Monthly Archives - March 2023

Ponzi Schemes & Ghost Drivers: Unforgettable Stories In the Trucking World

Another Week of Unforgettable Stories Welcome to another edition of our weekly hits in trucker news, where we bring you the most important and intriguing stories affecting the trucking industry. This week, we’re covering a range of captivating topics, from the excitement of the 2023 PKY Truck Beauty Championship at the Mid-America Trucking Show to the controversial amendments in trucking liability bills and the bold steps towards zero-emission transportation solutions. These stories are bound to grab your attention, as they shed light on the industry’s ongoing transformations and challenges. Stay with us as we dive into the world of trucking and explore the latest developments that are shaping the industry. Polishing for Perfection: PKY Truck Beauty Championship Kicks Off MATS 2023 The 2023 Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in Louisville, Kentucky, may not kick off until Thursday, but the excitement is already beginning to build in Lot J. If you find yourself behind the West Wing of the Kentucky Expo Center, you’ll be face to face with the 2023 PKY Truck Beauty Championship, taking place through Saturday. This event is attracting truck enthusiasts who absolutely cannot wait to witness this years sure-to-be amazing lineup of trucks in the competition. Truck owners have worked diligently, polishing their prized vehicles and preparing for the event’s judges to take a closer look at their pride and joy before deciding the champions at the awards ceremony on Saturday morning. The PKY Truck Beauty Championship is renown for showcasing a diverse range of trucks, from brand-new, top of the line, models to the more antique classics that evoke the nostalgia that makes our industry so special. With dozens, if not hundreds, of trucks have already entered into the competition, attendees can expect a fascinating display at the 2023 MATS event. You don’t want to miss the chance to marvel at these incredible trucks and see who takes home the top prizes in this captivating contest. If you’re interested in checking out some of the vehicles that have already made their way to lot J, check them out here: Check out the early arrivers here! Forward or Back? Iowa House Adjusts Trucking Liability Bill This story is a quicker one as it’s still unfolding, but the situation is certainly worth keeping an eye on. In a potentially controversial move, the Iowa House voted 58 to 42 to amend a potentially harmful reform bill that has its sights set on accountability amongst the dangers faced by trucking companies and their relationship with those on the roads. The bill raises the cap on lawsuit damage awards to $5 million for Iowans injured in motor vehicle crashes, more than double the Senate’s $2 million cap. Beyond that, the new bill would exempt trucking companies from liability for negligence in hiring employees while maintaining their responsibility for negligence in training them. Essentially, trucking companies are responsible for proper training of employees, but what that employee does is up to them. One Iowa State Representative Sami Scheetz acknowledged that the bill was “significantly better” after the amendment, but insisted it is “still a terrible bill.” Scheetz and Representative Megan Jones went on to share their personal experiences with tragic accidents involving commercial vehicles to place emphasis on the necessity of litigation in some cases. The bill is headed back to the Senate for another vote on the new damages award amendment, but the debate over its merit is certainly far from over. Check out more here! Behind the Wheel of Deceit: Michigan’s Multi-Million Dollar Trucking Ponzi Scheme  A Michigan man identified as a “recidivist fraudster” has pleaded guilty to multiple charges related to several trucking-related fraud schemes. These schemes defrauded investors and the U.S. government of millions of dollars. Franklin Ray, 51, of Canton, Michigan, admitted guilt on March 28 to four counts of wire fraud, including one count while released on bail, two counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, and one count of aggravated identity theft. These charges are tied to Ray’s fraudulent activities involving CSA Business Solutions LLC and another Michigan-based trucking company. Between June 2020 and April 2022, Ray orchestrated four separate fraudulent schemes, which included two PPP frauds and a $40 million Ponzi scheme. Ray continued his fraudulent activities even after his arrest in March 2022, swindling investors of nearly $2 million while on bail. Ray falsely claimed to have purchased over 2,000 trucks using investments, but in reality, CSA Business Solutions LLC operated only a few trucks with minimal revenue from trucking activities. Ray also pleaded guilty to charges related to fraudulently obtaining $1.9 million in COVID-19 relief loans for the two trucking companies. Ray’s fraudulent schemes also involved inducing a New York City-based real estate company to pay $175,000 in startup costs for a joint venture that never materialized. The U.S. Attorney’s Office asserts that Ray continued operating the truck investment scheme even after his arrest in March 2022. Ray now faces a maximum sentence of 20 to 30 years in prison for the wire fraud charges, with an additional mandatory two-year sentence for aggravated identity theft. He has agreed to forfeit $42,128,912 and pay restitution to the victims. Check out the full story here! Dodging the Rules: ELD Vendors Accused of Facilitating ‘Ghost Co-Drivers’ Insiders have accused some Electronic Logging Device (ELD) vendors of exploiting loopholes in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) technical specifications to allow trucking companies and drivers to add “ghost co-drivers” to bypass hours-of-service (HOS) rules. A recent example surfaced with a driver using ELD Rider software, which allowed a ghost co-driver to be added within 15-20 minutes after contacting the company. This enabled the driver to have nearly 10 hours of additional driving time and extended their driving cycle before taking a federally mandated break. FMCSA has started to crack down on ELD providers that do not meet federal requirements, as they have removed five devices from their registry this year, which is more than in the previous four years. While the agency did not confirm…

Racing Clocks: How Good Intentions Plague An Industry of Independence

Safety: Not So Simple Recently, new light has been shown on the trucking industry and how it has been grappling with the unintended consequences of the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations and Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) in the years since their introduction. Initially implemented to enhance safety and reduce driver fatigue, these changes have left truck drivers feeling shackled and forced to race against the clock, ultimately compromising the flexibility and freedom that drives so many to a career on the road. This was further emphasized in a 2019 study led by Scott from the University of Tennessee. The study found that the ELD mandates actually worked in the opposite direction, resulting in an unintended increase in unsafe driving behavior, leading to little or no improvement in overall crash rates for small fleets and owner-operators. Struggles of the Open Road Being out on the open roads of this country, truck drivers often work in dynamic and uncontrolled environments, making their profession uniquely challenging at even it’s most basic level. Their battles with inconsistent sleep schedules are not well-studied and have forced regulators to instead rely on sleep studies conducted on factory workers. Beyond sleep, some truck drivers are even exempted from overtime. This being due to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and specifically the Motor Carrier Act (MCA) exemption. This exemption applies to drivers, driver’s helpers, loaders, and mechanics whose duties affect the safety of operation of motor vehicles in transportation on public highways in interstate or foreign commerce.  The exemption is frustrating for many truck drivers are who regularly face with unpaid waiting times at warehouses or even cruising for scarce parking spaces. Believe it or not, an American Trucking Associations study put an actual number on it, revealing that they spend nearly an hour each day just looking for parking. To take this perspective even further, according to research for an article we published earlier this year, there are roughly 1 parking space for every 11 drivers on the road. The fact that truck drivers are not entitled to overtime pay essentially reduces the value of their time to a free commodity. Although they still legally receive at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked, it raises concerns about their compensation. It’s crucial to remember that this exemption applies specifically at the federal level, and individual states may have their own labor laws offering additional protections, including overtime pay, for truck drivers. This complex situation highlights the need for a closer examination of truck drivers’ working conditions and compensation. ELD: The Best of Intentions The introduction of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) was initially seen as a potential game-changer in the trucking industry. The idea was simple: by tracking drivers’ waiting time at customer warehouses, trucking companies could demand fair compensation for the time employees spent waiting to be loaded or unloaded. This, in turn, could have alleviated some financial pressures faced by truck drivers and created a more equitable working environment. However, implementing these changes has been far more complex. If retailers and manufacturers were to start compensating trucking companies for drivers’ waiting time, the increased costs associated with this shift would likely be passed on to consumers. This could lead to a surge in the prices of goods and services across the board, impacting the economy and consumers’ spending habits. On top of that, the pressure to maintain low costs and remain competitive may also prevent trucking companies from insisting on compensation for detention time. This would leave drivers in a difficult situation, still struggling with unpaid waiting hours and the resulting financial consequences of losing out on a good contract. As a result, the potential benefits of ELDs in reducing detention time and improving drivers’ working conditions have yet to be fully seen, and until then, the trucking industry continues to grapple with finding an optimal solution. Taking A Different Toll Truckers have long been an example when it comes to freedom, the profession has always emanated a certain sense of freedom. The introduction of the ELD mandate, however, has taken a toll on drivers’ sense of independence and job satisfaction. Although there is no definitive evidence that a significant number of skilled truck drivers have left the industry due to the ELD mandate, many have openly threatened to do so. This has led to a high turnover rate in the trucking industry, compelling companies to increase salaries to retain and attract drivers. High turnover rates in the trucking industry pose a serious problem. Training new drivers after they receive their Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs) takes several weeks and can potentially impact safety. This is a truly slippery slope, as it turns out that high turnover rates at trucking fleets negatively affect the company’s safety scores. In light of the mounting list of challenges, the trucking industry continues attempting to strike a delicate balance between maintaining safety standards and addressing the unique challenges faced by truck drivers. Once this is accomplished, it will ensure a safe and sustainable environment for the future of the industry while respecting the needs and well-being of those who keep the wheels turning. Before You Hit The Road… We hope you enjoyed this week’s roundup of important trucker news! As always, we want to hear your thoughts and opinions on these stories, so be sure to leave your opinion in the comments below. Together we can stay informed and engaged. Don’t forget to check back next week for another edition of our weekly trucker news roundup. If you made it to this part of the article, we’d just like to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to read it. Be safe out there and as always, If you’re in search of CDL A, B, or warehouse positions, check out our open positions. And if you need staffing solutions for commercial driving or industrial positions, be sure to explore our offerings.

Simulators, Scams and Sustainability: Unforgettable Stories In the Trucking World

Another Week of Unforgettable Stories Welcome to another edition of our weekly hits in trucker news, where we bring you the most important and intriguing stories affecting the trucking industry. From a Nebraska couple sentenced for embezzling thousands of dollars from drivers, to a major acquisition in the US trucking sector, and the innovative trucking simulator setting high school students up for success, these stories are bound to grab your attention. Stay with us as we dive into the world of trucking and explore the latest developments that are shaping the industry. Nebraska Couple Sentenced for Embezzling $140K from Drivers Owners of B&B Midwest Trucking, a Nebraska-based company, have been sentenced for failing to pay over employment taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). William H. White and Sarah A. White, the husband and wife who owned the company, withheld federal income taxes and FICA taxes from employees’ paychecks between 2015 and 2018, totaling $144,220.31 for B&B and $281,827.44 for another of their companies, 419 LLC. Instead of paying the taxes on time, the couple used the funds to pay other creditors and for personal expenses. William White was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, while Sarah White received three years of probation and a $10,000 fine. They were also ordered to pay $426,047.75 in restitution. The employer share of payroll taxes was paid before sentencing. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nebraska, the Whites had sufficient funds to pay the taxes but chose not to, gaining an unfair competitive advantage over other businesses. The IRS Criminal Investigation’s Field Office wants to remind business owners that they have a significant duty to collect and turn over all IRS withholding taxes, and those who fail to do so will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This case serves as a reminder that not paying taxes can result in severe consequences, including criminal charges, imprisonment, and fines. To read more about this story, click here. Trucking Company Owner Reunited with $39,500 After Seizure by Phoenix Police Jerry Johnson, the owner of a North Carolina-based trucking company, has finally been reunited with $39,500 that Phoenix police seized through civil asset forfeiture in 2020. Johnson was accused of being part of a money laundering operation and had his cash confiscated after police found the money split between his carry-on and checked baggage at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. However, Johnson was never charged with a crime related to the money. Under civil asset forfeiture laws, the government can seize property it believes is connected to a crime, even if no one is charged, and it’s the responsibility of the property owner to hire an attorney to get it back. The Institute for Justice, a libertarian legal advocacy group, took up Johnson’s case, and the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in May 2022 that Johnson could contest the seizure. Prosecutors moved to dismiss the case in February, and Johnson got his money back. Although Johnson’s money has been returned, the case isn’t over yet. The Institute for Justice is still fighting over whether the state should pay him standard interest on the money and whether he’s owed attorney fees from the period before the group began representing him pro bono. The ordeal has created a significant financial burden for Johnson and his family, and he missed out on business opportunities because the money was held in a government account for nearly three years. To read more about this story, click here. Major Takeover in US Trucking: Knight-Swift’s Acquisition of US Xpress Knight-Swift, the largest player in the US truckload industry, is set to acquire US Xpress in a deal worth about $808 million, the biggest takeover in US trucking in years. According to the two companies, US Xpress will add about $2.2 billion in annual revenue, a boost of around 30%, to Knight-Swift’s turnover, with $1.8 billion generated in the truckload segment. The smaller carrier has struggled in recent years, with a net deficit of $40.5 million in 2022 and a restructuring plan to reduce costs by $25 million a year. The acquisition is an opportunistic move for Knight-Swift, and a rare opportunity for shareholders in US Xpress to get a generous return on their investment. The deal is expected to close by the end of the second or early in the third quarter, and US Xpress will continue as an independent brand. Despite the high purchasing price and outstanding debt, some observers believe the takeover could prove a bargain for the larger player if it manages to turn US Xpress around. As headwinds for US truckload operators are not expected to disappear in the near future, pundits have predicted more consolidation in the coming months. Knight-Swift’s acquisition of US Xpress affirms its interest in growth through acquisition, with president and CEO David Jackson signaling that it won’t be the final move of the company this year. To read more about this story, click here. Steering Success: How A Trucking Simulator is Setting Students Up For Success Richland School District One in South Carolina is offering a unique program for high school students to help them get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and jumpstart their careers. Eau Claire High School is leading the way with a 45-student program that recently received a big boost by installing a brand new trucking simulator. Students can now learn space management, speed management, and hazard prevention without the risk of damaging a vehicle or themselves. After completing the program, students will have hands-on training and experience that could give them a competitive advantage in securing a job. Rick Todd, president of the South Carolina Trucking Association, says trucking is universal and a skill needed across the country, adding it can be a lucrative job with salaries of up to $100,000. Companies are always trying to up their game and get the best drivers they can find. For Keshawn Hair, a student…

A New Team: The Bipedal Robot Redefining Logistic Automation

Move over, Iron Man, because there’s a new superhero in town: Digit, a bipedal robot from Agility Robotics! The logistics and transportation industry is already witnessing the transformative power of automation and autonomy, with autonomous trucks leading the charge. In fact, we’ve covered a handful of these advancements on our blog this year. Once again, we’re thrilled to discuss another area experiencing an onslaught of innovation – bipedal robots and their impact on logistics and supply chain management. ProMat 2023 This week logistic pros and enthusiasts will attend ProMat 2023, the biannual trade show and exhibition taking place in Chicago, IL. This event showcases the latest manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain solutions and technologies. Industry professionals from manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, and transportation gather to learn about cutting-edge trends and innovations. Among the many impressive exhibits appearing, one particularly exciting attraction that has caught the attention of many is Agility Robotics and their unique bipedal robots. Agility Robotics Agility Robotics was founded by Dr. Jonathan Hurst and Dr. Damion Shelton a duo based out of Albany, Oregon. The company has already made waves based on their unique take on specializing in designing and building advanced robots for various commercial applications. The twist? They have legs. Their flagship product, the Cassie robot, is designed to operate autonomously and navigate complex environments with ease. Agility Robotics has attracted significant attention and investment from diverse industries, such as logistics, e-commerce, and healthcare, due to their groundbreaking technology and the potential to transform various parts of the industry from warehouse work to delivering packages. Taking the Stage This year’s ProMat is slated to be one for the books as it will finally showcase Agility Robotics’ latest bot, Digit. Digit is the team’s latest rendition of a bipedal robot and it is quickly becoming the go-to solution for numerous arms of our industry. At this week’s event, Digit will demonstrate its logistic capabilities in a replica warehouse. This is expected to be a very interesting and inspiring display of technology since unlike other robots we’ve become used to, Agility Robotics’ creations aren’t designed to simply mimic human movements. Instead, they’re built to work alongside humans, complementing human labor rather than striving to replace it entirely. Meet Digit While we wait for the full display later this week, let’s discuss what we already know about Digit. For starters, Digit is compact, strong, and versatile, capable of carrying up to 16kg (35lbs) and working for up to 16 hours in a 24-hour period. Even more impressive robot can autonomously connect to its docking station to recharge, eliminating the need for costly retrofitting. It’s just like a Roomba! As for walking capabilities, it’s actually able to move in any direction, traverse unstructured terrain, and detect and navigate around obstacles, including people. This is a game changer because it opens a door for true collaboration between human workers and their automated counterparts. Especially since Digit can pick up and put down objects of varying sizes and weights, making it an even more valuable asset in logistics and transportation. With its wide range of capabilities, it’s no surprise that Digit is rapidly becoming the robot of choice for many industries. As we continue to explore advancements in automation and autonomy, it’s evident that Agility Robotics is worth keeping your eye on as they seem to be spearheading a new movement and mindset in innovation within logistics and transportation. Live Stream Update: For those interested, a livestream of the Digit Demo at ProMat 2023 will be streamed on YouTube later today. Be sure to check it out! That’s All For Now As automation and autonomy continue to revolutionize these sectors, bipedal robots like Digit have the potential to play an increasingly important role in supply chain management. With its unique design, versatility, and ability to work alongside humans, Digit represents a new era of automation that complements human labor rather than replacing it. We hope you enjoyed this week’s roundup of important trucker news! As always, we want to hear your thoughts and opinions on these stories, so be sure to leave your opinion in the comments below. Together we can stay informed and engaged . Don’t forget to check back next week for another edition of our weekly trucker news roundup. If you made it to this part of the article, we’d just like to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to read it. Be safe out there and as always, If you’re in search of CDL A, B, or warehouse positions, check out our open positions. And if you need staffing solutions for commercial driving or industrial positions, be sure to explore our offerings.

Hauntings To Hazmat: Unforgettable Moments In The Trucking World

A Quick St. Paddy’s Day Thank You! Before we get into another wild ride in the trucking industry this week, we’d like to take a minute to wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today, we celebrate our unrivaled road warriors and logistics experts who keep the world moving. Thank you for your dedication and hard work! Wishing you a day filled with good luck, fewer potholes, and smooth travels. Stay safe this weekend & cheers from The Optimum Logistic Team! Onto The News! A rising number of fatal crashes calls for action through a new Roadway Safety Action Plan that utilized data to identify crash hotspots and aims to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on Knoxville’s roads. Emergency crews responded to a hazardous material spill at an East Tennessee truck stop, meanwhile a highway safety advocacy group is demanding action to improve safety standards to prevent events like this from taking place. And to top it all off, for those who love a little strangeness, a truck driver’s dashcam captured a mysterious ghost-like figure on an eerie Arizona highway. Buckle up and join us as we dive into the latest news from the world of trucking! New Plan To Eradicate Fatal Crashes in Knoxville Knoxville, a picturesque East Tennessee city, has been plagued by a rising number of fatal and serious crashes. With 30% of these accidents occurring on 12 specifc roadways, the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) is taking action. They’ve developed a Roadway Safety Action Plan, bringing together engineers, planners, law enforcement, community members, and other organizations to make Knoxville’s streets safer for everyone. While still acknowledging that humans make mistakes, the plan aims to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on Knoxville’s roads by addressing the factors contributing to accidents. For example, planners are examining roadway curves and roadside conditions to prevent crashes caused by drivers losing control and veering off the road. The TPO’s plan uses a data-driven approach, identifying and ranking crash hotspots based on the number of accidents per mile. This includes high-crash areas both in and around the city, popular areas such as like downtown’s Henley Street, Broadway and Chapman Highway, as well as Illinois Avenue in Oak Ridge, which lies on Knoxville’s outskirts. The next step will be securing funding to implement the plan and begin the work of making Knoxville’s streets safer. The TPO is also issuing some public through surveys to gather feedback and help achieve their zero-fatality goal. Ellen Zavisca, the TPO’s principal transportation planner, remains optimistic that they can prevent fatal and serious crashes, forever changing the lives of Knoxville’s residents for the better. Read the full story here! Highway Haunting: Truck Driver Captures A Spooky Sight on Dashcam Picture this: you’re driving alone on a desolate Arizona highway at 2:30 a.m. when you suddenly see a mysterious figure appear on the side of the road. That’s exactly what happened to truck driver William Church, whose dashcam captured a creepy, ghost-like figure on Arizona State Route 87 between Phoenix and Payson! With no other cars around, Church and the many viewers of his unique footage have been left wondering if this eerie encounter could be something supernatural… Arizona State Route 87 has a long and deadly history, with many fatal car accidents occurring on the 96-year-old road. Constructed in 1927, the highway stretches over 272 miles from the north end near Second Mesa to the south end near Picacho. Some locals have even come to believe that the road could be haunted, with Valley Chevy Dealers in Phoenix dubbing it one of Arizona’s “most dangerous roads” due to its looping turns and beeline-like route. Captured by a Nexar dashcam, which is designed to record drives for security reasons, the six-second clip reveals a translucent figure resembling a person standing in the roadway. Church pointed out that you can even see the lines through the figure’s legs, adding to its ghostly appearance. With no other cars on the road and the highway’s spooky reputation, it’s no wonder people are discussing the possibility of a supernatural occurrence. While we may never know for sure if William Church’s sighting was a ghost, it’s clear that this spine-chilling encounter will leave viewers questioning the unknown. Hazmat Leak At East Tennessee Truck Stop Emergency crews responded to a hazardous material spill at a truck stop on Watt Road in Knoxville. A semi-truck began leaking some kind of dangerous substance, prompting the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office, county EMA, and fire crews to respond along with Knox County Rural Metro. The hazmat teams worked to clean up the spill and people were urged to avoid the area and take alternate routes if possible. Update: The quick response from multiple emergency crews shows just how seriously they take these kinds of incidents. Authorities have already identified the material as Peroxyacetic Acid. This multi-purpose antimicrobial agent, surface cleaner, and sanitizer is currently used across many different industries. While it is safe while stabilized, when it’s in its purest form, it can be corrosive. Two passerbys who witnessed the acid’s “vinegar-like” odor actually ended up driving themselves to the hospital to get checked out. Highway Safety Advocacy Group Calls for Crackdown on Trucking Industry From a train derailment in East Palestine to a semi-truck rollover in Tucson, Arizona, we’re seeing more and more that there is a growing issue with hazardous material spills. Scary, right? Well, the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) is demanding that U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg take action. Their goal is to improve truck safety standards and prevent dangerous crashes, while simultaneously putting public safety ahead of corporate profits. Okay, sounds great, but how exactly do they plan to achieve this? The TSC has a list of recommendations for the Department of Transportation (DOT), and they’re not holding back: Requiring Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) on all commercial vehicles. Research shows AEB could eliminate over 40% of large truck rear-end collisions. The European Union has been requiring AEB on heavy trucks since 2013. Mandating…

Self-Driving Layoffs? Embarking On A New Journey

Impact of the Economic Downturn on the Logistics Industry According to the latest reports, the logistics industry is witnessing a significant drop in employment as consumer spending shifts away from goods and towards services, causing a drop in e-commerce growth and a slowdown in freight demand. Trucking, warehousing, and parcel-delivery companies have cut jobs in response to the slowdown, causing many logistics companies to begin massive pullbacks on hiring. Beyond trucks, we saw the warehouse sector come face to face with one of the largest monthly drops in the past decade. It’s important to note that the majority of the job losses are in industries that thrived during the pandemic. Amazon, for instance, has already initiated a cost-cutting review, implementing targeted cuts to bring down costs. Other tech giants such as Facebook, Lyft, HP, and Salesforce have also announced layoffs to counteract the overgrowth that occurred during the pandemic. This raises an important question, is employment in these booming industries sustainable? Noble Beginnings Embark, one of the big names in self-driving big rig’s, was founded back in 2016 and has since raised over $115 million in funding. Beyond that, they began the process of making good on their promises. The company previously achieved successful public road tests and even partnered with major shipping companies such as HP and AB InBev to conduct pilot programs. Their main goal as a company has always been working to make commercial trucking safer, more efficient, and less expensive by enabling trucks to operate safely and efficiently without a driver on the highway. By taking out the human element, they believed that they could make the industry much safer and more efficient. This was echoed by Srikanth Saripalli, director at Texas A&M’s Center for Autonomous Vehicles and Sensor Systems, who described their main aim as automating the, “…dull, dirty, dangerous…,” tasks, leaving humans to focus on more complex and creative work! The House Automation Built If you remember way back to 2017, you’ll recall that the Texas Legislature passed laws allowing autonomous vehicles to operate on Texas roads. This exciting legislature began instantly attracting driverless car companies to the state. Embark, along with some other big names in the game, have been utilizing autonomous trucking technology being developed at Texas A&M University ever since. As they’ve gone on to explore this groundbreaking new tech, lots of new ideas have prospered and it really seemed as though the sky was the limit. At one point, there was even talk of expanding into Texas’ infrastructure and launching a first of its kind self-driving trucking lane between Houston and San Antonio! The Memo Nobody Wanted Sadly, despite the team’s hard work, undeniable accomplishments and high hopes, Embark CEO, Alex Rodrigues, acknowledged in a company-wide letter that can really be summed up by one line, “success was not guaranteed.” He expressed his disappointment having to lay off approximately 70% of the company. The remaining 30% of the company will turn their focus on an orderly wind-down of its operations, supporting its laid-off employees, and evaluating its options, including selling assets, restructuring, or shutting down completely. The laid-off employees have been reassured that they will receive severance, benefits, equity, and career support from Embark. Despite the closure, Alex believes that the work of the company has made a difference in pushing the autonomous trucking industry forward. In addition to the layoffs, the company also closed its offices in Southern California and Houston. Only time will tell the true impact of these setbacks on the industry as a whole. Greener Pastures Despite the recent economic challenges, there is still optimism in the logistics industry, as some top trucking company executives predict that freight demand will improve in the second half of the year due to an increase in orders from retailers. However, the Logistics Managers’ Index report for February showed that transportation prices contracted at the fastest rate in the index’s 6½-year history.  This highlights the importance for companies to remain vigilant and ready to adapt to the changing economic climate, and emphasizes the importance of considering just how sustainable astronomical growth is especially when that growth is based on something that’s not permanent such as a pandemic. Only the future can tell what impacts these setbacks will have on the automated trucking industry and logistics as a whole. If you made it to this part of the article, we’d just like to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to read it. Be safe out there and as always, If you’re in search of CDL A, B, or warehouse positions, check out our open positions. And if you need staffing solutions for commercial driving or industrial positions, be sure to explore our offerings.

Quarter-Million Creme Egg Heist? Tax Repeal + New Rules

Wild Stories You Won’t Want To Miss Get ready for a wild ride in the trucking industry this week! From a daring theft of 200,000 Cadbury Creme Eggs to a call-out of a speeding trucker on Twitter, the headlines are packed with unexpected events. But that’s not all, as new bills take aim at outdated taxes and regulations, while rest stops in Missouri are getting a makeover to provide safer parking for commercial vehicles. Buckle up and join us as we dive into the latest news from the world of trucking. New Bill Takes On Outdated Trucker Taxes Senators Ben Cardin and Todd Young have introduced the Modern, Clean, and Safe Trucks Act of 2023 to repeal the outdated federal excise tax (FET) on heavy trucks and trailers. The bipartisan bill has garnered support from industry groups such as the American Trucking Associations, American Truck Dealers, and Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA). The FET, established over 100 years ago to support World War I efforts, is now the highest percentage excise tax on any product and acts as a barrier to investment in cleaner and safer trucks and trailers. Repealing the tax will promote growth, competitiveness, and cleaner technology, while creating jobs and reducing emissions. Over 90% of truck drivers are men. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, over 95% of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and 84% of delivery truck drivers were men. FMCSA Wants To Ensure Drivers Get Paid On Time The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended the comment period for its proposed rules to regulate broker and freight forwarder financial responsibility. The NPRM, which covers areas such as immediate suspension of operating authority and surety or trust responsibilities in cases of financial failure, was set to expire on March 5th, but has been extended until April 6th to allow for a public listening session. The session will be held on March 31st in Louisville, KY, and will run concurrently with the Mid America Trucking Show. The FMCSA hopes that this extension will encourage public input on the proposed rules. Missouri Closes 2 Rest Stops for Safer Truck Parking The Missouri Department of Transportation will be closing two rest areas, the southbound Platte County Interstate 29 and Clinton County Interstate 35, to all motorists next week as work begins to convert them into commercial vehicle parking. The $3.8 million project, expected to be completed by the end of October 2023, aims to meet the needs of commercial vehicles, which make up an estimated 35% of the annual daily traffic on Missouri’s interstates. By converting traditional rest areas, MoDOT hopes to decrease the costs of upkeep while ensuring safer parking for commercial vehicles. U.K. Man Steals 200,000 Cadbury Creme Eggs A man has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly 200,000 Cadbury Creme Eggs worth an estimated £40,000. Using a metal grinder to break into an industrial unit in Telford, the 32-year-old from West Yorkshire used a stolen cab to drive off with the chocolate goods. He was stopped by police and will be sentenced on March 14. The prosecutor described the crime as requiring some “significant planning” since the defendant was the leader in the offense, including using a stolen tractor unit. All the stolen items have been recovered in good condition. Nebraska State Patrol Calls Out Speeding Trucker on Twitter A trooper from Nebraska State Patrol called out a “Peterbuilt” driver on Twitter for traveling at 101 mph. The post asks if a Peterbilt can actually reach that speed and encourages drivers to slow down, as speed is a factor in many crashes and their severity. The post doesn’t note the highway the driver was caught on, but a photo shows the truck running bobtail. You’re All Caught Up! We hope you enjoyed this week’s roundup of important trucker news! We definitely won’t be forgetting about the theft of 200,000 Cadbury Creme Eggs any time soon! From the proposed financial responsibility rules all the way to the introduction of a new bills and closing rest areas, there’s always something happening in the world of trucking! We want to hear your thoughts and opinions on these stories, so be sure to leave your opinion in the comments below. Together we can stay informed and engaged . Don’t forget to check back next week for another edition of our weekly trucker news roundup. If you made it to this part of the article, we’d just like to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to read it. Be safe out there and as always, If you’re in search of CDL A, B, or warehouse positions, check out our open positions. And if you need staffing solutions for commercial driving or industrial positions, be sure to explore our offerings.

10 Ways Women are Shaking-Up Trucking: Happy International Women’s Day!

Happy International Women’s Day! It comes as no surprise to learn that the trucking industry has historically been a male-dominated field, with men accounting for the vast majority of truck drivers. However, in recent years, women have been making inroads and advocating for more inclusive and equitable workplaces. With industry leaders and policymakers taking notice, here are 10 surprising ways that women are shaking-up in the trucking industry: 1. Over 90% of truck drivers are men. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, over 95% of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and 84% of delivery truck drivers were men. 2. Women already comprise around 6.75% of industry workers. While the percentage may seem low, it has already doubled in just over the past two decades. 3. Gender diversity is making significant progress in securing leadership roles within the trucking industry. The 2022 Women in Trucking Index reports that the number of women occupying executive positions at trucking companies has increased by 23.3% over the past year. Additionally, more women are being appointed to the board of directors of trucking organizations, seeing a 20% increase. 4. The American Trucking Associations launched a Women in Motion initiative. This new initiative aims to bring more women into the trucking industry and continue efforts to break down barriers that may hinder their success. 5. The Biden-Harris administration established a Women in Trucking Advisory Board to support and bring more women into the trucking industry. The board aims to address challenges faced by women in trucking and promote gender diversity. 6. Advocacy groups are pushing for change as well. Groups such as REAL Women in Trucking and Women in Trucking have committed to creating a safer, more equitable environment for women in the trucking business. 7. Truck design is changing to be more inclusive. Trucking giants such as Ryder and Volvo have even gone as far as to make changes to truck designs themself in order to make them accessible and operational for a variety of body types. 8. Women face other unique challenges in the industry as well. In recent years, widespread claims of sexual harassment and assault have risen to the surface. These issues have become the major focus for the industry and making efforts to rid the industry of these issues. 9. Women make less than men in trucking. Male truck drivers make 1.3 times what women drivers make, according to the BLS. 10. Women find freedom and independence in trucking. Despite the challenges, increasing numbers of women are finding community and independence as truck drivers, with many citing the freedom, time for self-reflection, and even space for self-discovery that these job offers. It’s Clear Women are making significant progress towards gender equity in the trucking industry, breaking down barriers and pushing for a more inclusive and supportive future. While challenges may persist, the industry is clearly eager to take the necessary steps towards recognizing and addressing the unique obstacles faced by women in the industry, with advocacy groups leading the way for these changes. With continued support and progress, the path ahead for women in trucking is promising and offers new opportunities for female drivers and industry leaders. If you made it to this part of the article, we’d just like to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to read it. Be safe out there and as always, If you’re in search of CDL A, B, or warehouse positions, check out our open positions. And if you need staffing solutions for commercial driving or industrial positions, be sure to explore our offerings.

Tennessee Volunteers To Lead New $2M Transportation Education Center

UTK leading Center for Freight Transportation for Efficient The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been awarded a $2 million a year grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to lead a new and exciting venture: a multi-institutional University Transportation Center aimed at improving the mobility of people and goods across the country. The Center for Freight Transportation for Efficient and Resilient Supply Chain will partner alongside these universities: Texas A&M University University of Illinois Chicago Oregon State University North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University California State University, Long Beach. Supply Chain Innovations The center will be led by Mingzhou Jin, John D. Tickle Professor in UT’s Tickle College of Engineering, who expressed excitement over the opportunity to work with other institutions to develop innovative technologies and solutions that maximize the capacity of existing roadway infrastructure and ensure the just-in-time delivery of goods that support America’s retail and manufacturing economy. The goal is to enhance supply chain resiliency by addressing the challenges in freight transportation system design, planning, operations, and innovations in national and global supply chains through research, education, workforce development, and technology transfer activities. UT’s Commitment to Future Mobility The new center will be located in UT Knoxville’s Center for Transportation Research. The overarching goal of the facility will be to lead the way in new and transformational work paving the way for the future of the industry. Through support of both new technology advancements and the creation of a skilled workforce for Tennessee and the nation there is no doubt that this will have a monumental impact. According to UT Vice Chancellor for Research Deb Crawford, the state of Tennessee already plays a critical role in the U.S. freight network, and UT is committed to amplifying the impact of its research outcomes by building research capacity. Why Tennessee? Quick Facts! Tennessee is home to nearly 14K Distribution and Logistics establishments The second busiest cargo airport in the world is located in Memphis, TN 231K+ Tennesseans are employed in the Distribution and Logistics industry $4 Billion in capital investment from industry projects since 2017 Although the trucking and logistics industry has experienced its share of ups and downs in recent years, we’re seeing positive developments that largely suggest a much brighter future. Established universities, as well as institutions like Ivy Tech and New Castle Career Center, are making significant efforts to strengthen the industry’s foundation. For example, we recently featured the new CDL Scholarship program from Ivy Tech and New Castle Career Center. These efforts are likely to have a huge impact on the industry’s future. If you made it to this part of the article, we’d just like to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to read it. Be safe out there and as always, If you’re in search of CDL A, B, or warehouse positions, check out our open positions. And if you need staffing solutions for commercial driving or industrial positions, be sure to explore our offerings.

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