Labor Day Weekend Means Increased Cargo Theft Threat

When you think about Labor Day, a few common images probably come to mind. Cookouts with family and friends. Fireworks at local parks. The last day to sport your bright whites without breaking the old-school rules of fashion. But did you know that Labor Day weekend, like many other holiday weekends, is also associated with an increase in cargo theft risks for trucking companies, shippers, and manufacturers? This Labor Day weekend, as you relax with your loved ones and celebrate the unofficial end of summer, it is important that you be aware of the increased threat, and take a few extra precautions to ensure that you don’t fall victim to cargo theft.

The numbers are somewhat shocking. According to FreightWatch International, last year, 4.75 recorded threats per day were reported over the Labor Day weekend. This is an 81% increase in cargo theft when compared to normal, non-holiday figures. Organized theft rings tend to be more active during holidays, knowing that long weekends mean an increased number of shipments left unattended for extended periods of time. FreightWatch gathered statistics from Labor Day weekends from 201-2013. Particularly notable incidents included $1.5 million worth of televisions and projectors being stolen from a facility in Woodbridge, NJ, a deceptive pickup of $500 thousand worth of licensed apparel in Foothill Ranch, CA, and the Theft of Trailer/Container filled with televisions, valued at $680 thousand in Ontario, CA.

FreightWatch also reported that Alcohol/Tobacco shows a 38% increase in theft volume, while clothing and shoes theft recorded an average of $499,775, more than double the annual average. Food and drink thefts increased in frequency by 40%.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep your cargo safe. FreightWatch International recommends that logistics and security professionals ensure that security protocols are up-to-date prior to the Labor Day weekend. They should check both in-transit and warehouse operations, as both will be heavily targeted over the weekend. Transportation professionals should also make sure that receiver’s hours of operation for the holiday weekend are consistent with scheduled delivery times in order to help keep theft among cargo at rest at bay. It is also highly recommended that covert tracking and active monitoring of high value shipments be put into effect, as they have been proven to be the most effective way to combat cargo theft.

By taking the steps listed above, you can be sure that you can have a stress-free weekend, sending off the summer in style!

Senate Reaches for More Natural Gas Trucks

A proposed bill in the Senate aims to allow natural gas powered trucks to compete with their diesel engine counterparts by giving them an exemption to federal truck weight standards. The bipartisan bill, introduced by U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) on July 31 is called the Natural Gas Long Haul Truck Competitiveness Act of 2014 (S. 2721). It would help keep those long haulers who adopt natural gas from being at a competitive disadvantage.

natural gas truck tanksBecause natural gas fueling systems weigh around 2,000 pounds more than diesel systems, trucks running on natural gas end up carrying less actual freight due to their compliance with the current federal weight restrictions. According to the bill, the act would allow trucks running on natural gas the difference of “the weight of the vehicle attributable to the natural gas tank and fueling system” and “the weight of a comparable diesel tank and fueling system.”

The Natural Gas Long Haul Truck Competitiveness Act was referred to the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee and is considered to be a companion bill to the House’s version (H.R. 3940), which was introduced in January. The Senate version of mitigating weights of natural gas tanks stands by itself, whereas the House’s version of weight compensation was part of a trio of natural gas bills designed to make it easier for the long haul trucking industry to access and utilize natural gas as fuel. Introduced by U.S. Representatives Sam Graves (R-MO) and Lee Terry (R-NE), the goal of the legislation is to make natural gas safer, more convenient, and more cost-effective for carriers to transport goods across the country.

Congressman Graves stated last January:

“America is rich in natural gas resources, as we’ve seen in recent years with the shale gas revelation. Natural gas is more cost-efficient than diesel, meaning consumers will feel the savings when shopping at WalMart and Hy-Vee. It also has the ability to substantially reduce emissions. Utilizing natural gas in the long haul trucking industry just makes sense. These bills, which I’m proud to introduce with my friend Lee Terry, provide the tools necessary to make sure companies looking to use natural gas are not at a disadvantage.”

Of the three bills referred to the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure committee, the first, H.R. 3937, seeks to create a natural gas task force made up of the Department of Energy, Department of Commerce, the EPA, members of congress, state government representatives, and members of the private sector. The job of the task force would be to locate and define the barriers that might deter the trucking industry’s conversion to natural gas. In turn, the task force would then determine how that conversion might affect the Highway Trust Fund. The findings of the task force would be required to be produced in a report due within 120 days.

The second bill, H.R. 3938, would assign the Secretary of Transportation to identify natural gas fueling corridors for long haul truck traffic. The third bill, H.R. 3938 would allow an exemption from the current truck weight limit in order to allow compensation for heavier natural gas tanks, just as the Senate bill now proposes.

“Natural gas is a clean and affordable domestic energy resource that has the potential to drive American energy independence to reality,” commented Inhofe on the Senate bill. “The additional weight of natural gas fueling systems eats into the total the trucks are allowed to weigh with freight under current federal regulation, leaving it at a disadvantage to its diesel counterpart. This legislation brings the federal regulation for long-haul trucks into the 21st century by giving natural gas powered trucks the ability to compete on the same playing field in the amount of freight it can transport.”

“Supporting natural gas-powered vehicles is a part of the all-in approach to American energy that we need,” said the bill’s co-sponsor Sen. Donnelly. “While the standards in this bill are currently in place in Indiana, we need to expand them across the country so more companies are encouraged to make the investment in natural gas-powered vehicles.”

The Donnelly-Inhofe bill would also improve the current patchwork system of states having their own carrying standards and guidelines, which makes it possible for companies in states like Indiana to do intrastate business but much more difficult to carry on interstate commerce. That, in turn, serves as a deterrent for businesses to operate trucks powered by natural gas, a barrier the Donnelly-Inhofe bill seeks to remove by having federal standards for natural gas powered trucks.

Rich Kolodziej, president of NGVAmerica, a national trade association dedicated to the development of a growing and sustainable market for vehicles powered by natural gas or biomethane, applauded the Senate legislation as an attempt to lift the constraints to owning and operating a natural gas vehicle. Commenting on bill, Kolodziej stated that the extra weight of natural gas vehicles “causes a revenue loss of up to two to three percent due to reduced payload. Legislation such as this will help accelerate the growth of the NGV market and provide our country with the environmental benefits and greater energy independence that comes with using clean domestic natural gas as a vehicle fuel.”

Dr. Kathryn Clay, vice president of policy strategy at the American Gas Association, says the legislation is a common sense solution, because it ensures that drivers do not need to choose between operating with full payloads or using clean, domestic natural gas. “This forward-thinking legislation removes an unfair barrier to natural gas vehicles, and will help drivers save money on fuel costs, lower tailpipe emissions and reduce dependence on oil from unstable nations,” she adds.

Said Bill Graves, president and chief executive officer of American Trucking Associations (ATA) about the Senate legislation, “Natural gas holds great promise for our industry and our economy, and as such, we applaud the efforts of Sen. Inhofe and Sen. Donnelly to look for solutions to the challenge of realizing this promise. While there are still many details and specifications to address on this complex issue, we look forward to working with them on this important energy and transportation matter.”

Vanquish Worldwide Moves to Domestic Trucking

Trucks driving on a road in AfghanistanVanquish Worldwide is known for its provision of reconstruction material and wide range of services and solutions around the world. Vanquish has recently made the decision to move to domestic trucking after many years of joint work with Afghanistan and the United States trucking industry has another reason to be excited for additional training and truck driver programs.

Vanquish gained a contract with National Afghan Trucking (NAT) in 2011 and was assigned more than 12,500 projects with the NAT contract. Vanquish has delivered over 20,000 tons of dry goods and 15,000 tons of heavy material in Afghanistan all the while managing and maintaining a fleet of over 1,260 trucks.

Vanquish transports some of the country’s most valuable materials to dangerous locations without any problems thus far. Therefore, the company does not have any “No-Go” areas due to its high level of trust with its clients.

The company has opened a 17,000 square foot headquarters building in Maryville, Tennessee to give the company room to grow. Eric Barton is the founder of Vanquish Worldwide and he hopes this will isolate the company from uncertainty of government contracts.

The relationship Vanquish has with FedEx is already working in the company’s favor. FedEx is supporting Vanquish’s move to domestic trucking along with Denso and Rubbermaid, which are based in Blount County. Vanquish operates about thirty-four percent of pick up and delivery at the FedEx terminal in Nashville which averages out to about 1.2 million packages. Vanquish also earns about 1.4 million dollars annually with FedEx, creating an even bigger reason to continue to work together. Vanquish is expecting to close a 5.6 million dollar deal this month to gain Nashville based PAC trucking and twenty-three trucks.

As the United States military time in Afghanistan begins to conclude, the company is taking the next step from its experience moving fuel and equipment with Afghanistan, and moving its skills to the states. Vanquish is taking all the experience it has gained and is adding vocational and career training services through two firms based in Colorado.

One of the sister companies that is based in Colorado is Peak Technical Institute and Peak produces a multitude of training fields. The company recently added a commercial driver curriculum and is currently waiting for approval from the state for a license. The different areas of training that Peak has to offer include the following: unexploded ordinance technicians, hazardous waste operations, emergency response, and oil and gas safety awareness. Peak has also just added a program for protocol and household management.

The second sister company is Front Range Training, and the company offers core training in law enforcement. Police forces from Chicago to Los Angeles have used the company’s program, and Front Range plans to soon train SWAT teams in Maryville.

The new additions and relationships with Vanquish Worldwide will not take away from overseas future endeavors and projects, nor will the contracts with Afghanistan be at risk.

“I guess every person has to decide what makes them tick, and for me it’s being around different people, different challenges, and so the companies, — as diverse as they may seem, they have a common vision — that’s delivering excellence,” Barton says. “In transitioning into the civilian market, we do the same things here that made us successful over there — have the best equipment, the best-trained people and team that’s passionate about the job we’re doing.”

Wreaths Across America Team With Women in Trucking

In 1992 Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of leftover wreaths and Morrill Worcester decided to honor veterans by sending them to Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia to be laid on graves of fallen soldiers. Now each year Wreaths Across America (WAA), a non-profit organization formed by Worcester, raises money to honor veterans by laying wreaths on Arlington graves.

This year, Women In Trucking Association (WIT) is teaming up with WAA to lay wreaths throughout America. WIT is partnering with Jennifer Jo Cobb and her #10 Driven 2 Honor NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team.

Jennifer Cobb said,

“I’m honored to team with Women In Trucking and their members to support Wreaths Across America. I’m sure we can accomplish great things together for such a worthy cause. I’d love to see us make an impact ensuring that each and every fallen veteran receives a wreath on Wreaths Across America Day this December 13th. We can do it ladies!”

Each member of the Women In Trucking Association who supports the Wreaths Across America program will have his or her name written on a decal and placed on the Jennifer Jo Cobb’s racing truck. Also, one dollar from each wreath donation will be given to the Women In Trucking Scholarship Foundation to provide tuition assistance to a member seeking a career in the trucking industry.

Wreaths on gravesThis year Arlington National Cemetery is celebrating their 150th anniversary. The 624 acres is landscaped with complementary gardens throughout the rolling hills of the cemetery and it serves as a tribute to the service and sacrifice of every individual laid to rest within the hallowed grounds of Arlington.

Each year WAA has increased the amount of wreaths placed throughout hundreds of cemeteries in America, this year the organization plans on raising enough funds to cover every grave at Arlington to celebrate 150 years.

WAA also organizes a week of events including international veteran’s tributes, ceremonies at State Houses and a week-long “Veteran’s Parade” from Maine to Virginia. The Veteran’s Parade is used to spread WAA’s message about the importance of remembering our fallen heroes, honoring those who serve, and teaching children about the sacrifices made by veterans, and their families to preserve our freedom.

Truck Safety Addressed at Senate Hearing

A panel that included representatives from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) along with Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), met with a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to discuss what challenges and opportunities exist for improving truck safety on our nation’s highways. The July 29th hearing was chaired by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut).

Ferro’s first topic was a call for an investment in crash avoidance technologies. She gave Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems as an example of new technology that could prevent crashes and save lives. She cited the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) estimates that ESC systems could prevent 40 to 56 percent of untripped rollover crashes and 14 percent of loss-of-control crashes, and that the NHTSA’s proposed requirement to have ESCs on heavy vehicles could prevent as many as 2,300 crashes, nearly 900 injuries, and up to 60 fatalities annually.

Anne FerroSeveral examples of improvements to FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) model were presented by Ferro. She lauded the CSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS), which uses roadside inspections and investigation data to prioritize high risk motor carriers for interventions before crashes occur. In a recent study, “FMCSA compared the crash rates of those carriers identified for intervention with those without identified compliance and safety problems,” Ferro said. “Companies that the SMS identified as high-risk for future crashes had a future crash rate of more than double the national average. Going forward, FMCSA will use this data to flag companies for interventions by the Agency – which include roadside inspections, warning letters and onsite investigations – that will lead to improved safety and fewer crashes.”

Ferro also discussed topical issues such as the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners, obstructive sleep apnea, electronic logging devices (ELDs), the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, minimum training requirements for entry-level CMV operators, the coercion rule and the GROW AMERICA act, but most of her testimony centered around the controversial Hours of Service Rules (HOS).  She defended the regulations saying they had been backed up by extensive research and data to ensure that drivers had the necessary off-duty time to be alert at the wheel.

She stressed that the revised HOS rules that went fully into effect on July 1, 2013, impact less than 15 percent of truck drivers  —  only those who work the most extreme schedules of up to 70-hours per week. “The changes limit use of the restart to once every 168 hours (or seven days) and require that the restart include two nighttime periods from 1 – 5 a.m. when science tell us our bodies demand sleep the most,” she said.

Acknowledging that the FMCSA has received much criticism about the rule discriminating against nighttime drivers, Ferro said, “The rule does not prevent trucking companies and drivers from setting their own schedules, nor does it restrict drivers from being on the road during any time of the day. Whatever the limits on driving and work hours may be, if the motor carrier and driver plan their schedule so tightly that the driver can barely complete the run legally, then problems with completing runs inevitably will occur. That fact cannot support any rollback of the current rule.”

Boasting of the safety improvements already achieved in trucking, Dave Osiecki, Chief of National Advocacy for the American Trucking Associations (ATA), estimated that the industry spends $7.5 billion per year on safety. The result has been an impressive safety record that includes a 74 percent decrease in truck-involved fatality rates since 1975; a 21 percent decrease in truck-related fatalities and 20 percent decrease in truck-involved injuries from 2002 to 2012; and a 37 percent decrease in the truck-involved fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled from 2002 to 2012. “In actual numbers, there were 1,018 fewer fatalities in 2012 than in 2002 – very good progress in light of the trucking industry operating 2.7 million additional trucks and 54 billion more miles in 2012 (compared to 2002),” he said.

ATA American Trucking Associations LogoOsiecki went on to say that the long-term improvement in truck safety is partly due to industry-supported initiatives such as the ATA’s support of mandatory drug and alcohol testing, the commercial driver’s license program, a ban on radar detectors in trucks, and the recently proposed drug and alcohol test results clearinghouse. He also said the industry continues to promote safety with initiatives like mandatory use of electronic logging devices to track HOS compliance, mandatory use of speed limiters, stability control systems on new trucks, and a timely national system of alerting employers about drivers’ moving violations.

Osiecki continued:

“In contrast, over the past four years FMCSA has spent more time, energy and resources on the hours of service (HOS) rulemaking than any other. Yet, by the agency’s own admission, changes to the HOS rules recently imposed will prevent less than 1 percent of truck involved fatalities. Given this relatively modest benefit, the agency justified the rulemaking by making the speculative claim that the new rules will improve driver health and longevity.”

Osiecki stated that the FMCSA and its state partners have a substantial opportunity to implement a more effective allocation of enforcement resources, and that this aggressive enforcement should be focused on the most common mistakes and misbehaviors of professional drivers as well as passenger vehicle drivers. Since the leading factor in crashes is vehicle speed, ATA and Roadsafe America petitioned NHTSA and FMCSA in 2006 to require that speed limiters be set on all commercial motor vehicles over 26,000 lbs. He reminded the Senate committee that in the eight years that have passed since then, neither the NHTSA nor the FMCSA has issued a proposed rule to address this leading cause of crashes.

Another member of the panel, Major David Palmer, speaking on behalf of the CVSA, also addressed the HOS regulations. “As inspectors and law enforcement officers, it is critical that we have clear, enforceable regulations in order to have uniform, effective enforcement. The recent effort to suspend enforcement of a portion of the hours-of-service regulations while a study is conducted is an example of practices that needlessly complicate the regulations and enforcement.”

Palmer said the CVSA supports a comprehensive study on the safety and operational impacts of the HOS regulations, but only while the current rules remain in place.

Although no representative from the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) was on the panel, OOIDA issued a response to the hearing:

“The FMCSA has directed its focus for too long on the wrong areas when it comes to highway safety. The focus should instead be on causes of crashes rather than micromanaging policies that have a negative impact on safety.”

The statement says the FMCSA misses the mark when it relies on measuring compliance with mathematical formulas instead of true crash indicators, therefore failing to address root causes behind safety problems. OOIDA calls for regulatory policies and enforcement efforts to be evaluated on their effectiveness in reducing crashes. More focus should be given to proper driver training. It also touted OOIDA and professional drivers for developing the Truckers for Safety Agenda, TruckersforSafety.com, which examines ways to improve highway safety without the imposition of burdensome regulations.

“It’s not necessary to put small-business truckers out of business in order to hold public safety as the highest priority,” said Spencer. “Insisting on continuing this approach will lead many of the safest to leave trucking altogether, and this will create a void filled by inexperienced and unproven drivers, thus undermining public safety even more.”

TMAF Says “High-5 and Show Your Pride” at GATS

The countdown to GATS is entering the final stretch, and the Trucking Moves America Forward movement has announced an exciting program that they plan to debut during the Great American Trucking Show. The “High-5 and Show Your Pride” campaign, which will make its debut on August 20, encourages each GATS attendee to donate 5 dollars to the TMAF movement to reach its goal of one million dollars in its first year.

The goal of the campaign is to emphasize pride within the trucking industry.

A second phase of the campaign – “Show Your Pride” – urges industry workers to stop by the TMAF booth (#8042) at GATS and sign a pledge showcasing their dedication to trucking. Anyone affiliated with the industry is welcome to sign the pledge.

The TMAF movement is an industry-wide image and internal education initiative that is focused on informing policymakers, motorists and the public about the numerous benefits of the trucking industry. Since its inception in March, those involved in the TMAF movement have been working to help build the groundswell of political and grassroots support the trucking industry needs in order to foster growth.

“We are 70% of the way to our goal of raising $1 million since our launch six months ago,” said Mike Card, fundraising chairman, Trucking Moves America Forward and president of Combined Transport in a press release. “These incredible results are a testament to the passion within trucking and we believe the ‘High-5 and Show Your Pride’ campaign will continue to energize, excite and inspire our industry at GATS and beyond. TMAF is a long-term movement and we aim to continue fundraising well past our goal.”

TMAF at GATS

An image of TMAF booth at the Mid-America Trucking Show, where the program was launched.

In addition to donating at the TMAF booth, GATS attendees will also be able make their donation at the American Trucking Associations booth (#14059), a founding member of the movement. All of other member companies at the convention will be showcasing “High-5 and Show Your Pride” signage. All other companies who donate will be recognized by TMAF at GATS as well as on TMAF social media and its website.

“We challenge the more than 40,000 attendees to continue celebrating and supporting the TMAF movement by participating in the ’High-5 and Show Your Pride‘ campaign at GATS,” said Steve Ponder, chairman, Trucking Moves America Forward and vice-president of Great West Casualty Company. “There would be nothing more exciting than moving closer to our goal with our friends and colleagues in Dallas.”

TMAF has had lots of success since it began. It only took TMAF two months after its launch to reach the half-million dollar donation mark, thanks to major contributions from Allied Committee for the Trucking Industry, Cummins Inc., Great West Casualty Company, Jack Cooper Transportation, JJ Keller, Lipscomb & Pitts, Longistics, Love’s Travel Stops, Minnesota Trucking, NTTC, Old Dominion Freight Lines, Pilot Flying J, TAEC Region IV and Southeastern Freight Lines.

The TMAF campaign is just one of many exciting events that will be taking place at this year’s GATS. For a complete list of events, and information about getting tickets so you don’t miss out on all the fun, visit the GATS website.

 

Technology Moves Into the Truck, Some Drivers Out

Telogis Logs On With Volvo Trucks

One of the biggest obstacles most trucking companies face when adopting on-board telematics hardware to their trucks is integrating the aftermarket electronic gear successfully with the electronic systems installed at the factory. Many fleets have run limited tests of the telematics gear only to end up with a Frankenstein configuration where the aftermarket gear and the factory systems won’t communicate properly or are incompatible altogether.

Interior of Volvo Truck with trucker

Interior of Volvo truck

Over the years, many test-weary fleet managers have adopted the attitude regarding telematics hardware that if the truck OEM doesn’t offer the gear as a factory option, or at least endorse it as “plug and play” compatible, they simply won’t consider adding the gear to their trucks.

Responding to this, many OEMs have begun to offer basic telematics systems, and/or system pre-wiring as a factory option. As good as the basic factory systems are, the truck OEMs are still in the truck business, not the software and data services business.

Bringing the best of both worlds together, Volvo Trucks recently announced that it has extended its own Remote Diagnostics connected-vehicle system with the addition of fleet management services from software provider Telogis.

Volvo’s existing connected-vehicle system, which is standard on all new Volvo-powered trucks, allows a fleet to use the Telogis software applications without the typical hardware and installation costs associated with other third-party systems.

Volvo President Göran Nyberg commented:

“We’re pleased to collaborate with Telogis to deliver value to motor carriers seeking the flexibility and information needed to fine-tune their operations. Leveraging the existing connectivity of our vehicles to facilitate fleet management services represents a breakthrough for fleet managers, who are no longer captive to hardware.”

The companies will offer three packages, Telogis Fleet, Telogis Compliance & Navigation, and a bundled option that provides all of the services offered in the individual packages. Volvo-specific vehicle data enhances the software services, providing fleet managers and operators with an inside look at driver/vehicle performance and history. In addition to being available on all new Volvo-powered trucks, the Telogis services can also be retrofitted on the 60,000+ trucks already equipped with Volvo’s connected vehicle hardware.

Fleets can eliminate paper logs and more easily manage and meet federal, state, and local regulations including hours-of-service and inspection reports by using the Telogis Compliance module. Included with the compliance module is a navigation module that delivers truck-specific, real-time road conditions and community-based navigation updates that help to maximize uptime and improve on-time arrivals.

Through the hardware that is already installed in all new Volvo-powered trucks, fleets can activate the Telogis software and data services “over the air” to deploy a comprehensive fleet management solution. Fleet managers can gain insights to help improve operations and driver safety.

The factory hardware that enables the Telogis offerings also enables Volvo’s own Remote Diagnostics system, which provides proactive diagnostics and repair planning assistance. This system has reduced the average service diagnostic time by up to 70% and lowered the average time of repair by more than 20%. The diagnostics offering also helps improve parts availability and provides technicians with easy-to-read repair instructions before the truck arrives for service.

Daimler Dumping Drivers?

Earlier this month, Daimler Trucks debuted their concept for the truck of the future, the self-driving truck — Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025. As part of the debut, the truck used its intelligent Highway Pilot system to successfully complete an autonomous (self-driven) journey on a highway in Germany.

Daimler is calling the concept truck a quantum leap in freight transportation in terms of safety, efficiency, and connectivity. The company says it will continue to develop the Highway Pilot system for use in production vehicles, with potential launch dates as early as 2025.

“Autonomous driving will revolutionize road freight transport and create major benefits for everyone involved,” said Daimler’s Wolfgang Bernhard. “With the Future Truck 2025, Daimler Trucks is once again highlighting its pioneering role in innovative technologies and opening up a new era in truck transport.”

The concept truck focuses on connecting the vehicle with much of its operating environment, starting with the driver and carrier, but also including road infrastructure and other vehicles.

The Future Truck 2025 builds on Daimler’s experience in driver assistance technology for trucks. The company has already deployed hundreds of thousands of adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, stability control, and lane-keeping assistance systems into real-world operation. Daimler has also deployed a “Predictive Powertrain Control” system that uses information about road topography and route characteristics to adjust the drivetrain for maximum fuel economy.

Daimler has plans for additional/improved driver assistance systems in the near future. These systems would allow vehicles to communicate with one another, enabling open-highway operation without ongoing driver intervention, similar to the autopilot systems found in commercial airplanes.

By optimizing acceleration and braking to help ensure a smooth flow of traffic, the Future Truck 2025 can reduce fuel consumption and emissions. The autonomous driving system would also enable more precise scheduling. Along with several new components, the Future Truck 2025 also includes some systems that are already in use in passenger cars. Using the Highway Pilot technology, Daimler plans to be the first truck manufacturer to develop an autonomous driving system for use in production vehicles.

ZF Backs Trailers Remotely

While Daimler seeks to automate driving tasks out on the road, component manufacturer ZF is working on simplifying the process of backing a tractor trailer. ZF is best known for their transmission and drivetrain products, but the company is also a significant player in the steering systems market, including electric power steering.

ZF recently made a proof of concept demonstration where its steering and sensing hardware were combined with a smartphone app that allows a driver to back a tractor-trailer combination from outside the vehicle. By getting out from behind the wheel, the driver has a much better view of the truck, trailer, and dock/parking area, enabling safer more efficient backing, even for the least experienced drivers.

The smartphone app is linked to the truck’s electric power steering system, and sensors read the coupler angle between the truck and trailer(s). On the smartphone, the driver uses the touchscreen to simply indicate which direction he wants the rear of the combination to move; the app then determines which way the tractor should be steered to achieve the desired result.

During the recent demonstration, ZF scored extra complexity points by performing the remote backing maneuver, not just with a tractor and single semi-trailer, but with a (fixed-tongue) pup trailer added behind the semi-trailer. This combination is sometimes referred to as an a-train; typical US doubles are considered c-trains, and many of the heavier Canadian doubles are b-trains.

This technology would not only be effective on typical tractor/semi-trailer rigs, but also b-train combinations and the a-train rig on which it was demonstrated. Using the system on c-train doubles would require some means of locking one pivot point on the converter dolly.

It’s important to note that there were no steerable axles on the trailers used in the demonstration. Just the normal steer axle on the front of the tractor.

Now if somebody could just develop an app to keep four-wheelers out of the way…

Pull up a Seat at GATS – Great American Trucking Show

This year’s Great American Trucking Show is really stepping up its game with featured contests for the drivers who attend. Truck drivers visiting this year’s show will have the chance to purchase a top of the line truck seat from Seat Specialists, all the while supporting the Women In Trucking foundation.

GATS 2014 is supporting Women in Trucking (WIT) that has partnered up with Seat Specialists, LLC and will co-host a collection brand feature of seats that will be called The 2014 Seat Challenge. Any truck drivers who stop by the booth can test out all six seats and will then be able to vote on their favorite seat.

truck Seat SpecialistsWomen in Trucking conducted a survey for its members June of this year and some of the country’s top seat manufacturers have entered seats based on the results of this survey. Director of Business Development at Seat Specialists, LLC, Jenn Ross, has managed to gather seats from Bostrom Seating, National Seating, Knoedler Manufacturers, Prime Seating, and Superior Seats. The seats from these top notch companies will be displayed during GATS and drivers will be able to test each seat.

Ross tells the media that Seat Specialists uses a specific method in order to regulate a driver’s profile. Seat Specialists uses four categories to accomplish this: fit, feel, support, and style. The truckers will judge the seats side by side and then Seat Specialists matches the brand/model of seat to fit the specific needs of the truck driver. Ross also says that “this is a great opportunity to learn about new options in seating and experience them firsthand.”

Those who participate in The Seat Challenge will have a chance to win $500 that can be used for a future seat purchase. Drivers will be able to leave the show with the seats they have purchased. These proceeds will benefit the Women In Trucking Scholarship Foundation.

Seat Specialists, LLC offer semi truck seats and the accommodating parts from the nation’s leading seat manufacturers. Seat Specialists takes into consideration any community comments and customer feedback about specific needs when thinking of the best possible ways to accommodate its customers. The company also sends out seat selection guides to its customers. Seat Specialists stands by its belief that every truck driver should enjoy a comfortable seat while driving all those miles on the road and should have the opportunity to pick from the best. The seats are delivered directly to the customers which means Seat Specialists is accessible to truck drivers not only in the United States, but in Canada as well. Seat Specialists, LLC strives for the best service in the truck seating industry.

Women In Trucking Association, Inc. aims to encourage women to employ in the trucking industry, promote the accomplishments of these women, and to minimize the level of difficulty women face in the trucking industry. WIT is a nonprofit organization and sixteen percent of its members are men. WIT is supported by Gold Level Partners: Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, Daimler Trucks NA, Great Dane Trailers, and Walmart.

Truckers Against Trafficking Rolls in new Display at GATS

This year’s Great American Trucking Show is just around the corner, and Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) has an exciting new program that will make its debut on the truck show’s first day. The Freedom Drivers Project is a one-of-a-kind mobile exhibit that TAT plans to use to educate members of the trucking industry as well as the general public about the frightening realities of domestic sex trafficking and what the trucking industry is doing to prevent it from happening.

Truckers Against Trafficking Freedom Drivers Project

Truckers Against Trafficking Freedom Drivers Project Outside Wrap

The Freedom Drivers Project is an interactive exhibit built inside the trailer of a semi-trailer. The climate controlled interior will include a theater station that will play a version of the training DVD that TAT uses. The exhibit will also include actual artifacts from trafficking cases.

TAT hopes that this will connect those who view the exhibit to the back stories of so many who end up enslaved in the US. Portraits of real truckers who are in the fight against human trafficking, complete with details of how each is working to end human trafficking, will also be featured.

TAT hopes that the trailers will provide many with their first glimpse into the world of human trafficking. The display will also provide information about simple action steps that anyone can take to help in the fight against human trafficking.

Truckers Against Trafficking Freedom Drivers Project

Preview of the layout of Truckers Against Trafficking’s Freedom Drivers Project

After its debut at GATS, the Freedom Drivers Project will continue to tour the country. For information about how to bring the Freedom Drivers Project to your event, send TAT an email at tat.truckers@gmail.com or visit the Freedom Drivers Project website.

The Freedom Drivers Project is just one of many exciting events that will take place at GATS.

Safety at FedEx Proven by 138 NTDC Contestants

FedEx Van

With nearly a third of the drivers in the National Truck Driving Championships (NTDC) representing FedEx, the company is setting the bar high.

This year, the international shipping company is sending 138 drivers from 48 states to Pittsburgh to compete August 14-16. Collectively, the drivers will be armed with 180 million miles and 2,900 years of professional driving experience.

The FedEx drivers will compete against roughly 450 drivers in nine different classes. In front of 2,000 or so spectators, the drivers will have their knowledge and skills tested in a written exam, a skill (driving) course, and a pre-trip inspection test. In order to compete in the NTDC, drivers must first win a state-level truck driving championship in one of the nine classes.

“FedEx team members are among the safest in the industry, and the number of state finalists at the NTDC exemplifies our commitment to safety,”  Chairman of FedEx Corp., Frederick W. Smith, said. “I’m proud of the 1,500 FedEx team members that qualified to compete at the state level and the 138 finalists competing at the national level.”

Last year, FedEx sent 133 professional drivers from 46 states to represent FedEx Freight, FedEx Ground, FedEx Express and FedEx SupplyChain. Three drivers left with National Champion titles in Flatbed, 3-Axle and Step Van classes, while nine additional drivers finished within the top three for their class.

Coupling this year’s high number contestants with last year’s, one can easily see FedEx’s commitment to safety is paying off. On a daily basis, at FedEx, safety is of the utmost importance. With 75,000 plus drivers regularly on the roads, accident prevention has become a main focal point for FedEx. One of the ways FedEx ensures the safe transport of goods and freight is defensive driving courses. These courses are in place to help teach drivers the necessary principles for avoiding unsafe situations.

With the help its great drivers and their safe driving practices, FedEx has earned a place as one of the world’s most admired and respected companies. In turn, FedEx has won countless awards, including Fortune’s 2013 list “100 Best Companies to Work for in America.”

Like FedEx has already said on their website, “We owe our success as an industry leader to the more than 300,000 global team members who deliver exceptional customer service experiences day-in and day-out.”

Keep up the good work, FedEx! It’s great to see a trucking company highlighted for its safe driving practices, rather than the latter.