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Paradigm shift begins when you remove negative thoughts from assessment of other drivers



Truckers should remember that every driver is also a person, a person who might be a mother, father. They could be someone's wife or child, a friend, relative, mentor or fiancée, even your friend or loved one. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

By CLIFF ABBOTT/The Trucker Staff

“Did you see that idiot?”

Drivers who still use CB radios often hear things like that. Chances are you have said something like that about another motorist. Or, maybe it was, “Those #&%@* four-wheelers!” Increasingly, you’ll hear statements about other professional drivers, usually with a label of “steering wheel holder” or worse.

Chances are someone has made a similar comment about your driving, too.

Years of defensive driving training have taught us to anticipate the actions of other drivers and to take measures to keep them from involving us in a collision. We are indoctrinated to drive defensively.

A paradigm shift begins to occur when we remove the negative thoughts from our assessment of other drivers. While it may be true that the driver of that “#&%@* four-wheeler” does not possess driving skills on par with our own, it might also be true that the driver is having a serious emotional problem. Or it could be an elderly person who doesn’t have the eyesight or reflexes he once had. Or it could be a person driving under the influence who made a bad decision or two.

If you’re thinking that those circumstances don’t excuse their unsafe driving, you’re right. The point is, until the robots take over, every driver is also a person, a person who might be a mother, father. They could be someone’s wife or child, a friend, relative, mentor or fiancée – YOUR friend, relative or loved one.

If you took a poll asking people to rank their driving skills as “above average,” “average” or “below average,” it’s doubtful the results would mirror their actual driving skills. Few drivers would admit that their abilities are “below average,” but, mathematically we know that at least half the drivers on the roads are average or below.

If our mindset changes from one of “defending” ourselves from these drivers to one of protecting everyone, including ourselves and those other drivers, we can make the roads safer for everyone.

One aspect of this mindset is to understand how our actions might be perceived by other drivers. A left turn in front of oncoming traffic is an example. We might assume that the drivers coming towards us see our vehicle and will, if necessary, slow down to avoid a collision. But, what if they don’t? Could an oncoming driver be fatigued or under the influence of some substance? Could they be distracted by a passenger, pet, or even a text message? We can argue, after the fact, that their actions contributed to the collision, but it’s still a collision we might have prevented.

Another example might be the ubiquitous merging onramp. We know that oncoming traffic should yield to our vehicle and is usually, legally required to yield. We know that some won’t, rolling down the ramp until a collision is imminent before cutting in front of our vehicle or braking and falling in behind. Those drivers cause muttering and sputtering and negative comments, and sometimes they cause accidents, too. But, again, we can anticipate the actions of the other driver and take action to protect ourselves and the driver and occupants of the other vehicle from a collision. A lane change or a speed adjustment might make the situation safer for everyone, even if the other driver is at fault for causing the situation.

Traveling in the center lane of a three-lane Interstate highway is another example. Many drivers believe, and are trained to believe, that the center lane is safest because the right lane is left open for merging traffic and the left is available for faster traffic to pass. Except we know that some will pass on the right. It’s wrong and it’s dangerous – and it happens all the time. And those other vehicles that are changing lanes multiple times to get around our tractor-trailer are causing a hazardous situation for others. Once outside of an urban area, it might be safer for everyone to choose the right lane.

Every professional driver encounters these and other situations daily. Some will scoff at these simple examples and may even be moved to send emails or letters to the editor, explaining the right and wrong of each situation. The reality, however, remains. When someone dies in a collision, does it really matter who had the right of way? The safety people, insurance companies and courts will ultimately decide who was at fault, but no driver wants to spend a lifetime knowing that a death occurred that he or she could have prevented, even if the deceased person was “wrong.”

If you can do so without endangering yourself, let the other driver “win.” It’s doubtful they’ll appreciate your actions or even notice, but you’ll know.  You’ll have more than the knowledge that you defended yourself against an accident. You’ll know that your decision(s) may well have saved lives. You’ll know that you helped the kids in the back seat of that “#&%@* four-wheeler” get home safely, even if you don’t respect the driving skills of the person behind the wheel.

Because when we all get home safely, everybody wins.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Miguel Cazares

    January 16, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    Most of us used to be that “#&%@*” on the four wheeler during our early years. Maybe next time we come across such drivers we think of it like “That is the young ‘me’ in that four wheeler”!

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ACT Research: Heavy duty markets at the edge of the precipice



This graph by ACT Research shows freight growth will decline in 2020 and 2021 before accelerating in 2022, Class 8 truck productivity will remain in the negative through 2022 but will become less each year. (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind.  – According to ACT Research’s latest release of the North American Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK, current data and anecdotes make a strong case that the heavy-duty vehicle markets are at the edge of the precipice.

“Since the start of this demand up-cycle in late 2017, we have targeted this year’s third quarter as the point at which the industry was likely to see production rollover,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “That targeting was largely derived from historical precedent, with historical peak-level build lasting between 13 and 15 months. For the current cycle, we date peak build rates to June 2018, so August represents the 15th month of peak-level production.”

Regarding heavy vehicle demand, Vieth said, “At the heart of our cycle duration prediction, carrier profitability and production peaks always lag the freight cycle, so capacity building always accelerates relative to freight growth at exactly the wrong time, every time.

“Large new inventories and deteriorating freight and rate conditions suggest erring on the side of caution remains the right call, and we are warning those in the industry to be prepared for down weeks starting as early as fourth quarter.”

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at






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FTR’s June Trucking Conditions Index up slightly but still negative



An FTR executive said although rates remain weak for carriers, they appear at least to be stabilizing. (The Trucker file photo)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — FTR’s revised Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) showed a significant improvement in June but remained in slightly negative territory at a reading of -0.82, according to FTR.

Strengthening freight demand and lower diesel prices were offset by weak truckload rates and easing capacity utilization plus some higher financing costs that negatively affected carriers during the month.

FTR’s forecast for the TCI is for it to remain in low single-digit negative range into 2020, but some positive readings are possible during 2019.

Details of the revised TCI for June are found in the August issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published July 31. The ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light’ section in the current issue explains how FTR’s July 2019 Freight•cast model update affects key FTR metrics on the trucking industry, including the TCI. Along with the TCI and ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light,’ the Trucking Update includes data and analysis on load volumes, the capacity environment, rates, costs and the truck driver situation.

“Although rates remain weak for carriers, they appear at least to be stabilizing,” said  Avery Vise, vice president of trucking. “Meanwhile, freight demand appears firmer in recent weeks than in early spring, but the outlook is far from rosy given a softening industrial sector. Our biggest near-term concern, however, is the potential impact of the trade war with China on consumer spending and business investment.”

The TCI tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market. These conditions are freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price, and financing. The individual metrics are combined into a single index indicating the industry’s overall health. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. Conversely, a negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment, and double-digit readings (up or down) suggest significant operating changes are likely.

As noted, FTR in July completed a major update of its Freight•cast model, including both updated data and enhancements to the methodology. FTR traditionally has treated the TCI as a contemporaneous assessment of overall conditions at a point in time, so we have made very few changes to historical TCI readings. However, given the noticeably different freight volume and utilization metrics following the model update – especially during 2014 through today – we have restated the TCI back to January 2014. The historical revisions also reflect a more robust measure of market rates that FTR adopted in the spring of 2018. Directionally, the old and new TCI are largely correlated since mid-2016, but the updated TCI shows peak conditions occurring earlier in 2018 than the prior metric. Moreover, that peak range was not as strong and was shorter than previously indicated.















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MVT Solutions offers no cost fuel efficiency reports



Fleets currently relying on MVTS results include Hirschbach Motor Lines, Penske Truck Leasing, Nussbaum Transportation, Mesilla Valley Transportation, C.R. England and Charger Logistics. (Courtesy: MVT SOLUTIONS)

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — MVT Solutions, a provider of fuel economy testing and design and development services for the trucking industry, Thursday said that the test reports for its Certified Products are now available on a no-cost subscription basis.

“Receiving MVTS Certification is a mark of fuel efficiency excellence for a product and we feel strongly that the industry should have that information and the supporting test data in a timely manner and at no cost,” said Daryl Bear, lead engineer & COO at MVT Solutions. “In addition, the suppliers of the certified products have confidence that their results are being delivered by a trusted source to companies that are interested in their technologies.”

While MVT Solutions Certified Products’ Test Reports with the detailed test data on the latest fuel efficiency solutions for transportation companies are posted on the company’s website, the new subscription service ensures results are delivered automatically as soon as they are available giving fleets the ability to have the most up-to-date information, Bear said, adding that fleets currently relying on MVTS results include Hirschbach Motor Lines, Penske Truck Leasing, Nussbaum Transportation, Mesilla Valley Transportation, C.R. England and Charger Logistics.

Certified fuel economy testing by MVT Solutions was developed from race car engineering and advanced vehicle test methods using sensors and recording systems that collect data on fuel consumption, aerodynamics, rolling resistance, driver behavior and other variables that affect fuel consumption. The data is analyzed using proprietary methods.

Subscribing can be done via the MVT Solutions website or by following the company on LinkedIn.

MVT Solutions test reports for custom and developmental testing done for fleets or suppliers are released only with the permission of the company and are not part of the subscription service.




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