Award program seeks top military vet rookie trucker, to win donated T680

Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, March 20, 2024:

Kenworth donates truck for ‘Transition Trucking’ award

Kenworth, Fastport and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative are again partnering in the search for America’s top rookie military veteran driver who successfully transitioned to the trucking industry following military service.

Under the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” recognition program, Kenworth will provide the grand prize for the ninth consecutive year. This year’s award is a T680 equipped with a 76-inch sleeper and the Paccar Powertrain featuring the Paccar MX-13 engine rated at 455 horsepower, Paccar TX-12 automated transmission and Paccar DX-40 tandem rear axles.

The truck will be shown this week at the Mid-America Trucking Show at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville, Kentucky, at the Fastport booth, #65024. The truck features a Diamond VIT interior in slate gray with madrona accents and includes the latest in driver amenities. Both the driver and passenger seats are GT703 leather seats that are fully heated and cooled. The 76-inch sleeper includes space for a microwave and TV, a factory-installed fridge, and a rotating work table.

[Related: Nominate your business, or that of another exemplary owner: Overdrive's 2024 Trucker of the Year award]

The T680 also includes the latest in driver assistance systems, including Kenworth's Digital Mirrors, Bendix Fusion Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) Stop and Auto Go, and Lane Keeping Assist with Torque Assisted Steering.

The top driver will be determined by an expert panel of judges. To qualify, drivers must meet eligibility requirements, including:

  • Be a legal resident of the continental United States and military veteran or current/former member of the National Guard or Reserves
  • Graduated from PTDI-certified, NAPFTDS or CVTA member driver training school, with a valid CDL
  • Have been employed by any for-hire carrier or private fleet that has pledged to hire veterans and hired as a CDL driver after Jan. 1, 2023

The nomination period is now open, and the final deadline to submit applications is June 20. Award semi-finalists will be announced on Aug. 1. Finalists will be invited to Columbus, Ohio to tour the National Veterans Memorial and Museum and attend a reception, followed by a tour of the Kenworth Chillicothe manufacturing plant, where the finalists will be announced. Public voting on the finalists will occur from Nov. 1-11. On Dec. 13, finalists will gather at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where the final award announcement will be made, and the winner will drive home in the Kenworth T680.

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[Related: Slay Transportation driver named top military vet rookie trucker]

St. Christopher fund-raising efforts taking place at MATS

The St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund (SCF) will host a silent auction, and a number of other fund-raising activities, at the upcoming Mid-American Trucking Show (MATS), taking place March 21–23 Louisville, Kentucky.

The silent auction, which includes more than 30 prizes donated from MATS vendors and SCF supporters, will take place during the Opening Ceremony on Thursday, March 21, from 6-7:30 p.m. in the South Wing Lobby.

“MATS is the biggest gathering of the trucking industry and one of our biggest fundraising events of the year,” said Shannon Currier, Director of Philanthropy at St. Christopher. “We are very grateful for the support that comes from this event, especially from our sponsors, the show management and participating vendors who donate products for the auction.”

[Related: Owner-operator survival strategies, tactics to thrive in a down market: Join Overdrive Friday, March 22, at MATS]

In addition to the silent auction, prize wheels benefiting St. Christopher will be in action at the TravelCenters of America and Shell Rotella booths, as well as the St. Christopher booth (#40648) in the North Wing Lobby.

The SCF is a nationwide nonprofit that provides short-term relief to Class A OTR drivers suffering from an illness or injury that took them out of work within the last year. The SCF also provides several free preventative health and wellness programs for OTR drivers in an effort to keep them on the road, including tobacco cessation, diabetes prevention, chronic disease management, at-home cancer screenings, and vaccine vouchers.

[Related: 5 can't-miss highlights (and more) upcoming at the Mid-America Trucking Show]

Wyoming updating 511 system

The Wyoming Department of Transportation is upgrading its 511 travel information website to provide more reliable and secure services to the public.

WYDOT’s website saw 2.2 billion hits in 2022, and that much traffic can impact WYDOT’s servers. Recent improvements implemented by the agency’s Intelligent Transportation Systems team mean a more dependable and secure website when travelers need it most.

“We know many travelers, and even our own employees, rely on our 511 tools every day,” said Vince Garcia, Intelligent Transportation Systems program manager. “These security and reliability upgrades were essential in maintaining public trust in this vital resource.”

To further enhance the 511 website’s reliability, WYDOT is replacing 61 inoperable and/or outdated web cameras and related infrastructure around the state.

“We know how crucial the cameras are for the traveling public to put eyes on the road prior to traveling,” Garcia said.

These upgrades are due to persistent technical challenges with outdated equipment. Many of WYDOT’s road information cameras are in remote locations with harsh weather, limited electrical access, lack of internet or cell phone service and other challenges for WYDOT’s staff.

The infrastructure upgrades will take place as weather, funding and supply chain availability allow. Those factors will also impact camera prioritization, and WYDOT will try to prioritize cameras that have been malfunctioning the longest first.

WYDOT’s 222 web cameras around the state take photos of road conditions every few minutes to give travelers an idea of what road conditions could be like along their route. WYDOT reminds motorists that web cameras only show a snapshot of part of the road, and conditions could be worse in areas where cameras are not located.

WYDOT’s 511 tools are managed and updated 24 hours a day, seven days a week by the agency’s Transportation Management Center. The TMC updates road conditions listed on the website and mobile app based on reports made by boots-on-the-ground employees like snowplow operators and Wyoming Highway Patrol Troopers.

The public can help WYDOT by using the Wyoming 511 mobile app to submit photos of road conditions along the highway -- while not driving, of course. WYDOT’s 511 tools remain the agency’s official source for road and weather information.

[Related: Wyoming I-80's $34M overhaul after 'winter from hell']

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