TDMST Weekly Round-Up: 2017.08.19

This is the TDMST Weekly Round-Up of news affecting professional truck drivers, written by Vicki Simons for the week ending August 19, 2017.

We welcome your comments, thoughts and feedback on the items of your choice below.


TDMST Weekly Round-Up

1. Definition: a total solar eclipse occurs when the moon fully blocks the sun.

This year’s eclipse will be seen on Monday, August 21 in all contiguous states in the USA while a total solar eclipse will be seen in 14 states.

An August 16, 2017, article
– states that “several states in the path of the total eclipse have issued restrictions to truck drivers” and
– contains a list of “warnings and tips for all drivers, including truck operators” by the U.S. DOT.

Another article predicts “epic traffic jams” on Monday.

Out of safety concerns, at least one trucking company will be shutting down on Monday.

The trucking company’s president is frustrated that they won’t be able to operate, but said that operating on that day isn’t worth the risk.

Stay safe, drivers, and remember that amateurs and professionals alike share the road.


2. Smile! You’re on camera!

Two articles in recent days have described unsafe trucker practices in the UK:
– Lorry drivers with at least one hand — and sometimes both hands(!) — off the steering wheel (link); and
– A trucker who was videoed rolling down the road who was oblivious to smoke pouring out of his truck because he was on a cell phone (link).

Don’t let this be you!

You’re a professional.

So don’t become distracted — or allow yourself to become complacent — while you’re driving.


3. An August 16, 2017, article states, “Gangsters operating at a major local market in North Korea’s Chongjin city are extorting money from truck drivers and local merchants, charging them large ‘fees’ for permission to transport their goods, sources in the sanctions-hit country say.”

It seems reasonable that this matter would be cleared up by their local law enforcement, right?

Well, further down in the article, we read: “The gangsters, many of them former convicts, demand payment ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 Chinese yuan (U.S. $149 to $224), and give 40 percent of what they take to police officers working at the market, the source said.”

So, how can this extortion situation be solved?


4. “Indentured servitude” is how one man described his time in a truck driver training school run by a trucking company in an August 15, 2017, article.(*)

“Interviews with dozens of truck drivers, instructors, and industry experts yield a grim picture, in which the schools set up by trucking companies to prepare their next crop of drivers may leave students on the hook for thousands of dollars in training fees, with poor job prospects,” the article states.

We have warned prospective truck drivers about situations like this through the free CDL and being exploited pages of our site.

Don’t let the lure of “getting something for nothing” put you in a trap.

There is no such thing as a free lunch.


5. Of the list of professional truck drivers’ Top 10 Peeves, which three are at the top of your list? Please comment below.


6. Even though the FMCSA says that nearly 850 professional truck drivers are killed annually in crashes, one truck driver “estimates the number of deaths and medical emergencies on the road could be three to four thousand annually”, according to an August 14, 2017, article.(**)

Read about, “a non-profit charity that helps truckers stranded, alone, in hospitals because of medical emergencies.”


7. An August 12, 2017, article indicated that it’s going to be more difficult to replace professional truck drivers than the trucking industry thinks because of all of the other tasks that truckers do.

Yep. I wrote about that on our site — Will Driverless Truckers Ever Take Over the Trucking Industry? — quite some time back.


8. In direct opposition to what was written in a June 16, 2017, article about a “truck that refuses to crash”, an August 2, 2017, article refers to “unavoidable traffic collisions”.

Uh huh. Thought so.

Newton’s First Law of Motion combined with the fact that mechanical parts wear out should have told anyone that at least some traffic collisions are unavoidable.

Even if every vehicle on the road was run by a robot, some trucks will simply break down and provide the impetus for a crash. It’s inevitable.


9. The image of an “Autonomous Vehicle” license plate from the state of Nevada — as shown in this August 1, 2017, article — speaks volumes.


10. This August 2, 2017, article is the first time I’ve ever read about “Metal 3D-printed parts for trucks”.

What pros or cons might this present to the trucking industry overall?


11. This topic keeps coming up. An August 13, 2017, article stated,

The Pennsylvania and Delaware transportation departments will conduct a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) pilot program in conjunction with the I-95 Corridor Coalition.

The goal is to study whether a VMT tax is a viable way to raise funds for highway construction.

How would a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax impact the trucking industry overall and your trucker paycheck specifically?

( no longer online)


12. Last week, I attended a webinar hosted by entitled “Listening to the Voice of the Driver can Ease the Shortage”. A couple of folks seemed knowledgeable about the topic but definitely left out a few things that affect driver pay and satisfaction on the job (which I left as feedback).

According to an August 14, 2017, companion article, the expert from the National Transportation Institute indicated that,
– “The average age of the truck driver is 52 and each year that number continues to increase” and
– “our prediction remains nearly flat for driver pay.”

In order to help offset the negatives, the “best practices” for “driver satisfaction” are:
– Appreciation;
– Using advanced technology to attract talent;
– Have a plan around retention;
– Pay and benefit;
– Treatment;
– Employee involvement and training; and
– Recognition and performance management.

Now this is interesting: the group director of talent acquisition at Ryder System advised carriers regarding “Pay and benefits” that they “be in line with what the market is paying and the environment in which they’re operating.”

And yet it was clear during the webinar that “For-Hire driver income is much more volatile than [it is for] Private Fleets”.

One slide showed that no matter which area of the USA was being examined, the median W-2 income for truckers driving for private fleets greatly surpassed the income of truckers driving for for-hire fleets.

Which of the “best practices” listed above — or one not even listed — most motivates you to stay at or leave a trucking company?


My husband Mike and I wish you — and all professional truck drivers — safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road.

Return from TDMST Weekly Round-Up: 2017.08.19 to our TDMST Weekly Round-Up Trucking Commentary or our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips home page.


* (no longer online)

** (no longer online)