Posted on October 15, 2019
Fleet managers and truck drivers know that using their cellphones to text or make phone calls while driving is a recipe for disaster. However, not many are as familiar with the safety risks of using hands-free technology. While the technology allows drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, it is nonetheless a distraction.
Using a hands-free device is safer than physically holding the mobile phone; however, it still compromises truck driver attention. It is impossible for the driver to devote their full focus to the conversation, the road and their surroundings. Furthermore, many drivers that use hands-free devices tend to do so to free up their hands for other risky behaviors such as eating while driving.
Digging into the telematics data, the industry has shown drivers who use hands-free cellphones are more likely to engage in other distractions. Simply stated, more distractions translate into greater collision risk. Some of the most alarming statistics include:
- A 10% increase in the total number of incidents of drivers using a hands-free device to engage in another risky behavior.
- 23% of drivers engage in multiple risky behaviors at once.
- Drivers are most likely to use hands-free cellphones while going 65mph. This is most likely because drivers set the cruise control and feel a certain degree of comfort.
- Drivers who eat behind the wheel are more likely to remove their seatbelts or follow other vehicles too closely.
- Drivers who don’t wear their seatbelts are the most likely to experience a collision.
Some of the statistics may seem more like a correlation than causation; however, accident history has consistently proven these statistics to be accurate. Take the seatbelt issue as an example. If a driver shows a disregard for his or her own personal safety by opting not to wear a seatbelt, he or she is also not likely to care as much about other safety factors. Studies have shown repeatedly that seatbelt use is a hallmark indicator of a driver’s overall safety. Drivers who wear their seatbelts are less likely to engage in other risky behaviors because they recognize the importance of the device for their own safety.
Fleet managers need to make sure their drivers understand the risks associated with all distractions behind the wheel. For example, encouraging and training drivers to make their calls and appointments prior to hitting the road can help reduce cellphone use while driving.
Improving fleet safety is an ongoing effort, and Interstate Motor Carriers can help. With over 75 years of experience in trucking, we can help reduce your trucking risks.
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 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 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 April 23, 2019
With Distracted Driving Month in full swing, fleets should use the month of April to identify and rectify common sources of distraction while behind the wheel. The leading and most obvious distraction is technology. Technology has made it easier than ever to stay connected with friends and family. Unfortunately, it has also led to a massive upswing in traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities. With easy access to cellphones, the temptation to text or talk while driving is undeniable.
Many drivers think it’s acceptable to glance at a text if they don’t reply to the text. Their logic is that it only takes a few seconds to read a text, which they perceive can be done quickly and safely. However, when traveling at highway speeds, a few seconds can translate to a lot of distance traveled without their eyes on the road. Trucks traveling at 65 miles per hour will cover 285 feet in three seconds, that is almost an entire football field with drivers not looking at the road. A lot can happen in that distance!
A simple first step fleets can take it to prohibit drivers from using cellphones for texting or talking altogether while driving, including hands-free. Just because drivers aren’t using their hands to hold the phone and talk doesn’t mean the call isn’t diverting their attention. Having the distraction present increases drivers’ risk. The following are several other steps drivers can take to improve safety:
- Pull over if they need to take or place a call
- If pulling over isn’t possible, allow calls to go to voicemail or have a passenger answer if there is one present
- Identify and refrain from other distractions behind the wheel including eating, drinking, or using on-board telematics devices that aren’t vital to operating the truck
- Learn how to recognize the signs of other distracted drivers (i.e. weaving in and out of lanes, visibly on the phone or texting, food or beverage in hand, reacting too slow to traffic changes, etc.)
- Practice defensive driving to remain aware of all potential hazards that could lead to an accident
Improving drivers’ attention isn’t just a safety concern. In addition to human lives, distraction-related accidents cost fleets a significant amount of money. The fines alone can add up to $11,000 for distracted commercial drivers involved in an accident.
Fleet managers need to take precautions to ensure they aren’t pressuring drivers to operate their vehicle while distracted (i.e. conducting business while behind the wheel) and fully investigate all crashes to identify if they were related to driver distraction.
Pinpointing sources of distraction is a vital part of managing risk. However, it can be difficult to know where to start or how to implement change. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carrier to learn more about improving transportation safety within your fleet.
Posted on April 10, 2019
Trucking companies have a significant amount of data to work with when it comes to making improvements. Telematics provides insights on improving driver safety, preventative maintenance, and more. Fleets can also research the competition to see how they operate their companies. While other trucking businesses can provide benchmarks for fleets, looking to different industries can offer new insights for improvement.
What Motivates Clients?
At the end of the day, businesses need trucking companies to transport their goods, products, or cargo. However, several aspects can influence them to choose one company over another. When taking an introspective approach, trucking businesses have a tendency to tout their superior safety ratings. These are, of course, important. However, it overlooks one very significant element that any lateral (and many unrelated) industries know well already: customers don’t just want a product; they also what a relationship.
Building Lasting Relationships with Clients
When people think of exceptional customer service, the trucking industry isn’t usually the first to spring to mind. It may not even make the top ten. To address this, trucking companies need to look to businesses that cultivate successful relationships with their customers. For bigger brands, it’s a simple matter to look up their business model online and make relevant changes. There is plenty of information about well run companies like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft available for fleets to review and assimilate.
However, smaller companies often crack the code on stellar customer service faster. Company leadership can reach out to small business owners and ask for an informal meeting. This can be as simple as getting a cup of coffee or lunch. This creates the opportunity to ask questions about how they surpass customer expectations and gain repeat customers while continuing to grow.
Translating External Experiences to the Trucking Industry
Some industries are too disparate from trucking to have many lessons that will carry over with ease. However, taking an inward approach will yield stale ideas and stagnating service. Interstate Motor Carriers knows that providing a service is only half the equation to running a successful transportation company. We work with trucking companies every day to manage their risks, reduce losses, and solve challenging problems with innovative solutions. Contact us to learn how we can help your trucking business.
Posted on January 14, 2019
Fuel represents one of the leading costs for operating a fleet. While there are several ways fleets can tackle the issue, some are more effective than others. Fleets that want to make meaningful reductions to their fuel expenses should consider the following:
- Reduce out of route (OOR) miles. Truckers often end up driving miles they didn’t need to due to inefficient delivery schedules. Optimizing routes can save thousands of dollars and reduce the amount of time drivers are on the roads, and away from their families.
- Fuel Use and Theft. The cost of fuel theft and unauthorized purchases can take a toll on a trucking company’s bottom line. Fuel efficiency modules can help monitor fuel consumption, fuel economy, and more to flag any abnormalities. Monitoring fuel cards can help combat this issue as well as fleets can identify when drivers used their cards without the vehicle being present.
- Watch the speed. Speeding takes its toll at the gas pump. Increasing highway cruising speed from 55 mph to 75 mph can raise fuel consumption as much as 20%. Truckers can improve gas mileage between 10 – 15% by driving at 55 mph instead of 65 mph. While that may not seem like much for one driver, multiply that cost differential by the total number of drivers in a fleet and the gallons used over the course of a year, and it adds up quickly. Incentivize truck drivers to keep their speed in check.
- Address idle times. If a truck’s engine is running, it’s consuming fuel. Fleet management solutions can help trucking companies identify when excessive idling occurs. Some of the most common sources of idling include letting the engine warm up for too long, leaving the engine running during deliveries, and turning on the engine to operate the radio or other equipment. Encouraging drivers to limit their idle times while rewarding those who do so can help reduce this problem.
- Perform better maintenance. Companies sometimes delay preventative maintenance because the schedule causes disruption to their workflow. However, staying on top of maintenance, and making sure drivers check tire pressure regularly, allows vehicles to remain in top condition and consume less fuel. For every 10 percent that tires are underinflated, there is a 1 percent reduction in fuel economy. For fleets, that number really adds up over the course of a year.
Managing fuel costs will help fleets maximize profitability. Interstate Motor Carriers is committed to helping fleets solve challenging problems while reducing losses and keeping risk in check. To learn more about how we can help your trucking company, contact us today.