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Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips Email Newsletter, Issue #017, 2010-12-17
February 11, 2011

Issue #19  |  February 11, 2011

Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips

Email Newsletter

We provide real world tips that help professional truck drivers save hard-earned money and personal reporting about products and services for use on the road.

We've developed our unique website as a place to share the tips we have learned through the years -- and where other professional drivers can do the same. In other words...

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Bloglets

Subscribe to our Truckers' Savings Blog to receive these bloglets -- with the links -- as they are sent. If you have news about how professional truck drivers can save money (directly or indirectly) please submit it for publication on our Truckers Savings News page.



Southern leg of Florida's Turnpike goes cashless

Toll collection on the 47-mile Homestead Extension of Florida's Turnpike is going cashless this month, meaning users can either pay using SunPass or have a bill mailed to them through the toll-by-plate photo system. ... "If you happen to get on the Turnpike, and you do not have a SunPass account, we have an alternative method that's called toll-by-plate. When you go under the gantries, a picture of the license plate, front and back, is taken and an invoice is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle." Invoices are mailed out on a 30-day cycle and there is an administrative fee of $2.50 that accompanies each invoice. ...


Trailer aero-maker adds distributors

SmartTruck, a manufacturer of trailer aerodynamic devices, has added two distributors, Trudell Trailers and Midlands Carrier Transicold, for its UT-6 Trailer UnderTray System. The UT-6 system has shown up to a 10 gain in fuel efficiency in standardized SAE tests, according to the company, and it is included in the EPA SmartWay program's verified aerodynamic technologies list. ...


Nite no-idle system adds Webasto heater option

The Nite no-idle system from Bergstrom is now available with the Air Top 2000 ST auxiliary heater from Webasto Product North America. The combined product will be available by the end of the first quarter. ... Webasto's Air Top 2000 ST produces 7,000 Btu and can operate for 20 hours on a single gallon of fuel., according to the company. The unit weighs 5.7 lbs and is CARB-approved. ...


Vermont bill would impose idling restriction

A proposed rule to crack down on the unnecessary idling of trucks is up for consideration at the Vermont statehouse. OOIDA leadership encourages truckers in the state to be involved in the legislative process. ... Violators would get off with a warning. Repeat offenses within one year could result in up to $150 fines while subsequent offenses within one year could result in up to $500 fines. The Department of Motor Vehicles would be authorized to adopt rules authorizing longer idling times when "circumstances exist when such idling is reasonably necessary." Examples of circumstances that would warrant additional idling are to operate defrosting, heating, or cooling equipment "to ensure the health or safety of the operator or passengers." ...


Drivers can provide feedback on HOS rule free of charge

Pegasus TransTech is providing truck drivers a free method to offer feedback to the Dept. of Transportation on its proposed hours-of-service (HOS) regulation changes. Customers of the company's Transflo Express truckstop scanning service can use that service to send their letters free of charge. Letters are available at every Pilot, Flying J, and Love's truckstop location. ...


Making trailer aerodynamics pay off

..."MVT's experience, based on 8-million miles of use, confirms that trailers without tails waste 5 to 6 of every gallon of diesel consumed at highway speeds," said Andrew Smith, CEO of ATDynamics. "Extrapolated to trucking as a whole, MVT's experience indicates the industry could save $2 billion annually in fuel costs." ... "Of course, it comes down to getting our drivers to drive the truck right to achieve these fuel savings," Ray pointed out. "However, through many changes we've made to our trucks and trailers, added to efforts by our drivers to operate our tractor-trailers in the most fuel efficient way, we have trucks in our fleet that are now getting 11 mpg." ...


Mesilla reports saving 60,000 gallons of fuel using TrailerTail technology

...To date, [Mesilla Valley Transportation executive vice president Jimmy] Ray says 650 trailers in the Mesilla Valley fleet have been outfitted with TrailerTail rear-drag panels and have driven over 8 million highway miles since last summer. "According to our studies, the addition of TrailerTail panels to a trailer works out to a fuel economy gain of 4/10s of a gallon of fuel per mile. That figure rises to 8/10s of a gallon per mile when you combine a trailer tail with side skirts." ...


Trucker wins fatigue inspection case

A federal judge has ruled Minnesota State Patrol conduct during a 2008 fatigue inspection violated a trucker's rights against unreasonable search and seizure. In May 2008, officers pulled over Stephen K. House, owner of Eagle Trucking Enterprises, for a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Level III inspection during a FIST patrol event. FIST is an acronym for fatigue impairment, seatbelt violations, and other traffic violations, which is checked mostly through these inspections at weigh stations. ... Law enforcement placed House, a trucker of 32 years with at least 3 million accident-free miles, out-of-service for 10 hours. ... ...


It all comes back to the driver

"Of course, it comes down to getting our drivers to drive the truck right to achieve ... fuel savings." -Mesilla Valley Transportation executive vice president Jimmy Ray It's a maxim that I've heard over and over in recent weeks when the subject turned to the topic of improving the fuel economy of trucks: without a good driver behind the wheel, operating the vehicle in the most fuel-efficient manner, all sorts of technological advances can be for naught in the end. Jimmy Ray, executive vp with Mesilla Valley Transportation, pointed this out yesterday during a press event held at the 2011 Technology & Maintenance Council's annual meeting (held this year in Tampa, FL). In fact, his company goes so far as to award a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle EVERY QUARTER to the drivers that achieve the best fuel economy. Don't think that achieves results? Well, Ray told me that the drivers who end up winning this quarterly contest are getting OVER 10 miles per gallon with their rigs - with some exceeding 11 mpg. And the money the fleet save from the fuel-sipping habits of its drivers more than pay for a few Harley's every year. ...


Greenville-based SmartTruck honored by magazine

Greenville-based SmartTruck, a supplier of aerodynamic products to the trucking industry, was honored Tuesday by Heavy Duty Trucking magazine for producing one of its Top 20 Products of 2010. ... The SmartTruck Trailer UnderTray System, introduced in October 2010, provides a fuel efficiency gain of at least 7 percent for the base model, with the full trailer system delivering more than 10 percent gains in fuel efficiency, according to Society of Automotive Engineers test results. ...


Price increase of 12 for Bridgestone, Firestone truck tires

Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions has announced a 12 price increase for its Bridgestone and Firestone brand truck and bus radial tires, effective immediately. ...


Pennsylvania bill would toughen snow-free vehicle rule

As a large portion of the nation is being engulfed by a significant snow event, a Pennsylvania state lawmaker is pursuing legislation that is intended to encourage car and truck drivers to clear snow and ice off their vehicles. Pennsylvania law allows police to ticket violators between $200 and $1,000 if the wintry precipitation causes serious injury or death. ...


Got any Horror Stories About New Jersey's Snow and Ice Removal Law?

The New Jersey Motor Truck Association reports it has been fielding one horror story after another of the lengths to which some in law enforcement are enforcing the state's new snow and ice law, and is asking for further documentation to present to government officials. ... One truck driver that had picked up a trailer that had about 3 inches of snow accumulated on the roof was stopped by the officer and issued a ticket. As the driver attempted to leave, the officer told him to remove the snow from the roof of the trailer. The driver contacted his office and was told he could go two blocks to the company that leased their vehicles and they would remove the snow from the trailer. But the officer advised the driver that if he didn't remove the snow and ice from his roof immediately, he would be arrested. The driver advised his company, and they called a customer in the area that dropped off a ladder and shovel for the driver. The officer proceeded to watch as the driver struggled to the roof and remove the snow. According to NJMTA, the law does not require the truck driver to remove the snow and ice from the roof. The law also says that if you are going to a snow removal facility, you should not be ticketed. The law also places the burden on the person controlling the equipment during the storm. In this case, the customer had the responsibility to remove the snow, not the truck driver. ...


$1,500 rebate for OOIDA members on sleeper purchase

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA) members purchasing a new Kenworth truck with sleeper will be eligible for a $1,500 rebate. ...


Curtain falls on new scale house inspection technology, opens on EOBRs

...the pilot program the scale house is conducting to test new wireless roadside inspection (WRI) technology... The upshot is not all bad, of course, assuming those added inspections are mostly of the clean variety. With WRI, geofencing is utilized to create areas in which a hauler's on-board device is automatically pinged upon entering, registering an inspection of the driver's hours, license and registration credentials immediately. The geofenced areas could be a weigh station, for sure, but also a company terminal or other location, where "virtual inspections" with no violations could then impact a carrier's CSA measurement system percentile rankings in a positive way. ...


Truckers say EOBR Technology WILL NOT make Highways Safer

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which represents small business truckers and professional truckers. Today, have responded to the announcement today by the U.S. Department of Transportation proposing a rule to mandate electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) for interstate commercial motor carriers. "EOBRs are nothing more than over-priced record keepers," said Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of OOIDA. "This proposal is actually another example of the administration's determination to wipe out small businesses by continuing to crank out overly burdensome regulations that simply run up costs." ...


Pilot rolls out new rewards card to protect transaction history

A spokesman for Pilot Corp. says the company's rewards card program now requires user names and passwords for the information to be accessed. While this would have been helpful in a recent well-publicized case involving a Pilot card being used to verify a truck driver's log, every little bit helps. ... OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Joe Rajkovacz says two important factors come into play in [company driver Jody] Scott's case. "The first part of this is about supporting documents," Rajkovacz said. "Drivers do have an obligation when asked for supporting documents that if they have them on them, they should present them to law enforcement because they are an agent of the motor carrier. But if a driver does not have them, it's not a violation because the obligation is specific to a motor carrier and not a driver. The reason is, a driver's got to turn in paperwork to get paid." The second part, he said, is about driver privacy and the techniques used by law enforcement to obtain information. "What is permissible?" Rajkovacz asks. "Roadside enforcement certainly has the right under the guise of safety to get in and check for certain items; exhaust leaks is one of them. That does not permit them to go on a wild goose chase and tear apart the interior of a truck unless a driver gives them permission." ...


JUDGE RULES: Minnesota fatigue program violated Fourth Amendment

In what the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association legal team calls a "major victory," U.S. District Judge Donovan W. Frank ruled the Minnesota State Patrol's use of CVSA Level III inspections to determine fatigue violated truckers' Fourth Amendment rights. OOIDA and its member plaintiff Stephen K. House filed the lawsuit against the Minnesota State Patrol and individual officers on May 13, 2009, on behalf of truck drivers placed out of service after members of the patrol consulted a checklist and arrived at the conclusion the drivers were "fatigued." ...


Virginia bills address left lane use, snow on trucks

A Virginia House bill would limit trucks to the right on certain stretches of interstate. Another bill would mandate that snow and ice be removed from atop vehicles. ... The subcommittee this week handed down a decision on another noteworthy bill. Lawmakers opted to essentially kill an effort that sought to enable officers to pull over drivers whose vehicles were not cleared of snow or ice. Sponsored by Delegate Jeion Ward, D-Hampton, HB2399 called for violators to face as much as $1,500 fines. Cox called it a "bad bill" that is impractical for commercial vehicles. Taylor agreed with that assessment. He questioned how rules like this could be enforced. "There is too much interpretation in efforts like this. Is an officer going to get up on the truck and try to eye ball how much snow or ice is up there? That isn't right," he said. ...


Fuel-card usage reports added to GPS tracking

A new integration of GPS vehicle tracking and fuel card reporting is now being offered by FleetMatics. The company said its FleetMatics Fuel Card Reports software combines the FleetMatics' vehicle-tracking applications with fuel-card reporting to help users reduce fuel usage, track mpg, identify fuel card non-compliance, and correct fuel-wasting driving behaviors. It will also monitor a fleet's carbon footprint. "This new software enhancement further demonstrates our commitment to offering clients breakthrough technological solutions that translate into direct cost savings for our customers," said Jim Travers, FleetMatics CEO. ...


Truckers hope to influence West Virginia toll proposal

It came together on short notice and was only a handful of trucks, but Monday's convoy in opposition to a proposed tolled U.S. highway in West Virginia had the same impact as if it were 100, trucker Scott Cadle said. Cadle, a life member of OOIDA, helped lead truckers and area residents first to a meeting of the West Virginia Parkways Authority to speak their opposition to a tolled U.S. 35, and then to the state capital to meet with lawmakers. "We expressed our opinion that we didn't want the toll road," Cadle told Land Line Now. For starters, Cadle says, the toll rate is excessive at $1.21 per mile for five-axle vehicles. "They're charging you for about 14 miles of new road, and $17 to go across is completely ridiculous...." ...


Yokohama to release "super-single" and new steer tires in 2011

Yokohama Tire Corp., the North American arm of Tokyo-based Yokohama Rubber Co., expects to release new wide-base single tires and a new steer tire in 2011. ... [Dan King, senior vp of sales & marketing for Yokohama said] "... Some fleets truly believe it will save them overall costs because it reduces the weight on the vehicle and has tremendous fuel efficiency. Other fleets do not like the risk of having one tire go out causing more downtime. Others do not want the expense of the conversion and don't believe it's a payback. We're definitely watching it closely." ...


Court OKs Swift chargeback fees

Swift Transportation is not required to disclose the precise amount of its chargebacks to owner-operators that represent markups or administrative fees as opposed to actual costs, a federal appeals court confirmed Jan. 20. ... Swift changed its lease agreements in 2008 to disclose that chargebacks would include.... Afterward, Swift's settlement statements then listed those items but did not disclose.... ...


Reduced toll rate may not be enough in Austin

Officials in Texas are toying with the idea of reducing tolls on the State Highway 130 toll road east of downtown Austin as an incentive to get more trucks to use it. But would a 25 percent reduction be enough to entice truckers to use the roadway? One OOIDA life member says no. A five-axle truck currently pays $29.32, or $25.60 with a TxTag, to run the full length of the SH130 as a bypass of I-35 in downtown Austin. ...


Lubricant may help fuel economy

Gordon Murray Design and Shell research teams have partnered to develop a lubricant to help increase fuel economy, potentially by more than 6 percent across multiple vehicle ranges.... The ultra low viscosity 0W-10 motor oil...increased 6.5 percent in fuel efficiency. ...


Feds follow through with final increase to meal tax deduction limit

OTTAWA, Ont. -- The federal government has followed through with its promise to ramp up the tax-deductible portion of meal expenses for long-haul truckers to 80. The new meal tax deduction allowance took effect Jan. 1. The limit has been gradually increased each year since 2007 and brings the total in line with that enjoyed by American truckers. ... To qualify for the tax deduction, drivers must be away for at least 24 consecutive hours and transporting goods beyond 160 km from home. The vehicle must have a GVW of greater than 11,788 kgs. ...


Solar-powered 'smart' roads could zap snow, ice

...America's harsh winters cost the nation's economy billions of dollars each year in snow removal equipment, weather damage to streets and vehicles, extra days of school and revenue lost to closed businesses. Scott Brusaw, a 53-year-old electrical engineer in tiny Sagle, Idaho, thinks he has a solution. So far, he's generated interest from the federal government and General Electric in his idea for a solar-powered roadway made from super-strong glass, instead of conventional asphalt or concrete. ... Building and maintaining "better, faster and smarter" roads to improve safety, increase taxpayer value and to remain competitive in the global economy are some of the reasons behind the Federal Highway Administration's commitment to innovation, said agency Administrator Victor Mendez. The FHWA gave Brusaw a $100,000 contract and the agency is supporting other smart road research across the nation. Virginia Tech is looking at using machines called piezoelectric generators to convert the weight of truck traffic on pavements into energy that powers nearby lighting signals. ...


Jersey Senate panel votes to oppose toll increases

A New Jersey Senate panel has advanced a bill to roll back future toll increases. Tolls were intended to be a revenue source for a now-defunct tunnel plan. The Senate Transportation Committee voted 3-2 on Thursday, Jan. 20, to approve a bill that would cancel toll hikes on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway slated to begin next year. ... Truckers and other drivers have been paying more since 2008 to access the roadways. Tolls for heavy commercial vehicles to travel the full length of the turnpike were increased from $26.55 to $37.15 to help pay for the Access to the Region's Core tunnel project. ...


Filter doubles oil-change intervals

Fleets can double mileage between oil changes by replacing current spin-on heavy-duty oil filters with a direct replacement from Wix Filters that features an all-new proprietary media. The WIX ecoLAST oil filter does not "dope, modify or use slow-release chemicals," according to the company, but rather sequesters acids created in engine oil by the combustion process to extend the life additives in the oil. The filter works with conventional and synthetic oils in engines using biodiesel, LNG and gasoline, as well as standard diesel fuels. ...


States ban oversized loads from thruways

Trucks weighing more than 80,000 pounds will not be able to drive on interstates in Vermont and Maine. A one-year pilot program that permitted heavier-than-normal trucks on the interstates expired on Dec.17; as a result large trucks are forced to drive through small towns and on secondary highways to get to their destinations. ...


U.S. Xpress orders 1,000 SmartWay certified trucks

U.S. Xpress, based in Chattanooga, Tenn., has ordered 1,000 new Peterbilt 587s, the truck maker announced. Peterbilt's new Model 587s have been certified as fuel-efficient by the Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay program. The 587 has an aerodynamic design made for long-haul operations, ...


FreightWatch: Cargo theft rose in 2010

FreightWatch International reported cargo theft industrywide rose by 4.1 percent in 2010 to an average of 75 cargo theft incidents per month, the most ever recorded. ... "To address these cargo theft issues, we have seen companies utilize additional layers of security to mitigate risk," said Barry Conlon, chief executive officer of FreightWatch. "The increase in protection combined with a decrease in total shipping during 2010, primarily due to decreased global demand, has forced cargo theft gangs to become more aggressive and increase active targeting of unprotected loads." ...


National diesel price surges 7.4 cents

In one of the sharpest increases in recent months, the national average retail price of diesel increased for a seventh straight week, soaring 7.4 cents to $3.407 during the week ended Jan. 17, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration. ...


New Bendix spring brake boasts high strength and light weight

Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC (BSFB) has released a new spring brake that is calls weight-optimized and corrosion-resistant for "best-in-class durability and performance." ... "In engineering the EverSure spring brake, we created a high-performing spring brake that is significantly lighter and, at the same time, more robust than others on the market," said Mark Kromer, chief engineer - actuation/slack adjuster products, for BSFB. "The new spring brake, like all Bendix products, meets the strictest standards for performance and durability." ... In addition, the brake's lighter weight leads to the "best vibration resistance in the industry. Lower vibration levels help prolong the life of the spring brake and supporting components," said Bendix. ...


Fast flow oil

Elixion engine oil is a low-viscosity SAE 5W-30 oil that helps protect against cold temperatures and works toward meeting 2014 efficiency and emissions standards, the company says. The oil meets CJ-4 specifications and, the company says, offers a fuel economy improvement of up to 4 percent. ...


Verifying a fuel efficiency breakthrough

"We expect the efficiencies to continue to climb as modifications are made and new simulations are conducted." -Sal Scuderi, president of Scuderi Group, after fuel efficiency gains of 25 to 36 were identified via computer models developed by the Southwest Research Institute for his company's new engine designs I've written about the Scuderi Group's revolutionary engine designs in this space before; designs that the company claims produces up to 80 fewer toxins than a typical internal combustion engine while posting big gains in fuel efficiency - all done without expensive aftertreatment systems. ...


New Jersey lawmakers want tolls rolled back

A battle is brewing at the New Jersey statehouse between the governor's office and some leading lawmakers. The tussle is over what should be done about increased tolls that were billed as a revenue source for a now-defunct bridge plan. Truckers and other drivers have been paying more since 2008 to access the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. Tolls for heavy commercial vehicles to travel the full length of the turnpike were increased from $26.55 to $37.15 to help pay for a commuter rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Another increase is slated for 2012. ...


Shell Initiates Market Tests of Nitrogen Enriched Diesel

Shell Oil Products U.S. is launching a market test of Shell Nitrogen Enriched Diesel, extending the company's exclusive "Nitrogen Enriched" advanced cleaning system to diesel fuel. The fuel has been proven to reduce fuel consumption in an extensive test of heavy-duty vehicles, Shell claims. It will be available on a trial basis starting January 31, 2011. ...


Toll evasion = life sentence for Chinese ag hauler

After public outcry over the severity of the life prison sentence handed down to a hauler of agricultural commodities for evading road tolls in China, the Chinese government is reportedly revisiting the sentence and has put court officials who handed it down under investigation themselves, according to this AP report on the subject. The hauler, Shi Jianfeng, had apparently gotten around $560,000 U.S. worth in tolls by running two trucks with fake military license plates. Military trucks are exempt from tolls in China, AP says. ...


Freight groups join forces to fight fuel price rises

[LogisticsManager.com] The Freight Transport Association and the Road Haulage Association, are joining forces to campaign for fairer fuel prices. The bodies have joined the FairFuelUK Campaign which aims to have the fuel duty rise planned for April scrapped and for the Government to intervene and stabilise fuel prices. ...

 

Reader Submitted Content

dc/ac power inverter

instantly goes to power failure?.....help...... ----- Response from Vicki: Hello, Thank you for your question. While we are not experts on DC/AC power

adjusting fifth wheel

how many lbs. on average is transferred by moving the fifth wheel one notch ----- Response from Vicki: While we appreciate receiving your question, our

 

Reviews

Pre Paid Legal Services CDLP: Reviews from Professional Truck Drivers

Among the commercial drivers legal plans offered today is one from Pre Paid Legal Services. How do professional truck drivers review it?

Truckers Voice in Court: Reviews from Professional Truck Drivers; TVC Pro Driver

Walk into some truckstops and you'll see displays advertising Truckers Voice in Court or TVC Pro Driver. How do professional truck drivers review it?

Drivers Legal Plan: Reviews from Professional Truck Drivers

When professional truck drivers need legal advice, they may turn to Drivers Legal Plan. For those who have used the service, how do they like it?

Healthy Trucking Association of America: Reviews from Professional Truck Drivers

Professional truck drivers are invited to be members of the Healthy Trucking Association of America. How do driver members like it?

 

Articles

Grooming Tools and Personal Hygiene Items that Professional Truck Drivers Use

Maintaining a professional appearance can help truck drivers in multiple ways. We list the grooming tools and personal hygiene items we use to help accomplish that...

Fuel Pump Tip to Help You Prevent a Diesel Spill

Every drop of diesel you deliver to your truck via fuel pump is valuable. Prevent a diesel spill by using this tip...

Local Truck Driving Job: How to Find One For Free

Some drivers prefer long haul trucking, others prefer staying closer to home. You can find and land a local truck driving job for free. We show you how.

Side Skirts for Tractor Trailers: Fairing Duo Helps Increase Fuel Efficiency

Do tractor trailer side skirts help large trucks save fuel? If so, how much? Where can you get them? Learn more here...

Truck Snow Chains: Preparation for Winter Driving

When preparing to drive a commercial motor vehicle in the winter in some locations, you need to know the basics about truck snow chains....

Frugal Valentines Day Ideas for Long Haul Truckers and Their Families

Long haul trucking can be hard on relationships, but we share some frugal ideas you can use on Valentines Day and beyond to keep the family love flowing.

Cell Phone Use While Driving a Semi Tractor Trailer

It can be very dangerous to drive while doing any other activity. But what about cell phone use while driving a large commercial motor vehicle?

Addressing Snow Removal from Semi Tractor Trailers

Beware of the requirement for snow removal from your semi tractor trailer if you drive in some states in the winter. We address some points.

The Espar Bunk Heater for Semi Tractor Trailers: A Review

We used an Espar bunk heater in a semi tractor trailer to keep warm during the winter. Here's our review of how it worked for us...

Your Priorities in Budgeting: "The Big Rocks Must Go in First"

Everyone has a list of priorities in life, ranging from the most important to the least important things in life. The big rocks must go in first.

In a Medical Emergency, Having Up-to-Date Health and Contact Info Is Vital

If you were involved in a medical emergency, would a first responder find your up-to-date health and contact info on you? Here's how to have it.

 

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