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Dollars & Sense

Trends Have Less to do With Trucks Than Regulations: Drivers Speak

By Jason McGlone
Posted Dec 7th 2010 6:20AM

As with the world of new passenger vehicles, the world of commercial trucks is seemingly continuously on a path of advancement--specifically with respect to what’s included with the purchase of a new truck.  There’s always going to be some new feature, and it’s almost always going to be sold as though it’ll revolutionize everything you thought a vehicle was supposed to be.  This is, of course, very rarely the case, and when it is, it’s not often that these revolutions go fully noticed by everyone.  

The most recent trends with respect to expediting and trucking lie within the confines of the cab.  It should be noted, though, that the great majority of these trends don’t necessarily relate to a particular gadget or actual component of your truck, but rather in the requirements and legalities, and other trends related to how you’re driving your truck.  

It’s no secret that CSA 2010 and other DOT requirements related to trucking are around the corner, and there’s been off-and-on talk of EOBR’s for quite some time.  Many of these changes and “advancements” provide answers for the problems that have been identified to exist within the transportation industry, but it doesn’t appear that those making the changes (transportation lobbyists and industry groups included) have directly asked those who’ll be most in-touch with the changes: drivers themselves.  

Naturally, all this has drivers, owner/operators, and the like a bit on edge about the matter.  I posed a question about the coming trends in trucks, and their fervor for the matter is, at a minimum, enlightening.  

greg334 says,
“‘What do you think is coming next in trucks’ seems to be a good opener for this - more restrictions in the cab.”

jjoerger adds,
“I have to agree with Greg. EOBR's are our new big brother.  The only thing I have seen in the new trucks is higher price, less performance and the need to buy BlueDEF to keep the emission levels where the government requires them to be.

I think the sales of rolling chassis will increase. Buy a new truck with no motor and put your old one in it. Or get a motor from the junkyard or buy a rebuilt motor. At least until they work out the bugs on the new ones.”

Dakota builds upon jjoerger’s thought on rolling chassis (which are commonly known as glider kits): “This is kinda what is happening already, the truck I just got is a 2011 but has a 2009 engine in it. This allowed my truck to be cheaper and not have to meet the new 2011 standards.  I guess the laws allow this.”

ATeam eloquently notes
, “When it comes to new trucks, the new trend is higher prices with no benefits added unless you count the government-mandated emissions add-ons as a benefit. Fuel economy improvements are claimed by the manufacturers but I don't know if they are enough to offset the higher costs.

“There is no new expediter truck trend to talk about that I know of because few if any brand new expediter trucks are being sold. If there is a trend at all, it is that people are hanging onto their trucks longer. Dealers are reluctant to build new-truck inventories. Aftermarket sleeper companies are going bankrupt or dormant because of a lack of sales.

“New truck sales for 2010 are up significantly from 2009 levels but 2009 was a very slow year. Truckload carriers are making money this year and spending some of it on trucks, not to expand their fleets but to replace aging equipment. These buyers run stock equipment so the only new trends you might see there would be those you see coming out of the factory.

“There have been ongoing trends to use technology to boost fuel economy and to monitor and control driver behavior. Those are ongoing trends, not new.”

These are all, rather obviously, real concerns from real drivers.  What we’re not seeing--or at least what I’m not seeing--is any kind of real answer from the government or those responsible for feedback and input on these legislative movements to the concerns of drivers/owner/operators/etc.  To be sure, it’s not often that you hear legislators respond to the concerns of those being legislated, but in a particular case like this, where you have people making points in a reasonable way, it’d sure be nice.  

That said, I don’t really have any way of knowing whether these issues and thoughts were legitimately brought up during the process of the creation of, say, CSA 2010, but you’d have to think that someone has said something to the right people somewhere along the line, right?  Hopefully that’s the case, and hopefully things don’t turn out to be as bad as some folks expect.  Of course, things almost never turn out to be quite that bad, but that doesn’t mean we’ll all necessarily like what’s coming down the pike. 

8 Comments

  • - December 8, 2010
    louixo-=|=-I think people that post on these kind of topics are wasting their time, and just like to see their name in print with with their opinion added. I've been in and around trucking for a long time, and have yet to see the powers that be listen to anything the folks on the road say about any issue. What they do listen to is the money. The high profile, small membership groups that have the funds, and organizational ability to put their lobbying hounds on the media and political machine to get some issue legislated the way they want it legislated. We as a society are knee deep in big brother, lawyers, self serving politicians and endless "study the problem" committees. Those of us in the trucking industry that are down on the tarmac day in and day out, end up doing what the money wants, because it sounds good on paper. Certainly we do have technological advances in many areas inside the cab, and inside the office all the time. What we need is some genuine innovation, that takes the input of the person behind the wheel, to see what works and doesn't work, and then get rid of the latter, along with the committees and watchdogs that want to drag the positive changes through the poitical mud, instead of solving the problems in a timely fashion. Look at HOS...again!! They could have easily got it right the first time, if they let the truckers themselves design the program instead of listening to college professors, and so called experts who have never spent a minute behind the wheel. Now here we go again with HOS and CSA thrown in.
  • - December 8, 2010
    louixo-=|=-I think people that post on these kind of topics are wasting their time, and just like to see their name in print with with their opinion added. I've been in and around trucking for a long time, and have yet to see the powers that be listen to anything the folks on the road say about any issue. What they do listen to is the money. The high profile, small membership groups that have the funds, and organizational ability to put their lobbying hounds on the media and political machine to get some issue legislated the way they want it legislated. We as a society are knee deep in big brother, lawyers, self serving politicians and endless "study the problem" committees. Those of us in the trucking industry that are down on the tarmac day in and day out, end up doing what the money wants, because it sounds good on paper. Certainly we do have technological advances in many areas inside the cab, and inside the office all the time. What we need is some genuine innovation, that takes the input of the person behind the wheel, to see what works and doesn't work, and then get rid of the latter, along with the committees and watchdogs that want to drag the positive changes through the poitical mud, instead of solving the problems in a timely fashion. Look at HOS...again!! They could have easily got it right the first time, if they let the truckers themselves design the program instead of listening to college professors, and so called experts who have never spent a minute behind the wheel. Now here we go again with HOS and CSA thrown in.
  • - December 9, 2010
    Radu John-=|=-The EOBR is not as bad as considered.
    I will let you guys on a little bit of information regarding hacks of the digital [[tachograph]] in Europe.
    That thing can be hacked by placing a round magnet over the connection to the transmission case.

    And just tie up a piece of rope over it , and half an hour after you started driving just have to pull in a rest area and place the magnet in place , and when stopped by police , driver just pulls the magnet off the connection and it show that it started rolling only 1/2 hour ago after required rest time.

    Good luck with it guys.
  • - December 9, 2010
    Radu John-=|=-The EOBR is not as bad as considered.
    I will let you guys on a little bit of information regarding hacks of the digital [[tachograph]] in Europe.
    That thing can be hacked by placing a round magnet over the connection to the transmission case.

    And just tie up a piece of rope over it , and half an hour after you started driving just have to pull in a rest area and place the magnet in place , and when stopped by police , driver just pulls the magnet off the connection and it show that it started rolling only 1/2 hour ago after required rest time.

    Good luck with it guys.
  • - February 5, 2011
    Peter Black-=|=-It feels like we are being shot at from all directions. What is especially infuriating is the fact that the companies that employee us and the companies that insure us are getting corrupt politicians to pass laws that are against us and favor them. It seems the good old USA is circling the drain. When the Mexican trucking program gets established, that will be the final nail in the independent O/Os coffin. The only thing left of us will be a few stuffed heads hanging on some executive's walls.
  • - February 5, 2011
    Peter Black-=|=-It feels like we are being shot at from all directions. What is especially infuriating is the fact that the companies that employee us and the companies that insure us are getting corrupt politicians to pass laws that are against us and favor them. It seems the good old USA is circling the drain. When the Mexican trucking program gets established, that will be the final nail in the independent O/Os coffin. The only thing left of us will be a few stuffed heads hanging on some executive's walls.
  • - February 18, 2011
    Jim Harder (YesTruck)-=|=- Greater truck safety is not the goal of the beaurocrats, politicans, or the money that buys them. They want cheap, fast freight, and, they want to make a profit off the people (the drivers and owners) that supply it. Solos are being forced to team up and owner-operators are being forced to buy more expensive equipment, products and services. Any safety derived will be a accidental byproduct. Soon there will be two drivers in every road truck and a cheap alternative supplied by the Mexican Truck Program.
    Fifty years ago only one income was required for a family to be "middle class". One person could actually live on the minimum wage. The same type of people that are managing the trucking industry created the current family unit where two people must work to make ends meet and the kids are raised by strangers.
    Why not just use common sense? For drivers: Two driving violations in 12 months and you lose your license. Three equipment or overloading violations in 12 months and you loose your license. Similer rules would apply to carriers. Ten people and a big computer could run the whole program. Then we could get rid of all the silly, impotent, incompetent fools that make up the idiotic trucking beaurocracy.
  • - February 18, 2011
    Jim Harder (YesTruck)-=|=- Greater truck safety is not the goal of the beaurocrats, politicans, or the money that buys them. They want cheap, fast freight, and, they want to make a profit off the people (the drivers and owners) that supply it. Solos are being forced to team up and owner-operators are being forced to buy more expensive equipment, products and services. Any safety derived will be a accidental byproduct. Soon there will be two drivers in every road truck and a cheap alternative supplied by the Mexican Truck Program.
    Fifty years ago only one income was required for a family to be "middle class". One person could actually live on the minimum wage. The same type of people that are managing the trucking industry created the current family unit where two people must work to make ends meet and the kids are raised by strangers.
    Why not just use common sense? For drivers: Two driving violations in 12 months and you lose your license. Three equipment or overloading violations in 12 months and you loose your license. Similer rules would apply to carriers. Ten people and a big computer could run the whole program. Then we could get rid of all the silly, impotent, incompetent fools that make up the idiotic trucking beaurocracy.

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