Commerce Express Weekly Road Map:

February 21st, 2023

Keeping you informed on the latest news/insights in our industry.

Commerce Express Blog

Crazy Stories Shared By Truckers-01

All of us have had to taken at least one road trip in our lives. Whether it was a weekend retreat to a neighboring state or a full-fledged voyage across the country, we were glued to the steering wheel and drove for hours on end.

In that period of time, maybe something peculiar happened. We may’ve met a strange hippy gas station clerk or an intimidating biker couple at a scenic overlook (only to learn that they were the nicest people we’ve ever met). We maybe saw a bear or moose cross the road or a few out-of-pocket billboards along the way.

We quickly learn that a lot of unique stories can amass over the span of a road trip. Stories we’ll likely remember for the rest of our lives.

Read More Here

Lilac semi truck with aluminum trailer is moving along winding highway through the Grand pass in California against the background of orange sandstone mountain slopes and contrast green trees and small bushes and transporting commercial cargo to destination warehouse

Trucking Update

Trucker Pay Concerns Linger as the Freight Market Softens 

At the end of 2022, data showed, that the issue of trucker compensation, surpassed the issue of equipment-related concerns. 

National Driver Wage Index data – which tracks the momentum of driver wages across fleet types, trailer types, regions, and job descriptions – shows on average, drivers’ base pay climbed upwards of fifteen percent between the middle of 2020 and the end of 2022.  

But, as FleetOwner mentions, unpaid and unproductive days – due to the softening freight market – can often limit drivers’ ability to see those gains show up in their take-home pay. 

NTI data also shows that fleets are increasingly opting to offer guaranteed pay to their drivers.  

Tips for Truckers During Icy Road Conditions

Even though we’re in the midst of winter, in many places snow may be turning to rain and temperatures during the day may be above freezing. But as the nighttime comes, those weather conditions can turn the road conditions into a slip n slide.  

Here are some tips for truckers to be aware of when dealing with icy road conditions: 

    • Slow down and leave a bigger gap between you and other vehicles 
    • Watch out for black ice as it can impact stability and control 
    • Make sure to de-ice and de-fog windshields and mirrors before hitting the road 
    • Pre-trip inspections are key as snow and ice can build up on air hoses or on lights and reflectors 
    • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle with a blanket, warm winter clothing, food, and water 
    • Take a look at weather reports and road closures before you hit the road 

FMCSA Proposes Changes to its Safety Measurement System 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed significant and much anticipated changes to the system it uses to identifies motor carriers that pose the greatest safety risks.  

Proposed revisions to its Safety Measurement System include:  

    • Reorganizing and updating safety categories 
    • Consolidating violations 
    • Simplifying violation severity weights 
    • Improving intervention thresholds 
    • Updating the utilization factor 
    • Placing greater emphasis on more recent violations 
    • Using proportionate percentiles instead of safety event groups

Carriers can visit the new website, the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) Prioritization Preview, to preview how their data would appear under the proposed changes.  

Additionally, these changes to the SMS are detailed in the Federal Register and public comments on the proposal must be submitted by May 16th

Did You Know: Love’s Travel Stops Announced Expansion Plans, Creating Some Truck Parking

Within its plan to open 25 new travel stops this year, 1,500 new truck parking spaces will be created… equating to 60 new truck parking spots at each location.  

Cargo train travelling through desert.
Rail Update

APM Terminals in Mobile Announce Rail Expansion Plan 

APM Terminals at the Port of Mobile, Alabama plan to add 12,000 feet of tracks, plus more rail yard storage space and container capacity, which will help improve access to the Port.  

The goal of the project is to “provide faster rail loading and departure options for shippers and 3PLs in the Midwest and Southeast parts of the U.S. from the Port.”  

Within this project, the Alabama Port Authority will be constructing a roadway flyover bridge to permit unimpeded railway access to and from the facility, which will allow APM Terminals to provide on-dock rail service, per Freightwaves.

The project is estimated to take 24 months to complete. 

House Bill that Encourages Rail Car Scrapping Sees Support from Trade Groups 

The proposed legislation, known as the Freight RAILCAR Act of 2023, would amend the IRS Code of 1986 in order to provide a time-limited tax credit to encourage the replacement or modernization of inefficient and outdated freight rail cars.  

Industry trade groups for rail equipment and component manufacturers are showing their support as they believe this would incentivize the production of new rail cars or the modernization of existing ones.  

According to Rail Security Alliance (RSA) around 250,000 rail cars will need to be updated throughout the next 15 years.  

Update on Ohio Derailment

Back on February 3rd, thirty-eight rail cars derailed, with a fire causing damage to an additional 12 cars. Of the 20 total rail cars carrying hazardous materials, 11 rail cars derailed, per Freightwaves.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Transportation Safety Board continue to investigate the incident. Those agencies say that the air and water are safe after officials did a controlled release of vinyl chloride – to prevent an explosion – following the derailment. However, the potential and unknown long-term effects from the toxic chemicals remain a growing concern.  

Additionally, here is the latest press release from Norfolk Southern regarding this matter.  

Total U.S. Rail Traffic for the Week Ending February 11th, 2023

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 473,972 carloads and intermodal units – down 6.2 percent compared to the same time last year. 

As data from the Association of American Railroads shows, total carloads for the week were 233,292 – down 1.6 percent from the same time last year. While U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 240,590 containers and trailers – down 10.2 percent from the same time last year.  

Non-metallic minerals, petroleum and petroleum products, and farm products (excluding grain and food) all posted increases compared to the same time last year. Grain, chemicals, and forest products all posted decreases from the same time last year.  

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