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Transportation News Bulletins - LTL and TL

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Suppressed study finds danger in hands-free devices
Friday, 24 July 2009 00:00

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, withheld from the public since 2003, found that hands-free mobile technology presents as much of a safety hazard as handheld phones.

The results were released earlier this week after two advocacy groups—Public Citizen and the Center for Auto Safety—obtained the data.

“By keeping this information secret from the public for the past six years, the government has endangered even more lives,” the groups stated. “Cities and States across the country have passed laws and ordinances requiring drivers to use hands-free phones, mistakenly believing those devices to be safe and encouraging drivers to use them.”

According to the study, it is the conversation itself, not the device used to hear it that causes “inattention blindness,” a cognitive state that slows a driver’s reaction time and limits his ability to detect changes in road conditions.

As well, the research and driving simulations analyzed in the NHTSA documents found that drivers using hands-free technology talk on the phone with greater frequency and for longer intervals.

“By withholding this data, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration led consumers to believe that it was safe to talk on their cell phones while driving if they kept both hands on the wheel,” the groups said.

The Center for Auto Safety is petitioning NHTSA today to restrict the availability of two-way communication features through in-vehicle systems while the vehicle is in motion, relying in part on information revealed in the released records as a basis for the petition.

The Center also is asking NHTSA to support state programs designed to limit use of cell phones— whether hands-free or handheld—by drivers.

Today’sTrucking.com, 7/24/2009

 
NHTSA issues new braking standard
Friday, 24 July 2009 00:00

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today, July 24, issued a long-awaited regulation to tighten the stopping distance standards on heavy-duty tractors. The new standard generally requires that a tractor traveling at 60 miles per hour come to a complete stop within 250 feet when loaded to their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The old standard required a complete stop within 355 feet. For a small number of very heavy severe-service tractors, the stopping distance requirement will be 310 feet under these same conditions. And the final rule requires that all heavy truck tractors must stop within 235 feet when loaded to their “lightly loaded vehicle weight.”

Three-axle tractors with GVWRs of 59,600 pounds or less must meet the reduced stopping distance requirements by Aug. 1, 2011. Two-axle tractors and tractors with GVWRs above 59,600 pounds must meet requirements by Aug. 1, 2013. Manufacturers can use any of several options to meet the requirement, including installation of enhanced drum brakes, air disc brakes or hybrid disc/drum systems, NHTSA says. The agency noted that a number of vehicles in the commercial fleet already use such braking systems and, therefore, already meet the requirements of the amended standard.

NHTSA estimates that the new braking requirement will save 227 lives annually and prevent 300 serious injuries. The agency also estimates that it will reduce property damage costs by more than $169 million a year.

For a copy of the NHTSA rule, click here.

Commercial Carrier Journal, 7/24/2009

 
Con-way Reports $31.5 Million Profit
Friday, 24 July 2009 00:00

Revenue tops $1 billion as LTL unit demand edge up, pricing slide

Trucking and logistics company Con-way returned to profitability in the second quarter, reporting $31.5 million in net income on $1.1 billion in revenue. The company lost $153 million in the first quarter, on $962.9 million in revenue.

Sequential month-to-month growth in freight volume and demand for logistics services helped lift the company despite the recession and pressure from customers to lower its rates. Con-way also credited savings from cost-cutting initiatives, including layoffs and salary and wage reductions.

Overcapacity in the less-than-truckload and truckload markets is keeping a lid on pricing, however, limiting the company's ability to improve its yield.

"Until the market's excess capacity is resolved, we expect the pricing environment to remain competitive," said President and CEO Douglas W. Stotlar.

The net profit was 35 percent behind Con-way's earnings in the second quarter a year ago and overall revenue fell 21.2 percent, including a 22.6 percent drop in revenue at the core

Con-way Freight less-thantruckload unit. Con-way Freight had an operating profit of $49 million, down 36.7 percent from the $77.4 million earned in the same period of 2008. Its revenue of $638 million came with a 7 percent drop in tonnage per day in a declining LTL market.

Con-way Truckload, the former Contract Freighters, saw profit plunge 44.7 percent to $6.9 million on $89.8 million in revenue. Like many of its competitors, the truckload unit sold trucks in the quarter, cutting 195 tractors from its fleet.

Menlo Worldwide Logistics, however, saw profit jump 57.4 percent to $7.8 million, despite a 13.3 percent drop in revenue to $327 million. The logistics provider benefited from new customers that helped offset a decline in transactional volumes and pricing pressure from existing accounts.

"Recessionary times provide opportunities for logistics companies, and Menlo has done a good job helping its customers weather the downturn," Stotlar said.

Journal of Commerce, 7/24/2009

 
Labor, Business Call for Action on Transport Bill
Thursday, 23 July 2009 00:00

U.S. 'can't wait' 18 months to address infrastructure challenges, groups tell Congress

Labor and business interests converged on Capitol Hill June 23 to urge Congress to pass a multi-year transportation bill despite opposition from the White House and Senate.

Representatives from the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urging action on a major surface transportation spending bill before the current law expires Sept. 30.

“We can’t wait another 18 months for a surface transportation authorization bill,” Ed Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, told the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures. “Our transportation system and infrastructure are plunging into a state of severe disrepair and can’t wait a year and a half for new investments.”

“Infrastructure is unlike other problems or programs where you can wait until the very last minute and then write a big check,” said Janet Kavinoky, Director of Transportation Infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

She also argued against an 18-month extension of the current surface transportation law already approved by two committees in the Senate in favor of more comprehensive transportation reform.

The subcommittee hearing could be a critical point in the debate over the direction transportation funding will take this year and beyond. Under the leadership of Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is developing a $500 billion six-year transportation bill that would reshape the Department of Transportation and set new multimodal spending priorities for Congress and the states.

The White House and its allies in the Senate want to postpone debate over a major overhaul of transportation funding programs and the DOT. They claim such a bill stands little or no chance of passing by the Sept. 30 deadline while Congress is focused on health care reform and energy legislation.

Both the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, however, argue infrastructure investment is critical to economic recovery and U.S. competitiveness in global markets.

“America’s transportation infrastructure cannot fall victim to the practice of doing what is easy over doing what is right,” said Kavinoky.

“The nation’s infrastructure has allowed U.S. industries to take a leading role in the global economy, providing products and services worldwide,” said Kavinoky. “Transportation has been the foundation of this success, but it is now becoming our Achilles heel.”

Wytkind stressed the number of jobs a multiyear highway bill could create. “History shows that transportation bills are engines of job creation,” he told the subcommittee. “The economic recovery bill, which dedicated $48 billion dollars to transportation infrastructure, was a great first step,” he said, but “only a down payment” on future transportation needs.

“The costs of delaying a robust surface transportation bill are higher than the costs of passing it,” he said. “If we kick this can down the road any more it’s going to land in a pothole.”

Journal of Commerce, 7/23/2009

 
Card-check provision reportedly dropped from union bill
Monday, 20 July 2009 00:00

According to media reports, Democrats have agreed to drop a provision in legislation that would have made it easier for employees to form unions. The card-check provision of the Employee Free Choice Act would require certification of a union if a majority of employees signed authorizations designating the union as their bargaining representative—a process known as card check.

Under current law, the National Labor Relations Board oversees an election process for unions that uses secret ballots. Card check is allowed, but employers have to agree to it first. The revised legislation would make union elections happen quicker, which unions favor because it would give employers less time to campaign against unionization.

The card-check provision is the most controversial element of the union legislation and is strongly opposed by business groups. While Democrats have a supermajority in the Senate, several Democrats had voiced opposition to the card-check provision, which meant supporters would lack the votes to end a filibuster.

The Associated Press and New York Times, among other news outlets, reported the removal of the card-check provision on Friday, July 17. Their sources remained anonymous because negotiations on the Employee Free Choice Act—including talks with union leaders—are ongoing.

Commercial Carrier Journal, 7/20/2009

 
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