It’s Showtime!

Custom trucks compete for recognition

custom trucksNow that winter has finally released its icy grip from most of the country, the show truck season is up and running. The 75 Chrome Shop edition of Overdrive magazine’s Pride & Polish competition recently found familiar faces on the winner’s podium, and Shell’s Super Rigs event opens up tomorrow (May 15) at Z-Max Dragway in Charlotte, NC.

Reigning Pride & Polish champ Vinnie Diorio’s 2013 Peterbilt 389/2008 MAC trailer, titled Trendsettin’, claimed Best of Show in the Limited-Mileage Combo category. Bill Rethwisch, another previous victor, won Best of Show with a 2013 Peterbilt 389/Polar Tanker named Blood, Sweat & Gass. A regular on the Price & Polish circuit, Bob Brinker scored another Best of Show in the Working Bobtail category with Legend of the Black Pearl, his pirate-themed 2000 Freightliner Classic.

Check out Overdrive Online for full details and photos of the winners.

Later this week, show truck competitors from around the country will gather in Charlotte for the 32nd Annual Shell Rotella Super Rigs competition. Over $25,000.00 in prize money and potential spots on the Super Rigs 2015 calendar will be on the line.

Barr-Nunn unveils additional pay enhancements

Barr-Nunn Transportation has once again announced new pay enhancements for its drivers. This announcement comes on the heels of two sets of enhancements announced by the company in February and March.

Barr Nunn Logo

The most recent changes raise pay for drivers in every Band pay region and OTR fleet, in addition to increasing the pay caps for those already at the top rates. This means, for example, that Ohio Regional drivers now start at $.044 per practical mile with a pay cap of $0.50 per mile, all while maintaining their home time every weekend. Barr-Nunn continues to offer competitive pay to all of its drivers. Company Teams with 1+ years of experience start at $0.53 per practical mile and move up to $0.54 per practical mile after a year at Barr-Nunn.

 Barr-Nunn feels that taking care of their drivers only makes sense, given the hard work and effort that its drivers put in every day. “Our drivers continue to deliver industry leading safety and service performances. Our strong CSA scores and numerous service awards demonstrate this.” says Jeff Blank, Director of Recruiting. “It’s this superior performance that has enabled Barr-Nunn to continue to improve what is already a top industry compensation package with more money, better benefits, and newer equipment for our drivers. We know that to keep top-performing drivers happy, we need to offer a top-performing compensation package. We’re here for our drivers. They make us successful. We give it back.”

Barr-Nunn is also continuing to offer $5,000 sign-on bonuses to Team Company Drivers and Owner Operator Teams, but only for a limited time. In order to take advantage of all of these and other bonuses, applicants are encouraged to apply today. For more information on current job postings, applicants can visit Barr-Nunn’s website or click here.

 

Samaritan Trucker Saves Motorist

highway angelThe results could have been catastrophic when a motorist suffered a medical emergency while driving in Arlington, Washington earlier this year. Fortunately, truck driver Robert Tyler spotted the situation and intervened. When he came upon a vehicle blocking traffic, Tyler found the motorist unconscious with his car in drive and foot on the brake.

Using his truck to block the car from moving if the driver’s foot came off the brake, Tyler then gained access to the locked car, rendered it safe and got the motorist out of the car. A nurse on the scene then administered CPR until paramedics arrived.

The Truckload Carriers Association recently recognized Tyler as a Highway Angel for his heroism.

ATRI find fault with FMCSA study

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has taken on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) field study on the new hours of service (HOS) rules and found it to be flawed. The FMCSA HOS study was the result of a directive contained in Congress’s MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act) legislation that went into effect July 1, 2013. MAP-21 required the FMCSA to research whether or not the HOS restart provisions included in it were effective.

HOS restart rulesThe subsequent FMCSA study, which tested 106 truck drivers and measured fatigue factors during two duty cycles and two restart breaks, claimed its results supported the effectiveness of the restart rule. After researching the study, however, ATRI says it has found a “variety of technical issues related to research design flaws, validity of measurement techniques and interpretations and data conflicts within and across the study.”

The following are issues the ATRI has with the FMCSA study:

  • The measured restarts range from 34 hours to an unknown/non-limited number of hours off-duty.
  • There is less than 12 days’ worth of data for each of only 106 drivers.
  • Testing showed attention lapses in both duty cycle groups without demonstrating a correlation.
  • Both duty cycle groups had similar lane deviation measurements.
  • There was only a 6 minute difference each day in sleep.
  • Average driver scores did not indicate any level of sleepiness.
  • Drivers in the “two or more nighttime” group are more likely to drive during the day (the time of greatest crash risk.

The FMCSA study has been the subject of criticism from those in the trucking industry as well as members of Congress. In fact, Congress asked the Government Accountability Office to make an evaluation of the FMCSA study.

“FMCSA has heard loud and clear from carriers and drivers that the new rules are not advancing safety and are creating additional stress and fatigue on the part of truck drivers. ATRI’s analysis raises enough questions about FMCSA’s own study that should compel a comprehensive review of the entire rule,” said Steve Rush, President of  Wharton, NJ-based Carbon Express, Inc.

Downtime Diversions | Juneau launches “Space Trucker”

space

Anton Doiron’s “feature length science fiction film” is called Space Trucker Bruce and takes place in 2067 where common folk work not only on Earth, but also in space and anywhere in between. The main character’s name is Bruce, a lonely space trucker, who hauls 20,000 tons of hog fat used to blend food that needs to be shipped to a far away space station. The movie tells the story of one of Bruce’s trips where he allows a hitchhiker named Max to join him. The two men wind up having a mysterious adventure together while Max tries to adjust to the life of a trucker.

Aside from all the unexpected mishaps, Doiron is proud of his work. When asked if he could describe the theme of the movie he used the phrase “The Zen Space Trucker Philosophy” meaning that the main character, Bruce, “lived every day for that day.” This theme portrays Doiron’s journey of creating his film over the past six years and he describes the project coming together “bit by bit, day by day, month by month, year by year.”

This film took an extensive amount of time to create due to the fact that Doiron used his bare hands to build a lot of the set including the Nexus’ hallway that was built behind his house. This piece was 35 feet long, held together with wood screws, painted, and covered with plastic. It was an upset for Doiron when the piece blew down and had to be rebuilt. When it came to filming the shots for outer space, he built them with a software called Blender. The special effects took six years with over 400 various elements joined into one frame known as composite shots. Green screen shots were required many times but when the green screen failed Doiron manually edited the shots, taking days to edit a shot that only lasted for several seconds.

Movie making requires endurance and a whole new level of focus that many of us do not understand. Anton Doiron began his journey to film making many years ago in high school where he gained an understanding of film making by creating shorts for his Spanish class and met his leading man, Karl Sears. During college Doiron gained many technical skills while earning his engineering degree along with an interest in computer programming and robotics. Mystery has always been an interest to him and he incorporates this in his movie with his love for science fiction cinema.We can really get to know who Doiron is by taking a look at how he used his technological skills in his own home by placing a motion detector, electric heater, and temperature sensor in every room. The sensor detects when a presence is in the room and the computer is set to turn the electric heater on and off when a preset temperature is met. He has this system in place in order to save money. This ingenuity is a mere example of how much detail it took to make Space Trucker Bruce.

Space Trucker Bruce is available on Amazon and be sure to visit www.spacetruckerbruce.com for more details.

The Heat Is On

summer readinessWith frost warnings still fresh in our memories, it might be tough to start worrying about heat, but summer is right around the corner. While you start wondering where to stash your mittens and snow brush, it’s time to think about getting your truck ready for summer. A little attention now can prevent bigger problems when the temperatures climb.

Over at the Team Run Smart blog, Craig McCue offers his top tips to get your truck ready for summer.

Timing Could Be Off For New Trucks

Delayed Truck Replacement Schedules May Impact Carriers As Economy Recovers

Even though not much is certain in today’s world, two things can be counted on as winter releases its icy grip on Louisville, Kentucky. The first, and most important to the local, is March Madness. Although it doesn’t quite rise to the same level of madness, the other reliable sign of spring in Louisville is 80,000 people and a zillion pounds of chrome descending on the Kentucky Exposition Center for the annual Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS).

MATS trucks
Photo courtesy of Matt Sepell

Because MATS is the truck industry’s single largest event, it’s quite common for the CEOs of exhibiting companies to report on recent performance and prognosticate about the year to come. Everybody had a slightly different take on the numbers this time, but the general consensus was that 2013 sales levels lived up to expectations, and that 2014 is expected to be equal to or slightly better than 2013.

Although current sales represent a positive market for the manufacturers, they do not begin to represent enough volume that catches up to the loss in sales during the depths of the recent recession. As such, the average age of fleets is now in record-high territory, adding to a reservoir of pent-up demand for new trucks when the economy eventually recovers.

Having already learned from being caught on the wrong side of past boom-and-bust cycles, truck manufacturers aren’t likely to make significant increases to their output when the economic pendulum inevitably swings back and that reservoir of pent-up demand is suddenly released. When that swing happens, it will tip the new-truck sales business heavily toward a seller’s market.

The carriers who delayed replacing their trucks as a strategy to survive the economic downturn are likely to end up on the wrong side of the seller’s market when new-truck order lead-times stretch into 18 months or more and replacing a geriatric fleet becomes a necessity rather than an option.

Loyalty Cards – You Gotta Love ’em

Loyalty CardsKeychains crowd and wallets bulge with those colorful, individual plastic loyalty cards that each and every store gives out these days. You gotta love them, because they don’t seem to be going away except when they get lost behind the bunk.

We drivers seem to have more than the average citizen. Not only do we have credit cards and debit cards as well as a driver’s license and all the discount cards from our local stores, but most of us also have a fuel card and a loyalty card from each major chain of truck stops. At last count, I had five of them. The only reason that I don’t have seven is because two of the major chains have combined their cards with two others.

One of the ladies in The Lady Truckers Network, Christy, came up with an ingenious way to keep up with all of those fuel and loyalty cards. She posted that she wraps colorful heavy duty rubber bands around her sun visor to keep her cards secure in an easy to find location. When she rolls into a fuel island, all she has to do is grab the fuel card and the right loyalty card.

That started a general discussion amongst the ladies as to what each did with all the cards to keep them from getting lost.

Amy tucks hers in the seam over the driver’s door.

Terri keeps hers in a wallet in her back pocket.

Geneva uses a CD holder to keep hers straight.

Idella and Sabrina punch holes in theirs to store on a key ring or in a binder.

I slip mine in a little zipper pouch for my front pocket.

It’s always fun to shuffle through the cards to find the one you need, right? Maybe if we made a game out of it.

I know that I think too hard about such matters, but the thought keeps coming up in my mind – who ever thought up these things like loyalty cards and coupons? Why do we simply accept the inconvenience of them?

We love them, because we are afraid that we will miss out on something if we don’t have the card or the coupon. I wonder how much it costs companies to produce and maintain them. If they were done away with, could companies just offer their wares at fair prices?

Wishful thinking, I know. Guess we will just keep shuffling.

Campaign launched to boost trucking industry image

trucking imageA new campaign to boost the image of the trucking industry was officially launched by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., March 26. The name of the campaign is Trucking Moves America Forward, and its goal is to educate the public about the omnipresent trucking industry and the very important role it plays in American life and the U.S. economy. It also aims to better policy makers’ perceptions of the trucking industry.

“We have a great story to tell,” said Todd Spencer, executive VP of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which is one of dozens of partners, which include carriers, manufacturers, media, and truck stop chains, that has joined in the campaign with ATA . “We want to reach out [to the public], because America moves by truck. The people that operate trucks are some of the finest Americans, and we need to spread the word.”

Also weighing in was Kevin Birch, president of Jet Express and a vice president of ATA. He spoke of the program as being a vehicle to bring all members of the industry together such as carriers, owner-operators, and drivers. On another front, it provides the opportunity for specific interests such as unionized drivers and non-unionized drivers or company drivers and owner-operators to unite in a non-partisan effort. “It is imperative we understand how we are all connected and work together,” continued Birch. “Our industry is crucial to the well being of the American economy. We are the rolling inventory.”

Another main objective of the campaign is to moderate the driver shortage that is expected to grow as high as 1 million drivers in the next 10 years. “We need an image,” Birch said. “We need to show exactly how passionate we are [about the industry]. America’s not going to move if we don’t have professional drivers.”

Spencer echoed that sentiment by expressing his hope that the campaign would help propel trucking as an industry that young people will want to be a part of as he experienced in his youth. “We’re always going to need trucks,” he said. “If we don’t have the best out there, we all suffer for it.”

A good number of Trucking Moves America Forward truck wraps will soon be seen on our nation’s interstates and highways as part of a distribution campaign to carriers by the ATA and other state associations. An extensive social media campaign will help spread the message along with heavy advertising, public affairs, earned media, and paid media, according to Story Partners, the agency that is helping the ATA create the campaign action.

Drivers, Be Heard!

Suggestion BoxThe American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently announced that it is seeking driver input on two surveys. One survey covers the impacts of the new HOS rules, and the other investigates the impacts of the detention time on safety and productivity.

Both surveys were initially conducted at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville where over 400 drivers completed surveys. The online version of the surveys will remain open through early May. The online surveys are available in the top left side of ATRI’s homepage.