Fleets Must Keep Drug Testing 50% of Drivers, DOT Orders

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By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the Dec. 16 print edition of Transport Topics.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that fleets must again randomly drug test the urine of at least half their drivers during 2014.

DOT, which issued the mandate Dec. 5, is still compiling drug-test results for 2012. Trucking’s positive test rate in 2011 was 0.9%, the lowest since drug testing began in 1996. If the 2012 rate turns out to be lower than 1%, the industry could become eligible to halve the testing, to 25% of its drivers.

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Flawed Safety Data Penalizing Many Fleets Under CSA Program, ATA Report States

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By Eric Miller, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the Dec. 16 print edition of Transport Topics.

Flawed data and methodology used in the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program have created “tens of thousands” of statistical anomalies, according to an American Trucking Associations white paper released last week.

“ATA continues to support the objectives of CSA and to call for improvements to the program,” ATA President Bill Graves said. “However, data and methodology problems continue to plague the system and the accuracy and reliability of companies’ scores.”

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Trucking helps Wreaths Across America Lay Record Number of Wreaths for Fallen Heroes

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by Brad Bentley

Every headstone has a story — That was the message delivered by Karen Worcester as she stood before thousands of volunteers who gathered to lay remembrance wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, Dec. 14.

She also expressed appreciation to those who have made her family’s attempt to honor deceased veterans grow into a national observance. Several years ago, her husband, Morrill, found himself with a surplus of 5,000 balsam wreaths at Worcester Wreath Co. in Harrington, Maine. He brought the batch to Arlington and placed them on graves in an older, little-visited section of the cemetery.

With a mission of “remember, honor and teach” about the service and sacrifices of veterans, the Worcesters later launched the non-profit organization Wreaths Across America, which now conducts wreath-laying ceremonies at hundreds of veterans’ cemeteries nationwide. This annual tradition requires the assistance of many trucking companies and industry organizations to make it happen.

And at Arlington National Cemetery, the hallowed ground that represents fallen soldiers who marched in all American conflicts, the trucking industry left quite a footprint this past weekend.

The opening ceremony took place on a custom-built, mobile stage—a curtain-sided flatbed trailer—provided by Gary Salisbury, former Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) chairman and the president and CEO of Fikes Truck Line. The agenda included two songs by Lindsay Lawler, the spokesperson for TCA’s Highway Angel program and a country singer known for patriotic, pro-trucking lyrics.

“Wreaths Across America Day at Arlington National Cemetery is the most special experience I have ever been a part of and one that has given me such great honor,” Lawler said. “To stand before thousands and salute our past and present troops and their families by singing our National Anthem and God Bless America is a memory that I will carry the rest of my life.”

After the opening ceremony, volunteers flocked to 41 tractor-trailers that were scattered throughout Arlington National Cemetery. The trucks were loaded with more than 143,000 wreaths — a record amount helped along by a last-minute surge of donations that enabled Wreaths Across America to surpass their original goal of 135,000.

Throughout the day, participants could easily identify some 300 core volunteers thanks to vests donated by the Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA). Cindy Atwood, Deputy Director of the CVTA, served as the head greeter and said she was privileged to work with a dedicated group of individuals who arrived at 6:00 a.m. to organize and facilitate the wreath laying process.

“Volunteers gathered in the dark and very cold weather, then stood at the gates to welcome those coming to lay wreaths on the graves of our veterans. The greeters rarely have an opportunity to lay a wreath themselves and yet they proudly man their posts, answering questions and directing the crowds,” Atwood said.“Everyone is happy and motivated, with a shared desire to make this a memorable experience for all involved. Wreaths Across America sheds light on the strength of the community during the holiday season and serves as an amazing example of individuals, businesses and government coming together as one to remember our fallen heroes in a meaningful and respectful manner.”

The simple act of laying a wreath on a headstone can have a powerful effect. “Until you step foot onto this sacred place and listen to the stories of remembrance from friends and family members of loved ones buried there, you have no idea how this place will impact you,” Lawler said. “Placing a wreath on a grave of someone unknown to me, whose family and friends were not able to be there to place one themselves gave me such a sense of unity and pride for my country.”

In less than two hours, the simple white headstones in more than 30 sections of Arlington’s landscape were transformed by green wreaths with red bows. Simultaneously, veteran’s cemeteries nationwide were experiencing a similar metamorphosis thanks in part to the generosity of the trucking industry... Continue reading.


Guides for Private Vocational and Distance Education Schools

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            On November 18, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revised its Guides for Private Vocational and Distance Education Schools, which are intended to advise proprietary businesses that offer vocational training courses (either on the school’s premises or through distance education) how to avoid deceptive practices in connection with the advertising, promotion, marketing, or sale of their courses or programs. Truck driving schools are listed on the FTC’s website as falling under the realm of Vocational Training. Therefore it is importance for CVTA institutions to understand how this rule applies to their advertising and marketing.

            These current revisions covers six areas:

  • Deceptive trade or business names;
  • Misrepresentation of extent or nature of Accreditation or Approval;
  • Misrepresentation of facilities, services, qualifications of staff, status, and employment prospects for students after training;
  • Misrepresentations of enrollment qualifications or limitations;
  • Deceptive use of diplomas, degrees, or certificates; and
  • Deceptive sales practices.  

The Deceptive trade or business names section does not allow schools to misrepresent that they are connected to the US government or an employee agency. Under the Misrepresentation of extent or nature of Accreditation or Approval, there are some areas where CVTA schools will need to possibly tailor their websites and printed material to ensure compliance. For instance, it makes it deceptive for an Industry Member to misrepresent that its courses or programs of instruction fulfill a requirement that must be completed prior to taking a licensing examination. This could be an issue where a school indirectly or directly makes it seem that a student must take a training program before sitting for the CDL, which of course they do not as of now.

            CVTA schools need to be careful when advertising that they do not show trucks, simulator equipment, or buildings that they no longer have or use as that will be seen as a deceptive practice. Schools will also have to be careful that they do not misrepresent the actual job market in their advertising. This could be an issue where a school leaves up information that is no longer accurate concerning the availability of jobs in the trucking industry. Schools cannot have any language in their advertisements that imply that employment is being offered. For instance “Men/women wanted to train for ****,” or “Help Wanted” cannot be in advertisements.

            CVTA recommends that you or your legal counsel review your institutions advertising and website to ensure they are not in violation of misrepresenting some key area of their program. If you have any questions, please contact Don Lefeve.

Fleet Executive Panel Says Driver Image, Engagement Critical to Solving Shortage

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From left, CVTA Executive Director Don Lefeve, Prime Inc. Director John Hancock, MCS President Keith Tuttle, CCJ Editor Jeff Crissey

In the next decade, the trucking industry must add 239,000 drivers, per year, to keep up with freight demand and replace the 37 percent today’s drivers that will retire. A panel of fleet executives discussed solutions to this pending crisis, Dec. 4, at the CCJ Fall Symposium in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The panel agreed that improving the public’s image of the transportation industry is the single biggest obstacle for attracting new drivers to the profession.

“We need to turn that ship in the right direction,” said panelist Keith Tuttle, president of Motor Carrier Service (MCS), a 100-truck carrier based in Toledo, Ohio. As part of the discussion on how to improve public image, the panel, moderated by CCJ Editor Jeff Crissey, discussed the Trucking Moves America Forward campaign, a new industry program.

Don Lefeve, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA), added another obstacle to solving the crisis — federal and state funding for CDL schools. Congress has not dedicated funds to train workers for a career in transportation. CVTA represents 180 locations that train 50,000 drivers a year. The association has about 20 carrier partners that hire entry-level drivers.

Tuttle said MCS does not hire straight out of driving school. The company with its regional, Midwest operations received the 2012 “Best Fleet to Drive For” award from the Truckload Carriers Association. Its turnover rate is about 27 percent, he said.

“The best hire is somebody who has got experience. There is a much higher turnover rate with guys who are right out of school,” he said. In recent months, however, Tuttle has noticed an alarming trend among his long-tenured drivers. “Drivers who are leaving now have been with us for 10 to 15 years.”

Tuttle didn’t have an explanation for why long-tenured drivers are changing jobs, but he expressed concern about the dwindling supply of qualified drivers.

“Most good carriers will not hire a large percentage of drivers,” he continued. “We will look at one out of 150 applications sent to us. We do very well financially but we are frustrated with our ability to show substantial growth with the driver situation right now.”

Panelist John Hancock, director of training and driver recruiting for Prime, Inc., added that the carrier sees a large number of applicants who, for various reasons, are not employable for any job due to serious flaws in their work history. Prime, based in Springfield, Mo., has 5,300 power units and 6,300 drivers with tanker, reefer and flatbed operations.

Prime has a turnover rate of 61 percent, far below the average rate for large truckload carriers. The company is focused on creating opportunities for its employees and contractors to maximize their income and see trucking as a good career choice.

“We need to generate a work force that wants to do this,” he said. “People want a good job.” The definition of “good job” varies by person, he added, but everyone wants a good income and opportunity for growth to fulfill their basic needs.

Hancock cited studies from a book, The Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton, that 20 percent of people in the United States are underemployed. The book also says only 28 percent of employees are engaged and trying to line themselves up with the company’s objectives. Fifty-three percent are not engaged and are “just showing up.”

“We want to have much a higher number engaged,” he said. “We believe in weekly measures. All associates are paid this week based on what happened last week.” Drivers also receive a weekly fuel bonus.

“If we can give people a vehicle to accomplish (income growth), they will come and be part of that,” he said.

MCS will be raising driver pay this week, Tuttle said. About half of its drivers made over $55,000 last year. Some made more than $65,000 and are home 10 to 13 nights per month on average. Its drivers are also involved in planning routes and rating customers.

“We actually fired a good customer three weeks ago for some of their detention policies,” Tuttle said.

The panel agreed that health and wellness programs are part of the solution to creating good jobs for drivers. Prime has created a “Fittest of the Fleet” competition in addition to participating in TCA’s Weight Loss showdown. The panelists also agreed that having new equipment spec’d with creature comforts has become standard fare for attracting over-the-road drivers.



Communication Skills for Effective Driver Training Webinar - Save the Date

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Free webinar brought to you by Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) and Truckload Academy (TA)

Target audience: School instructors and carrier driver finishers

From Classroom to Finishing Program:  Communication Skills for Effect Driver Training

Attracting people to training schools is the first step in recruiting new drivers to our industry.  The next step is effective training whether in the classroom or the cab of a carrier’s truck.  The ability to communicate effectively to trainees is an important skill for instructors and driver trainers.  It ensures new drivers acquire the skills and knowledge they need to be successful and continue driving for our industry.

Join trucking industry and training professionals Thursday, December 19, at noon ET as they help you understand:

  • Nonverbal communication clues and how they reinforce or contradict verbal communication
  • Techniques for improving listening skills for different situations
  • Techniques for reinforcing desired behavior
  • Effective mediation techniques for different situations
  • Principles of anger management

Registration information will be sent in early December.  Please forward to others who might be interested.