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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, some of this stuff is getting redundant

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Oh, man, it’s column time again.

You know what? I’m going to have to be straight with you. There isn’t a darned thing I feel like talking about this time around. This is one of those “slow news” periods you hear about, and there really isn’t a whole lot going on in the trucking universe these days, at least nothing to write a column about. Things almost always slow down around the holidays. And now the midterm election is over and done with. In the weeks leading up to it everyone was playing the “What could it mean? What could it mean?” game. Then for a few weeks everyone played the “What will it mean? What will it mean?” game, which all adds up to a whole lot of nothing.

Speaking of which, the other day we had a meeting – boy, I’ll tell you what, that is one thing I envy you drivers for, you don’t have to sit in on staff meetings. Especially teleconferences, those are the worst. Half the time what they are talking about has nothing to do with you, and so you just have to sit there – it’s excruciating. The only good thing with teleconferences is, unlike traditional conferences around a table, you don’t have to even look like you’re paying attention.

I swear, there are times you can get up after an hour thinking, “Wait, did we decide on anything, about anything, aside from when the next meeting will be?”

But this wasn’t a teleconference. This meeting had a purpose. We were trying to figure out our editorial game plan for the near future. For inspiration, we looked at the just-released annual ATRI report on top industry concerns to see what we could tackle that we hadn’t covered lately.

We went down the list of carrier concerns, then the list of driver concerns.

Whaddaya know? We’ve done them all. Some of them repeatedly,

If anything, going over the list only emphasized how many issues there are in trucking that never seem to go away. Week after week, month after month, year after year, sometimes for decades, they are talked about and talked about. Studies are done. Programs and legislation are proposed. Then someone objects to the proposal and alternate programs and legislation are proposed. Then it stalls out, so someone decides to do another study.

These issues may evolve, but they’re never resolved, and we get stuck covering them, every misstep and false step and backtracking step of the way.

For instance, with the election over, everyone’s back to talking about infrastructure. I was hearing about “our crumbling infrastructure” long before I ever thought about writing about trucking, for at least 30 years. Elected officials come and go, and everyone everywhere agrees something needs to be done about it. They’re saying this might finally be the time we get something done.

Uh, huh, I’ve been hearing that for 30 years, too. Tell you what, when you figure something out and the steam shovels start rolling, give me a call.

And I’ve had enough of the autonomous vehicle stories, too. Talking about self-driving vehicles at this point is like talking about a manned mission to Mars. Folks are working on it, great. And they want to make a lot of noise about how they’re working on it. Of course, they do, and that’s largely because they know it will take a long time to convince the public it’s a good idea.

But I don’t think they’re nearly as close as some of the hype would lead us to believe. I’ll go on record saying it’s about 50-50 humans will at least orbit Mars before fully automated vehicles go mainstream.

The lack of truck parking is another issue that makes the ATRI list every year, at least among drivers. For some reason trucking executives never rate it as high, go figure. We keep hearing it’s bad, we keep hearing it’s getting worse. We keep hearing something must be done about it.

So, what’s keeping something from being done about it? The solution is simple. If you need more parking, build more parking. The question is, who’s going to foot the bill?

At the risk of rendering much of trucking journalism moot, that’s why many of these issues have the lifespan of a giant tortoise and move about as quickly – money, plain and simple.

Which brings us to the perpetual driver shortage. Carriers have gotten scared enough that they’ve dynamited their wallets open and started giving raises, to which drivers have responded by saying there’s more to life than money, to which has followed a wave of public soul-searching about trucking culture.

And now it’s popular to beat the drum about opening interstate trucking to 18-year-olds and rolling out the red carpet for veterans. There are some proposals out there, some pilot programs, but of course, it’s going to take a couple years of studies and data crunching to determine how much good these moves will do to relieve trucking’s labor shortage.

More talk, still not much in the way of results, and it gets boring to write about.

Another bold prediction: It’ll help a little, but not that much and not nearly enough.

What would be interesting would be to get a cross-section of industry analysts and try to break down exactly why trucking seems to be perpetually stuck with some of these problems.

Wait a minute – that’s it! That’s what we decided to do at the last meeting! OK, now that could be a cool topic for conversation. Now we’re getting somewhere.

 

 

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The Nation

CDL Meals forms partnership with American Association of Owner-Operators

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CDL Meals offers a variety of organic chef-prepared meals that help drivers make healthy eating choices while on the road. (Courtesy: CDL MEALS)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — CDL Meals, the division of Fresh n’ Lean focusing on healthful meal options for professional truck and bus drivers, has formed a partnership with the American Association of Owner Operators (AAOO).

CDL Meals offers a variety of organic chef-prepared meals that help drivers make healthy eating choices while on the road.

“We could not be more excited to launch our first healthy-eating alliance with AAOO,” said Bob Perry, director of CDL Meals. “We believe that people working in all industries deserve to live a healthy lifestyle and have access to the tools they need to ensure overall wellbeing, despite industry standards and limitations. CDL Meals has already made a positive impact on drivers and through this partnership, more operators can benefit from the quality meal plans.”

The American Association of Owner Operators is a nationwide organization dedicated to providing professional truckers and small fleet owners with the latest technology, benefits and assistance to advance in today’s trucking industry.

Perry said through the partnership, members of the AAOO will have access to CDL’s seasonal menus, free nationwide delivery and the promise of fresh, affordable meals on the road.

“We are so thankful the team at Fresh n’ Lean saw an opening to help improve the wellbeing of those in the trucking industry,” said David Huff, CEO of AAOO. “We are committed to helping drivers stay safe while out on the road so they can get back home to their family and friends. “Good nutrition is the most important part of staying healthy and staying healthy is a huge factor in staying safe. That’s why we are so excited to partner with CDL Meals and provide great tasting meals at an affordable price to our members.”

Perry said CDL Meals is a service formulated especially for commercially licensed drivers to deliver chef-prepared food items anywhere within the U.S. using organic ingredients to create balanced, wholesome meals. Each menu option consists of a combination of protein, healthy carbohydrates, and vegetables. All meals are delivered fresh and can be refrigerated for up to seven days. The vacuum-sealed trays can be heated quickly and enjoyed at any time.

Along with the meals, each purchase comes with a 14-page driver wellness education booklet that includes dietary tips, an exercise plan, and suggestions to improve overall health through simple lifestyle changes.

For more information on CDL Meals, visit www.cdlmeals.com.

For more information on AAOO, visit https://aaofoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

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The Nation

NHTSA: Overall traffic fatalities in 2018 decline 2.4%, 2019 drop likely

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NHTSA said the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled decreased by 3.4 percent (from 1.17 in 2017 to 1.13 in 2018), the lowest fatality rate since 2014. (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Tuesday released highway crash fatality data for 2018, showing a 2.4% decline in overall fatalities, the second consecutive year of reduced crash fatalities.

“This is encouraging news, but still far too many perished or were injured, and nearly all crashes are preventable, so much more work remains to be done to make America’s roads safer for everyone,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said.

The data, compiled by NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), shows that highway fatalities decreased in 2018 with 913 fewer fatalities, down to 36,560 people from 37,473 people in 2017. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled also decreased by 3.4 percent (from 1.17 in 2017 to 1.13 in 2018), the lowest fatality rate since 2014.

The 2018 FARS release also clarifies previously released data on large trucks involved in fatal crashes. NHTSA reexamined supporting material and reclassified several light pickup trucks to an appropriate large truck category (10,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR). As a result, the 9% increase in large-truck-related fatalities reported for 2017 has been revised to 4.9%. For 2018, large-truck related fatalities increased by 0.9 percent. The details of the scope of the changes are documented in the 2018 fatal motor vehicle crashes overview research note.

No data was available on Class 8 tractor-trailer combinations.

Other findings from the 2018 FARS data include:

  • Fatalities among children (14 and younger) declined 10.3%
  • Alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities declined 3.6%
  • Speeding-related fatalities declined 5.7%
  • Motorcyclist fatalities declined 4.7 percent.

“New vehicles are safer than older ones and when crashes occur, more new vehicles are equipped with advanced technologies that prevent or reduce the severity of crashes,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator James Owens said. “NHTSA has spent recent years partnering with state and local governments and safety advocates to urge the public to never drive impaired or distracted, to avoid excessive speed, and to always buckle up.”

Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governor Highway Safety Association (GHSA) said the organization was pleased to see the 2018 decline and the estimated 3.4% dip thus far in 2019.

“A decline in 2019 would mark three straight years of fewer fatalities despite a strong economy, which typically correlates with increased traffic deaths,” he said. “However, the only acceptable level of deaths is zero, and we will not rest until that is achieved.”

Adkins said GHSA was glad to note progress in reducing alcohol-related, speeding-related and motorcyclist fatalities in 2018.

“The tremendous investments made today in highway safety have been beneficial, but clearly not commensurate with the need,” Adkins said. “GHSA is committed to working with our partners in the federal government, advocacy community and at the state and local level to accelerate the momentum toward zero deaths on our nation’s roadways.”

NHTSA said the projected 2019 decline translates to an estimated first-half 2019 fatality rate of 1.06, the lowest first-half level since 2015. The estimates for the second quarter of 2019 represent the seventh-consecutive year-over-year quarterly decline in fatalities, starting in the last quarter of 2017.

NHTSA is identifying opportunities to leverage its resources and collaborate with modal partners within USDOT to reduce fatalities among pedestrians and pedalcyclists (bicyclists and riders of two-wheel, nonmotorized vehicles, tricycles, and unicycles powered solely by pedals), among whom 2018 fatalities unfortunately increased by 3.4% (to 6,283) and 6.3% (to 857), respectively.

With the release of the 2018 and 2019 data, NHTSA also introduced its new Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST), a modernized crash query tool that lets users not only query fatal crash data but also generate estimates of crashes and people injured in crashes. The upgraded functionalities in the new tool include generating multi-year trends, estimates of alcohol involvement, and charting/tabulation/mapping of query results. The tool, along with instructions on its usage, can be accessed here.

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The Nation

Truckers Christmas Group set to launch annual holiday fundraising campaign

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Since its inception, TGCO has raised more than $90,000 and helped 154 trucking families ease the financial burdens associated with the holiday season. (Courtesy: TRUCKERS CHRISTMAS GROUP)

PARK CITY, Kan. — The Truckers Christmas Group (TGCO), an organization that raises funds to help professional truck drivers and their families in the United States and Canada, has begun its 12th annual holiday fundraising campaign.

TCGO will begin advertising for this year’s campaign on November 18.  Nominations will open on the TGCO website beginning November 21 and will close on December 11.

Families will be notified by TGCO’s very own Santa Claus on December 16-17.

Created in 2008, TGCO supports CDL drivers and their families during the holiday season by raising funds requested through aid applications and nominations.

In 2018, the organization saw record numbers of applications and delivered $8,000 to 16 families during the Christmas season.

Since its inception, TGCO has raised more than $90,000 and helped 154 trucking families ease the financial burdens associated with the holiday season.

Several trucking companies went bankrupt in the first half of 2019 alone, leaving more than 3,000 drivers without jobs. TGCO is anticipating another record year of applications and seeks donations to help provide aid for families in need — not just from unemployment — but from illness and other catastrophic events that can make the holiday season more stressful year-after-year.

“We haven’t even opened the application process yet and already we’ve received recommendations for multiple families that would significantly benefit from TGCO’s efforts,” said Mark Abraham, president of TGCO. “This year has been incredibly difficult for the drivers in our community and the donation of goods and funds will help us make sure each and every driver in our trucking family can support their families during the holiday season.”

Along with monetary donations made on the TGCO website, donors can also purchase items donated to the TGCO online Christmas store opening November 21. Items sold in The TGCO Christmas Store are generously provided by businesses and individuals, and new items will be listed regularly, so donors are encouraged to visit TGCO’s website often, Abraham said.

Donors can also give their time by helping TGCO vet candidates, solicit nominations and raise awareness of the organization’s mission this season and in years to come. New volunteer recruitment begins November 1 on TGCO’s Facebook page in coordination with media partners.

To make a donation or to nominate a driver and his or her family, visit https://truckerschristmasgroup.org/. All nominations are anonymous and open to professional CDL drivers living in the United States and Canada.

Businesses and individuals who want to contribute to The Christmas Store should contact Mark Abraham at mark@truckerschristmasgroup.org. for additional information.

Donors can also visit TGCO on Facebook and Twitter

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