Posted on September 06, 2017
Cyber Security for Your Small Business
High-profile cyber attacks on companies such as Sony, Target and Zappos have generated national headlines and have raised awareness of the growing threat of cyber crime. Recent surveys conducted by the Small Business Authority, Symantec and the National Cybersecurity Alliance suggest that many small business owners are still operating under a false sense of cyber security.
The statistics are grim; the vast majority of U.S. small businesses lack a formal Internet security policy for employees, and only about half have even rudimentary cyber-security measures in place. Furthermore, only about a quarter of small business owners have had an outside party test their computer systems to ensure they are hacker-resistant, and nearly 40 percent do not have their data backed up in more than one location.
Shockingly, despite these significant cyber-security exposures, 85 percent of small business owners believe their company is safe from hackers, viruses, malware or a data breach. This is largely due to the widespread, albeit mistaken, belief that small businesses are unlikely targets for cyber attacks. In reality, data thieves are simply looking for the path of least resistance. As more and more large companies get serious about data security, small businesses are becoming increasingly attractive targets—and the results are often devastating for small business owners.
In recent years, nearly 60 percent of the small businesses victimized by a cyber attack closed permanently within six months. Many of these businesses put off making necessary improvements to their cyber-security protocols until it was too late because they feared the costs would be prohibitive. Don’t make the same mistake. Even if you don’t currently have the resources to bring in an outside expert to test your computer systems and make security recommendations, there are simple, economical steps you can take to reduce your risk of falling victim to a costly cyber attack. The following list of easily implementable security procedures was developed during a Federal Communications Commission roundtable on effective cyber-security strategies for small business owners and is a great place to start:
- Train employees in cyber-security principles.
- Install, use and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on every computer used in your business.
- Use a firewall for your Internet connection.
- Download and install software updates for your operating systems and applications as they become available
- Make backup copies of important business data and information.
- Control physical access to your computers and network components.
- Secure your Wi-Fi networks. If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace make sure it is secure and hidden.
- Require individual user accounts for each employee.
- Limit employee access to data and information, and limit authority to install software.
- Regularly change passwords.
Cyber security is a serious concern for all businesses—large and small. Contact Interstate Motor Carriers/Capacity Agency, LLC. to learn how our risk management resources and insurance solutions can help protect your business from cyber attacks.
Posted on July 06, 2017
Driver shortages hurt every corner of the transportation industry. Attracting and retaining competent drivers has become a significant competitive advantage. To find the solution to the problem, it’s best to identify some of the major contributing factors: a generation inclined to pursue white-collar work, a decrease in average real annual wages across the industry, and a massive ongoing gender gap, increasingly complex regulations, increasing costs for owner-operators, increasing costs to provide benefits to employees and increasingly competitive benefits packages, and more.
Rout your driver shortage challenges with paradigm shifts to your organization. It’s a lot of work, but it’s essential for building a strong and sustainable transportation business in this decade and those to come. Here are 5 changes to put your business on top and keep it there:
- Total compensation is about thoughtful implementation of employee benefits. This includes a variety of available plans to suit the needs of different drivers, but also an emphasis on workplace safety and wellness that makes drivers and potential hires feel their well-being is your top concern.
- Recruiting female drivers – a largely untapped market. Many would-be female truck drivers shy away from the industry or from a specific employer for a few reasons. Commercial rigs often come equipped with driver seats that don’t adjust well to the varying forms of the female anatomy – fix this and highlight it. Some drivers and businesses use language or behaviors that can make women feel uncomfortable or unwelcome – fostering an open and welcoming environment will bolster female driver recruiting as well as male recruiting and retention.
- Transparent regulatory compliance practices. Educate your drivers. Make them feel like experts. Give them the tools and the confidence to report accurately, inspect frequently, and maintain a flawless record with roadside inspections, OSHA, and more. This bolsters your reputation among clients, prospects, employees, and potential new hires as a business with great respect for public safety and open business practices.
- Attracting another untapped pool of would-be drivers, college grads, can benefit from ethical or monetary incentives. But at the end of the day, the key here is opportunities for advancement. Paths to increased responsibility, skill, and compensation, as well as a policy of promotion from within, will help you draw in new talent you might not have expected.
- Building a reputation as a safe and responsible transportation business while affording the aforementioned incentives requires innovative and comprehensive coverages for employees, employers, and power units and facilities.
To learn more about improved hiring and retention practices and innovative trucking coverages, contact us.
Posted on March 23, 2017
Driver retention is a constant struggle for many transportation companies throughout the country. The industry continues to learn more about why retaining drivers is a problem and how to fix it. For a business owner, it is important to try to understand how driver retention impacts your business and to move forward making a valiant effort to retain your drivers!
In-cab satellite TV provider EpicVue recently conducted one-on-one informal conversations with 138 drivers at truck stops across North America as to why pay is the most important compensation for truck drivers. Lance Platt, EpicVue’s CEO, noted that “perks” ranging from health care benefits to vacation time and larger sleeper cabs are becoming more important, especially to younger drivers.
Gemini Motor Transport is a fleet that began rewarding drivers for driving safely. Credits are awarded to Gemini’s drivers on an annual basis; to earn one credit the driver must have no accidents, tickets or fuel-related incidents over the period of one year. They must also pass all U.S. Department of Transportation and Gemini inspections. Once drivers accumulate five credits, they are eligible for a bonus which can range from $25,000 to $35,000. Since this program began, turnover rates significantly dropped and is extremely low for the industry.
Bonuses and rewards can be highly effective, but there are other ways to improve your driver retention!
- Establish a driver council made up of new and veteran drivers who give insights to fleet managers of the view from the driver’s seat
- Speak to all drivers regularly to set expectations and troubleshoot issues
- Perform management ride-alongs
- Create a consistent driver on-boarding experience
- Hold monthly driver meetings
- Implement driver recognition programs
These tips help communication within the fleet, show that you as an employer care about your employees, and generate respect and loyalty throughout the company. When employees feel proud of the company they work for, the company is doing something (a lot of something) right. The higher the opinion your driver has of your company, the more likely it is that they will continue driving for you! The key to retaining drivers is to set goals, have conversation, and obtain mutual respect.
Posted on December 27, 2016
Digital security is a growing concern for the trucking industry, which is not surprising, considering it is gaining importance for most businesses in the country. Cyber security is a cost of doing business in the U.S. as there are cyber hackers waiting to attack at any time.
Many truckers now conduct both professional and personal business from their truck cab making their truck a target. It’s important for truckers to recognize that they need to consider cost-effective risk management practices that will protect them from cyber attacks.
Most truckers are aware of the need for and may have put into place protection for their hardware systems, including separate safety systems to shield their entertainment/information systems and vehicle-based technology. But software-based security systems have been slower to be adopted.
Here are some best practices that truckers may want to consider when it comes to digital security.
- Security-based design procedures
- Frequency and severity analysis
- Audit and monitoring policies
- Detection of vulnerabilities through self-testing
Many automotive manufacturers are now integrating security systems into the design of the vehicle and add-on features that include technology. As computers and cloud solutions become standard in vehicle systems used for everything from navigation to safety monitoring, cyber security is an issue rising to the top.
The issue of digital security in the trucking industry is a serious one. It is possible for cyber hackers to do almost anything to your vehicle, including controlling steering, brakes and lights. Right now cyber attackers are mostly pranksters, but in the future hackers may become more serious and could access financial information (such as credit card numbers) that are stored on computers in the trucks.
Vulnerable systems in a truck include adaptive cruise control, parking assist and pre-crash braking, as well as telematics. Truck manufacturers, government and industry groups need to take cyber security threats seriously and develop security systems. to protect truckers and the public. To learn more about protecting your transportation business, contact us.
Posted on December 20, 2016
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is cracking down on drivers by holding them accountable to audit requirements instigated in 2013 under “Operation Quick Strike.” The initial phase of Operation Quick Strike targeted bus and motorcoach companies and was successful at shutting down companies it found to be out of compliance. Today’s model is a performance-based program that is being rolled out to trucking companies, including fleets, and focuses more on current problems rather than following up on prior out-of-compliance ratings.
Here are some of the changes in the way the FMCSA is doing audits.
- Audits include a broader range of fleet personnel, including accounting, sales, and drivers as well as checking social media.
- Ranking in the unsafe driving, hours of service compliance or crash indicator basic must be 90 or higher, a change from a rating of 85.
- The FMCSA has added a “Part C” to the audit, reserved for the auditor’s notes, the method of operation of the audit and other details of the audit not listed in Parts A or B. Parts A and B are routinely released to the driver, but drivers need to request Part C, citing the Freedom of Information Act.
- Unsafe Driving criteria are being added to the audit for the first time. This includes speeding ticket information, following too close, or other minor driving violations will be used in the new rating system.
- E-logs will also be included in the audit. An explosion of information and data. E-logs will be used to request other documents that support the audit.
- While not currently included in the audit, the FMCSA is considering including a “Safety Fitness Determination” criteria in the future.
If a driver is deemed “high-risk”, they will be rated “Conditional.” Under the new criteria, the FMCSA has increased the investigation, intervention and “out-of-service” orders. And, since shippers and brokers have access to a driver’s rating, a Conditional designation could have a major financial impact on a trucking company. For more on transportation news and risk management, contact us.
Posted on November 29, 2016
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completed its review of the CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse final rule. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) can proceed with the rule so long as they follow OMB’s recommended changes. OMB did not make these recommendations public.
The trucking industry has long sought this ruling. After years of lobbying, the FMCSA proposed the rule in 2014. OMB received the final rule in May of this year. The problem with the current setup is there is no way for trucking companies to check drug and alcohol background information on drivers who tested positive or refuse to submit to testing.
The new ruling would make a central database of these individuals. Carriers would then be able to reference the database before hiring an individual. Industry professionals believe it will help curb job-hopping and the number of truckers operating vehicles while under the influence.
While OMB’s recommendations are unknown, motor carriers should expect this ruling to become federal regulation soon. Driver drug and alcohol testing should be a priority for all trucking companies. The results of these tests affect driver safety as well as your company’s risk. To stay up to date with federal regulations and improve your transportation risk management, contact us.
Posted on November 01, 2016
Sometimes motor carriers need to exchange equipment. However, this raises questions about liability. In order for authorized motor carriers to interchange equipment, they must address the following.
Motor carriers need a written contract or document that describes the equipment. This document should also detail how the motor carrier will use the equipment and how much compensation is required for the equipment’s use. All involved motor carriers must sign the agreement.
Any motor carrier who wants to participate in an equipment interchange must register with the Secretary of Transportation. The Secretary will then supply the transport of equipment at the designated location for the physical exchange.
Bill of Lading
The original motor carrier must issue a bill of lading in order for the equipment interchange to progress. The bill of lading provides a receipt of services rendered.
Identifying the Equipment
The motor carrier receiving the equipment must identify all power units. The motor carrier must have a document verifying they are operating the equipment. The document should provide other details as well such as the date and time the motor carrier assumes responsibility for the equipment.
Connecting Carriers and Liability
Any motor carrier who transfers equipment from one motor carrier to another assumes ownership of the equipment. This applies to both leasing and returning equipment.
Posted on October 24, 2016
The Uniform Intermodal Interchange & Facilities Access Agreement (UIIA) provides uniform industry processes and procedures for the exchange of intermodal equipment between trucking companies, railroads, companies that lease equipment, and ocean carriers. As such, it behooves individuals within the transportation industry and UIIA participants to stay up to date with the latest changes at the UIIA.
Tire Tread Damage
Effective September 19, 2016, the UIIA revised its definition for slid flat tire damage. The new definition indicates a tire experienced flat tire damage if the removed tread wore down to 2/32 of an inch or less in the flat area. This only holds true if the unaffected tread is greater than 4/32 of an inch.
This type of damage occurs when a driver brakes suddenly or when a vehicle begins to slide out of the driver’s control. It often leaves behind skid marks on the asphalt. Proper tire maintenance and replacement improve safety, so inspect your tires for tread wear and damage often.
The Intermodal Interchange Executive Committee (IIEC) held a meeting on September 20, 2016. The committee put forth two UIIA modifications with unanimous approval.
Binding Arbitration Guidelines
The IIEC proposed changes to Item D.10 under their binding arbitration guidelines. For claims in regards to maintenance and repair, the invoicing party must provide an Equipment Interchange Receipt or Recorded Image from the time of the interchange. It must clearly show the condition of the equipment. If the individual sending the invoice cannot produce either of these documents, the party receiving the invoice is not responsible.
Free Days, Per Diem, Container Use, Chassis Use/Rental and/or Storage/Ocean Demurrage
The provider has 60 days from returning equipment to invoice the motor carrier for Per Diem, Container Use, Chassis Use/Rental and/or Storage/Ocean Demurrage charges. If the provider fails to invoice the motor carrier in this period, they forfeit the cost.
However, if the provider sends the invoice to the wrong party, they can re-invoice the correct motor carrier. They have 30 days from when the incorrect party submits a charge dispute or they can work within the original 60 days, whichever is later. However, this window is not indefinite. The provider can only recoup expenses for an incorrectly billed charge if they resubmit the invoice within 90 days of returning the equipment.
The proposed changes above are open to public commentary through October 31, 2016.
Posted on October 11, 2016
Join Interstate Motor Carriers for this educational webinar to learn how effective pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspection practices reduce costs and DOT penalties. Expert speaker Rob Dowling, Transportation Safety & Loss Control Director at The Capacity Group, will review the key components of pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspections, and explain the consequences of failing to comply. Topics include:
* Pre-Trip Inspection Requirements
* Post-Trip Inspection Requirements
* Driver Vehicle Inspection Reporting & Responsibilities
* Recordkeeping, Compliance & Audits
Date & Time: Wed, Oct 26, 2016 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM EDT
Posted on September 20, 2016
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has brought a number of relevant changes to the transportation industry regarding the handling of both human and animal food. The rule exists to reduce the likelihood of contamination, and requires all shippers to develop and implement written procedures adequate to ensure sanitary handling of the products in question.
Which Businesses Must Comply with the FSMA?
With some exceptions (noted below), the final rule applies to shippers, receivers, loaders and carriers who transport food in the United States by motor or rail vehicle, whether or not the food is offered for or enters interstate commerce. Persons in other countries who ship food to the United States directly by motor or rail vehicle (from Canada or Mexico), or by ship or air, and arrange for the transfer of the intact container onto a motor or rail vehicle for transportation within the U.S., if that food will be consumed or distributed in the United States.
Exemptions to the FSMA Include:
- Shippers, receivers, or carriers engaged in food transportation operations that have less than $500,000 in average annual revenue
- Exporters who ship food through the United States (for example, from Canada to Mexico) by motor or rail vehicle if the food does not enter U.S. distribution.
- Transportation activities performed by a farm
- Transportation of food that is transshipped through the United States to another country
- Transportation of food that is imported for future export and that is neither consumed or distributed in the United States
- Transportation of compressed food gases (e.g. carbon dioxide, nitrogen or oxygen authorized for use in food and beverage products), and food contact substances
- Transportation of human food byproducts transported for use as animal food without further processing
- Transportation of food that is completely enclosed by a container except a food that requires temperature control for safety
- Transportation of live food animals, except molluscan shellfish
The FSMA Key Requirements
- Vehicles and transportation equipment: The design and maintenance of vehicles and transportation equipment to ensure that it does not cause the food that it transports to become unsafe. For example, they must be suitable and adequately cleanable for their intended use and capable of maintaining temperatures necessary for the safe transport of food.
- Transportation operations: The measures taken during transportation to ensure food safety, such as adequate temperature controls, preventing contamination of ready to eat food from touching raw food, protection of food from contamination by non-food items in the same load or previous load, and protection of food from cross-contact, i.e., the unintentional incorporation of a food allergen.
- Training: Training of carrier personnel in sanitary transportation practices and documentation of the training. This training is required when the carrier and shipper agree that the carrier is responsible for sanitary conditions during transport.
- Records: Maintenance of records of written procedures, agreements and training (required of carriers). The required retention time for these records depends upon the type of record and when the covered activity occurred, but does not exceed 12 months.
- Small businesses must comply by June 6, 2018
- Other businesses must comply by June 6, 2017
To learn more about transportation regulations, coverages, and news, contact us.