April 2013

FUEL TO STABILIZE? The bad news is that diesel hit record high prices in the month of February; the good news is that crude futures have fallen slightly which may indicate some stabilization in markets which have been volatile as of late. According to Bloomberg News, crude has slipped in price and is now the lowest it has been since January, and while this may not translate into lower prices at the pump, it does indicate some steadiness in the market.

INTERMODAL FREIGHT HITS RECORD HIGH IN 2012. Intermodal freight in North America set an all-time record of 14.6 million shipments in 2012, powered by continued growth in domestic container shipments during the fourth quarter, the Intermodal Association of North America announced. The results topped the previous record of 14.2 million set in 2006. For the year, IANA reported international container shipments rose 1.7% to 7.58 million, and domestic intermodal shipments rose 6.5% to 7.05 million. The domestic intermodal total reflected a 12% rise in shipments moved in containers but a 10% drop in trailer shipments as customers continued to shift freight from that equipment to containers.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE: GOOD NEWS FOR TRUCKERS. Americans’ confidence in the economy rebounded in February, reversing three straight months of declines as shoppers began adjusting to a payroll tax hike last month. The New York-based Conference Board says Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index stands at 69.6, up from a revised 58.4 in January. Economists had expected 60.5, according to research firm FactSet. It was the highest reading since November’s 71.5. Confidence has fallen since then as shoppers were worried about growing economic uncertainty. If this trend continues, it may translate into an increase in tonnage for the spring and into the summer.

FRAUD ALERT! The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has posted an advisory of their website warning of several recent incidents of individuals impersonating law enforcement / motor carrier officials. According to the FMCSA, phony DOT driver’s licenses are also in circulation which are a ruse for those fraudulently presenting themselves as DOT certified operators. More at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/.

UPDATE ON DRUG USE. According to the DOT, there have been a number of inquiries about whether state initiatives allowing for the use of “recreational marijuana” will have an impact upon the Department of Transportation’s longstanding regulation about the use of the drug by safety sensitive transportation employees – including truck drivers. The DOT is stressing that it wants to be “perfectly clear” that state initiatives will have no bearing on the Department of Transportation’s regulated drug testing program. Marijuana remains a drug listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and is therefore unacceptable for any safety-sensitive employee subject to drug testing under the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations.

DROP THE SAUSAGE: Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, and on the road, it is also the easiest meal to order with healthy options. Instead of that big old plate of bacon and home fries, choose an omelet filled with vegetables and order a side of whole-wheat toast instead of a stack of pancakes and syrup. A bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit is filling and good for you; much better than heart clogging sausage gravy. Just remember, grease is for your axles, not for your arteries.

I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.

-Lily Tomlin