Drivers, coaches both face learning curves with in-cab video systems

Drivers, coaches both face learning curves with in-cab video systems

For Central Oregon Truck Company, truck drivers know the external-facing camera from SmartDrive in their tractor always remains active in case another vehicle damages the tractor-trailer while it is parked. However, the internal camera is shut off, and a lens cap is provided as an additional level of privacy.

Privacy protection extends beyond the recording. Coaches Denny Kalista and Brad Aimone said they are careful not to discuss or review videos in the presence of anyone else, and individual videos are not used in a demonstration with other drivers unless permission is given.

Pete Allen, chief client officer with MiX Telematics, said it is important that drivers be made aware of the events that would trigger a camera.

When a recording event does take place, Central Oregon coaches receive an immediate alert, while SmartDrive processes and tags the video to streamline the review process.

Phil Taylor, Central Oregon’s vice president of maintenance, said these video reviews often give drivers a better appreciation of how the investment in telematics and safety technologies are aiding them on the road.

Likewise, Luke Williams, director of operations, pointed to a clear correlation between the drivers captured most often by the cameras and struggling in other performance metrics, such as fuel efficiency and total miles.

Implementing a video system into a fleet’s operations is not without its challenges. “There is as much a learning curve for coaches as [for drivers] out there in the field,” said Aimone.

He and Kalista are competitive, closely monitoring the percentage of videos they have reviewed with drivers. They also stressed the way coaches interact with individual personalities can go a long way toward making a lasting change.

Kalista said the customized reports allow them to get a quick glance at performance trends. That’s also part of the coaches’ competition — pushing each other to see who has helped improve the scores of their drivers each week.

Photo: SmartDrive

During practice runs with prospective drivers at Central Oregon, coaches record turns and stops. They can create a recording by pressing a button on a remote control from 10 seconds prior to 10 seconds after it is pushed. They are attacking what statistics indicate are the high percentage of minor accidents that could be prevented through greater use of mirrors, less speeding, and better judgment.

At its user conference in San Diego earlier this year, Lytx shared that it had captured 16 million behaviors in 2017 that resulted in more than four million coaching events. The conference offered the hundreds of attendees the latest trends on what days of the week and times of day led to a higher percentage of incidents. Lytx also offered a sector-by-sector breakdown to help fleets zero in on the latest trends.

MiX’s Allen said “there is not a downside” to using video, and expanded use can include providing drivers with a 360-degree view around a truck.

Abbott pointed out that it can help investigate worker’s compensation claims involving on-the-job injuries that did not have any witnesses.

Use of video systems can cut into insurance premiums and leads to the subrogation of insurance claims. Even when video confirms the truck driver was at fault, there still can be an advantage in reaching a faster settlement, Allen said.

Central Oregon’s Williams did acknowledge the use of video has resulted in fewer total applicants to fill open driver positions. However, he said some drivers are simply not cut out for video use.

“They do not have the right attitude for who we are as a company,” he stressed.

Drivers at Central Oregon Truck Co. meet with coaches to ensure success

Drivers at Central Oregon Truck Co. meet with coaches to ensure success

SmartDrive Technology Fleets expand use of in-cab video for driver training, accident prevention

A visit to the headquarters and terminal of Central Oregon Truck Company makes it easy to understand why the Truckload Carriers Asso­ciation named it a “2018 Best Fleet to Drive For.” The 300 drivers have access to on-site dormitories, a gym, café, business center, and private bathrooms with showers professionally cleaned after every use. There is a 401K plan and an employee stock purchase through Daseke Inc.

In the view of CEO Rick Williams, that comes with the responsibility of being a professional. And just as an NFL quarterback reviews film with coaches after games, a similar process plays out every day at Central Oregon.

The company made the decision two years ago to install the SmartDrive video safety system across its fleet of 315 Kenworth trucks. It is used as a training tool, a way to exonerate drivers if falsely accused of an accident, and to help make decisions when they are in the wrong.

“If we do something wrong, we need to have that responsibility,” Williams said.

At Central Oregon, five coaches, led by Denny Kalista and Brad Aimone, are tasked with reviewing the videos, which are triggered by predetermined infractions. They then speak with that person to dissect what happened. It’s a relationship that begins even before a driver hauls the first load. This is part of the orientation process and allows coaches to correct potential problems before they form. It gives what Central Oregon considers a “more holistic” view of driver performance and, if needed, accident recreation.

“Every driver develops bad habits over time,” Williams said. “You can become complacent. This brings it to the forefront.”

Photo: SmartDrive

Rick Williams

Central Oregon is just one example of the growing number of trucking fleets that are bringing video into the fold.

In 2016, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended heavy truck and bus fleets use video recorder technology. It came after a study of more than 10,000 crashes estimated video could reduce fatal and injury crashes by 20% and 35%, respectively.

The price tag of these accidents adds up. The average cost is $11 million for a fatal accident, $500,000 for ones with injuries, and $75,000 for incidents that caused damage. In addition, out-of-cost settlements average $280,000—and often can be higher. Beyond the financial hit, accidents damage public perception and employee morale—and could also cost the trucker a job.

With so much at stake, it is little surprise that research firm Frost & Sullivan projects annual growth of more than 22%, bringing the number of vehicles with video-based systems to over one million by 2020.

Rob Abbott, commercial leader of enterprise trucking for Lytx, maker of the DriveCam video system, said a fleet trial could involve installing cameras in one out of every 20 trucks. That offers enough performance data to compare with other drivers while providing the opportunity for all to see the system up close and “dispel myths on how the system is used.”

In Central Oregon’s case, it started with a test of two trucks. From there, a video pilot program included 25 volunteers. Eventually, the decision was made to go fleet-wide with the SmartDrive system. Each tractor has one external- and one internal-facing camera. All drivers must use the external-facing camera, but some experienced drivers with safe driving records are allowed to opt out of using the internal one.

Pete Allen is chief client officer with MiX Telematics, which has 640,000 subscribers across a range of industries for its fleet solutions. That includes cameras that can be mounted externally to increase coverage around a vehicle. Regardless of whether it’s truckers or other drivers, he said it is crucial to be clear “how you intend to use this tool.” That includes when the cameras will never run, such as when in the sleeper berth.

Central Oregon Trucking Company raises driver salaries, changes pay structure

Central Oregon Trucking Company has announced a new pay structure that paves the way for driver salary increases of up to $15,000 per year.

The Daseke company’s new pay structure has been dubbed “Weekly Driver Salary Pay,” and it guarantees solo drivers a weekly paycheck of at least $1,250, according to a media release from COTC.

The company promises drivers at least 2,430 miles each week, which means they can count on a minimum gross weekly paycheck amount, but it does not cap them at $1,250. Drivers are allowed to drive further and earn more if they so choose.

“That’s the minimum, and for drivers who want more home or rest time, this provides a stable living wage,” COTC CEO Rick Williams said. “But, for other drivers who want to run more miles, this program is great too. If a driver runs 3,000 miles for the week, that salary would increase to $1,575–escalating up to $2,000 a week for solo drivers.”

Williams said the program offers new drivers a base salary of $65,000 per year, while giving more experienced drivers the opportunity to earn over $90,000 annually.

The new pay structure is intended to provide certainty for drivers, and Williams said current drivers are “loving it” so far.

“The goal was to simplify so that a driver would know exactly what his or her check would be each week the minute the payroll cut-off hit,” Williams continued. “Now, all our drivers have to do is track their miles. Overall, this means a $10,000 to $15,000 a-year jump for our drivers. We also offer ‘loyalty pay,’ which is an additional one to three cents per mile driven.”

Pay increases have been common industry-wide in 2018. Earlier this month, FreightWaves reported that multiple companies issued pay raises this year in response to the driver shortage.

COTC also recently introduced a team pay program. Team drivers can earn between $2,350 and $3,345 each week, for an annual salary between $122,000 to $173,000, according to the release.

Williams called the program a “game changer for the industry,” noting that companies have to be efficient to afford to pay at such high levels.

COTC also offers other perks to its drivers, including employer-paid health benefits and free  per diem enrollment. Per diem is paid at a flat $68 per day for five nights each week under the new pay structure.

 The company was named the 2018 overall winner of the Best Fleet to Drive For in the small category program by the Truckload Carriers Association and CarriersEdge. It has landed in the top 20 each of the past five years.

Central Oregon Truck Increases Driver Pay

Central Oregon Truck Increases Driver Pay
Central Oregon Truck Central Oregon Truck Co. (Daseke Inc.)

Central Oregon Truck Co. implemented a pay structure that gives new drivers $65,000 a year in base pay and experienced drivers more than $90,000 a year in pay.

The “Weekly Driver Salary Pay” program guarantees COTC drivers at least 2,430 miles a week with a minimum salary of $1,250, according to CEO Rick Williams.

“That’s minimum, and for drivers who want more home or rest time this provides a stable living wage,” he said.


Drivers willing to travel 3,000 miles per week would see $1,575 in pay. Solo drivers going that far earn up to $2,000 a week.

The new program means a $10,000 to $15,000 increase in annual pay for company drivers, Williams said.

Also, the program offers per diem pay of a flat $68 for five nights out each week.

COTC is an over-the-road, irregular route flatbed trucking company that operates in 48 states and Canada. It operates Kenworth tractors pulling aluminum Reitnouer trailers.

Redmond, Ore.-based COTC also began a team driver program in which drivers can gross from $2,350 to $3,345 weekly and earn an annual salary between $122,000 and $173,000.

“Drivers on the road have always deserved more money, but past market conditions have held wages down,” Williams said. “The reality is, shippers need to pay enough to support a quality wage for drivers and their families.”

Central Oregon also offers medical/dental and vision insurance.

Central Oregon is a unit of Daseke Inc., the Addison, Texas-based carrier ranked No. 42 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

Central Oregon was named the 2018 Best Overall Fleet in the small-fleet category in the Best Fleets to Drive For contest and survey produced by CarriersEdge, in partnership with the Truckload Carriers Association. The carrier was named to the top 20 small-carriers list in the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 competitions.

Central Oregon Announces New Driver Pay Plan

Central Oregon Truck Company recently announced a new driver pay structure it calls “Weekly Driver Salary Pay.”

According to Rick Williams, CEO of COTC, explained the new pay plan:

“Our program gives new drivers a $65,000 a year base, while our experienced drivers can now make more than $90,000 a year – some can push $100,000. What’s more, we guarantee at least 2,430 miles per week with a minimum salary of $1,250, so drivers know their gross check amount. Again, that’s minimum, and for drivers who want more home or rest time, this provides a stable living wage. But, for other drivers who want to run more miles, this program is great too. If a driver runs 3,000 miles for the week, that salary would increase to $1,575 – escalating up to $2,000 a week for solo drivers.

“Overall, this means a $10,000 to $15,000 a-year jump for our drivers. We also offer ‘loyalty pay,’ which is an additional one to three cents per mile driven.”

The company has also started a team pay program. Team drivers can earn between $2,350 and $3,345 gross each week, for an annual salary between $122,000 to $173,000, according to Williams.

Williams also offered some insight into driver pay in general.

“Drivers on the road have always deserved more money but past market conditions have held wages down. But, now the market is changing. The reality is shippers need to pay enough to support a quality wage for drivers and their families. It’s starting to happen, and at COTC we want to lead the way.”

Central Oregon Truck Company, a Daseke company, was founded in 1992 and today operates 350 trucks and has more than 1,700 third-party carriers. The company serves more than 2,500 customers annually in all 48 States and Canada.

Using video to enable coaching for better performance

Coaching drivers on risky habits —and citing them for when they perform well—is a lot easier if those risky actions are being recorded on video.

That was the message in a recent webinar sponsored by FleetOwner, with presenters from SmartDrive and Central Oregon Trucking Company, a SmartDrive client. SmartDrive’s video system captures a 360 degree view of a truck’s interior and exterior, revealing both driver behavior and the conditions under which the driver erred, or where the driver showed particularly strong driving skills.

Central Oregon has implemented the system, but Brad Aimone, the director of driver safety and services at Central Oregon (which is a Daseke company), made clear in the webinar that just having such a system is not adequate. A company needs to marry it to a dedicated coaching system, like Central Oregon has. SmartDrive can be provided with a company’s standards and guidelines, and its system can trigger a notice to the coaching staff of a client, which then kicks into action. But then the coaching team needs to kick in.

Aimone said Central Oregon’s coaching team consists of five coaches to support 300 drivers. Two of them are focused on video review and post-accident investigation.

A good coach, Aimone said, “has the ability to listen, not just to hear.” The coach also needs to have the interpersonal skills “that give you the ability to relate to the person on the phone.” He said 90-95% of the coaching does get done over the phone, so a coach does not have “nonverbal cues to go by.” The average coaching session is just three to five minutes. Training a driver to become a coach is about a six-week process, Aimone said and is open only to those who have been a “highly successful driver.”

The webinar featured videos that demonstrated the type of behavior that triggers coaching. In one of them, a driver on a cloverleaf ramp reached for his phone during the maneuver, and as a result moved to the right and off the road. Aimone said when he first discussed the incident, the driver was “adamant” that he had not reached for his phone. But upon seeing the video, “he said he had no idea I was doing that, and that made the coaching session different.”

In the second video—which unfortunately wasn’t able to be displayed, but was discussed by Aimone—the driver performed strong driving moves which helped avoid an accident. “Everyone likes a pat on the back,” Aimone said. “It was great to call that gentleman for a job well done.”

The goal of the process is not to be punitive, Aimone said. It’s not a process that would lead to a cut in pay, but if the violations are egregious or frequent enough, “you could lose your job.” He said in the two years that Central Oregon has operated the video-based coaching system, that has occurred twice.

Resistance to the suggestions made by the coaches do occur, but the videos help get the message through. “Everyone that drives a vehicle more than likely has developed bad habits,” Aimone said. “More than likely, they don’t even know it.” The videos coming from the SmartDrive system provide a “footprint” that can support data that is coming from the truck’s electronic control modules (ECM).

Kaitlin Jager, the senior customer success manager at SmartDrive who also was on the webinar, said that SmartDrive’s work before the coaching is to prepare a compilation of data and incident reports. But that is based not on any sort of SmartDrive standards, but on those of the client. “That is then sent to the company for targeted safety coaching,” she said.

While most of the coaching may be over the phone, Aimone said if he sees repeated behaviors by the same driver, he will find a reason to have that driver come to the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Oregon. “I’ll sit down and try to get inside their heads,” he said, and attempt to figure out what the issue is. The results generally improve with that sort of approach, Aimone added.

Central Oregon is in the process of having the SmartDrive system installed in the entire company’s fleet of approximately 300 trucks. There was resistance to it at first, with the suggestion by some that it was “spying” by Central Oregon. But with a grading system and rewards, “they actually like it,” Aimone said. And it’s been used by the company to protect drivers, he added, for example, when a police officer tries to hand down a citation for texting and driving, and the video record shows that no such texting was going on.

Distracted driving does go on, however, and the video records have allowed Central Oregon to implement a new policy. If a driver racks up three “camera events” of risky behavior with a cell phone, suspension or termination is now the penalty.

West Coast Dream Team Will Transport the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

West Coast Dream Team Will Transport the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Sweet Home, OR., May 9, 2018 – A trifecta of transportation partners will see that the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree safely makes its way from Oregon to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the 2018 holiday season. An annual gift to the nation, this year’s tree will come from the Willamette National Forest with support from nonprofit Choose Outdoors and Travel Oregon. This is the first time the tree has come from the Willamette and the second time from the state.

The tree will be cut on the Sweet Home Ranger District in early November and prepared for the 3,000-mile expedition. The coast-to-coast journey will trace the Oregon Trail in reverse and include a series of community celebrations throughout Oregon and across the U.S. The journey will culminate with the official tree lighting on the West Lawn in early December.

Eugene-based Papé Kenworth is the presenting sponsor of the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree program. Founded in 1938, Papé is a fourth-generation, family-owned business with more than 90 locations and 2,700 employee members. Papé serves the capital equipment needs of the trucking, construction, forestry, agriculture, warehousing, and material handling industries throughout the West.

“We are thrilled to help bring the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree program to life,” said Susie Papé, Board Chair of The Papé Group Inc. Dave Laird, President of Papé Kenworth added, “We look forward to being a part of this annual year-long celebration and sharing a piece of Oregon heritage with the nation.”

Central Oregon Truck Company (COTC) of Redmond will haul the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. For the past five years, drivers have nominated COTC as Best Fleets to Drive For®, for providing the best workplace experience. It also won the competition for the 2018 Best Fleets to Drive For – Best Overall Fleet for Small Carrier and have been named to the Top 20 in the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 competitions. COTC was designated one of the 2018 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon and 2015 Top Workplaces. CEO Rick Williams and longtime partner Phil Taylor will drive much of the way, with plans to include some tenured drivers for special legs of the trip.

“It is an honor to be selected to carry the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree and to represent the great state of Oregon during the tree’s journey to Washington D.C.,” said Rick Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Central Oregon Truck Company. “Hauling this precious cargo and the joy it brings to Americans across the country will certainly be one of the most memorable loads of lifetime.”

Kenworth Truck Company is a fifth-year sponsor of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree program. A specially-decaled Kenworth truck will transport the 54th U.S. Capitol Christmas tree.

“Kenworth is proud to once again play a part of delivering the ‘People’s Tree’ to our nation’s Capitol,” said Kurt Swihart, Kenworth Marketing Director. “The cross-country tour offers the opportunity for people to see this national symbol of celebration, and a Kenworth is the right truck for this important job.”

Additional transportation partners include SkyBitz, Truckload Carriers Association, Pilot Flying J Travel Centers, Hale Trailer, Eaton and Permit Wizard, in addition to local and national partners including Alaska Airlines, Axis Crane, Eugene Emeralds Baseball Club, Oregon Forest Resources Institute, and the Willamette Valley Visitors Association.

“The annual journey is only possible with the help of strong partnerships throughout Oregon and beyond state lines,” said Bruce Ward, President of Choose Outdoors, non-profit partner of the U.S. Forest Service. “We’re grateful for the time and resources these invaluable partners are providing to help make this the best tour to date.”

For related news, events and tour information, and to track the tree cross-country, visit, along with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

COTC Wins 2018 Best Fleets to Drive For Best Overall Fleet for Small Carrier

On March 26th, 2018 TCA and CarriersEdge unveiled the two overall winners for 2018 Best Fleets to Drive For naming Central Oregon Truck Company as the Best Overall for Small Carrier and Bison Transport as the Best Overall for Large Carrier.

COTC has been participating in the CarriersEdge Best Fleets to Drive For competition since 2013 when CEO, Rick Williams, learned about the program.  Mr. Williams, a former flatbed driver, believes in the value of listening to drivers when developing Company policy.  He is also not one to back down from a challenge.  Deciding to participate in a competition of for-hire trucking companies that raise the bar in driver programs was probably the easiest decision he has ever made as CEO.

Each year, a COTC driver nominates the Company as a best fleet to drive for.  Then Mr. Williams, and his team, complete the questionnaire that collects information about COTC programs and policies in areas such as driver compensation and benefits; performance and recognition; human resource support; and operational strategy to name a few.  The 2018 competition included 98 questions that took more than 40 hours to complete. The questionnaire is followed up with an interview conducted by CarriersEdge of COTC management; and a survey completed by COTC drivers.  More than 60% of COTC drivers completed the 2018 Best Fleets to Drive For survey.

The results of the drivers’ survey are aggregated by CarriersEdge and used by the COTC management team to drive policy change in the coming year based on the feedback received.  The value of the survey responses to Mr. Williams and COTC management cannot be overstated.

Mr. Williams was humbled and honored to receive the award.  He stated in his acceptance speech,

What TCA and CarriersEdge do to bring to the forefront what we should all be doing for our drivers is amazing. We need to continue to work really hard for our driving teams.  Without dedication towards improving our industry and improving our businesses for all employees we wouldn’t be here.

We look forward to the 2019 Best Fleets to Drive For competition and hope to make the Top 20 for the sixth consecutive year.  COTC will continue to look forward, not back, and be a leader of change in the industry.

Watch the video for Best Fleets to Drive to For announcement at the 2018 TCA Conference for the Best Workplace Experience in the Small Carrier Category on the Truckload Carrier Associations Facebook page.

Read more about the Best Fleets to Drive For contest that recognizes the best workplaces for North American truck drivers.


Central Oregon Truck and Bison Transport Win Best Fleets to Drive For

Central Oregon Truck Company and Bison Transport have been named the overall winners of the annual 2018 Best Fleets to Drive For contest, put on by the Truckload Carriers Association and its partner CarriersEdge.

Central Oregon Truck Company of Redmond, Ore., won in the small fleet category, sponsored by EpicVue, and Bison Transport of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, won in the large carrier category, sponsored by Northbridge Insurance.

“These two companies are shining examples of consistency and innovation in trucking,” said John Lyboldt, TCA’s president. “Congratulations to Central Oregon and Bison for continuing to go above and beyond to create exemplary workplaces for their drivers.”

Best Fleets to Drive For is an annual survey and contest that recognizes North American for-hire trucking companies providing the best workplace experiences for their drivers. To participate, fleets must be nominated by a company driver or independent contractor working with them. Nominees are evaluated across a broad range of categories reflecting current best practices in human resources. The 20 top finishers are identified as Best Fleets to Drive For and then divided in half according to size. The highest scoring fleet in each category is named the overall winner.

Central Oregon Truck Company is a fleet of 314 trucks, and this is their first time winning Best Overall Fleet. The company has developed some of the most innovative programs in the industry, including an RFID system in their trucks that triggers a custom welcome when drivers return to the yard, as well as a concierge service that takes care of much of the return-related admin work. Central Oregon also received top marks for their compensation programs and operational strategy.

Bison Transport has placed in the Top 20 for eight of the ten years since the Best Fleets program was initiated, including three consecutive years winning Best Overall Large Fleet. This year also marks Bison’s fourth total Best Overall Large Fleet title, the first fleet to reach this milestone.

With a 1,456-truck fleet the company continues to find new ways to improve its offerings for drivers. This year it received top scores for performance management programs, driver development and career path options, and work/life balance.

“Both fleets are taking different approaches but achieving comparable results,” said Jane Jazrawy, chief executive officer of CarriersEdge. “Both are also fleets that have been pushing the envelope for years, embracing technology to improve efficiency and constantly coming up with new ideas to enhance their drivers’ experiences.”

Higher driver compensation packages, quicker access to health insurance among trends among nation’s top fleets

Whether there is a driver shortage or not has become a hot discussion of late, but regardless of which side of the argument you fall on, most will agree that driver compensation is crucial to hanging on to the drivers you currently have.

With tight capacity, higher rates, and tax cuts, many fleets have been boosting pay rates. In fact, driver pay rates have been on the rise for several years now. According to Glassdoor, truck drivers in February made an average of $53,932 per year, a 4.4% year-over-year increase.

While pay has been inching up, something else has been increasing, according to Mark Murrell, co-founder of CarriersEdge and creator of the Best Fleets to Drive For program: more fleets are offering guaranteed pay programs. Those programs may be minimum miles or pay, but both create a base pay level that drivers can expect.

Murrell said that in 2016, 17% of the fleets nominated for the Best Fleets to Drive For offered some sort of “full guarantee” for compensation, but in this year’s survey, 30% of fleets offer a full guarantee and another 43% offer a partial guarantee.

Murrell said that to his recollection, 4 years ago fewer than 5 fleets in the program offered guaranteed pay and because long-haul drivers are typically paid by the mile, it put pressure on drivers to cover as many miles as possible and penalized them in some case.

“It effectively is a base salary,” he told FreightWaves. “They’ll never make less than this … and it covers things out of a driver’s control, such as delays and equipment issues” that used to cut into pay.

Dispatchers and freight managers have often been cited by drivers as reasons for holding down pay because of inefficient routing and scheduling. “What it’s really doing is putting more pressure on the areas that should be having the pressure,” Murrell noted.

The latest data shows that the average median guaranteed pay is now $1,000 a week. “A very small percentage of drivers every week make this, the majority make more,” Murrell noted. “[But] it provides some breathing room.”

Murrell added that in 2016, the effective compensation rate for drivers in the fleet survey was 50.71 cents per mile. That increased last year to 54.32 cents per mile.


Launched in 2008, the Best Fleets to Drive For program honors the top fleets in North America for drivers. A driver must nominate a fleet and once nominated, CarriersEdge researches the fleet. Murrell said 99 fleets were nominated this year with 58 fleets making the cut to advance. CarriersEdge surveys the fleets and digs into operations to cut the list to the final 20. Two overall winners will be announced at the Truckload Carriers Association conference later this month.

The surveys and information collected is used to generate detailed trends on a number of issues that matter to drivers, compensation is one of those. Murrell says a detailed data report will be released at TCA, but he shared some of the compensation information with FreightWaves ahead of the formal release.

In addition to salary information, CarriersEdge is focused on overall compensation packages, which include things like health care and profit-sharing programs. Murrell said this year’s survey didn’t show much change in the types of health coverage or premiums paid by fleets, but there has been a significant change, nonetheless.

“It used to be 3 months up to 6 months before people got insurance,” he said, “now we are seeing more drivers getting on [health plans] in 30 days. Fleets are seeing that if they can bring them on in 30 days…it makes it easier to attract more experienced, seasoned drivers.”

More fleets are also offering profit-sharing or 401K programs, Murrell said. In the survey, 13% of fleets now offer plans to drivers. Most of those plans are based on a percentage of revenue, but some offer stock option plans.

Murrell said that the surveys provide a great opportunity to collect data that CarriersEdge then offers back to the industry to help improve operations. The Best Fleets to Drive For contest is produced in partnership with TCA.

Here are the 2018 Top 20 Best Fleets to Drive For finalists:

  • American Central Transport, Inc., Kansas City, MO
  • Bison Transport, Winnipeg, MB
  • Boyle Transportation, Billerica, MA
  • Central Oregon Truck Company, Inc., Redmond, OR
  • Challenger Motor Freight, Inc., Cambridge, ON
  • Erb Group, New Hamburg, ON
  • Fremont Contract Carriers, Inc., Fremont, NE
  • FTC Transportation, Inc., Oklahoma City, OK
  • Garner Trucking, Inc., Findlay, OH
  • Grand Island Express, Inc., Grand Island, NE
  • Halvor Lines, Inc., Superior, WI
  • Maverick Transportation, LLC, North Little Rock, AR
  • Motor Carrier Service, LLC, Northwood, OH
  • Nussbaum Transportation, Hudson, IL
  • Prime Inc., Springfield, MO
  • Smokey Point Distributing, Arlington, WA
  • Thomas E. Keller Trucking, Defiance, OH
  • TLD Logistics Services, Inc., Knoxville, TN
  • TransPro Freight Systems, Ltd., Milton, ON
  • Veriha Trucking, Inc., Marinette, WI

Three companies, Bison Transport, Central Oregon Truck Company, and TransPro Freight Systems, have achieved the milestone of five consecutive years on the Best Fleets list.

The highest scoring fleets will be split into small and large fleet categories, from which two overall winners will be selected. The awards are sponsored by EpicVue of Salt Lake City, UT, and Northbridge Insurance of Toronto, ON.