Trucking Biz Buzz

Award aims to honor new drivers with military background

By the end of the year, a truck driver who has recently transitioned from the military will be holding the keys of a new Kenworth T680.

Nominations are being sought for the third annual Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award, which goes to the top rookie military veteran driver. Each year, the winner receives a new Kenworth T680 Advantage equipped with a 76-inch sleeper.

The annual award aims to encourage military veterans to make the transition into the trucking industry. About 205,000 service members are estimated to transition out of the military into the private sector this year. 

Kenworth, Fastport, and Hiring Our Heroes team up for the award.

“Hiring Our Heroes helped more than 16,000 new veterans make the transition into trucking last year,” said Eric Eversole, U.S Chamber of Commerce vice president and Hiring Our Heroes president. “The 2018 Transition Award campaign is another opportunity to highlight the impact veterans are making in the transportation industry and introduce a new generation of veterans to the real economic opportunity a career in trucking can represent.”

To be nominated, the driver:

  • must be a military veteran or a current or former member of the National Guard or Reserves;
  • must have graduated from a certified driver training school and be a current CDL holder;
  • must have been employed by any for-hire carrier or private fleet that has pledged to hire veterans through TruckingTrack.org; and
  • must have been first employed as a truck driver between Jan. 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018.

The official rules for the award can be found here.

Nominations will be accepted until June 30. On July 20, the top 10 finalists for the 2018 award will be announced. The top 10 will be narrowed to the final three finalists in August. Then, the public will vote based on a video of each driver.

On Dec. 4, the winner will be announced during a ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

Gregg Softy won in 2017, and Troy Davidson won the inaugural award.

Confederate Railroad set to play at GBATS

A schedule of events for the 2018 Guilty By Association Truck Show has already been released, and a country band that registered multiple hits in the 1990s will be featured.

Confederate Railroad, which is known for such popular tunes as “Queen of Memphis,” “Trashy Women” and “Daddy Never was the Cadillac Kind,” are scheduled to perform at the truck show’s street party on Saturday, Sept. 29 in downtown Joplin, Mo.

The 10th annual edition of GBATS will be Sept. 28-29 in Joplin. A schedule of events can be found here.

Some of the featured events over the two days include big rig burnouts, a truck and tractor pull, and a fireworks show on Friday, and big rig drag races, a truck show awards presentation, the Special Olympics truck convoy, and the downtown street party on Saturday.

Confederate Railroad released its self-titled debut album in 1992, and it climbed to No. 7 in the U.S. country charts. The album included three top 10 singles with “Queen of Memphis,” “Jesus and Mama” and “Trashy Women.”

The second album, “Notorious,” was released in 1994 and reached No. 6, featuring such singles as “Daddy Never was the Cadillac Kind,” “Elvis and Andy,” and “Summer in Dixie.”

Missing Truck Driver Alert Network enlists help of many in searches

The Missing Truck Driver Alert Network uses its reach in the professional trucking community via social media to help family and friends locate a truck driver who is missing.

The service began in February 2012. Kari Fisher, wife of driver Lee Fisher, an OOIDA member, founded the Missing Truck Driver Alert Network. They can be reached via the network’s Facebook page.

There also is a Facebook page for Canadian truck drivers: Missing Truck Driver Alert Network of Canada.

Already in 2018, the Missing Truck Driver Alert Network has helped families and friends locate missing professional truckers. Sometimes something bad has happened, such as a death or even murder, but sometimes it is as innocent as someone lost a cell phone.

Before reporting a driver missing to the network, family and friends should file a formal police report.

In addition to that, carriers and family members should gather information such as the year, make, model and color of the truck involved, including all registration numbers for the carrier on the truck’s doors. Also, make a list with a physical description of the driver, what truck stops he typically uses, any medical conditions and other relevant information also helps. Pictures of the driver and the truck help a lot.

Drivers on social media should make sure they have an easy-to-recognize picture of themselves and their trucks available so if the need arises people will know what you look like and what you’re driving.

Kari sometimes sends electronic fliers to truck stops with pertinent information. Truck descriptions are especially important then because truckers walking through the parking lots will be on the lookout for distinctive graphics and identifying marks on the truck, she said.

The first missing driver that the Fishers helped locate was the husband of one of Kari’s friends, Mark D. Williams Sr. After posting Williams’ information on her initial Facebook group called Share the Road Discussion Group, Kari’s effort reached a driver who recognized the truck a few days later. The driver called 911. Williams’ story had a sad ending. He was found deceased in his truck.

Daimler recalls more than 7,000 trucks, Navistar more than 500

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents show that Daimler Trucks North America and Navistar will notify customers and dealers of certain trucks about separate recalls. Daimler’s recall potentially affects more than 7,000 Western Star trucks, whereas Navistar’s recall involves more than 500 International LT trucks.

Daimler is recalling 7,128 Western Star 4700, 4900, 5700 and 6900 trucks model year 2017-19, according to a NHTSA safety recall report. This affects certain vehicles built with a pass-through power stud. In affected trucks, “a potential exists for contact between the power stud and bulkhead resulting in potential arcing,” increasing the risk of a fire.

Owners and dealers will be notified on May 21. Daimler will inspect the pass-through power stud for clearance to the bulkhead and make necessary repairs for free. Of the more than 7,000 potentially involved trucks, NHTSA estimates only about 1 percent have the defect.

NHTSA’s recall number for the Daimler defect is 18V-191. Daimler’s recall number is FL-766.

Meanwhile, Navistar is recalling 527 International LT trucks model year 2018-2019 equipped with a certain fuel/water separator with drum brakes. According to the NHTSA report, “when the hood is in the closed position, the fender splash panel may rub on the inlet fuel line fitting to the fuel/water separator resulting in a rub condition and cause abrasion damage to the fitting.” A fuel leak can occur as a result.

Notifications are scheduled to be sent out on May 25. Navistar will trim the splash shield to allow proper clearance free of charge. NHTSA estimates that 100 percent of the potentially 527 involved vehicles are affected.

NHTSA’s recall number for the Navistar defect is 18V-199. Navistar’s recall number is 18503.

Second straight month of significant employment gains for trucking industry

For the 14th consecutive month, transportation jobs overall scored gains in March. The transport sector netted nearly 10,000 jobs to the economy. Trucking jobs experienced its highest monthly increase in nearly three years for the second straight month.

The truck transportation subsector experienced an increase of 6,700 jobs in March after the industry gained 6,000 in February and 5,800 in January. This marks the highest monthly employment increase since May 2015, when nearly more than 8,000 trucking jobs were added. Numbers for March and February are preliminary and are likely to change in the coming months.

Trucking experienced the largest increase for the second consecutive month followed by couriers and messengers at 5,800 additional jobs. “Support activities for transportation” experienced the largest loss within the transportation sector, with 2,600 fewer jobs in the marketplace in March.

In 2017, the transportation and warehousing sector had a net gain of more than 3 million jobs. In every month except January there was a job increase compared to the previous month. September accounted for the largest one-month increase, with more than 25,000 jobs in the sector added to the economy. For the year, the trucking subsector had a net gain of 9,400 jobs in 2017.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $24.35 for March – an 11-cent increase from February and up 70 cents from March 2017. Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees experienced an increase of five cents to $21.67 from the previous month and a 55-cent increase year to year. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $26.82, a 7-cent increase from the previous month. Compared with a year ago, average earnings have gone up by 2.7 percent, or 71 cents.

According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material-moving occupations decreased significantly to 5.2 percent, compared with 6.2 percent in March 2017, and down from 6.1 percent in February. The overall unemployment rate remained stagnant at 4.1 percent for the sixth consecutive month. The number of long-term unemployed was dropped slightly to 1.3 million, accounting for 20 percent of the unemployed.

Drivers in Trucker Buddy program help students learn

Commercial motor vehicle drivers willing to help mentor youth as a pen pal should look into joining the program at Trucker Buddy International.

Trucker Buddy International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization started in 1992 that is dedicated to helping educate school children.

Professional truck drivers who have undergone background checks work with children in grades K-8 as well as special needs classes, Girls and Boys Clubs and Scouting events.

Trucker Buddy matches classes of students with professional truck drivers. Every week drivers share news about their travels with their class. Once a month, students write letters to their drivers. The program helps students improve their skills in reading, writing, geography, mathematics, social studies and history.

To find out more or to sign up, visit TruckerBuddy.org.

To read about some OOIDA role models enrolled in the program, check out this article.

Free flu shots available through April 30; shingles vaccines through Sept. 20

Through April 30, vouchers for free flu shots will be available for truckers from the St. Christopher Truckers Fund.

Truckers also may get vouchers for free pneumonia and shingles vaccines. They are available through Sept. 20.

Drivers can get their vouchers from the St. Christopher Fund website or from OOIDA’s Jon Osburn on the Association’s tour truck, The Spirit.

Drivers may choose from Kroger, the Little Clinic, Walgreens and CVS to redeem the vouchers for a free vaccine. However, each location has a separate voucher, so the drivers need to plan on a location before printing the vouchers

Some locations will accept the vouchers electronically. That information will be on the St. Christopher Fund website at TruckersFund.org.

The vouchers are only for semitrailer drivers who hold a valid CDL. Licenses will be checked at each location before the vaccines are given.

If a driver has insurance, they are asked to provide that information, as often the vaccines are fully covered through insurance, especially for the flu vaccine.

Pilot Flying J wants input on parking directly from drivers

Drivers’ concerns and anxiety over a shortage of truck parking has increased since the ELD mandate went into effect. With 90 percent of truck parking coming from private truck stops, a lot of those concerns are directed at some of the bigger truck stop chains. Pilot Flying J is giving truckers an opportunity to voice those concerns directly.

During the 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show, Pilot Flying J was featuring its Truck Care service and myPilot app (more on that later). However, during an interview with Land Line, the conversation shifted to an issue that is plaguing the industry: parking.

“It’s not getting better,” said Tyler Tanaka, PFJ director of digital and innovation. “The sheer number of drivers that are on the road compared to the number of parking spaces presents a huge challenge to plan your day, to have a stress-free day, to extend your mileage. We completely understand.”

In the first quarter of 2018, PFJ has opened six locations in North America, including more than 200 new truck parking spaces. The three latest additions have a combined 105 truck parking spaces, none of which include Prime Parking (i.e., paid, reserved spots).

However, many larger locations do include Prime Parking. Typically, the number of Prime Parking spots are relatively small. According to PFJ, reserved parking spots make up only 4 percent of their total parking nationwide.

The percentage of reserved parking spots will vary from location to location. For example, the Kansas City, Mo., location includes 121 public spaces and 20 Prime Parking spaces (14 percent of total spaces). In Little Rock, the PFJ has 110 spaces, with 10 of those Prime Parking, or about 9 percent. Meanwhile, 20 of 74 total spots at the Castaic, Calif., location are Prime Parking, more than a quarter of spaces.

Although some truckers may take exception to reserved, paid parking, Tanaka explained the total number of reserved spaces nationwide is small. Furthermore, the current environment created by regulations has opened a market of truckers who need a guaranteed space.

“Especially with hours of service and ELDs coming on board, parking is getting worse now,” Tanaka said. “Drivers are being forced to get off the road earlier and cutting their drive time short, because they can’t guarantee they’re going to have a parking space.”

One way PFJ is trying to help is with its myPilot app. Currently, PFJ is testing out live parking for the app at 31 West Coast locations. Using MicroRadar sensors installed in the ground at each parking spot, drivers can find out how many public and reserved spaces are available in real time. As soon as a truck exits a spot, the app will instantly indicate the opening. When a truck takes a spot that too will be reflected almost instantaneously.

Another new feature on the myPilot app is a “parking” tab. Simply click the parking tab and the app will give you a breakdown of nearby PFJ parking based on your location.

At the end of the day, it is all about what the drivers want and need. That is why PFJ has set up a unique email address for truck parking. PFJ wants to hear about how the company can improve the parking situation directly from the truckers. Drop them a message at HelpMePark@PilotFlyingJ.com, and let PFJ know what it can do to improve the parking experience.

NAFTA starts 2018 with 15th consecutive monthly increase

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in January trucks moved nearly 63 percent of NAFTA freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. All five modes experienced an increase in freight year to year for the fourth consecutive month.

The value of freight hauled across the borders rose 3.4 percent compared with December, when freight dropped by more than 7 percent from the previous month. Compared to January 2017, freight was up nearly 10 percent. This marks the 15th consecutive month of year-to-year increases.

March 2017 had the largest month-to-month increase (16 percent) since March 2011, when NAFTA freight was up more than 22 percent compared to February 2011. NAFTA freight declined by nearly 11 percent in July 2017, the largest decline for the year.

In March 2017, the index reached more than $100 billion for the first time since October 2014 before going back below that mark in April. That landmark was revisited in October and maintained through November before dipping below the $100 billion mark again in December.

August, November and December were the only months to have a year-to-year increase in 2016, at 0.7 percent, 3.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. August was the first year-to-year increase since December 2014, when freight increased by more than 5 percent.

Trucks carried nearly $61 billion of the $96.6 billion of imports and exports in January. Year-to-year, Canada truck freight increased by 6.2 percent and Mexico freight rose by 13.6 percent. Top truck commodities were computers and parts, electrical machinery, motor vehicles/parts, plastics and measuring/testing instruments.

Freight totaled $96.648 billion, up more than $3 billion from the previous month and an increase of nearly $9 billion from January 2017.

Pipeline freight accounted for the largest increase at 34.1 percent after an increase of 15.3 percent in December. Trucks accounted for an increase of 10.2 percent. Truck freight experienced increases of 5.4 in December and 8.1 percent in November.

More than 55 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at more than 15 percent. U.S.-Mexico freight went up by 11 percent compared with January 2017. Of the $47.741 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried more than 70 percent of the loads.

New Convoy app feature helps drivers obtain detention time pay

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Convoy, an app that matches truckers to preferred loads from shippers and receivers, rolled out new features during the 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show. The most significant feature: Automated Detention. Goodyear also will offer discounts and roadside service to members.

With detention time cutting into truckers’ bottom line and only about 3 percent of carriers reporting they collect on all detention claims, Convoy decided to address the issue with a new feature. Essentially, Convoy will pay the carrier’s detention time even if the shipper does not pay Convoy.

Here’s how it works. After more than two hours of detention, Convoy users can request detention on the app. Convoy uses GPS to track how long a truck has been stuck at a facility. Once approved, truckers no longer have to worry about getting paid for detention time.

Convoy has also announced a partnership with Goodyear. Members can show the app to a salesperson at any Goodyear store that sells commercial tires and qualify for 20 percent to 45 percent off Goodyear, Goodyear Marathon and Dunlap tires and retreads.

Additionally, users can gain access to Goodyear’s Fleet HQ Roadside Service 24/7 year-round. Drivers who find themselves with a flat tire can call Convoy’s support line, which will communicate with the shipper and direct the driver to a Goodyear tire service technician.

Planning for loads has been simplified with Convoy’s Suggested Reloads and Request a Load feature. After accepting a job, Convoy will suggest possible reload jobs, allowing carriers to schedule the next job. Drivers can also let Convoy know when and where they will be empty and where they would like to go. Based on the information provided, Convoy will try to match drivers with the best job.

Other features include free fleet tracking, streamlining of back-office paperwork and free Quick Pay. As soon as drivers upload their bill of lading to the app, Convoy will send a fast payout once the load is delivered.

Convoy is fully national, with more than 350 shipping partners. More than 100,000 trucks and drivers are signed up. For more information, visit Convoy.com.

Convoy ships to more than 400 customers, including more than 20 Fortune 500 companies, up from fewer than five Fortune 500 companies one year ago.

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