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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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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.

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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

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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 (more…)

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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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A national truck parking survey has been launched by Hope Rivenburg that aims to collect data for the research mandate that was included in the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) highway bill.

If you are a truck driver I encourage you to take 15 minutes today to complete this survey, AND share it to other drivers that you know or come in contact with. If you are in operations, please share the link with your fleet. Share it on your Facebook page, twitter stream, email it, and help other drivers get access to the survey who would like to participate. You can always email me or Hope and we will email or text it back to you. Survey Link. ( Email: hope.rivenburg@gmail.com or truckerdesiree@gmail.com )

The collection of driver information is crucial to prepare an accurate assessment of the current state of truck parking from the end-users themselves.

Hope Rivenburg as you should recall is the widow of truck driver Jason Rivenburg who was murdered in 2009. Her husband had experienced parking issues and truck stop crime in the past. He decided to keep rolling to his destination in South Carolina to deliver milk.

The receiver of this milk would not provide parking for Jason or accept the delivery early. This is a common issue for truck drivers that contend with strict appointments and remote destinations where they are unwelcome to park for rest once loaded or unloaded regardless of their HOS restrictions.

Jason parked at an abandoned gas station and was shot for $7.00. His Wife Hope was pregnant with twins at the time; the couple already had a 2 year old son. That was four years ago and Hope Rivenburg has not stopped fighting for safe truck parking since, even though her husband is gone forever. (more…)

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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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Mainstream media seems to go into “truck driver shortage” blitz mode shortly after any political discussions occur on the nightly news about current job numbers and unemploymant rates.

Few people understand that favorable tax incentives, subsidies, state and local job training grant programs are incentives for truck driver training carriers to cash in. When you see these hysterical reports you should recognize that what is really going on is a positioning for a money grab.

There is no incentive to create qualified drivers, but there is an incentive to create turnover.

We have created a corporate welfare program for big trucking and this has sacrificed safety, good judgement,  ethical recruiting and contributes to high turnover. There is little accountability for the lack of retention. This is directly related to mis-management and corporate greed.

Very few qualified truck drivers ever emerge from training carriers , yet these same carriers reap rewards from favorable job programs, high interest tuition loans and selling novice drivers on lease owner operator situations where they are set up to fail from day one.

Qualified drivers begin with qualified truck driving candidates who are prepared for the challenge of living the life of a truck driver. Carrier trade groups like the American Trucking Association who continually report a shortage of “Qualfied” truck drivers take little responsibility that the training carriers they aggressively represent in Washington D. C. produce few qualified drivers , yet recruit many unqualified candidates. Any trainer who has quit training for fear of their life will atest to this.

Until initiative is taken to examine how a person off the street is sold the “dream” of becoming an “over the road” truck driver, which is an entry level position into the industry, this qualified driver safety issue cannot be resolved. (more…)

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In June I received a call from some veteran Women Truck Drivers who had grown weary of waiting for any significant issues to be addressed by the non-profit organization called “Women in Trucking”.  They had grown increasingly upset that the credentials for some of the Women representing the organization were less than accurate.

For five years they, like myself have seen nothing but Facebook and Twitter posts thanking sponsor after sponsor for joining up and providing funds to the organization without anything solid to list as achievements for change or to foster an atmosphere of inclusion.

Yes, President Ellen Voie’s salary has more than doubled which has apparently afforded her the luxury to buy herself a plane and throw a public tattoo party for less than a dozen others but what about the female truck drivers who thought she going to lead the charge to have them recognized with respect?

While offensive WIT carrier member sponsors like CRST Van Expedited continue to have allegations about them on their unethical lease programs, the massive sex harassment case, plus a million dollar judgment against them for former female trainee, Karen Shank they still have not implemented any intelligent system for students in distress to find assistance from a qualified person.

CR England, who I wrote about abandoning a female student two years ago became a Women in Trucking member after I made public the incident on the http://www.REALWomeninTrucking.com blog and “Real Women Truckers” Facebook page with the help of other veteran drivers. Ellen Voie did not reach out to the abandoned female who was then living in her car in a Wal-Mart parking lot following her CR England training experience but she did reach out to CR England for sponsor dollars. Have they changed their ways? Not according to a recent trainee who was cornered by her phase two male trainer and stated that she never heard of Women in Trucking before I asked her how the incident was handled on a recent Women Truckers Network Weekly phone conference.

This morning I met another recent CR England female student who alleges that she was asked to run hazardous materials when she did not hold a hazardous materials endorsement, she has been driving less than 6 months. She also told me that she had been shut down for running bad equipment by the DOT but told by CR England to roll anyways. She is now at another carrier and was able to get out of her lease contract by threatening breach of contract due to the poor equipment. Still, she said she has lost her car because of the poor pay and other conditions she experienced since entering truck driver training. She told me that she picked up a recruiting magazine and saw a female trainer she recognized in a CR England advertisement that she actually had as a trainer. This female student claimed the female trainer spoke more about her boyfriend woes than providing good training to her. We talked about how important good female mentors are and why the Women Truckers Network is so important for Women entering truck driving.

No appropriate sexual misconduct training is being offered at training carriers although volumes of free material has been sent directly to these carriers and to Ellen Voie personally over the past 5 years. Much of the material from working female drivers employed at training carriers who have the most high profile issues with sexual misconduct and are sponsor/members of Women in Trucking.

So what became of all the free material? The only thing produced that we can identify has been an ultra-secret anti-harassment document that is only available to the highest paying sponsor members. Free material was offered and now it is only for sale?

Personal safety of women entering truck driver training should not be for sale to the highest bidder, it should be free to all who want the information. Ellen Voie was provided free material for the good of all drivers and to protect Women entering truck driver training so that they could be safe and successful. It was given in good faith that Ellen Voie would do the ethical thing but she has failed to deliver.

Truck carriers have a requirement for Smith System classes and recertification for hazardous materials knowledge but in the year 2012, the year of the “War on Women” political football, a sexual harassment policy and teaching session as to what that means exactly is still non-existent although different genders are supposed to live and work together in a box the size of an elevator.

Ellen Voie made in clear in her Question and Answer on the Real Women in Trucking blog that WIT is NOT a driver organization, yet she has persisted to assemble Women drivers in her annual photograph to use for promotional materials. Each year, her personal income increases even though the number of Women truck drivers has decreased at her event. Is it because some have begun to realize they are being tricked to stand for a photograph that permits Ellen to use their image to garner more income for herself without doing anything to help the female driving population?

I attended the 1st Salute to Women behind the Wheel and I brought 2 other Women with me. One who was a former CDL holder but had no valid driving credential at the time of the event. The other Woman was never a CDL holder. Both were offered the chance to attend the Salute to the Woman behind the Wheel.

One was given an award for having over a million safe miles, though no one checked her credentials to validate her claim or if she even had a valid driving credential at all. The second Woman caused a disagreement in the Women in Trucking booth because she had previously made derogatory comments about Ellen Voie’s credentials to represent Women in any capacity.  While I agreed with the observation, it was true that this Woman was not an actual truck driver. (Ellen Voie has never been a truck driver but got a CDL and wrote a book about it, she has yet to pull an actual load) I clarified that the second Woman was not ever a CDL holder at the event but the second Woman was determined to be recognized despite her cloudy credentials.

The truth though was that the credentials for many of the Women, including those in top honored spots have been in question since the first event and subsequent events. Miles have not verified, credentials were not checked, nor safety records. This information comes from my own personal experience and private conversations with the three Women in the front row of the photo widely used to promote Ellen Voie’s non-profit organization. There is no way to tell how many of the Women are actual CDL holders or if they are spouses of truck drivers because no accurate credential records were kept yet the photo was supposed to be for the Guiness world record which would invalidate it if there had been enough Women standing for the photo.

These Women stood for the photo because they thought they were making history and now many feel duped. I spoke to the people a Guinness World records recently and I am convinced no adequate procedure was followed at any Salute to the Women behind the Wheel event to appropriately validate the credentials to break a record to assemble the most female truck drivers.

The three Women in the front row of the photo from the 1st salute confirmed this to me from their experience with the event. Two are founders of the “Women Truckers Network” Weekly free phone conference events and the other is Ingrid Brown.

Women in Trucking has become a “buy a logo” non-profit organization and sadly this negates the integrity of any carrier who is associated with one of the carriers that are recently engaged in sexual harassment litigation that include rape and assault allegations in training.

Ellen Voie has persisted to seek Department of Justice Violence against Women grants for more funding to her organization when it is her sponsors that commit the most reported violence against women entering truck driver training.

Madeleine Albright Quote: “There’s a place in Hell reserved for women who don’t help other women.”

My question: What about Women who use other Women?

 

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