Pilot Flying J Donates $1.25 Million to TMAF

Trucking Moves America Forward is very grateful to have received a five year donation of $1.25 million from Pilot Flying J in June of 2014. To date, Pilot Flying J’s donation is the largest contribution to the TMAF movement.

Founder of Pilot Flying J, Mr. James A. Haslam II presented the company’s donation to trucking professionals and leaders of TMAF at a special event in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Haslam was joined by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Rep. John Duncan, R.-Tenn.; Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves; Truckload Carriers Association President Chris Burruss and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s Ryan Bowley who all praised TMAF for its commitment to improve the image of the American trucking industry.

TMAF  appreciates Pilot Flying J’s donation and its dedication to telling the positive story of trucking professionals for years to come!

Transport Topics: It’s Always Time to Appreciate Truck Drivers

By Bill Graves

President and CEO

American Trucking Associations

Too often in life we dwell on the negative. I know that I’m guilty of it, and I’m sure many of you are, as well. At the end of the day, when we go home and our families ask, “How was your day?” too often the first response is the annoyances of a commute or aggravations of our jobs.

It feels like, this year in particular, too often the media have been dwelling on the negative when it comes to our industry. High-profile incidents draw a lot of attention and ultimately are used to tar not just our industry but the hardworking men and women at its heart — the American truck driver.

We now spend a lot of time throughout the year educating the public, politicians and each other about what a remarkable industry this is and what important work we do. We’ve committed to Trucking Moves America Forward, the image movement that is telling our story to millions all the time.
But beyond that, we’ve reserved one week to do a little more for that group of people that really carry the load — figuratively and literally — for all of us.

This week, Sept. 14-20, is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, and all across the country carriers, shippers and vendors will be celebrating just how important the more than 3.2 million professional truck drivers are to our country and our economy.

In a time of increasing traffic congestion, more burdensome regulations, high fuel costs and a growing economy, America’s truck drivers are busier and more important than ever.

Consider this: Last year, almost 70% of all the freight moved in this country did so on the flatbed, in the tank or in the trailer of a truck. Seventy percent: That isn’t a typo and that’s not a boast; that’s just a fact. More than 80% of our communities, our major cities and small towns, get all their goods — from food, fuel and medicine to lumber, gasoline and televisions — via truck. There’s no store in America, none, with a rail line leading to the loading dock, which means every item on every shelf, from the smallest mom-and-pop hardware store to the biggest Wal-Mart, is delivered by truck.

The driving force (pun intended) behind all this is the American professional truck driver, who is well-trained, dedicated to safety and willing to sacrifice being away from home and family to make sure those shelves stay stocked.

They do this even as they are unjustly reviled or feared because, frankly, most of the time, if truck drivers make the news, it is not for their incredible professionalism, their dedication to safety or to highlight their essential role in our daily lives.

They do their job in the face of increasingly congested highways that delay their deliveries. They do it in the face of increasingly inflexible rules that put needless pressure on them. They do it because if they didn’t, who would?

Drivers are logging more miles (upward of 152 billion in 2012), they are hauling more freight (9.7 billion tons in 2013) and they are being safer than ever while doing it (truck crashes are down 27% over the past decade).

For that reason, we need to appreciate them more — not just this week but especially this week.
How can we do that?

There’s something that everyone can do to appreciate the truck drivers they see: Show them respect and deference on the road. See trucks on the highway? Give them the space they need. Slow down. Don’t crowd into their blind spots or cut them off. Yes, that’s common courtesy, but it is also good for safety.

Beyond that: Fleets, show your drivers how much you value their effort. Recognize them for their hard work with such things as simple signage or a cookout to show them you appreciate what they do to keep America’s economy — and your company — moving.

Shippers, thank the drivers pulling up to your docks for getting your freight there safely and efficiently. Be respectful of their time and effort in doing so. Show you understand what the driver did to get that load where it needed to go.

And to our friends in the enforcement community, treat the drivers you encounter as partners in safety, not adversaries. They want the highways — their workplace — to be as safe as possible.

Across the country, our state associations, their members, ATA members, shippers, truck stops and many, many other businesses will be helping to dwell on the positive: the amazing job our professional truck drivers do moving America’s goods.

We are proud of our drivers, and we believe their good work should be highlighted 52 weeks a year, not just this week that is dedicated to appreciating them.

Idaho Statesman: Truck drivers with Operation Roger make sure dogs, other pets get to loving homes

By Katy Moeller

Brad Miller is a trucker who hauls steel for Ryerson between Salt Lake and Seattle.

The 59-year-old, who lives in Kaysville, Utah, made a special delivery early Tuesday morning in Boise: A floppy-eared black dog.

The cocker spaniel puppy, named Vegeta (named for an anime character), was transported from Louisiana to Idaho by a series of truckers, including Miller, who are volunteers with Operation Roger. The dog’s owner — Army Specialist Aaron McGehee at Fort Polk — wasn’t able to keep his little buddy, so he needed to get the dog out to his family’s house in Payette.

The McGehees heard about Operation Roger from Reme Maple, owner of Tea Leaves- N-Coffee Beans in Cascade. Maple had a couple of dogs moved through the volunteer service. There is a $35 application fee, but the transport is free.

Since 2005, about 850 dogs and other pets — including cats, hamsters and spiders — have been transported by the truckers to new homes, according to a spokeswoman for the group. The volunteer network of 30 drivers was created after Hurricane Katrina, when a driver who lost her dog, Roger, wanted to help the New Orleans community and move neglected or abandoned dogs to loving homes.

Miller said he got involved after hearing about it on the radio. He claimed his wife is the real animal lover (she’s a “crazy cat lady,” he said, and they have also own two dogs and four chickens), but he wanted to help animals that need a lift to get to new or better homes.

He once transported a 200-pound Bullmastiff. To accommodate that dog, Miller had to remove the passenger seat from his truck and build a ramp, recalled Dan Wylie, who operates Ryerson’s Boise warehouse. Miller used cheese to coax that dog — who wasn’t exactly warm and fuzzy — into his truck.

Miller can’t remember how many years he’s been taking Operation Roger pets as co-pilots, but he guesses as many as seven or eight. He said the transports are sporadic, and he might do several in a month and then not get another for weeks.

“I think I like these animals a whole lot more than I like most people,” he said. The transport experience can be a pretty terrifying for many animals.

“All they do is shake and shed,” Miller said, adding that they do seem to adapt fairly quickly. “Within 24 hours, they’ve taken possession of the truck.”

Many sleep in crates or dog beds, or they find nooks in the truck to curl up in. Some dogs like to stick their heads out of the window, or at least press their noses up against it.

Miller picked up Vegeta from another trucker who stopped near Salt Lake City; the other trucker was headed south, and Miller was going north. The dog spent Sunday night at Miller’s house. The curious puppy had a good time chasing around his chickens.

“I guess he’d never seen chickens before,” Miller said.

Vegeta curled up in Miller’s lap as he drove Monday night. Miller said he didn’t know much about the dog, or his back story. He said he prefers it that way.

“You can get attached to them,” said Miller, who has a Rottweiler and black lab at home. “You get to the receiver, and you’re like, hmmm, I don’t want to give them to you. It’s real hard.”

Sporting an Operation Roger T-shirt Tuesday morning, Miller looked pleased when he handed the puppy over to Shelly McGehee outside Ryerson’s warehouse in southeast Boise.

The puppy, who was traveling for over a month, licked everyone in sight — then set off to his new home in Payette.

Business Insider: Meet Paul Brandon, The 55-Year-Old Father Of 2 Who’s Officially The Greatest Truck Driver In America

By Rob Wile

Connecticut truck driver Paul Brandon has never hauled to Tucson, Tucumcari, or Tonopah.

But over the course of his 34-year career in the industry, he has, as the song goes, driven nearly every kind of rig that’s ever been made. And over 1.1 million miles, according to Brandon’s employer Fedex Brandon, has never had an accident.

This is one of the reasons the 55-year-old father of two just earned the title as one of the country’s greatest truck drivers at the annual National Truck Driving Championships, sponsored by the American Trucking Association.

Brandon won in the contest’s 48-foot flatbed division, but one could argue he’s actually No.1 in the country. Other drivers, including this year’s ATA Grand Champion, have racked up more professional miles over their career without an accident. But to qualify, Brandon, who drives for FedEx, also had to maintain a clean record in his personal driving. That includes accidents in which he wasn’t at fault. Brandon’s 34 years as a driver best the grand champion’s 28.

How is a record like that even possible when, as Brandon recently asserted to Business Insider, truck drivers make more decisions in a minute than airline pilots?

There’s no trick, he said.

“I keep my eyes on the road and my hands on the wheel and I pay attention,” he said. “It’s a constant vigilance at all times — there’s no taking your eyes off the road, no taking your hands of the wheel, every minute you’re sitting there driving down the road, whenever you’re stopped, don’t be fiddling with the radio at a traffic light.”

“People have hobbies — my passion is truck-driving championships,” he told Business Insider recently. “Saturdays and Sundays I go down to the yard [to train]. It can be a long summer, when my wife asks me to fix the kitchen sink and I’m still washing the truck trailer or painting the wheels. But I manage to find time.”

The competition sounds like something that could easily get picked up by ESPN 2. The skills course tests various forms of precision driving including braking, parking, and backing, all up against the clock.

There is also a written test that covers everything from safety to hazardous materials to first aid, and a pretrip course where drivers must root out defects planted by course administrators. Brandon says he started practicing in March, and his kids often found him asleep slumped over a book.

Brandon’s career took a relatively conventional course, at least as far as his generation goes. He grew up liking big machines, and thought about becoming a civil engineer. After some schooling, he worked for as a garbage hauler before meeting someone in the trucking industry who agreed to take him under his wing. That was the extent of his formal training.

“I’ve done everything from drive dumpsters to flatbeds to liquid tankers, hauled frozen foods, just about everything at one time or another,” he said.

He’s been on flatbeds for the past 14 years, running local pick-up and delivery routes in and around Connecticut. He says they’re unique among rigs for the amount of manual labor they require outside of driving.

“You have to chain stuff down, secure it, tarp it, watch it,” he said.

These requirements have improved safety records but have complicated the nation’s mounting truck-driver shortage. We’ve previously discussed some of the perverse economic incentives that have led to the problem. Brandon insists the problem is cyclical and that trucking firms have already begun making increasing incentives to attract more drivers.

“Companies are coming a long way with trying to give time off from work for drivers to be with their families and keep them rested, the pay packages are coming up to attract a lot of good people to industry,” he said. “The question is can we keep pace with the growth?”

He said he’s not concerned about drivers being able to match his safety record, thanks to the proliferation of driver-aiding technology.

“When I first started driving, if you had a spot mirror on the right side of a truck … now they have lane departure systems, stability-control systems, forward Vorad [Vehicle Onboard Radar] systems, cruise control, the technology they have is quite amazing. And I think they’ll be able to keep making it safer and drivers of today will be able to carry it on.”

>The prize for first place in Pittsburgh is $1,000, a sum that pales against the thrill of putting on the gold belt buckle first-place finishers also receive.

“There are only nine people in the country this year that are going to get a gold belt buckle,” he said. “When you win a national title and get that gold belt buckle, you become one of the best of the best.”

Brandon says that after conquering flatbeds he’s moving on to tankers. While retirement has crept into his psyche it is not an imminent threat — especially since he is still not technically a grand champion.

“Once you get to a certain level, you want to get to the next level, then you want to get to another,” he said.