Unfriendly States Cities – How are you going to get your Freight?

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This is something that really gets my blood boiling.

There are not many trucker friendly places left in the United States.

Of course the Northeast has never been trucker friendly as far as getting around the different Cities in the Northeast.

It seems every year it is getting less and less friendly too.

A few months back the state of New Jersey began enforcing a law to keep snow and ice off trucks and other vehicles. As of late October, drivers in New Jersey are responsible for making “all reasonable efforts to remove accumulated ice or snow” from the hood, trunk and roof of the motor vehicle, truck cab, trailer or inter-modal freight container. Violators face fines that could reach as high as $1,500.

Now isn’t this a little dangerous? I mean to go climbing around on top of a trailer that is 13’6? tall. Who is liable if a driver does fall? I wonder what Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says about this? Because usually inside factories or on certain properties you are not allowed on top of a vehicle without proper fall restraints.

Now as I understand it some places in New Jersey have some type of a drive through device that supposedly clears the snow and ice? Obviously, this law was not enacted with truck drivers in mind. As most would not attempt to climb on top of a snow covered trailer – that’s too dangerous. So, what is a truck driver to do? I guess the law was amended and now requires motorists to make a reasonable effort to remove all ice and snow from their vehicles before traveling on the roads.

Reasonable effort? Take a tire thumper and walk around and ‘hit’ what is in reasonable reach and drive off? Will that be sufficient? Well, get ready because New York is trying to mandate this same law as well.

Here is a comment I saw on one news site tells me the law wasn’t designed for truck drivers:

The upsetting part is that they even HAD to make this a law. It’s common sense to clear your car of all snow and ice. It’s bad enough monitoring the road for snow, ice, swerving cars/trucks, and clueless pedestrians. We shouldn’t have to keep looking up for sheets of ice too. There’s nothing too much scarier than driving down the turnpike and watching a large sheet of ice fly off the roof of some inconsiderate a$$ speeding by, They obviously had to be somewhere fast because they didn’t take the time to clear off their vehicle and they do not care who gets killed behind them.

Well, now New York City wants to get in on making money off truckers too. A bill sponsored by Sen. Daniel Squadron, D-Brooklyn, would set up a pilot truck weight photo-monitoring system in New York City. Targeted at trucks using roadways posted as a “No Truck” zone, it would allow city government to set up a local law or ordinance to create a demonstration program. Cameras would be activated by a vehicle sensor working in conjunction with a vehicle scale.

Some truckers say passage of the bill would be another reason to avoid going into the city. If you think about these ridiculous laws and there unbelievable fines it is easy to see the reasoning behind the laws – money. The bill – S875 – is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

I say it’s high time truckers take a stand. With no places to park – no idling laws – and now ridiculous laws to deal with – I say haul there freight to the line and tell them to come get it. Be safe you all – no load is worth any life.

Trucker Pullover Protest Against Rising Diesel Prices Monday May 23 1-2 PM

New York NY – May 20, 2011 – On May 23rd, 2011 from 1:00-2:00pm Eastern truckers are being asked to pull their trucks to the side of the road for one hour to gain the attention of Washington and focus it on soaring fuel prices. Over regulation, the lack of new exploration, and the lack of refining capacity near Cushing, OK are believed to be responsible for the higher diesel prices.

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A caller to SiriusXM Patriot’s David Webb Show, on April 23, 2011 suggested a one hour demonstration protesting higher diesel prices. From that call, plans for a pullover have begun. As higher diesel prices fluctuate and have soared above $4.19 per gallon, truck drivers and companies are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver freight without increasing rates. Increased rates for freight, increases the price of everything else from milk to toilet paper.

Organizers hope that a highly visible pullover of one hour will be enough to put pressure on Washington to ease regulations. When trucks don’t move, nothing moves. Food, fuel, household items and raw materials for manufacturing are all carried over the nation’s highways by truck. It is hoped that a single hour will focus enough attention on the issue that longer pullover protests will be unnecessary.

SiriusXM Radio Personality and Tea Party leader David Webb has set up a website for truckers interested in communicating with other truckers about politics, the tea party, and trucking issues. It was on this site that the idea of a “Pullover Protest” was first mentioned. More information about the protest, as well as information about Tea Party Truckers in general can be found at the site: www.teapartytrucker.org.

Bill Introduced Today For Detention Time for Truckers

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WASHINGTON, DC— Today, Representative Peter DeFazio (OR-4) responded to the concerns of independent truck drivers by introducing legislation to protect drivers and improve the productivity and safety of moving goods by truck.

H.R. 756 directs the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to study the amount of time truck drivers are forced to sit and wait.

While at loading docks and to use those study results to establish a maximum number of hours that drivers may be detained without being compensated.

“Over the years I’ve heard anecdotes from truck drivers that detention time is a big problem and contributes significantly to inefficiencies in the supply chain productivity,” DeFazio said. “I asked GAO to study detention time and quantify the results. It’s clear from the report that detaining truckers at loading docks is a significant problem that FMCSA needs to regulate.”

DeFazio’s legislation, H.R. 756, requires the USDOT to study detention time and issue regulations on the maximum number of hours that a driver may be reasonably detained without compensation. The legislation would require shippers and receivers to pay a detention fee for detention of drivers beyond the time established by USDOT and authorize civil penalties against shippers for failure to pay for unreasonable detention time.

Background Records

As the former Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, DeFazio held several hearings where he heard from independent truck drivers about the time and productivity lost by drivers who are detained at loading docks (commonly referred to as detention time). Often, drivers said they are forced to wait hours before a shipment is ready for pickup or unloading, costing them valuable time and money. A 2009 study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) identified waiting for loading and unloading as a major inefficiency in the industry, costing carriers over $3 billion dollars annually.

DeFazio requested a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of the impact detention time has on truck drivers and potential violations of Federal hours-of-service requirements. The GAO issued a final report titled “Commercial Motor Carriers: More Could Be Done to Determine Impact of Excessive Loading and Unloading Wait Times on Hours-of-Service Violations,” which found detention time to be a serious issue threatening the motor carrier industry. Through driver interviews the GAO found that detention time affects drivers’ ability to make a living, has an impact on hours-of-service, and adversely affects independent drivers more so than drivers employed by large carriers.

Summary of GAO’s findings:
Detention of drivers at shipper or receiver facilities is a prevalent problem: of over 300 drivers interviewed by GAO, 68 percent reported being detained within the past month.
80 percent of drivers that had experienced detention time reported that being detained impacted their ability to meet hours of service requirements.65 percent of drivers reported lost revenue due to being detained.
Shippers and receivers control many factors that lead to driver detention, such as facility staffing, lack of loading or unloading equipment, poor service, and products not ready for pick up.
Shippers often disagree with carriers and drivers about the amount of detention time and some motor carriers choose not to collect detention fees from their customers.
FMCSA does not collect data related to the cause for hours of service violations when such violations are discovered in roadside inspections or compliance reviews.

Why legislation is needed:
Under current law, shippers and receivers are not held accountable for the roles they play in affecting motor carrier safety.
Drivers in the trucking industry are not protected by basic wage and hour laws. Instead, hours of service rules are in place to regulate maximum time on the job.
Many drivers are paid by the mile or by the load, rather than by the hour, and are therefore impacted by inefficiencies and congestion. Without addressing detention time, hours of service rules do nothing to ensure a driver can make a living even when working a full day. Therefore, if a driver is detained beyond a certain period of time, the driver should be compensated.

Explaining Real Problems in Trucking

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Problems exist within many industries today, but most are not life or death situations. The trucking industry is no exception, there are countless problems, and some are about life or death situations. There was an accident on I-64 in Kentucky on Friday between two tractor trailers in which one of the drivers was killed. I want to use this to base a couple of scenario’s that I will create to show a couple major problems in trucking.

A major problem in trucking is a thing called “just in time delivery.” This is where the receiving (company) does not have any storage space for any “extra” material therefore can only take shipments when they are just about out of the material. Most companies operate like this, as it is a huge cost savings. These companies coordinate through the shipper and the trucking company and set up delivery appointments as most operate on a 24 hour period so trucks can unload at all hours of the day or night. Some drivers look at this as an advantage as they can get unloaded and be ready to grab another load. I look at it as a disadvantage and a major problem within the industry because drivers are driving tired and that is not safe.

The problem begins on the shipping side as they delay the driver right off the start by either booking too many trucks or by not having the load ready when the truck is scheduled to load. This can delay a driver for hours literally. The problem is when the driver is delayed in loading he or she still has to try to make the delivery time appointed to them because of “just in time delivery.” Even though the load may be delayed for hours. If the receiving company had a place to store more materials, then the driver after being delayed from loading, would not have to drive tired, and risk having accidents.

Most of the time a driver is not allowed to sleep or can’t sleep because of having to pull up when trucks move into a dock to load, or it’s just a company policy that a driver is not allowed sleep in the truck on the companies property due to insurance requirements.

Another reason a driver can’t sleep is because of anti-idle laws. If it is 75 or 80 degrees outside, then you can bet it will be close to 100 or more in the truck – how are you suppose to get rest? Same goes for in the winter time. But you say, they have auxiliary power units or APUs for trucks now to provide heat and coolness for resting comfortably without idling. This is true, but most companies won’t or have not purchased and fitted their trucks with the APUs as they don’t see it as being cost effective yet.

This brings me to my first scenario for the accident that happened Friday. The accident happened around 6:00AM in the morning. One tractor-trailer crashed into a tractor-trailer that was parked in the emergency lane, the one driver that hit the parked truck died as a result. In my first scenario I would say that given the time of the accident that the driver possibly could have fallen asleep and drifted off the road and hit the parked truck.

If the load was set to be loaded at 11:00PM the night before and the driver was delayed at the shipper for 4 or 5 hours, that would make it 04:00AM for departure – the driver has been up all night. But the load was originally scheduled to deliver “just in time” at 10:00AM the next day or 500 miles away. The company that needs the material can’t reschedule to give the driver rest from being up all night because they have no “extra” material – so the load must get there. Even though there is no-way to make up the lost 4 or 5 hours the driver was delayed. If there was no such thing as “just in time delivery” then the load could be rescheduled and the driver could get the rest needed to complete the trip safely.

My second scenario deals with inadequate parking. I know you have seen trucks parked on the shoulder of just about any road that has a shoulder on it, where a truck could pull over. Now not knowing whether the “parked” truck was actually parked on the shoulder or whether the truck was having problems or not, I can only assume for the purpose of the scenario that the driver was parked to rest. The lack of sufficient parking doesn’t give a driver many choices when it comes to needing to pull over and stop. States are closing rest areas because of lack in funding to operate them. But more rest areas, and safer parking places are needed for the trucks to park and rest or for breakdowns. This also could be tied into the first scenario too, as most drivers when they get tired will pull over to sleep and the load would just have to be late because no load is worth the risk of falling asleep at the wheel. But if there are no parking places, then they are left with only one option – that is to continue on.

The United States Department of Transportation has a mission statement saying: to “Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.” It seems to me that insufficient parking falls into the job the USDOT is supposed to be doing. This is a very real problem that has had previous studies done to show proof, but the USDOT seems more concerned with getting “distracted driving” laws in place for trucking without any such proof that the problem even exist in trucking – and “claiming” this will save the lives of people on the highways?

Just Friday the US Secretary of Transportation wrote in his blog as if he were “celebrating” the signing of the 10,000th road construction project. But, in 10,000 road construction projects none had to do with more and safer truck parking. This administration is “giving” money away to build and upgrade roads in to state parks, and bicycle lanes, and giving money to transit authorities (most of which are unions) that all taxpayers will have to pay back, but won’t give states the needed money to keep rest areas open or build more and safer truck parking spaces – a real problem.

Few Truck Parking Places – Stimulus Money Wasted By DOT

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I’ve written a couple of different articles about how the USDOT has wasted millions of stimulus dollars on items and projects that should have been put back on the shelf – as the projects were not something needed at this time.

This is something that has really gotten under my skin lately – concerning wasteful spending. Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn, M.D. just released a report on how the Obama administration has wasted the stimulus money. Few Truck Parking Places – Stimulus Money Wasted By DOT

By the way Obama touts that nearly 3 million jobs have been created or saved by this money BUT recovery.gov says differently – 755,454 jobs created or saved as of June 2010.

When I was out on the road last year, it seemed that parking was getting harder to find – due to rest areas being closed and more trucks being on the road.

USDOT allocated $6 million dollars for “new or upgraded” truck parking just last month – problem is it was for FIVE different states – by the way this came out of a program called SAFETEA-LU – which is supposed to be used for such things.

But the same program gave $5 million dollars to a New Jersey city for ONE bicycle path. Why couldn’t stimulus money have been used to provide more and safe parking for trucks?

Here is one of many examples the DOT wasted stimulus money on.

North Shore Connector to Professional Sports Stadiums, Casino (Pittsburgh, PA) – $62 million

In February 2009, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell called Pittsburgh’s North Shore Connector “a tragic mistake, leaving taxpayers wondering why the project recently received a $62.5 million windfall from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The project would allow the Port Authority of Allegheny County to extend the city’s light rail under the Allegheny River to the new Rivers Casino, as well as to its two professional sports arenas, PNC Park (home of the Pirates) and Heinz Field (home of theSteelers). Unfortunately, the North Shore Connector has been plagued with problems since its inception, making it seem in this case that federal officials are throwing good money after bad.

Maybe Governor Ed Rendell should have used the $62.5 million on roads, instead of a train to go to casino’s and ball parks.

Governor Ed Rendell Urges Senate Transportation Committee to Work to Meet Road, Bridge and Transit Funding Challenges this Year

With a little hard work this summer, legislative leaders can solve Pennsylvania’s transportation funding problem without fiscal pain, Governor Edward G. Rendell told members of the Senate Transportation Committee in Harrisburg. “One in five bridges in the state is considered structurally deficient, Governor Rendell said, noting that there are structurally deficient bridges on most of the major and secondary roads in the state. “And, if we lined up all the miles of Pennsylvania roadways in need to repair, they would stretch across the entire country three times.” Read here

Next on the list of wasted stimulus money by the DOT.

Abandoned Train Station to be Converted Into Museum (Glassboro, NJ) – $1.2 million

Taxpayers may not be happy to learn that they are paying for one broken down train station twice. The Glassboro train station was built in 1860 and closed in 1971. Unused for nearly 40 years, it now sits boarded up and riddled with graffiti. In 2002, the Borough of Glassboro, New Jersey received nearly a quarter of a million dollars from the U.S. Department of Transportation to purchase the train station from Conrail. At that time, officials hoped to incorporate the station into the regional NJ Transit system. But those plans fell through, and since then local officials have been looking for a way to fund renovations to put the building to some use.

After eight years of failure and further deterioration of the building, the effort has been saved only by the “availability of federal stimulus dollars.” Local officials lobbied hard for additional stimulus money. They are hoping to spend the more than $1 million for the project “interpreting local history in its proper setting and make it a museum, public meeting space and welcome center.”

Maybe New Jersey should lobby for the stimulus money for Rest Areas.

Route 287 in New Jersey a rest area is a welcome stop, but only for truckers

There is only one rest stop along the 70-mile-long section of Interstate 287 in New Jersey, and if you are the driver of a car, you are out of luck. If you are a driver of truck, the Harding rest area, on the northbound side of the highway just short of Morristown, provides less-than-luxurious amenities: four portable toilets and overflowing trash bins. Beyond a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire sits a stone and brick building and a park that used to be for visitors. Read Here

Next up on the list of wasted stimulus money by the DOT.

Town Replaces New Sidewalks With Newer Sidewalks That Lead to Ditch (Boynton, OK) – $89,298

People around Boynton, Oklahoma were left scratching their heads after the town was awarded nearly $90,000 to replace a quarter-mile stretch of sidewalk that was replaced only five years ago. One long time resident of Boynton, Ray Allen, said the project “had been the talk of the town recently, and none of it positive,” because it is “100 percent a waste of money.” Another resident, Mike Lance, noted that “the best indication of the absurdity of the project is what the contractor did with a section of sidewalk at the north end of town – one that fronts no homes or businesses, and leads directly into a ditch.” Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation defended the project as “necessary to bring the sidewalk into conformity with federal guidelines.”

Next up on the list of wasted stimulus money by the DOT.

Project Costs Jobs, Drastically Reduces Shopping Center Business (Normandy Park, WA) -$3.8 million

Normandy Park Town Center has struggled to attract and retain businesses, but a recent streetscaping project is making the prospects even worse. The U.S. Department of Transportation provided the city of Normandy Park, Washington with $3.8 million to spruce up eight blocks of 1st Avenue with the addition of “bike lanes, street lights, landscaping and a sidewalk.” The impact on local businesses has not been entirely welcome.

Archery Bistro, located in the shopping center and along the road, saw its lunch profits fall from $1,000 a day to $200 a day after construction began, forcing the elimination of two jobs. Restaurant owner, Todd McKittrick, eventually closed the bistro on Sundays and Mondays, and stopped serving lunch, after customers fell from 150 an afternoon to 30. “I thought this was supposed to be federal stimulus, not “put me out of business,” noted McKittrick. Since McKittrick had to let go of two employees he has decided to forgo his own paycheck, a fact that he blames on the project.

Next up on the list of wasted stimulus money by the DOT.

Two Riders an Hour Get Brand New Buses (Winter Haven, FL) – $2.4 million

Winter Haven Area Transit (WHAT) buses carry two to three riders per hour, according to the City Commission’s liaison to the Transit authority. While that may be a bit of an under-count according to the Transit Authority, City Commissioner Jamie Beckett is “not convinced we need 40-foot buses for two or three riders an hour.” All the same, the town is getting five new buses for its fleet, thanks to more than $2.38 million stimulus dollars. The entire WHAT budget for FY 2009 was only $60,000, and for FY2010 it was only $110,000, yet the average cost of the new buses will be $380,000.237 At least there will be plenty of leg room, if the buses are as empty as they seem.

This is just a few of the long list totaling 100 projects of wasted stimulus money. You can view the rest of the list provided by Senators McCain and Coburn entitled “Summertime Blues.”