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Why did I do it?

In the Drivers Seat

In the Drivers Seat

I have been writing my Student Trucker Story on “Ask the Trucker” since October 2008.

Although by October I was in a much different situation because I had moved from the “Team Division” into a Dedicated Solo Fleet beyond the ridiculously unsafe situations my company placed me in during my training.

In this new division I saw very quickly how things should be done. The entire manner of my new fleet was more effective because the communication and professionalism was much better. Partially because the contract DEMANDS it or the contract will be lost.

I was also driving solo finally, not required to drive & live with someone from unknown origins. Continue Reading »

Here is some personal insight on why there is a sudden 2015 “image” of Women in Trucking campaign targeted at women truckers. Perhaps the “image” that needs improvement the most is industry executives, including the women who colluded to cover-up sexual harassment and discrimination in entry-level driver training carriers.

2014 was a year of milestones for the REAL Women in Trucking which was founded in response to the lack of responsible representation from the trucking industry. We finally launched our membership organization and experienced a number of transitions, triumphs,and bittersweet moments. Each achievement, no matter how small has moved us a little closer to the organization we wish to become.

The big news on December 23, 2014 was that an appellate court overturned the $4 Million fee award granted to CRST Van Expedited in the Class Action Sex Harassment Case. Here is the link: “Universal Finding” that EEOC claims against CRST Trucking are without foundation fee award reversed“.

The history of the legal debacle that served injustice to so many aspiring women truckers is worthy of a suspense motion picture script. Here is the synopsis> Poorly educated , disenfranchised women struggling to make a new life for themselves, driven by faith and determination enter truck driver training. They naively believe that if they work hard and show aptitude for the work, they can live a life of freedom from office shackles, the loneliness of empty nest syndrome or escape from toxic relationships. Alas, something sinister is underfoot, a corporate system set up for failure, a training system chock full of internal support that does not work, trainers and co-drivers who are empowered by a weak misconduct reporting system and a female trucking student population that are viewed as “fresh meat” , an opportunity for predators and controls freaks. A potential victim to be isolated for selfish pleasures. Not all of the victims are women, the men rarely report the abuse and the few courageous women that make it through the trucking obstacle course to reach out for help find they are shouted down into silence by seasoned female drivers. Intimidated into silence by female executives and organizations who accept sponsor dollars from the most offensive carriers. The road to becoming a qualified lady truckers becomes an abyss for those who dare to “STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT ON INJUSTICE“. Continue Reading »

M3My response to an article from a recent NPR story about the campaign to lower the age to earn a commercial driver’s license.

See> To Get Big-Rig Drivers, Senate Bill Would Give Keys to Teens

Notice I used the words “earn”.

My answer? No.

My reason > Because, I think CDL licensing should be a graduated process for the adults who are being recruited now. The stages of learning and responsibility should come in phases. I also do not believe that the commercial driver’s license learner’s permit should allow new drivers to also get their hazardous materials endorsement processing before they have even passed the skills test to drive the truck in the first place. It’s unfathomable to me that few people realize this.

Training carriers bring in hundreds of new CDL Trainee’s each week and most of them get poor and unsafe training. For women this sometimes means sex assault. There is no accountability of the mega training carrier’s turnover, there are no exit interviews of the trainees, and there are no caps on how many students can be recruited each year.

The industry that has a despicable 100% turnover rate and congratulates itself when it dips (according to them) to the high 80’s is never asked why it should continue to be fed students of any age when they are not able to be retained. Would you send your child to an academic school that has a failure rate of 80 to 100 percent without wanting to know what the problem is and how it is being corrected?

Why would anyone want to send a student of any age through a training system like this?

In the trucking industry, the solution is to launch a campaign to have access to indoctrinate teenagers. Continue Reading »

MEDIA CONTACT: Kristine M. Gobbo

561-463-0777, Kristine@spectrum-pr.com

REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. Launches to Advocate for Urgently Needed Industry Changes while Supporting Female Truckers

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (February 11, 2015) – The promise of a fresh start and great pay draws thousands of people, including many women, to become truck drivers, but fundamental flaws in the driver recruiting and training process are putting female truckers, and all drivers on major highways, at risk. A newly launched trade association, REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. (RWIT), is working to change the industry from the inside out, and seeks the community’s help to raise awareness and support for issues that put drivers in danger.

RWIT was initially formed in 2010 by female truckers to protest poor conditions that were not being effectively addressed by the trucking industry. The women found the driver training process to be a harrowing experience, as they received little training, even driving tractor-trailers without proper instruction. Worse, training often included being paired with drivers who verbally and physically abused the women, and made aggressive sexual advances. Continue Reading »

Truck from RightOver the past year in addition to finishing college and forming the REAL Women in Trucking organization, I have been completing the Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey Presentation with PDF’s at the bottom of the page that have more information on the open comment questions.

I was working on question 35 regarding “…shippers and receivers who are the most difficult…” at the time of the tragic Walmart truck crash that killed Comedian James McNair and critically injured Actor/Comedian Tracy Morgan and others who were riding with him.

Of course the backlash goes to the lone driver, Kevin Roper. The Walmart truck he was driving was equipped with all the bells and whistles the government says will make trucks safe. The media reported the driver had not slept in 24 hours and the public interpreted this to mean he was driving for 24 hours. Walmart trucks have e-logs, not paper logs. There is also a great deal of unpaid labor time in trucking. Drivers are expected to watch freight be loaded when they should be napping, take their shower breaks and conduct their personal errands that any normal person has, during designated sleep break times. This plus a number of other labor issues that most civilians and legislators just do not want to educate themselves on until a high profile tragedy occurs.

In the days before the crash, the trucking industry was buzzing over calls for the resignation of Anne Ferro from the Federal Motor Carriers Administration. Following the crash, an ill-timed muscle move to suspend the new 34-hour restart rule was made by the American Trucking Association with the help of “friend” Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine). Then I received a call from MSNBC to comment. Although my moment on television was short, I was able to get one point out of my mouth that is an issue that must be addressed to prevent fatigued driving which is truck parking. You can follow this link to see my comments on the NOW with Alex Wagner Program.

Here are some of my other personal observations: Anne Ferro and her research data miss the mark on what causes fatigued drivers. The American Trucking Association is a lobby group that does not represent truck drivers. They represent corporations like Walmart that think of workers as robots. Productivity is the focus of corporations not necessarily safety. This is not something that is socially acceptable so it makes sense that the same corporations that claim safety comes first will silently shift the burden of safety on an individual if they can get away with it. Senator Susan Collins either does not know this or does not care about this. The new 34-hour restart rule is a joke because how it is being implemented and so is the 30 minute break. It is a poorly designed solution made by people who do not care to get out of their comfort zone to see how their rules work in practice. Drivers DO need a break! Unfortunately though, they also need help to stand up against harassment from carriers that insist they keep working even though they are not driving. Truck drivers are considered unskilled labor, employers are not held to the same labor standards in the way they manage productivity from their in-house employees. When a trucker does feel fatigued and must stop for rest, the current federal regulations AND the ones the ATA is fighting for DO NOT allow for enough driver flexibility. Only the driver knows when they need sleep, not the government, not the ATA, not the carriers, not the shippers and receivers. On top of this, when the driver does feel the need to stop and rest there is often no place to stop the truck. This is especially true in the northeast as identified in the “Truck Parking Special Report“.

These are issues that go year after year unresolved though they are well known problems in the trucking industry. Below I have included the text from the most recent PDF compilation that is part of the truck parking survey open comments section. As in the previous sections, Walmart was the most mentioned. My personal hope is that the investigation of the Walmart crash does not focus on one driver, but instead examines an industry, a regulating body and the elected public servants who are not seeing what is as plain as the nose on their face.

Trucks.jpg

Question 35 Below pertains to Shippers and Receivers, HOS, Fatigued Truck Drivers and Safety Continue Reading »

heartA man I knew gave me this poem when I was about 22. It was in a card and he had typed out the words. I was so excited to get the card I snatched it out of his briefcase although he said he had not finished writing in it.

I didn’t care, I wanted to see it right away and so the card was never finished. He died in a helicopter explosion shortly afterwards. I kept that card for years and cried reading many times.

Through all my life turmoil the card was lost but I recently went searching the internet for the words I remembered and found it.

I don’t know who wrote the poem but I read it over and over through the years and it really helped me through some painful chapters of my life. Especially after his sudden death that occurred in such a tragic way. During our brief time of knowing one another he encouraged me to try harder and he told me I was smart. Only two people had ever said that to me in my life by that age so it meant a lot to me because they were smart so I was pretty excited that they thought I was too.

I am 49 now and I have read this poem more times than I can count; still I get something new with it each time I read it. It used to make me cry because it spoke to me that I would always be alone, but now it makes me smile because I made a happy life for myself even when I had nothing or no one. I learned to make myself happy all by myself, to be selective of my close friends, and be able to enjoy simple pleasures. One really important thing I learned is that not all men like smart girls and the ones that don’t are usually boys not men anyways. I hope these words help you as they have helped me.

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…
With every good-bye you learn.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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