The American Driver
From Drivers - For Drivers
What's News - May 2008
SPECIAL REPORT: Rep. Petri introduces TRUCC Act in the House
Thursday, May 1, 2008 - When a carrier or broker collects a fuel surcharge the surcharge
should be passed on to the trucker or company that actually buys the fuel - and a new bill in the
House of Representatives seeks to make sure that happens. "It's only fair," Rep. Thomas
Petri, R-WI, said Wednesday, April 30, as he introduced HR5934 the "Trust in Reliable
Understanding of Consumer Costs Act," also called the "TRUCC Act," in the House.
Longshoreman spark May Day shutdown at many West Coast ports
Several major U.S. ports along the West Coast were partially or fully closed for business
Thursday, May 1, as part of an organized protest. News stories and labor organizations listed a
host of reasons for the port shutdown, ranging from the International Longshore & Warehouse
Union's stance to end the war in Iraq to truck drivers' frustrations with ever-rising diesel prices
and calls for transparency in fuel surcharge agreements.
Illinois will retest new residents before issuing CDLs
Effective Thursday, May 1, truckers moving to Illinois who obtained their CDLs in other states
must retake and pass the written and road tests before they are issued an Illinois CDL. Illinois
is the first state in the nation to require these tests for licensed CDL holders moving from
another state.
Missouri measure would create fuel tax holiday
With the end of the legislative session in Missouri fast approaching, a bill nearing passage in
the House would temporarily discontinue the state's fuel tax this summer. House lawmakers
gave initial approval to a bill - HB1644 - after adding a provision that would offer consumers a
three-month price break on gas and diesel purchases. The provision was added to a bill that
would phase out the state corporate income tax by 2013.
Pennsylvania Turnpike bid deadline postponed
Gov. Ed Rendell's self-imposed due date of April 30 to receive bids and name the top bidder in
his proposal to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike has come and gone. Rendell spokesman
Chuck Ardo said the bidding process has been delayed. He said the governor received no
bids by April 30 because bidders anticipated the delay and "did not want to show their hand
Kentucky bill to limit election-year road spending dies
An effort that has died in the Kentucky Senate was intended to prevent political abuse of
emergency road funds during gubernatorial election years. Supporters cited actions from
former Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a Republican, during the 2007 election season for pursuing the
legislation. As a result, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear was left with inadequate revenue in the
fund, they said.
Louisiana bills call for restricting drivers' cell phone use
Driver distractions are receiving a lot of attention this year in the Louisiana Legislature. Multiple
bills are drawing consideration at the statehouse that would restrict people from talking on cell
phones while behind the wheel.
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LAWSUIT UPDATE: Allied/North American offer $1.25 million settlement
Friday, May 2, 2008 - After having negotiated an $8 million settlement in the fall of 2007 with
truckers in a lawsuit about problems with their owner-operator leases, Allied Van Lines and
North American Van Lines filed for bankruptcy in February this year with $5 million still due to be
Truckers continue grassroots campaign to motivate New York lawmakers
Across the country, truckers have started grass-roots movements in several states to wake up
their lawmakers to the harsh realities many drivers are facing - losing their livelihoods as high
fuel prices and a rocky economy continue to beat up the industry.
TWIC to be required in New England on Oct. 15, nationally by April 2009
Truckers and other port workers will be required to have Transportation Worker Identification
Credential cards to enter ports in the New England region by mid-October and at all other U.S.
ports by April 2009, the Transportation Security Administration announced Friday, May 2.
Corzine aggressive tolling plan 'politically dead'
Gov. Jon Corzine plans to revise his aggressive proposal to increase tolls on some of the
nation's busiest toll roads. Corzine has reportedly declared his proposed 15-year, 800-percent
toll increase "politically dead."
Tennessee bill would limit diversion of road funds
A Tennessee Senate panel has approved a bill intended to help protect road funds. The Senate
Finance, Ways and Means Committee voted 7-2 to advance a bill to the full Senate that would
make it more difficult for the state to route fuel tax money to other budgets.
Detour on I-40 through downtown Knoxville to last 14 months
Truckers who normally take Interstate 40 through downtown Knoxville, TN, will be detoured onto
I-640 and I-275 for the next 14 months. Highway crews shut down a section of I-40 on
Thursday, May 1.
Tennessee authorities to pursue death penalty against Mendenhall
Tennessee prosecutors say, if given the chance, they'll pursue the death penalty against
accused serial killer Bruce Mendenhall - a former trucker from Illinois accused of killing at least
four women.
New York bills would end ton-mile tax, reduce fuel tax in certain areas
Two bills in the New York Assembly would eliminate collection of a tax applied to truck drivers
and reduce the state's fuel tax in certain areas.
Lawmakers want oil market to be free from manipulation
Looking past the current prices at the pump, lawmakers pressed the president and the U.S.
attorney general to form a task force to make sure oil markets aren't being illegally manipulated.
Los Angeles grabs up congestion grant that New York passed up
U.S. DOT officials say Los Angeles will receive a $213 million federal grant to purchase buses
while freeing up city funds to convert high-occupancy vehicle lanes into high-occupancy toll
lanes. A DOT spokeswoman confirmed that the money will come from a proposed $354-million
grant that state lawmakers in New York left on the table, which was designed to implement
congestion pricing in New York City.
Volvo, Mack engines  join CARB clean-idle club
Truckers who want to avoid the off-and-on fiasco created by the California Air Resources
Board's new idling restrictions have a few more engines to pick from that will give them a free
pass from the idling regs.
Goodyear joins SmartWay program
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's
SmartWay Transport Partnership, which previously approved using the company's Fuel Max
linehaul tires on SmartWay tractors and trailers.
'Big Truck' horse to run in Kentucky Derby
You wouldn't expect to see a "Big Truck" running in a horse race, but that's exactly what's going
to happen at this weekend's Kentucky Derby.
National average price for diesel drops 2.8 cents to $4.149 a gallon
The national average price for diesel dropped slightly this past week - 2.8 cents - to average
$4.149 a gallon, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Monday, May 5. However,
the average price for diesel is still up $1.357 compared with the same week of 2007.
Dallas bridge with hole had been inspected recently
A 2-foot-by-3-foot hole on an Interstate-30 bridge in downtown Dallas caused delays during
Monday's early morning commute.
New congestion toll lanes for Seattle area
Drivers in the Seattle area can choose to pay tolls to travel in lanes once reserved for
high-occupancy vehicles in King County. The first-ever high-occupancy toll lanes project in
Washington state began on Saturday, May 3, with the conversion of HOV lanes to HOT lanes on
state Route 167 between Renton and Auburn.
New Maine law boosts fees for bridge work
Maine Gov. John Baldacci signed a four-year plan to raise $160 million to help pay for bridge
work in the state. Vehicle fees will fund repair work.
FAST border program takes applications online, but not in paper
Truck drivers seeking quick border crossings between the U.S. and Mexico through the Free
and Secure Trade program can put away pens and fire up the Internet. FAST applications are
exclusively online.
Alabama bill upping car insurance requirements nearing passage
An Alabama Senate panel advanced a bill that would require motorists to carry more liability
insurance. Other legislation intends to encourage people to obtain proof of vehicle insurance.
XM and Sirius still aiming to merge
XM and Sirius have extended an agreement expressing their intention to merge while they
continue to wait on the Federal Communications Commission to approve the proposal.
Expanded speed radar use dies in Mississippi
An effort to expand the use of radar by sheriff's deputies in Mississippi once again failed to gain
passage in the statehouse. State law now restricts the use of speed radar detection equipment
to the Mississippi Highway Patrol, city police departments and the Lowndes County sheriff's
SPECIAL REPORT: Truckers need help 'soon' OOIDA tells Congress
If there were any members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee who
didn't think fuel prices were strangling small-business truckers - they probably don't think so
following a hearing on the topic Tuesday. OOIDA's Todd Spencer told committee members in
his testimony during the hearing that small-business truckers are victimized not only by high
fuel costs, but also by questionable business tactics in the industry.
New Hampshire bills advance; inspections, weight limits included
Several bills of interest to truck drivers are on the move in the New Hampshire statehouse.
House lawmakers voted to approve a bill that would require law enforcement officers to allow a
tolerance of 5 percent above certain specified weight limitations for vehicles on non-interstates
and general highways.
Louisiana lawmakers advance bills to rein in bridge deals
Concern in the Louisiana Legislature about the possible sale or lease of the Lake
Pontchartrain Causeway has spurred the advancement of two bills intended to rein in any
potential deals.
Dallas enforcing anti-idling regulation through October
Dallas is enforcing a new ban on truck idling beyond five minutes, and city officials say they're
writing tickets for up to $500 per violation. From April 1 through Oct. 31, trucks and buses may
not idle for longer than five minutes. However, truckers may idle their truck engines to operate
air conditioning and heating while in the sleeper berth during federally mandated rest time.
New Nebraska law mandates ignition interlocks for DUI offenders
Gov. Dave Heineman has signed a bill into law toughening rules in Nebraska for people who
get behind the wheel after drinking too much. It takes effect in July. The new law, previously
LB736, requires people found guilty of driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent or
higher to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles. The rule would apply to all
drivers, including first-time offenders.
CARB: company fined $88,000 for missed truck inspections, stickers
The California Air Resources Board fined one trash hauling company nearly $90,000 after the
board's investigators found that Crown Disposal Co. Inc. didn't conduct truck smoke tests and
was missing CARB-required stickers on its trucks.
SPECIAL REPORT: Fuel surcharge legislation moving in House, Senate
Wednesday, May 7, 2008 - The days of middlemen using fuel surcharges as a way to beef up
their profits may very well be numbered thanks to bipartisan legislation being considered in
both chambers of Congress. OOIDA issued a national Call to Action on Wednesday, May 7,
urging its members to contact their lawmakers in support of the legislation. To read the Call to
Action, click
CARB pushes for mandatory use of Smartway-approved equipment
California wants all heavy-duty trucks operating in California to be diesel efficient and is also
proposing a requirement that trucks be equipped with products approved by the Environmental
Protection Agency's Smartway program.
Alligator Alley going up for bids in Florida
A major east-west route known as Alligator Alley in South Florida is slated for the auction block
as early as this summer, state officials have announced. The Florida Department of
Transportation published a request for qualifications - a document designed to attract
private-sector interest in the roadway - on Monday, May 5.
Check out weekly USDA produce truck rates
The USDA publishes a weekly "Fruit and Vegetable Truck Rate Report," which is available on
its Web site and updated every Wednesday, but few produce truckers are actually aware that
the report exists. OOIDA has added a link to its Web site so truckers can quickly access the
USDA numbers.
English-only bills killed in Alabama
An Alabama Senate panel has put off action on two bills that seek to mandate that the state's
driver's license tests be offered only in English and implement a rule that English is the state's
official language. The move effectively kills both bills.
Louisiana 'speed trap' bill killed; Barney's still got his radar gun
An effort has died in the Louisiana House that sought to limit revenues from speeding tickets
for towns to between 10 percent and 35 percent. The issue, however, isn't dead yet. The House
Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee voted 10-6 to kill a bill - HB1050 - from
Rep. Hollis Downs, R-Ruston, that was intended to curtail communities in the state that pad
their budgets with speed trap revenue.
South Carolina OKs tiered drunken driving law
A new law in South Carolina is intended to toughen drunken driving penalties in the state. The
new rules take effect in February 2009.
Some port truckers shut down in Oakland to protest fuel prices, surcharges
Some truckers who haul containers in and out of the Port of Oakland shut down this week to
protest the fact that their pay has not gone up enough to counter punishing fuel costs. Diesel
has been about $4.57 per gallon in California’s Bay area this week.
Every transportation dollar counts
Some federal budget and transportation officials say every dollar paid for transportation must
be accounted for. They also say the public deserves a quality return on the taxes and user fees
paid into the system for infrastructure.
Sens. Boxer and Inhofe reject suggested automated mileage reporting
Future highway revenue may be tied closer to per-mile taxes, but the federal government
shouldn’t be armed with automated devices showing where truckers and motorists travel, U.S.
Sen. Barbara Boxer said this week.
Lawmakers advance Alabama bills for tolls to boost road funding
Multiple efforts on the move in the Alabama Legislature would make toll roads and privatization
available as options to pay for roadwork. To make matters worse, toll advocates say the lack of
revenue from fuel taxes is an even bigger problem because of soaring costs for construction
materials, including asphalt, concrete and steel.
Florida primary seat-belt bill dies; state will lose federal money
A legislative effort in Florida to make failure to buckle up a primary offense has once again
failed. As a result, the state’s federal funding is expected to take a hit. The state will miss out on
a one-time federal payment of about $35 million, unless lawmakers call a special session later
this year and approve a primary seatbelt law, which is unlikely.
CARB schedules workshops about in-use truck retrofit rule
The California Air Resources Board has scheduled several workshops to discuss and accept
public input regarding its proposed requirement that an estimated 1.5 million in-use trucks
meet 2007 emission standards by the year 2012. The proposed plan would force at least 1.5
million trucks to be replaced or retrofitted in order to cut diesel particulate matter and oxides of
New Hampshire bills advance; inspections, weight limits included
Several bills of interest to truck drivers are on the move in the New Hampshire statehouse.
Among the bills focusing on the trucking industry is a measure that would allow truckers a
small helping hand.
New Maine law gets tough with repeat drunken drivers
In hopes of keeping repeat drunken drivers off Maine roads, a new law requires ignition
interlock devices to be installed on offenders’ vehicles.
Check out weekly USDA produce truck rates
The popular phrase “knowledge is power” rings true right now for many owner-operators who
are struggling to make ends meet. The USDA publishes a weekly “Fruit and Vegetable Truck
Rate Report,” which is available on its Web site and updated every Wednesday, but few
produce truckers are actually aware that the report exists.
OOIDA member fights for tow bill charged before Mother’s Day ’07
Julie Harned hopes Mother’s Day 2008 turns out better for her than the 2007 holiday did.
Harned, an OOIDA member and co-owner of the DanTrans LLC trucking company of Sturgis,
MI, was stuck with a $5,500 towing bill after a DanTrans driver hauling a load of Mother’s Day
flowers hit a bridge in Chicago last May.
After slight dip, average diesel price shoots back up 18.2 cents to $4.33
After last week"s slight drop in the cost for a gallon of diesel, the national average spiked back
up - this time 18.2 cents - to put the average at $4.331 for a gallon of diesel, the U.S. Energy
Information Administration reported on Monday, May 12. This is an increase of more than
$1.558 compared with the same week in 2007.
Amendment seeks to stop diversion of oil to SPR
With oil and gas prices at record levels, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-ND, has offered an amendment
calling for a halt the oil deposits put underground in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Wyoming considers truck-only toll lanes on I-80
Lawmakers in Wyoming are considering adding truck-only lanes to Interstate 80 and charging
truckers tolls to pay for those lanes. The state Department of Transportation has
commissioned a study to also look at possible public-private partnerships for the I-80
'Multiple" bids received for Pennsylvania Turnpike
Gov. Ed Rendell has announced that multiple private investors have submitted bids to lease
the Pennsylvania Turnpike for 75 years. Rendell did not release details or financial terms about
the bidding firms. The governor did say he was extending the deadline to accept bids to Friday,
May 16.
South Carolina House approves bill to fund road, bridge work
Struggling to come up with solutions to help pay for needed road and bridge work throughout
the state, legislators in South Carolina discussed bills that would take different paths to solve
the state"s funding crisis.
CARB fines Costco for paperwork violations
The world"s largest warehouse club retailer will pay the California Air Resources Board more
than $40,000 for certain paperwork violations.
Arizona legislation to rein in photo radar usage fails passage
Several bills offered for consideration at the Arizona statehouse this year died that called for
limiting, or outright banning, photo-radar enforcement throughout the state.
Alabama House approves bill to put limits on young drivers
The Alabama House unanimously approved a bill that would put additional restrictions on the
state"s most inexperienced drivers. It now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
Congress moving toward oil reserve moratorium
In a January letter to President Bush, OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston proposed a
temporary moratorium on putting more oil into the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The
reserve is nearly full now and Johnston said the practice increases fuel prices and reduces the
oil available for production of diesel and gas.
More fuel surcharge legislation introduced
Another bill seeking to mandate that 100 percent of fuel surcharges collected on loads be
passed through to the person buying the fuel has been introduced in Congress.
Georgia retail chain shuttered after investigation of fuel pump tinkering
First, an anonymous caller tipped off the Georgia Department of Agriculture that one gas station
was manipulating fuel pumps. Later, an investigation into three fueling stations that had been
bought and sold three times in as many years showed that truck stop operators intentionally
and repeatedly programmed pumps to ring up 5 percent more fuel than motorists were
pumping into their vehicles.
Florida bill dies that sought to increase turnpike tolls, among other things
Time ran out for Florida lawmakers considering a massive transportation bill that would have
boosted tolls on the state's Turnpike. The bill included other tolling provisions along with
limiting left lane use for all drivers.
Truckers upset as New York governor bans trash haulers from back roads
New York trash haulers struggling to eke out a living as high fuel prices continue to punish their
bottom lines have been dealt another blow - this time by Gov. David Paterson. Paterson
announced at a press conference on Monday, May 12, in Skaneateles, NY, that trash haulers
will no longer be allowed to take the back roads through upstate New York. Instead, truckers
will be required to stay on the state's major interstates as they travel to landfills in upstate New
Tennessee lawmakers OK traffic camera restrictions
The Tennessee General Assembly approved two bills that would put restrictions on cities' use
of traffic cameras to nab red-light runners. Both bills now move to Gov. Phil Bredesen, who is
expected to sign them.
California bill would mandate ignition interlocks for drunken drivers
A bill in the California Assembly would require first-time offenders of the state's drunken driving
law to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles if they want to continue to drive.
Ontario lawmakers want your comments on speed limiters
Some lawmakers in the province of Ontario, Canada, have vowed to keep an open mind about
the effects that government-mandated speed limiters would have on small-business truckers.
Provincial lawmakers are preparing for a round of public hearings on Bill 41, introduced by
Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley to make speed limiters mandatory on all heavy
trucks operating in the province. That means truckers have an opportunity to be heard before
the lawmakers vote.
SPECIAL REPORT: Congress approves bills to stop oil diversion to SPR
Diversion of oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve suffered a one-two punch from Congress
Tuesday, May 13, when both chambers overwhelmingly voted to stop adding
$100-plus-a-barrel oil to the stockpile. President Bush still opposes the move and in fact wants
to expand the size of the reserve.
Florida truckers brainstorm with media, lawmakers on high fuel prices
Desperate to save his own business from going under because of high fuel prices, one trucker,
Robert Solfio of New Port Richey, FL, said he decided to take action before losing it all. Solfio
told Land Line that between 125 and 150 truckers attended a town hall meeting with
lawmakers and truckers on Saturday, May 10, in New Port Richey, FL, to discuss how rising fuel
prices are affecting truckers' livelihoods. Solfio said he spent three months organizing the
two-hour meeting.
Wisconsin grants almost $250,000 to OOIDA members for APUs
The Wisconsin Department of Commerce recently announced the recipients of its $2 million
Diesel Truck Idling Reduction Grant Program, and many OOIDA members were on the list.
About $245,683 went to about 50 OOIDA members and Land Line readers, according to Joe
Rajkovacz, OOIDA regulatory affairs specialist.
'Run for the Wall' on the road again
This week and next, truckers who pass hundreds of bikers traveling west to east may be
encountering the annual "Run to the Wall." The coast-to-coast ride, which began in 1989, starts
in Southern California and ends at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. For a
map of the specific route and scheduled stops, click
Massachusetts Turnpike tackles spending, toll violations
Facing pressure from the governor, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority has reduced
spending and has saved $14 million so far in 2008, a spokesman said.
Unplugged? IdleAire files Chapter 11 bankruptcy
IdleAire Technologies Corp. has filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of
Delaware. The Chapter 11 filing probably doesn't come as a big surprise given the fact that the
company had never made money and has amassed a total net loss of more than $246 million
since it went into operation, according to its 2007 annual report to stockholders.
SPECIAL REPORT: 'Let the people speak' on Ontario speed limiters
The debate about speed limiters in Ontario, Canada, is not over yet, according to OOIDA
officials, despite claims by large motor carriers that a government mandate is a done deal.
OOIDA staff and members are continuing to work to defeat legislation that seeks to mandate
the activation of speed limiters at 105 km/h, or 65 mph, on heavy trucks doing business in the
Alberta's transportation minister rejects speed limiters for his province
While government officials and big trucking companies in Ontario and Quebec are pushing for
mandatory speed limiters on heavy trucks, the transport minister of the Canadian province of
Alberta has no plans to follow suit because of enforcement issues.
Sterling introduces natural gas-powered truck
Sterling Truck has introduced a Class 8 tractor that's powered by natural gas. The truck has a
Cummins Westport engine and can be ordered with up to 320 horsepower.
YRC installs kiosks to speed U.S.-Canadian border crossings
In an attempt to speed up the process of getting its trucks across the U.S.-Canadian border,
YRC Logistics has put up seven kiosks, or booths, at key border crossings.
Old gas pumps prove problematic as prices rise
Some of the older mom-and-pop gas stations are facing a potentially costly dilemma. Their
old-fashioned pumps with the spinning mechanical dials can't register a sale above $3.99 per
gallon or a fill-up of more than $99.99.
Florida tops the nation in fatalities for teen drivers
A study on crash statistics released by Allstate Insurance Co. shows Florida leading the nation
in terms of death rates for teen drivers.
2008 twisters may set record
This year may end up being a record-setter in terms of the numbers of tornadoes reported.
Reuters reported that the unofficial count is at 665 twisters - a reported 66 tornadoes this past
weekend alone. About 100 people have died in U.S. twisters so far this year.