Posted on April 28, 2020
With the trucking industry working on the frontlines of emergency relief efforts, it’s more vital than ever that existing truck drivers stay healthy. The shortage of drivers compounds this issue as trucking companies try to keep hospitals, grocery stores, and other essential services stocked in the supplies they need. Maintaining six feet of distance from other people combined with frequent hand washing can help keep truck drivers on the road, but there are more ways to ensure the trucks stay clean in a COIVD-19 environment.
Beyond Hand Washing and Social Distancing
While frequent hand washing and keeping away from people will do a lot to keep truck drivers healthy, COVID-19 can survive on glass, plastic, and metal surfaces for several days in the right conditions. While the main source of infection remains person-to-person interactions, the virus can spread by touching a contaminated surface. Considering that almost every touched surface in most trucks are made of glass, plastic, or metal, it doesn’t hurt to be cautious.
Truck drivers and trucking employees should take the following precautions:
- Wash linens and laundry accumulated in the truck in hot water—this includes the bags drivers use to hold the dirty items. If the bags are not machine-washable, drivers should switch to a disposable option like large trash bags.
- Wipe down all electronics according to the manufacturers’ instructions to remove all debris. If there are no instructions for cleaning the device, drivers should use wipes containing at least a 70% alcohol solution.
- While on the topic of electronics, drivers should consider investing in covers that are easy to wipe down. Many electronics have small crevices that can be near impossible to clean and covers would eliminate that issue.
- When cleaning surfaces, drivers and technicians should use disinfectants rather than basic cleaning products. Cleaning products can’t kill the virus on contact and will likely relocate the virus from the surface to the rag. If fleets don’t have access to disinfectants, they should make sure to wash the cloths used for cleaning in hot water or dispose of them.
- When servicing trucks, technicians should wear gloves and disinfect any surface they need to touch to perform their diagnostics and repairs. When done, the technicians should dispose of the gloves and wash their hands thoroughly.
Although it’s impossible to clean every surface a driver may encounter while out in public, taking simple precautions like the above can help keep drivers healthy so they can continue performing their vital service. Interstate Motor Carriers understands the challenges fleets face as they try to manage their risks while keeping up with the demands of emergency relief efforts. Contact us to learn how we can help your trucking company.
Posted on April 08, 2020
As we all face this challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, transportation, especially trucking services, have been deemed as essential services. The importance of moving cargo from one point to another has been given top priority. Unfortunately, the current environment does not make this task an easy one. While many truck stops remain open for fueling, they are closed to all other truckers’ necessities. Many have even restricted truckers from parking and sleeping in their vehicles on premises. While they try to keep their mechanical service centers open, many have shuttered as their employees are unable to make it into work.
As a cargo hauler, you face new challenges. While this memo is geared to the refrigerated loads, some non-reefer loads also have an expiration date and would be covered under the same guidelines.
Scenario 1. While on the road, your vehicle breaks down. You drastically attempt to locate a repair facility to expedite the repairs but due to delays in getting parts, and no alternate vehicles available, your delivery is late and rejected by the consignee. The shipper also refuses to have the cargo returned to them.
In this situation, you need to do everything to reduce your exposure. This may include the sale of the cargo to a salvage handler or jobber. You will need to utilize these funds to offset any claim filed against you. If you face yourself in this situation, and have no resource for the cargo, we will be happy to assist and supply you with the name of a salvor that may be able to assist you.
Scenario 2. You pick up a refrigerated load and when you go to make the delivery the consignee’s facility is closed. All efforts to deliver the load have failed and the shipper has refused to take the load back.
In this regard, you need to understand On-Hand Delivery Notification. A simple definition:
A Carrier-prepared document used to notify the consignor and the consignee that a delivery cannot be completed, usually for reasons beyond the Carriers control and is meant to remove liability for non-delivery
From time to time and for various reasons, freight may be deemed to be “on-hand.” Freight will be deemed on-hand with or without notice. When freight is “on-hand” the legal liability of Carrier or TPC is altered from that of a motor Carrier to that of a warehouseman pursuant to the Uniform Commercial Code.
The procedures which Carrier agrees to and will take as a warehouseman involve the use of ordinary care to keep the lading in a safe or suitable place or to store the lading properly. Carrier shall place the lading in public storage, if available, unless Carrier receives contrary disposition instructions from Customer within twenty-four (24) hours, and may offer the lading for public sale if disposition instructions are not given by Customer within ten (10) days of Carrier’s initial notification to Customer. In the case of perishable lading, Carrier may dispose of the lading at a time and in a manner, Carrier deems appropriate to avoid the commodity from spoiling or passing it’s “Used by Date.”
Customer will be responsible for storage costs and reasonable costs Carrier or TPC incurs in acting as a warehouseman. To the extent any sale or disposal revenues exceed the storage costs and the costs Carrier or TPC incurs as a warehouseman, Carrier shall remit the balance to Customer. If Customer gives Carrier timely disposition instructions, Carrier will use any commercially reasonable steps to abide by such instructions. Customer will pay Carrier’s or TPC’s costs and any additional transportation costs Carrier or TPC incurs in doing so.
PLEASE NOTE: All on-hand notices should be done in writing on company letterhead or by email with copies of any correspondence kept for future use. Proof of Delivery is highly recommended. Any telephonic conversations about the cargo and the on-hand notice should be followed up with some form of written summary of the conversation.
Here are the current rules and requirements of On-Hand Notice
Freight held in Carrier’s possession by reason of an act or an omission of the shipper, consignor, consignee, or owner or for customs clearance or inspection, or by order of a government authority, and through no fault of the Carrier, or when held by Carrier due to rejection by consignee or instruction from shipper based on damage, will be deemed to be “on-hand. “
Freight will be deemed on-hand with or without notice. When freight is “on-hand,” the legal liability of Carrier is altered from that of a motor Carrier to that of a warehouseman pursuant to the Uniform Commercial Code. The procedures which Carrier agrees to and will take as a warehouseman involve the use of ordinary care to keep the lading in a safe or suitable place or to store the lading properly.
Storage costs for on-hand freight will be assessed as follows: Storage charges on freight awaiting line haul transportation will begin at 7:00 AM, the day of business after notice of arrival has been made.
Freight stored in Carriers possession, will be assessed a charge of $2.00 per cwt. or fraction thereof, subject to the following minimum and maximum charges:
MINIMUM CHARGES: $20.00 per shipment per each 24 hours
For the first 24 hours or fraction thereof $100.00
For the second 24 hours or fraction thereof $175.00
Third and each succeeding 24 hours/fraction $250.00
- Per shipment or per vehicle if more than one vehicle is used to transport the shipment
- Storage charges under this item will end when Carrier is enabled to delivery or transport the freight as a result of action by the consignee, consignor, owner or Customs Official.
- Storage charges under this item will not apply on the day Carrier places the freight in a public warehouse. In that event, a charge of $3.00 per cwt., subject to a minimum charge of $45.00 per shipment will be made.
- The term “FIRST DAY OF BUSINESS” as used in this item means Mondays through Fridays.
- Charges provided in this item will follow the terms of the bill of lading unless written authorization is received by another party. Carrier reserves the right to require payment prior to release of freight.
Need assistance? Please contact our trucking experts!
This blog was created by Carrier Specialty Services, LLC.
Posted on March 11, 2020
As more cases of the coronavirus crop up across the country, fleets need to have procedures in place to prevent workplace exposures, business interruptions, and more. The CDC has issued several guidelines that can help fleet managers implement best practices to keep their truck drivers healthy and their fleets operational. These practices work well for any acute respiratory illness including the flu so fleets should consider making these policies permanent to ensure a healthier fleet.
Best Practices for a Healthier Fleet
- Strongly recommend that sick employees stay home. While this may seem obvious at face value, initial symptoms of the novel coronavirus are mild, and many office employees and drivers may not think they are sick. Another factor to consider is that some employees may return to work when still ill because they can manage their symptoms with medications (i.e. fever reduces or cough relievers). Employees and drivers should stay home until they are symptom-free without the aid of medication for a minimum of 24 hours (though more data may be needed before we completely understand the nuances of COVID-19).
- Adjust sick leave policies. Many sick leave policies are rigid and often punitive when employees exceed their allotted sick leave. While this is often to reduce excessive absences, it may become unrealistic in the event of coronavirus outbreaks. If schools and daycares close, employees will have to take off work to care for their children. Fleets should also forego the requirement of a doctor’s note for individuals exhibiting signs of respiratory illness. Healthcare providers are likely to be extremely busy with the sudden influx of patients and won’t have time to provide these kinds of notes on demand.
- Consider telecommuting options for office staff. While drivers can’t perform their deliveries from their homes, many backend office tasks can be accomplished remotely. When possible, fleet managers should allow office employees such as dispatchers, marketers, and administrative staff to work from home in the event they must care for children or a sick relative. A disproportionately high number of employees may fall in this category, so fleets need to take steps now to ensure a smooth transition for telecommuting work.
- Stress the importance of good hygiene. Placing posters at all sinks with proper handwashing instructions can cut down on the spread of germs. Posters detailing the proper way to sneeze and cough can cut down on germs in the workplace as well. Many adults fail to do these tasks properly and visual reminders can go a long way toward reducing the unnecessary spread of illness.
- Clean and disinfect all surfaces regularly. For office workers, this means wiping down keyboards, countertops, desktops, doorknobs, and any other surface they touch regularly with disinfectant wipes. For truck drivers, they should wipe steering wheels, gears, door handles, and any other surface they or other drivers may touch.
Fleet managers will need to be ready to respond to an outbreak. They should focus on developing plans that incorporate flexibility and address how work will continue if a significant portion of the workforce has to remain at home. Fleets also need to prepare for the possibility of significant business interruptions should their drivers fall ill. Interstate Motor Carriers understands the challenges fleets are facing and we can help. Contact us to learn more about protecting your fleet.
Posted on February 19, 2020
What is progressive discipline? Progressive discipline is a practice used to deal with job-related behavior which does not meet expected job performance standards. The purpose of the progressive discipline model is to help the employees understand how to modify their behavior to improve performance issues.
Many industry experts think that progressive discipline is an outmoded behavioral policy that often yields poor results. The traditional progressive discipline model has several steps that progress in severity—verbal warnings, written warnings, suspension, and eventually termination. While discipline is vital to addressing safety concerns and maintaining a safe work environment, progressive discipline only considers the desired outcome. It doesn’t consider the root cause, whether the issue occurred due to an honest mistake or reckless actions.
Understanding what led up to an incident or safety infraction allows fleet managers to develop strategies that correct a problem rather than forcing it into a progressive discipline model. The following are some of the benefits of utilizing a more effective, behavior-based coaching approach to discipline:
- Fix the actual problem. If an incident is due to an honest mistake (not a reckless mistake), the “three strikes and you’re out” mentality doesn’t apply well. By addressing “why” the incident occurred, managers can discover the root of the problem and fix it. For example, a driver performing a process incorrectly can lead to safety issues (e.g. not performing a thorough enough pre-trip inspection). However, if their instructions on how to complete that process were unclear, management can address the problem at the root cause to prevent it from happening again.
- Build a foundation of trust. The words discipline and coaching evoke very different reactions from trucking employees for obvious reasons. One indicates penalties while the other suggests a learning opportunity. Drivers can become defensive or evasive if they think honest mistakes will be held against them as severely as purposeful misconduct.
- Maintain good morale. Progressive discipline is a blind, zero-tolerance approach to workplace incidents. It doesn’t take into consideration previous good conduct or tenure with a trucking company. This is problematic because valuable, experienced drivers may consider looking for a new employer if they’re suddenly slapped with a first strike and put on notice for future disciplinary action after years of otherwise stellar service. Coaching avoids this problem and allows for a scaled, reasonable response to incidents.
- Provides managers more authority over risks. Some incidents are enough to warrant immediate termination. However, depending on the workplace handbook, managers may be adhering to an outdated progressive discipline model. This means they have to muddle through several dangerous repeat violations when one strike should be the only strike.
Progressive discipline is a rigid model that doesn’t address the root causes behind incidents. By digging into the cause of a problem, fleet managers can identify the issue, determine how best to fix it, and coach their truck driver to help reduce risk without putting them into the penalty box. To learn more ways to improve fleet safety, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
Posted on January 29, 2020
Truck insurance is one of the top expenses for both large and small fleets. Fleet managers need to monitor insurance rates and coverage options and optimize their safety plans or risk overspending for coverage. Fleets should look at their business as an insurance underwriter would—is their risk level acceptable or are they a hazard waiting to happen? Expensive repairs, rising settlement costs, increasing medical expenses, and more are driving up insurance premiums. To combat this, fleets can take the following steps to improve the likelihood of securing preferable insurance rates:
- Reduce risks across the board. Fleets with a poor CSA score, a significant number of losses, or frequent compliance problems have a big hurdle in their path to achieving lower rates. They don’t look good on paper and simply won’t have access to top-rated carriers. Keeping controllable risk factors in check can resolve this issue over time.
- Leverage telematics. Accidents involving commercial vehicles can become rapidly and inordinately expensive. The injured party can sue both the driver and the company for punitive damages and compensation. One of the leading causes of these costly crashes is distracted driving. Fleets can lean on their telematics data to identify preferable driver traits for hiring, implement safety initiatives to reduce distractions, and install advanced safety equipment to help mitigate these risks.
- Create an attractive profile for underwriters. Talk will only do so much to reduce insurance rates. However, providing proof of positive safety changes can make a difference. Showing receipts for safety initiatives such as better technology, additional safety training, and updated policies can provide proof to insurance underwriters that your fleet risk profile is as low as possible.
- Focus on hiring, retaining and training safe drivers. Driver turnover is a very real problem for fleets, which can lead many to turn a blind eye to questionable safety traits. While it puts a much-needed driver behind the wheel, that fleet hired a long-term safety problem. Fleets need to make sure they provide incentives for their qualified safe drivers to stay while avoiding hiring problem drivers for the sake of expediency. And ongoing training to reinforce safe driving practices is a must.
- Change the perspective. In previous years, some fleets had the perspective of “That’s why we have insurance” when thinking about accidents and claims. In today’s trucking environment, this attitude can result in higher premiums as the fleet’s loss ratio suffers. Trucking companies should not approach insurance as their safety net for hazardous drivers or lawsuits, they should look at it as an opportunity to improve safety and reduce costs.
Insurance premiums can swiftly become an unmanageable expense if fleets don’t take safety efforts seriously. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor carriers to learn more about improving your fleet’s safety and reducing fleet insurance premiums.
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 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 October 25, 2019
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has several major changes coming down the pipeline that fleets need to keep on their radar as they affect compliance and safety issues. The two biggest announcements include FMCSA-sponsored training guides for transitioning from automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) to electronic logging devices (ELD) and the open enrollment period for the Congressionally mandated Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
Preparing for the Final Stages of ELD Compliance
With the ELD mandate reaching a new compliance milestone, FMCSA announced the creation of two interactive ELD courses to help motor carriers train and refresh their knowledge regarding ELD compliance. Come December 16, 2019, the final phase of the ELD mandate will go into effect, requiring a full changeover from AOBRDs to ELDs. The first iteration of the ELD mandate grandfathered in AOBRD devices, but that grace period is ending. The guides cover such topics as:
- The difference between an ELD and an AOBRD
- Different methods of transferring data
- How to maintain and troubleshoot ELDs
FMCSA is also providing recordings of a live Q and A session regarding ELDs as well as a look at the training officers receive when reviewing ELD data and hours of service (HOS) information.
Unveiling the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
Although Congress mandated the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, it aligns with FMCSA’s goals to improve driver and highway safety. Anyone who wants access to the clearinghouse will need to register. Authorized users include CDL and CLP holders, CDL driver employers, third party administrators, medical review officers, and substance abuse professionals.
While drivers don’t need to register right away, they will need to in response to an employer’s request as part of their pre-employment background check. Full inquiries will require registration as well. The clearinghouse is vital to cutting down on drivers who violate drug and alcohol laws while operating a commercial vehicle across state lines. Registration is free and is a simple step toward improving highway safety across the nation.
For decades, Interstate Motor Carriers has dedicated itself to providing creative solutions to the unique challenges and risk trucking fleets face every day. Contact us to learn how your fleet can better manage risks and maintain compliance with FMCSA regulations and mandates.
Posted on October 15, 2019
Fleet managers and truck drivers know that using their cellphones to text or make phone calls while driving is a recipe for disaster. However, not many are as familiar with the safety risks of using hands-free technology. While the technology allows drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, it is nonetheless a distraction.
Using a hands-free device is safer than physically holding the mobile phone; however, it still compromises truck driver attention. It is impossible for the driver to devote their full focus to the conversation, the road and their surroundings. Furthermore, many drivers that use hands-free devices tend to do so to free up their hands for other risky behaviors such as eating while driving.
Digging into the telematics data, the industry has shown drivers who use hands-free cellphones are more likely to engage in other distractions. Simply stated, more distractions translate into greater collision risk. Some of the most alarming statistics include:
- A 10% increase in the total number of incidents of drivers using a hands-free device to engage in another risky behavior.
- 23% of drivers engage in multiple risky behaviors at once.
- Drivers are most likely to use hands-free cellphones while going 65mph. This is most likely because drivers set the cruise control and feel a certain degree of comfort.
- Drivers who eat behind the wheel are more likely to remove their seatbelts or follow other vehicles too closely.
- Drivers who don’t wear their seatbelts are the most likely to experience a collision.
Some of the statistics may seem more like a correlation than causation; however, accident history has consistently proven these statistics to be accurate. Take the seatbelt issue as an example. If a driver shows a disregard for his or her own personal safety by opting not to wear a seatbelt, he or she is also not likely to care as much about other safety factors. Studies have shown repeatedly that seatbelt use is a hallmark indicator of a driver’s overall safety. Drivers who wear their seatbelts are less likely to engage in other risky behaviors because they recognize the importance of the device for their own safety.
Fleet managers need to make sure their drivers understand the risks associated with all distractions behind the wheel. For example, encouraging and training drivers to make their calls and appointments prior to hitting the road can help reduce cellphone use while driving.
Improving fleet safety is an ongoing effort, and Interstate Motor Carriers can help. With over 75 years of experience in trucking, we can help reduce your trucking risks.
Posted on September 06, 2019
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has finally issued their proposal relating to changes in the hours-of-service rules. During the comment period, the U.S. DOT agency received over 5200 comments. Based on that feedback, FMCSA is proposing the five following revisions:
- Amending the 30-minute break requirement. Current regulations dictate that drivers take a 30-minute break after eight hours of on-duty time and the break has to be off-duty status. Now, FMCSA is suggesting the 30-minute break follow eight hours of driving time and that not-driving status can satisfy the break (i.e. the driver can stop to grab something to eat to satisfy the break requirements).
- Splitting the 10 hours off-duty period. The new proposal would allow drivers to split their off duty time between a sleeper berth and another qualified off-duty status. Drivers could spend 7 to 8 hours in a sleeper berth and the remaining hours off-duty to satisfy the off-duty period without it counting against their 14-hour driving window.
- Revising the adverse driving conditions exception. The new ruling would grant drivers up to 16 hours of on-duty status in the event of adverse conditions affecting the roads such as severe weather or heavy traffic.
- Modifying off-duty breaks. Sometimes drivers need to take breaks, but they run the risk of pushing the 14-hour workday rule. The new ruling would allow drivers to take a break ranging from 30 minutes up to three hours while being able to pause their on-duty status. This would allow truck drivers to wait out heavy traffic to use their drive time more efficiently.
- Increasing the short-haul exemption hours and air miles. FMCSA is proposing an increase to on-duty hours and distance limiting rules for truck drivers that qualify for the short-haul exemption. This change would increase the maximum on-duty period from 12 hours to 14 hours and air-mile radius from 100 miles to 150 miles.
FMCSA estimates the proposed changes will save $274 million without sacrificing the safety of truck drivers or the motoring public. They also emphasized that the rule limiting drivers to eight consecutive hours of drive time followed by at least a 30-minute break remains in effect.
Interstate Motor Carriers understands the challenges fleets face trying to remain compliant with ever-changing regulations and truck insurance requirements. Contact us to learn how we can help your trucking business.