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.
Posted on March 23, 2017
Driver retention is a constant struggle for many transportation companies throughout the country. The industry continues to learn more about why retaining drivers is a problem and how to fix it. For a business owner, it is important to try to understand how driver retention impacts your business and to move forward making a valiant effort to retain your drivers!
In-cab satellite TV provider EpicVue recently conducted one-on-one informal conversations with 138 drivers at truck stops across North America as to why pay is the most important compensation for truck drivers. Lance Platt, EpicVue’s CEO, noted that “perks” ranging from health care benefits to vacation time and larger sleeper cabs are becoming more important, especially to younger drivers.
Gemini Motor Transport is a fleet that began rewarding drivers for driving safely. Credits are awarded to Gemini’s drivers on an annual basis; to earn one credit the driver must have no accidents, tickets or fuel-related incidents over the period of one year. They must also pass all U.S. Department of Transportation and Gemini inspections. Once drivers accumulate five credits, they are eligible for a bonus which can range from $25,000 to $35,000. Since this program began, turnover rates significantly dropped and is extremely low for the industry.
Bonuses and rewards can be highly effective, but there are other ways to improve your driver retention!
- Establish a driver council made up of new and veteran drivers who give insights to fleet managers of the view from the driver’s seat
- Speak to all drivers regularly to set expectations and troubleshoot issues
- Perform management ride-alongs
- Create a consistent driver on-boarding experience
- Hold monthly driver meetings
- Implement driver recognition programs
These tips help communication within the fleet, show that you as an employer care about your employees, and generate respect and loyalty throughout the company. When employees feel proud of the company they work for, the company is doing something (a lot of something) right. The higher the opinion your driver has of your company, the more likely it is that they will continue driving for you! The key to retaining drivers is to set goals, have conversation, and obtain mutual respect.
Posted on March 10, 2017
Being a truck driver can pave the way for an unhealthy life style. It may seem like sleeping less or stopping at fast food restaurants is an efficient lifestyle for someone who essentially live on the road, but this is not the case.
Getting adequate sleep is the first step in becoming a healthier trucker, being a fatigued driver puts you and others on the road in danger. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night is imperative for a healthy lifestyle, but sleeping well is not enough to remain healthy. The next tip to becoming healthier on the road is to stretch and exercise daily. As a driver you are sitting and focusing on the road for more than half of your waking hours, try to stretch at every stop to prevent your muscles from becoming stiff and achy. It may seem impossible to exercise daily when you’re on the job, but exercising doesn’t have to mean lifting weights for two hours. Try walking 30-45 minutes once a day at rest stops, maybe try walking for 10 minutes at four different stops!
As you are beginning to create a healthier body on the outside it is important remember that cliché saying’ “you are what you eat”. Staying alert and focused is a huge part of a truck driver’s job and by fueling your body with healthy food you are help your body to do so! Try packing a cooler with fruits and vegetables, if this isn’t an option try shopping smart at gas stations by buying nuts or head to the fridge and look for some fruits and vegetables there! Fueling your body so that it works the best that it can means drinking more water and less caffeine, try to not drink caffeine an hour or two before bed time to ensure the first step of a good night’s sleep.
Although these are all essential ways to stay physically healthy on the road it is extremely important to stay mentally healthy as well. Listen to your favorite music while you drive, chat with family and friends as you’re walking at those rest stops, and put some time aside to do something for yourself (read, relax, play a game). Taking care of yourself is especially important on the road because the alternative could mean you are putting people’s lives in danger. Start one step at a time so you can be the healthiest person, driver, and self that you possibly can.
Posted on December 27, 2016
Digital security is a growing concern for the trucking industry, which is not surprising, considering it is gaining importance for most businesses in the country. Cyber security is a cost of doing business in the U.S. as there are cyber hackers waiting to attack at any time.
Many truckers now conduct both professional and personal business from their truck cab making their truck a target. It’s important for truckers to recognize that they need to consider cost-effective risk management practices that will protect them from cyber attacks.
Most truckers are aware of the need for and may have put into place protection for their hardware systems, including separate safety systems to shield their entertainment/information systems and vehicle-based technology. But software-based security systems have been slower to be adopted.
Here are some best practices that truckers may want to consider when it comes to digital security.
- Security-based design procedures
- Frequency and severity analysis
- Audit and monitoring policies
- Detection of vulnerabilities through self-testing
Many automotive manufacturers are now integrating security systems into the design of the vehicle and add-on features that include technology. As computers and cloud solutions become standard in vehicle systems used for everything from navigation to safety monitoring, cyber security is an issue rising to the top.
The issue of digital security in the trucking industry is a serious one. It is possible for cyber hackers to do almost anything to your vehicle, including controlling steering, brakes and lights. Right now cyber attackers are mostly pranksters, but in the future hackers may become more serious and could access financial information (such as credit card numbers) that are stored on computers in the trucks.
Vulnerable systems in a truck include adaptive cruise control, parking assist and pre-crash braking, as well as telematics. Truck manufacturers, government and industry groups need to take cyber security threats seriously and develop security systems. to protect truckers and the public. To learn more about protecting your transportation business, contact us.
Posted on December 20, 2016
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is cracking down on drivers by holding them accountable to audit requirements instigated in 2013 under “Operation Quick Strike.” The initial phase of Operation Quick Strike targeted bus and motorcoach companies and was successful at shutting down companies it found to be out of compliance. Today’s model is a performance-based program that is being rolled out to trucking companies, including fleets, and focuses more on current problems rather than following up on prior out-of-compliance ratings.
Here are some of the changes in the way the FMCSA is doing audits.
- Audits include a broader range of fleet personnel, including accounting, sales, and drivers as well as checking social media.
- Ranking in the unsafe driving, hours of service compliance or crash indicator basic must be 90 or higher, a change from a rating of 85.
- The FMCSA has added a “Part C” to the audit, reserved for the auditor’s notes, the method of operation of the audit and other details of the audit not listed in Parts A or B. Parts A and B are routinely released to the driver, but drivers need to request Part C, citing the Freedom of Information Act.
- Unsafe Driving criteria are being added to the audit for the first time. This includes speeding ticket information, following too close, or other minor driving violations will be used in the new rating system.
- E-logs will also be included in the audit. An explosion of information and data. E-logs will be used to request other documents that support the audit.
- While not currently included in the audit, the FMCSA is considering including a “Safety Fitness Determination” criteria in the future.
If a driver is deemed “high-risk”, they will be rated “Conditional.” Under the new criteria, the FMCSA has increased the investigation, intervention and “out-of-service” orders. And, since shippers and brokers have access to a driver’s rating, a Conditional designation could have a major financial impact on a trucking company. For more on transportation news and risk management, contact us.
Posted on December 13, 2016
You are finally off the traffic-congested roadway and safely parked at a truck stop. But you may not be as safe as you think. A large percentage of truck-trailer accidents occur at truck stops which should be the safest place to park. Drivers can never let their guard down when behind the wheel. Trucking accidents are expensive to both the employer and to the driver. Below are a few tips to help reduce a trucking accident/incident at a truck stop:
- Pre-plan your route so you know you will be stopping at a location with plenty of room and that is well lit. Choose your stops, don’t let them choose you.
- Never underestimate the usefulness of a rest area. Not only do rest areas offer easy access, but they are setup to allow trucks to pull through a parking spot versus the higher risk of backing into a spot. Statistics indicate that more accidents happen in truck stops than rest areas.
- Avoid parking on the end of a row. Not only is there traffic crossing next to you but most people park on the end because they are tired and after a long day the end is the closest spot. Avoiding the end of a parking lot helps you avoid drivers who are parking when they are tired. Removing yourself from high traffic areas can only help.
- Avoid a spot that will force you to back out when you leave. Choose a spot you can either pull through (the best option) or back into (second best option).
- Avoiding parking in a location where the trucks across from you will be required to back out of their spots. Being behind a vehicle that will be blindly backing toward you is a recipe for disaster.
- If the truck next to you looks close, is over the line, or parked odd (for example the cab is angled to the trailer for some reason) then move on to a new spot. If you have to take that spot don’t be afraid to write down the name and DOT number on the truck. You may be glad you did when you wake up in the morning.
- Park with your tractor and trailer straight. It reduces the area others have to hit while backing.
- Use your four-ways when pulling through the lot and backing up. People in truck stops, or even other parking lots, are usually tired or distracted. Four-ways activate peripheral vision and increase the chance of someone seeing you. And if required use your horn gently when needed to tell someone “Hey, I’m here”.