5 Ways to Stay Safe Memorial Day Weekend

With Memorial Day weekend just a few days away, many people are getting excited for their long weekend plans. Most four-wheel drivers don’t think about the added stress it puts on truck drivers. The extra drivers anxious to make it to the perfect camping spot or traveling to see family members, start to drive recklessly on the roads.

Statistics from the National Safety Council show that during this holiday weekend (6 p.m. Friday to 11:59 p.m. Monday) between 350 to 461 traffic deaths will occur. This is an average of 13 percent of all fatalities in May. There are many people on the road, but if a semi-truck is involved, we know who gets the blame.

Here are five ways that truckers can help keep the roads safe this Memorial Weekend:

  1. Perform your pre-trip check — this is a must for all trucks on the road, but double check all cables, tires, wipers, tail lights and blinkers.
  2. Be cautious of your blindspots — four-wheel drivers don’t understand your blindspots. They will sit in the cool shade of your trailer all day if you let them. Check your mirrors vigilantly and use blinkers.
  3. Pay attention — truck drivers have a great view for what is ahead. Keeping your head forward during the high peak times of travel for the tourists will help save lives.
  4. Allow plenty of safety cushion — having to stop on a dime in a big rig is dang near impossible, don’t try new tricks when there is heavy traffic. Even though the four-wheel drivers will cut straight in front of you doesn’t mean you can’t go a little slower to prevent a collision.
  5. Slow down — speed limits vary in each state, but going a little slower has proven to save lives (and increase mileage). You are on a tight deadline, but nothing is more important than a life.

Being a truck driver can be tough enough, but add in a few hundred extra drivers on the road and it becomes an obstacle course. If you’re out on the road this weekend, please remember to be patient, slow down and stay safe.

Author: Kari Massoth, ITS Digital Media Specialist

Will the real acronym please stand up

Which one are you using? Since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released its proposed mandate for the use of electronic equipment to measure hours of service and other logging information on trucks, many drivers and fleets have begun the process of installing the new devices in their trucks. But specifically, what are you installing?

When talk began about electronic equipment being used in trucks, they were called Electronic Onboard Recorders or Electronic Onboard Recording, both pared down to the acronym EOBR. However, the official FMCSA rule 395.16 that used EOBR in its language was vacated and the new Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP21) legislation used the terminology of Electronic Logging Device, or ELD. Now, the current FMCSA rule 395.15 is using the term Automatic On-Board Recording Device, making the acronym AOBRD the legally compliant technology today.

But wait! A new term has just surfaced for the technology, calling them Electron Hours-of-Service Recorders, or EHSR.

The truth is, the terms are interchangeable throughout the industry. They all perform the same function, basically. If you check on the FMCSA website (www.fmcsa.dot.gov) you will find more than 320 references to Electronic Onboard Recorders or Electronic Onboard Recording (EOBR). Electronic Logging Device (ELD) is mentioned 153 times, while the Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD) now has 25 references. Electronic Hours-of-Service Recorders (EHSR) isn’t mentioned on the FMCSA website, but is listed eight times in a recent press release.

So, which one is the correct term? Well, if you judge by official language, the current FMCSA regulation for hours of service compliance is FMCSA 395.15, which uses the term Automatic On-Board Recording Device, so actually AOBRD is the correct acronym. ELD came along after the EOBR and it is widely believed the use of ELD was easier than EOBR, which is why it gained popularity. ELD is still easier than AOBRD and the new EHSR is just difficult to say.

What is right and what is wrong? There is no correct answer. All of the acronyms mean the same thing. FMCSA’s use of the different acronyms is somewhat confusing, but the bottom line is that the electronics used to determine hours of service and other information within the truck must be compliant with current regulations, regardless of what they are called.

Author: Larry Hurrle, IT Magazine Editor

Another 30 Days, ELD comment period extended

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association will extend the comment period on the proposed rule on electronic logging devices and supporting documents for hours of service compliance another 30 days to June 26. In a notice to be published May 16 in the Federal Register, FMCSA agreed with a request from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance to extend the comment period. CVSA cited a number of issues, including the technology options for data transmissions at the roadside, in its request for the extension.

CVSA Executive Director Stephen Keppler, in a letter to the FMCSA, said addition time was needed to fully understand the technology options put forth in the rule and to gather input from states on their functional capabilities. He said states needed more time to vet the proposal fully and evaluate effects on enforcement in the field.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) filled comments May 12 supporting CVSA’s request, but asked the comment period be extended 60 days, rather than 30 days, stating there was a great deal of confusion within the enforcement community about the potential technology standards and who will have responsibility to provide each component of the equipment needed for the data transfer process.

OOIDA also said its members have told the group for several years that carriers who are known to have installed electronic logging devices are often allowed to pass through inspection locations because local authorities are not prepared to deal with the electronics and data transfer. OOIDA said the problem will only get worse if the rule goes into effect before all state enforcement personnel are prepared to read and understand electronic readings and make enforcement decisions.

More than 900 comments have been filed on the notice of rulemaking. Those comments can be seen, or comments can be made, at www.regulations.com and search for FMCSA-2010-0167.

Is there a close to clearinghouse rule?

Seven groups have asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to include a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rule-making for its proposed drug and alcohol clearinghouse rule, closing what those groups are calling a “loophole.”

The American Trucking Associations, along with the American Bus Association, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, National Private Truck Council, National Tank Truck Carriers, Truckload Carriers Association and the United Motorcoach Association have asked the agency to issue an amendment adding a requirement that “employers report all instances of actual knowledge of misuse, including direct observations of misuse and acknowledgements of misuse to the proposed clearinghouse.”

The request was made May 5, during the comment period of the proposed rule, which runs through May 21. In its request, the groups said, “there is a longstanding loophole in the current regulations which allows drivers who violate the regulations to escape the consequences of their actions by applying for employment elsewhere and withholding the accurate identities and contact information of previous employers. This loophole has existed since the current drug and alcohol testing regulations were first promulgated in 1995.”

The groups said they have long supported and advocated for the creation of the clearinghouse, but are concerned the agency does not propose to require reporting of all drug and alcohol violations to the clearinghouse. Specifically, they said, employers would not be called upon to report their direct observations of drug or alcohol misuse or employee admissions of misuse.

“Failing to capture these two types of violations undermines the purpose of the clearinghouse, to prevent drivers who violate the drug and alcohol prohibitions in Part 382, Subpart B, from escaping the consequences of their actions,” the request said.

The comment period was extended from April 21 to May 21 in response to an Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Request.  OOIDA cited the seven groups’ push for the requested expansion of the rule as one of its reasons. While OOIDA says its current stance is that “only positive test results should be documented,” it said it is still reviewing the request from the seven groups. OOIDA said a driver’s permanent record should not be tainted by unverifiable accusations or assertions.

ATA and the other six groups said in its letter that when Congress mandated that FMCSA conduct a rule-making the creating a clearinghouse, it did not suggest that only certain violations be captured. Instead, it said, the law states that the clearinghouse “shall function as a repository for records relating to the positive test results and test refusals of commercial motor vehicle operations and violations by such operators of prohibitions set forth in subpart B of part 382 of title 49.”

Comments to the clearinghouse rule are available for public viewing at regulations.gov and use the docket number FMCSA-2011-0031. Comments will be taken through May 21.

Author: Larry Hurrle, IT Magazine Editor

Technology in Trucking

Somewhere around 2002, I was driving a new Peterbilt tractor and had an injector go bad.  I went into a dealership and they hooked a laptop computer into my truck and started talking to it in plain English.  I could read the questions they asked the truck and the answers the truck gave back.  I about passed out.  I had no idea this truck I was driving was capable of that trick.  I learned about several other modern technological advantages my truck had that day.  That is nothing compared to the tricks that today’s trucks are capable of doing and the future is an open door to some pretty imaginative advancements in transportation technology.

I recently read a blog where folks were sharing, complaining, and griping about how the everyday car or pickup truck were cutting off big rigs, not letting them merge, passing and hitting the break right in front of them of trying to pass on the inside while a big rig swings wide to make a turn. All those actions lead to accidents whereas the transportation industry is held liable immediately and the general public is the victim.  Most of the recommended changes had to do with educating the public — more public awareness of what it is like to drive a big rig.  Some folks wanted to get the government involved with more public transportation and/or more regulations.

I think this country is going through a change kind of like entering puberty and there is nothing we can do but wait.  Wait for technology to change our driving environment.  No vehicle is truly autonomous yet, but several companies are within three to five years of actually accomplishing this miraculous feat and fully autonomous big rigs are only about 10 years out as I am writing this story. The unequivocal advantage of truly autonomous vehicles is obvious:  less traffic related deaths, less traffic congestion, improved fuel efficiency, and more time for passengers to spend relaxing or working verses driving.

Elements of advanced driver assistance systems are slowly taking over the truck driver’s decision-making duties. Automated braking systems, speed control systems, lane departure warning systems are all setting the stage for what will ultimately become the autonomous, or self-driven, commercial vehicle. This change will bring enormous social and economic challenges with resistance from unions and industrial associations.

The first truckers of this era were pioneers using the science of “oxteamology,” which consisted of little more than walking along the left side of the oxen with a whip, prod, or goad, urging them on and guiding them.  The truck itself was a springless and high-centered wagon with wooden wheels. If those hard working pioneers were standing alongside a freeway today, they would not believe their eyes.  Seventy years from now, we may all feel the same way.  We need to embrace technology and make it a priority to work and meet the challenges of our industry.

Author: Pat Dickard, ITS Corporate Trainer

Flatbed booms as rates stay strong in April

Flatbed rates soared again in April, likely due to a rebounding construction market that saw an increase in activity as weather warmed in the month and leading the way in April rate activity.

The per-mile spot market rate for flatbed rose another 5 cents in the month…. read more

This story is featured on overdriveonline.com, and features rates from Internet Truckstop.

Truckstop.com Helpful Tools

So, you have your Internet Truckstop account opened on your computer, your tablet or smart phone and you are searching for available loads or trucks from your home area to anywhere in the United States. However, you wish you knew the ratio of loads versus trucks within that area and you knew a little more about the negotiating strength you possess.

Did you know that your basic Internet Truckstop account provides a free decision-making tool that gives you just that? Pintac® provides you ability to see, in real time, how many loads are available in your area, along with how many posted trucks are seeking loads and how many people are currently searching within that area. Not only that, it provides a color coded chart that shows the balance between loads and trucks within that specific area. If the bar appears on the load side, there are more loads than trucks in that area, and vice versa. A green bar shows a gap between the two of up to about 15 percent. Yellow means a gap of between 16 percent and 50 percent, while a red bar shows a gap of more than 50 percent.

It is a very simple process. Once you have logged into your Internet Truckstop account with your handle, login information and password, look for the “Decision Tools” in the upper-left menu bar. If you do not see the “Decision Tools,” click on “My Truckstop” and then find the “Decision Tools.”

Click on the “Decision Tools” and a drop-down menu will show “Pintac®.” Click on Pintac®.

That will provide a screen with a series of bars showing whether there are more trucks or loads in a specific region of the United States. Pintac® automatically defaults to the state in which your computer is located. To choose a different state for your state of origin, simply click on the state located on the map at the bottom of the page.

At the top of the screen, Pintac® will show all trucks and loads from the state of origin, including the number of posted loads available, the number of posted trucks and the number of hot prospects currently searching.

Below that is a menu of trucks where you can search for all trucks: flatbed, van, van/reefer, reefer only or specialized trucks to narrow you search parameters. Each will show a difference in the colored bars below.

If the colored bars appear on the “trucks” side of the graph, it means there are more trucks than loads available. If it appears on the loads side of the graph, there are more loads than trucks available. The color of the bar indicates the gap between loads and trucks in that specific region and for that specific piece of equipment.

Clicking on the colored bar will bring up a load board with trucks or loads heading to the destination within the area the bar is contained. Destination areas include New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont), Northeast (Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania), East Coast (Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia), Southeast (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee), Ohio Valley (Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio), Upper Plains (Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin), Midwest (Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska), South (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas), Mountain States (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) and West Coast (California, Oregon and Washington) along with Canada and Mexico.

By clicking on the bar, Pintac® will show all freight, or freight specified by your equipment search, transiting to that specific region and allow you to make a decision on whether to bid and/or negotiate on a specific load or truck to haul a load.

Clicking on a specific load or truck will bring up an information box showing information such as Days to Pay, total mileage, fuel costs and more for loads and carrier ratings and more for trucks.

Using Internet Truckstop’s RateMate® in conjunction with Pintac® will also give information on the rate index, rate trending, fuel costs, trucks and PastWatch®, which allows one to see a history of rates. Rates are shown from the past week, 15 days, 30 days, 90 days and 12 months. RateMate® is available through Internet Truckstop for a monthly fee, which can be added to your existing account.

 

Author: Larry Hurrle, IT Magazine Editor

FMCSA considers liability insurance increase

Get ready, trucking industry. Here we go again.

First came the Hours of Service rule, which exacerbated truckers’ work week that limited daily driving time to 11 hours, on-duty time to 14 hours, required a 30-minute rest break within the first eight hours and installed a 34-hour restart each week.

Then came the $75,000 broker bond, which increased the minimum broker bond from $10,000 to $75,000 for every freight broker and freight forwarder to maintain their status as a licensed broker/forwarder.

Follow that up with the new ELD mandate (which is currently in the comment period), which will require trucks to install an electronic logging device to measure driving time for HOS and other information.

And now? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced it will begin moving forward to create a rule raising the minimum liability insurance requirement per truck.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced it will begin moving forward to create a rule raising the minimum liability insurance requirement per truck.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced it will begin moving forward to create a rule raising the minimum liability insurance requirement per truck.

Currently, truck drivers must carry a minimum of $750,000 liability insurance.  According to FMCSA, the liability minimum, which was set in 1985, has not kept pace with inflation or medical costs and does not “adequately cover catastrophic crashes” today.  Had insurance kept pace with the consumer price index, which measures inflation, the minimum required insurance would be $1.

62 million today.  However, had it kept pace with the medical consumer price index, which measures the increase annually in medical costs, the required

amount of liability insurance would be at $3.18 million today.

The news came last week in a FMCSA  report to Congress.  The study was a requirement of the MAP-21 highway funding act of 2012.

FMCSA has said, adjusting for inflation, that insurance premiums have dropped slightly on average in nominal terms. Today, the agency said, the current $750,000 insurance policy runs (on average) about $5,000 per year per truck.

Declining insurance rates, however, will likely not offset an increase in premiums should insurance requirements double or quadruple the current amount.  Such a dramatic increase to insurance premiums could well be a death knell to small businesses in the transportation industry.

According to Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Executive Vice President Todd Spencer, just 1 percent of all crashes where trucks are involved exceed the $750,000 payout in damages.  While the FMCSA agrees with the 1 percent statistic, the Trucking Alliance said in a report last March that between 2005 and 2011, 42 percent of all settlements paid by its carrier members exceeded the minimum amount.

FMCSA says it has already formed a rule making team to determine a new minimum liability insurance level and considers it among its high priority rules.

The American Trucking Association, however, is questioning FMCSA’s study, saying it does not see a direct connection between liability insurance rates and safety.

Meanwhile, Spencer said he believes FMCSA is simply bowing to economic objectives for personal injury lawyers and big trucking companies. Both have been campaigning for higher insurance rates for some time.  He said attorneys will see a windfall from the insurance increases and big trucking companies will see the opportunity to drive up business costs and eliminate their small-business competitors who survive the increase to insurance rates.

Mexican truckers threatening blockade

Mexican truckers unhappy with inspections, fines and treatment by inspectors are threatening to protest at Arizona border crossings with a traffic blockade, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, who is pressing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to take action to resolve the issues.

ADOT made the initial warnings last Wednesday, but nothing has happened yet, says Laura Douglas, spokesperson for the state agency.

Truckers out of Nogales, Sonora (Mexico), and Nogales, Ariz., have been pushing for better treatment, ADOT says, citing “high number of inspections, high level of fines and high number of trucks placed out of service” by federal inspectors. Read more here

 

This article can be found in full at www.ccjdigital.com

Release the Endorphins

Organizations struggle with finding the right team building and team maintaining formulas. Many companies believe that by emphasizing the team and teamwork through repetition of overused mantras (i.e. There is No I in Team) and the strategic posting of team-oriented inspirational posters, that a culture of teamwork will somehow evolve and be maintained.

While most members of an organization strive to be a contributing member of the successful team, without true engagement and addressing of personal goals/motivators, the true benefits of teamwork will remain elusive. While there are many diverse methods for building lasting engagement and the resulting culture of teamwork, encouraging a culture of creativity and innovation should rightfully be a priority.

But haven’t we already worked through many important principles of creativity to help our team be more creative and innovative?

I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to be part of and observe many different teams at many different levels. Some of these teams were sports oriented, others were at a project team level, while still others were at senior management and executive levels. At times many of these teams exhibited virtually every form of dysfunction known to man, including having the unfortunate happenstance of a physical fight requiring the immediate summoning of security. Certainly these teams were in name only and certainly didn’t foster a culture of engagement, creativity or innovation. We could spend a significant amount of time dissecting these dysfunctional teams and harping on what went wrong. But we won’t because, after all, negativity breeds negativity.

I would rather focus on those teams that truly fostered a spirit and culture of teamwork and engagement. Since these teams varied greatly in their makeup and express purpose of being, it’s necessary to identify and focus on a primary shared attribute: lack of personal seriousness.

Lack of personal seriousness is not to be confused with overall lack of seriousness. The people in these teams took their responsibilities very seriously and were determined to have a successful outcome. What they didn’t do was take themselves too seriously. In other words, they were able to laugh at themselves and laugh together as a team.

As children, our laughter was free-flowing. There were very few worries, few responsibilities and no risk to laughing out loud. Then we grew up with all of the increased responsibilities and the ensuing quest for the corner office. Our professional titles grew to outsized importance. We segregated personal fun from professional activities. Laughter was relegated to social events and banished from the conference rooms. We strived to become industrial and corporate legends with all of the implied and requisite seriousness. But with all that seriousness, we forgot that being good teammates and team leaders requires more than just professional competence; it requires us to be personable and relatable.

There is something to a relaxed, contagious social laughter that has a unique bonding effect. “Laugh and the world laughs with you” is more than just cliché; it truly is also a basis for team engagement. However, this doesn’t require us suddenly to be stand-up comedians or even necessarily to be the life of the party. It does require us to not be so caught up in our titles and ambitions and instead let our personal guards down. If we can take ourselves a bit lighter, we will be able to laugh at ourselves and more importantly laugh with our team.

But how does laughter and even team laughter relate to creativity and to building a culture of creativity and innovation?

When we laugh, the physical muscular exertions involved set in motion the sudden release of endorphins. Endorphins are the brain chemical directly related to us feeling good. When we feel good, we usually find ourselves in a more relaxed state than we were previously.

We’ve already discussed the creativity inducing benefits of being in a relaxed state when we turned out the lights. Anything that puts us in a more relaxed and more content state, serves the purpose of lulling our subconscious and the “stupid” filter. When we take ourselves too seriously, we are actually raising all sorts of mental barriers. We are on full alert for anything that could breach our self-created veneer of professionalism without personality. Unfortunately, among the barbarians thwarted at the moat are those fleeting creative notions and ideas.

However, once we lower the draw-bridge and allow ourselves to not be so serious, the active alert is ended. We are telling our brain that it’s OK to let things through. When we then engage with our team in this new lighter fashion, it’s also likely that laughter will ensue at some point. We will then be engaged, we will feel good and we stand a good chance of having a creative idea slip past the “stupid” barrier.

In my role directing the global logistics of Steel Warehouse, I look forward to my end-of-the-week managers meeting. While there was always some new news to be shared with everyone, its secondary purpose was to allow for venting and catching up personally. It usually wasn’t very long before we were all laughing and laughing heartily at something or another. When the laughter subsided, we would be able to look at the remaining pressing issues in a much lighter frame of mind.

We weren’t always successful at finding creative solutions during those meetings, but somehow over the weekend, new ideas would suddenly be offered. We were then able to spend the following week considering and trying out the new ideas. Sometimes these attempts proved good comedic fodder for the following week’s meetings.

While some might argue that it was the relaxing nature of the weekend, I would argue otherwise based on the lack of ideas prior to my meetings. After all, the weekends were there every week so why weren’t ideas flowing then? I firmly believe that the lighter meetings served as a brain primer to set the stage for creative ideas to more freely flow.

Key Takeaways:
1) We can be serious about our responsibilities without necessarily treating ourselves so seriously
2) Laughter is a key component to team engagement and team creativity

Written by Moe Glenner. You can view more articles at itmagazine.truckstop.com