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  • Are you ready for slick wet-weather roads?

    by Charlotte Freed | Dec 07, 2018

    Wet weather driving
    Where is the safest place to drive when the rain comes down? It turns out Brownsville, Texas ranks as the safest-driving city in the U.S. when factoring in precipitation and frequency of collisions. Following Brownsville as safest in wet-weather-driving are Kansas City, Kanas; Huntsville, Alabama; Boise; Idaho; and Madison, Wisconsin. Allstate released these rankings in one section of 2018 America’s Best Drivers Report, which ranks the 200 largest cities in America on driver safety in precipitation. Texas leads the list with multiple cities with lower numbers of collisions in inclement weather while Glendale, Calif.; Worcester, Mass.; Washington, D.C.; and Boston took last rank with Baltimore at 200.

    According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA): "On average, there are over 5,748,000 vehicle crashes each year. Approximately 22% of these crashes – nearly 1,259,000 – are weather-related. Weather-related crashes are defined as those crashes that occur in adverse weather (i.e., rain, sleet, snow, fog, severe crosswinds, or blowing snow/sand/debris) or on slick pavement (i.e., wet pavement, snowy/slushy pavement, or icy pavement). On average, nearly 6,000 people are killed and over 445,000 people are injured in weather-related crashes each year."

    The predictions of El Niño developing are high which will lead to a wet season for the southern tip of the country into the Mid-Atlantic region. For any and all driving in severe weather, particularly professional drivers, it’s vital to take proper safety measures. Refresh on how to safely drive in wet and inclement winter weather and watch Centerline Drivers’ free informational video on how to apply snow chains to your truck. When the frost forms, the rain pools, or snow gathers – you’ll be grateful you took the time to prepare.

  • Centerline Road Warrior: Shaun Donovan

    by Charlotte Freed | Nov 30, 2018

    Shaun Donovan Centerline Driver
    When the average, ordinary person thinks of a high-stress, safety-pertinent job that causes adrenaline rushes, they might think of a firefighter, police officer, or soldier. It might be surprising to hear that a professional driver may encounter some of the same experiences that can cause stress physically, emotionally, and mentally. Shaun Donovan, a professional driver for fifteen years with trucking in his blood, gave us insights into life behind the wheel and the industry we know so well.

    Shaun was practically raised on a big rig, saying “I remember I was like four, five, six years old playing around on a heavy tow truck when I was a kid. I was kinda destined to be a driver.” Post-World War II, Shaun’s Great Uncle started a tow-truck company and operated it until one of Sean’s cousins sold the business soon after 2000. Another cousin then started his own tow truck company, adopting the black and gold aesthetic of his Great Uncle’s company w continues to operate it successfully.

    Even after being immersed in the industry for much of his life, Shaun appreciates what a different type of work it is, contrasting truck driving with an office or retail job. Shaun describes how crucial it is that he stays dedicated to the work one-hundred-percent. “It’s not like the glitz and glamour of what TV makes it out today”, describing times where he’s had to exit situations before they escalated to dangerous levels. On the other side of the coin, there are also hours of boredom. To deal with these types of shifts, “you’ve got to be committed.”

    Shaun also describes the emotional and mental aspect of the job, saying that while compassion is necessary, so is the importance of being able to turn off your emotions. Otherwise, the work he specifically encounters as a tow truck driver could be “devastating.” He calls it a “light-switch” mentality, explaining that when he turns up on the scene of an accident or repossess cars he cannot be emotionally involved. At just thirty-five years old, Shaun speaks with the authority and understanding of a wizened veteran trucker. He tells of the times he’s arrived to the scene of an accident involving someone he grew up with, or the strangeness of handling a friend’s car after a crash. Shaun has seen cars – and sometimes their drivers – riddled with bullet holes. There have been other instances where he witnessed victims of overdose in their vehicles. Shaun has encountered some “gruesome” things, and says that they’re second to what some people might see in battle or on a crime scene. Shaun admits that his work can take a toll, particularly if he holds onto thoughts for too long or brings the encounters of work home.

    Being a driver has taught Shaun many things, including being prepared for anything, at all times. Whether surveying different areas he’s in to gauge their safety or being keenly aware of his surroundings, particularly other drivers, he needs to be alert.  He’s seen commuters commit dangerous moves like cutting off traffic or stopping short in front of trucks. This is seriously concerning, as he appreciates the weight, physically and metaphorically, that truckers carry with their rigs. “We have to make sure every side of the truck is good, as far as changing lanes, taking turns, following distance…road conditions, weather conditions: [there are] so many variables as a truck driver that you have to be responsible for, making sure that you get home every night and everybody else home every day.” Situational awareness isn’t the only important thing to remember. Self-awareness and care is just as critical, reminding workers to “have a day off and reset your clock,” because you’re in charge of an “80,000 pound missile” driving down the highway.

    It’s more than just a good thing that Shaun is such a stickler for preparedness, it’s essential for the type of driving he does. Shaun has worked in the Mobile Division of Centerline, which allows him to find jobs driving in cities and states all across the country, without the toll of over-the-road shifts. As a Mobile Driver, Shaun chooses the states he wants to work in, and is dispatched to work with companies who can’t find strong, qualified drivers in their areas, yet need to complete their projects or keep operations moving. While there are the usual difficulties of travel, Shaun describes most of his time as a Centerline Mobile Driver as being an ideal way to shift away from over-the-road routes and visit places he’s never been to. He describes enjoying the change of scenery and the people he’s met, some who continue to make an impact on him. Shaun shares, “I think it’s a great opportunity for people to actually go to different states, do what they want…some guys were just looking at it as a paycheck. I look at our career…I’m third generation truck driver; it’s a career, it’s a lifestyle.”

    A lifestyle, indeed – and Shaun demonstrates a commitment to the lifestyle that is motivating. Shaun gives a stern, yet thoughtful, reminder to his fellow drivers both new and seasoned. They may be words passed down through generations of trucking, or simply come from his own experiences: “Driving itself is a privilege; you have the highest available license to drive anything in the world in the palm of your hand. Don’t mess it up.”

    Shaun ended our conversation with an important reminder to his fellow road warriors, “America and the world relies on you truck drivers.” We are glad to say we agree, and honored to know that it’s true.

    Written by Anna Mischke
  • Centerline wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving!

    by Charlotte Freed | Nov 21, 2018

    Thanksgiving by the Truckload
    We’re grateful for the drivers who keep our country moving all year long, but we are particularly thankful for their dedication as we celebrate Thanksgiving. Whether you’re on the road or sitting with loves ones, take a moment to consider the appreciation of the millions of people across the nation who benefit from your commitment as a driver. Happy Thanksgiving, from Centerline.

    Watch our video to learn how our drivers impact Thanksgiving each year.

  • Improving the landscape of driver health

    by Charlotte Freed | Nov 16, 2018

    Truck rest stops offering food
    It’s widely known that a trucker’s job comes with its own set of unique challenges. Hours upon hours of traffic, navigating a crumbling infrastructure, finding places to park monster rigs under HOS regulations, eye-strain, difficulty accessing healthy food choices: things that many office or retail worker might not even consider. While the trucking lifestyle has plenty of benefits to offer, the ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle can be extremely difficult.

    Just ask Siphiwe Baleka, a Yale university champion swimmer with near-Olympian skills. As an avid trainer throughout his life, Baleka was shocked when he gained 15 pounds in two months after becoming a truck driver. After realizing how quickly this new lifestyle was taking a toll on his body, he developed a health plan and now advocates for health within trucking through the program Fitness Trucking. Dubbed “the fitness guru of the trucking industry”, Baleka pushes for drivers to get the tools and education to lead a healthful lifestyle.

    He says that fleets don’t do nearly enough by offering health screening and that the “incredible apathy” in the industry needs to be disrupted. Baleka highlights the lack of health education in trucking by comparing it to NASA: “Imagine if NASA sent astronauts to outer space without educating them on the effect of zero gravity.”

    Truckers’ circadian rhythm and metabolism are effected by the sometimes abnormal schedules and lack of kitchen access – and many new drivers aren’t prepared for the lifestyle changes that come with a career on the road. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health reports that obesity among truck drivers is more than double than the rest of the U.S. working population. In comparison, truck drivers also have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension in addition to a higher percentage of cigarette smokers.

    While adopting a healthy lifestyle behind the wheel isn’t easy, it isn’t impossible. In fact, more businesses and truck stops are shifting to help offer drivers more health-conscious choices and wellness-centered activities. Some provide medical clinics, chiropractors, dentists, and pharmacies. Exercise and fitness rooms, walking trails, and dog parks begin to pop up more frequently as well.

    Food options are also undergoing change, with more accessible alternatives to fast food and preservative-laden choices. More than ever, drivers know the long-term effects of a high-fat, high-sugar diet and like to have the option to reach for fresh fruit, salads, and yogurt – even at the smaller truck stops. With more drivers aware of their lifestyle choices and how they influence their health, truck stops need to stock healthier meals and provide amenities that support this proactive mindset.

    While truck stops modify their choices and offerings to meet trucker’s needs, fleets can also do their part in promoting behaviors and activities that support more health conscious living. Some offer special deals toward healthier food options or incentivize exercise with paid programs or memberships. There is still work to be done when it comes to health awareness and education, but sometimes the smallest steps are the start toward completing a race.

  • ATA’s Chris Spear Promises a Fight for Change

    by Charlotte Freed | Nov 09, 2018

    Driver inspects truck
    American Trucking Associations (ATA) president and CEO, Chris Spear, addressed their ongoing campaigns and heavy lobbying during the annual meeting in Austin, TX. He reiterated their involvement in the successful passing of the tax reform law saying “we answered that call and led” to a measurable victory and that “its passage is now fueling our nation’s economy.”

    Spear touted positive gains for the trucking industry in the coming year, touching on rules he says violate federal interstate commerce laws, such as the California meal-and-rest break rule. “I am confident that justice will soon prevail,” he said, expecting “common-sense” improvements to hours-of-service (HOS) rules with HOS violations at historic lows of less than one percent. He described the fight against ELD as “one of the toughest-fought battles” and expressed his pride in the ATA for “holding the line.”

    Spear voiced a reminder of ATA’s lobbying to pass the DRIVE-Safe Act and their efforts with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to allow drivers under age 21 to participate in pilot programs, saying “We must be allowed to compete for the same talent as other industries, and teach them to safely and responsibly operate this equipment.”

    Spear made it clear that they will continue to push for trucking rights and benefits, saying the ATA has “unfinished business in Washington.” Spear’s state of the industry was impassioned – but only time will tell whether these resolutions will take place.

  • How much time and money do we lose to traffic?

    by Charlotte Freed | Nov 02, 2018

    Traffic stretches for miles as truck drivers make deliveries
    The minutes stretch on and it feels like you’ve been looking at the same five cars ahead of you for the past hundred years. You look at the clock: it’s only been three minutes since you last looked. Traffic just seems to be getting worse and according to the American Transportation Research Institute, it’s not expected to get better.

    The driver shortage, services like UberPool, new regulations, and the rise of e-commerce are all worsening bottlenecks. American Trucking Association’s chief economist, Bob Costello, reports that online sales have increased 2,100 percent since 2000. From the looks of things, that number will only increase, particularly in large metropolitan areas where traffic is already an issue.

    Highways aren’t the only roads getting choked. The average length of haul has been reduced for dry van truckloads to under 500 miles for the first time ever, meaning more congestion in shorter-haul arenas: parking facilities and ports for example. Truckers have already voiced their frustration over the lack of parking, costing them time and ultimately money. Because of congestion, motorists shoulder a $960 penalty, $600 of that allocated to higher maintenance and operational costs. Per truck, traffic costs $6,478 yearly.

    Higher maintenance costs are largely due to poor road conditions – and according to the Federal Highway Administration, at least 34 percent of the nation’s roadways have been estimated to be in poor or mediocre condition. Almost one-third of bridges are structurally lacking. In addition to the rising financial burden comes the delay of 1.2 billion collective hours lost: the equivalent of 425,533 truck drivers sitting idle for a whole year.

    While much has to be done to help improve the situation, fleet owners and managers can help optimize routes to avoid as much congestion as possible and the trucking industry should, as a whole, appeal to decision-makers and legislators to pursue addressing the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure.

  • Spotlight Story: Arthur Souza

    by Charlotte Freed | Oct 26, 2018

    Arthur Souza driver of 45 years
    Arthur Souza has to be fast. He has to be instinctive. He has to be determined. He has to ensure his reflexes are sharp at the most important times. Arthur first had to show these skills on the playing field as shortstop. Now, he demonstrates them as a driver behind the wheel – and has for the past 45 years. A Centerline driver since early this year, Arthur has brought his abilities from decades of driving to the company, operating chiefly in the New Jersey area.

    Arthur moved from his first job in construction, installing pools and building patios, to truck driving when his current boss injured his back and asked Arthur to help him on the driving side. “It wasn’t clear sailing,” Arthur says, remembering the narrow roads, tricky maneuvers, and new rules he had to learn. But with focus and practice, Arthur eventually worked his way to become a daily driver.

    Arthur has seen a lot from his unique perspective on the road: negligent drivers, confused “slugs” driving like they’ve never experienced precipitation, and heated arguments. But he says there have always been bad drivers on the road. However, Arthur notes that one thing has change, at least the number of them: cell phones. Arthur is quick to defend technology, saying it’s made a lot of lives easier with tools like GPS, but is frustrated by the irresponsibility of how people use their phones. Still, Arthur knows things will continue to shift and just wishes people would think when driving, whether in a truck or a commuter vehicle.

    Arthur muses, “I don’t feel like I’m 67. I feel like I’m 37…” then explains that he’s had two hip replacements and two knee replacements. Clearly, athletics and work has taken a toll on his body – yet he feels bulletproof, adding that “nobody is bulletproof.” What has kept Arthur so committed to his work is his dedication. “I put my heart and soul into [it]” Arthur says. His work is clearly important to him: he appreciates that he is his own boss and makes sure he gets the job done and done well.

    When Arthur thinks of the new generation of drivers slowly making their way into the industry, he tells them to “really want it…if you really want it, you’ll be good at it” and really that no matter the industry, “if you don’t like it, it’s going to suck – so you’ll probably suck at it.”

    When he isn’t working, Arthur reverts his interests back to sports. He enjoys blasting the radio, listening to the Patriots and Celtics and delving into team stats. He’s able to rattle off information about players and teams, speaking with an understanding tone, knowing the pressures and thrill of the game. When the conversation ends, we’re left with the feeling that Arthur may not know what an impact he’s made in the past 45 years: keeping the economy moving, helping put food on the dinner table, outfitting homes with supplies and keeping people safe on the road. So we’re here to say “Thank you, Arthur” – for your commitment to the road, to your fellow motorists, and to all those who have relied on you completing that final mile.

  • 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?

    Communicate

    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
    8.10.18

    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

    shutterstock_770413369
    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

    Orlando
    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.

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