Archive for November, 2009


Continental Airlines Fined

The Aviation Enforcement Office (AEO) fined Continental Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines $100,000 for their roles in keeping passengers on board Continental Express flight 2816 overnight at Rochester International Airport on August 8, 2009. Continental must also provide a full refund to each passenger and also offer passengers additional compensation to materially acknowledge their discomfort.

Mesaba Airlines was also fined $75,000. Mesaba provided ground handling for the flight.

Flight 2816 was en route from Houston to Minneapolis carrying 47 passengers when thunderstorms forced it to divert to Rochester. The airport closed and a Mesaba employee refused to open the terminal for the stranded passengers, who remaind on the tarnac overnight for 5 1/2 hours.

The passengers spent an uncomfortable night in the 50-seat jet with babies crying and a foul odor emanating from the toilet. They were allowed off the plane in the morning and later got back on for a short flight to Minneapolis-St. Paul.

 This unpresidented move should send a signal to the rest of the airline industry that airlines must respect the rights of air travelers.

Down the Thanksgiving Road – Mike


Capital Christmas Tree Transportation

A big to do in Arizona this month as the U.S. Capital Christmas tree was chopped down from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest , along with 80 companion trees, to head to our nation’s capital. The giant 85 foot Blue Spruce is taller than a six story building.

The Apache National Forest was first founded based on a conservation effort by Aldo Leopold 100 years ago. “Leopold was considered a pioneer in the conservation of natural resources. So it’s also fitting that this year will mark the first time the tree has been transported in a vehicle running on the alternative fuel biodiesel.” (writes Brian Straight, managing editor of Fleet Owner Magazine).

Seriously, no matter how you spin it, chopping down an 85 foot tree, estimated at being over 70 years old and 80 other trees is hardly considered, “conservation” in my brain. But wait, there is more…

The tractor pulling the tree itself is a 1991 Mack with a red, white and blue color scheme. Also, a 2001 Peterbilt will be hauling a second load. The tree itself will travel on a Fontaine flat bed stretch trailer with an insertable deck. The trailer will extended to its full 80-ft. length and the total travel length of the vehicle will 102 ft.

The Peterbilt will haul a 53-ft. Utility Trailer van. Both trucks will make stops in Flagstaff, Show Low, Springerville, and Window Rock, AR, and Gallup, NM. Along the stops, 6,000 ornaments and 80 “companion trees,” which will be displayed around the Capitol Tree, will be added to the convoy. These trucks will get approximately 4 to 6 miles per gallon.

The total trip will take about 24 days, a 10 day tour around the state of Arizona and another 2 weeks to travel to the Capital in Washington and will cover about 4000 miles. A route that will visit cities throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia and Maryland. Let’s see, that’s 4000 miles at, we’ll call it 6 mpg, that’s a bit over 1300 gallons of fuel for both trucks to reach the capital.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for tradition, and it is nice for the state of Arizona to donate such a beautiful 85 foot Blue Spruce tree for the Capital Christmas tree. It’s going to look magnificent. However, (you were waiting for that word, weren’t you) I can’t see where the word “conservation” comes into play. It takes a lot of fuel, equipment, manpower and pre-planning by many folks to make this all happen. The cost of the entire operation is expected to reach about $200,000, the bulk of that will be covered by cash and in-kind donations.

I can only hope that when the tree gets to it’s destination that it will still be The Capital Christmas Tree and not The Capital Holiday Tree.

You agree?

Down the Road – Mike


Texting While Driving – Just Don’t Do It

Earlier I posted a short blurb… Driving is the most “routine” dangerous thing most of us ever do. It deserves your full attention.

Did that impact your thinking in any way?

Today is the I am posting a couple of video links that show the dangers of distracted driving. It would be dangerously wrong to fixate on cell phones and other electronic devices as the only source of distractions. Eating food, disruptive passengers, fatigue, highly emotional conversations, road rage, etc… are all distractions that take us away from the business of driving.

However, texting by teens and others seems to be gaining more and more popularity, some individuals texting thousands of hours in a month. One study indicates that texting puts a driver in the same distracted mode as a drunk driver with .08 alcohol concentration.

We should all make every reasonable effort to eliminate or at least minimize all sources of distraction while we are driving.
Here is why:
This story is about how an “All American Kid”, Reggie Shaw, took the lives of two while using his cell phone. (15:12)
A Fox News article about a public service announcement that was prepared for and shown to UK high school students about the dangers of distracted driving. (Warning: very graphic content) (4:16)

If you know of anyone who texts or gets destrated easliy while driving please pass on these videos.

Down the Road – Mike



While your commercial truck is idle you cannot idle, at least not for very long. Unfortunately, this is no longer an idle trend as many municipalities across the country are enacting such laws.


As of September 1, 2009, certain cities and counties in Texas are no longer allowing drivers to idle their trucks while using a sleeper berth to comply with government-mandated rest periods. A number of Texas cities and counties have agreed to enforcement of a State regulation which limits idling to 5-minutes from April through October while providing some operational exemptions. Local enforcement agreements have been established in the following areas:

Cities: Arlington, Austin, Bastrop, Benbrook, Celina, Cedar Hill, Colleyville, Dallas, Elgin, Euless, Georgetown, Hurst, Hutto, Keene, Lake Worth, Lancaster, Little Elm, Lockhart, Luling, Mabank, McKinney, Mesquite, North Richland Hills, Pecan Hill, Round Rock, Rowlett, San Marcos, University Park, Westlake

Counties: Bastrop, Caldwell, Collin, Hays, Kaufman, Tarrant, Travis, Williamson

Some twenty five states have already put fines in place, ranging from $50 to $1000 for idling for periods as short as 3 minutes. For a complete list visit

Source: American Transportation Research Institute ATRI.

Down the Road – Mike



Driving is the most “routine” dangerous thing most of us ever do.

It deserves your full attention.

Watch for an impact message later this week on driving distractions. A must read for teen drivers.

Down the Road – Mike


Fueling Economy

Quite frequently I get asked questions concerning why the price of gasoline or diesel has gone off the charts. Even with my experience in the petroleum distribution industry this can be a convoluted topic. This week I turned this question over to Glen Sokolis who had a pretty simple answer. All things considered this is not always the case with fuel pricing, so thanks Glen.


Here is a reprint of Glen’s article this week; “Fuel Prices, fuel prices where are you going?” In the fuel management business we are often asked where do we think fuel prices are going to go.  I basically tell them, if I knew that I would be long retired back when I was in my early 30’s.  The problem with fuel is so many factors effect it’s price.

Over the last several weeks we have seen diesel fuel prices increase 20 cents a gallon, gas prices increase 16 cents a gallon and crude oil go up by over $13 dollars a barrel.  Most people ask why.  We ask why.  The fuel market is crowded with supply and not enough demand yet.  Though over the last few weeks we have seen inventories go down a little but we are still swimming in fuel supply. 

The reason for the sharp increase over the past month has been a weak U.S. Dollar.  Since oil is priced in dollars on global markets, a weak dollar drives oil prices up.  The weak dollar leads investors to put cash into assets such as oil and gold to protect against the weaker dollar.  When this happens the price of oil is driven up higher not because there isn’t enough supply, it’s due to the fact more people are buying which just pushes the cost higher.

We all know why the dollar is weak, right? As a country we have been able to take the national debt from under 6 trillion dollars in 2000 to over 12 trillion dollars and growing. (You thought your credit card bill was high).  To do this we have to borrow money, as we borrow money it puts pressure on the U.S. Dollar.  With 12 trillion dollars owed and economic stimulus still being rolled out in one form or another, don’t expect the pressure to be taken off fuel in this segment anytime soon.

Glen Sokolis of Sokolis Group help to develop money-saving fuel strategies and deliver comprehensive fuel programs that will improve your company’s bottom line. Learn more at:

Do you feel it’s okay for our government continue to give money away and devalue the dollar? I know that’s a “can of worms” type question, but how long can this go on?

Down the Road – Mike


Driver Appreciation Week is here

Driver Appreciation Week celebrates the 3.5 million professional truck drivers delivering life’s essentials across our country everyday.


National Truck Driver Appreciation Week 2009 takes place this week, November 1-7.

There are over 3.5 million professional truck drivers nationwide, delivering the goods U.S. consumers need every day of the year. Logging over 432 billion miles per year, trucks delivered 10.7 billion tons of freight in 2007, or almost 70 percent of total U.S. freight. Professional truck drivers are more essential to the national economy than ever before, and they deliver their loads safely and professionally.


Here are a few low cost ideas to help celebrate with your drivers:

1)     Bring in breakfast tacos and juice for the drivers

2)     Have the driver’s truck fueled and/or washed for them before they get in

3)     Send a “Thank You” card to the driver’s home address

4)     Call individual drivers into your office and thank them personally

5)     Prepare a snack pack for each driver to take with them on the road (you can even include a thank you note inside).

6)     Give each driver a pocket version of the Bible or other motivational book to keep on their truck. 

Do something today to show your appreciation to a driver.

Down the Road – Mike 



Show your appreciation November 1 -7, 2009



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