To hear Patrick Quinn and Max Fuller talk about the good ole days of the company they founded 25 years ago is to recall a world that has continually receded in the rearview mirror. Gone are some of the old trappings of trucking as these leaders and their company have ridden—as well as have directed themselves—many of the waves of change within this industry.
For instance when co-chairmen Fuller and Quinn began U.S. Xpress operations with 48 trucks in 1986, the guesstimates on how far a given driver was from his destination have long ago yielded to geo-tracking and real-time satellite communication. “You were right most of the time,” Quinn said of those early days. “But it took a lot of intuitive knowledge.”
Today, when Quinn talks with Tennessee Trucking News about the grease boards on which dispatchers used to update daily the whereabouts of each truck, he might as well be talking about the cave paintings of Lascaux.
“Amazingly, it worked probably 98 percent of the time because people did do what they were supposed to do,” Quinn said. “You knew the driver. You couldn’t verify; it wasn’t Ronald Reagan, ‘trust and verify.’ It was simply trust. You think of going from that to where we are today.”
Twenty five years later, U.S. Xpress is the second-largest privately-owned truckload carrier in the nation, with revenues in 2010 in excess of $1.6 billion. Over the past decade, U.S. Xpress—with a networked fleet of 8,500 trucks, 22,000 trailers and employment of more than 10,000 employees nationwide— has diversified from the traditional long-haul and expedited truckload carrier model. In addition to regional, dedicated and expedited truckload operations, U.S. Xpress is involved in intermodal, logistics, brokerage and even international business with border crossing into Mexico. The U.S. Xpress customer list—with names like Walmart, Home Depot, Target, etc. – is as impressive as anyone’s anywhere. “We’ve kind of got the who’s-who of the Fortune 500,” Fuller said. “We pretty much ship for them all.”
The two men who split the top billing at U.S. Xpress have their specialties: Fuller is the operations and equipment maven; Quinn has seen the country making house calls to customers. Along with providing the vision and leadership that has continually brought operational efficiencies, safety improvements and enhanced levels of customer satisfaction to the industry, Fuller and Quinn have been at the forefront of innovation, adopting technologies that allowed their employees to utilize the best available tools.... Continue to read more in Tennessee Trucking News
Driver pay will rise an average 3 cents to 5 cents a mile for company drivers and 4 cents to 6 cents for owner-operators over the next 12 months, predicted Gordon Klemp, president of the National Transportation Institute.
Klemp spoke Monday, March 14, to Truckload Carriers Association members at TCA’s annual meeting in San Diego. Klemp’s firm surveys medium- and large-sized fleets quarterly.
In addition to the expected mileage pay hikes, he predicted:
- Pay hikes tied more closely to freight rate increases.
- Driver pay more closely tied to performance measurements, including driver scores under the new federal Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.
- More use of sign-on and referral bonuses, which virtually disappeared during the recession. Klemp said 40 percent to 70 percent of fleets now offer one or the other.
- Pay more closely tied to regions of the country.
- Premium pay for teams.
- Expanded in-house driving training programs.
- Expanded truck lease-purchase programs.
Klemp also outlined developments that created today’s driver shortage and that will cause it to worsen over the next few years:
- Carriers have downsized their driver force to deal with the recent recession.
- Unemployment benefits have been extremely generous for laid-off drivers.
- Many drivers retired, in some cases earlier than planned, or took part-time work and don’t need to drive full-time.
- Many have found work in the underground economy, which has expanded far beyond what most people realize.
- Many drivers are unqualified for the new, tougher safety standards, such as CSA.
- Many carriers have severely reduced recruiting and orientation staff during the downturn and have no plans to quickly restore that.
- Many carriers have closed in-house driver training programs and gone to other models for bringing on new drivers.
Among fleets using Vigillo’s CSA services, 52 percent are over the federal intervention threshold in at least one Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Category. Consequently, “Some of their drivers may not be part of the driver force long-term,” Klemp said
2,000-plus will be hired in Indiana this year as economy improves
The trucking industry will be picking up more than loads of freight this year.
It will be picking up jobs -- and lots of them.
As the economy improves and consumers and businesses ramp up purchases, experts say thousands more drivers will be needed to haul merchandise.
After all, everybody knows "if you got it, a truck brought it," said Gary Langston, president of the Indiana Motor Truck Association. "If the economy improves, obviously, we'll have more stuff to haul because people buy more. And I try to be optimistic that will happen."
Add to that a whole generation of baby-boomer truck drivers nearing retirement and that makes the career one that is in high demand, not just this year but for the coming decades.
Based on annual job growth, truck driver ranked No. 9 in The Indianapolis Star's list of top jobs for 2011.
Through 2018, employment of truck drivers will rise 9 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This year, more than 2,000 drivers will be hired in Indiana alone.
More than 100 of those hires will occur at Celadon, an Indianapolis-based trucking company with 3,000 tractors and 9,000 trailers.
Steve Russell, founder, chairman and chief executive officer, says the hiring is to fill a void in the industry left by an economic environment that put pressure on smaller fleets that didn't survive.
"As a consequence, there is a competitive shortage in the industry, and we want to take advantage of that," he said. "Thank goodness we are strong -- no bank debt. Absolutely we will be hiring more."
To land one of those jobs at Celadon, drivers must have a commercial driver's license (CDL) and a minimum of nine months' experience as an over-the-road driver.
Other companies may hire drivers without experience as long as they have a CDL. And for smaller trucks -- less than 26,000 pounds -- brief, on-the-job training may be enough. No CDL required.
James Hugart is CDL-certified and has been driving more than 40 years, the last 18 with Wal-Mart. He said the job isn't for the faint of heart but is rewarding.
For Hugart, his weeklong journey starts on Monday morning between 9 and 10 a.m. and ends Friday between 3 and 6 p.m.
His days consists of driving 11 hours and resting 10 hours. He usually tries to log about 600 miles a day.
Today, life on the road is a bit easier than it was 40 years ago. There are computers to log your activities, and Hugart doesn't have to load or unload his own cargo. Not to mention there is air conditioning and power steering.
"Heck. We didn't have anything other than a steering wheel back when I started," said Hugart, 63, Martinsville. "The job's not hard. But you do have to be dedicated."
Dedicated to getting merchandise where it needs to be on time and following the rules of the road and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Of course, the job of a truck driver isn't for everyone. It often takes workers away from families for long periods of time. And many of the rewards come after a driver has proven himself for several years.
"I tell people this is not just a quick job for a couple weeks. The trucking industry is a career," said John Priest, owner of Commercial Driver Training Consultants in Indianapolis. "You have to do it for a while to get the rewards."
The salary of a truck driver has improved greatly in the past decade, with the average driver making $37,588 a year.
That could be why Priest has seen more and more people inquiring about the job and many people... Continue to read more...
DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of March 7, 2011
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance
Here’s the latest Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration news, including updates on CSA, Hours of Service and texting while driving.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The following is a brief look at the latest regulatory news for the two DOT agencies.
Settlement Agreement Results in CSA Changes
As part of a settlement agreement with three trucking associations, FMCSA has decided to make some changes to the CSA system.
As of March 25, 2011, FMCSA will:
(1) Replace any ALERT symbol currently displayed in orange on the SMS website with the symbol of an exclamation mark inside a yellow triangle.
(2) Revise the disclaimer language on the SMS website to read: “The data in the Safety Measurement System (SMS) is performance data used by the Agency and enforcement community. A symbol, based on that data, indicates that FMCSA may prioritize a motor carrier for further monitoring. The symbol is not intended to imply any federal safety rating of the carrier pursuant to 49 USC 31144. Readers should not draw conclusions about a carrier’s overall safety condition simply based on the data displayed in this system. Unless a motor carrier in the SMS has received an UNSATISFACTORY safety rating pursuant to 49 CFR Part 385, or has otherwise been ordered to discontinue operations by the FMCSA, it is authorized to operate on the nation’s roadways. Motor carrier safety ratings are available at http://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov and motor carrier licensing and insurance status are available at http://li-public.fmcsa.dot.gov.”
EOBR Comment Period Extended
FMCSA has just extended the comment period on its “Electronic On-Board Recorders and Hours of Service Supporting Document” proposal to May 23, 2011. The original deadline of April 4 has been extended to gather input from more potential commenters.
The proposal calls for all interstate carriers who currently use Records of Duty (RODS) logbooks to document drivers’ HOS to be required to use EOBRs. It also seeks to relieve interstate motor carriers from retaining certain HOS supporting documents (e.g., delivery and tool receipts) that are currently used to verify logbook entries.
Warning Letters in the Mail
PHMSA Texting Ban Begins March 30
PHMSA recently issued a final rule that prohibits texting on electronic devices while transporting hazardous materials requiring placarding. PHMSA’s texting ban expands the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s earlier rule banning texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle. As of March 30, all Hazmat carriers, even those who do not cross state lines, are prohibited from texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle laden with hazardous materials. FMCSA’s texting ban — and the associated penalties — went into effect on October 27, 2010.
PHMSA Final Rule Enhances Enforcement Authority
PHMSA’s new enforcement and inspection procedures Final Rule enhances, but does not change, the current inspection procedures. Specifically, it establishes procedures for:
(1) Issuing emergency orders (restrictions, prohibitions, recalls and out-of-service orders) to address unsafe conditions or practices posing an imminent hazard;
(2) Opening packages to identify undeclared or non-compliant shipments, when the person in possession of the package refuses a request to open it; and
(3) The temporary detention and inspection of potentially non-compliant packages.
PHMSA Seeks to Amend Cargo Loading, Unloading Rule
PHMSA’s latest rulemaking proposal seeks to require each carrier and facility that engages in cargo tank loading and unloading operations to perform a risk assessment and develop safe operating procedures based on the results of the assessment. The agency is also proposing mandatory training and evaluation for each employee involved in the cargo tank loading and unloading process. Comments are due by May 10, 2011.
Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • www.FoleyServices.com • Vol. 111, No. 677 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011
By CCJ Staff
Published March, 07 2011
In comments filed March 4, the American Trucking Associations again called on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to abandon its proposal to revise the hours-of-service rules and retain the current rules. ATA deems the proposed changes as politically motivated, while it says the current rules are based on science and have been proven to function safely.
“In its current HOS proposal, the agency has abandoned years of objective analysis in favor of speculation and internal ‘judgments’ of critical areas,” ATA said in its comments. “The agency’s approach in the current HOS proposal cannot be squared with its prior factual conclusions and analytical approach; is contrary to the real-world circumstances to which the rules apply; and its financial computations whither under objective scrutiny. In short, the agency is far from making any sort of case that the HOS rules should be changed and the obvious strains in its attempt to justify those changes illustrates how ill-considered they are.”
The current hours-of-service rules, which have been in effect since January 2004, made four primary changes to the regulations then in place: increasing the daily driving limit from 10 hours to 11 hours; increasing the required minimum daily rest from 8 hours to 10 hours; decreasing the number of hours on duty after which a driver may not operate a commercial motor vehicle from 15 hours to 14 hours; and allowing a driver to “reset” the weekly 60 or 70-hour on duty limits with 34 consecutive hours off duty. Under the current proposal, FMCSA is, among other changes, considering whether to reduce the daily driving limit from 11 hours to 10 hours and has proposed to limit the 34-hour restart provision by requiring that it include two periods from midnight to 6 a.m. and limiting its use to once per week.
In its comments, ATA points out that since the basic framework of the rules went into effect in 2004, “truck safety has improved to unprecedented levels” as the “numbers of truck-related injuries and fatalities have both dropped more than 30 percent to their lowest levels in recorded history.” ATA also told FMCSA that despite claims by the agency and anti-truck activists that the reduction in crashes is the result of a slumping economy, “truck mileage has actually increased.” ATA went on to point out that even those who choose not to believe the current hours-of-service rules are... Continue to read more...
DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of February 14, 2011
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance
Thursday’s hours-of-service listening session gave the motor carrier industry the opportunity to let FMCSA exactly what they thought of the new proposed rules.
The hours-of-service listening session was billed as an opportunity for motor carriers to discuss the proposed rule. If, however, FMCSA was expecting an even handed debate they were sorely disappointed. The tone of the debate quickly turned very hostile, both towards the new rules and the agency in general. By the time it was over there was little doubt that FMCSA had received — to use President Obama’s phrase — a ‘shellacking’.
In this week’s Fast-Fax we are going to share an indicative selection of comments from the meeting’s online transcript. Please note that we have chosen to correct spelling and grammar
Comment From Tom:
As a 38 year veteran of the trucking industry, I believe that you need to seriously consider that you need to allow the split sleeper birth as the way it use to be,as an LTL driver that is important to me as well as many others,time spent at shippers and receivers over 2 hours should be allowed to stop the clock and restart when done,that time can be spent in the sleeper,and could count towards your 10 hour break,as for the 34 hour restart leave it alone it works just fine. By allowing the sleeper birth split the driver will be better rested and will be a safer driver,i have 38 years of accident free driving it is better to rest when the driver feels the need not when the clock says so I hope you give this some special consideration thank you for your time
Comment From Ted Donaldson:
The mandatory break is bad!! As is the whole proposal. The mandatory break may force drivers to stop for 30 minutes in an undesirable or unsafe location, etc. Leave the HOS alone just eliminate the 14 hour rule..
Comment From Mckenzie Claburn:
My dad is a professional driver why would you try to enforce these new rules with the lack of truck parking here in the east, my dads friends lost the son and husband because he was forced even under the old rules to park in an unsafe area because there was no where for him to park, my dad is the safest driver i know and has dedicated his life to the industry and his fellow drivers but if these rules won’t help get him home safely and deal with the shippers and receivers his log book will be a useless tool it is my dad that makes it safe not the rules, thanks Mckenzie Claburn 13 Hudson falls N.Y.
Comment From Maggie Jackson:
I believe the proposed new 10 hour rule would make for more drivers on the road to move the same amount of freight, therefore causing everyone involved to lose money. If the drivers cant make money than we aren’t going to have any drivers to move the products. The entire economy would suffer.
Comment From Michael Alford:
I like the current HOS. However, I would like to see some flexibility in the day where as we the DRIVER can take a break when WE fell that it is necessary. Not be told that at a certain time its nappy time.
Comment From Mathew Pearlstein:
I believe that if we should be allowed to be equal to the men and women in the oil fields. They are allowed to stop their clock when stuck at a shipper or receiver. If the rest of us sit for 4 or 5 hours, we’re not given that option which causes drivers to drive tired, just to make their deliveries on time. It causes drivers to drive faster. If we are to be safer and better rested, we need the same flexibilities.
Comment From Richard:
Have any of us asked to have these rules changed, or was it only because of the special interest groups? I am not trying to slam anyone, I am just trying to understand. Please explain how people that don’t have a life style like we have can dictate what we can and can’t do. Also how they can basically tell us how much we can make by telling us we can’t drive, or work for a certain period of time.
Comment From Erik:
OK here’s a good question... Why mess with the HOS at all? What are they accomplishing? What good will become of the next changes? At our company we have adapted and are using the EOBR’s. Truly, using EOBR’s and driving strictly by the HOS rules have cut down productivity by a 1/3. If anything the automatic logs have helped all our drivers, who didn’t know how to log or apply the rules to their day, log correctly. The proposed HOS rule changes may help the union drivers out there in the world but the owner operators and company drivers that we employ just think the changes will hold them back from making a living and working when they can and feel like it.
Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • www.FoleyServices.com • Vol. 111, No. 672 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011
By TruckingInfo Staff
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration added a new feature to the screening program that gives carriers a look at the history of a driver who is applying for a job.
The agency is making data available on co-driver safety and post-crash violations, in addition to the roadside inspection and crash records that employers already can see. The agency said it also has begun showing the date that a driver's safety records were updated.
The Internet based pre-employment screening program (www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov), gives employers five years of an applicant's crash history and three years of his inspection history - with the driver's permission.
The data is drawn from the Motor Carrier Management Information System and includes the same information that is used by agency staff and state police for enforcement. Drivers have access to the information, as well, and can make the report a part of their application if they wish.
There is a charge to use the system. Carriers with fewer than 100 power units must pay a $25 annual subscription fee and... Continue to read more.
- Women In Trucking Association representatives meet with DOT officials
- Updates on the Workforce Investment Act
- Coastal Truck Driving School accepted scholarships for new over-the-road truck drivers
- Werner Chairman Stepping Down in May
- Congress repeats truck weight bill
- Urgent News from CVTA
- States target licensing of illegal immigrants
- California Dump Truckers Sue CARB to Overturn Emission Rule
- The FMCSA will host a listening session Feb. 17
- CARB holds "one stop" truck regulation meetings for truckers