Trucking Biz Buzz

USA Truck increases pay rates for independent contractors

USA Truck, a carrier and logistics company based in Arkansas, has recently announced a pay increase for independent contractors, according to a press release. 

Dubbed the Independent Contractor Compensation Program, new independent contractors will receive higher mileage rates. Depending on the length of the haul, rates have been increased from $1.02 to $1.35 per mile.

Other benefits of the program include discounted fuel at in-network fuel stops, preferred labor rates, and discounted parts at USA Truck maintenance facilities.

To find out more, visit or call 479-471-2508.


Index points to largest freight tonnage decrease since January 2014

Official freight numbers for August are in. The index, which measures freight movement in tons and ton-miles, reveals freight was down for pipelines, rail carloads and trucking, enough to bring down the index from July’s all-time high.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Freight Transportation Services Index for August decreases by 1.8 percent to 122.3. July’s TSI replaced the former all-time high of 123.6 set in December 2014.

The August index is 29 percent above the low set during the recession in June 2009. TSI records began in 2000.

Trucking freight went down relatively sharply to 136.5 from 140.8, a decrease of more than 3 percent. However, numbers from the American Trucking Associations reveal a tonnage increase of 5.7 percent in August to 141.8 from 134.2 in July. ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys of its membership.

According to the DOT, TSI’s fall lines up with declines in the mining and manufacturing sectors. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index fell 0.4 percent in August.

August’s freight TSI is the largest monthly decrease since January 2014 and the first decline after four consecutive monthly increases.


DAT Solutions: Stormy weather

Hurricane Matthew and its toll on the South, both in human terms and in relation to the supply chain, continues to rise. The storm’s effects likely contributed to higher van rates and lower freight volumes during the week ending Oct. 8 as shippers paid more to move freight early in the week before reducing their activity later.

Inbound rates could go up in hard-hit areas like the Carolinas this week.

While we await those numbers, let’s take a closer look at the trendlines from DAT MembersEdge:

National average spot TL rates:

  • Van: $1.68/mile, up 6 cents
  • Reefer: $1.92/mile, up 1 cent
  • Flatbed: $1.92/mile, up 4 cents

Fewer van loads, more competition: The van load-to-truck ratio dropped 9 percent to 2.8 for the week as the number of posted loads fell 7 percent and truck posts rose 2 percent—unusual for a week with a 6-cent increase in the average van rate.

Reefer, flatbed L/T ratios down: Reefer load posts declined 4 percent while truck posts increased 3 percent. The result: a 7 percent decline in the reefer load-to-truck ratio (5.6). The flatbed load-to-truck ratio fell 7 percent to 13.4 after flatbed load posts declined 6 percent and truck posts increased 1 percent.

Hanjin fallout: The Hanjin Shipping Co. bankruptcy continues to affect demand, as Los Angeles was again the No. 1 market for load posts on DAT MembersEdge by a wide margin. The load-to-truck ratio there was 7.4 (the national average was 2.8). Eastbound freight remained solid for carriers: L.A.-Elizabeth, N.J., averaged $1.74/mile.

Regional rates: Van rates rose on more than half of the highest-volume lanes. The high-dollar market in each region:

  • West: Los Angeles, $2.06/mile, up 4 cents
  • South Central: Dallas, $1.50/mile, up 1 cent
  • Southeast: Charlotte, $1.92/mile, up 3 cents
  • Northeast: Buffalo, N.Y., $2.00/mile, up 6 cents
  • Midwest: Chicago, $2.03/mile, up 2 cents

Rising reefer lanes: Reefer rates were up and down, even among the high-dollar lanes by region:

  • West: Ontario, Calif.-Phoenix, $2.86/mile, up 3 cents
  • South Central: Dallas-Houston, $2.32/mile, down 7 cents
  • Southeast: Atlanta-Lakeland, Fla., $2.70/mile, down 11 cents
  • Northeast: Elizabeth-Boston, $3.53/mile, down 15 cents
  • Midwest: Grand Rapids-Cleveland, $3.48/mile, up 2 cents

Also out of Grand Rapids, the lane to Atlanta dropped 53 cents to $2.23/mile, which gives you a good idea of how mixed the trends were last week.

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

Get the latest rate trends at or join the conversation on Twitter with @LoadBoards. Look for more information about load availability and rates at


Trucking industry suffers job losses in September

Transportation jobs took a hit in September, including 3,600 trucking jobs eliminated from the workforce.

The overall transportation sector lost 9,000 jobs in September, 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 nearly 12,000 jobs, up from 3,000 in August.

The truck transportation subsector experienced a decrease of approximately 3,600 jobs in September after the industry gained 3,400 in August and 1,700 in July. Year-to-date, the trucking subsector has a net loss of 8,000 jobs. September’s loss was the largest monthly decrease since June when the trucking subsector lost 6,300 jobs.

The “Transit and ground passenger transportation” subsector experienced the largest decrease with 14,100 jobs removed from the economy, followed by trucking. Warehousing and storage experienced the largest gain with an additional 5,300 jobs, trailed by “support activities for transportation” with 3,300 more jobs.

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. May’s increase of nearly 9,000 jobs was the largest in 2015 for the trucking subsector.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $23.65 for September – a 19-cent increase from August. Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees increased 14 cents to $21.22. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $25.79, 6 cents higher from the previous month. Compared with a year ago, average earnings have gone up by 2.6 percent.

According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material moving occupations is up to 5.9 percent from 5.8 percent last September, but down from 7.1 percent in August. The overall unemployment rate for the country was little changed at 5 percent for the fourth consecutive month. Over the past five years, the unemployment rate each month has either declined or gone relatively unchanged. The number of long-term unemployed changed little at 2 million, accounting for approximately one-quarter of the unemployed.


Mack’s new powertrain underscores integration, fuel efficiency

At a press conference in Las Vegas this week, Mack Trucks told members of the trucking press how its 2017 powertrain will reduce fuel consumption without sacrificing power. Jonathan Randall, Mack’s senior vice president of sales, said that is what customers want. Mack’s new powertrain is also designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is what the EPA wants.

Randall provided details on the 2017 Mack powertrain, including its Mack MP series engines, Mack mDRIVE HD 13- and 14-speed automated manual transmissions. Other news included the new ClearTech One single package Exhaust Aftertreatment System (EATS) and the coming availability of Mack Predictive Cruise.
Several upgrades and enhancements to Mack’s 11-liter MP7 and 13-liter MP8 boosted fuel efficiency from 2.1 to 8.8 percent compared with prior model year engines. Both engines feature an updated wave piston design that raises the compression ratio and enables more complete combustion of fuel. The new common-rail fuel system also injects fuel more precisely. Combined with a two-speed coolant pump, these features help increase MP7 fuel efficiency by up to 5.1 percent and MP8 fuel efficiency by up to 5 percent.

The 2017 MP7 also delivers more power with a new 425 horsepower rating.
Mack also will offer the 2017 MP8 engine with a turbo compounding system – available exclusively with Mack’s SuperEconodyne downspeeding package – engineered to give customers in highway applications increased power and efficiency.

The 2017 Mack MP8 and 2017 MP7 are available for order now. The Mack MP8 with turbo compounding will be available for order sometime this month.

The updated 2017 Mack MP series engines complement Mack’s recently launched Mack mDRIVE HD 13- and 14-speed automated manual transmissions. With up to two low-ratio creeper gears, Mack says the new mDRIVE HD variants provide improved startability for heavy loads, while maintaining proper gearing for fuel efficiency at speed.

Also new for 2017 is ClearTech One, which is more compact than a two-component Exhaust Aftertreatment System, allowing for a shorter wheelbase for improved maneuverability. The smaller package also is about 17 pounds lighter than the current two-unit EATS. According to the company, ClearTech One is optimized for passive regeneration and SCR performance. The SCR catalyst is mounted downstream of the DPF, preventing hydrocarbon, ash or soot from entering the system.

Mack also announced this week that in January 2017 customers will be able to order Mack Predictive Cruise, an intelligent system that memorizes a route when cruise control is on, storing up to 4,500 hills in its memory. When the driver travels the same route the next time, Mack Predictive Cruise engages mDRIVE to choose the most fuel-efficient gear.

Predictive Cruise constantly monitors speed, engine load, weight and the road gradient in order to select the best gear for the road ahead. Mack says the predictive cruise feature can increase fuel efficiency by up to 1 percent and does not require a constant GPS connection.


Paccar announces updates to MX-13 and MX-11 engines, new proprietary axle

Paccar is launching new power, torque and fuel efficiency enhancements to its MX-13 and MX-11 engines for North America. The maker of Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks released details this week at a press conference in Las Vegas.

Paccar increased the MX-13 engine’s output to 510 hp and 1,850 lb-ft of torque and increased the MX-11 engine’s output to 430 hp and 1,650 lb-ft of torque. The enhanced MX-11 engine also adds a new 335 hp and 1,150 lb-ft torque rating in the lower end of the power range. Paccar’s MX engines deliver peak torque at 900 rpm for the majority of engine ratings, supporting increased performance and driving flexibility. 

Paccar expects 90 percent of the MX-13 and MX-11 engines to reach 1 million miles without the need for a major overhaul. Each MX engine also comes standard with factory-installed remote diagnostics to deliver proactive customer support.   

The 2017 Paccar MX-13 and MX-11 engines include a new single cylinder air compressor, variable displacement oil pump, and variable speed coolant pump providing customers with fuel economy gains over the previous engine design. The latest MX-13 and MX-11 engines extend oil and fuel filter change intervals from 60,000 miles to 75,000 miles, a cost savings for customers over the life of the vehicle. 

In addition, the MX-13 and MX-11 engines now use a single canister aftertreatment system that reduces weight by 100 pounds, improves serviceability, and lengthens service intervals.

The new engines will be available in Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks in January 2017. 

Paccar also announced this week its new proprietary tandem axle for North America, designed to complement the MX engines. Paccar Vice President Landon Sproull said it’s the industry’s lightest axle in its class and is rated at 40,000 pounds, supporting a gross combination weight of 80,000 lbs. 

The Paccar axle features a unique pinion-through-shaft design that simplifies power flow in the axle for maximum efficiency. The axle comes with a warranty of five years or 750,000 miles.

Kenworth and Peterbilt will begin offering the axle to customers in January 2017.


Utility recalling some flatbed trailers for faulty Conestoga XP systems

Utility Trailer Manufacturing Co. is recalling certain flatbed trailers, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents. Affected trailers have an issue with the Aero Industries’ tarp system.

More specifically, certain 2015-2017 Utility flatbed trailers equipped with Aero Industries Conestoga XP with RAD-style rear closures are affected. RAD is a “rear aerodynamic device.” Rivets may become loose if trailer is backed into a dock, or forcibly hit by a blunt object, with RAD closure in the open position.

A handle on the rear bow should be used to move the system. If the handle is not used, rivets could fatigue over time. As a result, the RAD can fall onto the roadway and potentially cause a crash.

Aero Industries will supply a repair kit at no cost to owners of affected vehicles. According to the recall report, the repair kit includes instructions, nuts and bolts, drill bit and Allen wrench for the repair. The repair is expected to take up to one hour.

Owners of affected vehicles can contact Aero Industries at 800-535-7563. This recall is part of a previous recall from Aero Industries in August.


Virtual 5K run to generate money for St. Christopher Fund

Running in a local 5K can often be a difficult task for a truck driver. All of the time spent on the highways makes it tough to find the time for such events.

The Truckin’ Runners Facebook Group, however, has created a 5-kilometer run specifically tailored toward the life of a truck driver. And it’s for a good cause.

The group started out small in 2010, says Jeff Clark, an OOIDA member and a runner from Kewaunee, Wis., but now has 911 members.

Truckin’ Runners will have its third annual Virtual 5K run/walk from Oct. 24-30. Money generated from the fundraisers will benefit the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund.

What makes the race unique is that a runner can be anywhere, and they can run whenever is convenient for them during the week. A person can run in a park, on a treadmill, or in a local 5K race. All they have to do is record the race on their smartphone and turn in the results.

Clark said the first two virtual races had about 30 participants, but he’s expecting more this year since the group has grown.

While the group will recognize the top finishers, Clark said the most important goal is to encourage truck drivers to be active. The typical times are anywhere from 20 minutes to more than an hour.

“We just want everyone to do something every day,” Clark said. “The point of the group has always been to encourage everyone to do whatever they can.”

You can watch a video that explains the race, and more details can be found here.

The St. Christopher Fund is a charity that helps semi-truck drivers with medical problems that have occurred within the last two years, which have led to financial hardship. According to the St. Christopher website, the charity has provided more than $1.3 million to more than 1,600 truckers in need.


U.S. DOT: NAFTA freight takes a huge hit in July

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in July trucks moved nearly 65 percent of all the international freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. Rail freight was the only mode to experience an increase year-to-date.

The value of freight hauled across the borders decreased by nearly 10 percent compared with June when freight was up more than 3 percent from the previous month. July marks the largest month-to-month decrease for the year.

Compared to July 2015, freight was down 10 percent, the largest year-to-year decrease in 2016. Year-to-year, NAFTA freight was down every month in 2015.

Trucks were responsible for more than $54 billion of the $83.7 billion of imports and exports in July. Rail came in second with nearly $13 billion.

Vessel and pipeline freight when compared with last year contributed to the yearly decline in U.S.-NAFTA trade flow because of plummeting crude oil prices, according to BTS. Freight totaled $83.725 billion, down nearly $9 billion from the previous month and down more than $9 billion from July 2015.

Pipeline freight experienced the steepest decline at 26.9 percent, a larger drop than June’s 15.6 percent decrease. Trucks had an 8.8 percent decrease, the second lowest decline next to air freight at 6.4 percent.
Nearly 60 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 15.7 percent. U.S.-Mexico freight went down by 5.5 percent compared with June 2015. Of the $41.3 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried nearly 70 percent of the loads.


Freightliner, Western Star trucks recalled for faulty axles

Daimler Trucks North America is recalling several Freightliner and Western Star trucks due to a defect with axle hubs, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

More specifically, various model year 2014-2017 trucks equipped with Conmet aluminum non-high-capacity hubs are affected. These vehicles specify a front axle weight limit that may be greater than that of the hub capacity, according to NHTSA. The wheel could potentially separate from the axle, resulting in a crash.

Trucks affected by the recall include (all 2014-2017 models):

  • Freightliner 108SD
  • Freightliner 114SD
  • Freightliner Business Class M2
  • Freightliner Cascadia
  • Freightliner Coronado
  • Western Star 4700
  • Western Star 4800
  • Western Star 5700

Affected trucks will have the front axle hubs replaced for free. Recalls are expected to begin Oct. 27. Contact DTNA customer service with recall number FL-718 at 800-745-8000 for any questions.



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