Trucker named Highway Angel for helping motorist from burning minivan

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, Aug. 14, 2020:

Trucker named Highway Angel for pulling driver from burning minivan
The Truckload Carriers Association has named Samuel Rojas, of Port Hueneme, California, a Highway Angel for pulling a driver from her burning minivan.

Samuel RojasSamuel Rojas

Rojas had just picked up a load and was heading south on U.S. 95 in Nevada on May 27 and decided to get on Highway 163 toward Kingman, Arizona. As he traveled up a steep incline, a minivan passed him, and he noticed fire coming from beneath the van.

“I laid on my air horn and city horn to get her attention,” Rojas said. Unfortunately, it didn’t get her attention, so he called 911 and reported his location.

“When I got to the top of the hill, I saw the minivan was on the side of the road, completely in flames.” He immediately slowed. “As soon as I hit 10 mph, I dropped the truck into neutral and pulled the parking brake and jumped out.”

He ran over to the driver’s side door of the van and saw the driver struggling to get her dog. It was getting hot in the van, and he told the woman to leave her dog. He got her out as the flames grew more intense and moved her to the steps of his truck away from the fire. He then considered going back for the dog.

“I asked her how much fuel was in the vehicle,” he said, as he was worried about it exploding. “She said she had just filled it up. I apologized but told her I couldn’t take that kind of risk for a dog. She said she understood. Then she began complaining about how hot she felt. I could see she had been burned.”

Rojas grabbed towels and a thin blanket from his truck and wet them down to cool her off. As he applied the bandages, he looked back and saw the flames from the van had sparked a brush fire. Other vehicles stopped and ran over with shovels, and Rojas grabbed his fire extinguisher to help stop the fire from spreading.

For his willingness to help, TCA presented Rojas with a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decals. His employer, Melton Truck Lines, also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as a Highway Angel. EpicVue sponsors the TCA Highway Angel program.

Slow down: Big lane shift coming Sunday to I-95 NB in Rhode Island, Exit 3
New lane shifts for I-95 NB in southern Rhode Island begin on Sunday night, August 16, as the Rhode Island Department of Transportation continues a $21.3 million Kingston Road Bridge replacement at Exit 3 in Richmond. I-95 NB traffic will move to the median to use a portion of the southbound bridge. I-95 southbound already is shifted to the right on the southbound bridge. All lanes and ramps will remain open. Lanes will be reduced to 11 feet — drivers should reduce their speed through the work zone. This traffic pattern will be in place until the end of 2020.

In 2021, RIDOT plans to flip the traffic pattern and demolish and replace the southbound bridge.

The 68-year-old Kingston Road Bridge carries 51,300 vehicles per day and is only one rating point from being structurally deficient.

Haul takes CDL-driver employment marketplace of sorts national
Haul, a platform employing drivers to connect with trucking companies to drive their trucks, has been operating in California, Texas and Georgia, and now is expanding its operations nationally. Founders Tim Henry and Toan Nguyen Le first met while working at digital broker Uber Freight.

“The idea for Haul was inspired by the thought that we could take all the best parts of the gig economy, like flexibility and transparent pay, and build a new employment model that created stability for the drivers,” said Nguyen Le, CTO at Haul.

The company calls its central tool an “employment automation platform” Drivers working with Haul are W2 employees of Haul — the platform enables drivers to pick and choos between driving assignments from a bevy of carriers who might work with the platform to connect with driver capacity. Haul-qualified drivers are matched to freight assignments from fleets who are experiencing growth, seasonality or unexpected turnover.

Pictured: A Driver Profile example within the platform. “Through full-time employment, driver-centric products, and training opportunities, we want to inspire drivers to look at their job as a skilled trade with huge upside,” Nguyen Le said.Pictured: A Driver Profile example within the platform. “Through full-time employment, driver-centric products, and training opportunities, we want to inspire drivers to look at their job as a skilled trade with huge upside,” Nguyen Le said.

Haul is so far venture-funded, with a first round closed in March 2020 enabling it to build/roll out its first version. Interested drivers fill out a single application and are vetted by the Haul team for fit. After approval, drivers are connected to trucking fleets on the Haul platform and can choose their schedule based on their goals. The company hopes the platform will empower drivers to “be in business for themselves,” in the words of one investor, while helping carriers reduce costs to recruit in order to have a flexible workforce to accommodate or respond to demand shifts like those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns.

Said Tim Henry, Haul CEO, “The biggest cost bucket as it relates to operating a truck is the driver. Haul ultimately is aiming to take a fixed cost and make it more variable”

Pilot launches fundraising campaign for Boys & Girls Club
Pilot Company this week launched a new round-up campaign to support Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The campaign will support the organization’s efforts to serve children, families and communities in need, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While more than 1,000 Clubs are currently open to offer childcare for essential workers, COVID-19 has forced nearly half of Boys & Girls Clubs across the country to close their doors in a traditional fashion. To ensure the organization is still able to help kids and families in communities with the greatest need, more than 3,000 Clubs nationwide are offering a range of services such as virtual academic programming, activity kits for pickup and providing meals to children who are out of school.

During Pilot’s campaign, customers will be prompted at checkout to round-up their purchases or make a donation of another amount. When guests donate, 100% of the proceeds will benefit the charity.

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