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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

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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

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happy-sad-faces

The following post includes excerpts of a graded class project I wrote for a non-profit fundraising class on the questionable ethics of non-profits. I received an “A”.

The topic was an analysis of the WIT organization and I will be publishing more such graded paper excerpts in the coming weeks.

I hope you will take the time to consider my observations.

The Women in Trucking Organization (WIT), is designated as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit.

Mission: Women In Trucking was established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry.

The organization website states they are an active group that finds opportunities to promote the accomplishments of women in the industry. While the organization states the mission is to represent Women, membership is open to both Men and Women who currently work in the industry or those seeking to enter it.

The WIT website states that supporting the organization helps them to provide needed resources to encourage Women to become employed in the trucking industry, and that membership dues will help motivate” the transportation industry to look at any obstacles that might prevent Women and Men from entering and remaining in trucking. Some of the items mentioned that WIT has determined to be obstacles are restroom facilities at loading docks and ergonomically designed truck cabs.
In a recent article the President of the WIT organization stated that she would not come between drivers and carriers. (Jakl, 2013) (more…)

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Pretty Amazing!!!  Seeing how I have been on a blogging hiatus for most of 2011 this blog continues to be read. I will be posting some updates in 2012 and appreciate the responses.

I am esspecially happy when someone writes to tell me that they saved themselves money or were able to make better choices and/or fight back at truck driver training carriers who were attempting to mislead them.

I am glad to put 2011 behind me … Here is the WORD .. from WordPress.

Cheers!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2011. 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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I just returned from Memphis where I gave a seminar called “Social Media and Women Truckers’ at the 1st Annual Memphis Truck Expo.

Two rather broad topics but I decided to include them in one presentation to illustrate the following:

  1. How powerful social media has been for social justice issues.
  2. To demonstrate how influential individuals can be in social media.
  3. To emphasize that persistently covering up issues related to women truckers and to those women entering the industry will eventually come back to haunt carriers who are permitting it to occur.

In the past few months I have been contacted by a number of Social Media Experts & “Guru’s” who have been consulting with various trucking industry entities who are looking to launch social media campaigns.

For someone outside of the trucking industry who is doing research , odds are they will find one of the outspoken social media truckers.

Here is the problem for the trucking industry:

Social Media cannot be “Controlled” the way mainstream media and advertising has been in the past. The trucking industry has been very slow to understand this.

When I spoke to contacts in supply chain / logistics to let them know about my presentation the response was: “Good, someone needs to tell them because they do not get it.

What this person meant was “Transparency” is what the trucking industry does not get. Saying you are being transparent can just as easily mean you are being a transparent liar but for someone who has never had to do business with all cards on the table this concept is difficult to grasp.

The power of social media is enormous. The first thing the trucking industry needs to recognize is that size does not matter. If your organization does not participate in listening and problem solving you are irrelevant.

Isn’t that logistics?

Unless you have a commitment to positive transparency you will fail in social media. Until the trucking industry can digest that transparency can be positive or negative, I do not recommend wasting any money launching a campaign that will fall flat.

If carriers cannot take the heat in a public forum to have their money source (Shippers) see how they treat employees (Drivers) or how they permit drivers to conduct themselves in public they will have a big problem in social media.

Currently, there are a number of mainstream media projects in development that will feature women truckers. This will inevitably create a recruiting boom for the unethical.

By creating the presentation called “Social Media & Women Truckers”, my hope is to help others in the trucking industry understand that corporate responsibility begins with each and every individual.

What I have referred to as my “Social Media Experiment” to see if one person could have a voice and make an impact is now complete.  I achieved my goal BUT I will continue to create a path for others who are searching for accurate information to enter this industry, at least until I see others stepping up to do the right thing.

Unfortunately, Women are still frequently being harmed during their training period, and violence against women in many areas of the trucking industry remains an issue. I will continue to use my social media presence to raise awareness of this fixable problem.

Ironically, Women Truckers to those outside and away from the trucking industry are admired. The image of a woman trucker is held in high esteem as a symbol of resiliency and strength. I have received emails from parents telling me that they hope their Daughters would grow up to be strong like I am, from old ladies telling me to keep talking and heard from Fathers of Daughters who are eager to see who will step up and make the necessary changes to create a more professional environment in the trucking industry.

I’d like to walk away now but it would be irresponsible to do that when few others are stepping forward. Women truckers carry a silent secret, they know others are being harmed in this industry and the truth is it’s best to not get involved for fear of retaliation. Other drivers, both Men and Women have been told “stay out of it” and targeted for retaliation for trying to stick up for someone who has been harmed, this is wrong. This mob mentality, prison inmate mentality, street gang mentality, religion based fanatic mentality must stop. The people being hurt,  retaliated against, shunned are the children of someone.

To me, being silent is not okay when someone is being harmed.

Looking the other way is NOT okay!

One person can have an impact and individual drivers participating in social media have seen this is true.

I will be sharing my presentation called “Social Media & Women Truckers” as a series of posts in the coming weeks on the self help website “Real Women In Trucking

I have included a preview here called:

What are you Sponsoring?”

Sponsoring Diversity is great, but do your homework. Are you sponsoring a cover up, an advocate or simply looking for a smoke screen to ease the impact of impending litigation? Violence against women is an issue worldwide. Silence equals an endorsement of violence in some male dominated industries.
 
 

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You can get Congress to Act regarding PickensPlan at pickensplan.com/act

pickensplan #virtualmarch

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    I have only been a Trucker for a little over a year or so before I become “De-Sensitized” to this New World I’m writing about what I see and hear. Like you, I had a lot of “Pre-Conceived” notions about Truckers. After all, the only time a Non-Trucker hears about Truckers is when they are pissed off OR, they crashed into something.
    Hearing about Truckers before I became a Trucker meant nothing to me.
    My first impressions were; “They sure complain a lot!” Pretty hard to feel sympathy or even pay attention when the only image you get is negative. As I began my training & began living the life of an “OTR – Over the Road” Trucker, I quickly saw how disrespected these American Workers are treated.
    The hardships I encountered during my nightmarish training period which I write about on:
    “Ask the Trucker – A Day I the Life of a Lady Trucker” are only a fraction of how poorly these individuals are regarded in this Country.

    http://www.askthetrucker.com/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-lady-trucker/
    Telling my story to Truckers is like “Preaching to the Choir”, the task at hand is to tell Non-Truckers to help effect a Change to the Trucking Industry. The reason there are Bad Truckers is because they are cultivated by the way the Industry Operates. As long as the bad image of the American Trucker can be instilled in our psyche, Lobby Groups and Government will make poor choices affecting Truckers.

    Non-Truckers don’t relate to Truckers, but they are curious about Truckers at the same time.
    When I arrived on Twitter, I was taken aback by how some unlikely people told me “It was their Secret Dream to be a Trucker” I was busily sending Tweets about my chief complaints about Industry failures and the Government Funds perpetuating it all the while I was receiving fan mail about the romantic life I was living from office dwellers that were yearning to tear off their pantyhose and join me for a road trip across our beautiful country! I was also being asked the same questions about Truckers.
    What a stroke of luck for me! Avenues to spread my message by answering the number one complaint by Non-Truckers, or “4-Wheelers” as Truckers call them on the CB.
    So instead of answering the same 3 questions in 140 characters or less every day I decided to share my answers here, in a place that is predominately Non-Truckers.
    First, I have to say that Truckers dislike “4-Wheelers” because” 4-Wheelers” are oblivious to how close to death they are each day by lingering around Big Trucks
    Now, this is sort of funny to me because at some point all Truckers will have to ride in a “4-Wheeler” so embracing this idea to dislike them does not serve any sort of real purpose.
    Furthermore, that opinion does not represent a Professional Driver. There is a huge difference.
    We ALL must share the same highway; neither of us is going anywhere, so how about getting to know each other better?
    Tolerance, Education these things can help us have safer highways.
    So, here is the number one question I have been asked by Non-Truckers about Truckers:
    Why do Trucks pull out in front of me when I am about to pass them?
    This is an Excellent Question because before I drove a Truck I used to get aggravated to no end about this!
    Consider this:
    Trucks are all different weights because the Freight they are carrying for example: Bottled Water, Paper Rolls being sent for Recycling, Rolls of Carpet is very heavy.
    Trucks have Cruise Control; most people do not realize this.
    Many Truck s are also “Governed”, that means they only go “up to” a certain speed, mine goes only up to 63 mph. This is especially true of Big Companies for Fuel Efficiency but it affects a driver’s pay also because we only get paid for the miles we drive, not for time working.
    Governed Speeds are the reason you see groups of trucks on the highway seemingly riding each other’s tail. They are too closely governed and cannot pass each other. Sometimes, they are faced with a decision that they will have to lose their momentum by hitting the brakes because they are inching up on the Truck or Vehicle in front of them, even though they cannot go too much faster to pass them.
    For instance, there are some large companies I know I can overtake, and some I need to lay back or it will take me a half an hour to pass them. By breaking my cruise control, my momentum I lose fuel efficiency and I also may struggle to regain my full speed, especially if I have a heavy load that will require downshifting to get the Truck pulling us forward again.
    All this is occurring when I see a car coming up in my side view mirror, they are hesitating or they are not really going fast enough to pass me before my heavy load will begin pulling me back or pushing me forward into the bumper of another.
    I have to use my best judgment of ‘Time & Distance” & that sometimes require me to make the executive decision to pull out in front of you. If I slam on my brakes, I may cause an accident that could involve many lives. The best advice I can offer you as the driver of a “4-Wheeler”, is be observant you’re “Time & Distance” before trying to pass a Big Truck who is being placed in sudden merge of oncoming traffic or getting too close to the vehicles in front of it which may force them to change lanes. Trucks have a difficult time seeing “4-Wheelers” so do not linger around them. Get by them if you need to but do it safely and quickly so you are not hindering them from moving out of the way of other traffic that you cannot see, but they can.
    If they pull out in front of you it’s not to antagonize you, it’s because the weight is affecting the speed and safe distance in front of them. This can happen rather quickly if the road has any incline to it.
    Be patient, we are trying to deliver you new Plasma Screen, Backyard Bar-B-Que, Children’s Play Set, Organic Food, Dog’s New Bed and much more.
    I hope this helps.
    I have two other common questions but that’s all for now.
    Twonk! Twonk!

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