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Your June 15 Pre-Trip: Why the trucking industry is in crisis

Here are five things worth knowing today:

1. Larry Kahaner, a regular Fleet Owner contributor, explains why paying truckers by the mile is both unfair and unsafe in an LA Times Op-Ed. Kahaner explains that the trucking industry is in crisis because it cannot find enough drivers, and that many carriers have trucks sitting idle because there is no one available to drive them. He says the main reason for the driver shortage is that drivers are paid by the mile, not the hour. “This means that they make no money for sitting in traffic or waiting at a warehouse,” he said. Kahaner added: “Paying by the mile is both unsafe and unfair. It encourages truckers to speed in order to make money. Getting paid by the mile, moreover, means truckers never know how much they will make for any given week (they can't predict breakdowns, traffic, weather or man-made delays at warehouses). Drivers report that inconsistent pay is even more of a drawback than low pay.”

2. Trucking companies and building contractors are at the top of the list of the fastest-growing industries for small businesses, according to Forbes. According to new data from Sageworks, a financial information company, general freight trucking companies have seen nearly 25% sales growth over the past year. A Sageworks analyst told Forbes that “a lot of the growth in trucking initially after the recession was related to oil and oil production.”

3. Quantum Fuel Systems announced it has developed a 5,000 psi tank for the CNG virtual pipeline market, Market Watch reports. According to the report, the tank was designed to maximize the transport density of natural gas and is being used on thousands of Class 6-8 trucks in North America.

4. The House Ways and Means Committee scheduled a meeting Wednesday, June 17, and the Senate Finance Committee scheduled a similar meeting the following day to discuss ways to pay for a long-term reauthorization of the Highway Trust Fund’s road and transit programs, according to AASHTO Journal. Congressional Democrats have maintained that some of their members no longer want to support short-term extensions “that disrupt the planning and financing of construction projects across the nation.” The White House has already threatened to veto the bill if it reached the president.

5. More than three dozen Wyoming truck drivers gathered at the state’s DOT Cheyenne headquarters this past weekend to compete for the title of top trucker in the state, according to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Drivers competed in a driving skills test that included right and left turns, maneuvering a serpentine pathway, and parallel parking. Each driver chose what class of truck to compete with, according to the report. The names of the winners are expected to be released later today, the report said.

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