New Century’s sudden shut down

Some saw it coming. For others, it was a bombshell. Regardless, the reality is that New Century Transportation announced on June 9 that it would be closing and filing for bankruptcy. More than 1,500 employees were subsequently terminated.

A provider of national truckload and less-than truckload services throughout the U.S. and Canada since 2000, New Century recently was ranked No. 99 in CCJ magazine’s Top 250 and was also ranked among the top 101 trucking companies for 2014 by Global Trade magazine.

New Century

In its announcement, New Century stressed that it had diligently tried to find solutions to deleverage its balance sheet but that a consensual agreement could not be reached. After consultation with legal and financial advisors, a bankruptcy proceeding was deemed to be the best way to maximize value for its creditors.

Chief Executive Officer of New Century Terrence M. Gilbert stated:

“First and foremost, it is with great sadness that we make this announcement. This difficult decision follows a comprehensive strategic and financial review of the business. The Board of Directors has determined that the actions we are taking represent the best alternative under difficult circumstances. We are extremely grateful to all of our employees for their dedicated service to the Company. We are committed to treating those who are affected by these events with the respect and dignity they deserve and will support them as best we can in their transition.”

Some of New Century’s truckers say they received letters from the company advising them of the closure, but others say they were still on the road or actually had just driven into the Burlington County, N.J. headquarters of the company when they first heard about it.  In hindsight, the closing was foreshadowed by New Century’s accreditation being pulled from the Better Business Bureau recently. “I knew this was coming last week,’ said Bert Williams, a driver from North Carolina. “I saw on the Better Business Bureau website that our rating had been pulled … I knew something was up.”

With a reported $273 million in revenue as recently as 2012, New Century had about 1,000 drivers among its 1,500 employees along with 1,000 power units. The company’s bankruptcy documents say it has between 200 – 999 creditors, between $10 million and $50 million in assets and between $10 million and $50 million in liabilities.

Spurred on by a continuing driver shortage, carriers were quick to recognize the potential for acquiring experienced employees, however. “Greentree Logistics, of Greenfield, Minn., with sites in Kulpsville and other Northeast and Midwest locations, is ‘expanding and looking to hire 80 drivers,’ and ‘would love to hire some of their former drivers if possible,’ said Liz Mazmanian, a representative of the company. Kevin Mast, owner of Mast Trucking in Millersburg, Ohio, also expressed interest in the former New Century drivers for his 90-truck refrigerated-trucking service. Jason Cardoza of national driver-recruiting firm Truckers America says he’s reaching out to the laid-off New Century drivers.

New Century is working with other companies to get its freight delivered. It also reportedly provided rides for its drivers to the nearest bus station, so they would not be stranded on the road. When Arrow Trucking shut down in 2009, stories abounded of truckers stuck across the country with no fuel and no money to get home.

With words that turned out to be prophetic, Brian J. Fitzpatrick, the CFO at New Century Transportation, said of the trucking industry at a recent meeting of the Rutgers Business Outlook on June 3 in Cherry Hill, NJ, “It’s really, really challenging to operate in the Northeast.” He referenced high bridge tolls, the cost of fuel, road congestion and attracting drivers as some of the reasons for that challenge.

In a letter sent to its employees about the closing, New Century wrote, “The unforeseeable need to shut down operations arose when New Century Transportation’s lender recently and unexpectedly declined to continue funding regular business operations.

“The company immediately took steps to seek financing and other alternatives, including a sale of all or part of the company… The company reasonably believes that it could not have provided earlier advance notice of the shutdown because advance notice would have precluded NCT’s ability to secure alternative financing or a sale of the company.”

An eight-year veteran of the company, New Century driver Stephen Shivley, 56, said of the closing, “This is sad. I’ve been doing this for 33 years. I saw the handwriting on the wall. I knew there were problems, but I was going to stay until the end.”

Meanwhile, another New Century driver Robert Kearney has filed a class-action lawsuit over the mass dismissal. He claims the company violated the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, along with the New Jersey Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act, when it did not give drivers a written notice 60 days prior to their termination. The lawsuit seeks 60 days of wages and benefits along with severance pay for lost wages. That translates into one week of pay for each full year of employment.

The WARN Act became effective in 1989. WARN offers protection to workers and their families by requiring employers to provide 60 days’ notice in advance of plant closings or mass layoffs. There are certain exceptions, however:

  1. Faltering company: This covers situation where a company sought new capital or business in order to stay open and where giving notice would have ruined the opportunity to get the new business. It applies only to plant closings.
  2. Unforeseeable business circumstances: This applies to closing and layoffs caused by business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time;
  3. Natural disasters.

If an employer relies on one of these exceptions after not providing at least 60 days’ notice, the burden of proof that the conditions for the exception have been met are its to bear. Any employer who violates the WARN provisions is liable to each aggrieved employee for back pay and benefits for the period of violation, up to 60 days.

Big Regulation Drowns Trucking’s Voice

truck at night

Over the past few weeks, truckers have been in the news more than ever as the debate to “relax” regulations governing their work week unfolds. While they say “any press is good press,” this hasn’t necessarily been true for the average, American trucker lately. After reading only a handful of the numerous articles about the Appropriations Committee’s decision to pass a proposal to slightly decrease regulations, it’s more than apparent the light cast on truckers is nothing less than biased. And frankly, it’s irritating.

In the wake of the Tracy Morgan crash, it’s easy to jump on the trucker hating bandwagon. Don’t get me wrong, I see where the other side is coming from. Driver fatigue is a real thing, and by no means do I want undermine that. It’s reasonable to believe that more regulations will reduce what the media has deemed as the problem at hand. But the fact is, as well as the intentions may be to enact tougher regulations, these already tough regulations did not prevent the Tracy Morgan crash, and it will not solve the problem.

While we can’t deny that fatal accidents involving truckers has crept upward from 3,781 in 2011 to 3,921 in 2012, it’s not logical to just put all the blame on professional drivers. There are many factors that have aided in this increasing number, one of which many believe is the latest hours of service (HOS) rules.

The new HOS rules that were put into place last July decreased the maximum average work week to 70 hours from the previous 82-hour work week. The new regulation allows truckers who reach 70 hours of driving within a week to resume only after they have rested for 34 consecutive hours and at least two nights between 1 to 5 a.m. In addition, truckers are required to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of their shift.

Sounds great, right? Think again. If major news outlets had taken the time to ask a few truckers, they would know these provisions have flaws.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) is trying to get these flaws across to officials on Capitol Hill. In attempts to do so, Collins has become the voice behind the amendment to suspend federal regulations requiring certain hours of rest for long-haul truck drivers. She, along with the trucking industry and many drivers, are firm believers that last July’s provisions “have presented some unintended and unanticipated consequences that are not in the best interest of public safety, truck drivers, or the businesses and consumers that depend on their services.”

Kevin Kelley, a spokesman for the Senator, stated that the two provisions “may actually be making our nation’s roads less safe by forcing more trucks onto the highways during the congested, daytime hours when roads are crowded with cars and school buses, rather than at night when there is less traffic. The safest time for trucks to travel is between midnight and 6 a.m. The likelihood of a crash nearly quadruples during the time frame from 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.”

Moving trucks off the road during rush hour is just one of the benefits though. Collins’ amendment also offers truck drivers more flexibility to take time to rest when needed without sacrificing valuable work hours. Under the amendment, the 11-hour workday does not change, nor does it change the amount of time they must be off-duty, the requirement for a 30-minute rest period during a shift, or the upcoming requirement for electronic on-board recorders, according to Kelley.

The Collin’s amendment was adopted before the Tracy Morgan crash on a bipartisan 21-9 vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee. While the crash, which killed comic James McNair (Jimmy Mack), was nothing less than tragic, opinions shouldn’t be swayed as the larger bill approaches the Senate because of celebrity status. Like Kelley has stated, if the Wal-Mart driver was actually up for 24 hours, he would be in violation under either amendment.

While it’s mine and many truckers’ opinion that the new provisions should be passed, this wouldn’t be a debate if there wasn’t another side to this argument. Anne Ferro, a leader of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), is among one of the people who has stepped forward with an opposing viewpoint.

“We carefully considered the public safety and health risks of long work hours, and solicited input from everyone who has a stake in this important issue, including victims’ advocates, truck drivers and companies,” Ferro said in a blog post on the DOT’s official website. “Suspending the current Hours-of-Service safety rules will expose families and drivers to greater risk every time they’re on the road.”

Since Ferro posted her blog “Congress Shouldn’t Roll Back Safety; the Steps We’ve Taken Keep Tired Truckers Off the Road” on June 3, her leadership ability has been questioned by some of the trucking industry.

In this controversial blog, Ferro shares the emotional stories of victims of truck driver fatigue with gut-wrenching pictures of overturned trucks and accident scenes. Take a quick glance, and you’ll understand why people are calling it a stab at truckers.

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President (OOIDA), Jim Johnston, calls the blog a:

“clear attempt to influence potential Congressional action regarding Hours of Service rules that went into effect last year. Her posting uses snippets of isolated accidents — tragedies yes, but situations that need far more explanation and context to understand than a few simple lines on a website — to oppose a regulation that OOIDA members and others within trucking have clearly started have a demonstratively negative impact on their health, their incomes, their ability to spend time with their families and the safety of the driving public.”

Johnston also stated that Ferro’s comments were “obviously intended to influence legislative efforts” and that should not be allowed. Generally, a high ranking member in a federal agency, such as Ferro, would avoid commenting on pending legislation because that could be considered lobbying. For this reason, OOIDA wrote a letter to the FMCSA on June 5 requesting the resignation of Ferro. While it’s unknown if Ferro will resign, one thing is for certain, her comments have not made anything better for the trucker.

Unfortunately, bad publicity is all too common for truckers. Stereotyping is nothing new. Just two weeks ago, an advertisement in Maxim magazine called truckers “serial killers” in attempts to scare the motoring public into assuming truckers are deliberately causing fatal crashes. In reality, they don’t want to cause a deadly accident any more than the car next to them does.

Nearly 70 percent of the nation’s freight is moved by truckers. If you imagine a world without trucking, you might as well imagine a world without fresh food, new clothes, gas, and so on. It’s time for the general public to start thanking truck drivers and stop commenting on issues they have no personal experience in and have not researched. Because the fact is, truckers aren’t causing the majority of crashes on the highway.

Take a look at yourself before you go pointing fingers.  Or better yet, ask the ones who know best. It’s just a guess, but I’d be willing to bet that any given trucker would be open to giving their input on an issue that affects them. While there will always be people who break the rules, it’s important to realize that more regulation does not necessarily mean safer roads.

They’ve dealt with it before, they will deal with it this time, and sadly, they will probably have to deal with this again.

Stay trucking strong, truckers! There are people on your side.

Paving the Future with Solar Roadways

SRlogo_649x270

Scott and Julie Brusaw aren’t just looking to the future; they are building the future. The couple reside in Sagle, Idaho where they co-found and co-invent Solar Roadways. When global warming surfaced as a hyped topic of concern, the Brusaws began to brainstorm energy efficient solutions that combined solar power and roadways. Since early childhood, it has been Scott’s dream to build electric roads. Julie suggested he invent a road out of solar panels. Solar Roadways hatched from that vision and now seeks to transform our roadways.

Parking lot northeast

Scott and Julie Brusaw stand on their first prototype of Solar Roadways.

Scott Brusaw has worked in several different areas that have led him to the industry of solar powered roadways. From 1976 to 1980, Scott served in the Marine Corps. After exiting military service, he began working in oil exploration throughout several different states. Scott soon realized that there was a better way of living and began pursuing a college degree. Within a week of graduating from the University of Dayton, Scott began his first engineering job. He now has over 20 years of industry experience and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering.

Solar layersEach solar panel is made up of three layers. The surface layer is a strong, texture tempered glass that has passed a series of traction and strength testing. The inner layer of the solar panel is a surface of solar cells, a circuit board of micro-processors and LEDs, and a heating element. The base plate distributes the collected energy to homes and businesses connected to the solar roadway. Solar Roadways use as much recycled materials as possible, making it even more environmentally friendly.

The vision for Solar Roadways is to cover all concrete and asphalt surfaces that are exposed to the sun with solar roadway panels. The first step is to cover driveways, bike paths, and parking lots with Solar Roadways to test and improve the technology before taking them to streets.

Solar Roadways have the ability to change the whole of the United States. Not only will the roadways turn energy from sunlight into power usage within homes and businesses, they will transmit three times the amount of energy the world uses every year.

Solar Roadways will provide the infrastructure needed for electric vehicles (EVs), allowing the cars to be charged by the sun rather than fossil fuels. EVs will be able to be recharged at any rest stop, or any business that incorporates Solar Roadways in their parking lots. EV owners would be able to recharge their vehicle while out to eat or shopping.

Solar Freakin’ Roadways

During Phase I, the couple designed a 12 ft by 12 ft road panel in 2010. Using a polycarbonate in place of the glass, the prototype was made indoors to test and show the functionality of the proposed electronics. A crosswalk was constructed and embedded with load cells to determine when weight, such as a pedestrian or wildlife, is on the surface. When the crosswalk panel receives a signal of movement ahead, it will send a message to the solar roadway panel instructing oncoming traffic to “slow down.” .

The solar energy collection portion of the testing was done outside with a different system, along with a prototype stormwater redistribution system. The roadways have two channels that form cable-corridors that run alongside the road. One cable-corridor stores electrical cables, including power lines, data lines, and high-speed internet, that replaces the need for telephone poles and hanging wires.

Solar Roadways have surpassed their goal of raising funds through Indiegogo, reaching over 2.1 million dollars for Phase II. This phase consists of a prototype parking lot. Installation has been completed with fully functioning solar cells, LEDs, heating elements, and a textured glass surface. Additions soon to come to the prototype parking lot, include, covers for mounting holes, mastic between panels, and software for LED patterns. During Phase II, the development team has performed load tests, traction tests, and impact resistance tests on the solar panels. The glass used for the solar panels have exceeded all expectations.

The Brusaw family is looking to hire a team of engineers to move forward with Solar Roadways. The funds raised through Indiegogo will help launch the full production of Solar Roadways. Once Solar Roadways begin to produce panels, they’ll also need assemblers, planners, installers, and customer service representatives.

Sandpoint, Idaho will be the first location to install Solar Roadways in the United States. They have announced their desire for sidewalks, parking lots, and eventually, roads.. Several surrounding states and countries are interested in Solar Roadways and have donated to the Indiegogo fund.

The Next Gen of Engine Oil

New oils will need to be slick for fuel economy but tough to protect engines

Just when everybody was getting used to the API CJ-4 engine oils made necessary by EGR emission controls, a new class of engine oils is on its way to the market. In short, the coming class of oils will be lower in viscosity to help boost fuel economy, yet will avoid some of the current shortcomings associated with lowering viscosity.

Engine Oil

Set to reach the market in early 2016, the working title for the new grade of engine oil is PC-11, which is engineering shorthand for “Proposed Category 11.” Once the new formulations get a bit closer to market, a new API classification (similar to the current CJ-4) will replace the PC-11 working title.

As noted above, one of the primary drivers behind the PC-11 standard is the need to improve fuel economy. Other drivers of the new standard include improved protection from higher engine temperatures, improved shear stability, improved wear protection, and reducing/eliminating oil aeration. When the feds set medium/heavy truck fuel economy standards to be rolled in over the next few years as a back-door method of cutting CO2 emissions, there simply wasn’t any “low-hanging fruit” in the form of major fuel economy improvement opportunities to be found. The industry was, and still is, on the bleeding edge of fuel economy.

No amount of hope, good intentions or regulation can match the incentive provided by fuel prices hovering between $3.00 and $4.00 per gallon. With that in mind, meeting the new fuel economy regulations requires an “all hands on deck” approach with every part of a truck and its operation contributing to improved fuel economy. At this point, improving fuel economy is no longer a game of yards or even inches; it’s down to a game of millimeters.

From their position in the fuel economy hot-seat, the engine manufacturers asked the petroleum industry to develop a new class of engine oils that would not only help with fuel economy but also address the increasing demands on new engines. This led to the PC-11 development process that is now in the field-testing phase.

Engine oil is subject to trade-offs. The viscosity (thickness) of the oil is a balancing act between being thin enough to flow when cold but thick enough to protect the engine at higher temperatures. Getting better performance at both temperature extremes is the idea behind multi-viscosity oils such as 15W-40. Another trade-off is that while a thicker oil may be better for engine durability, a thinner oil is better for fuel economy. As part of the push for fuel economy, the newest engines are built to run using lower viscosity oils, but older engines, especially those with high mileage, typically require higher viscosity oils.

While a multi-viscosity oil stretches across a pretty wide operating range, there is a limit to that range. Because the new oil will need to accommodate the newest, tightest engines as well as looser, more “seasoned” engines, the PC-11 spec may very likely include two subcategories. One subcategory would cover a low-viscosity grade that helps fuel economy but compromises protection in older engines. This subcategory would have very limited backward compatibility.

The other subcategory would be backward compatible for use in older engines, maintaining the performance of current CJ-4 oils in higher viscosity grades such as 15W-40. This second subcategory would have the PC-11 benefits of improved temperature protection, shear stability, wear protection, and reduced aeration, but less improvement in fuel economy.

Engine oilRecently, Shell Rotella invited several trucking journalists to see the results of engine teardowns that were conducted to compare the performance of current Rotella T Triple Protection 15W-40 CJ-4 oil against Rotella T5 10W-30 oils from both PC-11 subcategories. The three 2011-2012 Detroit DD15 engines all had over 500,000 miles of team-driven long haul service.

The PC-11 oils did deliver an increase in fuel economy over the current CJ-4 oil, but we were not able to discern any difference in wear between the three engines. Oil analysis at regular drain intervals also showed no significant difference in the amount of wear metal between the three engines. However, as the Shell Rotella field tests have shown so far, it is possible for PC-11 engine oil to maintain current levels of protection while delivering increased fuel economy.

With field trials of the PC-11 oils still underway, and more than a year before the new oil comes to market, there may be changes to the PC-11 spec and individual brand formulas and grades of PC-11 oil.

Arnold Transportation to add 260 trucks to fleet

Arnold Transportation continues to move onward and upward with the announcement of the purchase of 260 new trucks to add to their ever-expanding fleet. This addition highlights Arnold’s credentials as one of the nation’s leading truckload providers and a premier destination for Class A CDL drivers.

Arnold Transportation

Arnold Transportation will be adding 160 International Prostart Tractors and 100 Freightliner Cascadia Evolutions to their fleet. Arnold Transportation hopes that this new addition will help to attract the best and brightest drivers to become a part of the Arnold Transportation family.

Drivers will see an increase in fuel economy and improved long-haul performance as a result of the new trucks. Signaling Arnold’s commitment to providing the best and most reliable equipment, the new trucks will bring Arnold’s average fleet age to 27 months. Arnold is also expected to add additional replacement trucks to their fleet by the year’s end that will bring the average fleet down to 21 months, making Arnold’s fleet one of the youngest in the industry.

“This organization is well known as a first-class operation. I believe that Arnold is poised to become an even stronger player in the regional markets that we serve,” says Todd Smith, CEO of Arnold Transportation.

It is Arnold’s hope that the addition of new equipment will attract the country’s best candidates to start a career with Arnold, while also improving the experience of current drivers.

For more information on Arnold Transportation, visit their website or call (972) 985-3154. You can also find information about job opportunities with Arnold Transportation here.

 

Con-way Truckload modernizes fleet

Con-way TruckloadFacing a nationwide driver shortage, Con-way Truckload recently announced its plan of action to make the company’s 2,700-tractor fleet stand out as one of the youngest and most modern in the trucking industry.

In attempts to attract new drivers and keep the old happy, Con-way Truckload has purchased 550 new tractors, 540 of which will be equipped with automatic transmissions and all with driver-preferred 6×4 axles. Coupled with the company’s desire to lower the barrier of entry into trucking and current drivers voicing their preference for automatics, Con-way Freight made the decision to launch a replacement cycle that will be in full swing by December 2014.

“We’ve found that many younger drivers looking to enter the industry prefer the automatic transmissions because it removes the perception that operating a truck is outside of their ability,” Con-way Truckload Recruiting Manager, Gretchen Jackson, said in a press release. “Truck driving is an essential role within the economy and, given the current driver shortage, we want to provide career opportunities for those who have an interest but may think the job is unattainable.”

In recent reports, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) stated that there is currently 30,000 unfilled jobs in the trucking industry. That number is expected to grow to 100,000 within the next 10 years.

“Learning to shift a 10 or 13 speed transmission may make some new drivers nervous about starting a career in trucking,” said Stephanie Klang, professional driver for Con-way Truckload. “But with the auto shifts in the trucks today, new drivers can feel more comfortable, focus attention on their surroundings and maneuver their truck safety through traffic and congestion. While driving a truck still involves a lot of skill, the automatics make life on the road a little easier.”

When forced to choose a brand, the decision wasn’t a simple one. Having only 50 previous trucks with automatic transmission, the company wanted to find the truck with the most improved fuel economy and driver satisfaction. With that in mind, Con-way Truckload chose to purchase new tractor-trailers from four separate manufacturers, which included Kenworth, Volvo, Navistar and Freightliner. The company plans to review the data from the different brands and models at the end of the year, in order to examine how to move forward. Depending on the data, the company will then discuss whether or not to completely shift its fleet over to truck with automatic transmissions.

While the driver shortage steered a big part of the company’s decision, the fuel benefits that automatic transmissions provide did not go unnoticed by Con-way Truckload. It is widely known that truckers equipped with trucks that have automatic transmissions generally enjoy better overall fuel economy than ones that have standard trucks with manual transmissions. This in part is due to the automatic transmissions’ ability to select the perfect shift points, allowing the truck to operate in the most efficient gear. For this reason, Con-way Truckload decided it was time to upgrade its fleet. Not to mention, the new big rigs complement the company’s commitment to sustainability quite nice.

Con-way Truckload

Con-way Truckload is a leading provider of over-the-road, dry van and full-truckload transportation services that is based in Joplin, MO. With over 3,000 employees, Con-way Truckload operates throughout North America offering expedited and time-definite services to commercial and industrial businesses, as well as its sister company Con-way Freight

To learn about job opportunities with Con-way Truckload, take a look at the company’s profile page.

Schneider to sponsor Lawler, Highway Angel Tour

The 2014 Highway Angel Truck Stop Tour is in full swing, and headliner Lindsay Lawler is set to make many more stops at various locations all over the United States before the summer is over. “We saw a lot of success with last year’s tour,” said Lawler of the tour’s initial run in 2013. “We had so many drivers come to each location, thrilled that they hadn’t been forgotten and feeling like finally someone noticed and was rewarding their hard work. It’s a great feeling being able to provide free music and entertainment to some of the hardest working men and women our nation has to offer.”

 Highway Angel Logo LawlerThe tour, however, would not be possible without the help of trucking powerhouse Schneider. “Where can orange take you?”, Schneider often asks potential and current members of its workforce in Green Bay, Wisonsin. For Lawler, the answer to that question was simple: “On a truck stop tour!”

Schneider recently signed on as the first official sponsor of the tour, providing Lawler with a brand new tour vehicle, specially wrapped to promote Schneider, Lawler, and the tour. Lawler was excited about the opportunity to work with Schneider. “A few weeks ago, I made the trip to Schneider’s headquarters to learn more about the company and what it stands for,” said Lawler. “There’s such a unique culture at Schneider. It feels like family… The opportunities that come with its sponsorship of our tour are endless, and we’ve already worked up some incredible offerings to those that make it out to our tour stop locations.”

Highway Angel Tour 2Schneider is excited about the opportunity to support not only Lawler, but also the Highway Angel program, of which Schneider vice president Rob Reich spoke very highly. “We’re joining forces with Lindsay as she celebrates and honors some of the hardest working, most authentic people in America — professional truck drivers,” says Rob Reich, vice president at Schneider. “Lindsay’s music and her messages are a great reminder of how important this profession is to our quality of life and to keeping the wheels of commerce moving in this country. Sponsoring her Truck Stop Tour allows us to connect with drivers and gives Schneider the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ in a fun, creative way.”

The Highway Angel Tour, designed to promote a better trucking industry image by increasing the public’s exposure to the Highway Angel program will consist of 18 stops, 14 of which will be at TA/Petro locations in various states, from Alabama, to Nevada. Each stop will feature an hour long performance by Highway Angel spokesperson Lawler, and other activities. Read up on tour information here.

 Schneider LogoTCA’s Highway Angel program was launched in 1997, focused on recognizing drivers for unusual kindness, courtesy, and courage they have shown while on the road. For more information on the Highway Angel program, including past winners and how to nominate a driver, visit the Highway Angel Web page at www.truckload.org/Highway-Angel or Facebook page at on.fb.me/tcanews.

Maxim ad rips at trucking industry

maximIf you have already flipped through the latest issue of Maxim magazine, you probably saw the advertisement for Villarreal & Begum Law Firm. At the top of the page an eerie banner, “serial killer.” hovers above a menacing black and red image of a semi tractor with an unknown dark figure behind the wheel. Below the chilling image, a series of high numbers is meant to frighten the motoring public into believing that truck drivers everywhere are bent with a fatal vendetta against them.

Terrifying, yes. But also irresponsible, upsetting, and most of all, incorrect.

TMAF logoIn an industry that already struggles against general stereotypes and negative imagery, the inaccurate information used to deliver the blow hits below the belt. While the statistic used is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it was the total number of fatalities for ALL traffic-related incidents in 2012 (33,561). Had the ad writers chosen to post correct information, they would have stated that only 3,921 of those deaths were involved with big trucks. While that number is still significant, it is little more than a tenth of the total number.

Further, if the advertisement was more up to date, it would have cited the 2013 statistic of 32,850 fatalities related to traffic incidents, which has decreased by about two percent since 2012.

The advertisement makes a controversial and offensive inference that truck drivers are serial killers. Maxim, the self-titled “Ultimate Guys Guide,” should know better than to direct such a negative image of truck drivers in their magazine. Though they probably didn’t create the ad, they still ran it. Reputation, apparently, does have a price tag. By far, the majority of trucking professionals are men; a potential customer base that has now been isolated.

The San Antonio law firm, Villarreal & Begum, claims to “fight against the big dogs who won’t back down” even though in this situation they are the big dogs with their teeth sunken into an innocent limb of the transportation industry. The law firm’s slogan, “If we don’t win, we don’t get paid,” points to the greedy nature of the advertisement attempting to vilify the trucking industry.

tcalogoThe American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Truckload Carriers Associations (TCA) have contacted Maxim and Villarreal & Begum Law Firm regarding the defaming ad. At this time, both organizations are awaiting responses. Other efforts by ATA and TCA have included contacting Trucking Moves America Forward, who has advised the trucking industry to not share or post the ad to prevent its venomous message from spreading. For this reason, Trucker Classifieds will not be including a picture of the advertisement.AMERICAN TRUCKING ASSOCIATIONS LOGO

In immediate response to the ad, several truck stops are pulling the magazine from their shelves. Responses to this false advertisement can be made through social media using the hash tag #NotASerialKiller and tagging @MaximMag on both Twitter and Facebook.

In response to a query for a statement, Villarreal & Begum Law Firm responded by email that it was never their intent “to disparage the hard working Americans that drive tractor-trailers” but to reach “victims of catastrophic trucking accidents.” While the wording of the letter puts the blame on the real victims (“sorry you were offended” instead of “sorry we were offensive”), they have agreed to not run the ad again.

Highway Rhythm | Summer Cruisin’

Highway Rhythm

It’s time for sunshine and barbecues because summer is finally here. In honor of the return of our favorite season, we’re dedicating this addition of Highway Rhythm to summer cruisin’. To make your hauls even better this summer, we’ve compiled a list of songs perfect for summer trucking. Ranging from oldies to the latest hits, this playlist has a little of everything. Whether you prefer country, or you’d rather listen to a little Alice Cooper, we have something to soot every trucker. So hit the beach or the road, because this playlist is all about summertime.

Summer In The City – The Lovin’ Spoonful

First on our list is “Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful. This summer song hit the top of the charts in August 1966. If you’re hauling a load through the city this summer, what could be a more fitting song?

Jamming – Bob Marley & The Wailers

Every summer day needs a little reggae! “Jamming” by Bob Marley & The Wailers came from the band’s 1977 album. With this song playing from your radio, all you’ll be missing is a beach! So turn up the radio, and let Bob Marley take you away.

School’s Out –Alice Cooper

You know we couldn’t leave this one off our Summer Cruisin’ playlist. “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper is the perfect summer tune about everyone’s favorite memory as child. When Cooper was asked in an interview, “What’s the greatest three minutes of your life?” Cooper answered, “Last day of school when you’re sitting there and it’s like a slow fuse burning.” So bring back some good old memories, and play this track all summer long.

Happy – Pharrell Williams

The name of this song says it all. Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” is the perfect definition of summer. The song was released in November 2013 and was a huge hit around the world. Today, the song has sold over 5 million units. Be sure to watch this video; you won’t want to miss it!

Summertime Blues – Eddie Cochran

We know that trucking probably isn’t your first choice for a summertime activity. At times, you’ll likely be sad you’re on the road and not hanging out by a pool. That’s why we’ve included “Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran in our playlist. You won’t stay sad too long though because we have plenty of songs that will cheer you up!

This Is How We Roll – Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan

“This Is How We Roll” will keep you rolling all summer long. This summertime song was recorded by country music duo Florida Georgia Lines and features fellow country singer Luke Bryan. In 2014, the song reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs. The music video features a big rig, we think you’ll like it!

In the Summertime – Mungo Jerry

Let one of best-selling singles of all time take you back to summers past. “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry will have you celebrating the carefree days of summer.

Summer – Calvin Harris

This song is bound to be this summer’s soundtrack. Scottish recording artist, Calvin Harris, released “Summer” in March 2014, and it’s already well on its way to topping the charts. Get in on the fun, and check out “Summer” if you haven’t already.

Beachin’ – Jake Owen

Another song that will likely be a big hit this summer is “Beachin’” by Jake Owen. As of June 4, this country song sits at number 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, but we’re confident it won’t be long until it reaches the top of the charts. Beware: this is song will leave you longing for a beach trip!

Surfin’ U.S.A – The Beach Boys

“Surfin’ U.S.A” by The Beach Boys epitomizes everything about summer in the 60’s. This surf rock single became the band’s first top ten hit when it peaked on the Billboard pop chart at number three. While it was released in 1963, “Surfin’ U.S.A” still reminds us of today’s California beach days. When you’re trucking down California’s State Route 1, turn up the music, and let The Beach Boys tell you all about California’s hot surfing spots.

It’s A Great Day To Be Alive – Travis Tritt

Travis Tritt will remind you it’s a great day to be alive anytime in the summer. This country single was released in 2000 and peaked on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart at number two. Whether you’re on a beach somewhere, or you’ve just set out on a long-haul, “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive” will remind you that summer can be enjoyed from anywhere.

The Boys Of Summer – Don Henley

Released in 1984, “The Boys Of Summer” was Eagles’ vocalist and drummer Don Henley’s first single from his album Building the Perfect Beast. The song reached the top five in the U.S. and won numerous awards for its music video. Today, the song remains as one of the greatest of all time. With a name like “The Boys of Summer,” we couldn’t exclude it.

Knee Deep – Zac Brown Band featuring Jimmy Buffett

Let’s be real. We know you’d rather be knee deep in the water somewhere than trucking this summer. That’s why “Knee Deep” has made it onto our Summer Cruisin’ playlist. This country single was recorded in 2011 by Zac Brown Band along with Jimmy Buffett. While we know you’re going to busy this summer, we hope at some point your only worry is if the tide is going to reach your chair.

Summer Of ’69 – Bryan Adams

Let Canadian recording artist Bryan Adams take you back to when days were simpler. “Summer Of ‘69” was released in 1985, but stands as a reminder of summer’s way back when. So get to reminiscing, and watch this video.

The Last Ride Home

Last Ride HomeTrucker Charity, Inc. is making a difference in the trucking community in an unusual way with its program Last Ride Home.

Meet Todd Fisher.  He is a 35-year-old Ohio truck driver who recently worked along with Last Ride Home to transport an unlikely passenger. This wasn’t a typical trip to Indiana, and this certainly wasn’t a typical passenger for Fisher.

Fisher’s passenger, Christopher Johnstone, was a fellow truck driver who died in a tragic accident May 16 on Interstate 74 west of Indianapolis. The 42-year-old trucker was hauling cat food in a 2007 Peterbilt semi-trailer when he struck a bridge support after entering into the median. Upon learning that Johnstone’s family may not be able to afford to bring him home, Fisher put them in contact with Last Ride Home.

“It started out as just wanting to help,”  Fisher said to The CantonRep. “He’s a fellow brother. As truck drivers, we’re all brothers. Even though we sometimes don’t get along, we always try to help each other out when someone is down.”

Fisher made arrangements with Last Ride Home to pick up Johnstone’s cremated remains from a funeral home in Crawfordsville, Indiana and transport them back to Canton, Ohio, after making his regularly scheduled deliveries. Johnstone’s remains were placed in an urn in the truck’s cab, and his name, date of birth and date of death were attached to a sign on the back of the truck. The sign was presented to the family upon Fisher’s arrival with Johnstone on May 29.

“The situation he’s in, where the family doesn’t have a lot of money, that’s about every truck driver,” Fisher said. “There’s a lot of us out there that don’t have a lot of money and just try to take care of our families and pay the bills. There’s not a lot of extra. When something tragic like this happens you could be 2,000 miles away from home and pass away and have to get home. That’s the whole purpose of the program. That, and to give honor to that driver for the work he’s done and the people he’s provided for.”

Trucker Charity, Inc. formed in 2009 with intentions to assist those in the trucking industry who are in need of help. Not long after its establishment, Trucker Charity formed Last Ride Home. The mission of Last Ride Home to assist the families of truckers who are killed on the road by transporting their remains back home. Fisher learned about Last Ride Home at last year’s Mid-America Trucking show in Louisville, Kentucky. He had yet to volunteer prior to hearing about Johnstone’s situation.

Johnstone’s mother, Judy, is amazed by the actions of Fisher and Last Ride Home. While the her son’s death has taken a toll on the whole family, she is more at ease after finding out there are people out there who care.

Judy describes her son, who was often called Bubba, as a workaholic and “fun-loving.” Over the last 20 years, Johnstone worked as a trucker driver for several different companies. Johnstone was the father of three children and called them his greatest pride.

“He was his children’s hero, and they were his heroes,” Judy said. “He was a wonderful Christian man. He put all his faith in God.”