Friday, June 19, 2015

A story about the lottery ‘every trucker can relate to’

OOIDA Member Kevin Cibulka has some kind of luck. It’s just not clear to anybody what kind it is.

On the one hand, Cibulka has won two pretty sizeable scratch-off lottery jackpots in the past few months – a $1,000 winner in Ohio about three months back, and then a $500 winner just last weekend in his home state of Pennsylvania. So that sure seems like the good kind of luck.

On the other hand, he said it’s been hell to get the payout in both instances.

For starters, that $1,000 jackpot he won at a Love’s a few months back didn’t pay out immediately, on account of the fact that someone at the truck stop hadn’t even scanned the tickets in, meaning they came back “unauthorized” when he tried to cash in. Eventually he was able to get his money, but only after having to wait for a load to take him through Ohio.

“They had a book of tickets in there, and they never registered the tickets to be authorized to cash,” he said in a phone interview with Land Line. “I had to call the police, because if I’d tried to cash the ticket, they’d have arrested me for fraud or theft or something.”

Fast-forward to last Friday at the rest area in Bedford, Pa., about two hours away from Cibulka’s Home-20 in York. He decided to put $30 in the lotto machine and ended up with a $500 winner. Unfortunately, the rest area couldn’t cash out the ticket for more than $100, and offered to put the rest on a money order. Cibulka said he decided to wait until he got home and cash the ticket in somewhere else.

“Whoever came in behind me, played $68 worth of credits on the machine, and then they were able to cash out the rest of it,” he said. “They took that, without the winning ticket, and the cashier paid it out in a money order.”

Later on, the rest area manager called and said they wanted to give him a $500 money order for his winning ticket.

“It was just ridiculous,” he said. “I don’t know (if they caught the other guy). The state police took over the investigation. Basically he stole from the rest area because he took something that didn’t belong to him.”

As an owner-operator who hauls reefer trailers full of plant and garden nursery stock, Cibulka said his recent lottery experiences are a story that “basically every driver can relate to.”

“We’ll pay you, but you’re gonna have to wait for your money,” he deadpanned. “The lottery is the same way. … Stay away from lottery unless they prepay you.”

Thursday, June 18, 2015

CARB needs to wait for more data before hailing port truck rules

An emissions report from the Port of Oakland shows dramatic cuts in smog-forming ingredients, which appears to surprise even the California Air Resources Board.

The continued replacement of older trucks combined with cleaner emissions from each new generation of trucks, however, may have more to do with the improvement than state and local port rules.

Research funded by the California Air Resources Board reportedly shows dramatic decreases in two pollutants they say commonly come from diesel trucks.

According to a news release issued Monday, June 15, research conducted by Berkeley Scientist Robert Harley shows deep cuts in black carbon and oxides of nitrogen. In a PowerPoint presentation available at CARB’s website, CARB said the emissions were measured by a van that analyzed NOx and NO2, black carbon through an aethalometer that measures light absorption, ultrafine particles using a condensation particle counter, particle size distribution and CO2 measured by infrared absorption.

Emissions of black carbon – a key component of diesel particulate matter – dropped 76 percent between 2009 and 2013, CARB said in the news release. CARB said emissions of oxides of nitrogen, blamed for leading to smog, declined 53 percent during the same four-year stretch.

“The study findings are considered dramatic because they occurred over a relatively short time,” CARB said in the news release. “Comparable emissions reductions could normally take up to a decade through gradual replacement of old trucks or natural fleet turnover.”

CARB credited emissions rules adopted by the Port of Oakland and by CARB itself for the emissions gains. CARB’s Drayage Truck Regulation was adopted in 2007 and requires all trucks serving major California ports to be registered and upgraded according to a staggered implementation schedule. By 2023, all Class 7 and Class 8 diesel-fueled drayage trucks must have 2010 or newer engines. Pre-2007 model year trucks cannot currently serve California ports.

The rule has already ushered out many older trucks. Between 2009 and 2013, CARB says, the median age of truck engines serving the port dropped from 11 years old to six years old.

Though CARB may want to credit truck rules for the drop in truck engine age and emissions, multiple changes around ports occurred during the study’s time frame. Also, trucks throughout the United States have become cleaner as older models were replaced by cleaner, newer trucks.

According to the Diesel Technology Forum, 33 percent of all trucks on U.S. highways in 2013 were clean diesel trucks with near zero emissions. Topping the list for the highest percentages of clean diesel trucks were Indiana, Utah and Oklahoma – all states that do not ban older trucks from operating as California does.

The full results of the study and further elaboration will be discussed during a research seminar Dr. Harley will present at 1:30 p.m. PDT on Thursday, June 18. For more information, click here. CARB said the webcast will also be archived at CARB’s website.

Though CARB addressed only trucks in its news release, emissions are down for other reasons as well. By 2013, ships pulling into ports at Oakland, Long Beach, Los Angeles and other major ports in the Golden State had already begun plugging in to shore power while berthing. In fact, the program began at Long Beach in 2004, and culminated in the port reportedly spending $180 million by 2013 for large, high-power extension cords. The move to shore power cut ship emissions by 95 percent, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

At Oakland, port leaders spent about $60 million upgrading to shore power equipment for ships.

As Land Line reported in October 2014, CARB has taken the unprecedented step of working directly with truck makers to reduce vehicle weight and improve emissions reductions at every level of the manufacturing process.

Before emissions for 2020 and beyond are projected and new regulations are adopted, perhaps CARB will wait and allow the data to show real emissions levels and determine carefully how necessary are new rules that truckers will bear the brunt of.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

C.R. England wins; Greyhound Bus Lines loses

Uh oh. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is back in the Federal Register with a brand-new notice. In the margins and between the lines, I think they were saying something like this:

Action: Notice of Final Disposition; Grant of Application for Exemption.

Summary: FMCSA announces its decision to exempt C.R. England from the rule that requires a driver cadet be accompanied by a real trucker in the jump seat while the cadet drives home from the driving academy and delivers a revenue load on the way.

England says it’s a great idea. The cadet gets paid, England makes a buck while saving on bus fare, and because another load is delivered in the midst of the Great Driver Shortage, America is a better place. Think about it. All the England cadets who have to go home to pick up CDLs? Could be lots of loads that might otherwise be late or not arrive at all!

You’re welcome, America.

And remember, that England cadet almost has a CDL. It’s just sitting there waiting for him at the other end of what would otherwise be an expensive bus ride sitting next to a garrulous salesman who spits when he talks. The CDL is only a formality, not like an intern performing heart surgery on his way home from medical school. OK, so maybe it’s a little like that. But not a lot. And what’s the big deal? It’s just a piece of paper.

OK, wiseguy, we know what you’re thinking. Isn’t the FMCSA all about verifying this and documenting that? Aren’t we the guys who calculate scores based on crossed T’s and dotted I’s? Don’t our inspectors thumb through your file drawers and scan the folders on your servers looking for instances of bad bookkeeping and sloppy paperwork? In the end, isn’t that what safety is all about? Log sheets? Vehicle inspections? Drug tests? Repair orders? Legible documents? Neat files? Records of absolutely everything? You bet your ass!

But we digress.

The thing is, the FMCSA hasn’t lost its elan, its esprit de corps, its joie de vivre, or its je ne sais quoi. We haven’t gone loosey-goosey over whether a cadet’s home state has declared him a genuine CDL trucker or not.

We’re making this exception for a great motor carrier, C.R. England, which finds itself in the untenable position of either sending the cadet home without having hired him or her (because the person does not yet have a CDL) with no assurance that the driver will remain with C.R. England after obtaining the CDL.

See what we’re getting at here? These damn cadets are escaping! A couple of days out from under the England tent, breathing fresh air, steering an England truck down a crowded interstate while the genuine trucker snores away in the sleeper and these cadets can get some funny ideas – like deciding not to work for England. We can’t have that now, can we?

The FMSCA stands by American commerce and great American corporations.