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TCA honors three professional truck drivers as Highway Angels

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From left, Michael Morgan, Peter Lester and Sam Dyess have been named Highway Angels by the Truckload Carriers Association. (Courtesy: TCA)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. —  Peter Lester, Sam Dyess  and Michael Morgan have been named Highway Angels by the Truckload Carriers Association in recognition for heroic action while on duty.

Lester, who lives in Vero Beach, Florida, and is a a professional truck driver for Carroll Fulmer Logistics Corp. of Groveland, Florida, is being recognized for saving a fellow truck driver’s life and thwarting fire at facility.

Dyess, who lives in Killeen, Texas, and is a professional truck driver for Melton Truck Lines of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is being recognized for assisting a couple whose vehicle was pushed into his truck by another truck on a mountain overpass during a blizzard.

Morgan, who lives at San Angelo, Texas, and is a professional truck driver for Melton Truck Lines of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is being recognized for his willingness to assist motorists after they lost control of their SUV on slick roads and veered off the highway

On December 8, 2018, Lester was making an early morning delivery at the Coca Cola facility in Jacksonville, Florida.  There were a few parking spots available out on the road on a residential street, so Lester pulled in there to do some paperwork as he had arrived early to the delivery.  There were two trucks parked there already, and there was just enough room for Lester to back in behind the second truck.  Once he got settled, he noticed a light coming from the front of the first truck and that seemed out of place.  Quickly, he noticed it was not a light, yet a flame, and he then saw smoke coming out from under the front wheels of the truck.

He pulled around and got on the horn to him to try and alert the truck, not knowing if someone was in the cab or not.

“I pulled the airhorn to notify anyone in there and the truck in front of him as well,” he said. “The flames then all broke out and more smoke came rushing out.  I hit the horn again with one hand and called 911 with the other.”.

Lester pulled his truck up to the Coca Cola entrance to alert the guard and facility that there was a fire near the premises, which backs up to a wooded area. By that point luckily the fire department was on their way so Peter knew first responders would be able to take it from there.  Although Lester never saw anyone get out of the trucks, he later found out there were people in both trucks, and saw the second truck pull out to safety.

“I’ve been driving since 1984 and I’ve never seen anything blow up the way this did so quickly,” Lester said. It started out looking like headlights, and then mushroomed in o flames.  I don’t believe the security guard would have noticed, so I am glad I pulled in when I did.”

On Thursday, November 24, 2018, Dyess was just west of Cheyenne, Wyoming, going over the mountains on Interstate 80 with a load on his flatbed headed to Washington state. The day was overcast when he’d left Cheyenne and now it started snowing hard. The temperature was in the low 20s.

“It was really coming down and I couldn’t see the lines in the road,” Dyess said.

He slowed to 30-40 mph. Three to four inches had already accumulated by the time he reached the overpass.

There was another truck up ahead of him and a Jeep Wrangler was traveling between the two trucks. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the truck in front of the Wrangler stopped in the middle of the interstate and the Wrangler stopped behind him. Dyess had plenty of follow distance and stopped 20-25 feet behind the Wrangler. There was another truck behind him. Dyess checked his mirrors and a moment later saw the first truck rolling backward. “We were on an incline. I don’t know if he missed a gear or was sliding,” he said.

The Wrangler shifted into reverse but could only go so far before being struck by the first truck and pushed into Dyess’s truck. Dyess couldn’t roll back because of the truck behind him. The Wrangler’s spare tire was pushed into Dyess’s front bumper and the force blew out the back window of the Wrangler. “I was laying on the horn to get the other trucker’s attention,” Dyess said. “Then it moved forward and took off, never stopping to check on the Wrangler.” The Wrangler resumed driving as did Dyess. He called the safety manager at Melton to report the incident relaying the information he was able to get off the first truck. He followed the Wrangler to the first exit where they both pulled to the side of the road. Dyess jumped out and went to check on the driver and passenger. “They said they were okay and had called the state troopers but were told it would be at least an hour before a trooper could arrive.” Dyess invited the driver and his wife to sit in his warm truck for nearly two hours while they waited. “We had a great conversation,” Dyess said.

Dyess’s good deed that day didn’t go unnoticed. The couple he helped contacted Melton Chairman and CEO Bob Peterson with a letter describing the incident first-hand. The driver and his wife were traveling home after a holiday weekend spent with family and were grateful for Dyess’s help. “He offered us water and waited patiently with us. We thanked him for his help and then he said something I won’t soon forget: ‘We are the knights of the highway and it’s our duty to make sure everyone is safe.’ He possesses an attitude and professionalism that should make you proud.”

Dyess is humble about his role that day. “I was just doing the right thing; trying to take care of business and maintain integrity,” he said. “Being a professional driver, it’s about more than just getting from Point A to Point B. You also need to take care of everyone around you; that’s my job.”

It was 8 a.m. February 12, and Morgan was on Highway 295 en route to Camden, New Jersey. He was trying to get ahead of a bad storm. It was snowing and sleeting and the roads were starting to get bad. Because of the poor conditions, Morgan was going about 45 mph in the right lane. Suddenly, a Lexus SUV came around on his left and got just far enough in front of Morgan for him to see the vehicle’s license plate before the driver lost control on the slick road and spun out. Morgan had just enough time to apply the brakes, slow the truck, and miss hitting the SUV by inches before it veered off the road and slammed into a tree.

Another truck driver traveling behind Morgan saw what happened and radioed him asking if he was okay and told Morgan he would call emergency services. Morgan pulled his truck to the shoulder and went to check on the SUV. There was extensive damage to the vehicle. The driver’s side had hit the tree. All the windows were broken and the roof was smashed in preventing the doors from being opened. There were two men inside. Although they were badly shaken, they didn’t appear to be injured.

Morgan saw a wedding band on the driver’s hand and started asking him questions about his family to distract him as they waited for state troopers to arrive. “He told me he had an eight-month-old son at home named Michael,” Morgan says with some emotion in his voice. “I have four kids of my own. I would hope that if something like that happened to me someone would stop to help. I was raised in a small community where everyone takes care of everyone,” he says. “You have to have compassion for others. It’s the right thing to do, otherwise we’re not doing what we’re supposed to in life.”

For their willingness to assist others in need, TCA has presented the three drivers with a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decals. Their employers have also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as a Highway Angel. Since the program’s inception in August 1997, hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage they have displayed while on the job. EpicVue sponsors TCA’s Highway Angel program.

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House Appropriations Committee approves FY2020 transportation budget

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The FY2020 THUD appropriations bill includes $677 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee Tuesday approved the fiscal year 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies bill on a vote of 29-21.

The legislation funds the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies, including the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

In total, the legislation provides $137.1 billion in budgetary resources, an increase of $6 billion above the 2019 enacted level and $17.3 billion above the President’s budget request. The bill includes $75.8 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $4.7 billion over the 2019 enacted level and $17.3 billion over the President’s 2020 budget request.

“This year’s Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development funding bill represents a positive, inclusive vision for our country,” said House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Chairman David Price. “It makes forward-looking investments in our housing and transportation infrastructure, while ensuring concerted attention to safety, the needs of the most vulnerable, and resilience.  It will benefit all American communities — urban and rural — and lays the foundation for economic growth and opportunity. I’m thankful for the collaborative effort by all our members to pass the bill through committee and look forward to working together to enact it into law.”

“The Department of Transportation should prioritize safety, and this bill would equip the Department to fund safety upgrades on our roads and rails as well as safety research,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey. “The bill also would provide adequate funding for the federal share of one of the most important transportation projects in our country to advance commuter safety and the economy – the Gateway tunnel between New Jersey and New York. Additionally, robust investments in the bill, such as increases to CDBG, HOME, and Lead and Healthy Homes, would make our communities heathier and safer, and critical language would protect the most vulnerable, including undocumented individuals and their U.S. citizen children and LGBTQ youth, against eviction. With this bill, we have the opportunity to invest in our infrastructure and fundamentally improve the lives of our constituents.”

For the Department of Transportation, the bill provides a total of $86.6 billion in total budgetary resources, $167 million above the 2019 enacted level and $3.7 billion above the President Donald J. Trump’s budget request.

Of this amount, some of the items the bill includes are:

  • $677 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, $10 million above the 2019 enacted level and $1 million above the President’s budget request. None of the funds can be used to enforce the use of ELDs by carriers transporting livestock.
  • $48.9 billion for the Federal Highway Administration, $404 million below the 2019 enacted level and $1.7 billion above the President’s budget request.
  • $1.75 billion for discretionary Highway Infrastructure Programs, $1.5 billion below the 2019 enacted level and $1.45 billion above the President’s budget request.
  • $1 billion for the Newsal Highway Traffic Safety Administration, $44 million above the 2019 enacted level and $81 million above the President’s budget request.

 

 

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John Christner Trucking’s John Mallory wins TCA safety award

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John Mallory, recipient of the Truckload Carriers Association Clare C. Casey Award, serves on the American Trucking Associations' Safety Management Council for driver recognition and accident review. (Courtesy: TRUCKLOAD CARRIERS ASSOCIATION)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Truckload Carriers Association has named John Mallory, John Christner Trucking’s director of safety, as the 2019 TCA Safety Professional of the Year and made him recipient of the Clare C. Casey Award.

The award was presented during the TCA’s 38th Annual Safety & Security Division Meeting in Memphis.

John Christner Trucking is located at Sapulpa, Oklahoma.

The award is bestowed upon a trucking industry professional whose actions and achievements have made a profound contribution to enhancing safety on North America’s highways.

“John has an absolute passion for our industry, particularly making it safer,” said John Christner Trucking’s vice president of risk management Shannon Crowley. “He spends much of his free time in pursuit of just that.”

In addition to being employed by John Christner Trucking for 13 years in its safety department, as well as a third-generation professional truck driver for more than two decades, Mallory has an extensive list of accomplishments.

Crowley said Mallory was persistent in obtaining his safety professional credentials once arriving at the company.

“His tenacity is what got him in the door and that same tenacity is what led him to achieving his Certified Director of Safety designation and becoming our director of safety,” Crowley said.

During his career, Mallory has served on the Oklahoma Safety Management Council for 12 years, is a member of the Oklahoma Trucking Association, and serves on the American Trucking Associations’ Safety Management Council for driver recognition and accident review.

He is also a recipient of the John Christner Trucking, Inc.’s Pete Osborne Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017; Oklahoma State Management Council’s Past Chairman Award; and Oklahoma Trucking Association’s 2012 Safety Professional of the year.

He serves as a judge, chairman and as “The Duck” mascot at the Oklahoma Truck Driving Championships.

“John is a great leader in his church as well as other organizations such as Truckers Against Trafficking,” shares his wife, Dianne Mallory, who nominated him for this award. “He is most loved by many for his role as ‘The Duck.'”

Crowley said Mallory is a pillar in his community. He serves on the Tulsa Tech Truck Driving School advisory council, is a member, usher and greeter at Life Church in Owasso and Catoosa, Oklahoma, and is active in the Owasso Police Department K9 unit training canines and officers how to maneuver around and inside 18-wheelers. He also participates in the annual Sapulpa Truck Touch.

On behalf of John Christner Trucking, Mallory has accepted numerous Fleet Safety Awards from TCA, several other industry associations, and both Walmart and Tyson Foods.

“John is always eager to learn, willing to participate, and simply will not be outworked. If there is someone more deserving of this recognition, I haven’t met them,” Crowley said.

Nominees for TCA’s award must exemplify leadership and demonstrate the goals of protecting lives and property in the motor transportation industry while serving their company, industry, and the motoring public. The award is named after Clare Casey, a safety professional who actively served TCA from 1979 until 1989. He was devoted to ensuring that all truckload safety professionals build a strong safety network, and was instrumental in forming the first annual Safety & Security Division meeting in 1982. The first Clare C. Casey Award was presented in 1990, one year after his death.

 

 

 

 

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FMCSA accepting applications for military pilot program for 18- to 20-year-olds

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During the military pilot program, the safety records of the participants will be compared to the records of a control group of drivers. (The Trucker file photo)

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said Monday it is accepting applications for a pilot program to permit 18- to 20-year-olds who possess the U.S. military equivalent of a commercial driver’s to operate large trucks in interstate commerce.

“This program will help our country’s veterans and reservists transition into good-paying jobs while addressing the shortage of truck drivers in our country,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

As directed by Section 5404 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the pilot program will allow a limited number of individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 to operate large trucks in interstate commerce — provided they possess the military equivalent of a CDL and are sponsored by a participating trucking company. During the pilot program, which is slated to run for up to three years, the safety records of these drivers will be compared to the records of a control group of drivers.

“We are excited to launch this program to help the brave men and women who serve our country explore employment opportunities in the commercial motor vehicle industry. With the nation’s economy reaching new heights, the trucking industry continues to need drivers and have job openings. We encourage veterans and reservists to apply and to learn more about this exciting new program,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez.

The program was revealed by Chao in July 2018 during a news conference in Omaha, Nebraska, which was attended by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; and Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., himself a military veteran having served in the United States Air Force United States Air Force from 1985 to 2014, reaching the rank of brigadier general.

“This innovative program offers a way for our younger veterans and reservists to transition to the civilian workforce. I personally thank Secretary Chao and officials with the DOT who continue to find ways to utilize the training and talent of the men and women who served in uniform for our country,” Bacon said.

To learn more about this program and how to apply, visit

For complete information on USDOT’s Veteran transitions programs into the civilian careers, visit 

 

 

 

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