UPDATE: On the Vaccine Mandate

COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine and Syringe

On Thursday, OSHA and the White House announced that the vaccine mandate applying to private businesses with 100 or more employees will take effect on January 4, 2022.

We have also received word from ATA that the exception for employees who exclusively work outdoors or remotely and have minimal contact with others indoors does exempt solo truck drivers from the mandate. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is on record saying so. ATA will continue to advocate for the broader workforce as well.

Love’s offers free hot dogs next week!

National Hot Dog Day!

Professional drivers and other travelers will have an opportunity chance to get a free hot dog at Love’s Travel Stops Wednesday, July 17, National Hot Dog Day.

Customers who present a barcode at checkout can enjoy a free hot dog or roller grill item. Customers can access the barcode for their free hot dog or roller grill item on Loves.com, the Love’s Connect app or Love’s social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn) from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. July 17.

Registered Love’s Connect users will receive a notification with the barcode.

“Our customers are always moving, and love food options that are perfect for on the go,” said Mark Romig, director of merchandise for Love’s. “We’re delighted to meet those demands and show gratitude to Love’s amazing customers on National Hot Dog Day with free items.”

TA Petro also BOGO on National Hot Dog Day

Visit any TA and Petro Stopping Center or TA Express Wednesday, July 17 — which is, of course, National Hot Dog Day — and get two hot dogs for $1, or a free hot dog with your UltraONE kiosk coupon.

What do you mean I have to make my bed?

I just had a driver ask me this since he was shown a video where another driver was pulled over, and the officer was talking to him about issuing him a citation for his bunk not being made up.

Now you have to take several parts down below, put them together to get that interpretation, but the officer can write you up for this. There is another violation for your cab being dirty when you have garbage all over the place, but that is for another post. Anyways, I have included the regulation for you below. You can look this up and read it in your “Green Book”. The picture above shows several violations.

§393.76   Sleeper berths.

(a) Dimensions—(1) Size. A sleeper berth must be at least the following size:

Date of installation on motor vehicleLength measured on centerline of longitudinal axis (inches)Width measured on centerline of transverse axis (inches)Height measured from highest point of top of mattress (inches)1
Before January 1, 1953721818
After December 31, 1952, and before October 1, 1975752121
After September 30, 1975752424

1In the case of a sleeper berth which utilizes an adjustable mechanical suspension system, the required clearance can be measured when the suspension system is adjusted to the height to which it would settle when occupied by a driver.

(2) Shape. A sleeper berth installed on a motor vehicle on or after January 1, 1953 must be of generally rectangular shape, except that the horizontal corners and the roof corners may be rounded to radii not exceeding 1012 inches.

(3) Access. A sleeper berth must be constructed so that an occupant’s ready entrance to, and exit from, the sleeper berth is not unduly hindered.

(b) Location. (1) A sleeper berth must not be installed in or on a semitrailer or a full trailer other than a house trailer.

(2) A sleeper berth located within the cargo space of a motor vehicle must be securely compartmentalized from the remainder of the cargo space. A sleeper berth installed on or after January 1, 1953 must be located in the cab or immediately adjacent to the cab and must be securely fixed with relation to the cab.

(c) Exit from the berth. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, there must be a direct and ready means of exit from a sleeper berth into the driver’s seat or compartment. If the sleeper berth was installed on or after January 1, 1963, the exit must be a doorway or opening at least 18 inches high and 36 inches wide. If the sleeper berth was installed before January 1, 1963, the exit must have sufficient area to contain an ellipse having a major axis of 24 inches and a minor axis of 16 inches.

(2) A sleeper berth installed before January 1, 1953 must either:

(i) Conform to the requirements of paragraph (c)(1) of this section; or

(ii) Have at least two exits, each of which is at least 18 inches high and 21 inches wide, located at opposite ends of the vehicle and useable by the occupant without the assistance of any other person.

(d) Communication with the driver. A sleeper berth which is not located within the driver’s compartment and has no direct entrance into the driver’s compartment must be equipped with a means of communication between the occupant and the driver. The means of communication may consist of a telephone, speaker tube, buzzer, pull cord, or other mechanical or electrical device.

(e) Equipment. A sleeper berth must be properly equipped for sleeping. Its equipment must include:

(1) Adequate bedclothing and blankets; and

(2) Either:

(i) Springs and a mattress; or

(ii) An innerspring mattress; or

(iii) A cellular rubber or flexible foam mattress at least four inches thick; or

(iv) A mattress filled with a fluid and of sufficient thickness when filled to prevent “bottoming-out” when occupied while the vehicle is in motion.

(f) Ventilation. A sleeper berth must have louvers or other means of providing adequate ventilation. A sleeper berth must be reasonably tight against dust and rain.

(g) Protection against exhaust and fuel leaks and exhaust heat. A sleeper berth must be located so that leaks in the vehicle’s exhaust system or fuel system do not permit fuel, fuel system gases, or exhaust gases to enter the sleeper berth. A sleeper berth must be located so that it will not be overheated or damaged by reason of its proximity to the vehicle’s exhaust system.

(h) Occupant restraint. A motor vehicle manufactured on or after July 1, 1971, and equipped with a sleeper berth must be equipped with a means of preventing ejection of the occupant of the sleeper berth during deceleration of the vehicle. The restraint system must be designed, installed, and maintained to withstand a minimum total force of 6,000 pounds applied toward the front of the vehicle and parallel to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle.

ATA Insists Driver Shortage Is Real Despite Govt. Report Saying It Isn’t

Drivers both needed and wanted

Last month, the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published a report based off of their research into the ‘truck driver shortage.’ The researchers stated that BLS “does not find evidence” that the shortage exists. The American Trucking Association (ATA) has responded, saying that it does exist and accused the researchers of having “some basic misunderstandings.”

The report can essentially be boiled down to this: The trucking industry follows the basic laws of economics. If you increase driver pay, more workers will become truckers and more truckers will stay in the industry for longer.

In their response letter, the ATA disputes that claim, saying that the problem isn’t finding drivers, it’s finding ”qualified” drivers who meet “age requirements, CDL testing standards, strict drug and alcohol testing regimes and… clean driving records.”

But that response doesn’t address the high turnover and burnout rate among truckers. If carriers can find applicants to hire, but can’t keep them from leaving, complaints about “barriers to entry for new drivers” ring hollow.

One thing the ATA does not address in its response letter is the assertion in the report that large carriers may actually be creating and maintaining a driver shortage as a deliberate “cost-minimizing response.” That is, keeping wages low so that experienced drivers quit the industry, allowing carriers to hire less expensive rookie drivers.

If true, this would allow large carriers to undercut their competition with cheap freight rates. That would make it harder for carriers who pay their drivers well to compete, driving them out of business. The large carriers could then eat up that market share and replace the well-paid drivers with cheap rookies, again driving down average freight costs and starting the cycle all over again. This could theoretically lead to large carriers hauling a much greater percentage of freight, earning large carriers more money and allowing them more influence in the marketplace.

But despite the findings of the report, ATA’s leadership continues to assert that the driver shortage is real.

Tim’s thought on this:

At the end of the day go ask trucking companies and go ask for-hire truckload carriers if they can find enough drivers. At the company I work at right now, we have enough drivers. We treat them well, compensate them well, and seriously respect them. We do not have the issues the rest of the industry does because we do not partake in that nonsense. Maybe the rest of the industry should do the same.

Should you use rub rails for cargo securement?

Some would call this improper load securement, – and I would be one of them.

This has been a long going discussion with drivers. This is also a topic that I have witnessed first hand give major grief to many a driver when the rub rail failed. The decision is yours to make, but there are good reasons NOT to route tie-downs on the outside of the rub rails or attach them to the rub rails:

  • If your chains or straps are located outside the rub rails and you rub the trailer against a wall, barricade, or another object, your tie-downs — and not the rub rails — could take the brunt of the impact. And it goes without saying that damaged tie-downs are dangerous, potentially leading to an out-of-service vehicle, damaged cargo, and/or a serious accident.
  • Rub rails are normally designed to protect tie-downs, not support them. In fact, most rub rails are not rated by the manufacturer for cargo securement purposes. Given the abuse many rub rails are subject to, they may not be strong enough to serve as anchor points, especially when constructed of aluminum which can bend and crack easily. Stake pockets are a better choice for securing tie-downs.
  • I have even seen overwidth violations because the chains and binders were outside of the width of the trailer. Overwidth is overwidth.
  • I have watcher loaders hit the rub rail, and do damage to chains and straps during the loading process. Again, this is why the rub rail is there, to protect your cargo securement devices.

Of course, there are times when you have no other choice but to route tie-downs outside the rub rails or attach them directly to the rub rails. Drivers must use their best judgment when determining how best to route and attach tie-downs. But they should always keep the risks in mind: tie-downs routed outside the rails could become damaged, and rub rails to which tie-downs are attached could fail.

There are many resources out there to learn about cargo securement. Here is one link that I think really gives a good understanding of the whole process. I am not endorsing this link but I do feel that you may learn a thing or two.

Securing the Load: A Guide to Safe and Legal Transportation of Cargo and Equipment

Download a printable PDF of this publication.

Five new board members elected to OOIDA Board of Directors

By Land Line staff | 2/6/2019

When the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Board of Directors meet in April, they will be seating five new alternate board members.

Every two years, OOIDA’s voting members cast ballots to elect alternates to the Association’s Board of Directors. Voting for the two-year alternate positions closed on Jan. 31 with five new alternates elected. On Feb 6, Bob Esler, chairman of OOIDA’s Nomination-Election Committee, announced the names of the newly elected alternates.

The new alternate board members are Linda Allen of Spring Hill, Fla.; Rodney Morine of Opelausas, La.; Brad Peterson of Brookings, S.D.; Danny Schnautz of Pasadena, Texas; and M. Carl Smith of Marysville, Ohio.

Linda Allen entered the trucking industry 10 years ago during the economic recession, when both she and her husband lost their jobs. At the time, her husband knew how to drive a truck so they both got their CDLs, bought a truck and obtained their own authority. Linda says she knew virtually nothing about the industry or the business at that time, but then she learned about OOIDA.

Senior OOIDA member Rodney Morine comes from a trucking family. His grandfather, his father and his uncles were all truckers. Rodney says he knew from the time he was 5 years old that he wanted to join the family trucking ranks.

Brad Peterson joined OOIDA seven years ago, because he wanted to belong to an organization that helps in all aspects of trucking. Brad reads Land Line religiously to stay informed on industry issues as well as follows trucking news and listens to Road Dog radio. He believes education is one of the keys to succeeding in trucking.

Senior Member Danny Schnautz’s love for trucking and his passion for the industry started much earlier than most. Danny’s father was a trucker, and the truck was Danny’s first daycare. He took his first truck ride at just 2 days old, and trucking has been in his blood ever since.

Carl Smith first joined OOIDA in 1983 and has been in trucking most of his adult life. Carl knew he wanted to be a truck driver at age 12. After high school, he joined the Army and learned to drive as part of his training. Carl bought his first truck in 1983 through a lease-purchase program with Riss International in Kansas City, paid off that truck and bought a new one in 1985.

The new alternates will be sworn in by OOIDA President Todd Spencer at the spring meeting of the OOIDA Board of Directors.

INDOT And Parked Semi Trucks

This is a great informational video that you can listen to with good information that needs to be circulated to all the drivers out on our roads.

If you combine this with the efforts that “Jason’s Law” you can see that things are going in the right direction on parking safety.

Wise Systems automates dispatch and routing for trucking fleets

Allison Parker Vp of Marketing at Wise Systems

Trucking fleets of today are looking at far better margins than what they would have bargained for a few decades back – a scenario made possible in part by bolstering operations with technology. For shippers, terms like visibility and transparency get thrown around more often, which is in line with the meteoric rise of e-commerce and the consumer expectations that surfaced in its wake.

However, there does exist a disconnect in the rhetoric between shippers and carriers, as carriers struggle to keep up with demanding levels of customer service while also having an eye out for operational efficiency. Wise Systems, a startup based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is working to bridge the gap by developing machine learning systems that automates dispatch and routing.

“Wise Systems builds a fully automated system that lets teams manage their entire fleet with cloud-based machine learning and artificial intelligence software,” said Allison Parker, Vice President of Marketing at the company. “We are getting deliveries done on time and as per plan, even if you’re managing fleets with hundreds of drivers with 20+ stops per day. Autonomous dispatch routing lets you plan, manage, and coordinate all aspects of deliveries with complete visibility.”

Wise Systems

Parker mentioned that Anheuser-Busch, one of the staple clients of Wise Systems, has decreased late deliveries by as much as 85 percent after implementing the technology. “This is because the company now plans and manages all the challenges on the day of delivery that it might encounter – like traffic delays, weather delays, or something as location-specific as a blocked loading dock, would mean the driver can’t get in and make the delivery quite as planned,” she said.

“These are examples of factors that Wise Systems manages around, as it does not look only at individual deliveries and all the constraints associated with them, but also looks at the entire day plan of the driver, as well as fleets.”

Parker contended that the edge Wise Systems has over similar applications is its perpetual push to implement machine learning algorithms to every data set that is gathered onboard, helping predict and plan operations better. In addition, the company understands distinct roles in the operational construct, having an eagle-eye view over the delivery chain and focusing in particular on the role of the driver.

“Our system functions a bit like a relationship management platform for the driver, so that he or she can capture all the key bits of information about the locations they drive to. So, if someone is covering a location on a different day or when the regular driver is on vacation, the fleet owner knows everything about what’s going on there,” said Parker. “Based on this, we can understand a given driver’s performance at a given location, and if there’s variation, we can recommend over time which driver might be the optimal choice for future deliveries depending on how you’re building your schedule.”

Although at the core of its functioning lies a real-time data feed, the company also banks on historical data and third-party data streams that could help dissect an individual order. For instance, if a driver is delivering beverages to convenience stores, every store would have a different specification with regard to delivery time windows, and it is critical for the truck to deliver freight within the time constraint to avoid being penalized.

Wise Systems Route Optimization Software

To be mindful of this is to understand the times when loading docks would be busy, the traffic flow within city boundaries, and personnel work schedules at the convenience store to have a seamless delivery process in place. “The system understands all this – when the driver arrives on site, how long it takes while he is there, and when he departs from the site,” said Parker. “This is where machine learning comes in, taking in all the different variables to not just be predictive but also be prescriptive by telling the user the exact outcome of a specific schedule.”

Wise Systems has recently raised $7 million in Series A funding from Gradient Ventures, the artificial intelligence-focused fund for Google. Parker remarked that the company has been very modest with its capital needs to date, which is indicative of it switching gears from research and development to growth of late. “We are now looking at product expansion as well as other operational roles that will help scale the company for the next few years,” she said.

Could this be the future for trucking? Something to think about& we will discuss soon.