Welcome to the Zion Transport Blog!

In this space we will introduce various topics in our industry that relate to you, our customer. We want to you to be well-informed and aware of how these changes affect you and how we can help you navigate these changes.

Dash-Cams; Fleet Efficiency Tool or More?

Written by Peter Friberg.

Commercial Carrier Journal’s Aaron Huff posted a great article Monday about SmartDrive. SmartDrive produces a video-recording, data-capturing, device which video-records what is happening in front of the vehicle and also the driver. In addition, their system can be coupled (as the images in Huff’s article show) to GPS and vehicle diagnostics data. Obviously this has the potential to be a powerful tool.

In Russia, where traffic laws are only occasionally followed and accidents are common, many drivers have outward facing dashboard video-recorders to protect themselves in the case of accidents. Reportedly insurance companies there are reluctant to pay out claims and fraud is rampant as well. The dash-cams prove crucial in establishing fault and determining innocence.

Wearable Tech; Drivers' Aids or Big Brother Tools

Written by Peter Friberg.

This blog has discussed driver fitness/health before, more than once in fact. This is another post in that theme.

Transport Topics (ttnews.com) has a great article up about wearable tech and how they are currently used by truckers and what they hold for the future.

As a wearable tech user myself (I wear and use a FitBit device) I can see how wearable tech can help drivers monitor their own fitness and better track other tech-driven variables (routing, drive hours, etc.). And for company drivers, I can see how a company who is handing over a $100,000+ rig and entrusting that driver to keep that vehicle out of multi-million dollar lawsuits would want to monitor his or her fatigue and/or health indicators. And I think companies can invest in their drivers by helping them move towards a healthier lifestyle. Wearable tech could be a big part of how companies accomplished those goals.  

On the other hand, and especially for owner-operators, if I was running my own rig I wouldn’t want my FitBit data to be tracked by the government.

But the flip-side of that argument deserves consideration as well. As truck drivers are piloting vehicles that can weigh up to 40 tons the consequences of a mistake are much greater than those of a 2-ton passenger vehicle. If someone is truly unfit to drive a vehicle; if their heart is ticking time-bomb, etc. should that person be allowed to drive? And if so, how can wearable tech help diagnose such issues and differentiate between healthy and unhealthy, fit or unfit drivers?

Thanks for reading.

Urbanization of America; Planning to Fail

Written by Peter Friberg.

Okay, this is a GREAT article. FleetOwner.com’s Sean Kilcarr hit a home run here. In this article Kilcarr highlights an overlooked relationship between transportation/freight and the increasing shift towards an urban lifestyle. I highly recommend that you read my article and the linked one by Kilcarr.

According to the 2010 census, the United States is 80.7% urban; 80.7% of us live cities and/or urban areas. California (95%) and New Jersey (94.7%) are the two most urbanized states according to U.S. data. All those numbers are up from 2010 census data. And as those upward trends continue and cities continue to develop more and more housing, retail space, office space, etc. to handle growing populations the city planners/developers are missing a key component; transportation/freight.

California; Regulatory Killer of Business or Environmental Leader

Written by Peter Friberg.

Supply Chain Brain posted an interesting article about California and its efforts to move towards cleaner air while at the same time ensuring business (freight/transportation) efficiencies.

It’s easy to pick on California. We are far and away the most regulated state in the union. And sometimes those regulations become burdensome and obnoxious. However, it would be unfair and disingenuous not to admit that if it weren’t for California’s environmental regulations this state might be so polluted as to be unlivable. In the 1970’s, when environmental regulations were just beginning, Los Angeles was becoming increasing smoggy to the extent that even airborne, one could not see across the city. And while smog has not been completely eliminated beautiful clear days are now commonplace.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics; Sleeper-Berth Study Commissioned

Written by Peter Friberg.

Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once reportedly said, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Actually though, I love statistics. They are facts. Unfortunately, statistics can often be easily manipulated. So it’s with a certain untrusting feeling that I applaud the FMCSA as they commission Virginia Tech University and Washington State University to combine on a sleeper-berth study to determine if truck drivers can be just as effective and just as safe when they split their 10 hours of rest into smaller chunks rather than logging all 10 consecutively.

“[The] FMCSA says it hopes to recruit at least 200 truckers to participate, with the goal being to attract long-haul drivers from large, medium and small carriers as the research subjects,” according to the Commercial Carrier Journal (CCJ).

Interestingly, CCJ points out that the FMCSA previously provided an exemption to McKee Foods that allows their drivers to split their 10 hour off-duty rest breaks into 3/7, 4/6, or 5/5 breaks. At that time, the FMCSA said that, “…drivers who split their sleep showed no greater levels of fatigue or unsafe driving instances than those who did not split sleep.”

A few decades ago a baseball team hired a statistical researcher to determine if fans would buy more tickets based on some decision they were considering. When the statistical evidence showed that the fans would not respond as the owners wanted the response was, “We need to bury these results.” They weren’t researching with the intent to follow the statistical conclusions, they were researching with the hopes that the data would support their idea. When it did not, they didn’t change their decision they just wanted to hide the data.

Which leads us back to Disraeli’s famous quote. I trust that Virginia Tech and Washington State researchers will do their best work, but I fear that the results may be skewed to a previously held conclusion by the FMCSA.

Thanks for reading.

Benji Gets Buff; You Can Too

Written by Peter Friberg.

I’ve written about driver health before but this great article over at FleetOwner was good enough that I knew I needed to revisit the topic.

Benji Burns at one point weighed roughly 350 lbs. As a tanker truck driver, he had trouble getting up and down off his rig. He told himself one day, “You’re going to die, and you’re going to let a spoon and a fork kill you.”

Are you too heavy? Here are 4 simple tips you can follow to get to a healthier you:

  1. Skip the processed food (fresh produce is much healthier).
  2. Serve yourself smaller portions (even while working out, it’s hard to drop weight while continuing to eat a lot).
  3. Walk or exercise 30 minutes a day 4+ times a week (one can be thin and not be “in shape” we need to have our heart and lungs working well, working out strengthens those muscles).
  4. Cut out or dramatically cut back sodas (sugar-sodas have too many calories, and diet sodas retard your metabolism; the less soda the better).

Way to go Benji! Keep up with your fitness goals and progress! You can do it too.

Who Is Carrying Your Load?

Written by Peter Friberg.

More than 2000 drivers who “earned” their CDL through a Florida school have been notified that they need to retest within 60 days or their license will be revoked. A woman affiliated with the school pled guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully produce Florida driver licenses and CDLs in October.

This story and others like it highlight the need to work with people you can trust.

To work with a carrier/broker you can trust, give Zion a call today.

Autonomous Truck Fleets; A Not-So-Distant Reality?

Written by Peter Friberg.

Commercial Carrier Journal’s Jack Roberts penned an excellent piece of fiction about what the future may hold for the trucking industry.

In his piece, Roberts profiles an automated truck as it pulls into a truck-yard terminal for some maintenance and servicing before being quickly sent back out on the road for more work.

One interesting tidbit in this article is that the technician is still needed, while the driver has been made obsolete.

Roberts concludes by writing,

The entire turnaround time from entering the fleet terminal the night before to heading out again with a fully-loaded trailer has taken less than 7 hours; the longest time the truck has been at rest in more than 3 months: a rare break in the life of a constantly-moving autonomous truck.

All in all, Roberts’ article is interesting and informative. What do you think, is this fiction a future reality?

Thanks for reading.

Successful New Year's Resolutions

Written by Peter Friberg.

The University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology reports that only 8% of people are successful in keeping their New Year’s Resolutions.

With that in mind I wanted to share a three tips in helping you achieve your 2016 resolutions.

  1. Your resolution needs to be specific and measurable. We cannot measure, “I want to be healthier in 2016,” but we can measure, “I want to lose 10 pounds.”
  2. You need a deadline. As with the 10 lbs. goal in #1, give yourself a deadline: “I want to lose 10 lbs. by March 31.” I’ve heard it said that goal without a deadline is just a wish.
  3. Plan it & get started. You can have that perfect goal (i.e. “I want to lose 10 pounds by March 31.”) and still fail if you don’t plan how you’re going to accomplish it and don’t get started working your plan. Look, no plan is perfect. But get a plan – any plan, almost – and get started. You’ll figure out pretty quickly if the plan is working and then you can revise it. But plan and get started. Lots of people will plan and plan and plan; trying to develop the perfect plan but they’ll never start.

I hope those three tips help. I want to see you be successful in 2016.

Thanks for reading.  

Happy Holidays!

Written by Peter Friberg.

Despite a soft shipping season this year and even through the 2008-2009 recession, we have grown every year. The reason is, our team decided to be fair to our drivers (pay them quickly and pay them a fair compensation) and to treat our customers the way we would want to be treated. It’s not rocket science and it’s not new but most who make similar claims do not stick to those ideals.

So as we wind down 2015 and head into 2016 we want to thank you for honoring us with your business and wish you a very happy holiday season from your friends at Zion Transport.

If Zion sounds like the type of carrier/broker you would like to partner with, give us a call.


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