Driver Retention

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.

The Road to Healthy Drivers

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.

 

Cyber Security for Truckers is an Emerging Issue

Posted on December 27, 2016

shutterstock_42770536 - CopyDigital 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.

  1. Security-based design procedures
  2. Frequency and severity analysis
  3. Audit and monitoring policies
  4. 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.

Enhanced Investigative Techniques Increase Audit Criteria for High Risk Drivers

Posted on December 20, 2016

slide3The 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.

  1. Audits include a broader range of fleet personnel, including accounting, sales, and drivers as well as checking social media.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

8 Tips for Safe Parking at Rest Stops and Truck Stops

Posted on December 13, 2016

Fotolia_62084411_XL - CopyYou are finally off the traffic-congested roadway and safely parked at a truck stop. But you may not be as safe as you think. A large percentage of truck-trailer accidents occur at truck stops which should be the safest place to park. Drivers can never let their guard down when behind the wheel. Trucking accidents are expensive to both the employer and to the driver. Below are a few tips to help reduce a trucking accident/incident at a truck stop:

  1. Pre-plan your route so you know you will be stopping at a location with plenty of room and that is well lit. Choose your stops, don’t let them choose you.
  2. Never underestimate the usefulness of a rest area. Not only do rest areas offer easy access, but they are setup to allow trucks to pull through a parking spot versus the higher risk of backing into a spot. Statistics indicate that more accidents happen in truck stops than rest areas.
  3. Avoid parking on the end of a row. Not only is there traffic crossing next to you but most people park on the end because they are tired and after a long day the end is the closest spot. Avoiding the end of a parking lot helps you avoid drivers who are parking when they are tired. Removing yourself from high traffic areas can only help.
  4. Avoid a spot that will force you to back out when you leave. Choose a spot you can either pull through (the best option) or back into (second best option).
  5. Avoiding parking in a location where the trucks across from you will be required to back out of their spots. Being behind a vehicle that will be blindly backing toward you is a recipe for disaster.
  6. If the truck next to you looks close, is over the line, or parked odd (for example the cab is angled to the trailer for some reason) then move on to a new spot. If you have to take that spot don’t be afraid to write down the name and DOT number on the truck. You may be glad you did when you wake up in the morning.
  7. Park with your tractor and trailer straight. It reduces the area others have to hit while backing.
  8. Use your four-ways when pulling through the lot and backing up. People in truck stops, or even other parking lots, are usually tired or distracted. Four-ways activate peripheral vision and increase the chance of someone seeing you. And if required use your horn gently when needed to tell someone “Hey, I’m here”.

Webinar: How to Survive an FMCSA Compliance Review

Posted on December 06, 2016

Join Interstate Motor Carriers for this educational webinar to learn how to survive FMCSA compliance reviews. Expert speaker Rob Dowling, Transportation Safety & Loss Control Director at The Capacity Group, will review the key components of the compliance review, the procedures you’ll need in order to achieve a satisfactory rating, and the consequences of failing to do so. Topics include:

* What is a Compliance Review (CR)shutterstock_3129935 - Copy
* Compliance Review Process
* When Do I Begin The Process
* Six Factor Review Process
* Continuous process to Remain Compliant

Date & Time: Wed, Dec 14, 2016 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST

Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3269874292259164674

OMB Completes Review of CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule

Posted on November 29, 2016

shutterstock_211095490 - 1920x750The 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.

What Does the BOL Mean to You?

Posted on November 21, 2016

shutterstock_50164954 - Copy (2)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.

Matching Import and Export Needs

Posted on November 10, 2016

Fotolia_62084411_XL - CopyMany motor carriers looking for ways to reduce cost often turn to fuel efficiency. There are numerous ways to save fuel such as driving at slower speeds or taking the most direct route with the least amount of traffic. However, drivers hauling empty containers waste massive amounts of fuel. To reduce this, some companies are synchronizing import and export needs.

Matching Imports and Exports

Drayage operations run into this issue on a regular basis. Drayage drivers will receive an import, deliver it to its destination, and then drive back with an empty container. However, by doing some research, managers can find nearby companies that need to export their product. That way, their driver can deliver their import, pick up the export, and then drive back to the port. This saves an additional trip and eliminates drivers with empty containers.

Technology Shortages

While the idea is great in theory, it can be complicated in practice. Some companies only want to use certain types of shipping containers to move their cargo. However, the bigger issue is a lack of technology to match import and export needs. Managers who attempt to match imports with exports must do so manually.

This creates an opportunity in the transportation industry to develop a major piece of tech to improve productivity. Some managers believe no one has jumped at the chance simply because the industry has always operated in this fashion. Many are hesitant to change existing operations even if it meant improved efficiency. However, as more manager tackle the issue of load matching the opportunity will not likely be set aside for long.

Transferring Liability and Equipment Between Motor Carriers

Posted on November 01, 2016

shutterstock_348061355 amSometimes motor carriers need to exchange equipment. However, this raises questions about liability. In order for authorized motor carriers to interchange equipment, they must address the following.

Interchange Agreement

Motor carriers need a written contract or document that describes the equipment. This document should also detail how the motor carrier will use the equipment and how much compensation is required for the equipment’s use. All involved motor carriers must sign the agreement.

Operating Authority

Any motor carrier who wants to participate in an equipment interchange must register with the Secretary of Transportation. The Secretary will then supply the transport of equipment at the designated location for the physical exchange.

Bill of Lading

The original motor carrier must issue a bill of lading in order for the equipment interchange to progress. The bill of lading provides a receipt of services rendered.

Identifying the Equipment

The motor carrier receiving the equipment must identify all power units. The motor carrier must have a document verifying they are operating the equipment. The document should provide other details as well such as the date and time the motor carrier assumes responsibility for the equipment.

Connecting Carriers and Liability

Any motor carrier who transfers equipment from one motor carrier to another assumes ownership of the equipment. This applies to both leasing and returning equipment.