Online Education – Good for Drivers

As a long time college instructor, both in traditional and on-line settings, I am an advocate for easy and affordable access to education.

There is simply no reason an over-the-road truck driver (or anyone for that matter) should not be able to earn a college degree, certificate, or even just take a class or two for personal interest/knowledge.

On-line education offers the flexibility that over-the-road truck drivers need, thus making it very possible to acquire any education a person might want.

My latest feature in Western Trucking News from Canada’s Woodward Publishing talks a little about online education and how an over-the-road driver might benefit from it.


Special thanks to my friends at Selkirk College, GPRC, and Rasmussen College.

Driving With Tax Freedom

Tax Freedom Day

How sad is it that we have to work nearly 1/3 of the year just to fund the government?  And, this year the date of April 18 is 5 days later than it was last year.  Things don’t look better for next year either, especially with Obama Care fully kicking in.

I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Elizabeth Malm, Economist with the Center for State Tax Policy at the Tax Foundation on my local radio program about Tax Freedom Day and what it really means. Listen by Clicking Here.

Nonetheless, Tax Freedom Day has come and gone, so as you drive down the road the remainder of this year you can now rest easy because you are finally driving for yourself and not the government.

Wrenches, Financial, and Recruiting

Every now and then it is just fun to write about something a little different.  Recently I had the opportunity to do just that when I was asked to write for a new publication called “Civilian Careers.”  This publication essentially helps military personnel transition back to the civilian world.  It is published by the same good folks that put together Truckers Connection and other related publications.

The articles:

Financially Sound
In this one I talk to Dave Ramsey and a financial advisor at USAA about the financial challenges associated with transitioning from military to civilian life.
Click Here to Read the Article

Recruiter to Recruiter
Are the skills of a military recruiter transferrable to those of a driver recruiter?  I talk to an Army recruiter and CR England’s Director of Recruiting for the answer.
Click Here to Read the Article

Working Wrenches
So you are a mechanic in the military and now want a similar job in the civilian world.  I talk to WyoTech and Penske Truck Leasing to learn how you can make this happen.
Click Here to Read the Article

Obama: You Need The Government

It was at a campaign even last Friday (July 13) that President Obama let his true feelings about small business be known.  In his speech, Obama said, “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.”  “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

If you are an owner operator or small fleet / large fleet owner, stop right here and think about that – according to the President, it is NOT your hard work, money, and initiative that made your business possible, it’s the government.  WOW!

Many of you have already heard the comments, and there are some out there that defend the President suggesting he was simply saying that it’s because of government programs that individual imitative leads to success.  Well, I take issue with that.  Government only exists because of the personal initiative of our Founding Fathers.  It’s the taxes government collects from those who are successful that allows government to exist.

For trucking, not that he was addressing trucking specifically, Obama said, “Somebody invested in roads and bridges.”  Does he forget that it’s the fuel taxes, tolls, license fees, and other taxes from individuals and corporations that pay for those roads and bridges?

Interestingly, on July 11, FMCSA Deputy Administrator William Bronrott testified before the House Committee on Small Business.  In his remarks, Bronrott comments on how the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program is impacting small business.  He commented on how cognizant the Administration is of needing to minimize the impact on small businesses – but why does he care, if as Obama suggests, government is the source of all things good?

Whether it’s the large trucking carriers like JB Hunt, Swift, or others that were started by individuals, or the many small fleets and owner operators (FMCSA’s database indicates 85% of registered carriers have 5 or fewer units), Obama wants you to send him a thank you letter and more money to fund the government. 

From my perspective, it’s time for this administration to move out so we can get new leaders who value the American way of life, which includes recognizing the importance of the entrepreneurial spirit that helped found this country.  It’s NOT the government that founded the entrepreneurial spirit.

EOBRs and the American Dream

There have been several news stories in a variety of publications talking about how Electronic On Board Recorders are dividing the industry between the large carriers and the small independents. Based on my recent observations (and I am posting this later than I wanted to, but hey, things happen), this is so very true.

Last week the FMCSA held the second “listening session” on driver harassment and Electronic On Board Recorders (EOBRs). The session was lightly attended, primarily by a few already at the CVSA conference, and it was broadcast over the web (though that seemed to have minimal attendance as well). My kudos though to the FMCSA for making it available on the web – that was a nice way to reach out.

During the session (which I also live Tweeted about @TruckingDC), there were a few things that struck me:

  • It’s obvious there is a divide between large carriers and the smaller independent carriers / owner operators (recent news stories have also reported on this, including this one in the Journal of Commerce).
  • FMCSA appeared, from my perspective anyway, to be more accepting of supportive comments and wanted to delve further into the unsupportive comments, almost debating the issue right there and wanting to change minds instead of “listening” or asking more probative questions.

  • FMCSA will move forward with EOBR mandates regardless. Don’t be surprised when FMCSA concludes EOBRs will not create new harassment issues.
    Much of the session was not about harassment.
  • Questions about EOBRs remain: If a carrier operates primarily intrastate, but has a few trucks that run interstate, will all trucks require an EOBR? What if the EOBR stops working – will drivers be required to maintain a paper log book anyway? How will EOBRs be mandated for buses? How can we assure the data from an EOBR won’t be manipulated?
  • I think the questions that remain (other than the bus question) will be addressed after the rule is implemented to see if they are even an issue.

There’s little doubt an EOBR mandate is coming. This, like so many government mandates will be an unfunded mandate. Independent owner operators will be required to reach deep into their already thinned out pockets to plop down around $1000 to be in compliance. It will simply be a cost of doing business. Unlike the larger carriers who can absorb the cost or pass it on to their customers, the independent will have a more difficult time doing this as they work to remain competitive or accept the rates dictated by larger carriers.

New unfunded mandates are not the solution for improved safety. Unfortunately though, we tend to regulate/manage to the lowest common denominator (thus punishing those who are proven safe) instead of rewarding and incentivizing desired behavior. In the end, its small business – the American Dream – that becomes just a tad more of a challenge to succeed with.

See the Tweets form the April 26 Listening Session at