Trucking Biz Buzz

Ormond Beach, Fla., Love’s offers fuel-and-go only during Biketoberfest, Oct. 18-21

Biketoberfest is expected to soon again overwhelm the Love’s Travel Stop in Ormond Beach, Fla.

For Biketoberfest weekend, Oct. 18-21, Love’s will offer only fuel-and-go service at that location, at the junction of I-95 and U.S. Highway 1.

Biketoberfest draws thousands of motorcyclists to the Daytona Harley Davidson next door to the Ormond Beach Love’s Travel Stop. In past years, the increased traffic volumes for truckers waiting to fuel combined with the significant influx of cars, trucks and motorcycles, has caused severe traffic jams.

Because of the traffic and congestion, long-term parking won’t be available at this location throughout Biketoberfest.

However, Love’s intends to provide the necessary fueling for professional drivers. To ensure fueling remains available, Love’s needs drivers to continue moving in and out at that exit.

Also, when truck drivers leave the Ormond Beach Love’s parking lot, local police are schedule to direct traffic and only allow drivers to turn right onto U.S. 1.

Drivers needing to go south will have to drive 1 mile north, where the sheriff’s department plans to have a controlled turnaround point. If drivers go north for about 5 miles, they will come to Old Dixie Highway. Take a right and go 2 miles to connect to I-95 north or south.

Love’s provides answers to frequently asked questions here.

Trucking industry jobs surge for second consecutive month

Net transportation jobs significantly increased again in September after a large increase in August. The transport sector gained nearly 24,000 jobs due to high increases in the warehousing, transit, couriers and trucking industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The truck transportation subsector experienced an increase of nearly 5,000 jobs in September after the industry gained nearly 6,000 in August and 1,100 in July. Numbers for September and August are preliminary and are likely to change in the coming months. So far, trucking jobs are up nearly 28,000 for the year.

Warehousing and storage experienced the largest increase in the sector with more than 8,000 jobs added, followed by transit/ground passenger transportation and couriers/messengers with 5,400 and 5,100 more jobs, respectively. Water transportation suffered the worse monthly job loss with 700 fewer jobs, followed by scenic/sightseeing transportation with 600 fewer jobs.

In 2017, the transportation and warehousing sector had a net gain of more than 3 million jobs. In every month except January there was a job increase compared to the previous month. September accounted for the largest one-month increase, with more than 25,000 jobs in the sector added to the economy. For the year, the trucking subsector had a net gain of 9,400 jobs in 2017.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $24.46 for September – a 2-cent increase from August. Earnings were up 46 cents from September 2017. Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees went up 5 cents to $21.99 from the previous month and up 52 cents year to year. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $27.24, an 8-cent increase from the previous month. Compared with a year ago, average earnings have gone up by 2.8 percent, or 73 cents.

According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material-moving occupations rose slightly to 4.6 percent, compared with 4.5 percent in September 2017. However, the rate decreased from 5.2 percent in August. The overall unemployment dropped from 3.9 percent in August to 3.7 percent. The number of long-term unemployed increased slightly to 1.4 million, accounting for 23 percent of the unemployed.

Per diem rate increases for 2019

The transportation workers’ special standard per diem rate has been increased to $66. Outside continental U.S increased from $68 to $71 per day.

That means truckers can continue to declare a $66 per diem dating back to Oct. 1, 2018, when the 2019 per diem rates became effective.

Some truckers are unsure when they can use the “overnight” rule and deduct the per diem amount. In past issues of Land Line Magazine, Howard Abrams of PBS Tax and Bookkeeping Service included the following Q&A on the topic in his “Tax Tips” column.

I’m not sure when I can deduct expenses for meals and lodging under the “overnight” rule. Is there a general rule of thumb?

The per diem is available for IRS Schedule C filers, which is owner-operators. Company drivers who file an IRS Schedule A, are not eligible for the deduction.

In order to deduct your travel expenses, you, as the taxpayer, must be away from your home residence or tax home longer than what would constitute your ordinary workday. You must be away from your home long enough that you cannot complete the trip without sufficient sleep or rest.

The rest period must be long enough to require adequate lodging, such as an overnight stay at a motel or in your truck. A short duration of rest, such as a quick nap at a rest stop, does not qualify your travel expenses as deductions because it does not satisfy the overnight rule.

However, it is not necessary that you, as the taxpayer, be away for more than 24 hours in order to meet the overnight rule.

An example of meeting the overnight rule would be if you were traveling on business and you rent a room to sleep or rest during a layover. An example of not meeting the overnight rule would be if you were traveling several hundred miles and needed to stop to rest for an hour.

If you have no regular place of business and you do not maintain a fixed home, you may not deduct any travel expenses. A trucker who lives in his or her truck during the entire course of the year cannot deduct per diem meals.

Abrams also cautioned that truckers could encounter problems related to their expenses and per diem payments, depending on how their carriers handle their business. Per diem payments are subject to income and employment tax if a carrier reimburses a trucker in excess of the federal per diem rate, which is $66 per day. This is so if the trucker is not being reimbursed for actual expenses.

California gets to try out Volvo electric trucks next year

Versions of the nearly silent, exhaust-free electric trucks that Volvo introduced this year in Europe are coming to North America in 2019.

California will fund a demonstration project aimed at proving the effectiveness of the trucks in fleet operations and in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, Volvo Trucks announced in a news release this week.

A broader North American commercial rollout is in the works for 2020.

Volvo is working with California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District on the Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project. There are 16 partners involved in the project working to transform freight operations at the facilities of two United States trucking fleets.

Funding comes from a $44.8 million grant preliminarily awarded by the California Air Resources Board to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The South Coast Air Basin includes all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The district has 10,743 square miles and 16.8 million people, about half the population of the state of California, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District website.

Volvo LIGHTS is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that uses cap-and-trade funds. California conducts quarterly auctions where companies can sell or purchase permits for carbon dioxide emissions as part of the state's program to reduce greenhouse gases. The proceeds of the cap-and trade auctions are earmarked for public programs to slow climate change.

Volvo Trucks plans to deploy eight Class 8 electric demonstration units with gross vehicle weight of more than 15 tons and another 15 precommercial and commercial units in California’s South Coast Air Basin.

The vehicles will be based on the Volvo FE Electric, one of two Volvo Trucks introduced in May to European markets. Volvo invited media representatives, including one from Land Line, to test drive the vehicles in June in Sweden. The other electric truck introduced in the spring was the Volvo FL, which has a single electric motor, producing a maximum 370 kW of power, or just over 500 hp.

OOIDA receives awards for HOS editorial, speed limiter video campaigns

A video aimed at heightening awareness about the dangers of speed limiters in heavy trucks and an editorial calling for hours-of-service reform were just two of several campaigns undertaken by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association on behalf of its members.

Those campaigns garnered OOIDA two Gold PRISM awards from the Greater Kansas City Public Relations Society of America.

“We would like to thank the GKC-PRSA for acknowledging these works done on behalf of our members,” said Norita Taylor, director of public relations at OOIDA. “We strive to make our messages known beyond the trucking community and appreciate recognition from mainstream media as well.”

The op-ed by OOIDA President Todd Spencer can be read here and the speed limiter video can be viewed here.

The GKC-PRSA is a chapter of the national PRSA and is a community of communications professionals across Kansas City and Midwest. Its signature event, the annual PRISM Awards, honors the year’s best in communications excellence.

More than 26,000 International trucks recalled for Cummins fuel line issue

Navistar is recalling more than 26,000 International trucks, model years 2017-19, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The defect is the same as a recall issued last week for Freightliners and Western Stars with certain Cummins engines.

More specifically, certain International 9900I (2017-2018), HX (2017-2019), LoneStar (2017-2019), LT (2018-2019), PayStar (2017) and ProStar (2017-2018) trucks with Cummins ISX15 or X15 engines are affected by the recall. In certain driving conditions, such as on a long down-hill grade, the fuel line may burst if the fuel pump cooling circuit screen becomes restricted, according to NHTSA.

Consequently, fuel may leak onto the road resulting in a roadway hazard for other motorists. The engine also may stall without warning, resulting in the vehicle's inability to restart, increasing the risk of a crash.

Cummins will contact owners of affected trucks. The recall is slated for Nov. 2. However, the remedy for the recall is still under development. For questions, call Cummins customer service at 800-286-6467 or Navistar’s customer service at 800-448-7825. NHTSA’s recall number is 18V-581.

NAFTA freight experiences largest year-to-year increase in more than six years

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in July trucks moved 62 percent of NAFTA freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. All five modes experienced an increase in freight year-to-year for the third consecutive month.

The value of freight hauled across the borders decreased by nearly 5 percent compared with June, when freight decreased by 1 percent from the previous month. This is the largest month-to-month increase since December 2017 when NAFTA freight declined by 7 percent. Compared to July 2017, freight was up 13.5 percent, the largest year-to-year increase since February 2012 when NAFTA freight increased by 16.4 percent compared with February 2011. This marks the 21st consecutive month of year-to-year increases.

March 2017 had the largest month-to-month increase (16 percent) since March 2011, when NAFTA freight was up more than 22 percent compared to February 2011. NAFTA freight declined by nearly 11 percent in July 2017, the largest decline for the year.

In March 2017, the index reached more than $100 billion for the first time since October 2014 before going back below that mark in April. That landmark was revisited in October and maintained through November before dipping below the $100 billion mark again in December. March marked the first month in 2018 to reach beyond $100 million, which has been maintained through at least July so far.

Trucks carried nearly $63 billion of the more than $101 billion of imports and exports in July.

Year-to-year, Canada truck freight increased by 7.3 percent and Mexico freight rose by 14.6 percent. Top truck commodities were computers and parts, electrical machinery, motor vehicles and parts, plastics and measuring/testing instruments.

Freight totaled $101.212 billion, down nearly $5 billion from the previous month but an increase of more than $12 billion from July 2017.

Vessel freight accounted for the largest increase at 42.4 percent after an increase of 26.5 percent in June. Trucks accounted for an increase of 11.2 percent, the third largest increase behind a 32 percent increase in pipeline freight. Truck freight experienced increases of 5.3 percent in June and 9 percent in May.

More than 55 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 11 percent. Of the $51 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried 68.5 percent of the loads.

Thousands of Freightliner/Western Star trucks recalled for Cummins fuel line issue

Daimler Trucks North America is recalling 4,500 Freightliner and Western Star trucks model years 2017-19, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents. Affected vehicles have potential issues with the fuel line.

More specifically, certain 2017-19 Freightliner 122SD, Cascadia, Coronado and Western Star 4900 trucks with Cummins ISX15 or X15 engines are affected by the recall. In certain driving conditions, such as on a long down-hill grade, the fuel line may burst if the fuel pump cooling circuit screen becomes restricted, according to NHTSA.

Consequently, fuel may leak onto the road resulting in a roadway hazard for other motorists. The engine also may stall without warning, resulting in the vehicle's inability to restart, increasing the risk of a crash.

Cummins will contact owners of affected trucks. The recall is slated for Oct. 28. However, the remedy for the recall is still under development. For questions, call Cummins customer service at 800-286-6467 or DTNA’s customer service at 800-547-0712 with recall number FL789. NHTSA’s recall number is 18V-581.

Oversize/overweight trucks prohibited from Peace Bridge Oct. 15 to May 15

Truckers operating oversize and overweight vehicles who use the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, N.Y., should take note. OS/OW trucks will be prohibited from crossing the bridge from Oct. 15 to May 15, 2019.

According to a news release, crews will begin the final phase of the Peace Bridge rehabilitation project in October. This will involve closing the center lane of the three-lane bridge. Due to the lane closure, it will not be possible to accommodate oversize and overweight vehicles.

This ban only affects vehicles with oversize and overweight permits. All other vehicles that meet normal Ontario Highway Traffic Act or New York State Department of Transportation size/weight limits can still access the bridge.

Truckers operating under an oversize/overweight should contact the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission operations center at 905-354-5641 ext. 4161 or 716-285-6322 ext. 4161. The operations center will assist those drivers with getting across the Niagara River via the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge.

For more information about the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission truck loads program, click here.

Daimler recalls newer Freightliner trucks for steering box and brake caliper issues

Daimler Trucks North America has recently announced two separate recalls for model year 2018-19 Freightliner trucks, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents. One recall deals with the brake caliper on various models of Freightliners. Another recall affects Cascadia trucks with an issue with the steering box.

The larger of the two recalls affects more than 4,000 Freightliner trucks. In affected trucks, the brake caliper mounting bolts may have been insufficiently tightened during manufacturing. Loose brake caliper mounting bolts can reduce brake effectiveness.

Affected Freightliner trucks include (all model year 2018-19):

  • 108SD
  • 114SD
  • 122SD
  • Business Class M2
  • Cascadia
  • Columbia
  • Coronado

Owners will be notified and dealers will tighten the brake caliper mounting bolts for free. Recalls are slated for Oct. 6. For questions, call DTNA’s customer service at 800-547-0712 with recall number FL-783. NHTSA’s recall number is 18V-525.

In July, DTNA recalled more than 18,000 Cascadia trucks model year 2018-19 for the same issue. Last December, Daimler recalled more than 3,000 model year 2018 Freightliner and Western Star trucks for similar issues.

The second recall affects more than 100 Cascadia trucks model year 2018-19. Affected trucks have pitman arms that may crack and fracture over time. If the pitman arm fractures, there would be a loss of steering control.

DTNA will have dealers replace the pitman arms for free. This recall is also scheduled for Oct. 6. Questions can be directed to DTNA’s customer service phone number mentioned above with recall number FL-784. NHTSA’s number for the pitman arms recall is 18V-522.