As 2012 draws to a close, we bring you our picks for the top stories and trends of the past year, in Letterman-style reverse Top 10 order.
10. YRC Survives
Fuel shortages following Hurricane Sandy kept mobile fueling trucks busy following the storm. (FEMA photo)
For the last several years, year-end articles have been predicting the demise of YRC Worldwide.
In December 2010, The Motley Fool asked, "Will YRC Worldwide Survive 2011?"
A year later, 24/7 Wall St. listed YRC as one of 10 stocks that were unlikely to survive 2012, calling it "zombie stock."
Nevertheless, in November, YRC Worldwide reported its first quarterly profit in nearly two years, with a profit of $3 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of $122.3 million.
Meanwhile, talks between the Teamsters and rival LTL ABF got off to a rocky start in December. ABF has alleged that wage deals between the Teamsters and YRC, which have helped YRC survive, violated the National Master Freight Agreement. After a judge dismissed an ABF lawsuit against the Teamsters and YRC, ABF withdrew from the NMFA.
9. Hurricane Sandy
The hurricane-turned-superstorm named Sandy that hit the Northeast in late October disrupted fuel supplies, closed tunnels and bridges due to high winds and flooding, damaged and destroyed thousands of trucks, trailers and intermodal containers. The Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers estimated 25% of drayage trucks in the port sustained storm damage after Sandy swamped the Port of New York and New Jersey. (See New Jersey Truckers Continue to Dig Out After Sandy .
The fuel supply problems were so bad that U.S. petroleum marketers have formed a post-Hurricane Sandy task force to study changes that need to be made before the next catastrophic East Coast event occurs.
However, economists believe come spring, when rebuilding begins in earnest, the storm will benefit trucking, especially the flatbed fleets that will be hauling construction materials into the region.
8. FMCSA Cracks Down
It used to be that a notice from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that it has put a carrier out of business was big news, because it was rare. This year, and especially after the highway bill gave it more powers to do so, the agency has been pretty frequently shutting down carriers or trying to. Several out of service orders were for companies that were trying to operate as "reincarnated" carriers, something the agency is cracking down on.
Some of these shutdown stories were among the most popular on Truckinginfo.com during the year. One Kansas company was shut down for allowing drivers to cheat on their log books; only one driver was found to have NOT falsified his log.
One of the most unusual stories, and one of the most viewed of the year on Truckinginfo.com, involved the FMCSA shutting down a driver.
Georgia-licensed truck driver Johnny Felton Jr. was declared an imminent hazard as a result of the investigation after a fatal crash. He admitted to losing consciousness before hitting and killing an Illinois state trooper, and was ordered to stop operating because he failed to disclose a disqualifying medical condition during his DOT physical.
We'll continue with Part 2 on Jan. 2.