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April 2016

Posted By Kelly Snyder, Friday, April 1, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Are We Really Deregulated? – In a “deregulated” industry, it is amazing how much time and energy we spend discussing trucking regulations.  Federal safety regulations, such as hours of service or safety ratings, garner the lion’s share of our attention. Equally important but less visible is the role the STATE plays regarding driver and vehicle regulations. 

States Control Credentials – Under our federal system, driver and vehicle credentialing is a state function.  While states work cooperatively to create uniformity, like the International Fuel Tax Agreement, they retain the right to issue the credential and manage the process.  It is in the managing of the process where things can and do break down.

DVS Makes it Happen – As the name describes, the Driver and Vehicle Services Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety handles those critical credentialing function for all cars, trucks and their drivers.  Of all the member requests we receive for assistance, most involve this agency.  It is not because the agency is doing such a bad job. On the contrary, the agency generally receives good marks from our members.  However, when a problem does arise it can stop everything dead in tracks.

All Good Deeds – In response to voter experiences with the agency, the legislature frequently passes legislation in an attempt to improve how DVS serves the citizens. However, even good intentions by the legislature can have unintended consequences for the trucking industry.  One case in point is regarding road tests.  2015 was the first year DVS implemented a legislative mandate requiring the agency to offer all Class D road tests within two weeks.  The demand for such tests soar in the summer, especially in the metro.  Such demand can and does displace CDL slots.

Feedback Sought - DVS is high on customer service and wants to hear from the trucking industry.  In that spirit, please consider these questions and send your feedback to mta@mntruck.org

• Are you having issues securing commercial drivers’ license road test times?  If so, at which locations?  And, are these issues intermittent/seasonal, or year round?

• Do you have an issue with the quality of trailer license plates?  If so, describe the problem and measures you have taken to try and address it.

• What is your overall experience with the Pro-rate office?

We will collect the answers and forward them on –without names - to DPS for their review.  Not only will this help DVS, but it will allow us to sharpen our advocacy on your behalf. We all share the goal of making state government work the best it can for you.

Speaking of HOS – This month fourteen members will travel to Washington, DC.  A key objective is to lobby our congressional delegation to retain the critical 34-hour restart provision for our members.  We simply cannot lose this operational flexibility, a function that only enhances safety. Those who oppose us are playing a very dangerous came with not only our industry, but the entire economy.  I can guarantee you we will forcefully deliver that message.  Look for our report in next month’s Trucking Minnesota.

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March 2016

Posted By John Hausladen , Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Trust in a Digital Age – In an age when you can tweet or post your opinion to the entire planet, the value of trade associations are greater than ever.  This may seem counterintuitive, but think about it. Because we are bombarded by so many digital messages, we put even more value on the opinions of sources we know and trust.  We desperately want someone to help us separate the unimportant from the critical.  Trade associations like the MTA do exactly this analysis for legislators, regulators and our members.

What Do the Truckers Think? – Over the years, the MTA has established a strong reputation for carrying out its mission: serve as the voice for a safe and successful Minnesota trucking industry.  Lawmakers in St. Paul know if they want the pulse of our industry, all they have to do is reach out to the MTA.  From experience they trust us to be accurate, fair and effective. Lawmakers commonly seek our feedback regarding bills before they are introduced.  Often those bills are modified or just filed away because of our support or opposition.  The MTA brand is strong in St. Paul.

Making it Real – However, I think we are at our very best when we connect our members directly with lawmakers. Hosting legislative leaders at MTA board meetings is one approach. The best strategy, far and away, is visiting with legislators in their hometowns. Our secret weapon is something we often take for granted, the truck itself.  When you seat a lawmaker in a truck, whether male or female, they all become like little kids.  The smile on their face when they complete their ride is always huge. The iron and rubber we use every day leaves quite an impression on legislators.  In the course of visiting a truck line they meet staff, tour facilities and understand our issues from a very hands-on perspective. When we do lobby them in St. Paul, the truck ride serves as a powerful frame of reference.

Your Top Issues in Minnesota – When we do have the ear of Minnesota legislators, we focus on your most important issues.  In 2016 we are working to: 1) increase funding for Minnesota roads and bridges; 2) repeal the fourth tier of the personal income tax, 3) exempt off-road diesel fuel from the sales and use tax, 4) expand available truck parking, and 5) retain the current definition of an independent contractor in the trucking industry.

Calling on Washington- Many of our most critical issues are federal in nature.  We work hard to stay connected to our Minnesota delegation in DC.  Just next month we will travel to Washington to: 1) clarify the FAAAA exemption, 2) protect the right to use independent contractors, 3) increase the number of truck drivers, 4) expand available truck parking and 5) retain the 34-restart provision of the hours of service rules. 

Thank You for Your Trust – Thank you for letting us be your trusted partner as we serve the best interests of the Minnesota trucking industry!

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February 2016

Posted By John Hausladen , Monday, February 1, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Another Successful Safety Day – The 2016 Safety Conference featured a variety of industry-related hot topics and excellent delivery by the speakers. Not only did they deliver great content, they encouraged interaction among attendees. I would also like to take a moment to thank the planning committee. They spent countless hours working through topics, speakers and logistics. Their hard work and dedication truly showed throughout the day.

Best Night of the Year – The Annual MTA Truck Driver of the Year Banquet is hands-down the best night of the year for the MTA.  Celebrating a combined 30 million miles of accident-free driving for the twelve finalists is an achievement that no other industry can boast.  As each truck driver knows, every mile driven safely is filled with aggressive and distracted drivers traveling on more congested roadways in all kinds of weather.  These are hard-earned miles. Way to go drivers!

YRC’s Timothy McNamee Named Top Driver - Congratulations to Timothy McNamee of YRC Freight, who took home top honors this year. Like the dozens of other drivers of the year I have known, Timothy is honest, hard-working, humble and a true professional. Thank you Timothy, and all the finalists, for giving our industry such a positive story to tell.

Regional Meetings a Success – We had great participation during our recent round of seven regional meetings across the state. Members were eager to learn the latest regarding federal and state activities impacting trucking. Like all truckers, they were not bashful sharing their thoughts.  Driver availability was the top issue at every meeting. However, seasonal softness in the freight market has some carriers feeling a reprieve on the driver front. Folks were pretty up-to-speed on the electronic logging device rule.  The biggest questions were regarding the new driver coercion rule. Carriers are feeling vulnerable because the coercion rule is truly untested waters..I would rate the overall mood towards the economy as cautious.

Random Rate Drops to 25 percent - Another sign of success is the fact the rate for random drug tests has been lowered from 50 percent to 25 percent. That means our professional drivers as a whole have had less than one percent of positive tests over the past three years.  When we say our drivers are clean and sober, we mean it. The federal government’s data backs up that claim

Come Fly With Us – Join us for the MTA Call on Washington, April 19-21, 2016.  We will be traveling to Washington, D.C. to visit with our entire federal delegation. These trips really make a difference, as many items incorporated in the recent federal highway bill were voiced by past Call on Washington attendees. Public policy is made by those who show up. 

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January 2016

Posted By John Hausladen, Friday, January 1, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New Year, New Trucking Minnesota! – This edition of Trucking Minnesota marks the unveiling of our magazine redesign. We believe this layout strikes the right balance between maintaining all of the content you have come to expect and displaying it in an easier to read format. Here are some of the changes we hope you will enjoy:

• Condensing the trucking news categories into two sections

- The “First Gear” section will feature short stories - no longer than 200 words - that will provide a broad overview of information. These are designed to catch you up quickly on the more important trucking issues.

- The “Trucking News” section will feature longer articles that go more in depth on information on the most important items. • Offering two or more in-depth, original feature stories in each issue.

• Adding more photos and visual elements throughout the entire magazine

• Changing our font and spacing for greater readability

• Placing more importance on social media channels with a “Stay Connected” area in the table of contents

• Placing more importance on recognizing our year-long sponsors

• Strategically placing advertising to highlight advertiser and not competing with content

• Incorporating MTA/Trucking Moves America Forward colors throughout the newsletter to stay consistent with branding We are anxious to hear what you think about these changes, and any ideas you have for articles.

Send your thoughts to MTA@mntruck.org.

New Year, New Highway Bill! – Congress and the President delivered a long-awaited gift right before Christmas by delivering a transportation funding bill. In addition to maintaining our critical road and bridge infrastructure, it delivers on a number of top MTA priorities. These include:

• Creating a long-term bill with five years of predictable funding;

• Reforming the CSA program, and removing CSA alerts, percentiles and crashes found to be non-preventable from public view while the reforms are being implemented;

• Language inhibiting the expansion of tolling on existing interstates coupled with "use-it or lose-it" language creating a deadline on state tolling applications.

I am proud of our members who helped tell the trucking story to Congress. Your letters, emails, terminal visits and participation in our Call on Washington program truly made a difference.

Here’s to continued safety and success in 2016!

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Public Opinion of Trucking Remains Positive

Posted By John Hausladen , Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It seems the public’s view of trucking remains far more positive than we might think, according to a recently released national poll.

The poll, commissioned by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, found the public continues to believe truck drivers are among the safest on the road and the industry is essential to the American economy.

The ATA, in a press release, identified these key findings:

• A majority of Americans, 63 percent, believe trucks move most of the nation’s goods – a three-point increase from 2014.

• Sixty percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of the trucking industry, the highest among transportation modes.

• When asked to offer unscripted thoughts on trucking, respondents called drivers hard working, said the industry provided thousands of jobs and trucking was dependable and efficient.

• The majority of Americans, 57 percent, said trucking’s safety record was excellent or good.

• Trucking’s safety record had improved over the past 20 years, said 34 percent of respondents.

• Ninety-one percent of Americans believe car drivers are more likely to engage in risky behavior on the highways than truck drivers and 70 percent believe they are more likely to be at fault when a car and truck collide.

• Eighty-one percent of Americans believe truckers are safer drivers.

The poll also addressed the issue of speeds and speed limits, finding that:

• Sixty-nine percent of Americans oppose reducing highway speeds to improve safety and reduce pollution, and 63 percent oppose the installation of speed limiting devices on passenger vehicles, but

• More than half – 56 percent – of respondents said they favored mandating speed limiters for large trucks.

As I travel the state speaking to various groups, I conduct my own informal poll. The results are the same. People are far more positive about trucking than we give them credit for. So, hold your heads high and continue to do the great job you do!

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The Future Leaders of Trucking

Posted By John Hausladen , Sunday, November 1, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, December 22, 2015

This month marks the launch of our NEXTLeader program and I must say we are really excited about the talented group of people we have participating this year. They are truly the next generation of trucking leaders. During our NEXTLeader Conference this month we’ll be spending an entire day talking with them about what it means to lead an effective, high-performing team.


We all strive to lead high-performing teams. If we are successful, we give ourselves a competitive advantage over other organizations. But the hurdles to building a cohesive team made up of fallible, imperfect human beings can seem insurmountable. Fortunately there are commonsense steps we can take as leaders to combine the unique, complimentary skills of our team members to accomplish the goals of our organizations.


One of these steps is outlined in a book I read recently by Patrick Lencioni titled The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. If you haven’t read this best-selling book, I highly recommend it. In his book, Lencioni describes how leaders can begin to overcome team dysfunction by identifying and removing its root causes which he outlines as:


Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust: This occurs when team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with one another and are unwilling to admit their mistakes, weaknesses, or need for help. Without a certain comfort level among team members, a foundation of trust is impossible.


Dysfunction #2: Fear of Conflict: Teams lacking trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate about key issues, causing situations where team conflict can easily turn into veiled discussions and back-channel comments. In a work setting where team members do not openly air their opinions, inferior decisions are the result.


Dysfunction #3: Lack of Commitment: Without conflict, it is difficult for team members to commit to decisions, creating an environment where ambiguity prevails. Lack of direction and commitment can make employees, particularly star employees, disgruntled.


Dysfunction #4: Avoidance of Accountability: When teams don’t commit to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven individuals hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that may seem counterproductive to the overall good of the team.


Dysfunction #5: Inattention to Results: Team members naturally tend to put their own needs (e.g. ego, career development, recognition, etc.) ahead of the collective goals of the team when individuals aren’t held accountable. If a team has lost sight of the need for achievement, the business ultimately suffers.


These root causes of dysfunction don’t die easily; no team is perfect and even the best team struggles with them. However, I encourage you to look closely at your own business and ask yourself which areas you might be able to improve on. Personally, I think the payoffs can be huge.


That is why we’ll be spending an entire day at our NEXTLeader Conference talking about these principles. As I look at the high-caliber people we have participating in our NEXTLeader program, it makes me excited about the future of our industry—it truly is bright.

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Joyce Brenny's Response

Posted By John Hausladen , Thursday, October 1, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, December 22, 2015

For this October column, John turns it over to Joyce Brenny, who wrote a response to the Star Tribune article on truck weight compliance, which the paper chose not to print.  

 

Whether traveling to the State Fair or to end-of-summer vacations, Minnesotans are heading out on our roads and highways. As they do, Minnesota truckers will be on the lookout to help ensure all drivers have a safe journey.


I have been part of the trucking industry for more than thirty years, including spending time behind the wheel as a driver. I know firsthand how vital trucking is to the economy.


As a trucking business owner, I am active in the Minnesota Trucking Association. I am proud to be involved in its many initiatives to put safety first in our state.


Trucking plays an essential role in transporting goods and services across Minnesota and throughout the country. In fact, more than 68 percent of all Minnesota communities depend exclusively on commercial vehicles to move their goods. In addition, the trucking industry provides thousands of jobs in our state.


365 days a year, our professional drivers log many miles – in all kinds of weather and traffic – to deliver the products we want and need.


However, beyond trucking’s important role to our economy, ensuring safe and responsible driving is a core value.


Through research, education and training, the Minnesota Trucking Association is committed to exploring new ways to improve safety on Minnesota’s roads and highways within the trucking industry and among all drivers who share the road. We are particularly proud to work with the Minnesota State Patrol in these efforts.


Our association offers several important common sense tips for safely sharing the road with commercial vehicles. These are as simple as avoiding distractions, like texting while driving or keeping out of a commercial vehicle’s blind spots in the front, rear and both sides.


Unfortunately, there are other factors that do contribute to crashes with trucks and they are preventable. By obeying state laws, we all can make our roads and highways safer for everyone.


We also believe that safe driving habits begin early. That is why, for the past several years, our signature Share the Road program has been teaching high school students how to share the road with trucks.


The program’s goal is to reach as many high school students as possible and change driving behavior so that we can save lives.

 

The Minnesota Trucking Association is proactively doing what is necessary to make professional truck drivers the safest drivers on Minnesota roads and highways. We sponsor extensive driver safety programs and work with driver educators so new truck drivers are trained to share the road with all other vehicles.


Minnesota Trucking Association member companies and drivers stand solidly behind these programs.

 

Minnesotans are always on the move to enjoy what our state has to offer no matter where it takes us. We hope all drivers will see the benefit of shared responsibility so we all can reach our destinations safely.


Joyce Brenny
President
Brenny Specialized, Inc.
St. Joseph, Minnesota

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Stay Focused on Safety

Posted By John Hausladen , Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Welcome Chairman Daggett II – Congratulations and welcome to newMTA Chairman Fred Daggett. Longtime MTA members may remember Fred’s father, Marvin, who chaired the MTA 1992 to 1993. I guess that makes Fred Chairman Daggett the Second!


Fred is actually the second son to follow his father as MTA chair. The other pair? Lester Wilsey, Sr. in 1950 and Lester Wilsey, Jr. in 1970. The trucking industry is truly built on the backs of family businesses. 

 

Talk about a small world. I had the pleasure of meeting Marvin Daggett when he hosted a Frazee Turkey Days event at his home as its mayor. I was working for the turkey industry at that time and rode in the Turkey Days parade as a special guest. Guess who else has served as mayor of Frazee? You guessed it, Fred Daggett, of course!


Congratulations to Award Winners – It is especially satisfying to witness the presentation of our various awards at the Annual Conference. While the plaques, trophies and certificates are meaningful, the value rests in what they represent. Commitment. Passion. Excellence. Values. From my vantage point, I see these people and companies in action and often close up. They are truly deserving and set the bar higher for all of us.


My personal congratulations go to award winners Mark Ramsdell (President’s Award) Pat Salzer (Outstanding Service), Wayne Grabowski (Safety Professional), Chis Smith (Maintenance Professional) and California Overland and its Safety Director Gregg Moyer (Fleet Safety Grand Trophy).

 

Congratulations also go out to Paul Butkowski, who earned third place in the 3-Axle division at the National Truck Driving Championships held in St. Louis. Way to go Paul!

 

Bad Monday Morning … Not So Much – The Minneapolis StarTribune ran a front page article in its Sunday, August 16th edition casting doubt over the effectiveness of Minnesota commercial motor vehicle inspections. Long on anecdotes and short on facts, it created the false impression that trucks on the road are unsafe and the State Patrol is not doing its job. We fully expected the anti-truck folks to fan the flames. It was not hard to imagine the story tearing up social media and being picked up by other TV and radio stations around the state.


The good news is that it did not take off. Why? The story simply does not square with reality. Your commitment to safety as a value is lived each day on the road. Because you practice what you preach, the MTA has been able to consistently deliver that message to media outlets around Minnesota.


Stay Focused on Safety
- The story did point out that we can never relent in our commitment to safety. Jim Schultz did an excellent job hammering this point home at the Annual Conference. It was far too easy for the reporter to go to a truck stop and find some drivers who are the exception rather than rule.


We must continue to hold up the great professional drivers in our industry and help the poor performers to improve. There is no better way to do this than submit your drivers for our Driver of the Month program. Get details at www.mntruck.org.


Here is wishing you a successful National Truck Driver Appreciation Week with your whole team!

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Regulatory Issues Impacting the Industry

Posted By John Hausladen , Saturday, August 1, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The MTA has been very active in recent weeks working on national issues impacting the trucking industry.


Many of these issues are regulatory in nature. However, due to inaction by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the trucking industry has had to resort to asking Congress to step in and clean up the mess.


We have joined with the American Trucking Associations and other national groups to advance a number of initiatives in Washington, D.C.:


CSA Scores – Remove the BASIC scores from public view and fix the errors in the system.

 

Crash Accountability – Remove data from a profile when the crash is clearly not the fault of the carrier.

 

Driver Shortage – Support allowing states to enter in compacts to allow younger drivers to travel interstate under controlled conditions.


Trailer Uniformity – Allow twin 33-foot trailers to operate on the entire national highway system.


34-Hour Restart – Permanently restore the 34-hour restart provision to its status before July 1, 2013.


Hair Testing – Allow motor carriers the option of using hair to test for drugs and alcohol to meet FMCSA requirements.


Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse – Eliminate loopholes to make the proposed clearinghouse a true one-stop shop.


Insurance Minimums – Retain the current minimum insurance requirements for carriers.


The next big issues on the horizon requiring our attention will be proposals to change the motor carrier safety rating methodology and establishing entry-level driver training requirements.


When you belong to the MTA, you are part of an engaged and effective advocate for the trucking industry. Thank you for your support and response when called to act.

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Truck Weight Laws

Posted By John Hausladen , Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Truck weights are a topic that either go under the radar or evoke greatemotion, especially if you talk about increasing them.

 

When you ask our members how the state is doing enforcing current truck weight laws, the response is positive. In a recent MTA survey, 84 percent said enforcement consistency between jurisdictions within the state are average or better. The same held true for the overall experience of being weighed at a fixed or mobile site where 87 percent rated it average or better. Respondents using the on-line overweight permit system were even happier, giving an 88 percent score. Since our members are primarily over the road and not local operations these results are not so surprising.

 

There is also strong support for weigh station bypass technology. 47 percent said that adding PrePass at fixed scales sites would be of high or very high value. The most notable dissatisfaction came not in enforcement, but in education. Respondents consistently expressed that the statutes, charts and road signs are confusing. One responder summed it up when he said, “The road we are on says ‘9-ton’ but what does that even mean?” 

 

We collected this data in preparation for my presentation at a day-long joint meeting between the Minnesota State Patrol and the Minnesota Department of Transportation focused on weight enforcement and education. I had the opportunity to voice what truckers like and what they want improved.

 

Above all, our members want two things when it comes to weight enforcement: clarity and consistency. We want to know exactly what the laws are and what is needed to comply. We also want roadside personnel trained in such a manner that they also clearly know the laws and can apply them the same way every time.

 

Weight enforcement technology is advancing faster than our ability to adapt. It can cut both ways. “Virtual” weigh-in-motion scales are a reality today. Embedded scales in roads weigh the truck at highway speeds and video cameras capture the offense and an image of the truck. A road trooper down the road then pulls the truck over and writes the citation. This is going to cause a lot of heartburn with certain sectors of trucking.

 

On a positive note, I heard many comments about using technology like PrePass to let the compliant truckers keep moving. We support the concept of focusing limited enforcement resources on the bad sectors. There was also much discussion about creating mobile web resources so truckers can obtain real-time, weight-based routing information.

 

Have an opinion about how Minnesota is doing to educate and enforce Minnesota’s weight laws? Send your comments to mta@mntruck or post on facebook.com/mntruck. Weight enforcement is not going away so help us make it the best it can be for our industry.

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