Posted on May 22, 2019
Truck drivers and carriers have complained that many of the existing hours of service (HOS) regulations are too restrictive if not outright impossible to adhere to while maintaining customer expectations for deliveries. However, it is not these complaints that sparked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s interest in revising the rulings. Instead, the DOT is pulling data from the much-contested electronic logging devices (ELDs) to guide their proposed changes.
How ELDs are Affecting HOS Regulations
ELDs are tamper-proof, unlike their paper records predecessor. The devices wrought an almost instantaneous decrease in HOS violations, resulting in less weary and therefore safer drivers. However, the data also revealed some truths about the transportation industry to FMCSA. Primarily that times and technology have changed customer expectations, and how people do business.
FMCSA’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
FMCSA is seeking commentary on proposed changes in an effort to reduce excessive burdens on truck drivers to remain compliant but without compromising safety on the roads. The proposed revisions include:
- Lengthening the short-haul 100 air-mile exemption from 12 to 14 hours on-duty. This would make the exemption consistent with existing regulations for long-haul commercial drivers.
- Permit a temporary two-hour increase for the 14-hour on-duty limitation when drivers encounter unfavorable driving conditions.
- Reinstating the option to allow truck drivers to split the mandatory 10-hour off-duty rest time so long as the driver’s truck has a sleeper-berth.
- Amending the existing ruling requiring a 30-minute break after eight hours of unbroken driving.
FMCSA’s primary concern is always to keep roads safe for drivers and the motoring public. However, they understand the difficulties truck drivers encounter while operating their vehicles. After reviewing the data from ELDs, the DOT agency is proposing changes to keep pace with modern challenges, expectations, and business requirements without increasing risk.
Since releasing their advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR), FMCSA received over 5000 comments. Most of the comments focused on known pain-points for truck drivers, underscoring just how challenging existing HOS regulations are for drivers.
Interstate Motor Carriers is intimately familiar with the challenges both fleets and independent operators encounter when trying to remain compliant with HOS regulations while running a successful business. Contact us today to learn more about our innovative solutions designed to help reduce your transportation risk without adding undue stress to drivers.
Posted on October 10, 2018
Uber launched its innovative trucking app “Uber Freight” a little over a year ago with the intention of revolutionizing how truck drivers perform their jobs. The app works much like standard Uber services. However, instead of pairing a rider with a driver, the app pairs a truck driver looking for a job with nearby freight. Truck drivers can plan these jobs weeks in advance or the day of if they so desire.
Why is Uber Freight Good for Owner Operators?
One of the key differences for truck drivers booking a load with Uber Freight versus on their own is that they don’t have to negotiate the fare with shippers. Uber Freight predetermines and guarantees prices before the shipment begins. Once the driver delivers the freight, the app starts the reimbursement process and guarantees payment within seven days.
How Does Uber Freight Calculate Prices?
Uber Freight takes a number of factors into consideration when developing a delivery price. These include:
- Distance. This is one of the biggest elements in determining a price for a delivery.
- Cargo type. Some cargo is more valuable or sensitive and thus nets a higher rate.
- Location. Certain areas generate higher prices much like any other service.
- Surge pricing. Uber Freight understands supply and demand and adjusts prices to reflect the marketplace.
How Does the App Work?
Traditional Uber services don’t give the rider many options when it comes to their driver. However, Uber Freight offers Owner Operators many options to secure the best load for their rig. Drivers can swipe through a variety of available jobs rather than the app pairing them with one like Uber does for traditional riders. The app also recognizes the need for fine-tuning and allows drivers to sort by date, time, and location.
Uber Freight Perks Program
Uber Freight developed a reward program called Uber Freight Plus for drivers that frequent app users. The app offers different discounts based upon frequency such as:
- Uber Freight Plus fuel card. So long as drivers book one load per month, the app saves them 20 cents per gallon at TA/Petro truck stops and 15 cents per gallon in participating Roady’s gas stations in California, Texas, and Illinois. These individuals can also save up to 30% on Goodyear tires.
- Savings on truck purchases. Once an individual hits 10 loads per month, they can save up to $16,000 at Navistar on new trucks or earn a $4000 rebate for used trucks from participating brands. Navistar also offers 20-50% off the cost of parts and vehicle maintenance.
- Other perks and benefits. There are several bonuses for drivers who use the Uber Freight Plus app such as discounts on phone plans with Sprint.
The app also learns driver preferences over time much like Pandora creates unique stations for its users. The app pays attention to the driver’s preferences, such as where they prefer to travel, and makes recommendations on available jobs. Drivers can also list their availability to help companies match with them.
Uber Freight can be a major benefit to independent operators and small fleets. Harnessing the power of innovative trucking technology can help truck drivers decrease the amount of time they spend looking for jobs and improve their overall bottom line. To learn more about enhancing and protecting your trucking operation, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
Posted on July 23, 2018
With the commercial driver shortage already affecting the industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been making big changes to try to stabilize the situation. Part of their plan includes a pilot program allowing 18 to 21-year-olds with prior relevant military experience to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. The program is also targeting civilians 18-20 with licenses to operate CMVs in intrastate commerce and 21 to 24-year-olds already licensed for interstate commerce. This final demographic will serve as the control group to compare stats and scores for safety and general operations.
What Are the Program Requirements?
Around 50 carriers will participate in the pilot program of 600 drivers—200 for each designated group of drivers. FMCSA estimates they will need an additional 20 carriers and 300 drivers to account for turnover rates. In addition, the US DOT agency is giving preference to carriers that can provide an even number of drivers for each group. FMCSA is also taking significant measures to ensure the safety of all participating drivers as well as the motoring public.
The qualification requirements include:
- Carrier contact info and demographic stats
- Retain drivers’ background info form and consent form
- Responsible for training drivers on the FMCSRs and maintaining compliance
- Cannot be a moderate or high-risk carrier
- Cannot have conditional or unsatisfactory safety ratings
- Cannot have any open or closed enforcement actions in the preceding six years.
- Cannot be above the national average for vehicle and driver out-of-service (OOS) rates or crash rates
Additional provisions apply once participating in the program. These include:
- Provide monthly data reports on driver activity, safety results, and other supporting details
- Inform FMCSA within five days if a driver leaves a participating carrier
- Inform FMCSA within one day of any injury or fatality, alcohol incident, or if a driver leaves the program altogether
Much like the carriers, participating drivers also have requirements. FMCSA disqualifies drivers if they:
- Had more than one license
- Had a canceled, disqualified, revoked, or suspended license
- Had a traffic violation other than a parking ticket per military, state, or local laws
- Had a conviction for any of a variety of motor vehicle violations (i.e. DUI, BAL greater than or equal to 0.4 while operating a CMV, fled the scene of a crash, reckless driving, etc.).
Understanding the Driver Shortage
By the end of 2016, the driver shortage stood at 36,500. The American Trucking Association (ATA) thinks that number will exceed 175,000 by 2024 due to a variety of factors including demographics, regulations, lack of work-life balance, and an aging workforce. This final element, driver retirement, will account for almost half of the demand for new drivers. The economy is already feeling the effects of the shortage, as the cost for deliveries increased and delivery times lengthened. The driver shortage problem isn’t just a matter of filling a labor gap. Retention is a significant element of ensuring the survival and success of a fleet.
To learn more about improving your trucking business and coverages, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers. We will help implement innovative solutions to meet your retention and risk management needs.
Posted on September 06, 2017
Cyber Security for Your Small Business
High-profile cyber attacks on companies such as Sony, Target and Zappos have generated national headlines and have raised awareness of the growing threat of cyber crime. Recent surveys conducted by the Small Business Authority, Symantec and the National Cybersecurity Alliance suggest that many small business owners are still operating under a false sense of cyber security.
The statistics are grim; the vast majority of U.S. small businesses lack a formal Internet security policy for employees, and only about half have even rudimentary cyber-security measures in place. Furthermore, only about a quarter of small business owners have had an outside party test their computer systems to ensure they are hacker-resistant, and nearly 40 percent do not have their data backed up in more than one location.
Shockingly, despite these significant cyber-security exposures, 85 percent of small business owners believe their company is safe from hackers, viruses, malware or a data breach. This is largely due to the widespread, albeit mistaken, belief that small businesses are unlikely targets for cyber attacks. In reality, data thieves are simply looking for the path of least resistance. As more and more large companies get serious about data security, small businesses are becoming increasingly attractive targets—and the results are often devastating for small business owners.
In recent years, nearly 60 percent of the small businesses victimized by a cyber attack closed permanently within six months. Many of these businesses put off making necessary improvements to their cyber-security protocols until it was too late because they feared the costs would be prohibitive. Don’t make the same mistake. Even if you don’t currently have the resources to bring in an outside expert to test your computer systems and make security recommendations, there are simple, economical steps you can take to reduce your risk of falling victim to a costly cyber attack. The following list of easily implementable security procedures was developed during a Federal Communications Commission roundtable on effective cyber-security strategies for small business owners and is a great place to start:
- Train employees in cyber-security principles.
- Install, use and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on every computer used in your business.
- Use a firewall for your Internet connection.
- Download and install software updates for your operating systems and applications as they become available
- Make backup copies of important business data and information.
- Control physical access to your computers and network components.
- Secure your Wi-Fi networks. If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace make sure it is secure and hidden.
- Require individual user accounts for each employee.
- Limit employee access to data and information, and limit authority to install software.
- Regularly change passwords.
Cyber security is a serious concern for all businesses—large and small. Contact Interstate Motor Carriers/Capacity Agency, LLC. to learn how our risk management resources and insurance solutions can help protect your business from cyber attacks.
Posted on December 27, 2016
Digital security is a growing concern for the trucking industry, which is not surprising, considering it is gaining importance for most businesses in the country. Cyber security is a cost of doing business in the U.S. as there are cyber hackers waiting to attack at any time.
Many truckers now conduct both professional and personal business from their truck cab making their truck a target. It’s important for truckers to recognize that they need to consider cost-effective risk management practices that will protect them from cyber attacks.
Most truckers are aware of the need for and may have put into place protection for their hardware systems, including separate safety systems to shield their entertainment/information systems and vehicle-based technology. But software-based security systems have been slower to be adopted.
Here are some best practices that truckers may want to consider when it comes to digital security.
- Security-based design procedures
- Frequency and severity analysis
- Audit and monitoring policies
- Detection of vulnerabilities through self-testing
Many automotive manufacturers are now integrating security systems into the design of the vehicle and add-on features that include technology. As computers and cloud solutions become standard in vehicle systems used for everything from navigation to safety monitoring, cyber security is an issue rising to the top.
The issue of digital security in the trucking industry is a serious one. It is possible for cyber hackers to do almost anything to your vehicle, including controlling steering, brakes and lights. Right now cyber attackers are mostly pranksters, but in the future hackers may become more serious and could access financial information (such as credit card numbers) that are stored on computers in the trucks.
Vulnerable systems in a truck include adaptive cruise control, parking assist and pre-crash braking, as well as telematics. Truck manufacturers, government and industry groups need to take cyber security threats seriously and develop security systems. to protect truckers and the public. To learn more about protecting your transportation business, contact us.
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 public
- 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.
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:
* Impact 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.
Posted on November 30, 2015
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.
Posted on November 03, 2015
Any 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.
Posted on October 21, 2015
Could 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.