From the editor of Truck News
Volume 2, Issue 5 Feb. 8, 2011

Welcome to Hooked Up, a bi-weekly industry newsletter that provides commentary and analysis on the news, equipment, management, maintenance and community issues that you care about – all in a quick-hit format.

NEWS...

EOBRs FOR ALL: From the ‘Who didn’t see this one coming?’ department, legislation has been proposed that will require all interstate trucking companies to track driver hours-of-service through electronic on-board recorders. I guess the only surprise is that the US beat Canadian lawmakers to the punch.

Canadian legislation could still come first, however. The FMCSA doesn’t call for full implementation of the proposed law until three years after the final rule becomes effective. You can download the 72-page proposal by going here and downloading the PDF from under the Documents heading. Interestingly, the FMCSA seems satisfied that any initial costs involved in acquiring and installing EOBR devices will be offset by the savings achieved by eliminating paper log books. Also, drivers would no longer need to carry delivery and toll receipts as proof of where they’ve been and when.

 

OPTIMISM RETURNING?: It seems optimism has returned to the trucking industry in a big way. The Ontario Trucking Association’s quarterly e-Pulse Business Survey showed an unprecedented 75% of responding carriers were ‘optimistic’ about what the next three months have in store. That’s a 13% improvement over the Q4 2010 survey. That optimism is evident in the US as well and it is translating into positive growth for OEMs and suppliers.

The Q1 Fleet Sentiment Report, compiled by CK Commercial Vehicle Research, indicated 58% of US fleets planned to buy new power units over the next three months with 42% indicating they plan to order new trailers. In Ontario, the OTA survey found 45% of fleets would be adding more tractors over the next three months with 46% planning to buy trailers. December net orders of Class 8 vehicles reached 27,044 units in December, up 89% over last December and reaching their highest monthly total since May 2006, according to ACT Research.

Another measure of trucking industry’s health, the FTR Trucking Condition Index, has reached its highest level of the recovery and is poised to set a new record in 2012, according to respected industry forecaster FTR Associates. Typically, I can’t report on any of this good news without being reminded by at least one cantankerous trucker that the reality for trucking still sucks where the rubber meets the road. But the numbers don’t lie, there appears to be a groundswell of positivity out there, which is quite honestly refreshing.

 

CB CONFUSION: Alberta’s sweeping distracted driving legislation, which appears to limit use of the time-honoured CB radio, has been the subject of much discussion in trucking circles. The question has been will it or won’t it outlaw casual CB banter between drivers? The Alberta Motor Transport Association sought clarification from the province’s Office of Traffic Safety, and as posted on its Web site, this is what it was told by executive director Jeanette Espie: “This legislation is not intended to interfere with well-established commercial operations or search and rescue efforts. So where this type of communication is required to communicate with the driver’s employer or when participating in some type of emergency management situation, use of hand-held CB radios will be allowed. This law is not about taking away tools for traffic safety. The use of hand-held CB radios to communicate extreme weather conditions or a hazard on the roadway, such as a collision, could fall under the ‘emergency’ scenario category. Alberta Transportation recognizes that commercial drivers are professionals and anticipate that they will make good safety decisions when choosing to use public radio systems. As with all laws, enforcement officers ultimately have the responsibility to evaluate specific situations to determine if citizens are complying with the law.”

Umm, is that really clarification? Only by government standards! What it comes down to is it will be at the discretion of enforcement officers to decide whether a driver is breaking the law by using the CB radio. And as with Ontario’s workplace smoking ban, which eventually saw a truck driver fined for smoking in the cab of his truck, I’m sure we’ll have a highly contentious test case on our hands within a year of the law going into full effect. Until then, use the CB radio in Alberta at your own peril when the law goes into effect later this year.

EQUIPMENT...

VOCATIONAL ONSLAUGHT: It’s an exciting time to be shopping for vocational trucks. In a few weeks, Western Star will be introducing a new model at the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis. The new truck, aimed at construction, crane, dump, mixer, roll-off and municipal segments is being teased via a new Web site. It’s nice to see something new coming from Western Star and I’ll be there for the launch.

 

CAT COMES BACK: Then, of course, there’s the much-anticipated debut of Caterpillar’s first vocational truck, which will be unveiled to media March 20 in advance of the Conexpo/ConAgg trade show in Las Vegas. This truck also comes with its own Web site to generate interest and you can enter to win a trip to the Vegas launch (yes, Canadians included) at the site. I’ll be there, as well.

 

FREIGHTLINER’S NEW LINE: And not to be outdone, Freightliner is also introducing a new line of vocational trucks (what, no Web site?) at Conexpo/ConAgg. (Yes, I’ll be there too, if the travel gods cooperate). My western co-hort Jim Bray will be there as well, so either way, we’ll have it covered. It’s going to be a busy spring but there is a lot to be excited about on the equipment front.

MERGERS/ACQUISITIONS...

CSI BELLEVILLE: International Truckload Services (ITS) out of Belleville, Ont. has expanded its Eastern Canada capabilities by acquiring 70-truck fleet CSI Logistics. CSI pulls dry van, heated and temperature-controlled tandem and tridem trailers out of facilities in Mississauga, Caledon and Montreal serving destinations in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. ITS is especially excited about the warehousing capabilities it will gain in CSI’s hometown of Cornwall, which ITS co-owner Rob Haggarty says is “fast becoming a key transportation hub to Eastern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.”

AWARDS...

TCA’S TOPS: What do Brian Kurtz Trucking, MacKinnon Transport, Groupe Robert and Bison Transport all have in common? They were all recently named division winners by the Truckload Carriers Association and will have a chance to win one of two Grand Prizes. Kurtz was one of three winners in the 5-14.99 million mile category, MacKinnon in the 15-24.99 million mile category, Robert in the 50-99.99 million mile category and Bison in the 100 million plus category. That’s some great representation from Canadian carriers, who always show well in this competition. The two Grand Prize winners will be announced at the TCA’s annual convention which runs March 13-16 in San Diego.

 

WALMART WINNERS: Walmart, arguably one of the most discriminating shippers to work for, recently thanked its top-performing Canadian carriers. Winning the prestigious Carrier of the Year award as well as the Inbound Carrier of the Year award was Interstate Freight Systems (IFS) out of Brampton. Store Delivery Carrier of the Year was Erb Transport while H&R won the Strive for Excellence Award. Bison rounded out the event as Innovative Carrier of the Year.

 

THAT’S RECOGNITION: Clark Freightways of Coquitlam, B.C. was recently honoured as the first carrier to be welcomed into the new Certificate of Recognition (COR) program. As such, Clark will receive WorkSafeBC premium rebates of up to 15%. The new program recognizes B.C. carriers that demonstrate they’re serious about workplace safety by implementing health and safety training initiatives as well as a company audit system. To find out more about the program, visit www.safetydriven.ca. This is a voluntary safety program that appears to have some real benefits, not only a big stick.

 

SAFETY PAYS: Volvo has just announced it is once again offering $25,000 each to two trucking companies that demonstrate safety excellence. Canadian fleets have done well in this program, with Bison winning the inaugural award in 2009 and MacKinnon Transport taking top honours last year. To qualify, fleets must have at least five power units (and at least one must have a slash through its grille). They’ll be ranked by their accident frequency rates and judged on accident prevention activities. There are two categories: less than 20 million miles and more than 20 million miles. The winner in each category will receive $25K to put towards their safety programs. To register, visit www.volvotruckssafetyaward.com.

COMMUNITY...

GOLFING FOR WISHES: Truck News and Chevron are once again teaming up to host what has become a famously popular golf tourney at Wooden Sticks Golf Club, all for a good cause. This is the sixth year for the tourney, which always sells out and has, I’m told, become one of the most anticipated events on the trucking industry golf tournament calendar. This year’s event will be held June 7 at Wooden Sticks, with proceeds going to Make a Wish through the Trucking for Wishes organization run by NAL Insurance. One or two children with life-threatening illnesses will be able to live out a dream as a result of this one event.

Now a word about the people behind this event: It was the brainchild of Truck News sales rep Brenda Grant, who works tirelessly along with Kathy Penner to ensure it runs smoothly. Their efforts on this have raised more than $75,000 for various charities to date. The tournament has also been blessed with a committed sponsor in Chevron and of course, the support of the industry without which the event wouldn’t be possible. The tournament is already filling up, but you can still register by calling Brenda at 416-494-3333 or Kathy at 416-510-6892.

WORTH REPEATING: The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is no fan of electronic on-board recorders. It’s little surprise that the group moved quickly to condemn the FMCSA’s proposed rule that would require all interstate carriers to use EOBRs to monitor driver hours-of-service. Here’s what Todd Spencer, executive vice-president of OOIDA had to say:

“EOBRs are nothing more than over-priced record keepers. This proposal is actually another example of the (Obama) Administration’s determination to wipe out small businesses by continuing to crank out overly burdensome regulations that simply run up costs.”

And while we’re taking pot shots at the President, how about this from American Trucking Associations chair Bill Graves, who used Obama’s own words (taken from a Wall St. Journal opinion piece) on ‘Improving regulation and regulatory review,’ to highlight how silly proposed changes to trucking’s hours-of-service actually are: “The US Department of Transportation (DOT) changed the HoS rule for truck drivers in 2004,” Graves wrote. “That change was welcomed by trucking because, using your words, Mr. President, it struck ‘the right balance.’ Mr. President, FMCSA’s Dec. 29, 2010, proposed changes to the HoS rule are, using your words, ‘just plain dumb,’ and ‘not worth the cost’ of making ‘our economy less competitive.’ The Agency’s own analysis shows the rule’s costs outweigh the safety benefits. Further, the alleged health benefits are purely speculative and not based on hard data or science.”

Touché.

A LOOK AHEAD: Hooked Up will be back in two weeks with more industry news, business tips and colourful quotes from Canadian trucking industry insiders.

- James Menzies is a purveyor of information and editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. Hooked Up is designed to serve as an information bridge connecting some of the best-informed fleet executives, maintenance managers and professional drivers with the Canadian trucking industry at large. James can be reached at jmenzies@trucknews.com or 416-510-6896. You can also follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JamesMenzies.

USED EQUIPMENT FOR SALE...

Are you in the market for a used truck or trailer? Each month, Hooked Up will feature some used equipment for sale. Please check out this month’s listings to see if you can provide a good home
for any of the featured trucks and trailers To advertise a truck or trailer, contact Kathy Penner at
416-510-6892 or e-mail kpenner@trucknews.com.

 

Action Trailer Sales

2007 Vanguard 53’ x 102” Dry Freight Van
stainless front panels and rear doors, front and rear vents, 12” corrugated steel scuff liner, aluminum roof, logistic posts, air ride suspension, aluminum wheels, excellent condition.

www.actiontrailersales.com

Arrow Truck Sales

2007 Volvo 670
ISX-450, 13 Spd., 150 gal. tanks,  2 beds, 10 Alcoas.  Fully refurbished with safety, powertrain warranty & 1 year clutch warranty.
As low as 700km's.

www.arrowtruck.com

Dependable Tank

1999 Sterling LT9513
c/w Cat C-13, 20,000 L, 4 comp’t alum. tank, dual pumping and metering equipment, bottom loading, Midcom, Tank CSA-B620 certified, DOT certified. Stock #T646

www.dependable.ca

Expressway Trucks

(1) 2008 VNL 730
Cummins ISX-485, Eaton RTLO 13, 767K, white. $64,900 (plus applicable taxes).

www.expresswayvolvo.com

Glasvan Great Dane

(3) 2009 Wabash 53’ Duraplate Vans
53’, Hend. A/R, 22.5 Michelins, Quik-Draw Slider Pins, Swing Doors, Alum. Roof, Side Skylights, Side Rub Rails, Vents, Auto Greasing Systems, 101” Inside Width. Excellent Condition.

www.glasvangreatdane.com

Morgan's Diesel Truck Parts

2000 GMC T6500 Nice clean truck.

www.morgan-diesel.com

Sheehan’s Truck Centre Inc.

Several 2006-2007 International 9400i, 9900i and 9900ix's
with Cummins and Cat power, 10 spd automatics and 13 spd STD, nice clean trucks with low miles, 2007's from $29,950 ea.

www.heavytrux.com

Tankmart International

1993 Krohnert
6950 IG, stainless (R.T.A.C.) B-Train, MC-307, insulated, spring ride, Spoke wheels, includes all inspections. Unit K346

www.tankmart.com

Trailers Canada

(90) 2003 Manac
48’ x 102” five axle Aluminum Tipper trailers.

www.trailerscanada.com

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