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  • The Rise of Drones: what does it mean for drivers?

    by Charlotte Freed | Oct 19, 2018

    Drone delivering package
    Earlier this year, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao described the department’s stance on drones as at its “tipping point.” With at least 100,000 pilots registered with the FAA, over 1 million active devices, and burgeoning to a $1 billion industry in the U.S. alone - the path forward is undeniable.

    A pilot program extending to October 2020 meant to develop regulations for drones aims to safely integrate drones into society’s aviation space while allowing the country to “reap the safety and economic benefits drones have to offer,” with delivery and e-commerce seeing a large chunk of those financial returns.

    In 2016, Amazon delivered the first package via drone in a total of 13 minutes from order completion to delivery. Traveling up to 50 miles per hour and able to carry goods weighing five pounds or less (accounting for 86 percent of Amazon’s products sold), the economical and fast deliveries become more attractive with each trial. The behemoth company continues to test and focus on drone delivery, having received a patent for sky-based, floating product-distribution warehouses carried by blimps. Called aerial fulfillment centers (AFCs), the floating warehouses are meant to solely exist to “maintain an inventory of items that may be purchased by a user and delivered to the user by a UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] that is deployed from the AFC,” reports the patent document. Other shipping companies including UPS and FedEx Corp. are working on their own drone delivery programs, testing routes and accuracy to ensure a seamless operation.

    With the driver shortage continuing to tighten, shippers are looking to driver alternatives to keep up with the demands of e-commerce and consumers. UPS says that reducing one driver mile a day can increase revenue by up to $50 million annually, but that drivers shouldn’t worry about being replaced by drones. Kyle Peterson, UPS spokesperson explains “We believe drones could someday provide opportunities for network improvements that’s generate efficiencies and customer benefits that enable us to grow our business,” adding that “drones cannot replace our uniformed service providers, who offer a level of service and human interaction that our customers tell us they value, respect, and trust.” Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability also says “Drivers are the face of our company, and that won’t change.” 

    The jury is still out on how exactly drones will effect drivers. Some consider the upsides, seeing the convenience factor as taking unnecessary work off drivers’ hands and allowing them to focus on faster delivery. Others note that with the assistance of drones, the number of trucks needed to deploy will lessen and in turn, so will the demand for drivers. Regardless of these views, technology continues to careen ahead. Just like smartphones, automation, and AI have helped improve certain aspects of the trucking industry for both carriers and drivers alike, the world waits to see how drones influence shipping and the overall human experience.
  • Fatalities Involving Large Trucks Increased in 2017

    by Charlotte Freed | Oct 12, 2018

    A truck crash spills goods onto the road
    Mortal highway crashes decreased by 673 in 2017 from 2016, except for when large trucks were involved. Rather, recent Department of Transportation statistics show that they actually increased by 9 percent. Large trucks are defined as any truck with a GVWR greater than 10,000 pounds, including commercial and non-commercial vehicles. Tractor-trailers and straight trucks are not included in this definition.

    Fatalities increase by 18.7 percent in crashes involving single-unit straight trucks and by 5.8 percent in crashes involving tractor-trailer combinations. Out of 37,133 total fatalities, 4,761 involved large trucks. SUV fatalities also increased by 3 percent from 2016 to 2017.

    Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Ray Martinez pointed out that failing to wear a seatbelt was responsible for a quarter of occupant deaths in large truck-involved accidents. Secretary of Transportation’s Elaine Chao said that “Safety is the Department’s number-one priority,” and while the overall fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles decreased 2.5 percent last year, it is estimated that vehicle fatalities from January to June of 2018 had decreased.

    NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi R. King highlights the dangerous actions of speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol with a plea for extra attention surrounding drug-impaired driving.

    You can access the NHTSA’s detailed report here.

  • New Test Accurately Detects Driver Fatigue

    by Charlotte Freed | Oct 04, 2018
    Driver falls asleep behind the wheel

    A recent study conducted at The Sleep Research Centre in England could be changing the way sleep deprivation is assessed in motorists. The study revealed that blood samples could accurately detect whether the sample came from a sleep-deprived or well-rested person.

    The study identified a subset of 68 genes that researchers will use as biomarkers to develop a blood test to accurately calculate how much sleep a person has had. This test will improve the accuracy of current tests which assesses fatigue based on observable driver drowsiness, focusing on eyelid closures.

    Sleep deprivation and fatigued driving are two issues the FMCSA has been attempting to address with HOS regulations. Studies show that drivers who get five to six hours of sleep rather than the recommended seven to eight hours double their likelihood of being involved in a collision.

    Your safety is more important. Avoid driving fatigued by following these tips:

    1. Get a full night’s sleep before getting behind the wheel.
    2. Never drive after taking medication that induces drowsiness.
    3. Pull over to safe area for a rest if needed.
    4. Understand and act if when your body signals fatigue.
  • Spotlight Story: Jaime Barrera

    by Charlotte Freed | Sep 28, 2018

    Jamie Barrera proudly stands next to historic site in Texas
    Sometimes life has an interesting way of taking you through its path. Jaime Barrera shared his story with us so that we could understand his journey into the trucking world: From driver to Site Manager at GAF. Jaime’s journey into trucking wasn’t necessarily expected, but like many success stories, has been an impactful journey for a multitude of reasons.

    Before Jaime’s father passed away, Jaime had spent life in a small town, never having explored outside the close proximity of home. Working as a toolmaker, Jaime decided that after the loss of his dad, it was time to get out of the area and explore. He had seen his father’s dedication to hard work and raising his eight children, never really having the opportunity to enjoy retirement due to his illness. Jaime was inspired by his parent’s hard work and perseverance toward building an enriched life and decided to follow his desire to travel while maintaining the work ethic instilled in him.

    Jaime hopped on his motorcycle and as he was riding, saw a sign for a truck driver seminar. It was the literal sign that changed his life. He flew through the test class, then told his wife he was heading out to the Tri States to go to trucking school and that he would return for her. And he did.  

    It took Jaime six months after completing trucking school to reunite with his wife. He flew her to where he was working so they could drive together, spending Christmas and New Years in his truck. Soon after returning home, he was referred to a company where he would work as a flatbed driver and in numerous driving roles. Over time, the constant travel across state to state began to wear on Jaime. Finally, he was introduced to Maureen at Centerline who heard him loud and clear when he said, “I’m tired.”

    She helped place him in a long-term position where he could excel. Initially a tanker driver, Jaime showed promise and the ability to do a great job in a number of roles, landing a position as a dispatcher. He’s been with his team for eight years now. After spending time with a number of companies, he acquired skills that would allow him to operate in a number of roles. As a training manager, Jaime made sure to take the time to understand the role by riding a week with everyone. He explained “How can I be a training manager if I didn’t have the experience? You can’t talk about something unless you’ve done it, so you understand.”

    Jaime shares that his variety of work experiences has helped prepare him for his current position as a site manager. He learned to adapt, to work in different scenarios, and to deal with different drivers, trucks and capabilities. The respect that comes from other drivers knowing he has been on the ground and behind the wheel is enormous. It makes a difference knowing where they’re coming from and what they’re handling in their day-to-day.

    Jaime says that the skills he thinks are most important for drivers are to be willing and open to receive feedback and to take constructive criticism. He says that to master your trade, you’ve got to be receptive to insights from drivers who know the job well and if someone is willing to teach you something, accept it and continue to improve.

    He stresses the importance of cross-training, for companies and drivers alike. All of the drivers he works with are cross-trained, making them excellent resources of knowledge and skill. Not only is it a benefit for the company as a whole, but for the drivers; they’re available for more opportunities and growth in the industry – not to mention more potential working hours.

    Jaime truly cares about the well-being of his fellow drivers. And he’s there to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Jaime has become known for his giving back to the community. One way he does this is by welcoming drivers into his own home when they have nowhere else to go, sometimes for several months at a time. He recalls a time where one of his drivers was going through relationship troubles and didn’t have anywhere to stay. Jaime saw the driver in distress, called his wife to agree to a houseguest, and welcomed him into their home. Over the next six months, Jaime helped the driver work on his self-esteem, work out his financials, and into an independent situation. This was only one of the times he helped someone in need, the same scenario playing out multiple times since.

    When Jaime isn’t working as site manager, he manages two side projects where he organizes warehouses and storage spaces, taking anything that can be put to use – like beds, books, and electronics – to the penitentiary or to shelters for people in need. Sometimes, they’ll even arrange whole homes for families going through a difficult time – all free of charge, all a donation of their time and efforts. Jaime humbly explains that he learned of giving freely from his dad, saying his father always said, “If you don‘t find a way to give back then [you don’t] deserve the lessons that people want to give you.”

    Jaime extends compassion and generosity in all realms of life, whether with his work team, strangers, or family. It is clear that he truly values life, both his own and those around him. Jaime dedicates himself to honoring the sacrifices his parents made to give him the life he has now and to building relationships wherever he goes. We can only imagine what the world would look like if it had more people like Jaime Barrera, but we’re grateful to know there is even just one.

  • Trucking Regulations Stall While Enforcements Swells

    by Charlotte Freed | Sep 21, 2018

    Drivers continue their work as the government debates rules and regulations
    Since the newest administration has taken the reins, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has slowed their regulatory moves, but enforcement levels have only increased. Some rules that have been sidelined include liability insurance increases, sleep apnea standards, and changes to safety ratings.

    Still, rules remain in the works around military license and CDL reciprocity, UCR fee reductions, and allowance of electronic records and signatures. Additional initiatives include a grandfathered AOBRD software provision on ELDs and changes in personal conveyance rules for truckers along with hours-of-service changes. The CSA model, drug testing by hair, and the drug and alcohol clearinghouse are all changes being further explored.

    Additionally being reviewed is the HR 5417 (REST Act) and HR 6178, (HOURS Act). The REST Act covers provisions allowing a three hour rest break, 14-hour clock pause, and removing the 30-minute break requirement. The HOURS Act includes provisions including an agriculture exemption, short-haul alignment, reducing supporting documents, and skipping an advanced notice of proposed split sleeper rulemaking. While both the HOURS and REST Acts have bipartisan support, industry stakeholders question whether they will make it past the House.

    As many regulations have been placed on the backburner, enforcement cases continue to rise.

  • Are ELDs squeezing already tight parking situations?

    by Charlotte Freed | Sep 14, 2018

    Trucks struggle to find parking
    Drivers are reporting that the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is squeezing them for time in already difficult parking situations. A report from Trucker Path shows that 80 percent of 5,400 surveyed drivers believed that regulations around the ELD have made parking more difficult. Data shows that in comparison to last year, drivers search for parking information even more in the evening hours.

    Drivers listed truck parking as the highest stressor in their jobs, with ELDs and hours of service following. From the surveyed drivers, 70 percent admit to having violated HOS rules due to difficulty finding parking, and 96 percent say they have parked in unauthorized areas when legal parking was hard to find.

    The low capacity levels in tandem with personal conveyance rules add to stress, with only an estimated 330,000 truck parking spots total in the U.S., combining those at truck stops, weigh stations, commercial shopping centers, and truck scales.

    While the number of available parking spots has increased since previous years, most truckers say it remains as much of an issue as ever. This is directly opposed to what many experts believe, with American Trucking Associations (ATA) vice president of highway policy, Darrin Roth, having explained earlier this year that “there are more spaces available than demand” on a nationwide and statewide basis.

    Still, efforts continue towards figuring out why drivers are experiencing the frustrations of a shortage and how public and private sectors can help fix the problem. Technology is stepping up to see how it can assist, with apps like Trucker Path letting drivers report and gain insight into where parking is available. While insights like this may help save time looking for spots, the technology doesn’t actually provide more spaces…a necessity for drivers who keep our economy moving.

  • Trucks Burned and Abandoned Due To California Wildfire

    by Charlotte Freed | Sep 07, 2018

    The Delta Forest Fire rages
    While the smoke has cleared in some areas of the country, a major wildfire called The Delta Fire in Redding has prompted the closure of miles upon miles of California freeway on September 6. After tripling in size over the course of one night, the fire swept through both sides of I-5 nearing Oregon and has required mandatory evacuations after spreading 23 square miles.

    The fire has caused truckers to abandon their vehicles on the road. Roughly 17 trucks have been abandoned and at least four have caught fire. The fire has left vehicles scattered along 45 miles of closed interstate and has delayed service on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight between Oregon and Sacramento. Homes are under evacuation orders and the fire is still showing “critical” behaviors, with no end in sight.

    The U.S. Forest Service has launched a full aircraft attack and ground response with over 600 firefighters battling the extreme flames. The fire was human-caused, but no further details have been provided. A fire in the same area destroyed 1,100 homes and killed eight people in August and was only fully contained last week.

  • Spotlight Story: Shannon McCall

    by Charlotte Freed | Aug 31, 2018

    Pro Driver shares driving tips
    For many in the industry, it’s no surprise to hear how taxing being a professional driver can be. High demands from numerous customers, counting every minute as the clock ticks, and the countless responsibilities of delivering essential goods while navigating the roads with the public are all stressors that takes a strong, dedicated individual to face head on. When we spoke with Shannon McCall, a truck driver for the past fourteen years who now works with Centerline, it was clear that she has the chops to take on the trucking life.

    Her first time in the seat of a truck, Shannon was amazed at how far up she felt and couldn’t wait to get out and begin driving. Before she could get on the road Shannon had to hit the books. School taught Shannon and her classmates how to conduct pre-inspections, move tandems, shift gears, and drive well, but she was left knowing that there were some things that could only be learned from firsthand experience.

    It took Shannon a bit of time before she hit her stride and found a mentor in trucking. She eventually connected with a guide at UPS who taught her the ropes: to nap when she found the opportunity, to take strategic stops for a stretch and to reinvigorate, to accept the responsibilities that come with independence, and to continually adapt.

    Now, Shannon shares her knowledge with the next wave of new drivers: always pay attention. Don’t become complacent. Know the importance of pre-trip inspections. Take safety seriously. Stay up-to-date on the news. With her tried-and-true wisdom, we expect that one day- Shannon will find herself as a mentor to a trucking newcomer. And as a community, we’re glad we can count on people like her.

  • 8 Items Inspectors Look For During Brake Safety Week

    by Charlotte Freed | Aug 24, 2018
    Brake Safety Week

    With Roadcheck 2018 behind you and Safe Driver Week coming soon, make sure to keep the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) Brake Safety Week on your radar. From September 16 to 22, North American Standard Level 1 Inspections will be made on trucks across the U.S. and Canada.

    Inspectors will have a keen eye on brake-system components in addition to overall vehicle maintenance. In the 37 step procedure, inspectors will examine driver operating requirements along with “air or hydraulic fluid leaks; defective rotor conditions; measurement of pushrod travel; mismatched air chamber sizes across axles; air reservoir integrity and mounting; worn linings, pads, drums or rotors; required brake-system warning devices; and other brake-system components.”

    Ready yourself in advance so faulty brakes don’t break the bank. Knowing what inspectors will be looking for helps you best prepare, so be prepared for them to:

    • Check the air brake mechanical components
    • Check the steering axle air brake mechanical components
    • Check the brake adjustment
    • Build the air system's pressure to 90-100 psi
    • Check the air brake antilock braking system, if applicable
    • Test the air loss rate, if necessary
    • Test the low air pressure warning device
    • Check the tractor protection sytem

    Last year, Brake Safety Week was shortened to two days and within that short timeframe, 14 percent of all inspected vehicles were put out of service due to brake violations.

  • 4 Simple Tips to Help Crush Your Stress

    by Charlotte Freed | Aug 17, 2018

    Fighting Stress on the Road
    The life of a trucker isn’t always an easy one. There is the pressure of the entire economy relying on you to be on time. You’re constantly making sure you’re staying safe, particularly with all of the other drivers who don’t know the rules of the road as well as you do. On top of that, your long hours add up, making for some lonely times. And then there’s traffic. While stressors are going to be a part of every job in any industry, there are unique aspects in trucking that can make it especially taxing.

    Stress can affect you negatively, both mentally and physically, with symptoms ranging from headaches to sleep problems to chronic pain to depression. What are some simple choices you can make to help relieve some of that stress?


    Having open communication with your family, friends, and even coworkers and bosses will make your day-to-day more transparent to them. The more they know about the things going on with you at work, the more likely they are to be understanding.

    Be Prepared

    Emergencies and unexpected things are always going to come up, but you’ll find that when you’ve prepared in advance curveballs are less likely to send you into a frenzy. Having your family covered with extra help at hand not only makes it easier for them in times of need, but makes you feel more confident that they’re being taken care of while you’re working.

    Build Yourself

    We all enjoy a good talk show and listening to our favorite tunes, but there is ample amount of time on the road where you can work towards growing yourself both mentally and emotionally. Listening to motivational and educational material, whether TED Talks or a book on tape, keeps you learning and improving – something to boost your self-esteem, which can help reduce stress. If reading isn’t for your, try meditation to help improve your mental and physical health.

    Release Endorphins

    Exercise, even if just for a 15 minutes a day, produces chemicals in the body called endorphins that fight stress, anxiety, and depression. This will help your mindset, and your body will thank you too. When you feel good physically, it often translates into feeling the same way emotionally.

    Remember, there are always going to be times when life gets to feel like too much – but you’re not alone in the journey. If you have feelings of stress leading to depression that you can’t shake, there is great strength in reaching out to your physician or doctor to talk about your options.

  • Direct Assistance for Devastating Wildfires Granted Regulatory Relief

    by Charlotte Freed | Aug 10, 2018

    On Aug. 1, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) declared a regional emergency due to the wildfire activity in Washington, Oregon, and California as result of emergency declarations from governors of the three states. Truck drivers lending emergency aid to these areas are exempt from certain regulations including hours of service (HOS) through the duration of the emergency or until 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 31, whichever is less.

    The emergency declaration states that emergency conditions created the "need for immediate transportation of supplies, equipment and person" to provide necessary relief. Motor carriers and drivers providing “direct assistance” to the emergency states are granted regulatory relief until “a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services not directly supporting the emergency relief effort or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce.”

    The declaration is clear that there is to be no exemption from any other regulation requirements including those for commercial driver’s licenses, hazardous material, applicable size and weight, controlled substances and alcohol use and testing, and insurance among others.

    NASA shows smoke observed as east as the southeastern U.S. coast and even into areas of upstate New York and northern New England. The highest concentrations of smoke are in Northern California, as 14,000 firefighters battle wildfires covering 967 square miles. Fires in 2018 are 30 percent larger than the average over the past decade, making this year far worse than most in recent memory.

  • The Long Road to Diversity for Trucking

    by Charlotte Freed | Aug 03, 2018

    The driver pool is evaporating - and campaigns pushing to recruit more women and military veterans are only finding marginal success. Driver IQ’s Recruitment and Retention Survey shows that fleets are hiring more women and military veterans than five years ago, but many still lack programs targeting these demographics for employment at all. Only 20 percent of fleets with programs recruiting nontraditional drivers were successful in adding employees while another 20 percent were unsure if their programs led to any hires.

    The number of female drivers overall has increased over the past five years; 45 percent of respondents indicated their number of female drivers had grown. However, a whole 38 percent of respondents did not implement any kind of program pursuing female drivers. There was no change in the number of hired veterans for 25 percent of fleets and 38 percent of fleets report that they don’t have any programs to recruit veterans at all.

    Women and minorities continue to make up a very small fragment of the trucking population:  94 percent of truckers are men and two-thirds of all drivers are Caucasian, reports the ATA. While there is potential movement toward younger drivers crossing state lines via truck, recruiting efforts for women have a ways to go. It can be difficult to attract female drivers to the industry due to the perception that the road is neither appropriate nor safe for them and while there is hope that will change, it will take a collective industry shift to make trucking a welcoming place for all.

    Ellen Voie, president of the Women in Trucking Association, said that “There’s still men out there who think women shouldn’t be driving trucks. They’re few and far between, but they’re vocal.” However, she adds that “the experience has changed a lot over the past five years because carriers are trying hard to make sure women have a good experience.”

  • Spotlight Story: Orlando Galarza

    by Charlotte Freed | Jul 27, 2018

    Working as a mover in New York, Orlando Galarza was accustom to a fast paced lifestyle. Trucking allowed him to experience the different paces of life all across the country. Orlando took the steps toward becoming a professional truck driver after prompting from his cousin David. He has now driven for the past 23 years and Centerline has been fortunate enough to work with Orlando since July of 2017.

    Orlando recalls his first time driving a commercial vehicle, saying it was intimidating. If you saw him now you’d recognize the confidence he’s gained from miles behind the wheel, exploring new places and learning from the people he encounters.  Orlando shared that because of the hospitality extended to him throughout his journeys along with the friendly ease of some states, he was able to let his self-proclaimed New York guard down a bit, and take time to enjoy life a little bit more leisurely, even though he loves the fast pace of city living.

    Those who have had the chance to meet Orlando during his trips across the country would know that his customer service is incredible. When asked about a memorable experience on the road, he shared of a time he enlisted the help of local authorities to help reroute his truck so that a customer wouldn’t have to walk three blocks to pick up a load. Not only did the officer happily help escort him through rerouted lanes, but the customer was thoroughly appreciative of the additional effort and determination.

    Orlando has noticed a shift within the driving community, saying that when he first started driving he saw that drivers were kinder to one another, always willing to help each other out. Now, it feels more dog-eat-dog and he hopes that he’ll see a return to what he first saw in the community. “Drivers should always be there for each other,” he said, adding that while there are the perks of making great money and having tons of opportunities, the most important thing is to follow your heart.

  • The Valuable Benefits of Meditation for Truck Drivers

    by Charlotte Freed | Jul 20, 2018

    It’s no secret that truckers handle hard work that can take a toll on the body and mind. With long periods of isolation (from hours to days), time pressures and constraints, and the general tolls of a highly important job, many experience health issues like hypertension, diabetes, and sleep apnea. If you were told that you could treat yourself and increase immune function while potentially reducing blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, depression, chronic pain, and even irritable bowel syndrome for free – what would you say?

    Research shows that the safe, calming activity of mindful meditation not only has positive physical and mental effects and but may also help a variety of conditions from fatigue to inflammation. While some view meditation as bizarre or new age-y, many over years and years find the practice very beneficial.

    It sounds great, but where do you begin? First, remember that meditation takes practice. While it might feel useless or extra work at the start, remind yourself that you are worth taking the time to invest in.

    Start Short

    Don’t feel like you need to set aside long periods of time to meditate. Simply find a quiet spot where you can have a few moments to yourself without being distracted and begin. Meditation apps like Aura, Calm, or Headspace can also be helpful tools to get you started if you’re not quite sure how you want to start.

    Just Breathe

    Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Consider how you feel as you breathe in and out, how your body begins to relax. Your mind may clear a bit or it may be full of thoughts. Every time your thoughts begin to stray and you think of all the things happening in your life, bring yourself back to focusing on your breathing.

    Take It Easy

    You’ll forget to practice meditation. Don’t beat yourself up. Remember that meditation is not supposed to add stress, but take away from it. Meditation is meant to give you a few moments to bring your thoughts back to yourself and reset in a way. Over time, you may find that it’s a basic exercise that helps in your day-to-day.

  • Are Truckers Quitting Because of the ELD Mandate?

    by Charlotte Freed | Jul 13, 2018

    The newest house bill would require the Department of Transportation to conduct a study around the number of truckers who have quit their jobs because of the ELD mandate. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota Rep., introduced H.R. 6159 on June 20th to the House’s Transportation Committee. In a Facebook post, Cramer wrote “The hardworking men and women who drive trucks are the lifeblood of our economy. Let’s support our truckers, not burden them.”

    Whether denied, granted, or pending, the flurry of bills continue to pile on top of those from the early days of the mandate’s introduction. There is the HOURS, or the Honest Operators Undertake Road Safety Act, introduced by three House Representatives which would address the split sleeper rule and reduce the number of required supporting documents in an ELD. Then came South Dakota’s resolution asking for a full ELD repeal and Tennessee’s, which would prohibit funds from being used to enforce the mandate. Following proposals from Representatives Greg Gianforte and Collin Peterson each asked for exemption for agricultural sector truckers and businesses with ten or fewer trucks, respectively.

    Inarguably, dissatisfaction and frustration has been widespread surrounding the rule, with company drivers and leased owner-operators both threatening departure from the industry. If passed, Cramer’s bill would allow the Secretary of Transportation 180 days to study and report the results to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Education and the Workforce Committee, and Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives Committee among others.

  • In-Cab Video Could Save Lives and Millions of Dollars

    by Anna Mischke | Jul 06, 2018

    The National Transportation Safety Board lists 'expanding recorder use to enhance safety' on their list of "Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements". This issue has been on their list since 2016, the organization sharing that no single tool has helped determine cause of accidents as much as in-cab recorders. In-cab video safety systems provide valuable information after a crash, such as what malfunctions occurred, how many occupants died or wounded, and which safety devices and systems were employed, if any.

    A study of over 10,000 crashes estimated that video could reduce fatal crashes by 20 percent and injury crashes by 35 percent. Adding to the death toll and injuries is the negative effect on public perception, employee morale, and trucking jobs. Considering the average cost for a fatal accident is $11 million and $500,000 for injury crashes, the NTSB questions why certain categories of transport – trucks being one of them – are not required to equip their transport with the technology.

    At Central Oregon Truck Company headquarters, Truckload Carriers Association's “2018 Best Fleet to Drive For”, drivers enjoy on-site dorms, a gym, business center, café, and other amenities. They also drive a fleet of 315 Kenworth trucks equipped with in-cab video safety systems. CEO Rick Williams implemented the systems in 2016 as a way to acquit drivers if wrongfully accused of an accident. The footage also helps in making decisions when they encounter mistakes. Williams said, “If we do something wrong, we need to have that responsibility.”

    Following Central Oregon’s lead, what are some benefits fleets and drivers have when using in-cab video monitoring?

    There are five coaches at Central Oregon who review the videos, triggered by predetermined infractions. After assessing, they have the opportunity to review with the driver. They are able to correct potential issues before they occur again, creating a holistic way of coaching their team of drivers. Risky behaviors like speeding, harsh acceleration, tailgating, and sharp corner handling can be recorded and referenced when training. While possessing driver performance data is important, acting on that data is even more effective. Retraining immediately after assessing at-risk behavior is the step that could close the loop on unsafe practices.

    Crash Reduction and Prevention
    With improved driver training comes the reduction and prevention of crashes. Not only are all motorists’ lives more protected, but the potential for physical and fiscal hits decreases. Specific insights when learning are helpful in all learning scenarios, driving included.

    Crash Analysis
    Video can help managers improve their training while aiding in presenting a clear scenario for a learning driver. Video footage lends an element to the coaching process that driver-scoring reports alone can’t offer. Used in tandem with events listed in these reports, managers and drivers can see exact behaviors tied to triggered events.

  • Spotlight Story: Erika Abrams

    by Charlotte Freed | Jun 29, 2018

    erika abrams quote
    In the past, Erika Abrams was known for her shear skills as a barber. Now, she is known for her sheer skills as a truck driver. A professional trucker for the past three years, Erika was self-employed for the majority of her life. Accustomed to the freedom of working independently, Erika found that working as an employed driver gives her the best of both worlds: a steady income with the flexibility she so appreciates.

    Erika’s experience as an independent contractor prepared her well for a career in trucking. She found her leadership skills very useful. Because she had established effective work habits as her own boss, the results of her hard work paid off in her new profession.

    The challenge of getting behind the wheel of an 18 wheeler was one that excited Erika. She says that nothing could have prepared her to know the feeling of driving a semi other than simply doing it. Erika went to trucking school to get her commercial driver license and proved her skills by maintaining a job – something her fellow classmates seemed unable to do.

    Erika has seen changes in the industry like worsened traffic. She hopes that with changes like these, driver pay will improve. “Drivers dedicate their entire beings to their profession” she says. They sacrifice quality time with friends and family to deliver loads on schedule. Erika is keenly aware of the discussions happening in Congress and hopes that trucker voices will be heard across the nation.

    Erika advises new or potential drivers to communicate as much as possible with experienced drivers. Insights from a seasoned trucker are helpful, as different personalities might find that different roles in trucking suit them. Erika knows there are particular demands in all trades, but one thing she can count on in trucking are the rewards and support. It makes it all worthwhile. Erika might not be cutting hair any more, but she’s making trucking look good with her dedication and hard work.

  • Must-knows for Drivers during Brake Safety Week

    by Charlotte Freed | Jun 22, 2018

    The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) annual Brake Safety Week will use a heavy hand on enforcement with a focus on brake violations in September. From September 16 through 22, the CVSA will return to hosting a full week of inspections after last year’s sole day.

    Inspectors will be examining brake components in depth, and vehicles with defective or out-of-service adjustment brakes will be placed out of service. The CVSA explained in a press release that, “Properly functioning brake systems are crucial to safe CMV operation” and “Improperly installed or poorly maintained brake systems can reduce braking efficiency, posing serious risk to public safety on our roadways.”

    Most inspections performed will be full Level 1 North American Standard inspections and are the most in-depth evaluations of the following:

    • Driver’s license
    • Medical Examiner’s Certificate and Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate, if applicable
    • Drugs and alcohol
    • Record of duty status
    • Hours of service
    • Seat Belt
    • Vehicle inspection reports, if applicable
    • Brake systems
    • Cargo securement
    • Lighting devices
    • Tires
    • Wheels
    • Rims and hubs
    • Windshield wipers

    …and more. For a full list, visit the CVSA website.

    In 2017, 14 percent of inspected trucks during the one-day inspection spree were placed out-of-service, specifically for brake violations. During this year’s annual Roadcheck the focus was to be on hours of service, but brake-related violations made up the majority of out-of-service violations.

    Operation Safe Driver Week precedes Brake Safety Week, coming July 15 through 21. Drivers can expect added enforcement surrounding speeding, seatbelt usage, and distracted driving.

  • Driverless Vehicles to Benefit Trucking?

    by Charlotte Freed | Jun 15, 2018

    Artificial intelligence is making its way into all aspects of life, whether we support the movement or not. One of the many industries seeing the influence of AI is transportation, with the introduction and deployment of automated vehicles. As legislation turns their attention to laws relating to autonomy, insurers weigh in on manufacturer claims, and money pours into development - industry stakeholders are asking how autonomy may actually be an advantage to truckers.

    Uber’s product lead for self-driving trucks, Alden Woodrow, is disappointed in the amount of coverage they’ve seen on how self-driving trucks are destined to be a negative for truck drivers. Woodrow and others in the industry see truck drivers benefitting in a number of ways including:

    Locally Focused

    Uber sees a future where autonomous trucks take control during the heavily regulated miles between what they are calling “transfer hubs”. At these hubs, human drivers would take the wheel for the final miles through dense or complex territory where AI could not operate as safely or comprehensively. Researchers see more opportunities for truck drivers to run local routes in areas concentrated around production centers and high consumption.

    Holistically Effective

    With the help of self-driving trucks, the driver shortage may not affect freight rates at so adversely. Freight prices have climbed due to shippers finding need to cover their own increased costs. Lower freight rates could mean higher demand, resulting in more business. Subsequently, more freight would need to be delivered, requiring more local, human drivers. With additional jobs offering the ability to work closer to home, more drivers may join the pool and enjoy their work and quality of life while closing the shortage gap.

    Innovative with Job Types

    The McKinsey Global Institute shared in a report that “new technologies have spurred the creation of many more jobs than they destroyed, and some of the new jobs are in occupations that cannot be envisioned at the outset; one study found that 0.56 percent of new jobs in the United States each year are in new occupations. Most jobs created by technology are outside the technology-producing sector itself.” While specific jobs related to autonomous vehicles may not be easily distinguishable yet, it is likely that pioneering driver technology will spur the need for new types of roles that fit existing truck drivers’ needs while appealing to a new group of potential drivers.
  • Gen X as Likely as Millennials to Call it Quits

    by Charlotte Freed | Jun 08, 2018

    shutterstock_150947120Not only has the trucking industry experienced enormous difficulty in hiring drivers, retaining good ones is a whole other struggle. Reports show that when surveying over 100,000 drivers working for 140 different carriers, 60% of all drivers spanning all age groups plan to leave within six months. Preconceived notions of Millennials jumping from job to job have been discredited according to recent research by Stay Metrics, a research-informed solutions provider for problems unique to transportation.

    Drivers aged 21-40 had slightly higher turnover rates than the average at 69%, but only 2 percent higher than the 67 percent of drivers aged 41 through 45. 56 to 60 year old drivers had the lowest turnover rate at 49 percent. Tim Hindes, chief executive officer of Stay Metrics, shared that “Contrary to popular belief, ‘Millennial’ drivers are only slightly more likely than middle-age Gen X drivers to leave their carriers” and that “we don’t see that impulsive decision making we often associate with youth as a leader cause of early driver turnover.”

    With the driver shortage expected to reach 174,000 in the coming decade, Congress continues to weigh the possibility of allowing 18 to 20 year old CDL holders across state lines after Rep. Duncan Hunter proposed the new legislation. As of now, most states do not allow truck drivers in this age range to drive state to state. Proponents of the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, or the DRIVE-Safe Act, say that allowing younger drivers would expand the labor pool However, some argue on the side of the DOT saying that younger drivers would only add turmoil to the lacking market.

    Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, wrote to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure that “Young drivers both lack overall experience and are less safe behind the wheel than their older counterpart”, adding that “commercial motor vehicle drivers who are 19 to 20 years of age are six times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes.” Hunter debates that in order to keep the nation functioning, there must be adaptation, stating “There is no downside to doing this because you already have people on the road that are in the ages of 18 to 21. They went through all of the training, all the safety stuff. So they’re already doing it, they just simply can’t driver over the state line.” He followed up by saying “this fixes a dumb issue that Congress needs to fix.”

    Whether or not the legislation goes through at this time, fleets may find it important to consider the Millennial set and the subsequent generation when continuing to face the driver shortage. Those who were previously perceived as undependable or inconsistent may have as much of an impact as their predecessors.