PTDI Certifies Driver Training Courses as HOS Brings Industry Changes

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Alexandria, Virginia – From Washington to Tennessee, truck driver training programs that recently received PTDI course certification or recertification weighed in on what the newly revised hours-of-service (HOS) safety requirements mean for the industry.

“With all the CSA requirements being implemented and other industry changes, especially the continuing battle with hours of service, it is more important than ever for trucking companies to ensure the quality of their new hires,” said Don Hess, director, transportation and public safety at John Wood Community College. “If you’re hiring entry-level drivers, you’ll want to be sure you’re hiring drivers who are well prepared and trained to meet these requirements.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) recent publication of the HOS Final Rule reduces by 12 hours the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week and requires drivers to take a break of at least 30 minutes after driving eight hours. That’s a 15-percent reduction in the average maximum allowable hours of work per week.

Although the FMCSA says these changes will affect only a minority of drivers who regularly work longer hours, those in the trucking industry may not agree. Gary Warren, truck driving instructor, Tennessee Technology Center at Nashville, said he believes “HOS will cause a driver shortage with electronic onboard recorders; carriers will have to find someone to replace those who are at their limit. If a company had to have 100 drivers before to get the job done, now it will require more.”

As far as how HOS will affect their program, Warren said students are already required to keep a log of their on-duty /off-duty time which includes classroom and driving hours. “We teach them how to keep up with how much time they spend behind the wheel. We make our students aware that everything they do has consequences.”

Since discovering PTDI when he started at Tennessee Technology in 2004, Warren said he has been “working really hard with our current [school] administration and the Tennessee Trucking Association to get all our schools here on board with the same curriculum as far as what we teach, because I’ve found we’re very different. I’d like to see all of our state truck driving schools with PTDI course certification if for no other reason than it helps hold all schools accountable.”

Gina Buda, president, Progressive Truck Driving School, has been in the industry 37 years and said PTDI standards offer the best training program she has seen. “As long as we follow PTDI curriculum and certification standards, our students will be very well prepared.”

In terms of HOS, she said, “I think we’re heading in the right direction as an industry. I’ve always believed that changes are for the better if they help us stay safe and make corrections as needed. If it improves safety and saves one more life, it’s good.”

Jeff Frank, director, Iowa Central Community College, Transportation Technology Center, believes HOS will be complex to enforce and interpret accurately. “I’ve been in the industry 31 years and the rules have gotten very complex.”

“Until students actually get into a job and encounter the rule,” he said, “it will take a while to master the hours of service. While in training, they may not exceed the 11 hours of driving and 14-hour rule, yet we average about 2,000 miles per student over the 11-week course, so we are probably one of the longest programs in the country. We exceed the behind-the-wheel time that PTDI requires.”

Frank believes that eventually the federal government will mandate the number of hours required for training to get a CDL nationwide. “I think personally if they follow PTDI standards, it would be very successful. We have excellent checks and balances in place, and our students are better prepared to enter the industry.”

Hess agrees. “The Feds are on the verge of releasing entry-level training standards, which will require anyone taking a CDL test to have gone to an approved school before they will issue a CDL. Rest assured that all PTDI course-certified schools will be approved schools.”

The truck driver training courses that received PTDI recertifcation in December are Bates Technical College, Tacoma, Washington; Iowa Central Community College, Transportation Technology Center, Fort Dodge, Iowa; John Wood Community College, Quincy, Illinois; Swift Driving Academy in San Antonio and Phoenix; and Tennessee Technology Center at Nashville.  Two courses each at Progressive Truck Driving School in Lansing and Cicero, Illinois, as well as an additional course at the Chicago location, received initial certification.

PTDI is a national, nonprofit organization established for the twofold purpose of developing uniform industry skill, curriculum, and certification standards for entry-level truck driver training and motor carrier driver finishing programs, and certifying entry-level truck driver training courses at public and private schools and driver finishing programs at carriers for compliance with PTDI standards.  PTDI is based in Alexandria, Virginia.

Randall-Reilly Digest Dispatch e-Newsletter - January 2012

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Welcome to your January issue of the Randall-Reilly Digest Dispatch e-Newsletter. This promises to be an interesting and innovative year for recruiting media as we continue to develop new solutions for our customers.

In this month’s issue, we talk about how and why to use Facebook pages to enhance your recruiting efforts. We also highlight the Highway Angel music video that was recently launched to help change the public perception of trucking.

As always, we bring you recruiting and retention tips from nationally known speaker, teacher and trucking consultant Dan Baker. This month, Dan cautions you against making assumptions, and he emphasizes the importance of utilizing your best drivers to steer retention programs.

Click here to view your January issue of Digest Dispatch e-Newsletter.

ATA Releases Survey of Motor Carrier Financial Performance

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ATA conducted a confidential survey of motor carriers’ balance sheets and income statement data along with information on tonnage, mileage, employees, transportation equipment, and other related items. The aggregate results now are available in the ATA Motor Carrier Report with Data for 2010. It is the first ATA Motor Carrier Annual Report conducted since the end of the recession. The data ATA collected for this report are very similar to the financial and operating statistics forms that motor carriers with revenue in excess of $3 million are required to file with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Since DOT will not distribute the post-2003 annual Form M filings to ATA or the public at large without an expensive Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the ATA Motor Carrier Annual Report is the only source for aggregate data. To purchase the report or receive more information, visit click here or call 1-866-821-3468.

Obama Nixes Keystone Pipeline Proposal . . . for Now

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President Obama yesterday denied TransCanada Corporation’s permit for the much-publicized Keystone XL oil sands pipeline from Canada to Texas. The President faced a February 21 deadline set by Congress to make a decision on the permit application to build the $7 billion, 1,700-mile pipeline as a conduit to transport at 700,000 barrels per day of Alberta oil sand crude to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. The President said his denial was not based on the merits of the pipeline itself, but rather on the 60-day arbitrary nature of the deadline imposed by Congress. The State Department left the door open for TransCanada to resubmit another permit application for the project originally set to be completed in 2014. Putting politics aside, ATA remains optimistic that the pipeline can be built in an environmentally sound manner creating thousands of new jobs and improving our nation’s energy security.

FMCSA Clarifies Push-to-Talk Guidance

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This week, FMCSA released updated FAQs on its new hand-held mobile telephone ban to clarify that use of the push-to-talk function on mobile phones is permitted, under certain limited conditions. Specifically, the push-to-talk function on a mobile telephone may be used as long as the driver is not required to reach for, dial, or actually hold the mobile phone while driving. FMCSA states that as long as the “mobile phone is mounted in a cradle or similar device near the driver, or there is a remote push-to-talk button near the vehicle controls” the driver may use the push-to-talk function. Click here for a link to FMCSA’s updated FAQs on the new mobile phone rule.

$77 Million in Transportation Research and Education Grants

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today $77 million in grants to 22 University Transportation Centers (UTCs) to advance research and education programs that address critical transportation challenges facing our nation. The UTCs, which are located throughout the United States, conduct research that directly supports the priorities of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the participating universities are a critical part of our national transportation strategy.

“Transportation matters in everyone’s daily life. These research centers will help us solve the transportation challenges we face today and those that we know lay ahead of us,” said Secretary LaHood. 

DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), which administers the UTC program, used a competitive selection process to select ten University Transportation Centers (UTCs), two Transit-Focused UTCs, and ten Regional UTCs. The centers will advance U.S. transportation technology and expertise in research, education, and technology transfer. Each one of the selected UTCs will receive a $3.5 million grant which they must match with funds from non-federal sources. The 22 UTCs selected are all consortia, involving a total of 121 different universities. 

“We are excited about the proposals these consortia put forward. They have the potential to advance basic and applied transportation research today and ensure a robust pipeline of professionals for the transportation workforce of tomorrow,” said RITA Acting Administrator Greg Winfree. “It is absolutely crucial that we continue to invest in research, which has the added benefit of attracting and developing the high level of professionals needed for innovation and expertise in transportation.”

UTCs work with regional, state and local transportation agencies to help find solutions to challenges that directly impact their communities and affect the efficiency of the nation’s transportation system. UTC projects are peer-reviewed and the results of their work are shared with the national transportation community to encourage greater progress through collaboration. The selected universities will research a wide range of transportation-related issues including shared rail corridors, innovations in multimodal freight and infrastructure, bridge inspection methods, and reducing roadway fatalities and injuries.

A list of grant recipients is available here. Find out more about the UTC program.

Schneider National Supports Governor Walker's Wisconsin Working Plan

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Military-Focused Initiatives of Special Interest as Company Seeks to Fill Truck Driver Roles

GREEN BAY, Wis. - (January 11, 2012) - Schneider National, Inc., a premier provider of transportation, logistics and intermodal services, announced today the company's support and enthusiasm for Governor Walker's new Wisconsin Working plan, designed to better match job seekers with open positions and improve workforce training. The plan also includes initiatives by the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand its efforts to help veterans find jobs.

"As one of Northeast Wisconsin's largest employers, we applaud Governor Walker's efforts to foster job creation in our state and to better prepare and place skilled workers in new jobs," said Chris Lofgren, president and CEO of Schneider National. "These are exactly the kind of initiatives our company needs to fill many of our open roles, especially roles for professional truck drivers."

For Schneider, the veteran-focused programs included in the Governor's plan are of great interest. The company has a long legacy of hiring military-experienced talent for office, maintenance/shop, truck driving and warehouse roles. The company says the critical thinking skills, leadership and motivation military personnel bring to the workforce is attractive in the fast-paced, complex business environment of a modern-day transportation operation.

"While we anticipate growth and new hires in all areas of the business, our greatest area of opportunity is for professional truck drivers," noted Mike Hinz, vice president, Schneider National. "We plan to hire 500 military members across the U.S. in 2012, and the governor's initiatives with the Department of Veterans Affairs will help reach that goal."

Hinz said the governor's plans to increase the number of career and benefit fairs for veterans, to incorporate online job fairs and to proactively reach out to unemployed veterans in an effort to align them with job placement assistance and other earned benefits are all welcome news.

Through the years, Schneider has developed a number of programs specifically for past and present military personnel including a Military Apprenticeship Program that provides on-the-job training and opportunities to use GI Bill education/training benefits and opportunities for veterans, Guard members and Reservists. In addition to weekly Schneider pay, associates in the Apprenticeship Program are eligible for up to $1,069 per month in compensation through the VA program.

"Our programs are some of the best in the United States, but it can be challenging to get the word out," Hinz noted. "Working collaboratively with groups like the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs is a huge opportunity to put more people in the state to work."