CALIFORNIA SIS INSPECTION DATES SET

This year I will be doing LKY inspections in California on Monday, July 22 and Tuesday, July 23 from 7:30 until finished both days. Since our previous site in Stockton closed last year, this year we'll move to Lodi. I will meet folks needing an inspection on Auto Center Drive in Lodi. It is easy to find: Exit Hwy 99 in Lodi going east at E Kettleman Ln. Turn left on Beckman Road and then right on Auto Center Drive. Look for a ridiculously small rental car.

Auto Center Drive is long, wide, flat with no businesses and little traffic. It is also close to restaurants and our drug test facility in Lodi. It should work better for us than our previous location. I am looking forward to spending time with as many of you as possible.

If you are planning on being inspected in Lodi, be sure you or your coordinator contacts my Administrative Assistant, Maria Lafavers, and get on my list.

I am currently working on my LKY inspection schedule for the rest of the year. Dates will be announced for Sunbury, Youngwood, Arkadelphia, Newberry and Tampa in August. Be safe.


LOGS, CARB, WKS, SIS

This week sure went by in a hurry. I wanted to get some information out sooner, but a couple of days out of town has gotten me a bit behind. Anyway, here are some things of interest:

  • Hours of Service. As of now, no court decision on the July 1 implementation date of the changes has been rendered. We expect this to go to the wire. If the FMCSA is successful, beginning July 1, you must log 30 minutes off duty no later than 8 hours after coming on duty. You will be restricted to one 34 hour restart per week (168 hours) and the restart period must include two periods between 1 am and 5 am home terminal time. We are watching this closely and will get the information out before these changes are required, if they are. Those with Eclipse Logs will be prompted for an upgrade on the screen. There will be no charge for the hours of service upgrade.
  • CARB. Thanks to the work of Scott Smith in California, we have been in touch with a company that does retrofits of PM filters in California. The company, Ironman, www.ironmanparts.com will consult with you for free and assist you in exploring options for your particular year of engine and truck. Eric will be sending the rest of their information out later today. My contact there is Dave Thomas, in Riverside, CA 951-520-2934. If you have a 96-06 engine, your time is running out in California unless you take action. This may be an option for you. If you call, tell Dave you're with Mercer.
  • WKS Louisville Inspections. Lead Truck Inspector David Sloan is covering Wichita for me this coming Monday and Tuesday. I have another trip scheduled which could not be changed. He will be at the WKS office all day Monday June 24 and at least until after lunch Tuesday June 25. If you haven't gotten your name on the WKS inspection list, you or your coordinator should contact Maria and get that done.
  • Late next week I will post the dates for my SIS inspection trip in July. It will either be July 15-16 or 22-23. If you are planning seeing me for an LKY inspection in California, call Maria and get on the SIS list. I'll have more on this next Friday.

Remember, drive at or below the posted speed limit, maintain at least a three second following distance, wear your seatbelt, keep your logbook current, use more than enough load securement. Be safe.

 


ROAD CHECK IS NEXT WEEK, WKS INSPECTION DATE SET

Drivers, do not forget that the annual CVSA Road Check is next Tuesday-Thursday, June 4-6. Law enforcement will be out in force throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. Expect to be inspected, a lot and everywhere. Tires, brakes, load securement, and yes, log books will be closely inspected. If you are going to be working during that period, be sure you have inspected your equipment closely, use more than enough securement on your cargo and that your log book is current at all times.

The TA/Petro truckstops are offering free mid-trip inspections from June 1-June 11. It might be time well spent to have someone take a look at your truck and trailer before Road Check begins. We expect clean inspections from everyone during Road Check.

The date for the annual LKY inspections at Wichita will be Monday June 24 and Tuesday June 25 at the WKS office. If you are planning on being in Wichita on those dates, please call Maria and get on the list.

Remember: Check brakes and tires closely, run at or below the posted speed limit, log legal and use more than enough securement. Drivers who master those four things do not have problems with Road Check or CSA. Be safe.


DATES TO REMEMBER

Here are several dates to keep in mind:

June 4-6, 2013: These are the dates for the annual CVSA inspection blitz known as Roadcheck. The emphasis this year will be on cargo securement and on educating drivers about the new hours of service changes. Drivers should expect to have all securement devices thoroughly checked. And here's a hint: when they are "educating" you about hours of service there is a pretty good chance that they will be checking your log book also. As we have done in past years, drivers who get clean inspections during Roadcheck will have their Mercer inspection credit points doubled.

July 1, 2013: As most of you are aware, the proposed changes to the hours of service regulations have been held up in Federal court. A decision is due in June. If the FMCSA wins, the new rules involving a driving break and 34-hour restart provisions will go into effect July 1. We will have much more on this after the decision is rendered. The FMCSA has posted numerous examples of the new rules on their website. Here is the link: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/hos/logbook.pdf

January 1, 2014: If you have a 1996 to 2006 engine and you want to continue running in California, you must have a CARB-approved particulate filter installed. It must be installed by a CARB-authorized installer. Despite all the rumors flying around, we can find no confirmation that the date will be pushed back.  If this affects you, plan accordingly.      

May 21, 2014: This is the date that the medical registry is scheduled to take effect. To provide DOT physicals, medical practitioners must be certified by the DOT and on the medical registry. Physicals by non-certified practitioners will not be valid. Be sure your doctor is aware of this and is taking the steps necessary to become certified. If not, it would be prudent to start shopping for a new doctor.

We will be starting LKY field inspections in June. I will be posting specific dates and locations in the next two weeks. Remember, we need clean inspections everyday and especially during Roadcheck. Be safe.

 


BOB LOGSDON

Those of you who follow us on Facebook may have seen the news of Bob's passing. Last Friday evening, while in Texas, Bob collapsed and died suddenly. He had been with Mercer for many years, first as an owner-operator on #965 and lately as a driver for Mercer contractor JRS on #11994. Bob was a lot more than just a great guy and good runner: He was my friend. Here, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story.........

Robert Leslie Logsdon was born April 16, 1946, which would have made him 67 years old next Tuesday. He did a stint in the Marines in the '60s and started driving a truck in 1972. He became an owner-operator in 1983 when he bought his first truck. He applied to Mercer in April, 1984. He had more than a million accident free miles before he ever leased to Mercer.

I met Bob on April 9, 1984 when I did his claims orientation. Back in those days, members of each department at Mercer met with the orientation class and conducted their part. I was Assistant Claims Manager then and handled the claims and accident portion of the class. Bob completed orientation, signed his lease, and became #965 exactly twenty-nine years ago today. Mercer was a lot smaller then, and most of us knew the driver's families, as well. Bob was married to Dianne and had two young teenagers, Kenny and Penny.

It's funny how with some people you just click. Bob and I were like that. Whenever he was in Louisville, he'd stop in and see me. Whenever I received a promotion or new assignment, he was one of the first people who congratulated me. When I became Safety Director, he was one of the first people to extend his sympathy. We'd talk on the phone at least once a week. Usually about old cars.

In 1990 we nearly lost Bob. Fortunately a bypass(es), change of habits, medication, Dianne and his kids got him through it and he was back on the road. The early 90's were great years to be in trucking and were especially good at Mercer. Unfortunately, Bob and Dianne lost their son Kenny in 1997 and it was a pretty rough time emotionally for their family and all of their friends. Somehow Bob found the strength to go on and by that time had his first million accident-free miles at Mercer.

We still talked about old cars. We both liked the "shoebox" Fords (49-51). You see, we agreed that there are four sounds that if you ever hear, you'll never forget: The sound of an Emeryville with the "binder" hooked up on a long tangent; a Harley panhead; getting all 10 gears in a crackerbox with a 238; a Ford flathead. I had driven a 405, ridden a couple of pans, and had more than my share of 238's. But I had never have driven a flathead, much less owned one. Bob thought we probably needed one, maybe two.

Several of our phone conversations were debates on

which year of the shoebox Ford was the best. He liked the the looks of the 49, I liked the 50 because it was mechanically better, and neither of us liked the 51 due to the double bullet grille and the funky steering wheel. Bob made it his mission to find us one. If he saw one on the road, he'd call me. When I was travelling and found one, I'd call him. It was always, "Hey, Hero, I saw a good one a couple miles back, you think I ought to turn around?"

Bob loved running Texas, so usually our "finds" were in Oklahoma, Texas and quite a few along 44 in Missouri. Sometimes he'd stop. We knew how to get one home, we knew what we'd have to do to fix one up, and we pretty much knew what they were worth. What always was a deal breaker was that neither of our wives ever saw the need to increase the family net worth by one (or two) shoebox Fords. We never could understand that. While all this was going on, sometime in 2011, Bob clicked off his second million accident free miles at Mercer, which was three million career.

Sometime in there, Bob's truck laid down on him. In his sixties, he was faced with a dilemma that many owner operators face: He didn't want to retire but didn't want to put any more money in an older truck nor did he want to go into major debt for a new truck. I knew that Mercer contractor Jerry Wigglesworth was looking for a driver and got them together. Not only did Jerry hire Bob, but he bought his trailer to let Bob pull it with #11994. Bob sold #965 to Mercer contractor Sam Dysart who had it repaired and is currently running it as #9838. Better than that, Bob became good friends with Jerry, Richard and Steve Wigglesworth.

Our story takes another twist, however. Bob and Dianne moved to Oldham County. Their daughter, Penny, grew up, married, had a family and they also live in Oldham County. Shortly after having our youngest son, Bridgette and I moved to Oldham County, as well. When our son, Logan, began T-ball at North Oldham Little League, he met a new friend named Brandon Potts. Over the years, Logan and Brandon played little league baseball together, played basketball together, and now play baseball together at Oldham County High School. They hunt together, fish together and hang out together. They are talking about rooming together in college. Yep, you guessed it: Brandon's mom is Penny Logsdon Potts and he is Bob's grandson. Over the past few years, Bob and I spent many an afternoon or evening cheering the boys on. Before they could both drive, Bob took them fishing when he was home. Small world.

The last time I saw Bob alive was at an Oldham County baseball game early last week. It was cold and we were freezing our tails off. He was heading to Texas the next day. I asked him how he felt and he said fine. He seemed a bit down. As he walked off into the darkness in the parking lot, I told him to be careful and take care of himself. He told me to do the same and that he'd see me next week. Jerry gave me the bad news Friday night.

Bob was buried yesterday next to his son, Kenny. I said goodbye to him exactly 29 years to the day that we first met. He was buried in a Mercer shirt with his safety awards displayed. He was well on his way towards a career of four million accident-free miles. Four of his six paw bearers were, to quote Bill Howard, "Mercer People." Bob loved Mercer and Mercer loved Bob Logsdon. He had many friends. He never met a stranger.

The hard part of being someplace for so long is losing so many good friends along the way. Robert Leslie Logsdon was a good husband, good father, good grandfather, good driver, good friend and good person. All of us who knew him well were deeply blessed. I'll miss him. Our loss is definitely Heaven's gain.

And that is the rest of the story.


WEEKEND COMPUTER PROJECTS

MATS is over and it's back to work. It seems like I've spent all of this last week playing catch up. Anyway, it was really great to see everybody in Louisville. I hope the seminars were informative. There is a lot going on in this industry and things are changing faster than ever before. I promise you that both 2013 and 2014 will be a wild ride for trucking. Hang on.

There are two things that may be of interest to everyone. First, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) is conducting its third annual commercial driver survey on CSA. I urge anyone and everyone who has something to say about CSA to take the time to complete the confidential survey. Your input is important. The survey is at this link: www.atri-online.org. The more driver comments the better.

Also, judging from my seminar and the number of phone calls I get, there is a lot of apprehension and confusion about CARB. I have been in touch with Cascade Sierra Solutions, a non-profit organization which can provide truck owners with information and recommendations relating to clean truck requirements, particularly in California. They can steer truck owners towards available grant money for equipment upgrades and particulate filter retrofits. For you folks with 96-06 engines, the clock is ticking towards January, 2014. If there will be an enforcement delay, these folks will be able to confirm it. Unfortunately, we haven't seen one yet. The folks to contact there are Doug Denton and Jon Gustafson. Their e-mail links are as follows: ddenton@cascadesierrasolutions.org and jgustafson@cascadesierrasolutions.org.

Check these out when you have time. Have a joyous Easter weekend. Be safe.

 

 


TRAINING SCHEDULE DURING MATS

Next week is a really big deal in Mercertown. The Mid-America Trucking Show is the largest truck show in the country, probably in the world. Best of all, it's right here in Louisville, which is a suburb of Mercertown. Several hundred Mercer folks will be here and it's always a great time.

Besides the show,  and all the food and festivities, it seems like one or two of our drivers show up because they might be a little worried about their Mercer CSA scores and want to earn some training points. Next week is a great time to do that. Here is what's available:

  • Seminars. On Wednesday March 20, three seminars are available, beginning at 11:30 AM. There will be one before lunch, Mercer will furnish lunch, and then two more in the afternoon, starting around 2:00. Drivers will receive credit for each one they attend, provided they are signed in on the attendance sheet for the class;
  • Flatbed Orientation (FBO). Drivers who are NOT required to do FBO due to a DOT securement violation may voluntarily attend FBO one time per year for credit. Next week it will be held twice at special times. On Monday, March 18, it will be conducted at 12:30PM. The second one, Thursday, March 21,  will be given at 8:00AM. Those are the only two times it is available next week;
  • Alabama Coil Certificate. As I mentioned the other day, the Alabama Rolled Coil Certification is going away. Mercer will continue to give credit points for that training until May 1. If you are planning on doing it in LKY next week, there may be a wait. Contractor Relations only has one computer available for that. Remember, it doesn't have to be done in LKY: You can call Jason for a password and can complete it on your own computer;
  • Eclipse Logs. Next week would be a good time to bring your laptop and get started on Eclipse. Drivers receive credit for that once the Eclipse Logs are sent in to the Log Department;
  • Other. My seminar is the third one on Wednesday. You will here about two other credit point opportunities at that time.

We look forward to seeing you and your family. Mercer People are the best. Be safe.

 


SMILE FOR THE CAMERA

Photo enforcement at traffic lights and on interstates has taken moving violations to a different level. Drivers passing through camera-equipped intersections often report that yellows are too fast for the trailer to clear the intersection. The trailer is photographed in the intersection with a red light and a citation is issued.  The success of legal challenges to these type of moving violation citations varies widely depending on jurisdiction, but generally are unsuccessful.

A good defense for this type of moving violation is awareness. One of our legal services sent this link: www.photoenforced.com. It has maps state by state of all such locations. It can be a valuable trip-planning tool, both in a big truck and for a family vacation. Check it out. Be safe.


ALABAMA COIL CERTIFICATE ......ADIOS!

In a notice published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, March 5, the FMCSA ruled that Alabama's Metal Coil Securement Act is preempted by federal law. That means that Alabama's law imposes certification requirements on interstate drivers that are not required under FMCSA regulations and are more stringent than those imposed by federal law. Effective April 4, Alabama will be unable to impose the law's requirements on interstate movements.

This was the result of an FMCSA query beginning June 26, 2009 and an ATA petition filed with the FMCSA dated December 22, 2010. As all CDL drivers are required to know, metal coil securement is thoroughly covered in Subpart I-Protection Against Shifting and Falling Cargo 49CFR393.100 through 393.136 along with the Cargo Securement Enforcement Policy memorandum issued December 31, 2003. It seems like everyone but the lawmakers in Alabama knew that. We appreciate the ATA's efforts in forcing the issue and the FMCSA's diligence in getting this one right. Almost four years, wow!

Effective May 1, 2013, Mercer's safety training credit for earning an Alabama Coil Certificate will be eliminated. Those with the Mercer credit points for that training will find that the credit will now have a 3-year expiration from the certificate date. If you don't have that credit and would like to earn it, contact Contractor Relations and do it before May 1. Remember, stay at or below the posted speed limit, keep your log book current, check lights, brakes and tires closely and secure your cargo properly. Be safe.


NEW INSPECTION FACILITY UNDERWAY (at last)

This morning I watched workers pour the concrete slab for our new inspection facility at 15Th and Main. Finally, after years of planning and literally months of wading through the city permit process, our truck inspectors will be able to do their jobs out of the weather in a safe, well-lit environment. We are planning on completion at some point this spring, but probably not before the truck show, unfortunately. When operational, the new facility will take inspection traffic away from the Drivers Lounge lot (Lot 2).  Mobile repair services will also be required to work in that lot, instead of the other Mercer lots. We'll have more on this later as the project nears completion.

Speaking of truckshow, the Mid-America Trucking Show is right around the corner: March 21-March 23. As always, Mercer's festivities will begin Wednesday, March 20. There will be a driver forum with the General Management Group Wednesday morning. After that, I will again host three seminars. This year, we will have one before lunch, Mercer will host lunch, and then two more after lunch. Drivers will receive credit for each one they attend. Wednesday evening will be the annual cookout. There will be more out about this in the coming weeks.

This year, seminar participants will hear from Mark Krause, our insurance company loss control representative. Mark will again be discussing on the job injuries. Our Safety Consultant, retired DOT officer Jerry Keifer, will discuss strategies for successful roadside inspections. And yes, you will also get to hear from me. We'll talk about six things: CSA, new hours of service regulations, electronic on board recorders, body mass index and driver health, EPA SmartWay, and CARB.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible. There are a lot of changes being forced upon us and we all need to be able to understand them and adapt to them to be successful. In the mean time, run at or below the posted speed limit, keep your logs current and legal, secure properly with more than enough,  and keep a close eye on lights, tires and brakes. Be safe.