The Department of Transportation announced Oct. 5 a new initiative to achieve an incredible highway safety feat by the year 2046: Zero traffic deaths.

Overdrive magazine wrote about the announcement in a news article.

“Overall, our vision is simple – zero fatalities on our roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The U.S. DOT and three of its sub-agencies — including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration — said the Road to Zero project will give $1 million a year for the next three years to “organizations working on lifesaving programs.” Road to Zero partners include, in addition to DOT and FMCSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration and the private non-profit National Safety Council.

Details on specific initiatives Road to Zero will promote are scarce

In addition, Overdrive wrote, the DOT focuses on several areas. For example, some of these include promoting broader use of seatbelts, greater use of rumble strips and greater use of data in enforcement.

Also, the DOT points to the fast-developing field of vehicle automation. This serves as reason to “[believe] the liklihood that the vision of zero road deaths and serious injuries can be achieved in the next 30 years.”

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Chris Spear

Chris Spear

In his first American Trucking Associations (ATA) Management Conference & Exhibition speech as president and CEO of the organization, Chris Spear put the trucking industry’s foes – including some lawmakers – on notice. Truck News captured Spear’s important speech:

“Trucking is already one of the most regulated and taxed industries in America,” Spear said. “In the eyes of some elected officials, we look like a money-filled piñata. I’m here to tell you that those days, those impressions of our industry – are over…If you want to throw the first proverbial punch, you need to knock us down. Because you will feel the one we throw back. ATA will fight your one-line sound bites and baseless rhetoric. We will publicly call out the hidden agendas of other industry groups.”

Spear said ATA fights to reduce the industry’s taxation, and he advocates for those with CDL trucking jobs.

“Shaving just five points off our corporate tax rate would allow you to make critical investments in your businesses and your employees,” he told the packed crowd. “That’s money to use to purchase new, more efficient equipment with safer technologies, increase driver pay and provide additional training to your employees.”

Spear also cautioned against reworking the North American Free Trade Agreement.

This serves as a big topic in the 2016 election.

“Any attempt to re-open or threaten this longstanding agreement could have dire repercussions on our industry,” Spear said, noting trucks carry 70% of surface freight between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. “America relies on free trade and trucking is key.”

Also, Spear said the trucking industry must shape autonomous trucking regulations and remain united. To see his comments about that and how autonomous trucking could improve safety and reduce congestion, read the rest of the Truck News article here.

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Few elections have featured two nominees as divisive as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And while the nation wrangles over whom to vote for, consumers are filled with anxiety about what the next four years will bring.

As their anxiety builds, consumers are slowing their spending. It’s having a major impact on the trucking industry, too, as trucking clients throughout America curb their own spending in response to consumers’ frugality leading up to Election Day.

Consumers feel apprehensive

“The economy moves the trucking industry, and for whatever reason, businesses slow their freight down during an election year,” says Anthony Leichty, a company driver who hauls cars for Toledo, Ohio-based Irelan Trucking. “You really feel it during election years because no one knows which side is going to be in power next. It’s kind of a fear thing. People get afraid.”

Anthony Leichty and family

Anthony Leichty and family

Car hauling especially slows down, because cars are a substantial investment for consumers, says Leichty, who’s had a CDL trucking job for 16 years.

“My first year with this company was an election year,” he says. “I made $37,000 that year. The very next year I made $55,000. I attribute that to the election being over. The economy ticked back up.”

Comparatively, business slowed this year, but not drastically, Leichty says.

Normally, Irelan runs about $4,500 in business per truck a week. Right now, it’s running about $3,500 to $4,000 in business per truck weekly.

However, Marci Hinton, president and director of safety at refrigerated carrier Coldliner Express, says the election has in fact greatly impacted her company’s business this year.

Big companies such as Kroger and Wal-Mart buy from Hinton’s clients—recognizable food brands such as Tyson and Hillshire Farms. “Refrigerated products are time sensitive,” Hinton says. “So when buyers like Kroger and Wal-Mart place orders with my customers, they order based on our economy. When consumers are afraid of what is to come with the election around the corner, they buy and order less.”

Hinton really noticed a drop off in inventory this summer.

American families curtailed their spending. In response, Kroger and Wal-Mart curtailed theirs.

“The average middle class family lives on a budget,” Hinton says. “When they are worried about where our country is going to be in the next six months, they don’t spend the money on family parties and cookouts. Instead, they put that money back. During the summer is when you usually see a big increase in hot dog and ground beef purchases, but this year it was down over 20 percent due to the election.”

Hillary, ClintonRefrigerated trucking is the sector likely affected most during an election year, Leichty says.

Because every major trucking company has a refrigerated division. Companies don’t want to sit on food if consumers aren’t going to buy it.

“Companies don’t want to take the chance of a huge profit loss in an election year, so they just slow production down,” Leichty says. “During an election year, go to Wal-Mart. You’ll see they have a smaller stock than they normally do. They don’t order as much during an election year.”

One of Hinton’s clients already has stopped delivery to certain regions until the election is over.

The company simply is not selling enough inventory. It’s had to throw product away, so it’s chosen not to sell in certain cities until after Nov. 8, Hinton says.

“It impacts the amount of orders I receive from clients,” Hinton says. “I have to go to a broker board. A broker finds freight for trucking companies to ship. We have to go on a board and work with companies we don’t know real well. We go through all of that and then sometimes they end up canceling the load.”

Broad impact felt across the board

The election’s impact is felt across the trucking industry, from fuel surcharges to freight capacity.

John Reed

John Reed

Business owners would be smart to keep a savings account for anything that might happen unexpectedly, says Drive My Way contributor John Reed, an owner operator leased to Mercer Transportation. For those with owner operator trucking jobs like him, Reed recommends setting aside $20,000 for emergencies during an election year.

“A lot of small owner operators are worried about upcoming economic changes because they may not have enough money to correct their business model before they can adapt to the change,” Reed says.

Owner operators, however, also have more flexibility than company drivers in where they can fuel up or purchase tires.

Through that flexibility, they can save money.

“It’s easier for owner operators to adapt to presidential change than it is for a larger company to adapt,” Reed says. “When you have to bring your ideas in front of a board of directors to create change, it has to go through a voting process, whereas an owner operator can virtually change something overnight if he sees something that’s not working the way it should.”

Things should stabilize after the election, when Americans have a greater understanding of what their future holds. Until then, expect Americans to continue clutching their purse strings ever so tightly.

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hire salespeopleFortune magazine always is full of helpful business advice, and they’re back at it with a few great tips for hiring quality salespeople who will stand the test of time.

First, bosses must realize that talented salespeople don’t always make talented sales managers.

“Selling and managing, including hiring, require very different sets of skills,” notes Dave Stein, co-author of Beyond the Sales Process: 12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World.

Stein spent the past 30 years coaching sales teams and their bosses. He says that whoever promoted you without enough management training “deserves at least half the accountability” for your current pickle. He points to research showing that the failure rate among star salespeople “rewarded” with promotions like yours is a startling 85%.

So what should you do instead? Here are three great ways to hire the right people, in Stein’s view:

1. Don’t go it alone

A time-tested way to tell how well someone will fit into your organization’s culture, and understand its goals, is to invite a couple of colleagues to sit in on meetings with candidates. Stein recommends a three-person interviewing team, but they don’t have to be the same two people (besides you) every time. If the manager who initially hired you is still there, for instance, you might ask him or her, along with perhaps a high-performing member of your current sales team. The point is to get more than one set of insights about each applicant.

2. Stick to a consistent hiring process

Stein has seen many sales managers go wrong by trying to wing it. “You need to think hard about precisely which skills and attributes your best salespeople have, based on what’s been most effective in reaching your particular customers,” he says. “Once you have that profile, make a list of interview questions with definite right and wrong answers — no exceptions.” This takes a lot of thought ahead of time, he adds, but it’s worth the extra effort, since relying on a “disciplined, black-and-white set of hiring criteria cuts sales-staff turnover to an annual rate of 5% to 15%.”3.

3. Require candidates to simulate real-life sales calls

It’s hard to guess how well someone will perform without seeing him or her in action, so Stein recommends role-playing exercises he calls simulations. “I’ve known many sales managers who have been horrified or embarrassed during their first customer meeting with a new rep they just hired,” he says. “It happens more often than you would guess.”

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ttnews.comBlueGrace Logistics, based in Riverview, Fla., announced that Warburg Pincus agreed to an investment of $255 million in the firm, Transport Topics reports. Also, that includes committed capital and direct investment to increase growth and acquisitions.

In addition, BlueGrace Logistics expects to increase employment in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Tampa and other markets. Overall, they plan to hire 500 to 700 new employees, nearly doubling the current 370 employees.

Whether the new jobs include CDL trucking jobs remains undetermined.

“This investment gives a major shot of adrenaline to our already fast-growing operations,” BlueGrace CEO Bobby Harris said. “We help customers transform their shipping across the country. And, for me, it’s especially gratifying to see more employees come to the company and find a great career.”

Founded in 2009, BlueGrace developed a proprietary software platform.

Overall, it provides customers who need to ship goods with multiple offers from trucking companies. New York-based Warburg Pincus “has been a long-term investor in the technology-enabled logistics market. BlueGrace is a rapidly growing innovator in that industry,” said Alex Berzofsky, managing director of Warburg Pincus. “We see meaningful opportunities for continued growth for the company. And, we look forward to supporting the BlueGrace team.”

Read the rest of the Transport Topics story here.

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In a recent story for Overdrive, the magazine’s editorial director, Max Heine, delved into the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s annual report on truck accidents.

The FMCSA report stated the number of trucks involved in fatal accidents decreased by 5% in 2014. However, truck driver injuries skyrocketed by 21%. Therefore, Heine sought clarity on the issue.

There’s no discrepancy between the two points, says FMCSA Spokesman Duane DeBruyne.

He noted that new technologies “such as electronic stability control, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure … save lives by making more crashes ‘survivable’.”

Dan Murray, vice president of the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), said he knows why. He pointed to ATRI’s July 2013 report, “Assessing the Impacts of the 34-Hour Restart Provisions.”

“We predicted and documented that when you move trucks into the daytime, basically rush hours, property damage crashes go way up, injury crashes increase,” Murray says. “Therefore, because trucks move at 6 mph instead of 55 mph, fatalities decreased.”

He concludes that injuries jumped in 2014.

Overall, that was the first full year that included the new restart provisions. Also, other possible factors include the continued shortening of average length of haul and growing congestion.

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In today’s world, it’s important for employers to make the right hire. But which qualities should trucking companies hiring look for in a candidate?

Career website HR Bartender says the best employees share certain qualities that set them apart from the pack. The next time you interview a candidate for one of your CDL trucking jobs, see if they exhibit any of these exceptional traits, demonstrating a high-performing trucker.

1.They have their own system.

Whether it’s a morning routine, a mindfulness ritual or a journal, high-performing employees have their own way of staying grounded and organized. It helps them stay focused on what’s important so they can perform.

2. They listen to others–for feedback, suggestions and proven strategies.

High-performing employees take in information. It could be feedback on their performance or a tip from a speaker during a conference.

3. They hold themselves accountable.

Always focused on quality, high-performing employees keep their word. If, for whatever reason, they cannot deliver, they renegotiate the deliverable. People who work with high performers know exactly what to expect.

4. They are focused on the positive.

This isn’t to say that everything around them is always positive. But when given a choice between celebration or cynicism, they find a way to look on the bright side. This outlook helps high-performing employees stay engaged with their work.

5. They will accept a challenge and often don’t need to be told to do things.

High-performing employees are willing to take on tough tasks. They are ready to solve problems. Many times, they are the employees bringing you the problem and the solution.

6. They set short-term goals and stretch goals.

High-performing employees set goals for themselves in addition to the goals the company sets for them. They look for opportunities to exceed expectations.

7. They learn from their mistakes.

Speaking of accomplishments, high-performing employees don’t always achieve their goals. But they do use those moments to reflect and learn from the situation. They don’t view it as failure. It’s an opportunity (see Habit #4).

8. They know how to manage their time.

This ties into Habit #1. High-performing employees are able to perform at a high level because they understand their personal working style and know how to get things done. This includes saying “no” at times so they don’t disappoint.

9. They’re committed to their own personal development.

High performers are not complacent when it comes to new skills. They learn something every single day. They understand that learning takes place in small iterations.

10. They’re highly engaged and willing to commit to the organization.

Several of these habits point to an individual who is happily engaged with their work and the company around them. They perform at a high level because the organization is invested in their success.

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Covenant Transport, one of the largest trucking companies hiring in the United States, celebrated a landmark anniversary this month, its 30th year in the industry. Covenant feted the occasion in style on the grounds of its Chattanooga, Tenn., headquarters. The Chattanooga Times Free Press was on hand to cover the event.

A carnival was gearing up in the tractor lot outside Covenant Transportation Group headquarters. A band tuned its instruments. Funnel cake batter dropped into searing grease. And David Parker, chairman of the trucking company he founded in 1986, was busy at work. But he welcomed the chance to talk a few minutes about the significance of the milestone.

“Thirty years,” he said. “I’m 30 years older.” He flashed a big smile and leaned back in his chair.

Parker was raised in the trucking industry by longhaul trucking pioneer Clyde Fuller. Parker and his half-brother, Max Fuller, worked for Fuller in their youth, coming up in the business.

That was in the 1970s and ’80s. In the mid-’80s, Clyde Fuller left his company, Southwest Motor Freight, to his boys. They eventually sold the company. After the sale, Parker, a devout Christian, felt a calling to start Covenant Transport. So in 1986, he did. His half-brother Max Fuller, along with Pat Quinn, started U.S. Xpress Enterprises the same year in Chattanooga. All three inherited trucks from Southwest Motor Freight.

“We were 28 years old when we started this sucker,” Parker said of himself and his wife, Jacqueline.

Covenant has grown a lot since then. How will Covenant evolve in the next 30 years? Time will tell.

Read the rest of the Chattanooga Times Free Press story here.

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Less than a year after announcing it would produce a line of trucks for on-highway use, Caterpillar discontinues production of vocational trucks.

CCJ  published an article about this issue, and what it means for CDL drivers.

In May of last year, CAT rolled out two new refreshed trucks: the CT680L and the CT680LG. However, based on the current business climate in the truck industry and a thorough evaluation of its business, CAT says it decided to withdraw from the market.

CAT stops vocational trucks for people with CDL trucking jobs

“Remaining a viable competitor in this market requires significant additional investment to develop and launch a complete portfolio of trucks,” says Ramin Younessi, vice president with responsibility for Caterpillar’s Industrial Power Systems Division. “And, upon an updated review, we determined no sufficient market opportunity to justify the investment.”

Caterpillar shuttering its truck operations is the company’s latest effort in an ongoing restructuring.

It consolidates its Electric Power and Marine & Petroleum Power Divisions into a new Electric Power, Marine and O&G Division.

But what could this mean about the maintenance of the trucks already on the road? Not to worry, CAT says that it will continue to support those trucks.


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ShunksEditor’s note: This is Part 3 of a multi-part series about how owner operators can get the most from their business.

Kevin Shunk, 67, has had an owner operator trucking job for 48 years. He got his start in trucking at age 17, hauling livestock locally in his hometown, St. Joseph, Mo.

Today, Shunk is leased to Twin River Logistics of Clive, Iowa. He drives a refrigerated truck, as he has for 35 years. “I love it,” he says. “It’s a way of life you get used to. I tried retiring once, but I went crazy. So I bought another truck and started in again.”

Shunk has learned a lot in his years on the road. Here are his top 5 tips for running your business successfully as an owner operator:

1. You need to control your expenses.

So many owner operators see a big check and think it’s theirs to spend. No. You have to be a businessman. A lot of times, it’s hard to budget. I mean, I just had to overhaul my truck for $14,000 and the budget was over with. You gotta keep going. You should have some money put back. Repair bills are just something you need to save money for and be ready for. You make a big check. But it costs so much to run a truck anymore, you don’t get to keep the check.

2. Find somebody honest to work with.

I mean somebody you can have a valued business relationship with—whether it’s the people who load you or do your repairs. This is a very cutthroat business.

3. Another thing, you need to know what it’ll cost you to run your truck per mile.

You can’t haul cheap loads and make money. You’ll run out your equipment. Say it costs you 70 cents a mile to run your truck, you need to be making more money than that.

4. Plan ahead.

Be able to anticipate problems. Walk around your truck every morning and check for low air pressure, check your oil, check your lights. If you blow a tire out, you’re probably talking up to $700 for just one tire. The problems get worse if you don’t address them right away. Nothing ever cures itself. And smell. If you’re driving down the road and you have a brake getting hot, you’ll smell a burning smell. Pull over and see what you got going on.

5. Last thing, do not let these big companies talk you into leasing a truck.

I have never seen that work. This is my advice for those wanting to start in new as an owner operator. Instead, be a company driver for 4 or 5 years, keep track of your expenses and learn the business. Then go work for yourself once you understand how the business works.


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