CCJ: Best of MATS: A recap of the trends and popular stories from the show

By James Jaillet

It was a year for connectivity and tech at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., last week: Remote diagnostics, in-dash systems to help train drivers and boost fuel economy, autonomous truck mechanisms, concept trucks and data highlighted the show’s annual announcements from truck, engine and component manufacturers.

Here’s a look at some of the top announcements and stories to come out of MATS this year:

Telematics, diagnostics, driver coaching/scoring systems lead show trends: The show — for trucking press — officially began with a Tuesday night press event with Cummins, who got the ball rolling on the show’s biggest trend: “Smart” systems that use telematics and data to perform diagnostics, score drivers or induce autonomous action from a truck. Here’s what was covered by truck, engine and components makers regarding the systems:

Kenworth also announced an in-dash driver performance system, details of which will be available later in the year.

Walmart shows off concept truck: Walmart, Peterbilt, Great Dane formally introduced a concept truck that takes aerodynamic stylings to an extreme. However, what’s under the truck’s hood — if it can be called that — isn’t your conventional engine, either: It’s powered by a fuel-neutral turbine engine that can run on diesel, gasoline, natural gas, DME, hydrogen and a bevy of other fuel sources. The truck hasn’t been track tested yet, so fuel economy data hasn’t been produced yet. Click here to see more on the truck, along with a photo gallery and a video.

Truck sales outlook expected to be strong: At the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association’s Breakfast Briefing at the show, truck makers said 2014 has the potential for big gains in truck sales, stemming from aging equipment and rising truck demand. 2015, too, is expected to follow in 2014?s footsteps. In each of their press conferences at the show, most truck manufacturers gave figures, with most projecting somewhere around 250,000 trucks to be sold this year. Click here to read more.

Industry image campaign promotes trucking, drivers: Representatives of ATA, OOIDA and ACT 1 unveiled a campaign that’s been in the works for some time, one designed to bolster the trucking industry’s image and the image of drivers in the minds of the public and lawmakers. One of the key goals of the campaign — Trucking Moves America Forward — is to attract new drivers to the industry by changing how potential workers view driving jobs. A few dozen industry partners have signed on to the campaign so far, and the campaign will consist of an advertising blitz, social media campaigns, earned media and paid media. Click here to read coverage of TMAF from the show.

Still waiting on CSA crash accountability report: In a seminar titled “CSA update,” FMCSA field officer Tom Kelly said the agency has completed its study evaluating implementing crash fault weighting into CSA scores. But the study’s still undergoing review, Kelly said. Click here to read more on the questions the study seeks to answer, along with other CSA updates.

Trucking hero rescues fellow driver from fiery bridge crash: Goodyear named Ivan Vasovic as its 2014 Highway Hero for Vasovic’s heroic actions in saving a fellow driver from a fire and a crash in which the other driver’s rig was about to fall from a bridge. Vasovic in October of last year saw a double tanker hit a concrete driver, slam into a guard rail and come to rest hanging over the side of  an overpass. Diesel was leaking everywhere and caught fire. Vasovic saved the man by dragging him through the fire. Click here to read more on Vasovic’s story.

FMCSA listens to public comment on New Entrant rule: In its second listening session held on the subject, FMCSA reps, including Administrator Anne Ferro, heard public comment from trucking industry representatives at the show. The agency has been tasked by Congress to create the rule, and part of its job there is to gather public input. The first session was held in January. Click here to read more on what was said at the listening session.