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Swift confirms driver leader instructed truckers to drive in inclement weather

Mega-carrier Swift Transportation responds to in-cab message instructing truckers to chain up and drive in inclement weather. Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

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


  1. Brian Cotten

    I don’t usually get in on the Post, just figured I’d leave my two cents worth on this one. I travel all over the United States and Canada and as a commercial business owner I understand what it is like too not have trucks show up on time as I have employee s waiting for product to install . It cost me money for each minute of down time but it is all worth it if that trucker gets there safely without killing himself or someone else. These guys my full support on the Rd as I travel the same route they do and would not want there job after what I see on a daily basis of travel. As a large company like Swift they should ashamed of putting the truckers in this position. . There are all types of truckers out there with all sorts of different experience s. If they don’t feel comfortable on the Rd then that is there judgement . Maybe the person that posted that post should jump in that truck and drive it themselves seeing how they have so much experience.

    1. Stephen Webster

      You are so right about this truck drivers need to able to shut down due to a storm or take a 2 or 3 hour nap if over tired. Swift and Celadon both pushed truck drivers when they should not have. It doesn’t help when companies fine for being late when they run into traffic or bad weather. The whole industry needs a overhaul before bringing younger or oversea people from low wage countries that have more accidents. In 2006 Canada tried to bring in driver pay and overtime after a study was done in 2005 in Canada that said overtime and minimum wage rates plus much better driver training would save more lives than E-LOGS and speed limiters on the foot. It speed limiters on Cruse control to 66 m p h .and mileage pay rounded down when the average speed exceeded 55 m p h on driving time. The C T A in Canada and the A T A in the U S fought those safety ideas with all the right donations.

    2. Sandra

      SWIFT is the worst company on the road when it comes to accidents in the United states, this comment from a dispatcher might be the reason why, the guy who gave those orders has probably NEVER DRIVEN A TRUCK. Get rid of him before you are sued.

    3. Cindy

      I have been driving truck for over 22 years. First, I appreciate your understanding. Second as a driver I like to make a living wage and want to get my load to you, get unloaded and be on my way to my next load.
      Like you, I do not put greed over another person’s well being.
      I can drive in most weather fairly comfortably. But every load sits different in a trailer and that changes dramatically on the snow with ice.
      If a driver can’t handle the conditions, they have nothing to prove to me. Please park.I might keep going, but only if I feel safe. Sometimes I park not because of my inability, but because others create a situation I do not want to be part of..
      I totally agree, my friends and family drive on the roads. , and we all know how fast things can go wrong in an instant.
      I just want you to know, I appreciate your attitude. I truly wish more receivers are like you.
      I will not shop at Wal-Mart or haul their goods in any capacity, they absolutely penalize the independent driver for making a judgement call.
      So putting an inexperienced driver in a truck on a good day is scary enough…but mix them with ice and snow, it asks too much of all of us…But on another note, Swift is famous for not giving a rat’s tail about anything but profit. They got called out on this one. This is why they wanted a call, no documentation of the conversation.
      Swift is always being fined by the courts for misrepresenting themselves in business. They got as big as they are, not through integrity, but by deceptive practices against New drivers who do not know enough to make great decisions, not knowing the implications or effects of the choices they are being offered. Try and choose a smaller company that has drivers that have been driving more than 5 years, and the effects will be more positive. That is certain

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Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 14 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Before joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and If you have a news tip or story idea, send her an email to [email protected]