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Goodyear honors 3 drivers at 35th annual Highway Heroes award presentation

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From left are Goodyear Marketing Director Gary Medalis, the 2018 Goodyear Highway Hero Award winner, Frank Vieira, and finalists Brian Bucenell and Ryan Moody. (The Trucker: KLINT LOWRY)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Brian Bucenell hails from Richmond, Virginia. Ryan Moody calls Tacoma, Washington, home. And Frank Vieira resides in Ancaster, Ontario, about 55 miles (or 89.5 kilometers, as he would say) southwest of Toronto.

You would imagine fate would have to put in some overtime to ever bring these three veteran drivers together for any reason, much less to share a spotlight in Louisville, Kentucky.

Yet there they were. On Thursday, immediately after the first day of the Mid-America Trucking Show, a crowd gathered at the nearby Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport Expo Center hotel to celebrate serendipity’s fait accompli, and three standup guys, as the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company marked the 35th anniversary of its Highway Hero Award.

Each year since 1983, Goodyear has honored professional truck drivers who perform extraordinary acts of heroism, often at risk to themselves. This year, Bucenall, Moody and Vieira were the three finalists for the award.

Gary Medalis, marketing director for Goodyear, said that over the years, the Highway Heroes award has honored drivers who have saved children’s lives, come to the aid of police officers and have performed numerous other feats of bravery. He added that the three drivers selected as finalists this year are all fine choices as the award — the oldest of its kind in trucking — marks this milestone year.

The incidents that led to these three drivers being nominated for the Highway Hero Award were about as far-flung from one another as their hometowns, with one thing in common: They all exhibited personal and professional cool under pressure.

For Bucenell, it all started just after he’d merged onto the Ohio Turnpike near Toledo. He heard chatter on the CB about a high-speed chase going on somewhere in the vicinity. Moments later, Bucenell saw several state troopers in his rearview mirror chasing a car and gaining on him fast.

Just then, he came upon a construction zone. “We lost the far left lane,” he said. “It went from three lanes to two lanes. They put up a concrete barrier, blocking it off.”

When the car reached Bucenell’s truck another truck was running alongside. Bucenell said the car tried to pass him on the left, saw the barrier, then cut back behind him.

From that point on, Bucenell said, the car kept trying to pass, to the left, to the right, between the two trucks. Every time he moved, Bucenell, who’s been driving professionally for 10 years, moved over just enough to cut him off.

“I know my truck pretty well,” Bucenell said. “It was a mixture of his lack of experience and my knowing my truck. I think that’s what let me be able to stop him.”

Finally, the driver tried to swerve on the shoulder again. “I just whipped it toward the guardrail and stopped,” Bucenell said. The car was trapped, and the chase, which Bucenell later found out had reached 100 mph at one point, was over.

“There were 20 cop cars on him in the blink of an eye. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bucenell said.

Moody’s incident happened when he was fighting traffic on a Chicago freeway. The only reason he was on that stretch of highway was because he’d missed the turnoff to the highway he had wanted to use.

As he was driving along, three motorcycles passed him. A biker himself, Moody remembered admiring the bikes and thinking, “Man, I wish I was riding right now.”

The motorcyclists got a few car lengths ahead of him, and two of them started to take an exit. As far as he could tell the third biker’s wheels locked up for some reason and he went end-over-end.

Moody said for a split second he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to stop, but he not only stopped but he swerved his truck to block traffic and prevent anyone else from running over the downed biker.

Moody then jumped out of his truck and tended to the unconscious motorcyclist, who was bleeding from a head injury. Moody literally gave him the shirt off his back, wrapping it around the man’s head, while trying to calm down other bystanders who’d stopped.

Moody said he’s ex-military, as was his dad, so all his life it’s been ingrained in him when things “hit the fan, you deal with it.”

Moody stayed with the motorcyclist until paramedics arrived. They later credited him with saving the man’s life.

“One of the officers said, ‘hey, do you want your shirt back?’ I said, no that’s his now.”

Vieira, who marked his 30th anniversary as a driver last year, was driving near Toronto one day when he heard a loud crash on a two-lane stretch of highway, looked over his shoulder and saw that a car on the other side of the road had slammed into the back of a stationary roll-off truck.

Vieira parked his truck, ran to the car, and found the driver, whose neck had been pierced by a piece of his own vehicle’s steering wheel, which had snapped off on impact.

“He had this thing on the right side of the neck, Vieira said.

Immediately, he placed one of his hands over the still-conscious motorist’s wound and applied direct pressure, while using his other hand to call for help. As he was doing this, the driver of the truck that had been hit had walked up, saw the impaled motorist, and fainted. Vieira said he didn’t even notice him until he saw the driver sprawled out on the ground, his legs lying over the line into the opposing lane of traffic. Without letting go of the first driver, Vieira managed to use his foot to pull the leg of the truck driver who had fainted away from traffic. Emergency personnel arrived and took over. Both men survived.

Vieira was surprised it’s become such a big thing, the attention he’s getting. Like the others, he was there and did what needed doing. “It’s a great feeling to be appreciated.”

“When I think about it, it seemed like it took half an hour, but it all happened in maybe four minutes,” Vieira said. He was so in the moment, he’s not even sure how he managed to do everything at once the way he did. “Not much thought goes through your mind; you just do it.”

After the incident he didn’t think much of it, either. “I was actually going to let this fly under the table and not talk about it,” he said. But word got around and before he knew it other people were congratulating him on his heroism. It’s the one aspect of his experience he shares with his fellow nominees.

 

“I don’t feel like a hero,” Bucenell said. “I didn’t literally safe anybody’s life. I never felt heroic about it. I felt like I did what was right.” When he heard he’d been nominated for the Goodyear Highway Hero award, he first thought one of his buddies was pulling a prank on him.

Moody also downplayed his incident. “To me I was just at the right place at the right time,” he said. “Somebody needed help and I was there. I don’t feel like I need any recognition; I just did the right thing.”

But others felt otherwise, and as it has for the previous 34 years, Goodyear put them in the spotlight.  In the end, Vieira was named the winner of the top Highway Hero honor. Days after he heard the decision, he continued to wear the hero’s mantle with humility.

“If it inspires other drivers, great. The more we help, the better this world becomes, right?”

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Augmented reality game designed to attract next generation of techs

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The TMCSuperTech game will be created based on actual tasks inspired by TMCSuperTech events. (Courtesy: DESIGN INTERACTIVE)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Design Interactive, providers of augmented and virtual reality-based fleet maintenance training solutions for the transportation industry, says it is providing a mobile augmented reality game of the Technology & Maintenance Council’s (TMC) National Technician Skills Competition. TMC is a technical council of the American Trucking Associations.

The game is called TMCSuperTech.

“We made the decision to create this game with Design Interactive for two primary reasons,” said Robert Braswell TMC executive director. “To promote awareness of the vocation among middle and high school students who make up the next generation of vehicle maintenance personnel and to help technicians prepare for the TMCSuperTech competition by providing a hands-on training experience for the skills challenges.”

Available on Android and Apple smartphones and tablets, Design Interactive’s gamified TMCSuperTech skills challenge uses AR technology to project a fictional city with a fleet of moving trucks. As the vehicles require service, they are brought into a virtual garage where the game will ask users playing the role of a technician to execute tasks inspired by TMCSuperTech events. Points are awarded for the time trucks are repaired and for the longer they remain in service.

“Augmented reality has already had a significant impact in other industries compared to traditional training methods,” said Matt Johnston, division head of commercial solutions for Design Interactive “For fleets, this technology helps lower labor and parts costs, increase vehicle uptime and shop productivity, and makes it easier to attract new technicians.”

Behind Design Interactive’s TMCSuperTech game experience is its Augmentor transportation focused training solution, which uses augmented reality to more effectively train technicians in the environment where service and repair tasks are performed. Augmentor sources content from fleet experts and ensures training consistency by bringing the best solutions onto the shop floor and enabling access to updated content for all technicians.

“With Augmentor, especially as new technologies continue increasing the complexity of the repairs, tools and skills needed by technicians, fleets can reduce classroom time and training costs,” continued Johnston. “It provides technicians with knowledge in a manner that is effective and productive and leads to higher quality and shorter times for vehicle diagnosis and repair processes.”

TMC is seeking sponsors to help support the adoption of its next-generation-workforce-focused product —TMCSuperTech: The Game. There are four levels of sponsorships available. TMCSuperTech is an annual two-day event organized by TMC’s Professional Technician Development Committee. The premier skills competition for professional commercial vehicle technicians from all segments of the trucking industry will be held September 15-19, 2019, at the Raleigh Convention Center in conjunction with TMC’s Fall Meeting.

For more information on sponsorships email rbraswel@trucking.org

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North American Commercial Vehicle Show 2019 opens online registration

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The NACV Show 2019 will showcase leading truck and trailer manufacturers and commercial vehicle parts and components suppliers and emerging technologies. (Courtesy: NACV)

ATLANTA — The North American Commercial Vehicle Show, a biennial B2B trucking industry event focusing on the needs of fleet owners, managers and decision makers, said Wednesday that online registration is open for the 2019 trade show.

The NACV Show 2019 will take place at the Georgia World Congress Center from October 28-31. NACV Show 2019 exhibition space is predicted to exceed NACV Show 2017 event space by 60 percent.

Fleet industry professionals can register to attend online at https://nacvshow.com/registration/. Accredited media are eligible for complimentary registration.

“The NACV Show 2019 will showcase leading truck and trailer manufacturers and commercial vehicle parts and components suppliers and emerging technologies, including electric trucks and new innovations in safety, mileage and fleet maintenance,” said Carmen Diaz, show manager for the NACV Show. “Our team has worked tirelessly in developing content, both for the show floor and classroom, as well as interactive experiences to allow us to more than double our 2017 attendance.”

This year’s trade show features many new and enhanced attendee experiences targeting managers of both large and mid-size fleets, Diaz said. New on-floor experiences include a connectivity zone for demonstrating the latest technologies such as telematics, an “Ask the Expert” workshop where industry professionals will share their knowledge and educational programming theater free to all trade show attendees. New fee-based conference programs, featuring industry visionaries, will be held off the trade show floor immediately prior to the opening of NACV Show 2019.

The last day of the trade show will feature fleet operational bench-marking workshops, with more details released closer to the event.

The event’s organizers will publish the entire trade show floor plan and list of exhibitors online in early April.

For more information about exhibiting, contact Bill Fox at bfox@hfusa.com or Dawn-Marie Copin at dmcopin@hfusa.com. For more information about attending, contact Ashley Olian at aolian@hfusa.com.

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NTI, WIT urge fleets to participate in WIT index data collection

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Throughout NTI’s work on the WIT Index for 2019, NIT officials have emphasized that, as in past years, confidentiality is guaranteed for those carriers participating in the survey. (Courtesy: NIT/WIT)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The National Transportation Institute (NTI) and Women In Trucking (WIT) are again partnering to facilitate the data collection and analysis of the WIT Index.

This annual survey of trucking companies studies the percentage of women working as professional drivers and in management positions within the trucking industry.

With the deadline fast approaching, NTI and WIT together issued a call to action for all fleets to participate in the survey.

“Our collaboration with Women In Trucking on the WIT Index has become a passion project for me and the members of our team at NTI,” said Leah Shaver, chief operating officer of NTI. “We launched the 2019 survey earlier this year, and I would strongly encourage every company that employs truck drivers in our industry to participate in the WIT Index. Opportunities are expanding for women across the industry, and one of the key long-term solutions to the driver shortage will be the further expansion of the employment of women at motor carriers. The response by carriers to the brief list of survey questions is the critical first step in the process of our work with the WIT Index. The data NTI collects from carriers will allow us to measure progress, identify best practices and continue to benchmark standards in our industry.”

NTI began working with the WIT Index in 2016 when Shaver joined the WIT board of directors. Ellen Voie, the President and CEO of WIT, sought to obtain the most detailed and accurate data available in the examination of employment trends for women found in the trucking industry. During each of the years that NTI has managed the survey and analysis aspects of the WIT Index, the participation among companies has grown and the results have shown continued increases in the percentage of women behind the wheel and in trucking management positions.

“We have seen firsthand the increased participation of women in all areas of trucking throughout the 12 years that the Women In Trucking Association has been in existence. Quantifying the growth of women within the workforce of the trucking industry is one of the most important tasks that we have as an association,’’ Voie said. “We are very grateful to be able to call upon the expertise of the National Transportation Institute for the 2019 update to the WIT Index. Once again, this year, NTI is donating its time and services to facilitate the survey, tabulate the results and provide WIT with the kind of trend analysis that helps our association in planning some of our key initiatives. The pro bono work that NTI performs on the WIT Index is a very important and generous contribution to our association and to the industry.”

Shaver is again overseeing all aspects of the data collection and analysis of the WIT Index. Throughout NTI’s work on the WIT Index for 2019, Shaver has emphasized that, as in past years, confidentiality is guaranteed for those carriers participating in the survey.

“The WIT Index allows us to accurately track progress and identify trends and best practices by fleets nationwide. The top issue plaguing every trucking company today is enough people. We’re operating at a historical low unemployment in the U.S., and there are more jobs than workers to fill them,” Shaver said. “There is so much opportunity to gain from recruiting and retaining more women, highlighted by the 2018 WIT Index results which revealed that fewer than eight percent of drivers were women. The 2019 results can be used by participating carriers in efforts to further address the driver shortage and their own strategy. NTI always does a deep dive into the data generated by the WIT Index survey, and that allows us to provide WIT and the participating fleets with the kind of analysis that can promote further growth of opportunities for women within our industry. Women are key to long-term solutions to our workforce shortage, and best practices to recruit and retain are likewise key to carrier success.”

“The WIT Index is a great opportunity for every fleet in our industry to contribute to the story of the continued growth taking place for women working in trucking,” Voie said. “I really look forward to this process. It’s an opportunity to accurately measure where the number of women involved in our industry stands. I see this time of year as an important call to action, and I would like to see every carrier in the nation participate in the WIT Index.”

The 2019 WIT Index Survey will run through April 8, 2019. The survey can be accessed through the following link: https://www.driverwages.com/wit-index/

The National Transportation Institute was founded in 1995 with a goal of providing accurate and authoritative mission-critical benchmarks to truckload carriers on company driver and owner-operator compensation history and changes.

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