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Archive for February, 2015


Trucker victory for Obstruction of Justice “Right to Sleep” court case

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Trucker Driver Kenny Capell -Case Dismissed- Charged with Obstruction of Justice after being woken up during mandated 10 hour break

Truck Driver Kenny Capell — Case Dismissed- Charged with Obstruction of Justice after being awoken during mandated 10 hour break

Yesterday was a victorious day for fellow truck driver and friend Kenny Capell when he found out that his “Obstruction of Justice” case was dismissed.  Kenny immediately called to share the good news with us here at AskTheTrucker and  also with James Lamb of SBTC.

Mr Capell had been arrested on April 15th, 2014 at a scale house in Ringgold, GA for refusing to provide ID while being awoken from his sleeper berth during his federally mandated Hours of Service 10 hour break.

Kenny is a truck driver who drives team with his wife and was sleeping in the sleeper berth of his commercial truck when his wife was driving. The officer woke Kenny when his wife pulled into a weigh station, and demanded his ID.

The same officer, Leigh A. Parsons, had previously woken him up on March 28th, where at that time, Kenny had provided requested documents. This 2nd time however, he refused and was handcuffed, arrested, and jailed for 12 hours.

Kenny had requested a trial for this case where a series of trials had continually been postponed.  When Kenny sent a Freedom Of Information Act Request to the Georgia Dept. of Public Safety on 4/24/14 demanding any and all audio/video of his arrest, the GA DPS stated that there was no video, only to find out later that the internal affairs investigator had indeed seen the video.

An internal affairs investigation was initiated after Kenny had also filed a police misconduct complaint and James Lamb of SBTC wrote a letter to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division: ‘Request for ‘Pattern and Practices’ Investigation of Georgia Motor Carrier Compliance Division; Civil Application Pursuant to Title 42,U.S.C. Section 14141.

Kenny just recently heard the case was dismissed “through the grapevine”, as the  almost one year old case was actually dismissed on Feb. 6th, 2015.  Kenny learned of the decision on  Feb. 24th, through a phone call from a relative who was notified that they were entitled to their bail money back because the case was dismissed.

Kenny’s incident was originally brought to our attention last summer via Martin Hill who contacted us through email. Martin continues to report on the timeline of the case through his website Liberty Fight.

After Martin contacted us, we then contacted Kenny Capell and conducted a phone interview followed up by an AskTheTrucker ‘Live’ broadcast with both Martin Hill and Kenny Capell, describing the incident on the show: “Trucker’s Right to Sleep and the 4th Amendment.”

Prior to the radio broadcast, Kenny had been waiting for his first hearing of August 11th, only to be postponed to October 10th,  and again postponed until December 8th, finally postponed once again, which this time ended up as a dismissed case. After hearing about the  ordeal James Lamb called into the radio show and also became concerned about the trail of events which had taken place. Mr Lamb then followed up with Kenny, offering to voluntarily travel from Florida to GA to testify for Capell as an expert witness in the trial.

We invite you to Join us Thursday Feb. 26th 6PM ET for our program: Trucking Open Forum Highlights “Obstruction of Justice.”

We invite you to call in and offer your input to the topic via call-in number: 347-826-9170.Listeners can either listen through the link on their computer, where they can also join in the chat room, or can catch the show via their phone line calling the same number.

We will review the series of events which have taken place since Kenny Capell’s last radio interview on AskTheTrucker “LIVE.” Kenny will also share with us what he has endured this past year and why he did what he did, making a stance for all professional drivers who are trying to remain compliant while maintaining their “Right to Rest.”

© 2015, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: AskTheTrucker Live, Department of Justice, Ga DPS, hours of service, kenny capell, SBTC

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Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog

Truck driver retention and the generation gap

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Truck Driver Retention

Truck Driver Retention

Although nobody will dispute the role that the deregulation of the trucking industry in 1980 had on the truck driver retention problem, the fact remains that the industry itself remains as a major player in its continuance.

As far back as 1966, the average turn-over rate among drivers was 27% and even then, the two primary reasons for drivers quitting were low pay and home time. In 1975, the average annual pay for employee truck drivers was $33,020.00, rising to $36,816.00 by 1978. In 1986 it had fallen to $29,692.00 and by the year 2000 had risen to $32,604. (1)

Today, in 2015, the average median income for a company driver is approximately $37,000 per year, closely meeting the peak income during 1978. What is interesting to note, is no amount of a raise in income takes into consideration any rise in cost of living. If this factor was considered for between the years of 1978 and 2015, the average annual pay for a company driver today would be $127,613 using the CPI-U-X1 consumer price index measuring system. (2) When one figures in inflation for the same time period, 2015 average annual pay for a company-employed driver would rise to $133,876.

However, in all fairness, one would be inaccurate to say that trucking is the only industry failing to provide their employees or contractors with appropriate modern-day wages. All industries do the same thing, thus the reason in the rise against that known as “Corporate Greed.” Regardless, this is one of the primary areas where the trucking industry is refusing to see when it comes to the decades-old problem of driver retention.

It would be unreasonable to believe a motor carrier should pay a company driver $133,000 per year, but it would be reasonable to see a minimum average skilled wage of $50,000 to $65,000 which could be accomplished through raising freight rates, commanding pay for detention time and other various points of business. In many areas of commerce, the industry seems to fail to understand that they could be in control, but it is much easier and non-confrontational to simply continue earning off of the backs of their drivers.

Motor carriers continue to focus on two areas in their combat against the high turn-over rate among drivers: (1) the so-called “driver shortage” and (2) driver recruiting tactics. Drivers, on the other hand, are still focused on the very same issues that can easily be shown to be problem areas back in the 1960’s:

  • Low Pay
  • Working Conditions
  • Long Hours
  • Not Enough Miles
  • Home Time
  • Treatment by Dispatch, Supervisors and Management

The same concerns among drivers dating back for decades are still concerns addressed today: lack of communication, no respect and feeling unappreciated and of little value; and now today, the industry faces perhaps their greatest challenge yet, and one they will have to eventually address: a new generation.

There are newer generations of not only a society, but an age of technology that will continue to work against the standard ways that motor carriers have conducted their business over the past years. Before the age of internet and the immediate ability to locate information, trucking companies could get away with the false advertising and driver recruiting tactics used to lure the uniformed novice into the vocation. With the ever-ready trucking forums and job sites such as and others, the savvy techies of today can instantly read reviews by drivers, relating to the potential employer. Simply put, motor carriers and driver recruiters are not able to “fool” the potential new employee as easily as they once were.

Secondly, the newest of generations see no purpose or have little desire to enter a vocation like OTR trucking, due to the very reasons that are still concerns of veteran truckers. Simply put, times have changed. This younger generation can see themselves as being much more capable of accomplishing bigger and better things than spending their lives in a truck, working for a company that provides low pay, disrespect, little home-time, along with the industry regulations and their image perception of “The Truck Driver.”

The trucking industry has failed to respond to the needs of drivers in the years gone by and the new generation is seeing it, they are reading about it and they are hearing it through the technological advances that are available today. Veteran drivers saw it coming years ago and others have addressed the issue such as Todd Dills, Senior Editor of Overdrive Magazine. Why would motor carriers be so surprised that they would not want to enter such a vocation and lifestyle?

The old, worn-out concepts and ways of conducting recruiting tactics and empty promises to bring in new drivers will not work with the new generations, at least on a large enough scale to “fix” the problem that the industry has created. Raising driver pay to .45 or .50 cpm will not work when many newcomers are still starting out at .27 cpm by those fine “starter companies” and when it is obvious that the “pay raise” is really no raise at all. These generations understand that such raises in 2015 still only barely match the USD value of the mid to late 1970′s.

The trucking industry is in fact, facing three new generations in which the largest majority see no attraction toward driving a truck: (1) the Millennial Generation, (2) Generation Z, and (3) the Generation Selfies. These are the problems and the reasons for those problems that the trucking industry now faces in their attempt to bring in new drivers.

So what is the solution?

Everyone knows that during the past decades, the industry has purposely failed to retain drivers, whether they will admit it or not. The common practice of “starving out” drivers and deliberately and intentionally “churning” them over is nothing new and has been revealed many times over, thanks to the age of social media.

The first step in retaining drivers within the industry is to first, actually want to retain them. Secondly, drivers have been advising the industry for thirty years on how to keep drivers: higher pay, more home time and treated with respect. The industry’s problem at this level is that they have not been listening or most probable, have refused to listen because for every driver to quit, companies knew there were ten waiting to replace them. Not so today.

Even with the industry facing the three generations of potential new drivers, there will always be someone wanting or needing a job. That “job” however, is going to have to change in order to meet the criteria for employment by some within these generations. Motor carriers will have to raise their own standards of professionalism by increasing pay to a much higher livable wage. They are going to have to provide these “new drivers” with greater home time and to treat them with the respect that a skilled worker deserves.

Despite the classification by the U.S. Labor Department, the CMV operator is “SKILLED” and carriers are going to have to start treating them as such and seeing their drivers as an important and vital partner within their employment.

Carriers will have to redesign their company and the image of the industry into an elite, high profile career opportunity. They will have to demand the highest expectations of professionalism by their drivers, offer higher CDL training standards and require a superior code of conduct. This code will need to be maintained at all times to combat the driver image issue which has contributed to the fall of the industry within the eyes of these generations and the general public.

Over the years, the industry created these problems that are now coming back to bite them. Many drivers as well, has played their part in the downfall but one can only take being beaten down for so long until they finally simply stop caring. In reality, the probable solution is mostly in the hands of the industry. With all the problems created and maintained by the industry over the years, they never saw the obstacle of the generation gap coming and now it is here.

Finding, hiring and retaining future drivers from the newer generations will never work on a large enough scale unless the industry commits to the measures in bringing respect and attractiveness to the vocation and addressing the issues raised by drivers for decades, once and for all.

© 2015, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: driver pay, driver retention, generation gap, labor, motor carriers, otr, retaining, retention rate, skilled worker, truck driver, Trucking, trucking companies

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Oversize load regulations need an overhaul

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Regulations need to be uniform, and consistent throughout North America, for all aspects of the oversize trucking industry

Regulations need to be uniform, and consistent throughout North America, for all aspects of the oversize trucking industry

by Hal Kiah

Most truckers already can tell you that the trucking industry is the most over-regulated industry in the world, a well known fact to anyone in the industry. With Federal regulations being in constant flux and change, any trucking company, along with its drivers, and owner-operators have to constantly look over their shoulder because they can’t tell when the next abrupt change is going to sneak up on them and put them into “negative” mode.

Taking into consideration those who make a living escorting oversize loads, and the drivers that haul those loads, these people are most generally people who have been behind the wheel of big rigs for a number of years, and then decided to do something different for a change, while remaining in the trucking industry. The driver that actually moves the oversize load can tell you pretty much the same thing as the Pilot car driver,  that there is no uniformity between the states  as to regulations governing the movement of oversize loads. Most every state has their own interpretation of when it is appropriate for these loads to move through their area of responsibility, and when not to move, and how.

One state will tell you in their regulations, that you can move ½ hour before sunrise, until ½ hour after sunset, while the next state may say that you have to wait ½ hour after sunrise to move, and stop the same amount of time prior to sunset taking place. Then, one state will say that you can move on the weekend, while the neighboring state says you cannot, or you can move only up to a certain point (usually 12 noon) on a Saturday, and/or Sunday. (In all honestly,…. the weekend is almost always the best time for an oversize load to move, as most people are not on the roadways, and the driver can get moving first thing in the morning, and not have to deal with rush hour traffic, and the majority of drivers in a high congestion area) And one state in particular, says that you can only move on Tuesday thru Thursday, so if you get stuck Thursday afternoon getting loaded, and have 200 miles to the state line, where you can continue to run the next day, and you only have time enough to make it about 100 miles before the sunset curfew, …. you’re stuck until the next Tuesday before you can move again! Fun, real fun.
oversized load2
Drivers and Pilot cars also have to put up with curfew times, what time of day a load is allowed to move, weekend movements, holiday restrictions in different areas. How many escorts are needed in each state, for the same load, or if the load actually needs an escort. Take for example, several states, that say that for a load of 14 feet wide or greater, you must have an escort or escorts, while trucks pulling mobile homes, or modular homes, need no escorts at all. (And many of those are far wider than other oversize loads!)

The driver and escort have to deal with the routes that states tell them they can use, that turn out to be back roads where no oversize load should be in the first place, due to the size of the roads and the limited space (if any) for oncoming traffic to get around. This can get very nerve racking, and scary, especially when you have an on-coming big rig, or worse, another oversize load the same size, or larger than the load you and the pilot car are hauling. Add to that, getting the general public to move over, or stop, or hold back, so that a load can be safely moved through an intersection or a tight corner, where the driver needs as much room as possible to maneuver.

Now, add to the plight of the Pilot car driver, their responsibility is to help get you safely moved from place to place, while holding off traffic when the load needs to avoid an obstacle on the side of the road, or when making corners, or any other number of reasons that the load needs room. Other drivers, including the general public, and even a number or so-called truck drivers, do not want to wait for oversize loads to do what they need to do, like, getting parked, making turns, moving over for vehicles broke down on the shoulder, or for police or emergency vehicles stopped on the shoulder, thereby putting the pilot car driver at high risk.

Add to the pilot car driver (or escort), the hodgepodge of regulations that they have to meet, with every state having its own requirements as to what the pilot car driver must have in their possession, how they must be in control of traffic (as if they wear a badge and gun, as a police officer does) that the next state does not require, along with differing certifications, in different states. Along with the size of oversize load signs they are required to have, and their placement on the vehicle, that can differ from state to state. These signs are the same size that Big trucks have to have, and many of today’s cars simply cannot accommodate these large signs or the placement that they have to use drastically affects the pilot car’s fuel mileage. Plus, they are required to carry spare warning flags, safety cones, first aid materials, and any number of things.

The regulations need to be uniform and consistent throughout North America for all aspects of the oversize trucking industry, with no confusion thrown in. With every state having their own idea as to how things should run, it adds to the confusion and frustration of what is required of truckers, pilot car operators, and all those who work within the trucking industry. Then add to enforcing proper driver safety among, not just truck drivers, but the general motoring public as well, or the driving problems that are faced in the country today, will only continue.

Hal Kiah/North American Trucking Alerts

© 2015, Hal Kiah. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: oversize load, oversize regulations, pilot car drivers, pilot cars, truck drivers

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Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog

Trucker Awareness drive for Cancer Prevention

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Support Cancer Research by joining Team Run Smart

Support Cancer Research
by joining Team Run Smart

For the last few years truck driver health has been a much greater concern for the trucking industry than it has been in the past.  As a matter of fact, the concern for better health awareness in general is becoming more prominent worldwide.  The importance of acknowledging the need to exercise more, watching what kind of food we put in our body, yearly physical exams, and being more aware of the side effects of prescription and non prescription drugs, has resulted in an accepted worldwide program for preventative disease in general, including cancer, which is the second leading cause of death.

Cancer is a disease that many have either personally experienced or know someone who has experienced the affects and outcome of. Sadly, so many more have had a loved one pass away from this dreaded disease.
Cancer Prevention is being embraced and viewed as as a need, almost  equal to the importance of a cure, with the logic, “the best cure is not to get the disease in the first place.”
Easier said than done? For many the answer is yes, especially when part of disease prevention involves voluntarily making sometimes difficult changes and modifying  your lifestyle while being an over the road truck driver.

For the life of an Over the road truck driver, exercise and eating right is one of the most difficult challenges. The good news to that however, many truckers are willingly making the necessary changes and are reaping the benefits from doing so. There are many groups and websites dedicated to the success of better health for professional drivers.

With February being Cancer Prevention month, Team Run Smart is  focusing a lot of time  discussing living a healthy lifestyle while driving OTR, paying close attention to the type of food being eaten and the amount of physical activity performed,  both being so important to preventing many illnesses, including cancer. Also part of Cancer prevention is regular health check ups.

In support of cancer prevention month Team Run Smart will be donating $1.00 to the Cancer Research Institute for each new member who signs up during the month of February.

We encourage you to invite your friends and family in the trucking industry to learn more about cancer prevention   join Team Run Smart.
By doing so you will be supporting Cancer Research.

© 2015, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: cancer prevention, cancer research, otr trucking, over the road truck drivers, Team Run Smart, truck driver health

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Common Sense Trucking: Avoiding Predatory Lending

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Predatory Lending

Predatory Lending

The trucking industry certainly has its share of problematic issues which most often are aimed at the drivers’ ability to succeed or fail in their chosen career. On average, the beginning trucker will last only six months before calling it quits and with the ongoing regulatory process constantly working to appease various political groups, more veteran truck drivers are slowly shifting away from the over-the-road (OTR) sector.

Although one would hope to see the industry step up and take responsibility for its own downfall, one of the most serious issues within the industry which is still very prevalent today and one which is largely responsible for many drivers’ financial ruin: the motor carrier truck leasing program.

Although a precise and definite interpretation has yet to be established, defines predatory lending as: “any lending practice that imposes unfair or abusive loan terms on a borrower. It is also any practice that convinces a borrower to accept unfair terms through deceptive, coercive, exploitative or unscrupulous actions for a loan that a borrower doesn’t need, doesn’t want or can’t afford.”

Especially in a poor job economy, many will look to OTR trucking simply because the “jobs” are always available, a red flag in itself. Regardless, this scenario is all too often the perfect set-up for those motor carriers operating a predatory lending program. For the most part, the majority of veteran drivers will advise any newcomer to the industry to stay away from these trucking companies’ leases. They are, in general, the very epitome of the characterization and delineation of predatory lending.

Predatory lenders will look for those people with poor credit, no cash available for down payment and especially, those who are just starting out in their trucking “job” career. They will work to convince them that they will make a great deal more money as an “owner operator” under their lease program. As discussed many times before, these trucks are most often used and have been “sold” many times over to previous “owner operators.”

Many drivers continue to be taken advantage of via these programs consisting of an over-priced,often mechanically compromised vehicle with a high interest or balloon pay-off rate or through the industry’s “starving out” process. The carrier will play on the driver’s entrepreneurial spirit, giving them the hope of achieving the American Dream. In reality, these lease programs are nothing more than a money-making scheme for the company.

To avoid becoming a victim of the industry’s predatory lending market, common sense is the most affective preventive measure, although it is most often ignored due to the unethical practices by such carriers. If at all possible, one should not even consider a trucking company lease option program, specifically as a new, uniformed driver. Although drivers have been successful in such leases, these are often those drivers who have gained experience and business knowledge of the industry first, before jumping into a company lease.

If financial reasons play a role in one’s decision, a “common sense” approach when considering a trucking company lease option program is not to allow the carrier to intimidate or play on your emotions where you end up with a truck you cannot afford. If you are feeling pressured or intimidated by the carrier, red flags should again be recognized.

Furthermore, the best practice a driver can utilize is to absolutely stay away from those lease programs offered by the most recognized, large-sized “starter companies.”

In addition, common sense can easily be noted by simply remembering to follow the old adage:

“If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”

The absolute best common sense approach to take if you feel there is no alternative but to deal with a company lease option is to do nothing without the presence and final approval of your attorney.

© 2015, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: lease, lending, motor carrier, otr, owner operator, predatory lending, truck leasing, Trucking

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Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog