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From Van& Man Guy to US Government Employee

Dear readers of my blog, I am pleased to share with you an interesting interview that I recently conducted with Neil Mackenzie. This man moved from Scotland to the United States just 2 years ago and is already working in the US federal sector.

Hey Neil, please tell us briefly about yourself. Who are you and where do you work now?

  • Hello. My name is Neil Mackenzie, I’m 38 years old and currently I work in the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in simple words, in the FMCSA. No matter how corny it sounds, in order to get this kind of work the first thing you need to do is reviewed Federal Resume Guide and filed an application at USAjobs, an official federal site of employment. Big things have small beginnings.

As far as I know, getting such a job in the government sector is not so easy, especially for a guy from Edinburgh.

  • In 2002 I graduated from university of Strathclyde at Glasgow, faculty of Marine, Ocean & Offshore Engineering, and Logistics. Then I won a competition at one of the most powerful oil corporations in Scotland, BP Exploration Operating Company, where I worked as an engineer for 10 years. One of the main directions of the company is oil production from the shelf of the sea depths. I had to go to sea 2 times a year for 3-4 months. And so for 10 years.Due to eating disorders, in 2012 I had a major surgery. The official diagnosis is diverticular colon disease. After this, you need to follow a strict life-long diet, according to which I can’t eat about 95% of all food. Being an engineer and working for 3-4 months outside the home, and on board, this is quite problematic. Sothe same year I left the BP Exploration Operating Company,invested all money that I saved in my father’s business and became a co-owner of the Van &Man service in Edinburgh.

It’s a pretty dramatic change of activity. Why exactly Van &Man?

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
  • It was the first thing that came to my mind.Moreover, I wanted to help my father.For 6 years of working together, I have gained tremendous experience in the field of transport, logistics, cargo transportation.This experience and the education of an engineer essentially helped me gain the position that I have now.

And how did you get to the United States?

  • I met a girl, an American. We began a romantic relationship and after a while I proposed. Due to some circumstances, she could not stay living in Scotland, so I decided to leave with her in the USA. At first, I tried to organize a similar business in the USA.I started looking for information on how to apply for a va loan. Since I am a former sailor plus health problems, I had the advantage of getting such a loan.But the competition in the US market was very strong and my company did not even reach the payback.Therefore, I decided to try myself in something else.

What is the essence of your work now in FMCSA?What are the main problems with cargo transportation in the USA?

  • The main goal of our department is to reduce the number of accidents, injuries and deaths associated with large transport and freight traffic. Working in the Van & Man service, I gained invaluable experience inside this process. I know the whole background regarding the main dangers to trucks on roads. Basically, all accidents involving large cars take place on steep downhill roads, and the causes of accidents are the same everywhere: brake failure, ice drifts, inexperience of drivers. If we talk about the key factors affecting accidents, then I would divide them into the following groups:
  • Old trucks.Many owners of transportcompanies save heavily on trucks and buy old, battered vehicles for little money. In fact, they should have been written off a long time ago, but they are resurrected to a second life.Add to this a huge mass, limited maneuverability, a long braking distance, driver fatigue and other risk factors – and that’s all! There is no need to look for more reasons for the accident.
  • Flooding roads.Frequent precipitation with the wind in the form of rain in summer and wet snow in winter causes flooding of roads, impenetrable traffic jams.
  • Streets not suitable for heavy traffic. Many streets are still not adapted for heavy traffic, especially in small towns. Huge heavy trucks, wagons with a trailer, heavy trucks on city highways – this is a common small towns. Of course, the township administration banned the entry of heavy vehicles into the city, especially during the daytime. But no one has canceled the economic benefit. Drivers of heavy trucks, saving time and fuel, find a way to circumvent bans and negotiate with law enforcement officers.
  • Lack of preventive truck repairs and driver health control.Business owners are trying to squeeze out all the juices from their property and do not care about such “nonsense” as preventive maintenance, monitoring the health of drivers. Drivers also try to earn more and therefore try to save on distances, gasoline, etc.

And a few words about the responsibilities of your department?

Based on the above problems, our department is engaged in resolving the following issues:
1. Development and enforcement of traffic safety rules for motor vehicles (freight and bus companies).
2. Creation of information security systems.
3. Conducting educational events with telecom operators, commercial drivers and public transport drivers.
4. Partnerships with stakeholders, including federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, and the automotive industry to reduce bus and truck accidents.

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