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.

O-Rings and Shady Trucking Companies; Outcomes of a Lowest Bidder Philosophy

Written by Peter Friberg.

As humans, especially in a capitalistic society, we inherently want to hang on to our precious resources, such as money. So when faced with multiple options we typically choose the cheapest one. This is not always wise.

Whenever I have the opportunity to advise a company on their shipping procedures and policies, I tell them not to seek out the lowest bidder but to find a company or companies in whom they trust and work with them.

An Ohio-based trucking company was effectively shut down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for, "...43 federal safety violations…including 13 out-of-service violations, including inoperable brakes, cracked frame rails, improper load securement and falsified logs."

This is a potential outcome for a philosophy of always choosing the lowest bidder.

As responsible citizens we want to think, “Shame on them!” And that is accurate. They could have chosen to keep their trucks maintained and the logbooks accurate. But they didn’t; and that’s on them. But what about a society – companies - individuals that reward that behavior by giving companies such as these their business when these companies cut their rates to dangerous levels and cut corners to make it work? This, of course, reminds me of the O-Ring disaster on the Space Shuttle back in 1986.

If you want my advice, pick your carriers by:

  • On-time delivery rates
  • On-time pickups
  • Pricing
  • Working with people you trust

And that last one is most important. There will be problems or issues from time to time. You want to work with someone who will take care of you when they arise.

If you want to begin a discussion with us here at Zion, give us a call today.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

ATRI Study Shows Worst Congested Highway Interchanges

Written by Peter Friberg.

After several posts dealing with congress and politics and otherwise weighty issues, when I saw this I thought it would be a lot more “fun” to write about. While I do not think being stuck in traffic is fun, lists and rankings are. So here we go.

The American Trucking Research Institute (ATRI) released its annual study of the most congested “freight significant highway” interchanges. Their website lists the top 100 but you can delve into the list and go deeper than 100 if you choose to get their PDF sent to your email.

Here are their top 10 (worst) congested highway interchanges:

  1. Atlanta, GA: I-285 at I-85 (North)
  2. Chicago, IL: I-290 at I-90/I-94
  3. Fort Lee, NJ: I-95 at SR 4
  4. Louisville, KY: I-64 at I-71
  5. Houston, TX: I-610 at US 290
  6. Houston, TX: I-10 at I-45
  7. Cincinnati, OH: I-71 at I-75
  8. Houston, TX: I-45 at US 59
  9. Los Angeles, CA: SR 60 at SR 57
  10. Houston, TX: I-10 at US 59

Here are a few observations:I was not at all surprised to see Atlanta on top. I’ve been once and their traffic is notoriously horrendous. I also wasn’t surprised to see a New York City location (Fort Lee, NJ) near the top. I was actually surprised a greater-Los Angeles interchange didn’t rank higher (worse) than 9th. I was very surprised to see four Houston, TX interchanges in the top 10 (Houston also has 2 more in the top 30, and another 4 within the top 80 – remind me not to drive a tractor-trailer through that area).

Living in Southern California, I wasn’t surprised to see several L.A. area interchanges on the list, in fact, I would have expected more (the L.A. area has 6 on the list). I’ve lived in the San Diego County since ’96. I was quite surprised not to see a single San Diego area interchange on this list.  

Thanks for reading and stay safe out there!

Thank You Truck Drivers!

Written by Peter Friberg.

Have you heard about the latest blockbuster movie that has “smashed” box office sales records? It doesn’t matter which movie, the point isn’t the movie it’s the way we trumpet statistics and confuse and mislead others with their meaning. The price of movie is going up and has gone up significantly. I am in my early 40s. When I was in high school, I could see an evening movie for $4.50. When I was in college and in a larger city, I paid $7.00 or more for a ticket. Now it’s $12.00+ for most movies. Of course movies are grossing more money but are they selling more tickets?

With that statistical illustration out of the way, I want to congratulate the U.S. Department of Transportation for their transparency and accuracy and I want to congratulate all the truck drivers out there for their part in making this era the safest yet.

In 2012, traffic fatality rates fell to historic lows. Our roadways saw just 1.14 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.  In 2013, that number fell even lower to 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.  Passenger vehicles, large trucks, motorcycles, and pedestrians all saw declines in crash-related fatalities.

That quote was pulled from the U.S. DOT’s Fast Lane blog.

I love that they aren’t counting actual fatalities because as our population grows that number will probably continue to rise even as the rate of deaths falls. Unlike the movie illustration at the beginning of this post the DOT is reporting statistics accurately.

The blog goes on to pat themselves on the back,

In fact, since 2004, road fatalities have dropped 25 percent. And since this Department’s founding, the United States has seen the motor vehicle fatality rate drop by 80 percent.

I think the DOT deserves a lot of credit, but I want to make sure I highlight truck drivers who log tens of thousands of miles per year (some estimates suggest the average truck driver logs 130,000 miles/year). Since the average “civilian” driver logs probably 10-15% of that, highway safety depends predominantly on the truck drivers. And thus since we’re living in such a safe time, they/you now deserve a lot of credit.

Kudos, ladies and gentlemen!

Senate Democrats Highlight Consumer and Highway Safety Rollbacks

Written by Peter Friberg.

Back on Nov. 6, this blog posted that the House bill, The STRR Act, was making allowances that seemed to oppose its goal of maintaining highway safety.

This blog wasn’t created to highlight political activities exclusively, but as we’re heading toward congress’ traditional Thanksgiving shutdown many items on their “to-do” lists, such as highway/transportation bills, are getting done quickly. And we want to make sure due diligence is being followed.

As the House and Senate have moved their bills, The STRR Act and The DRIVE Act, respectively, to “Committee” to iron out the differences, we need to make sure things don’t move so quickly that problems are not unresolved.

On that note, it is good to see Senate Democrats highlighting the rollback of consumer protection and highway safety. While my natural political tendency is to lean right, the Republicans on these issues are caving to big business at the expense of consumers and small businesses. The irony here is both Republicans and Democrats highlight small business growth as the vehicle that will lead economic progress. And both parties have done a lot to hamper that growth. This time it’s the GOP.

Contact your representative and make sure they know your concerns about these bills.

Is Congress Intentionally Screwing the Little Guy, Again?

Written by Peter Friberg.

We’ve highlighted this concern several times, but it’s worth bringing up again in light of Congress’ latest move. The House and Senate sent their transportation bills, STRR Act and the DRIVE bill, respectively, to committee to iron out the differences (with a re-vote pending on the results). The big issue is the “interim hiring standards” provision which gives a significant advantage to companies who have “Satisfactory” ratings.

According to a graph in this article, there are approximately 36,000 carriers representing nearly 1.6 million drivers who have that “Satisfactory” rating. That sounds reasonable. It seem logical; proper even, to award the companies and drivers who are keeping their rigs and our highways safe. And I would agree. The problem is there are roughly 430,000 carriers representing roughly 1.45 million drivers who have “unrated” grades.

If we are paying attention, the carriers who have the “Satisfactory” grades average 44.4 drivers per carrier. It would also make sense that the more trucks and drivers a company has out there, the more likely they are to be stopped, inspected, and graded. Conversely, the carriers holding “Unrated” grades average less than 3.4 drivers per carrier.

The obvious question here is, is Congress intentionally looking out for big business and screwing the little guy, or is this a case where the law of unintentional consequences rears its ugly head? Either way, the House and Senate need to fix this before it is passed into law.

Please contact your senator and congressional representative (you can find yours here) and urge them to rectify this legislative SNAFU.

Slow Season Leads to Advantageous Rates for Shippers

Written by Peter Friberg.

“The Cass Freight Index dropped by 5.3% from September to October, and the latest month’s reading was down 4.7% from a year earlier. It was the lowest October reading since 2011,” writes Robbie Whelan in the Wall Street Journal.

October and November tend to be some of the busiest shipping months of the year but thanks to “bloated inventory,” a weak import/export market, and a potential rate increase by the Fed, retailers and other businesses are foregoing their typical pre-holiday season orders.

As an industry where we make our living from people and companies shipping their goods from point A to point B we cannot help but wonder if this downturn will exacerbate the typically slow January-February or if there may be some unexpected reason for industry growth coming.

For those customers who are shipping, this downturn has rates in their favor.

Give Zion Transport a call today.


TSR Publishes Road Safety White Paper

Written by Peter Friberg.

Jason Cannon of Commercial Carriers Journal wrote yesterday that Together for Safer Roads (TSR), a coalition of companies united for the advancement of road-safety, released a white paper outlining progress that has been made since 2010 when the U.N. established its “Decade of Action for Road Safety.”

The white paper outlines many best practices companies and individuals can implement to improve road safety. The coalition is working on three main areas: “…1) safer roads, vehicles and systems; 2) safer road users; and 3) advocacy and thought leadership.”

The reason I’m highlighting this here is because many of the statistics Mr. Cannon put in his article are worth repeating and worth further thought.

Did you know:

  • Vehicle crashes are the 8th leading cause of death in the world
  • Vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of death among 15-29 year olds
  • It is estimated that vehicle crashes cost the world fully 3% of the countries’ aggregate Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • Coalition members’ company vehicles log more than 3 billion miles annually

What can we do – what can you do – to make the roads safer for our families, for our friends, for our customers, for each other?

Slowdown? What Slowdown, We Need Drivers!

Written by Peter Friberg.

Both The Journal of Commerce and the Commercial Carriers Journal reported today on the industry slowdown. James Jaillet wrote, “Average per-mile rates on the spot market again dove in all three major truckload segments in October, according to monthly rate data from Truckstop.com.” And, “This is the third straight month all three segments have seen a decline in their national averages. Rates have been trending down since hitting record highs last summer.”

William B. Cassidy, meanwhile, said that industry analysts are, “…reporting ‘adequate’ and even excess capacity in U.S. trucking markets…”

Yet despite the slowdown, experts still see an industry need for more drivers.

The recent drop in freight demand and lowered expectations for the U.S. recovery may temporarily check the growth of that shortage. But qualified drivers are getting harder to find.


That shortage of experienced truck drivers will grow as those drivers retire and the regulatory and professional requirements imposed on truck drivers get tighter, the [American Trucking Association] said.  


Low Rates Bad for Shippers?

Written by Peter Friberg.

Chris Brooks of The Journal of Commerce penned an article that begins, “There may be no better indicator of how shippers view the transportation landscape than how they see freight rates tranding through next fall.”

His article goes on to point out that there is excess capacity in ocean-freight as well as domestic trucking and intermodal services.

Shippers love low prices. But lower prices can be harmful for the carriers. And while no one wants to pay more a healthy mix of available capacity and moderate rates is the equilibrium that is actually best for all parties.

Give Zion Transport a call today.

Office :: 619.867.0350
Fax :: 619.867.0354
Toll Free :: 844.236.7760
e-mail :: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
6739 Hibiscus Dr. Lemon Grove, CA 91945
Mailing Address :: 7107 Broadway # 331 Lemon Grove, CA 91945

Contact Us Today