The Closing Gap

Preparing for the Future

The gap between the horse drawn wagon and the robotic operated Class 8 semi-truck is closing rapidly. Innovation of our equipment is critical in order to curb the increasing costs of operation and the increasing number of regulations facing the trucking industry. The future truck is going to be filled with much more technology than the Class 8 tractor-trailer on the road today. Much like Superman is more than a regular Joe gear jammer, there is no doubt that the next generation of truck drivers will be required to have a higher technological understanding of the equipment they will be operating. This will undoubtedly create a need for more sophisticated training facilities. As the equipment becomes more complex, it makes sense to train specialty repair technicians.

We must identify the knowledge needed by future truck drivers. The days of a driver being able to do all the repair work are rapidly going away. We must change the image of the driver to make trucking cool again. Perhaps even write some new songs about the modern trucker. “We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there” or “Daddy what was a truck driver.” The mechanics of today will become a vehicle software technician. Drivers will need more computer skills. As the truck is transformed into computer-controlled, high-tech machines, we will need specialists who can analyze, troubleshoot and repair the myriad of onboard electronics. We must start training the next generation drivers soon because changes are coming to the industry. Over the next two decades, the driving will slowly be taken over by the machines themselves. Drones, robots, autonomous trucks are already under experimentation. It only makes sense that the industry would welcome this new era. There will be much less waste in the industry. Trucks will no longer be sitting at truck stops idling so the driver can rest. No driver, no stopping except for fuel and maintenance. Faster deliveries, improved safety, less regulatory problems, no wages or benefits are all a huge plus.

Economic theory holds that such changes will improve the standard of living by making us more productive. But, what will happen to the 5.7 million drivers of today? Some of us are too old or simply don’t have the desire to learn a new occupation or go back to school to adapt to the new technology. As I look around my small world, I sometimes wonder if we wouldn’t be better off if we went back in time a decade or so and then stopped the advancement of time. Modern technology has made our lives better in many ways, but at the same time has created new problems and dangers that hackers and terrorists will want to take advantage of to cause harm.

Most of us struggle with change of any kind, so this process will be very distressing and negative emotions could stem from it. The good news is that this change will occur slowly and we won’t simply wake up and have a new driver in the family. We must acknowledge the fact that this change to automation is bound to happen and start reflecting on new ways to move forward. Keep a positive attitude and don’t let yourself drown in uncertainty. Instead seek more training to prepare yourself.

Author: Pat Dickard, Corporate Trainer

Growing Your Business in a Capacity Crunch

New alternatives create a better approach to cash flow management

Cash flow is the lifeblood of every business. An abnormal heartbeat is expected whenever revenues decline and customers delay payments, but even during boom times cash flow has to be carefully managed to survive.

In the transportation industry, freight volumes are expected to grow by more than 3 percent for the next few years with rates continuing to rise. Despite what should be a good business environment for brokers, many small and mid-size companies are hanging on for life.

Cash flow problems of brokers are rooted in the fact that they operate as virtual banks for shippers and carriers. Shippers are asking brokers to extend credit for to 60 days while carriers have shortened their expectations. To compete in a very tight capacity market, brokers are paying carriers within 28 days and often 14 days or less out of necessity.

Keeping a strong credit rating is critical no matter how market conditions change. A low “average days to pay” gives the broker an instant advantage. Brokers that pay quickly are able to move more loads and get better rates from carriers who are willing to soften their margins to accelerate their own cash flow.

Holding onto this competitive advantage is easier said than done. To maintain strong credit scores and keep a healthy cash flow, brokers will often need an infusion from a bank line of credit or other forms of accounts receivable financing. These traditional cash management strategies are often a hassle to obtain and do not offer sustainable, long-term solutions.

Another drawback of traditional financing is brokers not being able to access the amount of capital they need to grow their businesses. This should not come as a surprise as brokers do not make good lending clients, at least on paper. On average, 85 percent of their revenues pass straight through to carriers. Another drawback is the high cost of financing that eats away their profits.

A new and alternative approach is for brokers to use an accounts receivables-backed cash management platform. A platform approach, described below, makes it possible for a lender to effectively combine technology with capital to offer a specialized payments program to help brokers grow their businesses and operate more efficiently.

The platform defined

Consider a scenario where a broker offers two loads to the same carrier. The only difference between the loads is that the first pays in 30 days and the other pays two days from delivery. Would it be surprising if the carrier wants $1,550 for the first load and only $1,400 for the second? Not at all.

The carrier’s margins are much less sensitive when it knows payment will be made in two days versus 30. From a lender’s perspective, the investment risk of lending to the broker is minimized by using a platform that ensures that broker is paying its carriers quickly and consistently.

The broker benefits from this arrangement by operating more efficiently and being able to grow its business by moving more loads for its customers.

The payments platform that accompanies a specialized lending program of this nature should consist of four parts:

  1. A payments management system that brings transparency and standardization to the relationship between brokers and carriers. Brokers can use this and other features to coordinate their capital lending needs with incoming payments from shippers and outgoing payments to carriers.

 

The payments system can be combined with features common to transportation management software (TMS) systems such as load offers or tenders. When a broker offers a load to a carrier electronically, the carrier can see the payment terms and accept the load, which automatically initiates the payment process once the delivery is confirmed.

 

A cash management platform does not have to replace the TMS systems that brokers already use to operate their businesses. Rather, it should be capable of integrating with existing TMS platforms to support and enhance the relationship between brokers and carriers by providing the capital and automating the payment process, among other vital services.

 

If a traditional TMS platform were compared to an iceberg, a cash management platform would be the underwater portion that stabilizes the structure.

 

  1. A streamlined approach to receiving proof-of-delivery receipts and other paperwork from carriers to initiate payment. Document scanning applications and services enable carriers and owner operators to submit documents electronically using truck stop scanning, any Windows-based PC or by using a mobile application. Carriers can download the software for free.

 

Once delivery confirmation is received, an account payable to the carrier and account receivable from the shipper can be opened automatically. At this point the countdown officially begins for the payment due date. If the payment is set up to be paid in two days from receipt of delivery, for example, payment is posted automatically in the carrier’s bank account in two days.

 

  1. A process to manage receivables from shippers without interfering with brokers’ relationships. Traditional accounts receivable financing and factoring agreements take the billing and collections process away from the broker. Brokers can use cash management platforms that lend funds to them directly without requiring the shipper to pay a third party. If the shipper does not pay the invoice submitted a broker within 65 days, the funds advanced to the broker can be taken back automatically.

 

  1. A simple, transparent cost structure that charges the broker a fee, per transaction, in exchange for automating quick payment to carriers. The broker should have the option to use its own capital to pay carriers or to borrow capital to make the payment. The broker can make this decision on a load-by-load basis. If the broker borrows funds, there is an additional interest charge based on the number of days outstanding for repayment.

 

On a per-load basis, this cost of capital pays for itself by brokers increasing their margins and moving more loads by being able to pay carriers faster. As a real-world example, one broker that recently began using a cash management platform has been able to increase its margin per load from $98 to $122 by shortening its payments to carriers from 30 days to between five and 20 days.

 

Cash management platforms represent an alternative to traditional lending. They combine technology, standardization and capital to make all parties in a freight transaction more efficient. Shippers, for instance, are more likely to use brokers when they know the broker is using a trustworthy payment platform to pay carriers. A cash management platform also makes brokers more competitive in the market and operate more efficiently, all of which lessens the cost of capital.

Creating a convenient way for brokers and carriers to conduct business, process payments and manage cash flow will not be considered an “alternative” for long. For brokers looking to grow their business and sustain a competitive advantage, this could quickly become the standard for the new age.

Todd Ehrlich is president of BAM Worldwide.

Trucking Goes to the Dogs

OpRoger

Operation Roger

It was a chance meeting. When a group of friends walked through the door of a small, unassuming coffee shop in the rural, mountain town of Cascade, Idaho, no one knew the ramifications.

Aaron McGehee was on a week’s leave from the U.S. Army at Fort Polk, LA, and had returned home to Payette, Idaho, to visit his ailing grandmother. While home, Aaron, along with his mother, Shelly McGehee, and a group of friends had traveled to Cascade, where they decided to visit a coffee shop in town. Aaron was the last of the group to order, but when he did, he had a surprise visitor from behind the counter. Scooby, the coffee shop owner’s dog, came out to meet and greet the visitors.

The visit quickly spurred a conversation between Aaron and shop owner, Reme’ Maple. While the two had never met before, the conversation turned to Aaron explaining he needed to find a way to get his dog — a cocker spaniel named Vegeta — home from Louisiana to Idaho before he received his discharge from the Army.

By coincidence, Maple had the answer. Both Scooby and another dog, Gypsy, had been transported across the country to Cascade though a program known as “Operation Roger,” a volunteer operation that uses truck drivers traveling throughout the United States to transport pets. As soon as Maple told Aaron McGehee about the program, he knew that was the way to go.

“It was awesome,” Maple said. “It was kind of like it was meant to be.”

Maple had experience with Operation Roger, having the two shelter dogs transported across the country, one from Louisiana (Scooby) and the other from Georgia (Gypsy). Scooby was scheduled to be euthanized the same day when Maple found a foster home for her, while she waited to be transported to Cascade. Gypsy, too, was scheduled to be euthanized, but was already in a foster home. Gypsy, a black mouth cur and Staffordshire mix, was eventually brought to Cascade as a companion for a terminally ill man. After his death, Maple fostered Gypsy until she was adopted by a couple from Boise in mid-November.

Scooby, a black mouth cur and boxer mix, has adopted the Maples as her forever family and was the reason behind McGehee getting Vegeta from Louisiana back to Idaho.

“We were talking about her dog because I liked her dog and I just started petting it because it was friendly,” Aaron McGehee said. “I started telling her about my issue and she gave me the information.”

McGehee adopted Vegeta (named after a character from the animated Dragon Ball Z series) from a litter of puppies. Since he lived in the barracks, he had friends keep the dog for him. The first friend’s wife was pregnant, however, and soon didn’t want the dog around.

“She didn’t want him at all because he was destructive (chewing) and she was going through her pregnancy stages,” McGehee said. “My only other option was to have him go to another friend’s house, but he could only stay for a little while.”

However, while Vegeta was staying at the second friend’s house on-base, a surprise inspect was performed.

“They didn’t see the dog, or we would have gotten in trouble,” McGehee said. “But they knew he was there. They said, ‘You have to get him out or you’re going to be in trouble.’

“To have a pet, you have to have them registered on-base. I didn’t have the money to register him at the time,” McGehee said. “I was kind of freaking out because I knew if I didn’t get Vegeta out of there, I was going to have to give him to a new home. Her (Maple) telling me all this information was like, ‘Yes, I can finally get him home.’”

After returning from Idaho to Louisiana, McGehee began the process of filling out a very detailed application through Operation Roger to get the ball rolling. A small up-front fee (now a $40 fee for the paperwork needed to arrange transportation) along with the application started the process.

McGehee traveled two hours to Shreveport, LA, to meet with the first “layover” and deliver Vegeta. The person from the layover home also traveled two hours, from Texas to Shreveport, to make the connection. Vegeta remained in the home for about a month before a transport connection could be arranged.

After that, it was a series of truck drivers who were willing to transport the dog in the cab of their truck to the next layover site or the next driver en route to the dog’s home. The whole process took about two months.

“It took quite a process to get (Vegeta) home,” Shelly McGehee said. “He stayed at several people’s houses along the way. I kept asking, ‘Aaron, are you sure they’re sending your dog home? Are they keeping your dog?’”

Finally, though, it happened. Vegeta was delivered to Shelly McGehee in September and Aaron McGehee was discharged and returned home Oct. 3, where he and Vegeta were reunited.

Shelly McGehee stressed Operation Roger isn’t just for dogs and cats. “They do snakes, turtles, spiders … whatever needs transported and they are willing to transport it,” she said. Operation Roger does not transport barnyard animals and the larger the pet, the longer it may take to get the animal transported. In fact, the driver who transported Vegeta on his final leg of the journey (Brad M.) had recently transported a mastiff, which required him to remove the passenger seat from his truck to accommodate the large dog.

Aaron McGehee said the application was long and very detailed, but well worth the effort. According to Maple, it needs to be. “They want to make sure the dog is vetted and you have to have a health certificate,” she said.

Operation Roger is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity with the mission of transporting rescued pets to a new home or reuniting pets with their owners in an inexpensive manner. Those wanting to transport a small pet through Operation Roger must first fill out an application for transport and pay a non-refundable, tax-deductible donation of $40, which helps offset the costs associated with transporting the animal. All members of Operation Roger are volunteers.


 

“As of early December, Operation Roger had completed transport for 64 pets in 2014, bringing the total number of pets transported to 849 since 2005.”


Because of this, it can take some time to have a pet transported anywhere across the country. Operation Roger cannot give those using the service a specific time of when a pet will arrive at its destination and, therefore, cannot do emergency requests. It can take as little as a couple of weeks for travel or it can take up to a few months. Everything depends on truckers who can transport the animals and when they will be in the general area of the destination.

Those who transport the pets are truckers first and must meet the requirements of their job. Therefore, the pet may have to be boarded at “layover” homes en route to their final destination. These homes are temporary foster homes and are also volunteers for Operation Roger who agree to keep the pet until transportation can be arranged.

Pets must be at least partially house trained (with the exception of young puppies). Pets will ride in the cab of the truck and drivers cannot take the time to house train animals while doing their job.

Those receiving the pet may have to drive a few hours to make contact with the truck driver and take possession of the pet. This meeting can take place anytime during the day or night, depending on the truck driver’s schedule. The person picking up the pet must agree to meet the truck driver in person at a predetermined location where the animal will be handed off.

As of early December, Operation Roger had completed transport for 64 pets in 2014, bringing the total number of pets transported to 849 since 2005. Operation Roger has a goal of transporting 1,000 pets by its 10th anniversary on September 16, 2015.

Those wanting to transport a pet should visit www.operationroger.com, read the instructions on how to register and fill out an application. Make sure to read the instruction carefully and understand the application process. You must register with Operation Roger before you can fill out an application. Failure to fill out the application correctly and entirely will result in delays getting your pet transported.

Applications for those wanting to volunteer for Operation Roger are also available on the site. Volunteers can be truck drivers wanting to transport pets, layover homes, shuttle drivers or non-pet transport.

Author: Larry Hurrle, Editor

Win against the IRS [Part 1]

Editor’s note: This is Part 1 or a two-part series dealing with filing taxes for owner-operators. Part 2 will appear in the March-April edition of IT Magazine.

 The arrival of tax season strikes fear and high blood pressure into the hearts of most working Americans, but none more so than owner-operators.

One of the most frequently asked questions that I encounter in my travels is, “What one or two things can I most easily work on to stop overpaying the IRS year after year?”

Without a doubt, the two biggest causes of owner-operators paying more than necessary in income taxes are these:

  • Overlooked Deductions, and,
  • Lack of Adequate Records

We’re going to offer a solution to both of these problems.

Overlooked Deductions

You know all the obvious deductions like fuel, repairs, insurance and permits.

The expenses that don’t make their way onto your return are very likely those that either:

  • You didn’t realize were deductible in the first place, or,
  • You simply didn’t think about these expenses during the tax preparation process

If you use one of the “franchise” tax preparation companies to prepare your returns, their process revolves around using whatever deductions that you walk in with on a summarized list, or are able to recall on the spot.

Their process leaves little room for preparers to ask questions that may uncover additional deductions.

So knowing even a few additional “rocks” to look under for deductions can mean additional hundreds if not thousands of dollars left in your pocket at tax time.

Following, then, is a list of some of the most-frequently overlooked deductions that we see for owner-operators year after year:

  • Supplies — Whether purchased at home or on the road, everything from tarps and tie downs to logbooks and linens. If you don’t have receipts, at least write it down in your logbook.
  • Mileage at home — Work-related miles you drive to buy supplies, check on parts, repairs, etc. Work-related miles driven by your spouse or dependent for supplies or any other work-related items.
  • Road Expenses — These are often paid by cash. Again, if no receipt, write them in your logbook.

                                – Hotels                – Truck Supplies

                                – Laundry             – Weigh fees/scales

                                – Parking              – Prepass

                                – Showers            – Rental Car

                                – Tolls                    – Airfare

  • Business Furnishings — In your sleeper or at home:

                                -File Cabinets     -Desk

                                -Furniture           -Chairs

Let’s say that the only expense item you add is 8,000 business miles.

If you are only in a 15 percent bracket, the additional tax savings to you will be roughly $1,300 (this is after taking into account your marginal tax rate of 15 percent plus self-employment tax at an effective rate of 13.5 percent).

This is “found money” to which you are entitled.

So now that we’ve got your interest, let’s shift gears for a moment and talk about …

“…knowing even a few additional ‘rocks’ to look under for deductions can mean additional hundreds if not thousands of dollars left in your pocket…”

Records, or the Lack Thereof

As you might imagine, the IRS wants you to maintain records for the deductions you are claiming on your tax returns, especially business deductions. This is certainly a reasonable request.

If you review virtually any IRS Publication or set of instructions, it will tell you exactly what is “required” in order to take any given deduction.

But let me ask you a question: What if your expense records were destroyed in a fire? or destroyed or disposed of by a spouse or significant other? Or what if, for example, you had been one of several hundred or more owner-operators living in New Orleans, LA, during the last week of August, 2005 when Hurricane Katrina wiped out countless homes and businesses, including those of these professional drivers?

Fortunately, there is a little-known law that allows for the estimation of expenses or re-construction of records using the best method available, if the actual records are missing.

This special rule of law is known as the “Cohen Rule” aptly named after an audit case involving none other than famed entertainer and songwriter, George M. Cohen.

It seems that Mr. Cohen’s income tax returns were audited in the 1940s for a year during which he had traveled with his show for more than 30 weeks during the year.

Unfortunately, Mr. Cohen had not maintained records to back up the expenses he claimed on his tax return, so the IRS examiner disallowed most of his business expenses out of hand.

Fortunately, the story doesn’t end there.

He appealed the IRS’ disallowance, and eventually the U.S. Tax Court found in his favor.

“Fortunately, there is a little-known law that allows for the estimation of expenses or re-construction of records…”

Thus, his estimated expenses were all allowed and the “Cohen Rule” has held up since then. We have cited it in numerous cases where original records are found to be lacking or even non-existent.

What does this mean for owner-operators everywhere? It means that if you can reasonably estimate valid expenses for which you have no original records, it is acceptable for you to claim a deduction.

Having the freedom to deduct expenses based upon reasonable reconstruction can likewise cut your income tax bill by hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every year.

 

Author: Dennis Bridges is a certified public accountant and is the executive director of eTruckerTax. He can be contacted at info@etruckertax.com.

Trucking: The Next Generation

How long is a generation?  In geological time a generation is a few million years.  In the Bible it was 100, 70, or 40 years (no one knows for sure).  According to Ancestry.com in families it is about 25 years. For Star Trek it took 20 years for the Next Generation.  In computer chips a generation is about 18 months.  In iPhones it is just a little over one year.  So what defines a generation and what is a generation in trucking?

When Internet Truckstop started in 1995, when a carrier finished delivering his load was when he started looking around for his next load.  Today, you look, find, and book your next load before you load and depart with your current load.  In 1995 electronic driver logs were an idea.  Today they are about to become mandatory.  In 1995 communicating with drivers was done via pay phone or expensive satellite systems.  Today almost everyone has a cell phone and pay phones are few and far between.  In 1995 internet access was very limited, slow, and you had to plug into a phone jack to get it.  Today almost every phone has access to internet, with Wi-Fi hotspots almost everywhere you stop.  In 1995 if you needed to get a rate confirmation, you tried to find the nearest fax machine.  Today, you get it in your e-mail and electronically sign it.  In 1995 driverless vehicles were science fiction on the big screen.  Today many of their components are built in and used by vehicles of every sort today.

If you were to pin me down to define it, I would say a trucking generation has been about 10 years.  About every 10 years we see significant changes in transportation.  Recently because of the current regulatory environment we are seeing more changes happen more quickly which is speeding up our generational clock.  Vehicle requirements, driver requirements, freight requirements, traffic requirements are all putting more and more pressure on transportation to change which is forcing a next generation in transportation.

Generations are not something to fear but to be embraced.  Each succeeding generation creates opportunities for new companies not encumbered by legacy processes to step up and make a difference in the industry and for traditional companies to embrace change and eliminate some legacy processes.  In 2015 we will be launching our fourth generation of Internet Truckstop products to help you find freight and trucks more quickly.  You have seen the first steps of this fourth generation technology at work already on the site with the release of the new details pages which incorporate materials found throughout the Truckstop.com site brought all together into one spot.  Additional changes to help speed the decision making process and the communication processes will be arriving shortly.

As we celebrate this new year and the 20th year of Internet Truckstop, we are excited to step into this next generation of trucking and support it with more tools, more information, and more ________ to help your businesses step into this next generation and be even more profitable than ever before.

Author: Scott Moscrip, CEO & Founder

HEPATITIS C: The Silent Epidemic

The average age of a commercial truck driver in the United States is 55, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On one hand, that means the driver is edging closer and closer to retirement and raising the concern over driver shortages. On the other hand, it means the average truck driver was born somewhere in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

While that statistic may mean little to most people, it does mean the average truck driver is a member of the Baby Boomer generation. It also means they live among the highest percentage of Americans at risk for having or contracting the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). Baby Boomers (those born between the years of 1945 and 1965) make up approximately 75 percent of the people in the United States infected with HCV and are five times more likely to have the disease than other adults. Most of those who are infected with HCV contracted the disease before HCV was identified in the late 1980s and before the blood supply screening became routine in 1992.

Unfortunately, of the estimated 5.2 million Americans who have been exposed to or are currently infected with HCV, three out of four people don’t even know it. Officials estimate there are 2.4 million undiagnosed cases of HCV in the U.S. and there are 17,000 new infections every year, while 12,000 people die each year from a Hepatitis C related illness.

That’s why Healthy Trucking Association of America, along with AbbVie and OraSure Technologies Inc., teamed up during the annual Great American Trucking Show in August to launch the “Truckers Rolling Against Hepatitis C” campaign. The campaign kicked off Aug. 21 and will run through the fall (winter officially begins Dec. 21) and will feature testing events across the country to test at-risk individuals and help prevent serious consequences from undiagnosed infection.

AbbVie is a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company, while OraSure is a leader in the fight against HCV.

Getting tested for HCV is easier than ever through your health care provider. With the new OraQuick® HCV Rapid Antibody Test, a simple fingerstick test provides laboratory accuracy at the point of the cqare with test results in 20 minutes. This type of testing is now covered without cost sharing by insurance and is an essential health benefit for Medicare-eligible patients.

Getting tested for HCV is easier than ever through your healthcare provider.

HCV is often called the “silent epidemic.” It is a disease of the liver which is caused by a virus. Over time, HCV can lead to permanent liver damage, including cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. It is now acknowledged by most countries worldwide as a major public health issue. In 2007, records show that HCV-related annual deaths in the United States surpassed annual deaths in the U.S. caused by HIV and AIDS.

In 2008, there were approximately 195,000 people in the U.S. with advanced liver disease. By the close of 2015, that number is expected to rise to 601,000 people with advanced liver disease. Nearly three quarters of those people will be those who were suffering from the disease, but went undiagnosed in 2008.

Because HCV is asymptomatic — that is, having or showing no signs of symptoms — and is slow progressing, most cases of HCV remain undiagnosed until the onset of liver disease.


THOSE MOST AT RISK FOR HEPATITIS C

• People born between 1945 and 1965 (Baby Boomers)
• Those who received a blood transfusion or organ transplant prior to July 1992
• Those who received clotting factor before 1987
• Those who are chronic hemodialysis patients
• Those who have shared an injection needle or works (even once)
• Those who have had an accidental needlestick incident with a used needle
• Military veterans (especially Vietnam veterans)
• Those who shared a toothbrush, razor, etc. with a person who has HCV
• Those who had unprotected sex with a person who has HCV
• Those born to a mother who has/had HCV
• Those who have been diagnosed with HIV
• Those who have an unregulated tattoo or body piercing (prior to 2000)
• Those who have ever been incarcerated or worked in a jail or prison


 

Can HCV be cured?

Unlike Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, there is no vaccine available for Hepatitis C. That does not mean, however, there is no cure. HCV can be treated and it can be cured.

HCV can be considered “cured” if the virus remains cleared from your body at the 6-month market after treatment has finished. This is known as sustained virologic response (SVR) and data shows that you will remain HCV-free indefinitely.

Treatment for HCV will depend on the viral load, or how much of the virus is in your body. It will also hinge on the genotype of the virus, if you have liver damage, other health conditions and any previous response to HCV treatment.

Most people suffering from acute HCV infection often do not know they have the virus and, therefore, do not seek treatment. If a person realizes they may have been exposed to HCR, an acute infection can be identified early and medication may be recommended. Doctors sometimes simply recommend bed rest, plenty of fluids, a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol. You will need to visit your doctor regularly for follow-up blood tests and make sure your body has fully recovered from the virus.

In chronic, or long-term cases, treatment may require a combination of antiviral medications intended to clear the virus from the body.

Until 2011, there were only two drugs approved by the FDA to treat HCV. Since then, however, several other drugs have been introduced and approved to treat the different genotypes of HCV. Depending on the drug recommended, it can be taken either in pill form or through injection under the skin.

Treatment regimens are usually 12, 24 or 48 weeks depending on the circumstances of the infection.

Can I work while being treated for HCV?

Side effects from the medication are different for every person. It is difficult to pinpoint how HCV treatment will affect one’s work schedule. Some people keep a regular schedule, while others lessen their hours of work and others will stop work altogether.

HCV should not prevent you from being able to work. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for the prevention and control of HCV, people should not be excluded from work, school, childcare or other settings.

What happens when treatment ends?

It is important to remember that treatment for Hepatitis C does not last forever, even though it may seem like it does. After treatment ends, so do many of the side effects. Some risks and side effects may last for some time after treatment, however. You will need to have follow-up blood tests as prescribed by your physician 6, 12 and 18 months, depending on individual circumstances. If you developed cirrhosis, or severe scarring of the liver, you will need to be monitored, even if your body cleared the infection.

If the treatment did not clear the infection, you will need to discuss future options with your physician. You may want to take a break from the medications and then examine the possibility of retreatment in the future. Even if treatment does not clear your body of the infection, it likely improved the overall health of your liver.

Author: Larry Hurrle, Editor

[Update] 34-hour restart rules suspended

President Barack Obama signed the $1.1 trillion spending bill Dec. 16, which effectively halts the enforcement of the 34-hour restart to include two periods of inactivity between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. and the once-per-week limit on the restart.

The law became effective as soon as the president signed the bill.

The Collins Amendment, written and introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), was added to the appropriations bill as a rider and became law along with the remainder of the bill.  The Collins Amendment, however, pertains to only two segments of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Hours of Service rules, which went into effect in July, 2013.  It only suspends the 34-hour restart through Sept. 30, 2015, which is the end of the U.S. government’s fiscal year.  During the suspended period, FMCSA will be required to study whether the restart provision provide a greater net benefit for the operational, safety, health and fatigue impacts they cause.

It also suspends the stipulation that the restart can be used only once during a one week period.

The Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General is mandated to keep tabs on the FMCSA during the entire process to ensure methods used in data collection is appropriate and that any panel which will review the study is qualified to do so.

FMCSA now has a 60 day window to show how it plans to execute the study required in the Collins Amendment.  The Office of the Inspector General then will have 30 days in which to report back to FMCSA and House and Senate committees with any changes.  FMCSA then has 210 days in which to produce its final report on the research.  OIG will then have 60 days to review the report and tell the agency and congressional committees if the agency complied with the requirements of the law.

Author: Larry Hurrle, Editor

President’s Signature Will Suspend Restart Rules

President Barack Obama has said he will sign a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill that was passed by Congress over the weekend, despite not being happy with some of the legislation in the bill.  The president will need to sign the bill before midnight Wednesday, when federal spending authority expires.

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a 219-206 vote Thursday, Dec. 11, while the Senate approved the bill 56-40 Saturday night.  Not only will the president’s approval keep the U.S. government operating, but it will also roll back a portion of the Hours of Service rules, put into service by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2013.

The Collins Amendment, written and introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), was added to the spending bill as a rider.  Specifically, the amendment will remove the requirement that a driver’s 34-hour restart include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods and the once-per-week limit of the restart’s use.  Passage of the bill will officially suspend those portions of the rules for one year, while the FMCSA conducts a comprehensive study to find whether the changes are justified.  The study would be done with input from the Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General, as detailed in Collins’ amendment, which contains in-depth detail of how the study is conducted, peer reviewed and approved.

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Executive Vice President Todd Spencer lauded the work on Capitol Hill.

“OOIDA and small0-business truckers applaud the House and Senate for rejecting scare tactics and misinformation and maintaining the bipartisan hours-of-service,” Spencer said. “While this isn’t the final word on the restart restrictions, OOIDA and our members thanks Sen. Collins for her commitment to safety and her tenacity in fighting for sound policy.”

Even with the president’s signature, it will take some times for suspension of the rules to become consistent.  In many states, federal law is adopted automatically; but it isn’t so in all states.  Some states must go through in-state processes and truckers may see some inconsistency for a while.

As well, electronic logging applications that can flag drivers for a violation if restart periods don’t align with old rules will need to be updated.

Carriers and drivers should expect varying enforcement of the rules in the short-term.

Author: Larry Hurrle, Editor

ROI – Not Just for Money

When we hear the word “investment” we almost always relate it to a financial tool. While it’s true that almost anything can be monetized, the investment in PROI is of a different nature. PROI is about the investment of personal resources (i.e. time, emotion and effort) to realize a particular change. It doesn’t matter if the change is a personal change or if it’s an organizational change initiative. Either way, there is time invested in getting to understand the change and what it really means to you. There is also emotion invested in how you feel within the context of the change. Finally, there is effort invested in how much are you really giving to effectuate the change.

“What’s In It for me” is all about the realization of a PROI and then taking full advantage of the opportunity to reap the greatest personal benefit. When presented in a personal change context, the PROI is obvious (stronger health, better quality of life, lower insurance premiums, greater personal happiness, etc.). When presented in a business change context, discovery of the PROI is highly dependent on the skill and awareness of the change team. We’ll talk more about this later.

In both cases, without the people affected by the change realizing their respective PROI’s, the change will likely not be successful. The argument is therefore quite strong, that in this case, selfish can and does translate to the greater good. This is additional reinforcement of our concept of selfish altruism.

However, most of us aren’t wired to do things or accept immediate changes for some pie-in-the-sky promise of long-term benefits or distant intangible benefits. We are comfortable with the status-quo. We know it well and it knows us. It’s predictable and we don’t want to mess it up. And even if the status-quo isn’t exactly the best, it’s still “the devil we know.” So we certainly are not going to turn our world upside-down even though we know it may benefit us much later on. We are going to fight those changes for as hard and as long as possible. And even if we have to reluctantly accept it, we won’t really accept it. We’ll scheme and plot ways to subvert it.

When discussing the concept of resistance to change, there are two fantastic non-business examples to illustrate this concept: Stopping smoking and losing weight.

Stopping Smoking

Most smokers know that smoking is unhealthy, expensive and will likely impact how long they live and their quality of life much later on. Despite the irrefutable scientific and medical evidence supporting this, none of that is important right now. Right now the cigarette provides comfort from the everyday stresses in the smoker’s life. For some it also provides extra breaks and perhaps a certain social credibility.

Many smokers have tried to stop but inevitably return to smoking again. Others simply can’t rationalize the future promise of better health if they have to give up what’s comfortable right now. Their response to our ever-increasing smokeless society is either one of resigning to the new realities or angrily protesting them. In this case, the smoker is aware of a long-term PROI, but doesn’t acknowledge a short-term PROI. In fact, the smoker might believe that there is a negative short-term PROI and will therefore increase his resistance to this change.

While there is the emotional consideration with smoking, there is also the physiological consideration. Nicotine is a drug and has addictive qualities to it. In many cases, it takes more than just the will and desire to stop smoking. With smoking cessation programs and related products, as well as other remedies, there are tools to slowly weaken and then break the addiction. Notwithstanding the physiological, the fact remains that mental and emotional resistance is the single biggest barrier to “kicking the habit.”

Losing Weight

Losing weight is another example of making significant changes to the everyday life in return for distant benefits. Food is the ultimate comfort pill. If we are emotional, scared, angry, sad, happy, festive, etc., food helps all. What’s different about eating from smoking is that we must eat to live. We can’t just stop eating altogether without having serious health impacts or simply not living period.

Losing weight is really a subset of being healthy. But to lose weight and maintain the weight loss, one has to undergo at least two radical changes; a change of eating habits and an increase in activity levels. Both of these require commitment to realize and sustain the gains. So in reality, there are two changes necessary to realize the future benefits.

This is why losing weight is so difficult for so many people. This is also what’s made the reality weight loss television shows so popular. We see the hard work and dedication that the participants must give to lose weight and sustain. In some ways, we project ourselves to the show’s competitors but then when it comes to emulating those habits, we stop. “I can’t give up sweetened carbonated beverages.” “I can’t give up fried food or white bread or sugary treats.” “I can’t exercise vigorously once a week let alone twice or three times.” “I don’t have time.”

Every excuse in the book is used in an effort to resist changes that will help. Again, the over-weight person understands that there is a long-term PROI, but refuses to acknowledge a short-term PROI. In fact, this person believes that there is a negative short-term PROI and thus will either fight the change or only half-heartedly engage.

The real strength of PROI is in its immediate benefits. Find the immediate benefits (short-term PROI) and the resistance to change is significantly diminished.

The truth is that there are short-term PROI’s in both of these cases.

What are the short-term PROI’s?

For stopping smoking, there is the immediate money savings, especially with the current trend of increased taxes. There is also the end of smoker’s breath and smoker’s clothing. There is an immediate start to the recovery of the lungs and overall health.

For losing weight, there is the immediate feeling of more energy. People who feel more energetic are better able to do more things. With the reduction of sluggishness, there is also the short term benefit of looking better, which only increases as the pounds are shed. As we feel better, we convey a stronger sense of confidence which strangely enough manifests itself to external appearance. We feel better, therefore, we look better.

With the realization of immediate benefits and a strong support team of family and friends, there should be little resistance to at least attempting these healthy changes. So what are you waiting for?

Author: Moe Glenner

Sleep Studies – Are you fit to drive?

Sleep Studies and HOS Regulations

The provisions that took effect more than a year ago limit the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, a decrease from the previous maximum of 82 hours.   Truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week must rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., which the FMCSA states is a time when “the body clock demands the most sleep.”  Also truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift for a meal/rest break.  The question has been asked, “How did the FMCSA come to the conclusion that these guidelines would help a driver’s ability to be fit to drive”?

A look into the HOS changes and the study conducted by Washington State University Sleep and Performance Research Center shows they performed a “real world, third party study.”   Scientists measured sleep, reaction time, sleepiness and driving performance in the study.  They found that drivers who began the break with one night of rest compared to two exhibited more lapses of attention, greater sleepiness, and increased lane deviation in the morning, afternoon and at night.  The study included 106 drivers, 1,260 days of driving and 400,000-plus miles of driving recorded by the truck-based data acquisition system.

On the flip side, the Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association argues what the report doesn’t say may be more significant than what it does say.  In a statement regarding the HOS changes Norita Taylor, media spokesperson for OOIDA said, “The study does not appear to us to be representative of those actually affected by the newer HOS so we are skeptical it can be applied to the larger population within the industry.”

It seems the FMCSA is telling millions of truckers when they are tired, but the study only examined a few of the 100 drivers from three companies.  Another concern is the two consecutive rest breaks are forcing truckers to work in the morning rush hour when roads are most congested and dangerous.  At a recent conference in September of this year the FMCSA stated they had not done any studies since the rule change to see if the rush hour congestion has proven to be more dangerous than before the change.  While it is unlikely the HOS changes will go back to the old guidelines anytime soon, it will be interesting to see how it effects drivers and roadways in the next three to five years.

Author: Nick Reed, General Manager uDrove