This is the TDMST Weekly Round-Up of news affecting professional truck drivers, written by Vicki Simons for the week ending August 18, 2018.
We welcome your comments, thoughts and feedback on the items of your choice below.
1. If you want to find out what's really important in politics, just "follow the money trail."
This is important because trucking is definitely political!
As a result of what has been written about the Denham Amendment by Allen Smith and one trucking website, I decided to do a little more digging to see if I could find more info about recipients of American Trucking Associations (ATA) and trucking company lobbying money.
American Trucking Assns: Summary | OpenSecrets
American Trucking Assns: All Recipients | OpenSecrets
American Trucking Assns Contributors, 2018 cycle | OpenSecrets
Trucking: Lobbying, 2018 | OpenSecrets
I found some very interesting info!
One thing that I observed is that Jeff Denham is the third most highly paid politician on the ATA's 2018 list so far: $11,000!
Recall that if passed, the Denham Amendment will "create Federal law which will ensure drivers work 30-40 hr/wk without pay" (link).
This is war, friends, and the only way to win is show that those who will be affected by the Denham Amendment don't want it.
Please call your U.S. Senators and ask them to commit to voting "NO" on the Denham Amendment.
2. If you drive a truck with an oversized load, make sure that:
- you know the height of your load;
- you have the proper permits in place; and
- you take the correct routes so that your load stays safe!
Check out the video on this August 15, 2018, article where a truck with an oversized load hits not just one, but two I-10 overpasses in Houston, Texas.
And if you drive a rig that has any part of which can be raised higher than 13'6" high, make sure that you lower it before you start driving.
One trucker didn't lower his crane and it wiped out power and a stoplight at a busy intersection in Wilmington, North Carolina.
It only takes a few seconds to check to see if the raised part of your rig is up or down.
3. An August 15, 2018, article about driver retention addresses "How technology can help fleets".
I really like their points #4 (Rewarding good performances) and #5 (Protecting drivers with [front-facing] dashcams".
Under point #5, we read:
... despite passenger vehicles being at fault in 85% of truck-passenger accidents, commercial drivers are more likely to be blamed when cases are litigated. ...
With the help of front-facing dash cams, fleet managers can see events unfold from the driver's perspective. Video provides clear evidence of what really happened, allowing carriers to exonerate drivers when they aren't at fault and do the right thing when they are.
If you need help picking one, see our article about truck cams.
4. In a companion article entitled "6 overlooked questions fleet managers need to address to keep good drivers", Question #4 reads:
"How about creating a reward system for tenure and loyalty?"
I'm going to provide commentary regarding a few statements:
- "The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites the median salary for an OTR driver at roughly $42,500/year."
According to this resource about "$42,500.00 Tax Calculation for 2018 Tax Year", the yearly take home pay after "circumstance exemptions", Federal Income Tax, California State Income Tax, Social Security, and Medicare Tax have all been removed, is $34,564.09.
If the average trucker puts in, say, 70 hours per week working, and
if he/she works 50 weeks per year (allowing 2 weeks for vacation),
that's 3500 hours per year worked.
Divide $34,564.09 per year by 3500 hours worked per year = $9.88 per hour.
That's way, way, WAY too low!
- "most companies don't increase per-mile rates for tenure with the company. A 20-year veteran makes the same amount per mile as a brand new driver. Seasoned drivers are often not rewarded for their experience."
Not rewarding a driver for his/her experience in the industry is wrong.
- "a reasonable hike in the salaries of drivers and rewarding them for things like tenure (and even safety) would go a long way in keeping drivers happily employed within the same fleet."
The article doesn't propose what "a reasonable hike" means.
What kind of a yearly increase do you think you deserve for your expertise, trucker?
5. In an August 15, 2018, article about how the FMCSA is moving toward reforming the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, the article states:
"Many of the [OOIDA's] 160,000 members have argued that current regulations are overly complex, provide no flexibility, and in no way reflect the physical capabilities or limitations of individual drivers."
6. When "several criminal indicators" came to light during a routine truck inspection, law enforcement was forced to look farther.
According to an August 15, 2018, article, one such situation occurred which led to the arrest of two Florida-based truckers following the discovery of $1 million worth of "hydroponic marijuana concealed within a load of fresh lettuce".
Separately, a California-based trucker was arrested in New Jersey following the discovery of "1,000 pounds of marijuana valued at $5.1 million" in 44 cardboard boxes in his truck, according to an August 16, 2018, article.
According to this resource, "If you live in a state that legalized medical or recreational marijuana use, it may come as an unpleasant surprise to learn that you are still committing a federal crime by possessing, buying, or selling marijuana. The problem is, despite the liberalization of state laws across the country, federal law still treats marijuana as a controlled substance, just like cocaine or heroin."
Don't ruin your trucking career by hauling controlled substances.
7. Watch where you park your truck!
When there are "no truck parking" or "no overnight parking" signs posted in a parking lot, move on.
Although the August 15, 2018, article said nothing about truckers being fined, the city of Springfield, Illinois, has been "has been issuing fines of $500 per day to the Walmart for allowing trucks to park."
I wouldn't be surprised if truckers parking here -- despite warnings not to -- started getting ticketed and fined. Just saying.
An August 11, 2018, editorial in The New York Times addressed "The Trouble With Trucking" and stated in their subtitle: "Want to understand how workers so often get a raw deal, even during a growing economy? Ask long-haul truckers."
I especially like this paragraph:
Imagine, however, that the government instead decided to use its prodding power to improve the lives and incomes of truck drivers. Officials could, for example, do more to crack down on companies that misclassify employees as contractors to avoid paying for expenses and guaranteeing a minimum wage. The government also ought to require that trucking companies and freight customers compensate drivers for every hour of work, including the hours spent picking up and dropping off loads. What's more, Congress could pass a law making clear that regardless of how the industry pays drivers -- whether on a per-hour or a per-mile basis -- drivers are entitled to earn minimum wage and overtime for all of the hours they put in.
My husband Mike and I wish you -- and all professional truck drivers -- safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road.