Saturday, April 2, 2016

More #FacesofMATS Day 3

We ran into more OOIDA members, including some life members, at the Papa John's lot and at MATS. 

New member John "Chkn Wyng" Hughes & longtime member Mike "Chain Drive" Hixson, bonded over a shared love of show trucks and Harleys at the PKY Truck Beauty Contest on Saturday.

Member Roy Miller, aka "Third Axle," with wife Alice and kids  Cheyenne, 14, aka "Quad Axle," and Gabriel, 5, aka "Tag Axle" from LaFollette, Tenn. 

Member Wayne Weaver, aka "Poison Ivy"  he hauls a reefer and occasionally logs out of his Home-20 in Holmesville, Ohio.

Member Molly Stanley, aka "Spanish Rose," at the Salute to Women Behind the Wheel.

Senior Life Member Mary Gilroy, better known as "Lucky Lady," and her dog Anna. 
"Double Clutch" aka Rick Maki and wife Amy renewed their membership at the OOIDA booth in the West Wing. 
Life Member George Smith has been a professional truck driver for 50 years. 
OOIDA Life Member Ed Main is a company driver from St. Louis.

Women In Trucking "salute" resiliency of female drivers

More than 200 female drivers donned their trademark red shirts for the seventh annual Salute to Women Behind the Wheel. 

Sponsored by the Women In Trucking Association, the event is an annual event to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of female drivers. 

Ellen Voie, CEO of WIT, said the group has three goals: Encourage the employment of women in the transportation industry; address the obstacles women face in seeking or maintaining employment; and celebrate the successes of women in the trucking industry. 

According to the presentation, women make up about 6 percent of drivers in the trucking industry, and an additional 28,000 new female drivers climbed into cabs in 2015, according to a survey by the American Trucking Associations.

The keynote speaker was Kari Rihm, president and CEO of Rihm Kenworth and winner of the 2015 “Influential Woman in Trucking” Award. Rihm took over the family's Kenworth dealership chain in 2010 after her husband died. Under her leadership, Rihm Kenworth has grown from three to five dealerships. Rihm Kenworth is the only 100 percent woman-owned Kenworth dealer in the United States. 

Opportunity to check one off your bucket list?

For those in and around the Mid-America Trucking Show, you can mix business with possible pleasure at the Goodyear booth.

If you're in the market, or going to be soon, for new truck tires you have to check out the new tire matching systems at the booth. (They have them online but you'll miss out on a chance at the fun part if you don't go to the booth.)

They have some of the coolest tools for picking out the right tires for your operation and fuel economy needs. Backed by a customer service and roadside assistance app that will ensure you are up and running as much as possible, Goodyear is really focused on the whole package, or Total Solution as they call it.

When you're there, you can sign up for a chance to ride in the Goodyear Blimp. Now seriously, how cool would that be. Imagine sitting at the lunch counter and being able to say, "Well, when I was riding in the Goodyear blimp...."

Yep, that's gotta be on a few bucket lists around there.

Vietnam Wall makes stop at MATS

For Steve Davenport, this year’s trip to the Mid-America Trucking Show was a special one.

The OOIDA life member and military veteran hauled the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica and Mobile Education Center to the annual show in Louisville, Ky.

Davenport served in the U.S. Army from 1969-71 and in the Reserves until 1975. He's been an active participant with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall since it was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1982. 

Even when he's not pulling the mobile wall, Davenport still uses his truck as a salute to fallen soldiers. The Chrome Shop Mafia in Joplin, Mo., created a design that includes the U.S. flag and the names of fallen soldiers below the phrase, "Your Memory Never Fades." The names on the truck include people who grew up in the same neighborhood as Davenport, as well as his best friend, Robert W. Cupp. 

"Freedom isn't free," Davenport said. "The cost was more than 58,000 purple hearts."

The Wall That Heals being hauled by Davenport featured letters written to fallen soldiers, as well as photos and other mementos. It also included a brief history of the memorial and several historic photos. 

For more information, go to

VIDEO - Truckers honored for heroism

Julian Kaczor said he was just doing what any person would do.

The truck driver from Utica, N.Y., was driving through a construction zone in Jacksonville, Fla., when a car drove past him at a high rate of speed, nearly hitting his truck. Shortly after, the car crashed into a construction barrier and began to emit smoke.
Kaczor ran to the car as it became engulfed in flames. He first attempted to extinguish the fire, but as it intensified he forced the driver's side door open, pulled the injured driver out of the vehicle, and dragged him to safety.

For his bravery, Kaczor received the 33rd annual Goodyear Highway Hero Award during a ceremony Thursday at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. Kaczor received $5,000 cash, a ring and a trophy. Established in 1983, the Highway Hero Award honors professional truck drivers who put themselves in harm's way to help others.

"I couldn't believe that I was nominated," Kaczor said. "I was just doing my job."

Kaczor said his main focus was getting the injured man out of the burning car as quickly as possible.

"I had to pry open the driver's side door," he said. "I didn't know if he was wearing a seat belt or not. I just pulled him out."

Sadly, Kaczor later learned that the driver died about a week after the accident.

Kaczor was joined at the ceremony by fellow finalists Mark Cavanagh and Dorian Cole.

Cavanagh, a trucker from Hillsville, Va., was driving through Pennsylvania when he saw another tractor-trailer drive off the road and roll down a hill. The truck's driver was ejected from the rig and was hanging from its mirror bracket by a belt. Cavanagh stopped his truck and made his way down the hill. Cavanagh cut the driver's belt, pulled him from the truck, and helped him back to the road.

Cole, a trucker from Los Angeles, was driving through the Sylmar section of Los Angeles when he witnessed a Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer collide with another motorcyclist. The impact from the collision caused the officer to hit a concrete divider. To protect the injured officer from oncoming traffic, Cole positioned his tanker truck across several highway lanes.

Cavanagh and Cole also received trophies and a cash award.

Trucking Transition to give Kenworth T680 to veteran

One lucky military veteran will receive a new Kenworth T680 in December, Hiring Our Heroes President Eric Eversole announced Friday during the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

In conjunction with FASTPORT, the Trucking Transition program is starting a contest for young truck drivers who are U.S. veterans.

"We're going to really set that young driver off on their own entrepreneurial journey," Eversole said. "It's really a golden ticket for that young veteran.

"There are no strings attached."

Nominations are now being accepted.

Criteria for the contest includes that a driver must have served active duty or be a present or past member of the National Guard or Reserve, be a graduate of a certified training school and have a valid CDL, be employed by a trucking company who has made a pledge to hire veterans, and started as a professional driver between Jan. 1, 2015 and June 29, 2016.

The truck will be on display in June at Shell Super Rigs in Joplin, Mo., and in August at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. The contest's finalists will also be announced at GATS.

The winner will be announced Dec. 16 at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

Eversole said more information on the contest will soon be available at

Shine down and power up

We've been watching what appeared to be a growing trend in key-off power options to reduce fuel consumption and to reduce idle time -- saving the truck's engine and avoiding idling tickets -- with the emergence of solar power.

Now mind you, at Land Line we're pretty in tune with fluke technology when it comes to this area. For 10 years, entering our 11th, Land Line has featured idle and fuel consumption reduction technology in the August-September issue. 

Short of hamsters on wheels creating power, there has been a little bit of everything cross our desks over the past 10 years, including solar panels.

Early on the challenge was weight and durability. Units designed for buildings were just not appropriate for the rough and tumble life on the road. Factor in that they were heavy, and the idea remained what it was in the beginning, just an idea.

Until lately.

We started seeing more and more companies trying out solar power on their trucks. It's one thing to read about it. Another thing to take their word for it. For us it's the boots-on-the-ground, see-if-for-ourselves mentality.

The Mid-America Trucking Show afforded us just that chance.

eNow's thin and flexible solar panel.
I swung by the eNow, Renewable Energy Solutions, truck outside the South Wing to visit with eNow and Dometic folks to see what was going on with solar power.

These are not the homestead solar power units of the days of old. These things are slim, encased in teflon to provide durability for life on the top of trucks and trailers. And, they are light.

As I played around with a smaller unit, yes it's so light I was standing there fiddling with it with no effort, Jeffrey Flath, president and CEL of eNow, explained the scoop.

They offer various panel sizes, the largest weighs roughly up to 25 pounds. It collects the sun's energy and stores it in the existing APU battery bank. So there's no need to add more weight for batteries. It was pretty overcast when I was looking over the system, and the panel was still collecting 1 amp of energy to store.

The glass solar panel v. eNow's thin and flexible panels.
The overall system collects energy from the truck engine, the APU when needed and the solar panels. With minimal draw of a regular hotel load, the system, was good to go for 11 hours before another power source would need engaged.

eNow and Dometic are teamed up, though. And when they kicked on the high-efficiency Dometic Blizzard air conditioning unit, the system was still powered up for nearly seven hours of use.

The price is in the realm of realism, too. Bundled with the Dometic Blizzard unit and battery banks you're looking at a $5,000 outlay. Payback, depending on hours the truck remains off would be six to 18 months.

The options of key-off power options just got a huge shot in the arm with solar power technology capitalizing on a decade's worth of innovation to become the lightweight, durable solution we all wondered if it was possible.

Draggin' Your Wagon

Whether you're hauling sailboat fuel or widgets, over-dimensional top secret mysteries in large secured crates or construction materials, oil field machinery or fruits and vegetables, ink or detergent, safes or windows, artwork or automobiles, your trailer is a critical component of your success story.

If you load by hand or by forklift or get loaded by a crane - having the right equipment to do the job can make the difference between success and excellence.

A visit with Rick Farris, Vice President Sales & Marketing for Trail King introduced their new grain hopper trailer with removable conveyor and auger systems; the first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) installed and warrantied system; which can be used to seed, fertilize and harvest, all in one unit.

Trail King recently acquired Dakota Trailers and the combination complimented their existing line of agricultural industry trailers. With facilities in Yankton, S.D., and Fargo, N.D., they've added the opportunity for additional expansion as needed.

Another new addition to their product line includes the new EFX or blade trailer - with up to five extension sections to carry up to a 70 meter blade for the rapidly growing wind farm industry.

Kinedyne introduced its new Kin-Sider and Kin-Slider systems. While the Kin-Sider employs familiar fasteners at the bottom of the curtain side, the Kin-Slider features a revolutionary latching approach that enables the curtain to be effortlessly opened and closed within seconds.

“Everything from our moisture seals to our closure mechanisms to our curtain roller design and graphic integrity protection system has been carefully designed for optimal performance and longevity,” Paul Wolford, vice president of sales and marketing for Kinedyne LLC, said. “And when it comes to sheer efficiency of operation, the speed of the Kin-Slider is a game-changing technology that is going to impress management and drivers alike.”

XL Specialized Trailers also debuted some enhancements to their trailer line. They included the XL 80 Slider (Slide Axle). This two-axle trailer is rated at 80,000 pounds overall and 50,000 pounds in 10 feet concentrated. The Slider is named for its sliding axle assembly, which allows the unit to tilt for the loading and unloading of heavy and inoperable equipment.

In addition, the new XL 80 Mini-Deck Hydraulic Detachable Gooseneck (HDG) lowboy has been added to their lineup, which uses a versatile and innovative three-beam design.

And Talbert Manufacturing featured their 65 ton spread-axle trailer outfitted with the E2Nitro nitrogen-assisted equalizing system which provides haulers the versatility they need to switch axle configurations and comply with individual state road regulation.

These specialized trailers are really all about helping owners and drivers maximize their ability to meet the needs of their niche and keep making money.

Friday, April 1, 2016

#FacesOfMATS Day 2 (Part 2)

Well, we may not have run into any single-digit member numbers at the Mid-America Trucking Show today, but we ran into plenty of members. Whether it was at the Association's booths, in the hallways between exhibit wings, or even outside in the parking lots, OOIDA members were turning out in droves for MATS. Here's some more pictures of our new friends, and even a few old friends from last year's edition:

We hear stories like this all the time from Jon Osburn about the generosity of our Life Members but we got to see up close Saturday when new member Tim Mitchell (center) and his son Steven (left) were signing up for a membership. Life Member Jon Praschak (right) was on the opposite side of the booth, but offered to pay the dues for their membership. Pretty cool.
Member Bob Schwartz, aka "Son of a Nut" - "My dad's (handle) was Peanut, so I'm son of," he said.

Life Member "Saddles" Baggett - Eustace, Texas. 
Member Todd Wulf, from Minnesota.
Member and trucking crooner Joey Holiday on stage with his pal Kevin Young on stage at the Papa John's lot.

Husband & wife OOIDA members Richard and Elizabeth Reilman, aka "Rail" and "Shy.

Old friend "Mater" aka Mark Smith, who came to MATS last year for the first time last year and got hooked.

Life Members Trisha Hunter & Dave Smith and their son, Matthew. Dave's handle is "Mr. Smith... Heavy on the Mister." 

Member Pete Wagenaar, & his wife, Life Member Donna, better known as "Bebop" & "Dream Catcher" respectively.

The rad-looking Freightliner cabover of Member Arthur Boudreau, aka "Heat Seeker" caught our attention. But the Garland, Maine, resident wasn't just there to show off his retro-cool ride. He was at Papa John's on behalf of Ask a Veteran Trucker - a group that aims to provide peer mentorship to young and new drivers in the industry.

Life Member Bruce Kreitlow & his wife, Jenny, of Clarion, Iowa.

Member Tim Bauman, an owner-op from New Paris, Ind., has been trucking since he was 18. 

Life Member "Grandma" Candy Bass is one of our favorite people, and if you've ever met her, you're probably saying the same thing. Here she is rocking the awesome jacket she received as a 2016 TA Petro Citizen Driver honoree.

Member Robert Wood  and his family - wife Dawn, son Douglas, and daughter Mikayla, of Centreville, Mich.

Tod Job, of Everest, Kan., and his pal Jim Finn, of Mantorville, Minn., check out the display at the Chrome Shop Mafia booth.

Artworks for Freedom teams with Truckers Against Trafficking

Images of human trafficking still torment Kay Chernush.

The founder and artistic director of ArtWorks for Freedom witnessed numerous instances of human trafficking while working as a professional photographer.

"I'm haunted by many of the faces of the victims and the experiences they've encountered," Chernush said.

Those images prompted Chernush to make ending human trafficking her mission.

ArtWorks for Freedom teamed with Truckers Against Trafficking during the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., to educate truck drivers about the atrocities that are occurring throughout the United States.

"Truck drivers are often the first line of defense," Chernush said. "They're out there. They see what's going on.

"I love that Truckers Against Trafficking is enlisting drivers and trucking industry people in the cause," Chernush said. "I have long admired what TAT has been doing to educate and change the status quo though the trucking industry. As a professional photographer, I did many assignments with truckers and at truck stops, but like most of them, I wasn't aware of human trafficking back then. TAT is making a concrete difference."

As part of ArtWorks for Freedom's plan to raise awareness, the group premiered an art project called Golden Doors to Freedom at MATS. The art project, which allowed MATS attendees to sign the door and include their own expressions on trafficking, was led by master gilder William Adair. The project turns abandoned doors into freedom portals for communal focus on human trafficking.

"We want people to realize that there is power when a community comes together around a complex issue like human trafficking," Chernush said. "Taking an old, battered, discarded door and turning it into a beautiful work of art tells us about our own capacity to change perceptions and create empathy in the place of indifference. It becomes a visual symbol of our commitment to take action to end human trafficking."

Kendis Paris, the Truckers Against Trafficking executive director, said the art project will direct more attention to the cause.

"Kay's and Bill's project is so unique, and the trucking industry is so on the front lines of this issue that I believe the resulting doors will be powerful," Paris said.

Anyone who sees what they believe is an instance of trafficking is encouraged to call 1-888-373-7888. For more information, go to

What are the odds?

You don't get to be named one of TA Petro's "Citizen Driver" award winners unless you've had a profound impact on the people around. Heck, it's pretty much a requirement to even be nominated. But two of the 2016 award winners  OOIDA Life Member Mary "Candy" Bass and OOIDA Senior Member Jon Osburn (yes, THE Jon Osburn, Skipper of the Spirit Tour Truck) – share a connection that's incredible.

Candy, "Grandma Candy" to nearly everyone she meets and a 40-year trucking veteran, was the victim of a horrific highway crash in New Mexico back in April 1987. Life flight paramedics were called in. The lead paramedic on the flight? None other than Jon "Doc" Osburn.

Thanks in no small part to Osburn's efforts, Candy survived and was able not only to continue trucking, but to continue being a positive influence and role model for her community.

The pair have known each other for years, but only recently figured out the role they played in each other's lives. Today, they shared the stage together, each being honored for their dedication to their profession and their community. Check out the video:

The Citizen Driver program recognizes professional drivers who help bring respect to the truck driving profession. TA Petro said they received 104 nominations this year, a list that was painstakingly whittled down to 15 finalists, and ultimately seven winners. The winners get to pick their favorite TA or Petro truck stop to be renamed in their honor.

The winners and the location of their truck stops are:

  • OOIDA Senior Member Jon Osburn, -- J.D. 'Doc' Osburn Travel Center, Boise, Idaho
  • OOIDA Member Bill Underwood -- Bill Underwood Travel Center, Greenwood, La.
  • OOIDA Life Member Michael Zanella -- Michael Eugene Zanella Travel Center, Hebron, Ohio
  • OOIDA Life Member Bill Ater, Jr. -- Bill Ater Jr., Petro Stopping Center, Carl's Corner, Texas
  • OOIDA Life Member Mary "Candy" Bass -- Candy Bass Travel Center, Nashville, Tenn.
  • OOIDA Member Denis Litalien -- Denis Litalien Travel Center, Greenland, N.H.
  • OOIDA Life Member Bill and Robyn Taylor -- Bill and Robyn Taylor Travel Center, Southington, Conn.

This group of honorees brings the total number of TA or Petro Stopping Centers renamed in honor of drivers to 19.

The 2017 Citizen Driver Award nomination process is open right now. Nominees from previous years are encouraged to reapply. More information is available here.

Vintage Todd Spencer straight talk

One of the absolute joys of working at OOIDA's HQ is interacting with the decision makers and hearing them dish the straight dope on rhetoric in the industry.

Knowing not everyone has the kind of access or opportunity that we at Land Line have, we couldn't resist sharing some video highlights of Todd's speech at yesterday's Trucking Moves America Forward press conference.

First up? Safe and secure truck parking, or rather, the lack thereof.

As good as that is, and while you may have been tempted to say an "Amen, preach it brother," wait until he tackles the so-called driver turnover problem.

Needless to say, there was applause, especially from the truck drivers in the room.

Trucker Buddy making impact in classrooms

Tammy Egnew, a fifth-grade teacher at Salem Elementary in Russell Springs, Ky., didn't know anything about the Trucker Buddy program when she was first approached about using it in her classroom.

It's safe to say she has been pleasantly surprised by the results since truck driver Hale Swords started visiting her class.

Swords' presence has helped students with their letter writing skills, as well as their education in social studies.

However, Egnew said his ability to be a role model may be the biggest factor.

"It makes me want to cry, because I have so many kids who live with foster parents and nobody to look up to. They look up to Mr. Hale. They look forward to coming to school so that they can hear from Mr. Hale. They know they're going to get an email from him, and they know he cares about them. They don't always have that at home. He's really their trucker buddy. As I teach, I also love it because they're learning without even knowing they're learning."

Egnew and Swords were honored as Trucker Buddy discussed the progress the program has made during a news conference on Friday at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

Trucker Buddy International is a nonprofit program started in 1992, which is dedicated to mentoring schoolchildren via a pen pal relationships between background-checked professional truck drivers and children in kindergarten through eighth grade, as well as special needs classes, Girls and Boys Club, and Scouting events.

Meritor has combined efforts with Trucker Buddy to start a pilot program that links truckers who deliver materials to its York, S.C., plant with a local school to drive a better understanding of the industry and the people who haul goods and materials across the country. They are testing the program by pairing three truckers with classrooms at Cotton Belt Elementary School in York. The truckers have become pen pals with the three classrooms.

"The teachers know their classrooms, and each instructor wants something different for their pupils," Trucker Buddy International Executive Director Randy Schwartzenburg said. "Ultimately, when students understand the importance of trucking, they may be more responsible when they become drivers who share the road with truckers. And they'll respect the important role trucking plays every day for each of us."

Trucker Buddy and PeopleNet Communications have also teamed to provide $500 classroom supply grants to 19 schools, including 18 in the United States and one in Uganda. The program increased its number of grants as it provided 12 last year.

"Trucker Buddy, with the funding from PeopleNet is thrilled to offer grants to the deserving schools," Schwartzenburg said. "Many teachers and drivers donate not only their time, but their own funds to help their classrooms and this is a great opportunity to help our community."

Cutting through the transponder clutter

Talk tolls to truckers and you're not going to get a lot of happy looks.

But make it at least bit easier to get on down the road when dealing with a patchwork of tolling agencies around the country and you are likely to get their attention.

Bestpass rolled out a universal toll transponder at the Mid-America Trucking Show. A transponder that is good coast-to-coast. 

Bestpass Complete is a single solution for national toll coverage in one device  with optional weigh station bypass compatibility. Congress mandated interconnectivity of tolling authorities in the previous highway bill Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century by 2017, according to Bestpass President and CEO John Andrews. Bestpass beat that deadline and claims to be first to market with the single coast-to-coast transponder.

Inevitably, there could be some gaps. Andrews said that when that happens, truckers can simply mail in the invoices and Bestpass will bill them with the rest of the monthly transactions.

Cool enough, but when you add in the back office support Bestpass offers, you likely are going to get an even warmer reception from truckers.

Take, for instance, cases where toll roads overcharge or for some reason don't get a good read on send a video violation to collect on the toll. Bestpass is on the case.

"We'll (ahem) take on the conversation," Andrews said.

Andrews said current Bestpass customers can either stick with their current setup if it is working for them, or upgrade to the single-unit solution, for not much of an increase. The cost of the transponders for owner-operators is $7 to $10 per month.

Trucking industry pledges support for Guard, Reserve employees

About 69 businesses within the trucking industry pledged their support for military veterans on Friday morning at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

According to Tom Bullock, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve chief of employer outreach, it was the largest Statement of Support signing in the department's history.

Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy
The ceremony, organized by the Mid-America Trucking Show and FASTPORT, is used to build bridges with corporate America and promote supportive work environments for service members in the reserve components.

"The signing is a testament to our nation's trucking industry in hiring the best and brightest into their workforce," Brig. Gen. Stephen Hogan said.

FASTPORT, which was one of the businesses to sign a pledge of support, works to enable the more than 150,000 veterans and transitioning military service men and women to find careers within the trucking industry.

Jim Ray, FASTPORT co-founder, said military veterans and the trucking industry have formed a great partnership over the years.

"I was raised by a pack of truckers," Ray said. "In the 1970s, those truckers were Vietnam veterans and they were my heroes. They drove these giant machines covered in chrome. To a little boy, that was a beautiful thing. Looking back on that now makes me realize what the trucking industry did back then. That was a pretty turbulent time. That was a time when we treated some of our veterans pretty poorly. ... I'm here to tell you that at least in my 43 years, the trucking industry has always taken care of our veterans."

Acting U.S. Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy also lauded the trucking industry's efforts. Murphy, who previously worked for Roadway, is the son of a truck driver, and his cousin continues to work as a trucker.

"This is an industry ... that has been great for a lot of these heroes as they transition back," Murphy said.

"Hire these great Americans. Whether they're coming off active duty or whether they're national guard or reserves ... we need you to hire these great Americans. We need to make sure we have these public-private partnerships."

FMCSA: 'Beyond Compliance' beyond technology

Seems like every time you turn around, there's another proposal to mandate adding more gadgets, more bells and whistles to the trucks on the road, all in the name of reducing crashes and improving safety.

Now there is a congressional directive for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to give “credits,” which could be used to reduce or erase a bad score that resulted from crashes or other safety problems, to motor carriers that put advanced safety equipment on their trucks or beef up their safety program.

To gather input from the truckers, motor carriers and those affiliated with the industry (which is usually product and service providers who push for more mandates), FMCSA held a listening session at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., on Friday, April 1.

OOIDA Life Member Monte Wiederhold took the opportunity to challenge the premise that more technology on a truck does not a better trucker make. That it takes training and active management at the motor carrier level to encourage safe driving practices.

Bill Quade, administrator for enforcement and program delivery at FMCSA, said that the Beyond Compliance is more than just technology.

"Technology by itself without a management program isn't the answer," Quade told Wiederhold.

He talked about the challenges FMCSA faces in implementing a program that gives credit to motor carriers as the Beyond Compliance program proposes.

He gave as an example a motor carrier that pledges to add collision mitigation systems to 100 trucks.

"When do we give the credit?" he asked. "When they put it on the first truck? When it's on 50 percent of the trucks?"

Quade continued detailing the challenge by adding that even with the technology is on trucks, how will the agency actually know that it's improving anything and reducing crashes.

The program, he said, is going to look at all "best practices" motor carriers can employ, things that go above and beyond the regulations.

"While technology is within the sphere, it is not strictly a technology program," he said.

Perhaps capitalizing on a bit of agreement, Wiederhold told the FMCSA panelists that his insurance company audits his business annually. He and four other drivers leased to him meet on a regular basis to discuss various safety and compliance issues. Wiederhold keeps a log of the meetings, complete with topics and the drivers signatures.

"My insurance company says those five or 10 minute discussions are better than big safety meetings," Wiederhold said. "You have to show consistency."

While many other topics  about flexibility in HOS, effects of electronic logs on the industry – were speculated on, Larry Minor, associate administrator for policy at FMCSA, circled back to Wiederhold's program.

"What sort of performance measures are there? How does the insurance company know the program is successful?" he asked.

Wiederhold responded rather simply: "No accidents ... no tickets."
carriers could voluntarily add technology to their trucks to better their compliance rankings, - See more at:
carriers could voluntarily add technology to their trucks to better their compliance rankings, - See more at:
carriers could voluntarily add technology to their trucks to better their compliance rankings, - See more at:
carriers could voluntarily add technology to their trucks to better their compliance rankings, - See more at:

#Faces of MATS Day 2 (Part 1)

We set out for the Paul K. Young Truck Beauty Pageant lot at the Mid-America Trucking Show early this morning. The lot was packed with almost as many OOIDA members as there were blinged-out show trucks. Here's who we ran into:

Member Dave Foster, of Joplin, Mo., with his 2005 Kenworth W9, with over 1.3 million miles on it. When he's not polishing her up for truck beauty contests, Dave hauls dry van for XPO/Conway. 
Life Member Richard Hoffman, who after a 40-plus year career as a driver recently transitioned to the role of director of safety for RoadMasters Transport out of Athens, Texas.

Life Member Steve Davenport, aka "Texas Two-Tone." "Black & Chrome, that's all I ride!"

Robert Scott, life member out of Dennison, Ohio.

Life Member Kenneth Stumpff and his wife, Letitia, of Denham Springs, La. They were showing a custom "Pete" replica that was built on a golf cart chassis.

Member Floyd Hillery, a flatbed hauler out of Bruceton Mills, W.V.

Showers, thunderstorms can't rain on health walk's parade

Members of the Trucking Solutions Group kicked off Thursday night's festivities in the Papa John's parking lot with their annual health walk. The event takes participants on a 1.5-mile stroll from the stadium down to nearby Churchill Downs and back. Despite forecasts calling for showers and thunderstorms most of the day, the clouds parted long enough Thursday evening for the group to get their exercise in. The event is aimed at encouraging truckers to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

#FacesOfMATS Day 1 (Part 2)

So we made it out to the Papa John's parking lot for the annual health walk sponsored by Trucking Solutions Group (more on that in a later post). We saw a bunch of familiar faces on the walk, and even more chowing down on the good food being served up by the various charities. But probably the coolest meet-n-greet we did all day involved running into not one but TWO members whose member numbers were under 60. Check it out:

Life Member Wayne Alberts said his OOIDA member number was going to blow us away and he wasn't lying! A four-digit number is a rare occurrence, but how cool is it to be one of the original 60? Hats off, Wayne! 

Life Member Al Albert, OOIDA No. 53 (!?!), who's still trucking after 63 years in the business. He hauls exotic plants from his home base in Sanford, Fla., to the Upper Midwest. We met Al about half an hour after running into No. 59. Great to meet some longtime, stalwart members of the Association, and to find they're still trucking!

Members Shannon Pyles and her father, Eric Pyles. Eric taught Shannon to drive truck and now she's an owner-operator at the tender age of 22, carrying on a family tradition of trucking for a fourth generation.

With all the safe parking talk, this was a bit of a (nice) surprise

No stone is left unturned at the Mid-America Trucking Show, and that includes the issue of truck parking. DAT Solutions debuted a new version of its mobile app, which features ... wait for it ... Wal-Mart locations that are safe for parking.

DAT Trucker is a trip planner that also includes Cat Scale locations and locally geo-targeted loads from DAT’s loadboard. Formerly MyDAT Trucker, the revamped app has a redesigned interface featuring a link that directs users to all DAT Network loads through DAT TruckersEdge.

The app has more than 750,000 downloads, which is available for Android and iPhone devices. Android users can find the app at Google Play, and iPhone users can download DAT Trucker through the iTunes Store.

Formation of TA Truck Service announced at MATS

TravelCenters of America, operator of the TA and Petro centers, announced the creation of TA Truck Service on Thursday at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

The concept takes Petro: Lube, RoadSquad, RoadSquad Connect, RoadSquad OnSite and eShop and puts them together under the single brand umbrella of TA Truck Service.

TA Truck Service will be found at both TA and Petro locations and sets out to offer professional drivers more service bays, more technical expertise and more maintenance solutions.

"TA Truck Service is more than just a new brand name," TravelCenters President and CEO Tom O'Brien said in a news release. "Our goal is to keep our drivers rolling. The brand incorporated the best practices of the top truck repair brands in the industry, including state of the art technical training; quality control programs utilizing Six Sigma processes; an expanding scope of services; Freightliner and Western Star warranty determinations; nationwide parts and service warranty; plus more efficient work order queuing for less complex repairs, which we call Rapid Repair."

VIDEO - Legacy of believing in next generation lives on

Dave Waterman, Shell Rotella North America Marketing Manager, presents a $10,000 check to OOIDA Board Member Dick Pingle, OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer and OOIDA Board Member Monte Widerhold, who accepted the check on behalf of the OOIDA Mary Johnston Scholarship Fund. 
It’s become an annual thing of sorts to collect a big honking check from Shell Rotella to the OOIDA Mary Johnston Scholarship fund at the Mid-America Trucking Show. While this year was no different – it was different.

Earlier this year, OOIDA treasurer, board member and scholarship fund committee chairman Bill Rode died unexpectedly. It was a shock to all who knew and loved Bill.

Among his many contributions to truck drivers and OOIDA, one of his most passionate causes was the scholarship fund for OOIDA descendants and dependents.

His enthusiasm for investing in the future of the next generation – whether they were going into a trucking-related field or not – was tireless. His dream was a self-sustaining fund that helped pay for five new college entrants each year, funding them at $2,000 and $1,000 levels renewable for a total of four years for tuition and other legitimate school-related expenses.

In a day when “youngsters,” “Millennials,” whatever label is tossed around, seem to be to the target of criticism for approaching life differently. It was no matter to Bill and others behind the scholarship fund. They saw and continue to see potential.

Bill’s passion for the scholarship fund and the students it benefited was infectious to say the least. That passion, in part, is responsible for the ongoing commitment Shell Rotella has made to the scholarship fund.

As we gathered for the $10,000 check presentation this year, Bill’s absence was felt by all. But it was important to carry on.

He had a vision. One was to make the dreams of more children, grandchildren and dependents of OOIDA members come true. With the help of Shell each year, that goal of a sustaining scholarship program and granting more dreams comes closer to becoming reality.

Bill would be proud.

OOIDA's Spencer: Change the industry? Value the drivers

Embarking on the third year of a movement to improve the image of truck drivers, both inside and outside of the industry, Trucking Moves America Forward panelists spoke about the good and bad in the industry.

The event is a time to see diverse groups such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations share a common cause of improving respect for the men and women in the industry.

"This movement from the start was about showing that truckers are not only great people, but essential to the fabric of society," OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said in starting off his remarks. "When a plane, train or boat doesn't show up, it's not really noticed. When a truck doesn't show ... we're talking major, major problems.

"As critical as what we do is, we don't get the credit ... the appreciation," Spencer said.

That echoed the points of Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express and first vice chairman of American Trucking Associations.

"Truckers get things done," Burch told the press. "But we are terrible at talking about it."

Burch said it's truckers who save the country in bad times, help it grow in good time, and are the silent backbone of the industry.

"We need to speak up," Burch said.

While Spencer agreed wholeheartedly that truckers "have a story" and "need to tell it" to the public to improve perception of truckers, his remarks turned to the internal boost the industry needs.

Spencer talked about the pressures and challenges that truck drivers face on a daily basis, striking hard at the lack of safe and secure parking for truckers to comply with regulations, find a place to rest and relax, eat and just get off the road.

While he acknowledged the efforts of the truck stop supporters of the Trucking Moves America Forward, he said that it's going to take more than just truck stop operators to solve the problem.

"All across the country, shippers and receivers are largely indifferent (to the plight of truck drivers) -- unless they are economically affected," Spencer said.

Then he turned his focus to the treatment of truck drivers by motor carriers, brokers and others in the industry.

"Clearly, pay is an issue. Inside trucking we need to be honest with ourselves, and seriously address it," Spencer said. "Everyone should be collectively behind it to put value on the drivers' time and pay them. That will improve the image of the industry (by reducing driver turnover)."

In addition to discussing the challenges facing the industry, the campaign touted its successes in reaching out to the masses via trailer wraps, social media, press releases and media coverage.

Trucking Moves America Forward has amped up its image campaign portion of the movement by adding an e-commerce store to its website where truckers can by shirts, hats, etc., to promote a positive image of truckers and the industry as a whole.

Panel tackles parking concerns

As part of a panel on Thursday morning at the Mid-America Trucking Show to discuss a lack of parking spots for truck drivers, OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Scott Grenerth said the issue involves more than a need for spaces alone.

"Spaces are obviously good, and we know they are needed," Grenerth said. "There are parts of the country that there just aren't enough spaces no matter where you look. But one of the key things that any driver here knows is that you have to be in the right place at the right time as well. That's a huge part of this. You have to be in compliance. Trying to balance keeping the truck safe and being able to earn a living for your family, you have to be able to maximize your time. So having a parking space near where you want to end up is crucial. In my years of driving it seems like all of the new truck stops that open up, you have a metropolitan area here and a metropolitan area there and the truck stop ends up in the middle, kind of in no-man's land. If the parking is 15 miles outside of the downtown area, that 15 miles equates to a 45-minute drive during rush hour. Your hours of service dictates when you're going to be able to do it, so it's a bit more than just the space."

The lack of safe parking for truckers has been a growing concern in many parts of the country. A need for parking has created controversy in areas like North Bend, Wash.

Jason's Law, which tries to give truckers better access to safe rest areas, passed in 2013. The law is in honor of truck driver Jason Rivenburg, who was robbed and killed in 2009 after he pulled into an abandoned roadside gas station to take a nap.

Tom Kearney, of the Federal Highway Administration, said there's a lot that goes into getting the funding for additional truck parking.

"We made truck parking eligible under the highway performance program, highway safety improvement program, and the surface transportation program," Kearney said. "Now we opened up $40 billion under the highway program that could go to truck parking, but now they also get into the shark tank of competing with bridge replacements, pavement replacements, congestion investments. So they got a big checkbook opened, but they got thrown into competition for a highway program that isn't sufficient."

Grenerth said ideas like reservation systems at truck stops have their limitations.

"I bet there are multiple phones out there on the showroom floor right now that flip open," Grenerth said. "Smartphones don't help every driver out there. I guarantee you that. There has to be something that doesn't rely on there being an Internet connection. There is a cost associated with that. Drivers are not getting assistance for purchasing that. I also believe that every chain that has truck parking reservations has a cost associated with that as well."

Grenerth said getting the information to truck drivers about safe parking spaces should become a priority.

"There's a lot of focus on making sure drivers get information about stopping for fuel at this place, because you can get it cheaper," he said. "I hope that same effort can go into finding a parking spot for a driver if they need it. They already have that communication going, so maybe that's a way to move forward with this."

#FacesOfMATS Day 1 (Part One)

It's always a blast running into our OOIDA members on the show floor at Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville. Here are some of the people we've seen today, and we haven't even made it out to the Papa John's parking lot yet!

OOIDA Member James Butler & his wife, Hildred, of Clinton, N.C., at the OOIDA booth in the North Wing.
Member Joe Plante of Bardstown, Ky., says he never misses MATS. "You can't see it all in one day." 
New OOIDA Member Larry Tetzlaff (left) and his friend, Member Kip Hohm. 
Life Members John Waldvogel and Randy Boswell hanging at the Trucker Buddy International booth in the North Wing Lobby.