Retired Army Officer Realizes Lifelong Dream to Drive a Big Rig
After serving nearly 30 years in the U.S. military with a distinguished record, Lt. Col. Gregg Softy didn’t go to work for a military contractor or go into law enforcement when he retired. Instead, he chose to follow his lifelong dream of driving a big rig.
Ever since he was a kid, Gregg says he has been enamored with trucks, truck drivers and the industry. At the age of 6, he visited the Vince Lombardi Memorial truck stop in New Jersey and asked truck drivers for their autographs.
But that dream took a backseat to his career as a U.S. Army officer after he attended and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. For 28 years, Gregg served in the U.S. Army, became an Airborne Ranger and was deployed six times for overseas missions in Iraq and Kuwait, Haiti, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya. During his nearly three decades of service, he earned three bronze stars, a Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious service medal, and a number of other service and combat badges, decorations and medals.
Gregg Softy’s New Kenworth T680 Advantage – Photo courtesy of Kenworth Truck Co.
As he approached retirement age, Softy considered some post-military second career options, but always came back to his lifelong dream of becoming a truck driver. After discussing it with his wife, Gregg chose to take advantage of Stevens Transport’s Operation Patriot apprenticeship program, which is approved by IMCOM (the U.S. Army’s Installation Management Command).
Program Allows Soldiers to Complete Driver Training While on Active Duty
The program allowed Gregg to complete his driver training in Ranger, Texas, and obtain his CDL, while still serving in the military. Available to active duty soldiers on several military installations, Stevens Transport covers the cost of training. Then, when the soldiers retire or complete their tour of duty, they can go to work for Stevens, which pays them up to $50,000 in the first year. A soldier-turned-driver can also earn an additional apprenticeship bonus of a little over $20,000. Here are links to some additional information about Stevens Transport’s program for veterans – visit http://www.becomeadriver.com/veterans/ or http://info.stevenstransport.com/stevens-military-vet-hiring-ub/
Recently, Land Line Magazine, the official publication of the Owner-Operators and Independent Drivers Association, published a story about Gregg.
In that story, Land Line staff writer Mark Schremmer talked with Gregg and learned about Gregg’s transition from company driver to owner-operator and his plans to start a trucking company with an Army buddy. And when Gregg started talking about his stepson, and how his stepson fulfilled his own dream of being a part of a national college football championship team following his tour of duty, Mark says “it definitely caught my attention”.
“Before I started working at Land Line, I worked as a sports writer for a couple of different newspapers,” he says.
Before Pursuing His Dream, Gregg Watches as Stepson Realizes His Own Dream
And as a sportswriter, Mark immediately recognized the name of his stepson – Brennan Goodnature, a walk-on to the former national champion Clemson Tigers football team during his last year of athletic eligibility. To learn more about what role Gregg played in Brennan’s life, check out the story ESPN wrote about Brennan in December 2015.
Now talk about a story worthy of a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie.
TAMPA, Fla.–Transflo, a leader in enterprise mobility, telematics, and business process automation for the transportation industry, today unveiled a new wave of enterprise mobile enhancements allowing fleets and commercial drivers greater flexibility to manage digital workflows.
Transflo Mobile, the most widely-used enterprise mobile solution in trucking and transportation, now offers an enhanced mobile experience with additional features included below. In addition, several partners have been added to Transflo Connect, the mobile-based partner integration platform, including Drivewyze®.
Transflo users can now launch the Drivewyze® PreClear app directly within Transflo Mobile or Transflo HOS iOS and Android apps. This integration offers several top-rated conveniences:
More bypass opportunities than any other weigh station bypass service including over 700 fixed weigh stations and mobile inspection sites in 43 states and provinces
Save carriers drive-time and operating costs by reducing unnecessary delays
Eliminate the need for stand-alone transponders and transponder administrative costs.
Improve driver recruitment and retention with highly-valued bypass benefit
“We are excited to have this solution integrated with Transflo Mobile, extending the reach of this powerful weigh station bypass solution to hundreds of thousands of Transflo customers,” shared Brian Heath, President and CEO of Drivewyze. “This mobile solution removes the need for carriers to manage separate transponders by leveraging the strength of their carriers’ safety records. Now drivers and fleets can access these features directly from tools they’re already using.”
Additional Transflo Mobile Features
Features for commercial drivers:
Interactive reporting that allows drivers to identify and submit pictures of defects, such as tires, that feed into the DVIR process
Improved load search capabilities that helps drivers access and manage assigned loads
Features for fleets:
Load and workflow visibility for shipments handled by agent carriers
In-depth analytics for white labeled Transflo Mobile apps to identify usage, adoption, and trends
Active notification feature that prompts users to perform specific actions
“Mobile solutions are changing the way fleets and commercial drivers perform daily activities,” added Frank Adelman, President and CEO at Transflo. “Transflo Mobile’s open architecture platform allows us to launch integration partners, including Drivewyze, and deploy new features at a rapid pace. Our focus on identifying new and innovative ways of performing key tasks, while improving usability and increasing visibility to real-time data, is transforming how our customers define success.”
Demonstration of the Transflo Mobile and Telematics software will be shown at the Transflo booth (Booth #102) during the upcoming Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) 80th Annual Convention from March 25-28 in Kissimmee, Florida.
Transflo® by Pegasus TransTech is a leading mobile, telematics, and business process automation provider to the transportation industry in the United States and Canada. Through its technology, the company delivers real-time communications to thousands of fleets, brokers, and commercial vehicle drivers. The company’s mobile and cloud-based technologies digitize nearly 500 million shipping documents each year, representing approximately $54 billion in freight bills. Organizations throughout the Transflo client and partner network use the solution suite to increase efficiency, improve cash flow, and reduce costs. Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, USA, Transflo is setting the pace of innovation in transportation software. For more information, visit www.transflo.com.
About Drivewyze Inc.
Drivewyze Inc. is the leader in connected truck services and is on a mission to revolutionize the delivery of highway safety and transportation management through world-class products, systems and services. Drivewyze serves commercial drivers and fleets with innovative trucking services such as the Drivewyze PreClear bypass service, and the Drivewyze Analytics Weigh Station Loss Reporting service. Drivewyze was recognized by Frost & Sullivan with the North American Weigh Station Bypass Company of the Year Award for 2017, for its best practices and industry leadership. To learn more about Drivewyze, visit www.drivewyze.com.
Even for those involved in managing trucks and truck drivers on a daily basis, knowing exactly why some trucks must pull in to weigh stations while others don’t may seem as mysterious as making that load delivery in Seattle or Atlanta in the middle of the day without a single traffic delay. And, when trucks do get pulled into those scales, what happens next? Are they weighed to determine their gross vehicle weight? Do commercial vehicle enforcement officers even have time to actually look at all of the trucks that get pulled in?
Weigh stations have been around for a long, long time. A weigh station is a critical tool in the trucking industry, just like the CB. But ask someone who doesn’t inspect commercial vehicles for a living what happens at a weigh station, chances are pretty good you’re likely to get a blank look in response.
Brian Mofford and Doug Hatch Presenting at Outlook 2018
At the recent Omnitracs Outlook User Conference, Brian Mofford, vice president of government experience for Drivewyze, and Doug Hatch, a training consultant at Drivewyze and retired captain in the Texas Department of Public Safety with 25 years of law enforcement experience, were looking to change that. They provided conference-goers an insider’s look at what happens when trucks pull into weigh stations offering Drivewyze weigh station bypass and equipped with automated systems, like the ones built and installed by Drivewyze’s parent company, Intelligent Imaging Systems (IIS).
Mofford and Hatch explained how commercial vehicle enforcement officers rely on IIS sophisticated equipment to provide them, among other things, thermal images. The images help them to identify non-operational brakes, dragging brakes, overheated tires and other malfunctioning equipment. Overview cameras take images of trucks before they reach the stations, giving officers visual references they can use when the trucks approach and enter the weigh station facilities. Automated readers also scan U.S. DOT numbers, license plates, hazmat placards and CVSA stickers before trucks reach the station so the system can present CVE officers credentials along with the images.
Through a technology called vehicle waveform identification, IIS also offers enforcement officers the ability to automatically sort, route and track trucks as they exit the highway and enter a weigh station facility. This technology measures the displacement and movement of air over and around a truck and trailer combination as it travels down the highway. This displacement and movement of air is as unique to each truck and trailer combination as fingerprints are to each individual. And the system can also track and confirm the movement of many tractor and trailer combinations using these unique “fingerprints” as they pass multiple locations equipped with IIS equipment.
Information and images from vehicle waveform identification, plus all of the sensors, cameras and imaging equipment is then gathered and displayed on a hosted screening software system called Smart Roadside. This screening software also automatically searches official FMCSA databases for corresponding carrier credentials and then identifies and tags high-risk vehicles to which law enforcement officers will want to pay particular attention.
In trucks equipped with bypass services like Drivewyze, drivers are eligible to receive bypasses because they and their carriers have agreed to provide information that can identify the truck and carrier before the station’s automated systems can. Bypasses help CVE officers focus their efforts and their departments’ technology on identifying unsafe vehicles that require additional scrutiny.
For those approaching vehicles equipped with Drivewyze weigh station bypass, the Drivewyze app transmits an encrypted randomly generated code that identifies the carrier when the vehicle enters a 2-mile radius of the facility. The same technology that delivers mobile calls and data, and geo-fencing Drivewyze programmers established at hundreds of stations across the United States and in the province of Alberta, makes it possible for truck fleets and operators to use their ELDs and smartphones and tablets as transponders. The Drivewyze servers then query several different official databases, including an official database shared by a number of different local, state and federal agencies and the inspection selection system which reflect a fleet’s CSA scores. Using criteria that each individual state establishes, Drivewyze determines if that particular truck and carrier meet the state’s criteria for a bypass.
At the conclusion of their presentation, Moffard and Hatch responded to detailed questions from the audience about weigh station operations and procedures and the technology IIS has made available to CVE officers to help them improve their productivity and efficiency. Audience members were impressed with Mofford’s and Hatch’s expertise and knowledge and the improvement IIS technology can make in CVE officer efficiency. When CVE officers are more efficient they can concentrate their efforts on problem trucks and carriers, allowing safer vehicles to stay on the mainline. This ultimately improves the operational efficiency of safety-conscious carriers.
If there were two words to describe the recent Omnitracs Outlook User Conference, which concluded on Feb. 28, they would probably be: leveraging data.
During a luncheon with trucking media and analysts at the conference, Omnitracs’ new chief executive officer, Ray Greer, said the Holy Grail of trucking is the efficient matching of carriers with shippers. By leveraging data from ELD applications, Omnitracs will be able to create that proverbial chalice and offer it to customers regardless of size.
Omnitracs Outlook Conference-Goers Visiting the Drivewyze Booth
Currently, carriers using Omnitracs mobile hardware and software systems, including the XRS and MCP platforms, can share information about loads to shippers through an application called Virtual Load View. It secures carrier location information and shares details carriers agree to share with trusted companies. By leveraging its route planning and optimization applications with Virtual Load View and other technologies, Omnitracs now plans to bring new capabilities to market through a unified software platform called Omnitracs One.
This new fleet management platform will eventually unite the software capabilities of Omnitracs various product lines – like Virtual Load View, Intelligent Vehicle Gateway and Mobile Computing Platforms — into a single offering for fleets of all sizes and types. The single platform has been designed to be compatible with the Android operating system. So, it will be device agnostic, meaning fleets will be able to use Omnitracs One on a variety of devices with “open and secure” architecture.
Omnitracs Booth + Our Friends From Ram Mounts in the Background
While serving as president of BNSF Logistics before becoming Omnitracs CEO about a month ago, Greer expressed an interest in freight matching technologies. While at BNSF Logistics, Greer discovered that many of BNSF Logistics’ partner carriers used ELD products from Omnitracs. Through Omnitracs, Greer said he recognized an opportunity to leverage telematics data from its ELD applications to gain visibility of shipment status and to locate capacity for loads more quickly and efficiently.
The accumulation of better data analytics as well as other companies may be required as Omnitracs continues to pursue and refine new ways to convert the growing amount of data fleets are collecting into deeper business insights, Greer said.
Offering an example of this freight matching function, Greer described how if a driver is running with an empty trailer with six hours remaining on his hours-of-service duty status, Omnitracs must have the capability to display loads the driver can deliver in under six hours.
Through Omnitracs One, users can use a single platform to access everything from fleet operations management to mobile driver interfaces, data analytics, data discovery and reporting. Users can get a comprehensive view of fleet operations with key indicators for vehicle and driver status. Additional features will allow users to find and take action on real-time information and predict potential problems ahead of time.
E-Inspection Trial Coming Soon to Several U.S. Cities
During one of many breakout sessions at the four-day conference, Drivewyze senior product manager Charles Buffone made a presentation on electronic roadside inspections and how such inspections would work in a real-world setting. Drivewyze plans to begin a field trial of wireless roadside inspections by year’s end at up to six locations in the United States, Buffone told the audience.
Smith reported that trial participants who are pulled in to a scale would be eligible for an expedited Level (3) DOT inspection since equipment would deliver the data to pre-populate inspection forms. As long as the driver’s hours of service are up to date and CDL is valid, the e-inspections could be completed in five to 10 minutes and the trucks could be on their way. This could help drivers avoid potentially longer processes.
Buffone told the audience about Drivewyze’s demonstration at the West Freindship, Maryland, weigh station several years ago. At the time, there was no clear definitions from the federal government or from CVSA about e-inspections. Data from ELDs offer a great leverage point for fleets to obtain e-inspections and there are clear advantages for both law enforcement and industry.
Law enforcement could conduct more inspections each year and fleets can earn credit for inspections they pass, providing them a way to see their CSA scores improve.
At Omnitracs Outlook 2018, conference-goers also:
Bob Costello Spoke About the Driver Shortage
Learned more about FMCSA regulations regarding electronic logging devices and electronic onboard recording devices and how law enforcement agencies plan to enforce them after April 1;
Heard ATA chief economist and senior vice president Bob Costello’s outlook for the trucking industry as the U.S. economy is in its third-longest expansion in history and is on track to become the second-longest by springtime;
Considered warnings from federal investigators and cybercrime experts about their vulnerabilities to cybercrime and the steps they can take to secure their companies’ IT systems;
Learned how training and proper documentation can help their drivers and their operations be better prepared for roadside inspections of electronic logging devices.
In part one of Heavy Duty Trucking’s 10-part driver series, “Driver Pay: Making the Grade,” David Cullen, executive editor of HDT, explains how low trucking wages are making it difficult for fleets to recruit and retain drivers as well as what fleets are doing to overcome the issue.
While a fleet may offer a certain pay package to get a driver behind the wheel, it’s most likely not enough. In part two of the driver series, “Driver Training: Talk is Not Cheap,” Cullen highlights the importance of communication between employers and drivers and how fleets are changing their driver training.
Often, a positive work environment determines how long we’ll stay with a company. We all want to feel important and receiving positive feedback for our work can go a long way. It’s no different for drivers. While all drivers should feel utilized and key to the company’s success, Cullen points out experienced drivers don’t want to feel like newbies when they join a new fleet. If they’ve put in the miles, they should expect to be treated like any other driver with the same amount of experience. The most experienced drivers are usually the best drivers and are more likely than new inexperienced drivers to stay put.
Employers who maintain constant and consistent communication with drivers, letting them know when they do well and what they can do to improve and respond to their needs, (such as moving heaven and earth to get them home for their parents’ funerals or their childrens’ weddings), often enjoy high driver satisfaction and experience low driver turnover rates.
Unfortunately, communication between employers and their drivers is where most fleets fall short. In the article, Lana Batts, co-president of Driver iQ, says most fleets have recruiting directors, but rarely anyone overseeing retention. Usually retention falls under fleet operations and the supervisors of drivers who leave the fleet are almost never held accountable.
A Good Fleet Example
To overcome the industry-wide disconnect between employers and drivers, Cullen showcased Halvor Lines, a fleet that developed a driver wellness program. It’s helped the fleet achieve low CSA scores and a turnover rate of just 38.5 percent. Not bad for a fleet of running 438 power units.
Not only is Halvor trying to help meet the needs of its drivers, but also taking an innovative approach at driver training, which has also contributed to its low driver turnover rate and CSA scores. The company provides orientation and continuing driver education through online training. The training program is developed to provide positive reinforcement. Rather than make the program seem like a punishment, its approach is to help drivers on the job through positive feedback.
Training can go beyond getting a safer driver behind the wheel. Cullen explores productivity gains through follow-up coaching and training as well. He features a system that helps drivers become more efficient – to be as fuel-efficient way possible through analyzing fuel consumptions and vehicle monitoring. The program dismisses situations out of a drivers control, such as road conditions and weight of the truck and focuses on what the driver can control. Fleets that incentivize drivers to use the system to save fuel are seeing the best results.
Don’t Shoot in the Dark and Beware the Liability Gap
Cullen also points out that technology’s best results occur when it’s used to deliver consistent content across a company and does it smartly. Fleets should know what they’re shooting at when it comes to the development of training. Managers should be aware that a “liability gap” can exist when fleets gather data – such as when drivers speed, but don’t act on it by tailoring its ongoing training program to get those drivers to slow down. The data, which is discoverable, should be used to develop preventive training and remediation for certain drivers.
Cullen says that fleets find training with monitoring and consistent follow-up pay off in higher driver satisfaction and lower driver turnover. The key is keeping the lines of good communication open between employers and drivers, along with implementing new efficient ways to help drivers become better at their job.
NOTE – We continue our ongoing series examining state trucking associations and the people who lead them with this feature on Motor Carriers of Montana and Barry “Spook” Stang, its executive vice president.
Making Big Hauls in the Big Sky
When Barry “Spook” Stang was 7 years old, the future Motor Carriers of Montana executive vice president and Trucking Association Executives Council chairman moved to a remote area of north western Montana at his father’s insistence.
Spook’s father, a World War II veteran and wholesale grocery salesman, had a plan for himself and the rest of the family. This plan required his mother to quit her successful career as a bookkeeper and bank teller in Missoula; buy a small campground and grocery store in St. Regis; and help him manage and run it as a new family-owned business.
Family-Owned Grocery Store Introduces Leader to Trucking
It was here where Spook first encountered the trucking industry.
After all, trucks delivered most, if not all of the things his family sold in their small grocery store. And on occasion, when drivers were too tired to return to the URM distribution center in Spokane for another load or to drive to their next stop, they might stay overnight at the family’s campground or in their rental cabins.
Several decades have passed since Spook’s father, Leo, convinced his mother, Angie, to uproot the family and move to St. Regis, which in 1958 was little more than a roadside bus stop on Highway 10 between Spokane and Missoula. Still, his father’s fateful decision to move to St. Regis eventually placed Spook on a career path that included the study of accounting at Carroll College in Helena and graduation with an accounting degree. After college, he spent three years at an accounting firm and nearly 30 years serving in various management roles in the grocery business. Spook also served in the Montana Legislature for 14 years after his election to the House of Representatives in 1986 and to the State Senate in 1992.
Strong Political Experience Pays Off
Following his unsuccessful bid for state auditor in 2000, Spook decided to leave public service and the grocery business and accept a job as a paid lobbyist for the Montana Motor Carriers Association, (which later in 2010 shortened its name to Motor Carriers of Montana). During the 2001 Legislative session, Spook leveraged his legislative experience and connections as he lobbied on behalf of the association. Spook succeeded in getting the Legislature to cut the registration fees on commercial motor vehicles by 50 percent, a reduction that’s still in effect today.
Following his successful turn as the association’s lobbyist, the organization offered Spook the job of executive vice president in 2001. And he has been serving in that position ever since.
In the association’s special 75th anniversary issue of Roadwise in 2014, Curt Laingen, owner of Billings, Montana-based Curt Laingen Trucking and a former association staff member, said Spook’s 14 years of legislative experience representing western Montana proved to be invaluable.
“Spook added a lot of political clout…Spook is an excellent politician,” Laingen said in that Roadwise article. “He gets along with everybody. Just a good guy.”
Spook Builds Upon Association’s Long Legacy
Following his hiring in 2001, Spook successfully worked with other groups to get a tort reform law passed in 2003 that limited punitive damages to the lesser amount of $10 million or 3 percent of a defendant’s net worth. Under Spook’s leadership, the association also worked with other organizations to pass legislation clearly defining the difference between employers and independent contractors, ensuring motor carriers can use both without an undue exposure to risk of litigation.
When it comes to fulfilling its mission statement regarding safety, the Montana trucking association has taken on a leadership role for decades. Long before Spook joined the association, the association organized safety and driver of the month programs to encourage best practices among its members. Beginning in the ‘40s, the association held truck roadeos – driving and safety competitions with winners advancing to national competitions. In 1958, the association worked with other state trucking groups in Idaho, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to establish the Rocky Mountain Regional Safety Rendezvous. Each year at the association’s annual convention, safety awards are awarded to carriers with good safety records.
Youth Learn to “Share The Road” With Truckers
In the ‘90s, the association established its now annual signature program – the Share The Road campaign with events at high schools in the state’s major cities such as Missoula, Billings, Bozeman and Great Falls. At the events, trucking companies join law enforcement officers to train young people on how to share the road with semi-trucks. Students also learn safe driving tips that they can use for the rest of their lives.
During his tenure, Spook has continued the association’s tradition of leadership and built upon it by proposing safety programs that have challenged not only the public’s perceptions of the trucking industry, but also some in the industry. Several years ago, a number of truck accidents occurred on Montana Highway 35 along the eastern shore of Flathead Lake. During one of those incidents, several thousand gallons of gasoline spilled into the ground dangerously close to the lake and forced five nearby families to evacuate their homes for months. The public clamored for a strong response from their state and local officials. They wanted all truck traffic on Highway 35 banned and re-routed to U.S. Highway 93.
Drive Near Flathead Lake? Would it “Spook” You to Know Someone’s Watching?
Highway 35 is a windier road than U.S. Highway 93 since it runs closer to the lake and has about 150 more access points. However, U.S. Highway 93 is far less efficient for trucking companies running loads between Columbia Falls and Missoula because it adds 15 miles to the route and takes on average about 25 minutes longer to travel between Missoula and Columbia Falls.
Rather than establish restrictions, public officials, with the assistance of MCM leaders and members, unveiled an industry self-policing effort modeled after neighborhood watch programs. Signs advertising a hotline number for motorists and truckers alike to report unsafe drivers were posted. Plus, haulers had drivers armed with radar guns patrol the two highways once a week in private vehicles for the first six months. When those undercover drivers identified trucks and drivers who were clearly driving too fast or being careless, information was sent to that driver’s company with a warning that the next time the driver was caught speeding, the information would be sent to law enforcement. The aim was to “find the bad guys and weed them out.”
Residents in the local Flathead Lake communities along the two highways were asked to volunteer as ride-along passengers to observe and suggest stretches of the highway where they had witnessed incidents of dangerous driving. Spook said the intention of the ride-alongs was to demonstrate the sincerity and integrity of the effort.
Montana Truckers Join Efforts to End Human Trafficking
Spook has also encouraged the association and its members to actively participate in efforts to end human trafficking.
During the Bakken oil boom earlier this decade, the Montana Legislature and State Attorney General’s Office expanded local laws in an attempt to prevent and punish human trafficking. The effort was in response to a growing number of reports of increased prostitution in eastern Montana at that time. To raise awareness about human trafficking, the state attorney general and the Montana Department of Justice established the Montana Human Trafficking Task Force in 2012.
Spook encouraged Motor Carriers of Montana members to support those efforts by assisting with the distribution of prominent truck decals with a toll-free number to report suspicious activity. The association called on its members to apply these decals onto their trailers so that they could become running billboards as the trucks and trailers travel across the state, the region and across the country.
Spook’s efforts and leadership have not gone unnoticed in the trucking industry. In 2015, the Trucking Associations Executive Council—which is made up of leaders from all 50 state trucking associations and ATA councils—chose Spook to serve as the TAEC president for the next year.
Spook and the MMC believes it’s in the industry’s best interests to engage the community and to demonstrate a commitment to safer operations. In a column published in the Missoulian on Dec. 27, 2016, Spook explained to his fellow Montanans why the trucking industry is so important to their communities and the state’s economy.
Trucks Are a Lifeline For Many Montana Communities
“In Montana, 65 percent of communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods,” Spook wrote. “In addition to providing all those goods and cargo, trucking keeps your family members moving on the roads for that special time together by ensuring our gas stations are amply stocked with fuel.
“When more than 100 million drivers are on the road this (holiday) season – as the American Automobile Association forecasted for year-end holidays (in 2015) – they’ll be driving alongside nearly 3.5 million professional truck drivers, with 6,210 drivers in Montana alone,” Spook said. “That’s why professional truck drivers are trained and dedicated to ensuring the safety of all motorists on the road, and why the industry as a whole invests $9.5 billion each year in safety.”
Trucking Industry Makes Big Investments in Safety
Spook points out the $9.5 billion annual investment covers a wide range – driver training, on-board safety technology, and awards and bonus pay for improved safety performance. That investment is clearly paying off, he adds. Quoting a U.S. Department of Transportation report, Spook said the crash rate for trucks is 28 percent lower than that of other vehicles. Plus, the fatal crash rate has fallen 74 percent since 1980 – 17 percent in the last decade alone. These improvements come even as the industry is expanding with the addition of more than 2 1/2 million more trucks with billions of additional miles each year.
“Trucking touches every aspect of the holidays – and it goes beyond stocking grocery store shelves or delivering that perfect gift,” he wrote. “In addition to keeping our roads safe – during the holidays and throughout the year – trucking works to better our communities. From safety to service, the trucking industry is dedicated to ensuring the holidays happen for all of us.”
AT A GLANCE
State trucking association: Motor Carriers of Montana
Address: 501 N. Sanders Suite 201, Helena, Montana 59601
How to join: To join Motor Carriers of Montana, visit mttrucking.org, call 406-442-6600, or Karen Lynch, office manager, at email@example.com
Founded: August 1939 at the Northern Hotel in Billings
Membership: 600 company members – a diverse group comprised of trucking companies, passenger carriers, garbage haulers, construction and excavating companies and companies providing products and services.
Mission: As responsible citizens, we promote and represent safe, professional and profitable commercial highway transportation interests with one voice.
Executive vice president: Barry “Spook” Stang
Industry’s biggest challenge: Driver shortage
Interesting facts about the Motor Carriers of Montana:
Long before women began appearing in truck cabs, let alone board rooms, the association elected its first female president – Agnes Calvin, in 1966. Four years before Americans would consider the country’s first female candidate for vice president from a major party on a presidential ticket – U.S. Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, the association elected its second woman president in 1980 – Peggy Jerrel of Miles City-based Ray Jerrel Inc.
Until 1980, motor carriers were required to obtain certificates of authority from the federal Interstate Commerce Commission detailing what they could haul and where they could go. As Congress debated whether to put an end to this regulatory environment through the proposed Motor Carriers Act, Montana Motor Carriers Association president Peggy Jerrel testified before Congress asking for clarity. Her message was characteristically Montanan: “make up your mind!”
When the federal government lifted the 55-mph speed limit on all federal interstates and highways in 1995, Montana’s speed limit reverted to the one that had been on the books before the 55-mph speed limit was enacted during the Carter Administration. That limit required drivers to drive at speeds that were “reasonable and prudent.” After the Montana Supreme Court declared that law to be unconstitutionally vague, the Montana Motor Carriers Association helped fashion the split plan that’s in effect today – 65 mph for trucks and 75 mph for passenger cars on the interstates.
The Motor Carriers of Montana has had three different names during its 78-year history. When it was established in 1939, it was called the Montana Motor Transport Association. The name changed twice – first to Montana Motor Carriers Association in 1977 and the last time to its current Motor Carriers of Montana in 2010.
State Legislature Approves Use of Triple Trailers Due to MCM’s Efforts
In the 1990s, when Curt Laingen, owner of Billings, Montana-based Curt Laingen Trucking, worked full-time on the association’s staff for eight years starting in 1989, the state authorized the use of triple trailers. According to a cover story in the fourth quarter 2014 issue of Roadwise, the association’s former quarterly magazine, it was no easy feat.
“We were constantly bombarded by certain organizations and groups that didn’t think the trucking industry should have those big trucks in Montana,” said Ben Havdahl, former executive vice president of the association from 1979 until he retired at the end of 1998.
Getting that approval took two legislative sessions. First the Legislature passed a law granting trucking companies the ability to pull three 28 ½-foot-long trailers, but with strict safety criteria and a sunset clause ending the privilege after two years. The association then had to return later to get the privilege re-instated.
“The railroads, who were opposed to the privilege, funded a non-profit group, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, or CRASH, that lobbied against the motor carriers,” according to the cover story in the Roadwise 75th anniversary issue. “The day the legislative committee was to hear the bill on triples legislation, the railroads encircled the Capitol with trailers, the point being that approving the bill would result in clogged interstates. But that morning a train derailed in East Helena with such force that the railcars nearly ran up on to U.S. Highway 12.”
To start off the New Year, Heavy Duty Trucking began a continuing 10-part series that highlights glaring issues impacting the trucking industry along with ways fleets are attempting to solve them. In Part-1 of HDT’s series, Driver Pay: Making the Grade, David Cullen, Executive Editor of HDT explains how current trucking wages is a serious cause for concern and what fleets are doing to help recruit and retain drivers.
It’s no secret driver turnover and retention hound the trucking industry. Citing the National Transportation Institute, Cullen wrote the age of the average trucker is 52, a number that only goes up. With an improving economy and a shrinking blue-collar labor workforce, fewer people seek out jobs in the trucking industry. The days of trucking as a career path are fading. Even by offering new equipment, technology or strong safety measures, fleets find those are not enough to attract new recruits. To make matters worse, trucker wages haven’t kept up with inflation. Nowadays the average trucker makes just over $50,000.
Cullen pointed out that Millennials have different priorities than their predecessors when it comes to job requirements. In general, Millennials want to be home every night and they seek out stable pay. When truck drivers are grounded due to inclement weather, or they didn’t get the right reimbursement, or in some cases, when they find fleets pay them less than what they originally offered as suggested by Cullen, panic over the ability to pay the monthly rent or mortgage or other bills quickly sets in.
With these things in mind, more fleets are going to the drawing board to figure out how to overcome these growing issues with better pay packages to help recruit and retain drivers.
Take for example the experience-based pay package that CFI created. Cullen reported that on top of company-wide increases in pay-per-mile for solo and team drivers, the Joplin, Missouri-based company shortened the amount of time it takes to reach top pay from 21 years to nine. Beginning drivers make 40 cents per mile and receive a 1-cent increase every 125,000 miles.
No More Robbing Peter to Pay Paul Due to Pay Day Surprise
Or how about the approach of creating a more stable pay environment for drivers taken by two Daseke companies: Bulldog Hiway Express and Boyd Bros.? By having “guaranteed pay,” they offer drivers the assurance of knowing their take-home pay won’t fall below a certain level each week. That way, things out of their drivers’ control, like weather delays, won’t cause them additional undue stress when they get paid.
With fleets becoming more creative with their pay packages, only time will tell if more money and more stable pay will be enough to slow the growing turnover and retention rates the trucking industry is faced with.
How to Increase Freight Capacity Without Adding a Single Truck
If you’re having trouble recruiting good drivers, you’re certainly not alone. Competition for those good drivers is heating up as companies offer ever-higher sign-on bonuses, increased detention pay rates and other perks.
So, if hiring new drivers is proving to be so difficult, are there other ways to respond to the industry’s record-setting capacity needs? A white paper offered by J.B. Hunt and entitled “660 Minutes,” may offer you some ideas on how you might be able to get some help from your customers.
J.B. Hunt looked at how shippers could help carriers increase their freight capacity by improving driver efficiency and productivity by up to a third. It lays out a scenario in which a carrier has a fleet of 100 trucks averaging 700 total miles per load, (which includes 61 miles of running empty). With a 33 percent productivity enhancement, each driver in that 100-truck fleet could move 63 additional loads each year. The result would be the addition of at least 25 trucks worth of capacity.
The white paper is based on a study completed by the small business banking firm – BB&T on a 5,000-truck fleet. J.B. Hunt reported that after the hours-of-service regulations first went into effect in July of 2013, the BB&T study found drivers in that 5,000-truck fleet spent 390 minutes on average behind the wheel each day. That’s only 59 percent of the 660 minutes of daily drive time the federal HOS regulations permit. The BB&T study concluded that the new HOS regulations, which were temporarily suspended in late 2014 and reinstated two years later, reduced average available drive time by 48 minutes each day.
Although the white paper was first published three years ago, now that the revised HOS regulations have since been re-instated, and enforcement of the ELD mandate is set to begin soon, carriers would do well to revisit it.
Increasing freight capacity would most likely interest just about any shipper. Particularly as the most recent figures from truckload freight marketplace provider DAT Solutions and freight transportation consultant FTR clearly show constrained industry capacity, resulting in the strongest freight rates in years. FTR estimates capacity utilization among truck fleets runs in the high 90 percent range. Meanwhile, DAT reports that a surge resulting from the industry’s record-setting tight capacity pushed up van rates in the spot market by 59 cents per mile from the $1.67 rate per mile in January of 2017. And reefer rates were up a stratospheric 71 cents per mile year over year.
The white paper could offer some recommendations for talking with your customers, and provides examples based on the BB&T study. It’s good stuff. For example, it suggests asking your customers to:
Re-examine policies on wait times for loading and unloading. If the limit on wait time is two hours, consider reducing it to one hour total for each shipment.
When a driver must spend time at the dock supervising, assisting or simply waiting as freight is loaded or unloaded, that must be counted toward the driver’s limit of 14 hours or 840 minutes of on-duty time, of which drivers can spend 660 minutes behind the wheel. The study found that drivers spent an average of 108 minutes supervising, assisting with or waiting at shippers and receivers to load or unload. When you add that to the average of 150 minutes drivers spent each day doing things other than driving or waiting to be loaded or unloaded – such as mandatory pre- and post-trip inspections, stopping at weigh stations, and fueling the truck, drivers were already cutting into their 660 minutes of allowed driving time.
So, in order to accommodate any further delays, drivers would have to forfeit even more drive time, taking a significant pay cut. Limiting the loading and unloading time for each shipment to one hour means a driver could regain 50 miles each day or 12,500 miles annually.
Provide onsite parking and amenities or help identify adequate parking nearby or along the driver’s route.
According to the white paper, drivers spent over an hour, on average, searching for a safe, legal location to shut down. If a trucker drives at an average speed of 50 mph and spends about 250 days on the road annually – that trucker would lose about 50 miles of productive drive time each day or 12,500 miles annually in search of parking. By providing those drivers with parking or parking location assistance, shippers could help carriers recover that lost drive time.
Offer more flexible pick-up and delivery times – including weekends and evenings; consider adapting the warehouse and dock to a round-the-clock operation, if possible.
By making pick-up and delivery times more flexible, carriers can better accommodate shipping schedules while maintaining compliance with HOS regulations. When customers can ship around the clock, 24-hours, seven days, that provides you a tremendous asset since inflexible appointment times can create both detention time and dwell time.
As you may know, detention time occurs when the appointment time has passed, but your customer still has yet to complete loading or unloading, or the accompanying paperwork, for example, before your driver can get underway. Dwell time is the time your drivers must spend waiting in between a delivery and pick-up of the next load.
The 660 Minutes white paper estimates that if the average driver in the BB&T study had been able to return to the road 15 minutes after the delivery, rather than the average of a full 60 minutes, the driver could spend 45 more minutes traveling on average, an additional 37 ½ miles each day, or 9,375 miles per year. (Again, that’s assuming the driver spends 250 days on the road each year).
Replace live unloading with a drop-and-hook trailer operation.
By establishing a drop-and-hook trailer operation, drivers can get back on the road on average 48 minutes sooner. If the driver averages 50 miles per hour, and spends 250 days on the road annually, that loss translates to 40 miles of drive time each day, or 10,000 forfeited miles annually.
J.B. Hunt’s white paper concludes that if a driver in the BB&T study were able to eliminate all of the above inefficiencies, that driver could travel 44,375 miles further each year. Using the aforementioned 700-mile average per load, shippers could have harnessed 63 additional loads of capacity from that one driver alone. Impressive!
If you haven’t had a heart-to-heart chat with your customers about the impact of the ELD mandate, the time is now. It’s a good idea to have that discussion or revisit this issue as commercial vehicle enforcement officers in the United States are set to begin full enforcement of the rules soon. (For details on the four-month delay in ELD mandate enforcement and recommendations on ELD mandate compliance from BarOle Trucking’s director of safety and compliance, visit our ELD implementation tips blog post.
Also, the Government of Canada late last year published amendments to the commercial vehicle drivers’ hours of service regulations and electronic recording device (ERD) requirements in an effort to align Canadian rules with U.S. requirements.
But how do you have that discussion? Where do you start? As it so happens, the Truckload Carriers Association and the Canadian Trucking Alliance offer guides with some good message points and recommendations. These recommendations provide tips on how to communicate with customers so that they can better understand the limitations under which your drivers must work according to the new rules.
Here are some of the top recommendations from both guides:
Hours of service: your customers may not realize the HOS clock cannot be halted and restarted like a stopwatch. Tell them to consider the HOS requirements as an hourglass. Once it’s tipped over, the sand in the hours-of-service hourglass keep flowing until they run out. There are no “turn-overs” or “do-overs”;
Each and every minute that ticks by during the driver’s allowed duty status not only must be digitally recorded, but also must be accounted for under the ELD mandate. Your customers may not realize that your drivers must account for the time they are detained at the dock. And once their time has run out, that’s it. Your driver and truck can go no further;
Since the ELD mandate requires carriers to document each minute drivers spend, whether they’re driving or waiting at the dock, you should discuss with customers how and when freight will be loaded and unloaded. Unless drivers are trained to handle specific equipment or cargo, or unless you’ve made alternative arrangements, your customers should be prepared to load/unload the freight in a timely manner;
Dock hours: do the dock hours align with freight volume? Your drivers should be provided 24-hour access, or as close to it as possible, to facility contact information so loading/unloading issues can be quickly resolved;
Let customers know how much drive time your drivers have available as they arrive at their loading docks. If there’s a line of trucks waiting to be loaded or unloaded, ask them to consider giving priority to those drivers who are in danger of running out of hours before their trailers can be loaded or unloaded. After they are loaded or unloaded, your drivers should also have enough time to inspect their trucks and trailers, get underway and reach a place where they can stop and get their mandatory rest;
When dock space becomes temporarily unavailable, your customers should avoid having your drivers wait at their docks. Ask them to inform you and/or your drivers before they are scheduled to arrive. If possible, ask them if they can let you know when space becomes available so you and your drivers can determine if there’s enough time to drop off or pick up the load before the HOS are up;
If you have a long-standing relationship with customers, consider asking for a facility or place where your drivers can clean and inspect their trailers and discard packaging material. Let your customers know this could help drivers maximize driving time and get their shipments where they need to go in the time available;
Ask your customers if space is available on their property where your drivers could park their trucks and use their sleeper berths to take their mandatory breaks, if necessary. If that’s not possible, seek their help in identifying nearby locations that your drivers can reach in their remaining drive time. Be sure they can park legally and safely at those locations, and can maneuver their trucks and trailers into the facility and back out onto the road quickly following their mandatory rest breaks;
Identify traffic conditions, seasonal weather, construction projects and other circumstances that might delay drivers, and ask your customers to take those things into consideration when scheduling shipments. With the data that’s available from your ELDs, perhaps you can provide value-added service by helping customers to identify and resolve those inefficiencies?
If your customers penalize late arrivals, work with them to identify and resolve the causes of those inefficiencies instead of using fines or penalty charges;
Collaborate with your customers to confirm that transit times can be realistically achieved under HOS regulations and by driving under the posted speed limits.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance produced a short video (2 minutes, 45 seconds) that offers carriers another good starting point in helping customers understand carrier limitations under the ELD mandate. As the Canadian Trucking Alliance points out, it just makes common sense for all parties to promote partnership and fulfill their responsibilities in creating a safe supply chain.
Compared to PrePass, the Drivewyze service is active in more states, and provides bypasses at almost double the sites. This is because:
Drivewyze provides bypasses at fixed and mobile sites, while PrePass only offers bypasses at fixed sites
Drivewyze uses geofence technology, which means the service doesn’t require costly transponder reader infrastructure like PrePass does. Geofencing allows Drivewyze to set up new sites within minutes, instead of months.
Drivewyze has 29 more agricultural sites than PrePass
Drivewyze is the only weigh station bypass service available in CT, ID, ME, MA, NV, NH, NY, RI, SD, VT, WA. However, it is not yet available in all states. You can view the Drivewyze coverage map here: http://drivewyze.com/coverage-map/
Modern Technology Integration vs. Transponders
The hardware for Drivewyze and PrePass are very different.
PrePass uses dated transponder technology. A transponder is a device that sticks onto the windshield of your truck(s). In order to receive a bypass, drivers must be in the right hand lane and drive under a transponder reader pole. Transponders will let the driver know if they received a bypass by showing a small green light, or show a small red light if the driver has to pull in. Lost or stolen transponders cost up to $100 each to replace, and often fleets have to make routine transponder purchases and manage these devices.
Drivewyze uses modern technology, and transforms mobile devices into ‘smart transponders’ through the use of GPS and cellular service. In 2013, the FMCSA announced that Commercial Mobile Radio Services (CMRS) network devices (such as smartphones, or telematics devices) could be used as transponders for weigh station bypass services. Click here to read the announcement. This means that Drivewyze can legally provide bypasses to drivers via their smartphone, tablet, or telematics devices (ELDs) such as Omnitracs, Peoplenet, Rand McNally, Zonar.
Drivers don’t need to be in the right hand lane to bypass, because the Drivewyze service doesn’t require transponder readers to function. This means drivers won’t need to make any sudden lane changes. If the driver receives a bypass, Drivewyze will show a large green Bypass screen. If the driver has to pull-in, Drivewyze will show a large ‘Follow Road Signs’ screen – which means pull in if open, or keep driving if the station is closed. Because Drivewyze is integrated into existing in-cab devices, there are no additional hardware costs or hassles.
When it comes to driver safety, both Drivewyze and PrePass are legal, hands free and safe to use while driving. Both programs are easy to use and understand.
Unlike PrePass transponders, Drivewyze has the ability to show different screens on mobile phones, tablets or telematics devices (ELDs). Because of this, Drivewyze offers “Heads Up” notifications. These alerts warn drivers of all upcoming weigh stations across the USA – even those that aren’t participating in the Drivewyze service. This way, drivers will always be prepared, and accidental scale bypasses become a thing of the past.
Business Intelligence Reporting
PrePass can provide basic reporting to fleets, such as the number of bypasses per month that you are receiving at PrePass sites.
Drivewyze provides fleets with sophisticated, GPS based reporting. This means you’ll get more data that shows you how much time is being wasted at all weigh stations and inspection sites across the country, not just Drivewyze sites. The data shows you where your trucks are being pulled in the most, and for exactly how long Drivewyze delivers ongoing ROI reports to customers. Interested in finding out how much your fleet could be saving? Let us show you for free!
Weigh in Motion Scale Integration
Some states require that trucks must be weighed, using a Weigh in Motion (WIM) scale that is embedded in the highway in advance of the weigh station, in order for a truck to receive a bypass. Many sites and states, however, do not require WIM data to provide a bypass. For sites that require WIM scale weight readings, both Drivewyze and PrePass are able to read the weight from passing trucks and use that information as part of the screening criteria.
What if I Get Pulled Over?
If a driver using PrePass receives a bypass, the transponder’s green light will flash for 15 minutes after passing the weigh station. If the driver gets pulled over within the 15-minute window, they can show law enforcement their transponder light for validation.
If a driver using Drivewyze receives a bypass, the bypass screen appears until the driver has passed the scale. If a driver gets pulled over, they can use the Recall Feature to re-display the most recent driving instruction they’ve received, along with related location information. Drivers can show the recall screen to law enforcement.
Law enforcement is able to see the time and day that a Drivewyze user bypasses or pulls into their stations – just as they can do in person, if you pull in without using Drivewyze. But Drivewyze does not provide law enforcement with any other information, regarding your location or time, in between stations. And it doesn’t have access to or share information regarding a driver’s CDL, medical status or Hours of Service.
Drivewyze uses the best, most secure mobile technology. Here is a promise we make to you:
We don’t collect and share driver data.
We don’t support mandatory driver data sharing.
We don’t provide location tracking info to law enforcement.
Both Drivewyze and PrePass screen drivers to determine whether they will receive a bypass or not. Some of these screening rules include data such as carrier ISS score, IFTA, registration, etc. Every time a truck requests a bypass, Drivewyze looks this data up in real time.
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