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.


Congress Urged to Act On Highway Funding

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By Scott Gutierrez and Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporters

This story appears in the Nov. 25 print edition of Transport Topics.

WASHINGTON — Congress no longer can put off finding a long-term solution to U.S. infrastructure needs without risking that the nation will slip behind global competitors, several industry leaders said Nov. 21 during a transportation conference here.

At the session — labeled “Infrastructure for the Future” and sponsored by the American Highway Users Alliance and the Volvo Group — retailers, manufacturers and freight haulers joined in highlighting how a crumbling and congested infrastructure hurts the economy.

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DOT REQUEST FOR COMMENTS: Primary Freight Highway Network

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The U.S. Department of Transportation proposed a series of key highways to serve as a highway Primary Freight Network, as required by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). The notice appeared in today’s Federal Register.  You can access the notice on-line:  This notice solicits comments on the draft initial designation of the highway Primary Freight Network.  Comments must be received by December 19, 2013.

Background:  MAP-21 calls for the Secretary of Transportation to designate up to 27,000 miles on existing interstate and other roadways, with a possible addition of 3,000 miles in the future, as a Primary Freight Network. The Federal Register notice identifies more than 41,000 miles of comprehensive, connected roadway that a Federal Highway Administration analysis shows would be necessary to transporting goods efficiently on highways throughout the nation to make up the highway Primary Freight Network. 

The Primary Freight Network proposal is based on the origins and destination of freight movement, shipment tonnage and values, truck traffic volumes and population. Under MAP-21, the highway Primary Freight Network will become part of a larger highway National Freight Network that includes all interstates and other rural highway routes designated by states that make up critical highway portions of the nation’s multimodal freight system.


ATRI Study Identifies Significant Operational and Economic Impacts from New HOS Rules

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Findings Impact Both For-Hire and Private Fleets

Arlington, VA - The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) today released the findings of its latest analysis of the operational and economic impacts resulting from the new Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules, which went into effect July 1, 2013. 

The changes to the Hours-of-Service rules implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) include provisions which limit use of the 34-hour restart and require a rest break before driving after 8 hours on-duty.

Among the operational and economic impacts identified by ATRI are:

  • More than 80 percent of motor carriers surveyed have experienced a productivity loss since the new rules went into effect, with nearly half stating that they require more drivers to haul the same amount of freight.
  • Among commercial drivers surveyed by ATRI, 82.5 percent indicated that the new HOS rules have had a negative impact on their quality of life, with more than 66 percent indicating increased levels of fatigue.
  • Commercial drivers are forced to drive in more congested time periods, although the FMCSA Regulatory Impact Analysis did not address increased safety risks with truck traffic diversion to peak hour traffic.
  • The majority of drivers (67%) report decreases in pay since the rules took effect.
  • The impacts on driver wages for all over-the-road drivers total $1.6 billion to $3.9 billion in annualized loss.

ATRI’s analysis is based on industry survey data of over 2,300 commercial drivers and 400 motor carriers as well a detailed analysis of logbook data representing 40,000+ commercial drivers.

“We anticipated significant impacts on our operations and across the entire supply chain from the new rules and our experience since July 1st is bearing that out,” commented Kevin Burch, President of Jet Express. “ATRI’s analysis clearly documents the productivity impacts and real financial costs being borne by carriers and drivers. It’s only a matter of time before these impacts ripple throughout the nation’s economy.”

A copy of this report is available from ATRI at

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.


National “Be Ready. Be Buckled.” Kids’ Art Contest - Rules & Entry Form

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The annual Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Safety Belt Partnership ( “Be Ready. Be Buckled.” art contest for children with a relative or sponsor in the truck and bus industries in grades K-6 (ages 5-12) runs through Friday, February 28, 2014!

The awards ceremony is held in conjunction with the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) North American Occupational Safety and Health Week (May 4-10, 2014) celebrations aimed at increasing awareness about work safety – being safe on the job. The “Be Ready. Be Buckled.” art contest focuses on urging truck, bus and all drivers to buckle up to saves lives and reduce injuries.

Children with a relationship to individuals or organizations in the trucking and bus industries can participate as per entry requirements.

Artwork that best illustrates “the importance of commercial motor vehicle drivers buckling up” with the overarching message “Safety Belts Save Lives” will win the grand prizes in each of the two age categories.

The winners of this contest will be honored at an awards ceremony to be held at the U.S. Department of Transportation Headquarters in early May 2014. That afternoon there will be a special program for the winners at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall.

Click here to download the entry form.

When creating your work of art think about these questions:

  • Why is it important for truck and bus drivers to buckle up every time?
  • Bus and truck drivers can spend many hours a day on the road. Why is the motto “Safety Belts Save Lives” really important for them?
  • Do you see big trucks and buses on the road? Why is it important for those drivers to buckle up and be safe?
  • What would happen if a truck or bus driver did not buckle up while on the job?

The subject of the artwork entry is to be the student’s personal expression of the importance of Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers buckling up.


1.   Entries can be a painting, drawing, collage, or other two-dimensional work no larger than

11” x 17”.

2.   For contact purposes only, students must include their name, address, phone number, school, and grade on the back of their artwork.

3.   All entries must be emailed or postmarked by February 28, 2014.

Participation: Entrants are divided into two categories by grade:

  • Category A - K through 2nd grades, as of September 3, 2013
  • Category B - 3rd through 6th grades, as of September 3, 2013
  • There will be a total of 12 winners including first place prize winners for each category.


  • Two Grand Prizes: Winners will receive a cash prize from the some CMV Safety Belt Partnership members and a copy of their artwork mounted and framed, and will be honored at an awards ceremony to be held at the U.S. Department of Transportation Headquarters.
  • Twelve students featured in a 2015 calendar will receive a certificate of appreciation from the CMV Safety Belt Partnership for their entry.

Entry Requirements:

  1. Only one submission per student.
  2. Artwork should be 100% produced by the student.
  3. Student must be related to someone working in the truck or bus industry, or sponsored by a partnering member or association of the CMV Safety Belt Partnership or by a business or driver in the commercial vehicle industry. For more information about sponsorship, please see
  4. Entry may be a painting, drawing, collage, or other two-dimensional work no larger than 11” x 17”.
  5. CMV Safety Belt Partnership and members reserve the right to copy and modify any entry for reproduction. Entries will not be returned and may be used for future promotional opportunities.
  6. Artwork will be judged on originality of design, clarity of theme message, and artistic merit.
  7. Contest ends Friday, February 28, 2014.
  8. All submissions must be postmarked no later than Friday, February 28, 2014.
  9. Results decided by April 1, 2014.

Click here to download the entry form.

CMV Safety Belt Partnership Associations

  • American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA)
  • American Bus Association (ABA)
  • American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE)
  • American Trucking Associations (ATA)
  • Associated General Contractors (AGC)
  • Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA)
  • Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA)
  • DRIVE SMART Virginia
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • First Student, Inc.
  • Great West Casualty Company
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
  • International Registration Plan, Inc. (IRP)
  • Krueger Ergonomics Consultants
  • National Association of Public Funded Truck Driving Schools (NAPFTDS)
  • National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT)
  • National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS)
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • National Private Truck Council (NPTC)
  • National Safety Council (NSC)
  • National Tank Truck Carriers, Inc. (NTTC)
  • National Association of Truckstop Operators (NATSO, Inc.)
  • Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS)
  • Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)
  • Professional Truck Driver Institute
  • Property Casualty Insurers Association of America
  • REI Safety Services
  • School Transportation Florida Department of Education
  • Truck & Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA)
  • Truckload Carriers Association Professional Truck Driver Institute, Inc.
  • United Motorcoach Association (UMA)

Click here to download the entry form.