Top 10 Online Leaders Changing the Trucking Industry

May 17, 2013

Leadership is a funny thing. In the past, trucking industry leaders would solely be comprised of heads of industry associations and unions, the presidents of national trucking companies, or appointed officials like the newly nominated secretary of transportation Anthony Fox.

Today's leaders don't need an elected position or a big company to have an impact on our industry. Instead, they are using the internet and social media to connect individual professional drivers and their families into a community focused on support, education, advancement in technology, and improved working conditions.

Here we give credit to the individuals and organizations using the internet to make a difference in the trucking industry and the people who keep it running.

Top 10 People/Organizations Connecting the Trucking Industry Online

Click on any of the names to learn more about the people and websites in our Top 10 list. Did we miss your favorite industry leader or organization? Give us your recommendation in the comments below.

#1 Allen and Donna Smith TruckingSocialMedia.com

You can't say "internet" and "trucking" without mentioning Allen and Donna from TruthAboutTrucking.com and AskTheTrucker.com. No one else has worked harder to keep drivers informed, protected, and connected than these two, which is why we've made them our #1 pick as online leaders in trucking.

As a 35 year veteran of the trucking industry, Allen has devoted the last 8 years to informing students and drivers about all aspects of the industry: trucking schools, CSA, regulations, health, leasing scams, driver's wages, driver employment, and all the concerns that drivers have and should be made aware of.

Community Builders Who Build New Leaders

When I asked the featured people below who they respect as online leaders and community builders the Smith duo were almost universally the first names mentioned. Additionally, several credited their successful start in the industry to the time and mentorship Allen and Donna gave early in their careers.

Three years ago, they founded the first ever Truck Driver Social Media Convention to help drivers and industry professionals connect and find a shared voice in protecting and improving our industry. Ever wondered who is speaking up for the concerns and well-being of the professional driver? Ever wanted a place where you could be heard? Check out the 2013 Trucking Social Media Convention and lend your voice to the conversation.

They Need Your Help Now!

Allen and Donna, along with Hope Rivenburg, need your help fighting the lack of safe parking for drivers. Take 2 minutes to complete this National Truck Parking Survey, which you can learn more about here on their website. The results of this survey will be shared with the DOT and help to determine the funding that is put towards increasing the amount of safe truck parking around the country. Every driver's participation is needed to give the DOT a complete understanding of the dangers that are caused by strict Hours-of-Service regulations and an extreme lack of safe places for commercial vehicles to stop.

How to find Allen and Donna Smith online:

#2 Desiree Wood REALwomenintrucking.com

Desiree is the co-founder of REALwomenintrucking.com (along with long time drivers Sandi Talbott and Alison Morris), which has grown into a community called the "Women Truckers Network" (WTN).

The WTN offers a free bi-weekly phone conference with an extensive library of archived recordings that focus on helping new CDL students and drivers of any gender get accurate information as they decide on CDL schools and carriers.

Recently, they have launched the 1st radio program hosted by women drivers on blog talk radio, which you can check out here - http://www.blogtalkradio.com/womentruckersnetwork.

A Mission to Improve Training and Safety

Their goal is to educate future drivers, long time pros, and trucking executives on the troubled reality of current CDL training, while exposing dangerous training programs and connecting new drivers to local mentors.

This is what Desiree had to say about the community of volunteers: Our mission is to network female professional drivers in order to help one another and provide accurate information to woman entering trucking so they can make better decisions about training when they enter the industry.

There has been a longstanding tradition to cover up the misconduct of a few bad apples in the industry which has fueled ongoing bad behavior. This can be especially dangerous to uninformed women entering trucking. Lack of conduct training puts everyone at risk, including good trainers by not communicating to them that they should protect themselves from unqualified students seeking to advance in driver training the wrong way.

Her group is also working with Hope Rivenburg on the Truck Parking Survey group of OTR drivers, which will be presented at the Trucking Social Media Conference in October.

How to find Desiree online:

#3 Kylla Leeburg TruckersAgainstTrafficking.org

Kylla is the Social Media Coordinator for Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT). Officially, the organization is a nonprofit focused on educating and empowering professional drivers and truck stop owners to fight sex trafficking across North America.

NHTRC Hotline 1-888-373-7888

In reality she has one goal - to get every professional driver in America to remember this phone number 1-888-373-7888.

That phone number saves lives. Watch this short video at http://vimeo.com/65652097 to better understand what is happening at travel plazas around North America.

A simple wallet card with the number to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and a phone call are all it takes to help free these teens from slavery.

Kylla and the other members at truckersagainsttrafficking.org are bringing together drivers, responsible companies, and local governments to affect real change in the fight against domestic sex trafficking and making a difference in the trucking community.

TAT Doesn't Do It Alone

"It is the trucking industry partners who have been a big part of TAT's success," says Kylla.

Examples of supportive companies and state organizations, as well as what they are doing to raise awareness about this problem, include:

  • TA and Petro travel centers who had all their employees hand out TAT wallet cards to customers at the register on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
  • Ryder who trained all of their employees, even those who go home at night, because they recognize this is a national issue that needs everyone involved.
  • California Trucking Association - who paid for a huge order of TAT materials and hands out thousands of DVD's and wallet cards each year to its members.
  • Randall Reilly - who consistently donates booth space to TAT at the GWTS and GATS.

And most importantly, it is the 577 drivers and general managers are making those calls to the NHTRC and reporting what they see...they are making a difference!

How to learn more about TAT online:

#4 Samuel Barradas - TruckersReport.com

Samuel Barradas is the voice behind TruckersReport.com, where you will find one of the most active forums for truckers online.

The purpose behind the site is to offer free and credible information for student drivers and potential truckers, while connecting experienced drivers with their counterparts around the country.

Want to see what others think of a trucking school? Have questions about making the switch to owner operator? You'll find over 100,000 members who can help answer your questions in the forum.

The website also features up-to-date information on what is happening in the world of logistics and transport.

How to find The Truckers Report online:

#5 Matt Chasen - uShip.com

Matt Chasen is the founder and CEO of uShip.com, the largest online marketplace for shipping goods within the US and around the world.

Why is a business on this list with non-profits and support networks?

The internet is changing the way shipping is done. Companies like uShip are connecting professional drivers directly with their customer, which leads to an improved outcome for all involved.

Truckers reduce the wasted gas associated with empty load return routes because they can quickly find a local customer to make that return profitable.

Consumers get access to reduced rate shipping as they fill trucks that would otherwise have been empty.

Technology companies are shaping the future of logistics and giving professional drivers more control over their route planning and profitability.

How to follow uShip online:

#6 Kari Fisher The Missing Truck Driver Alert Network

The winner of last year's Jason Rivenburg Making a Difference Award, Kari Fisher created and manages the Facebook page for The Missing Truck Driver Alert Network.

This network uses social media to alert other drivers when one of their own has gone missing.

Drivers experience poor road conditions, an extreme lack of safe parking, and dangerous commuters every day. The only people who suffer that same level of stress are their families back home who are waiting for a phone call that lets them know their loved one is safe.

What do you do when that phone call doesn't come?

You put the members of Kari's Alert Network to work. Use Facebook to connect with other truckers following the route of your loved one so you have multiple eyes looking out for the missing person and their truck.

All information obtained when the administrator starts an alert is kept confidential unless a family member gives direct consent, so loved ones can feel comfortable reaching out to the community. The singular purpose of this page is to find the missing trucker and find them fast.

Tips From Kari

You don't need to be a large company to afford vehicle tracking. Free phone apps like Life360 and Latitude on Google Maps can keep your family connected wherever you drive.

"We had two truckers go missing last year who drove for big companies with fleet tracking equipment installed, but it didn't work right," said Kari Fisher. "Don't assume that you will be easily found if something goes wrong on your route. Use your phone and a simple app as a backup location device so that your family can be confident in your safety."

I Could Never Do This Alone

Kari has a busy life on the road riding shot gun with her husband. She barely had time to speak with me over the phone, but grabbed a few minutes while their truck was being loaded. "I couldn't do this by myself," she said. "Without the help of the other administrators, it would be impossible to maintain these communities."

This was a sentiment echoed by many of the other organizers featured in this article. These support networks are built and maintained by volunteers who work full time jobs, drive the routes, or raise the family back home, and still manage to devote their extra time to helping their fellow drivers.

Kari is thankful for the other administrators who help keep the Alert Network growing, and the truckers who offer an extra set of eyes when a driver goes missing.

How to join the community and follow online:

#7 Kathy Cass Advice Page for Drivers and their Families

Kathy is an administrator for the Facebook Advice Page for Drivers and their Families. She is also up for the 2013 Jason Rivenburg Award, which you can learn more about on the TruckingSocialMedia.com website.

As the wife of a professional driver, Kathy understands the difficulties of being separated from your loved one for days and weeks at a time. She gives her time to the Advice Facebook page to help support the other women and families managing this often stressful lifestyle.

You will find Kathy writing for other online communities like A Trucker's Wife, and working as an administrator for the Facebook pages - Slow Down - Give Us Some Room and Trucking Space.

It takes time and hard work to build and support communities like these, and it is tireless advocates like Kathy who help make the trucking industry better by supporting drivers and their families.

A trucking family to the core, Kathy and her husband, Robert, will be celebrating their 30th anniversary next month by renewing their vows at the Joplin Petro truck stop. Be sure to tell them congratulations!

How to join Kathy online:

#8 Bob Costello - Chief Economist for ATA

Bob Costello is both the Chief Economist and Vice President of the American Trucking Association (ATA). It is his job to keep us updated on overall freight tonnage, diesel prices, and a host of other industry economic indicators.

Bob uses Twitter (@ATAEconBob) and YouTube to keep the trucking industry informed on important changes and make it easier to understand what the different indicators can mean for the future.

Perhaps most importantly, he analyses the costs and benefits associated with newly proposed regulations and legislation that affects every driver. This allows the trucking industry to inform Congress on the actual impact those regulations will have on truckers and shipping companies, so that we can better protect our industry.

How to keep up with Bob Costello and the ATA online:

#9 Richard Wilson - Transproducts.com

Richard Wilson is a safety and regulatory manager for Trans Products and Services.

If you need to know what a new regulation actually means for your day to day driving, Richard is the man to contact. He has literally written the book (and training manuals) on safety and industry compliance requirements for new FMCSA rules.

Through his Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/richard.wilson.568, he connects with numerous trucking groups to answer the questions drivers, owner operators, and fleet managers have about current regulations and future rule making that will greatly affect our industry.

Richard Wilson is another candidate for the Jason Rivenburg Making a Difference Award, and will be speaking for the 3rd time at the Trucking Social Media Convention in October.

How to find Richard online:

#10 Kelly Lynn - ATruckersWife.com

Kelly Lynn is the founder of ATruckersWife.com, a forum that offers "support, resources, and fun stuff" for fellow wives of truckers.

Few people understand life on the road, or life keeping the house running while their loved one is gone. For all the ladies who took over the mowing and became the appliance repair expert while raising a family, ATruckersWife.com offers a place to go for support from ladies who understand exactly what you are going through.

How to find Kelly's community:

Who Do You Look To For Leadership in the Trucking Industry?

These are the leaders, organizations, and companies who are working to protect and support the trucking industry for our drivers. Which industry leaders have had an impact on your life on the road? Which communities do you turn to for support and camaraderie?

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