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Archive for November, 2014


Will Trucks of the Future Revolutionize Freight Shipping?

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by  Lorenzo Estébanez

MAN’s Spacetruck (#4) on display in Hannover, Germany. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

MAN’s Spacetruck (#4) on display in Hannover, Germany. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Since the dawn of the space age, one of the biggest promises of the future was a driverless car. The future’s been a mixed bag—there aren’t any colonies in space, but the Internet is better than anyone could’ve imagined. However, the driverless car is a futuristic dream that’s closer than ever to reality.

Futuristic cars are going to revolutionize the road, and no one has more to look forward to than truckers. Not only are autonomously driven trucks on the horizon, but there are countless new technologies that are going to change trucking. The next generation of vehicles is going to make hauling freight in the 21st century easier than ever. Even better, they look incredibly cool. These trucks are going to be loaded with the sort of science fiction technology that will have drivers feeling like Batman. Here are some future trucks that American commercial drivers can look forward to:

1. Mercedes Benz Future Truck 2025

The camera system and radar sensors of the Mercedes Benz Future Truck 2025 work “like the autopilot on a plane,” according to the Daimler company. This system is entirely onboard, meaning that the truck is truly autonomous. It doesn’t have to rely on control from a different source, or a complicated infrastructure. The truck’s onboard computer system brings 100% focus to long-hauls that could otherwise lead to driver distraction or boredom.

The truck also has a next-generation headlight system. Rather than two or four headlights, the Future Truck 2025 has a wide panel of LED lights. This means that the truck will be safer for other drivers on the road without sacrificing visibility. Not only is it safer, though, but the distinctive clean design makes it look like the helmet on a Star Wars villain.

2. Walmart Advance Vehicle Experience Concept Truck

As the world’s biggest retailer, no company has more skin in the shipping game than Walmart. With hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenues, it makes sense that Walmart would be at the forefront of developing some amazing future trucks.

In keeping with Walmart’s renewable energy vows, the Walmart Advance Vehicle Experience Concept Truck is electric. It may not be autonomous, but the cab offers driver visibility like no other truck on the road. The driver won’t just be comfortable while driving—the truck offers a full-size sleeper. The vehicle is made exclusively from carbon fiber, making it 4,000 lbs. lighter than comparably sized trucks, which frees up and extra 2 tons for freight. Additionally, its engine and aerodynamics give it great fuel economy for a truck of its size.

3. Mercedes Benz Aerodynamics Truck and Trailer

The name says it all: this is the truck for optimal aerodynamics. Mercedes invested 2,600 hours of wind tunnel testing into the Aerodynamics Truck and Trailer to reduce drag. As a result of all that work, every part of the truck is optimized against wind resistance. Mercedes’s innovations are so cutting edge that the shape of the trailer exceeds regulations, and legislation is going to have to change in order to keep up. According to GizMag, though, “The reported benefits are so significant, however, that this may be achieved in due course.” Where other trucks force their way through the air, Mercedes’s Aerodynamics Truck and Trailer will slice through it.

4. MAN Spacetruck

Given its name and the way the Spacetruck looks, someone could understandably think that German automaker MAN’s latest concept truck is intended for use outside Earth’s atmosphere. Seeing it unveiled caused Trucks and Trailers Magazine to declare that “the designers at MAN have made perhaps the most beautiful trucks ever built.”

In addition to its striking design, the MAN Spacetruck is built to be aerodynamic, as well, so those who want to stare at it will have to look fast.

5. The Innotruck

Every industry has its visionary, genius designers. In the world of future trucks, that man is Luigi Colani, a Swiss-German engineer who’s become famous in automotive design circles. The Innotruck, developed by the Technical University Munich, might be Colani’s most striking design.

The Innotruck’s cab looks less like a traditional truck and more like the dearly departed Concorde supersonic jet. It moves like no other truck, too, with the front tires turning on a pivot connected with the cab. The Innotruck is designed to be “both a testbed and a demonstration vehicle for a number of emerging technologies,” meaning that anything that ends up on future trucks may be tested on the Innotruck first.

6. Colani’s Biodynamic Trucks

Luigi Colani didn’t become a visionary engineer by only designing one truck—he’s got a whole fleet of next-generation trucks in the works. Built by Mercedes, what he calls his “Biodynamic trucks” are the ultimate in green design. The trucks are memorable for their pod-like cabs, with three windshield wipers that keep the windscreen dry and recall Mercedes Benz’s distinctive logo.

However, what’s truly remarkable will be the fuel efficiency. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Colani is working with the Siemens Corporation to improve fuel efficiency for trucks by 25% or more. Whatever the future holds for trucking, it’s a sure thing that there will be Colani designs on the road.

These are just a few of the future trucks that drivers can expect to see on the road the next 10 years. There are even more trucks, currently in the concept stage, that will integrate the most advanced technology of the 21st century to make trucker’s lives easier. When those vehicles come out, Bryant Surety Bonds will be pleased to work with the truckers of the future to help them get bonded and get on the road. Let us know in the comments what next-generation developments in trucking you’re looking forward to.

 About the Author- Lorenzo Estébanez writes about surety bonds, with a focus on the freight and trucking industry. He is a regular contributor for the Bryant Surety Bonds blog.


© 2014, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: Bryant Surety Bonds, driverless trucks, freight shpping, Trucking, trucks

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Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog

Is Truck Driver Pay the Answer to all Issues?

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Truck Driver Pay

Truck Driver Pay

Professional CDL truck drivers have seen many changes over the past several years which have had a direct effect on their job abilities. From seemingly small changes such as the abolished use of cell phones ruling in 2011 to the larger Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) program, extensive regulatory implementations continue to drive a large number of skilled, experienced truck drivers away from the vocation.

Many veteran drivers are ready to explain that the main reason they have chosen to leave their trucking career is due to the restrictions that these regulations place on them, preventing the opportunity to earn a livable wage. Industry professionals also voice their discernment over the effect that these growing regulations continue to stifle the industry as a whole, leading to the ever-continual truck driver shortage.

A large majority of professional truck drivers will agree that a simple solution to any such driver shortage would be to: “Focus on increasing driver pay, develop and implement cdl training standards for new driver entrants, either through federal or a state-to-state action, and to stop pushing drivers to violate federal regulations.”

However, problems faced by drivers on a regular basis, far exceed the three issues stated above:

  • Beyond the CSA and training standards, drivers are pushed to their limits via the Hours of Service (HOS) rules
  • In particular areas across the country, the ability to find a safe and secure place to park is not only problematic, but often life threatening
  • The soon-to-be ruling on the Electronic Logging Device (ELD’s) mandate which many drivers consider an invasive and harassing tool
  • The lifestyle which for many, result in poor driver health issues
  • The fight against the truck driver DAC report, used by many companies as a retaliation tool against drivers
  • The treatment of drivers by the shippers and receivers
  • The long periods of time away from home and family
  • The unethical recruiting tactics by many motor carriers

A list pertaining to the struggles and sacrifices faced by the professional truck driver is seemingly endless. While the idea is raised that increasing driver pay is certainly one avenue in maintaining an interest in the vocation, is it the only answer? As a driver facing all of the problems and issues within the industry, and looking down the road to the future of trucking, would receiving a good and decent pay raise be enough for you to remain in the career?

Is the amount of pay the complete answer to all truck driver issues? Would you as a driver, gladly continue receiving poor treatment from those shippers and receivers who hold no moral or ethical standards toward drivers, if your paycheck was big enough? Would you still be willing to face the health issues and being away from home for months at a time, if your paycheck was substantial?

Are you content in being forced to violate HOS and to accept forced dispatching and future regulatory restrictions, if your paycheck was big enough? Are you saying that you are more than willing in continuing to be spoken down to by dispatchers, shippers, receivers, law enforcement, the media and the general public, if only your paycheck was big enough?

The industry maintains its concern over a driver shortage and a possible solution to retaining drivers. Are drivers really saying that the amount of their paycheck is the only aspect preventing them from entering or remaining within the vocation?

If so, then the industry now has its answer in regards to all of these issues. If not, the industry needs to listen to the drivers’ greater concerns and reasons and come to address all of the issues at hand.

© 2014, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: cdl training, CSA, dac, driver recruiting, ELD’s, FMCSA, hos, Receivers, shippers, truck driver pay, truck drivers, Trucking

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Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog

Industry holds solutions to trucking safety

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Regardless of consistent evidence that continually shows that the highest percentage of auto-truck crashes are caused by the driver of the auto, the debate between the trucking industry and regulators rages on as implementing additional regulations upon the industry is still the answer in improving safety among the highways.

The auto-fault percentage changes year to year, but the result is always the same, regardless of who instigates the study. The 2013 study by the American Trucking Association (ATA) placed the fault at 80%; a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute resulted in an 81% fault rate and a 2009 study by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) show auto drivers were to blame 81% of the time.

Through the years, not much has changed. In 1998 for example, an examination issued by the Highway Safety Information System resulted in the same conclusion: ” the car driver’s behavior was more than three times as likely to contribute to the fatal crash than was the truck driver’s behavior. In addition, the car driver was solely responsible for 70 percent of the fatal crashes, compared to 16 percent for the truck driver. “

As it may seem that these confirmed statistics are used to cast blame, this should be further from the truth. As we can all agree that each fatal crash is a tragedy, one cannot continue compounding regulations upon regulations in the hope of ensuring a 100% safe driving environment because reality shows that driving has never been totally “safe.”

In 1899, the U.S. Government began keeping data records on motor-vehicle deaths. In that same year, there were 26 and by 1950 the number reached 33,186 and for 2012 there were 33,561. Between 1963 and 2007, numbers increased, ranging from the low 40’s to as high as 54,589 in 1972. Since 2007, where records show a number of 41,259 deaths across the United States, the numbers have declined.

In fact, as the number of motor-vehicle deaths remained within the range of the low 30’s and low 50’s between 1950 and the most current year data of 2012, records by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System show that traffic fatalities have been the lowest they have ever been within the past 65 years, with the number of 32,479 in 2011 being the lowest in 62 years.

Still, recent reports remain focused on stating that while overall fatalities have continued on a downward trend, accidents involving commercial trucks increased by 8.7% between 2009 and 2010. However, when one looks at the overall data for the period between 2008 and 2011, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes actually declined by 12%.

Commercial Truck Fatalities: 2001-2011

Commercial Truck Fatalities: 2001-2011

By focusing on only one area of overall statistical reporting such as this results in the call for more regulations to be placed on the CMV driver and the industry, i.e. Electronic Onboard Recorders (EOBRs) and changes in the Hours of Service (HOS) rules. Adding regulations on top of regulations will not help the industry become safer, and most often will have the opposite effect as carriers and drivers are pushed to further limits in meeting the demands of the consumer, business incentives and their own personal welfare.

The FMCSA can continue to implement as many regulations that they wish upon drivers and the industry, yet none will ever have a direct effect on the millions of auto drivers and their driving habits or on their way of thinking. It is impossible for any government regulator to devise a rule which will prevent the driver of an auto to not pass a CMV and then immediately swerve back in front of it to take the next exit. It is impossible for any government regulator to devise a rule which will prevent the driver of an auto from pulling out in front of an oncoming CMV in hopes of beating a few seconds of extra waiting time and it is impossible for any government regulator to devise a rule which will prevent the driver of an auto from driving while fatigued.

Further regulations are nothing more than compounding a problem with more problems. The trucking industry itself can be the one to ensure safer highways and further correct many of the issues faced within the industry, without governmental action to impose additional regulations:

  • Develop and implement their own Entry Level Driver Training AND Hiring Standards
  • Increase driver wages which have remained stagnant for the past 25 years which add to drivers pushing for more miles in anticipation for a livable pay check
  • Develop a professional treatment toward their drivers, respecting the current rules in place as they relate to HOS rules, driver fatigue and drivers’ lawful rights
  • Stop the intimidation, harassment and retaliatory behavior against drivers to work toward ending the industry’s “Us against them” mentality
  • To further campaign and promote highway safety by providing educational resources directed at the general public in order to cultivate a deeper understanding and awareness for autos as it relates to sharing the road with the big rigs

As safety groups continue to play a major role in the addition of regulations placed on the industry, often these groups display a supportive approach for the drivers. Safety groups have called for better pay for drivers; they have voiced their concerns for the need of safer parking areas and appropriate rest time for drivers; they have expressed interest in the need to stop forced dispatching, causing the driver to be pushed beyond the boundaries of safety.

By all ways and means, the industry itself has been its own worst enemy. If the industry would step up and implement the solutions to the problems, would the government then have any reason to intervene on behalf of safety groups and attorneys? If the industry is so fearful of the CSA, safety ratings and interventions from the FMCSA, and is truly concerned about a driver shortage, why is it not possible for one of the world’s largest industries to create the solutions to the problems that they have allowed to continue for decades?

This industry must stop casting blame in all directions toward the FMCSA, professional drivers and even the general public, all for the sake of corporate greed. They must finally face these issues which they have generated over the years which in return, have forced the government into the equation with such actions as HOS, speed limiters and ELD’s.

© 2014, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: driver fatigue, FMCSA, highway fatalities, Safety, solutions, truck crashes, Trucking

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Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog

Truck Parking and the 14 hour rule

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Truck Parking and the 14 hour clock

Truck Parking and the 14 hour clock

By Tom Ingraldi

I know I am beating the same drum here but… Most of the parking “shortage” is due to the present Hours of Service (HOS) and the 14 hour clock. Before that fiasco of a law, it was nothing to head in to a customer, decide if it was a good place to park or to “circle the wagon” and see if there was any safe parking nearby. We are now so time constrained there is no “extra time” to find parking. And if a customer keeps you overlong that same clock does not give in order to find a safe place to park. Get rid of the 14 hour clock is the only fight we should be fighting, all else will fall in line when we win that battle…

While I agree with the problem of truck parking it still comes down to standing up for you. I am 3 years+ on E-logs with no violations. This is because I have my rules and dispatch does not drive my truck. First: Allow four hours for a load or unload. If they get me loaded in 2 their load will be delivered on time. If they get me loaded in 4 hours, I can leave the facility but chances are the load is going to be rescheduled. Anything over 4 hours and all bets are off. I keep in constant communication with dispatch and warn them, I will [and have] dropped the trailer and left or take my break in their door. By the way you can refuse to move your truck, but if asked you must leave the customers property. Take what’s valuable and walk out. Until we all start taking a stand we will continue to have the same problem. Simplest solution is to get rid of the 14 hour rule it is causing this whole situation.

As I have said a thousand times. We need to fight the 14 hour clock. It is a law that has the completely opposite effect of what was intended. We have to hurry thru our day to “beat the clock” in order to make a paycheck. We have to worry constantly at any delay at a shipper or receiver because our clock is running and we may not have time to park legally and safely. No 14 hour clock, no worries about time running out before we can park. Most of us out here are out here because we are flexible in our sleep schedule. We know to sleep when we are tired and before the 14 hour clock, we did. We napped to avoid rush hour in cities, school zones. We also could break for a decent lunch and\or shower. Now everything must be crammed in to fit the clock. Yes the cure to truck driver fatigue is sleep. But I sleep when I am tired and cannot sleep because the clock tells me to. Common sense and good judgment should dictate when you sleep. Not any clock or any other person. Letting dispatch drive your truck is a recipe for disaster. You drive your truck when you feel you should any other decision should be cause for giving up your CDL. TRI

Related Posts
‘What the General Public Needs to Know about highway safety, truck driver fatigue, and truck parking”

“Trucker Shooting rekindles pleas to officials for more safe truck parking

“The Absolute Cure for Truck Driver Fatigue



© 2014, Tom Ingraldi. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: 14 hour rule, hos, hours of service, Tom ingraldi, truck driver fatigue, truck parking

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Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog