Posted on July 03, 2019
Since September of 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires any trucking company hauling food for consumption (human and animal alike) to comply with the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Rule (STF). STF’s aim is to provide accountability for all steps of transporting food from farms to forks.
The rule calls for truckers hauling food to comply with the shipper requirements, which means following best practices for temperature-controlled cargo. FDA also indicated the ruling has some flexibility, allowing truckers to continue following best practices for cleaning, inspection, maintenance, and so on to prevent food from spoiling when transporting it.
Who Bears Responsibility?
There is some confusion over who is responsible for ensuring the sanitary and safe transport of food. The rule identifies shippers at the responsible party. While FDA defines this as whoever initiates the shipment, the International Refrigerated Transportation Association (IRTA) stresses that carriers and loaders need to abide by the STF regulations as well.
Carriers need to make sure they understand every step of shipper requirements and adhere to any supplied food safety plans to ensure a safe, unspoiled delivery. IRTA also recommends maintaining documentation should any lawsuits occur to protect carriers.
For example, maintaining clean trailers is critical to prevent cross-contamination. Even if a fleet employs standard cleaning protocols between deliveries, they should make a record of every cleaning in the event of a lawsuit. If food turns up contaminated, providing proof of a thorough cleaning prior to shipment can go a long way to absolving a fleet.
How the Ruling Affects Carriers Going Forward
The FDA didn’t set out to alter cargo insurance claims, however this ruling indicates a shift in risk approach. As a result, good record keeping alone may not always be enough to protect fleets from legal action related to spoiled food. The experts at Interstate Motor Carriers are intimately familiar with the risks trucking companies face when hauling food cargo. Contact us to learn more about reducing your trucking company’s risks.
Posted on June 05, 2019
Though many fleets reported that 2018 was a stellar year for business, there were however, continued operational challenges. And many industry experts report that these challenges are having a greater impact on smaller fleets, than on larger carriers. While many smaller fleets enjoyed significant expansion in 2018, increasing insurance costs, maintenance costs, and fuel costs are creating challenges which may slow their future growth. In addition to increasing costs, there are several other hurdles impacting their efforts to expand.
Here are four additional challenges small fleets face:
- Recruiting drivers
- Retaining drivers
- Ensuring compliance and keeping up with government regulations
- Competitors charging unsustainable rates
Small fleets struggle more than their larger counter parts in dealing with recruitment and retention. Many large carriers opted to increase drivers’ pay as an incentive to recruit and retain both drivers and other employees. However, they were able to do so by shifting contract terms, while many smaller fleets are unable to do so.
New disruptive competitors in the trucking industry are also creating headaches for smaller fleets. Some of these offer cutthroat rates that established fleets can’t maintain. While it’s not a sustainable business model for these disrupters, it allows them to poach customers and force down prices across the industry until they can establish a market presence. Simply said, they are buying market share. Smaller fleets either risk losing their customers or must lower prices to retain them.
Shifting government regulations are especially challenging for smaller fleets as they lack the resources to stay on top of regulation and compliance related changes. Hours of service regulations, and safety inspection requirements must be reviewed by fleet management and then effectively conveyed to the drivers. This is no simple task for a busy and growing small fleet.
Small fleet owners and managers can reach out to the trucking experts at Interstate Motor Carriers. Our team works diligently to service our trucking clients every day to help them manage risk, reduce losses, and solve their most challenging problems. Contact us to learn more.
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 November 07, 2018
There is some confusion among motor carriers regarding commercial vehicle rentals. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) exempts short-term rentals from needing to use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) due to the duration of usage. Drivers who fall under this exemption may continue to use paper records of duty status (RODS) in lieu of an ELD; however, there are some limitations.
Updates to the TRALA Exemption
Some motor carriers are under the impression that the exemption applies to rentals for up to 30 days. This is incorrect. In March of this year, the 30-day exemption for short-term rentals expired. While the Truck Rental And Leasing Association (TRALA) petitioned FMSCA to extend the 30-day exemption through the end of 2018, FMCSA denied the request and an 8-day exemption went into effect.
Terms and Conditions of the Exemption
FMCSA provides some basic guidelines for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) rentals.
- The exemption applies to CMV rentals for eight days or less. Attempts to release the same CMV after eight days is a violation of the exemption.
- Rental drivers need a copy of the exemption letter while operating the CMV.
- Drivers must carry a copy of their rental agreement clearly stating who is renting the vehicle and the dates of the rental.
- Drivers must keep copies of their RODS for the current day and any preceding days during the applicable eight-day period.
- All other FMCSA regulations apply during the rental.
Another provision of the rental exemption is the carrier renting the CMVs must report any accident to FMCSA within five business days. When notifying FMCSA of the incident, motor carriers need to provide the following information:
- Provide the exemption explanation (TRALA)
- Date of the accident
- Location of the accident
- Name and license number of the driver and co-driver
- Number and state license number for the vehicle
- Number of people injured
- Number of fatalities
- The cause of the accident as reported by the police
- Any citations issued to the driver
- Total time the driver spent operating the vehicle as well as their on-duty time leading up to the accident
Carriers need to submit this information via email to MCPSD@dot.gov. Failing to comply with the above provisions can lead to FMCSA revoking exemption privileges. To learn more about this exemption, other safety provisions, and truck insurance solutions, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
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 December 06, 2016
Join Interstate Motor Carriers for this educational webinar to learn how to survive FMCSA compliance reviews. Expert speaker Rob Dowling, Transportation Safety & Loss Control Director at The Capacity Group, will review the key components of the compliance review, the procedures you’ll need in order to achieve a satisfactory rating, and the consequences of failing to do so. Topics include:
* What is a Compliance Review (CR)
* Compliance Review Process
* When Do I Begin The Process
* Six Factor Review Process
* Continuous process to Remain Compliant
Date & Time: Wed, Dec 14, 2016 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST
Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3269874292259164674
Posted on November 21, 2016
A bill of lading (BOL) is a document truckers need to move a cargo shipment. It functions as a receipt of services as well as a contract between the carrier and the shipper. Both the carrier and shipper need this legal document. Otherwise, they cannot process the shipment or invoice it accurately.
What Information Does a BOL Contain?
BOLs contain a wide variety of information. Some information includes:
- Names and addresses of the shipper and receiver
- Account numbers businesses use to track the shipments
- Packaging used for the shipment
- Value of the shipment
- Number of units shipped
- Shipment date
- Description of shipment items
This multipart document contains necessary information to process a freight shipment. The BOL functions as a contract in the absence of a shipper-carrier agreement. Less than truckload shippers (LTL) make the most frequent use of BOLs. They transport small freight and are often more cost effective than full truckload services (FTL). Two of the best known LTL carriers are FedEx Freight and UPS Freight.
Recent Changes to BOL Standards
Controversy is brewing between the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council (NASSTRAC) and the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). The NMFTA made changes to the uniform BOL to bring its provisions up to date and provide more clarity. NASSTRAC disagree citing the new terms and conditions for proving carrier negligence.
NASSTRAC and other shipper groups claim that these changes violate the Carmack Amendment, which established liability standards for cargo. Legal representation for NMFTA countered that the updated BOL standards do not change the laws for showing burden of proof.
For now, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) is siding with the NMFTA. It denied a petition asking to suspend the BOL changes. However, STB is willing to consider further pleadings before deciding whether to investigate the changes.
Further muddying the waters though is the fact that the STB cannot suspend the changes to the uniform BOL. They can only investigate and make suggestions. If the STB decides to investigate, their decision may bring NASSTRAC and NMFTA together in court to battle over terms.
Posted on September 06, 2016
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a proposal August 26, 2016 that would require commercial vehicles to be equipped with speed limiting devices (also known as speed limiters.) The new regulation would apply to trucks weighing more than 26,000 lbs.
The proposal does not include a specific speed to which trucks will be limited. The speed limits that have been suggested include 60, 65 and 68 mph; additional research and analysis needs to be completed before a decision is reached.
The proposal states that a standard will be set and each vehicle will have its device set to that speed limit when it is manufactured and sold. Every vehicle that qualifies under the ruling will be equipped with a device that will read the vehicle’s current speed setting as well as its past settings through its onboard diagnostic connection.
Interstate carriers who operate vehicles that meet the requirement will be required to maintain the speed limiting device for the life of the vehicle.
“Even small increases in speed have a large effect on the force of an impact. Setting the speed limit on heavy vehicles makes sense for safety and environment” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind.
According to the DOT, review of data indicates that limiting the speed of heavy vehicles reduces the severity of crashes and reduces fatalities and injuries. In addition to saving lives, the DOT maintains that implementing the speed-limiter devices could save lives and more than $1 billion in fuel costs each year, making the proposed regulation a win for safety, reducing fuel costs for transportation companies as well as helping the environment.
Many carriers that are already using speed limiter devices voluntarily have experienced an increased level of on-road safety as well as fuel efficiency and equipment lifespan with little or no negativity to productivity.
The DOT is seeking public comment on the rule for 60 days following its official publication in the Federal Register. The DOT is seeking input on two issues:
- What should the speed limit for heavy-duty trucks be?
- Should the mandate apply to all trucks or only new trucks?
The DOT will use comments submitted by the trucking industry as well as other interested parties when developing the actual mandate. To learn more about trucking regulatory compliance, risk management, and coverages, contact us.
Posted on May 09, 2016
Sufficient tread depth will be the primary emphasis of the upcoming CVSA (Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance) annual RoadCheck on June 7-9. NHTSA officials have identified a number of reasons for the growing importance of this safety practice, including increased axle loads, increased speed limits, and increased power unit uptime, among others. Inspections and out-of-service orders in this area have declined over the last three years, leading to a drop in compliance and an uptick in accidents and liability suits. Do you know your tread compliance requirements?
- No tread/sidewall separation
- No exposure of body-ply or belt material
- No inflation/air containment breaches
- Minimum depth of 4/32 inch for steer tires
- Minimum depth of 2/32 inch for all other tires
What practices does your organization have in place to ensure safety and compliance with regard to tire tread wear? What liability coverages do you possess in case of tread-related motor vehicle incidents?
Contact us about regulations, risks, and what you can do to stay safe and compliant.
Posted on April 25, 2016
A Senate transportation funding bill to come in fiscal year 2017 would require the DOT (Department of Transportation) to promptly set forth a proposed rule on commercial power unit speed limiters. Many consider the safety-oriented and environmentally friendly changes overdue, while others consider them yet another overreach in government regulatory activity. Yet support in the administration seems quite strong, as the proposed rule received unanimous support during a hearing last month.
The speed limiter proposal primarily seeks to improve safety by reducing the frequency of fatal crashes on roadways. If implemented next year, the transportation and housing legislation would provide $56.5 billion in fiscal 2017 – approximately $3 billion less than President Obama’s funding request. The bill would provide over half a billion for infrastructure improvement, a critical and long-overlooked issue in the United States. Nearly a billion would go toward NHTSA’s autonomous vehicle research. Several other safety and efficiency projects are also earmarked for support, should the Senate transportation funding bill come to fruition.
The bill includes no language regarding Hours of Services regulations, a perennial issue in the transportation industry. Amendments may be proposed to add such legislation into the bill prior to its passage in the Senate – a move that could make the bill even more contentious, but also even more relevant. To learn more about how this bill and other imminent trucking regulatory changes could affect your organization, contact us.