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.

Changes at UIIA – Binding Arbitration, Per Diem, and more

Posted on October 24, 2016

shutterstock_390898246 - CopyThe Uniform Intermodal Interchange & Facilities Access Agreement (UIIA) provides uniform industry processes and procedures for the exchange of intermodal equipment between trucking companies, railroads, companies that lease equipment, and ocean carriers. As such, it behooves individuals within the transportation industry and UIIA participants to stay up to date with the latest changes at the UIIA.

Tire Tread Damage

Effective September 19, 2016, the UIIA revised its definition for slid flat tire damage. The new definition indicates a tire experienced flat tire damage if the removed tread wore down to 2/32 of an inch or less in the flat area. This only holds true if the unaffected tread is greater than 4/32 of an inch.

This type of damage occurs when a driver brakes suddenly or when a vehicle begins to slide out of the driver’s control. It often leaves behind skid marks on the asphalt. Proper tire maintenance and replacement improve safety, so inspect your tires for tread wear and damage often.

Proposed Changes

The Intermodal Interchange Executive Committee (IIEC) held a meeting on September 20, 2016. The committee put forth two UIIA modifications with unanimous approval.

Binding Arbitration Guidelines

The IIEC proposed changes to Item D.10 under their binding arbitration guidelines. For claims in regards to maintenance and repair, the invoicing party must provide an Equipment Interchange Receipt or Recorded Image from the time of the interchange. It must clearly show the condition of the equipment. If the individual sending the invoice cannot produce either of these documents, the party receiving the invoice is not responsible.

Free Days, Per Diem, Container Use, Chassis Use/Rental and/or Storage/Ocean Demurrage

The provider has 60 days from returning equipment to invoice the motor carrier for Per Diem, Container Use, Chassis Use/Rental and/or Storage/Ocean Demurrage charges. If the provider fails to invoice the motor carrier in this period, they forfeit the cost.

However, if the provider sends the invoice to the wrong party, they can re-invoice the correct motor carrier. They have 30 days from when the incorrect party submits a charge dispute or they can work within the original 60 days, whichever is later. However, this window is not indefinite. The provider can only recoup expenses for an incorrectly billed charge if they resubmit the invoice within 90 days of returning the equipment.

The proposed changes above are open to public commentary through October 31, 2016.

Trailer Interchange Insurance Coverage Explained

Posted on October 18, 2016

trailer-interchangeTruckers and motor carriers need a variety of insurance types to ensure they have full coverage. Understanding trailer interchange insurance can be confusing. Find out more about what it is, who needs it, and other important details below.

What is Trailer Interchange Insurance?

This is a type of coverage available to truckers and motor carriers. It provides coverage in the event that the insured damages a trailer that belongs to another individual. It is not uncommon for truckers and motor carriers to transport trailers that belong to a different motor carrier. This is how drivers can trade trailers en route to maintain scheduling demands. This type of arrangement is known as a trailer interchange agreement. The trailer interchange insurance labels the trailer possessor as the responsible party. It provides coverage in the event of an accident, fire, theft, and other types of physical damage.

Who Needs It?

If you make use of trailer interchange agreements, then you need trailer interchange insurance. The purpose is to protect you while you are moving cargo or a trailer that is not yours. The truck driver or motor carrier moving the trailer is almost always responsible for paying for damages should they occur.

Things to Know

Like other types of insurance, trailer interchange insurance has limits and deductibles. Limits and deductibles go hand-in-hand. The limit is the max amount of coverage an insurance provider will provide for a claim. Another way of looking at it is it is the max value of the trailer. The deductible is the amount the driver or motor carrier pays out of pocket in the event of a claim.

Select your limit and deductible wisely. Lower limits and high deductibles often cost less, but they can come back to haunt the insured. For example, let’s say the insured has a $15,000 limit with a $5000 deductible and the trailer they’re driving gets stolen. The driver would pay the $5000 up front and their insurance provider would pay up to $15,000 to replace it.

However, if the trailer was worth more than $15,000, that difference in cost is up to the driver to pay. High deductibles can be a burden as well. The insured should be certain they can pay the deductible at any given time if necessary.

Through an exclusive arrangement we are also able to provide coverage for any Trailer or Container in the insured’s care, custody and control, as most policies require a trailer interchange agreement in order for coverage to apply. This is a much broader application and prevents any issues of coverage for the driver and motor carrier/steamship line.

For more information on trailer interchange coverage and other transportation policies, contact us.

Webinar: Pre & Post Trip Vehicle Inspections to Avoid DOT Penalties and Reduce Costs

Posted on October 11, 2016

Join Interstate Motor Carriers for this educational webinar to learn how effective pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspection practices reduce costs and DOT penalties. Expert speaker Rob Dowling, Transportation Safety & Loss Control Director at The Capacity Group, will review the key components of pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspections, and explain the consequences of failing to comply. Topics include:
shutterstock_3129935 - Copy
* Pre-Trip Inspection Requirements
* Post-Trip Inspection Requirements
* Driver Vehicle Inspection Reporting & Responsibilities
* Recordkeeping, Compliance & Audits

Date & Time: Wed, Oct 26, 2016 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM EDT

To Register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5637938663285566210

How to Eat Healthy While on the Road

Posted on October 04, 2016

appleMaintaining your health as a commercial driver should be a high priority. Unfortunately, eating healthy while on the road is not always convenient and can even seem impossible at times. However, proper planning and smart diet choices can help you avoid weight gain while traveling. Here are some tips to help you maintain your waistline while on the road.

Invest in a Crockpot

Many crockpots can plug into low voltage cigarette lighters or other standard vehicle outlets. Opt for a smaller crockpot that functions on less voltage such as a 12 V crockpot. It should not indicate it is for household use only. Invest in crockpot liners to reduce clean up time. It may also be wise to use crockpot lid clips to ensure the lid stays on as you drive over bumps.

By preparing your meals in advance, you can avoid last minute food decisions. If you wait until you are starving to eat, the likelihood of eating a healthy meal diminishes. Plus, with a crockpot you also get to choose the ingredients yourself. This allows you to control your fat intake and ensure you are eating a nutritious meal.

Eat Small and Frequent Meals

If you gorge yourself on sumptuous meals two or three times per day, you will eat more than you intended to. By eating more often throughout the day, you are less likely to binge eat. To help avoid this, be sure to eat breakfast every day. If you eat smaller, nutrient-dense meals every two to three hours over a twelve hour period you can better control your food intake.

Snacking: Know Yourself

It is easy to tell yourself to stop snacking throughout the day. It is another matter to follow through with the advice. If you know that you are a frequent snacker, take steps to diminish their weight gain effects. For example, instead of eating chips and cookies keep healthy options on hand such as granola, nuts, and fruit.

The S Word

It’s a devious four letter word that adds inches to your waistline: soda. Reduce your soda intake or cut it from your diet altogether if at all possible. You should also try to cut juice and energy drinks as well. Water is the best choice for your health. Plus, sometimes individuals mistake dehydration as hunger. If you stay hydrated, you can reduce the frequency you feel the urge to snack. To learn more about healthy and safety practices for trucking professionals, contact us.

Hours of Service Exemptions

Posted on September 27, 2016

shutterstock_50164954 - Copy (2)It’s important for every commercial operator to understand the Hours of Service rules. But knowing when you’re exempt from these rules can also prove very useful. A brief review of the core rules:

  • 30 Minute Break: A non-passenger-carrying commercial operator must take a break of at least 30 minutes from driving after an 8 hour period of driving. Non-driving work related activities can be performed during this time.
  • 14 Hour Rule: A non-passenger-carrying commercial operator must stop driving after being on-duty for 14 consecutive hours.
  • 11 Hour Rule: Within the aforementioned 14 hour window, a commercial operator may drive a maximum of 11 hours.

So now let’s take a look at some of the exemptions:

  • Providing Emergency Assistance: Providing direct assistance to an emergency as defined by the FMCSA suspends all Hours of Service regulations.
  • 16 Hour Extension: The 14 Hour Rule is extended to 16 hours for those who qualify for the 100 air mile provision or 150 air mile provision as defined by the FMCSA.
  • Adverse Driving Conditions: Unanticipated adverse weather conditions extend the 11 Hour Rule to a 13 hour limit.
  • 3o Minute Break Exemption: All drivers who qualify for 100 air mile provision status are exempt from the 30 minute break rule.

Understand when and how these exemptions apply can make you safer and more efficient as an owner operator or as a large fleet. To learn more about transportation news, compliance, and coverages, contact us.

FDA Regulations: FSMA Implementation & Compliance

Posted on September 20, 2016

shutterstock_298138835-copyThe Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has brought a number of relevant changes to the transportation industry regarding the handling of both human and animal food. The rule exists to reduce the likelihood of contamination, and requires all shippers to develop and implement written procedures adequate to ensure sanitary handling of the products in question.

Which Businesses Must Comply with the FSMA?

With some exceptions (noted below), the final rule applies to shippers, receivers, loaders and carriers who transport food in the United States by motor or rail vehicle, whether or not the food is offered for or enters interstate commerce. Persons in other countries who ship food to the United States directly by motor or rail vehicle (from Canada or Mexico), or by ship or air, and arrange for the transfer of the intact container onto a motor or rail vehicle for transportation within the U.S., if that food will be consumed or distributed in the United States.

Exemptions to the FSMA Include:

  • Shippers, receivers, or carriers engaged in food transportation operations that have less than $500,000 in average annual revenue
  • Exporters who ship food through the United States (for example, from Canada to Mexico) by motor or rail vehicle if the food does not enter U.S. distribution.
  • Transportation activities performed by a farm
  • Transportation of food that is transshipped through the United States to another country
  • Transportation of food that is imported for future export and that is neither consumed or distributed in the United States
  • Transportation of compressed food gases (e.g. carbon dioxide, nitrogen or oxygen authorized for use in food and beverage products), and food contact substances
  • Transportation of human food byproducts transported for use as animal food without further processing
  • Transportation of food that is completely enclosed by a container except a food that requires temperature control for safety
  • Transportation of live food animals, except molluscan shellfish

The FSMA Key Requirements

  • Vehicles and transportation equipment: The design and maintenance of vehicles and transportation equipment to ensure that it does not cause the food that it transports to become unsafe. For example, they must be suitable and adequately cleanable for their intended use and capable of maintaining temperatures necessary for the safe transport of food.
  • Transportation operations: The measures taken during transportation to ensure food safety, such as adequate temperature controls, preventing contamination of ready to eat food from touching raw food, protection of food from contamination by non-food items in the same load or previous load, and protection of food from cross-contact, i.e., the unintentional incorporation of a food allergen.
  • Training: Training of carrier personnel in sanitary transportation practices and documentation of the training. This training is required when the carrier and shipper agree that the carrier is responsible for sanitary conditions during transport.
  • Records: Maintenance of records of written procedures, agreements and training (required of carriers). The required retention time for these records depends upon the type of record and when the covered activity occurred, but does not exceed 12 months.

Compliance Dates

  • Small businesses must comply by June 6, 2018
  • Other businesses must comply by June 6, 2017

To learn more about transportation regulations, coverages, and news, contact us.