2015 Connecticut Truck Driving Championship

The Connecticut Truck Driving Championship organized by MTAC is coming to NETTTS on June 13. This family-friendly event features the competition, a vintage truck display, awards program and barbecue from Outback Steakhouse.

Connecticut considers study of winter road treatments

In February, MTAC sent an email to members referencing an article in the Connecticut Mirror written by Jan Ellen Spiegel concerning the use of sodium chloride, magnesium chloride and calcium chloride during the winter months and the effect the treatments have on truck parts here in southern New England.

More from NBC Connecticut.

Lawmakers in Connecticut are considering whether the state should examine the effect chemical road treatments have on state, municipal and private vehicles, bridges and highways, as well as the environment.

Today, the Transportation Committee heard testimony on a bill that would require the state Department of Transportation to analyze any possible corrosive effects of chemical road treatments.

The Motor Transport Association of Connecticut has questioned the use of such winter road treatments over the years.
Last year, the group called on the General Assembly to make deicers like magnesium chloride illegal, claiming the chemical has been corroding trucks.

Read the full article at NBC Connecticut’s website.

Keeping it clean – Tractor trailer rigs on the road

At issue are the liquid de-icers that have become a common treatment in the DOT’s battle with ice and snow. Magnesium chloride and calcium chloride are sprayed on pavement in advance of a coming storm, and these chemicals can prevent ice from forming on the roadways, making the roads safer for travel and snow removal easier.

Some of the properties that make these chemicals effective in keeping roads clear are the same characteristics that make them so destructive.

It has been noted that magnesium chloride and calcium chloride are highly water-soluble, so they produce a finer mist of spray under the vehicle than traditional rock salt.

Both these chemicals tend to absorb moisture from any source, which means that even when the weather and your equipment are dry, these chemicals continue to attract moisture. They easily mix with the water that they attract and seep into the tiniest cracks.

Frame rails, cross-members, suspension components, air tanks, fuel tanks, battery boxes, brackets, brake shoes, electrical systems, air conditioning condensers, radiators, metal coolant tubing, steel wheels, cab floors and refrigeration units are not safe. “Rust-jacking” a term used to describe when corrosion develops between the brake shoe table and the brake lining. On a rust-jacked brake shoe, rivets will still be holding part of the lining to the shoe, but in between the rivets, it’s cracked. Corrosion can seep into air brake systems, as well. This issue is not just a trucking industry concern. Some studies show that these chemicals cause concrete to deteriorate more rapidly, and electrical utilities have reported corrosion of power poles as well as electrical shorts.

For several years, MTAC has been at the forefront of the discussion about the vehicular corrosion caused by caustic road treatments. While we concede that the new materials do a good job at keeping our highways safe before, during and after winter weather events, we have brought attention to the damage caused by these chemicals.

What you can do

Research and selecting parts:

  • Look for components with corrosion resistant coatings.
  • Opt for premium brake shoes when ordering trailers.
  • Spec & retain brake dust shield.
  • Consider stainless steel parts when affordable.
  • Specify premium-wiring systems, sealed wiring connectors.
  • Specify full fenders – and fender liners when available.
  • Minimize specs combining dissimilar metals, which can cause corrosion when they touch even without the aid of de-icers. Separate such components with insulation.

Maintenance:

  • Wash trucks frequently and thoroughly, especially the underside of the chassis and where dirt and water collect.
  • Hose out radiator/AC condenser regularly when de-icing chemicals are in use.
  • Wax polished aluminum and stainless steel accessories.
  • Keep mud flaps in good repair to minimize salt spray.
  • Inspect brake shoes and linings regularly. Remove brake drums so the entire lining surface and the brake shoe web, rollers and cam can be inspected.
  • Specify rust proof painted or epoxy-coated brake shoes when rebuilding.
  • Repair chassis paint stone chips ASAP, don’t drill unnecessary holes, and paint edges where you do drill.
  • If parts need repainting, have them repainted and recoated by a professional with corrosion-resistant products.
  • Do not probe through the insulation to test wiring because it can open an avenue for chemical corrosion.
  • Clean out electrical connectors regularly with water (not soap) and a wire brush, and grease with dielectric grease. Don’t forget the seven-pin connector where it is plugged into the tractor.
  • Protect battery posts and terminals with anti-corrosive spray.

Currently in Connecticut, a study is underway to determine the efficacy of these substances, the damage that they do, the costs and benefits and whether effective alternatives are available. In the meantime, we are vigilant in our research efforts, so that we may make recommendations that help our members deal with the issue of corrosion. Understand that the washing of vehicles, where wastewater flows into watersheds, can violate certain “storm-water runoff” regulations and should be done in accordance with the law.

Malloy’s focus

“We know that transportation and economic growth are bound together. States that make long-term investments in their infrastructure can have vibrant economies for generations. States that don’t will struggle. It’s that simple,” he said. “Transportation connects us – literally – community to community, state to state, nation to nation. It connects us to economic opportunity and it connects us to one another,” he added.

While he specifically mentioned widening I-95, I-84 in Waterbury and the Walk Bridge in Norwalk, as projects he wants to address, he left the full details of his plan to be part of his 2015-2016 Budget Address to the Legislature in February.

To be sure, passenger and freight rail, transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects will be included. In fact, those who have talked to the Governor about his plan, indicate that he says he wants to do just about everything you can think of, including widening I-84 from Danbury to Waterbury, the Aetna Viaduct replacement in Hartford, widening I-95 from Greenwich to Stonington, additional train stations, parking and other upgrades to Metro-North, more bus-ways, the New Haven to Springfield commuter rail and bikeways to everywhere. He has said that his plan will take 30 years to accomplish and cost billions and billions of dollars.

Those lusting for tolls see this year as their best opportunity to tap a lucrative new revenue stream. We have made it very clear that we will strongly oppose the imposition of tolls on the existing highways of this state. In a Courant op-ed this past weekend, we insisted that Connecticut citizens be allowed to amend the State Constitution to protect the Special Transportation fund from the kind of diversions and raids which had been commonplace in the past. It appears that the Governor is amenable to this idea. But, time will tell.

DVIR “No Defect” final rule

The U.S. Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, announced on Dec. 18, 2014, that commercial motor vehicle drivers operating in interstate commerce will no longer have to comply with the daily paperwork requirement associated with completing a post-trip vehicle inspection report (DVIR) when no defects are found. An exception to this rule is the passenger-carrying CMV’s who still must adhere to the procedure.

Intrastate commerce regulations vary by state so carriers should check with their respective state motor carrier enforcement agency to determine the applicability of this ruling to the state code of regulations. Many states have adopted (all or parts of) the federal regulations.

This comes in part as a response to President Obama’s initiative to reduce paperwork without compromising safety.

Regardless of the ruling and its subsequent potential change in paperwork, it should be the responsibility of every commercial motor carrier to continue diligence in training their drivers on the proper procedure in conducting an effective vehicle inspection.

During training, supervisors can use the opportunity to advise employees of their responsibilities as a driver of a commercial motor vehicle.

In a recent trade article published by Lockton, an insurance brokerage firm, the Company suggests that trucking companies follow up scheduled vehicle maintenance results with the driver.

“When a vehicle goes through its scheduled maintenance and is found to have defects which could have been detected during normal driver pre- or post- trip inspections, use that information as an opportunity to coach the driver on the importance of conducting thorough vehicle inspections.

Quietly observe your drivers conducting vehicle inspections, to gain insight as to their normal routines. Should your driver not be conducting adequate vehicle inspections, use the observation to coach the employee on the importance of vehicle inspections.”

Whether you choose to follow the dictates of the ruling or continue with your current DVIR pre- and post-schedule, as many of our members plan to do, nothing can replace diligence when it comes to vehicle maintenance. To read more on this ruling, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website.

Distracted driving – Cell phone use in big rigs

NBC’s Connecticut Troubleshooters spent some time completing an unscientific study monitoring the cell phone habits of commercial drivers. Michael Riley, president of MTAC, was interviewed for the online article by Jeff Stoecker.

“What we don’t want is that truck driver holding that phone up to his ear,” said Michael J. Riley, president of the Motor Transport Association of CT. “That’s distracted driving. That’s dangerous.”

Riley said the trucking industry has been one of the strongest advocates for tougher laws and better training to stop distracted driving.

“We have a lot of stake here,” said Riley. “There’s a moral commitment to doing things safely, there’s an economic component to it all, and we’re proud of what we do and we don’t want to do it in a way that jeopardizes anybody’s safety.”

Read the full article online at the NBC Connecticut website.