Posts Tagged “hours of service”

Kenny Lund: “The FMCSA Has Been a Terrible Failure”; The Unintended Consequences ELD, and More

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DSCN0274Everyone is talking about the ELD mandate that goes into effect this December or potentially delayed to Spring 2018. From my perspective, the discussion centers on who will be compliant and who will not. We should be talking about how this simply enforces the Hours of Service (HOS) and its inane “one size fits all” solution that is bad for the industry.

To determine safety based just on the number of hours a driver is on duty and not take into account miles driven, conditions, places to park, loading/unloading procedures, experience of the driver, cross-country vs local deliveries and a host of other variables leads to a system that is unfair to the small cross country drivers who need some relief from the “system”. Hours of Service needs to be changed and the ELD mandate will only make the faulty HOS that much worse.

The biggest flaw in this  system is drivers and carriers are compensated based on miles traveled, as almost every load booked has the revenue broken down into what the load pays per mile, but the compliance mechanism is based on HOURS in service. This will lead to drivers pushing harder to cover more miles in the allotted hours. This could lead to roads being less safe as drivers will be pushed to their limits.

But the regulators know better right? It turns out they do not. The FMCSA has been a terrible failure. The unintended consequences of their regulations have made the highways less safe. Just this past year highway deaths in crashes involving trucks have gone up 5.4%. This is a huge jump. After the FMCSA enacted their CSA safety program intended to make the highways safer, the steady decline of deaths on the highway per miles driven has reversed and we see a continual increase. CSA made a driver with 5 million miles in the driver seat but with some tickets or log book violations less valuable to a trucking company than a new driver with no violations. No consideration was made for the driver that had 5 million miles without an accident. The regulations made the driver with 5 million safe miles the enemy along with many of our best drivers in the industry.

Now the same situation is happening with ELDs. Experienced and safer drivers will leave the industry as they are displeased with the government regulators trying to control every little thing they do on the road. Less experienced drivers will push harder to “make their miles” based on the hours left on their ELDs. At a minimum, the ELD mandate should be delayed until HOS regulations are improved and more discretion is given to the professionals driving the trucks.

Ken Lund

VP, Support Operations

Allen Lund Company

 ken.lund.@allenlund.com

Kenny Lund  graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Business Administration and managed the refrigerated transportation division in Los Angeles for eight years, before shifting full time into managing the Information and Technology Department in 1997; becoming the Vice President of the department in 2002. In 2014 Kenny started working with the ALC Logistics division to sell the ALC Transportation Management System (TMS) to companies that manage refrigerated and dry transportation.

Reprinted from ALC’s Carrier Connection, October 19, 2007, Issue #164.

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Obama Signs Bill Suspending Enforcement of HOS Rule

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DSCN4326President Barack Obama signed on December 16 the appropriations bill that halts enforcement of the requirement that a drivers’ 34-hour restart include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods and the once-per-week limit of the restart.

Though the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is required by the law to produce a Federal Register notice to alert drivers, enforcers and other stakeholders of the change, the stay of enforcement is now legally in effect, meaning truck operators no longer have to abide by the restart provisions put in place in July 2013.

Aside from the suspension of the restart provisions, however, the law requires the FMCSA to study the rules’ impacts on drivers, carriers and safety. The agency must present a report to Congress concluding the rules boost safety before the restart provisions can go back into effect.

Hours of Service Study Required

Congress is requiring the report study provide data that determines whether or not the 2013 restart provisions can provide a greater net benefit for the operational, safety, health and fatigue impacts they cause.

To gain the necessary data, the FMCSA will have to study two groups of drivers that are “each large enough to produce statistically significant results, according to the bill. One group will operate under post-2013 restart provisions and the other under pre-2013 restart provisions. The study must be conducted for at least five months with the FMCSA comparing the two groups based on safety critical events — crashes and over fatigue levels of drivers.

The law orders that the drivers being studied, which will be derived from a range of applications and fleet sizes, will have their fatigue levels gauged by Psychomotor Vigilance Tests, actigraph watches and cameras and “other on-board monitoring systems that record or measure safety critical events and driver alertness.”

After complete data collection, the FMCSA must submit a final report that would be sent to a review panel consisting of “individuals with relevant medical and scientific expertise.”

Throughout the entire process, however, the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General must keep tabs on the agency to ensure the methodology used in the data collection is appropriate and the panel to review the study is qualified.

Timeline of the Study

The FMCSA must initially submit a report to the DOT’s Office of the Inspector General within 60 days of the bill signing (December 16), outlining how it plans to execute the study. Within 30 days of receipt of the report, the OIG must report back to the agency and House and Senate committees with any changes.

After receiving the OIG’s recommendation, the FMCSA then has up to 210 days to produce its final report based on its research. The agency must also make its report available to House and Senate committees and post it online.

The OIG must review the report and within 60 days tell the FMCSA and Congressional committees if the agency complied with the requirements of the funding law.

Only after it addresses any concerns of the OIG — and if it concludes the restart provisions enhance safety — would the FMCSA be cleared to enforce the 2013 restart rules again.

 

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Hours of Service, Stricter CARB Rules Blamed for Higher Freight Rates

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IMG_6482Changes in federal hours of service regulations, along with stricter rules by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are two primary reason refrigerated produce loads have increased this year by as much as 10 percent, according to DAT Solutions, a load board network based in Beaverton, OR.

Over 99 million transactions annually and bases rate estimates on $24 billion of freight bills, according the DAT website, and bases rate estimates on $24 billion of freight bills.

The hours-of-service changes require drivers to stop for rest breaks more often, meaning it takes longer to reach destinations such as distribution centers, many of which were located years ago based on drive times allowed under the old regulations.

Some (truckers) have gone to a relay system where the first one drives so far, then another driver picks up the trailer and takes it on. The downside, particularly with temperature-sensitive loads like produce, is that you don’t have the continuity of one driver taking care of the load for the whole trip,” Montague said.

Higher rates also are attributed to the tightening rates emissions regulations by CARB, which apply not only to trucks picking up and delivering produce in the state, but those merely driving through California.

Montague said as of early June, many of the highest rates in the nation were for trucks going into California. The DAT data for the week ending May 31 showed per mile rates of $2.44 in California for reefers. “At least 90% of the fleets that haul fresh produce have 10 trucks or less,” Montague said, adding that many produce haulers are individual owner-operators with only one truck. “The changes in regulations really make it hard for the smaller operators because of the costs for upgrades. The overall message is a lot of smaller truckers are having trouble.”

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Lund: Why Produce Rates in Early June Hit $10,000

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DSCN3917It was in early June that truck broker Kenny Lund saw the spot market on produce freight rates hit $10,000 for loads between California and the East Coast.  While part of the reason was seasonal volume increases for fresh fruits and vegetables, and truck availability,  he saw other factors contributing to the rise in rates.

Lund was speaking at the 2014 convention and exhibition of the United Fresh Produce Association in Chicago June 11th.

The vice president, support operations, for the Allen Lund Co. Inc. of LaCanada, CA cited the recently completed 72-hour U.S. Department of Transportation check points held across the country.  This was delaying truck schedules.

Another factor was the CARB (California Air Resources Board) regulations, which Lund said were resulting in more truckers refusing to come to California.  It takes a minimum investment by truckers of $8,000 to comply with CARB regulations.

“It is impossible to be compliant and move significant amounts of refrigerated product into and out California,” Lund stated

He noted less than 30 percent of refrigerated carriers are compliant with CARB and truckers simply do not have the money to become compliant.

In an effort to assist produce haulers, he noted Allen Lund Co. provides $1.5 million  a week in advances to drivers.

Lund, who  has been with company founded by his father and namesake 25 years, said there were over 50,000 carriers in the United States, but the average trucking company has less than six trucks.

“90 percent of the trucking companies have six or less trucks,” he noted.  At the same time the percentage is very low of trucks having team drivers.

Getting more specific, Lund said refrigerated carriers are dominated by owner operators and companies with less than five trucks.

As for CARB, Lund said he has “fought tooth and nail with them” (California bureaucrates).  Since the CARB rules were implemented in 2004 fines have been extended to brokers, shippers, receivers and specifically to drivers.

“It (CARB rules) has driven a lot of drivers away from California,” Lund stated.

He also was critical of hours-of-service regulations, and particularly the 34-hour restart.  While the restart requirement may be okay for local trucking, it is not good for long haul drivers.

During a question and answer session, Lund said the reason more large refrigerated carriers do not haul produce is because “it comes down the driver having a stake in that load.  I see a lot of large carriers get in and out of hauling produce.  It comes down to not having enough good drivers,” Lund concluded.

 

 

 

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Hours of Service, CARB Rules Blamed for Produce Freight Rate Increases

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DSCN3787Changes in federal hours of service regulations, along with stricter rules by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are two primary reasons refrigerated produce loads have increased this year by as much as 10 percent, according to DAT Solutions, a load board network based in Beaverton, OR, as reported recently in The Packer, a weekly national trade newspaper.

Over 99 million transactions annually are made and company bases rate estimates on $24 billion of freight bills, according the DAT website.

The hours-of-service changes require drivers to stop for rest breaks more often, meaning it takes longer to reach destinations such as distribution centers, many of which were located years ago based on drive times allowed under the old regulations.

Some (truckers) have gone to a relay system where the first one drives so far, then another driver picks up the trailer and takes it on.  The downside, particularly with temperature-sensitive loads like produce, is that you don’t have the continuity of one driver taking care of the load for the whole trip,” Montague said.

Higher rates also are attributed to the tightening rates emissions regulations by CARB, which apply not only to trucks picking up and delivering produce in the state, but those merely driving through California.

Montague said as of early June, many of the highest rates in the nation were for trucks going into California. The data for the week ending May 31 showed per mile rates of $2.44 in California for reefers. “At least 90% of the fleets that haul fresh produce have 10 trucks or less,” Montague said, adding that many produce haulers are individual owner-operators with only one truck. “The changes in regulations really make it hard for the smaller operators because of the costs for upgrades. The overall message is a lot of smaller truckers are having trouble.”

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Rob Goldstein: Hours of Service, CARB Rules are Hurtful

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Rob GoldsteinWhen you are headquartered on the East Coast near much of your customer base, but about one-half of the nation’s fresh fruits and vegetables are grown and shipped from California, the 3,000-mile hauls can present additional challengeover shorter runs.  But when one adds the challenges of dealing with federal and state mounting regulations, it just makes doing business more difficult.

Rob Goldstein is president of Genpro Inc. of Newark, NJ and arranges loads of fruit and vegetables from various shipping points around the country, including California.  Because of the ever changing and increasing number of rules and regulations, he maintains more team drivers are needed on the road to help meet delivery schedules.

As an example, Goldstein cites the changes in the hours of service rules last July, which in effect reduces the amount of driving time a trucker can legally perform.

“The bottom line is with the new hours of service, and what the truckers can do, if they can’t make more turns in their line hauls, the rates are going to have to go up.  Drivers have to drive less hours under the new rules and this results in fewer turns,” Goldstein says.  “Drivers get paid for the amount of miles they travel and they are logging fewer miles with these new hours of service.”

On the state level, Goldstein references the California Resources Board (CARB) rules as a hinderance to trucking.

“The average carrier has six or seven units.  So we are asking these carriers to comply with the state of California where about 50 percent of the domestic produce production originates,” he notes.  “They (California officials) are asking these guys to make significant investments in their equipment, which isn’t easy to do.”

That is a reference to CARB requiring trucking equipment be retrofitted when it reaches seven years old.

As owner operator Henry Lee of  Ellenwood, GA says, it will cost him $10,000 to replace the motor on his Thermo King SB-310 reefer unit, to meet the CARB requirements.

Genpro works with a mixture of owner operators, small fleets and carriers.  Goldstein says the average size of fleets they work with is about seven units.

 

 

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Troy Pecka: Small Fleet Owner Still Loves the Business

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Troy Pecka has been in the trucking business for nearly a quarter of a century and has pretty much seen it all, or at least come fairly close to it.  There is something to be said for someone who started out trucking out as a 19-year-old, and now owns his own small fleet at the “ripe” old age of 43.

The owner of Troy Pecka Trucking Inc. doesn’t have the time to get behind  the wheel of a big rig anymore as much as he’d like, in part because he’s dealing with all the rules and regulations to keep the drivers of his 15 trucks and three leased owner operators doing what they do best – truck.

Troy is following in the footsteps of his dad who started trucking at age 18 and didn’t stop until his was 76.

Troy’s small fleet, based in East Grand Forks, MN, specializes in hauling a lot of loads of frozen foods and fresh red potatoes to the Southwestern and Southeastern USA.  Return trips lean heavily towards mixed fresh produce going into Edmonton, Alberta.

When asked what rules and regulations in trucking he disliked most, Troy would not commit to any particular ones.  “All of these things increase your cost of operation,” he notes.

There could be the refusal of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to delete inspection reports from a driver’s record, even after that driver is found not guilty by the courts.

Or how about the FMCSA’s flawed enforcement program in CSA’s Safety Management Systems.  There have been reports of safe drivers being listed as unsafe in the system.

Another example, could be the Federal highway legislation passed last July.   It calls for the FMCSA to  require electric on-board recorders (EOBRs) in all heavy duty trucks.  Many in trucking are concerned it will lead to driver harrasment by authorities.  This could involve electronic recording of a driver’s hours of service, vehicle location (through a GPS), with information available to law enforcement.

It is examples such as these which makes it more difficult to get good qualified drivers.  He says the older drivers are leaving the industry and there are not nearly enough young drivers coming on board.  After all, long haul trucking certainly is not an 8 to 5  job.

Despite all the government red tape, Troy still  enjoys the business.  He just doesn’t have the time to truck as much as he used to, although taking command of one of his big rigs to someplace like Fargo isn’t out of the question.

“I just can’t get it (driving) out of my blood,” he states.

One of his favorite trucks (pictured) is a 2007 red conventional Kenworth.  It houses a 475 hp Caterpillar diesel, riding on a 260-inch wheelbase with a 13-speed transmission.  He also like the 72- sleeper featuring all the amenities.  It pulls a 53-foot Utility trailer housing a Thermo King reefer unit.

 

 

 

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Driver Parks Truck Due to Economy, Regulations

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Kevin Bowling has been trucking since 1986, but his truck is now sitting at his home in Tampa, FL and he is driving for a large fleet.

The 44-year-old former owner operator says he parked his truck because of poor economic conditions and excessive government regulations.

The driver for MK Express of East Butler, PA was fueling at a Petro Truck Stop at Vienna, GA.  He hauls primarily produce out of the Southeast and dry freight on the return haul.

Bowling says a main complaint with hauling produce are the delays associated with getting loaded.  Although this is not as serious a problem working with his current carrier, he notes too often product is still in the fields when arriving at the loading docks.  Maintaining proper load temperatures also is cited as being very important.

While Bowling loves the independence associated with trucking, he says U.S. Department of Transportation regulations are excessive and challenging.

“The DOT is always wanting to put more regulations on you and it just makes it harder,” he states.  More specifically, he cites most recent hours of service regulation changes.  Bowling says the changes, involving the 14-hour rule may be better for some drivers, but worse for others.

He is referring to the 34-hour restart once a week with two sleep times from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., plus there is the 30-minute rest break following eight hours of driving.

“For some guys it would be too much time off, but for others it might help keep them from driving when they are tired,” he says.

 

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Produce Panel’s View of Trucking – Pt. 2

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The hours of service rule changes are not major, but they are confusing.  A greater focus is needed on prevention of stolen produce loads, and there are discussions of alternatives to using trucks to haul produce, but the alternatives are not that impressive in most cases.  These are just a few of the topics addressed at the United Fresh Produce Convention, held May 1-3 at the Dallas (Texas) Conventi0n Center.  The session was titled Examining Today’s Transportation Challenges and Alternatives.  (To read more about this session see the report published on May 3rd)

Dan Vache’, vice president of the United Fresh Produce Association describes hours of service as a top concern of the produce indutry.

Gary E. York,  general manager, C.H. Robinson Co. Worldwide Inc. describes the hours of service rules as “complicated”, specifically noting that twice a week driver’s are not allowed to drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

“If more drivers were able to operate 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. it would mean less drivers on the road during high traffic hours,” York adds.

A member of the audience points out the hours of service regulations were altered for safety reasons, “but in some cases the changes make it less safe.”

Another audience member asks the panel about compliance of rules and regulations for truckers.   York replies that technology is helping to improve compliance and will do more so in the future.

On the topic of stolen loads, Vache’  relates there are no good answers, “but we have to police ourselves.”  For example, if a truck shows up with a load of nuts, the receiver or buyer needs to know from where it came.

There also is a lot of contraband crossing the U.S. border from the Southern hemisphere and being distributed throughout the USA and Canada.  Vache’ notes the U.S. and Canadian governments are working together to reduce this problem.

With the seasonally high volume of produce, less available refrigeration equipment and rising rates, the topic of alternatives to truck transportation are addressed.  Panel members indicate there are certain commodities and routes for transporting produce other than truck, but it is limited.

Alex Crow, national trucking manager, Hellman Perishable Logistics, says, “I don’t think we can replace trucks on certain routes, but we can do some things like with Washington state to Chicago on certain items (like apples, onions and potatoes).

York indicates railroad service has improved, pointing out a rail delivery from Washington state to Chicago can occur within 12 hours of what a single truck driver can deliver.  Rails are now delivering loads to the East Coast in six days.

However, York adds that a problem with rail service is the lack of intermodal equipment.  There also is the challenge of rails being able to compete with trucks when it comes to backhauls, or return loads.  Rails remain an option, are slowly increasing their volume, but York doesn’t see any significant improvements in the next three to five years.

An audience member comments there are transportation problems in moving potatoes out of Idaho.  The challenge is getting the equipment to Idaho to make the hauls.

Concerning the CSA safety enforcement systems for trucks that used to be known as SafeStat,  Vache’ says in the future the scores will have more meaning as the government is better able to track carriers.

“It’s going to force carriers to be more selective in the drivers they hire,” Vache’s states.  “It is going to revolutionize the industry.  It will result in liability becoming a bigger issue for carriers.  Technology will result in more efficiency to the industry, but more liability.” 

 

 

 

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United Produce Panel’s View of Trucking

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If you want to know how produce trucking issues are viewed by some folks in the produce industry, you should have been at the annual convention of the United Fresh Produce Association, held in Dallas.   Specifically, the session was held  on May 1st by wholesalers/distributors and titled Examing Today’s Transportation Challenges and Alternatives.

The 60-minute meeting was held in the same Dallas Convention Center that will host the Great American Trucking Show August 23-25.

Among the issues dealt with were the driver’s shortage, detention,  and hours of service.  (Within the next few days I’ll provide more coverage on the session ranging hours of service to stolen loads and dicussions of alternatives to trucks for moving produce).

On the program was moderator, Ron Carkoski, head of Four Seasons Produce, Inc.; Alex Crow, national trucking manager, Hellman Perishable Logistics; Ken Nable, president of Kington and Associates Marketing, LLC; Dan Vache’, vice president, supply chain management, United; and Gary York, general manager, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.

Concerning the availablity of drivers, Crow noted there was only a “moderate” shortage of drivers — amounting to about 200,000.  “We need to treat drivers as professionals.  We are feeling the shortage,” Crow related.  His logistics company had even hired professional “head hunters” to  find more drivers.  “We (as an industry) expect drivers to be professional, but often don’t treat them like professionals.”

Crow believes the driver shortage results from issues such as not paying them enough, to excessive waiting times for loading and unloading.  “With the multi pick ups and multi drops we have to let the customers (receivers) know they need to pay (extra) for that.”

York at C.H. Robinson concurs.  He points out driver salaries trail other occupations and many would be truckers chose higher paying jobs in construction and elsewhere.

“In 2004 we saw 1.6 million housing starts.  Today there are about 600,000.  Housing starts next year are projected to be about one million, and “drivers tend to go where the work is.  As the economy improves, the driver shortage will increase, and transportation will cost more in driver wages.”

Vache’ of United, who has an extensive background with in-tranist temperature recording devices (such as Ryan Instruments and SensiTech), adds, “Drivers are tired, not just of being treated like second class citizens, but third and fourth class citizens.  They are away from home a lot and they have families to support.  What can we do to make it more attractive for drivers to enter trucking?”

York urges shippers and receivers to work on efficiency in reducing wait times at the docks.  There also needs to be faster turn around times between loads.  He notes while detention charges certainly are not “mainstream” in the produce industry, detention charges are being applied more than in the past.

A benefit for drivers will be advances in technolgy, York believes, which can be used to expedite action on loads involving claims.  Technology can help “lay the blame” in a claims dispute and thus reduce the amount of claims arising.

Regarding efforts to increase gross vehicle weights for Class 8 trucks from 80,000 to 97,000 pounds, no one expressed much hope Congress will deal anytime soon with this issue.

Vache’ says increasing truck weight limits will be safer because of the industry continues to improve its safety record, equipment is better, etc.  Heavier loads will also reduce the number trucks on congested highway.

York calls the idea of bigger trucks “appealing.”

Nable adds that heavier trucks will reduce the “footprint.”   In other words, it would be good for the environment.

While the panel emphasizes the pros of increasing weight limits, the downside from a driver’s point of view were largely ignored.  For example, increased weight limits will result in more wear and tear on trucking equipment, consume more diesel fuel, and result in higher costs of operation for the trucker.  Will the produce industry willingly increase rates accordingly?  Most truckers I have talked to believe they will be expected to haul the heavier loads without additional compensation.  The prospects of the produce industry increasing freight rates for hauling heavier loads was not addressed by the panel.

 

 

 

 

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