Know Your Hours of Service Regulations

Posted on February 11, 2016

slide1Safety is a primary concern for any commercial driver. The Hours of Service regulations exist to promote and enforce uniform safety practices. Understanding and complying with these rules helps to ensure safe vehicle operation while avoiding fines and penalties. So let’s review the latest round of regulatory changes.

11-Hour Limit:

An interstate property-carrying driver is allowed to drive their truck up to 11 hours. All their time spent behind the wheel of the CMV in operation is considered “driving time.” After 11 hours of driving time, the driver must have at least 10 consecutive hours “off duty” before they can drive again. In order for time to be considered off duty, the driver must be relieved of all duty and responsibility for performing work. Also, the driver must be able to leave the place where their vehicle is parked.

14-Hour Limit:

The 14-hour rule is known as the 14 hour “driving window” limit. A driver is allowed a period of 14 consecutive hours in which they may drive up to 11 hours of those 14 hours on duty. Under the 14-hour rule, a driver may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.

The 14-hour window begins the moment the driver starts any kind of work. “On duty” time includes all the time a driver is working or is required to be ready to work. Examples include time spent at a terminal or facility of a motor carrier or shipper, time inspecting and servicing the truck, time loading and unloading and all driving time. Once the driver reaches the end of the 14th hour on duty period, they cannot drive again until they have been off for 10 hours.

The window is limited to 14 consecutive hours, even if you have some off-duty time such as a 30-minute lunch break or nap during those 14 hours. Your 30-minute break will not extend this 14-hour period, rather the 30-minute meal break will count against the 14-hour driving window. An exception to this rule would be with drivers in the 100 air-mile radius of their work reporting location who are not required to take the minimum 30-minute breaks.

Rest Breaks:

A driver may only drive if 8 hours or less has passed since end of driver’s last off duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes. Meal breaks or other off duty time of at least 30 minutes qualifies as a break. Within the 14-hour window and 11-hour driving rule, a driver may drive a total of 11 hours during their 14-hour driving period; but, driving will not be permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last 30-minute break. Of note, the FMCSA has exceptions to the required rest break, such as the short-haul exceptions in 395.1(e). Further, if a driver is working but not driving after 8 hours, no break is required.

To learn more, contact the transportation experts at Interstate.

CVSA Reports Passenger Car Drivers Speed Three Times as Often as Commercial Drivers

Posted on January 15, 2016

The results of a recent assessment – the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) ninth annual Operation Safe Driver Week – concluded that passenger car drivers are approximately three times as likely to speed as commercial drivers. These results stem from a statistical sample size of over 21,000 drivers were pulled over during the week in late 2015 by more than 2,500 law enforcement officials at hundreds of locations across the United States and Canada.

The most common violations for commercial drivers included:

  • Speedingslide3
  • Size and weight
  • Failure to wear a seatbelt
  • Failure to obey a traffic control device
  • Using a handheld phone

The CVSA has worked in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for nearly a decade to promote awareness and adherence to safety protocols for commercial drivers. An increase in citations seemingly indicates an increased commitment on the part of law enforcement officials to promote safety, while the significantly lower rate of infractions among commercial drivers versus passenger drivers indicates a level of professionalism and dedication among commercial vehicle operators. To learn more about the CVSA, the FMCSA, and trucking safety and coverages, contact us.

FMCSA Lowers Random Drug Testing Standard to 25%

Posted on January 04, 2016

shutterstock_69873625 - CopyAs of the first of this month, motor carriers will only have to test half of the previous portion of employees for use of illegal substances. The FMCSA reduced the threshold from 50% to 25% in an effort to reduce financial burden on the transportation industry while maintaining the same level of safety standards. Studies have indicated that a 25% random drug screening rate is sufficiently high to discourage use of illegal substances, making any testing beyond this threshold likely superfluous.

This comes as a result of three consecutive years with an industry-wide positive rate of less than one percent, indicating a high degree of compliance among transportation professionals. Though subject to further change, it is expected that these levels of random testing will continue for the foreseeable future. To learn more about these and other transportation issues, contact us.

Holiday Parties and Special Events – 8 Tips to Keep Your Business Protected

Posted on December 07, 2015

HOLIDAY-PARTYThe Society for Human Resource Management has conducted a survey that brings us some valuable data on holiday gathering and special events during the end-of-year season. Sixty-five percent of HR professionals surveyed indicated that their business was likely to hold such an event. Of these businesses:

  • More than half said that alcohol would be served (no surprise here)
  • Yet fewer than half of events serving alcohol would limit its consumption
  • Two thirds of respondents indicated that they would hold the event offsite
  • And nearly a quarter said they would close early

Now that we have some useful basic information on what, when, and where businesses intend to hold these events, we can discuss important safety practices and challenges in a tactical manner. These include:

  • Create and enforce an alcohol policy – excessive consumption can be fun-ruining for your guests but also potentially quite dangerous
  • Hire professional servers who will ensure that no one is being served underage, drinks are made to standards, and guests are adhering to defined limits
  • Select the location with respect to access – both before and after the event
  • Abundant food and nonalcoholic beverages – these will help prevent attendees from drinking too much
  • Hold a winter or new year party in January to reduce the stress of the December schedule and ease concerns about inclusiveness
  • Minimize opportunities for harassment – especially slow dances, gift exchanges, and other more emotionally charged activities
  • Review your insurance coverages and obtain additional or specific event coverage as necessary to protect your employees and your business
  • Create an internal memo for employees discussing the logistics as well as expectations of conduct for the event

Making Your Move on ELDs

Posted on November 30, 2015

shutterstock_50164954 - Copy (2)Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) missed its October 30 deadline for issuing its final rule on Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), the new regulation should be out soon.

Dave Osiecki, senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs for American Trucking Associations (ATA), told attendees at a recent conference he’s “pretty confident” the rule will be published this month. It has already passed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Aiming to hold businesses accountable for higher safety standards, Congress mandated ELDs in the transportation reauthorization bill of 2012. The law called for a rule requiring commercial motor vehicles to use ELDs to record hours of service (HOS), replacing the current rule that requires drivers to maintain paper logs.

As many as 3.1 million trucks and 3.4 million drivers will be affected by the new rule. ATA anticipates a two-year window to comply with the new rule, along with a four-year “grandfather” window to allow current electronic logging systems to be brought up to the new specification.

But there are good reasons to start planning now to implement a solution.

Monitoring a truck’s engine to capture a wide range of data such as engine hours, miles driven, power and motion status, and authenticated user identification data, ELDs promise to reduce paperwork and reduce accidents by keeping fatigued drivers off the road.

They also will:

  • reduce your office administrative costs by eliminating manual auditing of paper logbooks;
  • prevent paperwork mistakes and reduce fines, penalties, and fees associated with them;
  • enable management and dispatchers to better ensure HOS compliance and plan driver assignments more effectively.

To meet the requirements of the law, fleets should find the onboard technology partner best suited to meet their goals and ROI. Options will range from low-cost, single-function systems that simply meet the requirements of the new regulations to comprehensive systems that provide a wide range of benefits to management and drivers.

ELDs can potentially reduce your insurance premiums by reducing risk and proving that your fleet is HOS compliant. To learn how ELDs might reduce what you pay for trucking insurance, contact us.

Five Ways to Improve Driver Engagement

Posted on November 13, 2015

Man standing in front of truck

In the face of driver shortages and high turnover, many in the trucking industry are exploring new ways of doing things. Pay and signing bonuses will always be key incentives, but fleets increasingly are looking for ways to improve the total work experience, reexamining such factors as the fit between driver and job, managerial style, work-related stress, dispatcher effectiveness, and opportunities for professional development. The current environment makes it essential to increase driver engagement. Here are five approaches that fleets are adopting with considerable success.

Start with a warm welcome. Most turnover occurs within the first 60 to 90 days, so pay close attention to the way your orient and onboard new drivers. Offer a professional orientation that not only covers policies and regulations but also spotlights your firm’s key values, history and folklore. Use your employee handbook to drive home these same key messages. Introduce your drivers to personnel in other departments so that they feel they’re truly part of the team. Include top management in the orientation process.

Assign mentors. To assist in onboarding new drivers, fleets increasingly are pairing them with experienced mentors who can explain the lay of the land within the firm and provide assistance as needed.  Interactions with the boss can be intimidating for new drivers, so the mentor serves as a more accessible intermediary. For experienced drivers who serve in this role, the assignment often provides an added sense of purpose and satisfaction.

Communicate. As challenging as it may be to give drivers on the road a sense of connection with the home office, it’s worth the effort. Drivers want to know the direction the company is going and to keep abreast on developments at headquarters. Many firms use social media and conduct surveys to support two-way communication, and use the data to make improvements just as they do with metrics on safety and performance. Asking drivers for feedback on processes and procedures increases their sense of empowerment and fosters a more entrepreneurial spirit.

Focus on driver health. There are a many reasons to help drivers become healthier; increased engagement and retention is one of them. While small truckers won’t be able to offer full gyms as some larger fleets do, they probably can put a ping pong table in the driver lounge or a walking trail around the terminal. Also within the means of most fleets are weight-loss programs, health screenings, and health and fitness trainers who work with drivers on diet and exercise.

Focus on home. All drivers value time with their families, so any effort you make to give drivers more flexible schedules and a reasonable lifestyle is likely to pay off in higher retention. To achieve this, some firms have moved to more regional operations, dedicated runs, and relay operations. Dispatchers are using more sophisticated routing and planning systems and working more closely with shippers to fine-tune delivery and wait times.

For more on driver engagement and other transportation best practices, contact us.

URS Extends Implementation Effective Dates

Posted on November 03, 2015

dotlogoAny motor carrier that must comply with MCA80 and attach MCS90 will have to file for proof of financial responsibility under the new regulations. The effective date these regulations has been pushed back to a 9/30/16 implementation and 12/31/16 for enforcement.

At present, only for-hire motor carriers who have applied for authority to haul processed goods of others in interstate commerce and have been provided an MC# are required to have an insurance filing. The MCA80 requires all for-hire interstate motor carriers to meet the financial responsibility requirements ($750,000). Additionally, it requires all motor carriers hauling any quanitity of hazardous material across state lines to have a filing (limit of no less than $1,000,000). This only applies to intrastate hazmat transport in bulk quantities.

The implementation pushback will allow the Department of Transportation additional time to prepare to for the significant increase in registered transportation professionals/operations. Estimates vary from 25,000 to over 100,000 new registrations resulting from the regulatory changes. Additionally, the extra time will allow motor carriers to prepare for and better understand the new rules by the time they are implemented.

Clearly this will affect a wide number of motor carriers. But it will also impact insurance providers. How? According to Tommy Ruke, a trucking insurance expert: “The first consideration is that this is a law, unlike proposals for ELD’s, speed limiters, and the drug clearinghouse, so URS will happen.  The first published date is 12/12/15 when only the MCSA-1 application will be available and must be used for all new applications for registration (obtaining a new DOT#).  It will be very interesting on how this will be done and what it will look like.  We will keep an eye on how this works.”

Ruke goes on to say “The entities with new DOT#’s will be provided temporary registration that will allow them to operate without a financial responsibility filing until 9/29/16.  The 9/30/16 date will be the important date for insurance providers because as published this is the date that the MC# will go away and filings can first be made.  As I read the rule, the current motor carrier with a MC# and a 91X filing will not have to make a new filing.  Any motor carrier who has a current filing and the filing is cancelled and replaced, the replacement filing will have to be done with the new system.  Effective 9/30/16 the exempt for-hire motor carrier (ones with DOT#’s but no MC#, so no filing) will be able to have a filing made on their behalf.  Private carriers with federal DOT#’s that are hauling any hazardous items in interstate commerce will also be able to have a filing made on their behalf as well as intrastate carriers that haul in bulk.”

For more information on this and other transportation regulatory changes, contact us.

National “SmartPark” System Could Save Industry $4.4 Billion Annually

Posted on October 21, 2015

shutterstock_211095490 - 1920x750Could a national “SmartPark” initiative for the trucking industry become a reality soon?

Pilot programs that give truckers real-time information about parking availability are well underway in Tennessee and Michigan. The goals of the projects are to reduce driver fatigue, better adhere to hours of service requirements, and improve drivers’ work conditions. Commercial truck drivers typically spend 30 minutes or more searching for a place to park their rigs.

Expansion of these “SmartPark” projects into a ubiquitous, multi-state, corridor-focused network is a dream of many in the industry. They hope Congress will make the necessary funding available when it confronts reauthorization of the current surface transportation law, which expires October 29.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended 15 years ago that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) take steps to provide truckers with real-time information on the location and availability of parking spaces. But it was just two years ago that federal officials felt they had found a workable technology a system that identifies vacant spaces through a combination of Doppler radar and laser scanning and disseminates that information via dynamic electronic message signs, smartphone apps, websites and in-cab messaging.

The FMCSA has been testing the system on northbound Interstate 75 in eastern Tennessee. The Federal Highway Administration is funding a similar system along a 129-mile stretch of southwest Michigan’s I-94 corridor that’s used by 10,000 trucks daily but offers only 158 spaces in its five public rest areas. The corridor’s commercial truck traffic accounts for 23 to 30 percent of all its traffic and represents some of the highest commercial volumes in the Midwest.

The projects are working well, making it easier for drivers to avoid going over hours and saving carriers money because drivers can spend more time driving and less time searching for parking. Truck Smart Parking Services, one of the partners working with FMCSA, estimates that national deployment of the system could save industry $4.4 billion annually. Each driver could save two gallons of diesel and reduce greenhouse emissions by nearly 45 pounds per parking search, more than 3.3 million tons of carbon dioxide each year.

Interstate Motor Carriers has consistently provided creative solutions and specialized insurance programs to the trucking industry since 1936. Contact us for a fresh look at your insurance options.

Trucking Operator Shortages – Could Female Drivers Shift the Balance?

Posted on October 19, 2015

Fotolia_62084411_XL - CopyToday, there are too many driver positions open within the trucking industry. In fact, the Driver Shortage category rose to second place in the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) annual “Top Industry Issues” research, and it is estimated that by 2017 there will be a driver shortfall of close to 400,000.

One of the primary issues facing the trucking industry is filling open positions with younger candidates. As of 2014, there are more truck drivers age 65 or older (6.1%) than there are drivers in the 20 to 24 year old range (4.9%). This trend, alarmingly, is not present in other workforce categories.

Age restrictions are partially to blame. For instance, an individual must be 21 years or older to obtain a commercial driver’s license, which results in a three-year post-high school gap. Therefore, those choosing to not obtain a higher education are oftentimes recruited by other industries, thus made unavailable to the trucking industry once they are of age to obtain the appropriate license.

Now the trucking industry is left wondering, will there be enough experienced 25-34 year olds to take the place of the larger 45-54 age cohort retirement rolls around in 10 to 20 years?

One solution is already being utilized by many companies. Trucking companies see females as a large untapped labor pool that may help ease the expected driver shortfall in 2017.

According to a Bloomberg Business article, Derek Leathers, CEO of Werner Enterprises, Inc., expects female drivers to make up about 10 percent of his company’s 9,000 drivers by the end of 2015—almost twice the national average. Not only has bringing more females on as drivers relieved some of the shortage stress on the company, but Werner Enterprises is also seeing benefits in terms of performance. According to Leathers, female drivers are actually outperforming the males.

However, convincing a female to join an industry that has been catered almost solely to males in the past is not easy. The first couple of steps have been take though as the industry as a whole is working on improving the cleanliness of terminals, promoting schedules that guarantee home time, promoting the automatic transmission of today’s freight haulers and ensuring safer truck stops.

To learn more about hiring practices and other trucking-related business strategies, contact us.

Emissions Reduction and Fuel Efficiency Proposal Reverberate Through Trucking Industry

Posted on October 02, 2015

A public hearing in Long Beach, CA this month prompted a wave of support for this initiative and concern for the current trajectory of human environmental impact. The hearing was held regarding a proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) originally submitted in June. While commercial freight and passenger trucking comprises the backbone of our economy and way of life, the transportation industry is also a major generator of greenhouse gases and other concerning pollutants. But is the concern that can be found so easily in California one that will resonate with those in other parts of the country?

2000px-Environmental_Protection_Agency_logo.svgDaniel Kieffer, Director of Emissions Compliance for Paccar Inc., indicated that his truck manufacturing business sees the pending proposal as a potential win-win. He notes that this may only be possible, however, if the complexities of market costs, market demand, aerodynamic science, and vehicle ownership and operation costs can reconcile into a profitable arrangement. It will be difficult to know how this will shake down for individual businesses until the proposal specifics are defined and approved, and go-live date is then posted.

Current details available indicate that the proposed regulations would aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by approximately 1 billion metric tons, conserving nearly 2 billion barrels of oil. This would theoretically save the transportation industry about $170 billion in fuel costs over the lifetime of vehicles sold under the program.

The proposal would have regulation changes begin for model year 2021 and phase in fully by model year 2027. While some have shown great concern over the industry’s ability to bear these up-front (and potential) long-term costs, other have spoken out in opposition to the seeming lack of urgency. While climate scientists are working harder than ever to determine what impact our behaviors have on years and decades to come, it is unclear to what extent these regulatory changes will be effective. But if, as Mr. Kieffer points out, the regulations can provoke a positive shift in the transportation community, this may be a transformative shift in trucking technology.

Read the proposal here. To learn more about trucking legislation, transportation news, and safety and compliance, contact us.