The commercial trucking industry forms the circulatory system of much of our national economy, allowing goods to go from one coast to another and everywhere in between. Despite the crucial importance of logistics, the past few years have not been easy for commercial trucking operations. For one thing, because traditional banks classify commercial trucking loans as high risk, these businesses often have a hard time getting credit through traditional avenues. Another challenge faced by trucking companies are the slew of new regulations geared towards improving driver safety. In light of the fact that in 2012 trucking fatalities rose almost 9%, for a third straight year of increased fatalities, something had to give. Still, many trucking firms are anticipating lowered productivity and increased costs as mandated rest periods cut down the number of hours truckers are able to log in a single day as well as the number of consecutive hours they can drive. Going into the new year, many business owners are wondering what they

A new bill introduced by Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman proposes to change the way that commercial truckers are tested for substance abuse problems. The bill proposes the introduction of hair follicle testing to compliment the trucking industry’s current practice of urine testing, which the authors of the bill state is less effective in detecting substance abuse and is more easy to cheat than hair follicle testing, which can detect substance use as far back as 90 days prior to the testing. The bill is supported by the Arkansas Trucking Association, and has bipartisan support, being touted as a common sense solution for reducing liability costs in the trucking industry. With lower liability costs on shipping, savings can be reflected in the profit margins of logistics firms. Additionally, small business owners, who rely on the US shipping infrastructure for many of their raw materials, wholesale purchases and shipping of products, may benefit from lower costs of shipping passed on from reduced firm overhead. Currently, only

New reports on industry growth are suggesting that the automotive industry may be finally showing signs of recovery. A recent Business Insider article points out that the industry was particularly hard hit after the start of the economic turmoil beginning in 2008, plagued by high prices for fuel, diminished sales volume and the effects of the poor economy at large. Similarly, in the commercial trucking industry, growth has been stagnant due to a fear of risk on the part of small business owners who are not comfortable pursuing expansion projects with the uncertainty surrounding taking on more capacity in a negative economic climate. Only now, with signs that recovery is finally coming into place can these business owners start thinking about their expansion without the timidity associated with trends in recent years. In fact, the possibility of a “capacity crunch” on the part of the trucking industry is possible if retail volume increases during a period of rapid economic development, according to American Trucking Associations Chief

  In today’s busy world, winning a larger share of your market can come down to one simple factor: are you more or less convenient than your competition? One way to ensure that you can serve your customers in a way that works for them is by taking your business model on the road. Increasingly, businesses have been going fully mobile, ditching a brick and mortar location in favor of a van from which they can run their operations. While this may seem like a drastic step, in reality, there are some serious benefits that are associated with going mobile. For one thing, it turns your location into a mobile advertisement. By having a mobile workstation, you are able to advertise your small business all over the neighborhood, literally, as you will be driving around from place to place in the course of your day. Taking steps to customize the appearance of your vehicle can turn your mobile business station into a local legend; the more outlandish

Yesterday President Obama signed into law a bill that ensures any official sleep apnea testing ordered on commercial trucking firms be subject to Federal regulations as opposed to guidelines. The significance of this is that guidelines have the potential to be much more confusing and less regimented than regulations. Another factor in the decision, which was applauded by trucking organizations including the American Trucking Associations, is the fact that regulations require much more due diligence and testing before they are able to be put into place. The annual costs to the trucking industry associated with the sleep apnea testings could potentially be as high as $1 billion annually, a not insignificant amount of expenditure. The requirement for formal regulation means that it will now be much more difficult to put mandated testing into place, which may save the trucking industry much money. The dangers of drivers on the road with sleep apnea are real as well, however. The requirement for formal regulations also makes it

The Truckers Ride for the Constitution, scheduled with much ado for today, Friday the 11th, has seemingly caused no actual traffic on the Beltway highway in Washington. The protest was organized by a handful of personalities, including an internet radio host and a trucker named Ernest “General” Lee. While the Facebook page for the event boasts impressive numbers, with thousands pledging their digital support, the Washington Post reports that only around 30 trailers and pickups actually manifested to press their cases against the government. While traffic was reported on the highway during the morning, it was attributed to rain and not the mass of truck drivers, who apparently spread out into smaller groups traveling at the speed of the traffic around them. A single instance of the truckers blocking all four lanes and slowing to 15 mph was broke up by warning from traffic police, with no arrests made or tickets given. While this morning did not cause any interruptions in commuting, the organizers of

The “shale revolution” refers to the growing natural gas business within the US. As the search for alternatives to fossil fuels intensifies, the trucking industry is becoming more and more attuned to developments in natural gas as a viable alternative to diesel. In March, Shell, the energy corporation, announced plans to create two new natural gas for transport corridors through North America. This indicates just how much the development of these non-imported fuels could represent an advantage for American trucking. For an in-depth look at some of the benefits of natural gas, which include vehicle performance comparable with that of fossil fuels and the ability to be produced domestically, interested readers can visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s page on the fuel source. In addition to this, lower emissions from this fuel source mean that it’s use could be beneficial for the environment and the reduction of our carbon footprint. Some concerns over the process of the fuel’s extraction, known as “fracking” have environmental groups up

Small business owners and employees in the commercial trucking business have show support for a proposed bill to create a report on industry cost analysis for sleep apnea testing, as well as official regulations for the testing as opposed to guidance. Commercial trucking financing the tests is a concern, but more importantly, the issue of driver safety is at the heart of the proposed legislation. With driver fatigue representing one of the most covered issues around the trucking industry of late, more and more regulations have gone in to preventing fatal accidents blamed on excessive hours and fatigue. The reason why trucking groups have called for formal regulation rather than simple guidelines is because of a mistrust of not adequately defined rules. If trucking companies would fail to comply with the guidelines and then an accident occurred, they could be sued for non-compliance. The possibility that non-compliance could result as an accident due to misunderstanding would be much higher without a formally defined procedure surrounding

The regulations created in 2011 to restrict the work week of commercial truck drivers seem here to stay, after appeals from the major truck driver constituencies, the American Trucking Associations and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association,  failed to have the laws overturned. The primary concern of truck drivers is the loss of billable hours that they are experiencing because of the regulations, which force them to take rest periods and change the protocols surrounding the restarting of the working week. The rationale behind the new laws is that many of the accidents caused by trucks and buses on the road involved fatigued drivers whose reaction times and awareness of driving conditions were compromised by their lack of energy. The DOT estimates that up to 13% of drivers involved in serious accidents were fatigued, and that the new regulations and mandated rest periods will save 19 lives each year thanks to better rested logistics workers. It is hard to gauge the immediate economic effect of

The most visible collateral damage in trucking is the aftermath of a crash, where roads, vehicles, and their occupants can be catastrophically destroyed. However, the driving forces behind this kind of an accident account for a much more subtle and far reaching type of problem. Driver health has been an increasingly topical issue, with new regulations in place mandating more rest periods for drivers with the rationale being that chronic driver fatigue, sleep apnea and over consumption of nutritionally poor foods and caffeine are leading causes in many of the fatal crashes that occur each year. In the aftermath of these regulations, many drivers are reporting dissatisfaction with the way that their now mandated rest periods affect their schedules and the number of billable miles they can claim. In particular, driving at night, when traffic is lightest, is now much more difficult as drivers are required to get a good night’s  sleep. Aside from effecting the schedules of drivers, the new regulations in conjunction with

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