Trucking Biz Buzz

Online voting begins for Transition Trucking award

Three military men have been chosen as finalists for Fastport’s 2017 Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award, and now’s the time to choose the winner.

The public has until the end of the day on Oct. 31 to vote for a favorite. 

Fastport’s campaign honors a rookie truck driver with a military background.

Fastport is a software company devoted to finding employment opportunities for veterans, National Guard members and reservists.

Fastport plans to award a fully loaded Kenworth T680 to the winner. Each of the finalists is a former member of the military who is now working as a truck driver.

The three finalists:

  • Wayne Roy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Xpress; 
  • Daniel Shonebarger, U.S. Navy, Melton Truck Lines; and 
  • Gregg Softy, U.S. Army, Stevens Transport. 

Each finalist has a video that members of the public can watch to help make their vote. 

Shonebarger was a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with three sea service deployment ribbons. 

“The Navy focused on honor, courage and commitment,” Shonebarger said. “Melton really exemplifies that. Those values that I learned from the eight years I was in really builds character. That’s something I’m really proud of. It’s built me to where I am now.”

Roy was a combat veteran with the Marines.

“In the Marine Corps, we are shown to go above and beyond in everything we do, and that has spilled over in to my driving career,” Roy said. “I will always jump out of the truck and help a fellow driver no matter what company he or she works for.”

Softy graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and then spent 28 years of active duty before retiring as a lieutenant colonel. 

“I feel my military career has prepared me for the responsibilities and challenges that come with driving a truck and being within this industry,” Softy said. “Trucking, like the military, is a people business. The military has instilled in me the imperative of treating everyone with dignity of respect regardless of position or job.”

Nominations for the second annual award began in March. Those nominated:

  • must be a military veteran or a current or former member of the National Guard or Reserves; 
  • must have graduated from a certified driver training school and be a current CDL holder; 
  • must have been employed by any for-hire carrier or private fleet that has pledged to hire veterans through TruckingTrack.org; and 
  • was first employed as a truck driver between Jan. 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017. 

The nominations were narrowed to 10 in July and then to three in August. Public voting comes to a finish at the end of Oct. 31. 

On Dec. 15 in Washington, D.C., the winner and the two runners-up will be announced during a ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hall of Flags. The winner will receive a 2017 Kenworth T680 with an approximate value of $155,000. The two other finalists will receive $10,000 in prize money. 

The award’s inaugural winner was Troy Davidson, a U.S. Navy veteran who works with Werner.

DAT Solutions: Flatbed market stays hot as rates climb

Rebuilding is in full swing in places affected by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, which is good news for flatbed haulers.

While spot flatbed load posts on MembersEdge fell 7 percent and truck posts increased 6 percent during the week ending Oct. 14, the national average spot flatbed rate added 2 cents to $2.33/mile. That's the highest average flatbed rate in more than two years.

Unseasonably strong spot market: The number of posted loads on MembersEdge fell 10 percent while the number of trucks posted increased 7 percent last week, and the combination of fewer loads and more available capacity pushed load-to-truck ratios lower compared to the previous week:

  • Van: 5.4 available loads per truck, down 17 percent but still solid for this time of year
  • Flatbed: 40.9 loads per truck, down 12 percent
  • Refrigerated: 10.1 loads per truck, down 19

Van, reefer rates slip: While the flatbed rate climbed again, the van rate fell 2 cents to $2.07/mile and reefers dropped a penny to $2.36/mile.

Spot van load posts declined 11 percent and truck posts increased 7 percent. Van rates moderated last week but this may be short-lived with volumes surging in California and other Western states.

Who’s No. 1? The No. 1 market for van freight was Los Angeles, where the average rate jumped 4 cents to $2.41/mile. Rates were softer elsewhere:

  • Columbus, Ohio: $2.62/mile, down 14 cents
  • Dallas: $1.78/mile, down 1 cent
  • Houston: $1.75/mile, unchanged
  • Atlanta: $2.23/mile, down 6 cents
  • Buffalo: $2.56/mile, down 13 cents

Squeezed? The Columbus-Buffalo van lane dropped 33 cents last week to $3.09/mile. It could be a case of Columbus being out of inventory, given the extra activity that happened out of there following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which meant freight going into Buffalo had to be sourced elsewhere.

Reefers cool: In the spot reefer market, the number of posted loads decreased 13 percent and truck posts increased 7 percent from the previous week. Florida reefer volumes recovered but outbound rates were so low they actually contributed to a drop in the national average reefer rate.

Gravy: Capacity is still tight in potato-shipping regions like southern Idaho, eastern North Dakota, and southeastern Washington. Reefer rates slipped on some California lanes, despite good outbound volumes, likely because of inbound volumes. Wildfires also could have been a factor.

Tri-haul of the week
Typically the land of cheap freight, Denver van rates actually improved last week. You can take advantage of that and put together a tri-haul:

Los Angeles-Denver paid an average van rate of $2.97/mile but the return trip only paid $1.11. You can up your revenue by more than $900 if you can add a leg to Flagstaff on the way back. Denver-Flagstaff paid an average of $1.55/mile last week, while Flagstaff-L.A. was $1.84/mile. The extra leg adds about 215 miles, not counting deadhead. If you can fit it in with your hours, your average rate would jump 21 cents from $2.04 to $2.25/mile.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information:

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.

Accelerate! Conference and Expo Nov. 6-8 in K.C.

The third annual Accelerate! Conference & Expo, hosted by the Women In Trucking Association, is on the industry calendar for early November in Kansas City, Mo.

The three-day conference takes place Nov. 6-8 at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center and includes more than 30 educational seminars on careers in trucking for women.

Register by Oct. 20 for a chance to win two paid room nights at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center or bring multiple attendees and save up to 30 percent on registrations.

Kenworth T680s available with Endurant 12-speed automated transmission

Kenworth has recently announced that its T680 model trucks will be available with the new Endurant 12-speed automated transmission paired with the Cummins X15 Efficiency Series engine, according to a news release.

The new feature will be available for regional and linehaul applications up to gross vehicle weight of 110,000 pounds.

The transmission offers engine ratings up to 510 hp and 1,850 lb-ft of torque, and weight savings up to 105 pounds less than competitive automated transmissions. Other key features include a coolerless precision lubrication system with a 750,000 mile lube change, encapsulated sensors and wiring, and standard eight-bolt power take off opening location.

The Endurant offers a five-year/750,000-mile warranty, and a three-year/350,000-mile clutch warranty.

For more information about the Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies, visit EatonCumminsJV.com/Endurant.

Wreaths Across America launches new sponsorship program

Wreaths Across America recently announced a new sponsorship opportunity called Rolling Ambassadors for professional truck drivers, bikers, police officers, and first responders.

A nonprofit organization, Wreaths Across America was founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery that was started by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. The organization’s mission of “Remember, Honor, Teach” is carried out through wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington, as well as at thousands of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states.

For a sponsorship of $125, a Wreaths Across America’s Rolling Ambassador will sponsor two Remembrance Wreaths and receive a special package valued at more than $160. The package includes a Wreaths Across America sweatshirt, window cling, embroidered patch, baseball cap and pin. In addition, the sponsor’s name will be added to a social media graphic during the week of wreaths.

People can sign up for a Rolling Ambassador sponsorship here.

Each holiday season, an Honor Fleet made up of volunteer drivers and donated equipment carry loads of Remembrance Wreaths.

“Every year we have so many professional drivers, bikers, police officers and other first responders asking us how they can get involved, even if they can’t transport wreaths,” Wreaths Across America Executive Director Karen Worcester said in a news release. “This program is designed for these dedicated men and women. By becoming a Rolling Ambassador sponsor, Wreaths Across America is entrusting drivers to proudly wear the logo and share the importance of the mission to remember the fallen, honor those who serve, and teach our children about the true cost of freedom.”

For more information about the Royal Ambassadors program or National Wreaths Across America Day on Dec. 16, visit the Wreaths Across America website.

Trucking propels Transportation Services Index to all-time high in August

The official freight index, which measures freight movement in tons and ton-miles, reveals August freight experienced significant gains in trucking, enough to make up for declines in water and pipeline freight to push the index to an all-time high.

Trucking freight made a giant leap for a second consecutive month, increasing to 147.9 from 143.9, a significant increase of nearly 3 percent. Numbers from the American Trucking Associations reveal a tonnage increase of a 7.1 percent in August to 149 from 139.1 in July. ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys of its membership.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Freight Transportation Services Index for August rose 1.5 percent to 130.7. In July, the index increased by 1.4 percent, replacing an all-time high set in May.

The August index was 38 percent above the low that was set during the recession in April 2009. TSI records began in 2000.

According to the DOT, the TSI’s upward movement comes amid other positive signals elsewhere in the economy. Employment, personal income and housing starts all increased. Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers’ Index revealed accelerated growth.

Truck stops show huge support for trucking customers

TA/Petro, Sapp Bros. and Coffee Cup Fuel Stop locations participated in the 2017 Band Together for St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund. This year’s late summer campaign raised well over a quarter of a million dollars to benefit truckers and their families who have suffered financial difficulty because of medical problems.

Although final accounting has not been announced, TA/Petro’s unofficial report was $209,401.94 for all locations plus an additional $31,908.64 from a golf tournament. Sapp Brothers raised about $8,000 and the Coffee Cup Fuel Stops raised approximately $20,000.

All donations go directly to SCF and benefit drivers. 

Travel Centers of America has been supporting drivers through the SCF since 2010. It is the second year for Sapp Bros and Coffee Cup Fuel Stops to participate. 

TravelCenters of America is the largest full-service travel center company in the U.S., with corporate headquarters is located in Westlake, Ohio. Sapp Bros., Inc. is a collection of 17 full-service, friendly travel centers; primarily located on Interstate 80 from as far west as Salt Lake City, Utah to Clearfield, Pennsylvania in the east. The Coffee Cup Fuel Stop has been serving truckers since 1981 with locations throughout South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming.

Professional drivers who are suffering from financial hardships due to medical problems can apply to the SCF for help. Assistance may be in the form of direct payment for mortgage/rent, utilities, vehicle payments, insurance, prescriptions and/or some medical procedures. For more information, visit TruckersFund.org or call 865-202-9428.

Volvo recalls certain VNLs and VNMs over steer axle issue

Volvo Trucks North America is recalling certain VNL and VNM trucks because of a steering axle issue, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

More specifically, several hundred 2016 Volvo VNL and VNM trucks equipped with certain Dana Spicer D-Series and E-Series steer axles are being recalled. The castellated nut on the steer axles may not be properly torqued, allowing the tie rod to loosen, NHTSA recall documents reveal.

The tie rod could potentially disconnect from the steering knuckle if loosened. This could lead to a complete loss of steering. Worst case scenario, the steering axle issue can increase the risk of a crash.

Owners affected by the recall will be notified by Volvo, whose dealers will inspect the torque of the castellated nut and tie rod. Dealers will replace the knuckle and tie rod end assembly for free if it cannot be sufficiently torqued during inspection.

For more information, contact Volvo’s customer service at 800-528-6586 with recall number RVXX1702. The NHTSA recall number is 17V-536.

This is not the first time Greensboro, N.C.-based Volvo has recalled trucks over steering problems. Volvo had to recall nearly 16,000 trucks in the U.S. in March 2016 after it discovered VNL, VNM and VNX trucks may have been manufactured without a roll pin on the steering shafts. With this problem, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had to step in and place any affected vehicle that was not fixed out of service if driven on the roads.

In July 2016, certain 2013 VNL and VNM trucks with Meritor FF967 nondrive front steer axles were recalled. Those axles may have been incorrectly heat treated.

Transport jobs up in September, down across all industries first time since 2010

Despite the first monthly job loss across all industries in seven years because of devastating hurricanes, transportation jobs overall scored an eighth consecutive month of job gains in September. The transport sector netted 21,800 jobs to the economy. Trucking jobs were down a smidge after a significant decrease in August.

So far, the trucking subsector for 2017 has a net gain of 11,500 jobs. The truck transportation subsector experienced a decrease of 100 jobs in September after the industry lost 1,600 in August and gained 400 in July. September’s decrease was the sixth month of job losses. However, large gains in February and March puts trucking jobs in the black for the year so far. For the year, the trucking subsector had a net loss of 2,500 jobs in 2016.

In 2016, the transportation and warehousing sector had a net gain of more than 19,000 jobs. Last January, transportation lost more than 20,000 jobs, the largest decrease since January 2011, when 38,000 jobs were eliminated from the economy.

Transit/ground passenger transportation experienced the largest increase with 9,400 more jobs, followed by warehousing and storage at 4,800. Pipeline and rail transportation experienced the largest loss, with 400 fewer jobs each, trailed by trucking, with 100 jobs lost. Six of 10 subsectors experienced gains, while scenic/sightseeing transportation remained unchanged from the previous month.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $24.03 for September – a 6-cent increase from August and up 62 cents from September 2016. Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees experienced an increase of 8 cents to $21.50 from the previous month and a 47-cent increase year to year. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $26.55, 12 cents higher from the previous month. Compared with a year ago, average earnings have gone up by 2.9 percent, or 74 cents.

According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material-moving occupations lowered significantly to 4.5 percent compared with 5.9 percent last September and down from 5.3 percent in August. The overall unemployment rate for the country declined to 4.2 percent from 4.4 percent the previous month. The number of long-term unemployed was essentially unchanged at 1.7 million, accounting for one-quarter of the unemployed.

Trucking still leads in surging transport of cross-border freight

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in July trucks moved more than 63 percent of NAFTA freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. All five modes experienced an increase in freight year to year for the third consecutive month.

The value of freight hauled across the borders decreased by nearly 11 percent compared with June, when freight was up 1.5 percent from the previous month. March had the largest month-to-month increase (16 percent) since March 2011, when NAFTA freight was up more than 22 percent compared to February 2011.

Compared to July 2016, freight was up 6.5 percent. This marks the ninth consecutive month of year-to-year increases. Nine of 12 months experienced a loss compared to the previous year in 2016.

July’s rise was only the fifth largest year-to-year increase this year, ahead of February (2.9 percent increase) and April (0.8 percent increase). In March, the index reached more than $100 billion for the first time since October 2014.

August, November and December were the only months to have a year-to-year increase in 2016 at 0.7 percent, 3.3 percent and 0.4 percent respectively. August was the first year-to-year increase since December 2014, when freight increased by more than 5 percent.

Trucks carried more than $56 billion of the $89.2 billion of imports and exports in July. Rail came in second with more than $13 billion.

Freight totaled $89.175 billion, down nearly $11 billion from the previous month but an increase of more than $5 billion from July 2016.

Pipeline freight accounted for the largest increase at 24 percent after an increase of 26.3 percent in June. Trucks accounted for a modest increase at 4 percent. In June, truck freight experienced a similar modest increase of 4.4 percent.
 
Nearly 58 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at nearly 16 percent. U.S.-Mexico freight went up by more than 7 percent compared with July 2016. Of the $44.4 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried nearly 70 percent of the loads.

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