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Another Kind of Stop at Rest Stops

Posted 12 years ago

Truck drivers may soon become involved in a new initiative to stop one kind of trafficking - prostitution.  Between 2004 and 2009, the FBI set up a series of countrywide stings at truck stops where they found an alarming number of pimps deploying their young prostitutes, MyNews 3 reports.  It is a $32 billion industry and a trend that Truckers Against Trafficking hopes to combat.

The program educates truck drivers on how to identify a prostitute and encourages them to contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline when they do identify one. Several states like Nevada support the program.  An estimated 400 children are trafficked each night in Nevada and Assembly man John Hambrick hopes that the new campaign will help stop this crime. 

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New Tank Vehicle Definition May Affect IBC Drivers

Posted 12 years ago

Drivers who transport Intermediate Bulk Container (or IBC's) in van trailers or on flatbeds should pay better attention to the FMCSA's definition of a tank vehicle that went into effect in July 2011.  Failure to comply may lead to citation during road inspections.

The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) states: Tank vehicle means any commercial motor vehicle that is designed to transport any liquid or gaseous material within a tank or tanks having an individual rated capacity of more than 119 gallons and an aggregate rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is either permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or the chassis.  A commercial vehicle transporting an empty storage container tank, not designed for transportation, with a rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is temporarily attached to a flatbed trailer is not considered a tank vehicle.  

IBCs are totes or tanks used to store and transport fluids and other bulk materials. They are composed of: the IBC Plastic Container, the Metal Cage, and the Container's Pallet. The most common are 275 and 330 Gallon tanks. According to the FMCSA, IBCs with aggregated capacities of 1,000 lbs or greater and are temporarily attached to a vehicle, meet the definition of a tank vehicle and the driver would be required to have the tank endorsement with his/her the CDL.

States have until July 2014 to adopt the new definition   
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Transportation Bill to Address Truck Weight Limits

Posted 12 years ago

The controversial issue of tractor-trailer weight is part of a transportation bill that the House Republicans unveiled on Tuesday.  It would allow the maximum weight of trucks to  increase from 80,000 lbs to 97,000 lbs and their length to extend by five feet. Proponents say the increased weight will save on fuel costs while opponents argue that safety and infrastructure wil be compromised.
Under US law, tractor- trailer weight is limited to a maximum of 80,000 lbs on interstate highways.  Maine and Vermont are exceptions under a pilot program that allows for 97,000 lbs trucks.  According to John Runyan, executive director of CTP (Coalition for Transportation Productivity), states can already set higher weight limits for secondary roads and forty-four (44) do.  In addition, twenty-eight (28) states are letting a number of heavier trucks with permits rumble on interstates for shipping containers loaded from ports or for certain essential commodities.   

Companies including Kraft and Home Depot say 97,000 lbs trucks are needed to offset higher diesel fuel prices.  Kraft claims its trucks would drive 33 million fewer miles a year with higher weight limits nationwide.  Safety advocates question not only safety but whether bridges can withstand the added stress.  The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that 25% of US bridges would not be strong enough.  The US is spending about $10.5 billion/year to maintain bridges, and $17 billion is needed to keep up with the ongoing damage.

The five-year, $260-billion surface transportation bill was introduced by House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla).
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Proposal for Higher Weight Limits Gains Momentum

Posted 13 years ago

Legislation for raising tractor-trailer weight continues to gain momentum as the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA) was reintroduced to the US Senate.  The proposal would give states the option to increase tractor-trailer weight to 97,000 lbs for six axle combinations instead of five.  The current limit is 80,000 lbs. 
"In the face of a host of costly regulatory initiatives that are raising the cost of transportation to trucking companies and shippers alike, giving the states an opportunity to raise weight limits will help them boost the productivity of their operations", John Runyan, executive director of CTP told Fleet Owner.  An example of the regulatory initiative is the so-called regulatory drags mandating electronic onboard recorders, the new Compliance Safety Accountability program, and the impending revision of hours of service.

SETA particulars are expected to be included into the 6th year surface transportation funding bill currently being worked on.        
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Production Outlook Varies Among Chassis Manufacturers

Posted 13 years ago

How bright container chassis production looks for this year depends on who you ask.  Two major chassis manufacturers shared their views with Transport Topics. 

According to Murray Zwickels from a Philadephia based manufacturing company, "We are not up to the same production levels as two years ago".  The company expects to build less chassis in 2011 than they did in 2008.  This drop is partly due to the uncertainty about who will provide intermodal chassis (i.e, ocean carriers, leasing companies) in the future.

On the other hand, "The change from steamship-owned equipment to drayman-owned equipment is a boost for Chassis King as several intermodal trucking companies are buying" said Donald Pratt from Chassis King, Inc.  "We have no shortage of production capacity at this time".
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A 7th Carrrier to Phase-Out Chassis in the US

Posted 14 years ago

Hyundai Merchant Marine(HMM) has joined the list of carriers that will no longer provide chassis to move containers in and out US ports.  As of November 1st, HMM will phase out their chassis fleet at Worcester, MA, Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, PA, Buffalo, NY, Harrisburg, PA, and Miami, FL.  

Like its predecessors, HMM is starting in smaller ports and inland locations and gradually spreading throughout the US.  "The new policy will make the international and local supply chain function more efficiently" said Lamont Petersen, VP of Marketing at HMM.  The other carriers are: ACL, OOCL, NYK, CMA CGM, and Evergreen.

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Ohio Admin Seeking Heavier Weight Limits

Posted 14 years ago

A new plan in Ohio calls for certain truck/trailer combinations to carry heavier loads on highways to increase export business.  The plan, pushed by agriculture lobbyists, wants the weight limit on trucks carrying intermational shipping containers loaded with grain or any other product to be raised to 94,000 lbs from 80,000 lbs. 

One limitation according to Scott Varner, ODOT spokesman, is that the new weight limit would not apply to out of state trucks and the truck can only travel on state highways and bridges that can handle the extra weight. The latter comes about in light of a 2009 study by the Ohio Department of Transportation.  The study shows that overweight trucks/trailers cause about $144 million in pavement damage to Ohio highways each year. 

Supporters want the new rule approved by a panel of state lawmakers by October, just in time for the harvest. 
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New Senate Bill Supports Higher Truck Weight Limits

Posted 14 years ago

States may soon be allowed to increase their interstate truck weight limits beyond the federal one of 80,000 lbs. 

Under the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA) introduced by senators Herb Kohl (D-Wis), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Susan Collins (R-Maine), states may choose to increase their weight limits to 97,000 lbs for truck/trailer combination with six axles instead of five. According to Sen.Crapo and bill supporters like the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP), some of the benefits include: 
1. A 14.5 billion savings in annual shipping costs per US DOT estimates
2. Better competitive position for US goods as many other countries such as Canada already have higher weight limits
3. A significant reduction in the carbon output by using more efficient trucks
4. Less burden on roads by reducing the number of trucks required to ship a certain amount of goods

An identical bill is being considered in the House of Representatives.

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The Number of Ocean Carriers Getting Rid of Their Chassis Keeps Growing

Posted 14 years ago

Two more shipping carriers, NYK  and Evergreen, have decided to halt the supply of container chassis for trucking moves in the United States. The list of carriers now include:

ACL - started on June
OOCL - September 1st
CMA CGM - October 1st
NYK - August 1st
Evergreen - August 15th

The dates are when the carriers will begin phasing out their carrier-owned chassis fleet. Implementation will start in parts of the East coast for most and gradually expand to the rest of the country.  Boston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Miami are some of the East Coast locations.

All of these carriers believe that such a move will improve operational efficiencies and lower total cost.  'The US is the only country where ocean carriers provide chassis and it is neither efficient nor economical to continue to do so', Evergreen said in a statement.  And according to ACL, trucking companies and owner operators can manage a chassis fleet more cost-efficiently than an ocean carrier.  
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Don't Be Fooled by Imitations!

Posted 14 years ago

When looking to purchase used 20ft tri-axle or 40ft tri-axle chassis there's something you should know - you may get a tandem chassis which has been modified to a tri-axle.  Modifications are done in several ways:
* A 48ft tandem chassis is cut down to 40ft and a 3rd axle is installed
* A 3rd axle is installed to a 40ft tandem chassis 
* A 3rd axle is installed to a 20ft tandem chassis

These modified tri-axles may cost less than the originals but their reliability can also be lower.  The lighter steel construction of the original two axle chassis may not be suitable for stresses of three axles and hence, lead to premature failures.  Keep in mind that you will be hauling overweight containers.  Not to mention that the modified design may not comply with the US bridge formula and weight laws.  For example, a modified 20ft tri-axle chassis may not be long enough or the axles not spaced properly on the 40ft modified tri-axle. 

Needless to say, make sure you are getting original tri-axle chassis by asking the right questions and/or using an experienced container chassis surveyor. 
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Early Positive Sign

Posted 14 years ago

December and early 2010 stats are encouraging.,  After 2 1/2 years, container imports saw an increase in December according to the Port Tracker.  And this trend should continue in 2010 as retail stores expect sales to improve.  "The US economy is experiencing positive growth, with imports on the rise as a result of re-stocking and a rising consumer demand", Brian Hackett from Hackett Associates said.

Early evidence of this trend can be found in the trucking and shipping industry.  Truckload demand rose in early 2010 with little sign of a post-holiday downturn, according to Morgan Stanley.  Meanwhile NYK Line says it is seeing stronger trans-Pacific demand than expected.
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Ports React to Wake-Up Call

Posted 15 years ago

For many years, cargo growth came easily to the nation’s largest port complex, Los Angeles-Long Beach, thanks to an unparalled network of marine terminals, distribution facilities, and intermodal rail capabilities. It started in the 1990’s with the massive shift of manufacturing to Asia and climbed to an annual average of 11% from 1995 to 2006. The peak occurred in 2006 with containerized imports at 8,171,709 loaded TEUs’, nearly doubled the total from 1999.
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