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Daniel Siezkarsi is a driver for Melton Truck Lines. He recently rescued another driver whose tractor trailer was stuck in floodwater. Daniel was named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carrier Association.
Daniel was driving on Interstate 10 near Brookshire, Texas on April 18, 2016. He heard that a flood alert had been issued. Shortly after he heard the alert, he saw a tractor trailer trapped in the flood water. He knew that something was not right. He moved the truck to a safe place. When he arrived on the scene, he saw that the flood water was rising.
Daniel stated that he did not realize how bad the flood was until he got close to the scene. He had never seen flooding before that day. There was another motorist who had stopped. Daniel borrowed some tubing and life vest from the motorist. He tied the tubing to the vest and convinced the driver to get out of the truck and swim to safety.
Daniel and the driver managed to get to safety by holding onto the tubing. Both of them were unarmed despite the fact that the water was rising quickly. An hour after the driver was rescued, Daniel found out the other driver’s truck had fully submerged in the water. The driver may have died if it had not been for Daniel.
The Truckload Carrier Association gave Daniel a patch, lapel pin, truck decals and a certificate. Melton Truck Lines was also given a certificate that acknowledged the driver’s heroic act. Daniel was asked why he decided to risk his life for a stranger. He stated that his wife had died three years ago. He said that he did not know whether the driver was married or had children, but he did not want the driver’s family to go through what he has been through.
General Motors recently learned about a problem involving air bags that may fail to deploy as intended during collisions. The automaker announced a massive part recall affecting several recent makes and models of four of its most popular brands: Cadillac, Buick, GMC, and Chevrolet. Apparently, in some situations a diagnostic and testing software module interferes with correct air bag deployment.
General Motors plans to send notices about an estimated 3.64 million vehicles to owners concerning this issue. The notices will instruct vehicle owners to go to dealerships to obtain software reformatting without cost. If a vehicle’s airbags have already deployed, GM plans to replace the diagnostic and testing module free of charge.
The recall encompasses makes and models including:
- 2015-2017 Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV;
- 2014-2017 Buick Encore;
- 2014-2016 Buick LaCrosse;
- 2014-2017 GMC Sierra 1500;
- 2015-2017 GMC Sierra 2500 HD, Sierra 2500 HD, Yukon and Yukon XL;
- 2014-2017 Chevrolet Trax, Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle, Corvette and Silverado 1500;
- 2015-2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD and 3500 HD, Suburban and Tahoe;
- 2014-2016 Chevrolet Spark EV and Chevrolet SS.
Green Fleet – The New Trucking Industry Opportunity
The trucking industry has been hardest hit over the past two decades by the rising cost of fuel. This applies to privately owned trucking companies as well as corporate trucking businesses. The number of expenses involved in the trucking business can seem overwhelming. This is one reason commercial vehicle owners always seek new way to reduce the burden of these costs. Formerly, there was limited choice in fuels for commercial vehicles.
In a September 2015 annual report by the American Transportation Research Institute, (ref: http://atri-online.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/ATRI-Operational-Costs-of-Trucking-2015-FINAL-09-2015.pdf), statistics showed that in 2014 commercial vehicle owners “experienced the highest on-highway diesel prices when it reached $4.02 a gallon” in March. It fell steadily “to $3.21 a gallon” for the remainder of the year.” Today, commercial vehicle owners are looking to Green Fleet as the answer to reduction in operational costs. This is in response to the latest developments in alternative fuel for commercial vehicles now in production.
Alternative Fuel Commercial Vehicles in Production
Already in production by Dodge RAM, Nissan, Ford and GM are alternative fuel vehicles. These include a wide range of pickup trucks and commercial vans. The big news is that these vehicle ownerships are aided by the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) with incentive programs. The DOE allows commercial vehicle owners “search its database of federal and state laws and incentive programs related to alternative-fuel vehicles. (Ref. www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/).
The Benefits of Alternative Fuel Commercial Vehicles for Businesses
There are many benefits to commercial vehicle business owners to consider a Green Fleet and alternative fuel. The most important for fleet managers is cost of ownership. The cost of alternative fuel vehicles may be highest at time of purchase. However, these are offset by lower costs of alternative fuels and also the reduction in risk of higher fuel costs in the future.
Under the current federal regulations, it’s not possible for anyone under the age of 21 to legally drive a commercial vehicle across state lines. This restriction prevents many young drivers from transporting materials for transport businesses. The limit was put in place because many people feel as though young drivers would present an unneeded risk to themselves and other motorists.
Although drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 can obtain a commercial driver’s license, they are only permitted to engage in intrastate travel. These drivers often find it difficult to get into the field as a result. But a new law is being considered that will make an exception for anyone who has experience driving for the military.
Young soldiers often find it difficult to get a job when they return home, and many transport companies are in need of qualified and dedicated drivers to help them meet their goals.
It would only make sense to allow those who have proven themselves in the past to be considered for civilian truck driving positions that require interstate transportation. Drivers who have proven their competence during their military career would likely be more of an asset than a liability.
If the new act is implemented, young drivers will likely face more strict regulations than their experienced counterparts. The possible restrictions would require drivers who are under the age of 21 to have monitoring software installed on the trucks that they drive.
The tracking system could determine whether the drivers follow their instructions and drive in a safe manner that will not harm others or put the company at risk for a lawsuit. These restrictions were met with mixed reactions, and some believe that drivers who are young and experienced should be given the same level of trust as anyone else.
Before the government will make any changes to the current regulations, they are going to use a pilot program to test the concept. The test will help them decide whether moving forward with the new law is beneficial to everyone who is involved, and they will use the program to see how safely the young drivers can operate commercial vehicles for extended periods of time.
The Great American Trucking Show will take place in Dallas, Texas from August 25, 2016 to August 27, 2016. People who are attending the event will have the opportunity to help the people who have suffered loss due to the flood. It is estimated that the Louisiana flooding has affected 40,000 homes. Over 70,000 residents have registered to receive emergency assistance. The storm brought 31 inches of rain in a 15-hour time period. The American Red Cross has stated that the Louisiana Flood is the worst disaster since Hurricane Sandy.
The Great American Trucking show and other trucking-related businesses have teamed up to collect supplies that will help the victims. People who will be attending the show are asked to bring the following supplies bottled water, canned goods, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items and clothing. Organizers will have a trailer and truck where people can place the donated items. The trailer and truck will be donated by Cummins.
The Cummins trailer and truck will be located in Lot E behind the convention center, which is the exhibitor parking lot. There will also be other businesses in the area that will be collecting supplies for flooding victims. Some of those businesses include Steel Radio, Diesel Spec Inc and Texomatic Pictures.
According to a July 28, 2016 report from the United States Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, transport of freight related to the North American Free Trade Agreement via commercial trucks increased in May of this year. Commercial trucks moved more than half of all international freight during the month: 66 percent.
Although the value of NAFTA freight as it moved across borders decreased again from last year by $3 billion and it decreased for a second time in two months this year by $540 million as compared to the previous month, commercial trucks handled $59 billion in May 2016 imports and exports out of a total of $89.8 billion. Of those totals, trucks handled $31.2 billion in imports and $28 billion in exports. Yet the reason that that decreases in overall value have been received well by many people is that a NAFTA truck freight transport increase did occur by 1.3 percent.
“Truck” was the only transport mode that saw value increases over consecutive months between the U.S. and its trade partners of Mexico and Canada. Heavy duty commercial freight trucks moved $43.9 billion in freight out of Mexico into the United States. Trucks handled a total of 71.2 percent of all freight transport across various transport methods. They also moved 61.1 percent of all NAFTA freight across the United States and Canadian border.
No other mode of freight transportation moved as much freight valued at so much money. Freight transportation is shared by five separate modes of transports that include truck, rail, ship, air and pipeline. By comparison, rail, which had the next highest numbers, only moved $14 billion in NAFTA freight total over the same time period and accounted for only 16.6 percent of all freight movement across the border between the United States and Canada.
On July 7, 2016, Cummins Inc. began recalls for roughly 5,400 ISX12 and ISX15 heavy duty diesel commercial truck engines built between March 7 and April 12 of this year after it learned that these engines each contain an electronic control module that can suffer an electrical short after moisture breaches the part through a defective masking cap. The short causes a critical fuse to blow that can cause the engine to stall suddenly. As every commercial truck owner and driver knows, a sudden stall while driving can potentially cause a crash or collision. Unless truck owners and drivers replace both the ECM and fuse, they are then completely unable to restart the affected engine.
Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received no reports of crashes, Cummins will permanently replace defective ECMs with non-defective ones at no cost to owners. The parts involved with this recall are:
– Part number 4358814 for the ISX12 engine
– Part numbers 5317106 and 4358814 for the ISX15 engine
Owners should direct any inquiries to Cummins at 800-343-7357 and provide the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reference number 16E-047.
The NHTSA originally announced this recall via a press release on June 21, 2016.
Vital strengthening of the natural gas infrastructure progresses as the world continues to embrace the plethora of benefits that NG fuel stations offer the trucking industry. Projections have it that up to 39,000 stations could be in operation by the year 2026. Diversification of energy sources allows both owners and operators the flexibility to prevent being bottle necked at any point in the upcoming ten years when it comes to budgeting for energy costs. Companies of all sizes could see the benefits of a transition of part to all of their fleet to being natural gas fueled.
Increased projections for natural gas fuel stations are based on several key factors. Companies want to have less exposure to the swings of worldwide oil prices. Even though prices have been hovering near of below $50 a barrel, oil speculation has been known to be very proactive in market value when it comes to out of the ordinary situations. Perceived problems have resulted in rapid rises in the price of crude and diesel fuel. Diversification of energy sources for trucking needs lessens the blow to budgets should unforeseen rises occur out of the blue.
Another crossroads that could see a potential collision for trucking companies comes in the realm of emissions. As environmental standards are tightened almost everywhere, the shift to alternative fuel sources becomes more practical. For all the momentum that electrical vehicles have for individual consumers, large scaling trucking needs are hampered by current technological limitations. The limitations of electrification for the requirements in power and effective duration hamper a transition to this energy source.
Increased diesel regulation, fuel price fluctuation, expected growth of the economy, and limitation of the current electrical driven trucks are prompting the increase of natural gas fueling stations. NG conversions to existing fleets as well as new purchases of natural gas using trucks are expected to further push the expansion of this fuel source. Natural gas is strengthening its position as a viable fuel alternative for fleets of any size in the world.
Truck drivers across the United States have been in for a surprise recently, as the Department of Public Safety in numerous states have begun stepping forth and performing surprise inspections on commercial vehicles. Due to these inspections, over 22 percent of all commercial vehicles have been deemed out-of-service for one reason or another. These inspections have been occurring since June, and offer a glimpse of what commercial drivers can expect across the nation in the coming months.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which sponsors the International Roadcheck every single year, have released the results of this year’s inspection spree, which have been occurring since June, and offer a glimpse of what commercial drivers can expect across the nation in the coming months. Last year, over 21 percent of all commercial vehicles on the road at the time were considered not fit for service. This is costly to trucking companies, as they must replace the lost trucks.
Of the nearly 8,000 inspected trucks, 1,751 of these were placed out-of-service. The Department of Public Safety said the brakes and vehicle lighting were the most common issues discovered during the routine inspections, which took place across the nation on June 7-9. Tires, another specific area focused on during the routine maintenance check, were not mentioned as a major violation by the department, though.
Additionally, over 224 drivers were considered unfit to continue performing their role as a commercial driver due to various violations, including the improper license for the type of vehicle being driven, the improper logging of their duty time, and even hours-of-service violations. These drivers were performing fraud and were subsequently removed from the road for their infractions.
During the inspection, the department issues over 1,972 different citations and over 20,446 warnings this year during Roadcheck 2016. Commercial trucking companies will learn a thing or two from the inspections.
Tesla’s self-driving system has come under fire after a fatal accident that occurred in Florida last May. Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, was killed when his Tesla S failed to apply the brakes after not spotting a white semi-trailer against the bright sky. The car went under the trailer as it was negotiating a turn, continued off the roadway and crashed through two fences before coming to stop against a utility pole. The truck driver said Brown appeared to be inattentive and did not have his hands on the wheel at the time of the accident.
The incident has sparked intense discussion in both the automotive and legal communities regarding the safety of self-driving systems. Tesla posted on its company blog that the self-driving feature is still in testing mode, and drivers should continue to hold the wheel when the system, called Autopilot, is engaged. It further stated Autopilot is only meant to assist, and drivers are still responsible for controlling their vehicles at all times.
Russ Rader, a spokesperson for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), said the unfortunate accident shows that drivers must remain alert and in control at all times, and it is clear self-driving cars have a long way to go in terms of safety. He added that the semi-trailer in question did not have under-ride guards on the sides. The guards are not required in the United States. A number of safety organizations are trying to change that as well as requiring more high-visibility tape and markings on trailers.
The Florida accident was the first major glitch that could be attributed directly to the sensors, cameras and software utilized by a self-driving system. Similar technology is being developed for commercial trucks, but it is a decade or more away due to the complicated and rigorous testing required.