Maverick Transportation offering $5,000 sign-on bonus to experienced drivers

Little Rock, Arkansas-based Maverick Transportation (No. 76 on the CCJ Top 250) has announced a new $5,000 sign-on bonus for experienced drivers.

To receive the sign-on bonus, drivers must have at least one year of verifiable over-the-road experience. It’s applicable to driving jobs in all divisions.

The sign-on bonus is paid out in $1,000 increments. The first payment will be paid after the first load is delivered, and subsequent payments will be made at 30 days, 60 days, 90 days and 120 days after emptying the first load.

“By providing drivers new to Maverick with a generous sign-on bonus, we’re able to help make their job change an easier and more profitable one,” said Kimberly Williams Gary, executive vice president.

Founded in 1980, Maverick has over 1,600 units providing OTR and dedicated service to the flatbed, glass, and temperature controlled markets throughout North America.

Diesel prices hit two-year high with most recent jump

Another increase is the price of diesel fuel during the week ending Aug. 14 brought prices to its highest point in two years, according to the Department of Energy’s weekly report.

The week’s 1.7-cent increase, the seventh consecutive week with an increase, brought the nation’s average price for diesel to $2.598 per gallon.

This year’s previous high was set in early January and again in mid-April at $2.597 per gallon. The last time prices were above $2.598 was mid-August 2015, when prices were $2.615 during the week ending Aug. 17, 2015.

The West Coast less California region saw the biggest jump in prices during the most recent week, rising 4.1 cents.

The nation’s cheapest diesel is still in the Gulf Coast region at $2.41 per gallon, followed by the Lower Atlantic region at $2.527 per gallon.

The most expensive fuel is in California at $2.949 per gallon, followed by the West Coast less California region at $2.788 per gallon.

Prices in other regions, according to the DOE, are:

  • New England – $2.625
  • Central Atlantic – $2.761
  • Midwest – $2.57
  • Rocky Mountain – $2.70

ProMiles’ numbers during the same week had diesel prices increasing by 1.9 cents to $2.571 per gallon nationwide.

According to ProMiles’ Fuel Surcharge Index, the most expensive diesel can be found in California at $2.94 per gallon, and the cheapest can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $2.428 per gallon.

Training Truckers to Watch for Human Trafficking

“Truckers are often the first line of defense against human trafficking,” Senator Klobuchar says.

According to Truckers Against Trafficking, a nonprofit group created to fight this illegal activity, truckers are responsible for reporting more than 500 human trafficking cases, which potentially saved nearly 1,000 victims.

Klobuchar, however, feels even more can be done.

Her new bill would bring additional resources to the mix and would fund new training programs for truckers. The bill would also create a Human Trafficking Prevention Coordinator to work alongside the trucking industry.

 
Truckers Michael and Beverly Monahan say human trafficking happens more often than you might think.
 
“It’s very rampant,” Beverly says. “A lot of this is going on in rest areas and truck stops.”
Beverly has been trucking for six years and has heard several stories about human trafficking, but says she’s never been approached by anyone herself. Her husband Michael however, a 35-year trucking veteran, has experienced it multiple times.
 
“I’ve had them knock on my door and they’ll ask you if you’re lonely or if you want company, or something like that,” Monahan says.

Their current employer, Dart Transit Company, requires all new truckers to go through human trafficking training as part of their hiring process. Truckers are also required to view a 25-minute video put out by Truckers Against Trafficking.

Senator Klobuchar is hoping to see other companies nationwide adopt the same requirements. She’s fairly confident her bill will pass, considering it has already been approved in committee and currently has the support of some Republican senators.

CCJ MarketPulse: Optimism About Trucking Business Conditions Abounds

The following information is obtained from the June 2017 CCJ MarketPulse Report, a survey of more than 200 senior executives at trucking companies who have agreed to participate monthly. The June 2017 CCJ MarketPulse Report received 73 completed responses from carrier executives.

If you would like to participate in the CCJ MarketPulse survey, please email Jeff Crissey at jcrissey@randallreilly.com.

Optimism abounds

6 Month Business ForecastOverall, 79.5 percent of respondents in the June 2017 CCJ MarketPulse believe business conditions will be better over the next six months, and only 2.9 percent expect business conditions to worsen in that time. 87.5 percent of respondents from large fleets expect conditions to improve compared to 60.0 percent of respondents from smaller fleets. On a month-over-month basis, 33.8 percent of respondents said June was better than May, while 10.3 percent said it was worse and 55.9 percent said business remain unchanged.

Fewer fleets looking to grow

6 Month Business PlanDespite the positive outlook, only 36.7 percent of all respondents said they are likely to increase the size of their fleets in the next six months, down sharply from 47.7 percent in the May survey. Respondents from larger carriers are more than twice as likely (43.8 percent vs. 20.0 percent) to add capacity. Only 1.5 percent of all respondents plan to decrease fleet size, while 61.8 percent plan to keep fleet size the same by either replacing aging equipment or not making any changes.

Staffing up

Business Plans for Next 6 Months60.3 percent of all respondents said they are likely to add full-time employees in the next six months, a major increase from a year ago, where only 35.5 percent of respondents to the June 2016 survey said they intended to add full-time staff. Only 5.9 percent of respondents said they plan to cut full-time employees, part-time employees and/or independent contractors, while 29.4 percent plan to maintain current employment levels.

Carrier sentiment hits yearlong high

June Production ScaleThe Carrier Sentiment Index held steady at 6.5, marking three consecutive months of monthly business performance well above neutral territory. The index assesses the month on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the carrier’s worst month and 10 being the best. All respondents were optimistic, with June business conditions earning a 6.6 from fleets with more than 100 power units and a 6.2 from fleets with up to 100 power units.

Walmart Institutes New Fees to Squeeze Shippers, Carriers Into on-time Deliveries

Walmart has instituted new shipping and delivery policies that could strap carriers with extra fees for deliveries that are late, mispackaged or delivered earlier than the scheduled delivery time.

The new policy, dubbed “On-Time, In-Full,” could score the company an extra $1 billion in revenue, according to an article from Bloomberg.

The extra revenue isn’t based on the new fees, but rather by securing product availability at Walmart stores.

“A year ago we shared these same on-time and in-full delivery goals with suppliers and asked them to begin preparing,” says Walmart spokesperson Ryan Curell. “We will phase these changes in over the course of this year, working closely with our vendors to help reach these targets. We know that when products we’ve ordered arrive on time, it results in happier customers.”

Walmart pressures its carriers against doing business with Amazon

Walmart’s logistics arm, which encompasses both the retailer’s private fleet and transportation outsourced to for-hire carriers, has started telling carriers it may opt against doing …

The new fees will affect carriers and shippers who fall below thresholds established by Walmart’s new program. Food, consumables and health products, which have a one-day delivery window, must be delivered on time 75 percent of the time. If not, Walmart will dock 3 percent of the invoice value of the loads improperly delivered. That’s not 3 percent of the shipping costs. Rather, it’s of the actual value of the contents of the load. General merchandise loads have a two-day delivery window, and both the 75 percent on-time threshold and the 3 percent fee apply.

If the shipper is at fault, they’ll be responsible for absorbing the 3 percent fee. If the carrier is responsible for the load being late, early or mispackaged, then they’ll be hit with the fee.

The program and its new fees take effect this month.

Matt Elenjickal, CEO of fleet management software provider FourKites, says the move could send wrinkles throughout the supply chain, given the size and scope of Walmart’s logistics operations and the changes carriers and shippers will likely institute to combat being hit with the retailer’s new fees.

“There’s a cascading effect that is created,” he says. “Getting drivers and trucks on time to move the products and make sure the product is available on the shelf without a delay” will cause “a big upstream impact,” Elenjickal says.

Shippers and carriers who work for Walmart have been preparing for the change for some time, Elenjickal says. For carriers who haul for the retail giant, Elenjickal recommends using fleet management technology, such as FourKites, to be able to track trucks and loads to know whether shipments meet Walmart’s delivery criteria.

Michelin Debuts Airless, Connected Concept Tire

Michelin on Wednesday debuted its airless, connected, “rechargeable”, customizable and all-organic concept tire.

A wheel integrated with a tire, Vision – which Michelin rolled out at its global summit for sustainable mobility in Montreal – was produced through a design process and co-constructed with users from bio-sourced and biodegradable materials.

“It’s inspired by nature with a very light, efficient structure,” says Terry Gettys, Michelin’s executive vice president of research and development.

Among the materials used in Vision’s construction are bamboo, paper, molasses, tin cans, wood, electronic waste, plastic waste, hay, tire chips, used metals, cloth, cardboard, orange zest and natural rubber.

3D printers allow designers to apply a precise amount of rubber on the tire, thus extending its life depending on needs. Tread design is optimized and depth reduced in order to reduce its thickness and make the tire more efficient in terms of materials. The tread design is adapted, in accordance with the user’s mobility needs.

An airless tire, Vision can neither explode nor blowout. It relies on an interior architecture capable of supporting the vehicle, while also ensuring the solidity of the wheel and guaranteeing both comfort and safety. The tire’s architecture is based on an alveolar structure that was developed through advanced modeling, solid in the center, flexible on the outside.

The connected tire is equipped with sensors that provide real-time information about its condition. Through Michelin’s mobile app, it’s possible to make an appointment to change the tire’s destination, depending on the user’s needs. A change in usage – for example, to snowy conditions – is done via 3D printing.

With Supreme Court Blow to ELD Legal Challenge, Mandate Has No Roadblocks Remaining

The Supreme Court on Monday delivered a death blow to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s legal challenge to the U.S. DOT’s electronic logging device mandate. With the high court’s rejection, the lawsuit will go no further.

Though there are efforts underway to engage Congress on the issue, spearheaded in part by OOIDA, the issue is likely a nonstarter with lawmakers, multiple sources have told CCJ in recent months. Just five years ago, a Republican-led Congress required the DOT and its Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to develop the ELD rule. The mandate also has support from Democrats. Such bi-partisan support doesn’t bode well for any moves to strip the mandate or delay it.

Given this week’s news from the Supreme Court and the likely reluctance of Congress — or the White House, whose DOT has shown no interest in bucking Congress’ orders — to touch the issue, any carriers, particularly small ones, hoping for a reversal of the mandate should transition to seeking compliance options.

“I believe this is game-set-match,” says Joe Rajkovacz, head of regulatory affairs for the Western States Trucking Associations and former owner-operator. “We’ve moved to making sure our members are educated on this issue and we’re encouraging them to not wait until the last minute.”

Rajkovacz notes his group opposed the mandate. It filed opposition comments in 2014 during the public comment period. The “reality now,” Rajkovacz says, “is any optimism that this can be overturned is false hope.”

The American Trucking Associations earlier this week noted its support for the Supreme Court’s decision to effectively uphold the mandate. “We are pleased to see that the Supreme Court will not interfere with the implementation of this important, and Congressionally mandated, safety rule,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spears. “We will continue to support FMCSA as they work toward the December deadline for electronic logging devices and urge them to provide certainty to the industry about when and how to comply with this rule by continuing to move toward implementing this regulation on schedule.”

CCJ earlier this year published an in-depth ELD buyers’ guide to help carriers understand compliance options. See the links below to read about pricing, suppliers and more.

FMCSA Rule Setting Training Standards for New Truck Drivers Takes Effect

After a five-month delay due to regulatory reviews ordered by the Trump Administration, a rule setting national training standards for new truck drivers has become law. Effective as of June 5, the rule offers a nearly three-year compliance window, giving carriers, trainers and other stakeholders until February 2020 to comply with the rule.

The rule will apply to CDL applicants who receive their CDLs on Feb. 7, 2020, and after.

In addition to establishing a core curriculum required to be taught to CDL applicants and driver trainees, the rule institutes two other key changes: Required behind-the-wheel training and a registry of FMCSA-approved driver trainers from which CDL applicants must receive training. Trainers, including carriers who have their own training facilities, must meet certain criteria and be certified by FMCSA to join the registry’s rolls.

Though the reforms received broad support by key stakeholders — and much of the rule was developed by stakeholders themselves — FMCSA’s final iteration of the rule has drawn criticism for lacking a behind-the-wheel training time minimum. The agency’s original proposal for the rule called for a minimum of 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training, including course time and on-road time. It ultimately removed the 30-hour minimum, which trucking lobbyists have urged the agency to reestablish.

Diesel Prices Continue to Meander

Following a half-cent drop during the week ending May 22, diesel fuel prices across the United States have reached the lowest point since the 2017 low on March 27.

The average price of a gallon of on-highway diesel now stands at $2.539, continuing the year’s trend of flat prices.

The most significant price increase during the week came in California, where prices rose a cent. The biggest drop came in the Midwest region, where prices fell 1.1 cents.

The nation’s most expensive diesel can be found in California at $2.912 per gallon, followed by the Central Atlantic region at $2.733 per gallon.

The cheapest fuel can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $2.384 per gallon, followed by the Midwest region at $2.468 per gallon.

Prices in other regions, according to the Department of Energy, are:

  • New England – $2.626
  • Lower Atlantic – $2.479
  • Rocky Mountain – $2.629
  • West Coast less California – $2.725

Driver Training Rule, Though Finalized by FMCSA, Again Delayed by Trump Order

A January-issued memo from President Trump directing federal agencies to reassess certain regulations has again delayed the effective date of a rule establishing minimum training standards for new truck drivers.

In a notice scheduled to be published Tuesday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will delay the rule’s effective date to June 5 — the third such delay this year and a five-month departure from the rule’s initial effective date, February 6. The rule’s Feb. 7, 2020, compliance date does not appear to be affected by the delay, however.

The rule, officially dubbed the Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-level Commercial Vehicle Operators, sets a minimum classroom curriculum required to be taught to CDL seekers. It also stipulates that pre-CDL drivers become proficient at behind-the-wheel operation, as judged by an FMCSA-approved trainer, before being allowed to receive a CDL. It also establishes a registry of FMCSA-approved trainers from which CDL applicants must be trained.