Cell Phones Banned for Commercial Drivers

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A new federal law went into effect Tuesday banning commercial truck drivers from using their cell phones while on the road.

Texting while driving is already illegal in most states, but this law goes even further to any use of hand-held phones.

Jay Dent is learning a new trade -how to drive a semi-truck at Georgia Driving Academy in Columbus.

"You not only have a steering wheel you have to mess with, you also have a gear shift.  You've got turn signals.  You've got a clutch pedal.  You've got a brake pedal, fuel, mirrors you've got to look in all the time," said Dent.

However, there is one thing he and about four million other commercial drivers in the country will not be doing: using their cell phones.

Tuesday was the first day for the federal law banning truck and bus drivers from using hand-held devices while behind the wheel.

"It pretty much means hands-free.  So, you're going to have to have a Bluetooth or some other mechanism to communicate without actually having to make multiple key entries," said Brad Barber, Georgia Driving Academy's School Director.

Barber says curriculum now includes the new regulations.  He also says the fines drivers could face if they violate the law can add up.  Drivers could be fined up to $2,750 for each offense and could lose their license after multiple offenses.  If a company allows drivers to violate the new law, it could cost up to $11,000 for each penalty.

"I think it's something that's going to strengthen the safety of the truck driver and the industry itself.  Anything you can do to reduce accidents and potentially fatalities are a positive goal," said Barber... Continue reading...

DOT Supervisory Drug and Alcohol Training

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In recent months, we have received numerous inquiries regarding companies using aggressive marketing tactics to sell supervisor training to employers who may be subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s drug and alcohol testing requirements. Please note that the FMCSA is not familiar with these companies nor the training they are offering.

49 CFR §382.603 requires supervisors of CDL drivers to take 60 minutes of training on the symptoms of alcohol abuse and another 60 minutes of training on the symptoms of controlled substances use. The purpose is to qualify supervisors for determining when reasonable suspicion testing is needed.

The FMCSA does not certify trainers or training companies, nor does it pre-approve the curriculum presented. Employers are responsible for meeting the training requirement of 49 CFR §382.603 including ensuring that any training company/entity that they purchase training from provides training in the physical, behavioral, speech, and performance indicators of probable alcohol misuse and use of controlled substances. It is up to the employer to select which training to attend, keeping in mind the aforementioned guidelines.

J.J. Keller & Associates Names New CEO – James J. Keller

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James KellerJ.J. Keller and Associates Inc. announced that James J. Keller, the company’s president and chief operating officer, is succeeding his brother, Robert L. Keller, as president and chief executive officer effective Jan. 1, 2012. Robert L. Keller has held the role of CEO since 1988 and will remain as chairman.

Jim brings a lifetime of experience to the role, having joined the firm full time in 1968. Over the years, he has worked in a variety of positions, becoming the company’s president in 2006. During his tenure as COO, Jim was instrumental in the manufacturing/operations of the business as well as growth in the services division. Jim has a background in graphic arts and printing. He graduated from Neenah High School and Madison Technical College and is a certified Master Printer. He is also vice president/treasurer of the J J. Keller Foundation Inc.

“Jim is a passionate and no-nonsense leader,” says Marne Keller-Krikava, vice president-strategy and business planning. “He is an absolute advocate for the customer and the J.J. Keller brand. He spends each and every day reinforcing these ideals as well as the organization’s ‘Associate Principle’ of shared responsibility, shared results. Having an experienced captain like Jim at the helm offers us the ideal opportunity for a seamless transition.”

The company says this announcement is a strategic step in a broader well-orchestrated multi-phase succession plan that positions and prepares the organization for the next generation of leadership and growth.

“Jim’s role as president/CEO in the near-term is a key part of our succession plan,” says Robert Keller. “We have taken a thoughtful and long-term approach to our planning with the intention of keeping the business private and in the family. We believe this allows us to remain true to our core principles of excellent customer care, the associate principle and to continue as a vibrant part of the local community.”

Robert L. Keller will continue as chairman, presiding over the board of directors. In addition to leading the board, he will be involved in preparing the next generation of leaders throughout the execution of the succession plan. He also will remain as president/chairman of the J.J. Keller Foundation. Bob started with the firm as a young boy of 12 and has served in nearly all roles throughout the firm including the top leadership role for over a quarter century. During his tenure he led the firm in growth from about $10 million to $200 million over those years. The company currently employs about 1,100 associates.

J.J. Keller is a third-generation family business, founded by John J. Keller in 1953. Robert and James are both second generation who have worked in nearly every aspect of the company during their long tenure.

Surface Trade with Canada and Mexico Rose 12 Percent

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Thursday, January 5, 2012
Contact: Dave Smallen
Tel: 202-366-5568

BTS Releases North American Surface Trade Numbers for October: October 2011 Surface Trade with Canada and Mexico Rose 12.0 Percent from October 2010

Trade using surface transportation between the United States and its North American neighbors, Canada and Mexico, was 12.0 percent higher in October 2011 than in October 2010, totaling $79.0 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the value of U.S. surface transportation trade with Canada and Mexico, the United States’ North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, in October 2011 rose 28.7 percent in two years from October 2009, and 8.7 percent from October 2008.

The value of U.S. surface transportation trade with Canada and Mexico in October increased by 18.2 percent when compared to October 2006, and also increased by 65.9 percent when compared to October 2001, a period of 10 years. Imports in October were up 57.8 percent since October 2001, while exports were up 76.4 percent. See Transborder Press Releases for historic data.

Surface transportation includes freight movements by truck, rail, pipeline, mail, Foreign Trade Zones, and other. In October, 86.1 percent of U.S. trade by value with Canada and Mexico moved via land, 9.6 percent moved by vessel, and 4.3 percent moved by air.

U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico surface transportation trade both increased compared to October 2010 with U.S.-Canada reaching $46.4 billion, a 14.1 percent increase, and U.S.-Mexico reaching $32.6 billion, a 9.1 percent increase.

See BTS Transborder Data Release for summary tables, state rankings and additional data. See North American Transborder Freight Data for historic data.

Trucking Companies on a Hiring Campaign for the New Year

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Written by Jessica Duff
Today's THV

Little Rock, Ark. (KTHV) -- Despite weak economic growth and high unemployment, some companies are still experiencing a shortage of employees. In fact, recent studies project the trucking industry will face a shortage of 135-thousand drivers by then end of the first quarter 2012.

Several trucking companies across the U.S. are experiencing a shortage and have been for the past year. And with thousands of our military coming back home, many will be looking for a job. Trucking companies are also targeting a younger generation, moving away from the average age of 45 - 55.

A combination of all these factors has trucking companies directing their campaign in a different direction to combat the shortage.

In the past year, the trucking industry has seen a drastic decline in employees.

"Just about every one of the primary motor carriers out there is looking for truck drivers to fill their truck shortages," says Dennis Hilton, Vice President of Safety for Cal Ark International.

Hilton says the shortage affects more than just the trucking companies...
Continue reading.


CSA 'Raising All Boats,' Says Schneider's Osterberg

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By Wendy Leavitt, director of editorial development, Fleet Owner

On the one-year anniversary of CSA, it would be tough to find anybody who thinks it has been an absolutely perfect fit. There is, however, a growing wave of optimism about its effects on the trucking industry as a whole.

Don Osterberg, senior vice president, safety, security and driver training for Schneider National, is among those who are encouraged by the initial results.

“As I think about this one-year anniversary, I really am encouraged,” he told Fleet Owner in a recent interview. “I was convinced it would be an effective program, a step up from SafeStat, and it has been. Our experience has confirmed what we expected. CSA has improved accountability [for the industry.]


“We have a third party that helps us report CSA violations,” he noted, “and we have seen a significant sloping of the trend line when it comes to inspections with violations, especially when it comes to fatigued driving. CSA is ‘raising all boats.’ Because you are compared to other fleets similar to yours, you have to improve faster than your competitors to actually reduce your own score.

“It remains to be seen if CSA will actually improve highway safety, but my instincts are that it will,” Osterberg added. “We had made the EOBR decision before CSA was rolled out and I am delighted that we did. Even with our very careful auditing of our paper logs, using EOBRs for hours of service is still so much better. In fact, my number one recommendation for fleets that want to improve their fatigued driving BASIC is to go to EOBRs and electronic logging.”

Osterberg is also convinced that CSA will help to develop a valuable new sense of professionalism among truck drivers...
Continue reading.

The Downside of the Upturn: a Truck Driver Shortage

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Idaho freight companies are finding it harder to keep drivers and hire new ones.

U.S. trucking companies may face a 30 percent surge in wage costs by 2014 as rising demand for freight shipments threatens to push the industry’s driver shortage to the longest on record.

Even with numerous truck driving schools to hire from, a shrinking pool of drivers is putting wage pressure on Idaho’s trucking companies.

“Throughout this past year, we were down quite a few drivers,” said Jason Andrus, chairman of the Idaho Trucking Association and chief financial officer of Doug Andrus Distributing in Idaho Falls. “We’ve filled those positions now, but it’s just taking a lot more effort to keep those trucks with drivers in them.

”The current national shortfall will double in a year to about 300,000 full-time positions, or 10 percent of the workforce, said Noel Perry, managing director at consultant FTR Associates in Nashville, Ind.

A gap between cargo demand and the driver supply adds to evidence that the freight industry is recovering. 2011’s gains in cargo tonnage fit “with an economy that is growing very slowly,” the American Trucking Association said.

“The truck-driver population is growing at less than 1 percent a year,” said Jeff Kauffman, a Sterne Agee & Leach Inc. analyst who follows truck and railroad stocks. “Freight’s growing at closer to 4 percent.

”Truckers’ shipping volume, a barometer of the broader economy, was up 11 percent in July from a year earlier, according to Cass Information Systems. Echo Global Logistics Inc. (ECHO), a Chicago-based provider of freight services.


As freight volume rises, local truckers see more opportunities around the state and country, which leads to job-hopping, Andrus said.

He said his company, which employs about 260 drivers, raised wages in some divisions and significantly increased marketing and advertising to hire new drivers.

The company recruits from Idaho trucking schools — the College of Western Idaho and Eastern Idaho Technical College both offer programs — and gives students loans that are repaid by working for the company after graduation.

Idaho drivers earn “fairly competitive” wages and benefits, compared with other states, Andrus said. But some competitors — namely, the North Dakota oil fields — are unbeatable.

“We can’t come close to the oil field wages,” he said.


The shortfalls seen in previous freight rebounds are getting a new twist, according to Andrus and Perry.

U.S. safety regulations curbing drivers’ work hours mean companies must have more employees, and new rules help companies assess applicants’ driving histories — weeding out the riskier ones...
Continue reading.