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.

STRR Passes House; Highway Safety Claims Seem Dubious

Written by Peter Friberg.

On Thursday the House of Representatives passed their Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act. It still needs to be normalized with the Senate’s DRIVE bill and re-voted upon by both houses and signed by President Obama. So it’s not law, yet. But it is interesting. Particularly the portions that deal with “auto safety,” (worth noting: the bill claims to maintain auto safety):

  • Automakers now have 15 years, instead of 10, to fix recalled vehicles.
  • Evidence that an automaker failed to meet federal safety guidelines cannot be used against that company in court.
  • Authorizes money for and requires the safety administration to study and report on if and or at what levels a marijuana usage threshold should be implemented similar to a blood-alcohol limit for driving.

More related to our industry the bill authorizes additional funding for “freight corridors” and for technology infrastructure to facilitate trucking efficiencies.

There is a lot to like in this bill and there are also a lot that seem rather head-scratchingly absurd.

Favorable Amendment Withdrawn

Written by Peter Friberg.

On Tuesday I wrote about the amendment Rep. Duncan (R-Tennessee) had submitted to the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act that would give unrated companies the same allowances (i.e. would not punish small companies who had not been rated) as companies that had “Satisfactory” ratings under the “Interim Hiring Standard” provision.

That amendment was withdrawn on Wednesday. This is not good news for the nearly 450,000 unrated carriers.

Congressional Amendment to Allow Heavier Loads Shot Down

Written by Peter Friberg.

The House of Representatives voted down Rep. Reid Ribble’s (R – Wisconsin) amendment to increase the weight load allowed on federal roads. Rep. Ribble was seeking to increase the allowable weight threshold to 91,000 lbs.

Hypothically the move may have be beneficial for customers of the freight industry as higher density cargo shipments could be consolidated into fewer shipments thereby theoretically saving shipping costs.

However it would have been a problem for carriers as there would be fewer loads to go around and the heavier loads would necessitate additional equipment expenses and cause additional wear and tear on both trucking equipment and public roads. Had this amendment gone through it may have driven many smaller carriers out of business.

Additionally, as carriers go out of business rates would increase and taxes on shipping could increase dramatically as the government sought out new ways to pay for highway infrastructure.

The Truckload Carrier Association (TCA) agrees and told Ribble in an open letter, “While this provision attempts to improve trucking productivity on our highways, it clearly would only benefit a minority of the industry.”

Reid’s amendment looks like a loser all the way around.

Does Unrated = Unsatisfactory?

Written by Peter Friberg.

This is one reason why it is so important for us to stay politically aware of what is happening within and to our industry:

I have reported several times on the pending legislation regarding the Senate’s and House of Representatives’ bills that would affect us. Yet despite my level of awareness, I missed this important piece. The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act currently has an “Interim Hiring Standard” provision that indicates only companies with “Satisfactory” carrier ratings are safe with which to do business. This ignores that many smaller carriers have never been rated or inspected.

The Commercial Carrier Journal reports that the broker advocacy group, Transportation Intermediaries Association, issued a call to action on this issue and they report that Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-Tennessee) will offer an amendment to allow “unrated” carriers the same provisions under that “Interim Hiring Standard.”

CCJ’s article ends with a great quote I’ll post here as well:

“This amendment is necessary,” TIA says, “to ensure that 447,665 unrated carriers, who are mostly small family-owned businesses, are not penalized by a flawed federal safety rating system.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Stay informed and contact your elected officials to make sure your voice is heard.

Brake Failures and Highway Safety

Written by Peter Friberg.

September 6-12 was Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Brake Safety Week. According to Matt Cole of the Commercial Carrier Journal, 18,817 trucks were inspected that week. 2,321 were placed out of service for brakes violations. The math works out to 12.3%. To put that in easier to understand numbers: based on those results, roughly 1 out of every 8 trucks on the road has faulty brakes.

Our industry is oft-criticized and rarely do we get the respect and gratitude of the nation we serve. However, if we cannot safely and responsibly haul our loads then we deserve the nation’s criticism and mistrust. The good news is, this brake-failure rate is down from 16.2 percent in 2014. But let us be honest: a 1-in-8 failure rate is not good enough. We need to do better and we can do better.

Carriers, drivers, let’s get on the ball and make sure our trucks are safe out there.

Thank You for Helping Zion Make a Difference

Written by Peter Friberg.


At Zion Transport we are so grateful to you, our customers, for the difference you are making through us!

To date, though the organization Buy 1GIVE 1, we have provided 3650 days worth of grain seeds to nourish people in need, 885 days of access to life-saving clean water, and 50 learning tools to children. Again, we thank you for making it all possible!

To join us in making a difference start giving through Buy 1GIVE 1, or through other charitable organizations or start reaching out to those in need in your community, or give Zion a call today and contribute to our efforts!

Tech in Freight

Written by Peter Friberg.

Tractors and trailers, vans and reefers, forklifts and pallets, CB radios and cell phones, million-mile engines and manual transmissions… Our industry has resisted technology advances unlike most others. Now various tech companies are seeking to propel the freight industry into the 21st century whether it wants to or not.

Telogis had its annual conference this week in Dana Point, CA. According to CCJ over 500 attendees came from all over the world to hear how technology has helped other companies and how it might help theirs.

Carriers, how are you using technology to work more efficiently? Shippers, how would you like to see the freight industry embrace technology in order to serve you better?

Give Zion a call today.

Bipartisan Freight Caucas Launches

Written by Peter Friberg.

Washington Republican Dave Reichert and New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler combined to form the bipartisan Congressional Freight Caucus which launched on Oct. 26. According to Material Handling & Logistics, the caucus is made up “…of more than 60 public and private organizations dedicated to increasing federal investment in America’s intermodal freight infrastructure.”

This is a good thing, to have public and private entities combining to address the needs our industry has moving forward.

Rep. Nadler has backed the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act (STRR Act, mentioned here yesterday) while also noting critical funding shortages for our nation’s highways and infrastructure.

Here’s hoping the caucus and the bills currently before Congress can help our industry as we head into an era of volatile change.

Give Zion Transport a call today.


Freight Legislation Update

Written by Peter Friberg.

The U.S. Senate has passed their long-term deal, “The DRIVE Act.” The House of Representatives appears to be on the verge of passing their version, called the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act. Assuming both deals get passed the two bills will need to be normalized into one bill then re-voted upon by each house. Despite the seemingly large amount of work that still needs to happen, this bill/these bills appear to be heading towards passage.

Remember, provisions of this bill include:

  • Getting rid of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) ranking system
  • Providing provisions to allow teenagers to earn their CDL
  • Allow creation of state-lines crossing toll roads

…and more.

Be informed, be active politically; let your congressional representatives know if you are in favor of or opposed to these bills.

Cargo Theft Down in Third Quarter

Written by Peter Friberg.

I want to offer my congratulations to all you truck-drivers, to law enforcement personnel, to truck-stop security guards, etc. According to the Commercial Carrier Journal, cargo theft, “…is down 23 percent when compared to the same period last year.”

While I don’t think anyone should take unnecessary risks that could result in bodily harm, we also need to remember that when shippers tender their freight to us, they are entrusting their livelihood to us. We cannot be cavalier with that responsibility. These results show that we making progress toward that end.

To work with a carrier you can trust, contact Zion Transport today.


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