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April 2022 Newsletter

Apr 28, 2022
This month's featured member:
James Lucich

Federal News

3/2/2022 - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2020. Most notable highlights as follows: there were 1.51 million fewer collisions nationwide in 2020, a statistically significant 22% decrease over 2019. However, despite having fewer vehicles on the road and fewer collisions there was still a 6.8% increase in fatalities. Passenger vehicles (including the subcategories of cars, SUVs, pickups, and light trucks), motorcyclist, pedestrian, and cyclist categories all saw an increase in fatalities in 2020 over 2019. The only category to see a decrease in fatalities was Large-Truck occupants (CMV drivers). Total traffic fatalities dropped in April 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 shutdown (-18%), but speeding-related fatalities actually increased (+2%).

The full report can be found at

VCT – Safety Trends

Days Since Last Unsafe Driving Violation: 130

Days Since Last Out of Service Order: 53

Days Since Last Injury: 42

Current Unsafe Driving CSA Percentile: 19%

Drivers and Professional Drivers

Professional Driver is a title given to all who obtain their CDL. However, simply having the skills to operate a CMV does not necessarily equate to that individual’s mentality and habits reflecting professionalism. Those who work within the transportation industry can quickly tell the difference.

Professional drivers are professional all the time. Not just on their good days or when someone is watching. It is a mindset of those who understand the immense responsibility they hold to protect those they share the road with. It is understood that regardless of experience and skill level they are not immune to the many potential hazards present on the roadway. Egos are left at home, courtesy is extended to all, including those who may not deserve it, and the law is obeyed.

There are some who hold misinformed and inaccurate beliefs. Those who say, I can handle my vehicle at higher speeds than others. Those who think, I am good at multitasking and can safely use my cell phone or eat while driving. The terrifying few who believe, I am bigger than everyone else and they need to get out of my way, or I will make them get out of my way. These are not Professional Drivers.

Despite the numerous studies performed year after year for decades that disprove these myths, it is more important to remember the 38,824 individuals who were killed in motor vehicle collisions in 2020 who would disagree with these claims of skill and ability. The 2,280,000 lives that were forever changed by great injury due to the inattention and errors of drivers who didn’t take the privilege and responsibility of driving seriously.

Government, law enforcement, and safety officials never refer to collisions or crashes as accidents. The term accident implies that nobody is at fault, where in reality between 93% - 98% of motor vehicle collisions are the direct result of human error.

There are three major behavioral factors related to fatalities in collisions: speeding, drug or alcohol impairment, and seat belt non-use. The three leading causes of all collisions, regardless of severity, are speeding, distraction, and drug or alcohol impairment. Any driver who believes these behaviors are acceptable has no business operating a motor vehicle of any type.

Consider this, would you find it acceptable for your airline pilot, flying you across the country to visit your loved ones, to be checking their cell phone while landing the plane? Is it acceptable for them to skip their preflight checklist because everything was okay the day before? Would you still board that plane knowing the pilot hopes they don’t get caught doing something wrong, instead of making the effort to do the job right?

Remember that safety is preventative, not reactive. It is our job as Professional Drivers to prevent accidents by anticipating and recognizing the errors of others. We must remain disciplined, vigilant, and honest with ourselves. Decades of experience, a career without accidents, or a citation free driving record means absolutely nothing compared to the decisions you make on the road today. Tomorrow will be the same, and each day for the remainder of your career as a Professional Driver.

From The Team – James Lucich

(Owner – Veneer Chip Transport)

James Lucich was born in Seattle and adopted from birth by Larry and Susan. His Grandfather Vince was a Manager at Veneer Chip Transport in the 1950’s when he had the opportunity to purchase the company. He put every penny he had into Veneer Chip and successfully lead the team until his sudden passing in 1981. James was five years old at the time, living in Spokane. Larry agreed to come back with the kids and temporarily take over operations until a new owner could be found. Larry found great pride at Veneer Chip in being able to see the results of his hard work and the success of his team and his customers. Enjoying what he did so much Larry purchased Veneer Chip himself.

When James was thirteen years old, he told his dad that his bike was worn out he needed a new one. Larry believed that James was old enough to earn his own bike and told him to report to work. The next day James found a trash bin, push broom, and dustpan waiting for him to sweep the yard. After a few hours he started getting blisters and asked for a pair of gloves; he was told to buy his own gloves with his first paycheck. His sweeping project took a week to complete, and it took him three months at minimum wage, only $4.10 an hour at the time, to purchase his new bike.

At fourteen years old James was taught how to back a trailer and moved up to washing trucks and trailers and moving equipment around the yard. One day when he found a flat tire on a trailer, he was told to take care of it himself. He called road service and had them come out to the yard for repairs. James stayed late that night and watched as they replaced the tire. He thought to himself that it didn’t look that difficult of a process. The next day he asked, and a mechanic showed him how, and he has been changing tires ever since.

When James went to college at Oregon State University to study Business Administration and Pre Law, his father agreed to pay half his tuition. The other half, room and board, books, and living expenses were James’ responsibility. When he graduated, James found himself at a fork in the road where he could either make his own career or work for his father at Veneer Chip. “I owed it to my dad to help VCT.” James taught himself how to weld, change brakes, perform services, and help VCT be successful in any way he could. He even earned his CDL and drove truck when needed back then, and he still does now.

In 2009 when Larry retired, James purchased Veneer Chip with his brother Jon. James admits there is a lot of stress involved with ensuring the company remains successful. “You really leave yourself vulnerable when you buy thirty trucks at a time. What if the economy turns? What if your customers go out of business?” However, James believes there is almost an addiction to overcoming challenges and solving problems. “Luck comes to those who are prepared to take advantage of opportunities that arise.” Overall, the good days outweigh the bad, and James says the team he gets to work with makes it all worth it. “When retirement comes and my ownership of VCT ends, it’s the people I will miss; not the building or any equipment.”

James wanted to pass on some advice given to him from his father; “You never have the right to get frustrated driving a truck. You have to be numb to anything that happens. A professional driver doesn’t get upset at the motoring public.” Finally, for encouragement to his team, James says: “Don’t try to hit a home run every time. Just get a base hit. Be open to learning something every day. Take what’s given to you and make the best of it.”

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