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December 20, 2019 3:30 PM, EST

2019 Top 10 Stories Reflect a Mixed Year for the Industry

trucks driving in opposite directionsGetty Images

Here are the 10 most-read stories on the Transport Topics website in 2019, based on Google Analytics. In 2018, ELD compliance and HOS waivers dominated the top 10, a year after the ELD mandate took effect in December 2017. No one topic dominated the top 10 in 2019, which was a mixed year for trucking. Four stories dealt with troubles in the industry or individual businesses. But on the bright side, four stories dealt with the future of the industry, including HOS changes, the transition from diesel, a new face in driving and Amazon's foray into the freight brokerage business. 

No. 1 FMCSA to Announce Two-Year Delay in Implementing ELDT Rule

By Eric Miller, Staff Reporter

ELDT

The Truck Training America commercial driving school in Shepherdsville, Ky. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

Federal trucking regulators are near completion of a formal notice that implementation of the Entry Level Driver Training rule that was set to take effect on a limited basis Feb. 7 will be delayed by up to two years. 

READ MORE: 2019 Year in Review

The notice is “in the pipeline,” said a DOT official who asked not to be identified. “There is a Federal Register notice forthcoming,” the official said about the rule, which will be administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “The whole thing is going to be delayed. It’s mostly due to the failure of the states aligning their systems with the federal system.”

Noteworthy: This story from Nov. 25 had more than 20,000 views more than the No. 2 story.  

No. 2 New England Motor Freight Shutdown Shakes Less-Than-Truckload Freight Market

By Daniel P. Bearth, Senior Staff Writer

NEMF

An NEMF driver in training. (Timmy Shigley via YouTube)

In a move sure to shake up the regional less-than-truckload freight market in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, New England Motor Freight on Feb. 11 said it is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and that it will shut down all of its trucking operations. The Elizabeth, N.J.-based company has been in business since 1918 and is headed by Myron Shevell, a local trucking operator who bought the business from Farmland Dairies in 1977.

Noteworthy: This story from Feb. 12 was one of the early indicators that 2019 was going to be a tough year for shutdowns.  

No. 3 Trucking Company Owner Joseph Lipsey III Relinquishes Control After Arrest, Drug Charges

By Daniel P. Bearth, Senior Staff Writer

Lipsey

Lipsey trucks. (Lipsey Trucking via Facebook)

The owner of Lipsey Logistics and Lipsey Trucking has relinquished control of the business after being arrested on drug charges at his home in Colorado. Joseph Lipsey III, along with his wife, Shira, and son, Joseph Lipsey IV, were charged by police in Aspen, Colo., on March 12 with distributing cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia and providing nicotine to minors. 

Noteworthy: This story from March 26 was about charges for illegal drugs. Other drug-related stories involved hair testing, hemp and legalized marijuana.  

No. 4 End of Diesel Engines Is in Sight, Daimler’s Roger Nielsen Says

By Jim Stinson, Staff Reporter

Roger Nielsen

Roger Nielsen outlines his vision for the future of electric trucks. (Jim Stinson/Transport Topics)

LONG BEACH, Calif. — The beginning of the end is here for the internal-combustion truck engine, said Roger Nielsen, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, the largest truck manufacturer on the continent. And the replacement for diesel-run trucks will be electric vehicles, Nielsen declared. Not trucks run by natural gas or hydrogen fuel cells or a hybrid of diesel and electric, he said. “I believe the future is electric,” Nielsen said. “The road to emissions-free driving will be driven by battery-electric vehicles.”

Noteworthy: Readers engaged more with this story from April 25 than any other on this list, spending an average of 4½ minutes on the page.  

No. 5 FMCSA to Drivers: Don’t Overthink Personal Conveyance Time

By Eric Miller, Staff Reporter 

Larry Minor (left) and Joseph DeLorenzo

Larry Minor (left) and Joseph DeLorenzo address the MATS audience. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Some truck drivers still are grappling with the definition of personal conveyance time. They shouldn’t be, according to a top executive for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Here’s a simple way to evaluate whether a driver is on personal conveyance time, according to Joe DeLorenzo, FMCSA’s director of enforcement and compliance: “Am I off duty? Am I doing any work at the request of the motor carrier, rather than for myself? Is the major purpose of why the motor vehicle is being moved personal? Is it for a nonbusiness-related purpose?”

Noteworthy: This story from April 4 was part of MATS coverage.  

No. 6 Trucking Industry Expected to See Slower Growth in 2019

By Dan Ronan, Associate News Editor

Nussbaum Transportation truck

Nussbaum Transportation in 2018 introduced an employee ownership plan. (Nussbaum Transportation Services)

After a 2018 that saw record-setting levels of freight-hauling demand and driver pay as tonnage levels reached a 20-year high, the trucking industry is expected to remain strong in 2019 but undergo a bit of a cool-down, economists say. “[Last year,] of course, was as good a year as the truck market has ever had — it was a record year in a number of ways,” Transport Futures Principal and Economist Noel Perry said during an interview on Transport Topics Radio, which is heard on SiriusXM Radio. “The spot market started the year at extraordinarily tight levels, and the contract market has been tight all year. So, it was a great year.”

Noteworthy: This story from Jan. 7 is the earliest in the year to reach the top 10.  

No. 7 FMCSA Unveils Proposed Changes to Hours-of-Service Rules

By Eric Miller and Eleanor Lamb, Staff Reporters

Driver behind the wheel

Getty Images

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Aug. 14 issued a long-awaited proposal to make changes to its hours-of-service rules that would increase truck drivers’ flexibility with their 30-minute rest break and with allocating time in a sleeper berth. The proposal also would extend by two hours duty time for drivers encountering adverse weather and expand the current 100 air-mile “shorthaul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty, consistent with workday rules for longhaul truck drivers.

Noteworthy: This story from Aug. 14 was one of three in the top 10 that involved FMCSA. 

No. 8 Walmart Driver Jason Imhoff Might Be the New Face of Trucking

By Marissa Gamache, Online Reporter

Jason Imhoff

Jason Imhoff of Walmart Transportation. (Marissa Gamache/Transport Topics)

A man no older than 40 dons a fresh-pressed white-collar shirt, sleeves landing just above the elbow. He has a smile measuring a million watts and perfectly groomed hair. His stature is comfortably over 6 feet tall and shows no signs of being out of shape. That description does not fit the stereotypical image of a truck driver. But it’s a great fit for Jason Imhoff of Ashland, Ohio, who represents a new generation of drivers.

Noteworthy: This story from May 29 was the most popular from our Road to NTDC coverage, which attracted 125,000 page views overall.

No. 9 Amazon Jumps Into Freight Brokerage

By Jim Stinson, Staff Reporter

Amazon package in mailbox

John Zeedick/Associated Press

Amazon.com has jumped into the market of the third-party logistics broker, roiling the waters and raising concern that the Seattle-based e-commerce giant could disrupt the freight industry forever and indelibly. Amazon’s new freight-hauling site — located at freight.Amazon.com — has been up and running since August 2018, but it went largely unnoticed by media until early May, when The Wall Street Journal and others reported on Amazon’s entry into the market. Reports noted Amazon was offering “beta service” full truckload hauling in dry vans. The service is available for pickups in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Noteworthy: This story from May 16 was the only one involving Amazon.com Inc., while last year's list had two.  

No. 10 Government: Fitzgerald Now Owes $83 Million in Back Taxes

By Eric Miller, Staff Reporter 

Fitzgerald truck

Fitzgerald Glider Kits

Attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice have filed a counterclaim against Fitzgerald Truck Parts and Sales, adjusting the sum the glider truck maker owes the IRS to $83 million from $64 million for not collecting a 12% excise sales taxes on retail glider sales dating to 2012. “Statutory additions have accrued, and will continue to accrue, as a matter of law, on the unpaid portion of the assessments,” government attorneys said in a response to allegations contained in a lawsuit filed by Fitzgerald earlier this year.

Noteworthy: This story from Aug. 9 reflected a tough year for glider trucks.