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Truck drivers, other motorists slip and slide as Upper Midwest caught in more snow, frigid temps

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Tow truck drivers work to pull a semi out of a ditch along Highway 60 south of Madison Lake, Minnesota. (PastChristman/The Free Press via AP)

MILWAUKEE  — Unrelenting winter weather again made travel difficult in the Upper Midwest Tuesday, causing highway spinouts, hundreds of school closings and some grounded flights. At least two deaths were linked to the frigid, snowy weather.

One semi driver slid and spilled his load of cattle and another had to be towed from a snow-covered ditch.

The latest winter storm was stressing already weary plow drivers who worked to keep up with the accumulating snow. Up to a foot of new snow was expected in Wisconsin, where a winter storm warning was posted for most of the state.

Schools across the state canceled classes, including the districts of Milwaukee, La Crosse, Wausau, Madison and Waukesha. For some districts, it was the fifth day in two weeks that classes were canceled because of the snow or dangerously cold temperatures.

The snow grounded at least 10 flights Tuesday morning at Dane County Regional Airport.

In Sioux Falls, South Dakotas, a man found dead under a downtown bridge may have died from the frigid weather, police said. The man was discovered just before 7 a.m. Tuesday, police spokesman Officer Sam Clemens said. Newsal Weather Service says the temperature in Sioux Falls was 12 degrees (minus 11 Celsius) around the time the man was found.

In Milwaukee, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office said a 62-year-old man collapsed and died while shoveling snow Tuesday.

Newsal Weather Service says wind gusts of up to 30 mph reduced visibility and created dangerous travel conditions for motorist who decided to venture out.

In North Dakota, 16 head of cattle were killed when a semi driver hauling the livestock was blinded by blowing snow from a passing truck, hit an embankment and rolled over Monday afternoon. The Highway Patrol says the driver suffered minor injuries. About five dozen head of cattle survived the crash.

The Minnesota State Patrol was dealing with numerous crashes and spinouts around the state. Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow three children were in a minivan that rollover on Interstate 94 near Rothsay Tuesday. Grabow says the children were properly restrained and were not hurt.

A winter storm warning was also posted for southeastern Minnesota until midnight. Rochester schools were among districts that canceled classes Tuesday. St. Paul public schools canceled most after-school activities. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul declared snow emergencies beginning at 9 p.m., triggering parking restrictions.

 

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Deadline for top military vet rookie driver set June 25

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KIRKLAND, Wash. — As the June 25 deadline for nomination approaches, Kenworth, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring our Heroes Program and FASTPORT will look to find America’s top rookie military veteran who is driving for a commercial fleet after retiring from the U.S. Armed Forces.

Under the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” recognition program, Kenworth will again provide the top award – a Kenworth T680 fully loaded with a 76-inch sleeper and the PACCAR Powertrain, which includes the PACCAR MX-13 engine, PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission, and PACCAR 40K tandem rear axles.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for fleets to recognize and nominate veterans that have excelled in their transition to working in the trucking industry,” said Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director. “A well-deserving veteran will receive the keys to a Kenworth T680 as America’s top rookie military veteran in the industry.”

The program is entering its fourth year of providing military veterans, now driving for a commercial fleet the opportunity to become an independent contractor.

To be eligible to win the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award, candidates must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Military veteran or current or former member of the Newsal Guard or Reserves.
  • Graduate of a PTDI-certified, NAPFTDS or CVTA member driver training school, and a current CDL holder.
  • Employed by any for-hire carrier or private fleet trucking company that has pledged to hire veterans through the Trucking Track Mentoring Program (https://truckingtrack.org).
  • First employed as a CDL driver in trucking between January 1, 2018 and June 25, 2019.
  • Legal resident of the continental United States.

Full criteria and online nomination forms can be found on the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” website (www.transitiontrucking.org).

An expert panel of judges will determine the top rookie based on criteria in the contest rules, including availability of loads, on time delivery, highway safety performance, customer relations, work record, military service record, and non-job related activities/community service.

The Hiring our Heroes program runs throughout the year, with hiring fairs slated at military bases, truck industry events, and at venues near military bases.

For more information, visit the websites of FASTPORT (www.fastport.com) and Hiring Our Heroes (www.uschamberfoundation.org/hiring-our-heroes).

Past Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award Winners: Where They Are Now

TROY DAVIDSON

2016 Winner: Troy Davidson

For Troy Davidson, the inaugural “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award top military rookie driver in 2016, earning the honor has completely changed his life. Davidson, who was nominated by Werner Enterprises for the award, now has 350,000 miles under his belt in his truck. Davidson is currently leased on with Wenger Truck Lines.

“I’m having a great time. It’s incredible how many opportunities have opened up for me,” said Davidson, a former crew chief with the famed Blue Angels. “I’ve visited all the states in the continental U.S. I constantly meet people on the road who recognize me from the Transition Trucking program, which helps me build connections in the industry.”

2017 Winner: Gregg Softy

For Gregg Softy, retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and the 2017 Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award winner, life on the road has never been better. Since being nominated for the award by Stevens Transport, Softy continues to work with the company as an owner-operator. On average, Softy will tack on 10,000 to 12,000 miles a month.

Transitioning to life after the military can often be a difficult time for veterans as they seek out what to do in the next stage of life. After retiring from the military, Softy knew he wanted to pursue a career in the trucking industry, since he had experience operating heavy equipment.

“I have always been fascinated by heavy machinery. I thought becoming a truck driver would be a natural transition. Many veterans believe they can do well in the trucking industry. If you work hard, you can excel as a driver. Of course, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the great support from my family, friends, and those I’ve met in the industry. I feel fortunate to have won the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award,” said Softy.

“I can’t speak highly enough about the support from Stevens Transport. Winning this award opened so many doors for me in my career. The people I’ve met and the connections I’ve made, as well as the financial opportunity I have working as an owner-operator, is something I only dreamed of when I first started in the industry. The Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence recognition program provides an incredible opportunity for us new drivers in the industry, as well as to share the stories of amazing veterans,” Softy said.

QUINTON WARD

2018 Winner: Quinton Ward

Quinton Ward, former U.S. Army mechanic, instructor, career counselor, and top military rookie driver in 2018, appreciates the opportunity the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence program offers veterans.

“Transitioning into any new career field can be difficult and for veterans coming out of the service, that challenge can be even greater,” said Ward. “Nominating military rookie drivers not only shows a company’s dedication to its service members, but it also allows those military rookies the opportunities to network within the industry.”

According to Ward, the truck he was awarded has tacked on more than 47,000 miles since he received the truck in December 2018. The truck operates under Werner Enterprises and is a part of the Operation Freedom fleet, which consists of nine military themed trucks, piloted by veterans – used to honor and recruit military members. Ward’s truck honors military service dogs with his special commemorative wrap.

“My service dog, Kirra really helped me in my recovery process after medically retiring from the military due to injury,” said Ward. “The truck is a big hit on the road. The Kenworth T680 garners a lot of attention from drivers at truck stops who like to take photos and chat about the meaning behind the service dog wrap.”

 

 

 

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FMCSA seeks driver, carrier comments on delays loading, unloading

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Delays at shippers and receivers has long been a frustration for both drivers and carriers. Both groups have been asking the FMSCA to look into the matter. (FOTOSEARCH)

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration is seeking comments from carriers and driver on how much time is spent at shippers and receivers loading and unloading.

In a notice to published in the Federal Record Monday, the FMCSA said a number of studies have examined the issue of CMV driver delays in the loading and unloading process, and what their potential impact may be on roadway safety and the economy.

The agency noted that the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in its report “More Could Be Done to Determine Impact of Excessive Loading and Unloading Wait Times on Hours of Service Violations, recommended that “FMCSA examine the extent to which detention

time contributes to hours of service violations in its future studies on driver fatigue and detention time.”

In response to the GAO report, FMCSA sponsored a study among a sample of carriers which generated estimates of driver delay times.

Among the sampled carriers, the study found that drivers experienced detention time during approximately 10 percent of their stops for an average duration of 1.4 hours beyond a commonly accepted two-hour loading and unloading time.

Most recently, in a 2018 report titled “Estimates Show Commercial Driver Detention Increases Crash Risks and Costs, but Current Data Limit Further Analysis,” the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General recommended that FMCSA collaborate with industry stakeholders to develop and implement a plan to collect and analyze reliable, accurate, and representative data on the frequency and severity of driver detention.

“Although the above referenced studies estimated overall wait times, they were not able to separate normal loading and unloading times (e.g., the time it would usually take to load and unload a CMV under typical schedules) from detention time (delays in the start of the loading and unloading process which disrupt the driver’s available driving and/or on-duty time). This is a critical data gap in our understanding of the detention issue,” the FMCSA said.

Specifically, FMCSA requests information that addresses the following questions:

  • Are data currently available that can accurately record loading, unloading, and delay times?
  • Is there technology available that could record and delineate prompt loading and unloading times versus the extended delays sometimes experienced by drivers?
  • How can delay times be captured and recorded in a systematic, comparable manner?
  • Could systematic collection and publication of loading, unloading, and delay times be useful in driver or carrier business decisions and help to reduce loading, unloading, and delay times?
  • What should FMCSA use as an estimate of reasonable loading/unloading time? Please provide a basis for your response.
  • How do contract arrangements between carriers and shippers address acceptable wait times? Do these arrangements include penalties for delays attributable to a carrier or shipper?
  • What actions by FMCSA, within its current statutory authority, would help to reduce loading, unloading, and delay times?

To submit a comment online, go to , put the docket number, FMCSA-2019-0054, in the “Keyword” box, and click “Search.” When the new screen appears, click on the “Comment Now!” button and type your comment into the text box on the following screen. Choose whether you are submitting your comment as an individual or on behalf of a third party and then submit.

 

 

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FTR analysis confirms tonnage surplus in U.S. trade with Mexico

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A truck crosses the border between Mexico and the United States in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. FTR estimates that truck loads into and out of Mexico make up just 1.5% of all U.S. truck loadings, but that share has risen by about 50% since 2009. (Associated Press: HANS-MAXIMO MUSIELIK)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Although the U.S. goods trade deficit with Mexico is about $80 billion, the U.S. has a longstanding trade surplus with Mexico in terms of rail tonnage and a growing truck tonnage surplus over the past three years, according to just-completed analysis by FTR.

Using the Freight•cast forecasting model, FTR translated value-based trade data published by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics into transportation tonnage and loadings to and from Mexico and Canada.

The forecasting firm’s analysis of cross-border trade data has been ongoing for several months and happened to conclude around the time President Trump announced tariffs on all imports from Mexico, effective June 10.

“With China continuing to be problematic, we know that there had been some shifting of sourcing to Mexico, so potential tariffs on Mexican imports raise important questions,” said Eric Starks, chairman and CEO of FTR. “Either we lose this freight, see increased costs, or both.”

The U.S. rail sector has run a significant surplus of tonnage into Mexico for years, but U.S.-Mexico truck tonnage had been more balanced until 2016, when the U.S. trucking sector posted its first meaningful surplus since 2008. The picture looks a bit different regarding loads into and out of Mexico. Rail loadings are volatile year to year, but the U.S. runs a deficit of truck loads to the tune of about 800,000 a year.

Rail movements into and out of Mexico represent about 3.2% of all U.S. rail moves, and that portion has grown steadily since 2009. Excluding intermodal, U.S.-Mexico traffic represents about 5.5% of total U.S. rail moves, and that number has nearly doubled since 2009.

FTR estimates that truck loads into and out of Mexico make up just 1.5% of all U.S. truck loadings, but that share has risen by about 50% since 2009.

“Rail is more exposed than truck even though it has a smaller portion of overall crossborder freight,” Eric Starks said. “Changes in freight would be felt quicker by the rail sector. If we assume a retaliation by Mexico, rail could be hit further because Mexico potentially has other ready sources for some of the most important rail exports to Mexico, such as fuel and grain.”

With truck, while the share of overall truck volume dedicated to Mexico is small, a big piece of that are parts for vehicles, computers, and machinery.

“If the trucking freight went away, that in itself would not be a death knell for trucking, but the broader issue is the exponential impact on U.S. manufacturing,” Starks said.

FTR will discuss some of its top level findings during a complimentary State of Freight webinar on Key Issues in Transportation, scheduled for June 13.

To register, visit http://www.ftrintel.com/webinars. A more comprehensive analysis will also be available later this month to subscribers of FTR’s State of Freight INSIGHTS series.

For information on how to subscribe to State of Freight INSIGHTS and other FTR products, visit or contact FTR by email at [email protected] or by phone at 888-988-1699, ext. 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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