Your Oct. 21 Pre-Trip: Highway 58 still closed, long detours for truckers

Here are five things worth knowing today:

1. Truck drivers going through California are forced to take long detours since Highway 58 has been closed for the last six days. According to ABC 23, the major truck route has been closed since last week’s mudslide occurred, and it isn’t expected to reopen until Thursday. ABC reports that truckers have had to find alternate routes that make trips longer, make other highways more congested, and double their time and fuel. ABC has more.

2. Containing seats stitched in gold thread, eucalyptus wood floors, South African upholstery, and a rear end that has been converted into a party deck, Mack Trucks just released a truck fit for a king – or in this case, a sultan. Mack built its most expensive custom truck ever for Sultan Ibrahim Ismail of the Malaysian state of Johor, according to Fox News. The semi, which is painted red, white and blue to match the Johor state flag, will be used to tow the sultan’s speedboat. According to the report, the exact price of the truck has not been revealed, but reports have estimated it costs more than $1 million.

3. The American Trucking Assns. (ATA) elected Pat Thomas, senior vice president of state government affairs for UPS, as its 71st chairman during the trade group’s annual convention in Philadelphia this week. Thomas replaces Duane Long, chairman of Longistics, Raleigh, N.C. At UPS, Thomas oversees all state legislative, regulatory and political activities for the U.S. Thomas also oversees the UPS Congressional Awareness Program, a grassroots program designed to strengthen UPS’s relationships with members of Congress in their home district. Before joining UPS, Thomas worked as a commercial pilot for various private corporations flying both people and cargo to airports throughout the U.S. and remains a certified flight instructor, according to ATA.

4. According to The Hill, the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department union opposes hair drug testing for truck drivers. Supporters of the proposal say hair tests are best because signs of drugs last longer in hair follicles than in urine. Opponents, however, maintain that hair drug testing is less reliable because scientific standards don’t exist. Critics also say that hair drug tests could lead to discrimination against minorities, who tend to have coarser hair follicles, and could potentially test positive for drugs they never took, according to the report.

5. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics just released new freight transportation data. The Freight Analysis Framework shows that in 2012, 17 billion tons of goods worth about $17.9 trillion were moved on the transportation network, according to DOT. And trucks remain the most commonly used mode of transporting freight. Trucks moved 64% of the weight and 71% of the value in 2012, according to the report.  

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