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Raman Dhillon

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As with the deadline for attaining a California Real ID, which has been postponed due to the current health crisis, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will allow truck drivers to continue driving even if their licenses have expired. Drivers whose licenses will have expired as of March 1 will now have until June 30 to renew commercial driver licenses (CDL), learner permits (CLP) and medical certifications.

In a response to the COVID-19 crisis, the FMCSA said it understands drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMV) are important to the nation and that they may be having trouble getting into offices to renew licenses and certifications. In a waiver statement, the agency said, “Ensuring that drivers are available to operate CMVs during the national emergency declaration is critical to the continued operation of the transportation and energy supply networks and the safety and economic stability of our nation.” 

The waiver applies to all CDLs, CLPs as well as “non-CDL commercial drivers whose license was issued for less than the maximum period…and was valid on Feb. 29, 2020, and expired on or after March 1, 2020.”

The waiver has several provisions, but the most important among them states that FMCSA will not take enforcement actions against any of the following:

  •     CLP or CDL drivers operating a CMV with an expired license if the CLP or CDL was valid on Feb. 29 and expired on or after March 1.
  •     Carriers that allow a CLP or CDL to operate a CMV to operate without an expired license as long as the license was valid on Feb. 29 and expired on or after March 1. 
  •     A CMV driver or carrier that allows a driver to operate a CMV while the driver does not have current medical certification, but only if the driver has evidence of a medical certificate which was valid on Feb. 29 and expired on or after March 1.

In other words, drivers have until June 30 to renew licenses and certifications before facing any penalty. However, waivers do not apply for licenses or certificates that expired before March 1. Likewise, drivers who have had their licenses suspended because of traffic offenses do not qualify for this waiver.

American Trucking Associations Vice President Dan Horvath said, “While America’s truck drivers are out delivering the essential medical supplies, food and other goods we need to combat this virus, FMCSA has taken an important step to let drivers and carriers know how to address things like expired commercial drivers’ licenses or medical cards.”

As the nation deals with the coronavirus outbreak, J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., one of the largest transportation and logistics companies in the U.S., is giving its drivers and support personnel a one-time $500 bonus. The bonus will go out on March 27, according to a press release from the Arkansas-based firm.

J.B. Hunt President and CEO John Roberts said, “All of our employees have gone above and beyond the call to action during this crisis. And nearly all of our field-level, front-line employees and certainly all of our drivers are required in person and have upheld the high standards of our company. They have kept pace with the evolving supply chain needs of our customers in the face of great uncertainty.” 

Drivers, field employees, and managers in terminals and other supply centers are eligible for the bonus. Not only is J.B. Hunt offering its employees added compensation in the midst of this difficult situation, but they have also been taking numerous precautions to ensure the health and safety of their workers. While some employees are working from home the company is providing hand sanitizer, gloves, and masks to those who are in the field.  

The company has also established a paid leave program for those who cannot work because of the virus or who are in quarantine. “The safety and health of all J.B. Hunt employees and their families are of the utmost importance to us. We are very grateful for their dedication to ensure critical supplies reach their destination in these challenging times,” Roberts said.

With New York, California and Washington experiencing a high number of infections from the coronavirus, trucking spot rates in those areas have increased and carriers are even rejecting loads into places where the virus has hit the hardest. In addition, load times at many warehouses have increased.

Rates to haul from Los Angeles to Seattle, including fuel, are up 9.6% in one week alone. Rates from Dallas to Los Angeles are up 27%, although those rates had cratered in February. Many truckers are now turning down some loads to New York where more than 15,000 cases (and growing exponentially every day) of the virus have been detected. In particular, less-than-truckload (LTL) jobs are being rejected because those loads tend to cause drivers to have to enter and exit their trucks several times for various deliveries.

In the New York area, carriers are adhering to a COVID-19 policy by not taking signatures for delivery, not doing inside deliveries and practicing social distancing (staying 6-feet away from others). Some carriers are also turning down shipping loads into the major ports of New York and New Jersey centered around Elizabeth, NJ. Rejections are up to 16% in New Jersey, compared to 13% across the rest of the nation.

While all of this is happening, wait times have soared at many warehouses with freight brokers unable to verify appointment times. The average wait times are now at 159 minutes and can be as much as 322 minutes for loading and unloading in the Philadelphia market. This is leaving many carriers to turn down high spot rates because the wait times are simply not worth it.    

 

With much of the U.S. economy shutting down, truck drivers are still on the job delivering essential supplies to a nation that is hunkered down in their homes hoping to avoid infection from the COVID-19 virus. To assist truckers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has relaxed hourly driving regulations for the hauling of medical, fuel, paper products, and food. 

While truck drivers have always been an indispensable part of the fabric of the U.S. economy, today they are even more important in connecting the world when so many have been told to stay home. For drivers, this is a difficult time with many of their routine duties disrupted.

Luckily, many vital truck-stop chains and independent truck-stops are remaining open, although in most cases, they have closed their restaurants to sit down customers and are providing take-out instead. FMCSA acting administrator Jim Mullen said, “In the coming weeks and months, it will be critical that these businesses remain open, 24 hours a day, providing America’s truck drivers with fuel, food, showers, repair services and opportunities to rest.”

To that end, truck-stop chains such as Pilot Flying J and Travel Centers of America have indicated in online updates that they are offering carryout food and are keeping their showers open. All fuel lanes remain open. They are also assuring drivers that they have stepped up their cleaning and disinfecting procedures. Pilot Flying J is also saying they strongly encourage drivers [to] use social distancing while in our stores.”

Love’s is also only offering drive-thru and carryout food. In a statement on their website, Love’s said, “At Love’s, we have always been committed to providing safe, clean and well-maintained stops that help get our drivers back on the road quickly. We’ll continue to make that a priority, along with the health and safety of our team members and you, our customer. In light of the developing COVID-19 situation, we’ve made some temporary changes to try to help better protect you and our employees.” 

Additionally, drivers who are interested in information about safety precautions they can take during this crisis can go to the Customized Logistics and Delivery Association’s website which contains advice to carriers and drivers. Recommendations from CLDA include not shaking hands, avoiding driver lounges and at all times practicing social distancing (stay at least six feet away from anyone).

In response to the coronavirus crisis, the Trump Administration has suspended hours-of-service (HOS) laws at the federal level in order to facilitate the transport of medical supplies and essential consumer goods. For the first time since they went into effect in 1938, HOS rules will no longer limit the amount of time a driver can be on the road.

Beginning on March 13, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said that drivers involved in helping to carry masks, hand sanitizer, and other medical supplies will temporarily not have to follow rules which limit drivers to eleven hours on the road. 

An updated declaration was issued on March 19 allowing for relaxed regulations for carriers involved with the following:

  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19.
  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfectants.
  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
  • Immediate precursor raw materials—such as paper, plastic or alcohol—that are required and to be used for the manufacture of essential items.
  • Fuel.
  • Equipment, supplies, and persons are necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine.

The new rules give drivers the flexibility to drive as long as it is needed to deliver important freight in a timely manner. After completing the delivery, however, drivers must receive ten hours of rest before getting back on the road. 

Drivers carrying necessary personnel to provide medical or emergency services will also be able to take advantage of the new rules. These could include people who are necessary to set up and coordinate temporary housing, quarantine and isolation facilities for those infected by the virus. 

FlowBelow Aero Inc., a tier 1 supplier of tractor-mounted aerodynamic products, announced today their addition to the Alliance Parts product catalog. Starting in April, Alliance Parts customers will have access to all parts manufactured by FlowBelow, including proprietary first-fit drive wheel fairings and wheel covers for Freightliner and Western Star models, as well as all-makes FlowBelow replacement and retrofit parts.

Alliance Parts customers will be able to order products to be drop-shipped to their locations in as little as 24 hours. Replacement parts, as well as full wheel cover kits and fairing kits, will be available, enabling fleets to quickly fix damaged equipment or retrofit existing Class 8 trucks with aerodynamic components.

“Adding FlowBelow to the line-up of parts available through Alliance Parts has been an important initiative for us,” said Gordon Virginski, VP of OEM and Dealer Programs at FlowBelow. “We want to ensure end-users of our products have many channels available to them to get the parts they need quickly and at a competitive market price.”

“We strive to provide our dealer network with product lines that meet the needs of the market. With the tens of thousands of trucks running these aerodynamic products, adding this offering to our catalog makes good sense,” said Dale Thomas, Product Manager at Alliance Parts. “We see a growing need to support aerodynamic components in the class 8 truck market, as owners look for ways to improve the performance of their older model vehicles.”

FlowBelow parts will be available in the online catalog available to dealers and end-user customers in April.

Volvo Trucks North America offered a first look at its Class 8 battery-electric project trucks during an exclusive event at TEC Equipment dealership in Fontana, California.

The Volvo Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions (LIGHTS) Innovation Showcase, held at Volvo Trucks’ TEC Equipment dealership’s Fontana location, revealed the progress that has been achieved since the announcement of the Volvo LIGHTS project in late 2018. Guests experienced the fully electric trucks firsthand for the first time, and learned more about electromobility and its role in freight movement solutions.

The Volvo LIGHTS project is a collaboration between 15 public and private partners to demonstrate the viability of all-electric freight hauling in high-density traffic and urban areas and represents the project’s innovative and holistic approach to ensuring commercial readiness in all aspects. The Volvo LIGHTS project’s trans-formative impact on fleet operations is designed to be scalable and replicable to reduce emissions throughout the freight eco-system.

“We’re excited to share the milestones reached and lessons learned in the development of a battery-electric transport eco-system,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “This project is unique in the sense of its scope, and that it takes into account the entire system from charging stations to yard haulers to solar panels to workforce development to heavy-duty trucks. We are putting trucks on the road and fully testing them in real-world commercial applications, proving out this innovative approach to learn and prepare for commercial operations for zero-emission freight hauling,” said Voorhoeve.

Officials from California Air Resources Board (CARB) and South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) were also present, along with representatives from each of the project partners. The Volvo LIGHTS project was made possible by an award to South Coast AQMD of $44.8 million from CARB as part of California Climate Investments (CCI). CCI is a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities.

“This forward-thinking coalition has developed both a zero-emission truck and the whole eco-system that supports these state-of-the-art vehicles, from charging to maintenance and repair. This is what it takes to transform this critical freight-hauling sector,” said California Air Resources Board chair Mary D. Nichols. “This project will put more ultra-clean, zero-emission trucks on the roads and highways of communities like Fontana and Ontario that are heavily burdened with growing diesel truck traffic. Volvo Trucks’ vision is helping to clean the air in the communities that need it most.”

Volvo Group contributed $36.7 million for the project total of $90 million, and South Coast AQMD contributed $4 million from the Clean Fuels Fund, administers the grant and oversees the Volvo LIGHTS project.

“Our partnership with Volvo Group began with efforts to develop a prototype of a hybrid-electric diesel truck, something that was novel in the industry at the time. Now, we have reached a huge milestone that lays a path for the commercialization of fully electric truck technologies,” said Wayne Nastri, executive officer for the South Coast AQMD. “These battery-electric trucks showcased today will have positive air quality impacts in local communities across our region, but especially in disadvantaged communities that need it most.”

At the Innovation Showcase, interactive knowledge-sharing sessions from Volvo Trucks North America and several Volvo LIGHTS project partners demonstrated the installation of charging stations, dealership service and support preparations, technician training programs and workforce development, the positive environmental impacts due to a zero-emission transport system and more.

Guests at the event were also able to ride and drive the first five pilot Volvo VNR Electric trucks on a closed course at the Fontana Speedway near the TEC Equipment facility. The tailored course was set up to demonstrate the Volvo VNR Electric project trucks’ features such as propulsion and regeneration energy, maneuverability, quietness and ease of operation.

The Volvo VNR Electric project trucks will be put into real-world commercial operations with two of California’s leading freight companies, Dependable Supply Chain Services and NFI. Volvo Trucks engineers and project managers will closely monitor and evaluate the vehicles’ performance, driving cycles, load capacity, uptime, range and other parameters in these real-world applications over the next several months. The company will take those learnings into the final stages of product development and begin the first phase of serial production and commercial offering of the Volvo VNR Electric in late 2020.

Guests at the Fontana event also learned about the technology transfer that helped Volvo Trucks North America develop and deliver all-electric, heavy-duty trucks in just one calendar year. “Volvo Trucks is leading the way in electric transport globally,” said Keith Brandis, vice president of partnerships and strategic solutions, Volvo Group. “We relied a great deal on the technological know-how of our sister company Volvo Buses, which has already built over 5,000 hybrid and electric vehicles, and on Volvo Trucks’ production of all-electric, medium-duty vehicles in Europe.”

In North America, the Volvo VNR Electric will become the ideal truck model for short- and regional-haul applications like heavy urban distribution, dray age and other applications where electric trucks will first have the greatest impact. By utilizing existing electromobility technology within the Volvo Group, Volvo Trucks North America was able to easily integrate those technologies into the existing VNR model, committing to and meeting a very tight project timeline and delivering the pilot trucks ahead of schedule.

Volvo LIGHTS project partner TEC Equipment will serve as a fully certified maintenance hub for the Volvo VNR Electric project trucks in the South Coast Air Basin. The dealership group is an established sales and service network that has partnered with local Rio Hondo College and San Bernardino Valley College to create electric vehicle repair and service technician programs to ensure fully trained and skilled technicians to support these new technologies. The company will also lease 15 battery-electric Volvo VNR Electric trucks to interested customers for real-world trials as part of the overall project scope, and offers a critical up-time support team for assistance with parts and service on these new electric vehicles.

“The Volvo LIGHTS project demonstrates that for the entire endeavor to come together, it takes more than just the truck. It’s the delivery of the complete eco-system for zero-emission, heavy-duty transport, and taking responsibility for that ecosystem,” said Voorhoeve. “You can only achieve this by having a common goal, fully integrated collaboration among all stakeholders, and agreeing to be pioneers together.”

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.