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Employment and Hours of Service Back in the Spotlight

There’s no shortage of news coming out of Washington these days and the trucking industry is in the mix. This week we are going to break down the new employment numbers and developments in the ongoing hours of service debate.

Employment Numbers

That the economy has been growing is no secret. According to the newest monthly jobs report released yesterday the economy added 321,000 non-farm jobs last month. The nation’s 5.8 percent unemployment rate is holding steady at a 6-year low.

Job gains have been accelerating across all industries, with business and retail services seeing the highest growth. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the for-hire tucking industry has seen a boost of 3,000 jobs, putting the overall number at 1.4 million.

                                                                                                    

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Though trucking is still 2.1 percent below its January 2007 peak, the gains are still impressive. March 2010 was the industry’s lowest point, and since it has gained 188,800 jobs. This represents a whopping 15.3 percent jump in a little over four years.

Combined, transportation and warehousing employment added 16,700 jobs in November, reaching a total of 4.6 million employed. In an improving economy, a rising tide lifts all trucks.

Hours of Service

A new bill is circulating in congress that could include a provision suspending parts of the 2013 hours of service rule.

If included in the bill, the rider would suspend the requirement that a driver’s 34 hour restart include two 1:00am to 5:00am rest periods. What form and exact language the plan takes will be revealed on December 8th.

Whether or not the provision will survive the high levels of partisan squabbling in congress is another story. The language was introduced by Maine Senator Susan Collins, who stated:

“The fact is neither truck drivers, nor their customers, nor I, nor anyone in this room ever wants to see an accident caused by driver fatigue or any other cause. But what has become clear over the past 11 months is that the new federal rules have presented some unintended consequences that are not in the best interest of public safety, truck drivers or the businesses and consumers that depend on their services.”

Though the provision ultimately had enough bipartisan support, it was stalled by procedural battles between party leaders. Whether or not it makes it into the final bill is unclear.

Provided congress can get its act together, the provision still faces significant opposition from highway safety advocates, organized labor and truck crash victims. The groups involved include:

  • The Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways
  • Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
  • Parents Against Tired Truckers
  • Truck Safety Coalition
  • The Teamsters Union

This past week these groups banded together and sent congress a letter opposing the Collins language. Among other things, the letter stated:

“As the 113th Congress draws to a close, trucking and shipping interest are relentlessly pushing an anti-safety agenda that is dangerous, deadly and unprecedented in its assault on public health and safety… enactment of these anti-safety measures will have a profound impact on highway safety.”

The hours of service provision was not their only target. The letter also outlined the coalition’s opposition to changes in truck size and weight limits. Ultimately the group urged President Obama to veto any bill that contains these provisions.

Perhaps the bigger question is whether or not any of this can even get through a lame duck session of congress and be signed by the president. Whether or not it ends up on the president’s desk depends on a lot of factors that have little to do with trucking.

The only reason the bill is being debated in a lame duck session to begin with is because the dysfunction in congress bottled up department budget bills. With a newly resurgent Republican Party set to take over in January, the rush is on to get something done. As a result, controversial riders like Senator Collin’s may never see the light of day.

Why Highway Hypnosis Is Every Truck Driver’s Achilles’ Heel?

Think about it. This is a type of job in the logistics industry requiring a ton of caffeine either in the form of energy drink, coffee, dissolvable, gummy, or pill. And loads of it – all to ensure that a driver doesn’t fall asleep behind the wheel. It’s a sad state when we see those driver’s ed videos about the truck driver who gets lulled into a meditative state, driving for hours and hours only to meet his or her horrible end in a head-on collision or a trip down a massive hill and explosion at the very bottom of a chasm. All by itself, it fits the mold of your standard horror movie!

This Is Why the White House Has Recently Nominated a ‘Sleep Specialist’ to Head the NHTSA

Highway hypnosis is no joke. It’s every truck driver’s worst nightmare. Each logistics corporation faces the prospect of a truck driver falling asleep at the wheel and causing some horrible accident, and the fact remains: such a truck driver can’t help but get fatigued. Logistics is truly a tough job.

Why do you think highways have those rest stops? Truck drivers do use them all the time. The problem, though, is that there are deadlines, and truck drivers can’t liberally use their time at their leisure to make sure they don’t rest their foreheads on the steering wheel while managing 60 miles an hour on the open road. It’s a lose-lose situation for these truck drivers, basically.

Hail Mark Rosekind, the new head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a federal crash investigator – and even better, a “sleep and fatigue specialist” – capable of really understanding what makes our truck drivers tick.

The Basic Credentials of Our Possible New NHTSA Head

Truck drivers all over America need the help to keep their eyes open, obviously, which is why Rosekind makes such a dent on the subject. Having been a board member of the National Transportation Safety Board, this is a man with such in-depth knowledge to know just what our drivers need to stay safe while operating their semis.

Moreover, he’s an innovator, implementing technological solutions, a chief scientist and President of a company dedicated to finding revolutionary ways for drivers working in the logistics industry to combat fatigue and highway hypnosis. That company is “Alert Solutions.” Understandable name.

Rosekind Is Not the Head of the NHTSA…. Yet

He has to get a pass by the U.S. Senate, and then he’s good to go. Given his credentials and the endorsement by our United States President, though, the chances are good.

With him on board, though, you can bet we can get some insight on research and development for higher safety standards among logistics companies. This goes well beyond the need for caffeine pills or Monster drinks, just so you know.

As a graduate of Stanford and Yale, Rosekind doesn’t play around. With his work at NASA, leading initiatives to develop a fatigue countermeasure program, studying all sorts of human factors in aviation, you can only imagine if he can make sure an astronaut or pilot doesn’t fall asleep behind the wheel, he can probably do the same for just about any truck driver out on the highway.

And without a doubt – we need that kind of expertise.

What the NHTSA Does

The truth is evident that highway hypnosis may forever be an issue we will always combat. That’s why the NHTSA is an agency focused on research and policy. Additionally, safety recalls and oversight of fuel economy standards are key priorities, hence making the agency not only a right-now type of solution for every single driver, but a long-term environmental remedy for thousands of trucks out there consistently burning fuel.

I Think It’s Safe to Say….

We’re in good hands. We have to be. When we’re out there on the road – whether as a residential driver, or a commercial operator – there’s always that chance that something can go wrong. It’s a highway. It’s hypnosis. People get sleepy all the time.

As long as we have a team there to always find ways to minimize the danger, we’ll always be on the right track. The right people make a difference. Our drivers will always succeed at their truck driving jobs, even when it’s tough. Moves like this from our President remind us that our livelihoods are the most important thing to the American Dream.

The Backbone of Our Country: Why the Trucking Industry Matters to the United States Military

One look and research of this organization – the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, also simply known as the OOIDA – and you may notice that the trucking industry, logistics and distribution, may be much more than just some drivers transporting cargo from point A to B. While that’s important from a corporate aspect, undoubtedly, understand this: America wouldn’t operate well at all without those drivers pulling in the miles.

The semis you see out there on the highway are responsible for getting all our groceries, our fuel, our medicine, our valuables, everything – to where they need to be at the time they need to be there. That’s a huge responsibility, and rightly so; the all-important truck driver represents a career defining the very fabric of America, and that – surprisingly enough – can’t be truer than when you read the recent news about the OOIDA’s initiative to promote military vets as candidates for those careers.

A Look at the OOIDA’s New Campaign for Trucking Jobs for the Military

They’re the other backbone of the country: the United States military. In many ways, they’re the defining backbone of the country, because without them, we wouldn’t have the freedom of commerce, logistics, distribution, trucking companies providing those services to businesses and residents all that they need to maintain their lives.

It was only just this week that the OOIDA announced the nationwide campaign, assisting our returning military veterans in the prospect of finding a rewarding career in logistics. By maintaining the legitimacy and vitality of how America operates, with our entire trucking industry, we’re also serving to repay everything our veterans have done for our country – by offering them these rewarding jobs. There could be nothing better.

“Hiring Our Heroes”

The OOIDA, of course, isn’t alone in this campaign: they have partners, such as QuickTSI’s ‘Truck Driving Jobs’ search engine, a job board designed to help carriers find professional drivers capable of managing services of the highest caliber. In addition, a United States Chamber of Commerce program entitled “Hiring Our Heroes” has already found jobs for nearly 250K veterans already – in a multitude of industries.

It’s a pure triumph that we can add the trucking industry to that list, stimulating the economy and promoting that same driving force propelling the United States into continued success.

Education Is Key

Of course, it’s one thing to be a soldier – to be a truck driver remains on a completely different battlefield, but that’s okay, given the fact that the OOIDA will also provide an online education series designed to instruct veterans on the information they need to become licensed CDL owner-operators, prepared for their new careers after serving in the military. They will learn everything from figuring cost of operations to passing a safety audit – and much more.

Just Another Reason Why the Trucking Industry Matters

As you drive down the highway and see the semis ride, remember this: you might be seeing a veteran behind the wheel. That would be an individual who wasn’t just responsible for defending your way of life, your freedom, your very being – but is also responsible now for ensuring you continue living the way every American should.

Finding the Right Trucking Job for You

The need for qualified truck drivers seems to be growing every day. Trucking companies are always looking for drivers who are experienced and reliable. With all of the truck driving jobs available, it can be hard to find the right job for you. Some of the things to consider when you’re sorting through ads for trucking jobs include home time, company reputation, pay, and how employees are treated.

Home Time
One of the most important things you consider when you’re looking for a job in the trucking industry is the amount of time you will be able to spend at home. Some drivers enjoy being on the road for months at a time. If seeing new places and traveling around fit your lifestyle, you may not want to work for a company that focuses on having the drivers home at least once per month. On the other hand, drivers who want to see their families often should look for trucking companies that offer dedicated runs and a good amount of home time. Talking to a couple of drivers that have worked for the company for at least a year will help you determine if they actually deliver on the amount of home time they promise new drivers.

Trucking Company Reputation

Another thing you should consider when you’re comparing companies is their reputations within the industry. Much of the trucking industry is built on reputation, and companies that are known for being difficult to work with are less likely to keep contracts than those who are known for excellent service. There are enough trucking jobs available in most areas that it should be easy to find a company near you that has an excellent reputation within the trucking industry. Taking a few minutes to research the reputation of a company you aren’t familiar with is a good way to gain insight. This will give you information about the company’s safety rating and track record. It may also tell you if there has been any recent lawsuits involving the company you are considering.

Pay

Pay is always a consideration when you’re looking at truck driving jobs. Some companies pay by the hour, while others pay by the mile or by the load. Make sure that you look at the entire picture when you’re comparing pay scales. This includes bonuses, insurance, fuel surcharges and other compensation. It’s also important to ask how often the company pays its employees. Some pay only once per month, while others pay every time a load is delivered. Virtually every trucking company offers direct deposit, as they understand how seldom most truck drivers are able to visit a bank in person.

Treatment of Employees

It’s a recruiter’s job to act like their company is the best trucking company in the world and treats their employees like royalty. The reality is that many trucking companies have dispatchers that play favorites and give the worst loads to the truckers they don’t like. Finding a company that treats their employees well can be a difficult task. The best way to assess how well a company treats its employees is to ask the employees themselves. Spend some time in your local truck stops and ask truckers who work for the companies what they think of their employers. Most of them will give you an honest answer, however it’s best to ask several people and not just take the opinion of the first person you talk to.

Most employers tend to look down on truck drivers who have worked for a company for less than a year, so it pays to do your research and find the best job for you before committing to work for a particular company. You may need to spend a few hours on the phone and Internet doing research before you find a company that meets your needs. Once you have narrowed your search to two or three companies that look promising, spend some time at the truck stop talking to other truckers. This is not a waste of time, even if you don’t end up working for any of the companies you originally chose to research. Getting on with a company that suits your personality and lifestyle is one of the most important career decisions you’ll ever make.

Challenges for Trucking Businesses?

Running a trucking company can be very challenging at times. Some of the challenges that trucking companies face include the rising costs of fuel and insurance, hiring and maintaining good drivers and maintaining a good online reputation for the company.

Rising Fuel Costs

Almost everyone is affected by the price of fuel, but few industries are affected as much as the trucking industry. Some companies that need their products hauled are offering fuel surcharges to help trucking companies cope with the rising fuel prices, but the surcharges usually don’t keep pace with the rise in fuel costs. It’s almost impossible for companies to predict rises in fuel costs, making it difficult for them to bid jobs accurately and make a profit from every load they haul. Most companies spend more money per year on fuel for each truck than they pay each truck driver who hauls loads for them.

Increased Insurance Costs

Trucking companies have to have a certain amount of insurance to operate legally as a carrier. Unfortunately this insurance is often expensive, especially for companies who choose high coverage amounts and low deductibles. Hiring drivers who have excellent driving records is a great way to lower your insurance premiums. Another way to save on insurance is to get quotes from several commercial auto insurance companies. The first company you get a quote from may offer you the best price, but it is usually worth the time and effort to get quotes from at least three companies before making a decision. Paying your insurance premiums upfront for the entire year can also save you a considerable amount of money each year.

Attracting and Keeping Drivers

A good truck driver with no tickets or accidents is a very valuable asset and companies have to work hard to keep good drivers from leaving their company to go to another company that pays more or offers better benefits. Trucking jobs are readily available even when the economy is in recession, so companies are forced to offer bonuses and increase driver pay to keep the best drivers in their fleet and attract more high-quality drivers.

Many companies offer bonuses to drivers who stay with the company for a certain amount of time. These bonuses generally start at one year and may continue for twenty years or more. Another strategy that companies are using is offering current employees bonuses for recruiting and referring people they know who are a good fit for the company. Offering flexible schedules with more time at home is also a great way to keep employees from switching to another company. If your company is having trouble keeping good drivers, try asking the drivers you have what they like best about the company. They will generally be happy to tell you where improvements can be made.

Maintaining a Great Reputation Online

We live in a time where it is very easy to get information out to thousands of people very quickly. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Any company who offers trucking jobs is likely to have drivers search for them online. It’s important to ensure that everything a driver finds online about your company is true. Checking at least once per day is a great way to ensure that false information is not being spread about your company. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are a great way to interact with customers and share information about your company, but competitors or disgruntled former employees can use these sites to spread negative information about your company if you don’t monitor your company’s online reputation regularly.

About QuickTSI

QuickTSI is your one-stop-shop for everything you need to run your transportation and freight logistics business. Our website allows you to post load or find trucks, post trucks or find loads, look up carrier profiles, view trucking companies, find truck driving jobs, and DOT medical examniers.

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