If you go to a military cemetery, such as Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in mid- to late December, what you will find is a sea of wreaths with red bows on the headstones of fallen U.S. veterans. It’s a beautiful sight. One you will never forget. The wreaths pay honor to those who have served; those who gave of themselves in the protection of others.
It’s no easy task to make all of this happen. Each year, wreaths are individually placed by volunteers from Wreaths Across America (WAA) – a nonprofit organization. Volunteers for the program include hundreds of truck drivers who transport the wreaths across the country.
WAA all started with one man, Morrill Worcester. In 1992, after having a surplus of wreaths towards the end of the holiday season at his business — Worcester Wreath Company in Columbia Falls, Maine — Morrill decided he would lay the 5,000 extra wreaths he had at Arlington National Cemetery, with the help of then Maine Senator Olympia Snowe. Morrill’s reverence to honor fallen U.S. veterans stems from a visit he took to the cemetery when he was a boy — it gave him a lasting gratitude for those who had sacrificed their lives.
Morrill continued to lay wreaths at Arlington for years – and it was his own little tradition. In 2005, pictures of the wreaths surfaced on the Internet, creating quite the buzz. It started a movement.
In 2007, WAA blossomed into a national tradition, and became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. In 2017, more than 1.5 million wreaths featuring hand tied bows, were laid at more than 1,400 locations. Wreath-laying ceremonies are held every second or third Saturday of December.
In order for all of the wreath-laying ceremonies to run smoothly, WAA relies on the trucking industry to help with the logistics of delivering the wreaths to participating cemeteries. WAA still produces its wreaths in Columbia Falls, so it takes a lot of dedicated truck drivers to make the trip up to Maine to pick up and distribute the wreaths throughout the country. Trucks that participate in these delivers are a part of the group called the Honor Fleet.
For many fleets that participate, it can be a scramble to find freight to haul on their way to Maine. Many of these fleets don’t have traffic lanes in that part of the country, but they find a way to make it work.
For Brown Trucking, a Drivewyze customer which is based in Georgia and operates in the southeast region of the U.S., it can be difficult to find freight to take up north. Regardless of the challenges, Brown Trucking was onboard to join the cause when approached by one of its drivers.
“A few years back, I was listening to an XM Radio talk show and they were talking about Wreaths Across America,” recalled Ken Fooshee, a driver for Brown Trucking. “It sounded like a great program. I wanted to be a part of it and help pay tribute to our fallen veterans. I approached management about volunteering for it and they said they’d let me do it. I’ve been a volunteer for four years now.”
This year, Ken will transport a load to New Hampshire before picking up the wreaths in Maine. After picking up the wreaths, Ken will head south, and deliver approximately 8,100 wreaths to seven different cemeteries in Florida. In its entirety, the trip will take 14 days from the day Ken departs from Florida, picks up the wreaths and completes the deliveries.
This year, Ken is invited to attend the wreath-laying ceremony at Bay Pines National Cemetery in St. Petersburg, (his final stop) and will help lay wreaths on the headstones.
“I look forward to being a part of wreath day,” said Ken. “It’s something I haven’t had the chance to do yet. My father served in Vietnam and I have a lot of family members and people I have worked with that have served. Wreaths Across America is an incredible program to be a part of and it’s very rewarding. This is my fourth year as a volunteer and I will continue to volunteer as long as I can.”
WAA expands its reach in France
On Dec. 3, WAA placed nearly 9,500 wreaths from Maine on the headstones of all of the U.S. service members laid to rest at Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. The wreaths honor those who lost their lives on the five D-Day invasion beaches at Pointe Du Hoc. This marked the first time WAA laid wreaths on foreign soil, with plans to continue to expand its reach.
Each year, truck drivers with hearts of gold get together to help aspiring athletes get a little gold themselves…. all in support of the Special Olympic program.
Since 2001, truck drivers throughout the U.S and Canada have come together to raise money for Special Olympics by participating in truck convoys through selected cities. The drivers behind the wheel of the trucks have two common goals: salute the Special Olympics athletes and raise money to help them participate in area venues. For top qualifying athletes, they’ll make their way to the grand event itself – this past summer it was held in Seattle. That’s why inside the cabs, you’ll find drivers with big smiles, happy to participate for a good cause.
Since the first truck convoy in Orlando Florida, which raised $17,000, the event has grown beyond anyone’s expectations. In fact, this year at the 2018 Special Olympics truck convoy in Joplin, Missouri, 522 trucks participated, raising $191,175. All told, a total of 2,934 trucks and drivers participated in 26 convoys throughout the U.S. and Canada — raising $1.2 million that will be used to help fund 21 Special Olympics programs. All we can say is WOW!
Escorted by local law enforcement, drivers in formation drive through the host town. Driver’s themselves reach into their pockets, donating a minimum of $100 to participate. At area fundraisers, auctions as well as other events, are held to further support the efforts.
According to Robin Anderson, development director for Special Olympics Missouri, the money generated from the convoys help the Special Olympics put on many activities that wouldn’t be possible without the donations. It also helps make travel plans possible for the Special Olympic athletes.
While money generated by the convoys is important to help fund the Special Olympics, the underlying story is the personal connection built by the fundraiser. It’s why drivers continue to come back — many drivers make it a tradition each year to drive in the convoy. At the event, athletes get the opportunity to climb into a big-rig, see what it’s like inside the cab, meet the driver and get a first-hand experience of what riding in a truck is like.
The convoy can be a life changing experience for a driver. It’s an opportunity for them to really connect with the people in their community and leave the athlete with the impression that they have their full-on support.
Drivewyze salutes our Special Olympic athletes, and we salute all the drivers who support them through the convoy. Fundraisers like the truck convoy bring out the best in people and we look forward to the continued growth of the convoy.
There’s no denying that for a professional driver, the demands of the job can create challenges when it comes to making good decisions regarding food, fitness and sleep.
And while there is generally a strong cultural and corporate awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, the tools available simply haven’t been adapted to fit the unique requirements of drivers — enter Rolling Strong (rollingstrong.com), an innovative wellness program designed specifically for truckers to help them improve overall health, pass their DOT exams and function better and more safely on the job.
Rolling Strong’s mission to impact the driver health crisis is straight forward — yet far-reaching, according to company president Steve Kane.
“Drivers, unfortunately, are among the most unhealthy people in the working population. There’s a real need for them to have a solution. We’ve built a program that offers solutions, not just for the drivers, but also for management to deploy something that works,” Steve says.
“Healthy drivers are safer drivers, they are less likely to suffer an injury on the job,” Steve adds, “and they are more likely to stay with a company when they know their well-being is a priority.”
The Rolling Strong platform can be utilized on mobile devices as well as in-cab computing systems and offers the following features:
Nutrition Guidance including meal suggestions and predictive nutrition based on location though truck stop, restaurant and food item search capabilities, as well as daily food logging with calorie counts and targets.
Exercise Programs including guided workout routines based on personalized preferences with duration and intensity choices, and daily step tracking with an integrated wearable activity tracker.
Sleep time and pattern tracking with an integrated wearable activity tracker, and CPAP integration.
Personal Health Records including biometric data from physicians, wellness coaches or health check stations, DOT certification reminders and the ability to connect with a wellness coach.
Rolling Strong isn’t just another diet and exercise program — it’s designed by truckers for truckers. Steve, a former driver and dispatcher, spent more than 10 years on the road and knows first-hand the challenges that drivers face. Hours of service regs, he notes, make it even tougher to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“Carriers want to maximize the usage of those drivers, and for the majority of their hours drivers are sedentary behind the wheel,” Steve points out. “The lack of movement creates tightness around joints and ligaments. The lack of cardiovascular exercise, over time, can cause complications and put the driver at greater risk for heart disease.”
Getting regular exercise helps to reduce risk factors including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing stress, and achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. But how’s a trucker supposed to pull their rig into the parking lot of the local fitness center?
Rolling Strong solved that predicament with an innovative Flex System designed to turn your truck into your own personal gym where you can build core strength, muscle tone, and improve flexibility and cardio vascular health. Flex, allows you to connect low impact resistance bands to various connection points in the truck and trailer or use a soft shell kettle bag or sand filled neoprene hand weights to get impactful workouts while away from home. The Rolling Strong App will even guide you through your workout.
“The workouts are low impact to shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, and lower back that are susceptible to injuries, and more focussed on promoting mobility, balance and light to medium cardio, so they can be more functional on the job and have fewer risk factors,” Steve says.
At some point, we all have to make a decision to be healthy. Because drivers have a greater challenge staying in the right lane, so to speak, Rolling Strong has lined up a network of wellness coaches specifically trained in the special needs of professional drivers. Answers and a boost in motivation are close as a call or text away.
As a driver recruitment and retention tool, Rolling Strong offers an exciting health-driven program that allows carriers to educate and reward their drivers, and interact with employees throughout their entire company. Ultimately, Steve points out, a healthier workforce positively impacts insurance premiums and workers comp costs.
“We really think of this as an accident reduction tool as we aim to keep the drivers healthy. We’re using our mobile application to deliver the right message from the leadership team as we allow everybody to engage in and create a positive company culture around improving health and wellness.”
At Drivewyze we’re all about promoting programs that better the driver experience. We encourage you to check out Rolling Strong and become part of the change.
“It would be really cool someday,” Steve says, “if a news article was released that reported that there is absolute verifiable proof around change in this industry as a whole towards better health and fitness and that we’ve really moved the needle.”
When you spend days or even weeks out on the road, life might be a little better with a furry little friend along for the ride.
Dogs and cats not only make for great company, they can boost morale on the road and provide great companionship. Seems like a great way to make life on the road more enjoyable, right? Well, before you check out a pet store or pet rescue facility, there are a few things to consider before committing to the idea.
If you’re a company driver, you better clear the idea with the company you drive for. Even though it’s a growing trend to bring pets on the road, many fleets don’t allow it. On the chance they do, they’ll likely have rules for you to follow. For example, they may have a maximum weight limit for your pet, a ‘pet’ deposit, proof of vaccinations, and specifications for your pet (no exotic animals) so it’s important to review the rules beforehand.
If you’re new to commercial driving, it’s probably best to wait to bring a pet with you. If you’ve only been driving for a few months, you still have a lot to learn and responsibilities to become familiar with. Get settled into driving and your routine, then figure out if having a pet will fit into your schedule.
Most fleets will have a weight requirement for your pet, but if they don’t, it’s still a good idea to find a pet that is under 25 lbs. You’re in a limited space in your truck, dogs like Dachshunds, Pugs, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Yorkshire Terriers, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzu’s are all good examples of dog that are “right sized” for travel.
And what about puppies? Granted. Cute! But, they require lots of attention and bathroom breaks. Puppies are also curious, and are generally full of energy. That’s not the best combination in a small cab. Oh, and they chew things up. Unless you have a lot of free time on your hands, it might be best to have a dog outside the puppy stage. A quick word on walking your dog…more common sense than anything: Be careful at truck stops — you don’t want your dog stepping in oil or gas. And, anti-freeze is very toxic. If they wonder through an area with fluids, then lick their paw, they could get very sick.
Having a crate in your truck is definitely a good idea (and another reason a smaller dog is often preferred. Small dog equals small crate). If you need to leave your pet unattended for a while, or they happen to panic while on the road, they will have a safe and secure area onboard. If you know the pet will wander around the cab while you’re driving, placing them in a crate ensures they won’t be a distraction or get near the foot pedals.
Not a dog lover? Cats are also a great option since they are very low maintenance…. except for the infamous cat box. If you want a cat, you better be prepared to change kitty litter on a daily basis.
For many drivers, the benefits of having a pet on the road easily out-weigh the added responsibility. Research shows that pets relieve stress and can improve your overall mood. Certain pets, like dogs, encourage more socializing, since they need to be walked. Dogs can make you more approachable and can help break the ice of having a conversation with a fellow trucker while at a truck stop. You never know what a conversation could lead to…networking opportunity, new friend, a future date?
So, what do you think? Bringing a pet onboard sound like a good idea? If so, check out this site for more tips on how to prepare your truck for your new companion.
Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world, affecting millions each year. While movies like ‘Taken,’ featuring Liam Neeson, may have us thinking it only happens overseas, the issue continues to grow here at an alarming rate. That’s why it’s important to identify warning signs and “red flags,” so we can help those who are being abused or enslaved and bring justice to those responsible.
Considered the eyes of the highway, truck drivers have an enormous opportunity to observe and report suspicious activity on the road and in truck stops. They have the ability to keep highways and communities safer. To take advantage of the millions of drivers operating throughout the U.S. and Canada, in 2009, the Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) organization was founded to help save the lives of those being trafficked.
It’s estimated that human trafficking is a $32 billion industry in the United States alone. It takes a trained eye to spot potential cases because most of the time, victims don’t let on that they are in trouble because of fear their trafficker will hurt them. The other part of the equation is taking action. Again, that’s where the TAT training comes in.
TAT began as an initiative of Chapter 61 Ministries, a non-profit that seeks to stop sex trafficking and bring public awareness to the issue, as well as restore hope to the victims. In two years, TAT quickly grew and became its own non-profit organization seeking to accomplish the same goals throughout the trucking industry.
TAT offers a lot of programs that are dedicated towards ending sex trafficking, though its main focus is training drivers, and truck company employees, to identify suspicious behavior that could result in a trafficking case as well as how to report the activity.
The great news is this program is growing. It now has over 622,000 people in the trucking industry TAT trained. That’s a lot of eyes and ears helping to fight a problem. And it’s working. Registered members have helped identify 1,123 victims and of those, 606 cases were generated.
This organization has made such an impact that the Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement model was created to help the trucking industry in its fight against human trafficking. So far, 35 states have adopted this model in part or in whole. Of the 35 states, six have now made it mandatory that entry-level CDL holders must be TAT trained, with other states looking to follow.
With more states adopting this model, coverage from TAT registered members will only continue to grow, which will make more of an impact each year.
To help spread its message, TAT provides drivers with stickers and other items to put on their truck to let those around know that they are a registered member of TAT. This also opens discussions with other drivers who might not know about the program.
Running the program doesn’t come cheap, and many in the industry have stepped up with financial support. Last year, Inland Kenworth, out of Phoenix, auctioned off a special edition Kenworth T680. The truck, called the ‘Everyday Heroes Truck’ featured TAT’s logo, as well as a number to report suspected trafficking cases. The program was the brainchild of Don Blake, Inland Kenworth’s new truck sales manager in the Phoenix area. Proceeds from the auction all went to TAT. Blake also serves as Board of Directors for TAT and plans to host another auction to support TAT this year.
Organizations like TAT are making a difference, but it’s a continual battle. If you spot something, say something. Reporting suspicious activity has the ability to change — even save — someone’s life.
We encourage you to get TAT trained, make a difference…here’s where you can learn more.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Oct. 24, 2018 – Switchboard, a customer centric ELD provider, has announced a new partnership with Drivewyze. Along with its initial goal of offering free FMCSA compliance through its Electronic Log, Switchboard has evolved its Switchboard Android app to now provide a spectrum of features that include advanced fleet management solutions.
“Today, by integrating with Drivewyze Pre-Clear weigh station bypass technology, we are taking a step further in creating a better experience and ecosystem for or customers,” said Sagar Malhi, CTO of Switchboard.
Drivewyze is the leading provider of mobility-based weigh station bypass solutions, and its integration with Switchboard provides all-in-one ELD and weigh station bypass convenience. “It’s a technology marriage that simplifies life for our customers,” said Malhi. “We’re growing our ELDs with fleets and owner operators, and Drivewyze continues to expand its coverage though the United States and Canada. Our partnership helps keep our customers moving and delivering freight. Weigh station bypass saves a lot of time and money for our customers.”
According to Brian Heath, President and CEO of Drivewyze, the integration with Switchboard provides a new option for easy access to the Drivewyze bypass service. “By integrating Drivewyze into their application, Switchboard is providing its customers with yet another great productivity tool, and a cost-effective solution that will improve bottom lines. We’re proud to be part of their solution.”
The new Drivewyze PreClear app integration offers several conveniences:
More bypass opportunities than any other weigh station bypass service
Bypass opportunities at more than 700 weigh station sites in 43 states and provinces
“Heads Up” warnings for weigh stations not currently served by Drivewyze
Works on the same mobile devices carriers and drivers use to run Switchboard – no additional transponder required
Quicker load delivery and reduction in time spent in inspection lineups
Improved road safety, avoiding lane changes and traffic merges
Saves time, money and hassles
Switchboard Inc. provides modern technology for streamlining trucking operations. Switchboard focuses on providing simple but powerful functionality with affordable and data driven software solutions to carriers and drivers across the world. By propagating real time truck information all the way up the supply chain, Switchboard is bringing transportation into the next generation. Learn more about Switchboard at www.onswitchboard.com.
About Drivewyze Inc.
Drivewyze Inc. is the leader in connected truck services and is on a mission to revolutionize the delivery of transportation safety and efficiency. 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.