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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tall truck hits low overpass on Schantz Road in Upper Macungie, PA
Article thanks to and Frank Warner. Links provided:

Coworker assured him that his 13’6″ truck would fit under the 11’6″ bridge.

June 6, 2017  A trucker Tuesday tried to drive a tractor-trailer 13 feet, 8 inches tall under an Upper Macungie rail overpass about 11 feet, 6 inches high, with 2 feet, 2 inches of bad results.
Rifet Jasarevic, 48, of Wethersfield, Conn., was going east on Schantz Road at 1:40 p.m. when his truck rammed into the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge, 400 feet west of Ruppsville Road, township police said.
Neither Jasarevic nor his passenger, Senada Jasarevic, 42, was hurt in the accident, but the crash severely damaged the tops of the tractor and the trailer, officer Robert Djevharian said.
"Jasarevic reported that, while he saw the signs and knew that his truck was well over [the 11-foot-6 height restriction], he called a coworker, who said he could fit," Djevharian said.
"Jasarevic also mentioned that he was following the directions of his GPS."
The trucker was cited for failure to heed the posted height limit at the overpass, police said.
The tractor-trailer had to be towed from the scene. The bridge appeared to be intact, but Norfolk Southern was notified that it should inspect the structure for damage.
— Frank Warner

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Driver burnout: It's not just about being tired
Story thanks to Larry Kahaner and Links provided:
May, 2017  George woke up in his cab one morning and didn't feel like driving. "I was exhausted, so I just sat all day in the TA and drank coffee, played some video games. I told my dispatcher that I had been throwing up and couldn't drive. I didn't like lying, and it made me feel like a deadbeat, but I didn't have a choice. I was so tired. Truth be told, I didn't really give a crap about the load anymore, or the job. Nothing really mattered."
The third-year driver, who asked that his real name not be used, wasn't just tired, bored or unhappy about his job, he probably was suffering from 'burnout,' a difference that eludes and confounds both drivers and their companies – even some doctors –  but is a serious and explicit malady from which recovery is more than a solid night's sleep away. While the term burnout often is used incorrectly to describe everything from exhaustion to hating your job, those who have studied the subject say it encompasses specific criteria and, unfortunately, is extremely difficult from which to recover. Many sufferers must quit their jobs to do so.
Nobody knows how much industry turnover is attributable to burnout, but driving a truck almost seems like a job made to order for the problem.
Michael Leiter, who recently joined the faculty at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, has been researching burnout for 30 years. He is one of the editors-in-chief of the peer-reviewed journal Burnout Research. According to Leiter, the current research shows that burnout has three components.
The first is physical and mental exhaustion. "Some people say burnout is just exhaustion, which is silly, since you could just call it exhaustion,” he explained. “It's clearly more than that, but exhaustion is definitely a piece of it. Exhaustion is when you say 'I feel tired when I start my work day.' Feeling tired at the end of your work day is not so bad, but when you feel tired at the beginning, it means that it's chronic. You're not really getting the rest and recovery you need, so that's one dimension, but still it's exhaustion. It's not burnout."
The second is cynicism about the job and distancing yourself from it. "For example," said Leiter, "you used to think you had a neat job, but now you say, 'I really don't give a damn anymore,' and part of that is often tied with being miffed at management for interfering with things. You find yourself saying, 'I just want to get away from this.' It's a kind of distancing and cynicism."
The third component is losing confidence in your abilities and skill. "Your sense of efficacy drops," Leiter said. "Ideally, you once felt like you were doing important work, and were good at it, but with burnout, you start doubting whether your work is important and that you're good at it." This combination of exhaustion, cynicism, and a lack of efficacy defines burnout."
When told of these criteria for burnout driver George said, "Yes. I felt all of this."
Leiter added: "What we find with people who are burned out is that they're concerned about workload and having too many demands, but they also are just really frustrated with everything about the job. They don't like the management of it. They don't like the pay.  Everything seems unfair, and they say things like: 'People are just really unpleasant to me, I don't like these people at all, and everything about this job is...  I don't like it at all."
Burnout is a relatively new concept, having been identified by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s, who coined the phrase based on his work at free clinics and therapeutic communities. In 1980, he published “Burn Out: The High Cost of High Achievement.” What it is and how to survive it, a book that became a standard reference on the topic. Much of his ideas survive, but his original 12-stage rubric of burnout has been pared down to three criteria. "It isn't quite so organized in that way, and the data doesn't really support it so much. It was a good early try to make sense out of it, but I don't really subscribe to that [the 12 stages]," said Leiter.
Vishwanath Baba, professor of management and chair, human resources and management at DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who studies stress and burnout, agrees.
"The first symptom of burnout is exhaustion,” he noted. “You’re tired and oftentimes you're not merely physically tired but mentally tired. It is what I call emotional exhaustion. That is the first sign of burnout.”
When you're emotionally exhausted, he added, you're not able to provide the kind of service or attention that your work demands. You depersonalize the people you're working for and your customers. Then you start feeling guilty about it. "You think, 'I’m supposed to be good at this, but I don’t think I’m good at it anymore.' Self-doubt starts seeping in."
To Baba and others who research the issue, it's more effective and easier to deal with the causes of burnout before they occur. He is adamant about this. "My attitude is that it's much better to deal with the stress and the antecedents of stress, rather than treating burnout. It is already quite late when you start feeling burnout. When a manager sees burnout in a person, the best strategy is to reassign them." He added: "Take them away from the work environment and reassign."
He admits that this isn’t easy for carrier managers to do. Baba, who has presented his findings on driver stress to trucking industry stakeholders, says that managers can help by seeing early indications of burnout in drivers and taking action. "Burnout is an end state. It doesn't happen overnight."
The most important signs for managers to look for are drivers dragging their feet on assignments, being negative about everything and reluctance about doing the job. There are several remedies that managers can employ. The first is to increase a driver's resources such as more time to do the job and the training to deal with it. "As a manager, you need to make sure that the demands you place upon your workers are reasonable. I always tell managers to build a little slack time in designing work for their people." Again, it's not an easy fix for drivers.
Baba added: "Be realistic in terms of what resources are needed and make sure workers have those resources, including intellectual resources. If someone doesn’t know how to do certain things, provide training. Make sure they have equipment that is working and in good shape… in other words, try to minimize their stress level."
He noted that dispatchers and managers need to appreciate that not all drivers are the same. Some can handle what's thrown at them and others cannot. "Instead of treating them all as an undifferentiated mass, take a look at these [troubled] people and ask them, 'What is the problem?' Try to start a conversation. "
Leiter and Baba concur that social networks, phone conversations and other interactions can help prevent burnout if drivers are willing to reach out. "It's difficult for a truck driver [because they're alone most of the day] but strong, supportive relationships to the people at work and outside work can make a very big difference. They say people don't quit a job; they quit a boss, but they also quit a team, so when you have other people that you're connecting with, these relationships are as valuable as they can be."
As for George, he quit driving and now works in construction. "I just didn't want to drive anymore. I hated it. It didn't bring me the joy or money I expected. My attitude is way better now about everything." 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Top 5 Ways Mobile Tech Has Changed Driving
Article thanks to Jim Sweeney and the RoadPro Family of Brands. Links provided:
Mobile technology has revolutionized truck driving, making drivers more connected than ever before and changing how they work, relax and interact. Here are five ways it’s happened:   
Connections – Though trucking still comes down to a driver and a truck, the job is a lot less lonely than it used to be, thanks to the smart phone. No other piece of mobile technology has done more for truckers. It offers instant connections with friends, family and work; it’s also a safety device and source of entertainment.
“I don't have to look for a pay phone on a street corner in the rain or cold, blowing wind. Now, I sit in my truck and make my phone calls,” said Gary Wiggins, a Texas-based owner-operator.
While smart phones keep drivers in touch with family and friends, they’re also business tools.
“I use my phone to call agents about loads. Then I have the agent email the pickup info and delivery info. Then I print that info out on my printer in the truck. After I deliver a load, I call the agent on my cell phone to let them know their load has been delivered. Then I scan the paperwork and BOL and email that to the company that I'm leased to to get paid. I get paid online, I pay my bills online,” Wiggins said.  
Navigation – Truckers do still get lost on occasion, but it’s rarer than it used to be, thanks to GPS technology. Satellite navigation, backed by apps that provide up-to-date maps, weather conditions and road construction, makes it easier for drivers to arrive safely and on time.
“No more getting majorly lost,” said RoadPro Pro Driver Council member Brita Nowak. “I know my ETA; I calculate miles on (my GPS); even do my still-paper log book with it.”
“GPS tracking has its flaws, but for the most part it is a plus to have,” said Pro Driver Council Member Ryan Sexton. “In the event of an emergency, my truck can be located within a mile of my last location.”
Entertainment – Laptops, tablets and smartphones put a world of entertainment at the disposal of drivers. They can binge on Netflix in their sleepers, listen to audiobooks and music or play Xbox as well as they could in their living rooms. That makes nights on the road a lot more bearable.
Accountability – Drivers like to say that they could never be cooped up in an office; ironically, their whereabouts are probably more closely tracked than that of many office workers. GPS devices on trucks and e-logs tell employers exactly where drivers are and, in many cases, how they’re driving. Schedules are tighter than ever and variances aren’t tolerated.
RoadPro Pro Driver Council member and reefer driver Joanne Fatta is well aware of how closely she’s monitored. “The newest technology is a device that actually tracks the temperature of the refrigeration unit throughout the day and how long my doors are open. As soon as the unit shuts down for any reason a phone call comes in immediately from my company,” she said.
And dash cams record video of driving behavior while engine telematics track speed and acceleration, all of it information employers can use to monitor drivers.      
Drawbacks -- Though there is no doubt that mobile technology has made trucking easier, safer and more profitable, some drivers feel something has been lost along the way.
“Electronics is a double-edged sword,” said William Kolias, an owner-operator in New Hampshire and driving instructor. While electronics has removed a lot of the inefficiency from the industry, it has pushed the human element – the driver – to the limit, he said.
“The company, out of competitive necessity, is requiring that the driver perform more and more like an electronic machine. Some days we can come close, but there are some days when we can't, because we are human. And . . .  there's little tolerance or patience with a driver as the weak link in the electronic chain,” he said.
Ironically, while mobile tech has made it easier for drivers to keep in touch with family and friends at home, some say the ubiquity of smart phones and tablets has come at the expense of traditional driver camaraderie at truck stops and diners.
“People don’t talk to one another anymore when they are sitting at tables,” said Maggie Riessen, a Pro Driver Council member.

Technology and trucking will remain inextricably linked and drivers will continue to adapt mobile tech to make their jobs easier and to remain competitive. “The way I look at it, technology has its positives and negatives, but we can't change it and we just have to go with it as a company makes advancements,” Fatta said.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Respect is a Two-Way Street

Nicole Berthiaume
The following letter was written by National Motorist Association member Jim Walker and sent to a state law enforcement agency. He makes some great points. Help support motorist's rights, join the NMA for free. Links provided:

Think how both the public and the police officers would benefit if "lightning struck" and magically almost every posted speed limit on a collector, arterial, trunk line, and freeway were instantly corrected to the nearest 5 mph interval to the 85th percentile speeds so that almost every main road would have a speed limit no more than 2 mph away from the actual 85th speeds. (There might be a very small percentage of exceptions for truly unusual situations, but each one should require substantial written engineering justification by police and licensed professional engineers willing to document and sign off on the reasons.)

Police officers would have drastically fewer exposures to traffic stops, some of which become very dangerous.

The predatory 5 or 10 over speeding tickets issued for revenue in speed traps would virtually cease to exist.

The public would no longer automatically see traffic officers as those sworn to "stop and collect", and would begin to regain respect for them as officers who are sworn to "serve and protect" -- an evil change that started in the 1970s with the 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit.

The vicious circle of unjustified tickets for revenue, warrants for nonpayment, and what amounts to a "debtor's prison" of suspended licenses for poor people would be drastically reduced.

The entire relationship of police and citizens would change for the better, most notably in the cities with large percentages of disadvantaged and often minority citizens.

There will always be criminals, including a very small percentage of genuinely bad officers.

But drastically reducing unnecessary interactions between police and citizens might help begin a healing process that is becoming desperately needed.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How Fruehaufs and Whites Once Hauled Unique Steel Houses

4433 N. Sherman Blvd, Milwaukee, WI. Photo credit: Christopher Hillard.
Article thanks to Tom Berg and Links provided:

Ever hear of Lustron houses? They are prefabricated, porcelain-painted steel structures that were produced from 1947 to 1950 in a factory in Columbus, Ohio, and carried by the builder’s private truck fleet to erection sites in every state east of the Rockies.  I had forgotten about these uniquely designed houses until I saw an exhibit on “1950s life” at the Ohio Historical Center. It includes a complete Lustron model home because it was a local product.
The exhibit included information on the Lustron Corp., which briefly capitalized on the critical need for housing for military veterans returning from World War II. Using specialized and expensive equipment, the company produced steel panels and coated them with glaze-like porcelain in several colors. Roofs, exterior and interior walls, cabinets, shelving, and floors were all steel.

Several of the houses were situated in the Milwaukee neighborhood where I grew up back in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Their stark simplicity and appliance-like appearance made them really stand out among the hundreds of conventional wood and brick houses. When we passed one we’d say, “Why would anybody want to live in something like that?”
Turns out that thousands of families thought they were just fine, because they cost less than “stick-built” houses and went up in less than a week, according to a book I bought at the history center, The Lustron Home, by Thomas T. Fetters. Erection work was done by local contractors following strict assembly instructions, he wrote.
The houses had some quirks, like ceiling-mounted radiant heating that warmed heads and shoulders but not legs and feet, and steel-and-glass windows that didn't keep out northern cold. But the porcelain-enameled steel stood up well to the weather and everyday wear-and-tear of family life. Most of some 2,600 houses built are still are inhabited today, and have something of a cult following.
Fetters researched and wrote about every conceivable aspect of Lustron Corp., including its truck fleet. Company executives acquired 800 custom-designed trailers from Fruehauf and 200 WC-42 tractors from White, through a Chicago home-supply firm that became a truck-leasing company. Trailers were basically 32.5-foot flatbeds equipped with racks and bins.
Trailers were loaded with panels, hardware, and other parts as they came off the assembly line in Columbus, then parked on the premises until tractors hitched up and took them to their destinations. At building sites, parts that were needed first had been loaded last, so they came off in the exact order required for erection.
Trailers stayed at the sites until empty and were then retrieved and pulled back to the factory. Sometimes they stopped at steel suppliers to pick up raw materials needed at the plant. That was the plan, anyway. Carl Strandlund, the company’s founder, intended to ship loaded trailers by flatcar to the Pacific Northwest, but railroads weren’t interested. (Piggybacking came many years later.)

The trailer-to-tractor ratio was 4 to 1, so trailers spent a lot of time sitting. Or maybe the ratio was even greater because the lessor was suspected of delivering only 160 tractors. Lustron's dispatcher didn’t know because they were always gone and he couldn’t count them. Nonetheless, the lessor charged Lustron a wad of money per month for all 200, including the 40 phantoms. Unbeknownst to Lustron, the lessor also sold the tractors to their drivers, making them owner-operators who also made monthly payments.
And, the lessor neglected to pay Fruehauf for many of the trailers. The order was worth $4 million, but Fruehauf was stiffed to the tune of almost $3 million. That almost bankrupted the trailer builder before its time (which came in the mid-1980s). Roy Fruehauf, its president, recouped his losses by reclaiming the trailers and converting them to vans, then sorely needed by the nation’s growing trucking industry.
Lustron itself didn’t last long at all. That it couldn’t count the number of trucks it ran was a symptom of shaky management. It had taken more than $200 million in government loans to start up and operate. It never made enough money to pay much if anything on the loans. So – hounded by negative press reports and congressional investigations -- Reconstruction Finance Corp., the government agency involved, foreclosed on Lustron, seized and closed the plant, and put the company out of business.    
It was another three decades before Fruehauf Corp. and White Motor Co., two once-dominant vehicle manufacturers, went under, the victims of mismanagement, internal squabbling and changing fortunes. That Lustron was one of their customers was perhaps prophetic.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Gap Insurance SCAM? Don't get fleeced by Car Dealers!
$6.00 every six months or $895.00 upfront? 

A couple months ago, I wrote a post titled Why I Absolutely Hate Buying Cars about my recent experience buying a car from a dealer.

Prior to this year, the last time I bought from a dealer was in December of 2008. I purchased a 2009 Malibu that Chevrolet had just redesigned for the new model year. I bought it from Gus Paulos Chevrolet and they gave me an excellent deal on it. It certainly helped that the 2008 recession was full on, cars weren't selling and dealer lots were full. They gave me financing that matched my credit union rate and didn't try to find ways to rip me off like this most recent dealer did to me. The contract was clean and no "extra" charges were added to what we originally agreed to. Since moving to Salt Lake City from Wisconsin in 1993, I've bought three new vehicles from Gus Paulos and they have been fair to deal with. That Malibu turned out to be a great car and I seriously considered getting another, but decided on a slightly used 2016 Nissan Altima dealer fleet car that had only been titled for 6 months.

What a difference this year I had with this other cutthroat dealership! Prior to a couple months ago, I had never heard of "Gap Insurance" and had to ask what it was when this latest dealer tried to include it on my contract for $895.00 and throw it into the finance agreement so I could pay interest on it! The finance guy stated that if I totaled the car in an accident and received less than I owed on it I wouldn't be responsible for the difference! I refused and almost walked out on them until he redid the contract, taking it out along with a couple other things they were trying to get me for.

Since then, I've done a little research on this Gap Insurance thing. My thoughts: First, if you ever think you need it or want it, you can get it through most car insurance companies for a couple dollars a month! (My car insurance renewal is coming up next month and I actually just checked a quote I had for Progressive: $6.00 for six months.) Don't get it through a crooked car dealer that charges $895.00 and tries to throw it on your finance agreement. I am still so aggravated that jerk thought he could sneak that past me, it makes me wonder if there was sign on my forehead that said "stupid"?

Second, if you are so upside down between your finance agreement and what the car is worth, you probably made an incredibly BAD deal. You can't trust a car dealer to be looking out for your interests, they will clean your pockets out of everything they can get. You have to examine every line on the contract and finance agreement and understand what you are getting charged for.

In a conversation with one of our drivers this past week, he told me about buying a new vehicle and falling for the exact same thing. He never realized what he was signing for until after the deal was done. By that time it was too late and it cost him thousands.

Don't become a victim!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sixteen people packed in one pickup hospitalized following I-75 accident

Photo: FHP
Article thanks to Tom Quimby and Links provided:

JUNE 5, 2017  Sixteen people jammed into a pickup—10 in the bed and six in the cab—were all hospitalized following a recent accident on Interstate 75 in Florida.
The Florida Highway Patrol reports that 44-year-old Joseph Turtulien was driving a Ford F-250 filled with 15 passengers when he lost control and veered off the highway while traveling northbound around 6:40 a.m. Thursday on I-75 in Charlotte County.
Turtulien apparently had been trying to avoid colliding with a truck that had changed lanes in front of him near mile marker 164. FHP reports that he slowed down and drove partially onto the grass-filled center median, overcorrected and crossed the highway onto the shoulder of the road, overcorrected again and crossed back over the highway to the center median where the truck rolled over and ejected his passengers. All 16 people were hospitalized including seven with serious injuries. Turtulien, who had been wearing a seatbelt, was among those who had been seriously injured. The accident is still under investigation, according to

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Immigrant truck drivers: Shhhh. We don’t talk about it.

Photo: Pressmania
Story thanks to Larry Kahaner and Links provided:

Yet recruiting immigrants to be drivers appears to be a successful tactic, despite trucking's reluctance to discuss it.

June 11, 2017  When U.S. motor carriers discuss recruiting new drivers they're eager to chat about efforts to reach out to underrepresented groups such as women, minorities and military veterans, but there's one group they're reluctant to discuss for publication: Immigrants.
Schools, organizations and companies that train new drivers also shy away from the subject of immigrant drivers; ditto for some state carrier organizations.
Fleet Owner reached out to eight industry stakeholders with multiple phone calls and email messages to discuss immigrants in the U.S. trucking industry and either received no response or the equivalent of “no comment.”
This reluctance belies the fact that recruitment of immigrant drivers appears to be successful. Currently, of the 1.2 million motor carrier-employed U.S. truck drivers (operating Class 8 trucks) about 224,722 or 18.6% are immigrants, according to U.S. Census data for 2011-2015 as analyzed by Justin Lowry, PhD, a Postdoctoral Researcher at George Mason University's Institute for Immigration Research. Figures for 2010-2012 clocked in at 15.7%, he said.
Although Lowry has looked at other industries, driving jobs (including truckers) stood out as one of the industries that grew in terms of immigrant workers.
"In general, immigrants in the workforce of the trucking industry are helping to buoy the industry itself because of the lack of workers,” Lowry said. “There's a high demand for truckers and not a whole lot of native-born U.S. who are entering into it. If you look at the age distribution of native U.S. citizens to foreign-born in the trucking industry, you'll note that the U.S.-born tend to be older, because the younger generation of U.S. citizens don't think of trucking as a natural career path."
Where do the immigrant drivers come from? "The top five are Mexico, El Salvador, Cuba, India, and Guatemala," Lowry noted. "Eastern European countries like Poland and Ukraine are next and then it drops off quickly: Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Bosnia, Honduras, Columbia, Russia, and China."
The largest group -- representing 32% of immigrant truck drivers – is from Mexico.
According to the Institute's 2014 report – Who’s Behind the Wheel? Immigrants Filling the Labor Shortage in the U.S. Trucking Industry, authored by Zahra Sohail Khan – the percentage of immigrant drivers is higher than that of the total percentage of immigrants in the U.S., which is estimated at 13%.
"The proportion of immigrant truck drivers is particularly high in certain states such as California (46.7%), New Jersey (40.4%), Florida (32.2%), and New York (25.7%)," the report noted.
How did U.S.-born truckers react to seeing the report? "After the original release of the truck driving brief, I got some phone calls from truckers who wanted to talk about what was really going on,” Lowry explained. “Some of them were very keyed into workers' rights issues going on in the trucking industry right now where there's an interplay between large corporate trucking companies and the drivers themselves trying to manage the exploitation of low-wage workers."
Several truck drivers Fleet Owner spoke with are concerned that immigrant drivers lower wages for all drivers.
"It's not an uncommon argument for people to make that increasing the size of the workforce drops the wages on the entire workforce," Lowry pointed out. "And I think that it is a difficult argument to contextualize on a larger scale. Even though you may see an initial trend of lower wages for immigrant workers, I don't think that that means that the immigrants are causing the wages to be lower."
He added: "What I can tell you is that there is a demand for new truckers. Now, whether the demand is created by a lack of wages or the demand is created by a lack of interest in the industry, I don't know. I know for a fact that if they would increase wages, they would have higher demand.”
The fundamental fact is when immigrants come into a country they are probably working at the lowest wages, Lowry noted, and that tends to happen across all industries. But as they grow in the field, they tend to bolster it, he stressed.
“If the new immigrant workers are incorporated into the collaborative bargaining groups, then there's a huge power in the communities of immigrants in addition to existing drivers to leverage bargaining power for increased wages or better work conditions," Lowry emphasized.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

City admits mistake in trying to fix previous error on red light tickets
Article thanks to David Kidwell and Links provided:
Jan, 2017  In its effort to clean up a mistake it made on 1.9 million red light and speed-camera tickets, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration has erred again.
In a mass mailing last week to recipients of those tickets, City Hall offered a second chance to appeal the violations. The effort was intended to fend off a class-action lawsuit alleging the city failed to give ticket holders adequate time or notice the first time around.
One problem: The city's ticket website is not allowing many ticket holders to view the violation video or photographic evidence used to issue the fines in the first place.
One attorney said many of his clients who got letters from the city are getting error messages when they go to view their violations, some more than 6 years old.
"It's alarming to me that they would do something like this," said Kimberly Slider, 46, of Sauk Village, who received notices on five red light camera tickets she received in 2010 and 2011. "Of the five, I could only see two of the videos.
"They are just up to the same old money-grabbing tactics," said Slider, an attorney in the consumer fraud division of the Illinois attorney general's office. "I know these tactics when I see them."
Emanuel's Transportation Department spokesman, Michael Claffey, said Friday that "as soon as the city was alerted to this problem, we immediately contacted our vendors for the automated enforcement programs, and they are adding additional resources to get every violation uploaded as soon as possible."
Claffey said the process may take several days, and that to ensure everyone has ample time to contest their violations, the city is extending the deadline for filing the new appeals by two weeks to Feb. 19.
The city offered no explanation for the glitch, but Claffey said some of the data from older tickets — from 2010 and 2011 — still has yet to be uploaded into the system. He also suggested high traffic on the website might be to blame.
"We are updating our website this evening to alert people to the issue and the extension to contest violations," he said.
Claffey also cautioned people to make sure they are checking the correct database on the city's website. Red light camera tickets and speed camera tickets have to be looked up separately, and an error message will appear if the citation number is plugged into the wrong database.
Asked what the city is going to do for those who have already discarded their notices because of the frustration at being unable to see the violation video, Claffey said, "All we can do is apologize."
Claffey added that violation videos can be viewed by entering a vehicle owner and vehicle tag number.
The mass mailing to nearly 1.2 million recipients of 1.9 million tickets offers a second chance to appeal red light camera violations issued between May 23, 2010, and May 14, 2015, or speed camera tickets since May 2012, which is when that program began.
The appeals offer by the city follows a ruling last year by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy denying the city's motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit alleging the city violated due process by failing to mail out second notices and wait the full 25 days required by law to assess late fees.
Chicago attorney Jacie Zolna, who filed the suit, has called the Emanuel administration's effort to force people to relitigate the city's illegal behavior a sham. On Friday, he scoffed at the idea the city would allow his clients to appeal violations when they cannot see the evidence used to fine them.
"I think they've got another problem here," he said. "It appears to me they have a difficult time doing anything right."
The notice instructs ticket holders to visit the city's website at, but after plugging in the citation and license plate numbers to view the video, many see only the error message "invalid citation/pin number combination."
Zolna said no photos or video were available on 18 of 37 cases of which his office is aware, including two violations sent to him personally. The dates on tickets where no video is available range from 2009 all the way through 2015, Zolna said.
Of six notices for rehearing sent to the Chicago Tribune for violations on company cars, the video evidence was unavailable on only one, a red light camera ticket from 2010.
Zolna's suit was among half a dozen lawsuits that followed a Tribune investigation of corruption and mismanagement within the city's $600 million red light program. The series exposed a $2 million City Hall bribery scheme that brought the traffic cameras to Chicago as well as tens of thousands of tickets that were issued to drivers unfairly.
The investigation found malfunctioning cameras, inconsistent enforcement and millions of dollars in tickets issued purposely by City Hall even after transportation officials knew that yellow light times were dropping below the federal minimum guidelines.
Throughout the scandal, the Emanuel administration has been reluctant to issue refunds, in some cases forcing drivers to file paperwork and apply for a rehearing process some critics have called onerous.
Former City Hall operative John Bills was sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to steer tens of millions of dollars in red light camera contracts to an Arizona company, Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. The former CEO of the company was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in federal prison.
According to testimony at his federal trial, Bills took a cash bribe of up to $2,000 for each of the 384 red light cameras that were installed while he oversaw the program. The Tribune found that up to 40 percent of those cameras made intersections more dangerous by increasing injuries from rear-end crashes by 22 percent.
One of the suits that stemmed from the scandal was filed by the Emanuel administration itself, seeking more than $350 million in damages from Redflex.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Trucker and a Father: How to Make it Work
Article thanks to Jim Sweeney and the RoadPro Family of Brands. Links provided:

It can be hard on trucker dads when providing for a family requires being away from that family.
On Father’s Day, June 18, many trucker dads will be on the road and not at home to receive cards and gifts. It’s a fact of life for OTR truckers, but the absences still hurt.
“It’s very hard being a dad on the road,” said Ryan Sexton, a member of the RoadPro Pro Driver Council. It can mean missing big events, like birthdays, as well as little ones, like dance competitions and games of catch.   
Of course, it’s easier now than ever for truckers to stay in touch, thanks to digital technology and social media. Long gone are the days of waiting in line for pay phones at a truck stop. Cell phones mean family is never more than a text or call away and Skype allows dads and children to talk face-to-face even if the family is in Dallas and dad is in Duluth. Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms let absent dads keep up on what the family is doing.
“I use pretty much all forms of social media as well as many, many phone calls,” said RoadPro Pro Driver Council member Thomas Miller. “There is, of course, Facebook, calls, text, but I particularly enjoy Snapchat with my 15-year-old daughter, and FaceTime with my grandson. My wife and I generally stick with calls and text.”     
Tom Kyrk, a member of the RoadPro Pro Driver Council, said habit is key for younger children: “Try and create a routine where you talk on a regular basis or schedule. If kids are young, maybe read or tell them a story near bedtime or something that happened out on the road they will find interesting.
“My biggest advice is to never make a promise such as I will be home Wednesday,” Kyrk said. “In this industry, a lot can happen to keep you from fulfilling that promise. I have found it’s much better to say I will do my best or that is the plan. This way you don’t come across as a liar if you cannot make it due to unplanned events, like an accident or weather.”   
Jon Osburn was in the military before he became an OTR driver so his children (now grown) were used to him being away much of the time. Osburn, who drives the “Spirit of the American Trucker” semi for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said he took his children on the road with him when they were younger to spend time with them and to show them what it means to be a driver.
He also made it a point to be home for his children’s big events, such as prom – even if it meant parking his rig and flying home and back in 24 hours. Based in Idaho, he also organized family outings when he was home, such as river rafting and snowmobiling.
He added that he was also careful not to disrupt his wife’s routine and rules when he was home: “I’m not going to tell her how to raise her kids. If I disagreed with something, we’d talk about it.”      
No matter how much trucker fathers do to stay connected and active in their children’s lives, some feel guilty about not spending more time with their kids. One OTR truck-driving father who asked to remain anonymous once told a social worker that he felt like a failure because he wasn’t always able to be there for his child.

“I was told words I’ve never forgotten,” the driver said. “There is more to being a dad or father than just being at home. You have the responsibility to earn and support your family. You are in a vital occupation. As a result, you may not be home much, but you’re always willing to spend time with him on the phone and time with him when you are home. You are working hard and showing him the importance of working and not living off the government. To me, you’re the epitome of what a father is -- a person who will make the hard sacrifices to put the needs of his family first.”
Four Ways to be a Better Father
The National Center for Fathering is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of fathering and to making sure every child has a father or father figure in his or her life. It offers a four-point program truckers can use to be better dads: ICAN. Here’s how it breaks down:
I is for Involvement – Stay connected while on the road through phone calls, texts, FaceTime, Skype, social media or whatever works, said group spokesman Steve Wilson. Can’t attend a recital? Watch a live stream of it. When truckers are at home, they should spend dedicated time with their kids.
C is for Consistency – Establish a pattern for staying in touch. A good-morning text and a nightly Skype call lets the child know the absent father is thinking of them and cares for them. “Kids might not express that, but they crave that kind of consistency,” Wilson said.
A is for Awareness – Many fathers are more aware of what’s happening in Washington or with their favorite teams than what’s going on in their children’s lives. Fathers should know the names of the children’s teachers and best friends, their likes and dislikes, Wilson said.
N is for Nurturing – Truckers should tell their children they love them, Wilson said. Truckers might think their children know they’re doing a tough job out of love, but it never hurts to tell them. “They need to have that affirmation,” Wilson said.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Four Generations of Fathers and Sons Drive Pennsylvania Trucking Company

Photo Credit: Art Gentile/The Intelligencer
There are no statistics to bear this out, but anyone who knows trucking knows it to be true: there is a strong father-son connection to trucking. Trucker dads have trucker sons (and daughters). And those trucker children sometimes go on to have their own next generation of truckers.   
Google “and sons trucking” and the results go on for pages: Jernigan & Sons, Cotterman & Sons, Flores & Sons, the ampersand a small mark signifying something big, the joining of two generations, sometimes more.
It’s not surprising, really. All small boys, at some point, want to be like their fathers. And when that father has a job driving an enormous truck, one with a loud horn to blow and a seat from which a boy can look down on roofs of cars other people are unfortunate enough to drive, the attraction can be irresistible.
But this type of succession is not a simple matter of handing over the keys. Trucking is hard. Businesses fail or get bought out; a son might decide he’d rather sit behind a desk than a wheel. Each generational succession is the result of hard work, desire and circumstances.   
In honor of Father’s Day, RoadPro Family of Brands is featuring one such company, one that’s been led for 85 years by successive generations of fathers and sons.   
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R.W. Smith Trucking Co. in Danboro, Pa., doesn’t use an ampersand in its name or on its trucks, but if it did, it would need three. Four generations of Smiths have worked in the trucking business.  
It started in 1932 when Max Smith began hauling coal from the Pennsylvania mines to homes in Doylestown. His son, Richard W. Smith Sr., joined him as soon as he was old enough to reach the pedals. His trucking career was interrupted by a stint in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, but when he got out, he started his own company, hauling coal, cinder, sand and gravel.     
His son, Richard Jr. began driving at age 16, the third generation of Smiths behind the wheel.
“He did give me a choice. He said you don’t have to do this,” Richard Jr. said of his father. But there really was no other option.
“I always wanted to do it,” said Richard Jr., 56. “I always helped him with the trucks. We had a good relationship. It was only natural that everything fell into place.”   
Richard Sr. had a stroke in 2004, but recovered and kept driving. He finally retired in 2015 at age 82.
“He was always a very hard worker. He liked to drive and he really liked trucking,” his son said. “He didn’t have any hobbies so he stuck with it as long as he could.”
Richard Sr.’s retirement was the end of a period when three generations of Smiths drove together. Richard Jr.’s two sons, Robbie, 29, and Kevin, 27, got behind the wheel as soon as they could earn their licenses.
Just as his father did for him, Richard Jr. gave his boys the option of doing something else.
“It was never a question what I was going to do,” said Kevin. “My entire childhood was all about trucks.  My brother and I knew we were never going to do anything else.”
As trucking firms go, R.W. Smith is small – eight trucks operating mostly within a 100-mile radius of Danboro. Richard Jr.’s mother, Marlene; sister, Jolene; and wife, Kim, run the front office. They have five other employees, most of whom have been with them a long time. Richard Sr. and Richard Jr. live in houses on either side of the trucking garage. Robbie and Kevin live just a few minutes away.
Not long ago, Richard Jr. saw a local business, a construction firm, end because the founder’s son had no interest in running it. The son sold off the equipment and the company went out of existence. It wasn’t Richard Jr.’s business and not his decision to make, but it made him sad, nonetheless. And happy that it won’t happen to the company started by his grandfather.
“It eases my mind knowing that if something were to happen to me, my boys would keep it going. We’d be in good hands,” he said.

Kevin agreed: “Once my dad doesn’t want to do it anymore, my brother and I will be able to carry on.”