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Veteran driver Steve Fields’ devotion to trucking industry doesn’t punch a clock

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YRC Freight professional truck driver Steve Fields, center, receives the Mike Russell Trucking Image Award from American Trucking Associations Chairman Barry Pottle, right. Looking on is Tommy Hogan with Hire Right, which sponsors the award. (Courtesy: YRC FREIGHT)

For some, driving a truck professionally is a job. There are good days and bad days, but when the parking brake is on and the key turned off, it’s time to leave it behind and go home.

Then there are drivers like Steve Fields, for whom representing the trucking industry is a round-the-clock proposition. He’s driven 3.3 million miles without an accident in a career spanning 34 years, setting examples for both safety and longevity for other drivers. He’s been with YRC for 22 years and sits on the company’s freight safety committee.

Steve has competed in truck driving championships at state and national level for most of his career. He often shines brightest, however, when he climbs down from the cab. He has served as a captain with America’s Road Team and is still an active participant in the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA’s) Share the Road program. He’s a member of Trucker Buddy. He’s worked with the U.S. Secretary of Transportation in a safety campaign and talked trucking with President Trump at the White House. And, he was the ATA’s choice to receive the 2019 Mike Russell Trucking Image Award, presented at the organization’s Management Conference and Exhibition, October 5-9 in San Diego.

Like many drivers, Fields got his start in trucking at a young age.

“My grandfather drove for TG&Y Stores back in the day,” he said. “I would sometimes ride along in his GMC Astro 95.” Fields has noticed a difference in the way drivers were perceived back then versus how they are seen now. “In my grandfather’s day,” he said, “truck drivers were held in high regard. A lot has changed.”

In his view, the driver is on the front line of the image battle. “The public perceives trucking, as a whole, by the actions of the driver. How you dress, how you act, the language you use all say something about trucking.”

While racking up safe miles, Steve began participating in truck driving championships in his home state of Missouri and nationally. Fields won the Missouri Grand Champion crown in 2003 and was top in the twins category at the nationals in 2011. The competition is fierce, but he enjoys watching and working with the other contestants. “This will be my 28th or 29th year,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of seconds and thirds, but it’s always great to see the talented drivers compete.”

In 2007, he was selected as a captain on ATA’s America’s Road Team, frequently traveling to speak to high school students, drivers and to industry and community groups about driving safely around tractor-trailers.

One of Steve’s favorite assignments is making presentations to teen drivers through ATA’s Share the Road program.

“We talk to high school drivers ed classes about following distances, characteristics of the truck, stopping distances and so on,” Fields said. “Most of them are really surprised that takes more than a football field, including end zones, to stop a truck.”

The instruction includes tips on giving trucks plenty or room, especially passing safely without pulling back in front of the truck too soon.

The visits include some real-world training, as cars are placed in blind spots around the parked truck.

“When they get behind the wheel and close the doors, they can’t see the cars,” he said. “It really opens their eyes.”

Fields is a fan of the latest safety technology, but when asked for the most impactful innovations he’s definitely old school.

“The number one safety improvement is the seat belt,” he said. “Any time you can stay in the vehicle during an accident, your chances are better.”

He’s adamant, however about one thing.

“The safest thing on the truck is the driver,” he said. When he speaks to other drivers, he talks about seat belts.

“I always ask, ‘if you knew that 20 minutes from now you were going to be involved in a rollover accident, would you put your seat belt on?”

On the rare occasions when he’s not behind the wheel or in front of a group, Fields likes camping, motorcycle riding and showing off his hot rod, a ’67 Camaro RS/SS that he enters into local parades and shows. He has a daughter who recently became engaged. “It’ll be an interesting year,” he said.

The Mike Russell Trucking Image Award, sponsored by Hire Right, is presented to an individual, motor carrier, trucking organization and industry supplier who “demonstrates excellence in illustrating the industry’s essentiality, safety-first approach to doing business and professionalism.”

With drivers like Steve Fields carrying the torch, the industry is well represented to the public, helping promote a return to the high regard earned by past drivers like his grandfather. From the schoolhouse to the  White House, his attitude and professionalism have taken him far beyond a truck driving job.

“I’ve enjoyed this career,” Fields said. “It’s been a wonderful ride.”

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The Nation

86.5% of trucks inspected during CVSA Brake Safety Week had no OOS issues

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During a roadside inspection, if an inspector identifies critical vehicle inspection item violations, he or she will render the vehicle out of service, which means those violations must be corrected before the vehicle may proceed. (The Trucker file photo)

GREENBELT, Md. — The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance said Tuesday that inspectors conducted 34,320 commercial motor vehicle inspections during CVSA’s Brake Safety Week and placed 4,626 vehicles — or 13.5% — out of service after critical brake-related conditions were identified during roadside inspections.

CVSA noted that a majority — 86.5% — of vehicles inspected during the September 15-21 time period did not have any critical brake-related inspection item violations.

In 2018, CVSA said out of 35,080 inspections, 4,955 trucks — or 14.1% — were placed out of service.

In 2017, CVSA conducted only a Brake Safety Day, which resulted in 14% of trucks inspected being put out of service.

During a roadside inspection, if an inspector identifies critical vehicle inspection item violations, he or she will render the vehicle out of service, which means those violations must be corrected before the vehicle may proceed.

Sixty jurisdictions in Canada and the U.S. participated in this year’s Brake Safety Week.

In the U.S., 49 jurisdictions conducted 31,864 roadside inspections and placed 4,344 (13.6%) commercial motor vehicles out of service because of brake-related violations. In Canada, 11 jurisdictions conducted 2,456 roadside inspections and 282 (11.5%) commercial motor vehicles were placed out of service for brake-related violations.

As part of this year’s Brake Safety Week, inspectors also collected and reported data on brake hoses/tubing.

  • 2,567 units had chafed rubber hose violations.
  • 1,347 units had chafed thermoplastic hose violations.
  • 2,704 violations of § 393.45 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and Canadian equivalent violations included chafed rubber hoses.
  • There were 1,683 violations of § 393.45 of the FMCSRs and Canadian equivalent violations that included kinked thermoplastic hoses.

“Inspectors conduct more than 4 million roadside inspections every year and checking brake components is just one element of the inspection procedure inspectors perform on commercial motor vehicles every day,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “This inspection and enforcement event reminds drivers and motor carriers of the importance of properly functioning brakes and spotlights the work done by inspectors, motor carriers and drivers every day to keep our roadways safe by ensuring vehicles are in appropriate working condition.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, highway crash fatality data for 2018, there was a 2.4% decline in overall fatalities, the second consecutive year of reduced crash fatalities. However, conversely, for 2018, large-truck related fatalities increased by 0.9%.

“While we applaud the decrease in the overall number of fatalities on our roadways last year, we’re alarmed by the increase in the number of large-truck-related fatalities,” Samis said. “CVSA conducts high-profile, high-visibility enforcement events, such as Brake Safety Week, to reduce the number of fatalities occurring on our roadways. Roadway safety is our number one priority and we will continue our efforts to improve brake safety throughout North America.”

Brake Safety Week is an inspection, enforcement, education and awareness initiative that is part of the Operation Airbrake Program sponsored by CVSA in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators.

 

 

 

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Interstate bridge tolls key to Connecticut $21B plan; HD trucks would pay $7

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Gov. Ned Lamont’s transportation plan includes a proposal to place electronic toll gantries at 14 highway bridge locations across the state, 11 of which are located on interstates, including I-95, I-84, I-91, I-395 and I-684. (Associated Press: JESSICA HILL)

HARTFORD, Conn. — A $21 billion transportation plan proposed by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont November 7 would invest $14 billion in Connecticut’s roads and bridges plus $7 billion in its public transit systems over the next decade and would rely on interstate bridge tolls for part of that funding.

The governor’s plan includes a proposal to place electronic toll gantries at 14 highway bridge locations across the state, 11 of which are located on interstates, including I-95, I-84, I-91, I-395 and I-684, according to a report in the Journal, the official magazine of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials..

Connecticut’s tolling proposal matches a similar effort instituted in Rhode Island in 2018 – an effort that survived a federal court challenge in March – although in Rhode Island’s case, its interstate bridge tolls apply only to heavy trucks.

The governor’s $21 billion plan, which breaks down to $2.1 billion worth of investment in Connecticut’s transportation system annually, is a more than $500 million per year increase compared to the previous level of state investment – which is roughly $1.6 billion per year, according to news sources.

“For generations, the state has neglected critical investments in our infrastructure, hampering economic growth and leaving residents in endless hours of traffic wondering why state officials didn’t fix these problems years ago,” Lamont said in a statement.

Lamont said that with six of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the country and 65 percent of its highways more than three decades old with 12 percent of its bridges rated in poor condition, “virtually anyone who regularly uses Connecticut’s transportation system agrees that the state desperately needs to make targeted improvements that reduce congestion and make travel quicker, safer, convenient, and reliable”

To pay for this 10-year transportation plan – dubbed Connecticut 2030 or CT2030 for short – the governor proposes to use a mix of fiscal resources, including:

  • $750 million in annual federal funding and grants.
  • Transportation Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act or TIFIA loans, loans from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau, and Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing loans.
  • State general obligation bonds
  • The transfer of all car sales taxes to Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund by 2023, making that fund solvent while establishing a 15 percent reserve fund.
  • Imposing select highway bridge tolls costing 50 cents to $1 for cars, $1.25 to $2.50 for medium-sized trucks, and $3.50 to $7.00 for heavy trucks. Lamont said he expects 40 percent of those tolls to be paid by out-of-state drivers.

“For the future of our state, we can no longer kick the can down the road on these improvements – we must fix this long overdue problem and move our state forward today,” the governor said.

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The Nation

Voters approve 90% of 305 state and local transportation ballot measures

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Officials said the preliminary results of the November 5 election reaffirm a decade-long trend of voters strongly supporting investments to maintain and improve their state or local transportation networks. (Courtesy: ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

WASHINGTON— Voters in 19 states on November 5 sent a decisive message of support for transportation investment, approving almost 90 percent of 305 state and local transportation ballot measures.

In total, the 270 approved initiatives are expected to generate over $9.6 billion in one-time and recurring revenue, according to the analysis conducted by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (ARTBA-TIAC). Two measures in Texas are still pending.

“The ballot results are a great reminder infrastructure investment remains one of the few areas where red states, blue states, Republicans and Democrats can all come together,” ARTBA President Dave Bauer said.  “It should also demonstrate to lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the public will be on board for the passage of a long-term bill that significantly boosts highway and transit investment at the federal level.”

A complete report and an all-new interactive dashboard that filters results by state, mode, year and type of initiative are available at the Center’s flagship website at www.transportationinvestment.org.

The preliminary results reaffirm a decade-long trend of voters strongly supporting investments to maintain and improve their state or local transportation networks. Voters have approved 81 percent of nearly 2,000 transportation investment ballot measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC since 2010, including this year’s results.

“Public support for increasing infrastructure investment continues to help local governments and the transportation construction community improve safety, mobility and overall quality of life for residents as projects get underway,” said Carolyn Kramer, ARTBA-TIAC director.

Voters in Maine overwhelmingly approved, by a 76 percent to 24 percent margin, a $105 million bond measure to support transportation infrastructure projects. The vote was Maine’s seventh successful transportation bond in eight years.

While transportation investment fared well nationwide, Washington state voters endorsed by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin a measure that reduces or repeals certain motor vehicle taxes and fees and removes the authority to impose certain new fees without their approval. This decision will cost the state nearly $4.3 billion in state and local transportation revenue over the next six years.

Voters in Colorado rejected by a 55 percent to 45 percent vote a measure that would have permitted the state to retain excess tax collections in order to fund education and transportation.

The 305 measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC is the largest number ever for an odd-numbered, off-year election. Although historically most transportation measures are put on the ballot in even-numbered years when congressional or presidential elections drive higher turnout, an increasing number of measures are being considered by voters during odd-numbered years and primary elections.

There were 57 measures in 12 states that would raise over $20 million each, compared to 21 measures in 2017.  Of that total, 89 percent were approved.  Of 25 measures that would raise over $100 million, voters approved 92 percent.  This included a bond measure in Harris County, Texas to support transit expansions in Houston under the “Moving Forward Plan.”

Of the local ballot measures, most (302 of 305) were property tax increases, primarily in Ohio (154) and Michigan (15), where many municipalities consistently ask voters to renew such assessments to pay for local roads and infrastructure repairs.

Additionally, local bond measures in Texas appeared on 25 ballots and received 96 percent approval, which will generate nearly $6 billion. Most of these measures established municipal utility districts.

The approved measures will support $7.7 billion in new transportation investment revenue and $1.9 billion in continued funding through tax extensions, renewals or protections. The timing of the market impact of these actions is difficult to project as revenue approved will last up to 25 years.

 

 

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