Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hundreds attend job fair aimed at helping companies, drivers

Perry Lewis of Dundee has been driving trucks for 15 years, but he now wants to spend more time with his children instead of traveling all over the USA.

Seeking a job that will allow him to drive in the day and sleep in his own bed at night, Lewis showed up for Tuesday's Transportation Job Fair, sponsored by The Times. He found 12 companies at Hammond's Dynasty Banquet Hall, and some of them deliver products regionally.

"I need to find something local," said Lewis, who has missed a lot of 12-year-old Perry Jr.'s activities and wants to be with his son and daughter Ruby, 4, more as they continue to grow up. "You have to be there for your family. I work eight days a week."

By early afternoon, about 200 people had visited the job fair. Some were seeking full-time jobs. Others own trucks and were seeking franchise arrangements.

According to Tim Lucas of Porter-based Enterprise Truck Line, Inc. and David Wykes of Sauk Village-based ABF Freight System, Inc., numerous retirements in recent years have left trucking companies in need of drivers as much as the drivers need jobs.

Wykes, ABF's resource development coordinator, said his company had never recruited at a job fair before, although it employs 7,000 drivers. Lucas, Enterprise's director of recruiting and sales, said his company was looking for five owner-operators. The job fair, he said, definitely helped employers find experienced drivers.

"It's hard to find owner-operators with gas prices the way they are," Lucas said.

Some of the drivers were looking for more than a job. Jason Dekker of Lowell said he wanted a job displaying merchandise, but also wanted to work for a company with many long-range opportunities so he could become a commercial driver some day. Pepsi Americas was offering such opportunities, said human resources specialist Tim Stanley.

Dekker said seeking a job via a job fair was convenient because he didn't have to travel from city to city to try to meet people who might not want to meet him.

"It's really cool to be able to have companies here rather than seek companies on your own," said Dekker.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Public Safety Interest Group Pushes for 68-mph Speed Governors on Trucks

In what is believed to be the first Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) petition jointly filed by a public safety interest group and a group of motor carriers, Road Safe America and Schneider National Inc. have petitioned the FMCSA to require electronic speed governors be set at not more than 68 mph.
The proposed regulation would affect Class 7 and 8 trucks manufactured after 1990 (in 1991 speed governors became standard equipment). Eight other motor carriers including J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., CR England Inc., Covenant Transport Inc. and Dart Transit Co., also signed the petition, which was filed with the FMCSA on Sept. 11.
Bill Graves, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), has already submitted a letter of support for this measure to the FMCSA. The petition will be available for public comment as soon as it is docketed for rulemaking by the FMCSA.
Recent FMCSA studies suggest that limiting the speed of commercial trucks will have a significant impact on safety. According to the FMCSA's Large Truck Causation Study, "traveling too fast for conditions” was the single most frequently cited factor in large truck crashes where trucks were assigned a critical reason.
"The 80-mph, 80,000 pound-truck has no place on our highways,” said Steve Owings, who co-founded Road Safe America after he lost his 22-year-old son, Cullum, in a high-speed truck accident. "This petition is a matter of life and death for drivers of passenger cars, as well as for professional truck drivers. And it is a matter of economic common sense for the companies that put trucks on the road.”
Don Osterberg, vice president of safety and training for Schneider National Inc., joined Steve Owings in supporting what he called "one of the most important safety initiatives in commercial vehicle transportation in the last 20 years.
“Historically, carriers have waited for regulations to come down from the federal government and not been actively engaged in the process,” said Osterberg. "What's unique in this filing is that a core group of responsible carriers is stepping up and initiating a proactive change for improving public safety. This is good for drivers, good for the motoring public and good for the entire trucking industry.”
Schneider is among a growing number of national carriers that maintains speed governors on their trucks at below 68 mph. In addition to safety improvements, carriers already governing their trucks' top speed at these levels cite savings in fuel consumption, liability costs and equipment wear and tear as business reasons for the limitation.