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Friday, October 03 2008

18 Sep 08 Thursday

No Return to 55 mph

ATA and other groups including some members in Congress are calling for a return to 55m  We suffered through this for approx. 20 years until we were able to taste freedom again under Pres. Clinton.  Yes, the slowdown may save some fuel but there are more costs to consider.  Groups wish to force vehicle manufactures to place governors (speed limiters) on vehicles that do not allow them to exceed a set speed.  The speed declared is somewhere between the posted limit at time of manufacture and 68 mph.

If we allow the government to take away our freedom of movement, we are transposing into the enemy.  The government regulates the airlines through the TSA that flying is a horrible process.  Most of us do whatever we can to avoid the air these days due to the humiliation process that occurs each time you enter an airport.  Gasoline prices are forcing people to downsize and/or highly limit their travel.  Add the 55 restriction and we move backwards not forwards as a progressive nation is suppose to move.


Yes we need to learn clean and green technology and adaptability through education not government regulation.  Big brother's forced intervention into our daily lives is not the answer.  Education of our youth, affordable options to clean transportation and technologies is our key to the future.


"No other law, other than Prohibition, has not been adhered to as much as that 55 mph limit," said Bonnie Sesolak of the National Motorists Association in Wisconsin. "It just wasn't the answer then, and it's not the answer now." The flip side would argue, "Every 5 mph slower you drive on the highway can lead to 7 percent or 8 percent in fuel savings", David L. Greene, a transportation official at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, told a congressional panel last month.  This may be true but it is up to the people, not the government to decide.  Let the people vote on this issue.  Do not allow the government to again set such limiting legislation upon us.

12 Sep 08 Friday

House is Wrong - All MX Truckers to Remain

  REF: http://www.etrucker.com/apps/news/article.asp?id=72239

What are we so afraid of?  Why shouldn't MX trucks run in the US?  We import drivers from around the world.  Why not support our neighbors?  Canadian truckers are welcome.  Fair is fair.  If we welcome the north, then welcome the south.  Equal treatment.  Yes, I am a NAFTA and CAFTA supporter. 

The Unions in this country have run us out of business with their greed.  Jimmy Jr. you will never be your daddy.  The time of the Union has passed.  Move away quietly with the things of the past.  Now is globalization and equal trade.  If Americans would get over their high dollar greed and be realistic, we would not fear MX competition.

It is bad enough we exported all our good workers and imported people from half way around the world who do not want to work.  Bring back our southern neighbors and let peace and harmony reign between our nations.

Peace to all!

 

Trucking Headlines

House votes to ax Mexican trucks program
By Jill Dunn

The U.S. House of Representatives voted against extending the Mexican carrier program. The House voted 395-18 to prevent U.S. Transportation Mary Peters from granting authority to a Mexican carrier to operate beyond the border zone unless expressly authorized by Congress.

President Bush is expected to veto the bill because of NAFTA obligations.

Rep. Pete DeFazio's bill, HR 6630, passed as amended late Tuesday, Sept. 9. Information on how the Oregon Democrat's bill was amended was not immediately available.

The breakdown on the vote was 215 Democrats and 180 Republicans voted in favor of the bill. It was opposed by 15 Republicans and three Democrats and 21 members did not vote.

The measure now goes to the Senate.

DOT officials were not immediately available for comment. On Aug. 4, John Hill, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, announced he would continue the program two more years.

"The world is watching how we choose to honor our international commitments," Hill said. "At a time of surging exports and growing demand by U.S. truck drivers for new opportunities, it is simply irresponsible for Congress to deny American drivers the opportunity to compete in Mexico and American shippers a more efficient and timely way of getting their goods south."

Whether or not to stop the program is also the subject of a lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The program has been a lightening rod for congressional criticism since it began a year ago. An amendment was passed in December to cut off funding for the program, but bill backers and Peters disagreed on whether the wording would stop the program.

Bush has consistently backed the program, although he signed the omnibus funding bill in December that contained the amendment backers had expected to stop the program. Immediately before the vote on DeFazio's bill, the White House issued a statement that enactment of the bill would endanger the United States from meeting its North American Free Trade Agreement obligations and pose risks to U.S. interests.

"If the DOT were forced to terminate the cross-border trucking demonstration project, opportunities and investment returns currently afforded U.S. motor carriers participating in the project would be compromised," the executive office said. "However, intensified
enforcement activity by DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and state law enforcement agencies has effectively addressed any Mexican truck safety concerns."

Program opponents argue that NAFTA's requirement for opening the border is contingent on Mexican trucks meeting standards equivalent to U.S. safety standards and background checks and charge that the DOT does not require Mexico to do so.

The Teamsters, which, along with the the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Public Citizen and the Sierra Club, is fighting the program in the court case, was pleased with the vote.

"This bill makes it very clear that Congress wants the border closed," Teamsters President James P. Hoffa said. "This time, the Bush administration can't pretend it doesn't understand what Congress means."

Thank you to all our men and women in uniform

Where were you today 7 years ago?

01 May 08 Thursday

Congress Proposes Bill to Pass 100% FSC on to Fuel Purchaser
Current mood: thoughtful
Category: News and Politics

This would be a wonderful bill BUT... many O/O who are contracted to a
company purchase their fuel through the company's fuel card.  This would
then, technically, be the company purchasing the fuel even though the O/O
is debited for the purchase.  I would hope this bill is carefully worded
to protect all O/Os irregardless of them purchasing the fuel outright or
through a fleet purchase program.

Additionally, I have seen many carriers pay no FSC to their O/Os or only
pass on what they claim the shipper paid.  The O/O has no recourse, no
access to contract negotiations or billings.  It is all on faith and this
faith is too often misused and misplaced.  The government needs to find a
way to monitor this portion as well.  The true fuel purchaser needs to
benefit not all the greedy hands along the path.

I know the US Government set up an FSC chart years ago in the event that
fuel would cross the $1.25/gallon mark.  It is still there today and used
in governmental contract negotiations.  Forcing the adaptation of that
chart on domestic moves would be a large step forward for the O/O.

We at KTC have adapted our own version of that chart in which we have our
3PLs follow.  It is quite close to the government numbers but one standard
chart for all would be a much better solution.  It would level some playing
fields while offering the O/O a true look at what they are to receive.  No
more denial of FSC by large shippers or skimming by carriers.  It would all
be black and white.

21 Apr 08 Monday

EOBR and HOS
Current mood: voluminous
Category: News and Politics

EOBR and HOS

 

The US Government is seeking to require that ALL commercial vehicles have EOBRs installed irregardless of the company's safety rating.  These Electronic Onboard Recorders are claimed to warn a driver of danger, communicate as a collective in regards to traffic issues (to local DOTs not the driver) and are claimed as a "great safety device".  The dark side is that these EOBRs will be a driver's worse tattletale.  One iota out of regulation and it will be recorded to be used against them in a court of law.  Yes, American Trucker, Big Brother will forever be watching and riding in that cab with you if this comes to pass.

 

In all fairness, before EOBRs can be forcibly installed on trucks; the government needs to create HOSs that actually work.  The problem we face today is that we have one complicated set of Hours of Service to fit all.  This is like a one size fits all garment that just does not fit properly.

 

Local drivers' work schedule does not offer the same fit as that of an OTR driver.  Regional drivers do not fit into the normal OTR mode.  Over the Road drivers do not fit into regional or local work condition modes.  Each driver set as well as commodity needs to have their own set of rules that work for that type of driver / commodity.  

 

Temperature control drivers are generally forced to unload / reload in the very early am (11pm-4am).   General commodity drivers have dock times of 8am - 4pm.  Petroleum haulers run around the clock as does the demand for the product.  Drivers who load out of assembly plants have an entire other schedule and method of operation. "Bedbuggers", hence household movers, work long hours loading and unloading in residential conditions as well as driving hours.  Local drivers generally work one of two shifts and the list continues.

 

Local drivers run 10-12 hour shifts.  Regional drivers make many stops in a short route requiring quick nap breaks and rarely time for a "full nights" sleep break.  Long haul drivers load today, drive for 2-3 days and unload.  No one set of rules will fit all these different scenarios.  Before we begin setting punishments and fines the government needs to provide a set of rules that actually work.  If you do not allow the driver to do his / her job in a legal fashion; how can you expect that driver to comply?  Maybe monitoring without repercussion is a good way for the government to learn what it takes to truly be a trucker and get the job done.

 

Our government sets rules for our "life blood" providers through a series of people who have NEVER held a CDL or driven a truck.  These same folk, with few exceptions, have never even been remotely involved in the transportation industry.  The few drivers that senators invite to share their thoughts, opinions and experience are those who are union or ready for retirement.   Talk to the average, every day driver or O/O working 100 actual hours a week to just scrape by and they ask them how to make rules that work.  

 

Before the driver can bear the entire blunt; we need to put responsibility back on the shipper and receiver to set realistic delivery times as well as pick up schedules.  Mega centers like Wal-Mart with their 15 minute windows or wait a week for re-delivery are not realistic.  Anything might happen in transit from a mechanical breakdown, driver illness to traffic jams that will keep the driver from making this window.  Should a driver follow the HOS to the letter; nothing would ever be on the shelves.  

 

Dispatchers and load planners need to build realistic loads instead of "do me a favor" loads.  The driver then needs to be paid adequately so he / she can make a living instead of coming in under minimum wage for all his / her effort and sacrifice.   The only way a driver earns "good money" is by paying Union dues or doing something illegal.  These actions may range from working 100 hours a week and doing whatever it takes to get the load there by the "dispatcher's schedule" or truly illegal hauling.   Pay per mile may have raised but the net effect is a pay decrease since the last rounds of HOS changes.  OTR drivers dropped in pay from over $1200 a week gross to the average driver now taking home less than $500 a week (road meals not considered).  

 

The entire system is broke.  Before we impugn drivers and cost them more money; we need to fix the controlling system. Over the last 10 years, the US has imported truck drivers like any other commodity.  We have gone abroad and enticed drivers from Russia, India, Australia and all over the world to come drive for the USA.  Why? Simply put; because we pay so poorly in this profession when all is considered.  Yet, we, as Americans, have a desperate desire for these commodities due to the "Capitalistic American way of life". 

 

Trucking companies are feeling the pressure as well.  Constantly rising fuel prices are forcing some fleets to govern their trucks at 60mph in hopes of increasing fuel mileage while strictly enforcing fuel stop management programs. The new HOS have created a paradox resulting in lost productivity thereby further reducing safety. The new rules require them to hire more drivers and purchase additional equipment in order to accommodate the same volume of work.  Companies respond by training drivers in a rush through session so that seats can be filled.   This is not safety!  This is simply filling supply and demand.  Moreover, DOT officers do not truly comprehend the regulations and cite drivers incorrectly.  Look over the court cases; they speak for themselves.

 

Experts claim drivers should be subject to sleep and psychological studies.  Then they premise this by stating these studies are needed only if the driver is obese.  All or none folks; no cherry picking to obtain what you hope are your desired results. Drivers and trucking companies do not need psychological studies or big brother monitoring; they need reasonable schedules, decent working conditions, common sense, regular hours and access to proper training.  The US Government is using the EOBR as a means to sneak a black box onboard a big rig under the fašade of safety.

 

Law makers, it is time to stop penalizing truckers.  Without them none of us would have any of our daily items.  Wake up U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and US National Transportation Safety Board personnel and face reality.   The time has come to stop covering the illness and treating only the symptoms.  It is time to treat the cause.  The system is broken.   The entire SOP needs to be revamped.  Only then can the government, with industry experts, trucking company representative and DRIVERS input; begin at square one and write an adequate set of Hours of Service with sections to truly fit all drivers, commodities and segments of transportation.

 

 

Sources:

US Regulators to Study Universal EOBR Rule; http://www.todaystrucking.com/news.cfm?intDocID=19439 (April 21, 2008)

DOT Solicits Ideas on Vehicle-Highway Communication; http://www.todaystrucking.com/news.cfm?intDocID=19455 (April 21, 2008)

FMCSA-2007-27748; http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/news/news-releases/2007/122607.htm

(April 21, 2008)

FMCSA Eyes Behind the Wheel Training; http://www.etrucker.com/apps/news/article.asp?id=66473 (April 21, 2008)

When is Dispatch Unreasonable? http://www.etrucker.com/apps/news/article.asp?id=66540 (April 21, 2008)

11 Apr 08 Friday

What Are We Doing To Our Truckers?
Current mood: annoyed
Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

What are we doing to our truckers?  

First we move from the commercial chauffeurs or Class A license to a CDL with a zillion tests and loose 40% of our truckers due to non-compliance to the new rules.  The drivers we lost were real highway heroes and experienced drivers who cared about the public and their careers.  Why did we loose them?  Some could not read and others the idea of test just terrified them.  Who replaced them?  Driver school rookies.   These cookie cutter driving schools that crank out grads whom they have lied to and deceived just to get their government dollars and then turn loose on an unsuspecting public.

The DOT cries safety.  Why they should have thought of that before you ran the good, true blue driver off the highway.  These new asphalt cowboys and gals can not go the distance that the trucker of yesterday could obtain.  A trucker would help you.  He would put your safety before his own.  You have heard the legends and know the stories.  Well some really are real!  We had highway heroes!

The results of a child inheriting their parents business are often tragic.  Wal-Mart, O'Boyle Tank Lines, Swift and many others have seen first hand what happens when the founder steps aside for the next generation.  Things are no longer as they once were.  The silver spoon children did not learn the ropes as "daddy" once did.  They did not earn their battle scars but feel they are "owed a living" because of the old man's name.  Wrong; but yet it happens over and over. 

Once upon a time a boy grew up and followed in the shoes of his father.  The boy was clueless and the company was sold so he went to Washington, DC where he gained a position of influence to the transportation world.  Lucky us; this boy helped author the CDL manual and the tests that govern your license.  Even wonder why you can not make the turn that the manual says you need to in order to obtain you CDL?  It is because this boy was never in the seat of one of his daddy's trucks.  He is a car driver, at best, dictating how truckers should drive and inspect their rig, perform their duties and worse yet when to sleep, rest and work.  How can you know if you have never done it?  How do I know this sad fairy tale happened?  The boy was the owner's son of where my father was a VP.  Oh so very sad but true story.

Now the DOT, as you all know, has spent the last 5-8 years making our lives miserable by changing, threatening to change and then again changing the HOS.  I say until you are in that seat; stop trying to govern what happens in that seat.  The DOT HOS will never work as long as the people in power keep the same mind set.  Each group of driver needs their own set of rules.  What works for the local does not work for the OTR driver.  What works for a long haul does not necessarily work for the regional driver.  Even what you haul can effect how the HOS works for or against you based on your customer base.  The rules are too restrictive and unadaptive to the real world environment.  Now they want to make them even more restrictive.

I remember when you could make a grand a week.  Now you are lucky to clear minimum wage by the end of the week.  The new rules are running a driver broke!  The fuel costs; despite the .54 cents a mile FSC; is running the O/O broke.   Let's be real; how many of your companies actually pass that FULL FSC along to you on EVERY load?  Very, very few of you.  Generally you are given some excuse why that particular customer did not pay the full FSC or even worse, no FSC.  But did they?  Will you ever know?

Now the FMCSA wants to tighten CDL documentation rules.  Is it not enough we have to haz-mat test ever few years?  We had to fingerprint and let the FBI dig through our lives and then the TSA.  Have we not been violated enough?   And speaking of the TSA; flown lately?  Every time I see one of those TSA papers in my luggage, something is missing.  I have spoken with friends and they have noticed the same pattern.  So we had to bear our soles to this group who pilfer our luggage on every flight.  GO figure!

The driver shortage is so real in the US that we imported drivers from Russia, Australia, Hungary, Romania, India and the list goes on and on.   Larger carriers took on driver training to entice career changes into the driving field.  If all this had to occur to fill seats BEFORE the new HOS; which created a need for more drivers due to the short work week, then why is the government making it harder and harder to become a driver?  Seem counter productive to me.  Maybe no one should be a driver.  Then the government can figure out how to stock the grocery store, fill the filling stations and deliver the automobiles.

Once you past that obstacle, you have the lovely police issue.  Dispatcher says stand on it.  The truck is governed at 62-67 mph and has no power.  You finally crawl up that hill and see there is no one on the other side so you head down with a little gusto to try to make up time.  Wow you made it to 72, now 75 coming down that straight long hill in West TX but wait it is night time and here come Johnny Fuzz.   Not a soul on the road but you and he but you just won a driving award.  Pick up another in CA coming down I15 and you are out of business.  Makes you really want to choose this career!

It is time the trucker driver is properly trained and viewed once again as a professional.  It is time that the lot lizard lounging is over, trucker parking areas enlarged and lit and the restaurants serve something other than 3000 calorie meals.  Life is hard enough on the road and away from everyone you love.  The public wants what you haul but does not want you in its town.  You are viewed as a black sheep and a rebel even though all you do is your job at the cost of your family life.  Well isn't that a fine howdy do?

Truckers need good roads to run on without the tolls.  Highway usage taxes are high enough without the double taxation of toll roads like Ohio, PA and basically anywhere in the east.  Now OK, FL and TX are joining suit.  NJ segregates lanes for cars.  When will roads be segregated for trucks only.  Trucks should be in the left lanes so they can pass through a town and not have to deal with merging cars every mile.  We need adequate parking without pay and clean, hot showers.  Give us a TV, wi-fi connection and a good meal and most truckers are happy and satisfied.  Why does the rest of the world find that so hard to comprehend and provide?  Fair wages, full FSC and decent equipment would really make the day.  Isn't it time to treat the trucker like a human being instead of machine?  Show some respect for the folks who provide you with EVERYTHING you have. 

Wake up America and Thank a trucker today!!!!

28 Sep 07 Friday

100 Mexican Carriers Allowed in US / 100 US Allowed in MX
Current mood: cheerful
Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

Third Mexican carrier gets clearance

Transportes Padilla, based in Tijuana, is the third Mexican trucking company to receive authority to make long-haul deliveries in the United States as part of the Bush administration's cross-border trucking program. The company intends to operate three vehicles.

Last week, IBC Inc., based in San Diego, and Transportes Rafa, based only two hours away in Mexicali, Baja California, became the second pair of companies approved for cross-border project, FMCSA announced.

A list of U.S. and Mexico trucking companies that have received authority to participate in the project is available at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/cross-border/cross-border-carriers.htm.

"We are enforcing tough safety standards at every stage of this demonstration as we tap into this unique opportunity to compete in new markets and increase border trade efficiency," said John Hill, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the agency overseeing the project launched Sept. 6. "There is tremendous potential to reduce costs for American consumers and businesses while maintaining safety on American roads."

While critics of the program, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the Teamsters union and a number of members of Congress, have raised safety concerns about Mexican trucks, the FMCSA argues that thousands of Mexican trucks already operate every day in U.S. cities such as San Diego and El Paso, Texas. In 2006 alone, Mexican trucks crossed into the United States 4 million times, while no U.S. trucks were allowed to enter Mexico.

For years, however, those Mexican trucks have been limited to the 25-mile border commercial zone within the United States. The program launched Sept. 6 allows long-haul operations for up to 100 Mexican carriers throughout the United States and for up to 100 U.S. carriers throughout Mexico.

 

Source: Overdrive; etrucker.com

21 Sep 07 Friday

Mexican Truckers Pass 3 Year Inspections and Out Do American Safety Stats
Current mood: impressed
Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

You have to love the article published today, 21 September 2007, in Overdrive Magazine titled, "Feds: Mexican carriers have better safety record than U.S. peers". Folks, this slapped the US hard in the face. 

We claim to be supporters of NAFTA yet we consistently try to create issues for our southern relatives.  Why do support free trade and then kick Mexico?  I just don't understand.  Who stood by us after 9/11 when everyone else went running scared?  Yet we still impose the dual standard that our Northern neighbor is worthy while our southern neighbor is dirt.  Hogwash!  Fair and equal treatment for all!!!!

 

Well following NAFTA and supporting free trade agreements in general, it was always old news to me when our government wished to single out the "Mexican" trucker for inspection.   I know plenty of American fleets that need attention and are in worse shape than the Mexican trucks I have seen.  During my petroleum hauling years I can recall a company that constantly repaired their units while they were loading the tankers....bad and unsafe practice.  This same company could not even keep something as simple as wipers working properly.  They had strings tied to them.  Brakes; optional!  Now come on.  If you are going to inspect trucks; inspect them all and inspect them equally.

 

So the go old DOT spent 3 years trying to pick apart the Mexican trucker and what did they do; got to love this, FIND THEM TO BE SAFER THEN THE AVERAGE AMERICAN FLEET / TRUCKER.  Love it!  So what are the Canadian stats?  Did we ever even look?  Doubt it!

 

Honestly, the driving fleet is changing greatly from what it was 20 years ago.  Drivers today are not people friendly.  They are not Highway Heroes that watch out for their fellow man.  They may no longer be the Cowboys of yesteryear but they do not have the drive or spark that the "old" driver had either.  Today's young bucks want to be home every weekend.  They do not want to work over 10 hrs. or touch freight.  They are a different breed!  Many Hispanic drivers, especially ones without family in the US; in fact, most "alien" drivers are hard working.  They are here to make money and maybe see the US but it is about dollars (Pecos, rubles, Euro, Yen, Pound).  Our "import" drivers are a better fit for an OTR company than today's average American driver.

 

The truckers from the south proved their worth through our U.S. DOT tests / inspections.  Now it is time we all open our eyes!

Posted by: Dr. Sitler AT 07:42 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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