Friday, February 26, 2016

To stop or not to stop – when life and limb hang in the balance

It seems that everyone likes a feel-good story. Where the hero saves the day and gets the girl. OK, maybe doesn’t get the girl. But, you get the gist. The mainstream “if it bleeds it leads” mentality leaves all of us craving for some “good news.”

Here in the Land Line newsroom, we certainly do. And, hands down, one of our favorite things is to stumble across a truck driver who is the hero and saves the day. Those stories aren’t that hard to find, honestly. It happens a lot. It’s something that we as trucking journalists are proud to report and tout to the masses – countering the seemingly never-ending onslaught of character assassination of all truckers.

It’s interesting though, when we do cover a story like a trucker dashing into a burning wreck and saving people’s lives. Especially in this day and age of social media, there is always that comment or two talking about the dangers and risks involved. Some even go further and talk about how heroics can make a bad situation worse.

I’m as guilty as others of getting caught up in the emotional groundswell of feeling better about humanity. But those comments always make me slow down and think, even just for a second, when is it the right thing to go on, to stay out of the way.

It’s a healthy dialogue to have. And I think that more so now than I did before I read a personal post on ourkyle.org, a website project by Travis Mitchell about the city of Kyle, Texas.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Blue Bloodhound Blues

A company named Blue Bloodhound of Hickory, N.C., is bringing the gig economy (yes, it’s a real thing) to trucking. Like many new trucking tech companies, Blue Bloodhound compares itself to Uber.

Most of those other companies are glorified freight brokers with fancy software and smartphone apps. Blue Bloodhound doesn’t broker freight; it’s a temp agency for drivers. The carrier supplies the truck. You just drive.

Here’s the Uber part: Like an Uber driver you can make your own hours. Blue Bloodhound helps you find gigs with carriers. If you already have a regular job, even a full-time job, that’s fine. Blue Bloodhound says you may be able to find loads or perhaps even regular dedicated runs that fit your existing schedule.

“All drivers complete a profile along with a current Driver Qualification file that includes all information they (drivers) are used to providing based on DOT regulations,” explained Todd Warner, COO of Blue Bloodhound. “Motor carriers can review these live files instantly, determine availability, and select a driver immediately.”  

Pay for the gig is posted with the load or run. You can accept an assignment or not. The money you’re paid is strictly between you and the carrier; Blue Bloodhound doesn’t take a slice. They make their money from the carriers. Fleets pay Blue Bloodhound a flat $55 for each day they use a freelance driver.  

On its website, Blue Bloodhound promotes the idea of making you an independent contractor. You’re your own boss. You work when you want to. You’re in business for yourself. You’re the boss. You have the status of an owner-operator without the owning part. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Americans drove an astronomical amount of miles in 2015

The Federal Highway Administration has recently released data that reveals how many miles Americans drove in 2015. Beating the record set in 2007, 3.148 trillion miles were traveled. That number is astronomical. In fact, a FHWA press release pointed out that 3.148 trillion miles is about the same distance as 337 round trips from Earth to Pluto.

Taking a page from FHWA’s release, I thought it would be fun to play around with that number and come up with more scenarios. I don’t think most people can grasp exactly how much a trillion is. One million is a thousand hundred. One billion is a thousand million. Therefore, one trillion is a thousand billion or a million million. This video really visualizes the amount to scale:

Monday, February 22, 2016

Man’s backhoe joyride damages Florida bridge

A Florida man faces a string of felony charges and traffic violations after he stole a backhoe and caused more than $30,000 in damage to a bridge in the Florida Keys.

The suspect, Carl J. Blahnik, 59, reportedly absconded with the backhoe from a worksite near Marathon, Fla. A video posted by The Miami Herald purportedly shows the rear arm of the backhoe casting a shower of sparks as it was dragged along U.S. Highway 1 on the Seven Mile Bridge.

Get a load of the sparks captured by a police dashcam during the incident.