Snow Shuts Down South

As the South made national news this week for the cold front that immobilized millions of residents, thousands of them on the roads when the storm hit, it became a source of amusement for the rest of America. Interstates would have come to a screeching halt if the quick glazing ice had allowed for the sound. Instead, one car after another quietly slid into the back, side, or front of another, and the ensuing gridlock left drivers, professionals and civilians alike, stranded for hours.

Atlanta and Birmingham were the largest metropolitan areas affected by the rare winter conditions in the South. The Weather Channel and most other news outlets have been sharing views of the road from their own reporters and the many pictures shared by stranded motorists through social media outlets. Twitter feeds have been steady streams of blocked roads, upside-down vehicles, and abandoned cars.

 (Joe Songer/jsonger@al.com)

(Joe Songer/jsonger@al.com)

News crews found themselves wedged into the roadway mess with the rest of the motoring public. One Atlanta cameraman teamed with a stopped truck driver from Arizona for a candid reporting experience that included moonwalking and a little swearing while falling.

While not everyone was able to find humorous means to wait out the storm, many lent hands and supplies to those around them. An Illinois truck driver shared with his hometown news station his experience in walking miles to help a mother with an infant in need of diapers. Radio stations have been flood with phone calls by gracious recipients looking for someway to thank the nameless angels who helped them down the road, supplied water, or opened their business to share some heat.

As the roads thaw and clear, more stories will continue to offer up encouragement and praise of road rescues. In the meantime, many have been quick to criticize and mock the near-complete shutdown of the South due to a thin layer of ice and a few inches of snow. But for those northern hearts who now call Dixie home, a little perspective goes a long way to extinguish criticisms from the outside about lack of preparation and response.

Pastor Layne Schranz, a former Coloradoan truck driver turned Alabama resident, gave a Southern defense to AL.com. Though it may seem ridiculous to most that such a small amount of ice can bring an entire region to a brake-grinding halt, how better off could they have been for communities not accustomed nor equipped to face this type of weather system? Schranz concludes, “I have a new-found respect for snow in the south and will be more hesitant to make fun of schools closing before one flake falls.”

New study identifies driver health risks

cigarettesWhat do high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, and sleep duration have in common? They’re all high risk factors for chronic disease that long-haul truck drivers are twice as likely to have as compared to the general working population. These revelations are the result of a new study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. The study provides the first comprehensive look at the relationship between health status and work practices of long-haul truckers.

NIOSH surveyed 1,670 truck operators at truck stops across the nation in 2010 and found that 69 percent were obese and 54 percent smoked. It was also reported that 88 percent of long-haul truck drivers had at least one risk factor of hypertension, smoking, or obesity for chronic disease. In the U.S. general adult working population, that percentage is at 54 percent.

NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. stated, “Truck drivers serve a vital role in our nation’s economy, ensuring the safe and timely delivery of goods across the U.S.. This initial survey helps us work collaboratively with the trucking industry on understanding how to improve the lives of truckers both on the road and at home.”

Of those surveyed, 64.5 percent identified themselves as company drivers, 35.5 percent as being owner-operators, and 90 percent as working in the for-hire industry. As for the age factors of those surveyed, more than 60 percent were between the ages of 40 and 59, 17 percent were between 30 and 39 and another 14.8 percent were between 60 and 69. In addition to identifying the risk factors, the study “suggests a need for targeted interventions to meet the health needs of (long-haul drivers) and surveillance through repeated data collections to track progress in meeting those health needs.”

The study was prompted by the fact that although professional truck drivers’ delivery routes require them to take sleep breaks away from home, there is limited information on the health of this population. The survey is helping to establish the relationship between health conditions, risk factors and work practices to give the trucking industry a valuable picture to help guide health and safety efforts.

The study is available for puchase online at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajim.22293/abstract.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provided financial support for the study.

Highway Rhythms | Country Roads

road musicSo far, we’ve covered the deadheaders in rock categories and alternative routes for any hipsters that might be trucking out there. Time to hang up those skinny jeans and loafers for a pair of Wranglers and boots. Country music is taking the spotlight in this edition of Highway Rhythms.

Everybody knows you can’t make a country boy part with his truck. In fact, trucks are one of the reasons entertainment writer Grady Smith gave us for what made country music so terrible in 2013. You know what? He ain’t wrong.

You’ll be hard-pressed to separate country music and trucking. A trucking vein runs deep around Nashville from classic country on up through today’s top artists. The country scene has seen its share of trucker-turned-singer like Aaron Tippin. Let’s be honest. Who among us hasn’t wanted to have “Kiss This” cued up for someone special? Or how many of you have been swapped a company truck and the only thing good you could say about it was “There Ain’t Nothing Wrong With the Radio”? Who am I kidding…the man’s latest album is called In Overdrive, and every single song on it has something to do with trucking. Every song. Every. Song.

While Mr. Tippin is considered to be classic country these days (I don’t even want to talk about how old that makes me feel), this generation’s country stars have a soft spot for the truckers on the road. Jason Aldean probably takes center stage in a trucking line-up. After all, the kid has songs titled, “Asphalt Cowboy” and “Wheels Rollin’.”

Whether it is truck drivers who take to country singing or country singers who take to trucking, both are woven through the airwaves so tightly that not even the hardest rocker can escape it at the truck stops along the route. While not all of the songs I’ve listed below are directly related to trucking, I think they all speak to life on the road and make a good list to belt out while moving along. Just roll the windows up first.

“Highway Don’t Care” by Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift

“Long Way Home” by The Elders

“Fly Over States” by Jason Aldean

“That flatbed cowboy stacking U.S. steel on a three day haul”

“Wandering Man” by David Ramirez

“Carrying Your Love With Me” by George Strait

“The Highway” by Holly Williams

“Out there on the highway, out there on the open road…”

“I’m Already There” by Lonestar

“Breakdown Here” by Julie Roberts

“Hopeless Wanderer” by Mumford & Sons

“Papa Loved Mama” by Garth Brooks

Enjoy the tunes and have a safe drive, friends!

 

Trapped Trucker Saved by Voice Dial

frozen truckerThis month’s fierce winter storm thrust a trucker into a terrifying ordeal that resulted in his life being saved by persistent calls from his wife and the technology of voice dialing. Tim Rutledge, a 53-year-old driver from Orlando, was at an Indianapolis truck stop when a foot of snow, high winds, and sub-zero temperatures hit Indiana.

As Rutledge started to leave the truck stop, he realized his brakes were frozen. He crawled under his truck with a hammer to loosen the ice. The truck moved and subsequently sunk deeper into the snow pinning his arm and left side. Rutledge desperately called for help over and over, but with the truck engines in the parking running, no one heard him as hours passed.

“In my mind I was thinking, ‘This can’t be it,’” said Rutledge. “Eventually, I was so tired and so frozen and I was so hoarse from yelling, and the wind started up and the temperature dropped even more.”

His cell phone had rung dozens of times but was in his pocket where he couldn’t reach it. Rutledge routinely checked in with his wife and boss every morning, so they were alarmed when they didn’t hear from him. The non-stop calls turned out to be beneficial, however, since each time the phone was vibrating, it was moving. It fell from his pocket in front of him, and he was able to scoop it up with his frozen gloved hand. With a weak voice he was able to voice dial his company for help.

“I said, ‘Whoever this is, don’t hang up on me because it’s going to be the last time that I’ll be able to call. I can’t call out and I can’t answer the phone.’” explained Rutledge from the hospital.

His boss was able to determine where he was and sent for an emergency team. By the time the first responders found him in the crowded parking lot, Rutledge had been pinned for eight hours and was drifting in and out of consciousness. His eye was frozen shut, and his body temperature had fallen to 86F. Doctors at the hospital said another hour outside would probably have proved fatal to Rutledge. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Rutledge considers himself lucky in many ways. As for checking in with his wife, Rutledge said, “I used to think it was kind of a hassle, but I always called her just so she knew where I was. I won’t take her for granted now. She saved me.”

Trucking Companies Think Outside the Box

According to the U.S. government, projections show that 330,000 new truckers will be needed by 2020. Today, in 2014, trucking companies are already facing this shortage and have been for quite some time. With over 250,000 vacant truck driving jobs as of now, trucking companies are being forced to think outside of the box.

From incarceration to the open road

student truck driverP I & I is one the many trucking companies finding itself innovatively searching for once unlikely candidates. In the face of a trucking shortage, this eastern based trucking company has created a pilot program to train and help prisoners obtain their commercial driver’s license in attempts to employ them after they are released from prison. While participants are still incarcerated at the Richland Correctional Institution in Mansfield, P I & I offers prisoners a chance to earn a financially rewarding career, something that is often hard for these inmates to do after they are released from prison.

“It’s a great opportunity for somebody to gain employment long-term — to actually set up a career” and avoid returning to crime, David J. Stillwagon, chief executive officer of Community Corrections Association Inc., said.

Upon being released, the former prisoners are employed as full-time trainees while they spend four to six months at the Community Corrections Association in Youngstown. During this time period, the trainees drive trucks on short trips between steel pipe and coil plants in Sharon, Farrell, and Wheatland, Pa., and the trucking company’s headquarters in Sharon. Once these former inmates have proven themselves and their trucking abilities, they graduate onto longer trips.

P I & I trainees can expect to earn a little more than $30,000 a year plus benefits with the opportunity to earn up to $80,000, according to the P I & I president, Joseph J. Kerola.

P I & I was founded 1951 and prides itself on being the largest family owned and operated carrier East of the Rocky Mountains. With over 900 tractors, P I & I operates throughout the continental United States in addition to Canada. P I & I ensures drivers will receive top rated pay and benefits.

From tanks to trucks

veteransAnother company that is making headlines for its efforts to fill job positions is Crete Carrier. Recently, Crete Carrier announced a Department of Veterans Affairs-approved training program that will provide veterans with opportunities to transition back into civilian life. This 12-month training program offers on-the-job training. In addition, eligible participants will be provided with compensation through the GI Bill.

Crete Carrier created The Patriot Fleet in order to personally thank all military personnel and their families. Crete Carrier compensates $500 a week during the 8 week road training period. After being released from the road training program, military veterans can expect to earn between $.37 and $.40 cents per practical mile.

Since 1966, Crete Carrier has operated as a dry van trucking company along with two other separate operating divisions, Shaffer Trucking and Hunt Transportation. Shaffer Trucking offers refrigerated services while Hunt Transportation provides flatbed transportation. Together, the group ranks as one of the largest privately owned trucking companies in the country.

The trucking industry is working hard to find new markets to tap for more potential drivers. Whether or not there is an impending driver shortage is a hot topic of debate in the industry. No matter which side of the debate you agree with, it’s hard to ignore the number of jobs that are already available.

If you’re in the market for a new career, truck driving has many job opportunities right now. Find a truck driving job that’s right for you.

Winter weather leads to HOS exemptions

BlizzardLast week’s fierce winter storm brought snow measured in feet onto U.S. roads and highways along with ice and high winds, creating dangerous driving conditions and traffic snarls throughout the nation. Roads in the Midwest in particular were so bad that even rock salt wasn’t effective. If that wasn’t enough, record-breaking low temperatures gripped most of the nation, driving up the need for extra fuel. Combine those two intersecting dilemmas and another kind of challenge takes shape – how to get the extra fuel to those in need in a timely manner.

Several states responded to the emergency situation by issuing temporary exemptions from federal hours-of-service rules to truck drivers hauling fuel to or within their states. The following waivers were put into place and remain active:

Arkansas

A state of emergency was declared by Gov. Mike Beebe, which exempted carriers and drivers hauling liquefied petroleum gas and those carrying loads that provide direct assistance for emergency relief until Jan. 17.

Connecticut

Connecticut’s DMV granted an exemption starting Jan. 10 and ending Jan. 16, for drivers hauling gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, and propane in the state. Drivers must have a copy of the exemption with them.

Kentucky

Kentucky’s DOT issued an emergency declaration that exempts propane transporters from hours-of-service rules until Jan. 28.

Maine

An emergency proclamation exempting drivers carrying heating fuel and bulk petroleum from federal hours-of-service regulations until Jan. 18 was issued by Gov. Paul LePage.

Minnesota

The emergency executive order from Gov. Mark Dayton allowing for relief from hours-of-service rules for carriers and drivers in the state hauling propane and other emergency relief loads expires Feb. 7.

Oklahoma

An executive order from Gov. Mary Fallin suspends hours-of-service rules for drivers hauling liquefied petroleum gas within the state until Feb. 5.

Wisconsin

Gov. Scott Walker issued an executive order allowing carriers and drivers to be exempt from hours-of-service rules until Jan. 22 if they are in the process of obtaining or transporting propane.

Highway Rhythms | Audioslave

road musicAs my final contribution to the Highway Rhythms section, I decided to focus my thoughts on a single band. A band that when I think of rock music and a good soundtrack for the road, I go to them first. Well, hello, Audioslave.

As you know by now, I’m very old school when it comes to music. By my standards, good music died in the ’90s. The hair bands and guitar virtuosos either died or went to Japan in the early ’90s, and grunge bands destroyed the concept of being an excellent musician. For years I have avoided new rock stations; I still consider music from 1999 to be new. Then, one day I happened upon the band Audioslave. The group formed in 2001, but like I said, that’s still new to me.

Anyway, I was surprised when I heard “Cochise” on the radio, and my hand did not change the channel. I was racked with confusion as I realized that I actually liked a newer band. What was I to do?

Formed from the remnants of Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave appealed to me because the lead singer, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, could actually sing. I was so used to hearing terrible boy bands and pop stars who worried more about the garbage bag they were wearing than how to sing. I also was fascinated by the dominance of the bass line in the songs. You know, that deep sounding instrument that everyone ignores? Well, Tim Commerford of Rage Against the Machine, knew how to rock it.

Aside from the fact that Audioslave disbanded in 2007, I’d say that the most annoying part of the band is, unfortunately, the lead guitar wielded by Tom Morello, another former Rage Against the Machine member. The solos are usually annoying, whiny sounds that I assume are an attempt to show off different pedal effects. Though the band is no longer together, they left behind three great albums for music history.

When I thought about good road songs, “I Am the Highway” immediately jumped into my mind. Other songs that are great to drive to are:
1. “Gasoline”

“I just want to go for a ride, out and on…Left alone forever…with my patience gone…”

2. “Shadow of the Sun”

3. “What You Are”

4. “Be Yourself”

“To be yourself is all that you can do”

5. “Exploder”

6. “Bring Em’ Back Alive”

7. “Your Time Has Come”

8. “#1 Zero”

9. “Yesterday to Tomorrow”

10. “Like a Stone”

“By a freeway I confess…”

Honestly, it would be shorter to just list the Audioslave songs I do not like. It has been a long, long time since I could say that about a band. I may be a bit behind on music, but its hard to beat the classics.

Focus on Orlando

Disney World, Universal Studios, or SeaWorld are not the only things memorable about Orlando, Florida. The “Theme Park Capital of the World” draws in over 50 million tourists a year and is also one of the busiest cities in the United States for conventions. People are flowing through by the millions. Truck drivers are in high demand around the city; serving just the parks is more than enough to keep the trucks moving, but there are also other ventures that ring the city.

Florida TruckingEntertainment comes in all forms for Orlando. “Hollywood East”, as Orlando is sometimes referred, is home to several major film productions and a large part of the gaming software industry. With big companies like Tiburon Entertainment, Orlando entrepreneurs’ need for electronics and new technological equipment will only continue, as in turn will their need for dependable truck drivers. In addition, Orlando is commonly known as a major industrial and hi-tech center. Orlando is home to over 150 international companies. While that number continues to increase daily, so does the abundance of trucking jobs.

But wait, that’s not the only industry in Orlando where truck drivers are highly sought after. Since the beginning, Orlando has been a big part of Florida’s citrus industry. With groves throughout the city’s limits, Orlando has increasingly become a more attractive place for both tourists and truckers. Especially in those winter months when the entire country is blue with cold, Orlando is usually a warm, pleasant place that offers much for the truck driver.

Don’t hesitate, if you’re thinking about searching for a trucking job in Orlando. As the tourist are flocking in by millions, so are the trucking jobs. Whether you would prefer to work within the booming entertainment industry or within the 13.4 billion technology industry, the choice is yours. Discover today Orlando’s endless list of trucking possibilities. Visit Orlando’s city profile, and learn more about this promising city.

FMCSA seeks input on carrier testing rule

A listening session will be held Jan. 13 in Nashville, Tenn., by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in order to get feedback on an entry level motor carrier testing rule. The FMCSA is required by MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act) to develop and implement a written exam that will test a motor carrier applicant’s competence when it comes to its understanding of “safety regulations, standards and orders of the Federal government.”

The FMCSA listening sessions are a way for the agency to gather pertinent information to compose the test. Feedback from industry members and the general public will be collected on various issues to use as guidance to form the rule.

comment inputThe Jan. 13th listening sessions will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the American Bus Association’s Marketplace Conference at the Music City Center, 201 Fifth Ave. South, Nashville, Tenn., in Room 202 C. Information on how to connect with a live broadcast of the session through a webcast will be given out closer to the session date for those wishing to be a part of the discussion but are not able to be in Nashville at that time.

The public is also invited to participate by submitting comments online at regulations.gov. If you’d rather put pen to paper, comments may be mailed 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 or faxed to (202) 493-2251. The Docket ID, FMCSA-2001-11061, must accompany all comments.

Following are questions for which the FMCSA is seeking feedback according to its Federal Register entry:

  • Should the exam include only FMCSA regulations or both FMCSA regulations and industry best practices?
    • If industry best practices are to be included, what specific best practices should the test contain?
    • What manuals or publications contain industry best practices that are available for study by new entrants?
    • Are there any private-sector training courses available that teach industry best practices to new entrants?
    • Are private-sector companies/organizations currently conducting testing about industry best practices?
  • Should safety consultants be allowed to complete the exam on behalf of the new entrant, or should the exam be limited to company officers and their employees in charge of safety and compliance?
    • Should the test results be linked to specific individuals identified on the registration application with a requirement that it is a person responsible for safety and compliance? Should the new entrant be required to update its registration information whenever these individuals are replaced or reassigned during the new entrant monitoring and oversight period?
  • Currently, MAP-21 requires freight forwarders and brokers to renew their registration authority every five years. Should the new entrant testing rule require a recertification test with freight forwarder or broker renewal application?
  • Should the FMCSA develop and deliver the test directly to the new entrant applicants, or can a private sector entity handle the testing and transmit the results directly to the FMCSA?
  • Should testing be conducted at testing centers or should on-line testing be permitted?

Trucker Trainer demands “Give Me Ten”

Press release issued by Van Leuven Communications

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Rolling Strong Launches FREE “Give Me Ten” Driver Wellness Initiative Supported by FREE Live Weekly Coaching Sessions with Bob Perry, The Trucker Trainer

Rolling Strong

Las Vegas, NV – Rolling Strong, the leader in driver wellness providing a driver wellness program that is driver-designed and driver-delivered where professional truck and bus drivers work and live, on the road, is pleased to announce a free weight loss initiative “Give Me Ten” during the month of January.

Professional drivers who lose 10 pounds in January will receive a $10 gift card to Rolling Strong’s online store. This promotion is for any professional driver. Drivers already enrolled as a Rolling Strong member can simply log in to their account with their starting weight and then post their success on Rolling Strong’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/rollingstrong. If a driver is not a Rolling Strong member they can simply email their starting and ending weight to giveme10@rollingstrong.com.

All drivers can take advantage of Rolling Strong’s FREE Live Wellness Coaching Sessions every Saturday at 9 a.m. EST with Bob Perry, The Trucker Trainer by calling 1-866-951-1151 and enter 9720344. On Saturday, January 4, 2014 Bob Perry will discuss the Top 10 Tips to lose 10 pounds in January and a dietician from Kroger will be speaking about nutrition. Rolling Strong On-site Health Coaches will be on the line with Bob sharing their latest workouts for drivers. Drivers will be able to download their workouts to stay on track to lose their ten pounds.

“Drivers, over the past seven years since we launched you have heard me say, ‘give me 10’ as a way to kick start your weight loss journey,” shares Bob Perry, The Trucker Trainer and founder and president of Rolling Strong. “Now is the perfect time to take advantage of Rolling Strong’s FREE tools to get you started. Join me and your fellow drivers on our weekly coaching call as we share tips, ask questions, and share stories. Together, we can do this!”

About Rolling Strong:

Rolling Strong is the leader in driver wellness providing a driver wellness program that is driver-designed and delivered to drivers where they work and live…on the road. Rolling Strong is on a mission to educate drivers and share life-changing products and services to help them while on the road. By providing transportation companies and their drivers as well as owner operators with in-terminal and on the road wellness programs, drivers finally have access to a wellness program that makes sense for them. Personalized wellness programs include Rolling Strong driver health and wellness checks at client terminals, access to a national network of retail clinics for bio screening and discounted acute care, DOT compliance, driver fitness programs, wellness kits and telephonic health coaching. Visit www.rollingstrong.com or connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rollingstrong or Twitter at www.twitter/truckertrainer.