The next stage of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Phase 2 emissions requirements will affect model year (MY) 2024 Class 8 tractors, and continued advances in electric trucks could change how original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requirements.

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It’s been a dangerous and deadly summer for tractor trailers and trains. In June, a collision between a dump truck and an Amtrak train in Missouri sparked a derailment that caused four deaths and an estimated $4 billion in damages.

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Truck parking has appeared on the American Transportation Research Institute's (ATRI) Top 10 Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry list since 2012, and it was the fifth highest-ranking issue of industry concern in ATRI’s latest report. Among driver concerns, it tied with driver compensation as the top concern.

“This is the 10th year that the lack of available truck parking has made the top 10 list of industry concerns, and among commercial drivers, it has consistently ranked in their top three," ATRI wrote in its annual report.

Concerns over parking have increased due to hours of service and electronic logging mandates, which are causing more drivers to look for parking at the same time. ATRI reported that drivers will often park earlier to ensure they find safe parking prior to running out of hours of service. The lost wages associated with an early exit from revenue trips average over $4,600 annually per driver

ATRI issued several proposed strategies in its report to address parking concerns, including creating a new, dedicated federal funding program designed to increase truck parking capacity at freight-critical locations, encouraging local and regional governments to reduce the regulatory burdens limiting the construction and expansion of truck parking facilities near major metropolitan areas, and advocating for states to expand the availability of accurate, real-time truck parking availability information on roadside changeable/dynamic message signs.

A 2021 ATRI study on truck parking information systems found that 15% of drivers rely exclusively on roadside changeable message signs for their parking information. Additionally, 57% of drivers indicated that they had utilized a truck parking app in the past year.

Truck Parking Technologies

There are several technology-based systems currently available to help drivers find parking. The free Penske Driver™ app allows drivers to locate and get contact information for nearby parking locations.

ATRI, American Trucking Associations and NATSO formed the Truck Parking Leadership Initiative, which developed the Park My Truck app that allows truck stops, rest areas and others to report the number of spaces available in their lots. Other apps that provide parking information include Trucker Path and DAT Trucker.

The Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAATSO) initiative unites eight Midwestern states in the nation's first Regional Truck Parking Information Management System. The Truck Parking Information Management System (TPIMS) has been deployed along high-volume freight corridors through Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. The states collect and broadcast real-time parking availability to drivers through various media outlets, including dynamic signs, smartphone applications and traveler information websites. “This will help drivers proactively plan their routes and make safer, smarter parking decisions,” MAATSO said on its website.

American Truck Parking, a federally and state-funded project run through the University of California at Berkley, has partnered with several government parking projects that track real-time parking info, including MAATSO, and shares it on its website, combining it all in one place. It also collects data on private truck stops.

Several large truck stops, including TravelCenters of America, Love’s and Pilot Flying J, provide parking information via their apps and allow drivers to reserve parking spaces.

December 2020 / Updated August 2022

A strong focus on preventive maintenance (PM) can help control costs, reduce downtime and extend the life of parts and components, all of which can help to improve fleet operations within a business. However, managing and maintaining a commercial fleet can get more complex as vehicle technology advances. At the same time, many fleets are keeping equipment longer due to supply chain challenges and manufacturer delays. This makes a focus on equipment upkeep even more important.

Strengthening Maintenance with Data

“Penske Truck Leasing monitors component failures continuously and uses the data to add preventive maintenance steps by make and model,” said Chris Hough, vice president of maintenance design and engineering at Penske Truck Leasing. That helps technicians to get ahead of issues before they result in an over-the-road breakdown.

Live diagnostic reporting systems can also help identify patterns that provide insights into potential failures. “By using repair history associated with fault codes and applying data science you will learn of the need for certain repairs,” Hough said. “This allows you to be proactive and make the repairs prior to the component or system having a failure.”

Penske Truck Leasing has taken more than 1,000 fault codes and broken them up into red, yellow and green to help technicians, carriers and drivers understand which codes need immediate attention.

Extending Tire Life Through Proper Care

Like many products, tires have been affected by supply chain challenges, and keeping tires functioning properly improves safety and fuel economy, prevents over-the-road failures and extends their lifespan.

Tire care is especially important as temperatures increase. Tires typically run hotter and wear faster in warm weather, and the tread portion of the tire becomes softer, making tires more susceptible to punctures from road debris.

Because tire pressure increases as temperatures rise, there is a risk of over-inflated tires. When air pressures are inaccurate, tires flex in ways they weren’t designed to, changing the shape of the tire’s footprint, creating irregular wear patterns and reducing tread life. Also, underinflated tires build up excessive heat, potentially causing premature failure. To help mitigate the risks tires face, tire inflation pressure must be checked with an accurate tire pressure gauge.

Keeping Brakes Safe

Brake-related violations comprise the largest percentage of all out-of-service vehicle violations cited during roadside inspections, and according to last year’s three-day International Roadcheck data from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), brake systems and brake adjustment violations accounted for 38.9% of all vehicle out-of-service violations, the most of any category of vehicle violations.

“Poorly maintained brake systems can reduce the braking capacity and stopping distance of large trucks and motorcoaches, which poses a serious risk to driver and public safety,” said CVSA President Capt. John Broers with the South Dakota Highway Patrol. “In those split-second emergency situations, the proper functionality of the brake systems on large commercial motor vehicles is crucial.”

CVSA will hold its annual Brake Safety Week Aug. 21-27, and CVSA encourages proactive vehicle maintenance in advance of the event. Brakes should be checked at every preventive maintenance inspection and drivers should regularly check brakes during pre- and post-trip inspections, Hough said.

To help improve brake safety and functionality, drivers and technicians should focus on the following:

Slack Adjusters: Automatic slack adjusters in vehicles are sometimes cited as being out of adjustment when they are on the verge of adjusting. To prevent that, he advises drivers to apply the brakes several times at a high PSI level — 90 or better — when pulling into a scale. Typically, drivers apply brakes at a 20-30 PSI, but stabbing the brakes and applying 90-100 PSI three or four times, will balance a slack adjuster on the verge of adjusting.

Chafed Lines: The routing and clipping of brake lines should be checked at every preventive maintenance interval. Drivers should make sure they store their airlines that connect to the trailer properly after every use. They also need to make sure that lines are not rubbing the catwalk when connected to the trailer.

Air Leaks: Penske technicians check for air leaks when they conduct preventive maintenance on a unit, and drivers should check for air leaks during pre-trip inspections. Releasing the parking brakes and applying the brake pedal/treadle valve can help drivers monitor their air gauges. The unit should not lose more than two pounds of pressure in a one-minute period of time and a combination (tractor/trailer) should not lose more than three pounds of pressure in a one-minute period of time. If it does, it needs to be repaired before drivers continue with their trip for the day.

Seals: Drivers and technicians need to regularly inspect their gladhand seals where the tractor and trailer connect to minimize the risk of corrosion within the braking system.

Wear: Hough recommends replacing or repairing brakes before they hit the Department of Transportation (DOT) minimum standard of 1/4 inch. As part of its preventive maintenance guidance, Penske Truck Leasing replaces the brake lining between 5/16 and 3/8 of an inch.

During the brake portion of the CVSA inspections, inspectors will look for missing, non-functioning, loose, contaminated or cracked parts on the brake system. They’ll also look for non-manufactured holes, such as rust holes and holes created by rubbing or friction, and broken springs in the spring brake housing section of the parking brake.

Inspectors will also listen for audible air leaks around brake components and lines and ensure the air system maintains air pressure between 90-100 psi. They will also check for S-cam flip-over and measure pushrod travel. They will check that slack adjusters are the same length (from the center of S-cam to center of clevis pin) and the air chambers on each axle are the same size. They will also inspect required brake-system warning devices, such as anti-lock braking system (ABS) malfunction lamp(s) and low air-pressure warning devices. In addition, inspectors will ensure the breakaway system is operable on the trailer, and inspect the tractor protection system, including the bleed-back system on the trailer.

Keeping up with Inspections

Even with advanced vehicle technology, proper pre- and post-trip inspections are a crucial component of vehicle safety. The inspections can help drivers avoid violations during roadside inspections, prevent accidents and ensure the vehicle is safe while also preventing breakdowns out on the road, saving drivers time and ensuring on-time deliveries.

During every pre-trip inspection, a driver should look for leaks, damage, operable lights, properly secured cargo, sagging equipment and anything that looks out of place. Drivers should also review the previous Driver Vehicle Inspection Report.

The post-trip inspection gives time for carriers to make necessary repairs and it also provides documentation the next driver can review during his or her pre-trip inspection. If the previous driver noted defects or deficiencies, the new driver must sign the inspection report to acknowledge that he or she has reviewed it and that there is a certification that the required repairs have been performed. Motor carriers must maintain the original of each vehicle inspection report and the certification of repairs for three months.


August 2022

New standards on lease accounting take effect for private companies and non-profit entities with fiscal years beginning in 2022, requiring them to recognize operating lease assets and liabilities on the balance sheet.

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If you haven’t checked all the components of your truck’s brake system recently, now is the time to get it done.

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Parts shortages continue to affect all industries, including trucking. To try and minimize maintenance-related delays, Penske has added new suppliers and is refurbishing parts for repairs while also drawing on its preventive maintenance program to help prevent problems before they occur.

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The logistics industry has been facing unrelenting pressures from surging demand, tight capacity, supply chain disruptions and inflation, and shippers are turning to logistics providers to help them navigate the turbulent operating environment. At the same time, logistics providers are harnessing powerful technologies to meet rising expectations for resilience.

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The role of chief financial officers (CFOs) at organizations with private fleets has evolved, and today’s CFOs are being asked to provide more and more information.

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As an estimated 480,000 school buses return to U.S. roads over the next few weeks, it’s time for professional drivers to brush up on their own lesson plan: How to drive with care during back-to-school season. Remember these 7 words that can help you avoid an accident and potentially save a life.

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Renewable diesel — an advanced fuel option that reduces greenhouse gas emissions while meeting the same specifications as petroleum diesel — can be added to existing fuel truck systems, to help lower a fleet’s carbon footprint. As a drop-in fuel that can be used in place of ultra-low-sulfur diesel, renewable diesel is helping bridge the gap as the trucking industry moves toward zero-emission vehicles without extra equipment or infrastructure cost related to battery-electric vehicles.

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As summer approaches and temperatures heat up across the country, some components on Class 8 trucks need extra attention to prevent unscheduled maintenance or costly fixes down the line. Chris Hough, vice president of maintenance design and engineering at Penske Truck Leasing, said focusing on certain items when temperatures increase can improve uptime and increase driver satisfaction.

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Global disruptions, low oil inventories and high refining margins coupled with high truck utilization are driving diesel fuel prices even higher and creating an increased risk of volatility.

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You may think distracted driving and DUIs cause the largest amount of traffic accidents each year—and you'd be right. But did you know that speeding is #3 on the list?

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Long backlogs and supply-chain constrained production have limited new Class 8 truck availability, extending equipment lifecycles throughout the industry. A strong maintenance program is always critical, but it is becoming even more important as trucks are remaining on the road longer.

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Large legal verdicts against motor carriers are on the rise, growing in number as well as in amount, and large motor carriers are updating their training programs and safety procedures as a proactive mechanism for dealing with the threat of a large verdict.

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Are you ready for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's (CVSA) International Roadcheck 2022? The annual 72-hour roadside inspection blitz includes more than 40,000 commercial motor vehicle (CMV) inspections across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. This year’s event will run from May 17 – 19.

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The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) will host the annual International Roadcheck May 17-19 with a focus on wheel ends, which include the wheels, rims, hubs and tires on a commercial motor vehicle.

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Accidents happen! According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) most recent Traffic Safety Facts report, about 538,000 large trucks were involved in police-reported crashes in 2019. Those accidents led to 159,000 injuries and more than 5,000 deaths.

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Spring marks the start of road construction season, and with more road work projects planned nationwide, professional drivers can expect to navigate more than their fair share of work zones in 2022.

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