Thefts in Hesperia, CA

Jimmy Taylor on #11223 advises a theft ring is operating in the vicinity of the Pilot Truckstop in Hesperia, CA. Thefts include tires and flatbed equipment such as chains, binders and tarps. Drivers operating in that area should watch out for this activity.
 
Len Dunman

Gross Weight increase to 97,000 pounds?

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I wanted to discuss a topic that seems to be gaining a lot of momentum on the internet.  If you haven’t heard, the American Trucking Assosciation is supporting the “Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2009”.  This bill authorizes states to allow trucks to haul more weight!  The current gross weight maximum of 80,000 pounds, would increase to 97,000 pounds!  The ATA claims that this will lead to a more efficient operation of commercial trucks.  They are basically saying that it will result in less individual truck loads moved, because you the driver, can fit more product on one trailer.  That, of course will lead to less trucks on the road, which results in safer highways, and cleaner air.

The problem that I have with all of this is, that many shipping groups are getting behind the ATA on this change.  With shippers involved, I’m sure that safety is not the main concern.  What happened when a 45 foot trailer became standard in the industry, then came the 48 foot trailer.  While you’re at it, go from 96 inch wide trailers to 102 inch wide.  Each increase in trailer size logically resulted in more product on your trailer per load.  Did you see a rate increase?  Now drivers could be behind the wheel of 97,000 pounds, which is a 20% increase in gross weight.  I guarantee you that shippers will not increase rates 20%.  That is the reason that the shippers are strongly backing ATA on this bill.  They can move more product, on less trucks, and save big money.

I posted a link to a story in a previous post, “Truck safety from one passenger’s perspective”.  She claims that most truck related accidents could be caused more by the four-wheelers that drive erratically, and cut the big rigs off on a daily basis.  I doubt that having 17000 more pounds of weight on, is going to help a truck stop any faster when somebody cuts a big truck off and slams on the brakes.  Some of our customers now, don’t want us to send trucks in that can’t at least scale 48,000 pounds.  What if they said that they didn’t want a truck to come into their facility unless it could scale at least 65,000 pounds! 

It seems that some of the activists against this, are the type that are just against trucks either way, and blame trucks for most of the accidents on the road.  I disagree with some of their views, but I agree that we should not increase the gross weight to 97,000 pounds.  If you are for the change, I am not writing to persuade you, and change your mind.  I have significantly less experience in this industry than most of the readers here.  Give me your input.  Are you for or against.  If you are against the change, a website has been created to try to help block the bill.  You can sign a petition online at www.StopBiggerTrucks.org

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Good Day!

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Looks like today is shaping up to be the busiest day of the Mercer blog so far!  Way to get the word out.  And for those of you that don’t know me, an old workmate of mine drew this picture of me about a year ago.  Thanks Bud.


New Coordinator Schedule

Last week was the end of coordinators working until 5:30 p.m.  Starting today, all Truck operations personnel will work from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  Night shift will come in at 5:00 p.m. to take over the phones.  Coordinators had been working on a swing shift for the past year or so, where half of the coordinators would stay after five, and the other half would leave.  Very little freight is running the board between 5:00 and 5:30, and it is not enough volume to justify having 30 coordinators present.  Please be aware as you call in going forward.


Contractor Web Load Preselection

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been testing the “Preselect Option”, on the contractor web.  What this means, is that very soon, all Mercer contractors, that are set up on the contractor web, will be able to preselect their own freight.  This is a big step for us, so I would like to take some time to discuss what to expect when we roll this thing out. 

First, let me discuss what “preselect” means.  When you see a load in the contractor web now, that you are interested in, you call your coordinator, and let them know of your interest.  Your coordinator will then find the load, make sure that your preferences are matching the load, and preselect you on the load.  When the load runs down the board, per our first in first out policy, the computer will automatically accept you on the load, when the load gets down the board to you.  Let me make that clear by saying that a preselection of a load, does not ensure that you will get the load.  It just simply means that you are putting your name in the hat for the load. 

Very soon, you will be able to do all of this with the click of a mouse.  To preselect a load, you will have to click on the order # of any load that you are interested in doing.  You will notice a difference in the bottom half of the screen.  What was blank before, will now have several questions listed.  In order to preselect the load, you will have to answer a series of questions, that ask you if you can scale the weight of the load, make the loading, and delivery dates and times, if you have the right tarps for the job, etc.  After answering those questions correctly, then you have two options.  You can either select to just be offered the load by your coordinator, or you can commit to the load when you are offered it.  If you select to commit, then you will be preselected.  Your coordinator will then get a message stating that you have been preselected on a load.  It doesn’t hurt to call your coordinator at that time to discuss the preselection.  If the load makes it down the board to you, then the computer will automatically accept you on it.

There are some ground rules that we need to cover.  These are the same rules that your coordinator has had to follow for years.   You are allowed to preselect yourself on as many loads as you want, at any given time.  Just remember, that whatever load gets down to you first, is the load you have to take!  For example, if you preselect two loads, out of the same location, and the shorter, less paying load gets down to you first, then you have to take that shorter less paying load.  Also, you can not switch, or “jump” agents boards to improve your position for a load.  Once a load starts running, the board positions are locked, and anyone who makes an attempt to jump boards, moves to the bottom of the list.  For example, you are on the Cleveland board, and Youngstown puts a good load in, you can’t just change to Youngstown’s board in order to move up the list.  If these rules are broken, contractor web usage may be suspended. 

People ask me everyday if we are creating this contractor web to get rid of coordinators.  That is absolutely not the case.  We hope that our contractors will use the system with their coordinator.  You can’t stay glued to your laptop all of the time.  We definitely don’t want you driving while looking for freight!  Hopefully this new option will work great for all of you.  We will keep adding more options to the contractor web in the near future, and I will try to keep you updated as they are created.


Contractor Web

The contractor web may have several periods of down time today.  Just keep trying to log in if you have any problems throughout the day.


Roadcheck 2009

Roadcheck 2009 will occur June 2-4. This is a 72-hour inspection blitz by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance law enforcement agencies in the US and Canada. All drivers operating during the 3-day period can expect intense scrutiny at inspection stations and along the roadside. Drivers should prepare accordingly.


More info on Alabama Coil Certification

ALABAMA METAL COIL TRAINING                                                                                                                        By Len Dunman

Effective June 1, any driver delivering coiled steel to a location in Alabama or picking up coiled steel from a location in Alabama must be certified to haul metal coils by Alabama. Mercer will not offer such loads to drivers who do not have the certification. The driver must go online and take a forty-five minute course, pass the test at the end, and be issued a certificate. Upon receiving the certificate, the driver MUST send it to the Safety Department to be counter signed. Mercer will make a copy of the counter signed certificate for the driver qualification file, note the driver’s computer screen concerning eligibility to load/unload coils in Alabama, and send the original back to the driver. The driver must keep the original certificate with him in the truck. There are two ways to obtain the certification online. The website is the same, but the Alabama class costs $25. A link is available to other states and the Indiana Motor Truck Association (of which Mercer is a member) is offering the same course to its member companies for $15. A credit card is required for either option. the procedure for either is the same as follows:

1) Alabama Metal Coil Training, $25: Go to www.metalcoiltraining.com and click on the box that says, “Click Here to purchase Alabama Metal Coil Training.” It will direct you to set up your account and then begin the test. Be sure all information fields are completed correctly;

2) IMTA training option, $15: Go to www.metalcoiltraining.com but instead of clicking on the Alabama box as above, scroll down to the US map below and click on the state of Indiana. You will be asked for a code and you should enter Indiana07. After that, you will be directed to set up your account and then go to the test.

Please note that for either option, you must set up your own account. Mercer does not have an account and will not handle direct billing or settlement deductions on this certification. This is each driver’s individual responsibility. If you have any questions, contact Jeff Gibson in Truck Inspections at extension 3128. Jeff has followed this process from the beginning and is most knowledgeable about it. It is important that this be done as soon as possible. Remember, the implementation date in Alabama is June 1.

Len Dunman

Safety Director