TDMST Weekly Round-Up: 2019.07.27

This is the TDMST Weekly Round-Up of news affecting professional truck drivers, written by Vicki Simons for the week ending July 27, 2019.

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


TDMST Weekly Round-Up

1. Regarding the so-called trucker shortage:

Numerous articles this week covered the “trucker shortage” report from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), including this one and this one.

According to a July 25, 2019, article:

  • “The nation is short more than 60,000 drivers and the deficit is going to grow.”
  • “Most economists say there is an easy solution to such a labor imbalance — higher pay.”
  • “All the trucking industry has to do is make pay and working conditions good enough to drag workers from other industries.”

Furthermore, as has been cited before, there are plenty of new drivers entering the trucking industry, but they don’t stick around.

  • “Driver wages do not reflect the skills, sacrifices and long hours which drivers experience and possess. You can’t be paid by the mile and regulated by a clock.”
  • “The driver shortage will be resolved only when drivers receive wages which demonstrate a fair reflection of their skill, sacrifice and long hours, and they are valued for all their time.”

One trucker wrote (in part) on Facebook:

WAKE UP PEOPLE, and recognize REALITY vs THEIR LIES..!!!

If there really is a ‘DRIVER SHORTAGE’ in the transportation industry, than freight rates would be amazingly high right now. Remember the ‘SUPPLY AND DEMAND’ economic rule..? Because every shipper and broker would be struggling to get a driver to take their loads. And we all know that’s NOT what’s happening out here right now.

2. Regarding a non-truck route accident:

Several articles this week covered the “accident” that took place when a trucker attempted to take his truck across a historic rural bridge with a weight restriction in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

These articles were written hereherehere and here.

I wrote the following on our Facebook page on July 23:

This is the first article we’ve ever read that specifically states that a trucker followed routing from Google Maps and ended up collapsing a bridge with a weight restriction.

Do NOT use Google Maps for routing a commercial motor vehicle (CMV)!!!

Google Maps do NOT have truck routing.

Furthermore, non-CMV specific GPS units do NOT have truck routing.

Instead, obtain and learn how to use a Motor Carriers Road Atlas (aka truckers atlas).

Regarding the situation referred to in the article from CDL Life, for over 100 years, the bridge remained on its support.

Chances are very good that if the trucker hadn’t struck and then attempted to cross the bridge, it would have remained on its support.

On top of the fine, we think that it would be perfectly reasonable for Grand Forks, North Dakota, to lay the entire cost of reconstructing the bridge on the trucker and his trucking company.

Just saying.

3. Regarding trucker pay:

A July 18, 2019, article stated, “Convoy study finds independent truckers earn more than company drivers.”

There are numerous statistics in the article, including:

  • “The top 10 percent of owner-operators earn 52 percent more per hour than company drivers. That’s about $19,200 more annually after controlling for demographic factors…”
  • “Owner-operators also work about 2 percent more hours.”
  • “When not controlling for [demographic] differences, owner-operators earn about $6,000 more annually than company drivers.”

Separately, there was a new wrinkle regarding being paid for off-duty time in a sleeper berth.

According to a July 23, 2019, article, “the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) … said the time drivers are relieved of all duties and permitted to sleep in a sleeper berth is presumptively nonworking time that is not compensable.”

The article further quoted Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA:

A primary duty of a truck driver’s job is waiting, but unfortunately they are paid by the mile and nothing for their time. If drivers were simply paid for all time worked, this issue would not likely have been brought to court.

This issue was also addressed here and polled here.

4. Regarding maintenance for older vehicles:

A July 23, 2019, article listed a number of “tips to keep older vehicles road ready”, including:

  • checking brakes;
  • monitoring oil usage;
  • maintaining shocks and struts;
  • keeping the alignment correct;
  • optimizing tire pressure; and
  • more.

5. Regarding reasons for buying a new truck:

Two reasons were cited as the reason why fleets are buying new trucks, to:

  • “save on fuel” and
  • “retain their best drivers”.

Regarding the former, the article cites a Fleet Advantage study, which cited that “upgrading from a 2012 to a 2019 sleeper cab model saves $26,687 in annual fuel costs.”

6. Regarding autonomous trucks:

A July 16, 2019, article addressed driving “autonomous trucks” via remote control or “remote teleoperators”.

Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, co-founder and chief executive of Starsky Robotics, stated:

We believe that humans are far better at navigating many of the nuances of driving than even the most advanced computer systems. That’s why we use a combination of autonomy and human decision making. Our trucks are autonomous on a highway and remote controlled by drivers for the first and last mile.

I am pleased that this autonomous trucking company executive recognizes the superiority of human operators!

Separately, if you’re so inclined and can get past the irony, you can now “take a college class to learn how to drive self-driving trucks“.

7. Regarding smuggling people:

“A truck driver was arrested last week after attempting to smuggle 31 illegal immigrants into the United States inside of a tractor-trailer,” stated a July 25, 2019, article.

The price of human life and health — and the price of your trucking career — are too high for anyone to ever attempt to smuggle people across the border in a truck.

Don’t do it!

8. Regarding workers compensation fraud:

According to a July 24, 2019, article, “A California truck driver… pleaded guilty for his role in a scam to illegally obtain workers’ compensation benefits …”.

Noteworthy points regarding this situation are:

  • He must make restitution of $27,955;
  • He must “serve 180 days in… jail as a condition of his probation”; and
  • He [faces] “up to 5 years in jail”.

In my opinion, because of his “false statement of a material fact”, it is likely that he will have a hard time getting a job in the future.

Be honest. Tell the truth.

9. Regarding rear-end truck crashes:

What in the world is going on?!?!

I keep reading about truckers who don’t slow down their trucks when they encounter slowed or stopped traffic — and therefore end up rear-ending the vehicles in front of them, often resulting in injuries or fatalities.

Among the articles posted recently were:

  • a trucker who “failed to slow for stopped traffic in a construction zone along I-70 on Saturday resulting in a 4-vehicle crash that left three people dead.” (linklink); and
  • a trucker who “slammed into slowed traffic on Interstate 465” — “drove into slowed traffic at a fast speed” — caused a 7-vehicle crash and killed a mother and her twin toddlers. (link).

Pay attention to the traffic around you and be prepared to slow or stop at any time.

10. Regarding truck parking, parking fines and tolls:

A county commissioner in Clark County, Nevada, is taking action regarding “illegally parked big rigs” this way:

“Violators would face a $100 fine for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for each subsequent offense.”

There are a number of truck parking apps that have been created to help truckers find parking for their rigs, one of which was described in a July 23, 2019, article.

If you use any of these apps, would you please write a service review to let us know various aspects of it that you like and don’t like?

Separately, it is not your imagination if you think that the Pennsylvania Turnpike keeps hiking toll rates.

This article stated: “Tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike will be increasing by 6% across the board in 2020. It will be the 12th year in a row that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) passed a toll increase.”

11. Regarding being stranded by a shutdown carrier:

“Another large carrier has shut down without warning, leaving hundreds of drivers stranded nationwide,” according to this article.

This situation was also addressed here and here.

We encourage truckers to have enough saved up in an emergency fund to get home when they’re in situations like this.

However, do everything in your power not to abandon a truck!

12. Regarding low clearances:

There’s an interesting photo accompanying a July 25, 2019, article about how “Drivewyze, provider of PreClear weigh station bypass service, has launched its new Drivewyze Safety Notifications service.”

The photo showed a bright yellow screen with a 12’6″ clearance diamond and the words:(a)

Proceed with caution.

Aack! No!

If you’re driving a rig with a 13’6″ height and you’re encountering a low clearance bridge with a 12’6″ clearance, DO NOT PROCEED!

Pull over where it is safe and legal to do so, but do not attempt to take your truck under the bridge because you’ll never make it.

Always know the height of your truck.

Never attempt to take your rig in places too short to pass under or through, including:

  • low bridges,
  • short tunnels and
  • low-hanging wires (ab).

13. Regarding Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT) published an article entitled “10 things to know about Heavy Vehicle Use Tax“, which answers such questions as:

  • Who needs to pay the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax?
  • When is the tax due?
  • and many others.

14. Regarding inhumane anti-idling laws:

While we have previously written a great deal about

a video embedded in a July 19, 2019, article brings this matter to life.

Heat-related illness is real.

Furthermore, your ability to do your trucker job well depends upon your ability to get good, deep, restorative sleep.

If you are unable to sleep or rest comfortably in your truck, determine what you need to do to make that a reality.

Contact your driver manager immediately for a workable solution, perhaps this one.

Your health, your life, and the lives of the motoring public around you may be at stake.

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: 2019.07.27 to our TDMST Weekly Round-Up Trucking Commentary or our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips home page.


a.×605.jpg (no longer online)