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Goodyear honors 3 drivers at 35th annual Highway Heroes award presentation

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From left are Goodyear Marketing Director Gary Medalis, the 2018 Goodyear Highway Hero Award winner, Frank Vieira, and finalists Brian Bucenell and Ryan Moody. (The Trucker: KLINT LOWRY)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Brian Bucenell hails from Richmond, Virginia. Ryan Moody calls Tacoma, Washington, home. And Frank Vieira resides in Ancaster, Ontario, about 55 miles (or 89.5 kilometers, as he would say) southwest of Toronto.

You would imagine fate would have to put in some overtime to ever bring these three veteran drivers together for any reason, much less to share a spotlight in Louisville, Kentucky.

Yet there they were. On Thursday, immediately after the first day of the Mid-America Trucking Show, a crowd gathered at the nearby Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport Expo Center hotel to celebrate serendipity’s fait accompli, and three standup guys, as the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company marked the 35th anniversary of its Highway Hero Award.

Each year since 1983, Goodyear has honored professional truck drivers who perform extraordinary acts of heroism, often at risk to themselves. This year, Bucenall, Moody and Vieira were the three finalists for the award.

Gary Medalis, marketing director for Goodyear, said that over the years, the Highway Heroes award has honored drivers who have saved children’s lives, come to the aid of police officers and have performed numerous other feats of bravery. He added that the three drivers selected as finalists this year are all fine choices as the award — the oldest of its kind in trucking — marks this milestone year.

The incidents that led to these three drivers being nominated for the Highway Hero Award were about as far-flung from one another as their hometowns, with one thing in common: They all exhibited personal and professional cool under pressure.

For Bucenell, it all started just after he’d merged onto the Ohio Turnpike near Toledo. He heard chatter on the CB about a high-speed chase going on somewhere in the vicinity. Moments later, Bucenell saw several state troopers in his rearview mirror chasing a car and gaining on him fast.

Just then, he came upon a construction zone. “We lost the far left lane,” he said. “It went from three lanes to two lanes. They put up a concrete barrier, blocking it off.”

When the car reached Bucenell’s truck another truck was running alongside. Bucenell said the car tried to pass him on the left, saw the barrier, then cut back behind him.

From that point on, Bucenell said, the car kept trying to pass, to the left, to the right, between the two trucks. Every time he moved, Bucenell, who’s been driving professionally for 10 years, moved over just enough to cut him off.

“I know my truck pretty well,” Bucenell said. “It was a mixture of his lack of experience and my knowing my truck. I think that’s what let me be able to stop him.”

Finally, the driver tried to swerve on the shoulder again. “I just whipped it toward the guardrail and stopped,” Bucenell said. The car was trapped, and the chase, which Bucenell later found out had reached 100 mph at one point, was over.

“There were 20 cop cars on him in the blink of an eye. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bucenell said.

Moody’s incident happened when he was fighting traffic on a Chicago freeway. The only reason he was on that stretch of highway was because he’d missed the turnoff to the highway he had wanted to use.

As he was driving along, three motorcycles passed him. A biker himself, Moody remembered admiring the bikes and thinking, “Man, I wish I was riding right now.”

The motorcyclists got a few car lengths ahead of him, and two of them started to take an exit. As far as he could tell the third biker’s wheels locked up for some reason and he went end-over-end.

Moody said for a split second he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to stop, but he not only stopped but he swerved his truck to block traffic and prevent anyone else from running over the downed biker.

Moody then jumped out of his truck and tended to the unconscious motorcyclist, who was bleeding from a head injury. Moody literally gave him the shirt off his back, wrapping it around the man’s head, while trying to calm down other bystanders who’d stopped.

Moody said he’s ex-military, as was his dad, so all his life it’s been ingrained in him when things “hit the fan, you deal with it.”

Moody stayed with the motorcyclist until paramedics arrived. They later credited him with saving the man’s life.

“One of the officers said, ‘hey, do you want your shirt back?’ I said, no that’s his now.”

Vieira, who marked his 30th anniversary as a driver last year, was driving near Toronto one day when he heard a loud crash on a two-lane stretch of highway, looked over his shoulder and saw that a car on the other side of the road had slammed into the back of a stationary roll-off truck.

Vieira parked his truck, ran to the car, and found the driver, whose neck had been pierced by a piece of his own vehicle’s steering wheel, which had snapped off on impact.

“He had this thing on the right side of the neck, Vieira said.

Immediately, he placed one of his hands over the still-conscious motorist’s wound and applied direct pressure, while using his other hand to call for help. As he was doing this, the driver of the truck that had been hit had walked up, saw the impaled motorist, and fainted. Vieira said he didn’t even notice him until he saw the driver sprawled out on the ground, his legs lying over the line into the opposing lane of traffic. Without letting go of the first driver, Vieira managed to use his foot to pull the leg of the truck driver who had fainted away from traffic. Emergency personnel arrived and took over. Both men survived.

Vieira was surprised it’s become such a big thing, the attention he’s getting. Like the others, he was there and did what needed doing. “It’s a great feeling to be appreciated.”

“When I think about it, it seemed like it took half an hour, but it all happened in maybe four minutes,” Vieira said. He was so in the moment, he’s not even sure how he managed to do everything at once the way he did. “Not much thought goes through your mind; you just do it.”

After the incident he didn’t think much of it, either. “I was actually going to let this fly under the table and not talk about it,” he said. But word got around and before he knew it other people were congratulating him on his heroism. It’s the one aspect of his experience he shares with his fellow nominees.

 

“I don’t feel like a hero,” Bucenell said. “I didn’t literally safe anybody’s life. I never felt heroic about it. I felt like I did what was right.” When he heard he’d been nominated for the Goodyear Highway Hero award, he first thought one of his buddies was pulling a prank on him.

Moody also downplayed his incident. “To me I was just at the right place at the right time,” he said. “Somebody needed help and I was there. I don’t feel like I need any recognition; I just did the right thing.”

But others felt otherwise, and as it has for the previous 34 years, Goodyear put them in the spotlight.  In the end, Vieira was named the winner of the top Highway Hero honor. Days after he heard the decision, he continued to wear the hero’s mantle with humility.

“If it inspires other drivers, great. The more we help, the better this world becomes, right?”

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Stay Metrics releases Stay Ahead as new platform for survey products

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As the centerpiece of the Stay Ahead platform, Stay Metrics is introducing a new tool for reducing early-stage driver turnover (drivers who leave within the first year with your carrier, what Stay Metrics calls “new-to-you” drivers). (Courtesy: STAY METRICS)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Stay Metrics, a provider of driver retention tools for motor carriers, has released Stay Ahead, a new platform for its suite of driver survey products, which include onboarding surveys, fleetwide ongoing/annual surveys and exit/departure surveys.

Joining these surveys is a powerful new feature that lets carriers make the most of their data, according to Mary Malone, vice president of business development.

“The Stay Ahead tool helps carriers stay ahead of turnover, stay ahead of driver satisfaction, and stay ahead of growing their fleets,” Malone said. “It’s solidly focused on the future and making that future as successful for carriers as possible.”

As the centerpiece of this new platform, Stay Metrics is introducing a new tool for reducing early-stage driver turnover (drivers who leave within the first year with your carrier, what Stay Metrics calls “new-to-you” drivers).

The Intervention Opportunities feature makes Stay Metrics’ proven onboarding surveys even more effective by pointing out exactly which drivers need attention to stay during their first year, Malone said.

“This feature comes with a redesign and significant upgrade to Stay Metrics’ Self-Service Reportal for clients to see their data and analytics. It provides on-demand access to a wide range of reports, providing full transparency and powerful options for tracking drivers’ satisfaction and retention,” she said.

The Stay Ahead portal works with the onboarding surveys to alert carriers any time a driver appears to be at risk of leaving. The at-risk status of drivers is determined based on a Stay Metrics proprietary model that identifies at-risk drivers based on previous research.

Carriers can also filter drivers based on their alerts and willingness to recommend the carrier.

An additional helpful component is the ability to export all drivers that have intervention opportunities on a spreadsheet. Stay Metrics recommends that carriers check the system once per week and export this list as a checklist for their driver calls that week, Malone said.

“At a certain size of carrier, you can’t realistically call everyone each week,” said Tim Hindes, Stay Metrics co-founder and CEO. “That’s why this feature is so helpful. It helps teams prioritize their calling time to reach the drivers that need it most and provides suggested topics for those conversations. The combination of who to call and what to talk about makes this the most actionable tool on the market for driver engagement and satisfaction.”

In addition to intervention opportunities, the Stay Ahead tool also brings to the forefront any questions drivers have after taking their surveys.

“This powerful communications tool lets carriers know what information drivers need right now,” Hindes said. “These questions have always been collected by Stay Metrics and sent to carriers as Intervention Alerts, which will continue, but now carriers can export a checklist as a helpful tool to make sure the team addresses each one.”

Industry professionals and media are invited to attend a free webinar demonstrating how the Stay Ahead platform and its new features work on September 18 at 2 p.m. EDT. To register go to https://www.staymetrics.com/webinar/.

“I honestly believe this could be a revolution in how carriers onboard new drivers and keep them beyond the first year,” Hindes adds.

Carriers can find out more about each of the surveys that are part of the Stay Ahead platform on the Stay Metrics website at staymetrics.com.  8

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Daimler celebrates 750,000th unit produced at Cleveland, N.C., plant

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The 750,000th truck produced at Cleveland Truck Manufacturing, a Freightliner new Cascadia, pictured in front of the plant. (Courtesy: DAIMLER TRUCKS NORTH AMERICA)

CLEVELAND, N.C. — Daimler Trucks North America on August 26 commemorated the production of the 750,000th vehicle built at its Cleveland, North Carolina, truck manufacturing plant.

Keys to the milestone vehicle — a Freightliner new Cascadia — were presented to representatives from United Parcel Service during a ceremony at the facility.

“Over the past 30 years, our Cleveland plant has served as the foundation for our North American manufacturing operations and has been an integral part of our growth, innovation and leadership,” said Roger Nielsen, president and CEO, Daimler Trucks North America. “This production landmark demonstrates both customer acceptance of our solutions and the strength of our team. As we continue to evolve our product offerings and technologies, the Cleveland facility will remain a critical part of our strategy and success.”

“UPS celebrates this landmark achievement alongside DTNA as we accept the 750,000th truck produced by the Cleveland truck manufacturing plant,” says Carlton Rose, president of global fleet maintenance and engineering at UPS. “We applaud the efforts made by thousands of employees across UPS, DTNA, and Peach State Trucks Centers to bring this milestone to fruition. This accomplishment signifies our companies’ continued success as collaboration transforms technology and service defines the customer experience.”

Freightliner Trucks acquired the plant in 1989 and started producing the Freightliner Medium Conventional, a day cab truck model based on a Mercedes-Benz cabin mounted on an American chassis.

Over the years, the product line-up at Cleveland has evolved as DTNA’s newest innovations entered the marketplace.

Today, in addition to the Class 8 new Cascadia, the Cleveland plant also produces the Western Star 4700, 4900 and 5700XE truck models, and the Freightliner Coronado and Columbia for the right-hand drive Australian and New Zealand markets.

Since the first truck rolled off the line in Cleveland, DTNA has invested more than $350 million in the facility, including a recent $27 million investment to add a new logistics center with state-of-the-art technologies to support the company’s lean supply chain practices.

More than 2,200 people are employed at the Cleveland facility, DTNA’s largest manufacturing plant in the U.S.

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Stevens Transport driver Dwight Arnold name trucking’s top rookie

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Dwight Arnold accepts the winner’s check for $10,000 after being named trucking’s top rookie during the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas August 23. (Courtesy: STEVENS TRANSPORT)

DALLAS — Dwight Arnold, a driver for Stevens Transport, has been named the 2019 Mike O’Connell Trucking’s Top Rookie Award.

Presentation of the award was made August 23 during the Great American Trucking Show here.

Arnold, 38, lives in Clarksville, Tennessee. He won $10,000 and prizes from the RoadPro Family of Brands and Rand McNally. Arnold also received $1,000 from his company for winning the award.

“It gives you a buffer so I can work harder and get more done, clear debt and prepare a better life for my family,” he said of winning and the cash prize. “It’s a dream come true.”

According to the Stevens Transport website, Arnold was born in Kissimmee, Florida, and raised in Jacksonville, Florida.

In 2001, Arnold, joined the United States Army and during his time in the service, served as an ammunition specialist, military recruiter and a special unit transportation officer.

Arnold received many awards in the Army, including the Army Commendation Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two stars.

After retiring from the service in August 2014, Arnold said he wanted a profession that matched what he was already used to doing and allowed him to see his family more.

Having experience in the transportation industry, he realized that a profession as a truck driver would be the perfect fit and obtained his CDL from Tennessee Truck Driving School and graduated from orientation at Stevens in August of 2018.

Today, Arnold is a member of the Stevens Independent Contractor Division and is driving in the company’s Kraft dedicated fleet.

“Trucking has given me the opportunity to make a better home dynamic for me and my family,” Arnold said. “As for my future plans with Stevens, I’m hoping to start a fleet with four to five trucks and I also hope to build financial stability with my family, thanks to the financial success that I have had with trucking so far.”

Arnold’s driver manager DeAnthony Montgomery spoke high praise about Arnold’s success at Stevens.

“Dwight is a driver that I know will complete every task presented to him with a positive attitude,” Montgomery said. “He consistently delivers every load on time and is a very motivated and exemplary driver. I am glad to have him on my team.”

Arnold was one of 11 finalists for the award.

The other 10 finalists, the driver training school they attended and their employer include:

  • Aaron Pratt, Maverick Transportation, Maverick Transportation
  • Bradley Chislett, National Tractor Trailer School, H.O. Wolding
  • Daniel Walton, Roehl Transport, Roehl Transport
  • Jaron Grier, New England Tractor Trailer Training School, U.S.Xpress
  • Kandy Qualls, United Truck Driving School, Earl L. Henderson Trucking Co.
  • Matthew Hepburn, Miller-Motte College, Melton Truck Lines
  • Oday Alhousha, CDL Xpress School, Hogan Transport
  • Pamela Girton (Coffman), Tulsa Technology Center, Groendyke Transport
  • Thomas Blitch, Roadmaster Drivers School, Werner Enterprises, Inc.
  • Tyria Snow, Diesel Driving Academy, TMC Transportation

Each received $1,000 and a prize package.

The award is named after the late Mike O’Connell, who was formerly the executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, and who originated the idea of the award.

O’Connell said he believed that honoring a top rookie driver helped show new drivers they are appreciated by the trucking industry. 8

 

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