Welcome to the Zion Transport Blog!

In this space we will introduce various topics in our industry that relate to you, our customer. We want to you to be well-informed and aware of how these changes affect you and how we can help you navigate these changes.

Al Gore and How the FMCSA Saves Lives

Written by Peter Friberg.

Apparently, without the FMCSA, we’d still be driving horse and buggies, rocks would still be soft, and our life expectancy would be something like 45 years…or so it seems after reading some of the benefits the FMCSA claims about how their rules have helped us (“us” being the industry and society at large).

On February 29 the FMCSA issued a press release claiming in their opening paragraph,

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today released an annual analysis that estimates that commercial vehicle roadside safety inspection and traffic enforcement programs saved 472 lives in 2012.  Since 2001, these programs have saved more than 7,000 lives.

No Substitute for Experience

Written by Peter Friberg.

I lived in Oregon from age 10 to just after my 16th birthday. Knowing we were getting ready to move, I didn’t get my license until after the move. From Oregon we moved to central California. When we got to California I went in to the DMV to get my license only to find out that both Driver Education and Driver’s Training courses were required prior to testing for a license.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No, It's SuperTruck!

Written by Peter Friberg.

SuperTruck II is upon us. In the first SuperTruck program, the DOE set a goal of 50% increase of efficiency in ton-mile-per-gallon basis. The three teams involved achieved between 50 and 115% increases. This time around the DOE set a more challenging 100% goal in increased efficiency compared to a 2009 baseline.

Last time around teams achieved their goals by focusing on “…aerodynamics packages, low rolling resistance tires, engine and waste heat recovery, and highly efficient combustion engines.” Teams will probably come back to the same areas of focus as last time but will also look in unexpected areas.

It will be interesting to watch to see how the truck manufacturers achieve these next set of goals.

Thanks for reading.

Drivers' Pay & Rest; 1 Standard or 50?

Written by Peter Friberg.

As usual, James Jallet has a great piece over at Commercial Carrier Journal (CCJ) where he writes about creating a provision in the work-in-progress FAA bill that would prevent states from creating their own laws regarding driver pay and if/how drivers take breaks. This would have the effect of normalizing truckers’ pay and break provisions.

We talked in another post about how California can over-regulate. The problem isn’t with drivers’ pay or with their need and/or ability to take breaks, the issue is that in our industry crossing state lines isn’t the exception, it’s the rule. How do drivers and trucking companies know that when they cross into California, or Iowa, or whichever state that their drivers will all-of-a-sudden be subject to a whole new set of worker pay and rest laws?

I am a big proponent that in government less is more. I think the government was created to protect the populous and do a few other things. But despite that, I like this bill. In this industry, we need one standard, not 50.

Thanks for reading.

Is the Vehicle Mile Tax a Good Idea?

Written by Peter Friberg.

George Herbert Walker Bush was elected president after he chanted, “No new taxes!” at the Republican convention back in 1988. Later in his presidency, when he violated that pledge, he failed to win reelection to a second term. When surveyed in 2008, then Senator Obama was identified by the voting public as being the presidential candidate more likely to lower taxes. It’s clear that Americans do not like being taxed.

Yet when congress passed the FAST Act last fall one conspicuous question was left unasked, “How are we going to pay for this $305 billion piece of legislation?”

CDs, Insurance, Autonomous Trucking, and the ROI

Written by Peter Friberg.

Twenty-five to thirty years ago, when I was still in high school, compact disks had just started gaining traction in the marketplace. As that was happening we consumers were being told that CDs were so much more expensive than tapes because of industry scale dynamics and the associated production costs. And that once more CDs were being sold, they would actually be cheaper than tapes to make and the prices would fall. In case you didn’t notice CDs are still much more expensive than tapes ever were (though as MP3 players and digital music players have started dominating the market, CDs may finally get less expensive).

Sean Kilcarr has an article up at FleetOwner.com discussing the ROI (return on investment) for autonomous trucks. He writes, “…in the opinion several experts, insurance savings will be the key to making [autonomous vehicles] acceptable in trucking.”

Dashboard Cams & Scams; Protect Yourself!

Written by Peter Friberg.

I love our country. I hate our country. Yeah, I know… I love the opportunities we have. I love that we give liberally whenever there’s a disaster and people need aid. I love that we have a rule of law rather than a, “I’m in charge and whatever I say goes,” system of law.

One of the things I love is that we can defend ourselves when bad apple law enforcement agencies try to take advantage of uninformed citizens. Unfortunately, one of the things I hate is how many people want to take advantage of our freedoms by scamming and/or taking advantage of others.

Rockslides and Other Safety Hazards

Written by Peter Friberg.

Truck drivers pick up a lot of loads on Thursdays and Fridays and drive over the weekends. So if you’re sharing the road with some of America’s truck drivers this weekend, be courteous and give them space. Remember they take a lot more time and space to turn and/or stop. Frequently, those of us in passenger cars are more dangerous to them than they are to us. They drive many more miles per accident than we do.

I saw one of these rockslides on a trucking website I frequent and the other was sent to me. Truck drivers face a lot more safety concerns than most of us think about on a day-to-day basis.

Have a great weekend and be safe out there!

Thanks for reading.

Who Is Regulating the Regulators?

Written by Peter Friberg.

Congress, in passing the FAST Act a few months ago, may have inadvertently killed the “34 hour restart rule” Apparently, and according to CCJDigital.com,

The restart-specific language in the 2016 appropriations act was only intended to continue the stay of enforcement on two provisions pertaining to the 34-hour restart: The requirement that it include two 1 a.m. to 5 .m. periods and that its use be limited to once per week.

Instead, congress inserted language that neuters the provision. Now trucking regulators cannot “implement, administer, or enforce sections 395.3(c) and 395.3(d) of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations…“

Oops.

The 34-hour restart rule is probably a good thing. And the ATA is urging Congress to fix this mistake quickly. The Truckload Carriers Association is urging their members to continue unchanged until we know more…

This story, however funny it is (and there definitely is element of humor to it) is also scary. With all those representatives and senators and with each of them having staffs, how did they all miss this? What else did they miss? How often do they miss bigger stuff? But in all seriousness, who is regulating the regulators?

Thanks for reading.

Technology Is About More Than Regulation

Written by Peter Friberg.

In the past several years, in our industry, we’ve been noticing a rapid infusion (invasion?) of technology. And our industry has never been highly technologically dependent. And many want to keep it that way. The perception is often that the latest technology isn’t here to help the driver but to regulate the driver. And that makes adoption and/or acceptance of technology daunting.

Aaron Huff, in his Commercial Carrier Journal article, highlights some technology that isn’t about regulating the driver (or his truck) but more about helping him (or her) do the work more efficiently. Whether it’s trucks connected to data networks so they can bypass weigh-stations or prepay toll roads across their multi-state routes, or interconnected vehicles on the road communicating with each other to help their drivers avoid accidents, technology can improve our industry.

I’m not going to lie, safety and regulation will always be a motivating factor for those developing and implementing technology but it’s cool to see technology drivers (pun fully intended) working with truck drivers to help them do their jobs more efficiently and effectively as well.

Thanks for reading.

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