Thursday, February 16, 2017

Speed limiters dead in the water? Not by a long shot

There’s some buzz going around that speed limiters are dead in the water thanks to an executive order signed by President Trump.

The order says that for every new proposed regulation, agencies must identify two for repeal. The point of the order is to get a handle on the money it costs to implement and comply with regulations.

Having been around this industry for more than a minute, I can tell you to be careful putting too much stock in anything, and I mean anything, being dead in the water. It doesn’t even matter if the agency abandons a regulation before making it official. It’s never a done deal.

Case in point: electronic logs.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Potential employers looking you right in the FACEbook

Be careful what you say on Facebook; the world is watching. And so is Austen Mance.

Austen has launched a tech startup called Enlistics. It’s a tech company that describes itself as "a comprehensive hiring system for the trucking industry." Enlistics uses data to analyze driver candidates and recommend who a carrier should hire and who they should not.

How does Enlistics gather data?

According to an Enlistics press release, the company "automatically scrapes applicants' social media posts for phrases known to predict future success or failure."

Social media in this case means Facebook, Austen explained. If your profile is public, Enlistics looks for words and phrases that might indicate your prevailing attitudes. For instance, Austen’s release says, “one such ‘bad’ phrase known to correlate with employee turnover is ‘I’m so drunk …’”

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Couple’s love proven on cross-country haul

If you really want to get to know a person, travel the country together in a truck. You’ll find out quick whether or not you can keep a conversation going, or if you both can be comfortable with silence for a while. You’ll learn about each other’s annoying habits and whether or not you can tolerate them.

There’s no escaping each other in a big rig, so it shouldn’t take long to find out if two people are compatible.

And for 51-year-old truck driver Gary Overstreet, the time on the road was enough proof for him that he had found the love of his life.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Eyes on the Ninth Circuit court

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has been in the headlines this week because of the riveting decision tasked to a three-judge panel regarding the White House’s now-blocked travel ban. But the storied court in San Francisco is certainly no stranger to America’s front page news.

Not only has the legendary Ninth Circuit got the most districts and the most judges, but it also hears by far the most cases. The docket is a monster.

Currently, the court has appellate jurisdiction over the 13 district courts in seven western states, plus Hawaii and Alaska. It also has jurisdiction over Guam and the District of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Sidney Runyan Thomas is chief judge of this huge circuit, which currently has 29 active judgeships. Of those, 68 percent were appointed by Democratic presidents – which lends to its reputation for liberalism. It was established in 1869 and is headquartered in the historic James R. Browning Building (court house and post office). The building itself is magnificent. The design is influenced heavily by Italian Renaissance style, lavish with white Sierra granite and described as palatial. In 1906, when an earthquake devastated the city, the courthouse remained standing.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Hashknife riders sharing Arizona roads

Courtesy of Hashknife Pony Express 
“Hell-bent for leather” – don’t tell me you’ve never heard that expression. If you are driving between Holbrook and the East Valley, Ariz., in the next few days, you may see an authentic example of what that old saying means. 

Pony Express re-enactment riders will be carrying mail along state highways through Friday, Feb. 10, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, mail pouches, real letters and all.

The Hashknife Pony Express riders left Holbrook Wednesday with plans to stop at post offices in Heber-Overgaard, Payson and Fountain Hills on the way to their final destination in downtown Scottsdale on Friday.

The Navajo County Hashknife Sheriff’s Posse leads the ride every January/February. Riders travel 200 miles from Holbrook to Scottsdale, and deliver 20,000 first-class letters by horseback. They’ve been doing this for 60 years. According to the website, this event is the oldest officially sanctioned Pony Express in the world.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Will more safety laws decrease traffic deaths?

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety recently released its annual Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws after the United States came off its second consecutive year of increasing traffic deaths. Their solution to traffic deaths: more safety laws.

Before we get into the advocacy group’s report, let’s establish the undeniable facts. More than 35,000 people were killed in crashes in 2015, the largest percentage increase in nearly half a century. Preliminary data for 2016 is not faring any better. More people are dying on the roadways. We can all agree on that.

There are many theories regarding how we as a nation can solve this problem. Here’s Advocates’ solution: “…we cannot forget that state adoption of comprehensive traffic safety laws is the most effective countermeasure to avert crashes, save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce economic costs to the public and to the government.”

More specifically, Advocates argues that more state laws need to be enacted. The group claims that “states are missing 376 traffic safety laws,” including seatbelt, helmet, child restraints, teen driver training, impaired and distracted driving laws: 

Friday, February 3, 2017

PSA – Don’t pass the plow

After the second snowplow in as many weeks was run off the road by a truck driver, it seems like a good time to review a few best practices when operating around the plows. Multiple crashes between commercial trucks and snowplows in the mountains out west suggest that it is time for young and even experienced drivers to review guidelines for safe traveling around those work vehicles. Maybe veteran drivers can share these with some of the younger guys and gals they mentor.

The latest crash occurred around 12:34 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, on Interstate 84 near Pendleton, Ore. According to reports, 38-year-old Bryon Kilmer, of Sweet Home, Ore., was cited for unsafe passing on the right after he attempted to pass an Oregon DOT snowplow and instead ended up knocking the vehicle off the road.

Earlier last month, a Utah DOT plow driver was seriously injured when another tractor-trailer passed a plow on the right and struck the vehicle, sending it careening through a guardrail and 300 feet down a snow-covered canyon.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch wrote about a freezing trucker

Seems Judge Neil Gorsuch, nominee for the Supreme Court, was on a panel of judges who heard a trucking case while he served on the federal appeals court in Denver. The carrier, TransAm, appealed a ruling by the Labor Department that was favorable to a driver who said he was unjustly fired.

Last August, the court found in favor of the Labor Department and thus the driver. Judge Gorsuch did not like the decision and wrote a dissent.

The case goes back to 2009 when a TransAm driver was fired for dropping a trailer on I-88 in Illinois and driving away. Those are the bare facts; there’s more to it.

About 11 p.m. on an extremely cold January night, the driver pulled over for 10 minutes or so, enough time for his trailer brakes to freeze. He called in and was told to wait for assistance. Then he discovered his APU wasn’t working; there was no heat in the cab. The driver fell asleep only to wake up two hours later unable to feel his feet. So he called in again and was told to “hang in there.” Half an hour after that, the driver called again to say he was taking the tractor and going for help. He was told not to leave the load, but left anyway. He came back, presumably with his feet unfrozen, to find the trailer repaired. A week later, TransAm fired him for abandoning the load.

The case has caught some attention in the trucking media again after Gorsuch was nominated to the Supreme Court.