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Archive for March, 2011


Qualifed Driver Shortage Linked to CDL Training Standards

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CDL Training

CDL Training

What has always been termed as a truck driver shortage, is now being referred to as a shortage of qualified drivers.  It is a manipulation of words in order to achieve the success of a particular agenda.  A shortage of truck drivers has never existed, nor does it exist today.  So what is the agenda this time and what exactly does “qualified” mean?

Whenever there is a shortage within any kind of vocation, pay normally will rise in order to offset the shortage.  Truck driver pay continues to remain stagnate and has virtually remained the same for decades.

While looking through a 1993 edition of Overdrive Magazine, a company was advertising starting pay at .38 cents per mile.  I checked out their website today, in 2011 and they are showing their starting pay at .38 CPM.  In 18 years, their beginning pay has not changed.  To claim that there is a truck driver shortage, with no pay increase incentive ever being enacted, is a contradictory of terms.

Regulations push drivers away

As a series of new rules and regulations are imposed by the FMCSA such as the CSA, PSP’s, EOBR’s, HOS rule changes and the possibility of OBMS’s, truckers have never been more regulated and many seasoned, veteran drivers are calling it quits.  Still, thousands of unemployed workers are turning to trucking as a career after being told by company recruiters and CDL schools that they can make $50,000 per year.  During a time of a lengthy recession, when millions have lost their jobs, the promise of a high-paying career is hard to ignore.   Too many are lured into an industry which averages $32,000 per year for an experienced driver and are never told about the true realities of OTR trucking.

Moving away from a negative term of a truck driver shortage, the trucking industry is now using “qualified” as their chosen word.  This new terminology has been brought about due to the CSAQualified now stands for a driver who has no crash or serious violation history, reference the PSP (Pre-Employment Screening Program).  For years, professional truck drivers have been pushed by their company to get the load picked up and delivered.  Violate HOS rules, run double logs, average 3-5 hours of sleep per day . . . do whatever it takes to move the freight;  and the drivers’ got the job done.  Now, these same drivers are being terminated by the very companies that pushed them into this performance.

Many trucking companies with these drivers who have accumulated violation points for doing what they were told, are being terminated and replaced with new drivers.  Through the CSA, these new truck drivers will not have a three and five year look back, no points or violations on their driving records and this gives the illusion of a better BASIC safety score for the motor carrier.  In this industry, never believe that there is any loyalty from the company to its drivers.

NAFTA is best alternative to lower pay

Could there be another agenda as to why NAFTA is being pushed so hard by the industry?  It is well known that before an industry can recruit and hire those with H2-B visas to work in the United States, that the industry must show that there is a need for these new workers.  Among the requirements, an industry must:

  • Establish that its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the underlying job can be described as permanent or temporary;
  • Must demonstrate that there are not sufficient U. S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work and . . .
  • Must show that the employment of H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U. S. workers

The Comprehensive Safety Analysis provides the trucking industry with the reason it needs to use the term “shortage of qualified drivers“.   Experienced American drivers who are now being pushed out by the motor carriers who allowed them to run illegal in the first place, can now say that they can not find qualified drivers;  “qualified” as it pertains to the CSA.

Forcing out experienced, seasoned long haul truck drivers who demand a higher pay scale and replacing them with foreign drivers who will accept lower wages . . . this is the agenda of the industry.  If the fear of a lack of qualified drivers were true, then why is the industry not restructuring their CDL training programs in order to produce safer drivers?  Why is the FMCSA not addressing the CDL training problem?   To create safer highways, you must produce safer drivers.  If the industry was really concerned about a shortage of qualified truck drivers in the U. S. , then CDL training standards would be implemented.

The terrible tragedy which involved the CRST truck in Wyoming is only a reminder of the poor truck driver training standards that exist in this country.  Blame can not be placed on the CRST trainer who was sleeping in the bunk at the time of the crash.  When a person is fatigued and tired, the body must sleep.  One can only go so long before the body will shut down on its own.  The problem is not with the trainer, but with the training standards of the particular motor carrier, which is established by the industry.

There are starter companies which will allow a driver to become a trainer with as little as three to six months experience, yet the FMCSA ignores this serious safety issue.  Through out the statistics found in the Trucks Involved in Fatal Accidents file (TIFA), there are no stats correlating fatal truck crashes associated with new driver trainees.  There should be.

Standards must be established to where the trainer and student remain awake and active together during the entire training process.  Both trainee and trainer must be allowed to stop and sleep during the same period of time.

The trucking industry, for too long, has treated drivers like they themselves were machines.  A driver trainer has a larger degree of mental and physical responsibility placed on them and when the body reaches it maximum capability, the trainer will have no other option but to sleep and receive the rest needed.

Regardless of the fact that many trainees and trainers make it through the process without incident, the tragedy in Wyoming is a reminder that one senseless death is one too many and that these types of accidents will continue until stronger CDL training standards are established within the industry and safety becomes the true agenda.

© 2011, AskTheTrucker. All rights reserved.

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FBI Issues Plea to Truckers

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Human Trafficking Training DVD

Human Trafficking Training DVD

Truckers Against Trafficking has completed a training video and it is now available on DVD at no charge.  This is a first of its kind DVD ever developed for training purposes on human trafficking which details how truck drivers, trucking companies, truck stops and travel plazas can play a vital role in combating this serious issue.

Trucking companies and Travel Plazas are encouraged to utilize the DVD within their driver/employee training programs to further the education process on how to recognize and help save victims of human trafficking.  We would further recommend that CDL truck driver schools also make the human trafficking DVD a part of their training curriculum.

The training video/DVD features interviews from truck drivers, a prosecuting attorney and the FBI, which continues to issue a plea for help by professional truckers.  The story of two Ohio teens are also featured, who were rescued from their human trafficking captors when one alert truck driver made a life saving call.


Truckers Against Trafficking has released the following Press Release:

March 24, 2011

A first-of-its-kind training DVD on human trafficking and the critical role members of the trucking/travel plaza industry can have in fighting it is now available, free of charge.

Because human trafficking becomes a costly, dangerous and relevant safety issue when it intersects with truckers and travel plaza employees, we hope trucking companies, travel plazas, truck-driving schools, state associations and national trucking associations will consider making this DVD a part of their orientation and training for all employees,” said Kendis Paris, a national coordinator for Truckers Against Trafficking. “Traffickers are continually moving their victims along our nations’ highways and roads. Truckers, travel plaza employees and the entire trucking industry can become heroes in the fight against human trafficking as they are educated on the issue and then take action to fight it.”

The DVD features interviews with the FBI, a prosecuting attorney, truckers who have seen human trafficking taking place on their routes, a trafficking victim rescued from a truck stop through the call of a trucker, actual footage of prostituted women at a travel plaza and information on concrete ways members of the trucking/travel plaza industry can fight this crime in the course of their daily work.

The DVD was produced by iEmpathize, an arts and advocacy non profit ( that creates opportunities for people to explore and engage in issues of injustice.

The DVD can be seen in its entirety at It can be downloaded from Or you can request a DVD by e-mailing An audio version of the DVD is currently in the works for use as a training module for truckers who are on-the-road and not available for office training programs.

Human trafficking is an international issue and a $32-billion industry. More than 27 million people are enslaved in the world today. In the United States, some 300,000 people are estimated to be trafficking annually in this country, with 100,000 of those trafficking into the sex industry. The average age for children being forced into the sex industry in the United States is 12. Any minor engaged in the sex industry is a victim of human trafficking. An additional 17,500 men, women and children are estimated to be trafficking into the United States annually for various types of forced labor, including sex work.

Truckers Against Trafficking is an initiative of Chapter 61 Ministries ( to educate members of the trucking/travel plaza industry about human trafficking and the role they can play in fighting it, equip them with tools, empower them with steps to take and mobilize them to take a stand against one of the world’s most lucrative and destructive crimes. The initiative includes a website, ; webinars; Human Trafficking 101 classes; wallet cards with questions to ask, red flags to look for and the National Hotline number to call if trafficking is suspected; posters ; the training DVD and publicity and promotion.

For more information, please contact or Kendis Paris at 720-202-1037.

© 2011, AskTheTrucker. All rights reserved.

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Mexican Trucks Controversy

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It seems that trucking cannot go for any extended length of time without some kind of battle, debate or controversy in the wind.  The new hours of service proposal that was released in December of 2010 has caused many heated arguments, as The ATA , drivers, and OOIDA, all stand together in opposition of the new proposal.

The HOS laws have also brought much controversy to the NAFTA agreement between Mexico and the US.  Since Mexico does not have any kind of HOS laws enforced, a means to monitor Mexican trucks would need to be established.  Furthermore, Mexico does not have anywhere near the safety regulation standards in place that the U.S. has.

As a means to satisfy part of the NAFTA  agreement (long haul cross-border Mexican trucking program ), enforce safety standards on Mexican trucks, and relieve the billions in tariffs imposed on the US by Mexico , Secretary of transportation Ray LaHood released on Jan 6th, 2011 the concept document to the Mexican government and the US Congress. The concept document addressed many concerns and made safety a priority for the long haul cross-border Mexican trucking program.

The concepts are the Department of Transportation’s response to a promise to come up with a program to replace the Cross Border Demonstration Program initiated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in late 2007.

In 2008, FMCSA announced it was extending the pilot project two years, but in March 2009, Congress stopped the program with legislative action.

Here are a few of the regulatory enhancements not included in the pilot program which was terminated.

• All vehicles will be equipped with electronic on-board recording devices to allow monitoring of drivers’ Hours of Service and compliance with U.S. cabotage laws.

• Each driver will have their combined U.S. and complete Mexican driving history checked to ensure that they have no history of unsafe driving that would disqualify them under U.S. standards.

• The safety records of each company kept by the Government of Mexico will be examined in addition to any U.S. operating history the company may have, and

• Each driver will have his/her English language proficiency and knowledge of U.S. traffic laws verified before being allowed to operate within the U.S.

Although this new concept document seemed to appease most, the teamsters were still in opposition stating that the US should have brought a challenge against Mexico for imposing excessive tariffs on U.S. goods. Others, including Rep Peter DeFazio, have suggested the tariffs are illegal.

What has caused much controversy is the requirement for Mexican trucks to have a electronic on-board recording devices ( EOBR’s) .
Although law for EOBR’s for all US carriers looks to be another law on the horizon, it has not been yet established as such. Because of that, any new requirements in the document cannot be imposed on Mexico that is not already law for US drivers and carriers.

In other words, if we want to monitor Mexico and require EOBR’s on their trucks, then we’ll have to pay for them!

This is where the controversy begins.

The FMCSA has stated that in order to satisfy safety requirements for the new cross border trucking pilot program, devices will need to be provided to them. The funds used will be from the Highway Trust Fund, most of which is collected by the Highway Fuel Tax paid by the industry and drivers.

Peter DeFazio, Oregon Congressman and the ranking chair of the Highway and Transit subcommittee, has been greatly opposed to the pilot program and was a major part in terminating the previous cross border trucking program in 2009 that began in 2007.

Here is the letter  to Ray LaHood which Peter DeFazio wrote on 3/10/11

March 10, 2011

The Honorable Ray LaHood


U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Ave, SE

Washington, DC  20590

Dear Secretary LaHood:

I am writing to express my serious concern with the Administration’s latest plans to allow Mexican trucking companies to operate long haul in the United States. You are well aware of my opposition to the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) previous attempts to open the U.S.-Mexico border to truck traffic, because of the significant impacts on the safety of our roads and on American jobs.  While I was pleased to learn that the Administration was engaging Mexico to begin to lift the arbitrary, excessive, and illegal tariffs that Mexico has imposed on the U.S., after learning the details of the latest negotiations, I am greatly concerned that the Administration is not launching a pilot program, but rather starting the full liberalization of cross-border trucking.

I request that you provide me with a written justification of how DOT’s planned program complies with the requirements for pilot programs under section 31315 of title 49, United States Code, as well as various appropriations provisions related to cross border trucking. I also ask that you provide me with the specific legal authority the Department relies on to expend Highway Trust Fund dollars to implement the pilot program and to purchase equipment to be used and retained by Mexican carriers.

A true pilot program should grant a discreet number of Mexican carriers the opportunity to operate beyond the commercial zones at the U.S.-Mexico border. The U.S. government would strictly monitor the operations of these carriers, and at the end of the pilot program, suspend any further operations while evaluating the results. Instead, it is my understanding that DOT will grant Mexican carriers the same provisional operating authority it grants any new U.S. motor carrier seeking interstate authority. After 18 months, this authority becomes permanent indefinitely, provided the carrier does not have an egregious safety record or a lapse in insurance. This permanent authority will not be revoked — even if Congress or DOT terminates the pilot program. Further, carriers who participated in the pilot program DOT launched in 2007 will get credit for the number of months they operated in the U.S. when they re-apply under this new program. This means that some carriers will receive permanent authority almost immediately.

DOT is required by law to first test granting authority to Mexican carriers under a pilot program that complies with Section 31315 of title 49, United States Code.  This section mandates that any pilot program must allow for both a sufficient length of time, not to exceed three years, and adequate participation in order for DOT to evaluate the effects of a pilot program on safety.   Granting permanent authority to carriers on a rolling basis, and then granting blanket authority to all participants at the 18-month mark, would seem to exceed your authority under the law.  Further, this section requires DOT to immediately revoke the participation of any carrier or driver who fails to comply with the terms and conditions of the pilot program.  I question how the Department can fulfill this requirement if carriers have permanent authority once they pass a Compliance Review after 18 months, and are not required to meet any other specific terms and conditions.

Further, I understand that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) inspectors will conduct rigorous oversight of Mexican carriers when they cross the border – for the first three months of the program.  After such time, carriers will be subject to scrutiny and inspection at the same rate as carriers who remain in the commercial zone are currently inspected.  I fail to see how expanding the areas where uninspected carriers can travel from just the border zones to travel throughout the United States would achieve an equivalent level of safety, as required by law.

I also understand that, as outlined in the President’s FY 2012 Budget request, FMCSA plans to use $4.3 million in FY 2012 of its general operating expenses to implement the program.  These funds come out of the Highway Trust Fund.  FMCSA plans to use some of these funds to purchase Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs) for Mexican carriers, and pay for monitoring.   The agency spent $1.25 million on EOBRs for 27 carriers under the previous pilot program – and the Mexican trucking companies were allowed to keep the devices when the program ended.  I strongly support the requirement that carriers use EOBRs to demonstrate compliance with hours of service laws, particularly since Mexico does not hold its drivers to the same stringent hours of service standards that apply to U.S. carriers.  However, it is outrageous that U.S. truckers, through the fuel tax, will subsidize the cost of doing business for these Mexican carriers.

I look forward to your response, and to our continued joint work to ensure the safety of American roads and the preservation of American jobs.


Peter A. DeFazio

Member of Congress

CC:  The Honorable Anne Ferro, Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The Honorable Ronald Kirk, Ambassador, United States Trade Representative

Anne Ferro has defended the FMCSA decision for the purchase of monitoring devices on Mexican trucks stating , “We can’t require them to purchase EOBRs because we don’t require (U.S. carriers) to do it yet, so we propose to pay for those for a limited duration,” she said. The duration would be until the pilot program is over — probably three years — or until the agency’s proposed near-universal EOBR mandate takes effect, she said.”

Chances are that all Mexican trucks will already be equipped with the devices before the mandate for EOBR’s is placed on US carriers.

Last night we had an open discussion show on Blog Talk Radio discussing regulations placed on American drivers. Most of the show ended up discussing the cross border trucking program however, including the US purchase of EOBR’s for Mexican trucks.

Thanks go to Richard Wilson, a regulatory specialist of TransProducts, and James Linden, a caller from Norway who offered much insight to NAFTA during the radio show.

© 2011, AskTheTrucker. All rights reserved.

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Leading Social Media Expert to Speak at Truck Driver Convention

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Austin Walsh, social media expertSocial media experts agree that the trucking industry is still lagging behind other industries when it comes to utilizing the tools of social media.  Tools which can help professional truck drivers to further their careers or companies and corporations to grow their business, largely remain untouched by the U. S. trucking industry.

With the understanding and know-how of properly implementing social media into your business or profession, the CDL truck driver or smallest of trucking companies can grow above the basic level of posting a Facebook update or a single tweet on Twitter.   The power of social media and what it can accomplish for the truck driver and the industry goes far beyond these simple, elementary basics.

Austin Walsh is one of the country’s leading experts in social media.  Having designed and created Social Media campaigns for celebrity clients which include Mark Victor Hansen (author of Chicken Soup for The Soul) and Gary Goldstein, (Film Producer of the hit movie, Pretty Woman),  Mr. Walsh has agreed to be our special guest speaker for the 1st Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention.

Studies have shown that many truck drivers and trucking professionals, companies included, have a tendency to dismiss new technology and fail to see their business potential.  Within the logistics arena of the trucking industry, this area currently falls far behind other industries in incorporating social media into their business applications.

There is much more to social media than Facebook and Twitter and by dismissing the age of technology and social media tools, truck drivers and trucking companies are losing out on a great deal of business and profitable growth.   Fully understanding the tools of social media provides the capability to share your ideas or message to millions within a matter of moments.

Mr. Walsh will share his expertise with professional truck drivers and the trucking industry alike, on how you can reap the benefits of using the power of social media to your advantage.

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The Disappearing American Trucker

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I received the following email from a driver who will remain anonymous, providing his insight into the future of the U. S. trucking industry, based on his years of experience:

“I stumbled upon your website after reading the article about the U. S . Mexico agreement.  I have a CDL and watched over the years as a profession dissolved into a job and dissolved further into a low paying job, with so much anger I can hardly contain it.  It is so sad that something so vital to the American way of  life has been close to eliminated and so controlled by the middle man.”

“I  see no other way out for the American trucker .  It can never be as it was in the early 70′s probably the pinnacle of trucking as a profession.  This new deal I  believe will destroy the industry completely.  Mexico can offer its  carriers deals on state owned fuel fill up on the mexico side, the drivers once in the U. S. can pick up loads and deliver them as long as they obey and bend the laws, and will be happy to live in a truck and make $25 a day.”

“The brokers will go crazy for this.  If this scenario is true,  American truckers are done.   If there ever was a time to strike it would be now but I believe that will never  happen.   Truckers have been brainwashed into accepting a burden that wasn’t theirs to carry and we all know the truth about the unions too.  A wildcat and union strike without a new organization, although disruptive,  probably wouldn’t achieve the results as too many people in the middle.”

“The brokerage companies that will spring up overnight that will utilize the new Mexican work force will be huge.  The path to citizenship (ha , ha ) will be paved by Mexican drivers.  Prices will go up, costs will come down and nobody will ask why,  as America says goodbye to the trucker.”

U. S. trucking industry deregulated or regulated?

If my memory serves me correctly, was not the trucking industry deregulated through the Motor Carrier Regulatory Reform and Modernization Act, more commonly known as the Motor Carrier Act of 1980?  I am fairly certain that it was.  Yet, today it seems that more and more regulations are being imposed on the industry and most are largely aimed at the truck driver.

In the beginning, the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 only partially decontrolled trucking, but joined by a biased ICC, the Act was to rid the industry of regulations . . . or did it?  Today, the U. S. trucking industry has regulations at both the federal and state levels.  On the Federal side, regulators of the trucking industry include the U.S. DOT and the United States Customs Office and at the state level, we have the DMV and public utility commissions.

Supporters of deregulation included President Gerald Ford, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, Senator Edward Kennedy, thousands of shippers and President John F. Kennedy who was the first president to recommend to Congress, a reduction in the regulation of surface freight transportation.  Following President Jimmy Carter’s lead, Congress enacted the Motor Carrier Act of 1980.

Opponents of deregulation included the Teamsters Union and the American Trucking Association (ATA).   Arguing that deregulating the industry would cost drivers jobs and that service would decline, adding that smaller communities would find it difficult to obtain service, the opposite has proven to be the case.  According to an ICC report, service to small communities have improved and complaints by shippers have declined.   Studies also show that deregulation has made it easier for non-union workers to get jobs in the trucking industry.

The devastating effect of deregulation on the American Trucker

Supporters of deregulation on the trucking industry enjoy pointing out the billions of dollars saved by shippers in regards to their inventory holdings.  In 1981, one year after the Motor Carrier Act was enacted, shippers GNP percentage fell from 14% to 10.8% . . . a savings of $62 billion.  The U. S. DOT estimates that the gain to industry in shipping, merchandising and inventory control is between $38 and $56 billion per year.   According to one study, doing away with any remaining federal controls would save U. S. shippers another $28 billion per year.

At the time, 77% of shippers surveyed, favored deregulating the trucking industry. By 1982 rates for truckload-size shipments fell by 25% and rates charged by LTL carriers had fallen by ten to twenty percent;   many shippers reported declines in freight rates as high as 40%.  It is very clear to see who exactly stood to gain from the deregulation of the trucking industry.

As rates lowered, so did driver pay and the effect on owner operators were devastating, as well as leading to the decline in truck driver training standards.  It has caused trucking companies to push the driver harder and faster, chasing the bottom line and moving the safety and welfare of truck drivers further down the list of priority.

Regulating the industry or regulating truck drivers?

Personal bankruptcies for the month of February, 2011 were 102,686.  In 2009, one out of every 300 people in America filed bankruptcy.  Since 2006, over five million have done so and many states are on the verge of filing as well, not to mention concerns that even the United States Government is on the brink.  As the economic chaos continues, the American trucker and trucking companies alike, continue to see regulation after regulation being forced upon them, creating further financial responsibilities:

  • Speed Limiters
  • CSA
  • EOBR’s
  • HOS changes
  • Carbon based emission controls
  • Sleep Apnea screening tests

With the continuation of increasing transportation bureaucracy, there is only one way for the industry regulators to keep up . . . to hit the industry and truck drivers  with more regulations and fees.

Now, with the impending NAFTA Mexico agreement, it is no wonder that drivers continue to voice their concerns about the future of their chosen profession and that many believe that we may literally be witnessing the disappearance of the American trucker.

© 2011, AskTheTrucker. All rights reserved.

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How High Will Price of Diesel Go?

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Rising cost of diesel

Rising cost of diesel – 03/08/2011

On December 30th, 2010 I discussed what I considered to be the top five trucking issues to be on the lookout for in 2011.

As we continue into March, there are strong indications that some are already upon us, while others are still slowly building in the background.

Many transportation experts were dealing with the impending loss of tens of thousands of drivers by the enacted CSA, yet thankfully, it never happened.

I did focus on a similar aspect of a short supply of drivers, although I voiced my doubts on the earlier post by commenting: “Although I personally believe that it has been somewhat exaggerated” . . . I’m content in letting 2011 further play out.

In no particular order, the five listed were:

Increased Freight Rates

Lower Supply of Drivers

$4.00 Diesel Price

Higher Demand for Intermodal Operations

NAFTA Negotiation

  • Freight Rates and Intermodal — Although the poor economy will most likely prevent the rate of freight to rise in the double digits, Freight Transportation Research Associates have released a report stating that due to the rising demand of freight, particularly later in the year, motor carriers will have the leverage to raise the current rate for trucking freight.  Furthermore, some trucking companies have already raised their hauling rates as the U. S. trucking industry gears up for possible further rate hikes.  The report also pointed out that intermodal continues to gain share against truckload.
  • NAFTA — An agreement reached by President Obama and Mexico President, Felipe Calderón will finally allow Mexican trucks to operate through out the United States.  The agreement is expected to be signed in May or June, 2011.
  • Lower Supply of Drivers — I still believe that this is an issue that is not a problem for the industry at all, but will let 2011 play out a little longer.
  • $4.00 Diesel Price — With the escalating protests and violence in the Middle East, the price affect of crude oil was a certainty;  with the price of a barrel hitting over $106 earlier in the week, at the time of this writing crude oil is setting at $105.04 per barrel.  Roughly, 55% of the price of crude oil affects the price per gallon of gas or diesel.  However, Libya only makes up 2% of the world’s oil production so the fighting currently taking place in this area of the globe has been fabricated as a reason to raise the price of crude.

Many factors can effect the price we pay at the pump.  Factors such as Wall Street speculators, the value of the USD and even the weather.  I contend that the major cause of the rising cost of crude oil and petroleum products is least effected by the battles in the Middle East, and are more-so by our own U. S. policies.  The current permatorium on offshore drilling is a huge factor but because the Middle East provides a perfect alibi, those who stand most to gain will work to push the price of crude up as high as possible, for as long as possible, before having to bring it back down to Earth.

The largest factor pushing the price of petroleum at the pumps still lies with the economy.  Recent reports showing that 192,000 jobs were gained in February is no reason for celebration.  I will be willing to bet that within a few months, corrected figures will be much lower and a job loss of around 38,000 will be more accurate.  Of course, that depends on if the media will actually report it.   However, let’s just say that the 192,000 figure is correct.   Economists have shown that even if we continue at this rate, it will take seven years for the U. S. employment rate to get back to the levels that they were before 2008.   Seven years.

With the outlook of an improving economy still appearing dim, how high will the price of diesel go?  Crude and Brent Oil prices have reached their highest point since the 2008 hikes and many experts believe that through out 2011, crude will average around $105 per barrel.  In comparison, the price of crude on December 23rd, 2008 was $30.28 per barrel.

In January of 1999, it was only $17.00 per barrel with the highest price ever recorded coming on July 11th, 2008 at $147.27 and on this date, March 8th, 2011 speculators are predicting that crude will rise to over $150.00 per barrel.   I personally do not believe it will reach this limit.

We will obviously see many fluctuations in the price due to the economy and the continuing protests in the Middle East which will not go away any time soon.  Unrest through out the Middle East will last for the next three to five years and that is only if the people achieve the democracy that they are seeking.

As far as the price of diesel, I doubt it will reach a sustained price much higher than the lows $4.00 per gallon mark nationally,  largely due to the fact that the U. S. market could not sustain any price much higher than $100 per barrel.  There could very well be spikes, but maintaining a sustained price is the key factor.

Then again, all it would take is one catastrophe such as military action in Libya or a nation setting fire to the oil fields.  Keep your fingers crossed.

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New Owners of IdleAir take over IdleAire

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The New IdleAir supports the Professional CDL driver

At first glance the title of this post might be confusing, however if you look closely you will see that although the pronunciation remains the same, the spelling is slightly different.

The original IdleAire Inc, was a company that offered a service to trucks so they may obtain heat, cooling, electric, satellite, and internet connection.  Many CDL drivers preferred this service rather than idling their trucks, however, there were problems that drivers faced while using this service

The old IdleAire, Inc. went bankrupt and completely ceased operations in late January 2010. Later that Spring, a new group of owners and investors, Convoy Solutions, LLC, purchased the remaining IdleAire assets. They bought the physical remains left over from the company and then restarted the business from a dead stop. Many of the old IdleAire staff had received a pretty rough deal (just as many of their customers did) so the new owners rehired many of them .  They now have 21 locations in 9 states and anticipate 40 before the end of the year.

The new company IdleAir, now under new management, is determined to improve both the physical services as well as the past customer service, addressing any negative experiences or complaints that prior customers may have had. For starters, they are honoring all customer balances, even if they no longer have their old IdleAire card. All that is needed is the driver CDL # and then to call their customer service number 1-877-738-7024. Although these refunds are not the new owners responsibility, they feel that it is a “good will” approach to let drivers know that they appreciate their business and want the new IdleAir to be only a positive image and experience.

The former IdleAire had many locations at the TA Travel Plazas. TA has torn down many of them and although there are still many remaining, TA plans on demolishing them also.
The new owners have attempted to work with TA management in order to reopen the remaining sites, but to no avail.
Oddly enough, the new IdleAir owners have also offered to purchase the remains of the equipment from the TA, but TA has refused that also.  Odder still is the fact that the new owners  have also offered  to pay to dismantle it, and then pay to haul it off their ( TA) lots. Instead, the TA has chosen to pay all costs themselves to demolish the remains, and then pay again to have it hauled off.
Interestingly, TA franchises do see the value in IdleAir and are offering the service to their customers.  IdleAir now has sites with Pilot/Flying J, Loves. Bruce’s, JJ’s Sapp Brothers, and All-American.

IdleAir has researched all aspects of the old company and has greatly improved policies and services for their customers. In addition, they are continuing to seek out all complaints from prior customers in order to resolve any negative aspects so they may positively enhance the new IdleAir driver experience.

Examples of prior customer grievances and new management IdleAir solutions:

1 “Too expensive” IdleAire’s top package is only $1.99/hr.  Included in the package is:
heating, cooling, electricity for both inside and outside the cab, 60 channels of satellite(  including free ESPN), and basic internet service.
It takes about 1 gal/hr ( $4.00/gal) to idle a truck, well just do the math. Additional discounts include:

New fleet discounts, extended stay discounts, VIP rewards program, new customer discount, and customer referral promotion.

Company drivers will also have a rewards program offered.

NOTE: Many companies are charging their drivers for idle time and with fuel prices skyrocketing, we expect this problem to get even worse. Yesterday we even received an email stating that a driver’s company is keeping his detention pay and layover pay because he went over his idling limit!
My suggestion to these companies is that they need to address their non idling policies and to consider alternatives such as IdleAir for the health and safety of their drivers.
Sleeping in subfreezing temperatures and temperatures above 90 degrees does not create safe and rested drivers!  The FMCSA should also be considering the non idling safety and health repercussions of the professional driver.

2  “Takes up too much parking space” There are fewer IdleAir spaces and they are now farther away from the main buildings, giving more room to those who want to idle and quieter for IdleAir customers.

3 “ IdleAir Parking Police forcing idling drivers to move” IdleAir understands the need for more truck parking so they are allowing drivers to park in their spots if the lot is full. Obviously, if there is ample parking available, an idling driver should take a non IdleAir parking spot.

“Customers lost balances on old IdleAire cards” IdleAir is honoring ALL balances on cards, even if you no longer have the card. Just call customer service 1-877-738-7024 and have your CDL# available.

“Needs more Security” Additional lighting and security staff are being put in place to report suspicious activity. Idle Air is also a supporter of Truckers Against Trafficking, and will report suspicious human trafficking activity.

“APU’s are better and IdleAir not needed” APU’s offer great comfort and convenience for drivers.  IdleAir now has a low cost package for APU users designed to save them fuel and maintenance costs. Drivers with an APU that has an electric pass through, can hook up to Idle Air and use only the electricity and pay for only the electricity!

7  “Cigarette Smoke Smell from previous Driver” This has been a big complaint from the “old IdleAire.” There is now hotel grade cleaners and regular maintenance and cleaning to eliminate this problem. No more “flower scented” smoke smell.

8 “Hotels are cheaper for extended stays” There are times when you want to stay in a hotel and that’s just a fact!  However, if you would rather stay in your truck, IdleAir has an extended stay option (ready to be launched), that will give drivers a much lower hourly rate after their first 10 hours.  This is appealing for many drivers approaching their 34 hr restart.

“Buy American” It takes energy to maintain a drivers warmth, cooling, TV’s, cell phones, etc…Drivers have a choice, they can idle using energy from imported diesel, or they can hook up to an American electric grid such as IdleAir, using energy resources from coal, gas, nuclear,  wind, hydropower, and more.
We will be scheduling a show in regards to this topic of electrification on Truth About Trucking “Live” with special guest Andy Warcaba.

As we continue to search companies who sincerely have the professional driver interests at heart, we are proud to announce that Idle Air is now a sponsor for the 2011 “First Truck Driver Social Media Convention”. We believe that IdleAir does have the drivers concerns as a priority and will be an asset and financial relief for our drivers.

All sponsors for this convention must meet criteria which includes Supporting Drivers with valuable services and/or products.

New management for IdleAir

© 2011, AskTheTrucker. All rights reserved.

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Jason’s Law- A tribute to Jason and Hope Rivenburg

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iJasons Law- A Tribute to Jason and Hope Rivenburg

Hope Rivenburg

March 5, 2009 is the 2 year observance of the murder of Jason Rivenburg, a truck driver from Fultonham, NY who parked in an abandoned gas station in South Carolina, waiting to make his early morning next day delivery.

Jason was one of many drivers who over the years has found it difficult to find available safe truck parking, and chose the isolated gas station as his safe haven for his evening of rest.  The lack of safe truck parking has been an issue for truckers for over 15 years, and yet little is done to remedy the problem.
Little did Jason know that this would be his last night as 3 thugs targeted him for a robbery, a robbery worthy of his life and the great sum of $7.00.

A few weeks after Jason’s murder, his wife Hope Rivenburg  gave birth to a set of twins. They already had a 2 year old son Joshua.

You would think that this kind of trauma would have put this quiet and non confrontational young mother in a state of dismay, but instead, the young widow with a toddler and 2 infants, discovered  her  true character and personality; courage, commitment, sacrifice and leadership.

Within days of her husbands’ murder, Hope Rivenburg was meeting with NY Congressman Paul Tonko to discuss what could be done to diminish the possibility of any other family having to go through what she and her family had just endured.

On April 28th 2009, Jasons Law was submitted to the House of Representatives as HR 2156. Simply stated Jason’s Law is to implement a pilot program to establish truck parking facilities.

Lack of truck parking causes the following:

1)  Forces drivers to continue to drive while in a fatigued state searching for parking
2)  Forces drivers to drive in excess of HOS ( Hours of Service) breaking Federal Law
3)  Forces drivers to park in isolated and dangerous areas (as was the case of Jason Rivenburg who was shot and killed)
4)  Forces drivers to park on exit and entrance ramps and on shoulders of highway, also dangerous for other motorists.
5)  Due to new CSA 2010 laws, drivers found to be driving in a fatigued state will be given a violation and the maximum number of points against them 10 points!

Over the past 2 years Hope Rivenburg has continued to gather support and recognition for more safe truck parking and the bill HR 2156, “Jason’s Law”.  She has been to Washington lobbying, “knocking on doors” in order to gain co-sponsors for the bill, she has initiated various drives in her home state of New York, she has appeared on talk shows with Congressman Tonko, including  2 episodes of TruthAboutTrucking, “Live” , she has orchestrated National Call ins, hands out numerous flyers, has attended the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Tx, and continually shares the message of the need for more truck parking.

Congressman Paul Tonko will be reintroducing the bill to the house and will be working with Republicans, including the new majority chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, John Mica of Florida.  Congressman Tonko will be our guest on Truth About Trucking “Live” next month as we review with him the progress and optimism of Jason’s Law. Hope Rivenburg will also be invited to participate along with another special guest to be announced.

Recently Congress just passed a seven month extension of the Federal Highway Program, the seventh such short term extension since it expired in September of 2009.

Today we give honor to Jason Rivenburg who lost his life because of the lack of truck parking and to his wife Hope who continues to keep his memory alive by continuing to fight for Jason’s Law and for the many other truckers who struggle and sacrifice daily. Hope is determined not to allow Jason’s death to be in vain. She is the very example of selfless advocacy.

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Companies Top 10 Employment Law Mistakes

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Stacia Abner of Employment Law Training

Stacia Abner of Employment Law Training

By:  Stacia Abner

The contemporary American workplace is susceptible to numerous federal, state, and local laws and regulations that impose strict obligations on businesses, such as wage and hour laws and nondiscrimination legal guidelines as a few examples.

All too often, many companies, especially smaller organizations, do not know the scope of such obligations and consequently and frequently will violate what the law states, albeit inadvertently. These violations can result in costly lawsuits, along with civil and criminal penalties.

In my experience as being a defense attorney, in addition to being a plaintiff’s lawyer, the ten most common employment law mistakes by companies and corporations are:

  • Misclassification of employees as independent contractors.  Generally, only workers who operate their very own separate organizations are “independent contractors.” Few workers meet this test and actually, most personnel are considered “employees” under the law. This means that they are eligible for the complete variety of workplace protections.
  • Misclassifying non-exempt employees as exempt.  Generally, all workers are eligible for minimum wage and overtime pay, unless they are “exempt” under state and federal law. The exemption rules (e.g., for executive, administrative, and professional employees) only apply in limited circumstances. Therefore, many workers who are claimed by businesses as “exempt” in reality, have entitlement to minimum wage and/or overtime pay.
  • Non-compliance with state wage payment laws.  As an example, the state of New York imposes several specific rules regarding how businesses can be forced to pay their workers. These rules include providing new employees with written notice of the rate of pay and regular pay date; prohibiting deductions from wages unless for that employee’s benefit and authorized in writing; requiring written contracts for commissioned salespersons and providing terminated workers with written notice of the last day’s work, their last day’s benefits and their right to submit an application for unemployment benefits.
  • Not having a laborer handbook in place.  A laborer handbook is a crucial tool for effective employer-employee relations. It advises employees of the company’s values, policies and procedures; promotes compliance with labor and employment legal guidelines and helps to create an orderly, efficient, and transparent workplace.
  • Non-documentation of employee job performance.  A well-managed company clearly communicates its employees’ duties and responsibilities through written position descriptions and trains and supervises staff members to be sure they are meeting company requirements. Companies and corporations should also give regular, objective and consistent employment feedback through written evaluations and, where necessary, disciplinary actions. A deficiency of accurate, complete and contemporaneous documentation can lead to liability in the eventuality of a case by a staff member.
  • Not training supervisors regarding EEO laws and regulations.  Federal, state, and local equal employment opportunity (EEO) law regulations prohibit businesses from taking adverse actions against workers, such as demotion or termination, for reasons not associated with an employee’s job performance. Employees are protected under the EEO laws in relationship to their race, color, sex, age, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation and even their marital status; commonly referred to as “protected characteristics”. Furthermore, employees are protected under law against any company retaliation for that employee’s good faith complaints of discrimination. It is imperative that supervisors learn the way to manage workers without violating (or appearing to violate) these legal guidelines.
  • Not providing reasonable accommodations for disabled personnel.  Most EEO laws prohibit businesses from taking adverse actions against staff members according to certain protected characteristics, but disability discrimination laws also impose an affirmative obligation on businesses to “reasonably accommodate” disabled workers to be able to assist them to perform the main functions of their jobs. Such accommodations can include restructuring job duties, modifying work schedules, or providing assistive devices. Businesses must give a disabled laborer needed accommodations unless the process would cause an “undue hardship” for the corporation, such as not affordable or too disruptive.
  • Not obtaining releases from terminated personnel.  When terminating a worker, businesses should obtain a release that waives the employee’s potential legal claims against the company. The proper way to get a release is in exchange for an offer of severance, where appropriate. Generally, organizations are not essential to pay for severance to employees, unless necessary, for an employment contract or even a collective bargaining agreement. If they choose to achieve this, such as in association with a layoff, they must require employees to sign a release in substitution for the payment.
  • Not protecting confidential company information.  Every enterprise is dependent upon certain vital, often confidential specifics of its organization operations, including trade secrets, marketing and advertising practices, and customer and client lists. Access to this information ought to be limited by employees with a “need to know” basis and will be protected by appropriate non-disclosure, non-compete and/or non-solicitation agreements, depending on the nature of the information, as well as the employee’s position.
  • Not consulting an experienced employment law attorney.  Perhaps the most critical point to take away from this discussion is businesses have to consult a professional employment lawyer to ensure they are in compliance with all the increasingly numerous and complex laws and regulations that carpet work just like a minefield. Large businesses normally have attorneys and will hire professionals working to help them in this field. Small and medium-size organizations often fail to do this. Their biggest mistake is attempting to navigate this minefield on their own, automatically.

So how does your company rate against the top 10 employment law mistakes?

About the author:  Stacia W. Abner writes for Employment Law Training courses.  Sharing her experiences as a defense attorney, she devotes her time by aiding workers and organizations in understanding the elements of employment law.

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