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SCAN THE<br />

CODE FOR<br />

MORE NEWS<br />

Vol. 37, No. 12 | December 2023 | www.thetrucker.com<br />

WHAT’S INSIDE<br />

THE NATION<br />

Adverse Conditions................3<br />

WIT Accelerate Conference.....4<br />

Veteran Ready Summit...........6<br />

6<br />

PERSPECTIVE<br />

Between the Lines..................8<br />

Rhythm of the Road...............8<br />

Trucker Trainer........................8<br />

Ask the Attorney....................9<br />

Mind Over Matter..................9<br />

Chaplain’s Corner.................10<br />

BUSINESS & EQUIPMENT<br />

Spelling It Out......................12<br />

Truck Sales Decline...............12<br />

Insurance Insights.................13<br />

TCA Leadership Program.....13<br />

Fleet Focus...........................14<br />

Safety Series.........................15<br />

JOB RESOURCES<br />

Home for the Holidays.........16<br />

XPO Military Support...........16<br />

Owning the Wheel...............17<br />

19<br />

FEATURES<br />

Still Truckin’..........................19<br />

Impressive Record................20<br />

Positive image<br />

Poll reveals Americans value truckers’ role in nation’s economy<br />

THE TRUCKER NEWS STAFF<br />

DALLAS — Most Americans believe truck drivers play a crucial role in the<br />

nation’s economy, according to a recent survey. In its 2023 How America Talks<br />

Trucks Survey, CloudTrucks polled 2,000 U.S. adults via Pollfish, a third-party<br />

survey platform. The goal, according to Cloud Truck, was to explore regional<br />

differences in terminology and perspectives of the trucking industry.<br />

In the CloudTrucks asked 2,000 Americans about the terminology they use<br />

and perceptions they have about trucking and trucker drivers. Respondents<br />

from all 50 states were included, and their responses were analyzed by census<br />

region: Northeast, Midwest, South and West.<br />

Key findings show:<br />

• Americans value and hold largely positive views of truck drivers.<br />

• Americans across all regions are familiar with the trucking industry, and<br />

Southerners are confident they understand trucking and truck drivers best.<br />

• Regional terminology for trucks differs, but “18-wheeler” is the most popular<br />

term for trucks nationwide.<br />

Americans value and hold largely positive views of truck drivers.<br />

Across all regions surveyed, Americans overwhelmingly said “truck drivers<br />

play a crucial role in the economy” (80%) and that they sympathize with<br />

truckers for “frequently” having to “encounter aggressive or unsafe behaviors<br />

from other motorists” (43%). Nearly a third of respondents (33%) said they<br />

believe truck drivers are not adequately compensated for their work.<br />

When asked about the images that come to mind when thinking of truck<br />

drivers, responses show that some limiting perceptions persist, according to<br />

CloudTrucks. About 21% of respondents suggested that most truck drivers are<br />

older white males with tattoos and rough appearances, and 13% suggested<br />

truckers are reckless and disregard traffic rules and safety precautions.<br />

WASHINGTON — In the future, truck drivers could<br />

receive overtime pay when they work more than 40<br />

hours in a week.<br />

The Guaranteeing Overtime for Truckers Act (GOT)<br />

was introduced in both the House and Senate in November<br />

in an effort to “level the playing field and check<br />

book for truck drivers who make sacrifices in the name<br />

of the supply chain.”<br />

The GOT Truckers Act would amend the Fair Labor<br />

Standards Act of 1938 to require that truckers receive<br />

overtime compensation when they work more than 40<br />

hours in a week. The exemption was created to prevent<br />

truck drivers from being encouraged to work excessive<br />

hours. However, the opposite has happened. It is<br />

common for truck drivers to work 70 hours in a week<br />

while receiving a base pay similar to what most workers<br />

would make in a 40-hour week.<br />

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) introduced the Senate<br />

version of the bill, while Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) introduced<br />

the GOT Truckers Act in the House. Sen. Edward<br />

J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.)<br />

also helped introduce the bill.<br />

iStock Photo<br />

Public perception of the trucking industry is generally positive, according to CloudTruck’s<br />

2023 How America Talks Trucks Survey.<br />

However, most respondents across the U.S. regions opted for far more<br />

positive descriptions of truck drivers. Many respondents described drivers as<br />

industrious, overworked and underpaid (35%). Approximately 32% of respondents<br />

also described drivers as reliable and punctual.<br />

When asked what they would think if they met a truck driver in a social<br />

Congress weighing bill requiring overtime pay for truckers<br />

iStock Photo<br />

A bill has been introduced in Congress that would<br />

require truckers who work more than 40 hours in a<br />

week to be paid overtime..<br />

THE TRUCKER NEWS STAFF<br />

See POLL on PAGE 6<br />

“America’s truck drivers are on the front lines of our<br />

economy, enduring long hours away from home, and<br />

all too often, unpaid wait time at congested ports and<br />

warehouses,” Padilla said. “That’s because for decades,<br />

truck drivers have been excluded from overtime pay<br />

protections.<br />

“If truckers are forced to wait while on the job, they<br />

should be paid,” he continued. “This is not just a matter<br />

of fairness; it’s a matter of public safety. Experienced<br />

truckers are safer truckers, and better compensation<br />

will help more of them stay in the profession. It’s time<br />

we guarantee overtime for truckers.”<br />

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association<br />

(OOIDA) has spoken out in support of the measure.<br />

“America’s truckers keep our nation’s economy<br />

moving, and without the hard work of these men and<br />

women, our supply chain would grind to a halt,” said<br />

Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA.<br />

“Unbelievably, trucking is one of the only professions<br />

in America that is denied guaranteed overtime<br />

pay,” Spencer continued. “We are way past due as a nation<br />

in valuing the sacrifices that truckers make every<br />

single day. This starts with simply paying truckers for all<br />

of the time they work.” 8


2 • December 2023 THE NATION<br />

Thetrucker.com<br />

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Thetrucker.com THE NATION<br />

December 2023 • 3<br />

Alaska, West Virginia have most dangerous weather-related driving conditions<br />

THE TRUCKER NEWS STAFF<br />

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Because of its location and long, frigid<br />

winters, it’s probably no surprise that Alaska has the most dangerous<br />

weather-related driving conditions in the U.S. Following<br />

Alaska is West Virginia, according to research by a New York<br />

state-based attorney’s office.<br />

The research, conducted by personal injury attorney Richmond<br />

Vona, studied crash data from the National Highway Traffic<br />

Safety Administration (NHTSA) to determine which of the<br />

50 states has the highest number of fatal crashes during bad<br />

weather conditions.<br />

Alaska comes in at No. 1, with 25% of all fatal crashes occurring<br />

during inclement weather. That’s 150% higher than the national<br />

average. Snow is the most common weather factor in the<br />

state, present during almost one in five (19%) of Alaska’s fatal<br />

crashes. That’s the highest figure for snow-related fatal crashes<br />

among the 50 states.<br />

West Virginia ranks second, with 18% of fatal crashes during<br />

bad weather. Rain is the most common condition — 13% of<br />

crashes happened in rainy weather, the highest percentage nationwide.<br />

Washington ranks third, with 16% of fatal crashes in poor<br />

weather. Washington has some of the most dangerous rainy<br />

driving conditions, present in over one in 10 (11.4%) accidents,<br />

the sixth-highest nationwide. Washington also has the highest<br />

rate of crashes during other poor conditions in the country,<br />

which the NHTSA describes as “fog, smog, smoke, severe crosswinds<br />

or blowing sand, soil and dirt.”<br />

Virginia ranks fourth, with 15% of driver fatalities in bad<br />

weather. Almost nine in 10 (86%) of those fatal crashes occur during<br />

rain. Virginia has the second-highest percentage of fatalities<br />

during rain in the country, just behind West Virginia, at 12.8%.<br />

See Weather on PAGE 10<br />

A study by attorney Richmond Vona shows that Alaska has the most dangerous driving conditions in the nation.<br />

iStock Photo<br />

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Subscribe to our newsletter for insights, updates and new releases!


4 • December 2023 THE NATION<br />

Thetrucker.com<br />

Women In Trucking<br />

2023 Accelerate conference draws nearly 2,000<br />

Nearly 2,000 people gathered at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas Nov.<br />

5-8 for Women In Trucking’s 2023 Accelerate! Conference & Expo.<br />

In addition to networking opportunities, an exhibit hall and tech<br />

expo featuring the latest in trucking, attendees had opportunities<br />

to attend informative sessions geared toward various roles in the<br />

trucking industry, from driver tips and education to corporate-level<br />

strategies. The Viva Las Vegas Casino Night, held Nov. 6, featured<br />

a performance by an Elvis impersonator (who’s also a former UPS<br />

driver), a live DJ and games, including slots, craps, roulette, poker<br />

and more. During the event, Shelley Simpson, president of Arkansasbased<br />

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., was honored as WIT’s 2023<br />

Influential Woman in Trucking. In addition, keynote speaker Allison<br />

Graham shared insights from her latest book, “The Stress Illusion.”<br />

2<br />

THE TRUCKER NEWS STAFF<br />

1<br />

USPS 972<br />

Volume 37, Number 12<br />

December 2023<br />

The Trucker is a monthly, national newspaper for the<br />

trucking industry, published by The Trucker Media<br />

Group at 1123 S. University, Suite 325<br />

Little Rock, AR 72204-1610<br />

EDITORIAL<br />

Managing Editor<br />

Linda Garner-Bunch<br />

Web News Manager<br />

John Worthen<br />

Staff Writer<br />

Erica N. Guy<br />

Production Coordinator<br />

Christie McCluer<br />

Social Media Coordinator<br />

Kelly Young<br />

3<br />

4<br />

Editor Emeritus<br />

Lyndon Finney<br />

Special Correspondents<br />

Cliff Abbott<br />

Dwain Hebda<br />

Kris Rutherford<br />

ADVERTISING & Leadership<br />

Chief Executive Officer<br />

Bobby Ralston<br />

General Manager<br />

Megan Hicks<br />

Director of Technology<br />

Jose Ortiz<br />

5 6 7<br />

For editorial inquiries,<br />

contact Linda Garner-Bunch at<br />

editor@thetruckermedia.com.<br />

For advertising opportunities,<br />

contact Meg Larcinese at<br />

megl@thetruckermedia.com.<br />

Telephone: (501) 666-0500<br />

E-mail: info@thetruckermedia.com<br />

Web: www.thetrucker.com<br />

Periodicals Postage Paid<br />

at Little Rock, AR 72202-9651.<br />

Photos by Linda Garner-Bunch/The Trucker<br />

Here are a few scenes from Women In Trucking’s 2023 Accelerate! Conference & Expo: 1. Attendees had a chance to test their driving skills on the simulator in WITney, the<br />

association’s mobile education unit. 2. Members of the WIT Image Team were recognized during Tuesday’s general session. 3. Lisa Leatherman, director of culture for Big M<br />

Transportation, visits with attendees in the exhibit hall. 4. Bob Perry, “The Trucker Trainer,” kicked off Monday morning’s events with the 22x22 Push-Up Challenge for veteran<br />

suicide awareness. 5. The Daimler Truck North America booth, which featured a “Rosie the Riveter” them as well as a 360 photo booth, was a popular stop in the exhibit hall.<br />

6. Laurie Knights of Ideabox visits with attendees in the exhibit hall. 7. Dave Nemo of Sirius XM’s Radio Nemo, along with co-workers Donna Horton (center) and musician and<br />

on-air personality Lindsay Lawler, take to the dance floor during Monday evening’s Las Vegas-style casino event.<br />

Publishers Rights: All advertising, including artwork<br />

and photographs, becomes the property of the<br />

publisher once published and may be reproduced in<br />

any media only by publisher. Publisher reserves the<br />

right to refuse or edit any ad without notice and does<br />

not screen or endorse advertisers. Publisher is not liable<br />

for any damages resulting from publication or failure to<br />

publish all or any part of any ad or any errors in ads.<br />

Adjustments are limited to the cost of space for the ad,<br />

or at Publisher’s option, republication for one insertion<br />

with notice received within three days of first publication.<br />

Copyright 2023, Wilshire Classifieds, LLC. Subject also<br />

to Ad and Privacy Policy at www.recycler.com.


Thetrucker.com The NATION<br />

December 2023 • 5<br />

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Dental, Life + 401K with<br />

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Hiring areas in blue<br />

Running lanes in green<br />

“East-West Express home time is very<br />

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844.757.0001<br />

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6 • December 2023 The NATION<br />

Thetrucker.com<br />

Veteran Ready Summit 2023 set for Dec. 13-16 in Washington<br />

THE TRUCKER NEWS STAFF<br />

TULSA, Okla. — Leading transportation<br />

and military hiring organizations are<br />

partnering to co-host the annual Veteran<br />

Ready Summit event. Tenstreet, Fastport,<br />

Hiring Our Heroes, TransForce, Troops<br />

into Transportation and the American<br />

Trucking Associations (ATA) will co-host<br />

the annual event from Dec. 13-16 at the ATA<br />

headquarters in Washington, D.C.<br />

According to a statement by Tenstreet,<br />

the Veteran Ready Summit is a valuable<br />

opportunity for organizations to learn about<br />

the best practices for hiring and retaining<br />

military veterans.<br />

The summit will feature sessions led by<br />

transportation industry leaders, military<br />

hiring experts, and military veterans such<br />

as Medal of Honor Recipient and Hiring<br />

Our Heroes Ambassador Clint Romesha.<br />

These speakers will share their insights on<br />

creating a culture of veteran support in the<br />

workplace.<br />

In addition to the main sessions, this<br />

year’s Veteran Ready Summit will offer 30<br />

attendees the chance to register for an<br />

in-depth and hands-on workshop led by<br />

PsychArmor Institute. Participants will<br />

receive specialized training on all phases<br />

of veteran employment practices and<br />

will receive a Veteran Ready Certificate,<br />

enhancing their expertise and credentials<br />

in veteran employment.<br />

To maximize the impact of their trip,<br />

attendees are encouraged to participate<br />

in complementary events held across<br />

Washington D.C. These events, including<br />

the Transition Trucking Award Ceremony,<br />

the ESGR Statement of Support Signing<br />

and the Wreaths Across America Gala and<br />

Wreath Laying Ceremony, are designed to<br />

see you<br />

online!<br />

Following the distribution of the<br />

December 2023 edition of The Trucker,<br />

WE’RE GOING 100% DIGITAL!<br />

Now, instead of waiting each month to find out what’s new in trucking,<br />

join us at TheTrucker.com anytime, anywhere, at your convenience.<br />

Every day you’ll find the latest news, as well as feature stories.<br />

You can even search for the latest driving jobs available in your area!<br />

Other ways to stay in touch with The Trucker:<br />

● Subscribe to The Trucker Today at thetrucker.com/subscribe.<br />

This e-newsletter brings top stories, along with featured job<br />

listings, right to your inbox.<br />

● Email us at Editor@TheTrucker.com to share your thoughts<br />

and stories.<br />

● Follow The Trucker on social media.<br />

FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM X<br />

LINKEDIN<br />

SCAN HERE!<br />

SCAN THESE<br />

FOR MORE!<br />

E-NEWSLE<strong>TT</strong>ER<br />

iStock Photo<br />

Tenstreet, Fastport, Hiring Our Heroes, TransForce, Troops into Transportation and the American Trucking Associations<br />

will co-host this year’s Veteran Ready Summit in Washington, D.C.<br />

reinforce the commitment to hiring and<br />

retaining military talent.<br />

“NATERA is proud to support the<br />

2023 Veteran Ready Summit,” said Daren<br />

Wingard, the executive director of the<br />

North American Transportation Employee<br />

Relations Association (NATERA).<br />

“We encourage all our members to attend<br />

Poll cont. from Page 1<br />

setting, almost half (48%) of respondents said<br />

they would have respect for the driver’s hard<br />

work, sacrifices and contributions to society.<br />

Many (46%) also indicated they would have<br />

an interest in learning more about the drivers’<br />

travels and experiences in the trucking industry.<br />

Far fewer respondents made negative assumptions<br />

about truck drivers’ politics, education<br />

or other traits.<br />

Americans are familiar with the trucking<br />

industry, and Southerners are most confident<br />

they understand trucking and trucker drivers.<br />

Southerners showed a high degree of confidence<br />

in their understanding of the daily life<br />

and challenges faced by truck drivers, with 69%<br />

claiming to be “very familiar” (29%) or “somewhat<br />

familiar” (40%), compared to 57% of<br />

Northeasterners, who responded “very familiar”<br />

(19%) or “somewhat familiar” (37%).<br />

Overall, 65% of respondents said they are<br />

“very familiar” (26%) or “somewhat familiar”<br />

(39%) with the daily life and challenges faced<br />

by truck drivers.<br />

Notably, Northeasterners appear to know<br />

trucking quite well, at least according to survey<br />

responses. Participants from this region did the<br />

best on the quiz included in the survey. They<br />

were most likely to correctly respond that New<br />

York has the toughest trucking regulations.<br />

They were also more likely than Southerners to<br />

identify Texas as the state with the highest concentration<br />

of trucking companies and Ohio as a<br />

major trucking hub.<br />

Regional terminology differs, but “18-wheeler”<br />

is the most popular name for trucks nationwide.<br />

the summit so they can learn best practices<br />

in military hiring and further strengthen<br />

the trucking industry’s commitment to offer<br />

quality career opportunities to veterans of<br />

the U.S. armed forces,” he continued.<br />

For more information and to register<br />

for the event, visit veteran-readysummit-2023.eventfarm.com.<br />

8<br />

When asked, “What term do you commonly<br />

use to refer to a large truck used for shipping<br />

goods?” each part of the country identified a<br />

different preferred term.<br />

Midwesterners prefer the terms “semi” and<br />

“semi-truck,” which received 28% and 27% of<br />

responses, respectively. About 11% of Midwesterners<br />

surveyed answered “18-wheeler.”<br />

People in the Northeast favor “tractor-trailer”<br />

(30%) over the second most popular term,<br />

“18-wheeler” (16%).<br />

In the West, people seem to prefer the term<br />

“semi-truck” (19%), followed by “semi” and<br />

“18-wheeler,” both at 17%. “Big rig” and “rig” are<br />

popular in the West as well — those terms received<br />

a combined 17% of responses.<br />

Broken down by state, 13 states chose<br />

“18-wheeler”; 13 favored “semi”; 13 (including<br />

the District of Columbia) chose “tractor-trailer”;<br />

and 12 picked “semi-truck.” Other popular<br />

names provided by respondents included “delivery<br />

truck,” “freight truck” and “Mack truck”.<br />

Tobenna Arodiogbu, co-founder and CEO<br />

of CloudTrucks, said the survey results are encouraging<br />

for the trucking industry.<br />

“It’s great to see that so many people value<br />

and feel positively about truck drivers and the<br />

work they do,” he said.<br />

“Most freight in the U.S. is moved by trucks,<br />

so drivers and the trucking industry as a whole<br />

are absolutely essential to our daily existence,”<br />

he continued. “Perhaps positive perceptions<br />

will continue to grow as consumer activities<br />

like e-commerce become more popular and the<br />

general public interacts more with the trucking<br />

industry via experiences like package tracking.<br />

We have to keep working to ensure this value<br />

translates monetarily to drivers.” 8


Thetrucker.com The NATION<br />

December 2023 • 7


8 • December 2023<br />

PERSPECTIVE<br />

Thetrucker.com<br />

FROM THE EDITOR:<br />

Goodbye 2023!<br />

Between<br />

the lines<br />

Linda GARNER-BUNCH<br />

editor@thetruckermedia.com<br />

Buckle your seat belts, everyone!<br />

December is here, signaling the start of a<br />

madcap race to the end of 2023 and the dawn<br />

of a new year.<br />

As a kid, I believed the weeks between<br />

Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day were<br />

magical. To be honest, I still do!<br />

I love the whirlwind of family gatherings<br />

and holiday parties. Shopping for Christmas<br />

gifts always seems like a great treasure hunt.<br />

Finding the perfect gift for everyone on my list<br />

makes me happy enough to do the “Snoopy<br />

dance”! I just wish my budget allowed me to<br />

buy everything for everyone.<br />

Then, there’s the magic of holiday<br />

light displays. In addition to the big, fancy<br />

community affairs, you can drive down almost<br />

any residential street and spot Christmas tree<br />

lights twinkling from a window, porches and<br />

roof-lines outlined with strands of glowing<br />

bulbs, a Nativity scene on this lawn and Santa<br />

and his sleigh on that one — I hope I never<br />

outgrow the wonder of it all.<br />

As professional drivers, many of you will<br />

spend the season much like any other month,<br />

traveling the highways to ensure everyone has<br />

eggnog and cocoa, groceries and all the other<br />

trappings of the season. Because of truckers,<br />

we have food, clothing, shelter, life-saving<br />

medicines and, of course, Diet Coke. From the<br />

bottom of my heart, I thank you.<br />

I’d also like to give everyone a heads up:<br />

After this edition of The Trucker is distributed,<br />

we are moving to a 100% online format. Visit<br />

our website, TheTrucker.com, and bookmark<br />

it on your mobile or desktop web browser.<br />

You’ll still find all the features you love about<br />

the print edition — from Ask the Attorney,<br />

Rhythm of the Road and other monthly columns<br />

to special categories like Fleet Focus, Safety<br />

Series, At the Truck Stop and more.<br />

You can hop onto our website every day to<br />

catch up with the most up-to-date news and<br />

features. Then, after reading a story, you can<br />

easily scroll down a bit further on the page<br />

and type in a comment or message about<br />

what you’ve just read. We love to hear from<br />

our readers!<br />

As they say on those TV infomercials: But<br />

wait! There’s more!<br />

You can also follow The Trucker on social<br />

media platforms, including Facebook,<br />

Instagram, X (I still call it Twitter in my head),<br />

TikTok and more. And, of course, I’m always<br />

thrilled to get messages from the road. Please<br />

email me at editor@thetruckermedia.com,<br />

and let me know what you’re dealing with out<br />

there in the trenches.<br />

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and<br />

a happy New Year. I’ll see you all online! 8<br />

Carved in solid Oak: Songs that would be gold, Part 1<br />

RHYTHM OF<br />

THE ROAD<br />

KRIS RUTHERFORD<br />

krisr@thetruckermedia.com<br />

The Oak Ridge Boys (ORB) have<br />

announced their retirement and farewell<br />

tour. It’s been a long, 50+ year career for<br />

the current quartet — and they have a<br />

boatload of hits and awards to show for all<br />

those decades. They also have a basket full<br />

of songs that, with a little luck, should have<br />

charted in country music’s Top 10.<br />

You can find classic country jewels right<br />

between the wide lines on your old ORB<br />

vinyl LPs — the tracks you never ran your<br />

needle through like you did with “Elvira,”<br />

“I’ll Be True to You” or “You’re the One.” On<br />

the other hand, if you’re a collector of old<br />

45 RPMs, take a look at the flip side you’ve<br />

ignored for the past 30 years. There they<br />

are … the precious gems of classic country<br />

music. Most never made it to the radio and<br />

haven’t been played at a live ORB concert<br />

in years, but give them a listen. You’ll find<br />

some of the ORB’s finest work.<br />

A fan since the tender age of 10, when<br />

the “Y’all Come Back Saloon” album first<br />

charted, I’ve carefully selected my favorite<br />

nine ORB songs that would (or should) be<br />

gold. So, in no particular order:<br />

1. “Easy”<br />

As far as I’m concerned, the body of<br />

work of “Y’all Come Back Saloon” remains<br />

Take these steps to reduce holiday stress on the road<br />

THE TRUCKER<br />

TRAINER<br />

BOB PERRY<br />

No doubt, as a professional truck driver,<br />

many of you have discovered that working<br />

and being away from loved ones during the<br />

holidays is tough. It’s difficult being away<br />

from friends and family for days or weeks<br />

at a time, especially this time of year.<br />

Here are some tips to help make your<br />

days (and nights) a little less stressful.<br />

Count your blessings.<br />

Remind yourself of all the good things<br />

you have going on in your life. For example,<br />

you’re working, you have great friends and<br />

a wonderful family, and you’re (hopefully)<br />

healthy. I try to practice two rules:<br />

1. Be thankful for what you have.<br />

2. Don’t forget rule No. 1.<br />

Make your bunk area a home away from<br />

home.<br />

ORB’s greatest masterpiece to this day.<br />

Other albums offered bigger hits, but as a<br />

collection, it’s hard to top the 10 tracks on<br />

this record. Give me one album to listen to<br />

on a cross-country ride, and it’s no contest.<br />

“Y’all Come Back Saloon” put country<br />

music on notice that gospel didn’t have the<br />

ORB under lock and key. No song better<br />

exemplifies the group’s transformation<br />

than “Easy.” Keep in mind that this was<br />

back in the days when Dallas’s WBAP still<br />

used that annoying “BLEEEEP” to censor<br />

Faron Young’s “Here I am in Dallas, Where<br />

the Hell are You?” Nearly five decades later,<br />

the risqué lyrics of promiscuity and teen<br />

pregnancy featured in “Easy” are mild at<br />

best, but I’m not even sure “outlaw” country<br />

artists would have been so bold in 1977.<br />

Duane Allen’s vocals on “Easy” are,<br />

to at least my ears, the best he ever<br />

recorded. Changing his voice inflection<br />

from a matter-of-fact mood to one of<br />

sympathy with a touch of anger and then<br />

to understanding and tenderness in the<br />

span of three minutes must have been<br />

a hard chore. At the age of 10, I had nary<br />

a clue what “Easy” really meant. When<br />

I reached high school, though, the raw<br />

honesty, emotion and depth of the lyrics<br />

became clear.<br />

Never released as a U.S. single, “Easy”<br />

became an overseas hit and the subject of<br />

a very early music video. Had conservative<br />

country radio been ready to openly discuss<br />

the matter at hand, “Easy” would have<br />

surely been a chart-topper. Thinking back<br />

on it, I may remember “Easy” so well from<br />

the infamous episode when my mother<br />

Before heading out on the road, try<br />

to make your truck’s bunk area as close<br />

to a “home” setting as you can. Surround<br />

yourself with a few of the comforts of home.<br />

For example, use your favorite pillow and<br />

blankets for the sleeper berth. Also, taking<br />

a pet along for the ride can be very helpful<br />

and comforting — if your company allows.<br />

Stay in touch with loved ones.<br />

Ask your partner/spouse, kids and other<br />

family members — as well as close friends<br />

— to contact you through video calls (such<br />

as FaceTime) when you can safely visit<br />

during a break. In addition, if you have<br />

to miss events such as school concerts or<br />

holiday get-togethers, have loved ones use<br />

their phones to take photos and videos and<br />

send them to you. You can play them back<br />

when you have reached your destination.<br />

Don’t just sit behind the wheel!<br />

Try to incorporate some form of regular<br />

exercise every day, even if it’s just walking<br />

laps around your truck. Walking can help<br />

relieve stress and increase your energy<br />

levels, giving you more energy to manage<br />

stress easier.<br />

Personally, I have found that whenever<br />

heard me singing along and asked me if I<br />

even knew what the words meant. Without<br />

thinking, I responded with a short, “No, but<br />

it’s a hell of a tune, ain’t it?” She bleeped me<br />

all the way to my bedroom.<br />

2. “Didn’t She Really Thrill Them (Back<br />

in 1924)”<br />

Even though I was wet behind the ears<br />

when this one was recorded, I connected<br />

with the song immediately. I may have<br />

been a legal resident of Maine, having<br />

moved there at the age of 3 months, but<br />

Mainers only accept someone as a native<br />

if they are born inside the state lines. As<br />

far as they were concerned, I was “From<br />

Away.” Summers spent in Texas did little<br />

to hide the Scarlet “FA” on my sleeve. I<br />

may have been considered an outsider in<br />

New England and a Yankee in Texas, but<br />

those summers in the South allowed me<br />

to experience rural life. Northeast Texas’<br />

Lamar County, my summer home (and the<br />

roots of the modern Rutherford family),<br />

is still 99.7% rural. For a kid, that statistic<br />

translated to “99.7% old folks.”<br />

The lyrics of “Didn’t She Really Thrill<br />

Them” still stirs my senses today. The story<br />

of an old maid and a schoolgirl takes me<br />

back to the many hours I spent around<br />

those Texas ladies who, at the time, seemed<br />

ancient.<br />

Duane Allen’s trademark smooth delivery<br />

brings memories of sipping iced<br />

tea on a Texas porch. I can picture myself<br />

in the shoes of the schoolgirl (well, make<br />

it schoolboy, in my case) who made daily<br />

See RHYTHM on PAGE 10<br />

I’m feeling overwhelmed and/or stressed,<br />

exercise brings me back to a mind space<br />

that makes me realize the problem actually<br />

isn’t as difficult as I imagined.<br />

Stock your fridge.<br />

Make sure the mini fridge in your truck<br />

is stocked with healthy foods — and even<br />

maybe a couple of special treats. All too<br />

often, we use unhealthy food (such as cake,<br />

ice cream and cookies) to fill the void of<br />

being alone and unhappy — and then we<br />

feel guilty for gorging on junk food.<br />

Keep recent photos or memorabilia in<br />

your cab.<br />

Posting printed photos of family and<br />

friends in the truck is a great way to help<br />

alleviate homesickness. Is there room<br />

on your dash to safely display a couple of<br />

special mementos? If so, do it! You’ll smile<br />

every time you glance at them.<br />

Known as The Trucker Trainer, Bob Perry<br />

has played a critical role in the paradigm<br />

shift of regulatory agencies, private and<br />

public sector entities, and consumers to understand<br />

the driver health challenge. Perry<br />

can be reached at truckertrainer@icloud.<br />

com. 8


Thetrucker.com PERSPECTIVE<br />

December 2023 • 9<br />

One toke over the line? Testing for marijuana impairment not ready to hit the road<br />

ASK THE<br />

A<strong>TT</strong>ORNEY<br />

BRAD KLEPPER<br />

For this month’s column, I want to discuss<br />

something that I’m sure nobody in the<br />

industry has ever addressed (place tongue<br />

firmly in cheek here). We’re going to talk<br />

about marijuana and the trucking industry.<br />

(Yes, I know others have talked about the<br />

subject at great length — hence, the tonguein-cheek<br />

reference.)<br />

Now, before you all start jumping to conclusions<br />

about me, there are a few things<br />

you need to understand. First, I went to college<br />

in the ’80s (read into that whatever you<br />

want). Second, I want our roads to be safe<br />

at all times and our industry’s drivers to be<br />

the safest on the road. With that in mind, I<br />

Mind over<br />

matter<br />

Hope Zvara<br />

We’ve all heard about the incredible importance<br />

of protein for our body. Here at<br />

Mother Trucker Yoga, we know all too well<br />

that your hours behind the wheel can put a<br />

dent in your meal planning — but don’t fret!<br />

We’ve got you covered when it comes to figuring<br />

out the whats, whens and hows of fueling<br />

up with the protein that’s right for you.<br />

Whether you’re a meat lover or a vegetarian<br />

(or a little of both), there are protein<br />

sources that’ll keep both your taste buds<br />

and body happy and strong.<br />

Calculate your protein intake.<br />

Let’s break it down. To calculate how<br />

much protein you need daily, just take your<br />

body weight (in pounds) and multiply it by<br />

0.78. Math isn’t really your thing? No worries,<br />

we’ll help you out.<br />

Let’s say you weigh 180 pounds: 180 x<br />

0.78 = 140.4. In other words, you need 140.4<br />

grams of protein daily. It’s that simple!<br />

So now you know your protein goal. But<br />

how do you split it up into meals?<br />

Divide and conquer.<br />

To help your body process and utilize<br />

protein effectively, it’s best to divide your<br />

daily protein intake into three or four meals.<br />

For our 180-pound buddy mentioned above,<br />

that means eating around 35 to 47 grams of<br />

protein per meal.<br />

Now, let’s get to the real meal deal!<br />

have no tolerance for drunk drivers, stoned<br />

drivers, distracted drivers or drivers who do<br />

not act or drive like a professional. Honestly,<br />

I just don’t.<br />

So, with that said, how do we reconcile<br />

the current state of the world in regard to<br />

recreational/medical marijuana usage and<br />

trucking?<br />

Quite simply, I am not sure we can, at<br />

least not right now.<br />

As background, and according to a recent<br />

ATRI report, 49.8% of the general population<br />

— and 41.4% percent of truck drivers — live<br />

in a state where recreational marijuana use<br />

is legal. These figures are up from 24.5% and<br />

18.5% from 2019. In addition, according to<br />

ATRI, 59% of Americans support both medical<br />

and recreational marijuana legalization,<br />

while only 10% are opposed to any form of<br />

marijuana legalization.<br />

However, marijuana is classified as a<br />

Schedule I drug. This classification includes<br />

heroin, ecstasy and LSD. This means that,<br />

regardless of any state’s position, marijuana<br />

use is prohibited by federal law. And, since<br />

Pump up the protein: A path to better<br />

health for carnivores and vegetarians alike<br />

Meat lovers, unite!<br />

There’s plenty of protein to be had for<br />

carnivorous truck drivers:<br />

• Jerky: This is a classic road snack that<br />

packs in the protein. Just be cautious of<br />

added sugars and preservatives.<br />

• Rotisserie chicken or turkey: Pick up a<br />

pre-cooked bird at a grocery store whenever<br />

you stop. Strip that carcass and divide it up<br />

into easy-to-travel meals and snacks.<br />

• Pre-packed salads with grilled chicken:<br />

Grab one of these bad boys from a supermarket<br />

deli for a quick, protein-filled meal<br />

on the go.<br />

• Canned fish: Tuna, salmon or sardines,<br />

anyone? Throw some in a salad, or use them<br />

as cracker toppers.<br />

Veggies, take the wheel!<br />

Vegetarian truckers, we’ve got your<br />

backs, too:<br />

• Nut butter: Spread it on rice cakes, apples<br />

or celery for a satisfying protein boost.<br />

• Greek yogurt: This is a high-protein<br />

snack that combines well with fruit, granola<br />

or honey. We recommend going for a low-fat<br />

option!<br />

• Ready-made protein shakes: Find a<br />

brand that meets your needs, whether<br />

whey-, pea- or soy-based.<br />

• Mixed nuts: Keep this protein-rich, fiber-packed<br />

snack in your cab at all times for<br />

a crunchy pick-me-up.<br />

Keep the (protein) wheels turning.<br />

As we age, staying active isn’t the only<br />

challenge: Maintaining muscle mass is essential!<br />

Protein helps with just that, especially<br />

when paired with regular truckerfriendly<br />

exercises.<br />

So, next time you fuel your truck,<br />

See MA<strong>TT</strong>ER on PAGE 10<br />

trucking is a heavily regulated industry, this have laws where anything greater than 0ng/<br />

means marijuana use is expressly prohibited,<br />

regardless of the state’s position. This limits of 5ng/ml, while 10 other states use<br />

ml shows impairment. Four states have<br />

creates a problem with the enforcement of a positive metabolite test. However, in this<br />

federal laws and presents numerous employment<br />

issues for carriers.<br />

weeks after using marijuana. In addition,<br />

test, metabolites could be present several<br />

So where does this put us? I really am not some people may have a higher tolerance<br />

sure. I think the growth of medical/recreational<br />

marijuana is going to continue, and So, as you can see, there is no standard<br />

for marijuana than others.<br />

it will continue to permeate our industry. test to determine actual impairment resulting<br />

from marijuana use. However, many re-<br />

The question becomes: How can we determine<br />

if a driver is operating while under the searchers believe the behavioral approach<br />

influence of marijuana?<br />

to documenting impairment is the most<br />

As you know, every state has laws dealing promising solution.<br />

with alcohol- and drug-impaired driving. But With that in mind, at a recent conference,<br />

I had a very interesting conversation<br />

unlike laws for drunk driving, laws addressing<br />

driving while stoned vary substantially. with PJ Barclay, a native of South Africa<br />

The two primary approaches are behavior<br />

based (think field sobriety test or a test ada. Apart from being a South African in<br />

who now lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Can-<br />

conducted by a DRE) and biology based. The the great white north, PJ leads the team at<br />

biology-based test measures the concentration<br />

of THC in a driver’s blood. Three states<br />

TICKETS<br />

TICKETS<br />

See A<strong>TT</strong>ORNEY on PAGE 10<br />

NO MEMBERSHIP FEES<br />

NO MEMBERSHIP FEES<br />

NO MEMBERSHIP FEES<br />

MOVING & NON-MOVING<br />

MOVING & NON-MOVING<br />

MOVING & NON-MOVING<br />

NO MONTHLY DUES<br />

NO MONTHLY DUES<br />

NO MONTHLY DUES<br />

1-800-333-DRIVE<br />

1-800-333-DRIVE<br />

1-800-333-DRIVE<br />

www.interstatetrucker.com<br />

INTERSTATE TRUCKER, LTD.<br />

INTERSTATE TRUCKER, LTD.<br />

www.interstatetrucker.com<br />

INTERSTATE www.interstatetrucker.com TRUCKER, LTD.<br />

www.interstatetrucker.com


10 • December 2023 PERSPECTIVE<br />

Thetrucker.com<br />

The true value of a gift can’t<br />

be measured in dollars<br />

CHAPLAIN’S<br />

CORNER<br />

Rev. Marilou Coins<br />

Here we are, already in the last month of<br />

the year. So many people are busy thinking<br />

about Christmas and finding the perfect gift<br />

to give to each person on their list.<br />

Did you ever stop to think that spending<br />

time to visit with others or helping them out<br />

means much more than a store-bought gift?<br />

For example, baby sitting for free so a mom<br />

and dad can spend a night out by themselves<br />

is a great gift. Or how about spending time<br />

with an elderly person who just needs to have<br />

someone to visit with?<br />

The gift of self may be exactly what a friend,<br />

family member or acquaintance needs. I find<br />

that precious moments mean a lot more to<br />

some folks than a store bought gift.<br />

For example, spending time with grandchildren<br />

can be very rewarding, not just for the kids,<br />

but also for you! Life is measured by memories<br />

we make more than you may realize. In this<br />

season of giving, give something of yourself that<br />

will be remembered by the ones who receive it.<br />

On the first Christmas, the shepherds came<br />

to visit a baby in a manger. They brought no<br />

gifts other than themselves as they traveled to<br />

Bethlehem to greet Christ, the new-born king.<br />

We should all follow that example and<br />

simply visit someone who’s lonely, or do something<br />

special for someone during this season<br />

of giving. Believe it or not, you will receive just<br />

as much as you give by doing this! You will feel<br />

so much of an uplifting of self when you share<br />

your time and attention with others. Yes, gifts<br />

are important — but the gift of self can do<br />

more than a store-bought gift ever could.<br />

If you look at the life of Christ, you’ll see<br />

how much he gave of himself, and how others<br />

were touched by his actions. He didn’t share<br />

store-bought gifts. Instead, he used his time,<br />

words and actions to lift up others. Not once<br />

did he ask for anything in return. He did this to<br />

show us the gift of self means a lot to someone<br />

who needs a bit of uplifting.<br />

We need to do likewise in this special season<br />

of Christmas. Time spent with family or<br />

friends means a lot, and it brings the joy of the<br />

season to life for all. Merry Christmas to all,<br />

and be sure to enjoy the reason for the season.<br />

Best of the roads and all gears forward in<br />

Jesus. 8<br />

RHYTHM cont. from Page 8<br />

visits to the old maid’s house. Rather than<br />

trying on dresses and looking at old dance<br />

cards, I could be found sucking on three or<br />

four lemon drops that had melted together<br />

in a cut-glass bowl because old people<br />

hadn’t yet discovered the convenience of air<br />

conditioning.<br />

In the end, “Didn’t She Really Thrill<br />

Them” isn’t really a song about an old maid<br />

and a teenage girl. It’s about choices —<br />

making choices that may be unpopular with<br />

some and living with the choices that can’t<br />

be undone. The ORB’s lawyers should have<br />

sued George Jones’ songwriter for stealing<br />

their idea 20 years later.<br />

3. “An Old Time Family Bluegrass Band”<br />

My dad was a bluegrass fan when I was<br />

a kid, but I didn’t get it. Sure, I loved “The<br />

Beverly Hillbillies” theme, but bluegrass was<br />

way too primitive for me. How about using<br />

some electricity when you cut an album?<br />

“An Old-Time Family Bluegrass Band”<br />

changed my attitude. I became downright<br />

addicted to the sweet cocktail of fiddles,<br />

mandolins, guitars and banjos featured<br />

in the song. Despite his Philadelphia<br />

upbringing, Joe Bonsall puts on a pretty<br />

good impersonation of having been reared<br />

in the deep woods of Eastern Kentucky.<br />

The song is the story of bluegrass itself and<br />

depicts the genre in no uncertain terms.<br />

No one can walk away from “An Old-Time<br />

Family Bluegrass Band” without understanding<br />

that bluegrass music is all about<br />

preserving the rural lifestyle, simpler<br />

times, and the sense of family among those<br />

who may have been separated by miles of<br />

wooded hills.<br />

4. “Dig a Little Deeper in the Well”<br />

As hard as it is, I’m breaking away from<br />

1977 and skipping ahead two years to the<br />

ORB’s third album, “The Oak Ridge Boys<br />

Have Arrived.” For anyone who inexplicably<br />

missed out on the debut album, the hit<br />

songs “Sail Away” and “Leaving Louisiana in<br />

the Broad Daylight,” and Richard Sterban’s<br />

masterpiece “Dream On” undoubtedly<br />

caught their attention.<br />

For my money, though, there isn’t a<br />

better song in the bunch than “Dig a Little<br />

Deeper in the Well.” The upbeat tune<br />

features each vocalist’s distinct tone, the<br />

perfect harmonies pulling the listener<br />

into the recording studio. The song is even<br />

better live and has been a favorite at every<br />

ORB concert I’ve attended, playing second<br />

fiddle only to “Elvira.” “Dig a Little Deeper<br />

in the Well” is classic country at its finest,<br />

its lyrical euphemisms and energy carrying<br />

through until the band hits the tune’s last<br />

abrupt note.<br />

That’s all for this time. Tune in next<br />

month for the last five ORB songs I believe<br />

should be gold. Merry Christmas to all! 8<br />

A<strong>TT</strong>ORNEY cont. from Page 9<br />

Impirica (Impirica.tech) that has developed<br />

and commercialized a series of solutions<br />

that help the transportation, medical<br />

and law enforcement communities with validated<br />

solutions that actively measure the<br />

risk of impairment.<br />

With specific reference to transportation,<br />

PJ’s solutions have a cognitive screen,<br />

called Vitals, that actively measures a driver’s<br />

risk of impairment. This measurement<br />

of risk empowers decision makers to proactively<br />

respond to the identified risk. The<br />

Vitals screen was designed and validated to<br />

engage the brain in the same way it would<br />

be while driving — which provides a predictive<br />

metric of driving risk.<br />

While the Vitals cognitive screen is designed<br />

to measure impairment associated<br />

with the use of cannabis, the screen itself is<br />

agnostic to cause, meaning it focuses less<br />

on the cause of impairment and more on<br />

whether the driver is fit for duty. With performance<br />

as the focus instead of the cause,<br />

Vitals has applications beyond cannabis use<br />

and addresses a multitude of factors that<br />

could render a driver impaired.<br />

MA<strong>TT</strong>ER cont. from Page 9<br />

remember to give your body what it needs.<br />

These practical, protein-filled ideas for your<br />

meals will take your health journey one mile<br />

further at a time. Let’s pump up the protein,<br />

fellow truckers! Mother Trucker Yoga is right<br />

there with you, cheering you on through every<br />

twist and turn and straightaway on the<br />

road called life.<br />

What I found most fascinating about<br />

the conversation is that Impirica’s solutions<br />

have already been validated and are currently<br />

in active use.<br />

At the end of the day, I am not a scientist<br />

or cognitive researcher. Hell, I don’t even<br />

play one on TV. With that in mind, I don’t<br />

know if Imperica’s device is the answer to<br />

determining impairment. I just think that,<br />

as recreational/medical marijuana use continues<br />

to expand, we need to think outside<br />

the box and develop a roadside test that can<br />

accurately determine impairment. To that<br />

end, I applaud PJ and others who are working<br />

to make this happen.<br />

In closing, I acknowledge that I have<br />

glossed over many facts related to marijuana<br />

use, testing, impairment and a million other<br />

things. There is simply not enough space to<br />

cover every issue in the space allowed!<br />

Brad Klepper is president of Interstate<br />

Trucker Ltd. and is also president of Driver’s<br />

Legal Plan, which allows member drivers access<br />

to services at discounted rates. For more<br />

information, contact him at 800-333-DRIVE<br />

(3748) or interstatetrucker.com and<br />

driverslegalplan.com. 8<br />

Happy trucking, and stay protein-strong!<br />

Hope Zvara is the CEO of Mother Trucker<br />

Yoga, a company devoted to improving truck<br />

drivers’ fitness and wellness standards. She<br />

has been featured in Forbes and Yahoo News,<br />

and is a regular guest on SiriusXM Radio.<br />

Her practical strategies show drivers how<br />

they can go from unhealthy and out of options<br />

to feeling good again. Find out more at<br />

mothertruckeryoga.com. 8<br />

Weather cont. from Page 3<br />

Wyoming ranks fifth, almost tied with<br />

Virginia, with 14.9% of fatal crashes in rough<br />

weather. Snow and sleet are the most frequent<br />

conditions, contributing to over three-quarters<br />

(76%) of fatalities in poor weather and one<br />

in 10 (11.4%) statewide, including normal<br />

weather. Wyoming also has some of the highest<br />

fatalities during other weather conditions,<br />

such as fog, severe crosswinds or blowing dirt,<br />

sand and soil, ranking ninth nationwide and<br />

contributing 2.63% to the statewide total.<br />

Oregon has the sixth-highest percentage of<br />

fatalities in turbulent driving conditions, with<br />

a 14.5% fatality rate in bad weather. Vona’s<br />

research shows 11% of total crashes occur<br />

during rain, the 10th highest nationwide.<br />

Oregon also saw 2.82% of fatalities during other<br />

poor weather, the seventh highest in the U.S.<br />

Kentucky ranks seventh for the highest<br />

percentage of auto fatalities in poor driving<br />

conditions at 14.4%. Rain is most common,<br />

affecting over four in five (83%) of bad weather<br />

crashes, or 12% of total fatalities, including<br />

normal weather, the third-highest nationwide.<br />

Montana ranks eighth with a fatality rate<br />

of 13.2% in severe weather. Snow is the leading<br />

weather condition, representing 5.8% of the<br />

statewide total, ranking fourth in the country.<br />

Rain also contributes 4.2%. Other adverse<br />

conditions are present during 3.16% of crashes,<br />

the fourth highest in the U.S.<br />

Ohio ranks ninth, with dangerous weather<br />

happening during 13% of all fatal crashes.<br />

While the state did not rank in the Top 10 for<br />

any particular condition, rainy weather is the<br />

most common issue, present during one in 10<br />

(10%) crashes, 14th nationwide.<br />

Maryland ranks 10th, as 12.9% of fatal<br />

iStock Photo<br />

After snow, rain is the most common weather condition<br />

present during fatal traffic accidents.<br />

crashes occurred during bad weather. Maryland<br />

is one of the most dangerous states to<br />

drive in when it’s raining, ranking eighth in the<br />

country, with just under 11% of fatalities.<br />

Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson<br />

from Richmond Vona’s office said: “Poor<br />

weather is present in one in 10 fatal crashes<br />

across the U.S., bumping up annual figures by<br />

thousands each year. The poorest driving conditions<br />

happened mostly outside the South,<br />

where rain and snow are more common. The<br />

light condition was less important; most crashes<br />

happened during daylight, regardless of the<br />

weather. While poor weather can make driving<br />

dangerous, the biggest determining factor is always<br />

the driver and how responsible they are<br />

behind the wheel.” 8


Thetrucker.com PERSPECTIVE<br />

December 2023 • 11<br />

TOP PAY<br />

for Experienced Flatbed Drivers<br />

• Safety Bonus<br />

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CD’S SCAN HERE!


12 • December 2023<br />

BUSINESS & EQUIPMENT<br />

Thetrucker.com<br />

Spelling it out<br />

Current freight recession doesn’t fit traditional patterns<br />

It is said that recessions — including<br />

freight recessions — are often characterized<br />

by the letter shape they form when drawn on<br />

a graph.<br />

For example, “V-shaped” recessions decline<br />

sharply and then recover quickly. “U-shaped”<br />

recessions decline and then remain at the<br />

bottom for a bit before recovering. “W-shaped”<br />

recessions dive to the bottom, recover a little<br />

and then dive again before making a final<br />

recovery. There’s even a “K-shaped” recession,<br />

where some parts of the economy are rising at<br />

the same time other areas are falling.<br />

However, there doesn’t seem to be a letter<br />

to describe the current freight recession. For<br />

months, analysts have claimed we’re at the<br />

bottom and should soon start climbing out of<br />

the doldrums.<br />

Well, we’re still not climbing.<br />

The Cass Freight Index for Shipments,<br />

published by Cass Information Systems for<br />

October indicates that shipment numbers<br />

reported by its clients fell 4.7% in October<br />

from September levels. It’s not unusual for<br />

shipment numbers to fall in October, since<br />

September is the final month of the year’s<br />

third quarter, and shipments usually fall off in<br />

the following month. But even when the totals<br />

are seasonally adjusted to account for the<br />

usual decline, the result this time still shows a<br />

2.8% drop in shipment numbers.<br />

The October shipment numbers are 9.5%<br />

lower than they were a year ago, in October<br />

CLIFF ABBO<strong>TT</strong> | SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT<br />

2022. If that’s not concerning enough,<br />

expenditures fell even further — the Cass<br />

Freight Index for Expenditures declined by<br />

23.3% from October 2022.<br />

Cass numbers are derived from the 36<br />

million shipping invoices the processed<br />

for its customers each month. While the<br />

numbers include shipping by multiple modes<br />

of transportation — including truck, rail,<br />

pipeline, ship, barge and air — about threequarters<br />

of the numbers come from trucking.<br />

After all the economic growth achieved<br />

in recent years, the Cass Freight Index for<br />

shipments in October is very close to where it<br />

was eight years ago, in October 2015.<br />

The Cass Freight Index for Expenditures<br />

shows that shipping expenditures in October<br />

fell 2.2% from September and 23% from<br />

October 2022. Those numbers are nearing<br />

the expenditure totals in October 2020, when<br />

the nation was in the throes of the COVID-19<br />

pandemic. As rates climbed quickly in 2021,<br />

expenditures skyrocketed by 38%, and they<br />

rose another 23% in 2022, reaching record<br />

levels in mid-year.<br />

They’ve been on the decline ever since.<br />

According to Tim Denoyer, vice president<br />

and senior analyst for ACT Research, who<br />

writes for the Cass report, the pain won’t be<br />

ending any time soon.<br />

“Our outlook is for freight markets to keep<br />

bouncing along the bottom in the near term,<br />

followed by some holiday volatility and a<br />

iStock Photo<br />

While analysts often compare recession patterns to letters such as V, U or W, the current freight recession seems to<br />

defy description.<br />

change in trajectory next year,” Denoyer wrote.<br />

DAT Freight and Analytics reported that<br />

average per-mile spot rates for dry van loads<br />

averaged $1.525 (excluding fuel surcharge) in<br />

October, down about 23 cents from October<br />

2022 averages. The rate was also down about<br />

four cents from September.<br />

In the refrigerated segment, average spot<br />

rates were about $1.86 per mile in October,<br />

down about a nickel per mile from September<br />

and nearly 21 cents from October 2022.<br />

Flatbed spot rates averaged $1.835 per mile,<br />

down 1.5 cents from September rates and<br />

nearly 23 cents lower than October 2022.<br />

A telling statistic reported by DAT is the<br />

load-to-truck ratio of postings on its load<br />

board. Of course, load board customers can<br />

accept loads without posting their trucks,<br />

so there won’t be a direct 1:1 ratio, but the<br />

numbers are still useful. When there are<br />

more loads per truck, rates rise. When loads<br />

decrease, there’s more competition for them<br />

and rates decline. For October, for example,<br />

there were 1.96 loads posted for every truck<br />

See RECESSION on PAGE 15<br />

Sales of new Class 8 trucks continue slow decline from 2022 numbers<br />

iStock Photo<br />

For the year to date, Freightliner sold 37.2% of the Class 8 trucks on the U.S.<br />

market. Kenworth holds 14.3%, while Peterbilt holds 14.6%. International’s<br />

share is 14.2%, Volvo is at 9.9% and Mack is at 6.7%, with Western Star<br />

holding 3% of the market.<br />

CLIFF ABBO<strong>TT</strong> | SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT<br />

For months, analysts have predicted a slowdown in sales of<br />

Class 8 trucks. It appears that it’s finally happening — although<br />

at a slower rate than some anticipated. U.S. sales of new, Class<br />

8 trucks declined to 21,417 in October, according to data<br />

received from Wards Intelligence. That number is 3.7% lower<br />

than September sales and 6.3% lower than sales reported in<br />

October 2022.<br />

This is important, because freight rates aren’t likely to rise<br />

significantly until the number of available trucks is reduced —<br />

and that can’t happen as long as new truck sales remain strong.<br />

The new Class 8 truck market started slowly in 2022,<br />

with sales in the first four months lagging behind their<br />

corresponding month a year earlier. In April 2022, however,<br />

sales were only 1.3% behind April 2021 sales. In May 2022, they<br />

were 13.9% higher than May 2021. In June it was 12.7% — and<br />

then July saw sales 21.9% higher than July 2021.<br />

After that, trucks were selling like gangbusters.<br />

Sales of new Class 8 trucks jumped 29.7% in August 2022,<br />

34.1% in September and 34.5% in October; then November saw<br />

sales that were 39.5% higher than November 2021. December<br />

sales were “only” 18.2% higher than the previous December,<br />

but January 2023 figures came in 33.3% higher than January<br />

2022. February of this year reached 35% higher … and then the<br />

downward trend began.<br />

Until July 2023, sales were better than the corresponding<br />

month in 2022, but the margin got smaller each month. Finally,<br />

in August, sales were 1% lower than August 2022. They crept<br />

to 3.2% lower in September, then down 6.3% lower in October.<br />

The graph is clearly pointing downward.<br />

One statistic that provides insight about where the market<br />

is headed is the number of truck orders. Final numbers for<br />

October haven’t been released at the time of this writing, but<br />

several firms list preliminary numbers.<br />

FTR Intel reported preliminary North American orders<br />

of 28,000 units, down 10% from September and down 35%<br />

from October 2022. The report notes that demand for new<br />

trucks was “exceptional” in 2022. Current numbers could be<br />

considered more normal than as a low point.<br />

“The overall picture for truck demand is steady,” said<br />

Eric Starks, chairman of the board for FTR. “Despite freight<br />

weakness, fleets continue to be willing to order new equipment,<br />

affirming our expectations of replacement demand during<br />

2024.”<br />

ACT Research issued its preliminary North American order<br />

report showing orders of 31,900 in October.<br />

ACT President and Senior Analyst Kenny Vieth explained,<br />

“Even though backlogs, in seasonal fashion, are rising, they<br />

See SALES on PAGE 14


Thetrucker.com Business & Equipment<br />

December 2023 • 13<br />

OOIDA: Redefining<br />

commercial trucking insurance<br />

INSURANCE<br />

INSIGHTS<br />

DEBORAH GRAVES<br />

OOIDA TRUCK INSURANCE<br />

DEPARTMENT<br />

For decades, the Owner-Operator Independent<br />

Drivers Association (OOIDA) has<br />

been a pillar in the trucking industry, not just<br />

because of the group’s advocacy work, but<br />

also as a leading provider of cost-effective<br />

commercial truck insurance for independent<br />

owner-operators.<br />

Empowering independent truck drivers<br />

OOIDA’s journey in truck insurance began<br />

out of necessity. Prior to 1973, small trucking<br />

businesses struggled with expensive — and often<br />

unreliable — insurance options. Recognizing<br />

the need for fair, trustworthy coverage, OOIDA<br />

established its insurance division, Owner-<br />

Operator Services Inc. (OOSI), in the late<br />

1980s. Since then, OOSI has grown into a top<br />

commercial insurance provider in the U.S.<br />

Tailored insurance for small trucking<br />

businesses<br />

Understanding the unique challenges of<br />

small trucking operations, OOIDA has designed<br />

insurance policies that cater to their<br />

specific needs. These insurance plans, backed<br />

by the extensive experience of OOSI agents,<br />

offer comprehensive coverage without the financial<br />

strain of large upfront payments.<br />

Advocacy through insurance<br />

Choosing OOIDA’s insurance services<br />

extends beyond individual protection.<br />

It contributes to the broader mission of<br />

advocating for fairer industry practices and<br />

regulations. Unlike other providers focused on<br />

profit, OOIDA reinvests insurance revenues<br />

into efforts to create a more equitable trucking<br />

industry.<br />

Comprehensive coverage options<br />

OOIDA’s insurance plans cover a range of<br />

needs for owner-operators and leased operators.<br />

Options include personal property, gap<br />

coverage, roadside assistance and more, ensuring<br />

truckers are comprehensively protected.<br />

You can reach an OOIDA truck insurance<br />

agent Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m.<br />

to 5:30 p.m. CST, at 800-715- 9369.<br />

Do you have an insurance topic you would<br />

like to know more about? If so, email us at<br />

insuranceinsights@ooida.com. We will be<br />

covering a new topic each month and will do<br />

our best to address everyone’s questions. 8<br />

TCA launches young leadership<br />

program for professionals under 41<br />

THE TRUCKER NEWS STAFF<br />

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Truckload Carriers<br />

Association’s (TCA) has launched the<br />

Elevate TCA Young Leadership Program. According<br />

to a news release, the program is “designed<br />

to empower and nurture the leaders of<br />

tomorrow.”<br />

“Elevate offers a unique opportunity for<br />

young professionals to thrive in their careers,”<br />

the news release states. “Through mentorship,<br />

skill development and networking, participants<br />

will embark on a transformative journey,<br />

gaining the knowledge and experience<br />

necessary to reach new heights in the truckload<br />

industry. This young leadership program<br />

includes a mix of in person meetings at TCA<br />

events as well as six virtual meetings throughout<br />

2024.”<br />

To be eligible for the program, young leaders<br />

from TCA member companies must be<br />

under the age of 41 on March 23, 2024, and be<br />

endorsed by a supervisor to participate.<br />

Following is the schedule of events for the<br />

program’s first cohort:<br />

• March 5, 2024: Virtual introduction meeting<br />

• March 23-26, 2024: TCA’s annual convention,<br />

Nashville, Tennessee<br />

• April 9, 2024: Virtual session/Mentorship 101<br />

• May 14, 2024: Virtual session/Workforce<br />

development<br />

• June 11, 2024: Virtual session/Success<br />

stories from industry leaders<br />

• Aug. 13, 2024: Virtual session/Succession<br />

planning<br />

• Sept. 10, 2024: Virtual session/Legislative<br />

iStock Photo<br />

The Truckload Carriers Association says its new young<br />

leadership program offers unique opportunities for<br />

young professionals to thrive in their careers.<br />

training and government affairs<br />

• September 2024 — TCA’s 2024 Call on<br />

Washington and Fall Business Meeting<br />

“TCA is excited to launch Elevate and bring<br />

back our Young Transportation Executives program<br />

in this new format,” said Zander Gambill,<br />

vice president of membership outreach for<br />

TCA. “Thanks goes to TCA’s Membership Committee,<br />

who really helped push and produce<br />

this exciting program for young leaders.”<br />

Marilyn Surber, Tenstreet’s head of industry<br />

relations, said her organization “is proud<br />

to be the exclusive sponsor of Elevate TCA,<br />

the TCA Young Leadership Program. This initiative<br />

aims to provide mentorship and foster<br />

leadership skills among crucial young talents<br />

in the truckload industry.”<br />

To learn more about the program, visit<br />

truckload.org/elevate. 8<br />

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our team of safe, professional drivers.<br />

Call now: 855-CDL-PENSKE<br />

Apply online at driver.penske.jobs<br />

Penske is an Equal Opportunity Employer.<br />

MORE THAN YOU REALIZE ®


14 • December 2023 Business & Equipment<br />

Thetrucker.com<br />

FLEET FOCUS<br />

Are chrome, custom details worth the expense?<br />

So, you finally got that new-to-you truck.<br />

You’ve worked hard, scrimped and saved and<br />

searched until you found just the right deal on<br />

a used tractor, and now, it’s yours.<br />

Unfortunately, it still looks like the fleet<br />

truck it once was. It just doesn’t stand out from<br />

the crowd in any way. But you’ll change that<br />

with a trip to your favorite chrome shop.<br />

Some truck owners do a great job personalizing<br />

their vehicles, creating a one-of-a-kind<br />

look that draws attention wherever they go.<br />

Their pride in their equipment is evident to all<br />

who see it rolling down the highway or pulling<br />

into the loading area.<br />

There is, however, another side of the equation<br />

to be considered.<br />

Unless you purchased the truck for private<br />

use, it is now the largest asset of the trucking<br />

business you own. Chrome — along with special<br />

paint, decals and wraps, non-OEM lighting<br />

and other accessories — represents an expense<br />

that doesn’t return cash to your business.<br />

An old trucking adage says, “Chrome won’t<br />

get you home.” It won’t help you earn a larger<br />

paycheck, either, but it might help you earn a<br />

smaller one.<br />

Some drivers make the argument that a<br />

nice truck makes an impression on customers<br />

and can generate additional business. This may<br />

be true for some types of trucking, but the vast<br />

majority of shippers and receivers couldn’t care<br />

less what color your truck is, much less how<br />

much chrome you’ve added. All they care about<br />

is that it’s pulling the trailer containing their<br />

freight.<br />

There’s something to be said for the pride<br />

and confidence you have in your equipment,<br />

but don’t neglect the pride you’ll feel in taking<br />

home a larger paycheck.<br />

When planning cosmetic upgrades to your<br />

truck be sure to consider your operating ratio.<br />

That’s the percentage of the revenue you take<br />

CLIFF ABBO<strong>TT</strong> | SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT<br />

in that you spend to keep the wheels turning,<br />

including the amount you pay yourself.<br />

Large carriers typically aim for an operating<br />

ratio of 92% or lower. That’s not a very large<br />

margin of profit. If you’re able to keep that<br />

much after paying yourself, you’ll have a small<br />

profit at year-end that you can either use to pay<br />

yourself a bonus or reinvest in your trucking<br />

business.<br />

If you can do that in today’s tough freight<br />

market, it’s close to a miracle.<br />

So, let’s tally up your wish list. That box-end<br />

Texas bumper you want is $1,200. Add $160 for<br />

those chrome floor pedals. You’ll need lights<br />

under the cab, of course, so that’s $125 for each<br />

side for the panel ($250 total). No doubt you’ll<br />

want to extend those under the sleeper, too,<br />

so that’s another $400. Oh, and you’ll need the<br />

lights that go in those panels — that’ll be 20<br />

of them at $15 each ($300 total) —unless you<br />

want the ones that change color. Then it’ll be<br />

more.<br />

In addition, there are lug nut covers, gearshift<br />

knobs, visors for the windshield (and<br />

windows and headlamps and license plates),<br />

custom steering wheels, brake release knobs,<br />

mud flap strips, chrome air cleaners and mirror<br />

brackets and vent surrounds, and on and on.<br />

If you bring in revenues of $250,000 per year,<br />

that chrome Texas bumper represents about a<br />

half-percent of your revenue. But if you manage<br />

an operating ratio of 92%, that same bumper<br />

costs 6% of your profit. If you’re like many<br />

owner-operators who are struggling in today’s<br />

economy, it might represent all your profit.<br />

Many chrome dealers are friendly enough<br />

to help you finance your purchases. However,<br />

interest rates are higher than they’ve been in<br />

decades, only adding to your expense. Using a<br />

credit card can cost even more in the long run.<br />

Now, let’s look at the benefits of that new<br />

Texas bumper. It looks nice — and that’s pretty<br />

iStock Photo<br />

Truck owners should carefully consider the cost of added accessories and the impact the expense will have on their<br />

company’s bottom line.<br />

much it. It’s going to require extra time to keep<br />

it clean and polished. So will those polished<br />

aluminum rims with Tophats and lugnut ring.<br />

If you pay someone else to keep them polished,<br />

that’s an additional cost.<br />

Also, if the new bumper has more aerodynamic<br />

drag than the one you replaced, your<br />

fuel cost will go up, eating further into your<br />

profits. The same holds true of any other items<br />

added to the outside of the vehicle. Hood ornaments,<br />

bigger lights and other accessories can<br />

all impact fuel mileage.<br />

There may be a safety benefit to adding<br />

LED lighting to your vehicle, and items<br />

like windshield visors can help improve<br />

visibility, so some accessories do provide<br />

a return for your investment. There is usually,<br />

however, a reason most carriers don’t<br />

equip their trucks with the chrome accessories<br />

that owner-operators sometimes do:<br />

The return on investment simply isn’t there.<br />

Truck owners have many reasons for customizing<br />

their vehicles, and there’s nothing<br />

wrong with an owner spending their hardearned<br />

cash to improve their driving experience.<br />

Owners who strive to get the most from<br />

their businesses will carefully consider the return<br />

for each investment they make, choosing<br />

options that help them take home more of the<br />

revenue they work so hard for. For some, the<br />

nicer working environment is worth the investment.<br />

Others have a larger investment in their<br />

homes and families and prefer to take as much<br />

of their earnings home as they can.<br />

No matter what you choose, consider vehicle<br />

accessory purchases to be the business<br />

decisions they are, making sure those expenses<br />

are in line with the goals you have set for your<br />

business. 8<br />

Sales cont. from Page 12<br />

continue to point to a different market<br />

vibe heading into 2024,” said Kenny Vieth,<br />

president and senior analyst at ACT Research.<br />

“As we head into 2024, the absence of the large<br />

backlog cushion the industry has enjoyed the<br />

past two years underscores the importance of<br />

seasonal order activity in the coming months.”<br />

Veith is referencing the nearly one-year<br />

order backlog that builders faced last year.<br />

Even though delivery of new trucks could<br />

take a year, buyers continued ordering. Some<br />

orders were to replace aging equipment, but<br />

some were ordered to be ready when freight<br />

rates rebounded — an event that didn’t<br />

happen.<br />

ACT’s number is different than FTR’s<br />

because both numbers are an estimation<br />

based on the data each firm has received,<br />

and that data may not be identical. Further,<br />

different formulas could be used to calculate<br />

projections. Finally, some differences occur<br />

in which manufacturers are included in the<br />

totals. Smaller manufacturers of vocational<br />

trucks are often left out of analyst projections.<br />

On the used truck front, the number of<br />

Class 8 trucks on the market rose by 10% over<br />

September numbers and by 27% over October<br />

2022, according to ACT Research.<br />

Even better news for buyers is that the<br />

price of the average used truck on the market<br />

is 25% lower than it was a year ago — and<br />

those trucks are younger and have fewer miles<br />

on them. Higher interest rates undoubtedly<br />

consume some of the cost savings, but used<br />

trucks are becoming easier to find.<br />

Unfortunately, freight to haul with those<br />

trucks is not easier to find.<br />

Getting back to new truck sales in the<br />

U.S. for October, along with individual OEM<br />

performance, Freightliner sales of 6,651<br />

were down 15.5% from September sales and<br />

down 26.6% from October 2022. Both reflect<br />

the largest declines by percentage of any<br />

manufacturer. October 2023 was the worst<br />

month for Freightliner since February of 2022.<br />

At the same time, both Kenworth and<br />

Peterbilt saw excellent Octobers. Kenworth<br />

sales of 3,682 topped September sales by<br />

22.8% and were 21.6% ahead of October 2022<br />

sales. Peterbilt’s 3,612 were 4.5% higher than<br />

September sales and 6.7% ahead of October<br />

2022.<br />

Added together, PACCAR sales of 7,294<br />

topped Freightliner sales by 9.7%, a feat that<br />

does not happen often. In fairness, however,<br />

Western Star is owned by Freightliner so their<br />

sales of 945 should be counted, giving the<br />

Freightliner companies an edge of 7,596 over<br />

7,294, or 302 trucks for the month.<br />

International truck sales fell below 3,000<br />

for the first time since February. Sales of 2,833<br />

were 11.5% lower than September’s 3,202 and<br />

6.9% lower than October 2022, when 3,024<br />

trucks were sold.<br />

Volvo reported U.S. sales of 2,212 Class 8<br />

trucks, down 7.6% from September’s 2,606 and<br />

down 15.1% from October 2022 sales of 3,042.<br />

Mack sales of 1,469 in October were down<br />

9.4% from September sales of 1,622 but were<br />

10.6% better than sales of 1,328 last October.<br />

Tesla reported no sales for October, the<br />

third consecutive month of zero trucks moved<br />

for the manufacturer after reporting sales<br />

of 197 in the first seven months of the year.<br />

Medium-duty truck maker Hino reported<br />

sales of 13 Class 8 trucks in October, their first<br />

of the year.<br />

For the year to date, Freightliner sold 37.2%<br />

of the Class 8 trucks on the U.S. market, down<br />

1.1% from last year. International’s 14.2% share<br />

is 1.7% larger than last year’s. Kenworth holds<br />

14.3%, while Peterbilt holds 14.6%. Volvo is at<br />

9.9%, and Mack is at 6.7%, with Western Star<br />

holding 3% of the market.<br />

The mysterious “other” category, which<br />

includes both Tesla and Hino, has finally sold<br />

enough trucks to register at 0.1% of the new<br />

truck market.<br />

Expect November new Class 8 sales to<br />

drop precipitously from an unusually strong<br />

November 2022 as the market retraction<br />

continues. 8


Thetrucker.com Business & Equipment<br />

December 2023 • 15<br />

Consider these self-defense<br />

options, but use diligence<br />

when carrying, using them<br />

SAFETY SERIES<br />

Trucking can take you to some scary places<br />

— and it often seems that the places where<br />

trucks park don’t offer enough in the way of<br />

protection. Drivers often have little choice<br />

about where they park, especially near cities,<br />

where parking spaces are likely to be occupied<br />

early in the evening.<br />

The first, and often best, form of security<br />

is to use the obvious strategies: Lock your<br />

doors and keep your windows rolled up. Some<br />

drivers use a strap to pull the doors towards<br />

each other in case the locks are defeated.<br />

Before leaving your truck, use the windows<br />

and mirrors to inspect the area around your<br />

vehicle to make sure no one is lurking in wait.<br />

Park in well-lit areas when possible. Don’t<br />

“nose-dive” into a space; instead, back in or<br />

pull through so the cab of your truck isn’t<br />

secluded in the darkness. Choose spaces as<br />

close to the restaurant or C-store as possible.<br />

Whenever you’re out of the truck, remain<br />

diligent about the area around you. Just as<br />

you maintain a constant eye scan when you’re<br />

driving, do the same while you’re walking.<br />

Pay attention to other people you see. Don’t<br />

be distracted by electronics — leave the<br />

cellphone in your pocket or purse.<br />

Unfortunately, even your best diligence<br />

won’t prevent some criminals from getting<br />

too close. For that reason, many drivers carry<br />

weapons of one sort or another. Firearms are<br />

a popular choice — but they are as likely to<br />

create a problem as they are to get you out<br />

of one. Even if open- or concealed-carry are<br />

legal in the state where you live, you may be<br />

traveling through states where it is illegal<br />

to carry a firearm at all. In addition, even in<br />

states that allow firearms, individual counties<br />

or municipalities may prohibit weapons.<br />

Some have severe penalties, and the weapon<br />

may be confiscated as well.<br />

There are alternatives to firearms for<br />

personal protection, but keep in mind that<br />

any device that could cause bodily harm<br />

could potentially run afoul of the law. Another<br />

possibility is that an injured assailant could<br />

initiate civil action against you should you<br />

injure them during the assault. Even if you<br />

CLIFF ABBO<strong>TT</strong> | SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT<br />

win, the expenses for travel, court costs and<br />

lost work can add up.<br />

Still, those risks may pale when compared<br />

to the specter of being injured (or worse) by<br />

an assailant.<br />

The least risky (and likely the least<br />

effective) method of personal protection is<br />

to carry a noisemaking device that, in theory,<br />

draws attention to you and your attackers,<br />

causing them to break off an attack because of<br />

unwanted witnesses. A whistle is the simplest<br />

form of noisemaker, but there are also batterypowered<br />

versions that can be quite loud.<br />

Some noisemakers have flashing lights to help<br />

attract the attention of others.<br />

Some drivers prefer to carry items that<br />

are usually standard equipment for an OTR<br />

trucker, like tire thumpers or hammers, that<br />

can be used for self-defense. Others choose<br />

knives ranging from plain pocketknives to<br />

larger, more deadly ones. Any of these can be<br />

effective deterrents but come with a danger<br />

— you’ll need to get close to make them work.<br />

There’s always the possibility that they can be<br />

taken and then used against you.<br />

Truncheons or batons can be expandable<br />

and are small enough to fit in a purse or<br />

pocket when collapsed, but long enough<br />

to do damage when extended. Some large,<br />

heavy flashlights are sold as “tactical” that<br />

can be used as striking devices. Some of<br />

these flashlights have rough surfaces or edges<br />

designed to inflict greater damage, and some<br />

even contain small cavities designed to collect<br />

enough tissue to be used for DNA testing.<br />

Some tactical flashlights have another<br />

feature, a strobe function that’s designed to<br />

confuse or disorient the attacker with a series<br />

of bright flashes or alternating patterns of<br />

light. Again, to be effective, you must be close<br />

to your assailant.<br />

One interesting device is the self-defense,<br />

or security, umbrella. Self-defense umbrellas<br />

are made with a stout center shaft and a hefty<br />

handle. They can be used in a stabbing motion<br />

or used as a striking weapon — with the added<br />

benefit of keeping you dry in the rain. They are<br />

stout enough to be used as a cane, as well.<br />

iStock Photo<br />

No matter which method of personal protection you choose, remember that you are responsible for making sure<br />

that possession and use of the device are legal in the jurisdictions in which you travel.<br />

Stun devices have the same issue. They can<br />

be effective, but you need to be close enough<br />

to press the device against an attacker. There<br />

is maintenance involved as well; you’ll need to<br />

make sure batteries are fresh and the device<br />

is working.<br />

There are non-lethal options that let you<br />

protect yourself at a distance, although there<br />

are limits to any of them. Teargas or pepper<br />

sprays can be effective, especially if sprayed<br />

in an attacker’s eyes, but they have limited<br />

range. An assailant with a strong will, possibly<br />

enhanced by drugs, may not be stopped by<br />

these devices; however, in most cases they<br />

will work. Some drivers recommend keeping<br />

cans of insecticide designed to kill wasps and<br />

hornets in the truck. It’s cheap, shoots farther<br />

than pepper spray and can be effective — but<br />

remember, these products contain poisons<br />

and are designed to kill insects. They can<br />

potentially cause blindness or permanent<br />

damage when used on a human being.<br />

Tasers are an option used by many law<br />

enforcement agencies as an effective, nonlethal<br />

weapon that can incapacitate an<br />

attacker for 30 seconds or more. They work by<br />

shooting two small probes into the target and<br />

then applying electricity to disable muscular<br />

function. The range depends on the device;<br />

some can shoot as far as 50 feet while others<br />

only reach 10 feet or so.<br />

Finally, there are weapons that use<br />

compressed carbon dioxide capsules to propel<br />

balls filled with teargas, pepper gel or other<br />

irritants. Some, such as the product made by<br />

Byrna, are shaped like pistols and function<br />

in much the same way, but they are brightly<br />

colored to avoid confusion. The Byrna shoots<br />

.68 caliber balls hard enough that the impact<br />

alone can be a deterrent.<br />

Other, similar devices are essentially<br />

designed for paintball. They shoot pepper balls<br />

or kinetic (hard rubber) balls. Many launchers<br />

look much like pistols, and an attacker may<br />

think you’re carrying the real thing.<br />

Many of these devices can be purchased<br />

from Amazon or your favorite sporting goods<br />

store. 8<br />

RECESSION cont. from Page 12<br />

posted for dry van. October 2022 ended with 2.71 loads per<br />

truck and rates 23 cents per mile higher. A year earlier, in<br />

October 2021, there were 5.5 loads for every truck and rates<br />

were about 93 cents per mile higher.<br />

Both refrigerated and flatbed numbers showed similar<br />

results, with both higher load-to-truck ratios and higher rates.<br />

The question everyone is asking now is this: “When will it<br />

change?”<br />

The answer is that change is already happening — but it’s<br />

excruciatingly slow. In an ACT Research release on October<br />

30, Denoyer wrote, “We continue to expect the freight market<br />

cycle to turn once capacity tightens, but early signs of 2024<br />

equipment production suggest that may be a while.”<br />

He’s talking about trucks. There are simply too many trucks<br />

available to haul the amount of freight being offered. Too much<br />

supply for too little demand means rates will stay low until a<br />

correction occurs. Judging from the way new trucks are being<br />

ordered, built and delivered, the oversupply of trucks isn’t<br />

ending anytime soon.<br />

“Even as the freight demand cycle should improve in 2024,<br />

the demand outlook remains soft for this winter as the industry<br />

continues to add equipment capacity into an oversupplied<br />

market,” Denoyer explained.<br />

While new trucks continue to be sold, carriers are going<br />

out of business at record rates. Owner-operators and small<br />

fleet owners who bought trucks when spot rates were high,<br />

often at exorbitant prices due to demand, are now selling or<br />

surrendering those trucks because of low freight rates. Carrier<br />

authority surrenders have exceeded new carrier starts for<br />

more than six months.<br />

Some of those surrendered trucks are helping drive down<br />

used truck prices. That’s good news for those looking to upgrade<br />

equipment; unfortunately, high interest rates may negate any<br />

price savings for buyers. Many owners who surrendered those<br />

trucks have gone back to company driver positions, so the<br />

total number of trucks available to haul freight hasn’t declined<br />

enough to impact the market.<br />

The bottom line is that the bottom line of most carriers will<br />

continue to suffer for the near future. 8


16 • December 2023<br />

JOB Resources<br />

Thetrucker.com<br />

Home for the Holidays<br />

Planning, communication are keys to preventing conflicts between work, family time<br />

Cliff Abbott | SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT<br />

It’s the time of year when many people think of<br />

spending some time at home. After all, Thanksgiving<br />

has come and gone, and Christmas will be here before<br />

you know it. Schools will be out for winter break, and<br />

the kids (or grandkids) will be home.<br />

Besides, who couldn’t use a break from the stress of<br />

the highway?<br />

As an over-the-road driver, it helps to remember<br />

that getting home for the holidays sometimes takes<br />

a little planning. If you work for a carrier, they are<br />

probably planning on a healthy percentage of trucks<br />

being shut down — but not all carriers do this. By<br />

working with fleet managers now, you can improve<br />

your chances of hassle-free time off over the holidays.<br />

If you haven’t done so already, let your fleet manager<br />

know you’d like to be home and what specific days<br />

you’d like to be there. Don’t assume that you’ll head<br />

home once you make a delivery on Dec. 22 (or even<br />

Dec. 24). Some carriers plan trucks out two or three<br />

loads in advance. If you haven’t requested the time off,<br />

you can cause friction by doing so at the last minute.<br />

At the same time, it’s helpful to work a solid schedule<br />

right up until you go home for Christmas. Taking off<br />

the second week of December and then demanding<br />

another week off through the holidays may not endear<br />

you to your carrier. Taking an extra load, or maybe<br />

even working an extra weekend prior to the holiday<br />

strengthens your case when you ask for time off.<br />

Be sure you know your personal schedule before you<br />

request time off. Getting home on Christmas morning<br />

when your spouse had scheduled you for an important<br />

Christmas Eve event can be a disaster during what is<br />

supposed to be a happy time. Your carrier may attempt<br />

to get as many loads as possible for you before you go<br />

home, and they won’t be happy if you suddenly ask to<br />

get home a day sooner.<br />

Many carriers will try to send you home under a<br />

load, so be sure you and your fleet manager are clear<br />

about which days you will be off. The last thing you’ll<br />

want is a phone call Christmas evening asking why you<br />

haven’t left yet for the delivery at 8:00 the next morning.<br />

If you don’t personally celebrate Christmas, you<br />

might benefit from volunteering to run through the<br />

holidays. If you want time off for other religious holidays<br />

— or just some personal time — working through<br />

Christmas and New Year’s might help you build goodwill<br />

while you’re “banking” days off for when you need them.<br />

As the holiday approaches, pay close attention to<br />

the loads you receive. If you’re dispatched on a load<br />

to California on Wednesday, for example, chances<br />

are slim you’ll be at your home on the East Coast by<br />

Saturday morning. Your fleet manager should be trying<br />

to position you for a load closer to home that delivers<br />

before your time off begins. If you are dispatched on a<br />

load that doesn’t seem to work, discuss it before you<br />

accept the load.<br />

If you’re an owner-operator, you have more options,<br />

since you have the right to haul the loads you choose. If<br />

you’re leased to a carrier, you’ll still need to discuss your<br />

schedule to make sure everyone is on the same page.<br />

Remember that spot rates often rise, sometimes<br />

considerably, around holidays. With so many trucks<br />

shut down for the festivities, shippers are often willing to<br />

pay premium rates to get their products moved. If your<br />

family situation permits, you may benefit from working<br />

through the holiday and celebrating on another day.<br />

It’s a good idea to make sure delivery points will be<br />

open when you plan to be there. This year, for example,<br />

Christmas falls on a Monday. Some facilities may close on<br />

the Saturday before for Christmas Eve, giving employees<br />

a three-day weekend. If your delivery is scheduled for<br />

Saturday, or even on Sunday or Monday (Christmas),<br />

verify that they will be receiving. Otherwise, you may<br />

work through the holiday only to find yourself sitting<br />

somewhere, waiting for the receiver to open.<br />

Also, consider your next load. The receiver may be<br />

open on Christmas for a delivery — but will you be able<br />

to find someone open to pick up your next load?<br />

If you book loads through a load board or through a<br />

broker, it’s always a good idea to verify that the receiver<br />

will be open. A load board may have an incorrect<br />

delivery date, and a broker representative might be<br />

iStock Photo<br />

For over-the-road drivers, taking time off during the holidays requires a little extra planning.<br />

Drivers who choose to work through the holidays may be able to earn points with their<br />

employers.<br />

making assumptions instead of actually verifying.<br />

If you do spend the holidays on the road, keep in mind that there will likely be a<br />

lot of holiday traffic, with some vehicles being driven by motorists who aren’t used<br />

to making long trips on potentially slippery roads. Allow extra following distance,<br />

and keep your eye scan moving to identify hazards before they become critical.<br />

Some truck stops and other businesses offer free meals and other perks to<br />

drivers that are working on holidays. Look for signs where you get fuel, and<br />

announcements on trucking websites, like thetrucker.com.<br />

The holidays are a time for cheer. If you can’t be at home, spread a little<br />

holiday happiness among the people you deal with at shippers, receivers, truck<br />

stops and so on.<br />

Finally, may you and yours be blessed during this holiday season, whatever,<br />

and however, you celebrate. 8<br />

XPO doubles down on commitment to hiring military veterans<br />

Courtesy: XPO<br />

XPO officials say they are proud to be known as an employer who supports military veterans.<br />

THE TRUCKER NEWS STAFF<br />

GREENWICH, Conn. — XPO has received<br />

national recognition for its support of the military<br />

community and being an employer of choice for<br />

military veterans.<br />

Military.com, a national news site for military<br />

members, veterans and their families, has named<br />

XPO as one of its Top 25 Veteran Employers 2024,<br />

according to a November news release.<br />

XPO also has earned 2024 Military Friendly<br />

designation from Viqtory, a service-disabled<br />

and veteran-owned business, for the company’s<br />

ongoing commitment to creating a work<br />

environment that supports members of the<br />

military as they transition into the civilian<br />

workforce after service.<br />

XPO received the Military Friendly Silver<br />

ranking, which honors companies that rank within<br />

the top 20% of their respective employer category.<br />

“Veterans make our company and our<br />

country stronger, and we are deeply honored to<br />

be recognized for our commitment to helping<br />

empower those in the military community as they<br />

transition to the civilian workforce,” said Tony<br />

Graham, president of the West Division at XPO<br />

and a military veteran.<br />

“We appreciate the strong talents, teamwork<br />

and exceptional dedication of veterans and<br />

military spouses and are grateful to serve those<br />

who serve our country by providing a workplace<br />

that offers strong and diverse opportunities to<br />

build fulfilling post-service careers,” he continued.<br />

This news comes on the heels of XPO’s<br />

announcement that it is strengthening its<br />

commitment to military hiring by entering<br />

into a strategic partnership with the U.S. Army<br />

Partnership for Your Success (PaYS) program. The<br />

See XPO on PAGE 18


Thetrucker.com December 2023 • 17<br />

JOB RESOURCES<br />

Insurtech providers offer convenience,<br />

speed for obtaining cargo insurance<br />

Every carrier, from the very largest down<br />

to the single owner-operator, is charged with<br />

keeping their customer’s freight intact and<br />

undamaged.<br />

To this end, most of them have some sort<br />

of cargo insurance built in to one or more<br />

insurance policies. However, it’s easy to<br />

assume that someone else somewhere along<br />

the chain has taken care of the insurance<br />

requirements. For example, independent<br />

contractors who own their own truck but are<br />

leased to a carrier might assume the carrier<br />

has taken care of cargo insurance.<br />

Unfortunately, these truck owners often<br />

learn differently when a cargo claim is received.<br />

In a perfect shipping world, cargo claims<br />

wouldn’t exist at all.<br />

However, even when drivers are extremely<br />

careful to block and brace shipments and<br />

CLIFF ABBO<strong>TT</strong> | SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT<br />

recruitment classifieds<br />

For display or line ad information, email requests to: meganh@thetruckermedia.com.<br />

LOOKING TO GET<br />

YOUR CDL?<br />

drive carefully to prevent load shifts, damaged<br />

freight is sometimes loaded into the trailer of<br />

an unsuspecting driver. Or a leak from a single<br />

box trickles down to ruin the whole pallet. Or,<br />

perhaps, a box or two shifts during transport.<br />

Any of these things can happen, and a load<br />

that looked perfect when the trailer doors were<br />

closed and sealed turns out to be damaged.<br />

Many carriers already have cargo<br />

insurance, but they sometimes haul more<br />

valuable loads that require a higher level of<br />

insurance. At other times, the insurance in<br />

effect has exclusions and won’t cover the load<br />

that’s already been picked up.<br />

It’s customary for the truck owner to contact<br />

their insurance agent to purchase a rider that<br />

provides coverage. But what happens if it’s the<br />

OWNING THE WHEEL<br />

See WHEEL on PAGE 18<br />

now hiring<br />

otr team drivers<br />

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• SIGN-ON BONUS<br />

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• Paid Holidays<br />

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844.757.0001<br />

WWW.DRIVEEASTWEST.COM<br />

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Insurtech providers offer convenient 24/7 access to insurance policies that can be purchased without speaking<br />

directly with an agent, even on weekends or holidays.<br />

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18 • December 2023 JOB RESOURCES<br />

XPO cont. from Page 16<br />

partnership offers regular and reserve soldiers<br />

job interviews and potential employment<br />

after completing their service in the Army.<br />

“With more than 2,000 veterans and active<br />

service members on our team, XPO is a proud,<br />

military-friendly workplace,” said Mario Harik,<br />

CEO of XPO. “We place exceptional value<br />

on the outstanding skill set and dedication<br />

that military-trained employees bring to our<br />

company, and we are honored to be joining<br />

forces with the PaYS program to expand<br />

our commitment to creating post-service<br />

opportunities for our nation’s soldiers.”<br />

The PaYS program helps soldiers prepare<br />

for post-military careers, connecting<br />

them with employers who value the skills,<br />

discipline and work ethic that their military<br />

service brings to a business.<br />

Thetrucker.com<br />

“We would like to extend a heartfelt<br />

welcome to XPO as a new PaYS partner.<br />

The US Army is a reliable recruitment<br />

source for businesses with an endless pool<br />

of qualified talent, and we’re pleased that<br />

XPO is committed to helping soldiers find<br />

employment after military service,” said<br />

Antonio Johnson, PaYS Program Manager.<br />

XPO officials say they are proud of their<br />

history of being a military-friendly employer.<br />

Earlier in 2023, the company was named a<br />

VETS Indexes 4 Star Employer, recognizing<br />

it as one of the best employers nationwide<br />

for veterans, members of the National<br />

Guard and Reserves, military spouses and<br />

longer-term veterans.<br />

To facilitate a seamless transition into<br />

the civilian workforce, XPO offers resources<br />

through an all-employee Veteran Steering<br />

Committee. 8<br />

Great Pay, Full Benefits & Bonuses!<br />

Nebraska Atlantic Transportation, Inc. is a family-owned &<br />

operated company that has been in business for over 30 years.<br />

It is our goal to make you feel like you are part of the family<br />

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apply and join our family today!<br />

★ $0.60 Per Mile<br />

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★ Unloading Paid in Full<br />

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★ Yearly Bonuses<br />

★ Full Health Insurance<br />

REQUIREMENTS<br />

★ CDL-A<br />

★ 24 years old<br />

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& Dryer, Stocked Kitchen,<br />

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888.858.8217<br />

www.thetrucker.com/nebraska-atlantic<br />

WHEEL cont. from Page 17<br />

weekend and the agent isn’t answering? And<br />

what happens when the insurance company<br />

doesn’t cover the product being hauled?<br />

One fairly recent entry into the trucking<br />

market is the insurtech segment. Driven by<br />

technology, this segment offers convenient<br />

24/7 access to insurance policies that can be<br />

purchased without speaking directly with an<br />

agent.<br />

One such company is MiKargo247. CEO<br />

and co-founder Michele McGinnis says the<br />

company is built for speed.<br />

“Let’s say you’re hauling a load of steel,<br />

and you need $900,000 worth of insurance for<br />

that load,” she said. “It would be costly for you<br />

to add that coverage to your policy and only<br />

need it a few times a year.”<br />

According to McGinnis, MiKargo247 offers<br />

near-instant spot cargo insurance.<br />

“You put in the commodity you’ll be<br />

hauling, the value, and the origin and<br />

destination zip codes and hit ‘Get Instant<br />

Quote,’” she explained. “It will give you the<br />

total mileage and the amount of the policy.”<br />

Information on the website, mikargo247.<br />

com, claims that a quote takes just 10 seconds.<br />

If you decide to purchase — and there’s no<br />

obligation to do so — the whole process takes<br />

two minutes or less. Also, there’s no obligation<br />

to sign up or provide contact information if<br />

you don’t purchase the insurance.<br />

“I encourage people to go on the website<br />

and run quotes and look at it as much as they<br />

want,” McGinnis said. “You won’t get charged.<br />

You’re not going to get emails. Also, it’s just<br />

as easy to use from a cellphone as a laptop,<br />

because it’s meant for the driver.”<br />

The insurance is provided through Roanoke<br />

Insurance Group from Schaumburg, Illinois,<br />

and underwritten by Lloyd’s of London.<br />

MiKargo247 has entered into agreements<br />

with the apps Trucker Path and Loadlink,<br />

allowing truck owners who are working with a<br />

broker to access MiKargo247 and get a quote<br />

for cargo insurance before they accept a load.<br />

That’s important when negotiating with a<br />

broker. Accepting a load at a particular rate<br />

only to find the cost of cargo insurance will<br />

take most or all of the profit isn’t a scenario<br />

any owner wants to be in.<br />

MiKargo247’s quick quote feature also<br />

makes it possible for owners to “shop” for the<br />

best deal on cargo insurance without making<br />

multiple phone calls.<br />

Owners who decide to take the insurance<br />

have the option of creating a profile with<br />

MiKargo247. For repeat users, having a profile<br />

saves time, because all the information is already<br />

in the system and there’s no need to re-enter<br />

important details. Credit card information,<br />

however, is not saved. This avoids the possibility<br />

of hackers obtaining customers’ data.<br />

McGinnis stresses another feature of the<br />

MiKargo247 product.<br />

“It’s ‘all-risk’ insurance, so it covers driver<br />

error, theft and other occurrences and maybe<br />

even a product your regular policy doesn’t<br />

cover,” she noted.<br />

Policy “riders,” on the other hand, may<br />

increase the coverage amount of the original<br />

policy but with the same restrictions and<br />

exclusions as the policy.<br />

If it becomes necessary to file a cargo<br />

insurance claim, MiKargo247 can help with<br />

that, too.<br />

“It’s all handled through Roanoke,”<br />

McGinnis said. “There’s no need to be chasing<br />

down two insurance agents, one for the base<br />

policy and one or the rider.”<br />

Claims can be filed directly on the<br />

MiKargo247 website, without having to call<br />

an insurance agent. The documents needed<br />

to file a claim are listed on the website, along<br />

with a list of excluded commodities.<br />

To be sure, MiKargo247 isn’t the only<br />

company to ride the technology wave.<br />

“Yes, there are other companies that offer<br />

this,” McGinnis said. “I believe that we are the<br />

fastest. It’s true that once someone has used<br />

us, they come back over and over and over.<br />

That’s really exciting.”<br />

Truckers who have questions don’t have to<br />

rely on the FAQ page of the website, according<br />

to McGinnis.<br />

“We don’t discourage people from calling<br />

us,” she said. “I mean, I pick up the phone and<br />

call you back.”<br />

For added convenience, McGinnis has<br />

posted her phone number (971-804-5254) and<br />

her email address (michele@mikargo247.<br />

com) on the website.<br />

When a shipper or broker requires<br />

additional cargo insurance — or you just<br />

want to be protected from cargo claims your<br />

current policy won’t handle — MiKargo247<br />

and similar insurtechs can help. 8


Thetrucker.com December 2023 • 19<br />

FEATURES<br />

Still truckin’<br />

Professional driver BJ Neal is in it for the long haul<br />

Pulling into the truck stop parking lot —<br />

the kind of place she’s been rolling to a stop<br />

at for almost 50 years behind the wheel —<br />

BJ Neal scans her surroundings and lets the<br />

muscle memory honed by decades on the<br />

road click in her head.<br />

It may look like a small detail, this<br />

deductive process of choosing just the right<br />

spot, but it isn’t — at least not for someone<br />

who came up the hard way.<br />

“When they started having the huge truck<br />

stops, there were drivers who recognized I was<br />

willing to just be a straight, honest driver, and<br />

they would give me pointers,” Neal told The<br />

Trucker.<br />

“They would always tell me what truck<br />

stops were the safest to park and where to<br />

park. You never parked in the back row. That’s<br />

where drivers would sell parts of their loads,<br />

where the lot lizards worked, there were the<br />

drugs and all that,” she said.<br />

“I don’t have to deal with that anymore,<br />

but I can remember when parking (space)<br />

at a truck stop had to chosen carefully,” she<br />

continued. “When I go now, it’s well-lit, it’s<br />

open. I don’t even think about it anymore, but<br />

I still have a tendency not to park in the back<br />

because of old habits.”<br />

It seems Neal was destined to be a curiosity<br />

in her career. She was raised in an era when<br />

females in the cab of a truck were frowned<br />

upon (if they were allowed at all), and she<br />

started driving in an era when she was often,<br />

in her own words, the only gal in the room.<br />

Today, she stands out because, at the age<br />

of 81, she is still truckin’ along. For someone<br />

who says she just wanted to get the job done,<br />

the sassy Oregonian has blazed quite the trail.<br />

“I have tried over the years to figure out<br />

why I have so much fun doing this,” she said.<br />

“All I can say is I must have a thing about<br />

running around on wheels, because I’ve<br />

always enjoyed it.<br />

“The same highway is never the same. There’s<br />

always something,” she continued. “People say,<br />

‘Don’t you get tired and fall asleep at the wheel?’<br />

I say, ‘No, I’m busy. I don’t have time!’”<br />

Neal first discovered a love for the road<br />

sitting beside her father, who drove logging<br />

trucks in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon.<br />

By the time she was old enough to earn her<br />

chauffeur’s license — this was long before the<br />

days of CDLs — management put the kibosh<br />

on her ride-alongs with her father.<br />

However, the hook had been set, so to<br />

speak, and Neal happily followed the road into<br />

trucking. When she met her future husband,<br />

who was also a driver, she recalls shooting<br />

him straight about her goals.<br />

“My husband knew what I wanted to do,<br />

because from the time I was a kid, I always<br />

said, ‘I’m going to be a truck driver someday,’”<br />

she said.<br />

“In those days, they didn’t have many<br />

rules they enforced on how long you drove, so<br />

produce haulers had to do an awful lot of extra<br />

DWAIN HEBDA | SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT<br />

hours,” she continued. “Back then, you picked<br />

the stuff up fresh, so they iced it. We used to<br />

have to go places and have the ice blow out<br />

of the load. Down the road, you’d see water<br />

dripping behind you all the time.”<br />

Neal’s husband was supportive of her goals.<br />

“My husband asked his boss if he could<br />

teach me and his boss said, ‘Yeah, go ahead,’”<br />

she said. “He didn’t have to pay me; all he<br />

would be paying would be my husband, and<br />

I’d be doing the extra driving. I got most of my<br />

hours as relief driver for him.”<br />

By the mid-1970s, Neal and her spouse<br />

were driving regularly for small operators<br />

between California and the Pacific Northwest,<br />

and they even bought their own truck. When<br />

the marriage fell apart, however, she found it<br />

difficult to get hired.<br />

“My husband and I divorced in ’83. It just<br />

happened. By then I had about eight years<br />

driving experience, but I was never a paid<br />

driver — and they still did not like the idea of a<br />

woman being in the truck alone,” she recalled.<br />

“There was a lot of reluctance to hire me,”<br />

she said. “I did have friends that knew I was<br />

a good driver, so I was encouraged to check a<br />

company out of Portland, Oregon, that hired<br />

teams and did not care if you knew each<br />

other. They put two people in a truck, and<br />

that was it. They hired me and let me drive.”<br />

The company’s system put Neal in<br />

whatever truck was available, with whoever<br />

was available. Some of these pairings<br />

worked out, but most of them didn’t — and<br />

Neal said she soon grew tired of sharing the<br />

cab. Determined to drive her own rig, she<br />

eventually left Oregon and headed for Texas.<br />

There, she did a lot of slip-seating, constantly<br />

changing equipment and driving whatever rig<br />

dispatch put her in.<br />

“Eventually things changed, and I went<br />

with companies where I had an assigned<br />

truck,” she said of her 30 years driving in Texas.<br />

“Everybody knew when they hired me that I<br />

had a lot of different trucking backgrounds<br />

and could take any truck.”<br />

Eventually, time did what adversity and<br />

discrimination never could: It slowed her<br />

down.<br />

As she approached her 70s, Neal said,<br />

she quit long-haul runs for more localized<br />

routes. Since moving back home to Oregon<br />

in 2016, she has done what she describes as<br />

“part-time” driving. Most recently, she joined<br />

K&E Express Transportation out of North<br />

Bonneville, Washington. She now drives a<br />

local route, delivering to grocery stores and<br />

warehouses.<br />

Every run she makes adds to her career<br />

total miles. That’s a number Neal stopped<br />

tallying after hitting the 2 million mark during<br />

her years in Texas.<br />

Neal says that life is good and she’s happy,<br />

and that the years haven’t “ground all the<br />

pepper out of her” yet.<br />

“The only complaint I have in life is that,<br />

Courtesy: BJ Neal<br />

After nearly five decades behind the wheel, trucker BJ Neal says life is good, she’s happy and she’s not ready to<br />

stop driving yet.<br />

because I learned to drive the older trucks, I<br />

don’t like the newer trucks,” she said.<br />

“I have a lot of trouble with them, with all<br />

their so-called ‘smart stuff,’” she continued.<br />

“It’s stupid to me. [This company has] one<br />

truck that’s a 2015 I think, a Kenworth, which<br />

I love to drive but don’t get to all the time. The<br />

rest of them I just deal with.”<br />

Luckily, Neal’s company takes notice of its<br />

drivers’ preferences.<br />

“They’re replacing all of this equipment<br />

with newer trucks, and I’m going,<br />

‘Aaaaaaaah!’” she said. “The owner said,<br />

‘I’m going to keep the old Kenworth.’ I said,<br />

‘Oh, good!’ It’s better than driving these new<br />

things.” 8


20 • December 2023 FEATURES<br />

Thetrucker.com<br />

at the TRUCK STOP<br />

Presented<br />

by Cat Scale.<br />

visit weighmytruck.com<br />

Impressive<br />

record<br />

East-West driver shares<br />

his remarkable journey<br />

Ron Millman, a driver for Georgia-based<br />

East-West Express, is one of only a handful<br />

of people on the planet who can say he’s<br />

covered 7 million miles in his driving career<br />

— and he’s one of a precious few who have<br />

covered that much ground without a single<br />

at-fault accident.<br />

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, in an<br />

era of distracted driving and unprecedented<br />

highway congestion, Millman says he’d<br />

never had an altercation with another<br />

vehicle of any kind at work until about a year<br />

ago. That’s when a driver with outstanding<br />

warrants clipped him before fleeing the<br />

scene. The memory of the event is equal<br />

parts amusing and frustrating to the Bostonborn<br />

Millman.<br />

“I was eight minutes from my delivery<br />

when that kid hit me,” he said, still<br />

incredulous. “I could look at my stop. That’s<br />

how close I was — I could see it from the<br />

interstate. This guy comes up the ramp,<br />

comes around the curve, and I looked at him<br />

and thought, ‘Buddy, you better get over.<br />

You’re going to hit me.’ And he did — he hit<br />

me.”<br />

The ultimate irony of being hit by<br />

someone fleeing the law is that Millman is<br />

something of a “criminal” himself. After all,<br />

he’s repeatedly the broken statistical law<br />

of averages for many years. A journey of<br />

7 million miles would circle the globe 280<br />

times. That’s equal to about 15 round trips<br />

to the moon. To cover all those miles with<br />

just one highway incident, which wasn’t<br />

even his fault, defies every actuarial table<br />

known to humanity.<br />

For Millman, however, the formula is<br />

simple: “Don’t bring your problems from<br />

your house to your job when you’re driving,”<br />

he said matter-of-factly. “And the biggest<br />

DWAIN HEBDA | SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT<br />

thing is, drive like you’re in a coloring book<br />

— always stay between the two lines.”<br />

As mind-boggling as Millman’s safedriving<br />

streak is, it’s only one chapter of a<br />

unique life that, had he not lived it, he says<br />

he might not believe himself. Landing in<br />

the foster care system as a boy, Millman ran<br />

away at 13 with no more of a plan than to<br />

hitchhike “to wherever.” A trucker picked<br />

him up and asked where he was headed.<br />

“Wherever this truck lands,” he<br />

remembers saying.<br />

The truck was going to Deland, Florida.<br />

Once there, the driver asked the lad’s next<br />

move. Hearing none, the man recommended<br />

Millman hit up the wintering circuses for a<br />

job. He did, and spent the next five years<br />

traveling as a roustabout. During that time,<br />

he learned how to drive a truck.<br />

Millman left that gig with the intention<br />

of joining the military, but health problems<br />

disqualified him for active duty. He held a<br />

few miscellaneous jobs before deciding to<br />

become a professional truck driver, earning<br />

his license at age 20.<br />

“I was still under restriction, though,<br />

because you have to be 21 to run other<br />

states,” he said. “So, until then, all I did was<br />

drive around Massachusetts.”<br />

Except for one short departure from<br />

the industry, Millman has been driving<br />

ever since. At 77, he’s driven doubles and<br />

triples, pulled dry vans, reefer and even<br />

hazmat. His never-ending journey has taken<br />

him throughout Canada, into Mexico and<br />

touched all 49 of the continental U.S. states.<br />

“And if you built a bridge over to Hawaii,<br />

I might drive over there, too,” he said with a<br />

laugh.<br />

During his career, he’s driven team<br />

and he’s driven solo. He prefers the latter,<br />

Courtesy: Ron Millman<br />

Ron Millman, who drives for Georgia-based East-West Express, has covered more than 7 million miles without a<br />

single at-fault accident.<br />

particularly as he’s gotten older. Reaching<br />

across the generation gap has become<br />

increasingly frustrating, he says, so he’d<br />

rather make his runs alone, doing things the<br />

way he knows they should be done.<br />

“These young people, when they get<br />

in the bunk, they’re watching movies or<br />

playing games, and when they come back<br />

out, they’re not ready to drive after a 10-hour<br />

break,” he said. “I just got to the point where<br />

this ain’t worth it. I can’t do double work.<br />

“I’ve been running basically between<br />

Georgia and Florida for almost the last three<br />

years,” he continued. “I like it because I’m by<br />

myself. I come and go as I please. They hand<br />

me an envelope and I go do my job. I may not<br />

talk to dispatch for two days, maybe three<br />

days, because I know what I’ve got to do and<br />

they’re very well aware I know what I’ve got<br />

to do. They don’t really bother me.”<br />

Waiting for Millman at home for most of<br />

his driving years has been his second wife,<br />

Deborah, who, despite being in a potentially<br />

dangerous profession herself — that of a<br />

meat cutter — doesn’t like to ride with him.<br />

That’s more a comment on other drivers<br />

than on Ron’s skills. In fact, she might be<br />

the only person on the planet who was<br />

unsurprised when he turned over 7 million<br />

safe miles in June 2023.<br />

“It’s just another day on the job for him,”<br />

she said.<br />

Asked when he’ll park it for good,<br />

Millman shrugs.<br />

“To be truthful with you, as long as I can<br />

pass the DOT physical, I guess I’ll be there,”<br />

he said. “It’s the only thing I really know<br />

how to do. My wife has asked me a number<br />

of times, ‘Why don’t you get a local job, like<br />

in a grocery store?’”<br />

“But I’m with a good company,” he<br />

continued. “East-West Express is a very<br />

good company, and I told her, ‘If I’m going<br />

to continue to work at my age, I’m going to<br />

do what I enjoy and what I like doing.’”<br />

Until his day arrives, Millman will be out<br />

there, running his route, keeping his head<br />

on a swivel and exercising common sense.<br />

There’s one other thing he does every trip.<br />

“I’m not a real religious guy, but I do<br />

believe that the ‘Man Upstairs’ has looked<br />

after me all these years,” he said. “Back in<br />

2010, I had two heart attacks, back-to-back.<br />

He could have taken me, and he didn’t take<br />

me. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the one<br />

that’s been watching over me.<br />

“Every time I come off the road and into<br />

the yard, the very first thing that I do, I make<br />

sure and look up and say, ‘Thank you, God,<br />

for another safe trip.’ God is my follower.<br />

He watches over me on all these trips. He<br />

always has. That’s why I feel I’ve done so<br />

well at it — because he’s guiding me down<br />

the highway,” Millman concluded. 8


CA<strong>TT</strong>heTrucker 111323 fullpage.qxp_Layout 1 11/12/23 10:16 PM Page 1<br />

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