Posted on February 07, 2019
Although native to China, India, and Vietnam, the spotted lanternfly has invaded eastern Pennsylvania and southwestern New Jersey. In their indigenous countries, natural predators keep the spotted lanternfly population in check. However, such predators don’t exist in PA or NJ. Because of this, in combination with their voracious eating habits, both states have labeled the spotted lanternfly an invasive species.
What This Means for Trucking Companies
While insect populations may not seem like a significant concern to fleets, this is not the case for trucking companies that do business in PA, NJ, and parts of VA. Several counties issued quarantines, which require truckers to undergo spotted lanternfly training. Once drivers complete the training, they receive a permit allowing them to travel for work in and out of the affected areas.
The following is a list of quarantined counties:
Pennsylvania: Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster,
Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Schuylkill
New Jersey: Hunterdon,
How to Receive a Permit
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) offers the training for management for free, and it takes about two hours to complete. The Train the Trainer course educates the business owner, manager, or supervisor on how to conduct training for relevant staff. They can then teach their drivers the rules required for the quarantine in affected counties.
Who Needs a Permit?
With the numerous regulations truck drivers have to juggle already, many trucking companies may be wondering if they have to add spotted lanternfly training to their list of responsibilities. While PDA provided a very in-depth explanation for this question, the simple answer is any business that moves vehicles, equipment, or goods in or out of the quarantine zones needs a permit.
PDA also encourages anyone traveling through the affected areas to learn how to identify this pest to avoid spreading it elsewhere. To learn more about rules and regulations affecting the trucking industry, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
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.
Posted on November 21, 2018
Most people associate work-related back pain with jobs that require a lot of bending or heavy lifting. However, prolonged sitting can also be the source of back pain, something which many truck drivers know all too well. Truck drivers are often seated for hours on end, in a position that readily puts strain on back muscles and ligaments. If the issue remains unaddressed, this pain can spread into their necks and even their legs.
Preventing Back Pain
The best method of dealing with drivers’ back pain is to prevent it altogether. There are several methods to help keep drivers’ backs in better condition, to help mitigate the onset of back and neck pain:
- Exercise whenever possible. When drivers reach a rest stop or stop driving for the day, they should work out and stretch to reinvigorate muscles after a long period of disuse. Stretching is particularly important to help relieve tense muscles after sitting in one position for several hours.
- Invest in seat support. Truck drivers have many expenses and often try to keep costs down by limiting luxury purchases for their cab. However, ergonomic seat cushions are well worth the price tag. They provide support and correct drivers’ posture to prevent the pain associated with slouching into the seat.
- Focus on posture. While it’s not feasible to think about good posture every second of a long drive, there are some things drivers can do to prevent back pain, by changing some basic driving behavior. For example, many drivers carry their phones or wallets in their back pocket. Removing these before sitting down can improve posture and reduce muscle strain. And changing seat position, moving the height or angle of the seat, each and every hour, can reduce both muscle fatigue and mental fatigue.
Managing Back Pain
Once drivers strain their muscles, they should rapidly take steps to manage the pain before it becomes an injury. Some tips include:
- Ice the area. Applying an ice pack to sore muscles for around 20 minutes can help numb the pain, reduce the damage, and decrease swelling.
- Alternate cold with heat therapy. So long as the area is no longer numb and the swelling is gone, drivers can also use heat as a means to manage back pain. Heat can relieve pain and spasms as well as help warm up muscles before stretching.
- Take breaks. Pushing through pain is rarely worth it. Drivers who ignore their back pain in favor of reaching their destination faster risk increasing the pain and causing lasting damage.
When drivers take steps to prevent and manage back pain, they reduce the likelihood of an injury. Left unchecked, drivers could experience lasting health complications that keep them out of work. To learn more ways to reduce and manage trucking risk, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
Posted on October 22, 2018
Truck drivers and fleets are aware of the importance of CSA scores. While FMCSA can’t suspend a CDL license due to CSA scores, they can target drivers for interventions and levy heavy fines against them. This is why it’s critical for both owner-operators and company drivers to keep their CSA scores low. Drivers can follow these 5 steps to improve their CSA scores.
- Harness the power of electronic logging devices (ELDs). One of the most common violations roadside inspectors see are “form and manner” violations. These types of violations include outdated logs, hence the usefulness of an ELD. While FMCSA regulations required all motor carriers to upgrade their vehicles to include an ELD in December of 2017, some can continue to use an automatic on-board recording device (AOBRD) through 2019. While the technology has a temporary grandfather clause, it’s worth the peace of mind to make the change to an ELD.
- Focus on the brakes. With Brake Safety Week in the recent past, many carriers are feeling the sting of brake violations. Given the importance of braking for truck safety, it’s surprising how often drivers overlook them during pre-trip inspections. While checking brakes is harder and messier than other aspects of pre-trip inspections, brake violations add up quickly.
- Perform thorough pre-trip inspections. Brakes aren’t the only element that drivers need to inspect before hitting the road. In addition to problems with brakes, the most common violations relate to lights and tires. A broken light alone carries a 6-point penalty. Problems with tires carry an 8-point penalty. Several light and tire violations can rack up CSA points and hurt a carrier’s safety rating in one roadside inspection alone. Performing a complete pre-trip inspection can help drivers and carriers avoid these hefty penalties.
- Challenge violations. Fleets and drivers aren’t without recourse following a violation. They have two years to challenge the violation, which can result in a smaller penalty or a dismissal of the charge. Even if the charge isn’t dismissed, reducing the severity means reducing the point value assigned to it. It’s always worth the effort to challenge violations.
- Drive healthy. Failing to produce a valid medical certificate carries a relatively small fine of one point. However, driving while ill is one of the most serious violations and carries a 10-point penalty. Fleet managers need to make sure drivers have valid and up to date medical cards certifying their health and fitness to drive as well as monitor any health concerns.
Implementing regular training on driver safety can go a long way toward avoiding these violations. Companies that put a focus on driver safety can implement proactive measures to improve safety and reduce risk. Contact Interstate Motor Carriers to learn more about managing your fleet’s safety and risk needs.
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 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.
Posted on June 13, 2017
Fleet fraud is costly. A staged accident or injury claim by an employee can mean expensive payouts and increased insurance premiums, so it is essential that your business take steps to prevent and detect employee fraud. Anti-fraud measures and internal controls can and should be designed and customized for each individual organization based on its unique characteristics. In addition, stay alert for these red flags:
- Driver with a history of prior accidents of similar circumstances
- Driver with multiple past claims with the same attorney
- Driver that demonstrates familiarity with claims process and claim evaluation
- An overly enthusiastic witness present at the accident scene
Fleet management programs that include a fleet safety policy are most successful at preventing fraud when they cover the following areas:
- Management commitment: Clearly define management’s role and commitment to preventing and detecting fraudulent claims. Most perpetrators of fraud engage in illegal conduct only when they perceive that they will not be caught.
- Written policies and procedures: All permitted and prohibited driver behavior, along with proper procedures to follow in the event of an accident, should be clearly listed in a written policy.
- Driver agreements: Documenting a driver’s commitment to conform to all policies and procedures can help deter aberrant behavior. If an organization increases in its employees’ minds the perception that the illegal acts will be detected, it deters occupational fraud.
- Motor vehicle record checks: Conducting a motor vehicle record check in addition to a standard background check can expose any suspicious driving or claims patterns before hire or before permitting an employee to use a company vehicle.
- Crash reporting and investigation: Conduct thorough investigations of each claim. Provide forms for employees to complete in the event of an accident.
- Vehicle selection, maintenance and inspection: Conduct regular inspections to demonstrate ’s commitment to preventing accidents and fleet fraud.
- Disciplinary action system: Make the serious repercussions of fraud clear, including legal action and termination. Adopting concealed internal controls may assist in detecting fraud, but it generally does not prevent it because employees are unaware of their presence and potential detective ability.
- Reward and incentive program: Reward employees for good driving habits and lack of accidents and claims. For any business operating vehicles under a fleet motor insurance policy, it is important to demonstrate to an insurer that adequate fleet procedures are in place to minimize costly risks—including occupational fraud.
For more information about controlling insurance costs, contact the professionals at Interstate Motor Carriers today.
Posted on May 04, 2015
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a recommendation that drivers of heavy trucks and buses use video system recorder technology to monitor their driving. The recommendation was issued on April 29th, 2015 and included a statement that “these video systems serve as a proactive tool to identify and reduce risky behavior, such as speeding, distracted driving or drowsy driving.” Read the NTSB Press Release here.
The NTSB also indicated that video systems are useful for providing valuable information in post-crash investigations.
In an investigation of two severe commercial vehicle crashes, the NTSB concluded that onboard video systems can provide valuable information about circumstances that lead up to the crash as well as critical “vehicle dynamics and occupant kinematics for assessing crash survivability.”
NTSB further reported that video recording systems, in conjunction with driver behavior modification systems, has been shown to reduce fatal and injury crashes by 20% and 35% respectively.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American Trucking Association (ATA) were alerted to the recommendation.
The NTSB further recommended that the ATA encourage its members to ensure that any video recording system that is installed in their vehicles meet the following requirements:
- visibility of the driver
- visibility of all occupant seating locations
- visibility forward of the vehicle
- optimized frame rate (camera speed), and
- low-light recording capability.
During a House Transportation subcommittee hearing on April 29th, the CEO of American Central Transport, Tom Kretsinger Jr., said that video system recorders are becoming more popular in the trucking industry.
“Originally, these devices were perceived primarily as a post-crash exoneration tool,” said Kretsinger, who also testified on behalf of ATA. “However, fleets quickly began to realize the benefits of being alerted to risky driving behaviors and the opportunity to provide subsequent driver coaching to prevent future crashes.”
Posted on April 06, 2015
On Friday April 3rd, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published inflation adjustments to civil penalties for regulatory violations. This final rule takes effect June 2, 2015 and increases numerous penalties. Examples include a $1,000 increase in the penalty for out of service orders and a $5,000 increase in penalties for loading and unloading violations.
In a Federal Register posting, FMCSA explains that many fines and penalties have not been updated since 2003 or 2007, and certain changes were mandated by MAP-21. FMCSA also indicated that this series of changes was not significant enough to warrant a full regulatory evaluation or public comment.
The Final Rule can be viewed on the Federal Register website here.
A table summarizing the various increases can be found on the Federal Register website here.
Contact Interstate Motor Carriers for additional information on how these changes will impact your business.
Posted on February 26, 2015
Highlights of the Proposed Rule
Specifically, the proposed rule would establish requirements for:
- Vehicles and transportation equipment: The design and maintenance of vehicles and transportation equipment to ensure that it does not cause the food that it transports to become contaminated.
- Transportation operations: The measures taken during transportation to ensure food is not contaminated, such as adequate temperature controls and separation of food from non-food items in the same load.
- Information exchange: Procedures for exchange of information about prior cargos, cleaning of transportation equipment, and temperature control between the shipper, carrier, and receiver, as appropriate to the situation. For example, a carrier transporting bulk liquid non-dairy foods would want to ensure that vehicles that have previously hauled milk will not introduce allergens into non-dairy foods through cross contact.
- Training: Training of carrier personnel in sanitary transportation practices and documentation of the training.
- Records: Maintenance of written procedures and records by carriers and shippers related to transportation equipment cleaning, prior cargos, and temperature control.
- Waivers: Procedures by which the FDA will waive any of these requirements if it determines that the waiver will not result in the transportation of food under conditions that would be unsafe for human or animal health and that it is in the public interest.
Compliance Dates: The FDA’s final rule regarding human and animal food is expected to be published no later than March 2016
- Small Businesses — businesses other than motor carriers who are not also shippers and/or receivers employing fewer than 500 persons and motor carriers having less than $25.5 million in annual receipts would have to comply two years after the publication of the final rule.
- Other Businesses — a business that is not small and is not otherwise excluded from coverage would have to comply one year after the publication of the final rule.
This proposed rule establishes requirements for vehicles and transportation equipment, transportation operations, training, and recordkeeping. For example, shippers would be required to inspect a vehicle for cleanliness or contamination prior to loading food that is not completely enclosed by its container. Operators of motor vehicles, railcars, and other equipment used in food transportation would be required to establish written procedures, subject to record keeping requirements, for cleaning their vehicles and transportation equipment. The FDA would be entitled to review these procedures and records.
The proposed rule also requires individuals who transport foods that require time/temperature control for safety to ensure the maintenance of the transportation cold chain during operations. This includes pre-cooling the vehicle, loading and unloading operations, and the transportation phase. The proposed rule would also establish procedures for the exchange of information about prior cargos, cleaning of transportation equipment, and temperature control between the shipper, carrier and receiver, as appropriate to the situation. Shippers would need this information to ensure adequate sanitation practices were used that would help prevent adulteration of transported products. For example, a carrier transporting bulk liquid non-dairy foods would want to ensure that vehicles that have previously hauled milk will not introduce allergens into non-dairy foods through cross contact.
Under the Carmack Amendment, motor carriers are liable for “actual loss” to property. Now, a variation in temperature from an aggressive temperature standard, could represent such an actual loss, opening up carriers to additional losses. In addition, as the adulterated product cannot be salvaged, freight losses would be deemed total losses, raising the dollar value of claims.
Motor Carriers should consider ways to insulate themselves from freight claims by putting a plan in place to implement constant temperature maintenance of their reefer units, as well as starting to communicate with their shippers and finding ways to address the issues. (For additional info: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/default.htm)