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  • Understanding CSA Point Values

    by Charlotte Freed | Feb 15, 2019

    CSA points explained
    Compliance, Safety and Accountability Points
    (CSA Points) were created to ensure that drivers and their employers comply with safety standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Anytime a violation occurs, points are assessed and added to a fleets’ overall score. Points range from 1 to 10 with 1 being the lowest.

    Why Should You Care

    CSA points remain on a drivers’ individual record for up to 36 months. While it is unlikely the FMSCA will take action against a driver, a high score could impact your job search. Driver points are added to a fleets’ overall CSA score – fleets strive to have the lowest CSA score to ensure they receive a high ranking from the FMCSA. Fleets will be unlikely to hire a driver who they deem a safety risk.

    How Do I Earn Points?

    Because CSA Points could impact a driver’s job search, it is important that drivers understand CSA violations and the points associated with them.

    There are 5 major categories of CSA Point violations that truck drivers need to be aware of:

    1. Driving Violations: Everything from speeding to failing to meet physical qualifications are covered in this category.
    2. E-Log and/or EOBR Violations: Failure to submit electronic on-board computer information can affect your CSA score in this category.
    3. Hours of Service Violations: Operating a vehicle fatigued or failing to comply with HOS rules will earn you serious violations.
    4. Mobile Device Violations: Using a mobile phone, whether speaking or texting, could cost you 10 points.
    5. Paperwork Violations: Failure to ensure your license or logs are up-to-date and correct could cost you anywhere from 1 to 8 points.

    For a more detailed outline of the violations can be found online. Review this outline, and never hesitate to reach out to Centerline for help understanding these violations. As your career coach, we’re here to help you navigate the rules of the road.

  • Safety’s Most Wanted List

    by Charlotte Freed | Feb 08, 2019

    Safety sign on highway
    Each year, tens of thousands of people are injured or killed in transportation accidents and crashes. The goal of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent federal agency, is to reduce this number by determining the probable cause of transportation related accidents and promoting transportation safety. Earlier this week the Board released its Most Wanted List – a tool intended to identify top safety improvements that can be made to prevent accidents and minimize injuries.

    This year, a majority of improvements on the list related directly to truck drivers and the trucking industry. Here are the topics the Board wants to tackle this year and why:

    1. Eliminate Distracted Driving: Distractions prevent individuals from staying focused on safely operating their vehicle. This increases risks for pedestrians and other motorists.
    2. Implement a Strategy to Reduce Speeding-Related Crashes: Speeding-related crashes are costly, killing more than 10,000 people and resulting in $52 billion in damages annually. Speed not only increases the likelihood of a crash but intensifies the severity of injuries.
    3. End Alcohol and Other Drug Impairment in Transportation: Impairment in transportation is not limited to just alcohol, though it is a leading cause of highway crashes. Impairment by other drugs, both legal and illicit, is becoming a national problem.
    4. Increase Implementation of Collision Avoidance Systems in all New Highway Vehicles: Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury and death in the United States. Many of these injuries and deaths could be prevented with collision avoidance systems – this technology is already available but is not yet standard.
    5. Reduce Fatigue Related Accidents: Fatigue prevents people from staying alert, meaning they will be less likely to meet the demands of safely operating their vehicle. Education will help operators learn about sleep disorder treatment and ways to stay compliant on regulations intended to help combat fatigue.
    6. Require Medical Fitness:Medical issues such as Sleep Apnea can be deadly if undiagnosed. Mandatory screening and treatment will help prevent accidents.

    At Centerline, your safety is our number one priority. Stay up-to-date on rules and regulations and safety information by reading our blog regularly. You can review the NTSB’s Most Wanted List here for more information on the specifics of their plan.

  • Setting Goals with Centerline Driver Chris Happel

    by Charlotte Freed | Feb 01, 2019

    Chris Happel
    At the start of each New Year, people all across the globe sit down to set New Year’s resolutions. These goals, whether personal or professional, help guide everyday choices. These can make a profound difference throughout the year – as long as those resolutions are followed. After sitting down with seasoned Centerline Driver Chris Happel, we learned that his career has been defined by meeting the goals he continually sets.

    Chris started his career in transportation helping offload trucks at the Los Angeles airport, LAX. After interacting with some of the truck drivers he worked with, Chris decided to obtain his CDL and has been driving ever since. After spending some time as an OTR driver, Chris now primarily drives local routes as they allow him to spend time focusing on his personal and professional goals.

    Chris described the job of a professional truck driver as both physically and mentally challenging. That’s why two of Chris’ personal goals are to destress and focus on his health. “Some days I work up to 14 hours,” Chris explains, so when he completes his route he likes to socialize with friends and dance away the day’s frustrations.

    Chris explains that a focus on health is “an ongoing process.” He tracks progress by how he feels, but makes conscious efforts to improve what he eats on the road. Chris explained the struggles he experienced as an OTR driver, “The one thing I didn’t like about over-the-road was that the truck stops catered to fast food and eating on the go. We’re not in an office where we are running around. We’re in a truck.”

    Now driving local routes, Chris packs snacks and adds them to healthier for-purchases items. For example, Chris typically plans his route to end at a Subway where he can purchase a salad and then adds his own avocado and some trail mix to add flavor while staying on a budget.

    Local routes also give Chris the ability to focus on professional goals. Currently, Chris puts in the time to improve with technology. He’s concentrating on becoming knowledgeable with computer programs that will one day help him transition into an office environment within the transportation industry.

    Chris left us with some advice for planning, setting, and meeting goals. Whether a driving goal or a personal goal, “Plan your route.” Be aware of your surroundings, potential complications, and the overall trip: with foresight and planning, you can overcome roadblocks and make it to success.  

  • ELDs vs AOBRD: An Improvement for Drivers

    by Charlotte Freed | Jan 25, 2019

    ELD exemptions causing headaches
    A few weeks ago, Centerline Drivers reported that the open road was still plagued with a number of ELD exemptions. One such exemption that continues to puzzle drivers is the use of AOBRDs; however, this exemption will officially come to an end on December 16, 2019. To prepare for the end of the AOBRD era, Centerline is committed to helping drivers learn the key differences between the two devices.

    One of the reasons AORBDs are being phased out is because of their limited technology. While their physical connection to a truck’s engine provides information needed to ensure drivers are HOS compliant, the outdated technology is easy to tamper with. This means supervisors can change logs without driver approval.

    An ELD synchronizes to a truck’s diagnostic port, ensuring more accurate readings. The chance of tampering with reporting is reduced as well - the technology requires a drivers’ approval of the log and allows for alterations and annotations to help with clarification. Plus, drivers are required to approve any and all changes submitted by supervisors or other back-office personnel.

    Centerline urges drivers to participate in ELD training offered by your fleet. Knowing your device will help in the event you are asked any questions during a road side inspection.

  • Truckers key to Preventing Human Trafficking

    by Charlotte Freed | Jan 18, 2019

    Truckers Against Trafficking
    January is National Slavery and & Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and professional truck drivers are in a unique situation to help prevent these horrific acts.

    Human Trafficking is often described as modern-day slavery, and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or act.  A staggering 18,000 individuals are trafficked into the United States every year, and more than 300,000 children are trafficked within the United States annually. As these numbers grow each year, traffickers exploit our nation’s highways to illegally move individuals.

    Organizations like Truckers Against Trafficking are equipping the nation’s truck drivers to be the eyes and ears of the road. Through educational materials, professional drivers are learning to identify the signs of trafficking and how to report suspected occurrences at truck stops or elsewhere on their routes.

    Centerline urges drivers to know the signs of trafficking:

    • An individual is not in control of their ID/passport
    • An individual is not allowed to speak for themselves
    • An individual is dropped off at a truck and picked up 15-20 minutes later
    • Signs of branding or tattooing of trafficker’s name
    • A van or RV that seems out of place

    Remember – never confront a trafficker. If you suspect you are witnessing a crime, contact law enforcement or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

    If you are interesting in learning more about how you can help prevent Human Trafficking, visit Truckers Against Trafficking to get started.

  • Too many exemptions! CVSA Writes to FMCSA

    by Charlotte Freed | Jan 11, 2019
    ELD exemptions causing headaches

    Things are getting confusing for roadside commercial vehicle inspectors – and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is making sure federal trucking regulators know it. In a letter to FMCSA Administrator, Ray Martinez, CVSA Executive Director, Collin Mooney, says too many motor carriers are being given exemption from the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.

    Mooney says these exemptions cause further rifts “when motor carriers are aware of an exemption before the enforcement community, setting up a scenario where conflict may arise roadside.” He continues that the near-50 exemptions the FMCSA has granted result in  “confusion and inconsistency in enforcement” and these exceptions bypass “a critical safety requirement designed to help combat fatigue on our nation’s roadways and designed to level the playing field for motor carriers seeking to operate safely within the hours-of-service rules.” A longtime opponent of exemptions from the mandate, the CVSA says “in short, exemptions should be the exception, not the rule”. The organization also requests more influence in the decision-making process along with their local and state partners. 

    In a separate letter, the CVSA asked the FMCSA to put a limit on driver personal conveyance mileage and/or time, arguing that the agency’s revised guidance is open to interpretation dependent on the inspector, increasing the potential for “driver fatigue and risk on our roadways.” The FMCSA has confirmed receipt of the requests and are currently under review.

    The American Trucking Associations (ATA) spokesperson, Sean McNally, says they believe “the best way to address exemptions to the hours-of-service rules is by moving forward with their ongoing review of the current rules” and that “ensuring the rules are flexible and recognizing the trucking industry’s diversity is the best way to reduce the number and scope of exemption requests.” The ATA will continue reviewing the CVSA’s petition on personal conveyance and will provide feedback upon request.

  • FMCSA Allows Camera System to Replace Mirrors

    by Charlotte Freed | Jan 04, 2019

    Truck driver mirrors
    Are rear-view mirrors becoming old news? New allowances may be pointing in that direction. Stoneridge Inc. has been given a five-year exemption by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) to install their in-monitoring system in trucks in place of traditional rear-view mirrors. Their “MirrorEye” technology uses integrated external digital cameras and digital monitors within the cab, expanding the field of view and providing full-color night vision and the ability to continuously track the end of the trailer.

    The FMCSA anticipates that the MirrorEye system will “achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level of safety” that mirrors currently provide. The association also believes the system may also decrease driver fatigue “by requiring less head movement by drivers compared to the number of head movement needed to use conventional mirrors.” Other companies utilizing similar systems cite additional benefits, such as higher fuel efficiency and improved aerodynamics.

    Currently an aftermarket product, the FMCSA’s allowance may create the opportunity for MirrorEye and similar systems to be built into new trucks. Still, the CVSA questions whether the technology will provide a sustained safety benefit and potentially “undermine consistency and uniformity in compliance enforcement.” 

    Centerline Drivers will keep professional drivers up-to-date on newest trends in the trucking industry: from tech to finance to driving jobs that meet your lifestyle.

  • Spotlight Story: Ken Bullock

    by Charlotte Freed | Dec 31, 2018
    Ken Bullock Centerline Driver

    The road has many rules: speed limits, proper turning, indication, licensing, and restrictions. But some rules are unspoken. It can take years behind the wheel to truly appreciate and understand the intricacies of driving. When we spoke with Ken Bullock, it was clear he bore that wisdom. One of those unspoken rules as a professional driver is that you hold the safety of many lives at ten and two, right there on the wheel.

    Ken says “you have to appreciate what you do and you’ve got to remember you’ve got 80,000 pounds under you…just imagine your mother being out there and somebody being behind her drunk or not paying attention or falling asleep…that’s one of the rules I’ve always kind of lived by.” Respecting his own life, the lives of the public, and honoring his equipment is advice his own father, once a truck driver, imparted on Ken when he first began his career.

    Driving trucks since he was sixteen, Ken got his CDL when he was twenty-two. From an owner-operator with six dump trucks and a driver day-to-day, Ken embarks on his thirtieth year behind the wheel. Though now, he considers stepping into a management position to make room for new talent. Ken envisions taking the experience he’s had as a seasoned driver and as an instructor and trainer to stay in the trucking industry on the managerial side, sharing from his wealth of knowledge.

    Ken acknowledges that things have changed since his first years in trucking. He remarks on the drastic changes that technology brings to the space, mentioning the influence GPS has made on driver attentiveness, saying focused is lost because drivers feel they need less to pay attention to their surroundings. Ken also talked about how automatic trucks make him wary, because without a human driver behind the wheel it could be much less safe. However, he knows how important safety training is to keep more accidents from happening.

    Only involved in two minor accidents throughout his career, where Ken was not at fault, he looks back to those situations and you can tell how shaken he is at the potential of injuring someone. He says “my worst, absolutely worst fear would be to get into an accident and hurt somebody” – and we believe him when he says that his main piece of advice for any driver is to master things from a safety standpoint. Ken says that while trucking can be tolling, it can also be very rewarding. If you’re going to be part of the industry, make a commitment and “respect yourself and respect the public and respect your equipment.”  If you can do that, he thinks the trucking industry could be a great fit.

    Ken concludes by sharing his visions of expanding his fleet, even with just a few more trailers, to efficiently run his own operation. Regardless of what Ken moves on to do, it’s promising to know that we have such dedicated professionals, committed to keeping our nation’s roads safe and spreading the importance of respecting the rules. Both the established and unspoken.

  • Want to lose five days of work from a slip or fall? Don’t follow these safety tips.

    by Charlotte Freed | Dec 21, 2018

    Slips, trips, and falls
    Over five years, slips, trips, and falls accounted for nearly 50 percent of all critical injuries in the trucking industry and caused fifteen percent of all accidental deaths, making it the second leading cause of death behind motor vehicle accidents. Those in the transportation and warehousing industry are most at risk with time lost due to injury averaging anywhere from five to 12 days.

    Safety awareness is key in all aspects of your work, but you can be proactive in how you prepare for protection and reduce the headache – literally and figuratively – of getting hurt on the job. Sometimes taking action toward safety can be as simple as keeping your workspace clean, maintaining good lighting, and wearing the proper PPE – but it’s worth looking into all the ways you can improve your safety.

    Remaining aware of the conditions around you and taking your time can make a big impact. Here are a few tips to prevent injuries, particularly this winter:

    • When entering or exiting the vehicles, use the vehicle for support.
    • When you see streets and sidewalks cleared of snow and ice, still use caution and lookout for “black ice.” Dew, fog, or water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces and form an invisible thin layer of ice.
    • When walking on steps, always use the hand railings and plant your feet firmly on each step.
    • When walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway, take short steps and walk at a slow pace so you can react quickly to change in traction. Bend your knees slightly and walk slowly to increase traction and reduce risk of falling.
    • When entering a building, remove as much snow and water from your footwear as possible to prevent wet, slippery conditions indoors.
    • When exiting the vehicle, use 3 points of contact: two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot.

    Finally, watch Centerline Driver’s instructional videos on how to conduct a pre-trip inspection and how to apply snow chains to your truck!

  • 4 Personal Conveyance Rules You Need to Know

    by Charlotte Freed | Dec 17, 2018

    Truck drives along a bridge
    You’re stuck waiting at your last appointment and now, you’re out of hours. What are you going to do about leaving, when you don’t want to break the hours-of-service rules? Which you know you can’t do with ELD tracking

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) saw the trouble with this and let up on their personal conveyance regulations to help driver safety. Still, there’s some confusion around the “can” and “cannots.”. We’ve laid out some basics to help you understand the rules on personal conveyance.

    1. The new guidance looks at the reason the driver is operating the commercial vehicle when off duty, laden (loaded) or not. Here’s what the guidance reads: “A driver may record time operating a CMV for personal conveyance (i.e., for personal use or reasons) as off-duty only when the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work by the motor carrier. The CMV may be used for personal conveyance even if it is laden, since the load is not being transported for the commercial benefit of the carrier at that time. Personal conveyance does not reduce a driver’s or motor carrier’s responsibility to operate a CMV safely.”
    2. You have to go to the closest, safe, and reasonable location to rest – not the most appealing to you personally. If your residence or terminal is the closest, safest, and most reasonable place to find rest after unloading, then that is doable. But if there is another rest stop nearer, that will be your next destination – regardless of whether it’s further away from your final destination. Look at it this way:
      • You’re unloaded at Point B. Point A is 20 miles south of Point B and the location of your terminal and your final destination.
      • You find you have run out of hours at Point B. There is a close, safe, and reasonable location to rest at Point C which is 9 miles north of Point B.
      • Even though you want to end up back at Point A, Point C is closer to Point B. You will need to go to Point C.

      What if the next closest, safe, reasonable rest area is out of parking? Then you can use personal conveyance to travel to the next closest, safe, and reasonable parking spot – just make sure to document that the first closest place you tried to park at was full, preferably with video or photographic evidence with a timestamp showing this. 

    3. The trickiest and most troublesome aspect of the personal conveyance guidance is commuting and personal conveyance.
      • Okay: Using the commercial vehicle to drive home from the terminal or drop lot once you’re off duty
      • Not Okay: Using the commercial vehicle to drive home from the shipper or receiver
      • If you are en route to a site to be dispatched, that is considered work and will count as hours.

    4. What are some other scenarios where personal conveyance would be allowed?
      • Time spent traveling from your lodging or rest stop to food or entertainment is allowed.
      • Moving the commercial vehicle at the request of a safety official during driver’s off-duty time.

    A personal conveyance policy must be in place for the company in which you drive for. Understand the specific guidelines of your company’s policy, as they may differ from federal regulations.

    Looking for trucking jobs that work for your schedule and lifestyle? Centerline Drivers is a professional driver staffing company, connecting drivers with great companies across the country. As a renowned provider of driver staffing solutions, truck driver management, and truck driver placement – we’re committed to helping match you with the truck driving jobs you want.

  • 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.
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