Category: american trucker

Stay Safe: A Guide to Avoiding Collisions

Road safety is the main priority of drivers across the country. Practicing safe driving not only saves lives but it also saves money. Making sure goods arrive to their destination undamaged and on time is what earns money. Avoiding collisions is a major part of making this happen. While some collisions cannot be avoided by drivers, many can and this is the type of accident that drivers should be prepared for. 

Vehicle Crash Causes

There are many factors that go into vehicular crashes. Some of these aren’t changeable, but many causes of crashes can be avoided. Some of the major reasons that truck collisions occur include: distracted driving, fatigue, impaired driving, speed, lack of experience, failure to obey traffic rules, poor judgment, loading error, and passenger vehicle error, according to the Pahlke Law Group. Not all of these are preventable, but it is possible to take some cautionary measures against dangerous situations.

Driver Error

There are two major factors that cause collisions in the trucking industry. One of these is driver error. As mentioned before, driver error can be caused by any number of things from distractions and fatigue to impaired driving and speed. These are the primary incidents that can be prevented by responsible drivers. The best ways to stop accidents from happening are to avoid taking intoxicating substances, drive the speed limit, ensure the driver is staying vigilant, and is aware of the laws and rules of the road. 

Some strategies to avoid taking intoxicating substances include saying no if offered, especially when on the job, and seeking professional help when unable to quit using impairing substances independently. To avoid speeding, it is best to plan routes ahead of time to understand the travel time and the amount of time for rest and food. To stay aware, follow the rules regarding rest and sleep, as it is important to get sufficient rest. Also, listening to music or a podcast can help promote alertness. 

Outside Error

The other type of collision is those caused by outside forces. Whether it be a lack of training on the part of companies, civilian vehicle accidents, or improper loading. There are many things that can go wrong outside of the driver’s control. Some of the danger from these can be mitigated with proper training and preparedness. Making sure that driver training is up to date and that drivers feel comfortable on the road and can follow the rules accordingly is very important to keeping everyone safe. Companies should be sure to fully train and prepare their drivers. The next thing that can be addressed is improper loading. Taking a few extra seconds to be sure the load is secure is always a good idea. Avoiding civilian accidents is the most difficult of these as there are drivers on the road who drive while intoxicated or drive dangerously. These can be hard to predict, but staying alert and focusing on the road is the best way to avoid serious incidents.

Final Thoughts

Drivers are an incredibly valuable part of the American economy and deserve to be safe and well-equipped to handle the more dangerous parts of the job. While not all accidents can be prevented, it is possible to lessen the chances of different types of collisions and decrease the potential for serious damage or injury by being adequately trained and staying alert!

6 Podcasts to Listen to While on the Road

Podcasts are all the rage these days. As a downloadable way to stay up to date on news, listen to intriguing stories, or learn more about any subject, they have made staticky radio shows a thing of the past and allow you to stay more engaged while on the road. The most interesting podcasts vary by what you find intriguing, but no matter where you look for podcasts, you are sure to find something interesting!

Choosing A Podcast

Listening to podcasts on the road is a great way to keep yourself awake and keep your brain active without sacrificing your level of concentration. The best thing about podcasts is that you can download them and have them automatically play for uninterrupted streaming! There are many different apps you can use to locate podcasts. The most popular apps are Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. All these podcast platforms are free but, there are in-app purchases for Spotify to eliminate ads from your listening.

The best podcast for you may not be the best for someone else. That is the great thing about podcasts, there is something for everyone. If you’re unsure about a specific podcast, download an episode or two and give them a listen while on your next journey. The best way to find good podcasts is by searching for a keyword that interests you like “News,” “Sports,” “History,” or any number of subjects!

The Lineup

These podcasts are on different subjects, so you can do more exploring by looking at similar podcasts but, as a starting guide here is the lineup:

  • Truck Driving: TalkCDL is a podcast from drivers to drivers about the ins and outs of the trucking industry. This podcast has industry news, facts, statistics, and discussions on nearly all parts of driving!
  • News: What a Day is a podcast covering the general news of the day with stories you may have missed and important happenings in the world. This podcast mixes in a little humor with the news to lighten the mood.
  • History: Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History is a podcast that goes through time and reexamines seemingly ordinary occurrences and brings new light to them. Perfect for someone who wants to dive deeper into history!
  • Sports: Pardon My Take is a sports podcast filled with information and stats along with athlete interviews and a good measure of comedy!
  • Technology: Back To Work is a podcast that aims to connect technological changes in industry back to the people who are impacted by them. It makes technology even more relevant to the modern audience. 
  • True Crime: True Crime podcasts are very popular now. They go through spooky real stories that are intriguing and sometimes a little scary. Serial is one of the most popular true crime podcasts. It allows aspiring detectives a look into the investigative world!

Final Thoughts

Podcasts are made for everyone. There is certainly something you can find to suit your interests, whether it’s for learning or entertainment. If you need a way to stay engaged safely while on the road, listening to podcasts can make those long drives seem shorter and prevent you from getting restless and sleepy. If you didn’t see a podcast that interested you in our list, search online or within the podcast platforms to find your interests!

Coping With Stress on the Job

Stress is a part of life. As a natural nervous response to perceived danger, it serves an important function in keeping you alert and safe even in difficult situations. However, in the world today, we are exposed to many more stressors than our ancestors so managing these and keeping from becoming chronically stressed is important. Chronic stress can cause many bodily issues such as high blood pressure, cardiac issues, along with potentially weakening the immune system. 

The solution may seem obvious, just avoid stress. However, staying away from stressful situations is not always possible, especially while working in any career. This isn’t the end of the world though, as stressful situations are able to be managed with the right strategies. Learning to handle stress productively will help you become a calmer, happier, and more motivated person.  

What Causes Stress?

Stress is a response that the brain has to a perceived threat. Since humans used to be more exposed to danger, like wild animals, storms, and other hazards, the stress response developed to keep them safe as it increases heart rate and brain activity to make it possible for the person to get out of the situation unharmed. Nowadays, there are not many wild animals that we have to worry about on  a daily basis, but situations that cause stress may be as simple as failing to do something or taking tests. In each of these moments, the brain is convinced that harm will come, so it triggers the stress response.

The stress response happens as the brain releases hormones that increase blood pressure and pulse, which causes hair to stand on end, and create a general feeling of anxiety. This is normal. Stress is a natural human response to fear-inducing events, but it can be controlled. There are strategies for managing stress like exercise, mindfulness practice, reading, and therapy. Talk to your medical provider about your stress and see what their suggestion is on the best way to manage it. 

Stressful Situations and Staying Calm

Stressful situations are everywhere! From being late to work, to forgetting a loved one’s birthday, each of these can cause a stress response. There are plenty of reasons for the stress response to be triggered, and driving can create some as well. From managing time, to the potential danger of cargo thieves, stress sometimes happens.

The good news is you can manage even the most stressful situations. Some quick strategies to keep your stress levels down are: exercise and move often, making sure to stretch, drinking less caffeine, and being mindful about what is causing your stress. Understanding your own stress response will help you to be aware of what causes you stress and create strategies to avoid becoming too anxious. If you try these and remain stressed, talk to your doctor, and they can give you strategies to manage stress.

Final Thoughts

Stress is everywhere, but you have a powerful mind that can work around being knocked down by stress. There are plenty of things that cause stress, but there are also many things that can be done to help ease stress. Don’t give up, and if you are feeling overly stressed for a long period of time, do speak with your clinician, and they can help you find coping strategies personalized to you. 

There’s an App for That

Everything is online nowadays and the common anecdote, “there’s an app for that,” rings true for the most part. There are apps and sites for nearly everything, from getting news and reading books to tracking your health and buying things online. Almost anything you search for in your smartphone’s app store will turn out results. It isn’t a bad thing that there are apps for nearly every utilization imaginable. In fact, it can be good for the trucking industry, as well as your own experience in driving, managing, or dispatching. 

Applications

With the rise of the smartphone came the rise of the application or app. An app is a piece of software you can install on your phone for a specific purpose. People all over the world create different apps for your phone that are available in the app store (sometimes for free, and usually for a low price). These apps are created to help make your life easier through providing entertainment, a hub for news, or adding technology to a part of your life that will make your day easier, such as creating to-do lists, shopping without going to the store, or ordering takeout. Apps are for people from all walks of life, and those in the trucking industry are no exception.

Finding Resources

Technology is everywhere, and there are plenty of ways to use it to your advantage. Most of the time, there are technologies created to address the specific issue you may be facing. For trucking and transport there are several apps to help ease the entire process, and the best place to look would be the app store first. Then check out the reviews and ratings of each app to find the best one for you. 

Many popular apps for drivers are GPS based and contain a logbook for you to track your routes. This can be important for providing information to your overseers, or for keeping track of your own business. The GPS feature of many apps allow for easier navigation and the ability to avoid high-risk zones, and plan around meals, breaks, and stops. Some apps are even available that allow you to locate loads or drivers depending on what you need. 

If you are unsure about an app, do some research online and you will likely be able to determine how well it works, and even which one would best suit your needs. Even if you aren’t using trucking industry specific apps, there are applications that are always a good idea to have on your phone as a driver. These include health apps to track your fitness, map apps to track your routes, reminder apps to be sure you stay on task, and some apps for entertainment like podcasts and music to stay mentally engaged while on your trip.

Final Thoughts

There are many benefits to living in the 21st century from updated medical care, to having awesome technology to make your life easier. Finding the right apps to put on your phone is important, and you can do this by taking a few minutes out of your day to see what things may make your life easier, and then searching for them on the app store of your choosing. 

All About the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Regulation, regulation, regulation- the government is very good at you guessed it, regulation. Sometimes the laws and rules around driving and the trucking industry or even the economy seem tedious and invasive, but governmental regulation can be a very good thing for the safety and prosperity of everyone in the nation. Following guidelines and keeping equipment up to date to the standards of governmental authority can sometimes seem like too much to keep track of but being sure to stay within the rules is a great way to stay safe and free of expensive fines and limitations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a governmental authority that plays a major role in regulating the national motor transport industry from long-haul to regional trucking and everything in between. The goal of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is to “keep our nation’s roadways safe and improve commercial motor vehicle safety through regulation, education, enforcement, research, and technology.”

A History of Transport

The United States has had a long history of transporting goods, even before the nation was founded, farmers, trappers, and traders carried goods across the continent for trading purposes. After the days of horses and buggies, railroads and steamships came into the limelight as a great way to expediently transport goods across the nation, and even across the world. While cargo ships and railways are still used to transport goods daily, the American Trucking Industry is the primary means of transport for domestic cargo.

The first modern type of tractor trailer was built and used in 1914 to transport a boat- ever since then, 18-wheelers have taken over the roads as the most efficient form of transport over land. With the ability to move huge amounts of goods faster than any other terrestrial vehicle, it’s a no-brainer that trucks became so popular. The increase in trucks prompted the need for regulation- for a while, the industry was in a wild west stage with little regulation and little safety but creating guidelines for those in the industry whether it be drivers, engineers, or managers helped in forming the trucking industry of today! 

A Useful Resource

The FMCSA is not only a regulating and enforcing agency, but also a useful research and educational base for drivers and managers. The FMCSA website is filled with articles about how to improve your driving or managing experience, and it also has news about the latest technology and how it impacts the industry. One of the most important tabs on the entire website is the safety tab- it contains information on keeping yourself and others safe from all the risks that occur with the industry.

The FMCSA also serves as a database for statistics, information, and driver data. Managers can use FMCSA Licensing and Insurance public record to ensure that they are hiring legitimate drivers which is important for keeping their business, other drivers, and the public safe. The FMCSA serves as a useful hub for everyone in the industry, allowing them to stay current and informed.

Final Thoughts

The FMCSA is a great resource for everyone in the industry, giving the latest news on technology, statistics, and regulations. There are many resources on the FMCSA website for making your routes safer, happier, and healthier through articles, rules, and press releases about current issues in the industry. It’s an awesome idea to check out the FMCSA website (linked here) to explore the regulation side of the industry!

2021 is the year for electric trucks. What does this mean for the trucking industry?

It’s electric! As the popular dance song exclaimed in the 90s, electric vehicles are all the rage these days and for good reason. Electric vehicles are now being manufactured by more than fringe corporations, and they are more reliably and neatly constructed than the somewhat disappointing electric vehicles of the past. Touted as the wave of the future, electric vehicles are becoming increasingly more popular as they increase in efficiency and range. 

Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles are far different from most conventional vehicles in the United States. Most cars, trucks, and even planes run off fossil fuels. Instead of combustion engines, electric vehicles use rechargeable batteries (in various formulations, though lithium-ion batteries seem to be the most popular) to power motors. Until the 21st century, electric vehicles were mostly niche, short-range contraptions that were yet to fully pass public scrutiny.

With the rise of mainstream automotive companies making hybrid and electric cars, there has been an upsurge in public trust of these vehicles. A major player in the electric vehicle industry is Tesla. So, what is the benefit of electric over gas? There are actually quite a few benefits for both the consumer and the environment. Electric vehicles do not require fuel to recharge, so they take advantage of a power source in either your home or an electric vehicle charging station (this usually costs about $9 to fully charge an electric car, making it much cheaper than conventional fuel). Also, they do not emit fumes and gases into the atmosphere which is beneficial from a climate conscious standpoint, as well as preventing traces of lead and other heavy metals from entering the air, soil, and waterways.

The Way of the Future?

Average electric trucks are currently only equipped with about 300 miles of range, at maximum, so they are still a ways away from becoming the sole vehicles of the transportation industry. However, most of the trucking in the United States is performed fairly locally, and electric vehicles shine in short-range transportation. Along with no major fuel costs, electric trucks are also less prone to breakage due to the fact that there are not as many intricate moving parts as in the engines of conventional vehicles. 

This reduction of necessary repairs and replacements will save time, stress, and money which will allow drivers to transport more goods more frequently. While this will certainly be a cheaper model for companies to adopt, it will be a challenge to ensure there are enough charging ports at stations. All things considered, electric vehicles will not likely take over as the sole mode of transportation just yet, as there are many improvements and innovations to be developed.

Final Thoughts

Electric vehicles are becoming more popular, but there is no doubt that the trucking industry will persevere since people depend on this intricate system of transportation to receive the goods that they need. There will certainly be challenges as the industry shifts to adopt a more electric-friendly mode. These challenges will be worth it, due to the reduction in repair times and costs for the vehicles. The trucking industry should be excited about the potential benefits of going green, as this will be a cheaper and more sustainable model in the long run. 

What will self-driving trucks mean for truck drivers?

Who is driving that truck? The answer may be nobody. It’s a strange thought for most people since vehicles have been operated by a driver for as long as they have existed . There seems to be something odd about a driverless vehicle, but unlike wild horses before being trained to pull a buggy, these autonomous vehicles are strongly regulated and programmed for safety before they are allowed onto the road.

The idea of autonomous vehicles is concerning to people in the industry, especially those who are employed as drivers, as these vehicles could potentially pose a threat to their jobs. This fear is currently not warranted though, as most autonomous vehicles in production require human intervention and supervision. It is impossible to replace human intuition with a machine. While there are certainly more autonomous vehicles than there ever have been, there is no doubt that truck drivers are still important and will remain important pieces of the United States economy, despite an increase in vehicle autonomy. 

Self-Driving Vehicles

The first self-driving vehicle was produced in 1958 by the General Motors company which was “guided by radio-controlled electromagnetic fields generated with magnetized metal spikes embedded in the roadway” according to TitleMax.com. Self-driving vehicles now work differently and are controlled by a series of sensors, cameras, processors, and programs that detect and interpret real world data while navigating through the obstacles and pathways of the world.

Self-driving vehicles are not a one-size-fits-all innovation. The autonomous capabilities come in a variety of constraints from levels 0-5 with 0 being a non-autonomous vehicle, and 5 being a fully driverless (and without a steering wheel) vehicle for all conditions, according to Synopsys.com. The majority of newer vehicles are actually in the level 1 category of autonomy with lane control and parking assistance. There are currently no level 5 vehicles on the road as of yet. Reports are mixed on the timeframe for these vehicles becoming a reality.

Self-driving vehicles do pose some benefits, especially in the safety and continuous transport sectors, as they do not suffer fatigue or require breaks from service as human drivers do. This continuous service could definitely save time and reduce the potential for accidents and mishaps on the roadway, but this technology is currently imperfect and cannot function on its own. However, with the supervision of an experienced driver, the machine and human effort working together could potentially create a smoother trucking industry. 

What About the Drivers?

There are currently level 4 autonomy rated vehicles being tested for service right now, but it is important to note that these vehicles are not entirely driverless. While they can manage speed, navigation, and traffic for the most part, when conditions become more challenging, they still require the help of a human driver. It is not expected that level 5 trucks will become available any time soon, and even when they are, it will likely be required that a human operator be supervising their navigation and speed.

In short, drivers will never be able to be fully replaced and autonomous vehicles don’t pose a real risk to their job security. The demands of the career may change, and it will likely be that your foot may not have to always remain on the pedal or your hand on the steering wheel, but your input and service as an operator will be valued and needed for the foreseeable future. You still have a major role to play in the industry, so it’s not time to hang up your keys just yet!

Staying Flexible while Truck Driving

We all experience it sometimes, stiffness is the bane of the human experience after long spells of sleeping, sitting, or driving. Without constant motion our joints decide that they want to stay in the same position, and this can be an uncomfortable situation. The good news is that even for people in careers that require long spans of stationary work, such as truck drivers, stiffness is still avoidable.

Stretch Like Armstrong

While you won’t always be able to stop and walk around once you feel stiffness coming on, there are plenty of stretches you can do at pick-up and drop-off locations, as well as stops along the way to keep yourself limber for the long drive ahead.. To get the greatest benefit, you must be consistent. Stretching every now and then may be helpful, but the real benefit comes from stretching regularly.

Stretching is something everyone does naturally. Concentrated stretches to loosen up your body include toe touches, swinging your arms in large circles and then small circles, twisting your upper body back and forth, and performing a downward dog and seal stretch if you are able to lay on the ground. There are more stretches online that you can find with a quick google search for all fitness levels and time constraints. 

Exercising isn’t just for Bodybuilders

In addition to promoting your overall health and reducing your risk of injury, exercising regularly can also help you stay flexible. Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion says that “an object in motion stays in motion.” This is a fact that is applicable far beyond the reach of high school physics classes. Even though driving requires you to stay seated for long periods of time, moving as much as you can during stops and time off is important to maintaining your wellbeing and flexibility, which will translate to more comfortable drives. 

There are many exercise options, for those of all fitness levels, to build their health. Taking a run or walk around the block may be the most viable choice for some, while going to the gym or practicing calisthenics may be beneficial for others. Try different workouts to keep your body and mind engaged and prevent burnout from repeating the same thing constantly.

Fit and Free

Growing older means that you will inevitably become stiffer, but even this age-related stiffening of the joints and muscles can be combated through purposeful motion. The more you move the fewer injuries, pain, and stiffness you will face as you continue enjoying your chosen career. Maintaining a routine of stretching and exercising, whenever possible, will help you stay safer and freer from worry for much longer than simply letting time run its course. 

The most important thing to remember while combating stiffness is that stretching and exercising must be a consistent part of your routine to see any real improvements in your flexibility. The more you move and stretch, the more your body will feel stronger, limber, and ready to tackle anything life throws your way. It’s as simple as taking a walk at your next stop and adding in a few toe touches every day. Then building up to more difficult stretches and workouts as you go. 

What is the Truck Parking bill all about?

Parking is something that all drivers, who transport freight long distances, worry about on a regular basis. While some truck stops offer parking and there are other locations that may be viable, there is a serious shortage of free and convenient parking available for drivers across the nation which poses a serious and sometimes life-threatening dilemma. Should the driver continue driving until they reach a parking area, which is dangerous as they are already fatigued, or should they park in a dangerous or illegal place to get some rest?

Outrage at this dilemma has caused many to speak out in favor of drivers. There has recently been a bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives known as the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act or H.R.6104. If passed, this bill would mean there would be a national initiative to provide more accessible free parking to drivers across the nation to promote their safety and the safety of everyone else driving on the interstate as well.

An Explanation

So why is the Truck Parking Bill only being considered now? It has been a long needed and awaited amendment to the legislation regarding the infrastructure of the United States, so it seemingly should have arrived sooner. Unfortunately, the legal system can be slow, and it is a lengthy process to get a bill written, sponsored, and presented to the house.  then voting, compromising, and ratifying take an added period of time which varies from bill to bill.

Thankfully, bills that benefit drivers are becoming more prevalent. In fact, there has already been an effort to prevent driver injury through Jason’s Law (named after a driver who was murdered after parking in a dangerous area). The issue with this law is that it does not hold enough power to create a national change.  Therefore, Representatives Mike Bost and Angie Craig (who are on different sides of the political aisle) have sponsored the bill to increase available parking for drivers.

Safety and Security

With the truck driving industry growing larger each day, and being projected to grow even more, our current infrastructure cannot keep up with and support drivers who need to rest between long periods of driving. Creating more parking spaces at rest areas, weigh stations, and other locations would allow drivers to feel safe and secure while resting, which will reduce the strain and stress they face daily. If this bill is enacted, it will allocate $755 million to the DOT to undertake the project and provide safe and free places to rest for drivers everywhere. 

Final Thoughts

The Truck Parking Bill is an important step in improving the working conditions for members of one of America’s largest industries. Keeping our drivers safe should be one of the main priorities in legislation, and now it is finally gaining ground. The fact that this bill is bipartisan truly shows how important it is and how little debate there should be over the fact that more must be done to help drivers perform at their very best. The Truck Parking Bill has the potential to do great things for drivers across the nation and set an example for constructing proper rest locations (and enough of them) for the rest of the world to follow. 

Sources:
https://bost.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/bost-bill-expand-truck-parking-would-make-roads-safer
https://www.thetruckersreport.com/truck-parking-bill-mean-755-million-new-free-truck-parking/
https://www.truckinginfo.com/352754/bipartisan-truck-parking-bill-introduced-in-house
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/hr6104
https://landline.media/truck-parking-bill-receives-attention-at-house-hearing/ 

Returning to Pre-Pandemic Truckloads

A little over a year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic kicked into high gear, and we have seen huge changes in the lives and careers of almost everyone, not to mention the impacts of decreased contact on the economy. It has certainly been a unique time to live as the world has coped with a pandemic on a scale that hadn’t been seen in over a century, but thankfully, things are returning back to some semblance of normalcy. While everything is not exactly as it was, vaccinations, increased safety measures, and the ability to return to work is allowing us to heal and rise from the ashes of these unprecedented times.

Impacts of the Pandemic

COVID-19 has impacted almost every facet of life that we experience. On a personal scale, many people have lost jobs or adapted to virtual careers; on an economic scale, there was a crash followed by a resurgence as people found their feet again; and on a social scale, we have learned to be more cautious and wear masks to avoid spreading illness. 

While most of these impacts have been negative, good things have come out of the pandemic as well. We have learned to feel more connected despite the amount of physical distance and gained a strong sense of appreciation for those doing the society-preserving work of treating illness, stocking shelves, and transporting goods even when everything else stopped. 

Changing Times

Reopening transport systems and jobs has allowed for a resurgence in transportation. Samsara (a fleet management and productivity company) has reported that commercial driving has returned to 95% of its pre-pandemic volume. This return to full-scale transportation is a huge step in returning to normal, as it means that consumers are purchasing freight and helping build the economy back up. 

Truck drivers are crucial in this transition to high-volume transportation, and there is a need for dedicated and experienced drivers now more than ever. As a driver, you will likely experience the opportunity to haul freight more frequently than any time during 2020, and this will certainly benefit you and your family from a financial standpoint. However, it is important that you take time to ensure you are staying healthy and happy while on the road and at home as transitions to more high-volume work can be stressful. 

Returning to Normalcy

Building back up to 100% of the volume of pre-pandemic transportation is only the first step. As the Nation recovers from the debilitating effects of COVID-19, it is likely that there will be an even greater need for transportation. There are currently COVID-19 vaccinations being shipped throughout the nation, this is an entirely new need that truck drivers like you are likely to be able to help with.

We will be able to return to normal soon, and the opportunity to build beyond that is inspiring. The COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly difficult, but we will rise and become better than ever before! In this hopeful time of regrowth and rebuilding, it is important to remember who helped us survive through the dark times of the pandemic, so we would like to thank all drivers who have worked to keep the economy open despite the challenges of this pandemic. You are truly heroes and we appreciate your continued efforts to keep the American Dream alive.