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 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 April 03, 2019
Every year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) holds an International Roadcheck event to inspect common areas of safety violations in trucking. This year, the event will run from June 4-6 and will focus on steering and suspension. These two components are critical to the safe operation of a commercial vehicle as they help ensure a truck can support heavy loads while maintaining stability while driving.
What to Expect During an Inspection
During International Roadchecks, CVSA sends certified inspectors to perform a Level I Inspection (North American Standard), although he or she may opt to conduct a different type of inspection depending on his or her initial evaluation. A Level I Inspection is the most common type of inspection and drivers should be prepared to provide several documents including:
- Their commercial driver’s license (CDL)
- Their medical certification and card/waiver if appropriate
- Their logs for the previous eight on-duty days to confirm their hours of service (HOS)
The inspection includes 37 steps and takes around 45 minutes to an hour to complete. In addition to the above documents, the inspector will check for drugs or alcohol as well as inspect several aspects of the vehicle such as the seat belts, exhaust system, brake system, various lights, and more.
Is an International Roadcheck Different from Standard Inspections?
While drivers may feel some trepidation going into a CVSA inspection, it is no different from the usual inspections they experience at any other time of the year. The only notable difference is that CVSA will issue an official decal for display upon completing a successful inspection. While there will be more inspections than usual, the inspections themselves are the same as always.
The intent of highlighting steering and suspension safety is to increase drivers’ awareness of those critical elements of operating a truck. CVSA announces the dates of the increased inspections to allow drivers to ensure they’re safe and compliant well in advance. It’s also to remind drivers that maximum safety is something they should strive for year-round.
Contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers to learn more about our innovative truck insurance solutions.
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 August 22, 2016
Interstate Motor Carriers invites you to a complimentary, educational web seminar on the FMCSA mandated responsibilities of motor carriers, drivers, and IEPs involved in intermodal transportation. Rob Dowling, Transportation Safety & Loss Control Director at The Capacity Group, will provide an overview of intermodal transportation and related FMCSA regulations. All businesses involved in intermodal transportation should attend this webinar. Key topics include:
- Overview of Intermodal Transportation
- Motor Carrier & Driver Responsibilities
- Intermodal Equipment Provider Responsibilities
- FMCSA Roadability Safety Fitness Procedures
- UIIA & Automated DVIR Processing Guidelines
- FMCSA Requirements for Intermodal Equipment Providers
Date & Time: Wed, Sep 14, 2016 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM EDT
Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1201698415668513795
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.
Posted on April 11, 2016
Last week the FDA released a final rule regarding sanitation standards for those involved in the process of food transportation. The rule includes an important exception for small companies – it doesn’t pertain to carriers, shippers, and receivers with less than $500,000 in total annual revenue.
Key requirements for carriers under the new final rule dicate that carriers and drivers alike are responsible for:
- Ensuring their refrigerated trailers are pre-cooled prior to loading food
- Providing proof they’ve maintained the appropriate temperature for the food they’re hauling when it is requested of them
- Developing and implementing procedures that specify their practices for cleaning, sanitizing and inspecting their equipment
Additionally, the new rule requires that shippers inspect carriers’ trailers prior to loading food products and that “appropriate” action is taken to ensure that the food is not sold if any party becomes aware of any indication that a shipment of food was not kept at the proper temperature throughout its shipment. Shippers will now also be required to give carriers written sanitation requirements for their vehicles and require shippers to keep records showing they’ve done as much.
The FDA says the rule isn’t likely to have a dramatic impact on carrier and shipper practices – rather that it codifies already existing best practices for food shipments and assists in the process of punishing those who don’t take the necessary steps to comply.
The rule goes into effect in April of 2017. To learn more about transportation regulatory compliance, contact us.
Posted on February 11, 2016
Safety is a primary concern for any commercial driver. The Hours of Service regulations exist to promote and enforce uniform safety practices. Understanding and complying with these rules helps to ensure safe vehicle operation while avoiding fines and penalties. So let’s review the latest round of regulatory changes.
An interstate property-carrying driver is allowed to drive their truck up to 11 hours. All their time spent behind the wheel of the CMV in operation is considered “driving time.” After 11 hours of driving time, the driver must have at least 10 consecutive hours “off duty” before they can drive again. In order for time to be considered off duty, the driver must be relieved of all duty and responsibility for performing work. Also, the driver must be able to leave the place where their vehicle is parked.
The 14-hour rule is known as the 14 hour “driving window” limit. A driver is allowed a period of 14 consecutive hours in which they may drive up to 11 hours of those 14 hours on duty. Under the 14-hour rule, a driver may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
The 14-hour window begins the moment the driver starts any kind of work. “On duty” time includes all the time a driver is working or is required to be ready to work. Examples include time spent at a terminal or facility of a motor carrier or shipper, time inspecting and servicing the truck, time loading and unloading and all driving time. Once the driver reaches the end of the 14th hour on duty period, they cannot drive again until they have been off for 10 hours.
The window is limited to 14 consecutive hours, even if you have some off-duty time such as a 30-minute lunch break or nap during those 14 hours. Your 30-minute break will not extend this 14-hour period, rather the 30-minute meal break will count against the 14-hour driving window. An exception to this rule would be with drivers in the 100 air-mile radius of their work reporting location who are not required to take the minimum 30-minute breaks.
A driver may only drive if 8 hours or less has passed since end of driver’s last off duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes. Meal breaks or other off duty time of at least 30 minutes qualifies as a break. Within the 14-hour window and 11-hour driving rule, a driver may drive a total of 11 hours during their 14-hour driving period; but, driving will not be permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last 30-minute break. Of note, the FMCSA has exceptions to the required rest break, such as the short-haul exceptions in 395.1(e). Further, if a driver is working but not driving after 8 hours, no break is required.
To learn more, contact the transportation experts at Interstate.
Posted on January 04, 2016
As of the first of this month, motor carriers will only have to test half of the previous portion of employees for use of illegal substances. The FMCSA reduced the threshold from 50% to 25% in an effort to reduce financial burden on the transportation industry while maintaining the same level of safety standards. Studies have indicated that a 25% random drug screening rate is sufficiently high to discourage use of illegal substances, making any testing beyond this threshold likely superfluous.
This comes as a result of three consecutive years with an industry-wide positive rate of less than one percent, indicating a high degree of compliance among transportation professionals. Though subject to further change, it is expected that these levels of random testing will continue for the foreseeable future. To learn more about these and other transportation issues, contact us.
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.