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Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Car Was Repossessed, but the Debt Remains
Why negative equity is a big risk! Article thanks to, written by JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG and MICHAEL CORKERY. Links provided:

June 18, 2017  More than a decade after Yvette Harris’s 1997 Mitsubishi was repossessed, she is still paying off her car loan.
She has no choice. Her auto lender took her to court and won the right to seize a portion of her income to cover her debt. The lender has so far been able to garnish $4,133 from her paychecks — a drain that at one point forced Ms. Harris, a single mother who lives in the Bronx, to go on public assistance to support her two sons.
“How am I still paying for a car I don’t have?” she asked.
For millions of Americans like Ms. Harris who have shaky credit and had to turn to subprime auto loans with high interest rates and hefty fees to buy a car, there is no getting out.
Many of these auto loans, it turns out, have a habit of haunting people long after their cars have been repossessed.
The reason: Unable to recover the balance of the loans by repossessing and reselling the cars, some subprime lenders are aggressively suing borrowers to collect what remains — even 13 years later.
Ms. Harris’s predicament goes a long way toward explaining how lenders, working hand in hand with auto dealers, have made billions of dollars extending high-interest loans to Americans on the financial margins.
These are people desperate enough to take on thousands of dollars of debt at interest rates as high as 24 percent for one simple reason: Without a car, they have no way to get to work or to doctors.
With their low credit scores, buying or leasing a new car is not an option. And when all the interest and fees of a subprime loan are added up, even a used car with mechanical defects and many miles on the odometer can end up costing more than a new car.
Subprime lenders are willing to take a chance on these risky borrowers because when they default, the lenders can repossess their cars and persuade judges in 46 states to give them the power to seize borrowers’ paychecks to cover the balance of the car loan.
Now, with defaults rising, federal banking regulators and economists are worried how the strain of these loans will spill over into the broader economy.
For low-income Americans, the fallout could, in some ways, be worse than the mortgage crisis.
With mortgages, people could turn in the keys to their house and walk away. But with auto debt, there is increasingly no exit. Repossession, rather than being the end, is just the beginning.
“Low-income earners are shackled to this debt,” said Shanna Tallarico, a consumer lawyer with the New York Legal Assistance Group.
There are no national tallies of how many borrowers face the collection lawsuits, known within the industry as deficiency cases. But state records show that the courts are becoming flooded with such lawsuits.
For example, the large subprime lender Credit Acceptance has filed more than 17,000 lawsuits against borrowers in New York alone since 2010, court records show. And debt buyers — companies that scoop up huge numbers of soured loans for pennies on the dollar — bring their own cases, breathing new life into old bills.
Portfolio Recovery Associates, one of the nation’s largest debt buyers, purchased about $30.2 million of auto deficiencies in the first quarter of this year, up from $411,000 just a year earlier.
One of the people Credit Acceptance sued is Nagham Jawad, a refugee from Iraq, who moved to Syracuse after her father was killed. Soon after settling into her new home in 2009, Ms. Jawad took out a loan for $5,900 and bought a used car.
After only a few months on the road, the transmission on the 10-year-old Chevy Tahoe gave out. The vehicle was in such bad shape that her lender didn’t bother to repossess it when Ms. Jawad, 39, fell behind on payments.
“These are garbage cars sold at outrageous interest rates,” said her lawyer, Gary J. Pieples, director of the consumer law clinic at the Syracuse University College of Law.
The value of any car typically starts to decline the moment it leaves the dealer’s lot. In the subprime market, however, the value of the cars is often beside the point.
A dealership in Queens refused to cancel Theresa Robinson’s loan of nearly $8,000 and give her a refund for a car that broke down days after she drove it off the lot.
Instead, Ms. Robinson, a Staten Island resident who is physically disabled and was desperate for a car to get to her doctors’ appointments, was told to pick a different car from the lot.
The second car she selected — a 2005 Chrysler Pacifica — eventually broke down as well. Unable to afford the loan payments after sinking thousands of dollars into repairs, Ms. Robinson defaulted.
Her subprime lender took her to court and won the right to garnish her income from babysitting her grandson to cover her loan payments.
Ms. Robinson and her lawyer, Ms. Tallarico, are now fighting to get the judgment overturned.
“Essentially, the dealers are not selling cars. They are selling bad loans,” said Adam Taub, a lawyer in Detroit who has defended consumers in hundreds of these cases.
Many lawyers assisting poor borrowers like Ms. Robinson say they learn about the lawsuits only after a judge has issued a decision in favor of the lender.
Most borrowers can’t afford lawyers and don’t show up to court to challenge the lawsuits. That means the collectors win many cases, transforming the debts into judgments they can use to garnish wages.
The lenders argue that they are just recouping through the courts what they are legally owed. They also argue that subprime auto lending meets an important need.
And collecting on the debt is a critical part of the business. The first item on the quarterly earnings of Credit Acceptance, the large subprime auto lender, is not the amount of loans it makes, but what it expects to collect on the debt.
The company, for example, expects a 72 percent collection rate on loans made in 2014 — the year that a used 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan was repossessed from Nina Lysloff of Ypsilanti, Mich.
With all the interest and fees on her Credit Acceptance loan factored in, the car ended up costing her $28,383. Ms. Lysloff could have bought a brand-new Volkswagen Tiguan for $22,149, according to Kelley Blue Book.
When Ms. Lysloff fell behind, the trade-in value on the car was a fraction of what she still owed. Last year, Credit Acceptance sued her for $15,755.
The strategy at Credit Acceptance, which has a market value of $4.4 billion, is yielding big profits. The Michigan company said its return on equity, a measure of profitability, was 31 percent last year — more than four times Bank of America’s return.
Credit Acceptance did not respond to requests for comment.
Some of the people who got subprime loans lacked enough income to qualify for any loan.
U.S. Bank is pursuing Tara Pearson for the $9,339 left after her 2011 Hyundai Accent was stolen and she could not pay the fee to get it from the impound lot. When she purchased the car in 2015 at a dealership in Winchester, Ky., Ms. Pearson said, she explained that her only income was about $722 from Social Security.
Her loan application listed things differently. Her employer was identified as “S.S.I.,” and her income was put at $2,750, court records show.
Citing continuing litigation, U.S. Bank declined to comment about Ms. Pearson.
Auto lending was one of the few types of credit that did not dry up during the financial crisis. It now stands at more than $1.1 trillion.
Despite many signs that the market is overheating, securities tied to the loans are so profitable — yielding twice as much as certain Treasury securities — that they remain a sought-after investment on Wall Street.
“The dog keeps eating until its stomach explodes,” said Daniel Zwirn, who runs Arena, a hedge fund that has avoided subprime auto investments.
Some lenders are pulling back from making new loans. Subprime auto lending reached a 10-year low in the first quarter. But for those borrowers already stuck with debt, there is no end in sight.
Ms. Harris, the single mother from the Bronx, said that even after her wages had been garnished and she paid an additional $2,743 on her own, her lender was still seeking to collect about $6,500.
“It’s been a nightmare,” she said.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Gangster's Paradise (in Wisconsin)
Article thanks to Nan Bialek and Links provided:

Gangster's Paradise

During the 1930s, Waukesha County, WI was a favorite hangout for Chicago gangsters
September 3, 2011  It seems you can’t swing a Tommy gun in Wisconsin and not point to a place that wasn’t frequented by some of the most notorious gangsters Chicago ever produced — Baby Face Nelson, Bugs Moran, John Dillinger and Al Capone.
The deep woods of northern Wisconsin had many well-known gangster getaways during Prohibition, says Chad Lewis, author of "The Wisconsin Road Guide to Gangster Hot Spots," and southeastern Wisconsin has its share of legends and lore as well. Those who actually saw the wise guys are quickly slipping away into history themselves, Lewis notes, but many of the encounters have not been forgotten. There are plenty of stories, for example, of gangsters pulling into a service station, buying $1 worth of gas and giving the attendant a $20 tip.
"Money meant nothing to these guys, because when they ran out of money they just went out and got more," Lewis says. "It’s almost as if they were the celebrities of the day."
Local historian Stephen Hauser of Elm Grove agrees. In the 1930s, when the country was deep into the Great Depression, a bit of gangster cash was just the thing for keeping yaps shut. In those days, when what is now Elm Grove and Brookfield were unincorporated and the area was dominated by farms, bootleggers would sometimes rent space in farmers’ barns to distill liquor.
"They paid very generously, probably better than they even needed to," Hauser notes. There are stories about a farmer’s child needing an operation, for example, and a gangster pulling a stack of cash from his wallet and handing it to the farmer for the hospital bill. "Gangsters were often seen in a positive light by many rural people."
Relatively rural, wooded areas in southeastern Wisconsin were perfect settings for halfway houses for gangsters on their way "up north" from Chicago and back again.
In those days, Bluemound Road was untamed, Hauser says. Because there were no local police departments in the area, it was patrolled by county sheriff’s deputies, some of whom took payoffs to turn a blind eye to houses of ill repute and speakeasies. Some deputies were eventually convicted of corruption and served jail time, he adds.
"Al Capone had a home right off Bluemound Road," Hauser says. The street now known as Capone Court was his driveway, and "nobody arrived unexpectedly at Al Capone’s house." A watchtower was built for a lookout post, and Capone kept a well-fed flock of Canadian geese on the property. If federal agents tried to surprise Capone, the geese would make enough noise to warn him. A tunnel led from the house to the garage so the gangster could make a quick getaway without being seen.
Federal revenue agents did manage to enter the home once when Capone was away and smash the still he operated on the property, Hauser says.
Capone also owned part interest in a greyhound racetrack that once stood just west of what now is Brookfield Square, Hauser says, and trained the dogs at the Mound Kennel Club across the street from the track.
In what is now Bishop’s Woods, a little shack off Elm Grove Road was used as a meeting place for gangster confabs. On occasion, Hauser says, their cars would get stuck in the muck, and an auto repairman just down the road would get a phone call and be asked to bring his tow truck. When he arrived, the gangsters told him to stay in the cab and look straight ahead. As soon as the gangsters hooked the car up for the tow, and he hauled it back on the main road, the repairman would be rewarded with a wad of cash.
When it was time for a break from the stress of dodging the law and rival gangs, some mobsters headed for Lake Country.
"These guys liked lakes," Hauser says. "They loved to put on the old dungarees and flannel shirts and go fishing."
So, Lake Country resorts and speakeasies, from Pewaukee Lake west to Okauchee and Oconomowoc lakes, also became gangster hangouts. Lewis says they would arrive at the lakeside resorts in pinstripe suits and shiny black Packards and try to blend in as tourists.
That tactic didn’t work for Jack Zuta, a Capone bookkeeper who defected to George "Bugs" Moran’s gang. Zuta, who knew that Capone did not take kindly to disloyalty, tried to hide out under the name "J.H. Goodman" at the Lake View Resort on Upper Lake Nemahbin in the town of Summit. Suspecting that a hit squad was on the way, Zuta was overheard making a frantic phone call from an Oconomowoc drug store, pleading for bodyguards to escort him back to Chicago.
Legend has it the hit squad sent to take care of Zuta was staying at a Lake Nagawicka resort, and lawmen at the time suspected them of robbing a Hartland bank to the tune of $100,000.
Just around sunset on Aug. 1, 1930, Zuta was pumping coins into a player piano in the ballroom of the Lake View Resort, according to the history section of the city of Waukesha’s Web site. A five-man assassination squad filed in through the back door, aimed their guns at Zuta, opened fire in full view of horrified hotel guests, turned and left the building. According to a Time Magazine account published on Aug. 11, 1930, the piano played the song Zuta chose just before the guns began blazing — "Good for You, Bad for Me."
This story ran in the September 2011 issue of:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Vic Edelbrock Jr’s Love Affair Of The Automobile
Story thanks to Bobby Kimbrough and Links provided:

June 15, 2017  In the following days, much will be said about Vic Edelbrock Jr. The man left a lot of friends, family, and fans behind. Almost everyone in the industry will have their own Vic Jr., story, and there will be a cornucopia of stories because of the numerous relationships that Vic cultivated through the years.

He knew everyone and everyone knew him. Even if you had never met before, Vic treated you as a long-time friend. If you were a car person, he knew what you were made of, and you were automatically in his circle.
In the forthcoming days, journalists will characterize the man as an “icon” and a “legend,” both of which he certainly was. They will also tell you about his great business sense, and how he grew his family company into an empire. That is also undeniably true and worthy of celebration. What most journalists are going to miss in all the story telling, is how much Vic Edelbrock Jr., was, well, like all of us.
Many will miss the true story and explain how much he was identical to every man, woman, teenager, or kid that had ever held a wrench in their hands. He was a regular blue collar car guy that was always looking for a better way to make his pride and joy go down the street. He loved being around car people, and we all loved him. Vic Jr. rode tall in the saddle, representing the ideals that make automotive enthusiasts join together. His company’s products were made the way parts were supposed to look, they delivered the horsepower they were supposed to make, and he was proud to say they were made in the United States … those common beliefs that bonded Vic Jr., with his public.
Vic once said, “It’s the love affair of the automobile, remember that. We have it here in the USA more than any other country in the world. The car events that take place all over the country give car guys and gals a reason to build a car in their garage, and it’s beautiful.”
An Unlikely Hero
As a recent college graduate and newlywed, Vic Jr., found himself at the top of the family business in 1962, when his father passed away after a brief but brutal battle with Cancer. In a time when many family businesses failed during a generational turnover, the Edelbrock manufacturing business not only carried on, it succeeded beyond anyone’s forecast. The younger Edelbrock was a natural leader that learned from his father, how important people and loyalty are. It was his passion that kept people like flathead engine guru Bobby Meeks with the company.
Meeks, who could have easily left and started his own business, stayed with the company’s new leader, which became a pivotal event in Edelbrock’s company history. Meeks continued to work for Edelbrock until 1993, having never worked for another company in his 57 years in the workforce. Superstar engine builder and dry lake racer Don Towle was another Edelbrock employee that started working for Edelbrock Sr., and saw a rising champion in the next generation of the family business.
It was that kind of loyalty generated by Vic Jr’s passion, dedication, and charisma that carried over into the broader challenge of leading the entire aftermarket industry through perilous times. Serving as SEMA President from 1971 – 1974, a period when the Federal EPA was started and the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act were passed by congress, Vic Jr., was an advocate for public education of aftermarket automotive parts. His careful guidance for the automotive parts industry were vital at a time when governmental regulations were seen as a threat. As a result, the public’s fears of environmental challenges were calmed and the industry actually grew.
The Right Tool For The Job
In addition to Bobby Meeks and Don Towle, Vic Jr., maintained friendships and relationships with some of the best automotive minds in history. When it came to racing, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Roger Ward, champion midget auto racer Perry Grimm, and next door neighbor Parnelli Jones were always on hand to test and talk about performance. King customizer George Barris was just around the corner, Ed Iskenderian was a confidant, and engineering genius Louie Senter was a frequent guest. It was safe to say that Vic Jr., surrounded himself with people that knew parts and performance – and he knew which ones to advise him when a problem arose.
As a company, Edelbrock always brought in the best and brightest. Vic Jr., knew the caliber of the people that worked in the company – from the top down to the people in the mailroom – determined the success of the business. His people always knew that Vic Jr., appreciated them too. It was “the Fun Team.”
What We Have Lost
Many people will spend days and weeks truly realizing what the automotive community has lost with the passing of Vic Edelbrock Jr. Practically everyone has their favorite Vic story. Jason Snyder, former Vice-President of Marketing at Edelbrock, tells the story of flying with Vic in a small, single-engine airplane when the electronics went out.
Vic Edelbrock was a seasoned pilot and loved to fly to his facility in San Jacinto, California. With the crippled aircraft down a system and thousands of feet in the air, he began hitting the instrument panel and cursing until the electrical came back on. He then proceeded as if nothing had happened.
Those individual memories will live and carry on, but no more will be made. In fact, Vic’s passing closes a door on an era where family businesses could become as large as any conglomerate. An era where a son would start working for his father by sweeping the floors of the family business and eventually take over the helm. That is what we have lost.
It may even close an era where new foundries are opened in California. ExxonMobil has been unable to open a new refinery in the state for more than 60 years. Vic Edelbrock Jr. was able to open a new foundry in 2007. These are similar industries with environmental regulations that are very similar, yet one giant company couldn’t do what a single man with vision, determination, and intelligence could. That is what we have lost.
Everyone that has ever seen an Edelbrock commercial on cable TV during a race or car show can remember hearing Vic solemnly state; “Proudly made in the U.S. Always has been and always will be.” That is what we truly have lost.
Vic Edelbrock Jr., Accomplishments, Honors, And Awards
  • Vic Jr. was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1936, and grew up around his father’s business.
  • After graduating from Dorsey High School, he attended the University of Southern California, where he graduated with a degree in business in 1959.
  • He was an active alumnus of USC.
  • Vic married his wife Nancy in Los Angeles on March 21, 1959, and the couple, who reside in Rolling Hills, California, have three daughters and seven grandchildren.
  • When his father passed away in 1962 at the early age of 49, Vic Edelbrock, Jr., then only 26, assumed the position of Chairman and President of Edelbrock Corporation until 2010.
  • Vic Jr. has built Edelbrock into a multi-million dollar plus corporation and an industry leader in state-of-the-art automotive performance for racecars and street cars.
  • Vic’s philosophy of staying close to customers, car enthusiasts, and racers was very important to him. He regularly attended several events a year to autograph and chat with consumers.
  • Vic was an avid racing enthusiast. In his youth, he began with racing boats and this passion continued through the later years with racing a 1963 Corvette Sting Ray and a 1969 302 Boss Mustang at vintage races throughout the United States.
  • Vic was a fan of many forms of racing from NHRA to NASCAR. He was a regular at the Daytona 500 each year since 1971.
  • Vic made sure that the Edelbrock Corporation was one of the early NASCAR contingency sponsors and has continued to be since the early 1970’s.
  • Vic served as the president of SEMA from 1970-74, in addition to serving on the SEMA Board of Directors from 1967 to 1989.
  • He was named to the SEMA Hall of Fame in 1989.
  • He is a member of the Performance Warehouse Association (PWA) Hall of Fame.
  • He was named “Person of the Year” by the PWA in 1982 and 1987
  • Under Vic’s guidance with the company, Edelbrock was named the PWA Manufacturer of the Year in 1984, 1989, 1990 and 2008.
  • He was honored by SEMA’s Street Rod Marketing Alliance (formerly the Street Rod Equipment Alliance).
  • He was inducted in the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 1994.
  • He was a regional finalist in the 1995 Entrepreneur of the Year awards competition, sponsored by Ernst & Young.
  • Vic was also given the 2005 Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Hot Rod Foundation.
  • He was inducted in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2005.
  • Vic was honored in 2016 with the NMCA and NMRA Victor Award by ProMedia LLC for his commitment to drag racing.
  • On March 26, 1963, Vic, along with charter members Roy Richter, Ed Iskenderian, Willie Garner, Bob Hedman, Robert Wyman, John Bartlett, Phil Weiand Jr., Al Segal and Dean Moon formed the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA).

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.