Posted on March 20, 2020
On March 18, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) expanded existing exemptions to further aid emergency relief efforts as the nation grapples with supply shortages. Fleets and commercial vehicles providing direct assistance in emergency relief support efforts benefit from the expanded exemptions. Examples of emergency relief support include:
- Delivering medical tools and supplies to aid in testing, diagnosing, and treating COVID-19
- Delivering sanitary supplies in addition to equipment needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, soap, hand sanitizer, etc.
- Delivering emergency food supplies to restock grocery stores
- Delivering tools, materials, or individuals required to establish and maintain temporary housing, quarantine, or isolation facilities related to COVID-19
- Transporting individuals identified by Federal, State, or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes
- Transporting individuals that perform medical or emergency services
- Delivering any raw materials needed to manufacture the above essential items
- Delivering fuel
The biggest changes to the order include the addition of raw materials and fuel as exempted cargo. FMCSA further stressed this only applies to legitimate emergency relief efforts. Fleets performing routine deliveries that add an insignificant amount of emergency relief items to their load do not meet the guidelines for exemptions.
Fleets that are exempt don’t need to maintain records of duty status (RODS) logs, but FMCSA recommends making a note in the remarks section of activity logs to identify the exempt hours. This will help mitigate confusion or discrepancies in the future. Like the original declaration, drivers must receive a minimum of 10 hours off-duty time after returning from transporting property and eight hours after transporting passengers.
6 Things Not Covered by the Expanded Exemptions
Fleets and drivers must still adhere to several other safety regulations related to the following:
- Testing for controlled substances and alcohol consumption
- Commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirements
- Insurance requirements
- Transporting hazardous materials
- Size and weight requirements
- Any other regulations not specifically exempted by the updated emergency declaration
Some states are allowing for temporary changes to weight requirements. Many states are also offering a temporary grace period for CDLs on the verge of expiring, as many government offices are closing to adhere to the CDC’s social distancing guidelines.
Interstate Motor Carriers understands there are more questions than answers in these uncertain times. We are here to help your fleet keep pace with emergency relief demands while keeping your drivers safe and your risks in check. Contact us to learn more.
Posted on December 17, 2019
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) held its annual national Brake Safety Week this fall. Of the 34,320 trucks CVSA inspected, 13.5% received out of service violations. While brakes are just one element of typical inspections, they are one of the leading causes of accidents. Failing to inspect brakes properly before driving long distances is a significant safety concern that CVSA highlights during its annual brake inspections. Inspectors noted the following as the most frequent tubing and brake hose violations:
- Thermoplastic hose chaffing: 1347 violations
- Thermoplastic hose kinking: 1683 violations
- Rubber hose chaffing: 2567 violations
- General misapplications of rule §393.45 of the FMCSA Regulations: 2704 violations
In promising news, highway fatalities are on the decline for the second year in a row. However, fatalities related to large trucks increased slightly. With the goal of zero highway fatalities, there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to trucking safety.
How to Inspect Truck Brakes
Seasoned drivers may think their experience means they don’t make pre-trip inspection mistakes, but time has a way of eroding skills. Reviewing what officers look for during inspections can help prevent an unexpected out of service order. To get started on inspecting their brakes, drivers will need to do the following:
- Check brake adjustments when the truck is cold; heat expands the brake drum and can yield inaccurate results
- Inspect the brake chamber to ensure the size is correct
- Determine if the truck has standard or long-stroke chambers as this affects adjustment limits
- Measure the brake’s applied pushrod stroke
Depending on the final test results, drivers can learn if their brakes are out of alignment, by how much, and calculate if they’re within adjustment limits. If not, they can take the next steps necessary to realign the brakes during routine maintenance.
To learn more about improving trucking safety, driver safety and truck insurance, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
Posted on December 10, 2019
It’s common knowledge that new driver turnover rates are high, which compounds the on-going driver shortage problem. A recent survey by Stay Metrics illuminates just how bad turnover rates have become. Stay Metrics surveyed more than 3,200 new drivers and unearthed several insights into driver turnover. In the first 90 days of employment, 35% of new drivers quit. The trend continues for the first year of employment as well as only 36.5% of new drivers stay with their carrier for a full year.
The survey asked drivers questions after their orientation and again several weeks later. Then they checked in to see if the drivers were still with the company at the 90-day mark to draw conclusions between their answers and subsequent turnover. When surveying new drivers, analysts determined the following questions provided the greatest insight into turnover rates. Here are a few examples:
- Did the recruiter accurately describe what it would be like to drive for the carrier?
- In orientation, did the driver learn how much settlement he or she would receive?
- Would the driver recommend this carrier to another driver?
If drivers answered these questions in the affirmative, they were more likely to stay. A strong, common theme is the need for transparency. To retain drivers, recruiters need to make sure they are providing clear and accurate descriptions of the work. Overpromising or hiding the truth of the job will yield unhappy drivers who aren’t likely to last long.
What Drivers Had to Say
The language drivers used during the survey also provided insight into whether they would stay or leave. When looking at the final question, which is a significant indicator of the driver’s loyalty to the company, drivers most often used words like Work” and “Pay”. These words both showed up with frequency regardless of whether the driver would or would not recommend the carrier. What this tells trucking companies is that the work, the pay, and the drivers themselves are of significant importance and influence retention as well as turnover.
This leads back to the first four questions and the common theme of transparency. If drivers are misled about the work or pay, they’re more likely to leave and not recommend the carrier. If recruiters are truthful in their descriptions of what to expect for trips as well as compensation, the driver is more likely to stay and recommend the carrier.
Recruiting and retaining drivers are some of fleets’ greatest challenges. While transparency is a must, there are other things fleets can do to make themselves more competitive and appealing to drivers. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers to learn more about keeping your trucking company and truck drivers safe.
Posted on November 27, 2019
The winter months are very hard on commercial vehicles, especially trucks that experience heavy use. Without adequate maintenance and care, failure rates can skyrocket. Frozen fuel lines, poor traction, and stranded truck drivers are all real possibilities if drivers fail to meticulously winterize their trucks and their fuel. Truck drivers should follow these key tips to keep trucks in optimal working order this winter:
- Be vigilant about tire pressure. Tire pressure changes with the temperature, and the change can be significant. As temperatures oscillate, they can result in dangerous changes to tire pressure. During the colder months, drivers should perform pressure checks with greater frequency. Without proper inflation, tires don’t grip well. In wintry conditions, proper traction is vital to safety.
- Stay fueled. While having half a tank of gas may seem sufficient, drivers shouldn’t allow it to drop below this point. When tanks are less than half-full, water vapor can collect, make its way into the fuel line, and freeze.
- Keep an eye on fuel ratings. Most gas stations carry a 2D blend of fuel in the warmer months while offering a 1D and 2D blend during winter months. While this blend isn’t as efficient, it’s less likely to cause engine problems during the winter. Drivers should make sure they’re using the best fuel for their weather conditions.
- Choose fueling stations wisely. While truck drivers running low on fuel have fewer options, staying on top of fuel volume allows them to be picky about where they refill their tanks. Drivers should try to fill up at larger truck stops. These locations move high volumes of fuel, which can help prevent gelling.
- Keep filters fresh. Fleets should replace fuel filters often and in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Particle buildup can lead to gelling.
- Drain air tanks and fuel water separators. As temperatures steadily decline, it’s easier for water to condense in fuel tanks. From there, it can make its way to the filter, which is the only thing protecting the engine from contamination. When temperatures drop to extreme lows, drivers should perform this task daily.
In addition to preventative maintenance and proper fueling practices, truck drivers should carry a roadside emergency kit for winter weather conditions. Even the most veteran drivers can experience unexpected conditions. For more tips on improving trucker safety and ensuring your truck has the right truck insurance coverages, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
Posted on November 13, 2019
It’s an established fact that it costs more to fix a commercial vehicle on the side of the road than it does in a shop. Fleets are paying an increased cost for the repair service to come to the truck’s location. The mechanic often increases the rate as well because performing work on the side of a highway is much more dangerous. Fleets are also at the mercy of retail service rates, as breakdowns require immediate attention. In general, trucking companies can expect to pay almost four times as much for a roadside repair than they would in a shop.
Costly Facts About Roadside Repairs
Roadside repairs are only getting more expensive as the years pass. By the end of 2017, fleets were shelling out around $311 every time they had to place a call for a roadside repair. By the end of 2018, that expense was up to $334. In addition, those numbers don’t include tire-related incidents. Those always cost more and drive the numbers up even further.
On average, truck breakdowns happen every 10,000 miles. Given that a full-time driver can travel around 650 miles per day, this means their truck could break down after fifteen working days. That statistic is far too high and too frequent, pointing to a larger problem in the industry. Of reported repairs, the most frequent related to the following:
- Hubs and bearings
- Lighting systems
Another factor increasing the cost of roadside service is a shortage of techs. With fewer trained individuals able to respond to emergency maintenance requests, the cost increases accordingly with the demand.
Telematics for Better Preventative Fleet Maintenance
Fleet managers know that preventative maintenance is critical to reducing roadside breakdowns. However, many fleets attempt to avoid the costs associated with maintenance, especially if they are unsure which parts need servicing. While there is a general timeline for maintenance, wear and tear don’t always happen in a linear manner.
With telematics, fleets can enhance their preventative maintenance efforts. The technology can provide key insights into which parts need servicing and provide better projections on future maintenance needs. Smart preventative maintenance allows fleets to perform essential tune-ups to reduce risk without wasting money. To learn more about improving your fleet’s safety, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.