All posts by Rosita Costagliola

In-transit border pilot extended, new ports added By Today’s Trucking

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Customs and Border Protection has agreed to extend and expand a pilot initiative that uses a reduced data set for permitting Canadian carriers to resume in-transit operations for domestic loads.

While the program will extend another year until Nov. 28., 2017, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) also announced that it has recommended the addition of three ports of entry to the program: Portal, ND/North Portal, SK; Sweetgrass, MT/Coutts, AB; and Sault Ste. Marie, MI/ON. It is unclear at this time when the ports may be added to the program.

CTA says it will be working with the U.S. agency throughout 2017 to determine the expanded number of carriers allowed to participate in the in-transit process. It is expected an announcement could be made in the fall of 2017.

CTA will be hosting a webinar early in 2017 to educate the carrier community about what is required to move product in-transit.

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Volvo demonstrates evolution in safety By John G. Smith

Equipped and ready to show the value of stability controls. 

Equipped and ready to show the value of stability controls.

LAURENS, SC – Today’s trucks are undeniably safer than the models that came before them. Cabs are tougher. Stability controls keep wheels firmly on the ground during tight turns. Cameras and radar-based systems can even provide virtual eyes for the road ahead.

Each system plays a role in an ongoing evolution in the name of safety, and Volvo Trucks North America wants customers to see just how far its trucks have come.

The manufacturer is hosting a safety symposium in Laurens, South Carolina this week, demonstrating the difference that can be realized with some of its latest enhancements – particularly in the form of the recently unveiled Volvo Active Driver Assist collision mitigation system, and the Enhanced Stability Controls which help to prevent rollovers.

Active Driver Assist builds on a foundation of the Bendix Wingman Fusion system, using a windshield-mounted camera and bumper-mounted radar to monitor surroundings. The radar itself scans for vehicles 500 feet ahead of the truck, across a 22-degree angle, while the camera looks across a 42-degree angle. Alarms begin to sound at speeds above 24 kilometers per hour if following distances close to within 3.5 seconds. Brakes automatically apply if the equipment determines a collision is imminent. An integrated Lane Departure Warning sounds a tone when the truck drifts across lane markings, too.

It isn’t the only integrated feature. Volvo has also incorporated Active Driver Assist readings directly into its driver information center, next to the speedometer. No extra screens have to be mounted on the dash. The speeds of vehicles ahead of the truck are shown using a series of lights around the speedometer, and a ring of red lights appears when the active controls are applied.

Such events don’t have to go unnoticed by fleets, either. The camera captures video images both 10 seconds before and 10 seconds after an event, and the system will store up to 40 of these clips. Using telematics, the data can even be fed to fleet managers through emails or a centralized portal.

Drivers still maintain control, though. When warnings are sounded, those who sit behind the wheel can back off the throttle or apply brakes on their own. Steering can be corrected if Lane Departure Warnings sound. There is even the option of silencing the latter warnings when traveling through heavily-marked areas like construction zones. And another push of the same stock-mounted button can capture about 1-1/2 minutes of video if a driver wants further proof of the situation they encountered.

The outrigger was the only thing holding the vehicle up in some of the turns demonstrated without stability controls.The outrigger was the only thing holding the vehicle up in some of the turns demonstrated without stability controls.

Demonstrations at Michelin’s proving grounds – a 3,300-acre outdoor laboratory of test tracks – offered the setting to show customers exactly how quickly the systems can react.

Meanwhile, a tanker equipped with outriggers demonstrated how easily a rollover can begin, and how seamlessly the same situations are avoided when stability controls are working. Without the controls, outriggers skipped off the pavement to keep the trailer from tipping on its side. When activated, wheels remained on the ground, even when heading into the same turns at higher rates of speed.

As revolutionary as the equipment can seem, it represents just the latest of many safety-related enhancements. Safety has been one of Volvo’s “core values” since making its first truck in 1928, said Magnus Koeck, vice president – marketing and brand management. The idea of making safer vehicles can even be traced back as far as 1915, when company representatives (then under the umbrella of SKF Corporation) were pitching ball bearings to Henry Ford.

They returned to Sweden with the idea to build vehicles instead.

“They recognized they had a unique opportunity – and that was to design a safer vehicle,” says Rob Simpson, director – brand and marketing development. “It’s fundamental in everything we do.”

In 1956 Volvo began protecting drivers in an all-steel cab, and it continues to stress that High Strength Steel has a greater strength-to-weight ratio than aluminum. Its cabs also exceed the demands of the Swedish Cab Safety Test, considered to be one of the most stringent standards in the world. Inside, drivers are further protected by a collapsible steering column, an engine and transmission that will drop down and under the cab in the event of a collision, and breakaway foot pedals that are designed to reduce the threat of injuries to ankles and legs.

This is the company that invented the three-point safety belt, and made driver-side airbags standard in 1995. Some operational enhancements that might not be labeled as safety systems are making a difference of their own. Downspeeding packages, for example, offer a quieter ride that can help prevent fatigue, Volvo officials note. Automated Manual Transmissions such as the I-Shift leave drivers to focus on the road rather than gear selections.

Equipment enhancements have certainly made a difference to McKenzie Tank Lines, a 275-truck fleet with terminals across North America. It recorded 11 rollovers and almost 50 rear-end collisions between 2003 and 2007. Last year there was only a single rear-end collision and no rollovers. This year there hasn’t been either.

McKenzie has long been an early adopter of safety equipment, such as Automatic Slack Adjusters (1984), LED lights (1997), antilock brakes (1998) and traction controls (2000). It was also an early user of Eaton VORAD collision warning systems and an early generation of the Takata Lane Departure Warning System, as well as full Electronic Stability Controls (2006), and air disc brakes (2011). The latest updates that include Active Driver Assist allows managers to review videos of close calls along with data tracking everything from speeds to pedal positions and following distances. Pre-defined thresholds even help to flag drivers who have too few miles between individual events.

There is an important thing to note about the rollovers and rear-end collisions that did occur in recent years, adds Jim Kennedy, the fleet’s vice president – maintenance. “Every single one of those vehicles did not have on it the technology that affected that particular type of event.”

It’s why the fleet continues to evolve in the name of safety.

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Budweiser’s self-driving truck makes 200-km delivery of suds via highway by CBCNEWS

Anheuser-Busch says it has completed the world’s first commercial shipment by self-driving truck, sending a beer-filled tractor-trailer on a journey of more than 120 miles — almost 200 kilometres — through Colorado.

The company says it teamed with self-driving truck maker, Otto, and the state of Colorado for the feat. The trailer, loaded with Budweiser beer, began the self-driving trip at a weigh station in Fort Collins, Colorado, and ran along Interstate 25 through Denver before wrapping up in Colorado Springs.

The company says a professional truck driver was on board for the entire route and monitored the trip from the cab’s sleeper berth. It didn’t say when the shipment took place.

Anheuser-Busch says it hopes to see self-driving technology widely deployed.

Otto was recently acquired by Uber.

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When and how to defend your CVOR by Truck News- James Menzies

MILTON, Ont. – One of the easiest ways to ensure your CVOR stays clean is to always carry a valid CVOR certificate in the truck. But that seemingly simple requirement is also one of the biggest pitfalls facing fleets who unexpectedly accrue points.

Heather Devine, a partner with law firm Isaacs & Co., told a gathering put on by the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) this week, that many fleets fail to update their CVOR certificates when doing a reorganization. If the name of the business or ownership has changed and the CVOR certificate has not been updated, it can be considered a fictitious, altered or fraudulent CVOR certificate – and that’s worth three points against a CVOR. She suggested carriers compare the company name on their CVOR certificates to the one that’s legally registered with the province.

Another common mistake is forgetting to renew CVORs on time, since the expiration date was just recently applied. Devine suggests fleets create checklists and assign responsibility for CVOR oversight to an employee. The checklists are important, as they allow a replacement employee to easily take over when the person responsible for CVOR management resigns or is away.

“I’m a big fan of checklists,” Devine said. It should include things like checking CVOR expiration dates and ensuring the accuracy of violation reports. Mike Millian, PMTC president, pointed out in his previous life as a fleet manager he often found points that were mistakenly assigned to his fleet. Allowing inaccuracies to remain affects a fleet’s public image as its carrier safety rating (CSR) is posted for the world to see. And this can be especially troublesome later if a carrier is involved in a major incident and lawyers get involved.

“These are the kinds of things plaintiff counsels’ are going to look at when going to get fodder to make a claim,” Devine warned. “Is your CSR that’s available to the public accurate? Go take a look. It might be inaccurate – these things happen.”

Devine also said fleets should understand their CVOR violation rate threshold, the maximum violation rate deemed acceptable for that specific operator. It is different for each fleet and is based on the number of vehicles and drivers within the fleet and the number of kilometers they travel.

Knowing the maximum threshold helps fleets decide if and when to dispute charges.

“You want to worry more about the CVOR points than the potential financial fine,” Devine advised.

Carriers should have a plan in place that begins with how drivers respond to receiving a fine.

“You should be training drivers to understand, without doubt, exactly who they’re supposed to call when they get a ticket,” Devine said. “A phone number should be given to them, not in a way that they’re scared to make that call. That’s very unhelpful to you. You want to make sure whoever it is they call is someone they feel is non-threatening enough to start the process to get the information to you, so you can start your cost-benefit analysis.”

Drivers should be instructed to never pay the fine on their own in hopes the fleet doesn’t find out about it. Paying the ticket is an admission of guilt and can lead to CVOR points that may have been avoidable by challenging the ticket.

“You need to warn them you will help them deal with the ticket,” Devine suggested.

When receiving a ticket, drivers must cooperate with and be respectful of police. They must also remember anything they say at the scene – including on a call to the office if police are present – can be used as evidence. The person at the office responsible for taking post-accident calls should record the conversation with the driver. They too should have a checklist containing a set list of questions to ask, such as: Where are you? Can the truck leave? What is the offense? What does the driver see?

Drivers should take notes as well, including the date and time of the offense, the name of the officer and the names of any independent witnesses. Fleet managers must not dispense legal advice to their driver, she added, noting the proper course of action for the fleet may not be in the best interests of the driver.

Fleets that have received a ticket must decide between: paying the fine and accepting the points; offering an explanation that could lead to a lesser charge; or going to trial to fight it. In more serious charges, Devine said her firm will often represent the carrier and then hire a second lawyer to represent the driver.

“We retain a very good lawyer for the driver and we pay that lawyer,” she explained. “Because we are paying those legal fees, the company is a participant in the defense and paying the legal bills.”

Alternatively, Devine added, the driver may go to trial unrepresented or with an inadequate lawyer, evidence may be poorly presented or inaccurate and this will impact how the carrier itself is judged. Also, a carrier can subsequently be charged with a different – and sometimes more serious– offense, even after the driver has plead guilty. She also warned against terminating a driver who has been in a serious incident for the same reasons.

“You definitely don’t want to terminate your driver until you’ve dealt with that charge,” she said.

Devine’s presentation was part of the latest in a series of seminars the PMTC has hosted this year for members. It also included a presentation on the effective use of social media.

For more information : or for any questions about your CVOR call us.

Report indicates fuel savings come from use of variety of technologies by

ARLINGTON, Va. – A study has determined that the median fleet-wide fuel economy is 6.5 miles per gallon, and that the number was achieved through the use of a variety of fuel saving technologies.

For truck-tractors, aluminum wheels, speed limiters and low rolling resistance tires were reported as the most common fuel saving technologies, while for trailers, low rolling resistance tires, aluminum wheels and weight saving technologies were most common.

The study was conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) in conjunction with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).

Aerodynamic treatments and idle reduction were identified by study respondents as technologies that have shown both the best and worst return on investment.

“This report shows which technologies fleets are using and which ones they are more skeptical about,” said Steve Niswander, vice-president of safety policy and regulatory relations with Groendyke Transport, Inc. and chairman of ATRI’s research advisory committee. “It also serves to highlight the difficulties fleets face when deciding which technologies are the best investments.”

The study also found that limited use of alternative fuels with biodiesel blends identified as the most common alternative fuel being used today.

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Montreal bans heavy trucks from aging Champlain Bridge By Today’s Trucking Staff


Rendering of the new Champlain Bridge set to open in 2018. [Courtesy of]

MONTREAL, QC — Heavy trucks carrying more than 66 tonnes have been banned from travelling Montreal’s Champlain Bridge as the aging infrastructure’s durability continues to be threatened by growing traffic volumes.

Trucks were banned from the bridge — or will now require a special permit — as of Oct. 10, announced a statement from management at Ponts Jacque Cartier+Champlain Bridges. The 54-year-old bridge — one of Canada’s busiest and most studied — spans the Saint Lawrence River to connect Montreal to boroughs on the South Shore.

Media reports have suggested Montreal’s uptick in construction led to the ban because of increased truck traffic carrying large loads.

“There are certainly more prefabricated pieces coming across the bridge, but this is more of a preventative measure as the bridge nears the end of its life,” bridge corporation spokeswoman Julie Paquet toldToday’s Trucking.

Paquet added that each large load that crosses the Champlain Bridge is about 40% more penal on the bridge’s system than typical traffic.

“A display and communication plan will be rolled out in the coming days to inform carriers of this new measure and facilitate the planning of their trips,” bridge management announced in a statement translated from French to English by Today’s Trucking.

There are few alternative route options for heavy trucks. With no access to the Southbound Merier Bridge, drivers are likely to select the La Fontaine Tunnel several kilometers away as a longer but guaranteed way to travel.

A new Champlain Bridge worth about $4.2 billion is expected to open in 2018. As it stands, Quebec is spending some $100 million per year to maintain the current bridge.

Bridge management stated that the 5.3 million truck trips across the bridge each year “repeatedly asks the bridge structure to work beyond the loads for which it was designed,” according to Glen P. Carlin, CEO of Ponts Jacque Cartier+Champlain Bridges.

For Class 5 or higher, it is now mandatory to obtain an excess load special permit issued by the Insurance Company automobile du Québec (SAAQ).

Quebec invests in electric truck prototypes By Today’s Trucking Staff

MONTREAL, QC — Quebec is contributing $8.6 million from the province’s Green Fund to five companies working on the electrification of heavy vehicles.

Autobus Lion, TM4, AddEnergie Technologies, Solution Adetel and Alcoa, are expected to build four prototypes over the next three years, including two buses and two load-hauling trucks. To create lightweight vehicles, special attention will be given to the use of aluminum, officials said.

“We all know that Quebec has its own energy in large quantities and at competitive cost,” announced Laurent Lessard, Quebec’s Minister of Transport. “By focusing on the electrification of transport, we want to become a forerunner in sustainable mobility and a leader in the use of means of transport powered by electricity.”

The Green Fund is revenue from Quebec’s carbon cap and trade program. Total project cost is expected to be more than $17 million.

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New Ontario truck drivers to receive mandatory training by KENYON WALLACEN and MARY ORMSBY

Aspiring truckers in Ontario will soon be required to hit the books before hitting the road.

On Tuesday, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca unveiled new mandatory entry-level training standards for future tractor trailer drivers who, by next summer, will be required to study at provincially licensed schools. Previously, no formal instruction was necessary before student drivers could take their road tests.

Now, would-be truckers must spend more than 100 hours in training — in the classroom and behind the wheel — before they can book their test.

“With the introduction of mandatory entry-level training, we are making sure that commercial truck drivers are properly trained before they are tested and allowed to drive on our roads,” Del Duca told reporters at a DriveTest Centre in Brampton. “We are making sure that trucking standards are kept high and that Ontario continues to lead in the commercial truck driving space.”

The new standards, developed in consultation with the trucking industry, come after a Star investigation that found anyone could obtain a Class A licence — needed to drive tractor-trailers and commercial trucks — without any formal or mandatory training. The Star revealed that this lack of required driver education had allowed the growth of dozens of unregulated truck training schools across the GTA that teach just enough for students to pass the road test.

These schools, known as “licensing mills” by trucking industry insiders, evade government detection by charging students just under $1,000 — the price threshold the province set for regulated courses at private career colleges and other schools. Now that the province will require all schools providing training to be licensed — and use provincially approved curriculum — these cut-rate schools will essentially be put out of business, said Del Duca.

The minister said road and knowledge tests will also be beefed-up to reflect the new training standards.

When tractor-trailers crash, the results can be devastating. Last Friday night, three big rigs were among 11 vehicles involved in a fiery collision on Highway 400 near Sheppard Ave. Four people were killed, including three from the same family.

Transport ministry statistics show that in 2014, the latest year for which figures are available, large trucks were involved in 105 deaths, accounting for 22 per cent of all road fatalities in Ontario.

The new mandatory course will be a minimum of 103.5 hours, including time spent in the classroom, in the yard and behind the wheel. Truck training schools now have one year to study the new standards and develop curriculum for provincial approval.

The new standards come into effect on July 1, 2017.

Truck training insiders told the Star courses are likely to cost between $5,000 and $6,000, but prices have not yet been set.

David Bradley, CEO of the Ontario Trucking Association, hailed the new standards as “a game changer.”

“Ontario is leading the way in terms of further improving highway safety and helping the industry to ensure it has an adequate supply of consistently trained, quality new drivers in the future,” said Bradley, whose organization helped lead the development of the new standards with the province.

“The mere fact that a new driver holds a Class-A licence has not been indicative of the competency level of that driver. That’s been a concern of the industry for some time.”

Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, which represents companies that use large truck fleets, said the new standards will help to raise the profile of the truck-driving profession.

“The standard will also go a long way in removing the unqualified licensing mill training schools from our industry,” said Millian, who has worked as a driver, instructor and fleet manager over his 26 years in the industry.

The changes, however, weren’t embraced by all in the truck training business.

John Beaudry, owner of Transport Training Centres of Canada, said it was “absurd” that Del Duca settled on 103.5 hours of mandatory entry-level education when the current standard offered by private career colleges like Beaudry’s is 200 hours.

“We don’t have enough training hours as it is,” said Beaudry, adding his 20 locations across Ontario train between 2,500 and 3,500 students annually.

“There’s a 200-hour standard and we need every single minute of that devoted to delivering our best (instruction) in order to produce quality drivers. . . To cut it in half, it’s not going to be good.”

Naeem Cheema, owner of Pine Valley Driving Academy in Etobicoke, said that while he is pleased the government is attempting to ensure some basic level of training, he is “surprised” schools weren’t mandated to provide air-brake training, needed to operate a tractor-trailer. The new rules make the inclusion of air-brake training optional in the curriculum.

“It should be mandatory because drivers need to feel how air brakes are different from hydraulic brakes,” said Cheema.

He said approved schools will probably just offer air-brake training as an add-on course. Tractor-trailer drivers need both a Class-A licence and a “Z” air brake endorsement.

The Star’s investigation also found that Class-A licence seekers taking their road tests at the now-closed truck-testing facility in Woodbridge were not being tested on major expressways, despite the close proximity of the test centre to Highways 427 and 407. (The Woodbridge facility closed in April 2015 when the building’s lease expired.)

The new standards state that road tests must include an expressway portion, or in areas where none are available, an alternative such as a highway with a speed limit of at least 80 km/h can be used.

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ATA raises concerns with US speed limiter proposal bu TruckNews

ARLINGTON, Va. – The American Trucking Associations (ATA), a proponent of legislation requiring heavy trucks to be speed-limited, has told the US Department of Transportation it will not endorse the proposed rule as written.

ATA president and CEO Chris Spear said in a statement that while ATA has promoted a policy on truck speed limits for a decade, the industry has concerns about the current proposal.

“Despite ATA’s decade-old, pro-safety policy on speed, the new joint rulemaking from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Administration proposes a menu of three speed options for commercial trucks, not one,” Spear said.

“It provides insufficient data, and fails to make a recommendation regarding which of the three proposed speeds it believes is best and why. Most disconcerting is the fact that DOT’s new rulemaking does not address the differentials in speed that would exist between any of the three proposed national speed limits for trucks and the speed laws of multiple states – allowing passenger vehicles to travel at much higher speeds than commercial trucks. This lack of data and direction only elevates the safety risks to the motoring public. A mandate for a one-size-fits-all speed limiter will squelch innovation in technologies to enhance safety and accommodate not only highways, but potentially secondary roads and beyond.”

The ATA has already requested another 30 days be granted for public comments.

“ATA will then prepare its formal comments, fully illustrating the flaws of this proposed rulemaking, which we will not support as currently drafted,” Spear said.

Diesel prices tick upward in most recent week by Matt Cole, on


Diesel prices across the U.S.  rose during the week ending Oct. 3, according to the Department of Energy’s weekly report.

The price of a gallon of on-highway diesel rose by seven-tenths of a cent, regaining the decrease from the previous week. The U.S.’ average price for fuel is now $2.389 per gallon nationwide.

The nation’s most expensive diesel can be found in California at $2.766 per gallon, followed by the West Coast less California region at $2.524 per gallon.

The cheapest fuel can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $2.25 per gallon, followed by the Lower Atlantic region at $2.327 per gallon.

Average prices in other regions, according to the DOE, are:

  • New England – $2.414
  • Central Atlantic – $2.486
  • Midwest – $2.356
  • Rocky Mountain – $2.467

ProMiles’ numbers during the same week show diesel prices rising by six-tenths of a penny to $2.355 per gallon nationwide.

According to ProMiles’ Fuel Surcharge Index, the most expensive diesel can be found in California at $2.732 per gallon, and the cheapest can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $2.25 per gallon.

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