March 2013

NEW FUEL TAXES ON THE HORIZON? As cars have become more fuel efficient, state gasoline tax revenue has been on the decline and states have been feeling the pinch. Michigan and Pennsylvania, among others, are considering new sales taxes or taxes on filling stations to make up the difference. Other states such as Vermont, Washington, and Oregon are considering a tax on miles travelled, which will be potentially costly to truckers. Since many states haven’t revamped their fuel tax rates in over twenty years, a push for increased revenues is inevitable, and the result will not likely be good for anyone dependent on driving for a living.

GET READY FOR UCR COMPLIANCE. Enforcement of the 2013 Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) program will begin nationwide on February 1, 2013. Motor Carriers, both private and for-hire that must register under the UCR program will not be required to display or carry the UCR receipt in their vehicles. Enforcement personnel will use electronic records to verify UCR compliance. For more information go to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance website at www.cvsa.org.

LAHOOD TO REMAIN? A credible report informs us that Ray LaHood publicly announced his intention to remain in the cabinet at a Washington D.C. party following President Obama's inauguration on Jan. 21. The announcement comes with some surprise considering that even Bloomberg News had reported last November that "the current secretary, Ray LaHood, is probably stepping down in 2013.”

THEFT NUMBERS FALLING. According to FreightWatch International, cargo theft fell in 2012 following a larger trend from 2011. Violent thefts, such as hijackings were down for the year, although deceptive thefts increased as criminals posed as carriers and duped brokers of loads. Despite the increase in deceptive thefts, the overall theft rates are down as more fleets, owners, and drivers have responded with more vigilant security measures.

DON’T PAY ATTENTION TO SIGNS. A recent study, conducted by researchers at the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, concluded that drivers looked at digital billboards significantly longer than they did at other signs on the same stretch of road — often for more than two seconds. Couple this with a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study that concluded that anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road for more than two seconds greatly increases the risk of a crash and Houston, we have a problem. The results of these studies will be presented at a Transportation Research Board Meeting in January.

NEW AGENDA, SAME ISSUES. The transportation committee in the U.S. House for the new congressional term said that it intends to target hours of service rules, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program and state tolls on federal highways as their primary oversight goals for the next two years. Here we go again.

"Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right."

- Henry Ford