🚚 Are truck maintenance fees predatory?

🚚 Are truck maintenance fees predatory?

Do you always read the fine print? For owner-operators who lease their vehicles, maintenance terms can get buried in the verbiage. It's why FMCSA is cracking down on predatory pratices in maintenance fee terms. Want to see what the investigations will entail?

Inside today's newsletter:
⛔ Mitigating truck maintenance fees
⭐ Budget Tesla in planning phase
🚨 Driver who hauled drugs sentenced
🚚 A trucking recession - or is it?
🦺 Truckers want safety tech training

FMCSA cracks down on predatory truck maintenance charges

The FMCSA has taken another step towards clamping down on “predatory” maintenance charges levied against owner-operators using leased vehicles. The organization's Truck Leasing Task Force is set to seek public feedback about how unclear terms impact drivers and affect safety.

What is the task force investigating? Drivers are usually responsible for maintaining and servicing a leased truck, and the FMCSA is concerned that contracts can create a risk of unmanageable “mechanical debt”. Some carriers have charged extra if drivers don’t use preferred workshops, taken excess payments from an escrow account or loaned money (with additional terms) to cover expensive repairs.

How is the FMCSA taking action? The Task Force will begin gathering feedback from drivers, online and at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March, where its next meeting is scheduled. A final report, due at the end of the year, is expected to call for more transparency when drivers sign contracts, and fewer restrictions when they have vehicles maintained.

Read more about the crackdown at Overdrive.


Californian startup Canoo will deliver electric delivery vans to the U.S. Postal Service during the coming weeks. USPS is electrifying its fleet as part of a $40B investment in upgrading its processing, transportation and delivery networks.

Check out the fleet at Parcel and Postal Technology International.


A Texas-based trucker is facing a 12-year jail term for hauling almost 40kg of illegal drugs. The cargo was discovered during a traffic stop in Illinois in 2022, and included heroin, fentanyl, meth and cocaine in two large duffel bags.

Read the full list of charges at CDL Life.

Trucking industry in recession, but there are hints of recovery

The ATA’s December Tonnage Index shows truck fleets hauled 1.7% less cargo during 2023 than they did in 2022 - which means the sector is still in recession.

But, there are silver linings. For-hire contracted freight volume was 2.6% higher in December than during April, while seasonally-adjusted figures for the month show only a 0.5% decline. Almost three quarters of U.S. cargo is moved by truck, which means falling tonnage can reflect wider economic challenges.

Check out the stats at Trucking.org.

Truckers challenge safety tech's unpredictability and seek training

Truckers are pushing back against active safety technology, claiming semi-automated features often respond unpredictably and can allow drivers to ‘zone out’ on long journeys.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) have become increasingly common in new trucks, and NHTSA is considering mandating even more of them. However, these require the driver to stay alert or even take control in some situations, and experts have warned that this half-way house is problematic without adequate training.

Delve into the issue at Freight Waves.

Volvo's VNL: New truck fleets arriving in April

Volvo’s new Class 8 tractor is a barometer for the fast-paced changes heading for truck fleets over the next decade. The VNL is streamlined for efficiency, designed for future fuels (including electric and hydrogen) and autonomous driving, while offering the latest connected features and enabling easier fault-finding. Deliveries of the model start in April.

Take a peek at the new vehicles at Fleet Owner.

Quote of the Day:

“The Chinese car companies are the most competitive car companies in the world. If there are not trade barriers established, they will pretty much demolish all other car companies in the world. They're extremely good.” -- Elon Musk, Tesla CEO

I’m so glad you joined us for another information-packed edition of The Inside Lane. I’m always looking for the “next big story” that affects you and your fleet operations – let me know if you see or hear of anything we should be covering in this newsletter.