Each week we recap the hot topics in freight and compile them into one place so you can easily stay up to date on the industry. Check back each Monday and start your week off in the know. TRANSFLO & GO!

Pilot Flying J rebrands, but truck stops keep their names

Pilot Flying J is changing its name to Pilot Co., bringing all of its related brands under one corporate identity.

The company will not rebrand its Pilot and Flying J travel centers, but the Pilot Co. name will serve as an umbrella that captures the total portfolio of the business and its 28,000 employees.

“If you pull up to a Pilot, it’s going to be a Pilot. If you pull up to a Flying J, it’s going to be a Flying J,” chief experience officer Whitney Haslam Johnson told the Knoxville News. “I think it’s more about grounding us under one company with all of these different brands.”

Pilot Company supplies more than 11 billion gallons of fuel per year and has a network of more than 900 retail and fueling locations. The Pilot Flying J travel center network includes locations in 44 states and six Canadian provinces with more than 630 restaurants, 73,000 truck parking spaces, 5,200 showers, 6,200 diesel lanes, and 35 Truck Care service centers.

The company’s energy side, PFJ Energy, includes BunkerHill, Tartan Oil, Saratoga, Pro Petroleum, and Pilot Water Solutions. Over the past two years, PFJ Energy has launched work in biodiesel supply, logistics, wholesale marketing, and oil field trucking services. PFJ Energy services more than 12,000 trucking fleets and hauls 900,000 barrels of product daily.

Will video replace your truck mirror?

Rapid advancements in video technology could mean the end of mirrors on commercial trucks.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering allowing a camera monitor system, or CMS, to replace rearview and sideview mirrors.

NHTSA said such a system could provide drivers with a larger field of view and fewer blind spots, less aerodynamic drag, and reduced wind noise. The agency is not averse to video assistance: backup cameras are federally mandated technology in all new vehicles.

Audi’s electric e-tron SUV, unveiled last year, has side-view cameras instead of traditional passive side-view mirrors as an option in Europe and elsewhere. Honda is developing a camera side-view system for its Honda E electric vehicle.

Check out this video from Fleet Equipment about the camera mirror system Daimler Trucks developed for the Mercedes-Benz Actros and other commercial trucks (Daimler is the parent of Freightliner and Western Star). And while the public comment period is over, you can read NHTSA’s proposed rule on visibility systems here.

Walmart asks court to reconsider ruling on driver pay

Walmart has asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a ruling that affirmed a district court’s judgment that the company must pay its California truck drivers $54.6 million in back pay mostly for mandatory off-duty time after driving, but also some rest breaks and pre-trip and post-trip inspections.

The drivers filed a class-action suit more than a decade ago, seeking back pay for time spent for non-driving time, including mandatory breaks. In a ruling handed down on Jan. 6, the three-judge circuit court panel agreed with the lower court’s conclusion that time drivers spent on layovers was compensable if Walmart exercised control over the drivers during those breaks.

The court pointed to Walmart’s own driver pay manual, which said drivers remained under the company’s control during their 10-hour off-duty period at the end of an on-duty period.

In a Jan. 21 filing with the appeals court, Walmart said that on a few key issues, the federal district court made erroneous rulings, most importantly related to the question of whether Walmart had control of the drivers during their layovers and breaks.

“The 9th Circuit affirmed the district court, and now what Walmart is doing is asking that a 9th Circuit panel or en banc rehear the case,” Richard Pianka, deputy general counsel for American Trucking Associations, told Transport Topics. “They’re asking the 9th Circuit to take another shot at it. The control of the employees is kind of the core of the liability issue.”

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