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Courtesy of CCJ sister site Overdrive, the graphic above shows how truck enforcers in each state are handling enforcement of the electronic logging device until April 1. Though the U.S. DOT required nearly all truckers who keep records of duty status to switch to an ELD by December 18, there’s somewhat of a soft enforcement period ongoing until April 1, the date established by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance for when out-of-service orders for non-compliance will begin being issued.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
Four more trucking groups and fleets have filed for exemptions from the electronic logging device mandate that took effect in December.
Trash hauling and recycling fleet American Disposal Services (ADS), oilfield service fleet Cudd Energy Services (CES), the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and the Association of Energy Service Companies (AESC), which includes well service rig contractors, have each petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for ELD exemptions for five years.
In addition to requesting an exemption from the ELD mandate, ADS is also requesting an exemption from keeping paper logs. The garbage pick-up company, which has more than 300 CDL drivers, operates under the multiple-stop rule, it says, as well as the 100 air-mile short-haul exemption. Its drivers, however, exceed the 12-hour limit more than eight times in a 30-day period, requiring the use of ELDs.
Each route for ADS drivers has between 800 and 1,200 stops per day, and the drivers pick up trash at a home every 22 seconds, on average. Drivers currently leave the yard on driving time, and at their first stop, change their status to on-duty, not driving for the next 500 stops. When they go to a landfill, the switch back to driving status.
ADS says there is “no ELD that can accurately record driving time when the CMV makes constant short movements with the driver often exiting the vehicle.”
CES is requesting the exemption for its “specially-trained drivers of commercial motor vehicles specially constructed to service oil wells.” The exemption would cover approximately 939 drivers and 1,858 trucks. According to CES, the drivers are not eligible for the 100 air-mile radius exemption, so they are required to use ELDs.
The company says in its exemption request it plans to install equipment that would enable tracking of its trucks when communication capabilities exist, but these units would not meet AOBRD or ELD standards. CES adds that poor cell service in certain oilfield locations and prohibitions of cell phones and electronic equipment while on job sites would prevent drivers from logging into ELDs.
ARA is requesting an exemption for its member companies from the mandate, arguing the mandate places “undue economic and other burdens.” ARA relies on trucks to deliver their products and services to farms.
The group says its members need additional information and guidance on the ELD rule, and adds that ELD vendors and manufacturers don’t offer devices that meet their needs.
AESC’s exemption request is on behalf of well service rig contractors, who typically operate under the short-haul exemption but sometimes exceed the requirements of the exemption.
Without an exemption from the ELD mandate, AESC says, these drivers would have to monitor the number of days they exceed the requirements of the short-haul exemption. Contractors would also have to purchase ELDs, train drivers on them and monitor compliance, the group says.
The group adds these drivers spend little time on public roads and can spend between two and five days parked at a single location. Contractors are required to obtain state permits to drive well service rigs on public highways, and the rigs are then escorted as they move to their next location. If granted the exemption, AESC says drivers would continue to keep paper logs when necessary.
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.”
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.
The carrier registration process for the 2018 fiscal year has been indefinitely delayed, according to a notice posted to the Unified Carrier Registration board’s website Friday.
The governing UCR Board of Directors has recommended that all states delay the enforcement period of 2018 registration compliance until 90 days after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration publishes a final rule setting the 2018 registration period and an updated registration fee structure.
Registration is supposed to begin each year on Oct. 1, but a Federal Register notice issued by FMCSA last month announced that the annual registration period had been delayed until Nov. 1. The same notice announced that fees for the 2018 fiscal year would be reduced from 2017’s fee structure.
However, FMCSA’s failure to complete the formal rulemaking process regarding 2018 registration and fees has prompted a further delay in the registration period. “We regret this inconvenience and appreciate your patience,” reads the announcement from the UCR Board of Directors.
“Until further notice, please do not accept any carrier fees for the 2018 registration year,” the UCR Board told state administrators in an Oct. 27 letter. “If received prior to the final rulemaking, please return to the entity that paid the fee.”
A lawsuit filed in late September claimed the UCR Board of Directors violated federal open meetings acts by failing to notify the public of a Sept. 14 meeting, at which the UCR Board determined the 2018 fee structure and the delayed Nov. 1 registration start period.
A court agreed with the plaintiffs in the case and required the UCR Board to post to its website the minutes from the Sept. 14 meeting. However, the court said it lacked the authority to rescind the decisions made by the Board at the meeting
Shippers fear “double-digit,” by percentage, rate increases loom in the coming months as trucking capacity continues to tighten and spot market freight activity — and rates — continue to gain ground. Spot market rates have soared in recent months, and the contract market could be next, says FTR analyst and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Starks.
“Spot market rates are a leading indicator. And, although there is a lag, contract markets are starting to follow suit. Shippers are now taking notice and are getting worried about dealing with double-digit rate increases as we head towards bid season,” he says.
These notes come from FTR’s monthly Trucking Conditions Index report. The most recent TCI is from August, which shows modestly positive conditions for carriers. August’s reading isn’t “wholly reflective of the current environment for truckers,” FTR notes, because it doesn’t include the supply chain disruptions caused in September by hurricanes Harvey or Irma, nor does it fully reflect the ballooning spot market.
“The truck market is currently in the middle of a significant change in conditions,” Starks says. “While the recent weather events made it feel like it happened all at once, spot markets have actually been moving in this direction for the past year. Load activity was rising, truck availability was falling, and rates were already up 20 percent year over year before the storms hit.”
Loadboard DAT Solutions last week reported strong spot market gains in September from August and record-setting year-over-year growth.
Available loads on DAT’s loadboard were 74 percent higher than the same month last year, DAT reported.
The dry van segment in particular saw major gains, with freight activity climbing 15 percent from August and up 80 percent from September 2016. Rates, meanwhile, gained 19 cents a mile from August and were up 35 cents from last September, DAT reported. The load-to-truck ratio hit 6.6 to 1 — the highest average in 8 years.
Reefer demand grew 4 percent from August and 70 percent from last September, pushing rates up 15 cents from August. DAT says harvest season in the pacific northwest and upper midwest, as well as late harvests in California, drove the segment’s surge.
The number of flatbed loads grew 3 percent from August. Though flatbed freight activity typically declines in September, recovery and rebuilding efforts in storm-stricken areas helped boost the segment this year, DAT says. Rates in the segment climbed 8 cents in September.
DAT says it expects the elevated spot market activity to continue at least until February.