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September 1, 2014 4:00 AM, EDT

Letters: Greener Grass; Data Privacy Assured

These Letters to the Editor appear in the Sept. 1 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Greener Grass

It seems that lately every issue of Transport Topics contains an article about yet another trucking company raising driver pay and/or sign-on bonuses. For truck drivers, the grass is greener on the other side.

At some trucking companies, even medical benefits are available from Day 1 and new drivers with several years of industry experience can make as much if not more (when including the sign-on bonus) as senior drivers. 

The trucking industry is inadvertently increasing turnover potential by focusing pay increases and hiring incentives on the recruiting side of the employment cycle. Historically, most driver churn was from new hires becoming disappointed when actual wage and working conditions fail to meet expectations. However, an even more serious turnover crisis could be looming as escalating new hire bidding wars motivate “same pay” tenured drivers to also search for greener pastures.

Solution? How about next pay raise announcing that your valued tenured drivers will receive the majority of the increase? How about building a loyalty program that provides increasing pay, benefits, recognition and work opportunities based on seniority? How about reallocating wage and recruiting expenditures to replace your “come join us” strategy with a “stay with us” culture?

Truck drivers know which companies recently increased wages. Announcements can be found on trucking company home pages, trade journals, in pop-up ads on recruiting websites, on radio spots and flyers in truck stops. But ask drivers which trucking companies have the reputation of rewarding tenure and loyalty, and few will be able to name even one such company.

Yes, you will still have to provide competitive new-hire pay to attract driver candidates. But once those drivers are hired, your company should provide a loyalty program with tenure-based ‘greener pastures’ that will keep them happily grazing for a very, very long time.

Joe White

CEO

CostDown Consulting

Grayson, Ga.

Data Privacy Assured

The story “Trucking Opposes Oregon’s Upcoming VMT Due to Privacy; State Touts Funding Gains” (7/21, p. 6) was based on obsolete and inaccurate data from the state’s 2007 pilot program.

The writer states that privacy and information security issues remain a concern for American Trucking Associations. It is true that such issues arose in Oregon’s 2007 pilot program. The Oregon Department of Transportation identified those issues and corrected the system to address them in its 2013 pilot (results published in May 2014).

The revised pilot successfully mitigated privacy concerns, paving the way for Senate Bill 810, which implemented Oregon’s per-mile charging system to launch on July 1, 2015.

Throughout the 12-year history of Oregon’s investigation of the per-mile charge, protection of privacy has proved to be the most prominent concern of citizens. They did not want to be tracked, and they did not want their travel information searched. Most importantly, many people were not willing to trust assurances of a government agency that tracking of their whereabouts would not occur and that their travel information would be secure.

Oregon’s 2007 pilot relied upon a single, government-selected mileage-reporting device installed in vehicles to wirelessly report mileage data to an electronic data reader in fuel pumps. Although the system functioned as intended and met objectives, citizens showed grave concerns about the potential for invasion of privacy, particularly about the GPS-based mileage-reporting device.

Between the 2007 and 2013 pilot programs, ODOT learned that motorists are generally comfortable generating and reporting mileage information to an entity if they have the opportunity to choose: (1) the method of reporting; (2) from whom they acquire the mileage-reporting device; and (3) to whom they report the information. The fully operational road usage charge system that Oregon will implement in 2015 will provide these options for motorists.

Nevertheless, even when they have these choices, motorists want their personal information protected. Senate Bill 810 specifically limits access to personally identifiable information and imposes requirements on all entities — government and private — not to disclose it except to the extent necessary to perform a particular function. Motorists can expressly approve or deny access to their information by any entity.

Importantly, the bill requires that ODOT and private entities involved with road usage charging data collection destroy location and daily metered use information within 30 days after the latter of payment processing, dispute resolution or noncompliance investigation. The bill makes exceptions to the mileage date destruction requirement in three cases: (1) when a private entity obtains motorist consent; (2) monthly summaries of metered use; and (3) aggregation of mileage records for traffic management and research after removal of personally identifiable information. Thus, even when motorists surrender anonymity, they are assured surrender will not be permanent unless they consent to data retention.

Providing motorists with choices for mileage reporting and payment and mandating protection of personally identifiable information provided a level of comfort to Oregon legislators on the privacy issue. The requirements they stipulated in Oregon’s law should instill confidence in ATA that the Road Usage Charge Program responsibly protects private information of motorists.

Michelle Godfrey

Public Information Officer

Oregon Department of Transportation

Road Usage Charge Program