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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 »

ooida-with-hopeThis was a significant moment! To arrive with Hope Rivenburg (Jason’s Law) at the OOIDA Headquarters for the final of four regional truck parking coalition meetings held on October 5, 2016.

If you have followed this blog and my social media activity over the past 8 years you will know just how many twists and turns my journey into the trucking industry has taken. Truck parking came to my attention through twitter when an article about a murdered truck driver named Jason Rivenburg was shared with me by a friend I met through social media that had a small Virginia newspaper.

Shortly afterwards I came to know Hope Rivenburg and felt blessed that I could help share news of her campaign to create a safe truck parking bill named after her Husband Jason.

Over the years watching this movement transition from a heartbroken family gathering petition signatures at their local country fair to the day Hope texted me during her first trip to Washington D.C. saying she wished she wore flat shoes because it was “…much bigger than she thought it was…“, I have been inspired.

One person CAN make a difference! Hope Rivenburg is proof of that.

The series of truck parking coalition meetings brought together people who would normally not sit at the same table and have a conversation. I found that there were vast differences in the beginning in understanding terminology between the groups but I felt optimistic following each meeting that most of the people in attendance wanted to identify ways to solve the problem of truck parking shortages.

I say “most” since there were some stakeholders that were absent and should have been represented in these meetings such as the shippers and receivers who dictate strict schedules, representatives from the freight brokerage sector and the trucking carriers of large fleets where drivers have very little experience in locating truck parking outside of their designated fuel stop locations.

lisa-joyce-and-meDo you know that there were only two individuals (2) that attended all four (4) meetings for truck parking? I was one (1) of those people. The other person was Mr. Carl Rundell from “Truck Smart Parking Services“.

Regardless of the absence of some of the major stakeholders,  I was pleased to meet several representatives from the National Association of Truck Stop Owners (NATSO) and be able to better understand where they are coming from with their arguments and statements about truck drivers and trip planning. It was clear that there has been a lack of communication to partner industries in the supply chain when it comes to the needs of the individuals that serve this country each and every day in their work as truck drivers.

Joyce Hibma, the Wife of a truck driver has become an instrumental voice for drivers in the North Bend, Washington truck parking battle. She attended the Salt Lake City coalition with me as a REAL Women in Trucking Mission Support Member. This is a woman who herself is on a mission and she is to be commended for her hard work on behalf of drivers. In Salt Lake City, Joyce and I met Lisa Mullings from NATSO and Caroline Boris Research Analyst from ATRI ( American Transportation Research Institute ).

At the Maryland and Dallas Meetings, Idella Hansen RWIT Treasurer and Pat Hockaday from “Truckers United” attended the coalition meetings which helped place more drivers in the room in order to give real life perspective to solutions.

Lisa Mullings CEO of NATSO remarked during the final meeting at OOIDA Headquarters “Where are the carriers in this conversation? They call themselves “Logistics” companies and they are dictating fuel stops and highway routing in the bigger carriers, Why aren’t they helping their own drivers with parking?

It is a great question and observation since these issues will get worse when mandated ELD’s come to fruition. atri-gal-with-joyce-and-iThe truth is that the inexperienced driver population is more likely to park on highway ramps because they are being run to the minute with their e-logs and many of these drivers do not have knowledge on truck parking outside their fuel routing.

Another issue that emerged was trucking fleets that only fuel at one chain that notoriously does not construct enough truck parking for the area in need which then in turn pushes off overflow to other chains who do not benefit from fuel sales. Pilot Travel, specifically, the “fuel your truck and get out” chain vs. Travel Centers of America, a chain that generally has a larger area to park but not so much a place fleet drivers are authorized to fuel at their locations. What are the reasons for this? Only major carriers can answer this question and drivers can only speculate. This is why carriers should have been part of these discussions.

The truck parking shortage is a problem that still has obstacles and that is where YOU, the reader comes in. In a post I published on the REAL Women in Trucking blog called “How to Take Action on a Local Level for Truck Parking” I’ve explained seven (7) simple steps each one of us can do to help advance this issue and keep the momentum going.

Essentially, we are in a place where despite all of the great ideas that emerged from the four regional truck parking coalition meetings there remains an obstacle. Communities that protest new truck parking that have not been sold on how safe truck parking serves them.

Here is what you need to know and how you can help work toward educating your state freight planners. Currently, All of the states have been tasked by the Federal government to do something they have never been required to do in the past, that is to create a freight plan. States must have an approved freight plan and freight network in place by December 2017 in order to continue to use their freight formula funds that were made available in FAST Act.  See Link: The FAST Act: The Freight Provisions

Truck parking is an eligible activity for FAST Act funds but it is not required. Truck parking is often overlooked as a necessary component to intelligent freight planning. Smart freight plans should be focused on alleviating highway congestion and part of thsleeping-truckat would be assisting truck drivers who must comply with federal hours of service requirements to prevent unsafe operation of a commercial motor vehicle.

  • Truck parking facilitates interstate commerce which must not be impeded by states and local governments
  • Truck parking improves highway safety

Hope Rivenburg has worked tirelessly to make sure that “Jason’s Law” for Safe Truck Parking, an initiative named after her murdered Husband would be recognized by the Federal government as a matter of safety. Hope took immediate and relentless personal initiative to take action for truck drivers.

Hope Rivenburg proved that one person CAN make a difference and she got the ball rolling but now the ball is our court.

Truck drivers must keep this issue relevant and they can do that by helping to write emails and making phone calls to educate state agencies that are not aware that truck parking is an eligible activity for FAST Act funds.

This is a call to action

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Use this link created by Allen Smith to the MPO Interactive Map to locate your State MPO contact information.
  2. Use the SAMPLE LETTER located on the MPO Interactive Map Link as a guide by using “cut and paste” and then revise the letter for your particular region and situation. You can use this link to download a PDF of the SAMPLE LETTER TO STATE AGENCIES. ( This letter is only a sample, it is not to be used verbatim, please personalize it to your situation.
  3. Send a letter, email it or make phone calls to the state agencies you have selected from the MPO Interactive Map to explain the pertinent information in a respectful manner that includes asking if “truck parking is in the freight plan” and if they are aware that “truck parking is an eligible activity for FAST Act funds and it is necessary in their region”.
  4. Identify to these agency heads in your letter or phone call that the funds “can be used on eligible projects until December 2017. After that, they can only use them if they have their freight plan in place”.  (Remember that eligible activities include truck parking and ITS type systems for information sharing and notifications).
  5. You can also help by calling State Motor Carrier Associations to make sure they understand that truck parking is an eligible project and asking them if they know “What’s in the freight plan?” for that State. The goal is to make certain that the agency representative comes away from the conversation with awareness that truck parking is needed and eligible for funds for their state.
  6. If possible, get involved in State and MPO area freight advisory committees.
  7. Ask the State agencies that you contact: “What have you done to improve on Jason’s Law data since the report was published”?

If they have not heard of “Jason’s Law” ask them for their email to share with them the following links.

FHWA DOT Jason’s Law

USDOT “Jason’s Law” Survey Reaffirms Nationwide Truck Parking Needs

Final Advice: Persist with your state by asking the question: “What is in your freight plan?” be tenacious but polite about getting answers.

REMEMBER! There are only 50 States, If you commit to writing at least 2 MPO’s from the interactive map we can make a difference. Stop waiting for everyone else to make a difference for YOU!

Listen to the Replay> Solutions to Improve Truck Parking with Host Allen Smith and Guests Nicole Katsikides Deputy Director of Maryland Department of Transportation Office of Planning and Preliminary Engineering and Desiree Wood President REAL Women in Trucking, Inc.

Much Thanks to Nicole Katsikides for help in drafting this call to action for truck drivers!

with much gratitude,

Desiree Wood

MEDIA CONTACT: Kristine M. Gobbo

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

SpectrumPR

REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. to Host

Inaugural Lady Truck Driver Conference Cruise

 

LAKE WORTH, Fla. (August 16, 2016) – REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. (RWIT) is hosting a conference aboard the Carnival Conquest to unite and honor women in the truck driving industry. The “Queen of the Road on the High Seas” conference, taking place Sunday, March 26 to Saturday, April 1, 2017, will include education sessions on a broad range of topics, including personal safety, discrimination, sexual harassment, and driver health. The agenda also includes a driver advocacy forum, a lady truck driver roundtable and an awards ceremony recognizing women who have overcome obstacles in the truck driving industry. The six-night cruise will depart from Ft. Lauderdale for the Eastern Caribbean with stops at Grand Turk, Dominican Republic and Nassau.

The conference will provide tools for truck drivers while advancing a voice for RWIT and its members. The sessions will include information on improving technical skills for drivers, promoting advocacy through social media, transitioning company drivers to owner-operator, and much more. A forum of truck driver advocates will also discuss issues that affect the industry. Notable speakers include Allen Smith, host of ‘Ask the Trucker;’ Anne Balay, published author of Steel Closets: Voices of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Steelworkers, a former truck driver, and writer of a recent op-ed published in The New York Times “Long-Haul Sweatshops;” and Christine Gray, Becca Kennedy and Shannon Morris, truck drivers, and advocates for the safety and success of women truck drivers.

All interested drivers, professionals within the truck driving industry, and others who encourage and support women truck drivers are invited. Families or significant others are also welcome. The conference schedule has been planned to allow plenty of leisure time to enjoy cruise activities. For those interested in supporting this important event, sponsorship opportunities are available at five levels with details provided at RWIT Lady Truck Driver Conference.

Nominations for outstanding female truck drivers, the “Queen of the Road” awards, are welcome. Awards will be presented to three outstanding women who have demonstrated dedication and tenacity in their efforts to become professional commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators. Nominees must either be past or present CMV drivers that fit the R.E.A.L. criteria, which stands for Reaching Out, Encouraging Others, Achieving Personal Success and Leadership. Nominations will be accepted beginning Thursday, September 1 with a deadline of Monday, November 7, 2016.

“This conference is important to our efforts of ‘breaking the silence’ about the treatment of women in the trucking industry.” said Desiree Wood, one of RWIT’s founders. “At the conference, we hope to provide the tools women need to be more successful in their chosen field.  Along with information sessions, participants will have the opportunity to network with fellow drivers. Learning from one another and unifying on important issues is one of our primary goals.”

RWIT was initially formed in 2010 as a 501(c)(6) membership organization by female truckers to protest poor conditions that were not being effectively addressed by the trucking industry. “Queen of the Road on the High Seas” is the organization’s first fundraising event. Proceeds will help establish a 501(c)(3) foundation which will provide a headquarters and facilities with modest truck parking availability for members, scheduled learning conferences and advanced training for entry-level driver training students to develop their skills.

For more information, contact Desiree Wood at 561-232-9170 or info@realwomenintrucking.org, or visit http://www.realwomenintrucking.org/. Follow RWIT on Twitter: @womentruckers.

 

– RWIT –

About REAL Women in Trucking, Inc.:

REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. promotes safety by educating the public about unsafe truck driver training and has created a network of support for women entering trucking. The mission of REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. is to deliver highway safety through leadership, mentorship, education and advocacy.

TwitterSocial Media has given a voice to individuals and this includes truck drivers that recognize arguing with one another solves nothing, BUT united efforts when there is a call to action DOES.
We learned between 2009 and 2013 that Facebook posts and Twitter posts directly to elected officials pages could elicit a response since these posts are public and ignoring them is bad social media etiquette (manners).
We also learned that there are many elected officials who seem to be in the pocket of the trucking lobby.
Too often the truck drivers with their limited ability to get accurate timely information while they are out on the road miss deadlines to make critical calls , send letters or an email to their elected officials on important legislation that can affect their livelihood.
In an attempt to educate truck drivers on how to use social media in addition to calling their elected officials to either oppose or support legislation, we wanted to provide you with a few pointers. With the link below you can find tips on calling your elected officials when you see a “Call To Action” that indicates your immediate attention is required to work together for a united cause that affects the truck driver population.
See Link: “Tips for Calling Your Member of Congress”. Remember to ask for the “Transportation Staffer”. Sometimes the person on the phone will take the information themselves. Give your directive on the purpose of your call as detailed in the link I have provided. They should ask for your zip code and you should be prepared to state what bill or amendment and the section you are calling about and which way you want the elected official to vote on it.
If you do not know who your elected representative is you can look them up with this link using your zip code:
Once you have located the name of your representative, you can either call the main Capitol Switchboard 202–224-3121 to be connected to their offices or look up their direct number with this link: Office of the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives
I suggest you keep the number programmed in your phone for future “Call To Action” events that we post on our Facebook page “REAL Women in Trucking, Inc.” and you should look up your Senators numbers as well. Find Your Senator
Since trucking is heavily regulated it is important to become familiar with the members of the very powerful Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Some of the members of this committee have deep “friendships” with the trucking lobby.
Truck drivers must realize that the trucking lobby does not serve truck drivers, they serve the carriers that pay them to lobby against things like better pay, more safe truck parking and intelligent hours of service that would be safer for truck driver flexibility.
Unfortunately elected officials do not want to hear from people that are not their constituents (people whose votes affect them) through their websites and office lines. This makes them very insulated from how the trucking lobby is hurting the truck drivers with their persuasive techniques.
This is why social media is a powerful tool for truck drivers.
If you are on Twitter or Facebook you can publicly voice your opposition or support regardless of where your voting jurisdiction is located. I suggest you use hashtags in these posts that include the state abbreviation and #politics #congress #senate just to name a few since many people outside trucking follow these tweet timelines.
You can always just commit yourself to “ReTweeting” the posts from our @WomenTruckers tag when you see that we are participating in a “Call To Action”. The objective is to create a ruckus that cannot be ignored. Elected officials do not like controversy. They often do not like the public to become educated on whom they are “in bed”.
Below I have compiled a list of Twitter tags of all members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
During a “Call To Action” not only should you call your elected representatives by phone, you should tweet them directly and/or post on Facebook to their official page even when they are not in your election zip code to let them know of your position. This will also educate people who ARE in their voting zip code know about legislation that is going on behind closed doors and they might begin to support our causes locally.
When just a few truck drivers and their supporters work together to “ReTweet” and share these posts in social media it brings much needed attention to prevent underhanded lobbying.
I hope you will all use these twitter tags for upcoming “Call To Action” alerts and please refrain from profanity and threats when making your posts.
Here is the list:
Twitter Tags for the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee @Transport
 Members:
@RepBillShuster PA (he is the head of this committee)
Alphabetically with a state abbreviation hashtag
@RepDonYoung #AK
@RepRickCrawford #AR
@RepKirkpatrick #AZ
@RepMimiWalters #CA
@Rep_Hunter #CA
@GraceNapolitano #CA
@RepGaramendi #CA
@RepJeffDenham #CA
@Rep_JaniceHahn #CA
@RepHuffman #CA
@JuliaBrownley26 #CA
@RepEsty #CT
@EleanorNorton #DC
@RepCurbelo #FL
@RepJohnMica #FL NOTE: John Mica has protected tweets & does not LISTEN on twitter. This is a sign of arrogance and lack of transparency. Regardless, I tweet to his tag and use the @Congressdotgov tag along with it so someone hears what I am saying to him
@RepCorrineBrown #FL
@LoisFrankel #FL
@RepWebster #FL
@RepRobWoodall #GA
@RodneyDavis #IL
@RepLipinski #IL
@RepBost #IL
@RepCheri #IL
@RepAndreCarson #IN
@ToddRokita #IN
@RepThomasMassie #KY
@RepGarretGraves #LA
@MikeCapuano #MA
@RepCummings #MD
@RepDonnaEdwards #MD
@CandiceMiller #MI
@RepSamGraves #MO
@USRepRickNolan #MN
@RepLeeZeldin #NY
@RepJerryNadler #NY
@RepRichardHanna #NY
@RepJohnKatko #NY
@RepSeanMaloney #NY
@RepSires #NJ
@RepLoBiondo #NJ
@RepDavidRouzer #NC
@RepMarkMeadows #NC
@RepHardy #NV
@RepDinaTitus #NV
@RepBobGibbs #OH
@RepPeterDeFazio #OR
@RepLouBarletta #PA
@RepRyanCostello #PA
@RepScottPerry #PA
@RepSanfordSC #SC
@RepJohnDuncanJr #TN
@RepCohen #TN
@RepBrianBabin #TX
@RepEBJ #TX
@Farenthold #TX
@RepComstock #VA
@RepRickLarsen #WA
@RepRibble #WI
Here are a few extras:
Congress @Congressdotgov
@GOPOversight @Jasoninthehouse #UT
@HouseJudiciary @RobGoodlatte #VA
Thanks for your help!
Sincerely,
Desiree Wood
President


crst truck rolloverWhat do you think?
 Would it be okay with you if people just learning to drive, that held only a learners permit and who had little to zero highway experience, could legally operate an 80,000 lb. vehicle for work in a 24/7 operation while their “on-the-job” instructor slept and was not sitting in the front passenger seat to observe and teach them?

That is a pretty scary thought, isn’t it?

Unknowingly to many, this is exactly what is happening within the trucking industry TODAY.

Does it sound safe to you?  Whether the learners permit holder is a teenager, a newly licensed adult or a commercial learner permit (CLP) holder, a written test is all that an individual is required to pass in order to receive any kind of learner’s permit. It is only a permit to learn the driving portion requirements for the designated license with an instructor; it does not signify the ability or aptitude to drive. While a finals skills test is the ticket for a CLP holder to become a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder, it does not mean that the individual actually knows how to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) moving real paying freight loads on the open highway.

Background on CDL training for CMV drivers:
For over 20 years, many within the trucking industry have been seriously concerned about the entry level training standards for CMV drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is the regulating body over the trucking industry has also recognized that there is a lack proper training standards.

In 2014 the FMCSA announced that there was need to establish truck driver training standards since few requirements were in existence. They established the Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC) to conduct a negotiated rulemaking on entry-level training for drivers of commercial motor vehicles.

See more at: “About the Entry-Level Driver Training Committee
The ELDTAC committee is still working on a rule to IMPROVE training standards.   Ironically, CRST Van Expedited of Cedar Rapids, Iowa has requested an exemption from the FMCSA in regards to the very same existing training procedures which are in question by the FMCSA that are making our national highways less safe rather the improving safety. While it may seem obvious that the FMCSA would soundly reject such a request, the truth is that they have granted another carrier in the same class as CRST this type of exemption despite broad public opposition. The exemption request letter submitted by CRST Van Expedited of Cedar Rapids, Iowa to the FMCSA asks to grant permission so that CRST commercial learner permit CLP holders may operate a tractor-trailer while another CDL Holder is in the truck but not in the passenger seat. In the letter that CRST Van Expedited wrote to the FMCSA, they stated that the CLP holder will have completed a skills test which would entitle the student to return to their home state to receive their actual hard copy commercial driver’s license CDL but they claim that it is a financial hardship for them to do this, and that they are losing “control” of the student. Therefore, CRST is requesting a safety exemption. CRST goes on to request that the FMCSA allow them to let the CLP holder be able to drive on the learner permit for the duration that it is valid, which can be several months.

Please understand something: CRST Van Expedited operates a “team driving” business model. This means that they have established customers who want their freight moved 24/7 without stopping for sleep breaks. That means that the entire operation is based on freight moving fast. Student truckers work from day one at CRST to make a profit for CRST. These students often choose CRST because they cannot afford to pay for truck driving school on their own and they want to learn to drive a truck. They agree to repay their tuition in exchange to learn on the job. The debt they incur to CRST is about $6500.00 which is comprised of food, lodging and instruction to become a qualified truck driver.

The internet is littered with complaints about CRST Van Expedited training practices, they are easy to find, just Google “CRST Complaints” and start reading.

This morning I spoke to a female trucker who is still in her 1st year of trucking. She has finally been able to get out of the clutches of CRST Van Expedited. I told her about the exemption request and she said none of it made sense to her because she came to them with her hard copy CDL in hand which meant she had only driven around the block a few times at her CDL School in Florida. She said the testers at the state facility included a former CRST employee who was really easy to pass students. She said there were people being sent on public transportation (Greyhound) back and forth before they were even hired for things like not having a background clearance by the company before arriving at their facility, so why is CRST claiming a “financial hardship” to send their graduate CLP student’s home on public transportation in the exemption letter to the FMCSA?

Here are a few other things I learned from this student:

There is no pay during CDL training while they are a CLP holder. The student is charged for lodging and food in addition to the tuition.  The students are told the tuition repayment will be $40 a check but in reality it is $80.00 a week since they are paid twice a week. The first few weeks the students have no check at all so they are pretty broke and their personal bills are going unpaid. In her case it was about 5 weeks before she got her first check.

So how much is the pay? She said it was about .24 CPM range but that amount was split so she got about .12 cents per mile. If you are not a trucker you may not understand the way many truck drivers are paid which is only when the wheels are turning and mostly not every single mile at that! Here is an example: her first week she did about 2400 miles with her trainer so let’s do some simple math:  2400 miles x .13 CPM = $312.00 gross pay. Let’s say her taxes were about $18.15 and take out her $80.00 tuition payment:   $312.00 – $18.15 – $80.00 = $213.85 net pay after going 5 weeks of no pay and letting her bills get behind.

She said that her and her trainer did a lot of sitting since her trainer was pretty unmotivated, an owner operator that got paid by the load. Still, she had been away from home all of this time so technically she was at work 24/7. If they had been running team miles she could log legally 70 hours and so could her trainer.

When I asked her how much time her trainer sat in the passenger seat supervising her, she said none. She said that when she got on her trainer’s truck she drove from day one at night until after midnight unsupervised which was technically against company policy. Is this an isolated incident? Not according to the vast driver complaints available on the internet from past CRST students.

This particular student ended up quitting CRST after a number of unsafe situations occurred. The problem though was that she wanted to keep driving someplace else and no one would hire her because she left CRST before her debt to them was repaid. Remember, they bill each student like her $6500.00 for their “training”, food and lodging.

For months she tried to get hired at other carriers but when the prospective employers heard the letters “CRST” they said they could not hire her. She had been blacklisted.

It took threatening litigation for some of the things that were done to her to get CRST to release her from her contract to them. She wants to drive and work, not sue the carrier, nor does she want to be blacklisted by the trucking industry.

When I applied what I learned from her to the letter CRST wrote to the FMCSA for an exemption to safety I saw that CRST wants to control more students who quit on them before they have repaid their debt rather than address their poor training and they want the federal government to help them do that.

The “Skills Test” that CRST claims makes the CLP holder qualified to drive on is only a test after just a few weeks of driving the truck at a fenced in yard and going around the block a few times. It is not open road 18 wheeler driving experience with passenger cars whipping and weaving around you and cutting you off.

Of course CRST is entitled to get their tuition investment back from the students they are sponsoring but if those students are not really getting the instruction they thought they were paying for and they are scared to death by the situations they are being placed in they probably do not feel they should have to pay for an education they did not get.

Let’s all understand that a written test is all that is required to issue a commercial learner permit CLP. The FMCSA itself confirms that a few weeks of instruction does not constitute qualified truck driving for the open highway.

Student/Trainees overwhelmingly report that they are pushed to drive “team” right after passing a their “skills test” but some say that there was methodical coaching given to them during the test and that they really didn’t understand what they were doing to the extent that they could operate the truck alone.

The exemption request letter from CRST to the FMCSA asks to legally sanction CLP holders who have passed such a “Skills Test” and who have no open road driving experience to operate the truck with another Commercial Driver’s License CDL holder that is not required to be in the passenger seat. The exemption request letter does not specify if the CDL holder would be a trainer. Since CRST is known to allow two students to do team-driving I think this is important to clarify.

CRST claims in the letter to be seeking the exemption to safety due to financial hardship for transporting CLP holder’s home on a Greyhound bus to get their hard copy CDL.  They go on to claim that the exemption will be a “…equivalent level of safety that is greater or equal to the level of safety provided under the current regulations…” though they offer no data, studies, safety statistics or financial documentation to support such remarks.

One part of the letter mentions a “…severe shortage of qualified and well-trained drivers…”, though the CRST business model is not reliant on qualified and well-trained drivers to move their freight. Instead, they rely on new entrants who are a low wage, exploitable workforce with very little truck driving skill that are indebted to them in exchange for an education to become qualified drivers. They are also not producing a significant number of well-trained qualified drivers from their program.

Another concern I see in the exemption request is that CRST asks the FMCSA to allow the CLP holders to drive in a team driving situation with another “CDL holder” for potentially as long as the CLP is valid which can be several months.

This could create an obstacle for the student later if they decide to quit. These are students who have been away from home already for several weeks with no pay. They are entitled to some home time. The argument CRST presents in the exemption letter about delays at state DMV facilities for students to get appointments makes no sense to whether the “CDL Holder” should be in the passenger seat supervising or in the sleeper not supervising them. This has no impact on how fast someone can get an appointment at a State DMV.

What this exemption can do is help CRST control student truckers who have a tuition debt to them. It can prevent students who are being trained in an unsafe manner from quitting and going to work someplace who will train them the right way to be a qualified driver. It can make them more un-hirable elsewhere since they really do not have their CDL yet. It encourages student truckers to be unsafe because they have no other choice and it increases CRST Van Expedited profits.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is supposed to be overhauling the entry-level driver training system to improve safety standards, therefore they must not grant such exemptions that degrade and compromise safety for certain carriers like CR England who they have already granted this exemption despite broad opposition and CRST Van Expedited who both operate a “Team Driving” business model using student trucker labor.

If you believe the FMCSA should NOT grant this exemption to CRST Van Expedited, please sign this petition on “We the People” and do not forget to validate your signature by checking your email after you sign and clicking the correct link that will validate your email address. If you did not get a validation email please check your spam folder for it.

Thanks for Reading.

Desiree Wood

President

REAL Women in Trucking, Inc.

You can read the actual letter CRST Van Expedited wrote to the FMCSA to request this exemption with this link:

Request Letter for Exemption to Safety by CRST Van Expedited to FMCSA

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 »