Giving the transportation industry a perpetual black eye

Comedian Tracy Morgan continues to be on the mend following a June 7 crash involving a Wal-Mart tractor trailer that claimed the life of one person and severely injured three others, including Morgan.

The fact the Morgan is on the mend, however, is not the news, following an Aug. 11 interview on NBC’s “Today” show with Morgan’s lawyer, Benedict P. Morelli. Morgan, along with other crash survivors Ardia Fuqua and Jeffrey Millea, filed a lawsuit in July in U.S. District Court and naming Wal-Mart as the defendant in the case, according to Morelli.  In the interview, Morelli claims Wal-Mart should have known that truck driver Kevin Roper had been away for more than 24 hours when the crash occurred.  Furthermore, Morelli claims trucks are to blame for more than 27,000 deaths each year.

“You have to understand what happens here,” Morelli said. “They know. … There are 75 deaths a day from big rigs,” he said, citing statistics from 2012.

There are two things in that statement with which I have a problem.

First, trucks are not responsible for 75 deaths each and every day in the United States.  I cannot accurately state how many people are killed in the world each day, but to say that 27,375 people die on U.S. roads each year because of a truck is ludicrous.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 3,921 deaths in 2012 that involved a truck (the most recent year that statistics are available).  That comes out to just under 11 people per day killed in an accident that involved a truck.  Let me be very clear that I believe that is too many.  Any loss of life is tragic and for someone to be killed in an accident of any kind is senseless.

But let me get to the second point that irritates me: It is very simple to step in front of a camera and spew inaccurate information and know that a majority of the people listening will accept what you are saying.  Let me present this question:  Of the accidents in 2012 that killed 3,921 people, how many were the fault of the truck and/or truck driver?

In 2013, the American Trucking Associations looked at extensive studies done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute.  In studying more than 8,000 fatal truck crashes between 2007 and 2009 to determine fault, UMTRI found that cars (including cars, vans, SUVs and pickup trucks) were at fault 81 percent of the time.  FMCSA had a similar outcome to its study with 85 percent of cars being responsible for a fatal crash in 2007 and 2008, while 81 percent of cars were at fault in 2009.

The NHTSA study showed that cars were responsible for 91 percent of head-on crashes, 91 percent of opposite direction sideswipes, 71 percent of rear-end crashes and 77 percent of same direction sideswipes.

It is truly unfortunate that it is now “big news” when a truck is involved in an accident that claims the life of the truck driver, someone in another vehicle involved in the accident, a pedestrian or another innocent bystander.  But let’s be clear and accurate when reporting it.  Who was at fault?

In the accident involving Morgan, indicators show the truck driver may have been at fault.  That is, however, the statistical minority.  Studies over the past decade have shown that while fatal accidents involving trucks and cars have dramatically declined, even in the event of a fatality involving a big rig, the majority of the time, the truck driver is not at fault.

This happens mostly because drivers of smaller vehicles do not respect, nor do they understand that trucks have much less maneuverability and, because trucks generally weigh more than 20,000 pounds, they cannot stop or slow down as quickly as the smaller vehicles.

As a general rule, trucks are at fault less than 23 percent of the time.  That means about 3 out of 4 crashes are the fault of the smaller vehicle.  Instead of sensationalizing a tragic event, maybe we should report on what really happens on America’s roads instead of giving the transportation industry and perpetual black eye.

Author: Larry Hurrle, Editor IT Magazine

Trucking Capacity is Holding Higher

In line with seasonality for late July, the MDI this week halted the downward trend exhibited since early June. Trucking capacity in the market is holding much higher than in earlier months this year, and it is unlikely that the MDI will hit much above 20 during the next few months.

The ITS Market Demand Index (MDI) increased 11% to 21.12 from 19.09 the previous week.

The overall average equipment rate decreased 1% to $2.32 from $2.33 the previous week.

Fuel prices decreased slightly to $3.84 from $3.85 per gallon the previous week.

Inbound rates decreased slightly to $2.35 from $2.36 per mile the previous week. Outbound rates increased slightly to $2.27 from $2.26 per mile the previous week.

Load turnaround decreased 7% to 331 from 355 minutes the previous week.  Truck turnaround decreased 8% to 327 from 356 minutes the previous week.


No good deed goes unpunished

Increasing the broker’s bond to $75,000 seemed like a good idea. For too long, crooked middlemen have stolen carriers’ money and the existing broker regulations have not been enforced to require brokers to receive funds in trust and pay carriers upon receipt, so increasing the bond to $75,000 seemed like some remedial response.

In my view, the law went too far in requiring every carrier who used convenience interlining to become a broker or forwarder. Proper exceptions were created for air freight forwarders, ocean intermediaries and customs brokers when they were arranging for transportation for compensation as part of their ordinary course of business. But many do not understand the purpose and limits of those exceptions.

The Agency provided a soft landing for compliance and the cost of the bond fell well below the initial estimates, but the chaos is far from over.

The Agency has not promulgated implementing regulations for the new statute. Some people are suggesting red tape that will stifle competition and create a bureaucratic nightmare for both the Agency and the industry. Some believe new applicants should have 30 to 80 hours of training based on ill-defined “best practices” – you have got to be kidding! The law requires that at some future time every new applicant will have to have an officer with three years of experience and will be required to renew its application every three to four years. Isn’t that enough?

Now listen to this. The law sets forth a process for distributing bond proceeds. It requires the bank trustor or the surety to immediately cancel the bond, publish a notice and 60 days later distribute the entire $75,000 penal sum to valid claimants on a pro rata basis.

Yet, here comes the first one out of the box. A sizable insurance carrier in the trucking industry who should know better, files an interpleader in California state court, serves up over 75 known claimants, and requires them to show up in California to validate their claims. What is worse, the notice says every claimant has to pay a $438 filing fee to the court just to validate its claim and the surety wants its costs and attorney’s fees out of the bond proceeds!

This is not what MAP-21 intended. The burden is supposed to be on the surety or bank trustor to distribute the full bond proceeds and no carrier should have to go to California and “pay to play” to get some pennies on the dollar return. Hopefully by the time this article appears, somebody will have challenged use of this practice in light of the law and rectified this obvious abuse.

One thing is for sure – MAP-21 and the $75,000 bond is no panacea for guaranteeing that motor carriers will receive payment of their freight charges on brokered loads. Issues involving payment of freight charges and use of brokers and other intermediaries are far from settled.


Author: Henry Seaton

Ferro to resign from FMCSA

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Chairwomen Anne Ferro announced today that she will resign her position effective Aug. 25 and will take the lead at the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators as president and CEO.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced Ferro’s resignation today and expressed his appreciation for Ferro’s leadership of the FMCSA.

“Anne has been a true leader in safety throughout her time at DOT  and has become a trusted advisor and friend to me during my time as secretary,” Foxx said in a prepared statement. “Under Anne’s leadership, FMCSA has ushered in a new culture of safety into the commercial bus and trucking industries. She has made it more difficult for companies that jeopardize the public’s well-being to stay in business and easier for consumers to make informed choices when choosing a shipper or buying a bus ticket.”

During Ferro’s tenure, the FMCSA adopted the new Hours of Service rule that took effect in 2013 and mandate truckers who reach a maximum of 70 hours of driving in a week to shut down for 34 consecutive hours, including two consecutive periods of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. The rule was largely opposed by the trucking industry.

In fact, just weeks ago, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) called for Ferro’s resignation, stating Ferro had a genuine bias against truckers and the trucking industry as a whole. The call for her resignation stemmed from a blog in which OOIDA said Ferro showed she had no interest in the future of the trucking industry. OOIDA represents the interests of professional truck drivers and small trucking companies.

Ferro was appointed to lead the FMCSA in 2009 by President Barack Obama. She became the longest serving administrator of FMCSA and only the fourth to lead the agency since its formation in 1999.

In her letter of resignation, Ferro said it had been a privilege to work with colleagues to advance FMCSA’s life saving mission.

“While the opportunity to assume this position at AAMVA is another personal dream come true, no job can match the immense honor I have had serving President Obama and Secretaries Foxx and LaHood with you — the dedicated individual who persevere every day to make safe transportation a reality for all of us,” Ferro said.

Prior to her position with FMCSA, Ferro was president at CEO of the Maryland Motor Truck Association and Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administrator before that. She has earned degrees at St. John’s College in Maryland and from the University of Maryland.

“On behalf of the entire Department and Administration, I want to thank Anne for her extraordinary tenure and service and wish her and her family well as she embarks on the next chapter of her career,” Foxx said.

Tachograph, an ELD historical figure

While there is plenty of debate in the United States about the proposed mandate for the use of electronic on-board devices, the use of recorders inside cargo carrying transportation is not new. In fact, the first on-board recorder had already been introduced by the time Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented the first bread-slicing machine in 1928. German-born inventor Max Maria von Heber came out with a device in the early 1920s that would track the speed and distance a vehicle has traveled within a 24-hour period. The use of the tachograph was heralded as revolutionary and, for the last 90 years, has been used throughout the world in the transportation industry.

When the tachograph was first introduced, it was used to record rail journeys. However, with the advent of the automobile, the tachograph technology was transferred to that mode of transportation to be able to record the duration and speed of journeys, mostly by freight carriers.

The tachograph did see use in the United States in the mid-20th century, but was used mostly by fleets to track their drivers. At that time, the tachograph was an analog device which recorded the speed and distance a vehicle traveled on a wax paper disc. The disc was placed behind a dial on a unit mounted in the truck’s cab and the dial would make a complete rotation over a 24-hour period. A needle on the dial would mark the wax paper disc according to the time the truck had been in drive mode and the speed of the vehicle while in motion.

The information on the disc had to be read manually and transcribed by hand by the drivers. Tachographs were also very vulnerable to tampering, allowing drivers to fudge on the distance and time they were driving.

The use of the tachograph declined in the United States in the mid to latter portion of the 20th century, but use of the device in the European Union escalated. Tachographs became mandatory in all EU commercial vehicles in 1986 and legislation governing the use of tachographs has been updated since that time to determine new driving and rest times required of drivers. The last amendment came in 2007.

While analog tachographs were simple to alter, the influx of technology also brought about the digital tachograph. In the EU, the digital tachograph became mandatory on all vehicle manufactured after May 2006. The digital models transfer data in a file format, which can only be read and analyzed with the use of corresponding software. It makes altering the information on the tachograph much more difficult.

Much like the use of electronic on-board devices in the United States, European drivers are legally required to accurately record their activities, retain the record and produce them on demand to authorities who enforce regulations governing the transportation industry.

As well, the tachograph in the EU has much the same in the way of arguments pro and con as the United States with electronic units. Those against the use of tachographs say it puts extra pressure on drivers to complete journeys ahead of schedule and forego stopping for unscheduled breaks. Those in favor of the use of tachographs credit the device with a reduced number of accidents involving commercial vehicles and consider it a supportive tool for drivers to limit the amount of hours they are asked to work.


Author: Larry Hurrle, IT Magazine Editor

A lifeline for Owner-Operators

Being an owner-operator is tough work. It requires many hours on the road and, too often, many days away from home. It also involves considerable risk — risk of business profit or loss, and risk of accidents and personal injury. Owner-operators, whether operating under their own authority or leased onto a motor carrier, need to protect themselves from work-related injuries and the financial consequences that can follow.

Owner-operators in most states are not required to carry workers’ compensation on a compulsory basis. Owner-operators in these states have the option of buying workers’ compensation or Occupational Accident Insurance, which is an insurance policy that is specifically designed to insure owner-operators for certain work-related injuries. Owner-operators will often opt to buy Occupational Accident Insurance because it’s usually much less expensive than workers’ compensation insurance.

Occupational Accident Insurance policies typically provide three broad areas of coverage: Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D), Accident Medical and Disability. Disability coverage is usually divided into two components: short-term disability (also known as Temporary Total Disability), and long-term disability (also known as Permanent Total Disability). Occupational Accident Insurance policies can also be endorsed to cover non-occupational accidents, passenger accidents, and certain other coverage enhancements, such as hernia, occupational disease and cumulative trauma.

Beyond protecting the owner-operator and their family from the financial consequences of an unexpected accident, Occupational Accident Insurance can help insulate motor carriers and shippers from lawsuits by uninsured owner-operators seeking employee status in order to gain access to the motor carrier’s or shipper’s workers’ compensation policy. Many motor carriers sponsor an Occupational Accident Insurance program as a risk management tool, but also to help recruit and retain owner-operators.

However, not all Occupational Accident Insurance programs are alike. In fact, coverage, limits, terms and conditions can vary widely among insurance companies. One of the most significant differences between insurance policies is the handling of pre-existing conditions.

Most Occupational Accident Insurance policies contain exclusion for claims involving re-injury or aggravation of a prior medical condition. Because of the physically demanding nature of truck driving, and the high turnover rate within the truckload segment of the trucking industry, a pre-existing condition exclusion can leave the owner-operator, motor carrier and/or shipper without Occupational Accident Insurance protection. Other things to look out for in Occupational Accident Insurance policies are exclusions for accidents that arise during certain parts of a workday, such as while at rest and during overnight stops, and the requirement to have a current and valid CDL as a condition of coverage.

Internet Truckstop, through our insurance partners, McGriff, Seibels and Williams, is pleased to offer a new Occupational Accident Insurance program for our members. The Occupational Accident Insurance policy provides broad coverage and does not contain exclusion for pre-existing conditions, thus providing superior insurance protection for owner-operators and the motor carriers and shipper that rely on their services.

To learn more about our new Truckers Occupational Accident Insurance program,  visit today!

Author: Joe Foxall, President ITS Financial Services

Is your head in the sand?

Burying your head in the sand is much easier than holding the government accountable for making bad decisions that ultimately hurt the transportation industry. We tend to ignore what is going on around us “to avoid negative feelings.” Besides, don’t we hire people to take those problems away.




A famous leader once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”  I was not very old when that statement was madeby John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address in 1961, but I have never forgotten it.  Yet, when I go into the local coffee shop in the morning to get my daily gossip fix, I hear folks complaining about how the country is being run.  Not a single one of the complainers will ever pick up a pen to scribble a short note or pick up the phone and call a congressman to give their thoughts on how a problem could be solved. Not all, but many of us (me included) have become complacent and lazy.  We stick our head in the sand and let the louder folks make all the decisions about regulations affecting us.

No More!

I need your help! Join me by voicing your thoughts to the elected officials about how the CSA is affecting your business no matter whether you are for or against it.  Make sure you present them with alternative ideas for success.  Let them know if the new HOS has improved safety or made it worse and how it has affected your income.  Let them know how fuel tax increases will affect you.  Let them know if insurance rate increases will put you out of business.

We need to help these government decision makers become knowledgeable about the true facts of safety and how the new regulations are going to impact the industry.

To finally have a voice that will be heard throughout the country, become a member of the US Transportation & Logistics Research Group.

Author: Pat Dickard, ITS Corporate Trainer

The best “assurance” you can find

It is fair to say that the vast majority of carriers are good companies. It is also fair to say, that bad carriers can cause damage and loss beyond proportion to their small numbers within the transportation industry. As most brokers are aware, one major incident cannot only cost you your commission on a load, it can cost you a customer. We see this happening more frequently and in many cases it results in a failed brokerage business.

With more than 21,000 broker users, the growing popularity of Carrier Performance Reporting (CPR), as a component to Internet Truckstop’s CACCI service offering, has earned its position as one of the leading resources for the prequalification and ongoing monitoring of carrier performance.

As a CPR user, you can get valuable information on a host of performance related indicators that can help you pick the best and most reliable carriers to move your loads.

On the first page of a carrier’s CPR report you will find a real time performance rating that is based on Internet Truckstop’s proprietary CPR rating algorithm that takes into account various factors such as safety rating, complaints, years in business, number of trucks, and much more. The scale used is the traditional A-F which allows you an immediate quick reference as to a carrier’s overall performance worthiness. You will see an asterisk next to the rating if a carrier has any active complaints or compliments which indicate the need to review the “Performance Reports Received” section for more details and information. CPR reports also include carrier Safety Ratings from the DOT along with a “thumb logic” which provides a quick reference to a carrier’s status in all other categories of their CPR report.

Carrier Authority History provides you with the status of each authority along with any notes made by the FMCSA.

Users also have access to carrier Compliance Safety & Accountability (CSA) information that provides you with real-time access to CSA scores and other indicators on deficiencies in any of the basic scores.

Finally, the CACCI add on to CPR gives you access to real-time/up-to-date insurance monitoring and access to carrier cargo and auto liability insurance certificates that are on file with Internet Truckstop through our “Carrier Insurance Verification Services” service offering.

The most important aspect of CPR is REPORTING!  While there is an abundance of information available in CPR provided by the government and insurance resources, the best information we receive comes from you as a user. If you have a bad experience with a carrier, we encourage you to take the time to report your experience to us. We may be able to help you resolve any carrier disputes. Likewise, if you have a good experience with a carrier, we welcome this information as well and would like to hear from you. We want to stress the importance and value of reporting your experience with carriers, good or bad.

To report a carrier, go to our website,  and click on the ‘Report a Carrier’ tab in the header bar.

Thank you for making CPR one of the leading carrier reporting services available today.

For more information on CACCI/CPR, please call one of our product specialists for a demonstration and free trial at 800-203-2540.


Author: Sonny Smith, ITS Director of Assurance Services

Highway Funding Alternative

An Oregon congressman has conceived a proposal to change the way Americans pay for transportation projects, but members of Capitol Hill, including another member from the Oregon congressional delegation, say there’s not enough time.

Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter Defazio, a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has introduced HR 4848, “The Repeal and Rebuild Act.” The bill would be a long-term solution to America’s infrastructure problems, would create American jobs, and would “break the transportation funding impasse that has plagued Congress for years,” according to Defazio’s web site.

Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter Defazio (left) and Oregon Republican Senator and Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (right)

Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter Defazio (left) and Oregon Republican Senator and Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (right)

Defazio’s bill, which has been sent to the House Ways and Means Committee, would repeal the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon (it would not repeal the 24.4 cent per gallon diesel tax), increase the tax on a barrel of oil that is processed into gasoline to $6.75 and index it to construction cost inflation and fleet fuel economy, index the diesel tax to construction cost inflation and fleet fuel economy, allow the new revenue to backfill the current shortfall in the trust fund and reauthorize transportation spending at $324 billion for six years.

“I’m going to repeal the retail gas tax, at the pump, which is put directly on consumers, and we’re going to move the tax upstream to the oil companies and say, ‘You pay the tax and let’s rebuilt America,’” Defazio said June 11 at a Rally for Roads event in Washington, D.C. “It’s time to get the job done. No more hesitation around here. The trust fund runs out in August.”

The per-barrel oil tax would apply only to gasoline. Oil used for aviation, rail or home heating fuel would not be taxed at the same rate. In the first year, the tax would generate less than the current 18.4 cent tax at the pump. It would, however, be indexed to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Construction Cost Index and to CAFÉ standards to account for less fuel consumption attributed to those standards.

Diesel tax would increase to approximately 26 cents per gallon in the first year with the potential to reach more than 47 cents per gallon after 10 years.

While the rally cry went out to challenge legislators, other members in key leadership positions said there is not enough time, nor the will to tackle a major bill ahead of the Sept. 30 expiration of MAP-21.

“In a three-week period, to responsibly walk though all the different approaches, I think senators are saying that’s a bit much,” Oregon Republican Senator and Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden told Politico last week. “It’s had to make the case that you can put all that together in three weeks.”

Defazio dismissed a plan to trim services offered by the U.S. Postal Service, saying the move would be a six-month patch to funding and would devastate the Postal Service in the long run.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx agreed.

“We’ve got to get past the gimmicks in transportation and really get serious about trying to get a long-term strategy done,” Foxx said.

Author: Larry Hurrle, IT Magazine Editor

[UPDATE] Insurance Increase

House votes to halt insurance increase

The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved an amendment June 9 to its version of the Department of Transportation funding bill which would stop the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from increasing the minimum amount of liability insurance carriers must have.

The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) and would block an increase to the current $750,000 minimum. The amendment passed by a margin of 214-212. The overall DOT appropriations bill (H.R. 4745) passed the House on a mostly partisan vote of 229-192.

The House’s action comes just days after the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to suspend last year’s Hours of Service restart changes for Fiscal Year 2015, pending completion of a study of the safety effects of those changes. While the amendment was approved by the committee, the full Senate has yet to take up its version of the DOT appropriations bill (S. 2438) and it is unclear when the Senate will take up the matter.

It is important to note that neither amendment has any legal effect until it is approved by Congress and signed into law. Because it deals with FY 2014, it would not go into effect until Oct. 1. That means FMCSA is free to continue working on its rulemaking to raise the insurance minimum.

In a report issued earlier this year, FMCSA said the $750,000 minimum liability requirement had not kept pace with the core consumer price index. If it had, FMCSA said the increase with inflate would not be at $1.62 million, while if it had kept pace with the medical consumer price index, the minimum would be at $3.18 million. Even though FMCSA has not set a minimum for an insurance increase, raising the minimum to the core consumer price index of $1.62 million would be a 116 percent increase, while raising the minimum insurance to the medical consumer price index would be an increase of 324 percent.

The American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association both dispute the claim that insurance minimums need to be increased. Both cite studies that show just 1 percent of all crashes involving a truck and that are the fault of the truck exceed the $750,000 mark.

Author: Larry Hurrle, IT Magazine Editor