Transport America | New Per Diem for Truck Drivers

Over-the-road ­truck drivers must make purchases every day while on the road to get the job done. The cost of food, showers, laundry services and phone iStock 000020442271 Small 300x267 Transport America | New Per Diem for Truck Driversaccess adds up fast. That’s why Transport America is introducing a new per diem plan for ­truck drivers. This is the reclassification of income as non-taxable reimbursement. Under the program, the IRS allows you to reduce your taxable income by up to $59 per day for each full day you work away from home.

Per diem allows you to maximize the amount you take home from your job by reducing payroll and income taxes. Be aware that the program reallocates your income; the non-taxable reimbursement is not in addition to your base wages.

Record Keeping Requirements

The per diem program does not require you to keep receipts or prove your time away from home. This simplifies your tax recordkeeping obligation for a less stressful experience when it’s time to file your taxes.

Effects of Reduced W-2 Wages

If you apply for a loan, Disability or Unemployment benefits, the income on your W-2 is an important point for officers to consider. Transport America provides ­truck drivers in the program with taxable income on a W-2 along with the per diem amount and an explanation letting officers know that the per diem amount is part of your income; it’s just not taxable income.

Note that the per diem pay plan will reduce social security benefits. However, you still come out ahead because you could save $2,000 in taxes each year under the per diem program and only lose out on $4 to $11 per month in social security benefits. Speak with a tax advisor for more information about your situation.

Contributions to your 401K retirement plan and workers compensation claim amounts may also be reduced by participation in the per diem program. Fortunately, the reductions are minor compared to the tax savings you can enjoy.

Standard Pay Rate Reduction

While Transport America strives to maximize ­truck drivers’ take home pay, a one-cent administration fee is needed to pay for the costs of tracking and processing per diem, paying additional income taxes owed and covering IRS audit fees.

Join Transport America’s per diem program today to maximize your benefits and eliminate the need to keep receipts for tax purposes. Enrollment lasts until March 31, 2015. You can pick up a form at any Transport America Service Center or by calling your Fleet Leader.

To learn more about this opportunity for ­truck drivers, visit the Transport America website. Then, join our online communities on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.

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Fuel for Thought | Merry Christmas from Transport America

note header dear driver APPROVED Fuel for Thought | Merry Christmas from Transport AmericaI want to sincerely thank you and your family for the outstanding work you have done this year. I know it’s a tough job and the realities of the work create difficulties for you and your families. We all appreciate the benefits of the Scott Arves 213x300 Fuel for Thought | Merry Christmas from Transport Americawork you do.   Merry Christmas to you and all of those you hold close to your heart.

The upcoming year will have challenges and difficulties we have seen in the past. I look forward to working with you as we face those obstacles together. I am proud of the work we have done, optimistic about our future and believe there is no better team to conquer the market.

The economy is expanding, and we will continue to grow as our success and service are like none other in the industry. Lower fuel prices and better networks will put pressure on our competitive advantages, and as you continue to improve our safety and productivity, we will stand the test of the New Year.

Thank you again for your contribution and the support of your families. Have a Merry and safe Christmas.

note footer2 Fuel for Thought | Merry Christmas from Transport America

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Transport America Adds Trailer Tracking to Their Fleet

When your job is driving long distances to pick up and deliver freight on time and in one piece, it’s important to ensure that you’re using the equipment that will help you do that most efficiently. Transport America has taken the next Theft Prevention 300x150 Transport America Adds Trailer Tracking to Their Fleetstep to make that happen with SkyBitz, a trailer tracking satellite system that makes the process of freight delivery infinitely easier for truck drivers.

What is SkyBitz?

SkyBitz is a tracking system that enables companies to keep tabs on their trailers. It consists of two components:

  1. The satellite terminal, located on top of the trailer, sends signals to a satellite that then communicates or “pings” the location of the trailer to a terminal. It then communicates that information to a web-based system used by TA to monitor the information.
  2. The cargo sensor, located in the front of the trailer, senses movement and helps TA track the status of the trailer load. When attached to a tractor, the device pings every fifteen minutes; when not attached, it communicates a signal once a day. Although it functions with batteries, the batteries can keep the device pinging for about 8 weeks when fully charged.

Transport America started implementing this system in all 2007-and-newer fleet trucks, with an average of 50 installations happening a week for a total of 1,300 so far. While there are still 2,000 trucks in the fleet left to retrofit, all new fleet trucks will have the SkyBitz system already installed in factory. Expected date of full installations is 2016.

Benefits of SkyBitz

There are many benefits to installing a trailer tracking satellite system like SkyBitz in a freight truck fleet, both for the companies and for the truck drivers.

  • Reduced empty miles. In other words, drivers no longer have to worry about not being able to deliver freight due to lack of empty trailers. In addition to tracking where the trailer is, SkyBitz lets TA know whether a trailer is loaded or empty, facilitating the process of finding empty trailers for drivers to load and cutting down on search time.
  • Easy load location. Whether a driver is halfway to his or her destination or has already dropped off a load, with “pings” happening every fifteen minutes, a load can be located and estimated transit times can be determined. SkyBitz also makes it easy to find out whether or not another company has picked up the trailer and moved it.
  • Theft prevention. The SkyBitz tracking system reacts immediately to movement. Since it maintains consistent communication with satellite systems, it makes finding stolen loads much easier. It also prevents theft by sending signals every time a trailer is moved.

 SkyBitz is just one of the technologies that enable Transport America to deliver freight more effectively. To learn more about the technologies and state-of-the-art equipment available to truck drivers when they drive for Transport America, check out our website, or join our online community on Facebook and Twitter.


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Transport America on the Great Driver Experience

It’s important for truck drivers to take care of themselves, spend time with their families and be healthy and happy. Unfortunately, there are many Transport America 300x159 Transport America on the Great Driver Experiencecompanies taking the work their drivers do for granted. That is why Transport America has implemented what they call “The Great Driver Experience,” an initiative to ensure that drivers who come to Transport America know they are the company’s number one priority.

What is the Great Driver Experience?

The Great Driver Experience focuses on taking care of Transport America’s most valuable asset: truck drivers. Whether driving solo or as a team, men and women who operate freight trucks for Transport America can count on the company to provide the following essential tools:

A positive company culture. At Transport America, it’s important for drivers to know how valuable they are. That is why they are surrounded with a positive, engaging and encouraging company culture that makes it easy for them to do their job with comfort and ease.

A strong focus on safety. Being in the driver’s seat means putting safety first at all times. Transport America puts the truck drivers in control by giving them the necessary tools to do their job safely and effectively. That means any time drivers feel unsafe operating a truck or are unable to drive safely for any reason, they can make the call to shut it down. The people at TA trust their drivers’ judgment when it comes to safety and drivers have the final say.

A real open-door policy. There are many companies who claim to have an “open-door policy,” yet make their employees set up appointments, talk through glass windows and basically jump through hoops to get their issues resolved. Not at Transport America. TA prides itself on a true open-door policy, in which drivers can come into any of their facilities, without an appointment, sign in and talk to anyone they want. This gives drivers the assurance that their voices are always heard.

Supportive, engaged leadership. Without leadership that is committed to preserving a positive experience and good morale for their drivers, there can be no Great Driver Experience. One of the ways leaders at TA can make that commitment is by taking advantage of every opportunity to learn what their drivers go through, whether it’s through past driving experience or going on ride-a-longs in the truck. Likewise, drivers have the chance to learn more about what their supervisors do and what the company’s processes are, through things like corporate visit programs. Fleet leaders, team leaders and executives help to create a seamless, streamlined process that gives drivers the confidence to trust the company they work for.

Flexibility and freedom of choice. One of the things that companies tend to take for granted is how much their drivers’ lifestyles may change and how that plays into their work-life balance. Transport America prides itself in being thoroughly flexible, working with drivers to ensure that their work and home life is balanced. They provide choice in the type of driving career they want, be it dedicated, team, regional or solo over the road.   They also provide tools to enable drivers to be healthy and happy, including their sleep apnea program, employee assistance program, health and wellness initiatives and the freedom to choose how often they can be home. With the opportunity for drivers to make smooth and seamless transitions into the variety of driving divisions that will suit their home life, truck drivers truly have the freedom of choice they need to be successful at TA.

The Great Driver Experience: A Focus on You

Are you a driver looking to make a change? No matter what your experience, Transport America’s Great Driver Experience ensures that drivers from all walks of life are comfortable and happy in an environment that values choice, positivity, safety and communication. To learn more visit our website or join our online community on Facebook and Twitter.

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So You Want to Be a Team Driver? | Team Driving Basics at Transport America

Are you a solo driver thinking about switching to Team Division? Whether you have been on the road for years or you are new to the industry, Transport America makes it very easy for you to become a team driver. If you need a partner, we will work with you to find a TransportAmerica Stills 071 300x293 So You Want to Be a Team Driver? | Team Driving Basics at Transport Americacompatible co-driver. Do you want to see the country?   Do you want to drive state of the art equipment? Do you want to be among the highest paid drivers at Transport America? Then teaming may be for you. Let’s discuss some of the advantages to driving team at Transport America.

What is team driving?

Simply put, team driving involves two drivers working together to keep the wheels continuously rolling. While one driver is driving, the co-driver is resting in the sleeper berth. As a result, freight moves up and down our highways at a pace that can not be matched by a solo driver. In fact, a team operation is only rivaled by airfreight, in terms of transit time. Said differently, our Team Division is the fastest way to move freight from coast to coast.

Teams at Transport America are very diverse. Who makes up a team? Well, all kinds of people! Some teams are made up of married couples, while others are friends or family members. Still others are comprised of students who meet in school, or in some cases, solo drivers who are paired up with other drivers in the area they live in. Whatever the configuration, there is no question that team driving is a popular option for freight drivers and one that solo drivers should consider.

Why team driving?

There are some great reasons why solo drivers should consider driving freight as part of a team:

  • Better pay. Pay for teams running an average of 6,000 – 7,000 miles a week can translate to a sizeable pay increase over solo driving. At Transport America, for instance, with mileage rates of up to $.54 per mile (split miles), team drivers can make a very good income for themselves and their family.
  • Job security. Because of the expedited nature of team driving, and the high demand for such services, we enjoy great business relationships with many stable customers that offer year-round business that means you will keep moving.
  • Better equipment. The nature of expedited freight dictates that trucks driven by teams will be on the road much more than the average truck, creating more wear and tear. To prevent issues on the road, Transport America provide teams with late modal equipment that offer best in class safety and comfort features for our team drivers.

Can I be a team driver?

Any driver eligible to work at Transport America can drive in the Team Division – that means passing a background test, drug and alcohol screening as well as having a good driving record. Successful teams at Transport America live out our core value of Safety every day; they are healthy and remain rested; and they understand the importance of good communication.

Running as a team means you will average of 1,200-1,300 miles in a 24-hour period and will likely be on the road for more than two weeks at a time. However, at Transport America we understand the importance of balancing work and life for efficiency and good morale, so we provide customized teaming solutions that will meet the business needs and your time at home needs.

With competitive pay attractive team driving benefits packages, newer equipment and a focus on a great driver experience, Transport America is a leader in team driver opportunities. To learn more about team driving opportunities, visit our website or join our online communities on Facebook and Twitter.

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Open Enrollment | Maximizing your Benefits

As we enter open enrollment season with some major change, we want to remind our truck drivers of the importance of participating in open enrollment. You need to know what you shutterstock 219068428 300x300 Open Enrollment | Maximizing your Benefitscan do as an employee to maximize your coverage so that you’re making the most of your benefit choices.

What is Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment is the time for our truck drivers to elect medical, dental and vision coverage, as well as a Flexible Spending Account, and short-term and long-term disability coverage. Drivers can also elect company-paid and supplemental accidental death and dismemberment coverage. They can make their elections as tobacco-free users to incur savings on their medical insurance option. Open enrollment can be done online through the ADP employee self-service site or by phone through the benefits hotline.

As this year’s open enrollment gets underway, from now until Nov. 30, employees will note a significant change: Transport America has changed providers, from Blue Cross to HealthPartners, which uses the Cigna network. This means that employees will need to sign into the employee portal and make elections on every part of their benefits package. Open enrollment is an important time for several reasons:

  1. It gives employees the opportunity to elect and review coverage options. Because all benefits are selected à la carte, employees can customize their plans to suit their individual and family needs. For instance, someone who doesn’t need medical but needs dental or vision can choose to bypass medical coverage.
  2. It allows employees to verify dependent information and to correct, update or change it as needed.
  3. It gives employees a chance to review and update beneficiary information so that it’s also as current as possible.

Maximizing Benefits: Making the Most of your Benefits Package

So, how can our truck drivers make the most of their Transport America benefits package? Here are some things you may not know that could help you save money and use all the perks available to you as an employee.

  • Verify that you’re tobacco-free to save big on your annual premium. If you’re an employee who is either tobacco-free or currently participating in a smoking cessation program, you are eligible for a $598-a-year discount from your medical insurance. Please note that if your spouse is included in your policy, both you and your spouse must be tobacco-free to receive the discount.
  • Complete your Health Risk Assessment in 2015. Thanks to the provider change, requirements to complete the Health Risk Assessment have been changed. This assessment can save employees up to $19.50 a month on their coverage. This year, employees will be granted a grace period until the first quarter of 2015. During this grace period, all employees will save $19.50 a month on their coverage. After the first quarter of 2015, however, only those who’ve completed the Health Risk Assessment will be eligible for the discount.
  • Choose doctors that are in-network. There are often many savings associated with choosing doctors in a provider’s network. Be sure that your doctors and specialists are in your network for lower costs.
  • Visit the HealthPartners website to learn about additional benefits. The HealthPartners network offers a variety of perks that can help you make the most of your coverage. Visit the employee portal or to learn about things such as prescription drug coverage, online pharmacy access, discounts on wellness programs, products and services and much more.
  • Consider choosing FSA. While the Flexible Spending Account is an optional selection, it’s in your best interest to consider it. The benefit of FSAs is that you can set aside a specific amount of pre-tax dollars to help you pay for deductibles, co-pays and other medical costs, so you’re not caught off guard when a medical issue arises.
  • Use the Benefits Healthline. The Benefits Healthline has up-to-the-minute information on all benefit coverage and plans, as well as other valuable information. Representatives can help you with open enrollment and with any questions regarding coverage and other benefits. Call them at 866-708-7719. Their daily, extended hours are 8am-7pm CST to accommodate open enrollment.

To learn more about open enrollment, benefits coverage and more, visit Transport America’s page and click on “For Our Employees” to access the Employee Self Service through ADP. Also, find us on Facebook and Twitter to join the trucking conversation.

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IT Tools Help Truck Drivers Succeed

Technology plays a big role in the daily life of a Transport America truck driver. The transport america 300x199 IT Tools Help Truck Drivers Succeedcompany’s CIO, Tom Benusa, says Transport America is constantly looking for ways to improve IT to make daily tasks easier for truck drivers, so they can focus on delivering goods to customers on time.

The MC200 is just one of the tools that help drivers achieve their goals. This in-cab device allows for communications to easily flow between the truck driver and the company. The truck driver can update the company on any issues and arrival times. This device also allows the driver to electronically log mileage, record Hours of Service (HOS) requirements and truck routes, and use it as a web browser to check news and emails.

Additional enhancements to the MC200 further assist the truck driver by scanning paperwork and supporting audio, video and PDF files so drivers can stay up-to-date with Transport America announcements. All of this, according to Mr. Benusa, keeps truck drivers involved and connected while out on the road.

Another great IT solution for TA drivers is eServices – available on the MC200, mobile devices and laptops. eServices allows the truck driver to view pay history, messages, available loads and gives them the ability to access their scorecard. Scorecards are essential for drivers; they show performance based on key metrics, helping drivers constantly improve, even before their periodic reviews.

An additional IT solution that rolled out this year is a system to track trailers. Spending too much time tracking down trailers was among the top complaints from truck drivers. So, Transport America invested in an IT solution that can follow a trailer – the system knows when it’s moving, stationary, loaded and more. It’s updated on a regular basis and reduces time wasted locating containers.

These IT solutions all feed into Transport America’s custom-developed transportation management system (TMS). Fleet leaders utilize this system to analyze their drivers’ data and to view scorecards. This helps them know who the top-performing truck drivers are and shows them which drivers may need some coaching.

So, what does the future look like for technology and the truck driver? Mr. Benusa expects the movement toward the use of personal mobile devices to continue along with an increase in the use of apps in the industry. There are still questions when it comes to managing all of this information, but one thing Transport America and Mr. Benusa stress is that their main goal is to provide tools to help truck drivers succeed. And in 2014, these tools for success are based in technology.

To learn more, please visit the Transport America website. Also, find us on Facebook and Twitter to join the trucking conversation.

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Open Enrollment Rolls Around With New and Important Changes

Open enrollment period is here, and as a Transport America employee, it’s important that you take the time to understand what benefits are available to you and how you can make shutterstock 130558319 300x300 Open Enrollment Rolls Around With New and Important Changesthe most of them.

Taking care of your health is essential if you want to have a happy and productive life. Transport America’s benefits packages help you do just that. Open enrollment is from Oct. 20 to Nov. 30, and Transport America employees will have a chance to go online or call the benefits helpline to do things like elect coverage, make changes to beneficiary and dependent information, contact information and more. A little unsure about how open enrollment works? Here are the basics to get you started.

Who should participate in open enrollment?

All Transport America employees who are eligible for benefits should be a part of the open enrollment period, as there are important changes taking place that could affect coverage and/or cost.

Which benefits are addressed during open enrollment?

Medical, dental and vision coverage; tobacco use certification; voluntary life insurance; short- and long-term disability for drivers; health care and dependent care flexible spending accounts; and beneficiary information.

What are some of the changes affecting open enrollment this time around?

Normally known as annual enrollment, this year’s open enrollment period features several changes that could affect you:

  • Transport America’s new medical provider in 2015 is HealthPartners. HealthPartners uses the Cigna network.
  • Our new life insurance and disability carrier in 2015 is Lincoln Financial Group. Because they are a new carrier, they are allowing drivers who may not have chosen short-term or long-term disability before to elect coverage this time around.
  • Employees will also have the option of electing voluntary life insurance. Those who sign up will need to complete an Evidence of Insurability form and submit to the insurance company for approval.
  • Employees who are tobacco free can save $598 annually on their medical premiums. In order to qualify for this savings they must recertify during Open Enrollment that they and or their covered spouse if applicable are tobacco free or are participating in a tobacco cessation program.

How to Enroll

There are two ways to participate in open enrollment.

  1. Visit the Transport America website and click on the Employee Self-Service ADP portal under “For Our Employees”. Click on “Health and Welfare” under the “Benefits” tab and find Annual Enrollment.
  2. Call the Benefits helpline at 866-708-7719 to enroll by phone or if you have questions on your enrollment. Hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. CST.

Don’t miss out on this important opportunity. Learn more about our open enrollment season by accessing the Employee Self-Service ADP portal through the Transport America website, or call the benefits helpline at 866-708-7719 today.

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Fuel for Thought | Regulation

note header dear driver APPROVED Fuel for Thought | RegulationOn occasion we update you on the expansive regulatory agenda, as if you didn’t have enough to concern yourself these days.  In total, there are over 20 regulations that are in various stages that could impact you in the coming years, many of which those of us in Scott Arves 213x300 Fuel for Thought | Regulationtrucking are in disagreement with.  The reason we are against many of them is not because we are anti- safety, rather we believe many are poorly designed and don’t improve safety, in some cases, make the industry less safe.  To update you on a few that may impact you:

  1. Hours of Service- The American Trucking Association (ATA) has testified before congress recently about the damaging impacts the change in the 34 hour restart has had.  The hope is for a suspension of the new restart provision for 1 year to study the impacts of the change on both safety and productivity.  Expect nothing to happen until after the elections.
  2. CSA-  A bill is currently in front of Congress that would require FMCSA to remove CSA scores from public view while FMCSA works to address the litany of shortcomings that still exist with the current CSA law.  Once again, the hope is the bill will be acted on after the election.
  3. Electronic Logging Devices-  This law was first advanced in Feb 2011 with mandatory implementation supposed to be completed in 2015.  Here we are almost 4 years later and they are still working it, having missed numerous deadlines.  We would expect a final ruling next year.  In the meantime, almost 40 percent of the industry has moved to ELD’s and we strongly support this rule.
  4. Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse- The rule, which we support, would create a Federal Clearinghouse to track positive drug and alcohol test results, as well as refusals to test.  We would expect this bill to be passed next year but it is still being developed and as you can imagine the devil is in the details.

There are many other regulations being proposed but we as an organization try to resist the federal government reaching too far into regulating us and you.  Both as a company and through the ATA, we actively work to try to influence the development of regulations that do make sense but challenge those that serve no positive purpose.  In particular, Transport America provided a lot of feedback on CSA that was incorporated from the initial proposal.  In addition, we have testified before agencies of Congress on the negative effects HOS changes would have on safety and the economy.

I hope this update has been helpful, thanks for adapting to all of the change hoisted upon us, lets hope for less government regulation in the years to come.

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Essential Safety Tips for Winter Truck Driving

With winter starting early in some parts of the country, now is the time to discuss the shutterstock 164819084 300x199 Essential Safety Tips for Winter Truck Driving importance of truck drivers following every safety precaution on the road. The risks of winter weather aren’t limited to snow – ice on the roads, wet conditions and gusty winds can all lead to a slew of dangerous situations.

Traction and Visibility

Why is truck driving in winter different from other weather conditions? Two key factors: Traction and visibility.

  • Traction. Snowy, icy conditions mean lots of slipping, so starting, stopping and steering are all difficult due to the lack of traction. Improperly dealing with a lack of traction can have dangerous results.
  • Visibility. Snow and sleet make it extremely difficult to see ahead on the road. Impaired visibility prevents drivers from seeing what’s ahead or beside them, which can result in collisions and many other accidents.

Winter Driving Safety Tips

The key to safe winter driving is planning and preparedness. Understanding the serious hazards on the road when winter weather is in full swing — and knowing how to stay safe in the face of those dangers — can be the difference between a conscientious driver and a dangerous one. Here are some tips to help drivers stay safe.

  1. Maintain control of the truck’s speed. A lack of traction makes it easy to lose control, especially at high speeds. Don’t speed in slippery conditions to avoid trouble.
  2. Pay attention to the road ahead. Avoid distractions at all costs, especially during winter weather, when roads are icy and slippery.
  3. Always yield the right of way. It’s important to be aware of other drivers on the road and always yield the right of way to them in order to ensure their safety as well as the truck driver’s.
  4. Keep your distance. Drivers should allow themselves at least three times as much stopping room in winter weather to avoid hazards.
  5. Stay to the right. Truck drivers should never be in the passing lane and should never pass other vehicles unless absolutely necessary.
  6. Know what to do to avoid accidents. For instance, when losing traction, never use the clutch or the engine break. Also, keep windows, windshields and mirrors clear at all times to prevent problems with visibility.
  7. Be prepared with the right tools. Be sure to have a winter weather survival kit handy. It should include non-perishable snacks, candles, bottled water, mittens, an extra pair of warm boots, an extra set of clothes, spare spikes, a flashlight with batteries and a snow scraper.
  8. Be careful when getting in and out of the tractor. Even when stopped, measures must be taken to ensure that the driver doesn’t slip when coming in or out of the tractor, as steps can get wet and slippery.
  9. Make sure all equipment is in working order. Be sure day and night lights are on and working properly at all times. Be sure the heater and other equipment works properly and that the equipment is in good condition.
  10. During dangerous conditions, get off the road. When conditions are too dangerous, the best thing for a driver to do is simple: Get off the road. This will get the driver and all others on the road out of harm’s way.

Winter road conditions and careless winter driving make for a dangerous combination. Keeping these safety tips in mind can help keep truck drivers, and those sharing the road with them, safe.

To learn more about safety at Transport America, please visit the TA website. Then, find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube for more information.

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