This past year cargo theft overall has dropped for the third year in a row, however the value of the stolen loads has increased. According to Cargo Net the value of the missing freight peaked at $114 million compared to that of $100.5 million in 2015. The police believe that the fluctuation in numbers could be related to more frequent reporting and greater awareness of cargo theft. The top state for cargo theft was California with 228 incidents, followed by Texas with 135 incidents and New Jersey with 73 incidents. The most common commodities were food and beverages, with second most common being electronic goods. The top commodity stolen has varied from prior years, in 2015 the biggest loss was that of the pharmaceutical and medical industry. Investigators have said that law enforcement has done an excellent job responding to the reports of cargo theft. Unfortunately, it remains difficult to prevent future theft because the culprits responsible continue to be strategic with their methods and locations when committing criminal offenses. Increasing awareness and safe practices across the freight industry will help deter thieves and hopefully help overall cargo theft continue to decrease year after year.
April 6th, 2017 brings new regulations on the sanitary transportation of food products. Regulators from the Food and Drug Administration prepare to crack down on shippers and carriers in the supply chain that do not comply. These new regulations are in response to the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act that moves from preventing food contamination rather than just responding to it when it does happen. This deadline affects larger shippers and carriers while smaller operators have until April of 2018. The key requirements state:
- All equipment must maintain safe temperatures while transporting food and must be cleaned between runs
- Proper training of carriers transporting the goods
- Keeping detailed records and, of course, better separation of raw food from other products.
This will better protect food from contamination during the transportation to and from stores.
Railroads transported 13.5 million intermodal containers in 2016. Despite this number, the overall transportation declined by 1.6% from 2015 when 13.7 million containers were moved. Although it was a tough year for railroad freight overall, the fourth quarter indicated a positive rise. Several factors could have contributed to this decline; a weaker economy, disorder in energy, or even the drop in truck rates. The cheaper cost of a truck may have resulted in more shippers switching freight modes from rail to over - the -road to save money. However, many forecasters predict a stronger year for intermodal in 2017. Truck rates will continue to rise and tuck capacity will tighten as electronic logging monitors are enforced more regularly. For these reasons, we should see an increase in intermodal freight as we move through the year ahead.
The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carriers Safety Association) announced last week the new rules for drivers. The first change is in the training requirements for truck and bus drivers. The prior proposal would have required truck drivers to complete 30 hours of training at the wheel before they were even eligible to complete the commercial driver license test. However the new rule states that training hours are determined by the instructor’s evaluation and how well the trainee performs the driving procedures. A score of 80% is required to pass the evaluation. The second rule announced allows motor carriers the chance to document when a new hire either refused or had failed their new driver drug and alcohol tests. This rule additionally requires that employers routinely check the database against current employees to see if drug or alcohol violations occurred in the past that would decrease their ability to complete ‘safety-sensitive’ functions as part of their driver duties. Both rules go into effect in the coming months, but do not require compliance until the year 2020. This lengthy period is to allow the necessary time to design the technology that would be needed. It will be required that the new driver must give consent before their name is checked in the database. If an employee does test positive for drugs or alcohol, they must complete the return-to-duty drug/alcohol rehabilitation process before they can begin working again.
Read the full article in the Transport Topics Magazine issued week of December 12, 2016
According to the Americas Commercial Transportation (ACT) Research, numbers have indicated a 28% decrease in truck orders from September this year to that of the same month in 2015. Reports have shown a total of 13,900 units in September during a traditionally slower month out of the year. ACT Vice President Steve Tam was quoted in the Transport Topics magazine saying, “This level of order intake is in line with how we see the industry performing. We expect to see a modest seasonal uptake in the fourth quarter, probably around 19,000 units.” Analyzing month by month on year-over-year basis the average numbers slumped by 40%. The article in Transport Topics Magazine informs on various statistics similar in nature but then goes on to note a relatively positive trend. Earlier in 2016 the inventory of unsold heavy trucks peaked at 25,000 but more recent data has shown that the number has now dropped closer to 15,000. Analysts from the ACT Meeting discussed much about the state of the U.S. Economy and left readers with a more positive thought. “The truck forecasts are built on a few more years of steady, though uninspiring economic growth. There do not seem to be serious warning signs for a recession currently.”
Read the full article in the Transport Topics Magazine issued week of October 10th, 2016.
Looking back at 2015, trucks faced a 40% increase in the amount they pay to Illinois highway tolls and another 10% rise in 2016. Following this trend, trucks will face another 10% increase in January of 2017. This three year increase is contributing to the $12 billion / 15 year Illinois highway project that began in 2011. The plan is to widen and rebuild the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (Interstate 90) which allows travel from Chicago to Rockford. In addition they plan to construct a new interchange as part of the Elgin O’Hare that would connect the Tri-State tollway (I-294) to (I-57) while building a new Illinois route 390 and I-490 tollway. Due to this toll increase trend, several alternate routes have become more attractive of an option if time is a non-concern. Truck drivers throughout Illinois ask themselves if the congestion around Chicago is worth the price they are paying in tolls. An approximate hour and fifteen minutes is saved by using the tollway to get to Rockford rather than taking side routes but at the expense of $30 paid in tolls. Could this become a safety issue for drivers if they routinely avoid the price of the toll?
Read the full article in the Transport Topics Magazine issued week of October 31st, 2016.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is mandating all non-exempt commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to use an electronic logging device (EDL) to record a driver’s Record of Duty Status (RODS) in place of the current logbook method to verify compliance with Hours of Service (HOS) requirements.