Posted on January 29, 2020
Truck insurance is one of the top expenses for both large and small fleets. Fleet managers need to monitor insurance rates and coverage options and optimize their safety plans or risk overspending for coverage. Fleets should look at their business as an insurance underwriter would—is their risk level acceptable or are they a hazard waiting to happen? Expensive repairs, rising settlement costs, increasing medical expenses, and more are driving up insurance premiums. To combat this, fleets can take the following steps to improve the likelihood of securing preferable insurance rates:
- Reduce risks across the board. Fleets with a poor CSA score, a significant number of losses, or frequent compliance problems have a big hurdle in their path to achieving lower rates. They don’t look good on paper and simply won’t have access to top-rated carriers. Keeping controllable risk factors in check can resolve this issue over time.
- Leverage telematics. Accidents involving commercial vehicles can become rapidly and inordinately expensive. The injured party can sue both the driver and the company for punitive damages and compensation. One of the leading causes of these costly crashes is distracted driving. Fleets can lean on their telematics data to identify preferable driver traits for hiring, implement safety initiatives to reduce distractions, and install advanced safety equipment to help mitigate these risks.
- Create an attractive profile for underwriters. Talk will only do so much to reduce insurance rates. However, providing proof of positive safety changes can make a difference. Showing receipts for safety initiatives such as better technology, additional safety training, and updated policies can provide proof to insurance underwriters that your fleet risk profile is as low as possible.
- Focus on hiring, retaining and training safe drivers. Driver turnover is a very real problem for fleets, which can lead many to turn a blind eye to questionable safety traits. While it puts a much-needed driver behind the wheel, that fleet hired a long-term safety problem. Fleets need to make sure they provide incentives for their qualified safe drivers to stay while avoiding hiring problem drivers for the sake of expediency. And ongoing training to reinforce safe driving practices is a must.
- Change the perspective. In previous years, some fleets had the perspective of “That’s why we have insurance” when thinking about accidents and claims. In today’s trucking environment, this attitude can result in higher premiums as the fleet’s loss ratio suffers. Trucking companies should not approach insurance as their safety net for hazardous drivers or lawsuits, they should look at it as an opportunity to improve safety and reduce costs.
Insurance premiums can swiftly become an unmanageable expense if fleets don’t take safety efforts seriously. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor carriers to learn more about improving your fleet’s safety and reducing fleet insurance premiums.
Posted on January 13, 2020
Several major cities have floated the idea of congestion pricing as a means to ease the number of vehicles choking already busy streets. The idea is simple—much like tolls on highly traveled highways, cities would begin charging fees to drive in the city center during peak travel hours. For trucking companies, this may have several significant implications.
Pros and Cons of Congestion Pricing
Some industry experts think these fees may make it even more difficult to for smaller firms to compete with major fleets that can absorb those added expenses with less difficulty. Larger operations might be able to more adeptly transfer the costs than smaller trucking businesses or owner operators. Winners in the congestion pricing paradigm shift will theoretically benefit from less traffic and easier deliveries.
There are additional benefits to congestion pricing. In crowded cities like New York City, truckers face the very real risk of incurring parking tickets due to limited legitimate parking and overly congested streets. With congestion pricing, there should be more available parking to eliminate this headache.
Looking to Other Cities for Insights
With New York City poised to enact congestion pricing in 2021, lawmakers are comparing other congestion pricing practices to ensure a smooth process. Major cities such as London and Stockholm have established such laws with relative success, but they also identified pain points to avoid. In the beginning, for example, London exempted or discounted several types of vehicles due to their lesser effect on the environment. Emergency service vehicles, motorcycles, and taxis are exempt while disabled people, city residents, and low-CO2 vehicles can apply for a significant discount.
London encountered some trouble with the rise of ridesharing. Since taxis are exempt, London offered the same exemption to ride sharers. However, the number of these vehicles on the roads doubled over the course of the decade, so London amended the exemption.
Beyond New York City, congestion pricing is catching on across the nation in other high-traffic urban areas. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers to learn how we can help with your manage risk and improve your bottom line!
Posted on December 17, 2019
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) held its annual national Brake Safety Week this fall. Of the 34,320 trucks CVSA inspected, 13.5% received out of service violations. While brakes are just one element of typical inspections, they are one of the leading causes of accidents. Failing to inspect brakes properly before driving long distances is a significant safety concern that CVSA highlights during its annual brake inspections. Inspectors noted the following as the most frequent tubing and brake hose violations:
- Thermoplastic hose chaffing: 1347 violations
- Thermoplastic hose kinking: 1683 violations
- Rubber hose chaffing: 2567 violations
- General misapplications of rule §393.45 of the FMCSA Regulations: 2704 violations
In promising news, highway fatalities are on the decline for the second year in a row. However, fatalities related to large trucks increased slightly. With the goal of zero highway fatalities, there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to trucking safety.
How to Inspect Truck Brakes
Seasoned drivers may think their experience means they don’t make pre-trip inspection mistakes, but time has a way of eroding skills. Reviewing what officers look for during inspections can help prevent an unexpected out of service order. To get started on inspecting their brakes, drivers will need to do the following:
- Check brake adjustments when the truck is cold; heat expands the brake drum and can yield inaccurate results
- Inspect the brake chamber to ensure the size is correct
- Determine if the truck has standard or long-stroke chambers as this affects adjustment limits
- Measure the brake’s applied pushrod stroke
Depending on the final test results, drivers can learn if their brakes are out of alignment, by how much, and calculate if they’re within adjustment limits. If not, they can take the next steps necessary to realign the brakes during routine maintenance.
To learn more about improving trucking safety, driver safety and truck insurance, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
Posted on December 10, 2019
It’s common knowledge that new driver turnover rates are high, which compounds the on-going driver shortage problem. A recent survey by Stay Metrics illuminates just how bad turnover rates have become. Stay Metrics surveyed more than 3,200 new drivers and unearthed several insights into driver turnover. In the first 90 days of employment, 35% of new drivers quit. The trend continues for the first year of employment as well as only 36.5% of new drivers stay with their carrier for a full year.
The survey asked drivers questions after their orientation and again several weeks later. Then they checked in to see if the drivers were still with the company at the 90-day mark to draw conclusions between their answers and subsequent turnover. When surveying new drivers, analysts determined the following questions provided the greatest insight into turnover rates. Here are a few examples:
- Did the recruiter accurately describe what it would be like to drive for the carrier?
- In orientation, did the driver learn how much settlement he or she would receive?
- Would the driver recommend this carrier to another driver?
If drivers answered these questions in the affirmative, they were more likely to stay. A strong, common theme is the need for transparency. To retain drivers, recruiters need to make sure they are providing clear and accurate descriptions of the work. Overpromising or hiding the truth of the job will yield unhappy drivers who aren’t likely to last long.
What Drivers Had to Say
The language drivers used during the survey also provided insight into whether they would stay or leave. When looking at the final question, which is a significant indicator of the driver’s loyalty to the company, drivers most often used words like Work” and “Pay”. These words both showed up with frequency regardless of whether the driver would or would not recommend the carrier. What this tells trucking companies is that the work, the pay, and the drivers themselves are of significant importance and influence retention as well as turnover.
This leads back to the first four questions and the common theme of transparency. If drivers are misled about the work or pay, they’re more likely to leave and not recommend the carrier. If recruiters are truthful in their descriptions of what to expect for trips as well as compensation, the driver is more likely to stay and recommend the carrier.
Recruiting and retaining drivers are some of fleets’ greatest challenges. While transparency is a must, there are other things fleets can do to make themselves more competitive and appealing to drivers. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers to learn more about keeping your trucking company and truck drivers safe.
Posted on November 13, 2019
It’s an established fact that it costs more to fix a commercial vehicle on the side of the road than it does in a shop. Fleets are paying an increased cost for the repair service to come to the truck’s location. The mechanic often increases the rate as well because performing work on the side of a highway is much more dangerous. Fleets are also at the mercy of retail service rates, as breakdowns require immediate attention. In general, trucking companies can expect to pay almost four times as much for a roadside repair than they would in a shop.
Costly Facts About Roadside Repairs
Roadside repairs are only getting more expensive as the years pass. By the end of 2017, fleets were shelling out around $311 every time they had to place a call for a roadside repair. By the end of 2018, that expense was up to $334. In addition, those numbers don’t include tire-related incidents. Those always cost more and drive the numbers up even further.
On average, truck breakdowns happen every 10,000 miles. Given that a full-time driver can travel around 650 miles per day, this means their truck could break down after fifteen working days. That statistic is far too high and too frequent, pointing to a larger problem in the industry. Of reported repairs, the most frequent related to the following:
- Hubs and bearings
- Lighting systems
Another factor increasing the cost of roadside service is a shortage of techs. With fewer trained individuals able to respond to emergency maintenance requests, the cost increases accordingly with the demand.
Telematics for Better Preventative Fleet Maintenance
Fleet managers know that preventative maintenance is critical to reducing roadside breakdowns. However, many fleets attempt to avoid the costs associated with maintenance, especially if they are unsure which parts need servicing. While there is a general timeline for maintenance, wear and tear don’t always happen in a linear manner.
With telematics, fleets can enhance their preventative maintenance efforts. The technology can provide key insights into which parts need servicing and provide better projections on future maintenance needs. Smart preventative maintenance allows fleets to perform essential tune-ups to reduce risk without wasting money. To learn more about improving your fleet’s safety, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
Posted on October 25, 2019
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has several major changes coming down the pipeline that fleets need to keep on their radar as they affect compliance and safety issues. The two biggest announcements include FMCSA-sponsored training guides for transitioning from automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) to electronic logging devices (ELD) and the open enrollment period for the Congressionally mandated Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
Preparing for the Final Stages of ELD Compliance
With the ELD mandate reaching a new compliance milestone, FMCSA announced the creation of two interactive ELD courses to help motor carriers train and refresh their knowledge regarding ELD compliance. Come December 16, 2019, the final phase of the ELD mandate will go into effect, requiring a full changeover from AOBRDs to ELDs. The first iteration of the ELD mandate grandfathered in AOBRD devices, but that grace period is ending. The guides cover such topics as:
- The difference between an ELD and an AOBRD
- Different methods of transferring data
- How to maintain and troubleshoot ELDs
FMCSA is also providing recordings of a live Q and A session regarding ELDs as well as a look at the training officers receive when reviewing ELD data and hours of service (HOS) information.
Unveiling the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
Although Congress mandated the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, it aligns with FMCSA’s goals to improve driver and highway safety. Anyone who wants access to the clearinghouse will need to register. Authorized users include CDL and CLP holders, CDL driver employers, third party administrators, medical review officers, and substance abuse professionals.
While drivers don’t need to register right away, they will need to in response to an employer’s request as part of their pre-employment background check. Full inquiries will require registration as well. The clearinghouse is vital to cutting down on drivers who violate drug and alcohol laws while operating a commercial vehicle across state lines. Registration is free and is a simple step toward improving highway safety across the nation.
For decades, Interstate Motor Carriers has dedicated itself to providing creative solutions to the unique challenges and risk trucking fleets face every day. Contact us to learn how your fleet can better manage risks and maintain compliance with FMCSA regulations and mandates.
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 July 16, 2019
Compensation planning is an instrumental tool for truck driver recruitment and retention. There are many nuances to ensuring that fair, competitive and attractive compensation plans are in place. Salary adjustments, bonuses, allowances, insurance benefits, and more go into truck driver’s earnings, and fleets need to make sure their plans are financially sound and up to date. Follow these tips to develop a more effective trucker compensation plan:
- Define clear compensation goals. The trucking industry at large is operating on tight profit margins, and compensation has a significant effect on a company’s bottom line. Whether a fleet plans to keep pace with other trucking companies or lead the pack in rates per mile, they will need to incorporate it into their compensation planning and overall budget.
- Plan for allowances and benefits. An employee’s compensation isn’t limited to his or her base pay. Today, benefits and allowances are an important component of that final number. Fleets need to take into consideration the costs of medical care and any allowances such as food compensation that they may provide when creating their compensation plan.
- Keep an eye on the market. The economy changes and influences the industry in several ways. Fleets need to keep up with a dynamic and changing market to retain and recruit. In the current climate, annual reviews of this data may be insufficient to respond to changing market forces.
- Establish performance-based salary adjustments. Increasing base pay on the merit of seniority is an antiquated approach and rewards longevity over efficacy. Better drivers that consistently complete their deliveries on time and undamaged while operating their truck safely should receive bigger pay increases than lower or unsafe performers. Compensation plans should include tiers and a ranking system to easily see where employees land.
- Have clear compensation guidelines. If pay increases are subjective, it will cause issues among employees. Biases and personal relationships shouldn’t have any role in determining changes to pay. Developing a clear outline for when and how pay increases and bonuses occur will help address this potential issue.
- Give accolades to top performers throughout the year. Employee appreciation goes a long way toward retention. While every employee would love to receive a bonus, this isn’t always possible. If a fleet can only afford annual bonuses, they should look for other means to recognize top performers on at least a quarterly basis.
Employee compensation is a multifaceted issue which is crucial for truck driver recruitment and retention. Trucking fleets, both large and small, need to ensure they invest enough time and energy to get the return needed from their compensation plans. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers to learn how we can help your company make sound decisions while balancing your risk and reducing 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.