Should truckers be exempted from flying snow bill?

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by John Cichowski
Road Warrior Columnist

It can get confusing sometimes when people start complaining that a road safety law might end up risking more lives than it's designed to save.

That's what truckers are saying about the law that requires them to clear snow from their roofs. Although this reform amounts to a good, first-of-a-kind idea, it hasn't been able to deal with the very real danger of carrying a broom and a shovel 13 1/2 feet up to a roof on a windy day.

Luckily, nobody has been killed or badly injured doing this. Indeed, the law has done much good. So far, at least 28 snow-removal machines have been installed by some of New Jersey's biggest commercial truck fleets. At least eight more are planned, according to Scraper Systems Inc., of Mount Joy, Pa. (mistakenly called Ice Scraper Inc., in Sunday's column).

So, why is this law's chief advocate — Assembly Transportation Chairman John Wisniewski — sponsoring a flying-snow amendment that would exempt — yes, exempt! — all truckers from doing what the rest of us are required to do when snow and ice pile up on our roofs?

The Middlesex County Democrat wants the state to build this equipment so small, independent truckers with limited budgets don't have to make that 13 1/2-foot climb. As the New Jersey Motor Truck Association has reminded him, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules... Continue to read more at


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Access Advertising has long been recognized as one of the nation’s leading placement firms for truck-driver recruiting advertising. It has worked successfully with hundreds of trucking companies of all sizes, from Top 100 firms to companies whose fleets would fit in a large driveway. Every month, its Driver Recruiter News provides reprinted articles, features and editorials on topics of interest to drivers and recruiters. Now Access Advertising has created a simple economic index with which to keep a finger on the pulse of truck-driver employment.

The Driver Recruiting Index (DRI) tracks the weekly number of driver-recruiting ads in selected major-metropolitan newspapers in the United States. Access Advertising employees canvass the Sunday classified-advertising sections of 32 majormetropolitan newspapers whose locations are geographically dispersed across the U.S. The total number of driver-recruiting ads contained in those newspapers comprises the resulting index number.

In order to be counted, an ad need not be located in the “Drivers” or “Transportation” section of the classified ads; the entire classified section is canvassed. Keywords such as “CDL-A” need not be present, but it is this type of commercial driving that is being tracked. (Ads for taxicab drivers, for example, are not counted.) There must be an employment component in the ad in order for it to figure in the index. That is, there must be an offer of employment or (say, in the case of an advertisement for a driver-training school) a promise of placement assistance.

Although not the last word in economic indicators, we believe that the simplicity and consistency of the DRI recommend it as a useful weekly snapshot of economic conditions – particularly relating to employment – in the trucking industry. Its status as leading, lagging or coincident indicator will depend on the purpose with which it is consulted. (For example, employment itself is generally viewed as a lagging indicator of general economic conditions, and the DRI’s direct focus is on employment.)

The DRI is another in the continuing series of products and services provided by Access Advertising to customers, prospective customers, friends and fellow participants in the world of trucking.

Truck to the Future - Co-founders Fuller and Quinn reflect on 25 years of US Xpress

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By Sam Eifling, Contributing Writer & Greg Thompson, Guest Writer
Source: Tennessee Trucking News

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 shortage pushing up pay

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By Max Heine

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.

Carriers using hair follicle testing for drugs are finding it removes 13 percent of the driver applicants because it reveals positive results over a term longer than that of urine testing, Klemp said. At $150 per test, it’s expensive, but if the federal government made it mandatory, the price would fall... Continue to read more...

Demand for truck drivers is revving up

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2,000-plus will be hired in Indiana this year as economy improves|head
11:00 AM, Mar. 12, 2011

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...|head


DOT News Round-Up

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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 and motor carrier licensing and insurance status are available at”

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

Let the CSA interventions begin. FMCSA is currently processing its first batch of 23,000 CSA Warning Letters. At least 50,000 letters are expected to go out over the next several months. The agency has released a two-page tip sheet that provides useful information for warning letter recipients. To request a PDF of the tip sheet, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For immediate assistance with a compliance issue highlighted in your warning letter, call a Foley compliance specialist at 1-800-253-5506, ext. 708.


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 • • Vol. 111, No. 677 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011

ATA to FMCSA: Abandon hours-of-service changes

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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
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