A shortage of drivers has trucking companies offering to pay recruits...

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A shortage of drivers has trucking companies offering to pay recruits while they're training

By Mark Puente, Times Staff Writer
In Print Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gary Jones lost his job in December after working in construction for nearly 30 years. At 55 and retirement still years away, he needed a new career and a steady paycheck. He got his wish.

Jones recently juggled six job offers and expects to earn $40,000 over the next year by joining the ranks of the 3.5 million truckers who shuttle freight on American roads. The transportation industry needs a lot more people like Jones to fill a nationwide shortage of truckers that may hit 300,000 next year.

"People can't find jobs in Florida," said Jones of Wesley Chapel. "This is an avenue to pursue."

It sure is, although it seems odd there would be a shortage of truck drivers with a national unemployment rate of 9.1 per cent (10.6 percent in Florida) and the economy just stumbling along.

New standards enacted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration forced carriers to scrutinize the employment, driving and criminal histories of applicants — weeding out many problem drivers. That, coupled with carriers gutting recruiting departments and downsizing fleets during the Great Recession, triggered the shortage.

The new rules have caused an operational hardship, although safer drivers on the road are better for the public, said Bob Costello, chief economist at the American Trucking Association.

He calls the shortage "a quality issue, not a quantity issue." On the flip side, "drivers who have good records are in high demand," he said. The shortage has prompted the group to launch a nationwide recruiting campaign.

Many jobs have starting wages higher than $35,000. Advertisements litter billboards, the Internet and print publications. Still, to the bafflement of the trucking industry, the calls go unanswered.

"The pool of applicants just isn't there to fill these jobs," said Mary Lou Rajchel, president of the Florida Trucking Association. "The doors are open to hire professional truckers."

The days of people wanting to grab a CB radio while steering 80,000-pound rigs across the freeways are waning as baby boomers approach the twilight of their careers.

"The younger generation is not willing to do this work," said Doc Hyder, president of Rowland Transportation in Dade City.

Hyder is seeing more turnover among his 91 drivers as they test the waters at other firms. Shipping costs will rise as carriers battle for drivers, he said.

"It will lead to higher wages for drivers," he said. "It's what they deserve."

For years, the industry battled negative stereotypes made famous by movies like Smokey and the Bandit and news stories about problem drivers moving between carriers in the same week... Continue Reading...


CAFE Standards Applied to Trucks for First Time

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DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of August 8, 2011
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance

Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards have been applied to heavy-duty vehicles for the first time. Starting in 2014 new trucks will have to be much more fuel efficient.

The Obama Administration announced this week that, for the first time, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards would apply to heavy-duty vehicles. This would stretch from large pick-up trucks all the way up to the big rigs and would make the same demands of truck manufacturers that car manufacturers have had since the 1970’s.
Increased Efficiency Standards: The following increases in fuel efficiency are being applied:

  • Combination Tractors: Up to 20%
  • Heavy-Duty Trucks and Vans: Up to 15%
  • Work Vehicles (e.g., transit buses and garbage trucks): 10%

According to the Department of Transportation: “Long haul trucks will save an average of 4 gallons for fuel for every 100 miles traveled. Heavy-duty pickups and vehicles like buses, delivery trucks, or vans would save one gallon for every 100 miles traveled.”

The fuel savings are also expected to have a significant effect on reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide.

Current Trucks Will Remain On the Road

The new standards, which are effective for the 2014 to 2018 model years, will not affect current trucks. You will not be required to update your current vehicle. The Obama Administration, however, is citing a number of reasons as to why you might want to buy a new vehicle once the new rules are in place.

Lifetime Cost Savings

The White House is, of course, worried about our reliance on foreign oil and, in particular, the vulnerability of our goods transportation system. Currently, 95% or more of all purchased items in the United States have spent some time on a diesel truck. By reducing the amount of fuel that we use, we reduce the need for oil from volatile areas such as the Middle-East. It is estimated that by adopting these new standards, the nation would use 530 million less barrels of oil.

From the owner-operator and the fleet owner’s perspective, though, the best incentive is savings. A semi-truck driver would see, on average, $73,000 in lifetime savings when compared to a current vehicle. The DOT estimates that for most trucks the additional cost caused by the new technology would be off-set within the first year of ownership.

Is Hybrid Technology The Answer?

In order for these new standards to be reached truck manufacturers will have to follow the lead of car makers and invest in new technology. The most likely candidate for achieving these new standards is hybrid-electric.

In fact, many of the manufacturers have already started to develop hybrid solutions, principally for the military. Obviously, when driving through the Afghan desert, soldiers don’t have the option of stopping for gas and the hybrid solutions have worked well at extending range. It should be noted, however, that most of the hybrid trucks used by the military are on the lighter end of the weight scale.

Perhaps indicating that this is the route that they intend to follow, the major truck manufacturers have all at least demonstrated hybrid technology although there is not much that is actually available to purchase today — these solutions will have to be made available before the standards come into effect.

Streamlining a Solution

Beyond the power train, the industry has other optimization solutions to utilize. The current trend towards streamlining will have to continue. Most modern trucks — most dramatically, the International Lonestar — present a much more streamlined profile than the traditional “two boxes” design. Streamlining has been shown to be as, if not more, effective at saving fuel as hybrid engines.

As it did with cars, it is expected the new CAFE rules will kick-start a revolution in vehicle design.

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • • Vol. 111, No. 699 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011

Finalists Announced For Trucking’s Top Rookie Program

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For Immediate Release  
Contact: Brad Bentley
(256) 241-3310
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Finalists Announced For Trucking’s Top Rookie Program
Cash and prizes to be awarded at Great American Trucking Show

Earlier this year, Randall-Reilly Recruiting Media pursued a suggestion from the Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA) to create a national Trucking’s Top Rookie contest to highlight the opportunities in the truck driving profession. With a theme of "TRAIN. RETAIN. GAIN.” the contest was designed to increase pride and professionalism among new drivers, and promote the truck driving career choice during a severe shortage of drivers.

Randall-Reilly used its many trucking periodicals and industry partners like CVTA, Progressive Insurance, American Trucking Associations, the National Association of Independent Truckers, Truckload Carriers Association, Shell ROTELLA, the National Association of Publicly funded Truck Driving Schools and the Midnight Trucking Radio Network to promote the contest. After receiving more than two-dozen nominations, an expert panel of judges, which included representatives from motor carriers, training schools (both public and private), suppliers and trade associations, has now identified 10 finalists for the Trucking’s Top Rookie award.

The finalists are: Jackie Rhodes, Crete Carrier Corp.; Theodore Mueskes, Trimac Transportation; Clayton Tuma, Grand Island Express; Darek Paul, TMC Transportation; Lorissa Strychowskj, MacKinnon Transport; Brian Knott, Maverick Transportation; Matthew Underhill, Con-Way; Wesley Baker, Cargo Transporters; Christopher Thiel, Grand Island Express and Damon Frazee, Crete Carrier Corporation. More than $20,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to these deserving drivers at a ceremony on Friday, August 26 during the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, TX.

The Midnight Trucking Radio Network’s Eric Harley will then interview the Trucking’s Top Rookie winner, who will receive: $10,000 cash; a one-year complimentary membership in the National Association of Independent Truckers (NAIT); a year’s supply of 5-Hour Energy drinks; a RoadPro Getting Started Living On-The-Go Package: 12-Volt SnackMaster Deluxe Family Size Cooler/Warmer, 12-Volt 5 Motor Heated & Massaging Seat/Back Cushion, Large Aluminum Forms Holder, 12V Oven and Pizza Maker, 12-Volt Wet/Dry Canister Vacuum, 62-Piece First Aid Kit with Carry Case, Plaid Blanket with Handy Storage Wrap, 12-Volt/USB Powered 16oz. Heated Travel Mug, Digital Compass with Time, Temperature and Ice Alert , Quick Cup Coffee Maker, 12-Volt Sandwich Maker;  a NAIT OGIO briefcase and duffle bag; an American Trucking Associations “Good Stuff Trucks Bring It” package,  which includes a logoed polo shirt, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife; a GPS unit and CB radio from COBRA Electronics and 1 free year of access to Pro-Tread training series from Instructional Technologies, Inc.

We've Got an App for That!

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If you've got an iPhone, iTouch or iPad, check out our latest app: BUMPER TO BUMPER ® Easy CDL Hazardous Materials Endorsement Review. Our first app, BUMPERTOBUMPER® Easy CDL , was so well received (it got four and five stars from users), we decided to do another. We heard that applicants for the Haz Mat Endorsement are especially nervous about that written test.  The Easy CDL Haz Mat app is a great test prep aid. Nine "lectures" cover the information that endorsement applicants must know and the audio feature makes reading more enjoyable. Over 200 multiple-choice test questions give the student lots of practice. There's even a bonus Glossary of haz mat terms.

Clearly, users are finding the new app helpful. One reviewer called our first app "awesome" :-D. We've got four- and five-star reviews and sales reports that put smiles on our faces.

Look for these apps in the iTunes store or go to Study By App on the Internet.  We'd love to hear your reactions. You can also leave your comments right on the iTunes Easy CDL pages. 

And yes, we're working on our third app. Look for a launch this fall, around October.

Interested in a custom app for your program? We can do that. Give us a call at 361-749-4007 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." ' + path + '\'' + prefix + ':' + addy57564 + '\'>'+addy_text57564+'<\/a>'; //--> .

commercial driver's licenseWe've Got a Map for That!
Check out our blog at where we've added an interactive map. Clicking on the different buttons links to the Web sites of the US CDL licensing agencies by state. We hope that makes finding state-by-state licensing information and regulatory changes easier to find.

Get Together
John will be attending The Great American Trucking Show in Dallas later this month (Aug. 25-27). Check our blog for his reports. Then look for him at the Commercial Vehicle Training Association fall conference in Washington, DC (Sept. 15-17, And he invites you to come to the regional truck driver training school meeting hosted by Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas, Nov. 10th and 11th. Contact John for more information about that (phone 361-442-9552 or emailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." ' + path + '\'' + prefix + ':' + addy90126 + '\'>'+addy_text90126+'<\/a>'; //--> ).

Like Us on Facebook
Did you know that Mike Byrnes & Assoc., Inc. now has its own Facebook page? We invite you to Like us on Facebook.

"How to..."
We've been writing short "how to" pieces for publication on various Web sites. They're falling into two categories, Driving Skills and How to Get a CDL. Our latest "How to Get a CDL" story is "Tips for Passing Your CDL." Other CDL-related stories are "How to Get a Commercial Driver's License in Mississippi" and "How to Get a CDL in Nebraska."

Our "skill" how-tos are "How to Back Up a Trailer Safely," "How to Hook Up Tractor-Trailer Doubles," "How to Climb into a Truck Cab," "How to Test Trailer Air Brakes for Leaks," "How to Adjust Fifth Wheel Trailer Height" and "How to Hook Up a Tractor Protection Valve."

Check 'em out. Just click on the links to view the stories. You can easily email them and share them. If you want to print them to use as handouts, there's a button for that at the top right of the Web pages.

Check our Web site, or our blog at Just click on the orange-and-white RSS Feed logo to subscribe. You can leave comments or suggestions on the blog as well. And, follow us on Twitter at for updates. Questions? Suggestions? Give us a call at 361-749-4007 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." ' + path + '\'' + prefix + ':' + addy18879 + '\'>'+addy_text18879+'<\/a>'; //--> .
.. .

Events on EOBR Rules, E-Logs and Hours of Service

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Free class to clarify the changing regulatory landscape and provide demonstration of EOBR technology

Neenah, WI – J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. will be hosting one-day regulatory updates on hours of service, electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs), and electronic logs, beginning on August 30, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  The events, sponsored by J. J. Keller’s Encompass™, will be presented by a team of experts from J. J. Keller, the nation’s most trusted source for regulatory compliance.

These forums are designed to provide fleet professionals with insight into hours of service regulatory issues that affect how they operate and technology to support their compliance initiatives.  They will cover the changing regulatory landscape, the fundamentals of electronic logging, the impact of electronic logs on an organization, and how J. J. Keller’s Encompass with E-Logs compliance system can help fleets improve compliance and operations.

Rustin Keller, vice president of Business Services at J. J. Keller, said, “Our experts are fielding more questions than ever when it comes to the regulatory landscape surrounding hours of service.  This event provides an excellent opportunity to network with peers and get practical information you can use to improve your company’s safety and compliance.  J. J. Keller has been helping companies with compliance since 1953 and will continue to guide them into the future with our compliance solutions and expertise. ”

To register for the Seattle event, transportation professionals can visit, or call 1-888-473-4638 extension 8150 to inquire about other events.

Future events are planned for: Atlanta, Georgia; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Little Rock, Arkansas; Chicago, Illinois; and Cincinnati, Ohio.  For more information on these upcoming events, visit

About J. J. Keller Business Services
J. J. Keller Business Services helps companies to reduce risk and improve regulatory compliance through online, outsource, and consulting services. The services support professionals in transportation, workplace safety, and human resources by helping them select the type of solution that makes sense to their operation, including: Encompass™, FleetMentor®, KellerOnline®, Prospera®,, outsource services, and consulting services.  To learn more about J. J. Keller Business Services, visit

For more information, contact:
J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. 
Marketing Communications
Stephanie Dean
1-800-843-3174, ext. 7802
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." href="mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To visit J. J. Keller's Press Room, click here.

Wanted by the FBI

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Dear Trucking Industry,

We have been asked by the Clearwater Police Department who partners with the FBI Innocence Lost Initiative to get the word out through all of our trucking contacts about the fugitive, Eric Antwan Bell.   He is wanted for producing child porn, aiding and abetting the production of child porn, unlawfully possessing a firearm, engaging in the sex trafficking of a minor, and aiding and abetting the sex trafficking of a minor.   

He was featured on America's Most Wanted, is an expert in fake i.d.'s, goes by multiple alias' and is armed and dangerous.  He used to be an long haul truck driver, and they suspect he might have returned to this occupation while on the run.   

He's been on the run for over a year but they do have his accomplice in custody. The FBI is offering a $5000 reward for information leading to Bell's arrest and they think the trucking industry might be able to assist in bringing him in.