Trucking Biz Buzz

Average spot market freight rates experience slight decline

Two leading load boards were in agreement on the movement of rates for van, reefer and flatbed freight last week. Rates are down for two of three modes, similar to the week prior.

Analysis of rates provided by DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards, and reveals decreases for reefers and flatbeds, while vans remained unchanged.

Van rates remained stagnant at $1.73, according to DAT van rates were also unchanged at $1.75, leaving the two load boards fairly close in their price analysis.

Reefer rates at were down 3 cents to $2.04. Similarly over at DAT, reefer rates dipped 2 cents to $2.01. Over the past several weeks, reefer rates between the two load boards have remained relatively close together.

Flatbed rates dropped 2 cents from the previous week to $1.97, according to DAT is reporting a 1-cent decline to $2.03 for flatbed rates. Between the two load boards, flatbeds have consistently displayed the greatest disparity of the three modes, with this week revealing a 6-cent gap.

Across all modes, shows that load decreased by 2.72 percent, but truck supply went down by 3.08 percent, indicating a relatively small advantage for truckers seeking loads in comparison to the previous week. According to DAT, load-to-truck ratios for were up for vans, down for reefers, and unchanged for flatbeds. has placed the Market Demand Index (MDI) at 11, a 3.8 percent increase 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.


Free flu shot, thanks to the St. Christopher Fund

With support from OOIDA and Con-way, the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund has made arrangements with two major health retail businesses for a free flu shot program for CDL holders.

SCF has teamed up with Walgreens for CDL holders presenting the voucher to get a free flu shot at any of their locations. Those vouchers are available now. SCF has also teamed up with The Little Clinic, located inside select Kroger, King Soopers, JayC, Dillons and Fry’s Stores, to provide trivalent flu shots for truckers with a voucher. Those vouchers will be available Oct. 8.

No appointment is necessary. You don’t need to be an OOIDA member.

All you need is your CDL and a special voucher. Where do you get a voucher? They are available at the OOIDA tour truck, now on the road. The next stop for pilot Jon Osburn and the Spirit is the TA Knoxville West in Tennessee on Sept. 29-Oct. 1.

The truck will be on the move this fall, with stops at the Petro in Kenly, N.C., Oct. 3-6. Then on to Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kansas and Oklahoma. Click here for the schedule.

The charge for the flu shots is paid for by the St. Christopher Fund, thanks to donations from OOIDA, Con-way, Walgreens and The Little Clinic.

If you don’t cross paths with Jon and the OOIDA truck in your trucking travels, you can email and the St. Christopher Fund will send you one.


Commerce report from July: Truck freight experienced minor decrease

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reports that in July trucks moved nearly 64 percent of all the international freight, with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest.

The value of freight hauled across the borders decreased by more than 6 percent when compared with June when freight went up nearly 7 percent. All modes, except for air, carried less freight when compared with last July.

Vessel and pipeline freight continue to suffer when compared to last year, contributing to the monthly decline in U.S.-NAFTA trade flow, according to BTS. Freight totaled $93 billion, down more than $6 billion from the previous month and down more than $8 billion from July 2014.

Pipeline freight experienced the steepest decline at nearly 35 percent, a slight improvement from the 40 percent drop in June. Air freight experienced the only net gain over the past 12 months with a 3.4 percent increase. Trucks had the smallest loss at less than 1 percent.

Trucks were responsible for nearly $60 billion of the $93 billion of imports and exports in July. Rail came in second with a contribution of nearly $13 billion.

Nearly 60 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 14.3 percent. U.S.-Mexico freight went down by 0.8 percent compared with July 2014. Of the $45.5 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried more than 70 percent of the loads.


TravelCenters presents check of $315,331 to St. Christopher Fund for truckers

TravelCenters of America, operator of the TA and Petro Stopping Centers, has announced another record-setting annual campaign donation to the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund. As a result of customer and employee donations received during its annual “Band Together for SCF” campaign, TravelCenters presented a check for $315,331 to the SCF.

Each year TravelCenters goal is to exceed the previous year's donations to the SCF. By rallying customers and employees around the single cause of helping professional drivers who are suffering financial hardship due to medical problems, TravelCenters has worked to help raise more than $1.7 million since 2010 for the Fund.

The Band Together for SCF campaign, which ran during August at 256 TA and Petro Stopping Centers locations nationwide, invited customers and employees to make $1 and $5 donations. Those making a $1 donation received a commemorative wristband and those making a $5 donation received an SCF keychain. One hundred percent of all donations have gone to the SCF. During the campaign, SCF also received a generous contribution of $2,500 from vendor partner, Bell Gaming.

President and CEO of TravelCenters Tom O’Brien thanked customers, employees and vendors who contributed this year.


How much did 9/11 affect cost of northern cross-border trucking?

Statistics Canada released a report in July that shows that since Sept. 11, 2001, the cost of trucking goods across the border between the U.S. and Canada has increased from .3 percent of the value of goods shipped to .6 percent. 

The study pointed to the obvious, the implementation of new security measures designed to prevent illegal shipments at border crossing points.

“From 1994 to 2000, it cost, on average, 16 percent more to move goods across the Canada-U.S. border by truck than to move the same goods the same distance domestically,” the Canadian report states. “After 2000, the premium paid to cross the border rose steadily to 25 percent in 2005 and remained at about that level until 2009.”

Statistics Canada said the study resulted from data collected by Statistic Canada’s Trucking Commodity origin and Destination Survey.

“Costs measured by this study are only part of the total cost of shipping goods across the border,” Statistics Canada said in a summary of the study posted online. “Institutional costs borne directly by exporting firms for matters such as customs administration have been estimated to be as great or greater than the costs passed on to them by freight carriers.”

Canada’s plan to build the Gordie Howe International Bridge is aimed in part at adding faster, cheaper shipping alternatives for such exports.

The billion-dollar project calls for a six-lane bridge between Windsor and Detroit complete with a $250 millionU.S. Customs plaza that Canada has agreed to fund. The bridge is scheduled to open by 2020.

According to the CBC, the U.S. and Canada have the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world – measuring at $870 billion in 2014. An estimated $2.4 billion in goods and services cross the U.S.-Canada border every day.


Ritchie Bros. conducts its largest-ever Texas auction

At its auction this week in Fort Worth, Richie Bros. sold more than $70 million of equipment and trucks, a record for the industrial auctioneer’s Texas auctions. The two-day unreserved public auction on Wednesday and Thursday also set a new Texas record for online sales, attracting bidders from 55 countries.

Approximately 70 percent of the equipment was purchased by out-of-state buyers from as far away as Germany, Thailand and Kuwait. According to Friday’s press release, the transportation crowd was out in particularly large numbers and were very active in their bidding for the large selection of late model trucks, trailers and cranes in this sale.

More than 3,775 equipment items were sold in the auction, including more than 500 trailers, 425 truck-tractors, plus many excavators, backhoes, cranes, boom lifts, dump trucks, as well as equipment for the agriculture and oil and gas sectors.

Ritchie Bros. will conduct 90-plus more live unreserved auctions in 2015, including three in Texas: in El Paso on Nov. 4, in Houston on Nov. 11-12, and in Fort Worth on Dec. 2-3. Full auction and equipment information can be found online at  

Established in 1958, Ritchie Bros. is the world's largest seller of used equipment for the construction, transportation, agriculture, material handling, energy, mining, forestry, marine and other industries.


Per diem rate changes to $63 starting Oct. 1.

Officials with the Internal Revenue Service changed the transportation workers’ special standard per diem rate to $63 starting Oct. 1. That is an increase from the current $59 per diem rate. Outside continental U.S is $68 per day also effective Oct. 1

So that means truckers can declare a $59 per diem for January through September 2015. The new rate of $63 for 2016 commences Oct. 1, 2015.

Some truckers are unsure when they can use the “overnight” rule and deduct the per diem amount. In past issues of Land Line Magazine, Howard Abrams of PBS Tax and Bookkeeping Service included the following Q&A on the topic in his “Tax Tips” column.

Q: I’m not sure when I can deduct expenses for meals and lodging under the “overnight” rule. Is there a general rule of thumb?

A: In order to deduct your travel expenses, you, as the taxpayer, must be away from your home residence or tax home longer than what would constitute your ordinary work day. You must be away from your home long enough that you cannot complete the trip without sufficient sleep or rest.

The rest period must be long enough to require adequate lodging, such as an overnight stay at a motel or in your truck. A short duration of rest, such as a quick nap at a rest stop, does not qualify your travel expenses as deductions because it does not satisfy the overnight rule.

However, it is not necessary that you, as the taxpayer, be away for more than 24 hours in order to meet the overnight rule.

An example of meeting the overnight rule would be if you were traveling on business and you rent a room to sleep or rest during a layover. An example of not meeting the overnight rule would be if you were traveling several hundred miles and needed to stop to rest for an hour.

If you have no regular place of business and you do not maintain a fixed home, you may not deduct any travel expenses. A trucker who lives in his or her truck during the entire course of the year cannot deduct per diem meals.

Abrams also cautioned that truckers could encounter problems related to their expenses and per diem payments, depending on how their carriers handle their business. Per diem payments are subject to income and employment tax if a carrier reimburses a trucker in excess of the federal per diem rate, which is $63 per day. This is so if the trucker is not being reimbursed for actual expenses.


XPO, Con-way deal faces a roadblock with credit rating review

XPO Logistics’ plan to acquire Con-way for $3 billion may not be a sure thing. One day after news of the deal broke, Moody’s Investors Service announced that XPO’s ratings would be under review for a possible downgrade. XPO has a current rating of B1, which is considered a “high credit risk,” according to Moody’s website.

Moody’s announcement was a direct response to XPO’s plans to acquire Con-way, which would be the second multibillion-dollar acquisition for XPO this year. Back in April, XPO bought Norbert Dentressangle, a European transport and logistics company, for $3.5 billion.

Moody’s review questions XPO’s ability to integrate both Con-way and Norbert Dentressangle without burying itself in excessive debt. Currently, four classes of ratings are under review, all of which are already at a high-risk B1 rating. XPO’s outlook, currently ranked as “stable,” will also be under review.

A document dated Sept. 17 on Moody’s website suggests that XPO’s plan to acquire Con-way is “credit negative.” A similar document dated April 28 declared the same “credit negative” status for the Norbert Dentressangle acquisition. XPO announced plans to purchase Norbert on April 27 and officially completed the deal on June 8, according to XPO’s website.

Relatively new to the game, XPO Logistics began in 1989 as Express-1 Expedited Solutions and was purchased by Segmentz in 2004. XPO completed its first acquisition in 2008 with Concert Group Logistics for $9 million in cash and the issuance of 4.8 million shares of XPO stock. Since then, XPO has acquired nearly 20 companies, with six of those in 2013 alone.

According to the New York Stock Exchange, XPO’s stock has been steadily increasing since 2010. XPO stock reached its peak in May at $50.56 a share. Since then, the price has plummeted more than 40 percent. At press time, XPO stock was priced at $29.21, nearly 6 percent lower than the opening price for the day.


SuperRigs 2016 will take place June 9-11 in Joplin, Mo.

Shell Rotella has announced that its SuperRigs truck show for 2016 will be held June 9-11 in Joplin, Mo. Still early in the planning stages, more information (including theme and events) will be announced in the coming months.

The truck beauty contest offers awards for 18 working trucks. Drivers of 12 trucks will have their ride featured in the SuperRigs calendar.

At the 2015 SuperRigs, more than 70 trucks competed for more than $25,000 in cash and prizes.

For more information, check out the website.


Volvo recalls nearly 4,000 trucks for brake and steering defects

Volvo is recalling nearly 4,000 VNL, VNM and VAH trucks, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents. Faulty service brakes in VNL and VNM models and defective steering draglinks in VAH models are the focus of the recall.

VNL and VNM Volvo trucks from 2012 to 2015 have experienced issues with brake handles. Trailer hand brake handles may not return to the off position due to being restricted by the cut out in the trim panel. Service brakes may drag and cause the wheel end to overheat, potentially resulting in a fire or tire blowout.

VAH trucks model year 2012-2016 with a sealed draglink are affected by Volvo’s recent recall. The draglink ball socket boot may be damaged due to the angle of the ball stud, resulting in contaminates entering and corroding the ball socket. Corrosion could cause the separation of the ball joint from the socket. Consequentially, a loss of steering can result and potentially lead to a crash.

Owners and dealers will be notified by Volvo. All repairs will be made free of charge and are expected to begin on Oct. 13. Drivers with affected vehicles can call Volvo customer service at 800-528-6586 with recall number RVXX1503. Owners can also contact NHTSA’s Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236 or visit



Back to top