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Trailer orders soar to record heights in September



Trailer orders in September soared to record levels, according to the two firms that collect and report on truck and trailer orders.

ACT Research’s preliminary estimate for September 2018 net trailer orders is 58,200 units. Final September volume will be available later this month, but ACT’s methodology allows the company to generate a preliminary estimate of the market that should be within +/- 3 percent of the final order tally.

FTR said September trailers orders were 56,000 units, exceeding the previous record from October 2014 by over 10,000 trailers.

Orders continue to exceed expectations with September units, 59 percent higher than August and up 133 percent year-over-year. Trailer orders for the past 12 months have now exceeded 400,000 units.

“Fleets reached a never-before-seen trailer order level in September,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research.

Maly said ACT’s data showed September orders shattered the previous record level of just over 47,000 orders set in October 2014. Seasonally adjusted, September volume was just under 64k, generating a seasonally adjusted annual rate of almost 760,000 units.

Year-to-date, ACT reported fleets have ordered over 295,000 trailers, more than 50 percent better than last year. While dry vans continue to post solid unit and percentage gains, both sequentially and year-over-year, preliminary results indicate that flatbeds posted the best month-over-month percentage improvement in September.

“Order strength was widespread, with nine of the 10 trailer categories in the black on a year-over-year basis,” Maly said. “Grain trailers, the sole outlier, missed a positive result by less than a percentage point. Year-to-date performance was nearly identical to the year-over-year results, an indication both consistent and longer-term industry-wide strength.”

Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, said most of the order increase was in dry vans, but refrigerated van orders were healthy, as were flatbeds. There are still concerns about future raw material costs and component availability, but this did not hinder the fleets from ordering in huge numbers for future deliveries.

“The fleets have ordered an enormous amount of Class 8 trucks for 2019 and now are ordering the trailers to go with them,” Ake said. “They want to reserve build slots throughout next year, so they can have equipment ready for what is anticipated to remain a vibrant freight market. This is the equivalent of tickets going on sale for a wildly popular concert and quickly selling out. Some dry van OEMs are largely booked up for 2019.”

For more information about ACT Research, visit

For more information about FTR, visit








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The Nation

I-40 Challenge to put holiday drivers, law enforcement to the test



Travelers along Interstate 40 this week will find state police stationed every 20 miles on the lookout for traffic law violators in an effort to reduce holiday traffic fatalities across eight states. (The Trucker file photo)

Interstate 40 is among the primary east-west trucking routes across the U.S. Beginning in North Carolina and passing through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona on its way to California, the interstate covers over 2,500 miles of the southern swath of states and travels through some of the largest and most traffic congested cities in each. But congestion isn’t limited to urban areas.

Before Interstate 40, the legendary Route 66 followed the same path through Oklahoma westward and was considered the road to prosperity for many Oklahoma and Arkansas farmers during the 1930s Dust Bowl. Today, even the most rural miles of Interstate 40 are congested, largely with commercial truck traffic. With congestion comes danger, and the route is plagued with fatal accidents on an all-to-routine basis. This week, often described as the busiest travel week of the year, law enforcement agencies from all eight states are committing to enforcing traffic laws, increasing safety, and generally making a stressful week of travel more pleasurable for everyone on the highway as part of the “Interstate 40 Challenge”initiative.

The challenge is an effort to encourage state highway police or state troopers to be positioned at 20-mile intervals along I-40 with the intent of increasing safety and decreasing accidents, especially those ending in fatalities. Over 125 law enforcement officers will be patrolling and/or keeping close tabs on passing vehicles through the I-40 states. The times for the challenge are for 12-hour periods on Wednesday and Sunday of this week. Likewise, the states are encouraged to publicize heightened enforcement in order to increase safety.

In previous years, the challenge has been met with success. California Highway Patrol (CHP) Commissioner Joe Farrow said, “California did not experience a single fatality on I-40 during past challenges. With the public’s cooperation, the CHP will continue to promote a safe traveling season during the Thanksgiving holiday.” Other states have not been so lucky.

On the opposite side of the country, North Carolina reported 22 fatalities during last year’s Thanksgiving holiday period. The American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends travelers try to avoid peak traffic periods if possible. Thanksgiving Day is actually the best day to be on the roads, with the fewest fellow travelers, AAA representatives noted.

Also according to AAA, Thanksgiving eve has become a big night for binge drinking, as family and friends return home to reconnect for the holiday.

“Blackout Wednesday, also known as Drinksgiving, can end with deadly consequences, so if you plan on drinking, have a plan,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas Traffic Safety Foundation President. “If you don’t have a designated driver, call a friend or family member, taxi or car share service such as Uber or Lyft, to get you home safely.”

Of course, the Thanksgiving holiday can be a lonely time for OTR truck drivers. Loneliness can lead to depression which can rapidly lead to sleepiness behind the wheel. Be sure to help everyone have a safe holiday by not only adhering to federal standards for drive time but also being aware of your personal level of alertness. If necessary, take extra breaks. And remember, many towns have a community-wide Thanksgiving dinner planned for Thursday. Stop in at one, meet some people, and make new friends. You can be guaranteed you’ll leave a happier, alert driver set to overcome any challenges on I-40 or whatever route you travel.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Stay Metrics releases Stay Ahead as new platform for survey products



As the centerpiece of the Stay Ahead platform, Stay Metrics is introducing a new tool for reducing early-stage driver turnover (drivers who leave within the first year with your carrier, what Stay Metrics calls “new-to-you” drivers). (Courtesy: STAY METRICS)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Stay Metrics, a provider of driver retention tools for motor carriers, has released Stay Ahead, a new platform for its suite of driver survey products, which include onboarding surveys, fleetwide ongoing/annual surveys and exit/departure surveys.

Joining these surveys is a powerful new feature that lets carriers make the most of their data, according to Mary Malone, vice president of business development.

“The Stay Ahead tool helps carriers stay ahead of turnover, stay ahead of driver satisfaction, and stay ahead of growing their fleets,” Malone said. “It’s solidly focused on the future and making that future as successful for carriers as possible.”

As the centerpiece of this new platform, Stay Metrics is introducing a new tool for reducing early-stage driver turnover (drivers who leave within the first year with your carrier, what Stay Metrics calls “new-to-you” drivers).

The Intervention Opportunities feature makes Stay Metrics’ proven onboarding surveys even more effective by pointing out exactly which drivers need attention to stay during their first year, Malone said.

“This feature comes with a redesign and significant upgrade to Stay Metrics’ Self-Service Reportal for clients to see their data and analytics. It provides on-demand access to a wide range of reports, providing full transparency and powerful options for tracking drivers’ satisfaction and retention,” she said.

The Stay Ahead portal works with the onboarding surveys to alert carriers any time a driver appears to be at risk of leaving. The at-risk status of drivers is determined based on a Stay Metrics proprietary model that identifies at-risk drivers based on previous research.

Carriers can also filter drivers based on their alerts and willingness to recommend the carrier.

An additional helpful component is the ability to export all drivers that have intervention opportunities on a spreadsheet. Stay Metrics recommends that carriers check the system once per week and export this list as a checklist for their driver calls that week, Malone said.

“At a certain size of carrier, you can’t realistically call everyone each week,” said Tim Hindes, Stay Metrics co-founder and CEO. “That’s why this feature is so helpful. It helps teams prioritize their calling time to reach the drivers that need it most and provides suggested topics for those conversations. The combination of who to call and what to talk about makes this the most actionable tool on the market for driver engagement and satisfaction.”

In addition to intervention opportunities, the Stay Ahead tool also brings to the forefront any questions drivers have after taking their surveys.

“This powerful communications tool lets carriers know what information drivers need right now,” Hindes said. “These questions have always been collected by Stay Metrics and sent to carriers as Intervention Alerts, which will continue, but now carriers can export a checklist as a helpful tool to make sure the team addresses each one.”

Industry professionals and media are invited to attend a free webinar demonstrating how the Stay Ahead platform and its new features work on September 18 at 2 p.m. EDT. To register go to

“I honestly believe this could be a revolution in how carriers onboard new drivers and keep them beyond the first year,” Hindes adds.

Carriers can find out more about each of the surveys that are part of the Stay Ahead platform on the Stay Metrics website at  8

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Daimler celebrates 750,000th unit produced at Cleveland, N.C., plant



The 750,000th truck produced at Cleveland Truck Manufacturing, a Freightliner new Cascadia, pictured in front of the plant. (Courtesy: DAIMLER TRUCKS NORTH AMERICA)

CLEVELAND, N.C. — Daimler Trucks North America on August 26 commemorated the production of the 750,000th vehicle built at its Cleveland, North Carolina, truck manufacturing plant.

Keys to the milestone vehicle — a Freightliner new Cascadia — were presented to representatives from United Parcel Service during a ceremony at the facility.

“Over the past 30 years, our Cleveland plant has served as the foundation for our North American manufacturing operations and has been an integral part of our growth, innovation and leadership,” said Roger Nielsen, president and CEO, Daimler Trucks North America. “This production landmark demonstrates both customer acceptance of our solutions and the strength of our team. As we continue to evolve our product offerings and technologies, the Cleveland facility will remain a critical part of our strategy and success.”

“UPS celebrates this landmark achievement alongside DTNA as we accept the 750,000th truck produced by the Cleveland truck manufacturing plant,” says Carlton Rose, president of global fleet maintenance and engineering at UPS. “We applaud the efforts made by thousands of employees across UPS, DTNA, and Peach State Trucks Centers to bring this milestone to fruition. This accomplishment signifies our companies’ continued success as collaboration transforms technology and service defines the customer experience.”

Freightliner Trucks acquired the plant in 1989 and started producing the Freightliner Medium Conventional, a day cab truck model based on a Mercedes-Benz cabin mounted on an American chassis.

Over the years, the product line-up at Cleveland has evolved as DTNA’s newest innovations entered the marketplace.

Today, in addition to the Class 8 new Cascadia, the Cleveland plant also produces the Western Star 4700, 4900 and 5700XE truck models, and the Freightliner Coronado and Columbia for the right-hand drive Australian and New Zealand markets.

Since the first truck rolled off the line in Cleveland, DTNA has invested more than $350 million in the facility, including a recent $27 million investment to add a new logistics center with state-of-the-art technologies to support the company’s lean supply chain practices.

More than 2,200 people are employed at the Cleveland facility, DTNA’s largest manufacturing plant in the U.S.

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