Category Archives: Trucking News

Regulators Pull Plan To Test Truckers, Train Operators For Sleep Apnea

Two agencies in the Transportation Department are ending their push for a rule that would have required truck drivers and train operators to be tested for obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that’s been linked to preventable accidents.

The agencies — the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration — have withdrawn a proposed rule they published in March of 2016, when they wrote that when it goes undiagnosed or inadequately treated, obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, “can cause unintended sleep episodes and resulting deficits in attention, concentration, situational awareness, and memory, thus reducing the capacity to safely respond to hazards when performing safety sensitive duties.”

While calling OSA “an on-going concern,” the regulators said the issue can be addressed through existing safety programs and rules.

According to the Associated Press, “The agencies argue that it should be up to railroads and trucking companies to decide whether to test employees. One railroad that does test, Metro-North in the New York City suburbs, found that 11.6 percent of its engineers have sleep apnea.”

The decision didn’t sit well with the National Transportation Safety Board. The agency, which has pushed for apnea screening and awareness, said it is “disappointed” by the move. The board cited its own findings that obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to 10 highway and rail accidents in the past 17 years.

“Medical fitness and fatigue, two of the NTSB’s 10 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements for 2017 – 2018, are tied to obstructive sleep apnea,” says the agency’s media relations chief, Christopher O’Neil. He added, “The need for this rulemaking is well documented.”

Last spring, the FMCSA and FRA cited a number of cases of rail and trucking crashes that were linked to OSA in recent years, including a railway collision that took place near Red Oak, Iowa, in 2011.

That crash, which killed two crewmembers who were found to have been at risk of apnea, prompted the NTSB to urge the Federal Railroad Administration to “require railroads to medically screen employees with safety sensitive duties for sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.”

The agencies’ initial proposal also cited the 2013 derailment of a Metro-North Railroad passenger train that had been approaching the Spuyten Duyvil Station in New York City. In that crash that killed four passengers and injured more than 60 people, the engineer reported feeling dazed — and was later diagnosed with severe OSA.

Obstructive sleep apnea’s risk factors include being male, obese, and middle-age or older. Family history can also play a role.

Dr. Stefanos Kales of the Harvard School of Public Health, who has studied the link between sleep apnea and serious accidents, told NPR’s David Schaper last year, “Drivers with untreated obstructive sleep apnea who were noncompliant with treatment had a five-fold increase in the risk of serious preventable crashes.”

In announcing the withdrawal of the proposal, the FMCSA recommended that commercial drivers and their employers consult the North American Fatigue Management Program to boost their awareness of fatigue and its impact on performance.

Story by Bill Chappell at NPR

Diesel hits three-month high after six straight weeks of increases

The average price of a gallon of on-highway diesel went up 5 cents to $2.581 per gallon for the week ending Monday, Aug. 7. This marks the sixth consecutive increase after a month of decreases and the highest prices since May 1, when diesel cost $2.583.

Diesel price averages went up in all 10 regions in the U.S., according to the Energy Information Administration. The largest average increase was in the Rocky Mountain region, where prices at the pump went up by 5.8 cents per gallon. Prices increased by 2.3 cents in the California region, the smallest increase in the nation.

Following are the average prices by region as reported by the EIA:

  • U.S. – $2.531, up 5 cents
  • East Coast – $2.613, up 4.7 cents
  • New England – $2.618, up 2.8 cents
  • Central Atlantic – $2.751, up 4.5 cents
  • Lower Atlantic – $2.514, up 5.2 cents
  • Midwest – $2.543, up 5.7 cents
  • Gulf Coast – $2.41, up 5.1 cents
  • Rocky Mountain – $2.673, up 5.8 cents
  • West Coast – $2.848, up 3.2 cents
  • West Coast less California – $2.747, up 4.3 cents
  • California – $2.93, up 2.3 cents

According to ProMiles, the average retail price at truck stops was $2.552 on Monday morning, a 5.7 cent increase from last week.

ProMiles, the software company that maintains the websites ProMiles.com and TruckMiles.com, continues to offer its own weekly fuel price information. The company’s fuel price data are presented in the same format used by the EIA in the agency’s weekly reports. The prices include a national average as well as regional averages, and comparisons to the previous week and the previous year.

A key difference between the EIA and ProMiles reporting is the type and number of fueling stations the company surveys in order to calculate its averages. While EIA surveys 400 truck stops and convenience stores nationwide, ProMiles uses its direct feed from thousands of truck stops to develop its averages.

TruckMiles.com listed the daily average price for Monday at $2.64, with truckers in Pennsylvania paying an average of $3.097 per gallon, the highest in the nation. Truckers in South Carolina are paying a national low of $2.397 per gallon, according to the site. No states in the Lower 48 states have been listed in excess of $4 per gallon at the pump since Dec. 4, 2014. Two states, Pennsylvania and Washington, are reporting average prices, one more than last week. It has been nearly two months since the last time more than one state reported prices above $3. No states have reported average diesel prices below $2 since April 27, 2016.

AAA has indexed diesel prices at $2.512 for Monday, 21.3 cents more expensive than this time last year and 6.6 cents higher than a month ago.

In separate energy news, according to the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude (also known as West Texas Intermediate) for September delivery was trading at $48.95 at noon CDT on Monday, a $1.22 decrease from last Monday and a 63-cent decrease from its last settlement price. The price of Brent crude oil for October settlement was listed at $51.90, a 75-cent decrease from last Monday and a 52-cent decrease from its last settlement price.

According to Reuters, oil prices dipped on Monday as investors cashed out amid news of increased production in Libya and continued concerns regarding more production from the U.S. and OPEC countries. Prices dropped last week despite a boost on Friday from a positive employment report in the U.S.

Story by Tyson Fisher

Uber Freight Expanding Into Six Markets This Year

Truck

Uber Freight will expand to Arizona, California, Georgia, North and South Carolina and into the Midwest-Chicago area over the next few months after a test run that began in Texas.

“These new areas represent where drivers like to run, which makes sense: These regions including Texas cover over a quarter of the country’s drivers and freight,” the company wrote in a blog post. “Unlocking this geography allows more carriers and their drivers to grow their businesses with Uber Freight’s instant load booking and quick payment. While today we still have most of our loads in Texas, over the coming months drivers can expect to see an ever-increasing number of loads available on the app in these new markets.”

The transportation giant also said that it has heard from truck drivers who prefer to haul specific types of freight in specific lanes. As a result, Uber announced it will build new features to “automatically learn drivers’ preferences based on their past loads, their location, their home base, and more. When a new load is available that matches these preferences, the app will notify the driver.”

Uber has declined to publicly release data on the number of carriers and shipments brokered so far, but the group told USA Today that load counts have increased tenfold in Texas since January.

Story by Transport Topics

Senate Committee Advances Human Trafficking Prevention Legislation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON — Legislation meant to remove individuals involved in human trafficking from the trucking industry was easily approved by a Senate committee Aug. 2.

The bill sponsored by Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) would disqualify truck drivers from the industry if they are found to be involved in human trafficking.

Another bill was approved, as amended, and it would designate a human trafficking prevention coordinator, as well as expand the authorities of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s outreach and education program. Also under the bill, a 15-person advisory committee on human trafficking would be established at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Together, these two bills address the prevention and enforcement of human trafficking in the transportation sector and will continue the good work of many who fight to eliminate human trafficking on a daily basis,” Thune said.

Committee ranking Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida emphasized the severity of human trafficking, noting his home state ranked third for the number of cases reported last year.

“The two bills before us today aim to further these initiatives by elevating the issue at [DOT] and helping to prevent and deter human trafficking,” Nelson said.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a co-sponsor, added the measures “should make a big difference.”

Senate floor managers have yet to indicate when the bills would be called up in the chamber.

Story by Eugene Mulero, Staff Report for Transport Topics

Amazon Launches Its Own Social Network, Spark

Amazon logo on a flatscreen next to two gears

Amazon wants all shopping addicts to stay in touch, so the company decided to launch its own social network, Spark. This network is meant to bring all Amazon users together, and make it easier for them to find more people with the same interests.

Amazon decided that people who like shopping should have a place of their own to socialize and exchange ideas. Therefore, it came up with the idea of creating a social network called Spark. Here, people should be able to ask for advice regarding places where they can buy certain items, decoration or household ideas, or merely talk to other shoppers who like the same things.

The first time you access Spark, you will have to fill in a list of interests. Then, based on this list, Amazon will show you relevant posts and custom content coming from other customers who share your interests. You can even communicate with these people, by commenting on their posts or even by just sending them smiles.

You can also buy products directly from your feed

Apart from stories, customers can also share products. These products are available for sale on Amazon, and you can purchase them by just tapping on them. Those you can buy are market by an icon of a shopping bag placed next to them. You can post your own stories, or share whatever products you like from the field placed on top of your feed.

There’s no easy business to launch an entirely new social network. However, Spark is easy to use, and comes embedded into the Amazon app. Rumors say the company might be working on a new social app, namely a messaging service called Anytime. Amazon seems to be determined to occupy a place among social media companies, and is doing everything it takes to get there.

Story by Ryan Harris at Mirrordaily,com

Legislation introduced in House to delay ELD mandate two years

A bill has been filed in the U.S. House to delay the compliance date of the federal government’s electronic logging device two years, to December 2019. If enacted, carriers would have two additional years to adopt electronic logging devices.

The legislation was introduced Tuesday and referred to the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Texas Republican Rep. Brian Babin filed the ELD Extension Act of 2017. Babin’s introduction of the bill came a day after a House panel recommended that the U.S. DOT study whether a “full or targeted delay” of the mandate is needed. Both developments signal that efforts to engage Congress on the issue have gained traction. In a report issued Monday, members of the House cited the burden placed on smaller carriers, like owner-operators, and questions surrounding enforcement and “technological concerns” as reasons to delay the ELD mandate.

For Babin’s ELD delay bill to become law, it must be passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Trump.

Other than passed as a standalone bill, the legislation could also be attached to broader legislation, such as the DOT appropriations bills currently in the works in both chambers of Congress.

Lawmakers have used the DOT funding bills as avenues to enact trucking policy reforms in recent years, such as the reversal of some of the hours of service changes implemented in 2013.

Story by James Jaillet