Reducing Traffic Fatalities to Zero by 2050

The amount of daily vehicle deaths is unfathomable and with recent inclines, the National Safety Council needed to step in. The council proposed a report which demonstrates a plan of action that will take place over the next 30 years. Although car accidents make up a large majority of traffic deaths, the council put focus on the importance of declining large truck accidents as well:

National Safety Council CEO Deborah Hersman evoked the memory of President John F. Kennedy when stating the goal of the newly formed Road to Zero Coalition — to dramatically reduce traffic deaths.

“We lose over 100 people a day on our roadways, and we are not outraged by each one of those deaths,” Hersman said in an interview with Transport Topics on April 23. “All of these deaths are preventable; it is like a moonshot getting to zero by 2050. But 50 years ago, sending a man to the moon seemed like it was impossible,” she said, referencing the United States’ nascent space program. “And I think it will take the same things: commitment of resources, leadership and new technology to get us to zero.”

The 675-member transportation safety coalition released a report April 22, written by the Rand Corp., which outlines how the country could reduce the number of traffic fatalities to zero by 2050.

“We have trucking companies that are members, associations that work with trucking companies, suppliers. It is going to take all of us to get to zero,” said Hersman, who served as a member of the National Transportation Safety Board for 10 years and as chairman for five years. She also holds a commercial driver license.

Road to Zero logo

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, after several years of declining, the number of people who died in vehicle accidents increased by 5.6% to 37,461 in 2016, the last year figures are available.

The increase in injuries and deaths is not limited to passenger vehicles. According to NHTSA, in 2016, 4,317 people died in crashes involving large trucks. That is a 5.4% increase from 2015, and 722 of the victims were either truck drivers or occupants in the cab.

In 2016, 80% of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes had a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 pounds.

While the Road to Zero report focuses on the large-scale issue of traffic deaths, Hersman said the three main initiatives the coalition supports apply to trucks as much as cars:

• Doubling down on actions that have been proved to work, such as increasing seat belt usage to 100% from the current 90%. The report said half of the people who die in vehicle accidents are in the 10% group not using seat belts.

• Accelerating the use of safety technology in road construction and in vehicles.

National Safety Council logo

“Technology that is available today can help make our roads safer, but when we talk about fully automated vehicles, I think that this is probably a longer time coming than most people think,” Hersman said. “There is an irrational exuberance that we are all going to have fully automated vehicles, including commercial vehicles next year. I really do not think that is how fast this is going to go.”

Also, improving the access to trauma centers where critically injured patients can receive advanced treatment. Forty-three percent of the people who die in accidents are alive at the scene of the crash.

“Much of the country that is in rural communities cannot get to a Level 1 or Level 2 trauma center, on the ground, in one hour,” Hersman said.

• Creating a culture that puts safety first, especially with regard to higher speed, distracted driving and driving under the influence. The report also said there needs to be improvement in the often difficult relationship on the highways and roads between professional truck drivers and passenger vehicle motorists.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in Arlington, Va., is a member of the coalition and also has researched ways to improve vehicle safety, including trucks. “Our research looked at four technologies: blind-spot detection, forward-collision warning and mitigation, lane-departure warning and stability,” said IIHS spokesman Russ Rader, “and we found that if these systems were on all large trucks, more than one-quarter of crashes involving big rigs could be prevented or at least reduced in severity.”

IIHS said it believes that low-tech solutions also will protect passenger vehicle occupants in accidents with large trucks. NHTSA in December 2015, with a push from IIHS, proposed an upgrade to the rear underride regulations on trucks. IIHS also supports side underride guards, which are not currently required by federal regulations.

The Road to Zero Coalition concedes reaching its goal will be difficult, but Hersman said getting to zero deaths is not impossible. And like astronauts who successfully landed on and returned from the moon, it can never be accomplished until it is attempted.


France-based company to receive 25% of CEVA Logistics

CMA CGM reached a deal to receive 25% equity of CEVA Logistics. The France-based company is hoping to grow their shipping presence by entering into the logistics sector. The proposed investment is looking to continue momentum within the global shipping sector while it continues to establish and find its place.

Late last week, Marseille, France-based global container shipping company CMA CGM said it reached an agreement to acquire a roughly 25% equity stake in CEVA Logistics, a global third-party logistics (3PL) services provider based in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands.

CMA GGM said that the objective of this deal is to “grow its presence in the logistics sector, which is closely related to shipping.” And it added that the closing of this deal is subject to the completion of CEVA’s planned IPO on the SIX Swiss Exchange, which was announced on April 20, in addition to approval from regulatory authorities.

CEVA is a major presence in the global 3PL market and had revenues north of $7 billion and is ranked fifth in contract logistics. It manages more than 9 million square-feet of warehouses in more than 750 global locations, and is ranked tenth on global freight forwarding, with a strong presence in Asia.

This deal comes at a time when the global container shipping sector continues to find its footing, as it has dealt with myriad issues, including: overcapacity; industry consolidation; rates pressures, due to supply continuing to outpace demand for services, among other factors.

“With this proposed investment in CEVA, CMA CGM makes a significant move, in line with its development strategy,” said Rodolphe Saadé, Chairman and CEO of CMA CGM, in a statement. “CEVA is a major player in the logistics business, which is closely related to the shipping industry. Together, the two companies will also explore possible cooperations allowing us to propose an ever more differentiated and qualitative offering while integrating services beyond maritime transport.”

As previously reported, CMA CGM is not the only global container shipping company looking to spread its wings on the on the logistics side.

Earlier this year, Maersk said it intends to “transform” its logistics and supply chain model to compete with package delivery behemoths like UPS and FedEx. But industry analysts maintain that shifting away from its core competency presents a major challenge in that global ocean carriers like Maersk lack  the long-established shipper relationships on the same level that the industry’s largest global 3PLs and integrators do.  Part of the impetus for companies like CMA CGM and Maersk to branch out stems from the dynamic growth in e-commerce driving demand for more agile deliveries. 

Evan Armstrong, president of supply chain consultancy Armstrong & Associates, told LM this is a deal that could ultimately be more advantageous for CMA CGM.

“I would rate this 25% minority investment as an attempt by CMA CGM to get further upstream in the supply chain management process from tactical ocean shipping ‘to true global supply chain management and tap more strategic relationships with CEVA’s customers,”  he said. “From a CEVA perspective as a 3PL and the 14th largest ocean freight forwarder in terms of TEUs managed, this new relationship may provide it with better buy-side ocean pricing; however, ocean shipping is still in a overcapacity situation and rates continue to be fairly depressed. All-in-all, I think this will have more benefit for CMA CGM than CEVA. Apollo Management has been shopping CEVA for some time and this investment allows them to take some money off the table.”

Taking a bit of a historical appriach, Ben Hackett, founder of maritime consultancy Hackett Associates, was somewhat skeptical of this planned arrangement.

“First, it was Maersk with its logistics arm Damco and now  it is CMA CGM [with CEVA],” he said. “MSC may be the winner if they do not do the same.  When I first entered the maritime industry back in 1975, Overseas Containers LTD. In the UK tried to do the same, and I spent days going through manifests identifying forwarders and trying to work out who their clients were based on the cargo description.  Forwarders do not like the competition from carriers and mistrust them.  I once had a boss who had a saying: ‘Horses for Courses’ i.e. don’t put a steeplechase horse in competition in a race that is not a steeplechase.  Carriers can lose focus of their core business  if they spread their wings too far.  As they are not managing their finances that well in their core business with very low ROI and EBITDAs, how do they expect to manage freight forwarders?”


Trucking Industry Posts Big Job Gains in March

The trucking industry is becoming larger, with more people being hired all the time. In March of this year, employment has been on the rise by quite a bit, which means that even more truck drivers will be out there soon enough. With these newer. less experienced semi-truck drivers, it’s important to keep even more of an eye out for safety.

March was a busy hiring month for trucking, as the industry added 6,700 jobs and transportation and logistics companies added 9,800 positions, according to the U.S. Labor Department monthly jobs report.

For the first quarter of 2018, the trucking industry has created 18,500 new jobs, the strongest job growth for trucking in six years. In March, for-hire trucking employment stood at nearly 1.48 million, up 23,000 jobs compared to the same period in 2017.

“I have been somewhat surprised with the strength in the for-hire trucking employment gains over the last few months,” said American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello. “I’d be even more surprised if it continues. It’s not because there are not plenty of jobs, there are plenty of jobs available in our industry. That’s not the point; the point is finding the labor to put in those jobs.”

Melton Truck Lines driver

Melton Truck Lines

The strong economy and a shortage of drivers — a shortage that Costello warns could reach 174,000 by 2026 — is compelling fleets to push up wages. ATA said annual truck driver salaries increased between 15% and 18% from 2013 to 2018, depending on the nature of the route and type of fleet.

“[Fleets] see the strong economy, and they’re making an investment,” Hackett Associates economist Paul Bingham said. “In some cases, it’s still defensive, where if you’re hiring truck drivers you’re anticipating turnover — in most sectors anyway. You’re trying to make sure you have the capacity going forward to handle your anticipated demand.”

Overall, the U.S. economy created 105,000 jobs in March, somewhat below expectations of forecasters who were expecting 185,000 jobs, and significantly lower than February, when 326,000 new jobs were added. For the sixth month in a row, the nation’s unemployment rate remained at 4.1%, and economists said they are cautiously optimistic the U.S. economy will remain strong, especially as it relates to the trucking industry.

“The only cloud on the horizon is the trade skirmishes with our trading partners, and the saber rattling with China. These are two very important issues relating to trucking,” said Rajeev Dhawan, director for the Georgia State University Economic Forecasting Center in Atlanta.

In an effort to attract and retain new employees — especially drivers — many trucking companies have announced pay increases, bonuses, and improvements in benefits; including two within the last two weeks.

Bangor, Maine-based Pottle’s Transportation said it would increase pay by 9% for both per-mile and hourly drivers beginning April 1, and also launched a quarterly incentive program that rewards drivers for reaching fuel-economy and safety goals.

Tulsa, Okla.-based flatbed carrier Melton Truck Lines last month said it would boost its driver pay by 2 cents per mile. It also lifted by 8 cents per mile pay for over-dimensional loads and added 6 cents per mile for hazardous materials loads and trips out of Canada. It also retained a $5,400-a-year performance bonus plan that is based on drivers’ safety and productivity.

“To get somebody on board, and up and running, it’s not like you hire them tomorrow and they’re out functioning, generating revenue productively for you tomorrow,” Bingham said. “You have to anticipate what you need down the road this year, so that’s where this hiring is occurring. It’s the expectations of those companies wanting to have capacity further down the road.”

Staff Reporter Burney Simpson contributed to this report.


Tennessee Officials Unveil $2.6 Billion Transportation Improvement Plan

It seems as though Arizona is not the only state trying to improve the freeway systems, and replacing bridges and making transportation better and more streamlined. Tennessee has a plan that will improve bridges throughout the state, which in turn can make them more safe when it comes to potential accidents, especially involving semi-trucks that do most of their traveling on the freeways.

The repair and replacement of bridges is a top priority outlined in Tennessee’s Transportation Improvement Plan, which takes into account projects over the next three years.

Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer unveiled the plan, which covers 2019-21, on April 5. The plan features $2.6 billion in infrastructure investments and encompasses 116 projects.

The plan calls for repair and replacement activities on 80 bridges. Ten of these structures are on the state highway system and 70 are on local roads.

John Schroer


According to a press release issued by TDOT, the plan builds on the tenets outlined in the Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy Act of 2017, better known as the Improve Act. The legislation called for hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts in order to deliver road and bridge projects across the state’s 95 counties.

The Improve Act listed 962 projects that need attention. This year’s program budgets money to address 195 of those projects.

“This year’s transportation plan provides for much-needed infrastructure improvements and maintenance for many areas of our state,” Haslam said in a statement. “These investments result in a safe, reliable and debt-free highway network for our citizens and are critical in our efforts to bring high-quality jobs to Tennessee.”

One of the major projects outlined in the plan calls for pavement rehabilitation and safety improvements along Interstate 440 between I-40 and I-24, which forms part of a loop around Nashville. Another project is the reconstruction of the interchange linking I-75 and I-24 in Chattanooga. Other projects include various route-widening efforts and bridge rehabilitations.

The plan contains a budgeted program for 2019 and partial blueprints for 2020 and 2021. It also includes financial support for 15 transportation programs such as rockfall mitigation, spot safety improvement and the statewide HELP program. The HELP program is a fleet of TDOT trucks that patrol the state’s most heavily traveled highways and help motorists in distress.

The plan also provides funding for transit agencies and Metropolitan and Rural Planning Organizations in all 95 counties.


Regulations For Semi Trucks and Trains Paused

One of the Department of Transportation’s biggest roles is to regulate all modes of transportation to ensure safety, efficiency, and uniformity across the country.  With that come new rules and regulations on a regular basis that are proposed and either accepted or rejected by government officials.  Lately, President Trump has changed the game by stopping the addressing of “dangerous safety problems” and eliminating other regulations that were already in place.  Learn more about these changes in the article below.

Transport safety rules for trucks and trains have been sidelined under President Trump

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is putting the brakes on attempts to address dangerous safety problems from speeding tractor-trailers to sleepy railroad engineers as part of his quest to roll back regulations across the government, according to a review by The Associated Press of Transportation Department rule-making activities.

A dozen transportation safety rules under development or already adopted have been repealed, withdrawn, delayed, or put on the back burner since Trump took office last year. There have been no significant new safety rules approved during that time.

The sidelined rules would have, among other things, required states to conduct annual inspections of commercial bus operators, railroads to operate trains with at least two crew members and automakers to equip future cars and light trucks with vehicle-to-vehicle communications to prevent collisions.

In most cases, the rules are opposed by powerful industries. The political appointees running the agencies that write the rules often come from the industries they regulate.

Many of the rules were prompted by tragic events.

“These rules have been written in blood,” said John Risch, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers’ legislative director. “But we’re in a new era now of little-to-no new regulations no matter how beneficial they might be.”

Trump has sought to eliminate regulations throughout the government, viewing them as unnecessary restraints on economic growth. He has ordered that two regulations be identified for elimination for every significant new one issued.

DOT says it can reduce regulations without undermining safety and questions the effectiveness of some proposed regulations. It declined repeated AP requests since November for an on-the-record interview with a top official to discuss safety regulations. Instead, the department provided a brief statement from James Owens, DOT’s deputy general counsel, saying that new administrations typically take a “fresh look” at regulations, including those that are the most costly.

“We will not finalize a rule simply because it has advanced through preliminary steps,” Owens said. “Even if a rule is ‘one step away,’ if that rule is not justifiable because it harms safety and imposes unnecessarily high economic costs, for example, that rule will not advance.”

One rule, proposed by DOT in 2016, would require new heavy trucks to have software that electronically limits their speeds. The government didn’t designate a top speed but said it had studied 60, 65 and 68 mph.

The White House moved the proposal from its list of active rulemakings to its long-term agenda after Trump took office. DOT says the rule isn’t dead, but the department has limited resources and higher priorities.

The rule would save as many as 498 lives per year and produce a net cost savings to society of $475 million to nearly $5 billion annually depending on the top speed the government picked, DOT estimated two years ago.

Rick Watts of Morristown, Tennessee, lost his wife, two young step-daughters and mother-in-law when the driver of an 18-ton tractor-trailer traveling about 80 mph failed to brake for cars in a slow-rolling construction zone backup near Chattanooga in 2015. The truck bashed into eight vehicles, killing six and injuring four others.

“If you’re going 80 and you’re knocked down to 60, that’s going to lower the impact,” Watts said. “It just baffles me that they’re killing so many people every year.”

The American Trucking Associations, an industry trade group, initially supported the rule, but now claims credit for stalling it. The group says it would create dangerous speed differentials between cars and trucks.

Trucking officials met with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao within hours after she took office, according to Chris Spear, the trade group’s president. Trump welcomed trucking executives to the White House by climbing behind the wheel of a Mack semi parked on the South Lawn in March.

“Your story is now being told to the highest levels of government,” Spear told his organization’s members in October.

Last summer, DOT withdrew a rule the government was in the early stages of writing to require train engineers and truck and bus drivers to be screened for sleep apnea, a condition that pauses breathing and prevents restful sleep.

The National Transportation Safety Board has cited sleep apnea as a cause of 13 rail and highway accidents it has investigated, including three commuter train crashes in New York and New Jersey since 2013. Investigators say federal regulators share the blame because they haven’t required medical screening for sleep disorders.

The Transportation Department said current safety programs either address the problem or it will be addressed in another rule to reduce fatigue in the railroad industry. But the fatigue rule is years overdue with no timetable for completion.

The agency has a number of political appointees with strong ties to the industries they regulate. Deputy Transportation Secretary Jeff Rosen, who heads DOT’s task force that evaluates regulations for repeal or modification, is an attorney who previously represented General Motors and an airline industry trade group. Daniel Elwell, the acting administrator at the Federal Aviation Administration, is a former airline lobbyist. Cathy Gautreaux, deputy administrator at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates the trucking industry, was executive director of a Louisiana trucking advocacy group for 29 years. Ron Batory, head the Federal Railroad Administration, was president of Conrail, a service provider for the CSX and Norfolk Southern freight railroads. Howard Elliott, head of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, is a former CSX executive. His agency sets safety rules for rail transport of hazardous goods.

Neil Eisner, who was the DOT assistant general counsel in charge of overseeing the issuing of regulations for more than three decades, said industry’s influence on government regulations in general “is probably more powerful than it has ever been.”

The department says having industry insiders in leadership positions provides deep practical experience in how the transportation industry works.


Getting Answers in a Semi Truck Accident

In almost all types of car accidents, insurance companies or law enforcement (if allowed) will attempt to gather facts and information pertaining to the accident to determine fault and other things.  An investigation can be fairly simple by going off of statements given or it can be more complicated by examining other factors.  In semi truck accidents, an investigation can be very thorough.  Learn how your attorney, insurance company, and/or law enforcement investigate semi truck accidents in the article from our sister site, Ernst Law Group, below.



When you or a loved one is involved in a collision with a semi truck or commercial vehicle in San Luis Obispo, the aftermath can be devastating. The sheer size and weight of these vehicles can mean serious injury and property damage in the event of an accident. When helping you determine whether you and your family are eligible for compensation following this type of accident, your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation into the crash. Here is how this investigation may be handled.

Driving Records

Every transportation company is required to maintain a DQF, driver qualification file, on every driver they have on their roster. The files contain training information, driving records, employment history and certain personal records of the driver. The file also contains results of any drug or alcohol testing the driver has undergone. By obtaining these records, your attorney will be able to determine, in part, if the driver contributed to the accident or was likely to have contributed to the wreck.

Maintenance Records for the Vehicle

Your attorney will also scour maintenance records for the vehicle. This information will also be contained in the DQF. The information provided may indicate that equipment failure has occurred with the rig on a previous occasion, that the company failed to maintain the vehicle properly, or that the load was improperly place in the trailer. While this information may not prove your case, the evidence discovered will certainly support your claim.

GPS and Black Boxes

In today’s world, GPS records are used as a way to keep tabs on drivers and their trucks. Your attorney may obtain these records to demonstrate that a driver was on the road too long. In other cases, your attorney may seek to gain information stored by the truck’s black box. This could indicate that the driver was speeding, that they failed to brake or even how they had shifted gears prior to the accident.

A trucking company may be hesitant to share any or all of this information. Your attorney will have the experience necessary to put the right legal pressure on the owner of a trucking company in order to get the evidence necessary to support your claim. No person who has been involved in an accident with a semi truck should be forced to deal with the financial damages that often occur following such a serious incident.

If you have been involved in an accident with a semi truck in San Luis Obispo, reach out to our team of experienced accident attorneys. We will review the details of your incident and advise you of your legal rights. You have nothing to lose by calling our office. We will help you schedule your case evaluation and we will advise you of the best steps for moving forward. Call our office now or browse our website for more information about our firm and the types of cases we handle.


Fatal Accident With a Delivery Semi Truck

Unfortunately, semi truck accidents happen and can be devastating because of the size and weight of these vehicles.  Sometimes, it is not clear how an accident occurred – just like the example in the article below.  We know that if you or a loved one is involved in an accident with a semi truck, you need a strong attorney on your side to get you a settlement for what you’ve gone through.  That’s our team’s goal at Semi Truck Accident attorneys.  This news brief was provided by our sister website, Ernst Law Group.


An accident between a FedEx truck and a passenger vehicle in Oakland is being investigated. The incident occurred in the early-morning hours of December 21. One person involved in the accident lost their life.

According to reports, the semi truck and vehicle collided on I-880. The southbound lanes of the highway were shut down as officials conducted their investigation and then cleared the scene. The driver of the passenger vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene.

When emergency personnel responded to the accident, they observed the FedEx truck to be laying on its side. Investigators were trying to determine how the crash had happened. The highway was closed to southbound traffic for approximately five hours as officials collected evidence in an attempt to discern what had occurred. The highway was reopened just after 8:00 a.m.

It took some time to right the FedEx truck. The truck did not lose its load but a spokesman for the delivery company said, “In cases of damaged freight we have measures in place to immediately recover as much as possible and to communicate with our customers.”

The investigation into the accident continues.

When you or a loved one are involved in an accident with a semi truck in San Luis Obispo, the aftermath can be devastating. Serious injury and property loss are likely to occur, both of which can lead to financial difficulty. If you have been involved in such an accident, reach out to our team of personal injury attorneys to schedule a free case evaluation and discover more about your legal rights.


An Accident With Honey Bees

Sometimes people are not the only ones injured in semi truck accidents.  Recently, a semi truck hauling thousands of honey bees was involved in an accident which, in turn crushed many of the boxes containing hives.  Read the blog post from our sister website, Ernst Law Group, below for more details.

Honey Bees Euthanized After Semi Truck Accident

A crash during the first week of November left thousands of honey bees dead. The accident occurred on Interstate 80 in Auburn at around 7 p.m.

According to reports, traffic on the freeway had backed up fairly quickly. A semi truck driver had to leave the roadway quickly to avoid a collision. The semi truck driver was hauling thousands of honey bees at the time of the accident. Boxes of hives were crushed in the incident and the driver sustained injuries.

Because the honey bees created a dangerous situation for the public, local firefighters who responded to the scene were forced to drown them with hoses. A local beekeeper said that it was a tragedy for the hives and a loss for the owners of the bees. It may have been easier, the beekeeper said, to have controlled the situation in a different manner had the accident happened during daylight hours.

The crash could have been much worse had the truck driver not chosen to leave the highway. As it stands, the mess took hours to clean up and a person was left injured.The accident itself remains under investigation. It is unknown if the driver of the semi truck, or anyone else, will face charges because of the wreck.

If you have been involved in a semi truck accident in San Luis Obispo, you have legal rights. Reach out to our team of experienced accident attorneys and discover more about the appropriate next steps. We will speak to you during a no-cost evaluation and help you make important decisions.


An App for Truck Drivers

Those in the e-commerce and logistics industries are always looking for ways to improve trucking efficiency and safety. The latest efficiency improving method is an app created by Amazon. It’s called Relay, and it is aimed at helping truck drivers pick up and drop off packages from Amazon warehouses quicker. Since Amazon is a logistics powerhouse, we envision that this app will greatly help the thousands of truck drivers hauling Amazon products. Learn more about the app in the article below.

A report issued last night by CNBC stated that e-commerce giant Amazon recently rolled out an app, entitled Relay, that is geared towards truck drivers to better enable them to pick up and drop off packages at Amazon warehouses.

As for how Relay, which can be used on Apple and Android devices, works, the report said that truck drivers enter information into the app that allows them to check in with a QR code and get through a security gate and eschew typical manual processes for badging in, with some Amazon facilities having Relay lanes.

The report explained that even though Relay’s focus may be viewed as narrow, it also serves as the first connection point between Amazon and potentially millions of truck drivers.

What’s more, it is in line with Amazon’s many logistics coals in the fire, as it has been very active in expanding its own logistics network in the form of things like opening 20 regional sort centers and launching its own air network contracting with ATSG and Atlas Airlines. Other logistics-related efforts of note by Amazon include things like testing drone delivery of parcels, and building an Uber-like app for freight, among others.

“The app addresses a large area of inefficiency in the supply chain, one that we expect will be of increasing focus among carriers/brokers/shippers as the December 2017 ELD mandate is implemented, but at the moment the app appears to stop short of offering full-fledged truck brokerage capabilities,” Robert W. Baird analyst Ben Hartford commented in a research note.  

The analyst also observed that the app’s focus on pick up and delivery is notable for two reasons. One being that this process is very inefficient in the supply chain and will be of increasing focus as the ELD mandate is implemented in December 2017 as carriers/brokers/shippers look for opportunities to maximize productivity within the window of a given driver’s hours-of-service availability and the second being that the app seemingly stops short of introducing broader “truck brokerage” capabilities, though such additional capabilities could be added to the application over time.

The second part of Hartford’s analysis in that Relay does not include truck brokerage capabilities is telling in that in late 2016 Business Insider reported Amazon was at work on an app expected to be released in the summer of 2017, which was billed in the report as “Uber for trucking, that matches truck drivers with shippers looking to move freight, while also removing “the need for a third-party broker, which typically charges a commission of about 15% for doing the middleman work.”

The article observed that this presents a major growth opportunity for Amazon with around 84 percent of freight spending allocated for trucking and worth $800 billion based on data from Convoy, a trucking startup. And given the sheer scale of Amazon’s customer base and global reach and density, the article said that Amazon has an advantage in that it does not require the traditional supply and demand needed for Uber for trucking, as it, instead, already has a large shipping network and growing package volume, making it less challenging for drivers to find a load match via the app.

Around the time of this report, industry stakeholders told LM that Amazon getting into the brokerage side would not be viewed as surprising, because it makes sense, considering how Amazon has its own density and can leverage its own network, while also providing control over costs and visibility to costs and transactions. 


Making Semis Safer

Semi trucks take a certain set of skills to drive and operate not only because of their size, but also because of all their components.  As new technology emerges, so do new safety features for vehicles.  That is why truck manufacturers are constantly trying to add improved features on new models of semi trucks.  Lately, manufacturers have been focusing on safety.  Learn how they are aiming to make semi trucks safer by reading below!

Truck Manufacturers and Regulators Work to Improve Safety

But safety conditions may be improving amid increased interest in driver training and secure big rig design.

“Trucking is a safety-first and safety-conscious industry, so increasingly fleets are looking for these types of features in their trucks,” said Ted Scott, director of engineering for the trade group American Trucking Associations.

Large trucks are traveling more miles but getting into fatal accidents at a slower pace, according to a recent report from the American Trucking Associations. The rate of deadly crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled sank 42.2 percent between 2000 and 2013 to the fifth lowest level in history.

But large truck collisions still caused 4,067 fatalities last year — 4.1 percent more than the previous year and the highest level since 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

Nearly two-thirds of those victims were traveling in other vehicles. Large truck accidents contributed to 30,000 injuries in 2015, up 11 percent compared with the previous year — the largest increase of any category, including passenger vehicles and motorcycles.

In the five years since 2009, the number of truck crashes in the country surged 44 percent, while injuries from those incidents shot up 50 percent, according to NHTSA.

Heavy trucks are inherently tricky to drive. Their massive, elongated size and the enormous tonnage they haul make them prone to rollovers — responsible for nearly half of all deaths and injuries in truck-tractor crashes. Jackknifing and head-on collisions are also risks.

Big rigs weigh much more than sedans. Going 65 mph, they require 525 feet to come to a full stop, compared with 316 feet for passenger vehicles, according to calculations by the Utah Department of Transportation.

But air bags and many other basic safety features common in passenger cars aren’t legally required for big rigs. Most heavy trucks don’t use automatic emergency braking systems, which safety advocates say could prevent thousands of crashes each year.

The National Transportation Safety Board included in-vehicle collision avoidance technologies on its list of most-wanted safety improvements for trucks, buses and cars this year, urging manufacturers to incorporate adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, blind-spot detection systems and advanced lighting.

Big trucks also need stronger underride guards, according to experts who met in May at an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conference. The guards would help keep passenger vehicles that slam into trucks or trailers from jamming underneath the rigs and flattening or shearing off the passenger compartments of the smaller cars.

The government has gotten involved to some extent. Next year, a mandate requiring electronic stability control systems on heavy-duty vehicles goes into effect, which would prevent an estimated 49 deaths and 1,758 crashes each year. NHTSA expects the rule to add about $600 to the cost of new tractors.

In August, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, began requiring that passengers wear seat belts while riding in large commercial trucks on public roads. And in the same month, the FMCSA and NHTSA proposed equipping new heavy-duty vehicles with speed limiter devices that set maximum speed tentatively at 60, 65 or 68 mph.

“This is basic physics,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind in a statement. “Even small increases in speed have large effects on the force of impact. Setting the speed limit on heavy vehicles makes sense for safety and the environment.”

Regulators abroad have taken an even stricter approach. In late September, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that trucks without a clear view of the road — some 35,000 lorries — would be banned from the city after 2020 in an effort to prevent collisions with cyclist and pedestrians.

Truck manufacturers are also making changes.

ATA is pushing for crashworthiness standards for large trucks, but Scott said there isn’t any legislation specifically targeting the issue.

Freightliner has offered steering wheel air bags since 1996 and RollTek protection technology since 2007. But the options are requested by fewer than 5 percent of clients — mostly bulk haulers such as gas and chemical tankers, said Mary Aufdemberg, product marketing director for the Daimler Trucks division.

Disc brakes, which are longer-lasting but more expensive than drum brakes, are optional on Freightliner trucks. Some 17 percent of customers use them on front axles, while 14 percent of them place them in the rear, though Aufdemberg expects demand to increase.

The company’s newest Freightliner Cascadia model features a slew of safety features, including a proprietary Detroit Assurance suite that includes options such as brake assist, a windshield-mounted camera for lane departure warnings and a radar system that can identify and rank potential threats.

Other new safety features: steering gear pushed forward to improve driving precision, ergonomic wraparound dash and noise abatement technology to limit fatigue, LED-equipped headlights and a single-sheet windshield with better visibility, wiper coverage and resistance to breakage.

Mack Trucks, meanwhile, has offered RollTek seats for two years and also takes orders for trucks with anti-lock brakes and Bendix Wingman Advanced adaptive cruise and collision mitigation capabilities. Mack’s mDRIVE automated manual transmission eliminates traditional shifting, allowing drivers to focus on the road.

Disc brakes are “widely available across our product line,” and the 2017 engines were updated to scale back exhaustion-inducing noise, said Scott Barraclough, technology product manager for the division of Volvo Trucks.

“Safety is an important consideration for Mack and our customers,” Barraclough said.

It’s also a “core value” for Volvo Trucks, which was the first commercial truck manufacturer to introduce a driver-side air bag and the only truck manufacturer to offer a standard driver-side air bag in all models, said Jason Spence, its long-haul product marketing manager. Many customers also spec additional safety systems, such as Volvo’s enhanced stability technology and lane departure warning.

The company recently launched its Active Driver Assist, which uses camera, radar and brake inputs integrated into the existing driver display to reduce front-end collisions. All Volvo cabs are built using high-strength steel that exceeds the rigorous Swedish Cab Safety Test and also include a collapsible steering column, breakaway foot pedals and an engine and transmission designed to drop down and away from the driver in the event of a crash.

Still, activists such as Rick Watts of Morristown, Tenn., say the government is not doing enough to improve safety, especially amid projected increases in freight demand.

“The lack of urgency, the delays in issuing regulations and the inadequate oversight of the motor carrier industry are just a few of the major problems plaguing the Department,” Watts wrote in a letter last month to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Watts’ wife, mother-in-law and two stepdaughters were killed in June 2015 in a truck crash near Chattanooga, Tenn. The truck driver had been driving longer than the legal limit on hours of service, was under the influence of methamphetamines and was traveling 80 mph in a 55-mph zone, according to the NTSB.

The truck struck seven vehicles, killing six people and injuring four.

Safety experts point out that the vast majority of trucking accidents are due to driver error, not potholes, weather or shoddy equipment.

To curb driver exhaustion, the government implemented a mandate to document hours of operation using electronic logging devices — a move that small carriers are resisting as a devastating blow to their profit margins. But supporters say that ELDs help prevent the use of so-called comic books — easily falsified paper logs that allow truckers to flout hours-of-service limits.

“Driving too many hours is a recognized safety problem in the trucking industry, and ELDs are a proven safety solution,” said Jackie Gillan, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety alliance.

The FMCSA also hopes to establish a national clearinghouse of truck drivers who have not passed drug and alcohol tests. The White House Office of Management and Budget has been reviewing plans for the database — which would be used by employers — since May and expects to finish sometime this month.

Alcohol was a factor in 60 fatal big-rig crashes last year, compared with 68 the previous year.

Drivers, many of whom are paid by the mile instead of the hour, also often have an economic incentive to speed. And demographic changes in the industry have resulted in an outflow of retiring drivers and an influx of younger, inexperienced replacements.

Daniel Litzner, a safety specialist at the Michigan Center for Truck Safety, said the nonprofit group gets plenty of calls about its education programs, safety audits, fatigue management training and other free services.

The organization offers a defensive driving course that lasts for several hours as well as a one-on-one driver performance review in which an instructor in the passenger seat watches the driver in a mirror affixed to the windshield and critiques driving technique.

Litzner, who was with the Michigan state police for more than three decades, said drivers couldn’t get enough of the center’s guidebook, which features state and federal regulations and safety tips.

“What we don’t seem to get enough response from are the actual carriers,” he said. “Our programs are well taken by the industry, but whether they’re implementing it themselves is up to the drivers and the companies.”

“If everything is in compliance,” he said, “they are really ahead of the game.”