New FDA Final Rule on Safe Transportation of Food Products

Posted on April 11, 2016

shutterstock_211095490 - 1920x750Last week the FDA released a final rule regarding sanitation standards for those involved in the process of food transportation. The rule includes an important exception for small companies – it doesn’t pertain to carriers, shippers, and receivers with less than $500,000 in total annual revenue.

Key requirements for carriers under the new final rule dicate that carriers and drivers alike are responsible for:

  • Ensuring their refrigerated trailers are pre-cooled prior to loading food
  • Providing proof they’ve maintained the appropriate temperature for the food they’re hauling when it is requested of them
  • Developing and implementing procedures that specify their practices for cleaning, sanitizing and inspecting their equipment

Additionally, the new rule requires that shippers inspect carriers’ trailers prior to loading food products and that “appropriate” action is taken to ensure that the food is not sold if any party becomes aware of any indication that a shipment of food was not kept at the proper temperature throughout its shipment. Shippers will now also be required to give carriers written sanitation requirements for their vehicles and require shippers to keep records showing they’ve done as much.

The FDA says the rule isn’t likely to have a dramatic impact on carrier and shipper practices – rather that it codifies already existing best practices for food shipments and assists in the process of punishing those who don’t take the necessary steps to comply.

The rule goes into effect in April of 2017. To learn more about transportation regulatory compliance, contact us.

Improving Driver Health & Safety with Telemedicine

Posted on March 29, 2016

shutterstock_69873625 - CopyMany truckers travel long distances, increasing the likelihood of fatigue and health-related challenges. Yet the farther they get from home, the less likely it becomes that they will have access to affordable and effective healthcare. Deciding whether or not to seek out an emergency room is a lose-lose, with drivers either spending large sums of money or suffering through potentially compromising illness. Telemedicine shifts the paradigm by:

  • Making healthcare affordable and accessible to drivers across the country
  • Improving the quality of care with reduced wait times
  • Enhancing availability with expanded hours of service
  • Reducing costs and risk for employers and employees

These all add up to a working environment focused on healthier, happier, more capable employees, performing at higher standards as a result of better, more frequent care. Telemedicine is supplementary, and does not interfere with the benefits compliance process – it’s simply a tool to support and enhance more traditional benefits offerings. Contact us to learn more.

Transportation Regulatory Updates: MAP-21, FAST Act, CSA Data, and GHG Emissions

Posted on March 16, 2016

Several potentially significant transportation regulatory items have recently surfaced in the news causing much discussion and preparation for motor carriers across the country. These include:

  • CSA raw data once again available to publictraffic of bridge
  • Highway safety improvement reporting requirement for states removed
  • High risk rural roads provision removed
  • Greenhouse gas regulatory documents released
  • EPA & NHTSA legal policy memo & engine test results

CSA raw data was originally legislated to exist in the public eye, but was pulled from view almost immediately after being signed into law. FMCSA claims that their analytics represent a fair, accurate, and important picture of safety culture and records throughout the transportation industry.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has released revisions to its Highway Safety Improvement Program, which could have numerous effects on transportation professionals across the country. These revisions stem from MAP-21 and the FAST Act, and include a removal of reporting requirements as well as the high risk rural roads provision. This reduced transparency could alter the efficacy of the program.

Private meetings with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have resulted in the release of a variety of documents by federal regulators regarding greenhouse gas emissions. These include memos on the legality of the greenhouse gas policy, selective enforcement and inspection of aerodynamic compliance among transportation power units, effects of tire rolling resistance on stopping distance for Class 8 vehicles, and more.

Is your transportation business prepared for these and other regulatory changes? Do you know the potential cost savings or increase associated with each policy change? To learn more about the impact these and other regulatory changes could have on your business, contact us.

Trucking Webinar: ELD Final Rule Published – Overview & Impact

Posted on March 11, 2016

Interstate Motor Carriers and Sentry Insurance offer this complimentary, on-demand web seminar to learn how the new ELD Final Rule will impact your transportation business. Subject matter expert Daniel Grant, Director of Safety Services at Sentry Insurance, provides an overview of the ELD mandate, including compliance requirements and implementation timelines. Mr. Grant also discusses how the final rule integrates driver harassment/coercion guidelines. For more information on trucking compliance and coverages, contact us.

Webinar: ELD Final Rule Published – Overview & Impact

Posted on February 22, 2016

Interstate Motor Carriers and Sentry Insurance invite you to a complimentary, educational web seminar to learn how the new ELD Final Rule will impact your transportation business. Subject matter expert speaker Daniel Grant, Director of Safety Services at Sentry Insurance, will provide an overview of the ELD mandate, including compliance requirements and implementation timelines. Mr. Grant will also detail how the final rule integrates driver harassment/coercion guidelines. Featured topics:

* Truck InsuranceImpact of ELD Mandate & Adoption Timelines
* Device Specifications & Hardware Requirements
* Roadside Inspections & Supporting Documentation
* Exceptions to New Final Rule
* Implementation Challenges
* Driver Harassment Rule

Date & Time: Thu, Mar 10, 2016 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM EST

Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2927157611217343745

Click here to learn more about Interstate Motor Carriers & Sentry Insurance.

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.