These Letters to the Editor appear in the Sept. 16 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
Hours of Service
I have contacted my congressman, Rep. Peter DeFazio, and made many calls. I would like to get a message to American Trucking Associations, the Teamsters union and the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association about the hours-of-service rule and adding a new line to the logbook — “off-duty loading/unloading.”
Trucking companies and shippers want drivers to drive as much of the 70-hour clock as they can. If I’m in my bunk sleeping for two or more hours while they load or unload, I should be able to log that as off-duty and have the shipper/receiver sign the bill of lading with time-in and time-out as proof thereof.
So, why do I need more sleep after I’ve have two or more hours in the sleeper already?
Why aren’t the big trucking companies and shippers pushing for this idea?
More time driving means more freight delivered. I am a veteran owner-operator and safe driver in all 48 contiguous states. I think this is a great idea that will help drivers and increase productivity.
Not Enough Facilities
The No. 1 complaint of truckers in Alabama — and many other states — is the lack of overnight parking and trucking facilities. In the case of Alabama, this sentiment is amplified most among those who deliver freight in Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile.
It shouldn’t be a problem, particularly in the hubs of Alabama’s rapidly growing aerospace and defense industrial complex. But now, it is about to get worse as the state ramps up projects for mass production of jet aircraft.
Airbus Americas’ massive investment in industrial development is making Mobile the epicenter of economic growth and activity. When Airbus’ Mobile facility operates at full capacity, it will have far-reaching effects throughout Alabama and the Gulf Coast region.
However, TravelCenters of America/Petro should be ready and strategically located to handle the increased volume of heavy-truck traffic in these markets. Mobile alone desperately needs a combination of spacious high-tech TA and Petro franchises to accommodate truckers.
While the frozen markets in Birmingham and Huntsville demand a major state-of-the-art TA and Petro franchise, respectively, Airbus is not only transforming Mobile into one of the busiest U.S. seaports but a major hub for trucking as well.
TA/Petro can accelerate the process by linking the increasingly busy Interstate 65 corridor — including Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile — with world-class franchises. Truckers in Mobile, Birmingham and Huntsville demand the same kind of first-class facilities they experience in big pro-trucking cities like Nashville, Oklahoma City and Atlanta.
TA/Petro needs to know there is money to be made, truckers to serve and communities to benefit from this smart business proposal.
New Freight Rules
I just finished reading the op-ed on p. 9 of the Aug. 19 edition. In the op-ed, the writer talks about several items, including a suggestion to increase the weight limits on tractor-trailer rigs from 80,000 pounds gross to 97,000 pounds. The question that came to mind while reading the op-ed is this: Have tire manufacturers become involved in this matter?
I am a safety director for a Texas regional carrier, and as most people know, it gets pretty darn hot here in the summer months. We have a lot of tire (recap) problems during that period of time. With the weight increases, it only makes sense that the tire problem would escalate, jeopardizing safety.
I am not one who encourages federal regulations on business operations. However, in some cases it makes sense.
My thoughts are these: Has there been any consideration of not allowing recaps on trucks in excess of the present 80,000-pound limit? In other words, should those who elect to increase their loads past the present limit be required to run virgin tires throughout, including trailers?
I enjoy reading your articles and the valuable information provided and look forward to a response.
Human Resources/Safety Director
Grand Prairie, Texas
Editor’s Note: The following letter is in response to one headlined “MAP-21, Brokering,” by Geoff Turner, chairman of the Transportation Intermediaries Association and president and CEO of Choptank Transport. In his letter, Turner said a statement by op-ed writer David Dwinell contained an “an inaccurate statement,” i.e., “Starting Oct. 1, it is illegal to take a load from another broker or a trucking company. MAP-21, last year’s transportation law, establishes regulations forbidding motor carriers from brokering freight . . . but there is no mention within MAP-21 of co-brokering.”
Dwinell’s response follows:
Unfortunately, Geoff Turner and I disagree as to whether a licensed property broker must never take a load from a motor carrier, off a load board or under any circumstances because that is double brokering.
Conversely, a motor carrier can never take a load off a load board and rebroker it, even with its own brokerage, because that also is double brokering.
The congressional intent of passage of (the highway bill) MAP-21 is to protect carriers from predatory brokering practices. The Transportation Intermediaries Association-recommended co-brokering agreement found on its website permits two brokers’ commissions to be taken from the actual hauling carriers’ freight settlement. This is an obvious double brokering frowned upon by MAP-21.
I agree with Turner that “co-brokering is a common practice in the industry.” However, co-brokering means two brokers splitting one commission. The TIA promotes “double brokering” in its “co-brokering agreement” by allowing two brokers to take one commission each before the motor carrier gets paid.
In my opinion, that is illegal under MAP-21. It is obvious that the TIA co-brokering agreement fits for a forwarder’s activities but not for licensed brokering as defined in 49 CFR 371.2. Forwarding is not brokering, and MAP-21 requires all forwarders to become licensed brokers on or before Oct. 1. The TIA’s co-brokering agreement from its website is double brokering.
In reference to the 34-hour restart: This rule is totally off the charts. I have drivers who have been off for four days and can’t be assigned a run because the restart is not 168 hours after their last accepted restart.
I would like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to answer the question of why a rule was implemented with the flaws this one has. Why would a driver not be able to accept a run after being off for four days? The half-hour break is something we can live with, but if the current 34-hour restart continues, it will wind up costing all of us and causing drivers to discontinue driving, creating even more of a driver shortage than we already are seeing.
The facts show that a commercial motor vehicle driver is not at fault in 97% of the accidents anyway, and in the past several years, the safety statistics show the current HOS rule is working.
This is another example of not going by the facts but caving in to pressure from others who have other agendas. I hope Congress sees how flawed this rule is and does the right thing and makes the changes that need to be done. This will tell us that they do listen and are willing to make the changes when it is not in the best interests of the people.