• It seems that Toyota is not the only automaker having trouble with its accelerators.  Now a new recall affecting Pontiac has gone into effect:

    Model-year 2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe vehicles are being recalled because of the risk that the accelerator pedal may malfunction.

    This recall is related to the Toyota accelerator pedal recall. The Vibe, essentially the same vehicle as the Toyota Matrix, was the product of a joint venture between GM and Toyota until GM ended it last summer. GM is no longer building the Vibe. No more than 26 new Vibes remain in Pontiac dealerships, a GM representative told Dow Jones Newswires. Sales of the vehicles have been suspended.

    Toyota will be handling the Vibe recall, Dow Jones reported.

    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site, the recall is related to how the friction lever interacts with the sliding surface of the accelerator pedal inside the pedal sensor assembly. The sliding surface of the lever has the potential to become smooth during vehicle operation. In this condition, any condensation that may form on the surface – which can occur while the heater is operating (without AC) and the pedal assembly is cold — can lead to greater friction when the accelerator pedal is engaged. This can result in the accelerator pedal becoming harder to depress, slower to return to idle or, in the worst case, mechanically stuck in a partially depressed position.

    Photo courtesy of resedabear under the Creative Commons License.


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  • New data is strengthening the argument against cell phone use due to its distracting nature behind the wheel:

    The National Safety Council estimates that at least 28 percent of all traffic crashes — or at least 1.6 million crashes each year — are caused by drivers using cell phones and texting.

    NSC estimates that 1.4 million crashes each year are caused by drivers using cell phones and a minimum of 200,000 additional crashes each year are caused by drivers who are texting. This month’s announcement came on the one-year anniversary of NSC’s call for a ban on all cell phone use and texting while driving.

    “We now know that at least 1.6 million crashes are caused by drivers using cell phones and texting,” said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “We know that cell phone use is a very risky distraction and texting is even higher risk. We now know that cell phone use causes many more crashes than texting. The main reason is that millions more drivers use cell phones than text,” she said. “That is why we need to address both cell phone use and texting on our roads.”

    In constructing its estimates, NSC said it used statistical methods and analysis based on data of driver cell phone use from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and from peer-reviewed research that quantifies the risk of using a cell phone and texting while driving. NSC said its statistical model and estimates were peer-reviewed by academic researchers in traffic safety and biostatistics.

    Photo courtesy of how long it takes under the Creative Commons License.


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  • A fuel truck flipped and burst into flames on New York’s Long Island Expressway on Saturday morning, Jan. 23, killing the driver and shutting down the highway in both directions for hours.

    The driver, 57-year-old Mujahid Shah of Brooklyn, died in the collision, police told the Associated Press. The truck he was driving for Kittery Transport, a small Maine-based trucking firm, was carrying about 1,500 gallons of gasoline.

    The crash occurred as the tanker driver tried to pass a slow-moving car that was apparently having mechanical problems. The driver of the small car was attempting to move to the shoulder of the highway when the tanker started to veer around it. The two vehicles collided and the truck lost control, AP reported.

    The fireball created by the collision was visible for miles, and resulting heat melted the supports for a huge road sign, causing the sign’s collapse across all eight lanes of the roadway. Emergency crews battled the fire for three hours after the 8 a.m. crash.

    Westbound lanes were reopened at about 6:15 p.m. But the eastbound lanes remained closed Saturday night so that workers could repave about 200 feet of road that had been damaged.

    Photo courtesy of didbygraham under the Creative Commons License.

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  • NFI Industries is sending a truckload of Polartec fabric from a warehouse in Devens, MA, to a Goodwill Industries facility in Miami as part of the relief efforts under way for victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

    “We are honored to join forces with Polartec in providing much-needed assistance to Haitian earthquake victims,” said Sid Brown, president of Cherry Hill, NJ-based NFI. “When they told us of their desire to contribute their high performance Polartec fabric, we didn’t hesitate to provide a truck and driver to make it happen.”

    The truck arrived in Miami on Tuesday. Goodwill will take the Polartec fabric and produce blankets to be sent to Haiti.

    “I was looking for a company to partner with us to move our donated fabric, and the first name that came to my mind was our warehouse partner, NFI,” said Peter Sobha, director of global credit, collections and logistics for Polartec. “I called and they responded within the hour with an affirmative.”

    Is your fleet doing anything to help in this time of need?

    Photo courtesy of United Nations Development Programme under the Creative Commons License.


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  • Chrysler Group is recalling about 24,000 late-model Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles to fix a defective part that could cause sudden, unexpected brake failure.

    The recall applies to some 2010 model year Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger sedans; Dodge Nitro, Jeep Liberty, Jeep Commander and Grand Cherokee SUVs; and 2009 and 2010 model year Ram trucks.

    Some of these vehicles could have an improperly formed brake booster rod retaining clip, and some Ram trucks may have been built without the piece. The part is necessary for consistent and proper functioning of the brakes.

    Chrysler is not aware of any crashes or injuries related to the problem, according a document Chrysler filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    The problem was initially discovered by Chrysler factory workers, according to the document.

    In one case, a worker at Chrysler’s Saltillo plant in Mexico, where Dodge Ram Heavy Duty trucks are assembled, experienced a complete loss of brake power while testing a vehicle. (The recall applies to all Ram truck models, not just Heavy Duty.)

    A few weeks earlier, a worker at the Toledo North Assembly Plant, where the Dodge Nitro and Jeep Liberty are assembled, had noticed a malformed clip.

    “The quality control systems in place caught the issue early,” Chrysler Group said in a statement. “All affected assembly plants held vehicle inventory and inspected for and replaced the clips as necessary.”

    Owners of these vehicles can contact NHTSA’s vehicle safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or Chrysler at 800-853-1403.


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  • U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and National Safety Council President Janet Froetscher have announced the creation of the first ever national non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving: a program known as FocusDriven.

    FocusDriven was created out of the September 2009 National Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C., led by Secretary LaHood.  The organization will be headed up by Jennifer Smith, an advocate against distracted driving who lost her mother in 2008 when a driver talking on a cell phone struck and killed her.

    Since the summit, family members have been working together with the DOT and the National Safety Council to form the advocacy group, which plans to use leadership, research, and education to prevent injuries and save lives.

    Modeled after the success of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), FocusDriven hopes to also provide support for victims of distracted driving, which has become an ever-increasing problem on America’s roads.

    FocusDriven’s new website, http://www.focusdriven.org, hosts information on distracted driving, help for victims and family members and ways to get involved.  Visitors can also make donations to support the non-profit organization.

    Photo courtesy of stevendamron under the Creative Comm ons License.


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  • Fuelman Has DEF

    Jan 19, 2010

    DEF is Diesel Exhaust Fluid.  It is a required additive for all 2010 model diesel vehicles.  We have 2 specific product codes – dispensed fluid and container purchases.  This will provide you with clear reporting when DEF is purchased.  Many of our merchants offer DEF.  Pilot Travel Centers are in the process of rolling DEF dispensers out to the truck islands.


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  • Via NAFA Fleet Management Association’s website, here’s some possible good news for environmentally conscious fleets.

    A proposal to allow state and local government vehicle fleets the ability to take advantage of federal tax credits was sent to the leadership of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee by NAFA’s Executive Director, Phil Russo, CAE, last week. The proposal by NAFA would allow for an Energy and Environmental Vehicle Payroll Tax Credit to be made available to state, local government, and other tax exempt entities whenever vehicle tax credits are available to regular taxpayers for clean fuel or low-emission vehicles.

    “If adopted by the Congress, the tax credits will tip the lifecycle cost analysis to make it possible for government, public utilities and public universities to do the right thing for the environment and still be fiscally responsible,” said Russo.

    The solution that NAFA is proposing is a workable and equitable one that allows state and local governments, and other tax-exempt entities, to claim a vehicle tax credit against the employer’s share of the entity’s federal payroll tax liability. In turn, the federal government would credit an equivalent amount from the General Fund to the Social Security Trust Fund. In keeping with traditional tax policy, the credit will not apply to the employee’s share of FICA and Medicare or their federal tax withholdings.

    “If we are to achieve substantial penetration of clean fuel vehicles in the national fleet, it will require a combination of tax incentives that reach all consumers – the individuals, the private sector, and the public sector, including state and local governments,” explained Russo.

    NAFA is asking Members to bring this matter to the attention of their agency or employer and recommend that they also send a letter to their Senators and Representatives. If Members or their agency/employer have any questions, they are free to contact NAFA’s U.S. Legislative Counsel, Pat O’Connor at patocconor@kentoconnor.com.

    Photo courtesy of AGeekMom under the Creative Commons License.


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  • The effects of the economic downturn may be turning around for the transport industry, in this report from PRNewswire:

    Transportation executives across the shipping world are taking a cautious view toward the prospects for economic recovery in 2010, with most businesses forecasting little substantial expansion until late in the year or even 2011, according to the special Annual Review & Outlook edition of The Journal of Commerce.

    The special annual edition – including outlooks from 170 executives from major maritime, rail, trucking and air as well as retailers and manufacturers that buy shipping services – suggests transportation carriers plan to restrict any additions of new capacity for the rest of the year until there are clear signs of real economic growth.

    That cautious approach, some industry leaders suggest, could trigger a rapid upturn in shipping prices if demand scales up more rapidly than forecast.

    For shipping industry providers and customers, 2009 will go down as one of the worst years in modern transportation history. Markets from retail to industrial tanked as the recession deepened, driving down international and domestic trade and forcing drastic measures as red ink flowed among transportation providers and suppliers alike.

    But as the economy stirred from its slumber late in the year, attitudes began to shift from “How do we survive?” to “How should we prepare for the recovery?” It marked a dramatic turnaround from the hopeless feelings of a year ago, and represented another testament to the resiliency of best-of-breed companies capable of weathering even the worst of downturns.

    Photo courtesy of photohome uk under the Creative Commons License.


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  • The Toyota Prius, America’s most popular hybrid car, will become a family of vehicles, Toyota announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit Monday.

    Toyota made the announcement at it unveiling of the FT-CH small hybrid concept car.

    The new Prius brand will take years to develop, said Bill Reinert, Toyota’s national manager for advanced technology.  The Prius cars would all be unique hybrid-only vehicles, not hybrid versions of existing cars.

    The Toyota Prius is the best-selling hybrid car in America. On its own, it accounts for more than half of all hybrids sold in America. It is Toyota’s third best-selling model after the Camry mid-sized sedan and the Corolla compact car.

    “I think hybrids will gradually move toward mainstream acceptance,” he said. “We’ve been doing them for 10 years now and they’re one to two percent, so maybe another 10 years.”

    Toyota’s move to expand its Prius brand may be a response to increased competition, said Jessica Caldwell, an industry analyst with the automotive Web site Edmunds.com

    Honda recently introduced the Insight, a less expensive car similar to the Prius and Ford has been winning awards, and sales, with its new Fusion Hybrid sedan.

    Toyota has announced plans to introduce a plug-in version of the Prius in 2011. Still, because of their reliance on expensive batteries, plug-in vehicles are likely to remain a minor factor in the auto industry for the foreseeable future, Reinert said.

    “We see them as having certain niches,” he said. “We don’t see them as being a giant mainstream product like the Prius.

    Photo courtesy of TechShowNetwork under the Creative Commons License.


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