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Trucking plays big role in cruise ship industry



When the Carnival Dream docked at New Orleans May 5, tractor-trailers were lined up waiting to load supplies on the ship.

Cleaning out the notebook while wondering when it’s going to stop raining every week …

*                      *                      *

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I had the privilege of taking a week-long cruise on the Carnival Dream out of New Orleans.

The ship docked at 7 a.m. May 5.

It was scheduled to leave for its final voyage out of New Orleans at 4 p.m. that afternoon (the Dream is being relocated to a new home port in Galveston, Texas, and will make shorter trips in the Caribbean.

The Carnival Dream has a capacity of 3,646 guests and operates with a crew of 1,367. (Courtesy: CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE)

You only have to be around a ship of that magnitude to appreciate the role trucking plays in that transition from inbound to outbound.

At 15 decks high and one thousand feet long, the Dream would be the largest building in most American cities and towns.

On a cruise, its population is larger than most of those cities and towns.

It has a capacity of 3,646 guests and operates with a crew of 1,367, all of whom have to eat at least three meals a day.

The ship serves over 14,000 meals a day.

Imagine the tons of meat, fruit and veggies and paper goods that have to be loaded at the home port, because we didn’t see any tractor-trailers on the docks at ports in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cozumel.

How does all that food get to the home dock?

Mostly in big rigs, which are at the pier when the ship docks and continue to unload their cargo into the ship well up into the day.

In fact, as we drove away from the pier, there were several tractor-trailers queued up on a road leading to the port area.

I’m sure most of those 3.600 guests on our ship took for granted how those goods and supplies got to the ship.

We didn’t.

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From time to time, you see articles in our paper and on our website about Highway Angels (Truckload Carriers Association) and Highway Heroes (Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.).

Once in a while, we get a nomination from a reader, in this case of former professional truck driver Veronica Fiorina, who writes:

“On March 11, trucker Johnnie Gillins, Jr., an owner-operator contracted to CFI, was driving his truck on Interstate 4 heading east from Tampa, Florida, on the way home to Lakeland, Florida. He observed the driving of a day cab swerving over the white lines into other traffic, then returning to his lane.

“This was happening continually. He did manage to write down the transport’s name and truck number as well as the truck license.

“As the driver neared Exit 33, he negotiated the off ramp at an extremely high rate of speed and swerved to the left and drove off the road. The day cab rolled over with trailer still connected and the driver was wedged between the steering wheel and floor.

“Johnnie stopped immediately, but was unable to open either door. The driver of the day cab seemed to be unconscious and was not replying to shouts. Johnnie called 911 and waited for professional people to arrive to assess the driver’s injuries, secure the area against possible fires and to give a report to the police.

“Johnnie showed concern for a fellow driver and took the initiative to stop. More people should set an example and show that kind of empathy. His company has a good driver.”

We are told the driver of the day cab was not seriously injured and is now OK.

Way to go, Johnnie. And thanks, Veronica.






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The Nation

Can you say oversized load!



That is big!


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The Nation

Diesel prices all but stagnant nationwide, less than 2-cent shift anywhere



The average price for a gallon of diesel nationwide fell by 0.7 cents for the week ending July 22, to currently stand at $3.044 per gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The lack of movement in diesel prices continues a pattern that has been going on for the past month. On June 24, diesel was at 3.042, with changes of less than 1.5 cents every week in between.

Though tiny, the movement in diesel prices was nearly unanimous this past week, down in all but one region of the country.  That one exception was the Rocky Mountain region, where diesel rose 0.3 cents, to $2.978. Year-to-date, diesel prices are lower in every region, with the Rocky Mountain region again being the standout, having the greatest difference, 39.1 cents from this time last year.

California made it a clean sweep for lower diesel prices year-to-date with a drop of 1.3 cents this past week, to $3.939, still by far the highest in the country, but 0.4 cents below this time last year.

Along the rest of the West Coast, diesel dropped 1.1 cents to $3.198, bringing the overall West Coast average to $3.611 per gallon.

The average along the East Coast is currently $3.072, with prices highest in the Central Atlantic, where diesel is going for $3.259 after a 1.3-cent drop. Diesel is $3.122 in New England following a decrease of 0.9 cents over the past week, while in the Lower Atlantic region diesel slipped by 0.4 cents to stand at $2.937 per gallon.

That’s still slightly better than the Midwest, where diesel is going for $2.948 per gallon after a drop of 0.8 cents. Meanwhile, the Gulf Coast, the low-price leader in diesel, fell by the same 0.1 cent it gained the week before to stand at $2.804.

On Monday, increasing tensions between Iran and Western countries failed to produce a sharp reaction in the crude oil markets. Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose 98 cents, or 1.57%, to settle at $63.45 a barrel. U.S.-based West Texas Intermediate crude rose 59 cents, or 1.06%, to settle at $56.22 a barrel.

Click here for a complete list of average prices by region for the past three weeks.

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The Nation

DOL opinion letter: Time in sleeper berth does not count as compensable time



The Department of Labor says the time a truck driver spends in the sleeper berth is not compensable time. Pictured in the Peterbilt 579 UltraLoft sleeper berth. (Courtesy: PETERBILT MOTORS)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor said Monday said it had determined that time spent in the sleeper berth by professional truck drivers while otherwise relieved from duty does not count as compensable time.

The DOL issued the determination in a written opinion letter by the department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) on how a particular law applies in specific circumstances presented by the individual person or entity that requested the letter.

The American Trucking Associations lauded the opinion.

“ATA welcomes Monday’s opinion letter from DOL Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton that concluded time spent by a commercial driver in the sleeper berth does not count as compensable hours under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, unless the driver is actually performing work or on call,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “This opinion, which is consistent with decades-old DOL regulations, the weight of judicial authority, and the long understanding of the trucking industry, clears up confusion created by two recent court decisions that called the compensability of sleeper berth time into question.

Significantly, this opinion letter provides new guidance, the DOL said.

Under prior guidance, the DOL said WHD interpreted the relevant regulations to mean that while sleeping time may be excluded from hours worked where “adequate facilities” were furnished, only up to eight hours of sleeping time may be excluded in a trip 24 hours or longer, and no sleeping time may be excluded for trips under 24 hours.

“WHD has now concluded that this interpretation is unnecessarily burdensome for employers and instead adopts a straightforward reading of the plain language of the applicable regulation, under which the time drivers are relieved of all duties and permitted to sleep in a sleeper berth is presumptively non-working time that is not compensable,” the opinion letter said. “There may be circumstances, however, where a driver who retires to a sleeping berth is unable to use the time effectively for his or her own purposes. For example, a driver who is required to remain on call or do paperwork in the sleeping berth may be unable to effectively sleep or engage in personal activities; in such cases, the time is compensable hours worked.”

The ATA commended Acting Secretary Patrick Pizzella and Stanton for adopting a straightforward, plain-language reading of the law, rather than the burdensome alternative interpretation embraced by those outlier decisions.

“ATA also commends the department for making guidance like this available through opinion letters, which provide an opportunity for stakeholders to better understand their compliance obligations prospectively, rather than settling such matters only after the fact, through costly and wasteful litigation,” Spear said.



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