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.  

Congestion Cost Trucking $63.4 billion in Lost Productivity in 2015

Traffic congestion on U.S. highways cost the trucking industry $63.4 billion in 2015 due to lost productivity, according to new research by the American Transportation Research Institute released Tuesday.

The congestion costs for 2015 grew $13.9 billion from the congestion costs of 2014. ATRI used truck GPS data, along with data from the Federal Highway Administration, to determine that the trucking industry experienced more than 996 million hours of delays in 2015, which is equivalent to 362,243 truck drivers sitting idle for an entire working year. The average cost of congestion for the year was more than $22,000 for a truck that drove 100,000 miles or more.

The research group credits an increase in crashes in 2015 from 2014, including a 3.8 percent increase in police-reported crashes and a 7.2 percent increase in fatalities from crashes, as well as weather impacts, as the main drivers behind the congestion.

Cost of congestion per truck

The cost of congestion per truck in 2015 increased from 2014. The average cost of congestion for the year was more than $22,000 for a truck that drives 100,000 miles or more annually.

During the year, the first quarter had the lowest congestion, while the third quarter saw the highest congestion, ATRI’s report states.

At the state level, Florida and Texas accounted for the most congestion with each totaling over $5 million in total cost of congestion. The two states combined to account for 16.5 percent of the nation’s total congestion cost.

2016 set record for vehicle miles traveled, FHWA reports

2016 set record for vehicle miles traveled, FHWA reports

The year’s 3.2 trillion vehicle miles traveled is 87.5 billion more miles than were traveled in 2015, FHWA reports.

Washington, D.C., had the highest cost of congestion on a per-mile basis due to the amount of congestion in a small amount of National Highway System miles. The cost-per-mile in D.C. was more than $1.1 million for the 59 miles in the district. New Jersey had the second-highest cost-per-mile at $483,970 per mile.

Only seven states experienced a decrease in overall congestion cost in 2015 when compared to 2014 – Missouri, Mississippi, Michigan, North Carolina, Alabama, Nebraska and New Jersey.

Additionally, ATRI found that 91 percent of the nation’s congestion costs in 2015 came from metropolitan areas, with just under $5.8 billion coming from outside these areas. The New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area topped the list, accounting for nearly $4.6 billion in total congestion costs. The Chicago metro area followed, accounting for $2.1 billion.

Good Riddance SFD Rule: FMCSA Withdrawal Underscores CSA’s Lingering Problems

Late last month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration formally withdrew its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding carrier safety fitness determination originally published in the Federal Register in January 2016. In addition, the agency announced it would scrap plans to issue a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would have allowed it to retool the troubled rule.

In February, 62 national and regional trucking organizations sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao seeking to withdraw the NPRM. Citing that correspondence as well as comments received in response to the proposed rule, FMCSA essentially sent itself back to the drawing board.

The sudden cancellation of the SFD proposal was undoubtedly a relief to nearly every corner of the trucking community. “The American Trucking Associations has long supported using data to target enforcement activities against bad actors in our industry,” said Chris Spear, ATA president and CEO in a statement after FMCSA announced the rule’s withdrawal. “However, numerous reviews have shown flaws in the data and in the CSA system, so it makes sense to withdraw this rule which would have used CSA data to create publicly available fitness ratings.”

FMCSA withdraws Safety Fitness rule meant to revamp carrier rating system following industry pushback

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration this week will withdraw its January 2016 proposal to rework the way it rates carriers and determines their fitness …

But the fact that FMCSA proceeded with publishing the SFD proposal in the first place is worrisome at best. Upon its release, it was met with 171 comments, almost all against the proposal.

The NPRM proposed replacing the current three-tiered rating system – satisfactory, conditional and unsatisfactory – with a single “unfit” rating. Many detractors felt the absence of a “fit” designation was a tacit endorsement that all carriers not rated “unfit” were safe operators.

Most objections to the SFD proposal centered around flaws with FMCSA’s Compliance Safety Accountability Safety Measurement System, the data that would have been used by FMCSA largely to assign an unfit rating. The agency has been tinkering with the troubled CSA program since it was rushed into action nearly seven years ago, and it still is no closer to perfect than it was in December 2010.

These objections included concerns over the ability to effectively challenge violations without attached citations in the DataQ process, the Crash Indicator BASIC not having crash causation included in the methodology, and uneven enforcement of Unsafe Driving BASIC-related violations, including speeding, from state to state. That the proposed rule would have expanded FMCSA’s ability to assign carrier safety ratings based solely on potentially flawed on-road safety data is downright scary.

FMCSA, states using new investigative techniques in carriers’ on-site compliance reviews

The U.S. DOT is honing the techniques it uses to perform on-site compliance reviews of trucking companies by expanding the number of interviews performed with …

Then there’s the issue argued by many that the agency’s SFD proposal was invalid from the onset since language in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act required the completion of a correlation study from the National Academies of Science to reform the CSA program to better achieve its goals of targeting unsafe operators. That report is not expected to be published until June.

So what made FMCSA think it was ready to move ahead with the SFD proposal in the first place? Your guess is as good as mine, but pulling the proposal off the table shows how little assurance it had in its own ability to defend its plan to rate carriers based on currently available data. And it certainly doesn’t instill much confidence going forward that another revised SFD proposal will be much better.

Schneider IPO closes, Nets Company Approximately $288.4M

Schneider National (No. 8 on the CCJ Top 250) closed its initial public offering Tuesday, April 11, after selling the nearly 29 million available shares, netting the company approximately $288.4 million.

In sum, Schneider sold about $550 million worth of stock, with the remainder after the $288.4 million going to Schneider family shareholders. 

The company sold 16,842,000 shares, and selling shareholders sold 12,105,000 shares, at an IPO price of $19 per share. The stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on April 6 under the ticker symbol “SNDR.”

On the first day of the IPO, the stock opened at $19.50 per share, peaked at $19.74 per share and closed at $19 per share. The final day of the IPO saw Schneider’s stock open at $19.36 and close at $18.69.

In its IPO, Schneider gave underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 4,342,000 shares at $19 per share to cover any over-allotments. This typically happens when demand for shares is high and shares are trading above the offering price.

The Schneider family and the Schneider National Voting Trust continue to hold “Class A” common stock, which is worth 10 votes each. The 28.9 million shares traded on the NASDAQ are “Class B” common stock, which are worth one vote.

Schneider made about $4 billion in revenue last year. Its net income was over $150 million, according to the company’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Crime report: Utah Man Charged, Michigan Pair Plead Guilty To CDL Skills Test Schemes

Activity in two trucking-related criminal cases involving separate commercial driver’s license test schemes was recently announced by the Department of Transportation.

In Utah, Antonio Estuardo Tinti was charged on March 14 for making a false statement related to the administration of a CDL test. According to the DOT’s Office of Inspector General, Tinti administered a CDL skills test to Gregorio Bozas and falsely certified that Bozas had completed and passed the road test.

Bozas was reportedly given a passing score, even though he did not pass. OIG says during the test he drove over multiple curbs, which is an automatic road test failure, but Tinti accepted a $150 bribe for a passing score.

On March 28, two former Detroit DOT employees pleaded guilty to forgery and bribery for their roles in a CDL fraud scheme.

Calvin Foulks and Michelle Reed agreed to pay restitution to the city of Detroit in the amounts of $1,000 and $625, respectively, OIG reports. Both Foulks and Reed were arraigned on felony charges in February for taking more than $4,000 in cash bribes in return for falsifying documents, stating that CDL applicants had taken and passed CDL skills tests when they had not.

As a result of the fraud scheme, the Michigan Secretary of State invalidated 85 CDL tests, and the affected drivers were required to retest for their CDL driving privileges to be restored.