Trucking Biz Buzz

Freight tonnage in April experiences slight increase for trucking

Official freight numbers for April are in. The index that measures freight movement in tons and ton-miles reveals freight was down for all freight modes except trucking and pipeline, which was enough for a net increase.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Freight Transportation Services Index for April increased by 1.3 percent to 121.1. April’s TSI is a 2 percent decrease of the all-time high of 123.6 set in December 2014.

The April index is 27.9 percent above the low set during the recession in April 2009. TSI records began in 2000.

Trucking freight went up to 137 from 134.6, a nearly 2 percent increase. However, numbers from the American Trucking Associations reveal a tonnage decrease of 2.1 percent in April to 134.8 from 137.6 in March. ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys of its membership.

According to the DOT, TSI’s growth lines up with monthly increases in housing starts and industry production. Mining production and employment fell in April. The Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Index declined, but numbers indicate slow but positive manufacturing growth, according to BTS.

April’s freight TSI increase is the largest month-to-month increase since March 2014. Although above February levels, the TSI index for April is still below 10 of 12 months of last year. February and March’s decreases were only the third back-to-back monthly decreases since December 2013. In all three cases, the next month represented an increase of 1.2 percent or more, including three of the four largest increases in that period.


Trucking industry suffers another month of job losses

Transportation jobs experienced its fourth monthly loss in May, including the third decrease in trucking jobs.

The overall transportation sector lost 500 jobs in May, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since the beginning of the year, the transportation and warehousing sector has a net loss of 20,000 jobs.

The truck transportation subsector experienced a decrease of approximately 2,400 jobs in May after the industry gained 700 in April and lost another 2,400 in March. Year-to-date, the trucking subsector has a net loss of more than 3,000 jobs.

For the second straight month, warehousing and storage subsector experienced the largest increase with 3,000 more jobs, followed by air transportation with an increase of 1,200. “Support activities for transportation” experienced the largest loss with 2,700 jobs eliminated from the economy.

Last year, the trucking industry suffered a loss in only two out of 12 months. Nearly 7,000 trucking jobs were eliminated last March and 4,000 eliminated in September. December’s increase of more than 23,000 jobs was the largest in 2015.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $23.03 for May – a 6-cent increase from April. Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees decreased 9 cents to $20.83. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $25.59, 5 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 down to 6 percent from 7 percent last May. The overall unemployment rate for the country was down 0.3 percentage points to 4.7 percent. The number of long-term unemployed was down by 178,000 compared with the previous month, to around 1.9 million.


FedEx adds 400,000 employees with acquisition of TNT Express

FedEx now has nearly 400,000 employees worldwide and revenues of $58 billion a year.

The Memphis, Tenn.-based company grew substantially last week when it acquired the European parcel delivery powerhouse TNT Express for nearly $5 billion.

Frederick W. Smith, chairman and CEO of FedEx spoke about the merger in a press release.

“The timing of this historic event is important, particularly in the current market environment where global e-commerce is growing at double-digit rates,” Smith said. “Adding TNT’s capabilities to our existing world-class suite of services, including GENCO and the recently relaunched FedEx CrossBorder, will further expand the ability of FedEx to support business connections around the world.”

FedEx is now in a virtual dead heat with UPS in terms of revenues, although UPS has about 40,000 more employees.


U.S. DOT: NAFTA freight up month-to-month, down year-to-year

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in March trucks moved more than 67 percent of all the international freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. Freight movement was down in all five modes.

The value of freight hauled across the borders increased by 7.6 percent compared with February when freight went up 2 percent from the previous month. March marks the second consecutive month-to-month increase and the largest month-to-month percentage increase since March 2015 when freight was up 12.1 percent.

Compared to March 2015, freight was down 5.8 percent. Year-to-year, NAFTA freight was down every month in 2015.

Trucks were responsible for more than $60 billion of the $90.5 billion of imports and exports in March. Rail came in second with more than $14 billion. 

Vessel and pipeline freight when compared with last year contributed to the yearly decline in U.S.-NAFTA trade flow due to plummeting crude oil prices, according to BTS. Freight totaled $90.5 billion, up $6.4 billion from the previous month and down $5.6 billion from March 2015.

Pipeline freight experienced the steepest decline at 33.2 percent, a smaller drop than February’s 35.6 percent decrease. Trucks had a 1.1 percent decrease, the smallest decline among the five modes.

More than 62 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 17 percent. U.S.-Mexico freight went down by 2.6 percent compared with March 2015. Of the $44.1 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried more than 72 percent of the loads.


Love’s opens new location in Sidney, Neb., with an IHOP

Truckers driving through western Nebraska now have another location to park and rest. And eat pancakes. Love’s Travel Stops has opened a new location in Sidney, Neb., off of Exit 59 on Interstate 80. Love’s announced last week that for the first time, an IHOP (International House of Pancakes) Express, open 24/7, will also be available. 

The new Love’s will feature 88 parking spaces for trucks, a Love’s Truck Tire Care center, Cat Scales, RFID cardless fueling, as well as gourmet coffee, fresh fruit, gift merchandise, name-brand electronics and more. 

A 68-room Comfort Inn & Suites will open near the travel stop later this year. Truckers with a valid CDL will be eligible for room discounts. 

For more information about Love’s Travel Stops locations, visit


June calendar: A variety of trucks shows nationwide

Start clearing that calendar because the month of June is a busy one for truck shows across America. Some must-see shows, including Shell Rotella SuperRigs, are just around the corner.

Huron, S.D., will be kicking off June shows with the Wheel Jam Truck Show on June 3-5. Like many shows, Wheel Jam is more than just trucks. Classic cars, motorcycles and stock cars will also be featured. This year will also include a virtual truck driving sequence, battle of the bands, and parade. For more information, visit or call Scot Marone at 605-354-2809 or Doug Flowers at 605-354-1324.

If you’re in or near Pennsylvania on that same weekend, consider going to the Paul Riggle & Sons show at their facility in Apollo, Pa., at 601 Marco Road. Slated for June 4, Riggle & Sons is a show for those who love all types of vehicles, including classic cars and trucks. For more information call 724-727-7505.

The following week will feature one of the bigger shows of the year: the 34th annual Shell Rotella SuperRigs show. SuperRigs will be held June 9-11 at the Joplin Convention and Trade Center in Joplin, Mo. Beauty contests (for trucks), street parties, parades, entertainment and more will make SuperRigs another exciting show this year. More details can be found at

That same weekend, June 10-11, the Oak Grove Truckers Jamboree will be taking place at the Oak Grove Petro in…you guessed it…Oak Grove, Mo. Last year’s show featured race cars, trucks, poker and live music. More information about this year’s show can be found at or by calling 816-690-4455.

Those toward the Northeast will have a chance to catch the Western Pennsylvania Pride and Shine Spring Show on June 10-12 at the Stoneboro Fair Grounds in Stoneboro, Pa. With six competition categories for both semi and pickup trucks, expect plenty of show-quality vehicles. Also expect some not-so-show-quality pickups with the Ugliest Truck category. Visit for more information.

On the third weekend of June, stop by Humboldt, Neb., on June 18 for the Down Home Truck Show. With nearly a dozen show classes being judged, all types of trucks will be lined up in the downtown square showing their goods. The children, ages 4-9, can get in on the action with a kids pedal pull. Head over to for more information.

That same weekend further east in Ashland, Ohio, the Ohio Vintage Truck Jamboree will take place June 18-19 at the Ashland County Fairgrounds. Convoys, light shows, truck pulls, raffle drawing and much more will be featured this year. A drop and hook competition will be available to the first 20 signed up exhibitors. Participants needing a hotel should book soon as the Wayne County Fairgrounds will be holding a large event the same weekend. More details can be found at

The final weekend of June will include two shows, the first taking place in Houston, Texas. On June 24-26, the George R. Brown Convention Center will be hosting the Texas Trucking Show. The heavy-duty aftermarket trade show will feature a variety of exhibitors displaying their latest offerings. Several seminars will be available and will include topics ranging from hazardous materials violations to factoring. For more info visit

The Transport for Christ Truck Rally, June 25-26, will be at the Lebanon Valley Expo Center in Lebanon, Pa. Call 717-426-9977, email or visit for details.


FMCSA issues safety advisory for MC330 and MC331 tankers

Nearly two weeks after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a safety advisory affecting certain tankers, the federal agency has issued another safety advisory that affects tanker drivers. This time the advisory is in regards to pressure relief devices (PRD).

The latest FMCSA advisory comes after a recent crash involving an MC330 tanker truck equipped with Fisher Controls model H282 PRD manufactured by Emerson Process Management Regulator Technologies. In 2013 and 2014, Emerson Process Management Regulator Technologies recalled Fisher Control PRD models H732, H832, H282, H882, H5112, and H8112.

FMCSA is advising all owners and operators of MC330 or MC331 cargo tank trucks to inspect the vehicle’s PRDs for Fisher Control model numbers affected by the above recalls. Trucks with a recalled PRD should be taken out of hazardous materials transportation service immediately and have the PRD removed and replaced. Failure to do so will be considered a violation of safety regulations.

According to FMCSA, PRDs are an integral part of the safety mechanisms for U.S. Department of Transportation specification cargo tank motor vehicles and are vital to ensuring the safety of hazardous materials transportation by highway.

For more information or questions, contact Paul Bomgardner, Chief, Hazardous Materials Division, at 202-493-0027, or by email at


Western Star introduces Extreme Duty Offroad package

Western Star has announced its new Extreme Duty (XD) Offroad package and MBT-40 Transformer chassis. The package is designed for extremely rugged environments.

Available for 4900 and 6900 models, the XD Offroad package offers safety and comfort while providing drivers with a low cost per ton product for off-road trucks. The 6900 XD is available in 6x4 and 6x6 configurations. XD Offroad packages will be available for other models in the future.

The 6900 XD Offroad, also known as the Multi-Body Transformer, can change from one body application to another. The truck uses a Palfinger G68 hook-lift with a lifting capacity of 68,000 pounds. Western Star engineered the truck to replace the need for multiple pieces of off-road equipment on a job site.

For more information, go to


Freight tonnage numbers for March reveal another slow month

Official freight numbers for March are in. The index that measures freight movement in tons and ton-miles reveals freight was down for all freight modes except air.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Freight Transportation Services Index for March decreased by 0.9 percent to 120. March’s TSI is a 2.8 percent decrease of the all-time high of 123.5 set in November 2014.

The February index is 26.7 percent above the low during the recession in April 2009. TSI records began in 2000.

Trucking freight decreased by 0.6 points to 134.7 from 135.3, a drop of less than 1 percent. However, American Trucking Associations’ numbers reveal a tonnage decrease of 4.5 percent in March to 137.6 from 144 in February. ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership.

According to the DOT, TSI’s drop lines up with monthly decreases in the Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index. Manufacturing activity and high inventories showed signs of decline.

The decrease was driven by continued weakness in the mining (including oil and gas well drilling and servicing), utility and manufacturing sectors of the economy. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index declined 0.6 percent in March, its second consecutive monthly decline.


Strick to recall 2005-2009 van trailers for faulty rear impact guard

Strick Trailer is recalling certain single-axle 28-foot van trailers for a rear-impact guard issue, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration document.

More specifically, 2005-2009 van trailers manufactured July 25, 2004, to Feb. 3, 2009, and equipped with rear-impact guards using gussets 55997 and 55998 are affected. Gussets on affected trucks can increase the chances of injury during a crash, thereby violating Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 223, “Rear Impact Guards.”

In March 2014, Strick discovered that the gussets may not have been verified using prescribed test procedures, according to the NHTSA document. Tests conducted in April 2014 confirmed that the gussets violated FMVSS 223.

Owners will be notified by Strick to have reinforcements installed to the rear-impact guards at no cost. For more information, contact Strick’s customer service at 260-692-6121. The recall will begin on June 17.



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