Tulsa Company Says Need for Skilled Truckers Booming

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By KYLE ARNOLD, World Staff Writer on Jul 27, 2013, at 4:11 PM

Eva Gray, a truck driver with Melton Truck Lines, gets into her truck in Tulsa. A spokeswoman said the company would hire anyone who is qualified to fill the demand for drivers. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World

Eva Gray isn’t what you might expect out of a long-haul trucker.

The 29-year-old Maryland native has a petite frame, red hair and a big smile. She spends her nights and weekends taking online classes and is just a year away from getting a master’s degree in psychology.

“I was just bored with what I was doing, and driving is something that always appealed to me. So I just went for it,” said Gray, who had just finished a trip hauling lumber from New Hampshire to Springfield, Mo.

“It’s the experience of a lifetime. You get to see so many things every day that you would never get to see.”

Her truck is loaded with the newest high-tech gadgets in the industry, like a GPS device to show her the shortest routes to destinations and electronic logs to show her how much time until her next required rest.

Gray is one of more than 900 drivers at Tulsa-based Melton Truck Lines Inc. The company would hire a hundred more if qualified drivers walked in the door, said Angie Buchanan, vice president of human resources and safety.

“We have 70 openings right now, but we would hire anyone that is qualified,” Buchanan said. “There is as much work out there as we can take.”

The entire trucking industry is facing a shortage of drivers as the economy rebounds, the energy industry demands more trucks and the baby boom generation, which makes up the largest pool of drivers, is aging out and getting off the roads.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the U.S. will need 330,000 more truck drivers by 2020. With the average trucker being 55 years old, the industry will face a shortage in the next decade from retirements.


Congressional Budget Office Offers Grim View of Highway Fund

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Projects a $10 Billion Shortfall in 2015

By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the July 29 print edition of Transport Topics.

WASHINGTON — The Congressional Budget Office last week presented a grim picture of an insolvent Highway Trust Fund to the House committee that oversees highway policy, but there was little discussion of possible solutions.

In 2015, there will be an estimated $50 billion in outlays for highways and transit — if spending levels stay the same as today — but only $40 billion in receipts, said Kim Cawley, a chief official at the Congressional Budget Office. “Without some change in policy, there won’t be enough money to go around.”

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Medical Groups, States Oppose FMCSA Plan to Require Daily Reports of Drivers’ Physicals

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By Timothy Cama, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the July 22 print edition of Transport Topics.

Medical professionals and state driver licensing agencies objected to a proposal to require daily updates of commercial drivers’ physical exam information, telling federal regulators the system would be burdensome and costly.

The comments came in response to a May proposal from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that would require medical examiners to submit the results of their physicals on drivers at the end of each day. FMCSA would forward that data to states’ licensing agencies the next day, and the states would have to post it to a database the day after that.


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CBO Warns House Panel on Highway Trust Fund

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WASHINGTON — A congressional subcommittee received a grim picture Tuesday of what lies ahead for the Highway Trust Fund if Congress and the White House do not find a way to pay for transportation before the fund is declared insolvent in 2015.

That year, there will be about $50 billion in outlays — if spending levels are the same as 2013 — but only $40 billion in receipts, Kim Cawley of the Congressional Budget Office said at a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s highways subcommittee.

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FMCSA Changes Instructions for Off-Duty Time

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has simplified its instructions for driver off-duty time.

The old guidance said that the driver had to get written instructions from his employer spelling out how long the off-duty time would be.

Under the new guidance, effective today, there is no requirement for employer instructions, either written or verbal.

In a notice in today’s Federal Register, the agency said the old requirement had the effect of discouraging drivers from taking breaks or documenting those breaks in their logs.

It imposed a recordkeeping requirement but did require that records actually be kept. Also, it was not enforceable because it said the break had to be long enough to “significantly reduce” fatigue.

The new guidance says drivers may record meal and other routine stops, including the 30-minute break required by the new hours of service rule, as off-duty time provided they are relieved of duty for the truck and its cargo and they are at liberty to do what they want during the break.


Feds Consider Developing New Program to Measure Drivers’ Safety Performance

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By Timothy Cama, Staff Reporter
This story appears in the July 15 print edition of Transport Topics.

Federal officials said they are considering developing a program that would use truck drivers’ violation and inspection data to determine whether they are safe and take corrective action against unsafe ones.

In a report to Congress in June, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration did not commit to implementing what it called a “driver safety fitness determination” but said that it would involve a nine-year process of studying, testing and going through the regulatory process before such a program could be launched.

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Newly Launched Website Provides One-Stop Shop for Driver Fatigue Management

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Arlington, VA – The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) today announced the launch of the North American Fatigue Management Program website,  The NAFMP provides a comprehensive approach to commercial driver fatigue management including:

  • Online fatigue management training for drivers, drivers’ families, carrier executives and managers, dispatchers and shippers/receivers;
  • Information on how to develop a corporate culture that facilitates reduced driver fatigue;
  • Information on sleep disorders screening and treatment;
  • Driver and trip scheduling information;
  • Information on Fatigue Management Technologies.

The NAFMP website also includes a Return-on-Investment calculator that allows motor carriers to estimate the cost-benefit of deploying the NAFMP in its entirety or select components in a customized program.

All of the NAFMP information and training is available on the website free of charge for interested parties. 

The NAFMP website represents the culmination of a decade of research, development and testing of a comprehensive fatigue management program.  Substantial financial and in-kind support was provided by the NAFMP partners including ATRI, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Transport Canada, Alberta Motor Transport Association, Alberta Occupational Health and Safety, Alberta Transportation, Alberta Workers Compensation Board, Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail du Québec and Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec.

ATRI will manage the NAFMP website on behalf of the NAFMP partners.

“It is rewarding to see ATRI’s 10-year involvement in the research and development of the NAFMP come to fruition,” commented ATRI President Rebecca Brewster.  “The NAFMP website will be a one-stop shop for carriers of all sizes to address the important issue of driver fatigue.”

ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization.  It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.