Antilock Braking System Recall Triggers Industry Response

Bendix Working Overtime to Replace ABS Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems suppliers and factory workers are working overtime to produce EC-17 antilock braking systems (ABS) to replace potentially defective ones that have been recalled by truck OEMs.

The company announced Aug 22, 2000, that as many as 300,000 school buses, transit buses, and heavy trucks are at risk of brake failure at speeds of 20 mph and slower because of an ABS defect. Vehicles at risk are those equipped with the Bendix EC-17-1030R air brake system manufactured since 1998.

At least 40 incidents of brake failure have occurred, according to Bendix. Sixteen of the incidents involved school buses, which have been made a recall priority by the brake manufacturer.

The firm said defective brakes were installed on as many as 46,000 school and transit buses, as well as 254,000 heavy trucks of various makes: Ford, Freightliner, Volvo, Magnum, Mack, Ottawa, International, and General Motors.

Bendix said the replacement effort will start with school buses and should be completed by the end of November. Brake system replacement in other vehicles will not be complete until sometime in first-quarter 2001.

Tom Musgrave, a spokesman for the Honeywell subsidiary, said Bendix is "ramping up production in fourfold" to produce the units.

Bendix officials said the braking problem is caused by the ABS control units picking up an erratic signal from the wheels created by chafing wires. Musgrave said the problem is not electromagnetic interference, but rather the sound made by the wires as they rub against the wheel rim.

Musgrave said the company sent its first shipment of EC-17s to OEMs, and that the company is filling the orders as fast as it can. Bendix and its suppliers are working 22 hours a day, seven days a week, to produce EC-17s, said Musgrave.

Honeywell Plans to Sell Brake Businesses Questor Partners Fund II LP and Honeywell have reached an agreement in principle for Questor to acquire Honeywell's Friction Materials business, which supplies brake products to transportation industries.

Brand names involved include Bendix, JURID, and RoadTuff. Products are used in light-, medium-, and heavy-duty trucks, trailers, and other transportation applications.

The friction materials operation is a separate business unit from Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, which will remain a part of Honeywell.

Terms of the transaction, which is expected to be completed this year, were not disclosed.

Volvo Recalls Trucks with Bendix ABS Volvo Trucks North America has announced a recall of vehicles equipped with Bendix EC-17 antilock braking systems (ABS). Volvo said it will recall 18,000 trucks in North America that are equipped with faulty antilock air brake controllers.

Spokesman Phil Romba said Volvo has begun notifying customers who own trucks with Bendix ABS built between December 1997 and August 7, 2000. Romba said the truck maker has received five reports of incidents that may be related to the brake defect, but knows of no accidents or injuries.

The company has stopped delivery of new trucks equipped with the Bendix system, Romba said. Volvo did not identify which models are affected by the recall.

How the Bendix Recall Works Bendix and its suppliers are working overtime to produce replacement antilock braking systems (ABS) to replace its potentially defective EC-17 units that have been recalled by several truck OEMs.

Using a three-phase recall of some 300,000 school buses, coaches, trucks, and tractors, Bendix is replacing the EC-17 with either an EC-17 2.3 electronic control unit (ECU) or its next generation EC-30 ECU. The ECUs are built by two suppliers, allowing Bendix to quadruple production to speed up replacement.

Under the first phase, begun September 15, Bendix replaced affected ECUs on school bus models with the most reported incidents. It will begin ECU replacements for all other school buses and coaches October 15, followed by trucks in sensitive vocations such as emergency service November 15. All other truck models with reported ABS incidents will be recalled starting Jan 1, 2001, and EC-17 controllers on the remaining trucks will be replaced starting Feb 1, 2001.

There have been no reported incidents involving tractors, according to Bendix, but they will be recalled for ECU replacement beginning April 1, 2001.

Vehicles with the EC-17 unit do not have to be pulled from service while waiting for the replacement ECU, according to Bendix. Instead, the company suggests that fleets check sensor wires for evidence of chafing and secure those wires with tiedowns. For full technical details, as well as complete information on the recall, go to www.bendix.com/absrecall.

Freightliner Takes Action in ABS Recall Freightliner LLC has mobilized its North American dealer network to assist customers with authorized inspections of about 45,000 trucks, tractors, and buses it has determined are equipped with defective Bendix antilock braking system (ABS) EC 17-103OR electronic control units (ECU). Vehicles built between Feb 13, 1998, and Aug 16, 2000, and equipped with air brakes and this Bendix ABS ECU are included in the recall.

The first priority recall was for bus and emergency vehicles, and Freightliner recalled 6,000 of its school bus units August 28. The balance of the recall includes 39,000 trucks and tractors about which Freightliner notified customers September 8. Of the 39,000 trucks and tractors recalled in phase two, 35,400 are Sterling-branded and about 3,600 are Freightliner-branded trucks and tractors.

While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not yet required truck and tractor phases of the recall, Freightliner has recalled all its vehicles with the defective Bendix ABS system. According to Bendix, this braking system defect involves 300,000 vehicles industrywide.

Both Freightliner and Sterling dealers will be authorized to perform warranty work on any Freightliner LLC vehicle included in this recall.

New ECUs will become available from Bendix in limited quantities beginning in mid-September to address the first phase of recall, which involves buses and motor coaches. To complete the next phases, Bendix advisories have said ECUs would be available by spring 2001.

Freightliner will continue to advise customers to call local Freightliner, Thomas Built Buses, or Sterling dealers with any other questions or to schedule inspections and repairs.

Intermodal Container Traffic Continues to Rise The Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) has released second-quarter 2000 rail intermodal traffic data, which reveals that total volume was up an estimated 5.1% over the same period in 1999. Strong growth in containers more than made up for a decline in trailer traffic.

Regionally, the report shows that the fastest intermodal traffic growth continues to be in Canada, with both eastern and western Canada showing 10% growth over the past year. In the United States, the Northeast reported strong container traffic growth of 21% but weak trailer volumes down 5%. The Midwest and Southwest, which between them account for at least half of all intermodal traffic, both reported strong container traffic increases of 9% and 11%, respectively, and trailer declines.

The report also points out that in late July, the economy had grown at a rate of 5.2% in the second quarter despite softer consumer spending. Overall, continued economic growth is good for the intermodal industry.

IANA's Rail Intermodal Traffic Report charts intermodal traffic volumes between geographic regions, by equipment type and size, and provides an economic and industry analysis. The report is produced quarterly and is available on a subscription basis. IANA members can receive the report at a reduced rate. To order the report, access www.intermodal.org or phone 301-982-3400.

Fewer Truck-Involved Deaths Occur in 1999 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that 5,362 people were killed in truck-involved crashes in 1999, which is about 1% less that 1998. NHTSA's report updated figures the agency had released in March 2000, showing 5,203 truck-related fatalities in 1999.

NHTSA spokesman Tim Hurd said the number rose after states reported additional deaths.

The 1999 figure still shows that the number of people killed in accidents involving trucks dropped for the second consecutive year during 1999. According to the statistics, 230,000 more trucks were on the nation's highways in 1999 than 1998.

Collision Warning Systems Prove Effective After more than three years of collecting data on more than 1,900 vehicles, results indicate that vehicles equipped with Eaton VORAD EVT-300 collision warning system (CWS) are far safer than those without the system, and VORAD has more than 1.5 billion miles of on-road experience to prove it.

Lee McCleery, VORAD national sales manager, said, "We saw an overall reduction of accidents of 78%. On top of that, six fleets that were monitored reported 100% reductions."

Other highlights of the data, which covered eight fleets in various applications, include:

- One fleet cut rear-end and lane-change accidents from 0.33 per million miles traveled to zero.

- Another fleet reduced fixed-object accidents by 81%.

- A third fleet reduced lane change accidents by 80% in 1998. The next year, that number was reduced by 76%.

- Another fleet with VORAD-equipped trucks was involved in 14 rear-end and lane-change accidents in 1999 versus the firm's non-VORAD units that were involved in 264 similar incidents.

For more information, visit www.roadranger.com or contact Eaton Corp, PO Box 4013, Kalamazoo MI 49003.

Isuzu, GM Merge Medium-Duty Businesses American Isuzu Motors Inc and General Motors Corp (GM) have merged their United States medium-duty commercial vehicle businesses. The new venture will be known as General Motors Isuzu Commercial Truck LLC (GMICT).

James C Underwood, president and chief operating officer of the merged company, says GMICT is designed to meet dealer and customer needs better, ensuring long-term growth and profitability in the medium-duty commercial vehicle segment.

GMICT is based in Cerritos CA and will have a business center in Pontiac MI and regional offices around the nation.

The merger involves Isuzu's and GM's medium-duty commercial vehicle sales, service, and marketing functions. Chevrolet, GMC, and Isuzu brands will remain intact, although advertising and sales promotion will be developed and implemented by GMICT.

Ownership of the venture will be shared 51% by Isuzu and 49% by GM and managed by a five-person board consisting of two Isuzu representatives, two GM representatives, and Underwood.

Volvo, Volkswagen Near Scania Deal Germany's Volkswagen AG (VW) and Sweden's Volvo AB are discussing VW's possible acquisition of Volvo's 45.5% stake in fellow Swedish truckmaker Scania AB, Volvo said.

Volvo is selling the stake, worth about 2.35 billion Euros ($1.99 billion US), as part of its efforts to win European Competition Commission approval for its purchase of Renault SA's Mack/RVI unit. VW owns 34% of Scania's voting stock and 19% of its capital.

The European Commission approved Volvo's RVI/Mack purchase Sept 1, 2000, but ordered it to sever its links with Scania. Volvo acquired its Scania stake as part of a $6-billion takeover attempt that the commission rejected in March, saying it would create a regional monopoly.

Crude-Oil Prices Soar to 10-Year High Oil prices reached their highest level in nearly 10 years recently, signaled by concerns that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) won't raise production enough to meet world demand.

The news gets worse for the trucking industry. The Department of Energy reported that the average price per gallon of diesel fuel rose from $1.536 per gallon August 28 to $1.609 per gallon September 4.

Despite the increase, an analysis by Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) shows that street prices for diesel fuel have not been affected yet by the price-per-barrel increase.

According to OPIS, average wholesale costs for diesel moved up by more than $0.25 per gallon in August, surpassing $1 per gallon in most portions of the nation. But retail diesel prices have only matched 30% to 60% of the wholesale gains.

Once higher wholesale numbers work their way downstream, trucking companies and other large fleets may have to pass on another round of fuel surcharges, OPIS predicts.

The jump of $.073 per gallon in one week is the highest in years, and it follows an increase of $.065 per gallon the week before. The Central Atlantic region reported the highest prices again. A gallon of diesel there costs an average of $1.656. The Gulf Coast and Lower Atlantic regions both had the lowest average price, $1.58 per gallon.

West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery rose $1.07 to $34.90 a barrel after setting a new 10-year high of $34.95, which is the highest it's been since November 1990 - right before the Gulf War. Analysts say oil prices could even top the all-time high of $40.42 set in October 1990.

Highland Tank Opens Sales Office in Georgia Highland Tank, the Stoystown PA-based producer of aboveground and underground steel tanks and oil/water separators, has opened its Atlanta GA regional sales office. Highland Tank operates 12 regional sales offices and 25 representative sales offices throughout the United States, as well as six manufacturing plants.

Army Awards Freightliner $400-Million Contract The United States Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) has awarded Freightliner LLC a seven-year contract to build almost 3,400 vehicles. Under terms of the agreement, Freightliner will provide TACOM with M915A3 linehaul tractors, M916A3 light-equipment transporters, and M917A2 dump trucks, as well as training, logistics provisioning support, and interactive electronic technical manuals. The contract is valued at almost $400 million; production begins in 2001.

Freightliner has provided vehicles to the military since 1989. The Army's current fleet of linehaul tractors and trucks is based upon Freightliner's commercial FLD120 tractor.

Specifications on the new vehicles include Detroit Diesel Series 60 engines, Allison World transmissions, antilock brakes, Eaton VORAD collision warning systems, tilt/adjustable steering columns, air-conditioning, and TufTrac heavy-duty suspensions.

SDC to Use $25 Million for New Acquisitions SDC International Inc has signed an equity financing agreement with Westport CT-based Nutmeg Securities that provides for $25 million of equity capital for future SDC acquisitions of manufacturing operations in central and eastern Europe.

SDC has offered to purchase Czech truckmaker Tatra from the Czech government's Revitalization Agency. However, Ronald Adams, SDC chairman and chief executive officer, said, "This capital is in addition to the capital already committed for an acquisition of Tatra. This capital is earmarked for separate manufacturing opportunities in the central and east European region." Earlier this year, SDC appointed Credit Suisse First Boston as SDC's financial adviser specifically on the proposed acquisition of Tatra. The Czech government, through its wholly owned restructuring bank, Konsolidacni Banka, and its Revitalization Agency, has control of Tatra.

Toll Road to Open Near US-Mexico Border The Camino Colombia toll road will hold its grand opening ceremony Oct 18, 2000, at the Camino Colombia Visitors Center in Laredo TX. Located on private, undeveloped land 17 miles northwest of downtown Laredo, the $85-million border region toll road is a four-lane, 22-mile limited-access highway constructed to Texas Department of Transportation standards. The first private toll road in Texas, Camino Colombia will ensure unimpeded passage in and out of Mexico for the more than 14,000 trucks that cross the border daily.

Transportation Technologies Reorganizes Andrew M Weller, president and chief operations officer of Transportation Technologies Industries Inc (TTI), has outlined the company's new marketing strategy and organizational changes that will support these initiatives. TTI, the parent company of Gunite Corp, Imperial Group, Bostrom Seating, Fabco, and Brillion, has a new marketing theme: "The Sum of All Parts."

Marketing and sales organizations within each business unit have been restructured to provide improved customer service and support for both OEM and aftermarket customers. Under this new structure, both OEM and aftermarket customers will have one contact who will represent all the TTI companies.

TydenBrammall, Hi-G Tek Form TydenTek TydenBrammall Inc, an Angola IN-based cargo security seal manufacturer, has entered into a joint venture with Hi-G Tek, an Israeli-based high-tech firm, to create TydenTek. Based in Itasca IL, the new company marries TydenBrammall's experience and resources in cargo security to Hi-G Tek's capabilities in electronics and radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies.

TydenTek originated the DataSeal range of electronic seals, readers, and components. These reusable seals store event data from every opening and closing, including exact time, date, and duration of each event. Through an RFID link, this data can be read remotely from distances up to 65 feet (20 meters). The information then integrates into PC-based data management systems. TydenTek is involved in helping define ISO standards for this technology.

Stuart Tank Sales Opens Second Facility Stuart Tank Sales Corp has opened its second facility, which is in Chicago Heights IL at 263 State Street. Based in Elkhorn WI for more than 43 years, Stuart has expanded with purchase of this 13,000-square-foot service facility. It is situated on 5.4 acres of paved lot with five drive-through work bays.

Stuart Tank Sales Corp-Illinois will provide tank trailer-type scheduled maintenance and repair to sanitary, chemical, petroleum, and pneumatic style transports. It also will maintain a fully stocked parts department.

For further information, phone Tom Stene, the Chicago Heights facility manager, at 708-758-4830.

Alcoa Acquires Australian Distributor Alcoa has acquired Australian distributor Wheel Master Pty Ltd of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The new entity, named Alcoa Wheel Products Australia, will continue to offer the same line of products formerly offered by Wheel Master, including Alcoa forged aluminum wheels, steel wheels, hubs, drums, and tire and wheel mounting services. Wheel Master opened for business in 1992 as a distributor for Alcoa and other truck component suppliers.

SCR Technology Proves Effective Against Diesel Emissions Mack Trucks Inc says its Selective Catalytic Reduction technology (SCR) is a possible solution to the emission reduction targets facing heavy-duty diesel engines. Mack has added a concept tractor equipped with the SCR system to its Hagerstown MD-based intra-company parts distribution fleet.

Stephen F Homcha, executive vice-president of Mack's Class 8 programs, says the technology has cut transient emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) up to 70% and particulate matter up to 25%.

"Steady-state emissions of NOx have dropped by up to 85%, and with no sacrifice to the fuel economy," Homcha said.

Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp is a partner in the project. Siemens developed the exhaust aftertreatment technology under the name SINOx, and it originally was used to reduce NOx emissions in power plants.

Scholle Corp Acquires CPS Scholle Corp has acquired Michigan-based Custom Packaging Systems Inc (CPS), a manufacturer of large, custom-designed bags for both liquid and dry packaging applications. Its three major product lines include custom-designed intermediate bulk container (IBC) bags, flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs), and FIBC liners. CPS operates three sites in the Manistee MI area.

Scholle is headquartered in Northlake IL. The firm invented and remains a supplier of bag-in-box packaging products for food, beverage, and industrial use.

Goodyear, Treadco Team Up The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co has announced an expansion of its presence in the trucking industry through a joint venture agreement with Treadco Inc.

An agreement was concluded between Goodyear and Treadco to combine their respective commercial tire service centers in a new joint venture company, Wingfoot Commercial Tire Systems LLC. Goodyear says this creates the world's largest network of commercial tire service outlets and truck tire retreading facilities. Goodyear will have 60% ownership interest and Treadco 40% in the joint venture.

TecBrake Offers Housing Assembly Trade-In Program TecBrake offers a housing assembly trade-in program, allowing purchase of a new, warranted, complete engine brake housing assembly including mounting parts at a discounted price. This will replace any existing broken, damaged, or worn-out unit. This program is provided regardless of the original engine brake's manufacturer.

All TecBrake engine brake models now offer replacement housings for similar models from other engine brake manufacturers. All housings must be fully drained of engine oil. Complete engine brake housing assemblies regardless of condition will qualify for the trade-in program. The trade-in housing may be exchanged for housings of different engine applications, and no other engine brake component can be exchanged.

This program is available for various models of Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit, and Mack engines. TecBrake's trade-in kit allows the user to use existing components (bolts, injector screws, crossheads, and switches) with the new TecBrake housing assembly. But if extra parts not included in the kit are needed, they are available through TecBrake. A warranty package is also included with any new TecBrake engine brake trade-in housing. For more information, phone 800-766-2261 or 713-672-2900.

Agencies Establish Truck Crash Database The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have started a three-year, $18-million project to produce a database of statistics on the causes of nationwide truck crashes.

Julie Anna Cirillo, FMCSA acting assistant administrator, said the database is necessary because unlike NHTSA's car crash data, FMCSA has no substantive data that could point to causes of truck accidents.

NHTSA's National Automotive Sampling System will develop the database to capture and analyze truck crash information and categorize potential causes of crashes.

Cirillo said FMCSA wants to "be the place to go" for answers to questions about causes of truck crashes.

Holland Group Will Open Plant in China Holland Neway International, a member of The Holland Group Inc, will build a manufacturing facility near Beijing to provide Holland Neway air-ride suspensions to the bus market in China. This facility, 100% owned by the Holland Group, will be in operation by year-end 2000.

The first products manufactured there will be Holland Neway air-ride suspensions for Chinese bus applications. In the next 12 to 18 months, the operation will expand to manufacture Holland Neway trailer air-ride suspensions. Most components will be locally sourced. Jeff Talaga, director-Holland Neway Truck Suspension Business Unit, will direct the China facility startup and be initially responsible for its ongoing operation.

Miller Again Chosen Reader's Choice Winner For the eighth consecutive year, Jackson MS-based Miller Transporters Inc has been named a Readers' Choice award winner by Logistics magazine in their annual "Quest for Quality" edition. The Quest for Quality survey, in its 18th year, is the largest, most comprehensive customer-perception study of transportation companies available.

The award, viewed by many shippers as the industry's equivalent to the Baldridge Quality Award, is based on a carrier's rating in on-time performance, value, information technology, customer service, and equipment and operations. Only carriers that excel in all five areas achieve the Readers' Choice designation.

AC Power Technology Companies Merge Heavy-duty truck electrical inverter/charger technology companies Trace Engineering and Xantrex Technology have announced they are merging. The merger will mean combined engineering resources to further expand AC (alternating current) power options in the trucking industry. The merged company did not disclose financial terms of the deal, but said it will operate under the Xantrex Technology name.

According to Mossadiq Umedaly, Xantrex Technology's president and chief executive officer, AC power is fast becoming a "must-have" for truckers who consider their trucks their home.

Umedaly said AC power provides drivers an opportunity to run microwaves, computers, heaters, and other household items in their sleepers.

The company said AC power units will continue to be sold and installed at Volvo, International, and Freightliner truck dealerships throughout North America, and it also will offer do-it-yourself installation kits. Units range in power from 50 to 3,000 watts.

DOT School Serves Tank Truck Industry John McConville, safety, compliance, and training manager for Boncosky Services (right), Lake in the Hills IL, discusses driver logs with Bill Syme, an instructor at the Transportation Safety Institute (TSI) in Oklahoma City OK. McConville attended a TSI class that provided detailed instruction in the motor carrier safety regulations for drivers and vehicles.

By mid-summer this year, 682 students had completed various TSI courses. The school was created in 1971 by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and is administered by the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA). TSI includes training and technical assistance on many subjects relative to the tank truck industry. Classes are available at the Oklahoma City campus, nationwide, and in foreign countries. As travel costs have grown, TSI has adopted a training approach tailored to individual clients. Currently, 80% of TSI's training is conducted at field locations throughout the United States and in some foreign nations.

For more information, phone Paul Reamy, TSI manager, at 405-949-0036 or visit the web site at www.tsi.dot.gov.

Driver Fatigue Management Campaign Stirs The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) will team up with Transport Canada to develop a driver fatigue management information campaign to be launched in autumn 2000. CTA hopes to reach drivers and operations management personnel right across Canada with factual and plain language information on operator fatigue and tips on combating it.

According to David Bradley, chief executive officer of the CTA, such an information campaign will help drivers take full advantage of the additional opportunities for rest contained in the proposed new hours-of-service standard.

One of Canada's experts on fatigue and alertness, Dr Ron Heslegrave, will provide technical expertise for the project.

Alliance staff and Transport Canada officials will begin working on the campaign in the coming weeks. Although detailed plans have not been completed, Bradley said efforts will be made to develop partnerships within the industry to ensure the broadest outreach possible. A formal announcement of campaign details will be made later.

The U-shape Coriolis sensor is clearly visible forward of the rear tire.

Coriolis Technology Helps Southwest Airlines Improve Fuel-Handling Process, Cut Costs Southwest Airlines has commissioned six new refueler trucks for use at its Midway Airport terminal in Chicago IL. Each unit is equipped with Micro Motion CMF300 Elite Coriolis meters provided through Daniel-Sulton Group. Meters interface to an electronic register and ticket printer supplied by Bartec.

Glenn Hipp, director of fuel operations at Southwest, said improved measurement accuracy was a leading reason for purchase of the Coriolis meters. He said the improved accuracy, especially at low and medium flow rates, will allow Southwest to achieve better monitoring and balancing of jet fuel inventory. The Elite meter's ability to measure volume, mass, and density in one device - coupled with increased turndown and higher flow-rate capacity - also helps lower fueling operations costs.

Prime Inc Wins "Quest for Quality" Award Prime Inc, a refrigerated, flatbed, and liquid bulk truckload carrier headquartered in Springfield MO, has won the 2000 "Quest for Quality" Readers Choice Award, in recognition of outstanding performance. Company representatives were invited to the 17th annual Quest for Quality Awards presentation dinner Sept 20, 2000, at the Omni Hotel in Chicago IL, where they received the award.

A survey conducted by the magazine Logistics Management & Distribution Report, Quest for Quality asks a representative sample of shippers to complete an evaluation of carriers they use. Timeliness of service, condition of equipment, and level of customer service are a few of the areas measured. Survey results appeared in the August 2000 issue of the magazine.

Highway Hero Nomination Deadline Nears Nominations for the 18th annual Goodyear North America Highway Hero Award must be received by Oct 15, 2000. They can be made by phoning the Goodyear Highway Hero Hotline at 800-627-2118 between 9 am and 5 pm (EST), Monday through Friday. The nomination form also is available at www.highwayhero.net. An independent company reviews nominations to ensure these criteria are met:

- The nominee must be a full-time truck driver.

- He or she must reside in the United States or Canada.

- The incident must have occurred in the United States or Canada.

- The nominee must have been on the job or on the way to or from work, and in his/her rig at the time of the incident.

- The nominee's truck at the time of the incident must have 14 wheels or more.

- The incident must have occurred between Oct 1, 1999, and Sept 30, 2000, to qualify for this year's program.

After the nomination period is closed, winners will be selected from each state in the United States and each Canadian province. Ultimately, the list will be pared to four finalists. They will appear at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville KY, where one will be selected as winner.

OSHA Clarifies Policy on Use of Respirators The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has clarified its policy on use of air-purifying respirators (APRs) to protect workers exposed to diisocyanates, a group of chemicals with poor odor-warning properties.

Under the Respiratory Protection Standard, revised in January 1998, employers may use air-purifying gas and vapor respirator cartridges for hazardous chemicals, including those with little or no odor-warning properties. Diisocyanates are contained in chemical compounds widely used in manufacture of flexible and rigid insulating foams and specialized paints and varnishes, and are increasingly used in the automobile industry, auto body repair, and construction. Vapors from these chemicals can cause eye damage, skin irritation and sensitization, and various respiratory ailments.

"We're clarifying this policy," said OSHA Administrator Charles N Jeffress, "because the new standard makes obsolete some earlier interpretive letters on the use of APRs for protection against the chemicals. We want to make sure there is no confusion about the use of APRs."

OSHA's policy on use of APRs for protection against chemicals with little or no odor-warning properties was outlined in both the respiratory protection standard, as well as its compliance directive in September 1998. The policy can be viewed at www.osha-slc.gov/OshDoc/Interpdata/I20000718.html. More information on the Respiratory Protection Standard is at www.osha-slc.gov/SLTC/respiratoryadvisor/mainpage.html.

ATA Concerned About Roadside Brake Tests The American Trucking Associations (ATA) is expressing concern over a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) plan to allow roadside inspectors to use Performance-Based Brake Testing (PBBT) machines both to inspect trucks and issue citations based on test results. Proposed August 9, the FMCSA rule would allow federal and state roadside inspectors to use PBBT machines, an authority they have not had in the past. While ATA supports the concept of using such devices, which cost between $60,000 and $160,000 per unit, it is concerned that the machines may be misapplied in the field.

Larry Strawhorn, vice-president of engineering for ATA, said that PBBTs are "not 100% reliable" as they measure only brake force output and do not identify items such as cracked brake drums or worn brake pads. With those limitations in mind, Strawhorn said it is absolutely critical that PBBT operators must fully understand how to operate the machines and recognize those limitations. Comments about this proposed rule are due to FMCSA by October 10.

Black Box Session Scheduled The federal proposal that trucks be equipped with onboard computers to track driver movements and truck operations will be discussed during educational sessions at the American Trucking Associations (ATA) Management Conference and Exhibition, set for Oct 29-Nov 1, 2000, in San Diego CA.

ATA has said it would go along with a policy that would add accident data recording capability to truck computers only if the same is mandated for every other vehicle on the road. ATA also wants collected data to be used only to improve safety and for scientific research and not for punitive measures, said Kevin Holland, ATA's manager of technology policy.

ATA president Walter B McCormick Jr said he is firmly against allowing data from onboard computers to be used for enforcement or litigation.

Study Confirms CTA Concerns About Lack Of Consistency for Carrier Safety Ratings A new study, prepared for Transport Canada by transportation consultant Fred Nix, finds little consistency in the way Canadian provinces and territories are approaching implementation of the National Safety Code standard that would introduce safety ratings for individual motor carriers.

It concludes that there will not be a consistent rating regime across Canada by the target date of December 2000. Some jurisdictions will not have procedures in place. Others will have procedures but will deviate from a previously agreed-to national standard. The result: motor carriers under similar circumstances will not be given the same safety rating in one jurisdiction as they will in another. The report was to have been discussed Sept 21-22, 2000, at a meeting of government administrators and industry in Toronto.

According to David Bradley, chief executive officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), "Our preliminary reading of the report confirms what CTA has been saying for years about the potential for different and inconsistent safety ratings systems across the country. But more than that, it underscores a chronic weakness in our Made-In-Canada approach to developing national safety standards through the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators."

Comments Sought on Criteria for Excluding Safety Devices from Vehicle Length, Width The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is requesting comments on proposed criteria for excluding safety- or efficiency-enhancing devices from measurement of vehicle length and width. The advance notice of proposed rulemaking asked what are the safety and enforcement implications of:

- Requiring that certain categories of vehicle components be included in a length or width measurement.

- Allowing a blanket exclusion for other devices extending no more than 3 inches (76 millimeters) beyond the outer dimensions of the components that must be included in length and width measurements.

All previous interpretations related to exclusions from measurements of vehicle length and width would be superseded to the extent they are inconsistent with these regulations.

Comments must be received on or before Nov 16, 2000. Mail or hand-deliver comments to Docket Number 1997-2234, Department of Transportation, Dockets Management Facility, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh St SW, Washington DC 20590; or submit electronically at http://dmses.dot.gov/submit.

Man Sentenced for Illegal Waste Transport Gregory Kopke of Madison Heights MI was sentenced Sept 7, 2000, to 24 months in prison and was ordered to pay $44,007.98 in restitution to the United States government. The defendant previously pleaded guilty to violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by illegally causing transportation of paint and solvent wastes to four rural sites in Macomb County MI, where they were abandoned. One of the sites was near an elementary school. Materials were ignitable and also contained xylene, ethyl benzene, toluene, and lead. Benzene is a known carcinogen, and exposure to sufficient quantities of lead can lead to bone and nervous system disorders.

This case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Criminal Investigation Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center and the Macomb County Health Department. The case was prosecuted by the US Attorney's Office in Detroit MI.

OTA Working to Avert Fuel Surcharge Protests David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA), said recent fuel surcharge discussions involving the provincial government and National Truckers' Association (NTA), representing independent operators and OTA, have been productive. OTA has participated in discussions between the Ontario government and NTA aimed at averting protests.

"There is still a lot of work to do both within the industry and between the industry and government," said Bradley, "but I am encouraged that the provincial government appears to have been listening. It has hinted at the possibility of regulating fuel surcharges on freight rates if all our customers, the shippers, don't become part of the solution. In addition, they have told us that the establishment of a provincial-federal-industry committee to examine longer-term economic conditions and structural concerns is being considered." OTA has called on all motor carriers operating in Ontario to help resolve the crisis by:

- Imposing fuel surcharges. Current market conditions clearly justify assertive action by carriers to be fairly compensated for all the services they provide, OTA says.

- Imposing general rate increases. Truck rates have been stagnant since the 1980s. (The Freight Carriers Association of Canada recommends a rate increase of 5.5%).

- Charging shippers for ancillary service/wait times. Refuse to pay shipper fines and no-compliance fees, OTA says.

- Passing fuel surcharges to independent operators. OTA says 100% of all collected fuel surcharges should be passed on to owner-operators, in relation to the proportion of owner-operators in a fleet. This is unless the carrier and owner-operator have agreed to other remedies.

OTA has agreed to sit down with NTA and other owner-operator groups to discuss common guidelines for contracts between carriers and independent owner-operators and a Code of Best Practices for owner-operator/carrier relationships. OTA has also called upon Canada's chartered banks and lending institutions to cut independent operators some slack on their truck payments during this period.

Ontario, Quebec Transportation Officials Agree on Package of Truck Weights, Dimensions Ontario and Quebec transportation ministers have signed an agreement to harmonize truck weights and dimensions for several vehicle configurations that commonly operate between the two jurisdictions. This ends seven years of protracted discussions and negotiations among the two provincial governments, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA), and the Quebec Trucking Association.

OTA President David Bradley concedes that while the agreement creates some new complexities (eg, permits) and that steering axles will need to prove themselves, the association's main goals - of maintaining Ontario-only configurations and ensuring that carriers using triaxles have productive alternatives - have been achieved.

Some aspects of the agreement will require legislation in Ontario. OTA expects a bill will be introduced this autumn, and the Ministry of Transport for Ontario (MTO) has said the target for full implementation is Jan 1, 2001.

Highlights of the agreement include harmonizing VWD for:

- Tandem tractors and semitrailers at 18,000 kg (39,680 lb).

- Tridem semitrailers at 24,000 kg (52,900 lb) or 26,000 kg (57,300 lb) depending on axle spread, to be phased in over five years.

- Quad self-steering semitrailers at 32,000 kg (70,540 lb) or 34,000 kg (74,950 lb) depending on axle spread.

In addition, the agreement will:

- Extend to Quebec 53-foot quad semitrailers with self steering axles.

- Establish a 10-year permit regime to accommodate the period of transition.

While details are sketchy, the agreement also commits the two provinces to undertake research on on-board monitoring technology for axle weights. This technology eventually may record such things as hours of service and vehicle speeds. A joint trial of technology will be conducted by 2003.

As for lift axles, a phase-down of weights allowed on nondump triaxle semitrailers (three-axle semitrailers with a lift axle) will commence in 2006. A specific penalty for lift axle violations will be developed and introduced, and a special permit will be developed to screen, monitor, and control vehicles that have minor variances from existing regulations.

In all, MTO estimates these measures will reduce wear and tear on Ontario's provincial and municipal roads and bridges by $100 million per year once fully implemented. MTO estimates that 80% of savings will be to municipalities.

Federal Agency Amends Safety Fitness Procedures The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is implementing Section 4009 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA21) by amending safety fitness procedures of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. This action prohibits all motor carriers found to be unfit from operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. The FMCSA will treat an unsatisfactory safety rating as a determination of unfitness.

This rule takes effect Nov 20, 2000. For further information, contact Deborah M Freund, Vehicle and Roadside Operations Division, Office of Policy and Program Development, FMCSA, or William C Hill, Regulatory Development Division, Office of Policy and Program Development, FMCSA, phone 202-366-4009; or Charles E Medalen, Office of the Chief Counsel, phone 202-366-1354.

Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish