Posted on May 26, 2020
Truck drivers spend hours of their day on the road. Several factors that come with the job such as sitting for prolonged periods, cold coffee, and lukewarm food can lead to massive discomfort in a short amount of time. However, with the help of innovative tools and helpful apps, truck drivers can dramatically improve their comfort while traveling. And fleet managers can utilize these types of gadgets in a traditional rewards program, for other types of incentives, to encourage safe driving habits or for holiday gifts.
- Coolers designed for trucks. Keeping food and beverages cool isn’t as simple as tossing a cooler in the back of the vehicle for truck drivers. They have limited space and they need to utilize all of it for maximum comfort and efficiency. Moreover, traditional coolers only offer short-term solutions for keeping things cool and require a steady supply of ice. Investing in a portable cooler that plugs into a 12-volt outlet solves this issue. Many are convertible as well, allowing truck drivers to lay them vertically or horizontally as their space allows.
- Portable stove. With COVID-19 shutting down many restaurants, healthy food options are scarce for truck drivers. Packing their own meals and storing them in their cooler can help combat this issue but eating cold leftovers can be less than a pleasant experience. Portable stoves are a compact, convenient option to reheat food, as most are small and only need a 12-volt outlet.
- Gel and memory foam seat cushion. Sitting in the driver’s seat for hours at a time can lead to tailbone, back, and neck pain. Having the support of an ergonomic seat cushion can relieve pressure to improve overall comfort.
- Portable coffee machine. While over-caffeinating isn’t a good idea, most people appreciate their morning cup of coffee. Having a coffee maker that plugs into a 12-volt outlet can give truck drivers their preferred brand of coffee as well as save some money by not stopping to buy an over-priced energy drink at a convenience store.
- iExit Trucks app. This handy app lets truck drivers know what trucker-friendly businesses are available at upcoming exits as well as where the cheapest diesel stations are available nearby. It provides other critical information as well including locations for repair service centers, safe parking, rest areas, weigh stations, and more.
With truck drivers providing an essential service during the pandemic, their comfort and safety are more important than ever. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers to learn how we can help protect your fleet.
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 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 March 16, 2020
The DOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a national emergency declaration to provide HOS relief (hours-of-service regulatory relief) to commercial vehicle drivers who are transporting emergency relief in response to the coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19).
FMCSA’s declaration provides for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs, such as:
- Food – for emergency restocking of store/grocery stores
- Equipment, supplies and personnel – for creation and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities
- Medical supplies – equipment related to testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19
- People – designated by authorities for transport needed for medical, isolation or quarantine
- Personnel – needed to provide medical or other emergency services
The emergency declaration also states that truck drivers must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and eight hours if transporting passengers, once they have completed their respective delivery for products, services or passengers as noted above.
For more information, visit the FMSCA website: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/emergency-declaration-under-49-cfr-ss-39023-no-2020-002
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 26, 2020
The rate of technological advances has kicked into overdrive and many concepts which were once the subject of science fiction, are much closer to becoming reality. Is your fleet ready to handle these changes? Let’s look at two major potential technology disrupters which are expected to impact the transportation industry.
Things like lane departure warnings, lane corrections, and assisted braking didn’t shake things up in the trucking world in an overly dramatic way. While they certainly improved safety, it was still a human performing the bulk of the work. Autonomous vehicles, however, is a game changer. While the technology isn’t yet fully operational, many experts within the industry expect to see regular use of driverless trucks within the decade.
Drone deliveries are also an eventuality that will disrupt the industry. There was a time when waiting weeks for a delivery was a hassle, but the norm. Now, customers expect one or two-day delivery if not same-day delivery in some areas. With drone technology, same-day delivery could become a real possibility, even in more remote venues. While major players like Amazon floated the idea, some companies are already deploying the technology. One such company, Wing, has been making drone deliveries since 2014. As of 2019, they’re registered with the FAA and operate as an airline. With the first successful launch of drone delivery technology, more companies are sure to follow in Wing’s wake.
Technology is making high speed changes in trucking and the rate of innovative advancements is increasing exponentially. As these technological improvements gain traction and become mainstream, trucking companies will need to be ready to adapt and compete.
Fleet managers have a long list of responsibilities to juggle, including freight scheduling, adapting to new technology, driver safety, fleet maintenance, recruiting and retention, cost control and fleet insurance. The experts at Interstate Motor Carriers can help ease the burden. Contact us to learn how we can help improve your fleet’s operation.
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 January 13, 2020
Several major cities have floated the idea of congestion pricing as a means to ease the number of vehicles choking already busy streets. The idea is simple—much like tolls on highly traveled highways, cities would begin charging fees to drive in the city center during peak travel hours. For trucking companies, this may have several significant implications.
Pros and Cons of Congestion Pricing
Some industry experts think these fees may make it even more difficult to for smaller firms to compete with major fleets that can absorb those added expenses with less difficulty. Larger operations might be able to more adeptly transfer the costs than smaller trucking businesses or owner operators. Winners in the congestion pricing paradigm shift will theoretically benefit from less traffic and easier deliveries.
There are additional benefits to congestion pricing. In crowded cities like New York City, truckers face the very real risk of incurring parking tickets due to limited legitimate parking and overly congested streets. With congestion pricing, there should be more available parking to eliminate this headache.
Looking to Other Cities for Insights
With New York City poised to enact congestion pricing in 2021, lawmakers are comparing other congestion pricing practices to ensure a smooth process. Major cities such as London and Stockholm have established such laws with relative success, but they also identified pain points to avoid. In the beginning, for example, London exempted or discounted several types of vehicles due to their lesser effect on the environment. Emergency service vehicles, motorcycles, and taxis are exempt while disabled people, city residents, and low-CO2 vehicles can apply for a significant discount.
London encountered some trouble with the rise of ridesharing. Since taxis are exempt, London offered the same exemption to ride sharers. However, the number of these vehicles on the roads doubled over the course of the decade, so London amended the exemption.
Beyond New York City, congestion pricing is catching on across the nation in other high-traffic urban areas. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers to learn how we can help with your manage risk and improve your bottom line!