A CDL truck driver and his dog are alive and well after narrowly escaping from a crash.

Tractor trailer crash.

Photo via WWNY TV

As reported by WWNY, the unnamed driver was traveling down New York Route 37 outside Theresa, when a deer ran into the road. The driver swerved, overturning his cab and trailer. And then, both the driver and his dog were trapped for nearly 45 minutes before rescue teams could get to the crash.

Theresa Fire Chief Mark Savage told WWNYC he was surprised that both the driver and the dog sustained minor injuries. Also, he said the driver seemed to be in good spirits as he walked away from the truck. “Lots of cuts and bruises, a little sore,” Savage told the station, “…but other than that, [the driver] is alive and doing well.”

Both the driver and his dog were taken to a local hospital and animal clinic respectively.

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Auxiliary power units (APU) are one of the best weapons truck drivers can have against wasting fuel.

They make it possible to power a truck’s heating, air conditioning and other comfort systems without the need to keep the engine idling during rest stops. While they are very beneficial by not wasting fuel, the additional weight can cause problems. With an APU weighing several hundred pounds, they can push a truck hauling its maximum weight limit over the line into non-compliance, depending on where truckers are driving.

When former President Obama signed the 2012 MAP-21 bill into legislation, many states began to rethink their policies regarding trailer weight limits. While some states have specific laws outlining their exact tolerance policies, others do not. Because of this, it can be difficult to keep each state’s policies straight.

The following table displays state-by-state APU Weight Exemptions.

APU Exemption Guide

APU Exemption Guide by Track Your Truck

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The American Trucking Association reports that salaries for all types of truck drivers are steadily rising due to increasing drivers in demand. The current salary for national irregular route full truckload drivers has risen more than $6k to $52,000 since 2014, while private fleet drivers are closing on $85,000, an 11% increase over all.

The tight transport market is supporting not only higher salaries, but also better benefits and generous signing bonuses of up to $7k as part of an ongoing effort to attract and — more importantly — retain new drivers. This supports similar data released in The National Transportation Institute’s (NTI) Quarterly National Survey of Driver Wages. NTI’s COO, Leah Shaver indicated, “We’re seeing unprecedented movement in driver pay.”

As salaries skyrocket, industry pundits believe 2018 is the year when pricing power officially shifts from shippers to carriers. Also, shippers complain about and resist rising rates. They reduce time wasted at loading docks so that drivers avoid delays.

Finally, current predictions suggest that at least 900,000 new drivers will be needed over the next decade, 49% of which will fill in for pending retirees. To learn more, click here.

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Driver pay increases along with tight capacity are affecting not only transport companies, but also their customers. Retailers and distributors who foot the bill for higher shipping costs face high freight costs.

Among those affected, General Mills is alleging that freight costs have reached their highest rates in 20 years, reducing product margins.

Other purveyors such as Tyson, Hormel, and B&G Foods Inc., have cited lower earnings due to higher freight costs, which would likely be passed on to shoppers.

The spot market ratio of freight loads versus the number of trucks available rose well over 100% between 2017 and 2018. Shippers are under extreme pressure to have their products transported, especially seeing as how capacity on the spot market dropped 8.5% year on year from 2017. For more information, please click here.

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women in trucking

On March 24, Women in Trucking gifted a 2014 Volvo VNL670 to Tiffany Hanna, a second-generation female truck driver.

Hanna is a former Navy vet and current instructor at Prime, Inc., a truck driving training school. She has five children. In addition, the giveaway took place at the Mid America Trucking Show.

Arrow Truck Sales donated the truck, worth $55,000. Women in Trucking CEO Ellen Voie awarded the truck to Hanna, noting “We are thrilled to hand over the keys to Tiffany, who has been an advocate for women in the trucking industry by mentoring and supporting the women and men at Prime, Inc. This is truly the chance of a lifetime, thanks to Arrow Truck Sales and their very generous donation.”

Also, the truck rocks new tires, a mattress topper, free gasoline, and other amenities, bring its total value to $75,000. Learn more about this giveaway and the other exciting things that Women and Trucking is doing to encourage young girls and women to enter the transportation industry.

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The driver shortage could be addressed by a progressive program for obtaining a CDL plus a lowered legal age for state line crossings. This could also help draw more millennials into driving for the freight transport industry, reports Nicole Spector for NBC in the following article.

In addition, low numbers of female drivers contribute to the industry driver shortage. Even seemingly popular companies like UPS struggle with this issue. UBS trucks generally pose no mechanical obstacles for women. However, the issue of personal safety continues to plague those tasked with uncertain delivery locales.

Finally, a fresh assessment of the future of autonomous vehicles and their impact on drivers.

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chabotphoto / Pixabay

Welcome to this three-part discussion on what ails the trucking transport industry and what can be done about it in terms of the economy.

Those involved with trucking have long recognized the growing driver shortage. Routinely blamed for the looming crisis are driver wages that haven’t kept pace with industry growth, coupled with frustration with “regulations that make it harder to work (etc.).”

However, some new factors in the economy are also beginning to have an effect. For example, an unusually low unemployment rate, meaning the pool of new drivers, is particularly shallow. What’s emerged as a result is a round robin of recruitment among fleets: sign on bonuses plus newer rigs serve as enticements away from other employers. (Whether such measures actually work is another matter.)

So, what’s the takeaway? There’s a risk that whatever converging factors depress freight transport could ultimately depress the economy, as well. For more details about the economy and its effect on the driver shortage, click here.

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Image from landlinemag.com

The TU-Automotive’s Connected Fleets USA conference in Atlanta featured speakers exploring brave new transportation landscapes, including the one that mandates electronic logging devices.  Clem Driscoll, a telematics analyst and founder of C.J. Driscoll and Associates, was among the speakers. He presented findings of his company’s survey, revealing that, despite the impending deadline for switching over to ELDs, many carriers have still been monitoring drivers via paper logs.

Driscoll said the study surveyed 529 U.S. fleet operators. With the mandate for electronic logging devices coming up Dec. 18, 60 percent had not yet deployed ELDs; 33 percent were using AOBRDs and 6 percent were using a combination of e-logs and paper. Driscoll emphasized that the information was gathered in the second quarter and would likely be fluid.

One question for the fleet operator included if they deploy the electronic devices. In addition, it asked for third quarter, fourth quarter or not at all? A third said they planned to either switch to ELDs in the fourth quarter or wait as long as possible.

His company’s research also indicated that large companies preferred to equip their fleets with the same make of the device.

Driscoll said most of the large fleets generally opposed “bringing your own device” or letting drivers using their own devices for a couple of reasons.  “The majority we interviewed favor a company wide solution that would be installed in the vehicle,” said Driscoll, “They wanted consistency with the drivers, who move from one truck to another.”

In addition, he said the fines were a factor in favoring the same ELD configuration.  “They know they receive a fine if not in compliance. These companies, particularly the large fleets, really don’t want to depend on the drivers bringing their own phone. What if something happened to the phone or it was lost?”

Driscoll said a separate survey done in the second quarter asked questions of owner-operators. Of those surveyed, none had deployed ELDs yet.

Driscoll unveiled the highlights of his firm’s study, the 2017-2018 Survey of Fleet Operator Interest in MRM Systems and Services during TU-Automotive’s Connected Fleet event in Atlanta. According to Driscoll, this multi-client study sponsored by 19 companies is believed to be the largest study conducted to date on the U.S. commercial telematics market.

In a phone interview, he told Land Line he did not expect a delay of the mandate and predicted a heavy last-minute demand for the devices.

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safe driver week

Truck drivers should prepare for an increased presence by law enforcement this week. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance embark upon its annual Operation Safe Driver Week. It combats unsafe driving behaviors by truckers and passenger car drivers.

The annual enforcement blitz is scheduled for the week of October 15-21. Officers look for speeding, distracted driving, texting and driving, and seat belt usage. In addition, they monitor following too closely, improper lane changes, failure to obey traffic safety devices, and more.

Here are 8 Tips to Help Avoid Fines:

1. Put down the phone.

Law enforcement agencies refer to distracted driving as “the DUI of today.”  Texting while driving is egregious, taking the driver’s attention off the road. But, you also don’t have to be on the road long to spot someone talking on a handset. Both are prohibited by state laws in many cases, but they’re also expressly restricted for commercial motor vehicle drivers.

2. Keep your eyes on the road.

Smartphones aren’t the only culprit. There are plenty of other things in vehicles today that can take a driver’s attention away from the task at hand — i.e., piloting those several tons (or many more) of steel missile on wheels safely.

3. Don’t speed.

Who hasn’t laid into the gas pedal now and then when driving along?  But, watch your speed particularly during Safe Driver Week.  It’s a time of year when road construction is very prevalent, and officers are found paying particular attention to speeders, distracted drivers and so on in construction zones.

4. Buckle up.

Aside from staring at a smartphone, the next-quickest tip-off for enforcement officers to pull drivers over will be failure to wear a seat belt. Some believe seat belts lack comfort. However, for many decades, wearing a seat belt saves lives in crashes.

5. Give way.

Many states have “move over” laws that require drivers to pull away from the closest lane to a stationary police vehicle with flashing lights. Usually tied to the stipulation “if it’s safe to do so.” but if it isn’t safe to switch lanes, these laws may require the driver passing by to slow down considerably.

6. Don’t tailgate.

Do your best to give the driver ahead some room. Truck drivers face particular challenges with this since they’re often cut off by passenger vehicles, sometimes by those entering or exiting the highway or maybe a driver who’s just not paying attention.

7. Straighten up and fly right.

Signal your lane changes properly, don’t blow traffic lights and stop signs and obey the rest of the traffic signs and devices out there. Officers will be watching for those things during Safe Driver Week.

8. Get the rest of your ducks in a row, too.

If an offer cites you or pulls you over, they also check for other violations.  Bradley Penneau, a safety program consultant for Telogis, A Verizon Company, commented in a recent Fleet Owner webinar. He stated that a majority of the top commercial vehicle violations are “BLTs.” Meaning, brakes, lights, and tires.

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Trucking Lobbyists

Citing major settlements in recent years, trucking lobbyists say they plan to capitalize on new Republican control in Congress to pass an amendment that would prevent enforcement of state laws dictating truck drivers’ time and pay and shield carriers from such court orders. So writes CCJ magazine in an informative article on the issue and how it could impact those with CDL driver jobs.

Major proponents of the Denham Amendment include the American Trucking Associations and the Western States Trucking Association.

Both stated legislation to assert federal authority over break and pay laws for truckers serves as a top-level agenda item in the coming years.

“This serves as our No. 1 priority,” says Western States’ head of government affairs Joe Rajkovacz. “Prohibiting states from involving themselves in the compensation methods in which drivers are paid. Once litigation of one of the cases succeeds, the ‘me-too’ lawsuits focus on much smaller motor carriers downstream. It becomes legal blackmail against a small business: ‘Pay us or get sued and taken into court.’”

Opponents of the provision argue that the Denham Amendment wipes out efforts to reform driver pay.

Donna Smith, co-producer of the online radio show and website Truth About Trucking, says the driver pay/break provision would slam the door on hopes for driver pay reform. State-level action on the issue of driver pay and breaks, even with creating an often-deemed “patchwork” of varying regulations, is better than no action at all.

“If there’s going to be any law for driver wages, ideally it would be at a national level,” she said. “I think it would be more confusing to have state-by-state laws. But, before you look down that road, you put to rest the Denham language. It puts to rest any of the recent efforts that the truck driving community puts forth to increase their wages.”

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