New tools toward broker transaction transparency, truck stop amenities status

Article written by Todd Dills

Two things, today, that I think bear mentioning in the current climate.

1) Trimble’s new interactive ‘COVID-19 Safe Havens’ status map for truck-stop locations

The Trimble company (the well-known purveyor of in-cab technology like the formerly-known-as PeopleNet systems for driver-to-back-office and back communications, electronic logs and more) is out with an online interactive interface that could potentially fill a gap between well-used apps like Trucker Path that are great for basic information and parking-status and the truck stop apps themselves, often better for current status of individual stops. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has taken hold, we’ve heard numerous reports of unexpectedly closed showers at individual locations, unexpectedly unavailable bathrooms, take-out/dine-in options and so much more, though the basics of the nation’s truck-stop infrastructure hold strong.

The COVID-19 Safe Havens map offers a look-up and input tool for professional drivers to check the status of a location down to the individual-amenity level — that is, if enough truckers use it. It works in essence much like Trucker Path’s parking-lot-status updates do — visit a place and you can then check off any of the amenities there that are currently shuttered or available as usual. Trimble does say that “on a daily basis,” background staff is “reaching out to truck stops and rest areas, including Walmart parking facilities, to validate current status before we push it out to the products. Although we can’t commit to it being 100% accurate, we are working diligently to fact check statuses and amenity information before publishing.”

As with any tool whose utility relies significantly on crowd-sourcing, it’s only going to be as good as the number of folks who use it effectively is high. Give it a whirl via this link (works great on mobile, I’m finding).

2) New basic tools for transparency efforts

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association offered up a call to action to members this week following growing attention to what brokered-freight transaction transparency regs are on the books and the improvements many owner-operators would like to see in order to either increase such transparency before the hauling decision is made or, at least, as OOIDA proposed to members of Congress, automate disclosure of shippers’/brokers’ rate after the fact to inform future decisions. (The freight-intermediaries association TIA, as you can read here, view such a change as unnecessary.)

OOIDA’s call urged members to exercise their regulatory guarantee of ability to review transaction details in the here and now, and offered up boilerplate language to put the request in writing. I’ve linked to the Association’s long past efforts to assist owner-ops in such efforts in the recent and more distant past, too, but here are a couple of links to new template documents OOIDA included in its call to action:

Download a word document you can edit with your load’s details.

Link to a pdf version.

As are some other grassroots actors, the Association is asking members to help document what they find by sharing with OOIDA and/or reporting unscrupulous brokers to the FMCSA National Consumer Complaint Database. Read more about the call to action via the Land Line story about it via this link.

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