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HOS Exemptions

Posted By John Hausladen, Monday, June 1, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, June 23, 2015

HOS Exemptions List Surprising – When the Federal Motor CarrierSafety Administration’s (FMCSA) new hours-of-service (HOS) rule went into effect on July 1, 2013, we anticipated lots of pain for the trucking industry. While the 34-hour restart provision has garnered most of the attention and legislative activity, there has been a quite rebellion against the 30-minute rest break. A review of exemptions granted and requested is quite shocking.

 

The Department of Defense Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) was granted an exemption to the break requirement. Why? Because the SDDC requires constant attendance and surveillance of the security sensitive commodities they ship. Makes sense. The Department of Energy was granted a similar exemption for the same reason. Glad to see the FMCSA agrees that it is a bad idea to leave radioactive materials unattended to meet a break requirement.


The American Food Transporters Conference secured an exemption for drivers hauling livestock. They successfully argued that requiring the break is inhumane to livestock in transport. Stopping airflow to the animals in either extremely hot or cold conditions could be harmful and even fatal. Even the DC regulators could understand the common sense in that argument.


The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association cemented-in its exemption as well. They convincingly argued that since concrete sets up very fast from the time it is loaded and the average length of haul is nroughly 12 miles, their drivers typically spend less than 40% of their time actually driving. Drivers are now allowed to count time outside the truck at the mixer controls towards their required break.

 

The Oregon Trucking Association got a win and a break exemption for the hauling of timber during periods of elevated forest fire risk. The loggers’ exemption pitch included voluntarily limiting their daily onduty time to 12 hours and effective only when the Oregon Department of Forestry has imposed a Level 3 Industrial Fire precaution. A 30-minute break could literally add fuel to the fire so an exemption was prudent.

 

Not to be left out, exemptions from the rest break and other provisions are being sought by the American Moving & Storage Association (home owners not available when load delivered), Specialized Carrier and Rigging Association (no place to park an over-dimension load), California Farm Bureau (bees need constant airflow) and the American Trucking Associations (hazmat haulers must attend to load).

 

The theme for all of these granted and proposed exemptions is quite clear: A mandated rest break creates more problems than the rest issues it claims to solve.

 

The answer is simple. Forget the exemptions, eliminate the rest break requirement and let drivers manage their time and load how they know best. If the FMCSA looks at its own list of granted exemptions, it will know this to be true!

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Biodiesel Mandate Lawsuit

Posted By John Hausladen , Friday, May 1, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Minnesota Trucking Association has joined a coalition of vehicle and fuelindustry organizations to file suit in federal court alleging that Minnesota’s Biodiesel mandate creates significant harm to vehicles that are not designed to be run using such fuel blends.

 

We further allege that biodiesel raises the cost for all diesel vehicles, including heavy trucks.

 

Our goal in filing the litigation is simple: eliminate the mandate.

 

This is an unprecedented move for the MTA and comes only after repeated unsuccessful attempts to address our concerns through the legislative process.

 

As you well know, the mandate—which went into effect on July 1, 2014— requires all diesel fuel sold in Minnesota during the spring and summer months (April through September) contain at least 10 percent biodiesel (B10). Starting in 2018, if certain conditions are met, all diesel fuel sold in the state during those same months must contain at least 20 percent biodiesel (B20).

 

The mandate denies consumers in Minnesota access to the diesel fuel recommended for most diesel passenger vehicles and light trucks (up to B5).

 

We are joined in the lawsuit by the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, American Petroleum Institute, and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers.

 

Together we are suing Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency and Departments of Agriculture and Commerce with claims under federal and Minnesota state laws including the Clean Air Act and Minnesota Administrative Procedures Act.

 

I want to thank MTA Chair Kyle Kottke for providing a declaration for our filing, which helps us make the case for standing to bring forward this lawsuit.

 

In filing the lawsuit, the coalition issued the following joint statement:

 

“Given that the average age of a motor vehicle in Minnesota is 11.2 years, the State’s Biodiesel Content Mandate causes significant risk of harm to consumers and a broad range of businesses since most diesel-fueled passenger cars and light trucks were not designed for—and are not warranted to run on—biofuel blends of 10 or 20 percent.

 

“Use of such fuel blends could result in increased maintenance costs and engine problems for certain vehicle owners. These problems could impact manufacturers and dealers in the state through lost sales and increased warranty claims.

“In addition, through this mandate Minnesota is forcing the sale of what has historically been more costly fuel. The State is purposefully denying access to needed fuels recommended for use in many diesel vehicles while likely raising fueling costs for all diesel vehicles, including those heavy-duty trucks that are designed to accommodate higher blends.

 

“This lawsuit seeks to restore consumer choice.” 

 

You can trust we will keep you informed on the progress of this major initiative.

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Spring Means Share the Road!

Posted By John Hausladen , Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Spring Means Share the Road! – One of the most important things we do as an organization is to educate drivers on how to share the road with big trucks. While we can do this in a classroom setting or assembly, nothing beats an interactive display featuring real trucks and passenger cars. For obvious reasons, we simply can’t conduct these outdoor sessions during the cold weather months. Spring is finally here and so is one of our best opportunities to reach students in high school driver education programs.

 

Setting It Up Right – The key to a successful Share the Road (STR) event is to use both a truck AND cars strategically placed in blind spots. Finding a space big enough to accommodate that many vehicles is easier said than done with a premium on parking spaces at schools. However, when you have the cars, you can use the truck’s rearview mirrors with great impact.

 

Magic in Mirrors – You can talk at students all day long about blind spots, stopping distance and following distance and make some progress. You can even use graphics and videos. But put a student inside a truck in the driver’s seat and the light bulbs really turn on. The magic resides in the rearview mirrors. To perform your magic trick, you must first conduct a walk around before putting the student in the cab. They see the cars parked all around the truck. They know for a fact they are there. But put them in the driver’s seat, shut the door and poof!  The cars disappear. You can just see in their eyes the newfound knowledge and respect they have for the blind spots.

 

A Simple But Big Commitment – The ingredients for a successful STR event are pretty straightforward: tractor, trailer, driver, two helpers and a space. Coming up with other vehicles to park in the blind spot is pretty easy. We even have a how-to video demonstrating how to set it up. However, for the trucking company, it means taking those income-earning resources off the road for an entire day. Companies who have made this commitment have found it a worthy investment. They find it builds good will with their local school, generates pride among team members who participate, and tangibly improves the driving skills of student drivers.

 

ATA Road Team Coming to Minnesota in May – We are excited to have the American Trucking Associations Share the Road Truck and America’s Road Team Captains coming to Minnesota the week of May XX.  They will be bringing their equipment and expertise to schools around the greater Twin Cities area in partnership with the MTA. If you want to see how a STR event works, this is a great opportunity to see how the best do it. We will be communicating their schedule via our social media platforms and in Weekly Dispatch.

 

Looking for MTA Carrier Members to Participate – The MTA Safety Council plays a leadership role in the MTA STR Program. It is recruiting carriers willing to commit to participating in a STR event one or two times each year at a local school or civic event. We are looking for six (?) carriers to commit for 2015.  Are you willing to be one of the six?  For more information, contact Jason Prasch at the MTA (jason@mntruck.org).  I hope you will say yes.  I know you will be glad you did!

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Hours-Of-Service Victory

Posted By John Hausladen , Thursday, January 1, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, January 20, 2015

HOS Victory for Truckers – It literally took an act of Congress to get it done, but truckers finally have temporary relief from the onerous hours of service restart provisions.  Specifically, the legislation suspends the requirement that all qualifying restarts contain two consecutive periods of time between 1am and 5am, and that it can only be used once every 168 hours (or seven days). In other words, the restart rule reverts back to the simple 34 hour restart in effect from 2003 to June 2013. This provision was included in a $1.1 trillion dollar that keeps the federal government operating until September of next year. 

 

The 34 hour restart rule reverted to its pre-July 1, 2013 version when President signed the bill into law in December.  This temporary reprieve lasts until September 30, 2015, the end of the federal fiscal year.

 

The legislation also directs the Department of Transportation to conduct a study comparing the effectiveness of the 34 hour restart rules in place before July 1, 2013 with those that took effect after. The industry contends that this research will demonstrate that the “new” restart rule did not account for offsetting negative safety impacts. (See page XX for details and companion article on the safety issues involved)

 

Everyone Gets the Game Ball – Football teams have a tradition of awarding a game ball to the heroes of the game.  When it comes to this victory, we need lots of game balls.   The ATA quarterbacked this effort across the goal line.  State associations, like the MTA, provided essential blocking and tackling in the field, getting setting up meetings with members of congress.  Truckers, many from Minnesota, carried the ball by providing the data and telling their story

 

Success a Year in the Making – Work to repeal the restart provision started as soon as it became effective. MTA members from the 1st Congressional District met with then-FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro in December 2013.  Our message was simple.   The restart provisions of the new hours of service rules were causing major operational disruptions and putting more trucks on the road during the morning rush hour. Unfortunately, that meeting made it clear the agency was not going to relent, so we moved onto a legislative strategy.

 

Call on Washington Matters – We visited all ten of our Minnesota delegation offices when we went to Washington in April.  The HOS restart was brought up in each meeting.  I want to thank these members of the Minnesota delegation for voting yes on the appropriation bill:

· Erik Paulsen

· John Kline

 

Too Little Too Late? – By anyone’s calculation, 18 months is ridiculously long to resolve this critical issue for a major U.S. industry. Carriers, drivers, dispatchers and technology vendors have already changed operations once.  This do-over will be costly and likely confusing, given its temporary nature.  But we believe we stand on firm grand and have great hopes the study will reinforce what we know to be happening on the road.  And, when Congress takes action, agencies must comply AND consider which way the wind is blowing as they move forward. During 2015, the MTA will continue to pursue strategies in an effort to keep the simple 34 hour restart rule in place for a longer period of time.

 

The Big Lesson – Whether it is lobbying in St. Paul or Washington, D.C., persistence pays off.  A slowly grilled bratwurst is wonderful to eat, but you don’t want to watch it being made.  Laws are like that.  Not pretty to watch and often painfully slow, but sometimes well worth wait. We need to make this change permanent, But, for now, enjoy this victory, truckers!

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Working To Address Your Biggest Issues

Posted By John Hausladen , Monday, December 1, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Working To Address Your Biggest Issues – The mission of the Minnesota Trucking Association says it all: Serve as the voice for a safe and successful Minnesota trucking industry.  To that end, we have undertaken a number of initiatives to address your biggest issues.

 

Studying the Use of Split-Sleeper Berth Time – In the past year, the MTA joined the American Trucking Associations in petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to study use of split-sleeper berth time.  Our petition lays out a protocol to study how driver time may be split and used without impairing safety.  I am pleased to report that FMCSA has announced it plans to begin this study in 2015.  Joe Greenstein (our ATA State Vice President) and I visited with the FMCSA’s Chief Safety Officer at a recent conference. We discussed the importance of regaining sleeper flexibility for drivers.  The FMCSA will be soliciting carriers to participate, and we will make sure a Minnesota fleet is up for consideration.

 

Testing Fuel to Determine Biodiesel Impacts – During last year’s Polar Vortex, our office heard anecdotes suggesting that biodiesel was making winter-related fuel issues worse. To determine if biodiesel is indeed a cold-weather problem, the MTA has created a new Fuel and Emissions Project Team.  This group will develop a protocol for collecting and testing samples.  We will use a certified third-party testing firm to run the analysis for us.  MTA Director Pat Duffy, River States Truck and Trailer, is leading this team.

 

Recruiting Younger Drivers into the Industry – The MTA has created a team to answer the question:

Are there any federal regulations or statutes that, if changed, could meaningfully increase the number of available truck drivers ten years from now?  This team will specifically explore the merits of changing the interstate driving regulation from an age-based approach to a distance-based approach.  MTA Director Kevin Otto, Otto Transfer, chairs this team.

Here is the ironic truth.  An 18-year-old can legally drive a tractor-trailer from Worthington, Minnesota to International Falls, Minnesota (425 miles), but can’t drive the same unit to Sioux Falls, South Dakota (62 miles).  Furthermore, that same 18-year-old can’t haul some local loads because the shipment is in-transit and thus defined as interstate in nature.  We hope the team’s recommendations can lead to a true “school to work” path for becoming an over-the-road driver. 

Looking Down the Road – Transportation Funding will almost certainly be a major focus of the 2015 Session of the Minnesota Legislature. The Board of Directors has spent considerable time learning and evaluating to make sure we are well-positioned in this debate.  On the federal level, look out for a proposal to mandate truck drivers be paid by the hour.  This could be one of President Obama’s parting gifts as he prepares to head out the door in two years.  Whatever comes, you can trust the MTA will be doing its part to keep you safe and successful.

Merry Christmas – From the staff and leaders of the MTA, here is wishing you a Merry Christmas and prosperous 2015!

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Minnesota Tree Goes to U.S. Capitol

Posted By John Hausladen , Saturday, November 1, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Minnesota Tree Goes to U.S. Capitol – Minnesota has the honor of providing the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.  The 80-foot white spruce will be harvested in the Chippewa National Forest on October 29.  It will make numerous stops throughout Minnesota before winding its way to Washington, D.C on what else … a truck!

 

Hauling a Tree – The Essentiality Message - This move would not be possible without trucks, which is why the Minnesota Trucking Association has signed on as a co-sponsor of the project.  It is a great way to demonstrate the essentiality of trucking, not just for our daily needs, but also our most important events. The trucking industry has stepped up in a big way to make this happen, providing people, equipment and technology:  Kenworth – tractor; Hale – trailer; Wille Transport – drivers; and PeopleNet – fleet tracking.  The MTA assisted with logistics and over-dimension permitting for nearly 30 stops along its route.

 

Teacher Lesson Plan Includes Tress AND Trucks – The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree provides a great opportunity to educate students about sustainable forestry practices … and the logistics it takes to transport the tree. The MTA has worked with an educator to incorporate trucking elements into the teacher lesson plans.  Students will also be able to track the tree’s progress in real-time as it travels across the nation.  The teaching materials and tracking map can be found at http://www.capitolchristmastree.com.  If you know a teacher, please tell them about this great resource.

 

Americans Like Trucks! – All of our efforts to tell the essentiality message are getting through, according to Neil Newhouse, a partner and co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies, a national political and public affairs research firm.  Mr. Newhouse presented the results of a recent nationwide survey commissioned by the American Trucking Associations at that organizations recent conference in San Diego.  Top level results show that of those polled, 65% had a favorable impression of the trucking industry, while only 9% had an unfavorable impression.  In political terms, these are poll results that a political candidate would die for.

 

Public Hates Mileage-based User Fees – In addition to the image questions, Mr. Newhouse asked some general questions about federal transportation funding.  There is a general resistance to pay more for roads, and no great preference over which mechanism, with one notable exception. Public opposition to mileage-based user fees was off the charts, coming in at 89% against. 

 

Key Takeaways from Public Trucking Poll – Mr. Newhouse offered five key takeaways from his survey work:

1.      Americans are positive about trucking and those beliefs are anchored on trucking’s essentiality;

2.      Americans believe truck drivers are safer than passenger car drivers;

3.      Efforts to improve safety are linked to improving trucking’s image;

4.      Americans rate roads poor and believe more money is needed, but there is no consensus on how to pay for it; and

5.      Truck drivers and those who work in the industry are our best ambassadors.

I am heartened by these results and encouraged to keep up our public education and image efforts.

 

Save Some Turkey for Me!  - On a personal note, here is wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, full of your favorite foods and people!

 

 

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Congress Should Retain its Highway Funding Role

Posted By John Hausladen, Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, November 3, 2014
Congress Should Retain its Highway Funding Role – Congress should reject the “devolution” proposal contained in the so-called “Transportation Empowerment Act” (TEA). In short, the TEA would
strip away most Federal funding for surface transportation projects, handing the responsibility to
state and local governments. The only thing this does is “empower” Congress to shirk its Constitutional duties to promote interstate commerce. An ATA background paper, reprinted here, does a nice job summarizing this misguided guided bill.

Reduces Funding 80% - The TEA proposal virtually eliminates the federal government’s role it relates to the movement of the nearly 70% of freight that is transported on the nation’s highways. The bill would reduce funding for the federal-aid highway program by more than 80% by 2019, from $45 billion to less than $8 billion.

Widens Funding Gap - According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Interstates will require at least $17 billion in annual investment to simply maintain current levels of maintenance and congestion, and more than $33 billion per year to make the investments necessary to improve the system. Furthermore, while the Interstate System is certainly critical to the trucking industry, it only carries 40% of truck traffic. The National Highway System, which carries 97% of truck miles traveled, requires an annual investment of $75 billion, according to USDOT.

Shackles vs. Empowers - The amendment doesn’t “empower” states; it saddles them with 90% of the fiscal responsibility for supporting highways that, under the Constitution, the federal government has an obligation to help maintain. While we agree that certain projects funded with highway user fees are questionable, and some federal requirements increase project costs, a better approach is to reform the system, not to risk lives and the nation’s economic future by disinvesting from a highway system that is already under-capitalized.

Diversion Will Increase - The fact is that even if states were able to replace federal funds with new revenue (and there is no guarantee that they would), in many states the diversion of funds to non-highway purposes is even more extensive than it is under the federal-aid program. Altogether, USDOT reports that in 2012 states diverted $8 billion in highway user fee revenue to non-highway projects and programs.

Increase Costs Likely - Furthermore, eliminating federal funds from a project will not automatically reduce project costs related to federal requirements because in many cases these requirements will
continue. For example, 32 states currently apply Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws to nonfederal contracts. In addition, for many projects federal environmental review requirements would continue, even if no federal money is used.

A Disaster - The devolution proposal represents abandonment by Congress of its Constitutional obligation to promote interstate commerce. Decimating the federal-aid highway program would prove disastrous to the states’ ability to maintain and improve their highways. This is particularly true for those states with a small tax base and an extensive highway network that supports a large share of interstate traffic. The TEA is a bad deal for not just truckers, but every user of the highway system and should be rejected.

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Persistence Pays Off

Posted By John Hausladen, Monday, September 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, November 3, 2014
We Are Making Progress – Quite frequently your association asks you to reach out to a lawmaker or regulator to speak out on an issue. Given the volume of issues we face, you may wonder if such contacts make any difference. I am here to emphatically say, YES THEY DO! Here are just a few examples of changes that came about directly because of the persistent effort by truckers.

Adjudicated Citations Now Treated Differently – The MTA has long advocated that motor carriers and drivers who have been found not guilty in court or had a citation dismissed or reduced should have a system for having that reflected in the PSP and SMS calculations. We repeatedly told this to members of Congress and to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) administrator, Anne Ferro, in face-to-face meetings. The good news such a system is now in place through the DataQ system.

According to the American Trucking Association, if a citation is dismissed or the defendant found not guilty, the violation will be removed from PSP and from SMS calculations. If the defendant is found guilty of a lesser offense, it will be noted on the record and the offense’s SMS severity weight will be reduced to value of “1.” Convictions for an original charge will remain unchanged. The original citation information will be retained for enforcement users.

CSA Website to Have a Different Look – Another concern among truckers has been the display of data on the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) website. Truckers have experienced numerous situations where this data has been misinterpreted and misapplied. The industry has brought these concerns to the FMCSA, and they listened!

The most significant change is the removal of motor carriers’ Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) percentile scores on the initial landing page. Instead, BASICs will be represented with icons listed in order of their BASIC’s correlation with crash risk – Unsafe Driving, Crash Indicator, Hour-of-Service Compliance, Vehicle Maintenance, Controlled Substance/Alcohol, Hazardous Materials Compliance, and Driver Fitness. All BASIC percentile scores, except for those that remain private (Crash Indicator and Hazardous Materials Compliance) will able available to users by clicking on any one BASIC icon.

The redesign also includes efforts to highlight a carrier’s measure (based on the results of the carrier’s roadside inspections or crashes and not relative to other motor carriers in its safety event group, i.e. percentile score) and includes convenient graphs that display the performance measure over time.

One Less Hurdle for Vets Seeking to Drive Truck – Truckers have also advocated that veterans who drive truck in the military should get credit for that experience when applying for a CDL. This has been a slow state by state effort since driver’s licenses are issued by states. Finally, on June 27, 2014, Alaska became the 50th state to participate in the FMCSA Military Skills Test Waiver Program. Begun in 2011, the Program grants state licensing agencies, including the District of Columbia, the authority to waive the skills test portion of the commercial driver’s license application for active duty or recently separated veterans who possess at least two years of safe driving experience operating a military truck or bus.

Persistence Pays Off – All of the changes mentioned above came as the direct result of MTA members and others across this industry asking for them. They didn’t just happen. The letters, e-mails, phone calls and visits were critical to bringing about meaningful change. Yes, we are making progress!

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Building a Brand for the Trucking Industry

Posted By John Hausladen, Friday, August 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, November 3, 2014
Your Favorite Brand? – We live in a world of brands. Visually, a brand is that set of symbols and words that represent a specific product or service. But brands are much more. Those graphic images elicit a set of memories, relationships and expectations.

The Nike “swoosh” contains the implied promise of jumping higher or running faster. A white “F” on a blue background (Facebook) offers connecting, news and friendship. The McDonald’s golden arches convey …. I’ll let you fill in the blank on that one.

Brands Exist in Other People’s Brains – The tricky thing about brands is that we don’t really control them. We just do our best to shape them. Your unique trucking company brand is something that resides in the brains of your customers. It is THEIR experience of what you do and offer, not what you think you offer.

MTA Has a Strong Brand – During our most recent Regional member meetings we conducted a one question survey of our attendees. It read, “What is the word or phrase that comes to mind when you think of The Minnesota Trucking Association.” We asked the question before we jumped into content to not influence the results.

The two themes that popped up repeatedly were “voice” and “helpful.” That’s the MTA brand to those XXX surveyed. We serve as their voice to the non-trucking world and assist them in running their trucking business. I’ll take those results!

Non-truckers think the same way, at least based on their behavior. When the biodiesel mandate jumped to 10% on July 1, the MTA was sought by the media for interviews. They believed we spoke for truckers (voice) and that we could give them accurate information (helpful).

Our brand helped us secure coverage in every media outlet, including a major opinion piece in the July 3 issue of the StarTribune by our chairman.

Join in Building the Trucking Industry Brand – I am proud to announce that the MTA Board of Directors has committed to building our industry brand through the new Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF) movement. The MTA has pledged to contribute $5,000 over the next three years to this exciting new effort.

It is easy for your company to join … at no cost! Our website has all of the digital materials you need to integrate the TMAF images and messages into your company brand. Add it to your letterhead, business cards, email signatures, websites, marketing pieces and more.

Industry-wide use of these materials will help us continue to build a strong industry brand: safe, responsible and essential to our quality of life.

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Reputation is Everything

Posted By John Hausladen, Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Updated: Friday, July 11, 2014
Earning Reputation One Mile at a Time – Recent high-profile media stories have reminded me of a foundational truth: truckers earn their reputation one mile at a time. What truck drivers do on the road each and every day set our industry up for either success or failure in our advocacy efforts. And, it only takes one bad actor to great set back our efforts.

Tracy Morgan Crash Felt Everywhere – When comedian Tracy Morgan was critically injured in a crash caused by a truck driver, it became both a national and local story. The criminal complaint alleged that the truck driver had been awake for 24-hours prior to the crash which also killed one of Morgan’s associates. Suddenly, the topic of truck driver hours of service (HOS) went from industry inside baseball to something average drivers were hearing about.

Local media outlets rushed to offer a Minnesota take on the story. I had two television stations, KARE-TV 11 (NBC) and WCCO-TV 4 (CBS), in our parking lot at the same time. Both reporters wanted to know: What are the truck driver regulations and are they working. If you want to see how two stations cover the same topic in very different ways, check out www.mntruck.org.

Crash Impacts Congressional Debate – This terrible crash could not have come at a worse time for the trucking industry. Just days prior to the crash, the Senate Appropriations Committee had voted to stay two restart provisions of the hours of service rule until a study was completed. This was a huge win for the trucking industry, and one the MTA and others worked hard to pass. However, the media positioned the crash against the backdrop of industry attempts to “rollback” truck driver regulations. It paints the incorrect picture that trucking is not safe. Doing so put our friends in congress in a bad position publicly.

HOS rules are complex, even for trucking professionals. Trying to explain to a reporter – or constituent - how going back to the June 2013 HOS rule might actually be safer is difficult. It doesn’t translate easy into talking points or short conversations. Yet we know that putting more trucks into morning traffic actually increases crash risk, something the Federal Motor Carrier Administration did not account for when restricting use of the restart provisions.

Truck Driving Championships Provide Sharp Contrast – Do things like holding a State Truck Driving Championship (TDC) really matter? You bet! We were able to contrast the actions of one bad driver with the efforts of nearly 90 accident-free drivers. We were able to leverage the event into positive coverage also on WCCO-TV. Using events like the TDC, Driver of the Year, and our Fleet Safety competitions provide us great examples of drivers and companies doing it right. Thanks to the MTA Safety Council, TDC Committee and Roadeo Champions Club for executing a great event.

It Happens on the Road – Our best defense against negative media coverage is to just do our job: Deliver each load safely, on time and without defect. If we each do our jobs well, the reputation we desire as an industry will be there despite what any individual does.

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