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Fuel Tax Rate Changes in 7 States

Fuel Rate Changes in 7 States

Fuel Rate Changes in 7 States

Seven states have changed the rates in the tax they charge for fuel prices.

The changes took effect at the start of the fiscal year on July 1, 2016. The states that participated in changing their rates are North Carolina, Nebraska, Iowa, California, Connecticut, Maryland, and Washington State. The tax consists primarily of a combination of diesel and gasoline fuels.

Gas and Diesel Rates
Washington State, Maryland, Nebraska, and North Carolina’s changes will affect both gasoline and diesel rates. Washington State leads the others with the most significant increase at 4.9 cents which brings their overall rate to 49.4 cents per gallon. Maryland’s fuel tax increase will be on the lower spectrum at 0.9 cents bringing their overall diesel tax to 34.25 cents and gasoline tax to 33.5 cents.
Nebraska and North Carolina will have a reduction on their rates at -1.0 cent each. After the reduction, Nebraska’s overall gasoline and diesel rates will stand at 25.8 cents and North Carolina’s total rates will be 34.0 cents.

Gas Rates
A few states’ changes will be split between gasoline and fuel. Iowa’s gas fuel tax will decrease by -0.1 cent to 30.7 cents. California will have a larger reduction on gas rates of -2.2 cents bringing their overall gas tax to 27.8 cents.

Diesel Rates
Concurrently, Iowa’s tax on diesel fuel will not change at 32.5 cents. Connecticut’s diesel tax rates will have a significant decrease from 50.3 cents to 41.7 cents — an 8.6 cents decrease. California will increase their diesel fuel tax by 3 cents from 13 cents to 16 cents.

Tennessee approves “Slowpoke” Law

Tennessee approves SLOW POKE law

Tennessee approves SLOW POKE law

A new traffic law will clear the far left lane on certain highways in Tennessee. Proponents of the law are strongly against blocking the far left lane. Whenever a driver blocks the far left lane, other drivers are more likely to be in an accident. The Governor of Tennessee signed the bill, and drivers can get a ticket if they use the far left lane inappropriately. The new traffic law pertains to drivers who are driving on highways that have more than two lanes.

The formal name of the law is HB1416, and the law requires all drivers to drive in the right lanes. Drivers are allowed to use the left lane for passing or overtaking another vehicle. Senator Frank Niceley has stated that the rule will lower the number of road rage incidents on highways.

The law allows exceptions for merging traffic and inclement weather. A violation will not add points to a driver’s license, but the driver might have to pay a $50.00 fine. Opponents questioned the necessity of an additional traffic law. Before the law was enacted, drivers could be fined for blocking traffic in similar situations. The new law will take effect on July 1st. 2016.

Seat Belts Now Required for Commercial Truck Passengers

Seat Belts Required for Commercial Truck Passengers

Seat Belts Required for Commercial Truck Passengers

Starting August 8, passengers riding in commercial trucks operating on public roads in interstate commerce will be required to wear their seat belt. Drivers and passengers risk penalties for non-compliance. Violations of this new regulation will be recorded within Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) carrying a severity weight of 7.

The new regulation, an amendment to 392.16, makes no mention of requiring restraints in sleeper bunks due to a lack of information on their effectiveness.

The new ruling is based off of a 2013 petition submitted by the Commercial Safety Vehicle Alliance (CSVA). The petition highlighted data from their Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) which showed 34% of all fatalities occurring in crashes were not wearing their seat belt.

The American Trucking Associations, the largest national trade association for the trucking industry, showed support for the new regulation but opposed language that would hold carriers responsible for violations. The ATA stated carriers have no practical way of monitoring it.

Opponents of the new regulation have 30 days from the date of publication to submit a Petition of Reconsideration to the FMCSA Administrator.

Possible Pension Cuts in New York Result in Protests

Possible Pension Cuts in New York Results in protests

Possible Pension Cuts in New York Results in protests

New York Teamsters have been protesting possible pension cuts. Retired teamsters demonstrated outside of a federal building in Albany, New York to show their opposition to cuts to pensions, which are allegedly running out of money. The group wants Congress to act on this issue, and prevent the pensions from going bankrupt or cutting benefits. This is contrasted against the decline in membership in trucking unions, along with other factors in the changing workforce.

The plans in question have suffered losses under a variety of legal actions taken by Congress. While there are protections for public sector pension programs, private programs enjoy no such protection. One action taken by Congress was to increase taxes on pension “overfunding” which lead to a drastic reduction in the amount of liquid cash that the pension plans were holding. This, coupled with the financial crash of 2008, has done an excellent job of bleeding these plans dry. Another law passed by Congress reduced the liability of a company to keep paying pensions after the company is sold. This has also had a detrimental effect on the private pension system.

Union membership has been trending downward, thanks to a change in political leanings and the overall decline of the manufacturing sector as a percentage of the United States economy. Increasing globalization has led to the exportation of millions of jobs out of the United States, to countries with more lax labor laws and lower wages. These retired teamsters are worried that they will have to face steep cuts in their benefits, or worse, a loss of benefits if pensions run out of funds. They are urging Congress and the Senate to act, and have reached out to numerous state representatives.

Teamsters have proposed a variety of solutions, including taxing banks that received government funds from the financial crisis and resulting bailouts for banks. It is the people depending on these pensions that deserve a bailout, they argue, not the banks receiving taxpayer money to stay afloat. Whatever the solution may be, this group of retired truck drivers is demanding that something be done. Sadly, this is an incredibly common issue in the United States today, and this group of teamsters isn’t the only union facing the issue of coffers drying up. This is a systematic problem, which could result in a cascade of failing pensions and strain on the Social Security system. The Social Security system is already running the same issue, and increased demand would only increase the issue.

Truckers Protest in South Florida

Truckers Protest in South Florida

Truckers Protest in South Florida

On June 7, truckers greatly slowed or stopped traffic in South Florida in two places, leading to peaceful confrontations with police. Blockages were near Miami on Okeechobee Road and Tallahassee at Monroe and Tennessee Streets. The Tallahassee protest ended after 15 to 20 minutes. Two protesting truckers were arrested for blocking an intersection and resisting arrest without violence.

Truckers were protesting what they claim are “unfair practices” that are “plaguing the industry.” Specific items they want changed include higher salaries, a decrease in trucker fees and regulations for individual drivers. There are no known plans for further traffic disruption in the South Florida area.

Amazon Doubles Warehouse Presence

Amazon Doubles Warehouse Presence

Amazon Doubles Warehouse Presence

Because of increased demand for its Amazon Prime delivery service and competition from other Internet retail outlets, Amazon has announced doubling it’s warehouse space in two states.

Amazon plans on adding a second warehouse in Joliet, IL that will add more than 2,000 full-time jobs. Amazon plans on having the second warehouse, that will house small items like books and electronics, open by the fall for the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Amazon avoided having a physical presence in Illinois so it would not have to charge sales taxes to it’s customers. They, instead, would ship items from their warehouses in Indiana and Wisconsin. However, Amazon did begin collecting sales tax from Illinois consumers after a law change in 2015.

Amazon also announced that it will open a second distribution center in Tracy, California, as well as another distribution center in Eastvale, California. The two new centers will create more than 1,500 full-time jobs for California, and it will bring the number of Amazon distribution centers to nine in the state that cover nine million square feet of operations and employs 14,000 full-time workers. Amazon already operates large sorting centers in Newark, CA and San Bernardino,CA which are used to speed delivery of already-packed orders to its customers.

Memorial Day Weekend Cargo Thefts

Memorial day weekend cargo thefts

Memorial Day weekend cargo thefts

As if sleep-deprived travelers with lead feet and poor depth perception were not enough to have to watch out for s Memorial Day weekend, truckers also have to keep a sharp eye on their cargo. Traditionally, long holiday weekends mean big increases in cargo theft, and Memorial Day is no exception.

Past Memorial Day weekends have meant increases up to 40 percent in cargo theft. That translates to huge losses. In 2015 alone there were 15 cargo thefts reported with each loss averaging more than $600,00. The overall figures are even more alarming: Nearly 100 cargo losses due to theft have occurred over the last four years.

Luckily, there are some steps truckers can take to reduce their risk for cargo theft.

  • Be alert. Just being aware of your surroundings and watching for suspicious behavior can help protect both you and your cargo.
  • Confirm your receivers’ holiday weekend hours. Don’t get caught laying over with a load because your receiver has cut their hours for the weekend.
  • Be especially alert if you are carrying electronics or cosmetics. For some reason, cargo losses for these items have skyrocketed recently. Because these are high-dollar items, even a single loss can be in the millions of dollars.
  • Remember that you are your most precious cargo. If you have to be idle, choose your location carefully and stay close to other truckers whenever you can.

Homebuilder Confidence Remains Steady in May

Homebuilder Confidence Remains Steady in May

Homebuilder Confidence Remains Steady in May

Trucking industry leaders can take heart from the recent disclosure that homebuilder confidence remains steady in May. Data released on May 16th by Wells Fargo and the National Association of Home Builders (“the NAHB”) posed a favorable sign for the construction and transportation sectors of the economy. The findings continued a stable trend observed during April.

Survey Results

The survey indicated that the majority of builders reported confidence levels of 58 on a scale of 100, a finding that has continued unchanged for four months. The figure fell one point shy of median projections forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of professional economists. The monthly sales index of 63 also remained the same. Both of these results reflect a steady economic forecast.

On the optimistic side, the figure measuring the sixth-month sales outlook rose slightly, from 62 to 65. It achieved the highest measure of the year.

Implications

The NAHB Chairman, Ed Brady, characterized the segment of the national economy relating to single family homes as “positive territory.” The Association’s Chief Economist, Robert Dietz, agreed. He noted that the findings suggest that home builders believe the U.S. economy will continue to gain strength. Factors such as the development of new jobs, a demand for new housing, and low mortgage interest rates should all encourage growth in the single family housing market, in his opinion.

Slight Regional Differences

Some regional differences among builders did emerge from the data. For instance, while confidence levels remained the same in the West at 67, and rose in the South to 59 and in the Midwest to 58, the Northeast experienced a three-point drop to 41, the lowest figure reported for that region since June, 2014.

Long Term Implications

Although mortgage rates have reached the lowest level in three years, some analysts predict that the results of the May survey suggest new home starts likely won’t contribute significantly to the expansion of the overall economy in the U.S. during the next few months, however. Manufacturing has lagged due to a comparatively strong dollar and sluggish foreign demand.

 

Nikola Builds Class 8 Electric Truck With 1,200 Mile Range

Nikola Builds Class 8 Electric Truck With 1,200 Mile Range

Nikola Builds Class 8 Electric Truck With 1,200 Mile Range

Although there has been a lot of interest in taking electric vehicles to commercial drivers, part of the problem in the past has been being able to meet the power requirements while still managing to be fuel efficient.

So although a manufacturer in Great Britain is customizing delivery vans by taking existing vehicles and modifying them to be electric, there has been little in the way of a full size semi truck that can haul containerized loads on the market.

That is about to change as Nikola, a Utah manufacturer, has put forward plans for a Class 8 truck that will have a range of 1,200 miles for the commercial market. Here are some of the details:

Turbine-charged: The problem with power and electric is being able to fuel the electric. Like other manufacturers, Nikola is using regenerative braking as part of the solution. Their 320 Kwh Electric Engine will be charged in part by the braking system in the truck as it is out on the highway. It is there the similarities end, however. Instead of trying to use solar or chargeable batteries that are plugged in at the end of the day like other manufacturers, they are using a 100 gallon natural gas turbine generator that will charge the battery as you cruise the road. That means that although you will rely upon fuel to run the engine, you will not ever need to plug your batteries in to recharge.

Lower fuel costs: Over the long haul, the fuel costs will be much lower than what you pay in a traditional truck. It is here that Nikola is innovating on the financial side in order to gain support to go ahead with production. They are offering 100,000 gallons of fuel for free right now if you sign up and put a deposit down on their vehicle.

At an expected 10 mph rating, you should be able to travel almost a million miles before you pay for gas.

Lease instead of buy: As Honda did with their natural gas prototypes, Nikola has lined up the financing to be able to offer several years of free maintenance and warranties. They are even offering a discount on an upgrade after 6 years should you choose to purchase a new truck. The upshot is that if you lease for your fleet, depending upon how much you utilize your truck, it may very well cost you less overall than purchasing or leasing a truck that runs on diesel.

The engine itself delivers 2000 horsepower and 3700 ft. lbs. of torque, a robust enough combination for most trucking firms, independent or corporate.

Overall, the reaction to the news has been mixed, with some skepticism about the company’s ability to follow through and actually meet the ambitious goals that they have set for themselves. One thing most pundits agree upon, however, is that if they are able to build and sustain production over the next couple of years, there is a good chance that their entry in the commercial market will be popular.

FMCSA Issues Safety Advisory for TYTAL Cargo Tanks

FMCSA Issues Safety Advisory for TYTAL Cargo Tanks

FMCSA Issues Safety Advisory for TYTAL Cargo Tanks

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is issuing a safety advisory to provide notice to owners and operators of cargo tank motor vehicles manufactured by Trailers Y Tanques De Aluminio (TYTAL), USDOT No. 2164338, CT-12407, with a capacity of 8,400, 8,717 and 10,500 gallons and primarily used for the transportation of petroleum crude oil.   These cargo tanks are NOT in compliance with Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs) and do NOT meet 49 CFR 178.347, DOT 407.

The cargo tanks with capacities of 8,400 and 8,717 gallons have been found to have inadequate accident damage protection pursuant to 49 CFR 178.345-8(c)(1).

The cargo tanks with a capacity of 10,500 gallons have been found to have Inadequate venting capacity of pressure relief systems pursuant to 49 CFR 178.345-10(e), and inadequate accident damage protection pursuant to 49 CFR 178.345-8(c)(1).

Until such time as repairs and testing have been completed, the continued use of these cargo tanks in hazardous materials service is NOT authorized – regardless of the vehicle’s last test and inspection date; owners and operators are subject to immediate enforcement and fines.

Owners and operators with questions are directed to contact FMCSA’s Hazardous Materials Division at fmcsa.cargotank@dot.gov

– See more at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/fmcsa-issues-safety-advisory-immediate-repair-and-retesting-tytal-cargo-tanks#sthash.vjLu8o3Y.dpuf