Follow by Email

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Man accused of holding trailer, oilfield equipment for ransom
Article thanks to Jamie Kelly and the Links provided:
Feb. 20, 2018  A truck driver is accused of trying to get thousands of dollars in ransom in exchange for delivering a trailer he’d been hired to transport.
An arrest warrant filed Tuesday in Northwest District Court charged Michael Fisher, 39, with class A felony theft, saying he refused to return a trailer worth $75,000 until he was paid $2,000.
Fisher, who is the owner and operator of Great American Transport, was hired by R&R Oilfield Services to move a flatbed trailer loaded with oilfield equipment from Arnegard to Monohan, Texas, according to an affidavit of probable cause. He picked up the trailer Dec. 26, and the next day called the company that had hired him to say the trailer had broken down in Bismarck and was in for repairs.
On Dec. 29, he called the company again and said he’d paid more than $1,900 for the repairs and asked to be reimbursed, charging documents state. Police say the garage Fisher said he had the work done at doesn’t exist in Bismarck, and that Fisher was actually at a different garage in Bismarck having work done on his truck, rather than the trailer.
Later on Dec. 29, Fisher demanded more than $4,000 for storage, fuel and mileage, according to court records. He changed the price several times, asking for $2,000 and then $3,000.
On Jan. 2, an employee from R&R Oilfield Services asked Fisher to tell him where the trailer was so someone from the company could pick it up, an investigator wrote in the affidavit of probable cause. Fisher said it was in Grand Junction, Colorado, but wouldn’t give an exact location without being paid.
Police say they pulled the GPS tracking on Fisher’s truck and that he never went to Colorado.
Fisher called twice more to try and get money in exchange for telling where the trailer was being kept, according to court documents, and on Jan. 31 he told the company the trailer was in Minot. The Ward County Sheriff’s Office recovered the trailer where Fisher said it would be.
If convicted, Fisher could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. No hearing has been set in the case and as of Tuesday afternoon, Fisher had not been arrested.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Drivers Skeptical of Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Systems: IIHS
Article thanks to Links provided:

Feb. 15, 2018  Drivers who participated in an Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) study said they are somewhat cautious about adaptive cruise control and active lane keeping features and prefer systems they believe make smooth, gradual movements.

Overall, drivers in the study said they would be reluctant to use the features in challenging driving conditions such as stop-and-go traffic and on local roads, but were comfortable using them in light traffic and on interstates.
The findings came in an IIHS analysis of 51 co-workers test drives to assess drivers reactions to these two semi-autonomous vehicle features.
The IIHS and HLDI employees who participated in the study drove one of five vehicles —  a 2017 Audi A4, 2017 Audi Q7, 2016 Honda Civic, 2016 Infiniti QX60 and 2016 Toyota Prius — equipped with adaptive cruise control. With the feature, the vehicle maintains a set speed and a set following distance from the vehicle in front of it. Three of the vehicles — the two Audis and the Civic — were also equiped with active lane keeping, which provides sustained steering input to keep the vehicle within its lane.
The drivers used the vehicles — with the technology continually activated — for periods ranging from one day to three weeks.
While the drivers viewed adaptive cruise control and active lane keeping somewhat positively overall — the kind of systems installed in the vehicles made a difference in their perceptions of the technology.
For example, drivers of the Audi A4 and Q7 viewed the adaptive cruise control more positively than the active lane keeping feature. The reverse was true for the Honda Civic where the active lane keeping earned higher accolades than the adaptive cruise control.
In addition, the drivers favored active lane keeping that they believed made infrequent steering corrections. They also preferred adaptive cruise control systems that they felt made smooth, gradual changes and consistently detected moving vehicles ahead.

Monday, March 12, 2018

5 U.S. Cities Rank Among World’s Most Traffic-Congested Areas
Article thanks to Links provided:

Feb, 2018  For the sixth consecutive year, Los Angeles topped the list of the world’s most gridlocked cities, with drivers spending 102 hours in congestion in 2017 during peak time periods, according to the annual INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard.

The U.S. accounted for five of the Top 10 cities worldwide with the worst traffic congestion. In addition to Los Angeles, New York City tied with Moscow for second place with 91 hours in congestion, San Francisco (79 hours) ranked fifth, Atlanta (70 hours) ranked eighth, and Miami (64 hours) ranked tenth.
INRIX analyzed 1,360 cities across 38 countries. Based on the findings, the U.S. ranked as the most congested developed country in the world, with drivers spending an average of 41 hours a year in traffic during peak hours. The report concludes that congestion costs drivers nearly $305 billion in 2017, an average of $1,445 per driver.
While the economic impact is one issue, gridlock can also have a major impact on road safety. Experts have long known that frayed nerves from sitting in hours of congestion can lead to aggressive behavior.
A study published in 2016 by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 78% of U.S. drivers reported having engaged in at least one aggressive driving behavior during the past year. The most common behaviors included: Intentionally tailgating another vehicle (50.8%); yelling at another driver (46.6%); and honking the horn “to show annoyance or anger” (44.5%). The study suggests that underlying issues in the driving environment, such as congestion, can contribute to aggressive driving.
However, the new data from INRIX implies that traffic congestion across the country is unlikely to clear up anytime soon. Additional noteworthy facts from the report include:
New York’s Cross Bronx Expressway topped the list as the U.S.’s worst corridor for the third year in a row, with the average driver wasting 118 hours per year
Commuters within Boston and San Francisco had the highest U.S. congestion rates on arterial and city streets during the peak commute hours (23 percent)
The worst downtown slowdowns were in El Paso, Texas, where speeds dropped from 43 mph at free flow speeds to 5 mph when congested
New York businesses suffered the most from congestion with an average of 14 percent of travel time on weekdays in gridlock and where drivers wasted the most daytime hours stuck in traffic in the entire U.S.
Santa Cruz, Calif., had the worst overall daytime congestion on arterial and highways, with drivers spending 12 percent of their days sitting in traffic. 
Read the full report here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Vigilance lost…and patience too: Needless accidents stacking up

Article thanks to TomQuimby and Links provided:

Jan 30, 2018  Some Good Samaritans in Colorado nearly paid an unthinkable price this week while trying to save the life of a truck driver.
This heart- and gut-wrenching scene serves as yet another prime reminder to drive carefully because a split-second is all it takes for a bad decision to turn deadly.
Boulder residents Jeff and Krysten Fogg and been driving Monday with their two-year-old son on U.S. 36 in Boulder County when a tractor-trailer ahead of them suddenly slowed down and began to roll in reverse.
The truck, which had been towing a dry freight trailer, kept backing down the highway until it jackknifed onto the side of the road. Jeff Fogg and another motorist went to see if they could help the trucker, while Jeff’s wife stayed behind in their SUV to call 911.
A dispatcher instructed Krysten Fogg to first make sure the hazard lights were on in their SUV and then asked her to go check on the driver. As she walked towards the truck, the unthinkable happened: a pickup traveling at around 60 mph crashed into an oncoming ambulance and then collided into the Fogg’s SUV sending it and their two-year-old son inside about 30 feet from where it had been parked.
“I was screaming. I was like my baby is in that car, my baby is in that car, and my husband took off running,” Krysten Fogg told Fox 31 Denver.
Thankfully, Hudson was still buckled safely in his car seat and appeared to be unharmed. Jeff Fogg said his son was more concerned about the glass in his Pringles chips.
No details have been released on the trucker who unfortunately died of an unknown medical cause.
The Foggs, obviously still shaken up by the day’s events, are hoping that motorists will drive more carefully. We are too.
“People just don’t pay attention as much anymore,” Jeff Fogg said. “They’re on their phones or doing whatever and I don’t know if this man was on his phone, but there were lights and sirens on both side of the road and he decides to fly through them. Man, just slow down. Being late is not a big deal.”
The Fogg’s story recalls a harrowing accident on Detroit highway last week when a tow-truck driver was shown on video nearly getting hit by a speeding car whose driver had apparently been oblivious to him and the Michigan state trooper parked nearby.
Amazingly, the tow-truck driver was not hurt. Too many others have not been so fortunate.
The sad part here is that all of these incidents were completely avoidable if the drivers had been more concerned about driving safely versus doing God knows what else, whether that’s texting while driving, looking for a dropped cell phone or getting impatient with traffic. On that note, take a look at the video below and watch as a pickup driver in Florida, tired of waiting for a train, darts across the tracks and avoids getting nailed by just a second or two. Really?!
Jeri West, who had given her husband Geoff a dashcam for Christmas never thought that they’d record such lunacy. Sorry to say, but that camera will probably be capturing a lot more reckless driving in the days ahead among the dumb and the senseless.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

A weak used truck market is weighing on Ryder's performance

Article thanks to Links provided:
Feb 22, 2018  It may be a strong trucking market by all accounts, but it isn’t a strong market for the sale of used trucks. On Thursday, Ryder chairman and CEO Robert Sanchez addressed that issue at a Miami conference, and so did the transport analysis group of Stifel Financial.
Sanchez, speaking at the Citi 2018 Industrials Conference in Miami, said a 2 ½ year decline in used truck pricing appears to have leveled off. That decline has weighed on the Ryder’s earnings, significant enough that Stifel led its section on used truck sales with the rhetorical question: “Used trucks--when's the pain gonna stop?”
“There’s an oversupply of used trucks, and there aren’t enough buyers,” Sanchez said at the Citi conference.  But he said by the fourth quarter of 2017, prices had stopped sliding. As to whether there was an upturn, Sanchez said Ryder’s expectations are that prices “won’t pick up yet. We just have not seen it and we didn’t want to forecast it.” Sanchez said the company needs to sell between 15,000 and 20,000 trucks annually.
Later in the presentation, Sanchez expressed some confidence that the cycle on used truck sales would turn. “If it follows a normal used truck cycle, it would tell you that what you have is upside,” Sanchez said. “It came down for 2 ½ years, it’s now flattened out and it should go back up, if that’s the history.”
But as Sanchez noted, that’s not in Ryder’s forecast. In its projections for 2018, Ryder, after talking about positive growth projections, states: “These benefits are expected to be partially offset by impacts from the extended downturn in the used vehicle market.”
The Stifel report showed an aerial shot of a lot of used trucks in Iowa. The smallest quantity of vehicles could be seen in 2014, a significantly larger number of trucks in 2016, and a smaller number in 2017 though clearly more than the ’14 vehicle count. The report cited the ELD mandate as a reason why reversing the market may be difficult. The mandate “disproportionately (is) pressuring small fleet operators (the main buyer for used tractors). It is unlikely the used market will get significantly better soon.”
Independent research analyst CFRA said recently of the used truck market, “Although Ryder saw strong operating revenues amid good demand, continued weakness in used vehicle values hurt results somewhat.”

Will ELD enforcement weaken the market further?

Sanchez did not address the Stifel report specifically, but said in his remarks that he believes the ELD mandate is already “baked in” to the used truck market. If the ELD mandate was going to push an owner/operator out of the trucking market, it would have occurred already, and “I don’t see them coming in in April and getting out,” a reference to when the ELD mandate is to be more stringently enforced.
On a separate issue, Sanchez said his estimate is that driver wages are up 3-4% in the last year, a number that drew some skepticism from his questioner, who asked Sanchez whether such a number, seen as less than what other companies are reporting, could be a result of the fact that Ryder drivers are home most evenings. “That’s the key,” he said. “Our deliveries are typically closed-loop, the drivers come home every night. So the more experienced drivers seek those routes that have them coming back to the same place.”
The driver shortage has helped Ryder’s Dedicated Transportation Solutions division, Sanchez said, discussing Ryder’s sector that essentially takes over a client’s transportation requirements. Two to three years ago, that division had an 8-9 percent growth rate, with Sanchez attributing it to a serious driver shortage. In late 2016-2017, Sanchez said the driver shortage subsided, “and growth dropped a bit.” But the pipeline of new activity into 2018 is strong enough in that division, spurred by renewed driver tightness, to have Ryder project a growth rate in fleet size of 9% for the year, with 6 percentage points coming from its rental sector.

Stifel asks: where have the margins gone?

Beyond the discussion of used truck sales, the Stifel report was critical of Ryder’s margins in its Fleet Managements Solution division, which includes the vehicle rental and leasing activities. In a chart showing the margins of the FMS group, Stifel asked: “Where have FMS margins gone? Assuming 2014-2015 was boosted by strong used truck pricing, normal EBT margins have not approached 2004-2008 since. Is it the lower-return world leading to lower required returns, or is something else wrong?” Elsewhere, Stifel noted, “the company is indicating that we'll see single-digit margins for the third straight year (disappointing).”
Still, although Stifel lowered its EPS estimate on Ryder for 2018 to $5.52 from $6.32 (with a minor 1-cent decline in its 2019 estimate to $6.57), it kept a Hold rating on Ryder’s stock.