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Paradigm shift begins when you remove negative thoughts from assessment of other drivers



Truckers should remember that every driver is also a person, a person who might be a mother, father. They could be someone's wife or child, a friend, relative, mentor or fiancée, even your friend or loved one. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

By CLIFF ABBOTT/The Trucker Staff

“Did you see that idiot?”

Drivers who still use CB radios often hear things like that. Chances are you have said something like that about another motorist. Or, maybe it was, “Those #&%@* four-wheelers!” Increasingly, you’ll hear statements about other professional drivers, usually with a label of “steering wheel holder” or worse.

Chances are someone has made a similar comment about your driving, too.

Years of defensive driving training have taught us to anticipate the actions of other drivers and to take measures to keep them from involving us in a collision. We are indoctrinated to drive defensively.

A paradigm shift begins to occur when we remove the negative thoughts from our assessment of other drivers. While it may be true that the driver of that “#&%@* four-wheeler” does not possess driving skills on par with our own, it might also be true that the driver is having a serious emotional problem. Or it could be an elderly person who doesn’t have the eyesight or reflexes he once had. Or it could be a person driving under the influence who made a bad decision or two.

If you’re thinking that those circumstances don’t excuse their unsafe driving, you’re right. The point is, until the robots take over, every driver is also a person, a person who might be a mother, father. They could be someone’s wife or child, a friend, relative, mentor or fiancée – YOUR friend, relative or loved one.

If you took a poll asking people to rank their driving skills as “above average,” “average” or “below average,” it’s doubtful the results would mirror their actual driving skills. Few drivers would admit that their abilities are “below average,” but, mathematically we know that at least half the drivers on the roads are average or below.

If our mindset changes from one of “defending” ourselves from these drivers to one of protecting everyone, including ourselves and those other drivers, we can make the roads safer for everyone.

One aspect of this mindset is to understand how our actions might be perceived by other drivers. A left turn in front of oncoming traffic is an example. We might assume that the drivers coming towards us see our vehicle and will, if necessary, slow down to avoid a collision. But, what if they don’t? Could an oncoming driver be fatigued or under the influence of some substance? Could they be distracted by a passenger, pet, or even a text message? We can argue, after the fact, that their actions contributed to the collision, but it’s still a collision we might have prevented.

Another example might be the ubiquitous merging onramp. We know that oncoming traffic should yield to our vehicle and is usually, legally required to yield. We know that some won’t, rolling down the ramp until a collision is imminent before cutting in front of our vehicle or braking and falling in behind. Those drivers cause muttering and sputtering and negative comments, and sometimes they cause accidents, too. But, again, we can anticipate the actions of the other driver and take action to protect ourselves and the driver and occupants of the other vehicle from a collision. A lane change or a speed adjustment might make the situation safer for everyone, even if the other driver is at fault for causing the situation.

Traveling in the center lane of a three-lane Interstate highway is another example. Many drivers believe, and are trained to believe, that the center lane is safest because the right lane is left open for merging traffic and the left is available for faster traffic to pass. Except we know that some will pass on the right. It’s wrong and it’s dangerous – and it happens all the time. And those other vehicles that are changing lanes multiple times to get around our tractor-trailer are causing a hazardous situation for others. Once outside of an urban area, it might be safer for everyone to choose the right lane.

Every professional driver encounters these and other situations daily. Some will scoff at these simple examples and may even be moved to send emails or letters to the editor, explaining the right and wrong of each situation. The reality, however, remains. When someone dies in a collision, does it really matter who had the right of way? The safety people, insurance companies and courts will ultimately decide who was at fault, but no driver wants to spend a lifetime knowing that a death occurred that he or she could have prevented, even if the deceased person was “wrong.”

If you can do so without endangering yourself, let the other driver “win.” It’s doubtful they’ll appreciate your actions or even notice, but you’ll know.  You’ll have more than the knowledge that you defended yourself against an accident. You’ll know that your decision(s) may well have saved lives. You’ll know that you helped the kids in the back seat of that “#&%@* four-wheeler” get home safely, even if you don’t respect the driving skills of the person behind the wheel.

Because when we all get home safely, everybody wins.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Miguel Cazares

    January 16, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    Most of us used to be that “#&%@*” on the four wheeler during our early years. Maybe next time we come across such drivers we think of it like “That is the young ‘me’ in that four wheeler”!

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ACT Research: Freight rates and trucker profits pressured In 2019



ACT Research’s report indicated that at present the slowdown seems to be more a story of the second-half 2018 order pull-forward and large backlogs, and less about freight cycle and capacity issues. (The Trucker file photo)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — While overall economic conditions are better balanced than they were a month ago, freight data remain soft, according to ACT Research’s latest State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Report.

“Slower freight growth, an easing of driver supply constraints, the resumption of the long-run freight productivity trend, and strong Class 8 tractor fleet growth will increasingly pressure rates, and by extension, trucker profits in 2019,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s president and senior analyst. “Regarding Class 8, orders have decelerated sharply over the past several months, with net orders in January reaching 16,089 units, the lowest monthly order intake since October 2016.”

The report indicated that at present the slowdown seems to be more a story of the second-half 2018 order pull-forward and large backlogs, and less about freight cycle and capacity issues.

Regarding the medium duty markets, Vieth said, “January’s Classes 5-7 net orders were a virtual carbon copy of December, at around 23,000 units, and medium duty orders have been a model of consistency the past ten months. However, they are entering a period of tough year-ago comparisons.”

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at





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Stay Metrics introduces new indicator for trends in early-stage driver turnover



This chart shows that approximately 60 percent of the more than 3,000 drivers from 89 carriers hired in January 2018 did not make it one year with their carrier. (Courtesy: STAY METRICS)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Stay Metrics, the leading provider of driver retention tools, has released a new indicator for trends in early-stage driver turnover.

The new Stay Days Table serves as a “survivor” chart that shows the number of drivers hired by carriers each month and the percentage remaining at specific milestones after their date of hire —30 days, 60 days, 90 days, etc.

This table allows Stay Metrics to follow specific cohorts of drivers and to show how well carriers are retaining them over time, according to Tim Hindes, Stay Metrics co-founder and CEO.

As the table makes clearer than previous models, early driver turnover is a massive, industry-wide problem, Hindes said, noting that approximately 60 percent of the more than 3,000 drivers from 89 carriers hired in January 2018 did not make it one year with their carrier.

Retention trends seem to have remained consistent throughout the year so similar results are expected for each month’s cohort.

Hindes said the statistics come at a time when the driver shortage is of critical concern to motor carriers.

According to the American Transportation Research Institute’s 2018 Top Industries survey, the driver shortage is the No. 1 issue faced by carriers.

Unsurprisingly, driver retention is also high at the No. 3 spot.

Together these concerns are causing significant problems for even the best carriers in the industry.

They work exceptionally hard to find drivers in today’s market. If 60 percent of these drivers leave within one year, the driver shortage is not just an issue; it is a crisis, Hindes said.

“We believe the new Stay Days Table demonstrates the depth and pervasiveness of the early driver turnover problem. Our clients consistently beat industry averages for overall retention and this is their Stay Days Table. It represents some of the best in the industry,” Hindes said. “With drivers leaving so early, the driver shortage cannot be effectively countered. Our current version shows data for 2018 and we plan to update the metric for 2019 and beyond to continue monitoring the industry’s progress.”

The Stay Days Table saw a slight increase in overall retention for drivers hired in September and later. One possible explanation is that these drivers wanted to avoid changing carriers during the holiday season, Hindes said, adding that the data from the next few months will show if these fourth quarter hires match other groups’ retention percentages when they hit later milestones.



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ATA tonnage index increases 2.3 percent in January



Compared with January 2018, the SA index increased 5.5 percent. In 2018, the index increased 6.7 percent over 2017, which was the largest annual gain since 1998. (The Trucker file photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. — American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.3 percent in January after falling 1 percent in December. In January, the index equaled 117.3 (2015=100), up from 114.7 in December.

ATA recently revised the seasonally adjusted index back five years as part of its annual revision.

“After monthly declines in both November and December, tonnage snapped back in January,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “I was very pleased to see this rebound. But we should expect some moderation in tonnage this year as most of the key sectors that generate truck freight tonnage are expected to decelerate.”

Compared with January 2018, the SA index increased 5.5 percent. In 2018, the index increased 6.7 percent over 2017, which was the largest annual gain since 1998.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 113.1 in January, which was 2.9 percent above the previous month (109.9). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.






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