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 September 17, 2018
As Hurricane Florence continues its trek across the east coast, truck drivers are reminded now more than ever that hurricane season is still in full force. Although this summer has been relatively quiet concerning hurricanes, Florence made up for the calm with Category 4 winds and torrential rainfall. Weather events of this magnitude require that truck drivers need to take extra precautions to ensure their personal safety, and the safety of their trucks and cargo.
7 Steps to Prepare Truck Drivers For Sever Weather Events
Weather events like Hurricane Florence will have long-lasting effects on truckers, from closed roads, to flooded terminals, the impact of these events can dramatically impact drivers and fleets. The following steps can help truck drivers manage changes in their routine and stay safe during the storm:
- Cancel or reroute all deliveries that cross through the path of the storm.
- Allow for extra time to reach locations, and plan multiple alternate routes.
- Pay close attention to National Weather Service announcements (every two hours as the storm approaches). Many locals may believe the storm won’t be as significant the news portrays. Inaction can result in tragedy. Heed all local weather advisories and evacuation notices.
- Move all vehicles that won’t be used to higher ground in areas affected by the storm. The location should be free of trees, power lines, or any other objects that could impact the vehicle.
- Fill all vehicle fuel tanks prior to the storm, as power may be interrupted in many locations and cause delays in fuel deliveries. This can lead to closed fuel stations, long lines and increased prices at the pump in areas affected by the path of the storm.
- Perform a thorough pre-trip inspection to ensure tires, windshield wipers, and all lights are operational. Drivers do not want to be caught in bad weather when they discover a problem with their vehicle they could’ve addressed before they started driving.
- As always, slow down, increase driving distance, brake slowly, and make sure headlights are on during inclement weather.
Important Changes to HOS Rules for Hurricane Florence
Truck drivers in the most affected areas trying to evacuate don’t need to worry about violating hours of service (HOS) regulations. Both the Governor of North Carolina and South Carolina issued executive orders waiving HOS rules as well as Size & Weight requirements for truck drivers as they prepare for Hurricane Florence. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also issued a Regional Emergency Declaration for Delaware, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia exempting drivers from Parts 390-399 of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). Restrictions do apply, so drivers should be sure to familiarize themselves with the Emergency Declaration.
A truck driver’s number one priority during a hurricane should be his or her safety. To learn more ways to reduce your risks, 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 June 28, 2018
School is out for the summer! The long winter has finally ended and kids & teens across the country are free from school days. For the trucking industry summer means the opposite of freedom, for this is the busy season. There are many variables to be concerned with whilst driving in the summer, especially as a trucker. Below we have listed some of the most important tips and precautions to prepare for this season:
- Be Properly Equipped – Summer driving means heat, sun glare, and longer days. Be sure to pack a hat, sun glasses, extra water, and plenty of snacks. Did we mention you should pack water? Hydration is key to staying focused and healthy during the summer months!
- Be Aware of the Extra Drivers – With summer in full swing, teenagers and college drivers will be on the roads more than any other season. In addition to students, families will be hitting the road for vacation making road congestion a big concern. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings by always checking your mirrors and properly signaling before changing lanes.
- Construction is Being Done – Be wary of road work! The summer is when most construction is typically going to be done, especially on roads. Be conscious of all signs as you drive, and respond accordingly. Slow down and be prepared to stop when driving through construction zones.
Of course, these are only a few conditions that drivers must be aware of while driving in the summer. We urge you to stay safe, healthy and cautious this summer (and every season)!
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 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.
Posted on September 02, 2015
September 2, 2015 – Freehold, NJ
Rough Notes, the nation’s leading source of insurance innovations and trends for over 135 years, recently published two articles about the trucking experts at IMCCA. To read the articles, click on the thumbnails to the right.
The first article, published in the May 2015 edition of Rough Notes, is titled Expertise Key to Trucking and Specialty Trucking Success. The article explores the challenges that transportation businesses face in identifying, acquiring, and implementing new safety technologies. As a trucking specialist for many years, Gary Weindorf, President/CEO of IMCCA, points out those safety devices can increase motor carrier costs, but can lead to significant dividends in terms of reducing accident frequency, severity and ultimate liability, which can translate into lower insurance premiums. While safety regulations are set forth by the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) Program, he points out that the organizations which succeed are those that take a proactive approach to vehicle safety and driver security. A dedicated trucking insurance broker can be an asset in knowing the trucking insurance market and handling unique issues with claims and loss control.
The second article, published in the August 2015 edition of Rough Notes, made the front cover of the magazine. An agency profile – Better to Be Lucky… and Good explores the unconventional path that has brought together the pieces that today comprise the highly successful IMCCA. Interstate started as a Trucking Agency in 1936 and merged with Capacity Coverage Corp in 2011. Capacity’s original partners, Robert Lull and Mark Weinraub, started the company in 1990 with a goal to create a motor carrier agency that emphasized professionalism and subject matter expertise. Interstate’s trucking expertise was a perfect fit for their vision and maintains their original offices in Freehold, along with a continuation of the same leadership and experienced employees that ensures their clients of market prowess, dedicated service, and the knowledge to assist with shipper/government regulations in this fast-paced industry.
To learn more about IMCCA, visit the Trucking Insurance Experts.
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)
Posted on November 18, 2014
Driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle requires a higher level of knowledge, experience, skills, and physical abilities than what is required to drive a non-commercial vehicle. Hence, CDL drivers are held to a higher standard when operating any type of motor vehicle on public roads. The Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) is a nationwide computer system that enables state driver licensing agencies (SDLAs) to ensure that each commercial driver has only one driver’s license and one complete driver record. State driver licensing agencies use CDLIS to complete various procedures. This coming year the following regulations will take effect:
- Jan 3, 2015 – States must begin enforcing the cell phone prohibition/restriction final rule. For more info: Mobile_Phone_Rule_Fact_Sheet.pdf
- Jan 30, 2015 – States must begin enforcing the regulation that paper copies of the Medical Examiner’s Certificate are only valid for the first 15 days after their issuance. As of this date, State driver licensing agencies will be adding medical self-certification status and the information on medical examiner’s certificate to the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) record. All commercial drivers engaging in interstate commerce with a maximum gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 pounds (4,536 kilograms) are required to obtain and maintain a valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate (ME Certificate).Commercial drivers who drive vehicles requiring a CDL have two additional requirements. On or before January 30, 2015, all CDL holders must declare to their State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) that they only operate or expect to operate commercially in 1 of 4 possible categories with their CDL. This process is called self-certification.
For more information, view the following: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/medical or http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/state-state-instructions-submitting-medical-certificates-0
- July 8, 2015 – States must start enforcing all provisions of the CDL Testing and CLP (Commercial Lines Permit) Standards final rule. For more information: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/states
- July 8, 2015 – States must implement Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) 5.3 into production no later than this date.
- Sept 30, 2015 – States must be in compliance with all CDL requirements (MAP-21, Section 32305). The MAP-21 stipulations are aimed at state agencies’ notifications and record-keeping of testing, licensing, violations, convictions and disqualifications. The DOT is requiring all states to submit a report prior to Nov. 13, 2014 addressing actions they plan to take to address any deficiencies in their commercial driver’s license program, as identified by the DOT in the most recent audit of the program. http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license
Impact of Ebola on Trucking Companies – Guidance for Dealing with Employee Issues, Risks & Worker’s Compensation
Posted on November 03, 2014
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website recommends specific precautions for people traveling to at risk areas and encourages people to monitor their health for 21 days following potential exposure. The following link is the CDC online hub for Ebola information and is a great resource for both you and your employees to access: www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/prevention.
Here are some other tips for communicating with your employees about the disease:
- Stay calm. Educate employees about how Ebola is spread and best practices to avoid transmission.
- Encourage employees to self-report any potential symptoms (either for themselves or family members who have recently returned from one of the affected areas) and to request PTO or a leave of absence if symptoms develop.
- According to the CDC, the symptoms of the Ebola virus include:
- Fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
- Severe headache
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal (stomach) pain
- Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
- Establish an emergency preparedness plan including reporting procedures, communication plans & medical options
For an employee who has been in the proximity of an affected area and is exhibiting any symptom of the disease, his or her physician will determine whether the employee should remain home from work based on any symptoms that may appear. If a serious medical condition is confirmed, the employee’s leave may then be designated as FMLA.
Any other employee requesting time off because of a fear of Ebola with no medical justification should use any accrued vacation or paid time off time as per your company policy. Otherwise, the time off, if granted, may be unpaid time off.
With regard to qualifying for Worker’s Compensation coverage, two tests must be satisfied before an illness or disease can be considered occupational and thus compensable under workers’ compensation:
- First, the illness or disease must be “occupational,” meaning that it arose out of the course and scope of employment.
- Second, the illness or disease must arise out of or be caused by conditions “peculiar” to the work.
The simplest test toward judging “arising out of and in the course and scope of employment” is to ask: Was the employee benefiting the employer when exposed to the illness or disease? Be warned, this “test” does not consider the various state laws, interpretations and intricacies of this question.
Test two is a higher hurdle – Is the illness or disease “peculiar” to the work? If the illness or disease is not peculiar to the work, it is not compensable. An example of this “peculiar” exposure is a healthcare worker contracting an infectious disease such as HIV or hepatitis as a result of contact with infected blood.
Qualifying an illness or disease first as occupational and secondly (though more importantly) as compensable may ultimately require industrial commission or court intervention to sort medical opinion from legal facts. There is no singular test that can be applied to every case to declare an illness or disease as compensable or non-compensable, thus each case is judged on its own merits and encompassing circumstances.
Industrial commissions and courts: 1) compile the opinion of the treating physician and the opinions of other expert medical witnesses; 2) couple the medical evidence with the facts surrounding the case; and 3) compare the subject case with precedent to render a compensability ruling based on the facts. This process can sometimes take years.
Judged against the qualifying factors presented, is Ebola a true workers’ compensation exposure for most employers? The short answer is, “no, not likely.” Other than the fact that this illness has garnered intense attention in the news, it is no more occupational in nature than a non-pandemic, “no-name” flu.
Unless it can be proven that the employee has an increased risk of contracting Ebola because of a peculiarity of his job, this virus is not occupational. Employees working in the healthcare industry, or possibly a truck driver who loads or unloads Ebola tainted waste, may be able to prove such increased risk as they have little choice but to expose themselves to the bacteria as a regular part of their job duties.
With some Ebola-infected patients being treated at facilities in the United States, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has issued guidance on its website relative to the transport of Ebola-tainted waste, which is classified as a Category A infectious substance under the hazmat regulations. Transport of such materials for disposal generally requires several layers of packaging, including an outer hard container effectively sealed. To explore Category A infectious substances hazmat transport regulations in detail, and specific guidance relative to Ebola, visit this page on PHMSA’s website.