Posted on November 07, 2018
There is some confusion among motor carriers regarding commercial vehicle rentals. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) exempts short-term rentals from needing to use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) due to the duration of usage. Drivers who fall under this exemption may continue to use paper records of duty status (RODS) in lieu of an ELD; however, there are some limitations.
Updates to the TRALA Exemption
Some motor carriers are under the impression that the exemption applies to rentals for up to 30 days. This is incorrect. In March of this year, the 30-day exemption for short-term rentals expired. While the Truck Rental And Leasing Association (TRALA) petitioned FMSCA to extend the 30-day exemption through the end of 2018, FMCSA denied the request and an 8-day exemption went into effect.
Terms and Conditions of the Exemption
FMCSA provides some basic guidelines for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) rentals.
- The exemption applies to CMV rentals for eight days or less. Attempts to release the same CMV after eight days is a violation of the exemption.
- Rental drivers need a copy of the exemption letter while operating the CMV.
- Drivers must carry a copy of their rental agreement clearly stating who is renting the vehicle and the dates of the rental.
- Drivers must keep copies of their RODS for the current day and any preceding days during the applicable eight-day period.
- All other FMCSA regulations apply during the rental.
Another provision of the rental exemption is the carrier renting the CMVs must report any accident to FMCSA within five business days. When notifying FMCSA of the incident, motor carriers need to provide the following information:
- Provide the exemption explanation (TRALA)
- Date of the accident
- Location of the accident
- Name and license number of the driver and co-driver
- Number and state license number for the vehicle
- Number of people injured
- Number of fatalities
- The cause of the accident as reported by the police
- Any citations issued to the driver
- Total time the driver spent operating the vehicle as well as their on-duty time leading up to the accident
Carriers need to submit this information via email to MCPSD@dot.gov. Failing to comply with the above provisions can lead to FMCSA revoking exemption privileges. To learn more about this exemption, other safety provisions, and truck insurance solutions, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
Posted on October 10, 2018
Uber launched its innovative trucking app “Uber Freight” a little over a year ago with the intention of revolutionizing how truck drivers perform their jobs. The app works much like standard Uber services. However, instead of pairing a rider with a driver, the app pairs a truck driver looking for a job with nearby freight. Truck drivers can plan these jobs weeks in advance or the day of if they so desire.
Why is Uber Freight Good for Owner Operators?
One of the key differences for truck drivers booking a load with Uber Freight versus on their own is that they don’t have to negotiate the fare with shippers. Uber Freight predetermines and guarantees prices before the shipment begins. Once the driver delivers the freight, the app starts the reimbursement process and guarantees payment within seven days.
How Does Uber Freight Calculate Prices?
Uber Freight takes a number of factors into consideration when developing a delivery price. These include:
- Distance. This is one of the biggest elements in determining a price for a delivery.
- Cargo type. Some cargo is more valuable or sensitive and thus nets a higher rate.
- Location. Certain areas generate higher prices much like any other service.
- Surge pricing. Uber Freight understands supply and demand and adjusts prices to reflect the marketplace.
How Does the App Work?
Traditional Uber services don’t give the rider many options when it comes to their driver. However, Uber Freight offers Owner Operators many options to secure the best load for their rig. Drivers can swipe through a variety of available jobs rather than the app pairing them with one like Uber does for traditional riders. The app also recognizes the need for fine-tuning and allows drivers to sort by date, time, and location.
Uber Freight Perks Program
Uber Freight developed a reward program called Uber Freight Plus for drivers that frequent app users. The app offers different discounts based upon frequency such as:
- Uber Freight Plus fuel card. So long as drivers book one load per month, the app saves them 20 cents per gallon at TA/Petro truck stops and 15 cents per gallon in participating Roady’s gas stations in California, Texas, and Illinois. These individuals can also save up to 30% on Goodyear tires.
- Savings on truck purchases. Once an individual hits 10 loads per month, they can save up to $16,000 at Navistar on new trucks or earn a $4000 rebate for used trucks from participating brands. Navistar also offers 20-50% off the cost of parts and vehicle maintenance.
- Other perks and benefits. There are several bonuses for drivers who use the Uber Freight Plus app such as discounts on phone plans with Sprint.
The app also learns driver preferences over time much like Pandora creates unique stations for its users. The app pays attention to the driver’s preferences, such as where they prefer to travel, and makes recommendations on available jobs. Drivers can also list their availability to help companies match with them.
Uber Freight can be a major benefit to independent operators and small fleets. Harnessing the power of innovative trucking technology can help truck drivers decrease the amount of time they spend looking for jobs and improve their overall bottom line. To learn more about enhancing and protecting your trucking operation, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
Posted on August 07, 2018
Many within the transportation industry scoffed at the notion of autonomous vehicles, and they weren’t alone. The idea of self-driving vehicles seemed like science fiction at best and dangerous at worst, yet the technology is here and already in use. Budweiser shipped over 50,000 cans of beer in a self-driving truck, and Uber, Waymo, Tesla and Embark are all running live pilots with autonomous trucks. While the technology isn’t 100% ready for the public at large, it’s rapidly becoming a reality. High tech tools and futuristic technology are dominating recent transportation publication headlines with solutions like these, which are all available today:
Telematics and GPS Fleet Tracking Systems
Simply said, telematics encompasses the software and devices that power the electronic features found in all vehicles including trucks. GPS is one of the key applications in telematics, and includes:
- Navigation, fuel monitoring and route planning
- Driver behavior applications including braking, fast acceleration and speeding
- Complex route planning and arrival/departure alerts
- Automated tracking and analytics productivity reports
- Trailer tracking and historical routing
- Idle and start/stop driving reports
ELDs and Trucking Software Applications
ELDs provide the wireless tools and technology to ensure that truckers and fleets maintain compliance with the FMCSA ELD mandate.
Self-driving Trucks and Platooning
As mentioned previously, self-driving truck testing is well underway. Platooning is also being tested by manufacturers including Daimler. Platooning extends self-driving technology by wirelessly tethering trucks together, allowing them to operate in a tighter highway formation (convoy) than would be possible with human drivers at the wheel.
Tesla is the big name when it comes to electric vehicles, and Tesla Semi, the automaker’s electric truck division has been accumulating many reservations over the last few months. Tesla is expected to produce all electric trucks in 2019. But they aren’t alone, as many major manufacturers are actively working on completely electric trucks. Volvo has announced two new fully-electric trucks designed to take the place of urban delivery and refuse collection vehicles. Both will be available in the European market in 2019.
What to Expect in the Coming Years
As if the list above insufficiently represents the dramatic changes happening in the trucking industry, there are some seemingly imminent and impressive technologies expected to impact truckers and fleets in the near future. These include:
Heads up displays (HUDs) are nothing new for vehicles, but augmented reality is about to take them to the next level. BMW is working on a HUD that can superimpose real-life objects from the road onto a truck’s HUD to allow drivers to navigate obstacles with greater ease.
Trucks require ongoing maintenance and recalibration to perform at their optimum level. However, new technology will allow software to make these calibrations without ever pulling into a repair shop.
Trucking companies need to prepare for these dramatic changes, and Interstate Motor Carriers can help. Contact us to learn how we can help protect you today and in the future.
Posted on July 23, 2018
With the commercial driver shortage already affecting the industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been making big changes to try to stabilize the situation. Part of their plan includes a pilot program allowing 18 to 21-year-olds with prior relevant military experience to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. The program is also targeting civilians 18-20 with licenses to operate CMVs in intrastate commerce and 21 to 24-year-olds already licensed for interstate commerce. This final demographic will serve as the control group to compare stats and scores for safety and general operations.
What Are the Program Requirements?
Around 50 carriers will participate in the pilot program of 600 drivers—200 for each designated group of drivers. FMCSA estimates they will need an additional 20 carriers and 300 drivers to account for turnover rates. In addition, the US DOT agency is giving preference to carriers that can provide an even number of drivers for each group. FMCSA is also taking significant measures to ensure the safety of all participating drivers as well as the motoring public.
The qualification requirements include:
- Carrier contact info and demographic stats
- Retain drivers’ background info form and consent form
- Responsible for training drivers on the FMCSRs and maintaining compliance
- Cannot be a moderate or high-risk carrier
- Cannot have conditional or unsatisfactory safety ratings
- Cannot have any open or closed enforcement actions in the preceding six years.
- Cannot be above the national average for vehicle and driver out-of-service (OOS) rates or crash rates
Additional provisions apply once participating in the program. These include:
- Provide monthly data reports on driver activity, safety results, and other supporting details
- Inform FMCSA within five days if a driver leaves a participating carrier
- Inform FMCSA within one day of any injury or fatality, alcohol incident, or if a driver leaves the program altogether
Much like the carriers, participating drivers also have requirements. FMCSA disqualifies drivers if they:
- Had more than one license
- Had a canceled, disqualified, revoked, or suspended license
- Had a traffic violation other than a parking ticket per military, state, or local laws
- Had a conviction for any of a variety of motor vehicle violations (i.e. DUI, BAL greater than or equal to 0.4 while operating a CMV, fled the scene of a crash, reckless driving, etc.).
Understanding the Driver Shortage
By the end of 2016, the driver shortage stood at 36,500. The American Trucking Association (ATA) thinks that number will exceed 175,000 by 2024 due to a variety of factors including demographics, regulations, lack of work-life balance, and an aging workforce. This final element, driver retirement, will account for almost half of the demand for new drivers. The economy is already feeling the effects of the shortage, as the cost for deliveries increased and delivery times lengthened. The driver shortage problem isn’t just a matter of filling a labor gap. Retention is a significant element of ensuring the survival and success of a fleet.
To learn more about improving your trucking business and coverages, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers. We will help implement innovative solutions to meet your retention and risk management needs.
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.