Thursday, January 15, 2015

Grab a press release, c'mon get happy!

You drivers are a lot better off than you let on. I know because press releases tell me so.

I’ve read thousands (and written a few) over the last 20 years. And every single one has been happier than hell. All are about products, services or fleets that have vastly improved just about everything.

I have never seen a press release with a headline like, “Carbuncle Carrier Implements New Software; Productivity Plummets.” That just doesn’t happen.

So you see, things are obviously getting better and better.

Years ago it was super-comfortable seats and powerful drive trains that reduced driver turnover. Now technology does every task that doesn’t require opposable thumbs, and you drivers are absolutely thrilled.

Don’t try to deny it. Press releases tell us how happy you are to be monitored, evaluated and rated against your fellow drivers as you compete for toaster ovens and lube shop coupons. Own up to it. If you were any happier with your current job, you’d super-glue yourself to the driver's seat.

It’s not just products and services. Things are always looking up in personnel too. I know because the press releases are always about promotions or appointments. I've never seen one that says “Carbuncle Dumps Driver Donovan for Cursing Out OS&D Manager Jones.”

Oh sure, when corporate results tank for 12 consecutive quarters a release might mention a departing top exec, but only to explain he’s leaving to pursue new opportunities and spend more time with his family (wink, wink).

Otherwise, the release will be super positive, all about the well-groomed new president. That will be him in the slick headshot. He’ll be smiling if the fleet still has some cash in the bank or stern-looking if the prosecutor has already hauled off the office computers.

Either way, things will be looking up. They always are in press releases.

It’s true. Looking over 20 years’ worth of press releases, things have just been getting better and better.

In those 1995 press releases, technology had already pushed driver efficiency up by 15 percent! It was the dawn of the web, the very beginning of affordable GPS, and the productivity returns were astounding.

Actually, checking those press releases over the years, it’s clear to me that you drivers have it made.

Adding up the efficiency increases documented in press releases since 1995, some amazing facts become clear.

For example, the fuel efficiency gains cited in press releases for various technologies mean that trucks in 2015 actually produce fuel rather than burning it.

And it’s no wonder. All those productivity improvements reported in all those press releases clearly mean that most if not all of you reach your delivery points immediately after leaving the pickup locations – and sometimes even before.

And it just keeps getting better and better.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Cross-border failed. How many ways do we have to say it?

Give it up, FMCSA. Your insistence that the cross-border pilot program was a success and now your persistence in opening up the border is just pathetic.

Reality is, you fought the fight and you lost. It’s really that simple. The cross-border pilot program offering long-haul opportunities for Mexico-based motor carriers was a bust – even though you’re insisting it wasn’t.

It was the party no one came to. There were only 15 motor carriers that participated. Far less than the 46 you were looking for. And of the 15, only two showed up for a little bit. They mainly continued their commercial zone ways, venturing out beyond on a rare occasion.

But let’s back up.

It’s not like you didn’t try, FMCSA. You rolled out the red carpet. You even went to Mexico trying to gin up participation. Remember your recruiting trips to Tijuana? I want to embellish and claim there were some wild times, but that would be a complete guess on my part and overreaching. Suffice it to say, you went on their home turf and did all you could to get them to go truckin’ long haul in the promised land.

Those recruiting trips to Mexico didn’t last long, either. In fact, FMCSA, your trips into Mexico didn’t meet requirements.

Half of all the pre-authority safety audits were to be conducted on-site, in Mexico. That didn’t happen. It was too dangerous then and it’s even worse now. U.S. State Department Travel warnings and restrictions on government employees helped put an end to those.

So, if it’s too dangerous for a government entourage to go to Mexico to conduct audits, what U.S. trucker is going to go down there willingly, unarmed and unprotected? This whole cross-border song and dance is supposed to run both ways.

Instead of accepting the attendance and participation in your pilot program party for what it was, you decided to pretend like enterprise carriers were a part of it. That’s like pretending that the “cool kids” showed up at your party. Problem is, they aren’t really Mexico-based motor carriers. They are U.S. companies with 55 percent Mexico ownership. That’s a very, very different creature.

All of the lame justifications and the insistence to move forward is just needy and desperate, FMCSA. Face it. Your party bombed. This move to keep the party rolling is just insane. It’s cowardly when paired up with your mission to improve highway safety.

This move is simply inviting the unproven motor carriers to come on over. You know the type. They are like the kids who trash your house and leave you with the mess. How many lives will be lost because of this irresponsible move in opening the border? Your guess is as good as mine, since the pilot program party proved nothing.

Quit acting like the pimple-faced teenager sitting there in the ruins of the party that never was. Instead of continuing with this bad decision and opening the border, it’s really high time for you to quit cowering to economic pressure, clean up your paperwork, and move on and accept that it really should be over. All you’re doing is selling out safety on our roads with this delusional fa├žade you’ve created to justify opening the border.