ICYMM: In Case You Missed MATS, here are the highlights

2019-mats-trucks

Lat Saturday afternoon, a gate agent for American Airlines at the Louisville airport was explaining to disappointed passengers of a canceled flight that the airline could not provide overnight accommodations, “Because of some big truck show in town.”

That “big truck show” was, of course, the 48th annual Mid-America Trucking Show, which was wrapping up at the Kentucky Expo Center as that forlorn gate agent was breaking the bad news to passengers. As in the past, the show had been one part education, one part entertainment, one part custom truck show, and one part shopping.

In case you couldn’t make it to Louisville this year, here’s a recap of some of the things you missed.

Secretary Chao announces possible change to hours of service

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez met with MATS attendees.Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez met with MATS attendees.

Secretary of Transportation Elain Chao delivered some potentially good news for truckers at MATS. Speaking Friday afternoon, Chao said her department intends to propose a rule that would change federal hours of service regulations for truck drivers. While Chao said she could not provide any specifics as to what’s in the rule or when it will be published, she did say, “But let me note: The Department understands the strong interest in increasing flexibility and is giving it serious consideration.” A power outage hit right as hao’s speech began, followed by an emergency warning over a PA system that forced her to pause her speech.

CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse explained 

Also at MATS, Joe DeLorenzo, director of enforcement and compliance of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said drivers will have to register with the agency’s new CDL Drug an Alcohol Clearinghouse. The clearinghouse will record all drug test failures conducted for pre-employment screenings, random drug tests, and post-crash tests, said DeLorenzo. Carriers will be required to submit failed tests to the clearinghouse, and they’ll be required to query the database before hiring drivers to ensure they haven’t failed a drug test in the previous three years.

Trucker honored for highway heroics

MATS was a place to recognize the good that truckers do. Two companies honored drivers during the show. Paul Mathais, a Navy veteran from Arizona, was named Goodyear’s 36th Highway Hero during ceremonies Thursday, March 28. He was recognized for aiding a family who had been involved in a serious accident in Phoenix.

This year’s Citizen Driver winners with those from past yearsThis year’s Citizen Driver winners with those from past years

Three drivers recognized as good citizens

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On Friday, TA Petro recognized three drivers with its annual Citizen Driver Awards. Honored were Steen Gronlund, a company driver for Mile Hi Foods, and Kenn and Elizabeth Zelten, owner-operators leased to Landstar.

TA Petro performed some good citizenship of its own during the show. TravelCenters of America, TA Petro’s parent company, donated 112,946 to the Truckers Against Trafficking organization.

Showgoers got to see a lot of trucks

If you wanted to see trucks — new trucks, old ones, custom ones — MATS was the place to be.

A popular feature of Peterbilt’s display was its 579 with the Darth Vader-look Blackout exterior package. Folks staffing the booth said folks either loved or hated the look, and the those who favored it tended to be younger truckers.

Also at the show were three of Kenworth’s W990s, which rolled out late last year. Entered in the PKY Truck Beauty Championship were W990s owned by Eagle Eye Produce of Idaho Falls, Idaho; Taylor Transport of Cartersville, Georgia; and Justus Truck Lines (Hendersonville, North Carolina.

1978 Fl FltOccupying a prominent place just inside one entrance at the show was the Kenworth “Everyday Heroes” T680 that will be auctioned off to raise money for Truckers Against Trafficking.

As always, the PKY Truck Beauty Contest drew a number of custom show trucks. And, inside the exhibit halls were several dozen vintage trucks owned by members of the America Truck Historical Society.

Trucking’s promotional efforts updated at MATS

During the show, the Trucking Moves America Forward image enhancement campaign delivered an update on its progress. In its five years, the campaign has attracted 200 donors and 3,410 subscribers. It also has 240 trailer wraps on the road, generated more than 344 million advertising impressions, more than 200 earned media placements totaling 162 million impressions.

Crowds gather at the Kentucky Expo Center last week for the 48th annual Mid-America Trucking ShowCrowds gather at the Kentucky Expo Center last week for the 48th annual Mid-America Trucking Show

One of the real showstoppers at MATS was this 1971 358A needlenose Peterbilt named 'Bad Attitude.' It has a 3405A Cat engine and 300-inch wheelbase.One of the real showstoppers at MATS was this 1971 358A needlenose Peterbilt named "Bad Attitude." It has a 3405A Cat engine and 300-inch wheelbase.

Gretchen Wilson stands for a picture with MATS attendee Judy Grant during a meet-and-greet event at the Red Eye Radio booth. Left to right: Jessie G, Bridgette Tatum, Judy Grant, and Gretchen Wilson.Gretchen Wilson stands for a picture with MATS attendee Judy Grant during a meet-and-greet event at the Red Eye Radio booth. Left to right: Jessie G, Bridgette Tatum, Judy Grant, and Gretchen Wilson.

Showgoer admires the new Blackout exterior package fro Peterbilt.Showgoer admires the new Blackout exterior package fro Peterbilt.

The main attraction at MATS are the many trucks on display.The main attraction at MATS are the many trucks on display.

Peaches got chauffeured around the show Saturday morning.Peaches got chauffeured around the show Saturday morning.

DOT Secretary Elaine Chao addressed a crowd at MATS about potential hours of service changes.DOT Secretary Elaine Chao addressed a crowd at MATS about potential hours of service changes.

Vintage trucks turned heads at MATS.Vintage trucks turned heads at MATS.

Zach Stone silkscreens T-shirts at MATSZach Stone silkscreens T-shirts at MATS

Tammy Reeser, Tessa Wheatly, Cheyenne Wheatly and Eddie Knight represent Wheatly Trucking, a grain hauler from Bloomington, Indiana at MATS Saturday morning.Tammy Reeser, Tessa Wheatly, Cheyenne Wheatly and Eddie Knight represent Wheatly Trucking, a grain hauler from Bloomington, Indiana at MATS Saturday morning.

Young trucking fans met Safety Sammy at the show.Young trucking fans met Safety Sammy at the show.

TA Petro named its latest Citizen Drivers during MATSTA Petro named its latest Citizen Drivers during MATS

John Trollinger, an owner-operator from Oklahoma watches Chris Grote work one of Hunter Engineering's tire machines.John Trollinger, an owner-operator from Oklahoma watches Chris Grote work one of Hunter Engineering's tire machines.

The Mountain Man (left) and Tony Justice (right) pose with a young fan at the Red Eye Radio booth at MATS.The Mountain Man (left) and Tony Justice (right) pose with a young fan at the Red Eye Radio booth at MATS.

One MATS attendee gets a close look at 'Bad Attitude,' a 1972 358A Needlenose PeterbiltOne MATS attendee gets a close look at "Bad Attitude," a 1972 358A Needlenose Peterbilt

Aaron Van Loon (left) and Jeremy Helton (middle) learn about the driver devices from Venky Rao at the Rand McNally booth.Aaron Van Loon (left) and Jeremy Helton (middle) learn about the driver devices from Venky Rao at the Rand McNally booth.

A MATS attendee and Kim McDonnell (right) watches the prize wheel spin at the RoadPro boothA MATS attendee and Kim McDonnell (right) watches the prize wheel spin at the RoadPro booth

Paul Mathias was named the 36th annual Goodyear's Highway Hero during the show.Paul Mathias was named the 36th annual Goodyear's Highway Hero during the show.

17-year-old Rockey got a ride around MATS17-year-old Rockey got a ride around MATS

MATS is a time to get a closer look at the trucks on display.MATS is a time to get a closer look at the trucks on display.