Feature: H.O. Wolding’s Julie Matulle Named Trucking’s Top Rookie

Cash and prizes awarded at Great American Trucking Show

By Brad Bentley


Randall-Reilly announced H.O. Wolding company driver Julie Matulle as the winner in its Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie program at a ceremony on Friday, August 22 during the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.

Matulle was chosen for the award by an expert panel of judges, which included representatives from training schools, suppliers and trade associations. As Trucking’s Top Rookie, Matulle won $10,000 in cash and the following prizes:

  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America, a division of Randall-Reilly
  • A GPS unit and Motor Carrier Road Atlas from Rand McNally
  • American Trucking Associations “Trucking Moves America Forward” prize package
  • $1,000 cash and 100,000 MyRewards points from Pilot Flying J
  • A dash camera and Bluetooth-enabled CB radio from COBRA Electronics
  • A one-year membership and logo prize pack from the Women In Trucking Association
Julie Matulle poses with a commemorative $10,000 check she won for being named the 2014 Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie. To her right is Rob Behnke from Fox Valley Technical College.

Julie Matulle poses with a commemorative $10,000 check she won for being named the 2014 Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie. To her right is Rob Behnke from Fox Valley Technical College.

Immediately following the awards ceremony, Red Eye Radio’s Eric Harley conducted a live interview with Matulle, a native of Oshkosh, Wisconsin who received her CDL at Fox Valley Technical College.

Matulle said she felt “blessed” to be named Trucking’s Top Rookie. “It was a huge honor. Not only am I doing the job I’ve dreamed of my entire life, I was recognized for it. This award was not only icing on the cake but LOTS of sprinkles too,” says Matulle. “While listening to the other nine nominees’ history I felt so honored to be in such great company…and then to win it? Just crazy.  My life could not be better!”

The Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie contest was created to highlight the opportunities in the truck driving profession and promote the truck driving career choice during a severe shortage of drivers. Carriers were asked to nominate their top rookie who had graduated from a PTDI certified, or NAPFTDS- or CVTA-member driver training school within the past year and had been employed by their trucking company for less than one year. Nominees were judged on their safety performance, customer service and achievements within their organization.

Rob Behnke, an instructor at Fox Valley Technical College Truck Driving Program, was proud to have Matulle as a graduate of their school. “Julie came to us with a smile, great attitude, and determination to be successful not only in our Transportation Industry but in every aspect of life. Starting slow and meek she quickly blossomed into a leader, and a confident one at that,” Behnke said. “Her classmates would always be watching to see what Julie would do next and how she would approach the task at hand. Julie was not intimidated by the industry but determined to make significant strides and changes if necessary. Being a lady in our ‘typically’ male dominated industry, Julie was taking the reins and on the run!”

Nine other finalists for the Trucking’s Top Rookie award each received $1,000 in cash and a variety of other prizes. The other finalists were Dion Blair, who went to All State Career School before signing on with TMC Transportation; Elisee Carnelli, a Hogan Transports, Inc. driver who attended MTC Truck Driver Training; Frank Childers, who trained at Trans Tech, Inc. and drives for Cargo Transporters; Kyle Friauf, who went to Kirkwood Community College before going to work for Transport America; Steven Jameson, a graduate of Interstate Truck Driving school who is leased to Dart Transit; Jason Kiser, a driver for Stevens Transport who came through Stevens Driving Academy; Michael Kline, who attended Roehl Driver Training Center and is employed by Roehl Transport; Julie Matulle, who trained at Fox Valley Technical College and now drives for H.O. Wolding; Carlos Nordquist, a Roadmaster Drivers School graduate who is employed by Werner Enterprises and John Spofford, a Premier Crude driver who trained at Del Mar College.


Matulle with company founder, Herbert Wolding, who is 102 years old. After this photo shoot, they sat down and swapped stories. Julie’s family has a lot of history in trucking and hauling milk, so they talked about the old days.

Matulle with company founder, Herbert Wolding, who is 102 years old. After this photo shoot, they sat down and swapped stories. Julie’s family has a lot of history in trucking and hauling milk, so they talked about the old days.

“H.O. Wolding is so proud of Julie and all that she’s accomplished in this last year. She really has impressed us since the day she showed up for orientation and continues to excel. We’ve started to look forward to participating in the Trucking’s Top Rookie program every year and it has been amazing to be alongside Julie throughout this experience,” Paige Selbo, of H.O. Wolding, said. “She’s a wonderful person and an excellent driver who truly deserves the recognition. We’re overjoyed to have her on our team and excited for many more years to come!”

Trucking’s Top Rookie is a partnership between Randall-Reilly, Truckload Carriers Association, Rand McNally, Commercial Vehicle Training Association, Shell ROTELLA, National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools, Pilot Flying J, Progressive Commercial Insurance, American Trucking Associations and the Red Eye Radio Network.

Web Roads: Old Meets New

New Website For One Of The Industry’s Oldest Suppliers

By Tom Kelley

While it’s not uncommon to learn of a new website from one of the younger and/or more tech-oriented companies in the trucking business, it’s rare that a fresh presence on the web can trace its heritage back nearly 150 years. But as the website for a sixth-generation family-owned and managed business, www.betts1868.com brings old and new together in the centerpiece of a new branding initiative intended to re-introduce the historic company to customers, prospects and the general public.

The story begins when William Michael Betts, a talented English steel craftsman, sailed to the United States in 1860 in search of new opportunities. The country was then divided by war, but Betts was not deterred from his quest to pioneer spring manufacturing west of the Mississippi.

After the war subsided he set sail again, around South America to make port in the bustling city of San Francisco. There he would open his own shop, originally named Betts Spring Company, making springs for carriages, streetcars and wagons of every kind. It didn’t take long before Betts Spring Company became a well-known and respected business.

For over 145 years, the company has practiced the mission of its founder by “Building Well, Serving Better.” From its early start as the first spring manufacturer in the Western United States, Betts has developed into a diversified concern that serves heavy duty transportation, aftermarket automotive and other industrial sectors with innovative products made in the USA.

Formerly known as Betts Spring Company, Betts Company announced its new name in February 2013. Acknowledging the historic roots of its founding in 1868, the company also adopted a new corporate tagline: “Improving the Way Things Move Since 1868.” The 1868 founding date also figures prominently in the new www.betts1868.com website address.

“Now well into our second century, Betts Company has a long history of providing component parts and services for transportation and other industrial applications of the highest quality and at superior value,” said Betts Company VP Bill Betts. “We are committed to improving the quality of life for our associates, customers and suppliers, maintaining high standards of ethical conduct and conserving our irreplaceable environment.”

The Betts Company home page includes links to the websites for its three operating divisions, Betts Spring Manufacturing, BettsHD, and Betts Truck Parts & Service. Visitors to the website can download information including a new corporate brochure and video, or sign up to receive the Betts Company e-newsletter.

Check it out at www.Betts1868.com on the web.

Intro To Trucking: What It’s Really Like Trucking, Part 34

Boo! …Did That Scare You?

By Timothy D. Brady

We interview two truckers monthly, changes names/details so they remain anonymous. But rest assured – they’re real.

Every trucker has some event OTR give him or her a start – and then there are times when you get really scared. What’s scared our two truckers?

Describe an unexpected start.
Naomi: Parked on a ramp swapping drivers and a man walked up out of the middle of nowhere. He wanted gas money. Where he came from I’ll never know.

Ben: Blowing a driver-side forward drive tire. Sounds and feels like a shotgun being fired, followed by chunks of tire going in all directions.

What’s the scariest event that’s ever happened to you OTR?
Naomi: Watching when a westbound crossed the median into eastbound lanes and laid it over in front of us. I dynamited the brakes – missed him and everybody missed me. Shook me up bad.

Ben: I was turning from a center left turn lane when an SUV came flying up the other left turn lane and slammed into my trailer. Luckily the SUV driver wasn’t injured. (Lesson: don’t text and drive. That’s what the SUV driver was doing, which is why he went straight instead of turning.)

How’d you deal with it?
Naomi: Got stopped; checked our rig out. Checked the other driver out. Then I sat in my seat and shook; then cried. And said, “OMG, I cannot believe we missed him!” Took me a couple hours to fully settle down.

Ben: Did the accident follow-up: made sure the SUV driver and passengers weren’t injured; called 911, took pictures of the situation, and exchanged insurance information with the SUV driver. The damage to my trailer was minimal. The SUV’s hood was pretty messed up but still drivable. Personally, I was pretty shook up and had to sit for about an hour after the police left to gather myself.

New challenges?
Naomi: I had a serious allergic reaction on my hands that took four weeks to fully heal. I ended up in ER. You never realize how much you need/use your hands until they’re swollen three times normal size; blistering, oozing; and so freaking painful! You also never realize how great hand-washing feels and how rarely we actually get good ol’ soap and water.

Ben: When training to secure and tarp flatbed loads, no matter how well you pay attention, when the time comes to do it yourself, it’s like you never listened! This happened when a shipper loaded a super coil of steel ‘shotgun style.’ (The hole in the middle of the coil facing the cab so if it comes loose it’ll roll left or right versus ‘suicide,’ where 44,000 lbs. can just roll right over the cab.) No problem getting it blocked, braced, chained correctly. That I had drilled into my brain by the trucker who taught me, but I must’ve fallen asleep during the tarping instruction. I spent well over three hours chaining, tarping and re-tarping, but it looked like a badly-wrapped birthday present. When I finally got a good tight tarp and started rolling down the highway, it looked like I was hauling an inflated hot air balloon. I’ll be practicing tarping skills on my days off.

Interesting experiences?
Naomi: I’m often irritated/annoyed/angered by women that either ask a man to back their rig in or wake a team partner to back in for them. Ladies, it’s called ‘education, respect, and pride in yourself.’ You cannot always depend on someone else to do your job. Learn the job and every aspect of it. I get so sick of hearing “I CAN’T.”

Ben: Loaded a shipment that, according to all documents and dispatch, had an ‘open’ appointment delivery. I arrived on delivery day at 7 am; in fact, I was the only truck there when they opened the gates. The dock foreman asked when my appointment was and I showed him the paperwork indicated an open appointment. He immediately jumped down my throat saying all loads required appointments and the fact I didn’t have one meant I’d have to wait all day and if he had an opening he’d unload me.

This was one skid on a flatbed that required a side unload with a forklift – five minutes, tops. I kept my temper, called my dispatcher and he happened to mention I now had an 11:30 am appointment. I asked, “If that’s so, why does the paperwork show ‘open’?” He explained at the time the load was scheduled for pick-up, they didn’t have an unload appointment set; in fact, he hadn’t received it until that morning. I asked if in the future they’d put “will advise” so I know I need an appointment.

Advice for handling those events that send shivers down a trucker’s spine?
Naomi: Shake it off. Stop. Go for a walk. Scream. Yell. Cry. Shake. Call a friend.

There are just some things you cannot ‘unsee.’  Know you did your part in keeping you, your rig, and the motoring public safe.

Ben: Stop and gather your composure, your thoughts; relax and don’t start driving until you’re ready. And make sure to change into a clean pair of shorts.

Here’s to your future great loads and great roads.

Timothy Brady © 2014

To contact Brady go to www.truckersu.com or call 731.749.8567


Truck or Treat!

What’s the scariest story you’ve heard? Was it true or ‘expanded’?
Naomi: I heard about a suicidal student who had cancer but wanted to learn to drive. His trainer’s in the jumpseat as the student’s driving across Cabbage. He suddenly looks at the trainer and says, “Well, nice knowing you. I only wanted to learn to drive so I wouldn’t be alone when I die.” The trainer jerks the student out of the seat and gets safely down the hill where he throws out the student.

I can see it somewhat being true. But not jerking him out of the seat when the truck’s running full speed, fully-loaded down the hill. It’s road talk.

Ben: Two trucks coming down a steep mountain incline; the rear truck overheated his brakes and started picking up speed. The front truck increased speed enough to let the runaway truck just kiss his ICC bumper and the front truck brought the two trucks to a safe stop. The way it was explained, I believe it was true. But I wouldn’t recommend this as a way for a trucker with less than 20 years of experience to bring a similar situation to a safe ending.

How It Works: Smoothing The Ride

Suspension System Basics

By Tom Kelley

Different applications, operations, regulations and priorities, all contribute to the complexity of choosing the best suspension. Far from a “one size fits all” proposition, the suspension system is one of the most important and most complex choice to make on a truck.

The main problem arises from the fact that most “truckload” hauling is an “all or nothing” scenario, running either at tare weight or at maximum gross. It may be fairly simple to suspend a truck that spends most of its life operating inside a very narrow weight range, but it’s more complex when operating at the extremes is normal.

With trucks and trailers used in truckload operations, the spring rate that provides the best ride when empty, won’t be sufficient for running fully loaded, and conversely, the spring rate that rides best when loaded will beat you to death when running empty. Because of this suspensions generally designed to ride best when they are loaded.

Another problem that adds to the complexity of choosing a suspension is the wide variation of local, regional, state and federal weight regulations that can dictate the number and spacing of axles required to maximize payload in a given operating area.

At the most basic level, there are six key considerations when choosing a suspension.

1. Capacity – How much weight can the suspension support?

2. Payload – How much does the weight of the suspension components reduce or increase the truck’s maximum payload? Today, it’s more important than ever to consider the suspension weight.

3. Ride Quality – How well does the suspension absorb input from the road, whether the truck is loaded or empty?

4. Articulation – How much of an input can the suspension absorb before transferring that input to the chassis, and how well does the suspension keep the wheels engaged with the ground while absorbing input?

5. Durability – How well does the suspension stand up to the rigors of daily operation, and how much regular maintenance is required?

6. Stability – How well does the suspension mitigate lateral forces imparted by dynamic or high-center loads? υ

Web Roads: Factory Features

OEMs Upgrade Web Presence

By Tom Kelley

Truck manufacturers are getting increasingly serious about making their online presence as high-tech as their trucks. In just a few short years, truck websites have been transformed from basic billboards to fully interactive, online expressions of the companies’ brands. Here’s a look at some of the newest online upgrades:


Earlier this year, Peterbilt launched its “Class Pays” tablet app that allows users to tour vehicles, browse features and specs and even select different truck colors. The app highlights vehicles from Peterbilt’s on-highway, vocational and medium-duty lineup, including its newest Models 579, 567 and 220. With the swipe of a finger, users can take a 360-degree tour of the featured vehicles and can also view the chosen truck in a variety of popular colors.


The app also includes product brochures, overviews of features and benefits, and spec options. In addition to information about the truck models themselves, users can learn more about Peterbilt’s technologies, including the PACCAR MX-13 Engine and the SmartNav driver infotainment system.

The free “Class Pays” app, compatible with Apple and Windows tablets, is available through each brand’s app store by searching for Peterbilt Class Pays.



Having recently refreshed its visual branding, Mack Trucks is bringing that new look online with the new www.MackTrucks.com website. Designed for easy use and optimized for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, the new site provides information about Mack’s products and services, and also helps customers connect with local Mack dealers.

Bold photography is used throughout the site to complement Mack’s updated visual branding. Another key feature of the new site design is the application-focused layout, which allows users find the right tools for the jobs they need to do, whether it’s on the highway, on a construction site, or anywhere else they’re operating.


Along with information about the different truck models, site visitors can also learn about the support services offered by Mack, including the GuardDog Connect package for proactive diagnostics and repair scheduling, as well as the Pedigree Uptime Protection package of business solutions for service, parts purchasing and asset protection.

Feature stories about how Mack owners use their trucks are also posted on the site. Customers will also figure prominently in a soon-to-debut online forum planned to include a photo gallery of Mack owners’ trucks, along with a Q&A section to get answers from product experts.

Intro To Trucking: What It’s Really Like Trucking, Part 32

The Dog Days – Dealing with Summer Heat

By Timothy D. Brady

We interview two truckers monthly, changing names/details so they remain anonymous. But rest assured, they’re real.

As we move into the hottest part of the summer, dealing with the heat can be challenging, even for seasoned truckers.

What are the three ‘hottest’ aspects of driving your truck?
Naomi: A. Sun beating on me during the evening. It’s hot. hot. hot. and blinding if driving into it.
B. If not allowed to idle, the heat from motor and trans make it stifling hot.
C. I have a sweet ride and she’s kept clean and polished inside and out! That makes me one hot momma driving a hot-looking rig!!! OK; not what you meant, I know. (LOL)

Ben: I don’t have an APU on my truck so I either have to idle my truck to stay cool, or suffer. I idle my truck when need be. I have a double bunk sleeper so it takes more to keep it cool. If I’m going in and out at shippers and receivers, I don’t leave my truck running. And usually it’s pretty hot when I get back to the truck.

What do you do in hot weather to remain cool when working outside the truck?
Naomi: Drink plenty of water and take more breaks in the shade.

Ben: I pull a dry box so I don’t usually have a lot of work outside of the truck. But when I do, I wear light-colored clothing and drink lots of water.

What’s the hottest temperature you’ve experienced OTR and what did you do to stay cool?
Naomi: 115 degrees in SoCal; hot as blue blazes out there. I stayed in my idling truck, with ice water. Ate cool foods like salads and ice cream. Note: in hot weather, best to stay away from sugary or caffeinated drinks. (Caffeinated drinks will dehydrate you, so they defeat the purpose of drinking liquids.)

Ben: 112 degrees in Phoenix. I idled my truck with the air on while parked.

List the things you carry on the truck to keep cool.

Naomi: Shorts, tank tops, a washcloth I can get wet and lay on my neck, water, Popsicles®  and a fan.

Ben: A fan, a cooler with ice and drinks. Light-weight and light-color clothes.

Interesting experiences and challenges?
An experience of what happens when one trucker for the same company fails to do his job correctly. When that happens and you’re the “lucky” trucker who has to pick up the pieces, it’s amazing how Murphy’s Law takes over. Summary: One driver fails to deliver a load on time, causing another driver to run out of route (to drop her loaded trailer for the failed driver to deliver once his current late load is off-loaded), for an empty trailer. Then she drives 200 miles to pick up the load the other driver was supposed to load but can’t, then travels another two hours through LA traffic to pick up the rest of the load the failed delivery driver was supposed to get. She drives back to the original location we dropped our trailer to swap trailers with yet a third driver, with a load going to the Midwest. Ended up again having to meet up with the same driver (who failed to deliver on time on the west coast) near the New Mexico/Texas border to swap trailers again – because he was behind schedule again.

Because of the failures of this one ‘trucker,’ (read that ‘steering wheel holder’), and two roll-over truck accidents along the way,  two loads were a day late delivering, costing the carrier fines levied by the shippers and lost time. It used up HOS hours and revenue for two other trucks. And if it hadn’t been for the fact we’re a team driver operation, our load would have been two days late. That was a rough 4 days. But it sure taught me a lesson in fate and patience.

The other driver has been reprimanded, and is on probation. He failed his duty.

Ben: I’m running more miles than usual, and it’s getting harder to trip-plan with some of the appointment times and lack of parking.

Advice for someone just finishing school to keep their cool in the Summer?
Naomi: Patience. Common sense. Courtesy. And with courtesy think this…. what would momma think if I’m rude?

It’s summer and it’s hot and more trucks are on the road now that there isn’t white stuff on the ground. More trucks means even less parking and people being temperamental because of the heat. Just smile; keep your mouth shut and go on.

Ben: Idle when you need to. Get with a company that has APUs on their trucks. Stay in light clothes and drink plenty of cool water.

Here’s to your future great loads and great roads.

Timothy Brady © 2014

To contact Brady go to www.truckersu.com


How It Works? Doing More With Less

North American Truckers Warming Up To 6 x 2 Axle Configuration

By Tom Kelley

The default configuration for OTR truck tractors in North America has long been a three-axle unit with one steer axle and tandem drive axles. This configuration is commonly known as a 6×4, denoting six wheel ends with four of the six powered.

The key reason for having two axles at the back of the tractor is to meet the legal weight restrictions imposed on each of a truck’s axles. Before gearing, braking and tire technology reached its current state, it was also beneficial to spread a truck’s power across a greater number of wheel ends, so virtually all tandem axle configurations offered for tractors featured driving power on both axles.

Now that engine horsepower and torque ratings have reached a plateau that is likely to extend well into the foreseeable future, the technology behind tires and axle gearing caught up to the point where getting power to the ground can usually be accomplished through a single drive axle, in all but the most extreme weight, grade and horsepower scenarios.

Although the newer drivetrain technology enables removing the drive function from one of the rear axles, weight carrying capacity still requires two axles at the back of the tractor, even if one isn’t powered. This configuration is referred to as a 6×2, six total wheel ends on the tractor, with only two powered.

There are two major benefits to using a 6×2 configuration.

The larger benefit is weight reduction, about 400 pounds in most cases, due to the lack of a differential and axle shafts in the rear-most axle.

The lesser, though still important benefit is a significant reduction in friction loads on the drivetrain. Every rotating part of the drivetrain adds some parasitic friction load, so eliminating a whole bunch of drivetrain components can measurably improve fuel economy.

Feature: Double Nickels

55 Compete for Title of 2014 Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie

By Brad Bentley


Randall-Reilly has announced that 55 nominations were received from this year’s Trucking’s Top Rookie program, which is designed to increase pride and professionalism among new drivers, and to promote truck driving as a career choice during a severe driver shortage. Any CDL holder who has graduated from a PTDI-certified, or NAPFTDS or CVTA member driver training school and has been employed by a trucking company for less than one year was eligible to be nominated for the Trucking’s Top Rookie award. Nominations could be made by motor carrier employers, training organizations, or the general public.

Scott Miller, Senior Vice President, Sales for Randall-Reilly, said he was pleased with the direction of the Trucking’s Top Rookie program. “More fleets and driver training schools participated this year, and it resulted in a 20% increase in nominations. Our goal was 50 nominees, so we are thrilled with the response,” Miller stated.

Trucking’s Top Rookie is a partnership between Randall-Reilly, Truckload Carriers Association, Shell ROTELLA, Commercial Vehicle Training Association, Rand McNally, Pilot Flying J, American Trucking Associations, Progressive Insurance, COBRA Electronics, Red Eye Radio Network, and the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools.

The following entry-level drivers were nominated to be the 2014 Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie:

Phillip Alley, Epes Transport System, Inc.; Joshua Andrews, Stevens Transport; Freelin Berry, Transport America; Dion Blair, TMC Transportation; Ashley Bowers, Maverick Transportation, LLC.; Joe Boyle, Veriha Trucking; Elisee Carnelli, Hogan Transports, Inc.; Kevin Carpenter, C.R. England; Jonathan Chastang, Dart Transit; William Childers, Cargo Transporters, Inc.; Jason Dulier, Hogan Transports, Inc.; Rommel Duran, TMC Transportation; Derek Fischer, H.O. Wolding; Kyle Friauf, Transport America; Matthew Frisbee, Stevens Transport; Clarence Gillespie, Hogan Transports, Inc.; Lyle Grant, Maverick Transportation, LLC.; Paul Hedge, Werner Enterprises; Brandon Hooten, Maverick Transportation, LLC.; Othello James, Werner Enterprises; Steven Jameson, Dart Transit; Alex Jusino, Maverick Transportation, LLC.; Amanda Kidd, Cargo Transporters, Inc.; Byron Kilgore, Transport America; Sean Klarer, TMC Transportation; Michael Kline, Roehl Transport; Dominick Krajewski, TMC Transportation; Jason Kiser, Stevens Transport; William Mills, Britton Transport; Daniel Mota, C.R. England; Richard Mullen, D&D Sexton Inc.; Julie Matulle, H.O. Wolding; Jeffrey Nace, Stevens Transport; Joel Nelson, Dart Transit; Carlos Nordquist, Werner Enterprises; Cheryl “Charlie” Naujokas, C.R. England; Reg Polante, H.O. Wolding; Karl Sall, Dart Transit; Adam Sanford, Core Carrier Corporation; Sandy Schultz, C.R. England; Chad Sears, Maverick Transportation, LLC.; Byron Simpson, Epes Transport System, Inc.; Fred Smith, Roehl Transport; Ryan Sparks, Boyd Bros. Transportation Inc.; Cartha Speed, Transport America; John Spofford, Premier Crude, LLC; Jordan Steffens, Norseman Express Trucking Inc.; Robert Strong, Roehl Transport; William Steinmetz, C.R. England; Michael Towler, Roehl Transport; Nico Turner, C.R. England; Joseph Watson, C.R. England; Robert White, Werner Enterprises; Joel Wieland, Britton Transport; and Roger Wright, Transport America.

An expert panel of judges, which includes representatives from motor carriers, training schools (both public and private), suppliers and trade associations, are reviewing the nominations. Ten finalists will be chosen, and those deserving drivers will be recognized at a ceremony on Friday, August 22 during the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. More than $25,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded, and Eric Harley of the Red Eye Radio Network will interview the winner immediately following the ceremony.

The 2014 Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie will receive:

The other nine finalists will each receive $1,000 in cash and a similar prize package.

Intro To Trucking: What It’s Really Like Trucking, Part 31

A Bit Of Independence


By Timothy D. Brady


Note: We interview two truckers monthly, changing names/details so they remain anonymous. But rest assured, they’re real.


July: celebrating our nation’s independence. The ideal of becoming a truck driver is to gain some of that ‘American independence’. Is that actually attainable for a trucker?


While driving a truck, what three things give you a feeling of independence?

Naomi: 1. Not punching a time clock … sure, we have to be on time, but I set my hours.
2. The view out my office window!!! The change of scenery is amazing; keeps things from being monotonous.
3. Not having to listen to office gossip. Life has so much less drama!

Ben: I don’t have a boss over me all the time. Most of the time I choose my delivery time. Even though I’m a company driver, at times I get to choose where I want to go.

What’s the most demanding part of your job?

Naomi: Being sure you make your pickups and deliveries on time. Yes, we have lots of freedom in this lifestyle (aka ‘job’) but you MUST be on time!
The other is traffic … four wheelers who are just totally clueless and distracted.

Ben: Safety is most demanding and important. You have to be on top of it ALL the time.

What three things could your carrier do to provide you with more independence?

Naomi: 1. Not allow brokers to call every hour or 3 or even every day. I HATE brokers checking every 10 minutes by calling me.
2. Pick the load or area of the country you want. (I already have this)
3. Pick your routing. Not have to follow a set route or fuel solution. (I already have this)

Ben: There’s not much more they can do; they’re doing just about everything possible.

What top three things could the government and FMCSA do to make driving safer while providing you greater independence?

Naomi: GIVE ME BACK MY OLD 34-HOUR RESET RULE!!! The HOS now make me more tired; making me run recap vs. reset. I ran recap for 6 weeks; not one day off and no reset. I was beat by the time I took my home-time. The rule of 168 hours between resets is absolutely asinine. Who are they to tell me when and where I am tired and need to rest? I’m also unable to get a run to somewhere I really want and just reset to spend time. Now it really has to be planned out.

Ben: More flexibility on HOS. Stop adding and changing laws and rules that make my job more difficult, confusing and stressful. Get on the shippers and receivers for running our hours down to next to nothing and then making us leave the property.

New challenges?

Naomi: Moved into a brand-new truck. In 30 days, I was down seven. Blew a radiator hose in NM; another in CA. An electrical gremlin in the dash still isn’t completely fixed. I have rubber ducks that were floating on my floor from various leaks. The new-fangled seat has blown an airline in 2 separate places, costing 2 days each in the shop. New trucks suck ’til all the bugs are worked out.

Ben: I got a ticket in a large city. When I call the number provided, I can’t get anyone in the court clerk’s office to answer or return my calls, so I can at least see what my options are.

Interesting experiences?

Naomi: Being asked by family about trucking school for a friend. Had him call me; I told him all I could and, most importantly, study – even gave him websites – before he left for school. He didn’t study – he failed, then blamed me. He really wanted a local job anyway and as a new driver that’s nearly impossible; most companies want a minimum of 2 years OTR.

The second is, CLOSE YOUR CURTAINS IF YOU’RE GONNA GET FRISKY WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER. I pulled into a truckstop about midnight to park and there was a couple across from me getting busy completely naked. … My dash cam got a porn video. SO CLOSE YOUR CURTAINS! 

Ben: Freight’s picked up and I’m running more. Busy, busy, busy. Not sure that’s interesting, but my pay check is better, and I find that both desirable and interesting.

Advice for someone just finishing school to gain the independence he/she desires?

Naomi: This is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle. Be patient with companies: you’re new; don’t start making demands right out of school. You have to EARN your right for those jobs where you’re home nightly.
After you have some time under your belt, start looking for a company that fits your needs. They do exist. But you have to earn your way into them.

Ben: When you go to work for a company, be honest and up front with them. Be very nice and respectful to your dispatcher. Find out when his/her birthday is and order a pizza on that day. I promise you, good things will happen. You’ll get more choices and better miles.

Here’s to your future great loads and great roads.


Timothy Brady © 2014

To contact Brady go to www.truckersu.com


Web Roads: Social Trucking

Driver-Focused Blog Offers Timely, Targeted Content

By Tom Kelley

Last year, Randall Reilly, parent company of Student Driver Placement and several other trucking industry publications, launched a group of driver-focused blogs. Each of the blogs is featured on one of the company’s online driver recruiting sites. The flagship of the recruiting sites is OTRProTrucker.com.

The industry’s best drivers aren’t usually looking for a new job every day, so we’ve worked to provide a reason to visit OTRProTrucker.com between job searches. By turning a driver into a regular visitor to the site, the best job-hunting technology in the industry will always be just one click away whenever it’s time to look for a job.

As part of the team developing timely, targeted content for OTRProTrucker.com, I work to bring an original perspective to the site with two uniquely-themed regular columns. “The Spin Room” features analysis and commentary of the politics affecting truckers, and “Weekend Wheels” offers quick-take reviews of what to drive when you’re not driving your rig.

As somebody who started out under the truck, then behind the wheel, the perspective in the Spin Room is focused on looking out for the driver.

The carriers, regulators, unions and law enforcement are all quite ably represented by professional advocates. But all to often when it comes to politics, the driver’s voice is lost in the clamor. The Spin Room offers a chance to learn about and comment on the political news that affects men and women behind the wheel.

In addition to fresh original content from award-winning contributors, we’ll also be scouring the web to link readers with content covering several topics from across the internet. The “Road Rules” category provides links to the web’s top regulatory news each week; and “Tech Trends,” connects drivers to the latest news about their favorite personal-tech gadgets.

Top driver-oriented content is how we keep drivers visiting and coming back to OTRProTrucker.com. In today’s 24/7 online world, we don’t rely on delivering content just once a month, or even once a week, so we work to deliver fresh content Monday through Friday, every week.

Our team brings decades of combined experience to OTRProTrucker .com, offering hands-on knowledge of topics including trucks, driving, fleet operations, technology, online publishing and social media, just to name a few.

Like most blogs, OTRProTrucker.com offers the ability to comment on any posted content, as well as the ability to like, link or pin the content on various social media sites.

Check it out at: www.OTRProTrucker.com