Trucking Biz Buzz

Average spot rates for freight make slight decline

Two leading load boards are mostly in agreement of the movement of rates for van, reefer and flatbed freight last week. Rates are mostly down, indicating a return to declining rates after one week of modest improvements.

Van rates were up 3 cents to $1.70, according to DAT Solutions van rates went down 2 cents to $1.70, bringing the two load boards in agreement after several weeks of a widening gap.

Reefer rates at dropped a penny to $1.93. Over at DAT, reefer rates were down 2 cents to $1.92, keeping the two load boards close in range. Reefer rates between and DAT are typically close to one another.

Flatbed rates went down a penny from the previous week to $1.90, according to DAT is reporting a 2-cent drop for flatbed rates to $1.95, closing the gap between the two load boards. Last week, 6 cents separated’s flatbed rates from DAT’s.

Across all modes, shows that load availability decreased by 4.2 percent, and truck supply went up by 2.7 percent in comparison to the previous week. According to DAT, load-to-truck ratios were down for two of three modes, with reefer freight experiencing the only increase. has placed the Market Demand Index (MDI) at 8.3, a 0.6-point decrease from the previous week. The MDI is a comparison of available loads to available trucks posted on the load board. The higher the MDI, the better the chances that the power rests with the carriers and vice versa; currently, 10 represents an even market. This time last year, the MDI was 16.4, or 49.3 percent higher than today.


TA agrees to buy Quaker Steak & Lube

TravelCenters of America says it has agreed to buy the restaurant chain Quaker Steak & Lube for $25 million. Quaker, which is currently in bankruptcy proceedings, has more than 50 locations in 16 states, many in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Quaker Steak’s website says the restaurant’s name is a play on the motor oil company, and the restaurants are known for their automotive decor and their famous chicken wings.

In a statement from TA, the truck stop chain says it will convert some of its existing Country Pride restaurants into Quakers while expanding the franchise and stand-alone restaurants over time. The deal is subject to bankruptcy court approval.


Fontaine recalls more than 500 flatbed trailers

After nearly 7,000 fifth wheel recalls earlier this year, Fontaine has issued another set of recalls for a different piece of equipment. Fontaine is recalling more than 500 flatbed trailers, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

Fontaine Revolution flatbed trailers model years 2014 to 2016 are affected by the latest recall. According to federal documents, affected trailers have welds that may crack. The welding cracks are where the structural support member attaches to the frame hanger.

If the welds were to crack, the structural support member might separate from the frame hanger resulting in a failure of the slider box. Potential crashes could occur as a result.

Fontaine will notify owners and inspect the trailers. Crack repairs and other necessary reinforcing will be done by the company free of charge if needed. Drivers can contact Fontaine at 205-485-1300 with the recall name “Slider Enhancement.”

Back in September, Fontaine had to recall nearly 7,000 Ultra LT fifth wheels. A defect in the fifth wheels resulted in a trailer disconnecting from the tractor. In January 2014, a trailer disconnected from a 2012 International ProStar using the Ultra LT fifth wheel, striking two vehicles and killing both drivers.


Freight Transportation Services Index increased in September

The official freight numbers are in from September. While the index that measures freight movement in tons and ton-miles ticked up for trucking, air and pipeline, freight shipments were down for rail and water.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Freight Transportation Services Index for September increased by 0.2 percent to 123.4. September’s TSI is 0.1 percent below the all-time high of 123.5 set in November 2014. After adjustments, August’s then record-high was reduced to 123.2.

The September index is 30.3 percent above the low during the recession in April 2009. TSI records began in 2000.

Trucking, air freight and pipeline all increased in September. Rail carload, rail intermodal and waterborne freight all decreased. TSI’s increase comes alongside increases in employment, personal income and housing.

Freight Transportation Services Index measures month-to-month changes in freight shipments in tons and ton-miles. This information is used to measure the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry.


Werner announces pay increases for owner-operators

Omaha-based Werner Enterprises has announced its largest per mile increase for owner-operators in the company’s history. The pay raise, says the Nebraska mega-carrier, could earn drivers thousands of dollars more each year.

Solo van drivers in all 48 states of Werner’s operation will now earn the equivalent of a $10,000 a year pay increase, according to a press release. Effective on Nov. 3, approximately a third of Werner’s owner-operator fleet will be affected.

Werner also announced increases in regional routes and dedicated opportunities for owner-operators. Owner-operators can also earn a special interest rate as low as 7.99 percent for low-mileage truck purchases.

Founded in 1956, Werner is a transportation and logistics company that operates worldwide. More information can be found at


Celadon offers guaranteed weekly pay with WageLock program

Celadon Trucking has officially launched its new WageLock program. Company drivers can earn up to $1,000 a week, regardless of miles logged.

Effective Nov. 4, WageLock is a program that rewards good drivers and ensures they get paid for their good work, even in times of low available miles, according to Celadon’s website.

Company drivers in the U.S. who operate dry van, temp control and Osborn OTR are eligible. Students and rookie/experienced refresher drivers are also eligible. Lease-purchase drivers are not eligible for the program.

Exact payout is based on a driver’s Driver Scorecard status. The range is anywhere between $490 and $1,000 a week. WageLock is supplemental to earnings up to the specified weekly amount, allowing drivers to earn more than the WageLock level they qualify for.

A solo driver can earn a WageLock payout of $900 a week. If a qualified solo driver earns only $825 for the week, a WageLock adjustment of $75 will be added to the paycheck. Solo drivers can still earn more than $900 each week. WageLock only guarantees that the driver earns the minimum $900 when uncontrollable circumstances in the industry limit miles.


New England DOTs will share traffic info with crowdsourced nav app

Department of Transportation agencies in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have announced their participation in a free smartphone app that allows users to share traffic data to inform each other of current roadway conditions.

The MaineDOT, New Hampshire DOT and Vermont Agency of Transportation, also known as Tri-State, has teamed up with a crowdsourced app called Waze to share data. Originally a way for motorists to inform one another, the three state DOTs have stepped in to include additional information.

They will provide Waze with information ranging from road sensor feeds to information about closures, construction and other traffic-related events. Waze will in turn provide those three state agencies with incident and road closure reports the app receives from its users. Waze’s goal is to have more accurate and up-to-date information with the collaboration of transportation agencies and those on the road in real time.

According to a press release, this is the first time Waze has had three states collectively join motorists in its data-sharing app. To download the app and for more information, visit


Trucking jobs increase, overall transportation industry takes a hit

October marked the first month of net job losses for the transportation sector after eight months of job gains. The trucking industry was one of the few exceptions, making a modest job gain.

The overall transportation sector lost more than 2,000 jobs in October, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the first loss since January when the industry lost nearly 9,000 jobs.

The truck transportation subsector experienced a slight increase of 400 jobs after the industry lost 4,000 in September and gained 700 in August. September was only the second month of 2015 in which the trucking industry lost jobs. Nearly 7,000 truck transportation jobs were lost in March.

“Support activities for transportation” experienced the largest job loss with more than 7,000 eliminated. Warehousing and storage jobs received a relatively large hike in jobs with more than 5,000 injected into the economy. Air transportation also had a relatively large gain of 2,000 jobs.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $22.93 for October, a 12-cent increase from September. Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees increased 4 cents to $20.71. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $25.20, 9 cents higher from the previous month. Compared with a year ago, average earnings have gone up by 2.5 percent.

According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material moving occupations is up to 6.7 percent from 6.4 percent last October. The overall unemployment rate for the country stayed stagnant at 5 percent. The unemployment rate for August through October is the lowest since April 2008 and is considered to be “full employment.” The number of long-term unemployed saw little change compared with the previous month at 2.1 million. However, that number has decreased by 748,000 in the past 12 months.


Takata receives record-breaking penalty from NHTSA for recalled airbags

For the second time this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has handed down a record-breaking civil penalty. Takata will have to pay as much $200 million for its role in a massive recall resulting in defective airbags, surpassing a record set by Fiat Chrysler earlier this year.

NHTSA sent Takata two orders earlier this week: One imposes the largest civil penalty in NHTSA’s history and the other implements the administration’s authority to speed up the repair process. The orders put recalls that pose the greatest risk to safety on top of the repair list and sets deadlines for potential recalls in the future due to Takata’s airbags.

Takata must pay $70 million in cash, according to NHTSA documents. Another $60 million must be paid if Takata fails to eliminate phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate-based airbag inflators by the deadline outlined in the order. Takata will also be slapped with an additional $70 million fine if NHTSA discovers other violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

NHTSA will have oversight of Takata over the next five years. An independent monitor selected by the agency will assess, track and report Takata’s compliance with the orders. The monitor will also oversee the Coordinated Remedy Program, which prioritizes the remedies according to greatest risk factor.

For the first time in NHTSA’s history, the agency is exercising its authority to accelerate repairs on affected vehicles. NHTSA was granted that authority in the 2000 TREAD Act. Replacements must be available for affected customers by March 2016. Remedies must be provided by the end of 2019.

Back in May, Daimler trucks were added to the list of more than 7 million vehicles with faulty Takata airbags. Official recall documents reveal that Takata airbags are susceptible to ejecting shards of metal fragments once activated. Metal projectiles could lead to injury and death. Six deaths have been blamed on the airbag defect.

During an investigation, NHTSA found that Takata failed to notify the agency of the defect within five days of the manufacturer discovering the defect. Takata also failed to produce complete and accurate data.

In July, Fiat Chrysler received the largest penalty from NHTSA at the time. Fiat Chrysler had to pay up to $105 million in civil penalties due to defective suspension parts and Jeeps that were susceptible to catching on fire. Similar to Takata’s fine, Fiat Chrysler had to pay $70 million in cash and faced up to $35 million in additional penalties if the manufacturer failed to meet performance requirements or committed additional violations.


Locked transmission leads to recall of several International trucks

Several 2016 International Prostar and Transtar trucks have been recalled due to an issue that may mechanically lock up the transmission. The faulty transmission is the same issue reported on several Freightliners and Western Stars last month.

Certain Prostar and Transtar trucks manufactured in early January are being called back for issues with their Eaton Fuller FR 10-speed manual transmissions. When shifting from reverse to neutral, the reverse gear may stay engaged. When the transmission shift lever is moved from reverse to a forward gear position, the transmission may mechanically lock because both the reverse gear and forward gear are simultaneously engaged.

Trucks that experience the transmission lock may move backward despite being shifted out of reverse into neutral.

Navistar will notify owners and inspect the transmissions. Any repairs done on affected vehicles will be free of charge. Owners may contact Navistar customer service at 800-343-7357 with the recall number 15516. Recalls are expected to begin on Nov. 30.

In October, several Freightliner 108SD, 114SD, Cascadia and Business Class M2 trucks were recalled for the same transmission problem. Western Star 4700s also reported experienced the locked transmissions.



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