Identification lamps on trucks and trailers that are more than 80 in. wide must now be mounted as close to the top of the vehicle as is practical, according to NHTSA's interpretation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108. The same requirement applies to clearance lamps, except when rear identification lamps are mounted at the extreme height of the vehicle.

NHTSA had previously allowed manufacturers to determine whether or not it was practical to mount identification lamps near the top of the vehicle. Consequently, the lamps on many vehicles, particularly van-type trailers, were mounted on the lower sill below the rear doors, even in cases where there was sufficient space to place the lamps in the header area.

Now that narrow lamps are more readily available, however, NHTSA will no longer defer to a manufacturer's subjective determination of what is practical. According to the agency, when the headers extend at least 1 in. above the rear doors it will be considered practical to locate lamps on the headers of vehicles.

NHTSA plans to publish its current interpretation of the location requirements of Standard No. 108 before bringing enforcement actions against OEMs.

In a bid to reduce the number of passenger cars running into the rear of truck trailers at night and when visibility is poor, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will require trucking companies to install reflective tape or reflectors on all trailers. This is the first time the agency has required trucking companies to retrofit vehicles to meet a new vehicle standard.

Trailer manufacturers have been required to equip new trailers with red and white reflective tape or reflex reflectors since 1993. The final rule, which applies to trailers manufactured before December 1, 1993, becomes effective June 1, 1999, and requires motor carriers to complete retrofitting of older trailers within two years.

FHWA will allow motor carriers that have voluntarily fitted pre-1993 trailers with tape that is not red and white to continue using the non-conforming colors for 10 years. However, the rule requires that all trailers must be equipped with red-and-white reflective tape or reflex reflectors by June 1, 2009.

Drivers and driver issues will be the top priority for newly elected Truckload Carriers Assn. (TCA) chairman Gary Baumhover, senior vp-business development for Grojean Transportation. At the group's annual meeting in Las Vegas, Baumhover dubbed 1999-2000 the "Year of the Driver."

* Top three honors for "Company Equipment Driver of the Year" went to: Billy M. Grider, FFE Transportation Services, Dallas; Donald D. Reynolds, Yellowstone Trucking, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; and Joseph F. Weller, D.M. Bowman, Williamsport, Md.

* "The Past Chairmen's Award" was presented to Herald "Smitty" Smith, founder and chairman of CRST International, and posthumously to Lee J. Crittenden, former senior vp-industry relations for Associates Commercial Corp.

* Herb Schmidt, senior vp-sales/marketing for Contract Freighters Inc., received the "Lee J. Crittenden Memorial Award" in recognition of his efforts to promote the ideals and goals of the Professional Truck Driver Institute.

More than 1,600 needy families in Louisville, Ky., are the beneficiaries of a food drive conducted by 18 Wheels of Hope. Two tractor-trailer loads of food - more than 60,000 lb. - were distributed to the city's Wayside Christian Mission.

Sponsored by Comdata Corp. and supported by hundreds of companies and individual drivers in the industry, the campaign benefits hungry children and their families across the country. Last year, over 556 truckloads of food and more than $128,000 in cash donations were collected.

Changes to the rules governing cargo tank unloading operations for liquefied compressed gases (LCG) have been proposed by DOT's Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA).

The measures, which include rigorous new inspection, maintenance, and testing requirements for cargo tank discharge systems, aim to prevent accidental releases of dangerous gases during unloading.

New requirements for monitoring the unloading operations of certain LCGs have been added. These take into account unique operating characteristics, while assuring that the person attending the unloading operation can quickly determine if an unintentional release has occurred.

New requirements have also been outlined for emergency discharge control equipment on cargo tank vehicles, such as passive systems that will automatically shut down unloading, and remote control devices that enable attendants to stop the unloading process at a safe distance from the vehicle.

RSPA is proposing a two-year period for technology development and testing, after which new cargo tank vehicles would be reuired to have the appropriate equipment installed. Vehicles already in service would be retrofitted over a five-year period.

To better control the estimated 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials that occur every day, DOT's Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) last month proposed a dramatic increase in registration fees for those shipments. The fees are used to help local communities respond to haz-mat incidents.

The proposal would increase the annual registration fee from $300 to $2,000 for shippers and carriers not classified as "small businesses" under criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Those meeting SBA criteria will continue to pay the $300 fee.

RSPA is also broadening registration criteria. Anyone offering or transporting hazardous materials that must be placarded will now be required to register, with the exception of farmers.

Tire Management Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bandag Inc. assumed management of tires for Roadway Express. Although exact terms of the outsourcing contract were not disclosed, the long-term agreement involves more than 70 dealers who are part of the Bandag Strategic Alliance and Roadway terminals across the country.

Outsourcing contracts such as this may involve a wide range of services, according to Bandag, including but not limited to tire selection by wheel position and application, disposal of scrap tires, tire repairs, emergency roadside service, management reporting, and billing/ payables administration.

The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) has approved courses at another 11 truck driver training schools, bringing the total number of certified programs across the U. S. and Canada to 41.

To achieve certification, courses must meet nationally recognized standards, including the recently incorporated FHWA "Minimum Standards for Training Tractor-Trailer Drivers."

As part of the certification process, an on-site evaluation team from PTDI scrutinizes the school's existing standards, procedures, and practices.

A ruling on vision waivers shows that the Federal Highway Safety Administration (FHWA) recognizes that some drivers can adapt their driving to accommodate vision limitations and still drive safely.

The agency recently granted vision exemptions to 23 people who did not meet the federal vision requirements in one of their eyes. The exemptions will allow them to drive in interstate commerce; without the exemptions they would be limited to intrastate driving.

In evaluating the requests, the agency says that medical reports, driving records, and experience with the deficiency were taken into consideration.

As part of the new federal highway bill (TEA-21), FHWA can now grant waivers for up to three months or exemptions for renewable two-year periods.

Wayne Carpenter, a driver for Cheshire Oil Co. in Keene, N.H., was chosen as the 1998 Goodyear North American Highway Hero for his efforts to rescue a driver from a burning car last August. Other finalists for the award were Christopher Sackos, Lawrence, Mass.; Mark Asselin and Mark Savarie, Ontario; and Jamie Pritchard, Elk Park, N.C., who lost his life attempting to help a family whose car had run into a guard rail.

* AlliedSignal Truck Brake Systems has appointed Teri Sciria to the position of manager, marketing communications and promotions.

* Gary Ciapetta has assumed duties as director of marketing for Hendrickson Trailer Suspension Systems.

* Gene Scoggins has joined The National Truck Leasing System as vp-sales.

* Stephen F. Campbell has been appointed executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance; he replaces William Fiste, who retired last December.

* Alan Morrissey was elected chairman of the Brake Manufacturers Council. Other officers elected include Peter Morse, vice chairman, and Bernadette Buell, secretary-treasurer.

* Coltec Industries has promoted Jim Reis to vp-sales and marketing of Stemco Truck Products.

* TRISEAL Corp. has brought Timothy R. Kraus on board as director of sales and marketing in charge of new business development for Heavy Duty Wheel Seal Products.

* Gary D. Nichols has been named director of CFI's new dedicated fleet services division. Dennis Burns becomes the carrier's new director of marketing.

* Daniel W. Vertachnik has been appointed vp-sales and marketing at National Freight.

* USF Holland has appointed Darryl Lokers to the position of vp-equipment and maintenance.

* David Caldwell has joined OTR Express as vp-fleet operations.

* Rollins Leasing Corp. has named Mark Richardi vp-maintenance. Ken Adkins moves to the position of vp-dedicated operations for Rollins Logistics.

* Phil Van Wormer is named senior vp-marketing for Transport International Pool.