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Wednesday Jul 30, 2014 - Wiping clean the safety records of trucking companies
Jennifer Schlesinger | Eamon Javers

Kelly Linhart, a professional truck driver, stopped on the side of the road to do a routine truck inspection in September 2008. Moments later, the father of four lay dead on the asphalt, struck and killed by another trucker, Daniel Clarey, who veered out of his lane, according to the police report.

"[Daniel Clarey] fell asleep by his own admission, ran off the road, and ran over Kelly Linhart dragging him to a horrible death," said attorney Michael Leizerman, who represented the Linhart family.

In a deposition, Clarey admitted to being under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the crash and to a previous criminal record for methamphetamine and marijuana.

After the crash Clarey, pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and driving under the influence of intoxicants. He was sentenced to 40 months, according to court documents.

Read MoreDeadly crash days after Senate panel proposes easing rest rules
How was a driver with a drug history behind the wheel? Leizerman said Clarey's employer, Forrest Rangeloff, was operating what is known as a "chameleon carrier," a trucking company that re-registers with the U.S. Department of Transportation to avoid liability or problems with their safety ratings.

"I see too often in this case and other cases that I handle where the owner of the company simply closes down, refuses to pay the fines, and starts another company," Leizerman said.

In a deposition, Rangeloff said he opened a new trucking company because he could not get a satisfactory rating, which is something the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration gives to companies to show they are in compliance with regulations.

Kelly Linhart, above, was a professional truck driver and a father of four. He was run over by another truck driver who veered out of his lane, according to the police report.
Source: Linhart family
Kelly Linhart, above, was a professional truck driver and a father of four. He was run over by another truck driver who veered out of his lane, according to the police report.
Rangeloff's second company, Range Transportation, received a conditional rating, a warning that improvement was needed.

Even after the crash that killed Linhart, Rangeloff was able to file for a new trucking company, which he called Range-It Express. That company was later shut down for not paying fines, according to motor carrier agency's website.

Read More Technology that could save you from a truck wreck
Forrest Rangeloff did not return CNBC's requests for comment.

According to the Government Accountability Office, Rangeloff's companies are not an isolated incident. The office found 1,136 new applicants in just 2010 that it suspected were chameleon carriers, according to their most recent report on the issue.

"I see them disproportionately being involved in deaths and significant injuries," Leizerman said.
The GAO found that 18 percent of suspected chameleon carriers were involved in severe accidents, like the crash that killed Linhart, compared with 6 percent of non-chameleon carriers.

The accident scene after Kelly Linhart was struck.
Source: Police photo
The accident scene after Kelly Linhart was struck.
As of the March 2012 report, the GAO said federal motor carrier agency was screening only bus companies and moving companies, 2 percent of new applicants, to make sure they did not have prior troubled records.

GAO and the motor carrier agency now say more is being done. "What we have done is created a system we call vetting. … Are there patterns in this company's operations that show that they actually are sharing an address with a company we've shut down before?" said FMCSA chief Anne Ferro, who is stepping down on Aug. 25.

Read MoreTruck drivers not revved up about new safety rules
Ferro also told CNBC there is a series of penalties for chameleon carriers, including a company being shut down.

But the vetting was too late for the Linhart family. They settled out of court with the company that hired Forrest Rangeloff for a confidential amount. Rangeloff was dropped from the lawsuit.

—By CNBC's Jennifer Schlesinger and Eamon Javers

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Wednesday Jul 30, 2014 - Trucking Lost Faith in Anne Ferro -- But Replacement Could Be Worse

I wasn't surprised to hear of Anne Ferro's decision to step down as administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, nor was I heartbroken over the announcement. I am, however, very uneasy about who may become her successor.

Almost from the day she took office, Ferro became a lightning rod for all the ill will on both sides of trucking's fence. Industry welcomed her nomination, assuming that her experience as president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association might bring a realistic view of trucking's needs when crafting regulation and policy. Labor and truck safety interests were adamantly opposed to her nomination for exactly the same reason.

During her four-and-a-half-year tenure, opinions of Ferro have shifted nearly 180 degrees from the day she received her Senate approval.


Flashback to 2009

In a letter written by Teamsters General President James Hoffa, the union condemned President Obama's nominee, saying, "We firmly believe that the individual appointed to this agency should not come from the very industry the agency is required to regulate, especially given the trucking industry's positions on these health and safety issues," the letter said. "Ms. Ferro consistently supports the trucking industry party-line on motor carrier issues in opposition to positions taken by consumer, health and safety groups, truck crash victims and their families and the hard-working men and women who drive trucks."

At the time, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves had this to say about Ferro's appointment: “Ms. Ferro’s extensive experience in promoting driver, vehicle and highway safety will serve the nation well. As administrator of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration she developed a reputation as a tough, but fair regulator.”

Even the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association -- which several weeks ago penned a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, asking Ferro be removed from the position -- supported Ferro's nomination because of her diverse background in trucking, safety and regulatory circles.

“[That] should give her a broad perspective and overview of the industry which could be beneficial both to truckers and to the agency which she would represent in terms of advocating policies which would impact the industry,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer at the time.

I think it's fair to say, that in final months of her leadership, she had lost a great deal of that industry support, and her lack of support from the safety groups, while certainly stronger than it had been when she took office, was still working against her.

Leaning too far?

In my opinion, Ferro leaned too far to the safety advocate side of most arguments, which given the mandate of the agency wouldn't be unexpected, but she went there without hard and incontrovertible data to support her assertions. That left her and the FMCSA open to criticism from industry and safety experts that appeared to have stronger data indicating she was wrong.

In her early days, she was criticized by the safety community for being too close and too cozy with trucking. In the end, many in trucking had turned against her for not heeding valid concerns about the implementation of the Compliance, Safety and Accountability program, and remaining totally inflexible on the inexcusably thin reasons for altering an hours of service regime that seemed to be working quite well and for allowing various bits of rulemaking to languish far too long.

To her credit, Anne Ferro probably did more to reach out to industry, drivers especially, with the many listening session she held at various truck shows and other events. She certainly seemed to want to know what truckers were thinking, but she never acted on what truckers were telling her. With perhaps the notable exception of changing the 34-hour restart rule.

She never responded to the endless calls for a bit of flexibility in the rule. She ignored ages-old calls for better training for entry-level drivers. And it wasn't until very late in her game that her agency finally responded to calls for fairness in the DataQ process for challenging citations that did not result in conviction or forfeiture. That was probably too little, too late

And then came her ludicrous call for zero truck-related fatalities. I think that did more to undermine her credibility with trucking than almost anything she had said before. She defended the idea saying “At the end of the day I wouldn’t call it ideology. I think it’s appropriate to call it a stretch goal, an aspirational goal, because we really shouldn’t suggest that we can explain and justify the fatalities and serious injury crashes that happen today.”

Justify? Probably not, but explain? Certainly. When a goodly proportion of crashes are the "other driver's" fault, you can't hold trucking entirely accountable -- a fact that FMCSA has continued to ignore despite trucking's calls for a thorough reexamination of the agency's crash weighting policy under CSA.

Eventually, the industry did an end-run around Ferro in early June, taking its concerns about the 34-hour restart to Congress for resolution. Published reports of various committee meetings suggest Ferro was none too impressed with ATA's move to have Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) offer an amendment to a bill to have that provision reversed and studied. I think that sent a pretty strong signal that ATA no longer had any faith in Anne Ferro's leadership of the agency put in place to regulate trucking.

She was a lame duck administrator from that day forward.

In Ferro's Defense

In fairness to Anne Ferro, I'm inclined to believe that trucking may have been much worse off that it is now with any FMCSA administrator other than her. Her appointment was political, and as such, she did the White House's bidding under Secretaries of Transportation Ray LaHood and later Anthony Foxx.

With her background and understanding of trucking from her days as president of the MMTA, I think Ferro probably threw herself onto more hand grenades than we'll ever know. I think when President Obama nominated Ferro to the post, he knew from the start that his agenda would be very unpopular with trucking, so who better to administer the bad medicine than one of our own.

I think in some ways Ferro's tenure was doomed to fail because of the industry's expectations of her, regardless of the marching orders she was getting from the White House. She simply couldn't win.

Anne Ferro took control of FMCSA in late 2009, preceding a very challenging period for carriers and drivers -- an economy that just wouldn't turn over, engines that wouldn't stay running, a shortage of freight in the early years and a shortage of drivers later, and more. Layered on top of that were an seeming endless stream of rules and rulemaking initiatives that offered no relief from the challenges, but instead added to the cost of trucking while providing little in the way of what few people would call sensible, cost-effective regulations that would help make trucking any safer than it already was.

Ferro did not enjoy a lot of support from industry when it came to some of the more contentious aspects of the CSA program. While most agree the Compliance, Safety, Accountability enforcement initiative was a great step forward from the previous safety rating determination process, there were many serious problems with it that FMCSA simply refused to address in a timely manner.

I don't think you can pin all those failings on Anne Ferro personally, but her popularity -- and to some extent, her credibility -- suffered because of them.

Going forward, I'm quite fearful of who the next nominee will be. President Obama is no longer worried about reelection, but in establishing a legacy, so his nominee is likely to push even harder for changes that would establish him as the president that finally put the trucking industry in its place.

And given the recent spate of high-profile fatal collisions involving trucks, I have to believe the confirmation hearings that will follow the nomination will look favorably on someone who promises fast action to reduce crashes and improve safety. Not that trucking could be seriously opposed to such a mandate, but it all comes down to how the administration chooses to go about it.

It would not surprise me in the least to see a name from the so-called advocate community rise to the top of the list. Were someone in that position to be confirmed, I think trucking would have much to be concerned about.

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Wednesday Jul 30, 2014 - Tax loophole for some trucks a concern

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Tuesday Jul 29, 2014 - Grain truck goes in ditch, loses some cargo
WHITMAN COUNTY - A tractor-trailer filled with grain left the roadway Monday, spilling some of its cargo onto State Route 194.
According to the Washington State Patrol, the noninjury accident was reported to Whitcom at 3:56 p.m. Colfax Ambulance, Whitman County Fire District No. 13 and the state patrol responded to the accident.

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Tuesday Jul 29, 2014 - Feds propose tracking drug, alcohol offenses among truckers
By KSAT Anchor/Reporter
Myra Arthur

SAN ANTONIO - The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is currently reviewing public comment on the proposed implementation of a nationwide clearinghouse to track drug and alcohol offenses among commercial driver’s license holders.

John Esparza, president and CEO of the Texas Trucking Association, says the federal program is modeled after the system operated by the Texas Department of Public Safety for several years now.

DPS tracks drug and alcohol offenses among CDL holders, but only those within Texas.

That leaves the door open for out-of-state drivers with past offenses to move to Texas looking for work and employers in the Lone Star State potentially never finding out about those offenses.

Esparza says more and more truckers from out of state and out of the country are coming to Texas thanks to the Eagle Ford Shale boom.

“What I see is a lot of frustration with companies, up until this point, that feel like the playing field hasn’t been leveled,” said Esparza.

Texas trucking companies are also not required to check the DPS database when hiring, although many who run background checks through third party companies query the same information pool.

“You let a driver go and then he turns up, or she, six months later bringing fuel onto your yard from another company,” said Esparza. “You realize there's a bigger problem out there.”

Steve Blake, vice president and safety director of R. Wyatt Companies and a veteran of the trucking industry, believes the federal clearinghouse would close a gap.

He cited another example of the shortcomings a lack of national tracking tool creates.

“A driver that works for you, or a trucking company, is seeking employment at a prospective employer,” Blake said. “They fail a pre-employment drug test, they don’t hire that driver, that driver comes back to you, continues to drive and you don’t know that you have a driver that has just failed a drug test.”

Companies would be required to run potential employees through the federal clearinghouse and check each hired driver annually.

Trucking companies would be charged a little more than $13 per driver per year as part of the program.

The FMCSA estimates the clearinghouse would help reduce traffic crashes resulting in $187 million in benefits.

Blake sees the proposal as a benefit for companies, CDL holders and everyone else on the road.

“And you have to look at it like that - that it’s a checks and balances in our industry, to make sure that we have drivers that are drug and alcohol free,” Blake said.

The FMCSA is currently reviewing public comment about the proposed clearinghouse. To learn more, click here.


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Monday Jul 28, 2014 - Drivers Take on Low Wages in an Industry Built on a Lie
It's a David and Goliath story, only in this case there are 120 Davids taking on a hidden Goliath of an industry that every day touches everyone who is reading this in hundreds of ways. The port trucking industry is built on an illegal fiction, designed to rip off the 120 drivers who went on strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach this week.

They are not alone; 49,000 port truck drivers around the country work long hours at low pay with no benefits or basic worker protections like unemployment insurance or workers compensation, because the industry misclassifies them as independent contractors. The drivers' courageous action is one more facet of a surging labor and community movement, which is starting to take on the captains of America's low-wage economy.

Virtually everything you are wearing now that was made overseas came through our nation's ports. So did every imported item in your office or home. Port truck drivers transported those goods from ship terminals to rail yards and warehouse centers, for distribution to stores around the country. Starting more than 30 years ago, when the trucking industry was deregulated during the Carter administration, the industry was taken over by firms with a business model based on driving down drivers' incomes by treating them as independent contractors instead of employees.

The new model was based on a lie. The drivers weren't really independent truck drivers, with their own rigs. They still worked for one distribution company, which totally controlled everything about their work - their hours, their shipments, the rates they were paid. The company supplied the trucks they drove. But by insisting the drivers accept the new arrangement if they wanted to work, the companies avoided paying payroll taxes, workers compensation, and unemployment benefits, let alone health or retirement benefits. The drivers were forced to pay to lease, fuel and maintain the trucks out of their own paychecks.

The result of this scam has been high profits for the companies, lower wages and no workplace protections for the drivers, plus big losses to the social insurance funds. This arrangement put employers who complied with the law by continuing to treat their workers as employees at a competitive disadvantage.

The port drivers' story is emblematic of the forces that crushed America's middle class. Good paying, often union jobs were replaced by low wage, no-benefit jobs. "Manufactured in the U.S." was displaced by foreign goods, sold to consumers through the Wal-Marts and Home Depots and other giant retailers that perch at the end of global supply chains. Government, stripped of resources and will by corporate lobbyists and their wholly-owned elected officials, sat by while the law was violated and social insurance programs were weakened. And corporate profits soared.

But times are beginning to change. The strike in Southern California carries with it all the elements and power of the new movement of low-wage workers and their allies to create a good jobs economy. The foundation of the strategy is the willingness of low-wages workers to risk their jobs to fight back. The strategy is driven by strategic, legal, and financial assistance supplied by labor unions, partnerships with community groups, and public campaigns against big brand names.

The strikers, like many other port drivers, are mostly immigrants who often don't speak English. Only recently did they become aware that their rights were being violated, after a free legal clinic was set up by two community groups at the port. Since then, drivers have filed more than 400 claims against companies under California's wage and hour laws. The first 19 rulings resulted in an average award of $66,240, largely for wage and hour violations and illegal paycheck deductions for items like truck leases.

The claims are part of an aggressive legal strategy, which includes filings under California's wage and hour laws, class action suits, and claims that the companies are violating federal labor laws. The goal is for the firms to face such an onslaught of fines and court orders that they will begin to realize it would be better to abide by the law, rather than continue to defend their practices in court. California Attorney General Kamala Harris could be hugely helpful here if she used the growing number of cases to insist on an industry wide compliance settlement.

The companies are fighting back. "It's all out war," an attorney for two workers who were fired for both supporting a union and pressing wage claims, told me. Green Fleet, the company that fired the workers and one of the companies being picketed, is using the full arsenal of union-busting tactics, including firing workers who are leading union efforts and hiring union busters who threaten workers. The company's goal is to terrify other workers, so that they won't support forming a union or file wage claims.

The NLRB ruled in the workers' favor, establishing that they are employees, not independent contractors, but Green Fleet is appealing in order to delay any relief. The fired workers' attorneys are asking a federal judge to immediately order the companies to rehire the workers who were fired and to inform all the workers of their right to form a union and protest unfair labor practices.

In the face of this illegal harassment, the 120 drivers at Green Fleet and other firms walked off the job. They want to join the Teamsters union, which is providing key strategic support to their efforts through their Justice for Port Drivers campaign. Many drivers recently saw the benefits of unionization when drivers won union representation at Toll Global Holdings, an Australian based company, which is unionized in their home country. The unionized drivers actually get paid for the hours they spend waiting to pick up merchandise, and receive better wages and benefits.

Los Angeles' well-organized community-labor coalition, led by LAANE, has turned out hundreds of picketers to join the drivers. The picketers block company trucks driven by drivers who have not joined the strike. The pickets create even longer lines of trucks at the marine terminals, where ships arrive with containers full of goods. This is one way that the strikers can exercise the economic power to get the companies to settle. The Teamsters report that already some terminals have told the companies being struck to stop picking up goods in order to clear the blockade.

Another weapon in the campaign is public pressure on the big brands that are the ultimate beneficiaries of the low-wages paid to the port drivers. All of Skechers shoes are delivered by Green Fleet. Protestors attended Skechers' annual shareholder meetings, have leafleted stores, and this week had a plane fly over the company's flagship L.A. store with a banner that read, "Skechers - laced with misery". As LAANE's Danny Feingold points out, unlike some other retailers, such as Nike, Skechers has refused to sign a code of conduct with labor standards for its contractors.

Another element in the port drivers' campaign, as in low-wage workers' campaigns nationally, is a push to change public policy. There are some 75,000 port drivers around the country, of whom 49,000 are misclassified as independent contractors. The New York and New Jersey legislatures both passed bills in the last year toughening standards and enforcement for misclassification of port truck drivers. While New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie vetoed that state's bill, the New York legislation signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo includes strict standards and most importantly, civil and criminal penalties.

There is a new movement growing in America, comprised of courageous low-wage workers and backed by unions, community groups, and activists to take on the huge companies that drive the low-wage economy. From fast food, to Wal-Mart, to workers who make car seats and immigrants who wash cars, the movement is learning a new strategy, based on mobilizing workers and the public. The twin goals of this movement are to enable workers to organize unions and to enact new public policy to rebuild the middle class. You can support the movement now, and lend a hand to port drivers who are on strike, by learning more about Justice for Drivers Hardship Fund. Remember, the device on which you are reading this now was delivered by a port driver.

Originally published on Next New Deal.

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Monday Jul 28, 2014 - Trucking’s future looks great — for those who can adapt
As you have read in recent weeks, technological changes — and big ones — are coming to trucking.

And as reported last week, the outlook for freight, trucking revenues and the industry in general is very positive for the next decade, according to a recent report by the American Trucking Associations, who expects trucking’s share of freight to grow, freight itself to grow and revenues to nearly double by 2025.

Combine that expected growth with rapidly changing technology and you have a time of upheaval in trucking, writes Overdrive Equipment Editor Jack Roberts in a column on OD sister site CCJ.

Trucking revolution: Industry to see drastic changes in coming years from tech advancements

big, revolutionary changes are coming to the industry — and likely within the next decade — says OD Equipment Editor Jack Roberts, based on the technology he's seen on a two-week tour of European truck and component manufacturers.

Roberts predicts the industry will change more in the next 10 to 20 years than it has in the last 50.

But the good news is there’s plenty of money to be made in all of this change, Roberts writes, despite big challenges facing the industry, such as volatile fuel prices, ever-increasing regulation, changing vehicle technology, higher operating costs, dire infrastructure needs and a (debatable) shortage of drivers.

Roberts explores all of those issues in the full write-up on CCJ.

However, freight’s going to be moving in 2025, he writes, and there will be money behind it: The question is will you be one of the ones hauling it?

It’ll take owner-operators wise enough and savvy enough to figure out the changes and use them to their advantage who will thrive in the new environment, Roberts writes.

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Sunday Jul 27, 2014 - New broker bond: The 75K solution?
By Colin Barrett

Q: I’ve been hearing a lot about the requirement that motor carrier brokers carry a bond for $75,000. Most of the commentary I’ve encountered has been from the broker industry, and most of it, of course, has been negative. The common idea seems to be that the new requirement is unfair to smaller brokers, and will tend to price them out of the industry.

I’m not sure I agree with this. I acknowledge that a $75,000 bond will be something of a hardship on the small broker, but I think that’s partially offset by the fact that it will help keep fly-by-night scam artists out of the industry. I’ve seen it happen much too often: Somebody opens a new brokerage, lowballs prices to shippers to attract business, sets up with carriers that are scrambling for traffic themselves, moves a lot of freight in a short period of time, collects from the shippers, stiffs the carriers and then disappears. Not long afterward, you often see the same individual setting up shop somewhere else to repeat the same scenario. Anything that will keep these people out of the industry must be a good thing.

Even so, is that the only purpose of the increased bond requirement? I ask this because among all the comments I’ve read about the bond, I don’t seem to find any from people — especially the shippers and carriers that the bond is supposed to be protecting — who express the opinion that it’s beneficial in that regard. Do you disagree?

Apparently, Congress is of the view that $75,000 is a more appropriate bond requirement for the contemporary brokerage industry in terms of offering protection to those who might be injured if a broker went out of business. But will it really have that effect? If so, why don’t I hear people defending it on this basis? Or is the real purpose of the new requirement simply too thin out the ranks of those setting up as brokers?

A: Well, you have something of a point.

The original requirement for a broker bond was conceived in the 1940s when the brokerage industry was structured very differently than it is now. In that era, brokers didn’t collect freight charges from shippers, nor pay carriers directly. The only money they ever had in their hands was that owing to them. The $10,000 bond amount seemed quite appropriate in those circumstances.

Once brokerage morphed into its current form beginning in the early 1980s, however, that $10,000 bond became a joke. A typical broker might incur debts far in excess of that sum in a single day.

The new $75,000 requirement is still the same joke, albeit one with bigger numbers. The amount still falls woefully short of the obligations that even a very small failing broker is likely to leave behind.

For example, one kind reader has shared with me some of the situations that have arisen with a broker who went out of business. The bonding company was so swamped with claims that it felt compelled to turn the matter over to the courts for resolution. The sum of the claims didn’t merely exceed the $75,000 bond, but they dwarfed it, to the point that the best creditors could hope for was a few cents on the dollar after the bond amount was apportioned.

Much worse than that, because the bond company felt obliged to take recourse to the courts for allocation of the payout, claimants were required to pursue their claims through the court system — a process that required them to pay a filing fee of several hundred dollars each (or else forfeit their claims). Add it up. For many claimants, the filing fee would be more than they could reasonably hope to recover.

And it gets worse, in fact. You could scarcely expect the bonding company not to ensure its own representation before the court. So the bonding company would incur legal expenses in conjunction with this matter. One of the bonding company’s early requests to the court was that those legal expenses be treated as a priority claim against the bond, meaning they would come off the top before any money was distributed to other claimants.

Because any claimant with enough money at stake to warrant paying the filing fee also will incur its own legal fees, I can’t imagine anyone except the lawyers is likely to show any profit from this mess.

Thus, to answer your question, I don’t think the $75,000 bond is likely to offer any real protection to shippers or carriers in the case of a broker default.

Consultant, author and educator Colin Barrett is president of Barrett Transportation Consultants. Send your questions to him at 5201 Whippoorwill Lane, Johns Island, S.C. 29455; phone, 843-559-1277; e-mail, Contact him to order the most recent 351-page compiled edition of past Q&A columns, published in 2010.

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Sunday Jul 27, 2014 - Lack of truck drivers jackknifes Swift profits
By Michael Gray and Post Wire

Swift Transportation, the largest trucker in North America, saw its shares crater 16 percent on Friday after it said it could not find enough truck drivers and that it would hurt future earnings.
The firm, which has a large facility near the Port of Elizabeth in New Jersey, said it was “constrained” by a challenging driver market, which led to higher turnover than was anticipated.
“There has been a driver shortage that has been getting incrementally worse as the economy improves and they have to fight for employees with the housing sector,” Lee Klaskow, an analyst, told Bloomberg.
“You see some carriers passing on rate increases to drivers, but for whatever reason, Swift has had a harder time attracting and retaining drivers,” he added
The American Trucking Association has issued repeated warnings that the North American trucking market has lost more than 30,000 drivers in the past few years and anticipates that shortfall could skyrocket to 200,000 in the next decade, according to a statement on its Web site.

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Sunday Jul 27, 2014 - Trucker Sentenced For Hauling Marijuana With Produce
A La Palma, California truck driver was sentenced in Lincoln Thursday for hauling hundreds of pounds of marijuana into the state.

Forty-nine-year-old Julio Sanchez was given two to four years and credited for 261 days already served. He'd pleaded no contest to attempted possession of a controlled substances for sale. Prosecutors had lowered the original charge and dropped another in exchange for Sanchez's plea.

The Nebraska State Patrol says 730 pounds of pot was found hidden in boxes of produce found inside a semi driven by Sanchez last November. The marijuana's street value was estimated at $2.5 million.

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