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 August 27, 2018
Many owner operators and small fleets discount telematics, as large fleets are often construed as the primary buyers. However, this doesn’t mean smaller operations can’t benefit from telematics. The data provides valuable feedback for drivers and fleets, regardless of size. Telematics solutions can track acceleration, driver speed, fuel economy, idling time and braking metrics. Telematics can provide exact location data for all vehicles and trailers, extremely beneficial in the event of a stolen truck or lost trailer. Many small fleets write off telematics because they are often considered large scale applications and come with an equally large price tag. However, there are many cost effective solutions today, and even basic smartphone apps, that drivers and managers can use to obtain Telematics data. While a smartphone app alone would be cumbersome for larger fleets, a manager of a small fleet can track the data for a few trucks from the palm of their hand.
More robust Telematics solutions, from organizations like Lynx Telematics and DriverCheck offer some highly advanced features, though many of these organizations also offer an owner operator version of this technology. Here is sampling of features available from the DriverCheck Telematics solution:
• Driver Behavior-harsh brake/fast acceleration/speeding
• Posted speed limit analysis
• Maintenance alerts and reports
• GIS map integration
• 3rd party vendor software integration
• Driver ID
• Panic Button
• PTO/Accentuator Monitoring
• Unlimited user(s) access from any internet connected device
• Idle and start stop driving reports
• Client customization reports
• Email/text message event based alert notification
Though pricing and features vary widely, costs for Telematics can range from under $14 per month for one truck, to over $40 per month per vehicle.
Owner operators and smaller fleets need to embrace newer technologies to stay competitive. As functionality increases and costs decrease, even the smallest trucking firms can improve operations and profitability by utilizing these cloud based solutions. To learn more about mitigating your trucking risk, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
Posted on August 07, 2018
Many within the transportation industry scoffed at the notion of autonomous vehicles, and they weren’t alone. The idea of self-driving vehicles seemed like science fiction at best and dangerous at worst, yet the technology is here and already in use. Budweiser shipped over 50,000 cans of beer in a self-driving truck, and Uber, Waymo, Tesla and Embark are all running live pilots with autonomous trucks. While the technology isn’t 100% ready for the public at large, it’s rapidly becoming a reality. High tech tools and futuristic technology are dominating recent transportation publication headlines with solutions like these, which are all available today:
Telematics and GPS Fleet Tracking Systems
Simply said, telematics encompasses the software and devices that power the electronic features found in all vehicles including trucks. GPS is one of the key applications in telematics, and includes:
- Navigation, fuel monitoring and route planning
- Driver behavior applications including braking, fast acceleration and speeding
- Complex route planning and arrival/departure alerts
- Automated tracking and analytics productivity reports
- Trailer tracking and historical routing
- Idle and start/stop driving reports
ELDs and Trucking Software Applications
ELDs provide the wireless tools and technology to ensure that truckers and fleets maintain compliance with the FMCSA ELD mandate.
Self-driving Trucks and Platooning
As mentioned previously, self-driving truck testing is well underway. Platooning is also being tested by manufacturers including Daimler. Platooning extends self-driving technology by wirelessly tethering trucks together, allowing them to operate in a tighter highway formation (convoy) than would be possible with human drivers at the wheel.
Tesla is the big name when it comes to electric vehicles, and Tesla Semi, the automaker’s electric truck division has been accumulating many reservations over the last few months. Tesla is expected to produce all electric trucks in 2019. But they aren’t alone, as many major manufacturers are actively working on completely electric trucks. Volvo has announced two new fully-electric trucks designed to take the place of urban delivery and refuse collection vehicles. Both will be available in the European market in 2019.
What to Expect in the Coming Years
As if the list above insufficiently represents the dramatic changes happening in the trucking industry, there are some seemingly imminent and impressive technologies expected to impact truckers and fleets in the near future. These include:
Heads up displays (HUDs) are nothing new for vehicles, but augmented reality is about to take them to the next level. BMW is working on a HUD that can superimpose real-life objects from the road onto a truck’s HUD to allow drivers to navigate obstacles with greater ease.
Trucks require ongoing maintenance and recalibration to perform at their optimum level. However, new technology will allow software to make these calibrations without ever pulling into a repair shop.
Trucking companies need to prepare for these dramatic changes, and Interstate Motor Carriers can help. Contact us to learn how we can help protect you today and in the future.
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 September 06, 2017
Cyber Security for Your Small Business
High-profile cyber attacks on companies such as Sony, Target and Zappos have generated national headlines and have raised awareness of the growing threat of cyber crime. Recent surveys conducted by the Small Business Authority, Symantec and the National Cybersecurity Alliance suggest that many small business owners are still operating under a false sense of cyber security.
The statistics are grim; the vast majority of U.S. small businesses lack a formal Internet security policy for employees, and only about half have even rudimentary cyber-security measures in place. Furthermore, only about a quarter of small business owners have had an outside party test their computer systems to ensure they are hacker-resistant, and nearly 40 percent do not have their data backed up in more than one location.
Shockingly, despite these significant cyber-security exposures, 85 percent of small business owners believe their company is safe from hackers, viruses, malware or a data breach. This is largely due to the widespread, albeit mistaken, belief that small businesses are unlikely targets for cyber attacks. In reality, data thieves are simply looking for the path of least resistance. As more and more large companies get serious about data security, small businesses are becoming increasingly attractive targets—and the results are often devastating for small business owners.
In recent years, nearly 60 percent of the small businesses victimized by a cyber attack closed permanently within six months. Many of these businesses put off making necessary improvements to their cyber-security protocols until it was too late because they feared the costs would be prohibitive. Don’t make the same mistake. Even if you don’t currently have the resources to bring in an outside expert to test your computer systems and make security recommendations, there are simple, economical steps you can take to reduce your risk of falling victim to a costly cyber attack. The following list of easily implementable security procedures was developed during a Federal Communications Commission roundtable on effective cyber-security strategies for small business owners and is a great place to start:
- Train employees in cyber-security principles.
- Install, use and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on every computer used in your business.
- Use a firewall for your Internet connection.
- Download and install software updates for your operating systems and applications as they become available
- Make backup copies of important business data and information.
- Control physical access to your computers and network components.
- Secure your Wi-Fi networks. If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace make sure it is secure and hidden.
- Require individual user accounts for each employee.
- Limit employee access to data and information, and limit authority to install software.
- Regularly change passwords.
Cyber security is a serious concern for all businesses—large and small. Contact Interstate Motor Carriers/Capacity Agency, LLC. to learn how our risk management resources and insurance solutions can help protect your business from cyber attacks.
Posted on July 10, 2017
Summer heat can be more than uncomfortable—it can be a threat to your health, especially for older adults and children. Whatever your age, don’t let the summer heat get the best of you.
Heat exhaustion occurs when a person cannot sweat enough to cool the body, usually the result of not drinking enough fluids during hot weather. It generally develops when a person is playing, working, or exercising outside in extreme heat. Symptoms include:
- Dizziness, weakness, nausea, headache and vomiting
- Blurry vision
- Body temperature rising to 101°F
- Sweaty skin
- Feeling hot and thirsty
- Difficulty speaking
A person suffering from heat exhaustion must move to a cool place and drink plenty of water.
Heat stroke is the result of untreated heat exhaustion. Symptoms include:
- Unawareness of heat and thirst
- Body temperature rising rapidly to above 101°F
- Confusion or delirium
- Loss of consciousness or seizure
Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency that must be treated quickly by a trained professional. Until help arrives, cool the person down by placing ice on the neck, armpits and groin. If the person is awake and able to swallow, give him or her fluids.
Tips for Staying Cool
Below are some tips for staying safe in the heat:
- Drink plenty of water—In hot weather, drink enough to quench your thirst. The average adult needs eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day—more during heat spells.
- Dress for the weather—When outside, wear lightweight clothing made of natural fabrics and a well-ventilated hat.
- Stay inside if possible—Do errands and outside chores early or late in the day.
- Eat light—Replace heavy or hot meals with lighter, refreshing foods.
- Think cool! Take a cool shower or apply a cold compress to your pulse points. Or, try spending time indoors at an air-conditioned mall or movie theater.
Posted on July 06, 2017
Driver shortages hurt every corner of the transportation industry. Attracting and retaining competent drivers has become a significant competitive advantage. To find the solution to the problem, it’s best to identify some of the major contributing factors: a generation inclined to pursue white-collar work, a decrease in average real annual wages across the industry, and a massive ongoing gender gap, increasingly complex regulations, increasing costs for owner-operators, increasing costs to provide benefits to employees and increasingly competitive benefits packages, and more.
Rout your driver shortage challenges with paradigm shifts to your organization. It’s a lot of work, but it’s essential for building a strong and sustainable transportation business in this decade and those to come. Here are 5 changes to put your business on top and keep it there:
- Total compensation is about thoughtful implementation of employee benefits. This includes a variety of available plans to suit the needs of different drivers, but also an emphasis on workplace safety and wellness that makes drivers and potential hires feel their well-being is your top concern.
- Recruiting female drivers – a largely untapped market. Many would-be female truck drivers shy away from the industry or from a specific employer for a few reasons. Commercial rigs often come equipped with driver seats that don’t adjust well to the varying forms of the female anatomy – fix this and highlight it. Some drivers and businesses use language or behaviors that can make women feel uncomfortable or unwelcome – fostering an open and welcoming environment will bolster female driver recruiting as well as male recruiting and retention.
- Transparent regulatory compliance practices. Educate your drivers. Make them feel like experts. Give them the tools and the confidence to report accurately, inspect frequently, and maintain a flawless record with roadside inspections, OSHA, and more. This bolsters your reputation among clients, prospects, employees, and potential new hires as a business with great respect for public safety and open business practices.
- Attracting another untapped pool of would-be drivers, college grads, can benefit from ethical or monetary incentives. But at the end of the day, the key here is opportunities for advancement. Paths to increased responsibility, skill, and compensation, as well as a policy of promotion from within, will help you draw in new talent you might not have expected.
- Building a reputation as a safe and responsible transportation business while affording the aforementioned incentives requires innovative and comprehensive coverages for employees, employers, and power units and facilities.
To learn more about improved hiring and retention practices and innovative trucking coverages, contact us.
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.