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HELP me if you can Heavy Vehicle Electronic License Plate (HELP) announced that it is testing a program to incorporate safety data into its bypass system. Currently, HELP's PrePass Service Center stores critical safety data for each carrier enrolled in the program on a CD-ROM that is updated periodically. Under the pilot program, HELP data would tie in with the Federal Highway Administration's online

HELP me if you can Heavy Vehicle Electronic License Plate (HELP) announced that it is testing a program to incorporate safety data into its bypass system. Currently, HELP's PrePass Service Center stores critical safety data for each carrier enrolled in the program on a CD-ROM that is updated periodically. Under the pilot program, HELP data would tie in with the Federal Highway Administration's online safety and fitness electronic records, which are verified weekly.

At the same time, the organization has approved a new pricing schedule designed to balance the service between large and small customers, and frequent and infrequent users. The new plan offers a capped pay-per-pass of 99› per truck for each successful bypass, not to exceed $3.96 daily. The other option, designed for high-volume users, charges $85 per truck a month for unlimited bypasses.

How clean is clean? The Foundation for Clean Air Progress has released results from two national studies showing that while the majority of the American public believes that the air is getting dirtier, EPA data shows that the air is really getting cleaner and will continue to improve. Major reductions in emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and lead were reported.

At the same time, the Engine Manufacturers Assn. (EMA) and the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) last month launched a public education program aimed at helping drivers and owners operate cleaner fleets.

"Efforts to reduce truck emissions have been very successful over the last 10 years," says Allen Schaeffer, vp of environmental affairs for ATA. "It would take eight modern trucks to equal the emissions of a single truck produced in 1987. This is the result of advances in diesel engine technology, the use of cleaner-burning diesel fuel, and aggressive maintenance practices by fleet managers."

To build on this track record, EMA and ATA announced a program, "On the Road to Clean Air," which provides operators with information and maintenance guidelines they can use to lower emissions. It consists of:

Broad distribution of an educational brochure and other materials throughout the industry;

Partnerships with state and regional air quality officials, truck dealers, engine repair facilities, and truck stops to make available the educational materials;

Promoting environmental awareness as part of the basic curriculum at truck driver and automotive repair schools; Public service announcements;

Distribution of a clean-air awareness video; and

Developing a guidance document with EPA for state air-quality regulators on conducting emissions tests on diesel trucks.

Meanwhile, Rollins Leasing Corp. has released a brochure outlining key areas governed by environmental regulations. For a copy, call Rollins at 1-800-752-2677.

Without a scorecard In an era of great volatility in trucking, it's getting so that you can't tell the players without a scorecard. Just last month, Caliber System announced a downsizing of Viking Freight. Caliber had tried to make Viking into a nationwide LTL carrier, a move that the marketplace never accepted. Viking will retreat to regional-carrier status, operating in 12 western states. In a related move, Caliber announced that it was pulling the plug on Coles Express, a northeastern regional LTL carrier, and Spartan Express, a southeastern regional LTL carrier. Caliber has also put Central Freight Lines up for sale. One of Caliber's former siblings, Roadway Express, has finalized its purchase of Reimer Express Lines of Winnipeg.

At the same time, Arnold Industries announced it will merge its three truckload regional operations -- LebArnold Inc., SilverEagle Transport, and Dalworth Trucking -- with Arnold Logistics, a distribution and warehousing company, into a single unit. The move is expected to boost equipment utilization and overhead expenses.

Cost reduction is not the only factor driving industry consolidation. U.S. Xpress Enterprises boosted its presence in the Midwest with the acquisition of JTI Inc., a truckload carrier based in Lincoln, Neb.

Also, Con-Way Truckload Services formed a strategic alliance with GST Corp. that will allow each company to provide an enhanced package of rail/intermodal transportation services.

Consolidated Freightways formed a new third-party logistics company, Redwood Systems, specializing in supply-chain management for manufacturing or retailing businesses. The new company offers management services such as dedicated contract warehousing and carriage, information-based logistics services, and worldwide multimodal logistics.

Werner Enterprises has joined forces with the Hub Group, the nation's largest freight intermediary.

Finally, Covenant Transport and J.B. Hunt Transport Services announced plans to jointly market transcontinental truckload services.

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