Posted on November 21, 2018
Most people associate work-related back pain with jobs that require a lot of bending or heavy lifting. However, prolonged sitting can also be the source of back pain, something which many truck drivers know all too well. Truck drivers are often seated for hours on end, in a position that readily puts strain on back muscles and ligaments. If the issue remains unaddressed, this pain can spread into their necks and even their legs.
Preventing Back Pain
The best method of dealing with drivers’ back pain is to prevent it altogether. There are several methods to help keep drivers’ backs in better condition, to help mitigate the onset of back and neck pain:
- Exercise whenever possible. When drivers reach a rest stop or stop driving for the day, they should work out and stretch to reinvigorate muscles after a long period of disuse. Stretching is particularly important to help relieve tense muscles after sitting in one position for several hours.
- Invest in seat support. Truck drivers have many expenses and often try to keep costs down by limiting luxury purchases for their cab. However, ergonomic seat cushions are well worth the price tag. They provide support and correct drivers’ posture to prevent the pain associated with slouching into the seat.
- Focus on posture. While it’s not feasible to think about good posture every second of a long drive, there are some things drivers can do to prevent back pain, by changing some basic driving behavior. For example, many drivers carry their phones or wallets in their back pocket. Removing these before sitting down can improve posture and reduce muscle strain. And changing seat position, moving the height or angle of the seat, each and every hour, can reduce both muscle fatigue and mental fatigue.
Managing Back Pain
Once drivers strain their muscles, they should rapidly take steps to manage the pain before it becomes an injury. Some tips include:
- Ice the area. Applying an ice pack to sore muscles for around 20 minutes can help numb the pain, reduce the damage, and decrease swelling.
- Alternate cold with heat therapy. So long as the area is no longer numb and the swelling is gone, drivers can also use heat as a means to manage back pain. Heat can relieve pain and spasms as well as help warm up muscles before stretching.
- Take breaks. Pushing through pain is rarely worth it. Drivers who ignore their back pain in favor of reaching their destination faster risk increasing the pain and causing lasting damage.
When drivers take steps to prevent and manage back pain, they reduce the likelihood of an injury. Left unchecked, drivers could experience lasting health complications that keep them out of work. To learn more ways to reduce and manage trucking risk, 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 September 17, 2018
As Hurricane Florence continues its trek across the east coast, truck drivers are reminded now more than ever that hurricane season is still in full force. Although this summer has been relatively quiet concerning hurricanes, Florence made up for the calm with Category 4 winds and torrential rainfall. Weather events of this magnitude require that truck drivers need to take extra precautions to ensure their personal safety, and the safety of their trucks and cargo.
7 Steps to Prepare Truck Drivers For Sever Weather Events
Weather events like Hurricane Florence will have long-lasting effects on truckers, from closed roads, to flooded terminals, the impact of these events can dramatically impact drivers and fleets. The following steps can help truck drivers manage changes in their routine and stay safe during the storm:
- Cancel or reroute all deliveries that cross through the path of the storm.
- Allow for extra time to reach locations, and plan multiple alternate routes.
- Pay close attention to National Weather Service announcements (every two hours as the storm approaches). Many locals may believe the storm won’t be as significant the news portrays. Inaction can result in tragedy. Heed all local weather advisories and evacuation notices.
- Move all vehicles that won’t be used to higher ground in areas affected by the storm. The location should be free of trees, power lines, or any other objects that could impact the vehicle.
- Fill all vehicle fuel tanks prior to the storm, as power may be interrupted in many locations and cause delays in fuel deliveries. This can lead to closed fuel stations, long lines and increased prices at the pump in areas affected by the path of the storm.
- Perform a thorough pre-trip inspection to ensure tires, windshield wipers, and all lights are operational. Drivers do not want to be caught in bad weather when they discover a problem with their vehicle they could’ve addressed before they started driving.
- As always, slow down, increase driving distance, brake slowly, and make sure headlights are on during inclement weather.
Important Changes to HOS Rules for Hurricane Florence
Truck drivers in the most affected areas trying to evacuate don’t need to worry about violating hours of service (HOS) regulations. Both the Governor of North Carolina and South Carolina issued executive orders waiving HOS rules as well as Size & Weight requirements for truck drivers as they prepare for Hurricane Florence. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also issued a Regional Emergency Declaration for Delaware, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia exempting drivers from Parts 390-399 of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). Restrictions do apply, so drivers should be sure to familiarize themselves with the Emergency Declaration.
A truck driver’s number one priority during a hurricane should be his or her safety. To learn more ways to reduce your risks, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
Posted on September 05, 2018
Finding healthy entrees at fast food restaurants doesn’t need to be difficult. As consumers have become more health-conscious, restaurants have added lighter fare options to their menu. These selections are often under 600 calories and carry less fat content than the traditional burger and fries. Today, a healthy trucker lifestyle doesn’t have to go by the wayside just because the driver pulled into a fast food parking lot.
Some general rules for healthier eating include:
- Limit fried foods to once a week
- Minimize sugar intake (and stay away from prepackaged foods and sweets)
- Eat the vegetables you like, and consume large portions
In regards to veggies, many people feel like they have to keep up with trends. If kale isn’t your thing, don’t sweat it. All vegetables are good for you, so pick what you like.
How to Eat Healthy at Fast Food Restaurants
Many people think that fast food means high calorie meals. But many of the major chains offer some good options for truckers. The following are some of the healthiest options available at typical fast food locations:
- Chipotle. This chain offers a variety of healthy options—so long as truck drivers skip the tortilla. Chipotle offers taco salads that allow customers to load up on greens, veggies, chicken or steak.
- Panera Bread. This chain that offers a variety of healthy options so long as truck drivers resist temptation like the large mac and cheese which weighs in at 1,100 calories. The turkey avocado BLT is healthy and filling while the Greek salad with chicken is a guilt-free yet tasty choice.
- Burger King. The above two fast food options make it simple to stick to healthy choices. Traditional burger chains like Burger King pose more of a challenge. Truck drivers can keep the pounds at bay by opting for a chicken garden salad and keeping their dressing use to a minimum.
- Wendy’s. Wendy’s grilled chicken sandwich is a great alternative to a grease-laden burger. Consider swapping out their fries for some chili to increase your protein intake.
- Kentucky Fried Chicken. While fried is in its name, KFC does offer some healthier, grilled options. Their grilled chicken sandwich paired with some green beans are a great choice for truck drivers on the road.
Keeping truck drivers healthy is vital for both owner operators and managers of large fleets. Truck drivers need to learn and select the healthiest options available to them while they are out on the road. To learn more creative ways for truckers to stay safe and healthy, contact Interstate Motor Carriers.
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 June 28, 2018
School is out for the summer! The long winter has finally ended and kids & teens across the country are free from school days. For the trucking industry summer means the opposite of freedom, for this is the busy season. There are many variables to be concerned with whilst driving in the summer, especially as a trucker. Below we have listed some of the most important tips and precautions to prepare for this season:
- Be Properly Equipped – Summer driving means heat, sun glare, and longer days. Be sure to pack a hat, sun glasses, extra water, and plenty of snacks. Did we mention you should pack water? Hydration is key to staying focused and healthy during the summer months!
- Be Aware of the Extra Drivers – With summer in full swing, teenagers and college drivers will be on the roads more than any other season. In addition to students, families will be hitting the road for vacation making road congestion a big concern. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings by always checking your mirrors and properly signaling before changing lanes.
- Construction is Being Done – Be wary of road work! The summer is when most construction is typically going to be done, especially on roads. Be conscious of all signs as you drive, and respond accordingly. Slow down and be prepared to stop when driving through construction zones.
Of course, these are only a few conditions that drivers must be aware of while driving in the summer. We urge you to stay safe, healthy and cautious this summer (and every season)!
Posted on June 13, 2017
Fleet fraud is costly. A staged accident or injury claim by an employee can mean expensive payouts and increased insurance premiums, so it is essential that your business take steps to prevent and detect employee fraud. Anti-fraud measures and internal controls can and should be designed and customized for each individual organization based on its unique characteristics. In addition, stay alert for these red flags:
- Driver with a history of prior accidents of similar circumstances
- Driver with multiple past claims with the same attorney
- Driver that demonstrates familiarity with claims process and claim evaluation
- An overly enthusiastic witness present at the accident scene
Fleet management programs that include a fleet safety policy are most successful at preventing fraud when they cover the following areas:
- Management commitment: Clearly define management’s role and commitment to preventing and detecting fraudulent claims. Most perpetrators of fraud engage in illegal conduct only when they perceive that they will not be caught.
- Written policies and procedures: All permitted and prohibited driver behavior, along with proper procedures to follow in the event of an accident, should be clearly listed in a written policy.
- Driver agreements: Documenting a driver’s commitment to conform to all policies and procedures can help deter aberrant behavior. If an organization increases in its employees’ minds the perception that the illegal acts will be detected, it deters occupational fraud.
- Motor vehicle record checks: Conducting a motor vehicle record check in addition to a standard background check can expose any suspicious driving or claims patterns before hire or before permitting an employee to use a company vehicle.
- Crash reporting and investigation: Conduct thorough investigations of each claim. Provide forms for employees to complete in the event of an accident.
- Vehicle selection, maintenance and inspection: Conduct regular inspections to demonstrate ’s commitment to preventing accidents and fleet fraud.
- Disciplinary action system: Make the serious repercussions of fraud clear, including legal action and termination. Adopting concealed internal controls may assist in detecting fraud, but it generally does not prevent it because employees are unaware of their presence and potential detective ability.
- Reward and incentive program: Reward employees for good driving habits and lack of accidents and claims. For any business operating vehicles under a fleet motor insurance policy, it is important to demonstrate to an insurer that adequate fleet procedures are in place to minimize costly risks—including occupational fraud.
For more information about controlling insurance costs, contact the professionals at Interstate Motor Carriers today.
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 March 10, 2017
Being a truck driver can pave the way for an unhealthy life style. It may seem like sleeping less or stopping at fast food restaurants is an efficient lifestyle for someone who essentially live on the road, but this is not the case.
Getting adequate sleep is the first step in becoming a healthier trucker, being a fatigued driver puts you and others on the road in danger. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night is imperative for a healthy lifestyle, but sleeping well is not enough to remain healthy. The next tip to becoming healthier on the road is to stretch and exercise daily. As a driver you are sitting and focusing on the road for more than half of your waking hours, try to stretch at every stop to prevent your muscles from becoming stiff and achy. It may seem impossible to exercise daily when you’re on the job, but exercising doesn’t have to mean lifting weights for two hours. Try walking 30-45 minutes once a day at rest stops, maybe try walking for 10 minutes at four different stops!
As you are beginning to create a healthier body on the outside it is important remember that cliché saying’ “you are what you eat”. Staying alert and focused is a huge part of a truck driver’s job and by fueling your body with healthy food you are help your body to do so! Try packing a cooler with fruits and vegetables, if this isn’t an option try shopping smart at gas stations by buying nuts or head to the fridge and look for some fruits and vegetables there! Fueling your body so that it works the best that it can means drinking more water and less caffeine, try to not drink caffeine an hour or two before bed time to ensure the first step of a good night’s sleep.
Although these are all essential ways to stay physically healthy on the road it is extremely important to stay mentally healthy as well. Listen to your favorite music while you drive, chat with family and friends as you’re walking at those rest stops, and put some time aside to do something for yourself (read, relax, play a game). Taking care of yourself is especially important on the road because the alternative could mean you are putting people’s lives in danger. Start one step at a time so you can be the healthiest person, driver, and self that you possibly can.
Posted on November 21, 2016
A bill of lading (BOL) is a document truckers need to move a cargo shipment. It functions as a receipt of services as well as a contract between the carrier and the shipper. Both the carrier and shipper need this legal document. Otherwise, they cannot process the shipment or invoice it accurately.
What Information Does a BOL Contain?
BOLs contain a wide variety of information. Some information includes:
- Names and addresses of the shipper and receiver
- Account numbers businesses use to track the shipments
- Packaging used for the shipment
- Value of the shipment
- Number of units shipped
- Shipment date
- Description of shipment items
This multipart document contains necessary information to process a freight shipment. The BOL functions as a contract in the absence of a shipper-carrier agreement. Less than truckload shippers (LTL) make the most frequent use of BOLs. They transport small freight and are often more cost effective than full truckload services (FTL). Two of the best known LTL carriers are FedEx Freight and UPS Freight.
Recent Changes to BOL Standards
Controversy is brewing between the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council (NASSTRAC) and the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). The NMFTA made changes to the uniform BOL to bring its provisions up to date and provide more clarity. NASSTRAC disagree citing the new terms and conditions for proving carrier negligence.
NASSTRAC and other shipper groups claim that these changes violate the Carmack Amendment, which established liability standards for cargo. Legal representation for NMFTA countered that the updated BOL standards do not change the laws for showing burden of proof.
For now, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) is siding with the NMFTA. It denied a petition asking to suspend the BOL changes. However, STB is willing to consider further pleadings before deciding whether to investigate the changes.
Further muddying the waters though is the fact that the STB cannot suspend the changes to the uniform BOL. They can only investigate and make suggestions. If the STB decides to investigate, their decision may bring NASSTRAC and NMFTA together in court to battle over terms.