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Archive for December, 2013




OSHAIn a decision issued December 17, 2013 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has found New Prime, Inc. (“Prime”) “willfully and maliciously put negative and false information” on truck driver Brian Ford’s DAC report. Prime originally noted that Mr. Ford had “Abandonment”, “Unauthorized location”, and “Quit under load” on his DAC report. Ford was unable to obtain employment as a commercial truck driver for approximately 9 months because of the defamatory claims Prime made.

While driving on October 25, 2008 Mr. Ford experienced severe pain stemming from an on the job injury. The pain impaired his ability to safely operate his assigned truck-tractor. Thereafter, he sought medical attention. Ford informed Prime that a Doctor prescribed him narcotics for the pain and was put on a strict work restriction due to his injury. When Ford later sought work he was repeatedly denied employment because of the information Prime had put on his DAC report.

OSHA found that Prime violated the law when it blacklisted Mr. Ford because he refused to operate a commercial vehicle while impaired due to medical conditions and while under the influence of prescribed narcotics.

According to OSHA, Prime claimed that the blacklisting was inadvertent. OSHA was not persuaded by Prime’s defense and ruled in favor of Mr. Ford under Section 405 of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) which prohibits retaliation against drivers because they make safety-related complaints or because they refused to drive in violation of commercial vehicle safety regulations.

OSHA ordered Prime to pay Mr. Ford Lost wages, compensatory damage, and punitive damages exceeding $101,000. Prime is also to expunge Mr. Ford’s employment records and his DAC report records leaving him with a clean record of employment under Prime.

Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor of Truckers Justice Center Speaking at 2012 Truck Driver Social Media Convention

Mr. Ford was represented by Paul O. Taylor, an attorney with Truckers Justice Center in Burnsville, MN.

A complete copy of OSHA’s decision can be found by following this link:

The Whistleblower Protection Programs

© 2013, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: brian ford, dac report, false DAC, New Prime, osha, Paul Taylor, staa, Surface Transportation Assistance Act, truckers justice center

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Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog

Is the Driver Shortage creating negligent hiring among carriers?

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Losing Qualified Drivers

Losing Qualified Drivers

Being active in Social Media is time consuming, but the ability to share information with one another creates great benefits for all of us.
While reading a thread on LinkedIn, I was going through a lot of the comments in the following thread:
Do you believe that the increasing driver shortage is leading to greater instances of negligent hiring among carriers?”

As you read the comments in the thread (and there are many), you will see that many understand the perceived driver shortage.

The LinkedIn thread created a spark to discuss many facets which contribute to the “driver shortage” and I decided to make my comment from the thread into a post here.

Is the Driver Shortage creating negligent hiring among carriers?

I don’t feel that the carriers are necessarily more negligent but rather more desperate.  Veteran drivers are leaving the industry and the ability to replace these drivers with qualified drivers who are willing to work 70- 80 hours per week with minimal pay and incentives are dwindling.

There are also drivers out there willing to work but because of their blemished PSP or a wrongful DAC report, are not being hired. I wonder if this is also negligence. Many times these drivers have received violations because of mechanical failures that they have reported, but were dismissed/ignored by the carrier and told to move on with it. Others have points because of HOS violations (forced dispatch) or a not at fault accident. Others have untruthful info on their DAC. Just today I received a call from a driver who cannot find employment because he has too many overweight violations. When asked why so many, he replied, “you know how it is, they tell you to take it anyway.”
So I ask, where is the negligence? Is the industry responsible for the so called driver shortage?

BTW, yes, the enforcement of CSA is a factor when hiring.

So again, where is the negligence/desperation?  Hiring drivers with clean PSP’s but too new to the industry (inexperience)? Not employing proper background checks? Not checking the nature of the PSP violations or DAC report and therefore missing out on a good candidate? Or is it continuing the same practices which force drivers in a compromised position, receiving violations against their PSP, creating an even greater “shortage” of industry created “unqualified” drivers.

“Driver Shortage”, Turnover, and Retention

The day and age of driving being glamorous is over as well as the generation who accepted great sacrifice as part of the job. Compensation and gratification are now expected.

A–Let’s first discuss the ENTRY LEVEL “qualified” driver, the highest turnover and lowest retention rate of them all.
1)  Many of these people entering the industry are desperate also, looking for a “job” that will support their families. This statement addresses the often outdated comment, “they chose the profession so deal with it.” It’s not necessarily their willing or first choice.

Many are told they will make between 40k-50k their first year, not so.
Again, they initially may have no great desire for driving a truck, but rather saw it as a compensated sacrifice to provide for their families.  When they realize that many of the hours they put in are not paid (example: retention time pay, pre & post trip inspections, waiting for loads, etc) and then do the math, the sacrifice is no longer worth it…. NOT ENOUGH REWARD.   The 1st year take home pay of approx. 300-500/wk for70- 80 hours.  PLUS, living in a truck, being away from their families, dealing with dispatch, HOS, lack of truck parking, loneliness, no idling laws ( without an APU or TSE authorization), DAC reports, no PDO’s, vacation time …..  you begin to see the bigger picture.

2)  CDL Training: This is another major reason for 1st year turnover.  The poor training in both the schools and then the new graduate company training is a major factor.  New graduates are nowhere near ready to drive solo and many of the company trainers have less than a year experience themselves, (some less than 6 months).  I would like to see some accident stats for entry level drivers (less than 1 year), I can’t find ANY anywhere.
Because of the enforcement of CSA, many new drivers are terminated early on because of violations or accidents for fear of carrier CSA points.

Everything you have came by truck

Everything you have came by truck

BTW, the implementation of Simulators in addition to conventional school training is an excellent idea, something we have been suggesting for over a year now.  They offer the experience before they get in the truck and will test students and evaluate weaknesses to focus on during their remaining school training. (Pinnacle Truck Driver Training is doing this and I’m sure there are more.)

B—  Experienced Driver
1) Those who do make it a year, hoping that their year of “paying their dues” will pay off, start to question their choice. Many are still making low wages.
Note:  Truck driver wages have not gone up in 20 years. Twenty years ago .38 cpm was an acceptable wage, is it still? How much has your cost of living gone up in 20 years?  Can you call in sick and get paid?  If you’re asked to sit at your desk until work comes in, do you expect to be paid while you wait? If the heat is turned off when it’s 20 degrees are you expected to still work (let alone sleep)? How about vacation pay, do you receive it?

We’re not talking about just taking a pay cut, we’re talking about lifestyle sacrifices with a pay cut.
So starts the job hopping, looking for that company who will “do it better”.  The recruiting ads promise a better job, but many times they are not. The lifestyle is the same and so is the compensation.
2)  Empathy – Management and dispatchers who understand what the driver is going through. Many under-estimate the importance of this and don’t even consider it. However, I know many drivers who just left a truck and threw in the towel because of the final straw “of a bad day”.  If a driver is having a bad day (problems at home, a toothache, equipment, inspection, whatever it is) a display of compassion and respect may be the answer.
Sometimes the freight is not always priority.  Just as mechanical failures happen, so is the possibility of driver breakdown, and should be addressed and treated equally.

Solutions?  Ask yourself, what do drivers/people want from a driving career in this day and age?
1) Realistic expectations of what the job and lifestyle is, including 1st year pay.  This would reduce turnover dramatically.
2) Paying drivers for their time, not just their miles.
3) Wages and benefits which is acceptable to the sacrifices of the job
4) Respect
5) Support their issues they face while OTR:  Lack of Parking, Illness, cab comfort (heat and air condition, when not idling), personal problems.

I wonder if there were greater transparency, respect, and if all the resources spent on recruiting could be used for driver compensation, would it remedy the driver shortage, lower turnover, and improve retention?

© 2013, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: cdl training, driver retention, negligent hiring, truck driver shortage, truck drivers, trucker wages, Trucking, trucking companies, turnover rate

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Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog

Utilizing Technology to increase Trucking Profitability

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Onboard Oil Tech

Onboard Oil Tech

Whether one is an owner operator, independent or fleet owner, the major key to financial success within the trucking industry is to know what your operating costs are and utilizing the means available to reduce them.

The professional driver must approach his or her business by understanding key figures in maintaining a profitable business such as:

  1. Total Daily Fixed Cost
  2. Total Daily Operating Cost
  3. Variable Cost: CPM
  4. Total Operating Cost: CPM
  5. Fixed Monthly Cost
  6. Variable Monthly Cost
  7. Total Monthly Cost
  8. Total Yearly Operating Cost
Trucking Technology

Trucking Technology

For trucking business owners, unexpected maintenance costs or repairs can mean the difference between profit and loss. Successful owner operators will be the first to explain that maintaining proper equipment service is a major factor in running a profitable business. Another important aspect to running a business that will survive financially within an industry filled with regulatory bureaucracy is to take advantage of the most up-to-date and newest technology which enters the industry.

There is no disputing that oil is the “life blood” that keeps the engine running and that engine repairs can be the most costly of all maintenance expenses. With oil changes averaging between $250 and $350, it remains as a priority service if one expects to continue operating. However, this cost can be greatly reduced and overall profitability can increase by applying the most contemporary and state-of-the-art technology available such as Onboard Oil Tech.

Onboard Oil Tech

Onboard Oil Tech

Onboard Oil Tech has developed a patented, two-stage system consisting of an A2 Refining Stage Filter and an ECVD Chamber, an acronym for “Evaporation/Convection/Vacuum/Dehydration.”  Quite literally, space-age technology, the filter catches particulates down to 20 microns with a secondary filter catching smaller contaminants down to 3 microns.

This technology alone has proven to extend the life of the engine by 60 percent.  The ECVD Chamber works as an onboard oil-refinery system and together, the technology not only increases engine performance, but significantly lowers regular maintenance costs as well. The system is even used by the rigs featured in the popular “Ice Road Truckers” series.

For the serious business owner looking to lower cost and increase profitability, utilizing the advancement in modern trucking technology is one way to achieve such goals.

© 2013, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog

Singer Songwriter Tony Justice delivers “Apple Pie Moonshine” at truck stops

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SInger-Songerwriter Tony Justice- December release of  "Apple Pie Moonshine"

Singer-Songwriter Tony Justice- December release of “Apple Pie Moonshine” in all Major Truck Stops


The long wait is over, singer-songwriter Tony Justice’s latest CD, “Apple Pie Moonshine” has been released to all major truck stops (just in time for Christmas), and fans are purchasing them faster than the elves can keep up with putting them on the shelves. It appears though that some of Santa’s truck stop drop offs haven’t received the Elf delivery yet. Be patient, they’ll soon be at ALL the truck stops including: Pilot Flying J, TA/Petro, Loves Travel, and Wilco Travel Plazas.

In our opinion,”Apple Pie Moonshine” is a CD dedicated to all drivers, supporters, sponsors and loyal fans who continue to encourage and keep up with Tony’s music and up to date Social Media postings ( you don’t want to miss the posts, trust me.)

Major Sponsors for the CD are Bling Master Metal Polish and Blue Tiger.
Single Song Sponsors include:  Missing Truck Driver Alert Network, Truckers Against Trafficking,, J&S Trucks, TransAlive, TCRG Consulting,, Women in Trucking and the WSM All-Nighter with Marcia Campbell radio show. His desire to include drivers as part of the CD is evident as he includes “The Trucker Page,” acknowledging his fellow drivers.

Tony also includes in the CD, a card for Truckers Against Trafficking, which helps educate the trucking industry about the atrocities of Human Trafficking, a cause Tony and Misty are passionate about. Over the years Tony has also supported other causes such as Jason’s Law for more Safe Truck Parking and has also been vocal regarding many of the trials that professional drivers face daily. Tony is also a strong supporter of the Missing Truck Driver Alert Network which locates drivers reported missing to law enforcement.

Tony and Misty Justice MATS 2013

Tony and Misty Justice MATS 2013

We first were introduced to Tony Justice and his soon to be  lovely wife Misty in August of 2011 by our friends Barry Allen and David Ayers of Allen and Ayers Productions ( “When the Big Rigs Don’t Roll” CD)
At that time Tony and his Band agreed to perform at the 2011 Truck Driver Social Media Convention  held in Tunica, MS on October 15th at the Gold Strike Hotel. It was quite obvious that night that the name Tony Justice was going to be an everyday name for quite some time.  Tony Sold and autographed CD’s during the convention, giving proceeds to charity. Since the convention, Tony has been our special guest on Truth About Trucking Live where his music from his previous CD, “On the Road” is listened to regularly by our radio audience.

Tony Justice performing during 2011 Truck Driver Social Media Convention

Tony Justice performing during 2011 Truck Driver Social Media Convention

So who is Tony Justice?  Tony isn’t just an incredibly talented musician or a dedicated professional truck driver, that’s just the tip of it.
Tony is a spiritual and God fearing man, an American Patriot, a dedicated father and husband, a truck driver advocate, and a loyal friend to many.
If you’ve ever had the honor to meet Tony and his lovely wife Misty, consider yourself blessed, we do.
Allen & Donna Smith

You can read more about Tony Justice by Todd Dills in this months Overdrive Magazine.

Tony Justice and Donna Smith at a 2013 Pre MATS party given by Keith Pollard

Tony Justice and Donna Smith at a 2013 Pre MATS party given by Keith Pollard

© 2013, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: Apple Pie Moonshine, BlingMaster, Blue Tiger, Jason’s law- H.R.2156 S971, Loves Travel, missing truck driver, overdrive magazine, pilot flying j, T/A Petro, todd dills, tony justice, truck driver social media convention, truckers against trafficking, Trucking, Wilco Travel

Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog

Comments to FMCSA’s Data Systems to Improve Uniformity in the Treatment of Inspection Violation Data

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On December 2, 2013 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration via the Federal Register, made changes to it Motor Carrier Management Information System.
Motor Carrier Management Information System Changes to Improve Uniformity in the Treatment of Inspection Violation Data
The FMCSA has improved their process of the infamous DataQ system which allows for the removal of proven wrongful violations (dismissed through the courts) from a drivers PSP and a company CSA.

There have been long awaited significant changes to DataQ and how the data collection process works. The new changes will be able to account for court rulings which drivers and companies have won from contested citations, issued from a roadside inspection, and then allow the FMCSA to have the final say on those court verdicts, not the state.
What this means to drivers is that these important changes to the FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information process will allow proven “not guilty” violations to be removed from the drivers PSP. What it means for carriers is the removal from their CSA ( Safety Measurement System)

What is significant about this ruling, is that in the past, drivers and carriers could dispute violations from roadside inspections on FMCSA DATAQ, and then win in court, but it was up to the state where the violation was committed in, to decide if they would honor that court ruling. In other words, they could refuse to remove the violation and thus the points resulting from the violation on PSP and CSA would remain.
Now, according to the new rule, once that court ruling is final, FMCSA has the final say, not the state.

Note: If a court rules a lesser charge, then the FMCSA will retain the violation, however, it will acknowledge the lesser charge and will change the severity of the CSA points according to that charge. 

It is vital for all to comment during allowed FMCSA comment period of 30 days (Jan 2nd 2014).
If you have had a violation that was dismissed in court and yet was not removed from FMCSA data system, please let it be known in the comments. Include the date of the violation, the state it occurred in, what the violation was for, and the points received for the violation.
All other comments and suggestions should also be written in a professional manner.

Comments to be made via the Federal Register and must include the FMCSA docket # within the comment.  FMCSA-2013-0457

You can also Fax the comment 202-493-2251

Yesterday I posted a request for comments for a regulation concerning the removal of violations from the “SMS” “MCMIS” and Driver PSP reports of the FMCSA.

Richard Wilson

Safety, Compliance and regulatory specialist at TCRG Consulting

This was my comment I submitted today, I hope more who have had a ticket dismissed in court take a few minutes to write a short comment about your situation and whether it was removed or not from your score!
Comment: ( may not be posted yet)
“As a Compliance Consultant, I have found that beating tickets associated with violations that the state are continuing to respond to DATAQ’s as “NO Action Taken” after a dismissal by an Judge or officer of the court, very disturbing and unfair to small carriers as well as driver’s. I have won several cases in courts and have applied for a DATAQ and have either had no response or “Action Not taken” reply’s. I think will even up the field, especially for Passenger Carriers as they are held to a higher standard, and have data available through the Safer Bus link reporting safety and violation concerns. I believe this is the beginning of a good thing and by holding states accountable as well as Drivers and companies will work to the advantage to all.

One problem I do see coming out of this, is by the states losing revenue in more cases, I see a return to issuing “WARNINGS” that have no judicial scrutinizing to be removed for erroneous violations. This is another important situation I feel the FMCSA has to address in the future. The next item after that will be fairness in accident reporting and more towards Fault instead of just meeting the criteria of a Recordable accident.”
Richard Wilson- TCRG Consulting


© 2013, Richard Wilson. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: CSA, DataQ, FMCSA, MCMIS, Motor Carrier Management Information System, PSP, Richard Wilson, TCRG Consulting

Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog

Crosswinds and Air Drag cost Trucking Companies thousands of dollars per truck each year

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The cost of fuel is undoubtedly a major concern for the trucking industry, whether you are a mega carrier or a one truck owner operator, saving on fuel cost can make a huge impact on your bottom line.

Cost per gallon at the pump is something we don’t have control over, but there are other factors we do have control over, such as:

Air Drag and Crosswinds drastically affects your fuel costs and are definitely something you can control. How much do you pay for cross winds? Can it be more than $3000 every year?

Air drag is like a turbulent “tornado” sucking the vehicle backwards. It also sucks about half of your fuel money along with it. Crosswinds add to the price tag. Crosswinds are like tax collectors coming from nowhere and claiming up to 40% more fuel on top of regular air drag by creating another “tornado” that pulls you sideways. During high winds you waste up to 70% of your fuel money to fight air drag. Cross Winds can increase air drag by 50% or more.


 VorBlade™ Invisible Fairings introduced by Avantechs, Inc. has a patent pending solution to drastically reduce the harmful effects of crosswinds and air drag.
 Because of the unique design, VorBlade™  self adaptive invisible shield remarkably reduces air drag and is the only real protection effectively fighting crosswinds on the market.
Unlike similar products, US made  VorBlade™ is a scientifically designed combination of small scale vortex generators that slices harmful turbulent “tornadoes” around the truck. The system was designed and created for motor vehicles, not airplanes. Because highway conditions are much different than upper atmospheric conditions at higher speeds, the “turbine channel” is significantly more effective than any other aerodynamic device available today.

VorBlade™  System performance results are proven by extensive real world highway testing, correlating with the numbers in DOT and the Department of Energy sponsored research performed by leading US Scientists.  The technology is well proven by the industry and verified by the EPA SmartWay

NOTE: Approximately 32% of truck accidents are turbulence related. Air drag just doesn’t consume your fuel; it also destabilizes your truck, adds to the driver fatigue and shortens your tires lifespan.

 To sum it all up:
The VorBlade™
 System creates a self-adaptive invisible shield remarkably reducing air drag, effectively fighting crosswinds and saves over 5% of fuel costs. Although air drag can not be completely eliminated ( by anyone), realistically, the full VorBlade™ System can save over $4000 per truck annually. Just 2 windy days might cost you more than the VorBlade™ Cab System.

Owner Operator Greg Langford shares his results using VorBlade

For more information visit or call and speak to a representative who will answer your questions and concerns.
303-HIGHWAY or 303-444-4929

© 2013, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: Air Drag, CARB compliant, Crosswinds, Fuel Cost, Greg Langford, invisible fairings, SmartWay, VorBlade

Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog