Focus on Syracuse

New YorkSyracuse, New York is a moderate sized city that has played a giant role in the transportation industry for nearly 200 years. For over the last two centuries, this Emerald City has functioned as a major crossroads between the Erie Canal and the railroad network, bringing the trucking industry into its fold as transportation technologies have morphed through the years. Today, Syracuse can be found at the intersection of Interstates 81 and 90, and the city’s airport is the largest in the region, offering around-the-clock shipping and receiving. The metropolitan area has a population size of over 662,577 people, making Syracuse the economic and educational hub of central New York state.

The growth of the city’s transportation importance can be seen through its economic history. Beginning settlement and industry around the local salt springs, the Onondaga Lake area was soon producing most of the nation’s salt supply. Transportation flourished around salt shipping and the ensuing business. The increase in salt sales caused New York State farmers to switch from wheat production to pork products which spiked an even greater increase in transportation jobs. There was much use of the Erie Canal, transporting bulk goods and significant tonnages to and from New York. The canal was the first transportation system between the eastern seaboard and the Great Lakes of the United States. Since 1994, the canal has seen a recovery in commercial traffic providing a rise in transportation jobs for local residents.

Over the years, natural resource production gave way to manufacturing, giving rise to truck driving jobs as the modes of transportation moved from water to rail to road to air. Now, Syracuse has managed to overcome much economic hardship as industrial jobs have left the area. The city’s top employers are primarily educational and service industry oriented. As a part of this service industry, Syracuse Hancock International Airport provides non-stop flights and has six cargo carriers serving the airport. As many American cities demonstrate, it takes all modes of transportation working in cooperation to continue to serve our populace.

Syracuse takes care of her truck drivers by remaining a vital part of the East Coast’s transportation community. Trucking companies are in constant need of quality truck drivers to meet the region’s demand. From heavy hauling to commercial delivery, Syracuse welcomes new and experienced drivers with open arms and a hearty smile.

View Syracuse’s city profile for more information about the Heart of New York and Syracuse trucking jobs.

ATA, MTA proposes real world study

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Minnesota Trucking Association (MTA) have proposed a two-year sleeper berth pilot program to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to be initiated in order to help government and industry gather scientific findings from real world trucking operations about the relationship between sleeper berth flexibility for off-duty rest and safety outcomes. It also hopes to research whether or not recent technological advances can contribute to an understanding of driver alertness, behavior monitoring, and fatigue management. The goal is to improve driver alertness, and subsequently, highway safety.

ATA President Bill Graves

ATA President Bill Graves

“The trucking industry wants the FMCSA to take its positive, laboratory-based findings on the value of split sleep and try to repeat them in a real world field study,” said Bill Graves, president and CEO of ATA. “Doing a pilot test using professional drivers in actual trucking operations could give the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration even more scientific data on which to base future improvements to the sleeper berth rules.”

The current regulation states that a driver may drive only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming off duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty, and that a driver may not drive after the end of the 14-hour consecutive-hour period without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty. The ATA and MTA proposed study seeks to determine if there is a correlation between sleeper berth flexibility – consolidated vs. split off-duty rest time – and safety. “Implementing a split-sleep off-duty schedule option seems to be a viable option to improving or sustaining driver alertness,” says the proposal. “The majority of sleep studies to date demonstrate that well timed split-sleep either had a positive effect or no effect on subsequent neurobehavioral performance, supporting the hypothesis that the restorative effects of sleep on performance may be maintained when splitting the overall sleep episode into multiple naps.”

The proposal suggests that data could be collected from several sources such as:

  • Fleet management systems: Monitor driving behaviors that might indicate fatigue such as shifting patterns, speed variability, curve events, and lane departure.
  • Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT): Measures reaction time, which can be indicative of fatigue.
  • Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS): The KSS is a 9-point subjective scale that has been shown to provide a good estimate of sleepiness.
  • Crashes and Incidents: Data would include time of day, severity, and type of crash.
  • Electronic Driver Logbooks: Drivers’ logs would be collected for both the control and exemption group to track how they are splitting their off-duty time (if in exemption group).

The FMCSA responded by saying it was already in the planning stages of conducting field tests to see if electronic onboard recorders and the latest sleep studies could contribute to improved safety and flexibility. The agency plans to meet with the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, the ATA and also the Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) about its study.

Getting Creative on the Road

Whether you like the current HOS rules or not, you will always need a break on the road. For many of you truck drivers, the road is home, with weeks on end spent with nothing but a bunk in the truck. What do you do during that down time?

creativity on the road

We have written about many people in the industry that add things to the trucking world, but it is nice to see what the truckers themselves are doing and creating also. I was introduced to a recently published book of poetry by Kemy Loree Derlago. Kemy is a truck driver that writes short poems and quips about his thoughts on the road. Many of them come to him while he’s behind the wheel and center on themes of love, nature, and coffee. Here are a few examples:

“You are the sunshine that warms my soul and encourages my heart to look no further, for my destiny is before me. For I have truly found my angel.” (page 8)

“Life is but a dream, for if we give up dreaming, we give up living.” (page 11)

“What few meager possessions do we manage to gather in life, only to realize that our endeavor is all in vain and that health and happiness are what we should have been seeking? But it is never too late to come to one’s sense and love life to the fullest and be happy and grateful. For all these worldly possessions are really worthless.” (page 73)

Do you write on the road? It’s a great way to reflect on life and allow for creativity.

There are other drivers who have turned to music to express their thoughts. We have covered songs about driving, but I have never written about an actual trucker’s songs. Tony Justice is one such driver who has released a country album titled “Apple Pie Moonshine.” At first I was skeptical, but I gave it a listen, and he has a great voice.

If truckers aren’t singing or writing poetry, some can be found making videos (Dooner Livingstone), blogging (Todd McCann, AboutTruckDriving.com), or even leading activist groups (Kari Fisher, Missing Truck Driver Alert Network).

What are your hobbies on the road? Are there things, like writing or music, that you would like to try that you have not attempted before? Go for it!

Oregon’s log haulers ask for HOS exemption

The Oregon Trucking Association (OTA) has applied for, on behalf of its timber haulers, a limited exemption from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) 30-minute rest break requirement in the agency’s hours-of-service regulations. Starting this past July 1, the FMCSA put into effect a rule that commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers may not operate a CMV if eight hours or more have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes.

OTA HOS exemption

The OTA says that motor carriers and drivers who transport logs from Oregon’s forests to lumber mills for processing need an exemption to the rule because their ability to deliver timber to the mills is already curtailed by environmental and seasonal restrictions. The OTA explains in its request that “lumber mills depend on a regular volume of logs for their economic viability, and that environmental restrictions limit the amount of timber that can be harvested from Oregon forestlands.”

Additionally, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) also limits logging operations, such as an August Level III fire safety restriction barred CMV’s from Oregon forestlands at 1:00 p.m. daily. That makes it necessary for timber haulers to use all available time prior to 1:00 p.m. as on-duty time without a rest break.

The OTA claims that the requirement of a 30-minute break makes it impossible for the log haulers to deliver the volume of logs needed by the mills during periods with fire restrictions. It wants the requirement lifted for its members driving CMVs on Oregon forestland during these times. In exchange, OTA says its log haulers will restrict their duty day to a maximum of 12 hours at those times instead of the 14-hour limit required by the hours-of-service rules. The OTA claims the same level of safety would be achieved with this exemption as if the rest break requirement were observed.

This wouldn’t be the first time an exemption to the hours-of-service rule has been granted. As precedents, the FMCSA has agreed to allow Department of Energy and certain Department of Defense contractors to use non-working “attendance time” to conform to the rule. Earlier this year, livestock haulers were granted a 90-day waiver of the rule during the summer to prevent their animals from suffering in the heat.

The FMCSA reviews safety analyses to determine whether granting the exemption will provide the same level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the current regulation and seeks public comment through the Federal Register.

To comment on the exemption for Oregon timber haulers, use Docket No. FMCSA-2013-0451. Comments can be made at: www.regulations.gov, or Fax: 1-202-493-2251, or mail to: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.

Landstar sells supply chain subsidaries

Landstar Systems, Inc. recently announced that it has decided to sell its Michigan based supply chain subsidiaries (LSCS) to XPO Logistics, Inc. for $87 million dollars in cash.

Landstar-Trucking-CompanyThe definite agreement is set to close late in the 2013 fourth quarter or early in the 2014 first quarter. The supply chain subsidiaries includes Premier Logistics, Inc., which included National Logistics Management (NLM) and Interactive Capacity Gateway LLC, and A3 Integration, LLC (A3i). Landstar attained the companies through separate acquisitions in 2009.

In a recent Landstar news release, president and CEO, Henry Gerkin, said “This transaction offers Landstar and its stockholders an excellent return on the two investments the Company made in 2009. Over the past four years, we have come to believe that LSCS is better suited for a company store type operation rather than Landstar’s core agent-based model.”

Landstar Systems, Inc. is a worldwide company that provides a broad range of customers with integrated transportation management solutions. From its headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida, Landstar delivers safe and specialized transportation logistics services by air, ground or sea.

After the deal closes, “Landstar’s overall strategy and focus will continue to include growing our core business model by investing in technological solutions and businesses that support and expand our agent, customer and third party capacity provider base,” said Gerkens.

Landstar plans to retain its offices in the Southfield/Detroit area.

Interested in learning more about Landstar? Visit Landstar’s company profile for more about truck driving jobs that this company has to offer.

Awards pile up at Bison Transport

Recently, Bison Transport was named one of Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures in the mid-market company division by Waterstone Human Capital. For the ninth year, this national program recognized top Canadian organizations with a culture that has helped them enhance performance and sustain competitive advantage. Bison Transport was the first-ever trucking company to receive the honor.

Bison-Transport-Trucking-CompanySince 1969, Bison Transport has delivered superior service from its headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Today, Bison Transport is one of the largest carriers in Canada, with over 1,250 tractors and approximately 2,000 full time positions. Bison Transport provides customers with full truckload service, full service logistics, dedicated fleet operations, yard management, and warehousing/distribution.

From the start, Bison Transport’s core values have revolved around building and engaging the most effective workforce. In order to bring satisfactory service to customers, Bison Transport continually strives to hire the best people in the industry. At Bison Transport, drivers can expect steady miles and flexibility, along with a culture based on respect, family, friendliness, professionalism and success. In attempts to retain only the best, drivers are given the ‘Right to Decide’, meaning that drivers have the choice to decide when the conditions are safe to drive in.

When Today’s Trucking talked with Bison Transport’s vice president of people development, Linda Young, she told them about what’s it like to work for Bison.

“At Bison, we’re very performance driven. There are the normal stresses of deadlines and getting freight delivered on time, but there’s also a family atmosphere. We all know each other, we have a great team and we’re all working towards the same thing, so we support each other though those pressures” said Young.

With that type of work environment, it’s no wonder that Bison Transport continually wins awards. For the fifth year in a row, Bison Transport received TCA ‘Best Fleet to Drive for’ award. Bison Transport is the only transportation carrier to win this award five times in a row. In addition, Bison Transport won both the 2012 Carrier Quality Award and 2012 National Fleet Safety Award. We could keep going, but Bison Transport’s list of awards and recognition goes on for days.

Focus on Tampa

Tampa - Trucker ClassifiedsThe Sunshine State isn’t home to just Shamu. Besides miles of beautiful coastline, Florida is home to the charming city of Tampa. Over 340,000 people call Tampa home and get to experience all the benefits this city has to offer, like Busch Gardens amusement park and the Florida aquarium. The metropolitan area of Tampa Bay includes the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater, and is home to over 4,300,000 people. While the common theme is that people move to Florida to retire, Tampa still offers many jobs for the working truck driver.

The history of Tampa dates all the way back to the 1500s. One of the most prolific explorers of the time, Juan Ponce De León, landed in Tampa in 1513. The city did not begin to grow though until Florida became the 27th U.S. state in 1845. Tampa’s first business boom began in the late 1800s. The introduction of a railroad that connected Tampa to a major railroad line enabled greater shipping and productivity.The mining and shipping business provided much revenue and presently, Tampa is still heavily involved in shipping.

Today, Tampa has a much more diversified economy. There are many major companies in Tampa, like TECO Energy and OSI Restaurant Partners, that need drivers to transport their goods.The MacDill Air Force Base is also influential to the Tampa economy and no doubt utilizes many drivers for their day to day operations. Tampa’s location also makes it of interest to truck drivers. The city sits between the Hillsborough Bay and Old Tampa Bay, which both make up the Tampa Bay. The Tampa Bay then feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. With such access to water, the port of Tampa is the largest in Florida and the seventh largest in the United States. American businesses and consumers certainly depend on truckers to haul their freight throughout the U.S., making driving jobs from this port a necessity. As far as roads go, truckers in Tampa can rely on Interstates 4, 275, and 75, which go through the city. There is also the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway and the Veterans Expressway to get in and out of Tampa.

After long days of working, Tampa residents have many leisure activities to look forward to. The city has a number of museums and theaters for entertainment, while also housing numerous professional sports teams. One experience no one would want to miss out on is the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. This yearly festival involves a crew of pirates invading the city and parading through town.

The city of Tampa offers great fun and great work for all residents in a nice coastal area. To get your driving career off the ground in this wonderful city, fill out a trucking job application today.

OOIDA challenges California retrofit regulation

Beginning January 2014, trucks with 1996 – 2006 year-model engines will have to be retrofitted with a diesel particulate filter to operate in California if CARB (California Air Resources Board) has its way. The CARB rule begins January 1 for fleets of three or fewer trucks, although there is an effective delay to January 31 with other possible extensions. Those who do not comply will face significant fines.

Court Hearing - Trucker ClassifiedsThe Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is suing CARB saying that the retrofitted particulate matter filter requirement is not only unfairly costly and not beneficial, but also unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed on December 6 and is asking that CARB be permanently stopped from compelling truck owners and operators who don’t live in California or who conduct business primarily outside of California to abide by the retrofit regulation. The agency contends that the rule violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and discriminates against out-of-state truckers.

“CARB has overstepped its bounds by requiring trucks from other states to be upgraded in order to operate in California,” said Jim Johnston OOIDA president. Johnson’s reasoning is that out-of-state operators will have to spend the same amount of money as in-state operators in order to comply with the rule even though operators from out-of-state will be running much fewer miles in California.

OOIDA’s lawsuit claims that the retrofit regulation will “not result in any measurable global climate change, nor in any measurable reduction of the effects of global warming,” therefore presenting no justification for truck owners to bear the extra costs.

In March of 2011, the California Construction Trucking Association filed a lawsuit against CARB over this Truck and Bus Regulation, and since then, has appealed decisions in the case. Last month, the Alliance for California Business also filed a lawsuit, saying CARB failed to reveal certain defects along with possible fire-causing dangers of the particulate filters.

New trucks for Werner’s safe drivers

Trucking Company - WernerWerner Enterprises has developed an innovative way to recognize its drivers who have accomplished safe driving milestones. The program affords those drivers who reach one, two, or three million safe driving miles the opportunity to drive some new trucks with the added possibility of being equipped with special accessories options.

Werner drivers with one million safe driving miles with the company can order new trucks equipped with an 110-volt APU and a special decal package. Drivers with two or three million safe driving miles can order new trucks with a choice of accessory packages and premium upgrades. The trucks within the program will have a light or dark blue exterior and stay with the driver until the time comes for it to be removed from the fleet.

The drivers with two or three million safe miles will receive their trucks in the first half of 2014, and the one million safe mile drivers will receive their trucks shortly afterwards.  Werner currently has about 570 Werner professional drivers eligible for this program.

Werner Enterprises is among the five largest truckload carriers in the United States. Its transportation services include dedicated, medium-to-long-haul, regional and local van, expedited, temperature-controlled, and flatbed services. The main commodities of freight transported are retail store merchandise, consumer products, manufactured products, and grocery products.

Having been founded in 1956, Werner Enterprises, Inc. was started with only one truck by Clarence L. Werner at the age of 19. Today, the transportation and logistics company covers North America, Asia, Europe, South America, Africa, and Australia. Its headquarters are in Omaha, Nebraska, but it also maintains offices in Canada, Mexico, China, and Australia.

The company has gained national attention as a military friendly employer and has been ranked as a Top 100 Military Friendly Employer eight years in a row. It has received additional recognition with its rank as a Top 50 Military Spouse Friendly Employer. “To be recognized reinforces how Werner truly values all veterans and their spouses,” said Director of Government and Field Recruiting Jim Morbach. “Beginning the first day of Military Basic Training, the team concept is instilled as the foundation of success. At Werner Enterprises, professional drivers and associates work together to ensure our veterans are taken care of. I am so proud to be a veteran and honored to work for such a strong military friendly employer.”

Highway Rhythm | Spandex and Leather

My last edition of Highway Rhythm focused on the rock music from the ‘60s and ‘70s with a promise to get to the ‘80s. Well, we are there, and I am excited.

Eddie Van Halen - Trucker Classifieds

Eddie Van Halen

As much as I love Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, and others, it’s the hard rock of the 1980s that I really jam to. For some of you, this seems ridiculous. Hair bands? Oh yes! Call it a guilty pleasure, but I really think these zany characters can actually play.

The ‘80s had a feeling of real competition. Bands were fighting for attention. With the greatness from the ‘70s, it was going to take a lot to get noticed. No problem! Let’s just put on some spandex and makeup, deck out our stage with pyrotechnics, and go crazy!

I could go on and on about the great bands, but I have always felt that one band summarizes what it meant to be a real rock star. It has been my favorite band since I began playing music. Drum roll, please…Guns N’ Roses.

Who could be cooler than Slash and Duff? Axl may have his issues, but you know he has talent. Their sound was meaty and powerful, and the guitar solos cut to the soul. The “November Rain” video is arguably one of the best music videos ever produced (I know the video was made in the early ’90s). That’s my opinion though, and I’m sure many of you would disagree.

It would be ridiculous to talk about the ‘80s without mentioning Van Halen. Eddie and his brother Alex Van Halen have helped transform music forever. Do you remember the first time you heard the guitar solo in “Eruption” or the double-bass drum on “Hot for Teacher?” These guys were innovative, and they set the bar for everyone else to reach.

As the ‘80s moved on, “shredding” (playing the guitar really fast) began to grow. All manner of guitarists competed to prove that they were the best. These included people like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Angelo Batio, and Paul Gilbert. If you have never heard of any of these guys, stop reading right now and look them up. You may recognize Steve Vai from playing with David Lee Roth after he left Van Halen. Paul Gilbert is best known for playing with Mr. Big.

If you like GNR and Van Halen, then I suggest you try out some Aerosmith, KISS, Metallica, Tesla, and Iron Maiden. I’m probably preaching to the choir, because there’s rarely anyone alive that has not heard of these people. Many of these bands started in the ‘70s and most are still playing today!

80s rock is great to listen to as you drive. Try this list out to get you rolling along. Many of these bands went on to write even more songs in the ’90s and 2000s, but I still consider them ’80s bands.

1. Guns N’ Roses – “Welcome to the Jungle”

2. KISS – “I Love it Loud”

3. Metallica – “Master of Puppets”

4. Iron Maiden – “Running Free”

5. Mr. Big – “Addicted to that Rush”

(Billy Sheehan killing the bass! Video is from 1991, but the song was released in 1989)

6. Poison – “Fallen Angel”

7. AC/DC – “For Those about to Rock”

8. Tesla – “Paradise”

9. Van Halen – “Panama”

10. Cinderella – “Coming Home”

(Great trucking song)

That’s plenty to get you started. One song is not enough per band, but I hope you at least found something in there you may not have heard before. New music shows up and then fades away the next year, but the era of the 1980s is timeless. What song have you heard since the 2000s that will still be popular 30 years from now?

If you have enjoyed this, then add to the discussion. What bands do you think are better than Guns N Roses? What songs still stick with you to this day?