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Texas driver Mike Sheeds grand prize winner of 4th annual Road Warrior contest

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A professional driver of more than 27 years, Mike Sheeds has over 3.5 million safe driving miles under his belt. Sheeds has trained more than 300 students throughout his career. (Courtesy: PILOT FLYING J)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pilot Flying J has announced the winners of its fourth annual Road Warrior program, recognizing the “heroes on the road” with cash prizes.

Mike Sheeds of Bandera, Texas, Terry Lee of Robert, Louisiana, and Desiree Ridley of Davenport, Florida, have been named the grand, second and third place Road Warrior winners respectively.

Pilot Flying J hosts the annual online contest to show appreciation for professional drivers who go the extra mile to ensure that products and goods are delivered safely, securely and on time to keep the country running efficiently. Each year, Road Warrior winners are nominated by co-workers, friends and families of professional drivers across the U.S. for their hard work, perseverance and passion for driving. This year’s winners stood out from a field of almost 5,000 participants.

As winners of the fourth annual Road Warrior contest, Sheeds will receive $10,000, Lee will receive $5,000 and Ridley will receive $2,500, and all will join an exclusive group of past program winners. Nominators of these three winners will also receive a $500 prize.

“This year’s Road Warrior winners are inspiring and exceptional representations of the professional driver community,” said Ken Parent, president of Pilot Flying J. “These unsung heroes are on the road day in and day out to provide our country with the goods that make daily life possible. The Road Warrior program is our way of thanking professional drivers.”

America’s 3.8 million truck drivers are an integral piece of the country’s infrastructure, Parent said. This year’s Road Warriors are each making strong contributions to the professional driving community in different ways:

Mike Sheeds, grand prize winner: A professional driver of more than 27 years, Sheeds has more than 3.5 million safe driving miles under his belt. Sheeds has trained over 300 students throughout his career, teaching the importance of safety above all else. His awards and accolades speak to his achievements on the road, but pale in comparison to his dedication to his family. Sheeds and his wife have four adopted daughters, each born drug and/or alcohol exposed and surviving trauma, abuse and neglect. While driving can be a demanding career, Sheeds always prioritizes spending time with family and advocating for his children.

Terry Lee, second place winner: Lee began his professional driving career 34 years ago while serving in the army in the Middle East. Lee has overcome many adversities throughout his life including rebuilding his family’s home after losing it to a flood and being diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia stage two blood cancer. None of these hardships hindered his dedication to driving, and he is still on the road today making his family proud.

Desiree Ridley, third place winner: Ridley, a long-haul driver who joined the professional driving community when she turned 21, is an advocate of millennial women breaking barriers in the professional driving industry. Throughout her recent pregnancy, Ridley continued to show dedication and passion for her job, driving until she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant. Even as a new mother, she continues to drive (now locally) six days a week while caring for her family. No matter what comes her way, Ridley handles it with strength and finesse — on and off the road.

“I am so humbled to be chosen as a Road Warrior winner,” said Sheeds. “Driving has been part of my life for almost 30 years, and teaching aspiring professional drivers to prioritize safety above all else is what has remained most important to me throughout my career. Experience will never trump physics, and I encourage all drivers to remember this on the road. I’d like to thank my wife for nominating me and always believing in me, and all of the inspiring pro drivers I’ve met throughout my journey.”

To learn more about the Road Warrior program and read about the winners, visit www.RoadWarrior.PilotFlyingJ.com.

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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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