The annualized turnover rate at large truckload fleets rose two percentage points to 99 percent in the second quarter of 2013, according to American Trucking Associations (ATA) statistics released on October 7. “Continued high turnover shows that the market for qualified, experienced drivers remains extremely tight,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The continued improvement in the freight economy, coupled with regulatory challenges from the changing hours-of-service rule and CSA will only serve to put a further squeeze on the market for drivers.”
A Senate-passed bill that has been sent to President Obama for signing would block the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from implementing or enforcing any regulations on sleep disorders of commercial truck drivers that are not adopted in a rulemaking process. The measure, H.R. 3095, was cleared by unanimous consent on Oct. 7 after the House passed it by a 405-0 vote Sept. 26. Read more here.
On Sept. 11, the Kentucky-Indiana Tolling Body set tolls for the $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project that links Louisville, Ky., and southern Indiana. The tolls will apply to two new bridge spans currently under construction as well as the existing span of a bridge that carries Interstate 65 in and out of downtown Louisville. Tolls will range for $10 to $12 for tractor-trailers, depending on whether the trucker or carrier has an electronic tolling account. Cars will pay $1 or $2 per trip.
The national average price for diesel fuel dropped 2.2 cents to $3.897 per gallon last week, the fourth straight decline, according to the Department of Energy report on October 7. That was the lowest level since January. Compared to the same week a year ago, prices were down 19.7 cents per gallon. The most recent regional average diesel prices were:
- East Coast: $3.908
- Midwest: $3.876
- Gulf Coast: $3.805
- Rocky Mountain: $3.915
- West Coast: $4.150
Inadequate enforcement deprives New Mexico of as much as $56 million in tax revenue, according to a report released Sept. 26 by the state’s Legislative Finance Committee. The report called for the hiring of more Motor Transport Division (MTD) personnel and more tax department auditors to ensure truckers pay the weight-distance tax that helps finance highway construction and maintenance.
A proposal issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on Sept. 26 is intended to reaffirm a 2011 final rule that defined tank vehicles as both permanent tankers and trucks hauling liquids and gaseous materials in bulk tanks that are “strapped, chained, or otherwise secured to a vehicle.” Drivers who haul bulk containers totaling at least 1,000 gallons of liquid must obtain tank endorsements, according to the ruling.
Over 27 percent of the United States’ major urban roads—Interstates, freeways and other arterial routes—have pavements that are in substandard condition and provide an unacceptably rough ride to motorists, costing the average urban driver $377 annually ($80 billion nationwide), according to a report released on Oct. 3 by TRIP, a national transportation research group. In some areas, driving on deteriorated roadways costs the average driver more than $800 each year.
The economic outlook is improving for Mid-Atlantic states in 2014, according to the September 20 issue of The Kiplinger Letter. Highlights include:
Construction employment expanded in 194 metro areas, declined in 88 and was stagnant in 57 between August 2012 and August 2013, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released on Sept. 26 by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Despite the widespread gains, AGC officials noted that construction employment reached peak levels for August in only 19 of 339 metro areas.
The maximum health care tax credit for small businesses will increase from 35 percent to 50 percent of an employer’s cost of health insurance premiums. To qualify for the full credit, a business must have fewer than 11 workers and average wages of $25,000 or under. The credit phases out at higher levels, ending for companies with more than 25 employees or average pay that tops $50,000 per year. Firms must pay at least half of premium costs to claim the tax credit.