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You’ll soon see new exit numbers on MA interstates
Trucking News

Starting this summer, Massachusetts will begin renumbering exits on interstates and other freeways based on milepost numbers.

The state’s Department of Transportation says the new system offers several advantages including:

  • allows drivers to quickly determine distances to destinations
  • miles traveled can be calculated more easily
  • more accurate emergency response
  • same exit numbering scheme as almost all other states
  • easier to add future exits without renumbering entire corridor

In addition to new numbers, exits will also have “Old Exit” signs displayed for at least two years, according to MassDOT.

You can see an interactive map detailing existing exits and what their new numbers will be on a website with details about the project, which is expected to cost $2.8. You can also make comments about the program online. MDOT is also holding numerous public meetings to explain the program.

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Why parts of Hwy 1 in the Lower Mainland have become a 'sheet of black ice&
Trucking News

Many accidents, 'white-knuckle driving' reported as ministry struggles to keep Trans Canada clear

Drivers experiencing Highway 1 between Chilliwack and Abbotsford, B.C., this week are describing the stretch as treacherous, with sudden snowstorms leading to a series of accidents as the ministry of transportation struggles in "challenging" conditions to keep the route clear.

Environment Canada meteorologists said there was a "flash freeze" on the stretch during the first in a series of winter storms Sunday afternoon, which created an "ice sheet" on the highway five to eight centimetres thick.

The sheet has stayed intact due to persistent freezing temperatures.

"That sheet of ice, despite best attempts at sanding and salting, has not gone anywhere," said meteorologist Matt MacDonald, who was in a car crash himself after taking the road on Sunday.

The stretch has seen several stalls, spin-offs, jack-knifed semis and fender-benders since Monday, some of which have led to gridlock on the major route through the Lower Mainland.

 

The ice has made the freeway simply "dangerous," according to drivers.

Traffic officials and the province are urging people to slow down and say they should expect delays.

 

Evan Shindle, who runs Arctic Snow Removal, a Burnaby-based snow removal and salting company for businesses across the Lower Mainland, said his employees — including some experienced drivers from Saskatchewan — refused to take the freeway Tuesday, even in their four-by-four work vehicles.

"It's a sheet of black ice," he said.

"I had two trucks turn around on Highway 1 and refuse to drive," said Shindle, who has been in the business for decades. "I had another truck that did make it and he said it was the most scary thing he's done in a long time."

Why is the highway not being cleared?

Snow clearing on certain highways in Metro Vancouver, including Highway 1, are the jurisdiction of the B.C. government.

The Ministry of Transportation has said contractors have been working overnight to try to melt the ice on the roadway.

But temperatures dipping below –15 C and strong winds have made it difficult to get road treatments to melt or add friction to the ice to make it safer to drive over, South Coast regional director Ashok Bhatti said.

The high winds have blown some of the salts and sand off the highway, he said.

 

"We are using calcium chloride and a combination of techniques, but it has been challenging," Bhatti said.

"I've had teams from our ministry personally driving those roads ahead of commuter traffic," he said. "We are hitting it with everything we've got."

Abbotsford Mayor Harry Braun said he knows the ministry has its hands full, but contracts exist for a reason and all parties have to adhere.

"I'm assuming there are measurements and KPI's (key performance indicators) they have to meet and bare pavement in 24 hours, I say, if that's in there, that hasn't happened," said Braun Wednesday on The Early Edition.

Why does wet snow make matters worse?

Bhatti said the West Coast gets very wet snow, which is even more difficult to drive over.

He said the snow hits the colder road surface and refreezes.

He described how that creates unique problems like compaction or "ice shelving," making the snow more difficult to plow away.

"Once those conditions start to persist, it is more difficult to try to address that," he said.

What can drivers do?

Drivers have been asked to avoid the highway altogether if travel is not absolutely essential.

"I can't emphasize enough: It's not worth it heading out there on the roads, unless you absolutely need to," said MacDonald.

Bhatti urged drivers to slow down and take care.

He said accidents that need attention and clean-up have slowed the application of road treatment and blocked road-clearing vehicles from doing much-needed work — so, every mishap makes the road a little more dangerous.

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Canadian spot market ends 2019 on high note
Trucking News

TORONTO, Ont. – Canada’s spot market ended 2019 with a strong fourth quarter, with load volumes increasing and truck volumes on the decline, according to the latest data from TransCore Link Logistics.

Fourth quarter load volumes were up 7% compared to the previous quarter, and resembled those seen in mid-2018. The end of December saw declines in both load volumes and trucks. December load volumes were up 5% over November and 12% year-over-year.

For the full year, total load volumes averaged 30% lower compared to total average volumes in 2018.

TransCore saw an increase in capacity in 2019, which combined with weakened freight demand to see greater truck availability year-over-year in every month except February. Overall equipment volumes were the highest in Loadlink’s history in 2019.

December’s equipment postings declined 14% compared to November, but were up 11% year-over-year. The truck-to-load ratio in December tightened by 19% to 2.87, from 3.43 in November.

December’s spot market rates were up 2% both month-over-month and year-over-year.

“The past year proved to be a tumultuous period for the freight industry following a booming 2018 when freight volumes reached new highs,” TransCore concluded in a release. “An overabundance of capacity, global trade uncertainties, rising insurance costs, and depressed rates all played an evident role in the decline of the overall Canadian freight market. Canadian spot market conditions may have faltered compared to a remarkable 2018, but proved to be more consistent and in-line with steadier periods seen in recent years.”

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CBSA stops truck carrying 200 kilos of meth
Trucking News
CBSA

The drugs seized by the CBSA.


WINDSOR, Ont. – A Mississauga truck driver was arrested Dec. 24, when border agents and the RCMP intercepted the largest shipment of methamphetamine on record in the past seven years.

The 200-kg shipment was valued at more than $25.5 million. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) stopped a commercial truck entering Canada at the Ambassador Bridge on Dec. 24 and referred it for secondary inspection. During the exam, border services officers found nine containers filled with suspected methamphetamine.

The RCMP charged Mohamed Ahmed Abdirahman, 36, with: importation of a controlled substance, contrary to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act; and possession for the purpose of trafficking, contrary to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

He is due in court Feb. 3.

“This seizure demonstrates that border services officers are committed to protecting our borders and ensuring the security of Canadians,” said Joe McMahon, district director, Ambassador Bridge District Operations, CBSA. “We work in partnership with the RCMP to prevent illegal activity at the border and to keep our communities safe from illicit drugs.”

“This arrest demonstrates how teamwork is essential when it comes to preventing illegal substances from entering Canada,” added superintendent Nancy Burniston, South West District Commander, RCMP. “The RCMP remains fully committed to enforcing laws against illicit drugs to their fullest extent in order to keep our communities safe.”

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Understand torque, hp, and axle ratios
Trucking News
engine torque curve

The chart was chosen for its clarity. It represents a Detroit Diesel DD15 engine with a rating of 455 hp and 1,550 lb-ft. The engine is available in ratings from 400-505 hp and 1,550-1,750 lb-ft.

TORONTO, Ont. — Horsepower always gets top billing in engine ratings, but it’s torque that does most of the heavy lifting in today’s powertrain. Here’s what the numbers mean, how they relate, and how they affect performance:

Torque is a measure of the rotational force applied to the engine’s crankshaft and ultimately to the drive wheels. Torque is expressed in pound-feet (lb-ft). Horsepower is a measure of the amount of work the engine does over time, expressed as X horsepower at a given engine rpm (445 hp @ 1,600 rpm).

In very unscientific terms, torque is “pulling power”, while horsepower is what keeps the truck moving at a given speed. As you can see from the torque and horsepower chart, engine torque is highest at low engine speed (1,550 lb-ft @ 975 rpm), while horsepower is highest at higher engine speed (455 hp @ 1,625 rpm).

The axle ratio defines the number of times the input shaft (driveshaft) will have to to produce one full rotation of the axle shaft. For example, a 4.11:1 ratio means the driveshaft will have to rotate 4.11 times to produce one full turn of the axle. Likewise, a 2.24:1 axle ratio means the driveshaft rotates 2.24 times for every one rotation of the axle.

For fuel efficiency, a low numeric drive axle ratio (2.24:1) gives you a low engine rpm (where all the torque lives) at cruise speed, thus reducing fuel consumption. A higher numeric axle ratio (4.11:1) keeps the engine running in the higher horsepower range, thus improving performance.

If fuel efficiency is your goal, you’ll want an engine that produces a lot of torque at low rpm (1,100-1,200 rpm). Provided the weight and terrain are suitable, the dealer might recommend what is called a “downsped” driveline (gear fast, run slow) with low numeric axle ratio, like 2.47:1 or 2.26:1. If high performance is your preference (high weight and/or hilly terrain), a higher numeric axle ratio will be more suitable to keep the engine in the higher horsepower range of 1,300-1,400 rpm (3.36:1 or 3:55:1).

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Massive recall issued for defect that could cause truck to move when parked
Trucking News
Navistar Recall

Navistar has issued a recall for thousands of trucks due to a defect that could cause a parked truck to move, increasing the risk of a crash.

Navistar recently announced a recall for certain 2019-2020 International MV and HV, 2018-2020 Workstar, and 2018-2019 Durastar vehicles equipped with feature codes 12VXT and 12VXU.

The number of trucks impacted by the recall is 12,539.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) documents, the recalled trucks have a defect that could cause the truck to move when parked: “With the parking brake applied and the automatic transmission in the ‘Drive’ or ‘Reverse’ position, when the stationary PTO switch is engaged by the operator, the engine RPM will ramp up and may overcome the parking brake’s ability to hold the vehicle.” This movement could increase the risk of a crash.

The recall is set to begin January 20, 2020. Navistar will notify truck owners and truck dealers and will correct the defect free of charge by updating the Engine Control Module to enable the PTO neutral interlock.

Truck owners with questions about the recall can call Navistar customer service at 1-800-448-7825 and reference recall number 19518.

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Regulators look to further reduce NOx in truck exhaust
Trucking News

The U.S. EPA is placing a particular focus on NOx produced under low-load conditions, such as when trucks are in stop-and-go traffic.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking to further reduce the NOx produced by heavy trucks – particularly under low-load conditions when the vehicles are idling, moving slowly, or in stop-and-go traffic.

Details of the regulatory plans have emerged in a call for comments on the agency’s Cleaner Trucks Initiative, under an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule (ANPR).

Ongoing Canadian-based research into medium-duty vehicles will also have a role to play in the process. The EPA plans to use Environment and Climate Change Canada’s full vehicle testing being performed on this side of the border, exploring advanced technologies available in the market today.

“EPA expects this study will inform our baseline engine performance for medium-heavy duty engines,” the EPA says.

While NOx emissions in the U.S. have dropped by more than 40% over a decade, heavy-duty vehicles are expected to continue to be a leading mobile source in 2028. Those NOx emissions contribute to unwanted ozone and particulate matter.

“There is more work to be done,” the EPA says in the submission, noting that the EPA last revised the NOx standards in 2001. “We have an opportunity to modernize the requirements to better reflect the capability of available emissions control technologies.”

The EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory, and the Southwest Research Institute, are now investigating technologies such as cylinder deactivation and intake valve closing to reduce airflow and increase exhaust temperatures. That is expected to help aftertreatment systems control emissions while also reducing fuel consumption – the primary focus of current emissions-related programs. The latest generation of aftertreatment configurations and formulas are also being investigated.

For gasoline engines used in heavy-duty applications, regulators are looking to keep three-way catalysts warm for improved cold starts and low-load emissions, as well as material changes to reduce the need for engine protection modes that increase emissions during high-load applications.

Another study is looking at the accuracy, repeatability, noise, interference and response times of current NOx sensors.

To help manufacturers, meanwhile, the EPA is looking for a way to demonstrate aftertreatment durability through an accelerated catalyst aging procedure.

“We have the opportunity to build on and repeat our past success, but to do so we need the agency to lead a collaborative, data-driven process to determine both the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of any future regulations,” said Jed Mandel, president of the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association. “Through the Cleaner Trucks Initiative, EPA can assure that any future regulations are not only cost-effective, but also provide sufficient regulatory lead time, stability and certainty.”

It wasn’t the only organization to comment.

“Since 1985, newly manufactured trucks have reduced NOx emissions by over 98%, but our work is not yet done,” said American Trucking Associations executive vice-president of advocacy Bill Sullivan. “ATA is committed to continuing to work closely with EPA on developing the next generation of low-NOx emitting trucks through the Cleaner Trucks Initiative. To this end, the trucking industry seeks one national, harmonized NOx emissions standard that will result in positive environmental progress while not compromising truck performance and delivery of the nation’s goods.”

Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) said that “serious problems with earlier rulemakings have left small-business truckers justifiably wary of new emissions reduction proposals. However, over the last year, representatives of the EPA have gone to great lengths to fully understand how new policies may affect our members, which wasn’t standard practice under previous administrations.”

More information is available through the Cleaner Trucks Initiative web page.

  • An original version of this story has been updated to include comments from the ATA and OOIDA.
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AMTA calls for Hwy 3 twinning to increase safety
Trucking News

EDMONTON, Alta. – Twinning Hwy 3 in Southern Alberta has jumped to the beginning of the line and become a top priority for the provincial trucking association.

With more than 200 km requiring twinning to enhance a safer commute and flow for commercial trucks, Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) president Chris Nash said continued growth along the highway corridor has made the infrastructure upgrade a necessity.

“Just this year, we saw the opening of one plant producing 735 million pounds of product annually,” said Nash. “That’s product that needs to be transported, so there is a need for proper infrastructure to support increased capacity. Safety for commercial drivers and the motoring public is paramount.”

Studies of the Hwy 3 corridor were completed by the Highway 3 Twinning Development Association (H3TDA), which identified 13 sections in need of an upgrade. Some sections of the highway have been twinned, but additional environmental and historical planning needs to be conducted to proceed with the remaining 200 km, which includes the section from Medicine Hat, Alta., to the B.C. border.

“Highway 3 Twinning Development Association is pleased the AMTA has selected Hwy 3 twinning as a top five priority,” said H3TDA president Bill Chapman. “Both associations share many of the same needs in transportation, primarily safer and more efficient highways for the movement of goods and services across our province. Hwy 3 from Medicine Hat to the B.C. border is a critical pipeline for moving an increasing number of commodities to processors and the conduit for transporting the final products to market.”

Brad Beerling, AMTA Southern Region board member and logistics manager with Meridian Manufacturing, added, “As a manufacturer of over-dimensional agricultural storage products with a facility in Lethbridge, we travel extensively on Hwy 3. Having the highway fully twinned would make it much safer for all users.”

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Drivers make formal submissions to FWC
Trucking News
Truckies are fighting for a fairer deal when it comes to long distance jobs.

Truckies are fighting for a fairer deal when it comes to long distance jobs

A GROUP of concerned long-distance truckies are taking the fight to have their pay better reflect the job that they do to the Fair Work Commission.

Led by The Drivers' Advocate founder Trevor Warner, the drivers are lobbying for changes to the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010 to address what they see as shortcomings in the loading and unloading, and travel allowance clauses.

In their submissions to the FWC, they are seeking to vary Clause 3 in the award's definition of loading and unloading to omit 'tarping, installing and removing gates and operation of on-board cranes'.

In its place, they are asking the FWC to insert the below:

All non-driving activities including but not limited to:

[i] Complying with entrance and departure procedures at load or unload location;

[ii] Apply or release all load restraint devices, including gates and tarps;

[iii] Operation of trailer curtains;

[iv] Operation of forklifts, pallet jacks, winches and mobile cranes;

[v] Be on call or to assist a third party to load or unload freight;

[vi] Waiting time or queuing time;

[vii] Processing of freight documentation;

[viii] Checking vehicle weights on weighbridge.

"I don't get paid for checking into the gatehouse, waiting to get on to the dock, all the time on the dock, waiting for paperwork and exiting the premises," Trevor said.

"The award doesn't support me being paid because I don't physically use the forklift, or I'm not physically placing the freight on the truck, or removing it. I can be assisting the forklift driver and still not be getting paid."

Submission supporter, Queensland truckie Robert Bell, shared a common DC scenario as his argument for change.

"If I just drove into a DC with a load of groceries and walked away to a pub for a long counter lunch, I'd sure as hell bet that truck would still be sitting there the exact same way when I got back," Robert said.

"It relies totally on your physical engagement through the whole process to be unloaded and backed on to the dock, all those types of things. So why shouldn't we get paid for it?

"The kilometre rate contains no allowance whatsoever for loading and unloading."

The drivers are also seeking to have the award omit the clause around travel allowances which states: "This will not be payable where an employee is provided with suitable accommodation away from the vehicle."

Robert said the award was long outdated and did not reflect modern life and costings.

"If the award was fixed up to reflect what we actually do then everyone would compete on a level playing field and base their quotes on actual service."

The TWU said it had been fighting the issue of unpaid work for years.

"It is logical that some would jump to the conclusion that changing the award would fix this but there are flaws to this route," national secretary Michael Kaine said.

"Owner-drivers won't be covered by it and clients won't be forced to pay any more money, making it potentially unworkable for transport operators. There has to be an approach that captures the entire market and makes clients pay.

"What we need is a system that can change things for the better - but top down, where clients are forced to pay rates that cover the entire costs of moving their goods around.

"This would include paying rates for all work that employee and owner-drivers carry out and full costs for transport operators."

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Scooby the dog finds 166 kilos of cocaine inside Quebec driver's truck
Trucking News

Kanesatake resident Jason Nelson was arrested and charged with conspiring to distribute the drug. He is considering a plea deal

Early in the morning of Dec. 7, Jason Nelson, a resident of Kanesatake, was driving a truck registered in Quebec as it approached the U.S border at Derby Line, Vt. He was about to cross into Canada through the town of Stanstead in the Eastern Townships when U.S. Border Patrol agents pulled him over for inspection.

A Quebec truck driver who was arrested at the U.S. border this month after a dog named Scooby sniffed out cocaine in his trailer is considering a plea the next time his case returns to court in New York.

Early in the morning of Dec. 7, Kanesatake resident Jason Nelson was driving a truck registered in Quebec as it approached the U.S border at Derby Line, Vt. He was about to cross into Canada through the town of Stanstead in the Eastern Townships when U.S. Border Patrol agents pulled him over for inspection despite him claiming his trailer was empty.

According to an affidavit filed in Nelson’s court case, a specially trained dog named Scooby detected drugs inside a custom-made compartment and border agents pulled out 142 brick-shaped packages of a white powdery substance that later tested positive as cocaine.

Nelson was arrested and was charged with conspiring to distribute the 166 kilograms of cocaine found inside his truck. He has been detained in the U.S. since. According to a letter signed by both the prosecutor and his defence lawyer that was recently entered into record at the U.S. District Court in northern New York, Nelson has consented to a two-month delay in the case because “the parties are engaged in discussions regarding a possible plea, which would obviate the need for an indictment.”

The letter, signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shira Hoffman and defence lawyer Lee Kindlon, notes Nelson has yet to receive all of the evidence gathered in his case and his “electronic devices” are still being examined by investigators.

While a trucker attempting to enter Canada would normally be inspected by the Canada Border Services Agency, the affidavit filed in Nelson’s case explains why U.S. authorities were interested in his rig.

Two days before the cocaine was found in his truck, Nelson was in the same vehicle and was heading into the U.S. at the Alexandria Bay border crossing in New York, part of Route 81 that crosses into Ontario, when a different dog named Benny, accompanied by his U.S. Border Patrol handler, sniffed what he thought was a narcotic inside the same custom-made compartment. It turned out the compartment was empty, but border agents took note of how Nelson originally claimed his trailer was empty when it was “partially loaded” with furniture.

Nelson had a cargo manifest detailing the furniture was destined for Tremont, Pa., and he was allowed to continue on his way. While it is not stated outright in the affidavit prepared by Anthony Watson, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, it appears authorities were waiting for Nelson on his return trip to Canada based on what Benny had sniffed on Dec. 5.

“Based on my training and experience investigating narcotics offences, I know that it is common for narcotics traffickers moving drugs from the United States to Canada to use different ports of entry to enter and exit the United States, in order to avoid detection by customs officials,” Watson wrote in his statement.

Watson, who has been a special agent since 1999, also wrote “when traffickers transport wholesale quantities of cocaine, like the quantity of cocaine found in Nelson’s trailer, they are usually working for, or are members of, large drug-trafficking organizations.”

If the judge in Nelson’s case agrees with the delay, it is expected to return to court in mid-February.

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Clean-up on Hwy 401! Crash spills toilet paper across busy highway
Trucking News
Toilet paper mess on Hwy 401

Rolls of toilet paper are seen scattered across Highway 401 just east of the Thousand Islands Bridge after a crash involving two transport trucks on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020.

OTTAWA -- Canada’s busiest highway was covered in toilet paper after a crash involving two transport trucks.

Ontario Provincial Police say two trucks were involved in the crash on Highway 401 Tuesday afternoon, just east of the Thousand Islands Bridge.

Photos from the scene show a damaged transport truck, with rolls of toilet paper across the road.

It took crews a few hours to clean up the paper mess. 

No one was hurt in the crash.

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Rugged Samsung tablet comes to Canada
Trucking News

Samsung Electronic’s Galaxy Tab Active Pro is now available in Canada, offering a tool designed for harsh working environments. The device is able to withstand excessive pressure, temperatures, vibrations and drops, and has been tested to meeting the MIL-STD-810G military specification, the company says. It is also IP68 certified for water and dust resistance

Samsung Electronic’s Galaxy Tab Active Pro is now available in Canada, offering a tool designed for harsh working environments.

The device is able to withstand excessive pressure, temperatures, vibrations and drops, and has been tested to meeting the MIL-STD-810G military specification, the company says. It is also IP68 certified for water and dust resistance.

Controls include a wet touch mode, and there’s also an IP68-certified water and dust-resistant S pen, while a glove mode makes it possible to use the tablet when wearing work gloves.

There’s a 10.1-inch display, a fast-charging battery that offers up to 15 hours of power, and a removable back panel to support battery swaps in the field.

Other features include LTE connectivity, a 13MP AF back camera and 8MP front camera, Samsung Knox security, and a Google augmented reality core.

www.samsung.com

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PacLease adds two new Canadian locations
Trucking News

BELLEVUE, Wash. – PacLease has added two new Canadian locations, in Calgary, Alta., and Sherbrooke, Que.

The company says it grew its full-service rental and leasing business by 18% in 2019, adding seven new locations in North America.

“We’re entering our 40th year of business as the full-service leasing arm of Paccar – offering Kenworth and Peterbilt medium- and heavy-duty models,” said Ken Roemer, Paccar Leasing president. “We’re at an all-time high in the number of vehicles in our PacLease fleet, and we now have more than 450 service locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.”

Over the past three years it has added 24 new locations. The latest in Canada include PacLease Edmonton Keworth in Calgary, and Maska PacLease in Sherbrooke.

“Our customer retention rates are strong,” said Roemer. “When you combine premium trucks with our stringent preventive maintenance programs, wide selection of fleet services, and strength of the PacLease service network, then you have a combination for success. And that continues to be showcased with our year-end results.”

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Little action after western auditor general reports
Trucking News
Western inspection station

Auditor generals in Western Canada have highlighted several gaps in enforcement resources.

CALGARY, Alta. — Governments are rarely accused of working too fast, and when it comes to some truck safety issues in Canada’s westernmost province, it’s no exception.

Aside from B.C. being the lone province in Western Canada yet to implement a mandatory entry-level training program for incoming commercial drivers, there is another issue weighing on the mind of B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA) president and CEO Dave Earle.

“We are deeply concerned that with the number of auditors that are present in the province, that the ministry is hard-pressed to be able to meet their regulator duties,” said Earle. “It’s the lack of resources for the regulators to actually do the work they’ve been charged to do. In B.C., we have under-resourced the auditors for NSC (National Safety Code) work for decades.”

Both Manitoba and Ontario released their respective auditor general findings this past December, each identifying shortcomings in commercial vehicle enforcement programs. B.C.’s report, however, came over a year ago now, and Earle said the issues surrounding the province’s NSC audits has yet to be alleviated.

Adding to Earle’s frustration over the matter is the fact that the BCTA has seemingly been shut out of the consultation process aimed at finding a solution.

Despite numerous attempts to provide input and support, the BCTA has been relegated to the sidelines, and has been left to wait and hear from the provincial government “when they are ready to share” a plan of action, according to Earle.

“In my mind, that is not engagement, nor is that consultation. That is developing a plan and telling your community what you are going to do,” said Earle. “We have asked informally, formally, verbally, and in writing, repeatedly. And we have never been given a reason, and we have never been given an invitation.”

Earle said B.C.’s 2018 auditor general reported pointed to a very different kind of issues than what were found in other provinces.

Frontline concerns

In Ontario, for example, the auditor general pointed to sharp declines in the number of commercial vehicle enforcement officers on the road, and the reduced number of inspections being conducted as a result.

From 2014 to 2018, the province saw the annual number of inspections drop from 113,400 to 88,700. The number of officers also declined during the same period, from more than 250 to around 230.

Manitoba’s auditor general report pointed to insufficient safety fitness program practices, management gaps for on-road inspections, and weak planning and performance measurements.

The less-than-glowing report was no surprise to Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) executive director Terry Shaw.

“The MTA has been requesting change on behalf of our industry for a long time – years, even decades,” said Shaw, who hopes the findings will guide government decisions.

The report examined the adequacy of the Manitoba Department of Infrastructure’s oversight of commercial vehicle safety, including the motor carrier safety fitness program, on-road inspections, and strategic planning and performance management for the industry.

Saskatchewan weights and dimensions

In 2017, Saskatchewan’s auditor general concluded that the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure processes used to enforce weights and dimensions were ineffective. Part of the reason, according to Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA) executive director Susan Ewart, was changing Commercial Vehicle Enforcement to Highway Patrol — a move that shifted some of the focus off commercial vehicles to a rural crime watch.

“There are a lot of roads to cover in Saskatchewan and I think staffing will always be a challenge to cover the highway system here,” said Ewart. “There are a lot of roads to cover in Saskatchewan and I think staffing will always be a challenge to cover the highway system here.”

Earle called these “frontline” concerns as opposed to “background,” and said his main concern with B.C.’s NSC audit functions is that it brings into play the possibility that carriers with an “unsatisfactory” NSC rating are not receiving the follow-up attention they require to properly monitor their progress toward a “satisfactory” rating.

“I’m not suggesting for a moment that they need to start running around and closing doors, because all that does is create the chameleon carrier problem,” said Earle, referring to businesses that re-establish themselves under different names. “But they do need to move around and start engaging the industry. And the easiest and simplest way at the very front end is to engage us in the process of figuring out what to do with this (auditor general’s) recommendation.

According to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the province employs 14 NSC auditors.

In 2019, 110 audits were completed, with 42 receiving an “unsatisfactory” rating, 36 “satisfactory”, and 32 “excellent”.

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Love’s adds Truck Care, Speedco locations
Trucking News

Love’s Travel Stops l today announced 10 existing locations now also have Truck Care Centers and Speedco facilities. They offer tire, lube and mechanical services for professional drivers. They include:

  • Love’s Truck Care – Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Love’s Truck Care – Commerce, Georgia
  • Love’s Truck Care and Speedco– Elkhorn, Wisconsin
  • Love’s Truck Care and Speedco – Big Cabin, Oklahoma
  • Love’s Truck Care and Speedco – Edon, Ohio
  • Love’s Truck Care and Speedco – Missoula, Montana
  • Love’s Truck Care and Speedco – Eutaw, Alabama
  • Love’s Truck Care and Speedco – St. Clair, Michigan
  • Love’s Truck Care and Speedco – Calhoun, Georgia
  • Love’s Truck Care and Speedco – Elgin, South Carolina

These locations are part of Love’s more than 370 service centers, including stand-alone and on-site Speedco and on-site Love’s Truck Care locations.

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Wyoming lawmakers plot to add tolls on I-80
Trucking News
I-80 Tolls

Lawmakers in Wyoming have proposed a bill that would add tolls to I-80.

The bill, referred to as SF 6, was introduced in the Wyoming Legislature in December 2019 and is slated for consideration during the 2020 legislative session starting in February.

The bill would finance maintenance and repairs on I-80 by establishing a tolling program. From the bill:

To finance, construct, operate and maintain interstate 80 and accommodate the needs of the traveling public through safe, efficient, convenient and modern vehicular traffic it is necessary and in the public interest to provide for the financing, construction, operation, regulation and maintenance of interstate 80 under a tolled configuration. The tolled configuration will allow interstate 80 to be maintained and to be operated in a way that will reduce traffic congestion, delays, hazards, injuries and fatalities. To carry out these purposes, it is necessary to authorize the Wyoming transportation commission, with legislative oversight, to create and supervise a tolling program within the department of transportation to impose tolls and exercise other powers regarding interstate 80 that are necessary, equitable and appropriate.

The bill does not specify toll payment amounts, nor does it specify how the tolls would be collected.

If the bill were to pass, Wyoming would still need permission from the federal government to impose the toll.

Similar attempts to begin the process of adding tolls on I-80 were proposed in 2008 and 2009 as well as 2017, but so far all plans to toll I-80 have fizzled.

The Wyoming Trucking Association opposes the bill and argues that truckers would simply find another route to avoid the toll.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation currently spends around $60 million per year on maintaining I-80, but they say that they need another $40 million per year to maintain the interstate infrastructure.

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Women and children found hiding in truck at border returned to U.S., court hears
Trucking News

All 11 people found hiding in the bunk area of a tractor-trailer crossing the border into Windsor were refused entry to Canada and sent back to the U.S., a customs and immigration investigator testified Tuesday.

The trial continued Tuesday for two truckers accused of trying to smuggle three women and eight children from Nigeria across the Ambassador Bridge into Canada.

Paul Ngoue-Ngameleu, 45, and Henadez Makia Mbeh, 52, are each facing three charges under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Their trial, scheduled for five days, began Monday when court heard testimony from eight officers with the Canada Border Services Agency.

The charges involve an attempt to “withhold material facts relating to a relevant matter,” aiding or abetting 11 people to contravene the Act, and “knowingly obstruct or impede an officer in the performance of the officer’s duties” under the Act.

The two men pulled up to a commercial customs booth in a tractor-trailer around 5:35 p.m. on Sept. 21, 2017. Court has heard they were sent to secondary inspection because of an error with the paperwork for their cargo.

Several officers with Canada Border Services Agency have testified that a search of the tractor cab revealed 11 people hiding in the bunk area.

CBSA investigator Joan Manning, who was on call that day, said Tuesday in court she was summoned to investigate two Canadian citizens from Quebec who tried to cross the border without reporting the 11 foreign nationals in their truck.

After interviews, background searches and document checks, all 11 of the foreign nationals were eventually shipped back to the U.S., she said.

The trial, which began Monday, is scheduled for five days.

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Ruggieri Brothers fined $85,000 after truck shop fatality
Trucking News

VAUGHAN, Ont. – An Ontario automotive shop has been fined $85,000 for a May 25 workplace accident that killed an employee who was replacing the damaged air spring on a dump truck.

The Ruggieri Brothers worker had connected the spring’s plastic base to the bottom mounting plate, and then attached a coupler to the air hole and connected the shop’s air compressor. The bag then exploded, sending shards of shrapnel in all directions.

The projectiles caused extensive injuries, and the worker was pronounced dead at hospital.

“Unlike the use of the nozzle, which can be backed off easily to allow air pressure release, the mechanical attachment of the compressed air to the coupler allowed the bag to be fully pressurized,” the Ontario Ministry of Labour notes in its findings. “The air compressor in the shop allowed full compression at 150 psi.”

The compressor’s gauge read 149 psi when it was examined by Ministry of Labour personnel. The maximum internal air pressure capacity for the shock absorber bag was 100 psi. The bag’s operating pressure when connected to the truck’s air supply was 80 psi.

While Ruggieri Brothers was registered with the former Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development’s apprenticeship program, it hadn’t been active in the program since 1991.

“Ruggieri Brothers employed the worker as a mechanic but failed to ensure that the worker was a licensed mechanic or a registered apprentice, despite principals of the company referring to him as an ‘apprentice mechanic,’” the ministry says.

Shop principals argued the worker would have been shown how to safely install an air spring, but didn’t have any documented training to support the stance. There was no related standard operating procedure in place, either.

Ruggieri Brothers pleaded guilty to failing to provide instruction and supervision to a worker contrary to section 25(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

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How much weight can a big rig carry?
Trucking News

Weight limits vary by country

Big rigs are limited by federal regulation to a maximum loaded weight of 80,000 pounds including cargo, so the actual amount of cargo a big rig can carry really depends on the type and weight of the truck when empty. 

But generally speaking, cargo payloads for big rigs or 18-wheelers are as follows:

  • Flatbed trailers: can load up to 48,000 pounds of cargo
  • Dry vans trailers: 44,000 to 45,000 pounds
  • Refrigerated trailers or reefers: 42,500 to 44000 pounds. 

The reason for the different payloads across the three most common trailer types is the weight of the trailer. Flatbed trailers are usually made of aluminum and as such are very light offering the highest possible payload within the 80,000-pound maximum limit. Dry vans have more to them including a fiberglass body on top of the trailer adding weight and reducing the payload by a few thousand pounds. Refrigerated trailers are even heavier than dry vans as they require insulation inside the fiberglass walls to keep freight cool or frozen plus they have to carry a massive refrigeration motor on the front of the trailer and an extra diesel tank under the trailer.

Is the 80,000-pounds spread evenly across all 18 wheels?

No, the 80,000 pounds has to be spread across all five axles but not evenly, and there are exceptions. When a big rig pulls onto a set of scales to weigh, the maximum amount over each of the three axles groups (one steer axle and two tandems) is as follows:

  • Steer axle: 12,000 pounds or 6,000 pounds per tire
  • Drive axle tandems: 34,000 pounds or 4,250 pounds per tire
  • Trailer tandems: 34,000 pounds or 4,250 pounds per tire.

There are some exceptions including trailers that have the tandems spread apart, knowns as “spreads”. In cases where the trailer axles are 10’ 2” apart each axle can weigh 20,000 pounds on the scales allowing for the trailer axles to weigh a total of 40,000 pounds compared to 34,000 pounds for closed tandem axles. This helps when a trucker has cargo that has varying weights across its many components i.e. heavier machinery or pallets can be loaded towards the back of the trailer rather than at the front, which would cause the closed drive axle tandems to exceed the legal limit of 34,000 pounds. Of course, the maximum allowable weight is still 80,000 pounds for trucks hauling spread axle trailers.

Individual states also have additional weight carrying limits for intrastate commerce, which allow for much higher payloads based on additional axles being installed. To carry higher weights though, the truck axle specification and rating must allow for the heavier weights to be carried. These include:

  • Rocky Mountain Doubles – a tractor with two trailers: a long front trailer (usually 48 feet) followed by a shorter second trailer – maximum weight up to 129,000 pounds
  • Turnpike Doubles – a tractor and two long (usually 48 feet) trailers – maximum weight up to 147,000 pounds
  • Triples – a tractor and three short trailers (usually 28 feet) – maximum weight up to 110,000 pounds
  • Michigan Octopodes – 8-axle double trailer combinations weighing up to 164,000 pounds.

How are big rigs weighed to make sure they are legal?

Most truck stops have scales managed by a third-party and for a fee, a trucker can weigh his truck and load to see how much each axle group weighs as well as the overall weight of the big rig. Some shippers also have scales to allow trucks to weigh onsite and when on the highway, truckers have to weigh their rigs at government scale sites usually positioned at the entry and exit point of each state on the interstate highway system. State transport agencies can also set up mobile weigh scales at various locations throughout the country.

What happens if a big rig is overweight?

Current truck size and weight standards are a blend of Federal and State regulations and laws. Federal law controls maximum gross vehicle weights and axle loads on the Interstate System and if a trucker is found to be overweight both overall or on any one axle group (even if they are within the 80,000-pound gross limit), the fines can be substantial including being placed out-of-service. Overweight violations are not usually considered a criminal charge or serious enough to result in the driver’s license being canceled, but they can be costly. The amount of the fine depends on how states charge, which could be $150 for the first 3,000 pounds over the legal limit and then a further $150 for every 500 pounds over that. Each state has its own formula for fines.

How much do trucks carry on other continents and in other countries?

Europe

Truckers in Europe can load legally to 88,000 pounds and usually run 6-axle combinations with tri-axle trailers compared to their U.S. counterparts with 5-axles and 80,000 pounds. 

Australia

In the outback, Australian road trains can run to 400,000 pounds gross weight spread across four trailers and as many as 88 wheels. The most common truck in Australia though is a 6-axle big rig that can have a maximum weight of 42.5 metric tonnes or 94,000 pounds. On certain roads Australian truckers have adopted the Canadian B-Train combination, which is typically a 9-axle double-trailer combination that weighs a maximum of 145,000 pounds. 

Canada

Canadian weight regulations are set by each province based on the number of axles and specifications of the truck. Canadian B-Trains are 8-axle combinations with two trailers that can weigh a maximum of 140,000 pounds and in Ontario 9-axle big rigs can also gross 140,000 pounds.

China

The maximum weight limit in China based on new regulations established in 2016 is 36,000 pounds for two-axle trucks, 50,000 pounds for three-axle trucks, 62,000 pounds for double-steering axles and four-axle trucks, 72,000 pounds for four-axle combination vehicles, 86,000 pounds for five-axle combination vehicles and 98,000 pounds for six-axle combination vehicles.

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Pedestrian fatally struck by transport truck on Highway 401 near Allen Road
Trucking News

A man is dead after being struck by a tractor trailer on Highway 401 near Allen Road early Monday morning, Ontario Provincial Police say.

According to OPP Const. Taylor Konkle, police received a call around 1 a.m. for a pedestrian on the highway. 

Konkle says units searched along the highway and came across the man lying on the ground near the right shoulder of the eastbound express lanes. 

"It appears that the tractor trailer struck the male party in a live lane," he said. 

Toronto Fire and paramedics were called to the collision, and pronounced the victim dead shortly after. 

The transport truck remained on scene and is cooperating with the investigation, Konkle added. 

"We do want to remind people that [on] the highway there are no pedestrians that are allowed to be walking," he said. 

"If you are a disabled motor vehicle we want you to stay inside your vehicle." 

Police are asking witnesses or anyone with dashcam footage of the incident to contact OPP officers. 

Konkle says the roads were wet at the time of the incident, which he says will be a "consideration" during the investigation. 

Eastbound lanes of the highway near Allen Road were closed for several hours, but have since reopened.

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