Trucking Biz Buzz

OOIDA offers Truck to Success business class March 12-14

Have you toyed with the idea of becoming an owner-operator but aren’t quite sure where to start? Not to worry. Truck to Success, OOIDA’s business education training, is a 2½-day intensive training for those ready to take their first steps toward becoming an owner-operator.

Truck to Success is scheduled for March 12-14 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Blue Springs, Mo. The class features true trucking experts who have worked and do work for the largest trucking association dedicated to helping drivers in all areas be successful. The training consists of expert trainers and interaction among participants. Some homework is required for full participation.

The training is designed to follow a logical path of information on the transition from a company driver to an independent contractor. Topics include:

  • Developing a business plan that works for you.
  • Buying a new or used truck.
  • Equipment financing.
  • Insurance.
  • Pros and cons of running under your own authority or leasing on to a carrier.
  • New entrant safety audits and compliance reviews.
  • Drug and alcohol testing requirements.
  • Permits and licensing.
  • Taxes and business structures.
  • Brokers and factoring.
  • Current issues affecting the industry.

Registration is open to anyone – you do not have to be a member of OOIDA to participate in the classes. The cost is $495 per person and that includes breakfast, lunch and snacks. Lodging is not included. However, participants can book a room at the Courtyard by Marriott and receive OOIDA’s corporate rate. Participants who register before Feb. 1 will receive a year’s membership for free.

To register, visit OOOIDAOnlineEducation.com.

Volvo becomes fourth truck manufacturer recalling trucks for Cummins engine issue

Volvo Trucks North America is recalling more than 3,000 VNL trucks for an issue related to a potential fuel line burst. This is the same defect that led Paccar, Daimler Trucks North America and Navistar to recall approximately 80,000 trucks.

More specifically, Volvo is recalling 3,138 VNL trucks model year 2016-19 and equipped with Cummins ISX15 or X15 diesel engines. In certain driving conditions, such as on a long down-hill grade, the fuel line may burst if the fuel pump cooling circuit screen becomes restricted, according to NHTSA.

Consequently, fuel may leak onto the road resulting in a roadway hazard for other motorists. The engine may also stall without warning, resulting in the vehicle's inability to restart, increasing the risk of a crash.

Owners will be notified by Cummins. Dealers will replace the single-screen filter banjo bolt with a dual-screen filter banjo bolt at no charge. Recalls are scheduled to begin on Oct. 31. For questions, call Volvo customer service at 800-528-6586 with Volvo’s recall number RVXX1802. NHTSA’s recall number is 18V-668.

Just the day before Volvo’s recall, Paccar issued a similar recall over the same defect for nearly 50,000 of its trucks. In August, the same recall was issued for 4,500 Freightliner/Western Star trucks and more than 26,000 International trucks.

Paccar recalls nearly 50,000 trucks with Cummins engines for fuel line issue

Paccar is recalling tens of thousands of Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks for an issue related to a potential fuel line burst, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall documents.

More specifically, Paccar is recalling 48,896 trucks of various models that are model year 2017-19 and equipped with Cummins ISX15 or X15 diesel engines. In certain driving conditions, such as on a long down-hill grade, the fuel line may burst if the fuel pump cooling circuit screen becomes restricted, according to NHTSA.

Consequently, fuel may leak onto the road resulting in a roadway hazard for other motorists. The engine may also stall without warning, resulting in the vehicle's inability to restart, increasing the risk of a crash.

Affected trucks include (all model year 2017-19):

  • Kenworth C500
  • Kenworth T600
  • Kenworth T660
  • Kenworth T680
  • Kenworth T800
  • Kenworth T880
  • Kenworth W900
  • Peterbilt 367
  • Peterbilt 386
  • Peterbilt 389
  • Peterbilt 567
  • Peterbilt 579
  • Peterbilt 587

Owners will be notified by Cummins. Dealers will replace the fuel pump cooling circuit screen at no charge. A recall schedule has not been provided as of publication time. For questions, call Paccar customer service at 940-591-4220 with Paccar’s recall number 18E081. NHTSA’s recall number is 18V-657.

In August, the same recall was issued for 4,500 Freightliner/Western Star trucks and more than 26,000 International trucks. Combined, nearly 80,000 trucks with Cummins ISX15 or X15 engines have been recalled due to the fuel line issue.

ATRI analysis says operational costs continue to climb

The trucking industry’s operational costs continue to climb, according to recent findings from the American Transportation Research Institute.

In the 2018 version of “An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking,” ATRI analyzed trucking costs from 2008 through 2017.

“With economic activity strengthening in 2017, the average marginal cost per mile incurred by motor carriers increased 6 percent to $1.69,” ATRI wrote. “Cost increases were broad-based in 2017 with grown in nearly every major line-item over the year. Driver wages increased for the fifth consecutive year, and the combined cost of driver wages and benefits represent 43 percent of the overall cost per mile.”

Other factors according to ATRI were that fuel prices rebounded and that newer truck models continued to increase costs for purchasing as well as repair and maintenance.

For more information on ATRI’s report, go here.

ATRI also is conducting a survey on the trucking industry’s top concerns. The results for the 2018 survey are expected to be released later this month.

Trucking industry jobs surge for second consecutive month

Net transportation jobs significantly increased again in September after a large increase in August. The transport sector gained nearly 24,000 jobs due to high increases in the warehousing, transit, couriers and trucking industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The truck transportation subsector experienced an increase of nearly 5,000 jobs in September after the industry gained nearly 6,000 in August and 1,100 in July. Numbers for September and August are preliminary and are likely to change in the coming months. So far, trucking jobs are up nearly 28,000 for the year.

Warehousing and storage experienced the largest increase in the sector with more than 8,000 jobs added, followed by transit/ground passenger transportation and couriers/messengers with 5,400 and 5,100 more jobs, respectively. Water transportation suffered the worse monthly job loss with 700 fewer jobs, followed by scenic/sightseeing transportation with 600 fewer jobs.

In 2017, the transportation and warehousing sector had a net gain of more than 3 million jobs. In every month except January there was a job increase compared to the previous month. September accounted for the largest one-month increase, with more than 25,000 jobs in the sector added to the economy. For the year, the trucking subsector had a net gain of 9,400 jobs in 2017.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $24.46 for September – a 2-cent increase from August. Earnings were up 46 cents from September 2017. Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees went up 5 cents to $21.99 from the previous month and up 52 cents year to year. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $27.24, an 8-cent increase from the previous month. Compared with a year ago, average earnings have gone up by 2.8 percent, or 73 cents.

According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material-moving occupations rose slightly to 4.6 percent, compared with 4.5 percent in September 2017. However, the rate decreased from 5.2 percent in August. The overall unemployment dropped from 3.9 percent in August to 3.7 percent. The number of long-term unemployed increased slightly to 1.4 million, accounting for 23 percent of the unemployed.

Per diem rate increases for 2019

The transportation workers’ special standard per diem rate has been increased to $66. Outside continental U.S increased from $68 to $71 per day.

That means truckers can continue to declare a $66 per diem dating back to Oct. 1, 2018, when the 2019 per diem rates became effective.

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:
The per diem is available for IRS Schedule C filers, which is owner-operators. Company drivers who file an IRS Schedule A, are not eligible for the deduction.

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 workday. 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 $66 per day. This is so if the trucker is not being reimbursed for actual expenses.

California gets to try out Volvo electric trucks next year

Versions of the nearly silent, exhaust-free electric trucks that Volvo introduced this year in Europe are coming to North America in 2019.

California will fund a demonstration project aimed at proving the effectiveness of the trucks in fleet operations and in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, Volvo Trucks announced in a news release this week.

A broader North American commercial rollout is in the works for 2020.

Volvo is working with California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District on the Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project. There are 16 partners involved in the project working to transform freight operations at the facilities of two United States trucking fleets.

Funding comes from a $44.8 million grant preliminarily awarded by the California Air Resources Board to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The South Coast Air Basin includes all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The district has 10,743 square miles and 16.8 million people, about half the population of the state of California, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District website.

Volvo LIGHTS is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that uses cap-and-trade funds. California conducts quarterly auctions where companies can sell or purchase permits for carbon dioxide emissions as part of the state's program to reduce greenhouse gases. The proceeds of the cap-and trade auctions are earmarked for public programs to slow climate change.

Volvo Trucks plans to deploy eight Class 8 electric demonstration units with gross vehicle weight of more than 15 tons and another 15 precommercial and commercial units in California’s South Coast Air Basin.

The vehicles will be based on the Volvo FE Electric, one of two Volvo Trucks introduced in May to European markets. Volvo invited media representatives, including one from Land Line, to test drive the vehicles in June in Sweden. The other electric truck introduced in the spring was the Volvo FL, which has a single electric motor, producing a maximum 370 kW of power, or just over 500 hp.

OOIDA receives awards for HOS editorial, speed limiter video campaigns

A video aimed at heightening awareness about the dangers of speed limiters in heavy trucks and an editorial calling for hours-of-service reform were just two of several campaigns undertaken by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association on behalf of its members.

Those campaigns garnered OOIDA two Gold PRISM awards from the Greater Kansas City Public Relations Society of America.

“We would like to thank the GKC-PRSA for acknowledging these works done on behalf of our members,” said Norita Taylor, director of public relations at OOIDA. “We strive to make our messages known beyond the trucking community and appreciate recognition from mainstream media as well.”

The op-ed by OOIDA President Todd Spencer can be read here and the speed limiter video can be viewed here.

The GKC-PRSA is a chapter of the national PRSA and is a community of communications professionals across Kansas City and Midwest. Its signature event, the annual PRISM Awards, honors the year’s best in communications excellence.

More than 26,000 International trucks recalled for Cummins fuel line issue

Navistar is recalling more than 26,000 International trucks, model years 2017-19, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The defect is the same as a recall issued last week for Freightliners and Western Stars with certain Cummins engines.

More specifically, certain International 9900I (2017-2018), HX (2017-2019), LoneStar (2017-2019), LT (2018-2019), PayStar (2017) and ProStar (2017-2018) trucks with Cummins ISX15 or X15 engines are affected by the recall. In certain driving conditions, such as on a long down-hill grade, the fuel line may burst if the fuel pump cooling circuit screen becomes restricted, according to NHTSA.

Consequently, fuel may leak onto the road resulting in a roadway hazard for other motorists. The engine also may stall without warning, resulting in the vehicle's inability to restart, increasing the risk of a crash.

Cummins will contact owners of affected trucks. The recall is slated for Nov. 2. However, the remedy for the recall is still under development. For questions, call Cummins customer service at 800-286-6467 or Navistar’s customer service at 800-448-7825. NHTSA’s recall number is 18V-581.

NAFTA freight experiences largest year-to-year increase in more than six years

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in July trucks moved 62 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 5 percent compared with June, when freight decreased by 1 percent from the previous month. This is the largest month-to-month increase since December 2017 when NAFTA freight declined by 7 percent. Compared to July 2017, freight was up 13.5 percent, the largest year-to-year increase since February 2012 when NAFTA freight increased by 16.4 percent compared with February 2011. This marks the 21st consecutive month of year-to-year increases.

March 2017 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. NAFTA freight declined by nearly 11 percent in July 2017, the largest decline for the year.

In March 2017, the index reached more than $100 billion for the first time since October 2014 before going back below that mark in April. That landmark was revisited in October and maintained through November before dipping below the $100 billion mark again in December. March marked the first month in 2018 to reach beyond $100 million, which has been maintained through at least July so far.

Trucks carried nearly $63 billion of the more than $101 billion of imports and exports in July.

Year-to-year, Canada truck freight increased by 7.3 percent and Mexico freight rose by 14.6 percent. Top truck commodities were computers and parts, electrical machinery, motor vehicles and parts, plastics and measuring/testing instruments.

Freight totaled $101.212 billion, down nearly $5 billion from the previous month but an increase of more than $12 billion from July 2017.

Vessel freight accounted for the largest increase at 42.4 percent after an increase of 26.5 percent in June. Trucks accounted for an increase of 11.2 percent, the third largest increase behind a 32 percent increase in pipeline freight. Truck freight experienced increases of 5.3 percent in June and 9 percent in May.

More than 55 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 11 percent. Of the $51 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried 68.5 percent of the loads.

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