Posted on September 17, 2019
A rise in technology and shifting customer expectations have dramatically changed the landscape of the trucking industry. As a result, many of the trends driving business decisions in the trucking industry are leaving fleet managers and carriers frustrated and with fewer options. However, it isn’t all bad news as fleets learn to navigate the changes affecting their businesses. The following are leading trends influencing the trucking industry:
- The driver shortage. This has been a challenge for years and trucking companies have taken numerous steps to try to address it. Some opted to entice new talent pools such as veterans or women. Others are trying to change regulations to allow drivers under 21 to operate on interstate highways. Now, nearly two-thirds of the industry are increasing benefits, pay, and more, to try to entice qualified drivers.
- Competition undercutting prices. When polled, 66% of trucking companies reported losing contracts to unprofitably low competitor offers. Fleets need to continue to find unique ways to improve efficiency and economies of scale to lower costs.
- Confidence in expansion. Not every trend is negative for fleets. Over a third expect to expand by 11-25% despite a predicted economic slowdown for the industry.
- Reducing costs with technology. Technology has been able to save fleets money in a variety of ways. With ELDs and telematics, fleets are able to identify gas-guzzling behaviors, pinpoint unsafe drivers, and provide better maintenance. Not only does technology help fleets stay on top of preventative maintenance, but it can also provide predictive maintenance suggestions as well. For example, artificial intelligence can run detailed analytics to compare the service history of fleets and isolate moments when brakes, tires, or other components will likely need servicing or replacement to avoid blowouts and accidents.
Keeping up with the latest trends affecting the industry can be a challenge. While not all trends withstand the test of time, some have been a thorn in the industry’s side for years such as the driver shortage. Interstate Motor Carriers knows that fleets have enough things to keep track of without adding new and challenging developments to their plate. Contact us to learn how we can help your trucking business.
Posted on September 06, 2019
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has finally issued their proposal relating to changes in the hours-of-service rules. During the comment period, the U.S. DOT agency received over 5200 comments. Based on that feedback, FMCSA is proposing the five following revisions:
- Amending the 30-minute break requirement. Current regulations dictate that drivers take a 30-minute break after eight hours of on-duty time and the break has to be off-duty status. Now, FMCSA is suggesting the 30-minute break follow eight hours of driving time and that not-driving status can satisfy the break (i.e. the driver can stop to grab something to eat to satisfy the break requirements).
- Splitting the 10 hours off-duty period. The new proposal would allow drivers to split their off duty time between a sleeper berth and another qualified off-duty status. Drivers could spend 7 to 8 hours in a sleeper berth and the remaining hours off-duty to satisfy the off-duty period without it counting against their 14-hour driving window.
- Revising the adverse driving conditions exception. The new ruling would grant drivers up to 16 hours of on-duty status in the event of adverse conditions affecting the roads such as severe weather or heavy traffic.
- Modifying off-duty breaks. Sometimes drivers need to take breaks, but they run the risk of pushing the 14-hour workday rule. The new ruling would allow drivers to take a break ranging from 30 minutes up to three hours while being able to pause their on-duty status. This would allow truck drivers to wait out heavy traffic to use their drive time more efficiently.
- Increasing the short-haul exemption hours and air miles. FMCSA is proposing an increase to on-duty hours and distance limiting rules for truck drivers that qualify for the short-haul exemption. This change would increase the maximum on-duty period from 12 hours to 14 hours and air-mile radius from 100 miles to 150 miles.
FMCSA estimates the proposed changes will save $274 million without sacrificing the safety of truck drivers or the motoring public. They also emphasized that the rule limiting drivers to eight consecutive hours of drive time followed by at least a 30-minute break remains in effect.
Interstate Motor Carriers understands the challenges fleets face trying to remain compliant with ever-changing regulations and truck insurance requirements. Contact us to learn how we can help your trucking business.
Posted on August 30, 2019
Every year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) conducts Brake Safety Week to help reduce the number and severity of crashes caused by defective brakes. This year the CVSA will conduct roadside safety inspections on September 15-21 across the country. Any commercial vehicle found to have a critical vehicle or brake violation will be placed out of service until the driver corrects the issue. Vehicles that pass inspection will receive an official CVSA decal.
What is the Focus of This Year’s Inspections?
CVSA will be paying special attention to brake hoses and tubing this year. While hoses and tubing are part of a standard inspection, CVSA wants to highlight their importance in keeping commercial vehicles mechanically sound and safe for operation. During last year’s three day International Roadcheck, brake system violations and out-of-adjustment brakes accounted for 45% of out-of-service violations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) echoed this finding in their 2018 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics, reporting that brake violations accounted for six of the top 20 most frequent violations.
Brake hoses and tubing are critical components to the braking system as a whole. When they degrade, the entire system begins to experience problems. Prior to Brake Safety Week, fleets and drivers should inspect their hoses and tubing for the following:
- Properly attached
- No leaks
- Good flexibility
Knowing how to identify chaffed or worn hoses is critical to remaining in operation. Inspectors will look for the following when checking hoses and tubing:
- Any damage that extends through the outer reinforcement ply. An important note: Thermoplastic nylon tubing sometimes utilizes braiding that differs in color between the inner and outer layer. If the second color is visible, this is an out-of-service violation.
- If there is any bulging or swelling when they apply air pressure.
- Audible air leakage.
- Improper joining/clamping of hoses to tubes.
- Airflow restriction due to heat, clamping, etc.
Before your next road trip, drivers should take a break, and check their brakes, to make sure they will pass inspection. This makes sense from both a business and safety perspective.
With September rapidly approaching, the time is now to prepare for Brake Safety Week and Interstate Motor Carriers can help. With more than 75 years of experience in the trucking industry, we know trucking safety and truck insurance. Contact us to learn how we can help your fleet.
Posted on August 07, 2019
Safety is always a hot topic in the trucking industry. With 4,761 fatalities caused by large truck collisions in 2017, there is obvious room for improvement. While previous years showed steady decreases in fatalities, 2017 saw a 9% increase compared to 2016.
The overwhelming majority of those deaths were among public drivers involved in accidents with large trucks—72%. Commercial truck drivers accounted for 18% of the fatalities and the remaining 10% were individuals outside of a vehicle (i.e. pedestrians and bicyclists). The cost in human lives and actual dollars is astronomical. Experts within the industry believe the answer to safe trucking lies in new technology, while not overwhelming drivers with high tech gadgets.
Truck drivers already have technology available to them to improve safety. For example, lane departure warnings and lane assisting technology are remarkable in their ability to prevent collisions. Technologies such as those below, which are current or imminent, can be leveraged to improve trucking safety:
- Adaptive cruise control
- Automatic emergency braking
- Blind spot detection
- Automated parking with anti-rollaway technology
- Facial recognition solutions (to monitor driver alertness)
However, industry insiders are quick to point out that inundating drivers with multiple new technologies at once can be overwhelming. It’s best to incorporate new technology incrementally, especially technology which drivers can readily understand. For example, drivers that are comfortable with lane departure warning technology would likely adapt well to lane assist technology. These new safety innovations are very close to becoming a reality as trucking companies continue to put safety at the forefront of their agenda.
Interstate Motor Carriers strives to help trucking companies in their safety efforts. Contact us today to learn how we can help your fleet mitigate risks and losses.
Posted on July 16, 2019
Compensation planning is an instrumental tool for truck driver recruitment and retention. There are many nuances to ensuring that fair, competitive and attractive compensation plans are in place. Salary adjustments, bonuses, allowances, insurance benefits, and more go into truck driver’s earnings, and fleets need to make sure their plans are financially sound and up to date. Follow these tips to develop a more effective trucker compensation plan:
- Define clear compensation goals. The trucking industry at large is operating on tight profit margins, and compensation has a significant effect on a company’s bottom line. Whether a fleet plans to keep pace with other trucking companies or lead the pack in rates per mile, they will need to incorporate it into their compensation planning and overall budget.
- Plan for allowances and benefits. An employee’s compensation isn’t limited to his or her base pay. Today, benefits and allowances are an important component of that final number. Fleets need to take into consideration the costs of medical care and any allowances such as food compensation that they may provide when creating their compensation plan.
- Keep an eye on the market. The economy changes and influences the industry in several ways. Fleets need to keep up with a dynamic and changing market to retain and recruit. In the current climate, annual reviews of this data may be insufficient to respond to changing market forces.
- Establish performance-based salary adjustments. Increasing base pay on the merit of seniority is an antiquated approach and rewards longevity over efficacy. Better drivers that consistently complete their deliveries on time and undamaged while operating their truck safely should receive bigger pay increases than lower or unsafe performers. Compensation plans should include tiers and a ranking system to easily see where employees land.
- Have clear compensation guidelines. If pay increases are subjective, it will cause issues among employees. Biases and personal relationships shouldn’t have any role in determining changes to pay. Developing a clear outline for when and how pay increases and bonuses occur will help address this potential issue.
- Give accolades to top performers throughout the year. Employee appreciation goes a long way toward retention. While every employee would love to receive a bonus, this isn’t always possible. If a fleet can only afford annual bonuses, they should look for other means to recognize top performers on at least a quarterly basis.
Employee compensation is a multifaceted issue which is crucial for truck driver recruitment and retention. Trucking fleets, both large and small, need to ensure they invest enough time and energy to get the return needed from their compensation plans. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers to learn how we can help your company make sound decisions while balancing your risk and reducing losses.
Posted on July 03, 2019
Since September of 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires any trucking company hauling food for consumption (human and animal alike) to comply with the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Rule (STF). STF’s aim is to provide accountability for all steps of transporting food from farms to forks.
The rule calls for truckers hauling food to comply with the shipper requirements, which means following best practices for temperature-controlled cargo. FDA also indicated the ruling has some flexibility, allowing truckers to continue following best practices for cleaning, inspection, maintenance, and so on to prevent food from spoiling when transporting it.
Who Bears Responsibility?
There is some confusion over who is responsible for ensuring the sanitary and safe transport of food. The rule identifies shippers at the responsible party. While FDA defines this as whoever initiates the shipment, the International Refrigerated Transportation Association (IRTA) stresses that carriers and loaders need to abide by the STF regulations as well.
Carriers need to make sure they understand every step of shipper requirements and adhere to any supplied food safety plans to ensure a safe, unspoiled delivery. IRTA also recommends maintaining documentation should any lawsuits occur to protect carriers.
For example, maintaining clean trailers is critical to prevent cross-contamination. Even if a fleet employs standard cleaning protocols between deliveries, they should make a record of every cleaning in the event of a lawsuit. If food turns up contaminated, providing proof of a thorough cleaning prior to shipment can go a long way to absolving a fleet.
How the Ruling Affects Carriers Going Forward
The FDA didn’t set out to alter cargo insurance claims, however this ruling indicates a shift in risk approach. As a result, good record keeping alone may not always be enough to protect fleets from legal action related to spoiled food. The experts at Interstate Motor Carriers are intimately familiar with the risks trucking companies face when hauling food cargo. Contact us to learn more about reducing your trucking company’s risks.
Posted on June 25, 2019
The trucking industry is undergoing massive and rapid changes as truck designs become more complex and nuanced. As a result, repairs to these advanced machines need to keep pace, employing more finesse and deeper diagnosis. Today’s trucks are vastly different from the ones in production twenty years ago. Yet with many repairs, mechanics and technicians are treating modern vehicles as they did with previous generations.
What are the Differences?
In previous decades, not many truck developers or repair mechanics gave much consideration to the first second of a crash. They were more concerned with the aftermath and ensuring the vehicle could be returned in good working order, as quickly as possible. Today, however, technological advancements have changed how trucks react to crashes within the first second, to keep the driver as safe as possible while improving overall fuel economy and performance. These include:
- Lighter weight material to save on fuel
- Upgrades such as foams, seam sealers, and rivet attachments to change how the cab reacts to a crash
- Upgrades to comply with stricter regulations for greenhouse gases
- Advanced steel with unique welding properties
Why These Differences Matter
Repair technicians need to consider these differences, or the repairs of today can become severe risks for tomorrow. For example, advancements in welding can create holes for rivets which may stretch during a crash. Sometimes, they’re only meant for one use and need to be replaced. While customers want their trucks back as soon as possible, expedience in this case can result in unsafe trucks on the road.
One of the biggest roadblocks is a simple lack of knowledge or training. The heavy-duty vehicles of today are vastly different than the ones most technicians worked on to learn their trade. Like any big change in the industry, fleets need to take the time to ensure their repair mechanics have proper training to keep vehicles in good working order without compromising safety.
Fleets can’t afford to overlook risks like outdated repair techniques. The experts at Interstate Motor Carriers are intimately familiar with the issues facing the ever-evolving trucking industry and we are here to help. Contact us to learn more about reducing your trucking company’s risks with our innovative solutions.
Posted on June 05, 2019
Though many fleets reported that 2018 was a stellar year for business, there were however, continued operational challenges. And many industry experts report that these challenges are having a greater impact on smaller fleets, than on larger carriers. While many smaller fleets enjoyed significant expansion in 2018, increasing insurance costs, maintenance costs, and fuel costs are creating challenges which may slow their future growth. In addition to increasing costs, there are several other hurdles impacting their efforts to expand.
Here are four additional challenges small fleets face:
- Recruiting drivers
- Retaining drivers
- Ensuring compliance and keeping up with government regulations
- Competitors charging unsustainable rates
Small fleets struggle more than their larger counter parts in dealing with recruitment and retention. Many large carriers opted to increase drivers’ pay as an incentive to recruit and retain both drivers and other employees. However, they were able to do so by shifting contract terms, while many smaller fleets are unable to do so.
New disruptive competitors in the trucking industry are also creating headaches for smaller fleets. Some of these offer cutthroat rates that established fleets can’t maintain. While it’s not a sustainable business model for these disrupters, it allows them to poach customers and force down prices across the industry until they can establish a market presence. Simply said, they are buying market share. Smaller fleets either risk losing their customers or must lower prices to retain them.
Shifting government regulations are especially challenging for smaller fleets as they lack the resources to stay on top of regulation and compliance related changes. Hours of service regulations, and safety inspection requirements must be reviewed by fleet management and then effectively conveyed to the drivers. This is no simple task for a busy and growing small fleet.
Small fleet owners and managers can reach out to the trucking experts at Interstate Motor Carriers. Our team works diligently to service our trucking clients every day to help them manage risk, reduce losses, and solve their most challenging problems. Contact us to learn more.
Posted on May 22, 2019
Truck drivers and carriers have complained that many of the existing hours of service (HOS) regulations are too restrictive if not outright impossible to adhere to while maintaining customer expectations for deliveries. However, it is not these complaints that sparked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s interest in revising the rulings. Instead, the DOT is pulling data from the much-contested electronic logging devices (ELDs) to guide their proposed changes.
How ELDs are Affecting HOS Regulations
ELDs are tamper-proof, unlike their paper records predecessor. The devices wrought an almost instantaneous decrease in HOS violations, resulting in less weary and therefore safer drivers. However, the data also revealed some truths about the transportation industry to FMCSA. Primarily that times and technology have changed customer expectations, and how people do business.
FMCSA’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
FMCSA is seeking commentary on proposed changes in an effort to reduce excessive burdens on truck drivers to remain compliant but without compromising safety on the roads. The proposed revisions include:
- Lengthening the short-haul 100 air-mile exemption from 12 to 14 hours on-duty. This would make the exemption consistent with existing regulations for long-haul commercial drivers.
- Permit a temporary two-hour increase for the 14-hour on-duty limitation when drivers encounter unfavorable driving conditions.
- Reinstating the option to allow truck drivers to split the mandatory 10-hour off-duty rest time so long as the driver’s truck has a sleeper-berth.
- Amending the existing ruling requiring a 30-minute break after eight hours of unbroken driving.
FMCSA’s primary concern is always to keep roads safe for drivers and the motoring public. However, they understand the difficulties truck drivers encounter while operating their vehicles. After reviewing the data from ELDs, the DOT agency is proposing changes to keep pace with modern challenges, expectations, and business requirements without increasing risk.
Since releasing their advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR), FMCSA received over 5000 comments. Most of the comments focused on known pain-points for truck drivers, underscoring just how challenging existing HOS regulations are for drivers.
Interstate Motor Carriers is intimately familiar with the challenges both fleets and independent operators encounter when trying to remain compliant with HOS regulations while running a successful business. Contact us today to learn more about our innovative solutions designed to help reduce your transportation risk without adding undue stress to drivers.
Posted on May 08, 2019
Every owner operator knows tailgating is a bad idea and can increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and fatalities. However, many truck drivers fail to allow themselves the appropriate following distance based on their vehicle, road conditions and weather conditions. Check out the five following facts about safe following distances that truck drivers should familiarize themselves with to improve trucking safety.
- Avoiding tailgating isn’t the same thing as a safe driving distance. The general rule of thumb is that for every 10 mph the commercial vehicle travels, the driver needs to add their truck’s length in following distance. For example, truck drivers traveling 50 mph will need to leave five of their trucks’ lengths between them and the vehicle in front of them. However, factors such as the tire quality, breaks and terrain can affect this ratio.
- Outside factors affect safe driving distance. As mentioned above, other elements influence safe stopping distance. Truck driver speed, the weather, vehicle condition, construction, traffic and road obstacles all influence how much space drivers need for a safe stop. Adverse weather, aging equipment, and increased congestion all warrant a greater following distance.
- Hill speed can cause accidental tailgating. Some drivers try to max their speed while going downhill to reduce the speed loss they’ll experience going uphill. However, this can lead to surprises when the driver discovers a passenger vehicle much closer than anticipated when they crest a hill. This excess speed can force drivers into an unwanted tailgating situation.
- It’s harder to maintain a safe following distance than many drivers realize. It’s fairly easy to sustain safe following distances on open roads. However, in metropolitan areas or well-traveled highways, things get trickier. Drivers should pick a lane and stick with it to allow passenger vehicles to maneuver around the commercial vehicle. Yet this is often insufficient in many busy areas, requiring truck drivers to maintain slower than normal speeds to create the necessary distance for maximum safety.
- Insufficient following distance can lead to jackknifing. Sudden braking can lead to a jackknife scenario where the weight of the trailer adversely impacts the tractor. Jackknifing is one of the most dangerous situations for truck drivers.
Owner operators must maintain constant vigilance to ensure safe following distances. Passenger vehicles are often unaware how much space trucks need to operate safely on the road. Allowing these drivers to pass without impacting following distance is a challenge that truck drivers need to overcome to ensure the safety of themselves and their vehicles. Learn more about reducing risk and improving owner operator truck safety, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.