trucks, the charging infrastructure needs to be rapidly expanded, while stronger financial incentives must be created for hauliers who act as pioneers by choosing new vehicles with a lower environmental and climate footprint,” states Roger Alm, President Volvo Trucks.

Heavy-duty electric trucks can help improve the work environment for drivers and construction workers thanks to low noise level and zero exhaust emissions during operation. The latter will have a significant and positive effect on air quality in cities with many ongoing construction projects. Due to the lack of noise disturbance, these trucks also make it possible to perform transport operations for more hours per day which opens up new possibilities for streamlining operations, for instance in large construction projects and for transports in and around cities.

A reduction of the overall climate impact of the transport sector is possible by using heavy electric vehicles in regional distribution. The majority of goods distribution by truck within the EU is regional.

“In Europe there is an enormous number of trucks used for regional goods transport that have an average annual mileage of 80,000 km. This means that increased use of electric vehicles for regional distribution would result in significant climate gains, provided the electricity is fossil-free,” says Lars Mårtensson, Director Environment and Innovation, Volvo Trucks.

Volvo Trucks’ plan for electric heavy-duty trucks for construction and regional distribution is to start by having selected customers in Europe pilot a small number of future electric vehicles. More extensive commercialisation will follow at a later point.

“The speed of electrification will depend on a number of factors. On the one hand, an extensive expansion of the charging infrastructure is needed, and on the other hand it’s necessary to ensure that regional power networks can deliver sufficient transfer capacity in the long term. Financial incentives are necessary to induce more hauliers to invest in electric vehicles. Transport buyers can also contribute by offering longer contracts and  being more willing to pay for sustainable transports. Many haulage operators have very small margins, so every new investment must be profitable,” explains Mårtensson.

In parallel with increased electrification of the transport sector, ongoing improvement of the efficiency of combustion engines will continue to play a key role for long haul truck transport for many years to come.

“Today’s truck engines are efficient energy converters that can run on diesel or various renewable fuels such as liquefied biogas or HVO, and the technology still has potential for further development,” states Mårtensson.

In response to the recent passage of A.B. 5 in California, third-party logistics company Landstar System, which employs the largest number of owner-operators in the U.S, has decided to restructure its operations in California. A.B. 5 codified the 2018 Dynamex decision which restricts the use of independent contractors by business entities in the state.

In a letter to over 10,000 owner-operators throughout the U.S. on Nov. 4, Landstar indicated it will be in contact with its California based contractors to “discuss some options relating to the potential impact” of the law which takes effect on Jan. 1. 

Although Landstar confirmed they had sent the letter, they declined to state what options would be available, other than to say that contractors would need to decide what would be best for them based on their “own informed business decisions” on how to react to the new law.

Three options seem viable, however, for carriers and owner-operators in California. First, fleets could simply stop doing business in California, which seems unlikely considering the state is the fifth-largest economy in the world with a GDP surpassing $2.7 trillion a year and has three of the largest and busiest ports in the nation. 

Second, owner-operators could work with carriers to make the transition from independent contractor to permanent company driver. Finally, carriers could set up an entirely independent brokerage arm apart from their shipping operation in order to contract loads with independent owner-operators.

Dynamex and the subsequent passage of A.B. 5 have left carriers scrambling to resolve the problems surrounding the use of independent contractors. Swift, an arm of Knight-Swift, reportedly ended its use of independent contractors last March. The use of the “ABC test” in Dynamex, which distinguishes between permanent employees and independent contractors, will make it virtually impossible for carriers to contract with owner-operators in California.

Both the Western States and California Trucking Associations have filed lawsuits against the law and specifically the legality of the “ABC test.” They are also lobbying the California legislature for options to allow the use of owner-operators by carriers in the state. These possible solutions may take time to work out, prompting Landstar to seek other ways to continue working in California.    

 

Citing increased driver flexibility and improved highway safety, 21 Republican congressmen recently praised the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s notice of proposed rulemaking for hours-of-service reform.

The lawmakers, from a variety of states, east, and west, sent a letter to the agency voicing their support for the HOS overhaul. Dated Oct. 31, the letter said, “The agency’s proposed changes appropriately reflect the concerns commonly expressed to us by stakeholders throughout the trucking industry. Not only would the reforms put forward by FMCSA provide truckers the flexibility they need, but they would also improve safety on our nation’s roadways.”

FMCSA’s notice of proposed rulemaking has five main adjustments to HOS regulations:

The limits for short-haul operations would increase from 12 to 14 hours and from 100 air miles to 150.

The adverse driving provision would allow a driver up to a 16-hour window within which to complete up to 13 hours of driving if the driver encounters adverse conditions.

The 30-minute break requirement would be modified, prohibiting driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least one 30-minute change in a duty status. This would allow 30 minutes of on-duty, not driving time; off-duty time; or sleeper-berth time to qualify as a break.”

In addition to splits of 10/0 and 8/2, drivers would be allowed a split-sleeper option of 7/3.

Drivers would have the option of stopping the clock a minimum of 30 minutes and up to three hours consecutively once per duty period.

The comment period, including two public listening sessions, generated over 8,100 submissions. Overall, the comments favored increased flexibility by giving more chances for fatigued drivers to stop or when traffic or weather delays cause unsafe driving conditions.

The letter went on to say, “With this notice of proposed rulemaking, FMCSA has recognized that drivers are professionals capable of making the best decisions about when it is safe for them to drive, and when it is best for them to rest, and when to avoid congestion or refrain from driving in adverse conditions.”

The final set of rules could be rolled out as early as next year, although there is currently no exact timetable. “Given the potential safety benefits of implementing this notice of proposed rulemaking, we urge you to finalize the rule as quickly as possible,” the letter concluded. “Today’s hours-of-service requirements simply aren’t working. Since their implementation, crash rates have regrettably increased. We agree with the agency’s approach to reforming hours of service, which features improvements recommended by America’s most experienced professional drivers.”

The following lawmakers signed the letter:

Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas

Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan.

Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas

Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.

Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont.

Rep. H. Morgan Griffith, R-Va.

Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo.

Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va.

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich.

Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas

Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.

Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo.

Rep. Fred Keller, R-Pa.

Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wisc.

Rep. Collin C. Peterson, R-Minn.

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La.

Phillips Connect Technologies (PCT), a strategic business unit of Phillips Industries, has partnered with Nussbaum Transportation, (headquartered in Hudson, Illinois), to supply a revolutionary “smart trailer” system that delivers GPS tracking, cargo detection, Automatic Tire Inflation System alerts, tire pressure and temperature monitoring, and an Anti-lock Braking System Decoder that provides detailed fault codes, trailer VIN information, and mileage reporting. PCT will also deliver on tractor-trailer pairing, ensuring the right tractors connect to the correct trailers before hauling a load. In combination, this smart trailer system will provide Nussbaum with detailed information to drive critical operational KPI reporting metrics. Additional sensor features under consideration by Nussbaum Transportation are the Phillips Connect LITE-SENTRY® (light out detection system), and the first-of-its-kind Phillips Connect Remote PreCheck system. This system will provide the ability to remotely pre-check lights and tires on a parked trailer from any device connected to the internet.

Additionally, Nussbaum Transportation will combine the TireView™ system, by Pressure Systems International, for tire pressure and temperature monitoring (TPMS) with their industry-leading Automatic Tire Inflation System (ATIS). This new solution delivers real-time tire health to a fleet’s operations managers, instead of waiting for a driver to report a tire concern, while still automatically maintaining pressures to allow the driver to complete their run.  Additionally, the system delivers an operational advantage by providing visibility of the trailer tire status even when it is untethered, without tractor power connected.

“Nussbaum Transportation is one of the most respected trucking fleets on the road today and is widely recognized for adopting new technology that allows them to lead the industry in fuel efficiency and driver satisfaction,” notes Kent Crymes, who led the commercial engagement with Nussbaum. “Given the high quality of the Nussbaum fleet assets and the high value that the management team places on ROI and trailer health data, we thought they would be an outstanding partner for our technology,” Crymes commented further.

The opportunity with Nussbaum Transportation was highly competitive, with many of the most established telematics companies vying for the win. “After working closely with PCT’s Business Intelligence team, we were able to immediately realize the ROI for the entire TrailerNet™ system,” noted Doug Bradle, chief operating officer for Nussbaum. In addition to PCT’s trailer-based product, the company offers integrated analytics, business intelligence tools, and customized reporting capabilities for fleets looking to identify and track hard ROI targets.  PCT’s products, which include advanced business intelligence tools and baseline planned ROI, compare actual fleet data to ensure that asset managers are attaining cost savings or maximizing revenue opportunities.  PCT isn’t just selling a product at a cost; they provide the fleet with data visualization screens and reports that create a gain on their investment and an opportunity to increase overall fleet metrics.

“In the end, the opportunity landed with the only company that could deliver on all of our requirements that together represent a truly “smart trailer,” and by a provider that can install the integrated system today, not tomorrow,” said Nussbaum’s director of maintenance, Tony Morthland.

Volvo Trucks introduces the FlowBelow Tractor AeroKit, which includes a system of wheel covers and fairings designed for improved aerodynamics and fuel efficiency, as a factory-installed option in Q2 2020. The announcement was made on October 28, 2019 at the North American Commercial Vehicle (NACV) Show in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The aerodynamics of our trucks have a significant impact on fuel efficiency and our customers’ bottom line,” said Allison Athey, product marketing manager, Volvo Trucks North America. “The new FlowBelow package offers our customers an enhanced aerodynamic option, providing up to an additional 1% increase in fuel efficiency when combined with our most aerodynamic truck spec including the Xceed fuel efficiency package, and a dry van with trailer skirts, further reducing environmental footprints.”

The FlowBelow Tractor AeroKit is a complete system designed to minimize turbulence and improve aerodynamics by surrounding the drive wheels to better manage the air that moves around the tractor while in motion. The system consists of wheel covers, a center fairing between the wheels and a rear fairing behind the wheels. These pieces work together to maintain control of the airflow from end to end, keeping the air running along the side of the truck and around the wheels. The air is then funneled out when it reaches the back of the truck, jumping the gap between truck and trailer.

“Heavy-duty trucks experience a great deal of turbulence and drag due to their sheer size and speed at which they travel down the road,” said Josh Butler, president and founder, FlowBelow Aero, Inc. “The FlowBelow Tractor AeroKit significantly decreases the impact of those factors, optimizing the surface along the side of the truck to make it more aerodynamic, leading to better fuel mileage and real savings for customers.”

Not only does the FlowBelow Tractor AeroKit improve the efficiency of the truck, it provides a variety of styling options with wheel covers available in black, white and chrome, and fairings available in black and white. The wheel covers and fairings are both durable and flexible, enabling them to better withstand road conditions, debris and contaminants while also providing easy access for drivers and mechanics.

Volvo Trucks will begin offering factory-installed FlowBelow wheel covers and fairings separately, as well as the full FlowBelow Tractor AeroKit included with its Xceed fuel efficiency package as a customer option for truck orders in 4×2, 6×2, and 6×4 axle configurations by the end of 2019. Volvo Trucks will offer factory installation of the FlowBelow system for all VNL and VNR models in Q2 2020.

  • Solid-state, 50m range, wide field-of-view (120°x 30°) LIDAR sensor
  • Generates high-resolution 3D point cloud and intensity maps 25 times/sec

Allentown, PA, October 28, 2019. Continental, a leading global supplier of systems and components for automobile and truck manufacturers, has developed and is shipping samples of its new and advanced automotive grade solid-state LIDAR to the Commercial Vehicle Market.  The HFL110 3D Flash LIDAR™ enhances Continental’s existing ADAS sensor suite or radar and 2D color sensors for automated driving.  The ability to create a precision 3D profile of a vehicle’s surroundings is a fundamental prerequisite for automated and safe driving.  The HFL110 sensor deliversdetailed and accurate 3-dimensional profile in 330 nanoseconds per frame, regardless of time-of-day or weather conditions.

The new 3D Flash LIDAR HFL110 sensor has been developed for use at close range (50m or less).  Immune to vibration or speed distortion, the sensor generates a high-resolution 3D point cloud 25 times per second within its 120° field of view.  Whether in dense urban or highway environments, the HFL110’s multiple precise distance measurements capture 4,096 contiguous pixels of depth data in real-time across the field of view, enabling and assisting with challenging maneuvers, safely.

The contiguous HFL110 pixels tolerate nearby high or low reflectivity surfaces, producing a point cloud and/or an object list to define and track the vehicle’s surroundings and moving objects within it.  Enhanced by an integrated heater and an optional automatic washer system, it can be combined with Continental’s radars and 2D cameras for a power sensor suite to assure a high degree of reliability in a wide range of weather conditions.

Addressing application areas in automotive, commercial vehicles, agriculture, construction, mining, UAV delivery, Precision Infrastructure Inspection and more, the HFL110 short range sensor is available for sampling. Continental’s High-Resolution 3D Flash LIDAR™ (HFL) with 3D Global Shutter™ enables the Future of Machine Vision.