Posted on February 26, 2020
The rate of technological advances has kicked into overdrive and many concepts which were once the subject of science fiction, are much closer to becoming reality. Is your fleet ready to handle these changes? Let’s look at two major potential technology disrupters which are expected to impact the transportation industry.
Things like lane departure warnings, lane corrections, and assisted braking didn’t shake things up in the trucking world in an overly dramatic way. While they certainly improved safety, it was still a human performing the bulk of the work. Autonomous vehicles, however, is a game changer. While the technology isn’t yet fully operational, many experts within the industry expect to see regular use of driverless trucks within the decade.
Drone deliveries are also an eventuality that will disrupt the industry. There was a time when waiting weeks for a delivery was a hassle, but the norm. Now, customers expect one or two-day delivery if not same-day delivery in some areas. With drone technology, same-day delivery could become a real possibility, even in more remote venues. While major players like Amazon floated the idea, some companies are already deploying the technology. One such company, Wing, has been making drone deliveries since 2014. As of 2019, they’re registered with the FAA and operate as an airline. With the first successful launch of drone delivery technology, more companies are sure to follow in Wing’s wake.
Technology is making high speed changes in trucking and the rate of innovative advancements is increasing exponentially. As these technological improvements gain traction and become mainstream, trucking companies will need to be ready to adapt and compete.
Fleet managers have a long list of responsibilities to juggle, including freight scheduling, adapting to new technology, driver safety, fleet maintenance, recruiting and retention, cost control and fleet insurance. The experts at Interstate Motor Carriers can help ease the burden. Contact us to learn how we can help improve your fleet’s operation.
Posted on February 19, 2020
What is progressive discipline? Progressive discipline is a practice used to deal with job-related behavior which does not meet expected job performance standards. The purpose of the progressive discipline model is to help the employees understand how to modify their behavior to improve performance issues.
Many industry experts think that progressive discipline is an outmoded behavioral policy that often yields poor results. The traditional progressive discipline model has several steps that progress in severity—verbal warnings, written warnings, suspension, and eventually termination. While discipline is vital to addressing safety concerns and maintaining a safe work environment, progressive discipline only considers the desired outcome. It doesn’t consider the root cause, whether the issue occurred due to an honest mistake or reckless actions.
Understanding what led up to an incident or safety infraction allows fleet managers to develop strategies that correct a problem rather than forcing it into a progressive discipline model. The following are some of the benefits of utilizing a more effective, behavior-based coaching approach to discipline:
- Fix the actual problem. If an incident is due to an honest mistake (not a reckless mistake), the “three strikes and you’re out” mentality doesn’t apply well. By addressing “why” the incident occurred, managers can discover the root of the problem and fix it. For example, a driver performing a process incorrectly can lead to safety issues (e.g. not performing a thorough enough pre-trip inspection). However, if their instructions on how to complete that process were unclear, management can address the problem at the root cause to prevent it from happening again.
- Build a foundation of trust. The words discipline and coaching evoke very different reactions from trucking employees for obvious reasons. One indicates penalties while the other suggests a learning opportunity. Drivers can become defensive or evasive if they think honest mistakes will be held against them as severely as purposeful misconduct.
- Maintain good morale. Progressive discipline is a blind, zero-tolerance approach to workplace incidents. It doesn’t take into consideration previous good conduct or tenure with a trucking company. This is problematic because valuable, experienced drivers may consider looking for a new employer if they’re suddenly slapped with a first strike and put on notice for future disciplinary action after years of otherwise stellar service. Coaching avoids this problem and allows for a scaled, reasonable response to incidents.
- Provides managers more authority over risks. Some incidents are enough to warrant immediate termination. However, depending on the workplace handbook, managers may be adhering to an outdated progressive discipline model. This means they have to muddle through several dangerous repeat violations when one strike should be the only strike.
Progressive discipline is a rigid model that doesn’t address the root causes behind incidents. By digging into the cause of a problem, fleet managers can identify the issue, determine how best to fix it, and coach their truck driver to help reduce risk without putting them into the penalty box. To learn more ways to improve fleet safety, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
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 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 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 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 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 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 August 07, 2018
Many within the transportation industry scoffed at the notion of autonomous vehicles, and they weren’t alone. The idea of self-driving vehicles seemed like science fiction at best and dangerous at worst, yet the technology is here and already in use. Budweiser shipped over 50,000 cans of beer in a self-driving truck, and Uber, Waymo, Tesla and Embark are all running live pilots with autonomous trucks. While the technology isn’t 100% ready for the public at large, it’s rapidly becoming a reality. High tech tools and futuristic technology are dominating recent transportation publication headlines with solutions like these, which are all available today:
Telematics and GPS Fleet Tracking Systems
Simply said, telematics encompasses the software and devices that power the electronic features found in all vehicles including trucks. GPS is one of the key applications in telematics, and includes:
- Navigation, fuel monitoring and route planning
- Driver behavior applications including braking, fast acceleration and speeding
- Complex route planning and arrival/departure alerts
- Automated tracking and analytics productivity reports
- Trailer tracking and historical routing
- Idle and start/stop driving reports
ELDs and Trucking Software Applications
ELDs provide the wireless tools and technology to ensure that truckers and fleets maintain compliance with the FMCSA ELD mandate.
Self-driving Trucks and Platooning
As mentioned previously, self-driving truck testing is well underway. Platooning is also being tested by manufacturers including Daimler. Platooning extends self-driving technology by wirelessly tethering trucks together, allowing them to operate in a tighter highway formation (convoy) than would be possible with human drivers at the wheel.
Tesla is the big name when it comes to electric vehicles, and Tesla Semi, the automaker’s electric truck division has been accumulating many reservations over the last few months. Tesla is expected to produce all electric trucks in 2019. But they aren’t alone, as many major manufacturers are actively working on completely electric trucks. Volvo has announced two new fully-electric trucks designed to take the place of urban delivery and refuse collection vehicles. Both will be available in the European market in 2019.
What to Expect in the Coming Years
As if the list above insufficiently represents the dramatic changes happening in the trucking industry, there are some seemingly imminent and impressive technologies expected to impact truckers and fleets in the near future. These include:
Heads up displays (HUDs) are nothing new for vehicles, but augmented reality is about to take them to the next level. BMW is working on a HUD that can superimpose real-life objects from the road onto a truck’s HUD to allow drivers to navigate obstacles with greater ease.
Trucks require ongoing maintenance and recalibration to perform at their optimum level. However, new technology will allow software to make these calibrations without ever pulling into a repair shop.
Trucking companies need to prepare for these dramatic changes, and Interstate Motor Carriers can help. Contact us to learn how we can help protect you today and in the future.