Special Edition V.52 (September 2020)
Fall trucking levels surprisingly high as industry rebounds from COVID-19 shutdown
Logistics Management

Leading trucking executives and analysts say they are pleasantly surprised by the strength in freight demand coming out of the COVID-19-induced economic shutdown in early summer.

It’s slightly better if your company is hauling retail as the industrial economy remains so-so. But overall, top trucking executives are reporting their trucks are mostly filled heading into the fall peak season.

“Business is back to last year’s numbers, finally,” reports Pitt Ohio President Chuck Hammel, who runs the nation’s 15th-largest LTL company. “We were down 20% in April, 15% in May and 6% in June. July is back to last year’s level.”

Pilot Program Announced for 18-20 Yr Olds to Drive in Interstate Commerce

FMCSA announced today a proposed pilot program that would allow non-military 18-20 year olds to operate commercial vehicles across state lines. The pilot program is modeled on the bipartisan DRIVE Safe Act, a Tier 1 strategic policy issue for ATA, and one that ATA’s Workforce Development and Safety Policy Committees have pursued. ATA thanks Transportation Secretary Chao and Acting FMCSA Administrator Wiley Deck for putting safety first and using data to drive policy.

This is a significant step toward improving safety on our nation’s roads, setting a standard for these drivers that is well beyond what 49 states currently require.

ATA has co-led the DRIVE Safe Act Coalition with the International Foodservice Distributors of America, and has the support of more than 90 other national trade associations and companies. The DRIVE SAFE Act legislation is co-sponsored by 144 congressmen and 34 senators.

FMCSA pilot program would allow CMV drivers to pause hours of service for rest break
Safety & Health Magazine

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking public comment on a proposed pilot program that would allow commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break of up to three consecutive hours but no less than 30 minutes during every 14-hour on-duty period.

Under the program, announced in an Aug. 28 press release and published in the Sept. 3 Federal Register, CMV drivers could pause their on-duty period when taking the rest break, “provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off duty at the end of the work shift.” The agency estimates a sample size of 200-400 drivers for the program, which could last up to three years.

“FMCSA wants to hear directly from drivers about the possibility and safety of an hours-of-service pause pilot program,” Jim Mullen, who stepped down as the agency’s acting administrator at the end of August, said in the release. “The agency remains committed to exploring ways to improve safety on our roadways, while increasing flexibility for truckers. We encourage drivers, motor carriers and interested citizens to review the proposed pilot program and provide substantive public comments for FMCSA to review.”

Trucking jobs rise by 10,000 in August
Freight Waves

Truck transportation jobs rose by a solid 10,000 in August on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to data released Friday morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The data also showed a slight adjustment upward in the number of truck transportation jobs in July.

The BLS reported seasonally adjusted truck transportation jobs in August totaled 1,449,500. That was up an even 10,000 from the July number of 1,439,500.

The July figure — which remains preliminary — was adjusted up by 900 jobs from what was released last month. The first number for July was reported as 1,438,600 jobs.

Southeastern Motor Freight Files RICO Lawsuit in La. Staged Accidents Case
Transport Topics

A New Orleans motor carrier has filed a federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act civil lawsuit against a New Orleans attorney and two convicted participants in a pair of staged accidents with tractor-trailers in 2017.

The carrier, Southeastern Motor Freight Inc., alleged in the lawsuit that it was defrauded by attorney D. Patrick Keating of Nugent Keating law firm, saying Keating conspired with Damian Labeaud and Mario Solomon in a pair of June 2017 staged accidents. Earlier this year, Labeaud pleaded guilty to being a ringleader in the incidents, and Solomon admitted to being a “spotter,” or driver of a trailing vehicle, in the intentional crashes with tractor-trailers.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court Sept. 1, alleged that personal injury attorney Keating paid the participants in the crashes in return for referrals of other members of the fraud ring, who would falsely claim to be injured in the accidents and blame the truck drivers for the collisions. Keating was identified as “Attorney A” in a 2019 indictment charging the group with fraud. He was one of two attorneys cited in that case.

NACFE Identifies Priority Regions for EV Deployments
Transport Topics

The United States has five high-priority areas where the regional haul environment is inherently so well suited for moving freight economically with electric vehicles that fleet owners there should plan to deploy those trucks “even if just as a pilot project,” according to the North American Council for Freight Efficiency.

The five locations NACFE identified in its new guidance report are: California, Texas’ four largest urban centers, the Northwest, the Rocky Mountain front range and the Northeast.

NACFE found the areas share some key traits, including relatively mild weather, lower electricity prices, high levels of freight movement, a pressing need to improve air quality and supportive policies and incentives.

MMTA Editor's note: You can see in the NACFE map (above) that Maine is somewhere in the middle for high priority states. This is an issue we will keep an eye on as our state's public policy priorities must match up with practical infrastructure and cost realities.
We will keep MMTA members posted as new information comes in. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to email Tim, Randy or Brian if you have questions.