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Driver issuesNewsTrucking

Swift confirms driver leader instructed truckers to drive in inclement weather

Some truck drivers for Swift Transportation, a unit of Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. (NYSE: KNX), said they received messages via their onboard computer messaging systems around 7 a.m. Dec. 2 instructing them to chain up and drive in inclement weather to get their loads delivered on time.

“We cannot afford to have you down or the load to be days late due to weather,” said the message, sent by a Swift driver leader and posted by Swift drivers on the Twisted Truckers Facebook page. “If we can drive, we will — whether it be 5 mph or an appropriate speed as long as we are safe.”

Message to drivers from Swift driver leader on Dec. 2.

The social media post received more than 3,700 comments from truckers responding to the message. Some said they would park until conditions improved while others stated that driving in harsh weather conditions is just part of the job.

Winter weather alerts disrupted much of the Northeast on Dec. 2 after a storm dumped snow, freezing rain and sleet across a large portion of the mid-Atlantic and New England regions. Severe weather was also reported in portions of the Sierra Nevadas and the Cascades in southern Oregon to the mountains of northern Nevada and southern Idaho.

SONAR Critical Events for Dec. 2.

A follow-up message was sent approximately four hours later by the same driver leader to Swift drivers clarifying that he did not recommend drivers be on the road “if the weather won’t allow it or you do not feel comfortable.”

Second message to drivers from Swift driver leader.

Kevin Quast, chief operating officer of Swift, confirmed the message was sent by one of its “newer driver leaders,” but said the statement didn’t accurately convey the company’s position on safety.

“This was not a company-wide statement,” Quast told FreightWaves. “A newer driver leader with us was a little overzealous with what he was trying to do. We’ve coached him and helped him to understand really what he was communicating and we made sure we are all approaching it the same way.”

A post on Swift Transportation’s Facebook page on Dec. 3, a day after the original message was posted, clarified the mega-carrier’s position on its chain usage stance.

“Chains should be used to get a driver out of trouble and to find the first safe/legal place to park,” Swift’s post stated. “They [chains] are not to be used to make a delivery on time or to get through bad weather.”

Dave Berry, vice president of Swift, said he wasn’t aware of the social media posts concerning the Swift driver leader’s message sent via OmniTracs, formerly Qualcomm.

“Loads can be late, but the priority is the people on the highway and the people behind the wheel of the truck,” Berry told FreightWaves.

Since the merger with Knight Transportation in 2017, Swift is becoming significantly safer than it’s been in decades, Quast said. 

“We take safety very seriously and are continuing to improve and work hard to become even safer,” he said.

SONAR Chart: Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc.

FreightWaves’ Stephen Oatley contributed to this report

Read more articles by FreightWaves’ Clarissa Hawes

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Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 13 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Before joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and Trucks.com. Clarissa lives in the Kansas City area with her family. If you have a news tip or story idea, send her an email to chawes@freightwaves.com.

129 Comments

  1. We (my wife and I) were working for swift. The heater and defroster went out in the front cab area. We were at a shop but they couldn’t fix it. Interstate 80 was closed at Laremy Wyoming where we were. The highway patrol were telling everyone to get off the highway. We were told that the freeway was open and the driver manager knew it so get rolling and we couldn’t travel on the freeway to take the cutoff from Larem to Denver that was in worse condition than the freeway. We called Denver and they called corporate. 30 minutes later we were informed that the driver manager was fired and they were escorting them off the property.

  2. As a 40 year veteran of OTR trucking if I had gotten that message I would have been on the phone not the Qualcomm telling him to pretty much stuff it!
    It takes about an hour for someone that knows how to put on chains and I’ll bet that Swift has never shown anyone how to put them on! Heck I’ve never been shown only watched the one time I paid a road crew that does the job and that was back in 1983 and I’ve never put them on again as the later statement said “to be used to get to a safe place” and the reason why ever since The Weather Channel was turned on in truckstops I always planned my routes according to the blue on the screen!
    I’m wondering just how many years experence that guy has as a driver to even think of putting out that message and his counseling? It had better been to put him back on the road and out of that position as I would never ever listen or do anything he ever suggests again as he showed his incompetency in that job.
    But that’s just MHO as a trucker with 4 million miles under my belt!

    Blue Sky’s and Safe Journeys!

  3. Hahaha! swift drivers suck in good conditions so what’s the difference? The owner of Swift got all his money from his connections to John McCain, he needs to be investigated. And if you work for Swift you need to quit and find another company to drive for, nobody respects a swift driver, they are all retards.

  4. I don’t Drive for this company,but I do drive truck and have for many years and have seen more knight and swift truck wrecks than any other company on the big road ! So if you cant afford to be late on your load how are you affording the injury bill as well as the property bill ? Over all your insurance must be higher then any other company , further more that tells the tail of what company care’s for there drivers and which company does ! So in my opinion maybe all the. Drivers for both swift any England should apply for a job with Crete carrier Corp that at least put their drivers safety first and farmost . My name is Scott overton ! Crete carrier is your answer drivers !!!

  5. This is the problem with these wannabe drivers. Moan and groan about everything and anything.. I do not know how many times over my career 31 yr of safe driving that I drove in blizzards at 20 miles an hour or driving on black ice.. It’s common sense to just take it easy do your job and quit your crying because of weather or you missed a birthday or your girlfriend.. Trucking is not a 9-5 job unless maybe you are local. There are an awful driving that should be just working at a McD’s..

  6. This is the problem with these wannabe drivers. Moan and groan about everything and anything.. I do not know how many times over my career 31 yr of safe driving that I drove in blizzards at 20 miles an hour or driving on black ice.. It’s common sense to just take it easy do your job and quit your crying because of weather or you missed a birthday or your girlfriend.. Trucking is not a 9-5 job unless maybe you are local. There are an awful driving that should be just working at a McD’s..

  7. I drive a daycab from Denver to SLC on 80 / 70. The only time I don’t move is if our CDO keeps us in a hotel until the highways are safe, but if the highways are closed while in route we are required to rest at the nearest hotel. These idiots on here and on Facebook who state they run no matter what are morons. They’re usually the guys who do not chain up properly and get stuck on 70 past vail and get a 1,500 dollar ticket for blocking the road.

    If you don’t feel comfortable driving in the snow then pull over and go on rest. It’s not worth risking your life or other people’s lives. Plus you’ll be in the way of experienced drivers who drive in this crap every winter. We already lost six people in Colorado because an inexperienced driver who no training lost his brakes on 70.

    1. S Celadon driver last winter in Ontario Canada 10 miles from their office killed 3 people in a minivan and one more child in a wheelchair. The cost to the local hospital was over $40,000 CD and Celadon paid nothing not even the funeral expenses of the 3 killed. These companies leave a message behind and the taxpayer and the community ended up getting the bill. The load was heading to a Walmart that fines if late then holds the truck . The whole industry needs to stop fines in Canada and providie parking.

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