Top ELD Violations to Avoid

Top ELD Violations

Top ELD Violations (Used with permission from CTSE, link below)

The Little Things Make a Big Difference

When it comes to keeping electronic logs, the little things make a big difference. Or as at least one professional driver once told me, there are no small mistakes in trucking.

Since  April 1, 2018, the ELD “enforcement deadline,” all ELD violations are reflected in a motor carrier’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) score. The violations fall off after two years, improving the score. This means it’s important NOT to incur these violations as your company can be stuck with them for a while.

Every violation is assigned a ‘violation severity weight’ by the DOT. For example, operating with a device that is not registered with FMCSA (49 CFR, Part 395.22A) has a violation severity weight of 5, on a scale of 1 to 10.

Severity weights help differentiate varying degrees of crash risk associated with specific violations.

All logging violations are considered fairly serious.The good news is that they are all controllable, and hence preventable.

What does your Insurance Company Expect?

All violations and crashes are funneled by the DOT into one of seven Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). A higher BASIC score reflects negatively and several BASICs with higher scores can trigger DOT safety compliance reviews, which in turn can result in a negative safety rating (like “Conditional” or “Unsatisfactory”).

The BASICs are not only used by the DOT for enforcement purposes, but also by private industry as an indicator of safety. Shippers and brokers use these scores to vet motor carriers. Trial attorneys like to pound the table with a carrier’s high BASIC scores, if a company is involved in a crash, even a minor fender bender.

And insurance companies use BASICs as a risk indicator.

Each BASICs can range between 0 to 100%. For insurance purposes, every individual BASIC should not be much over 20%. Any BASICs in an “alert” status are not acceptable to the insurance industry. This cannot be emphasized enough. Again, a high BASIC and a fender bender can result in a policy cancellation or jump in premium.

For a small company or a new company, staying under a 20% threshold for any BASIC is very difficult. If a carrier has one out-of-service violation from two roadside inspections, on paper it looks bad. The only way they can improve their situation is by having several more “clean” roadside inspections.

What’s the Solution?

The best cure when it comes to navigating the DOT’s regulatory system, is prevention. Drivers need to know how to use their ELDs, keep essential and supporting documents on the truck, keep paper logs to back up the ELD in case it fails, and know what they are doing when they use their ELDs.

Top Tip: Stop at rest-stops before any open inspection stations and do a quick walkaround, checking tires, lights, logbook status, etc. Fix anything before going through the roadside inspection station. You will likely need to fix it anyway, and don’t need a possible fine and citation, DOT scores in alert status, and higher insurance rates. ■

Thank you for reading this.

Thanks to The Center for Transportation Safety Excellence for use of their graphic.

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John Taratuta, Insurance Safety & Risk Engineer admin@part380.com

CDL Entry-level Driver Training (ELDT) Rule

truck diver

What is the Entry Level Driver Training Rule (ELDT) for CDL truck drivers?

As of Feb. 7, 2022 anyone who obtains a Class A or B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), or a School Bus (S), Passenger (P), or a Hazardous Materials (H) endorsement needs to have formal training at a listed training provider.

Are there any exceptions to the ELDT rule?

Your state may allow for the following circumstances:

  • Exception for certain military drivers. §383.3(c)
  • Exception for farmers, firefighters, emergency response vehicle drivers, and drivers removing snow and ice. §383.3(d)
  • Exception for drivers of “covered farm vehicles.” §383.3(h)
  • Drivers applying for a restricted CDL (Alaska- §383.3(e)), farm-related service industries §383.3(f), and certain drivers in the pyrotechnic industry §383.3(g)

A understanding of your state’s motor vehicle code is essential to know both the exceptions from training, if any, and the limitations of a CDL without training.

Essentially, for insurance purposes, having at least the minimum required training is looked upon by insurance underwriters as favorable to obtain reasonable insurance rates. One major insurance company likes to see at least 24 hours of hands-on, one-on-one training, plus as much or more in-class training.

Where can the required training be obtained?

The training provider needs to: 1.) meet the FMCSA’s eligibility requirements and 2.) be listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry.

Thank you for reading this. ■

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John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

 

 

Top Tip of the Day: Block Heaters in Winter

Winter Driving Tip

 

Block Heaters

Block heaters are a must in northern regions.

Plug in the block heater while the engine is still warm.

In extreme cold, install two block heaters.

Avoid using ether for cold starts. Use as little ether as possible, about a one second spray into the air intake, while the engine is turning over.

A block heater needs to be mounted as low as possible—at least 2” below the point where the heated fluid will enter the motor or fluid reservoir.

A block heater will provide many years of service with little danger of the element burning out—provided there is good circulation of the coolant at all times.

There is no “pump” inside a block heater. Instead the coolant flows based due to natural convection.

Thank you for reading this. ■

Lower Your Commercial Truck Insurance

rollaway

Commercial Truck Insurance Can be Expensive

Frequently fleet owners frequently express their concerns to me about their rising insurance premiums. Insurance for heavy commercial trucks can carry a heavy price tag. This article will detail a number of ways to lower your insurance, from a business perspective.

Axiom 1: Trucking is a Business

The purpose of engaging in trucking is to provide a service to a customer to make a profit.

The most important question: Is there a need for your type and level of services? Do you have a customer or customer base? With fair amounts of freight available, there are many trucking businesses starting up without any customers. They totally depend on obtaining loads through third-parties as brokers or 3PLs. They are depending 100% on “luck,” in my opinion. Top tip: Find a customer or two, before starting out . . .

Axiom 2: Business is a Long-term Proposition

Accountants are taught the basic concept of a business as a “going-concern.”

Going concern is an accounting term for a company that has the resources needed to continue operating indefinitely until it provides evidence to the contrary. This term also refers to a company’s ability to make enough money to stay afloat or avoid bankruptcy.

It can literally take years to realize a business return-on-investment (ROI), if ever. Most businesses, however, are marginal or even not profitable. Are you in it for the long haul?

Axiom 3: Most businesses fail before the owner or owners intended. Trucking is no exception. 

Reasons for trucking business failure include:

  • A shift in market conditions: customers do not need your services
  • A change in conditions: new regulations, customer bankruptcy, litigation, and other game-changing events occur like the COVID-19 (coronavirus).
  • Miscalculation: mismatched equipment for the job; obsolete equipment; improper vetting of drivers; under-capitalized (little equity or cash in the business), no real understanding of the industry

Axiom 4: A Business “Mindset” is Required To Survive or Thrive in Trucking

Extraordinary business skills are not required in a business like trucking. A good basis in ordinary business skills is necessary, including a business mindset.

A mindset is a belief that orients the way we handle situations—the way we sort out what is going on and what we should do. Our mindsets help us spot opportunities, but they can also trap us in self-defeating cycles.

Mindsets aren’t just any beliefs. They are beliefs that orient our reactions and tendencies. They serve a number of cognitive functions. They let us frame situations: they direct our attention to the most important cues, so that we’re not overwhelmed with information. They suggest sensible goals so that we know what we should be trying to achieve. They prime us with reasonable courses of action so that we don’t have to puzzle out what to do. When our mindsets become habitual, they define who we are, and who we can become. Gary Klein Ph.D.

A basic business mindset might include acknowledging from time-to-time the need to review and control all of your costs, including insurance.

Axiom 5: You can Lower Your Commercial Truck Insurance Premiums

Insurance is about risk management or properly managing your risks. It’s not the job of the insurance company to run your business or tell you what kinds of risks you should or should not take. They would not know where to start.

The insurance company is happy to rate your level of risk, if you are in an industry segment they insure. Certain transportation segments (i.e., log hauling, heavy-duty towing) have fewer insurance companies interested in them, so premiums are much higher.

Some insurance companies have a fully resourced Loss Control department to help you control adverse events as much as possible. Some are weak in this area. In any case, don’t abdicate your responsibility to protect your bottom line.

How to Lower Your Premiums

The biggest risk in trucking is the driver. A major mistake is to hire drivers who may have a questionable driving record, are not properly qualified, or lack experience. Sometimes we hire a friend, family member or acquaintance. That’s okay—if they are able to safely do the job.

Soon all new CDL drivers will have to go to school. Do you look for trained drivers when hiring? Do you road test or assess their skills and knowledge in other ways?

The second biggest risk is not properly monitoring the driver. Most truck insurance companies are now expecting some level of telematics be installed on all trucks. One company I work with reserves the right to access the telematics at any time. How do you monitor driver behavior?

There are other risks in no particular order that also concern the insurance company:

  • Do you train and develop your drivers? Are training records available?
  • Are your safe drivers recognized or even rewarded?
  • Do you train and develop your safety staff?
  • Do you have a relationship with business professionals who can help you? (Attorney, CPA, Safety Consultants, Trainers, and others)
  • Do you have a good relationship with your agent/producer or broker? Do you know who your underwriter is? Help them to help you.
  • Do you know what to do if you are unfortunate enough to have a claim? What not to do? Ask your agent for a complete checklist before you might need it. Don’t rely on an 800-number tied to an overseas location.
  • Do you operate top-notch equipment?
  • Do you have a top-notch maintenance program?
  • Do you stay up with current driver safety technology?
  • Does your company have membership in, or support any safety associations?
  • What safety-initiatives have you taken in the last year? What safety-initiatives do you have planned? Don’t wait for someone to rescue you. No one is coming.
  • Are you “defendable” in court? Do you keep excellent paperwork? Are there high-quality dashcams in all your trucks? Can you beat a questionable claim, if necessary?
  • Are you cooperative with your insurance company? Is insurance or risk management something you approach seriously? Do you or your staff respond to inquiries in a timely and reasonable manner?
  • Do you monitor your CSA Safety Profile?
  • Are all your CSA BASICs not much over 20%? Any BASICs in an “alert” status are not acceptable to the insurance industry.
  • Top tip: Shop around every renewal. It may not lower your premium, but this simple act can sometimes keep it from rising.

Approaching your trucking business with a business and risk-management mindset will go far to help lower your insurance premiums and ensure the continuation of your business as a ‘going concern.’  ■

Thank you for reading this. Opinions expressed are my own and may not reflect any positions of the clients or companies I work with.

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John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

Free 2019 CCJ Air Brake Book

Air Brake Book Tenth Edition

Introducing the 2019 CCJ Air Brake Book

Commercial Carrier Journal is offering a free .PDF of the 2019 CCJ Air Brake Book.

While the basic concepts of air-brake systems have not changed, this edition covers new brake technology, preventive maintenance practices, an outline of the all-new 2019  Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) air-brake out-of-service criteria and Air Brake Pushrod Stroke guidelines used by law enforcement.

In short, this guide is must reading, if you own or operate commercial motor vehicles with air-brake systems.

Stay up to date with the latest information on truck air brakes.

Stay alert—stay alive! ■

Check Your CSA Scores

Crash Indicator BASIC

Know the Score

If for no other reason than ‘occasionally mistakes are made,’ it is a good practice to check your motor carrier safety and performance data on a regular basis—say, monthly.

What kind of mistakes? As motor carriers as tracked by their individually assigned U.S. DOT number, it is not unheard of to have another motor carrier’s violation show up under your DOT number, if someone mistakenly puts in a wrong digit of the number.

Drivers may forget to inform you of a failed roadside inspection or that they were stopped and ticketed for a traffic infraction, moving violation, or a violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

How to Check Your Score?

To check your CSA scores and profile, go to the CSA landing page.

Then, in the box under “Check Motor Carrier Safety and Performance Data,” type or paste either the name or company under which you registered with the DOT or your U.S. DOT number. This will take you to the “Overview” page.

On the Overview page, you will see your “Out of Service Rates,” expressed as a percentage, for Vehicles and Drivers. These percentages should stay under the national average.

Further down the Overview page are the individual Behavior Analysis & Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). As a rule, these should not go above the 20 per cent line in any of the seven BASICs, of which only five are available for viewing by the general public. For insurance purposes, none of the BASICs should ever be flagged in an “Alert” status.

Below the BASICs on the Overview page is a link to your “Complete SMS Profile.” Here you will find a “Violation Summary” showing a list of violations, and a “Inspection History” showing a listing of inspections.

Study the Inspection History for new violations, any violations which may be unknown to you, or violations that may be listed here by mistake. Investigate these violations to your satisfaction.

Next is a Crash Activity Detail or a listing of vehicles “involved” in a crash. Under a new proposed method, certain crashes (deemed nonpreventable) will likely not be tracked in the future.

Study the Crash Activity Detail section to make sure it is accurate. Generally you will not find any “property” damage accidents or incidents listed here, so it may not be as complete as your insurance loss runs.

Why Bother?

The main reasons to check your CSA safety and performance data are as follows:

  1. Insurance companies are interested in the data when they underwrite policies
  2. Shippers and brokers are interested in the data in assigning loads
  3. The press and media can use this information, if your company is involved in an incident/accident/collision
  4. Mistakes can occur, and, if not corrected, can affect the above
  5. The bottom line: Your reputation is at stake. Bad data or incorrect data can lead to bad judgments about your operations

Correcting the Mistakes

In an upcoming blog we will discuss how to correct mistakes on your safety profile using DataQs.

Thank you for reading this.

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John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

 

 

Trucker . . . or Motor Carrier?

tractor  So . . . Are you a “trucker” or a “motor carrier?”

Ask anyone involved in trucking if they are a “trucker” or a “motor carrier” and they might scratch their heads as they give you a funny look.

While it’s true that when it comes to insurance, the policies are almost identical, the two terms are not—at least in the world of insurance.

Why the difference?

One effect of Motor Carrier Act of 1980 was that private carriers who were not in the trucking business could sell some of their capacity. Perhaps a widget factory hauled a load of widgets to a destination, and returned empty (deadheaded back). This was not only an inefficient use of resources, but clogged the highways with empty trucks. Once trucking was deregulated, in 1993 the Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO), created the Motor Carriers Coverage Form for private carriers.

The term trucker is defined as “A person, firm or corporation in the business of transporting goods, materials or commodities for another.” Commercial Lines Manual

Who is a Trucker?

The term trucker is defined as “A person, firm or corporation in the business of transporting goods, materials or commodities for another.” So says the Commercial Lines Manual. So anybody that in the business of hauling stuff for others is considered a trucker for insurance purposes.

On the other hand, the definition of a motor carrier is, “A person or organization providing transportation by auto in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise.” This is anybody using trucks, but not really in the trucking business.

Does it make a difference?

Unless you are directly involved with insurance, there is not much difference in the terms. “Trucker” or “motor carrier” can be used interchangeably.

But if you are dealing with your insurance company, for purposes of clarity, you may want to specify if you are a trucker or a motor carrier.

Keep in mind that the U.S. Department of Transportation has its own set of definitions as well.

And if you are involved in approving trucking contracts, be sure the terms are defined to your satisfaction.

Thank you for reading this.

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John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

Why is My Trucking Insurance so Expensive?

Highway truck

Guest blog by Jeffery Gordon

Our agency gets no less than 10 calls a week from owner operators in Louisiana and Texas looking to get their own authority. The majority of owner operators are shocked when we ballpark what trucking insurance will cost them. New venture trucking risks are difficult to place right now, at affordable rates anyway. I’ll save my soap box rant on why, and what I think will help, for another time.

Trucking can be Risky

One reason new venture trucking insurance is priced so high is there are very few insurance companies wanting to write them. The last few years have been tough on insurance carriers. Their loss ratios have not been favorable. Meaning the insurance carriers are paying out much more in claims than they are receiving in premium. On average, loss ratios have been in excess of 150%! Some of the fault lies on the shoulders of the insurance carriers. Better handling and more efficiency in the claims process could do wonders. Tort reform at the state level would definitely help us all.

With that said, there are a few quality insurance carriers offering affordable trucking insurance for owner operators in Louisiana and Texas. These carriers appetites differ from others, and that is part of the reason why their Louisiana and Texas trucking insurance rates are affordable.

These markets are fairly exclusive, so not all agencies have access to them.

What is your risk strategy?

I would suggest any owner operator in Louisiana or Texas make a few calls to LOCAL, reputable insurance agencies that focus on Louisiana and Texas trucking insurance. The insurance carriers writing new venture Louisiana and Texas trucking insurance at an affordable rate, want the radius to be within 300 miles. Their research and data show new trucking operations staying within a 200-300 mile radius, have more favorable loss ratios than those going out further.

I have owner operators push back often on the shorter radius. They say they can “make” $2,300 on a load that takes them on a 1,000 mile run. Maybe so. But what are the expenses associated with that longer run? Fuel, wear/tear, Fuel Tax, tolls, etc…The expenses add up the longer you run. Back to my point on the insurance. If a new venture owner operator in Louisiana or Texas calls me requesting coverage for their long haul operation, I suspect their cost is going to exceed $18,000 annually. The lesser radius can reduce that cost by several thousand dollars.

Make sure you have a knowledgeable trucking insurance agent on your team. There are many variables that go into calculating an insurance rate. You want to work with an agent that will give you honest and helpful input into your operation. A good agent will be part of your team and assist you in being profitable!

Jeffrey Gordon is President of The Bayou Agency, LLC dba Bayou Insurance. He can be reached at (318) 805-6448.

Disclaimer required by the Federal Trade Commission: We are not compensated for this blog by this guest blogger or his company. This information is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or professional advice on any subject matter.

You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this site without seeking legal or other professional advice.

Using any of the information or content available on this website is at your own risk.

Thank you for reading this.

Tractor-trailer Pileup!

5-semis-12-19-2018

Pileup!

At 5AM on December 19, one of the first ‘pileups’ of the winter began. This one was on Eastbound I-90, Missoula, Montana, near mile marker 58, involving not one or two trucks—but a total of 5 tractor-trailers, resulting in fatal injuries for two of the drivers, including one who may have jumped over the side of the bridge, falling over 100 feet. In addition to the drivers who were hurt or killed, a first responder was seriously injured as well.

Lessons Learned . . .

  1. Slow down. It’s winter.
  2. Don’t overdrive your headlights. It may take longer to stop.
  3. It is generally safer to stay in the vehicle, if on a bridge.
  4. Expect bridges to be icy. Be ready . . . slow down some more.
  5. Expect rapid changes in conditions as the seasons change
  6. Expect the unexpected. This sounds cliche, even sounds dumb, but the minute you let your guard down you become a passenger, not a driver.

Job number 1 . . . 2 . . . and 3 is to always arrive safely at your destination.

Winter is here. Drive for conditions. ■

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John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

 

Managing Your Risk in Trucking

rollawayManaging Risk in Trucking

On Oct. 17, 2018 the Transport Topics’ LiveOnWeb program, “Managing Risk in Trucking” was broadcast.

Panelists included:

  • Joe DeLorenzo, director of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance at FMCSA.
  • Lisa Gonnerman, vice president of safety and security at Transport America.
  • Bert Mayo, director of transportation risk solutions for TrueNorth Companies.

In a Nutshell

Delorenzo talked about changes in the works on how the DOT will score trucking companies in the area of safety. The DOT will be taking a more data-based, evidence-based approach in how haulers are assessed, with the goal of prevention of safety incidents.

Gonnerman spoke on how Transport America (over 1,300 trucks and 1,500 drivers) uses the latest safety tools and technology to recruit, train and develop their workforce, from the use of driving simulators to collision avoidance technology. Her tips included the advice to invest in new safety technology, especially in the area of rear-end collisions, “There are some great products out there.”

Mayo covered some of the recent insurance industry changes in how CSA has been used in rating motor carriers. “It’s a ‘hard market.’ By that I mean, insurance premiums keep going up.”

Mayo said there are a few things companies can do to keep their premiums down:

  • Manage your ‘cost of risk’ (how much you pay out of pocket)
  • Do a better job of managing safety
  • Take on more risk (higher deductibles)
  • Look into the captive insurance market (shared losses), if your fleet’s size runs into the hundreds of trucks

Watch the Program

This is the one presentation in 2018 you do not want to miss. (Starts at 8:50)

Kudos to our good friends at Transport Topics and Protective Insurance for their sponsorship of this program. Even if you are not in the market for insurance at this time, be sure to check out all their valuable safety information and insights.

Thank you for reading this.

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John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

Mass. USDOT Number Required for All CMVs

US DOT Number is required on all trucks.Enforcement Delayed until January 1, 2019

As of September 1, 2018, intrastate motor carriers in Massachusetts are required to obtain and display a United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) number per 540 CMR 2.22, the Commercial Marking section of the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) regulations. Strict enforcement of the new regulations has been delayed until January 1, 2019 to allow time to obtain and display the numbers.

Who must Register?

This applies to motor carriers operating the following commercial motor vehicles (CMVs):
  • Operating in intrastate commerce having a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 or more pounds.
  • Used in the transportation of hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placarding.
  • Designed to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, used in intrastate commerce in Massachusetts.

If a company operates a subject vehicle, it must be permanently marked with a USDOT number assigned in a manner conforming to the provisions of 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 390.21. Please note that the requirement for a USDOT number is based upon the definition above, regardless of how any individual vehicle may be registered with the Massachusetts RMV.

How do I Register?

To obtain a USDOT Number, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website.  From there, follow the Registration link to obtain an intrastate USDOT number. The company will be issued a single USDOT number that must be displayed on all CMVs as defined above that the company operates, including leased vehicles. There is no charge to obtain this number from the USDOT-FMCSA.

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John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

States that Ban Hand-held Devices

 

cell phoneIntrastate Operations . . .

Do you know the U.S. jurisdictions that ban the use of use of hand-held devices while driving? No?

Well, here they are:

California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, *Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

*The Georgia House Bill 673 also known as the “Hands Free Law” went into effect on July 1, 2018.

A “wireless telecommunications device” is defined as a cellular telephone, a portable telephone, a text-messaging device, a personal digital assistant, a stand-alone computer, a global positioning system receiver or substantially similar portable wireless device that is used to initiate or receive communication, information or data.

Specifically:

Under the new law in Georgia, any person operating a motor vehicle is prohibited from:

(1) Physically holding or supporting, with any part of his or her body a wireless telecommunications device (except when using an earpiece, headphone device, or device worn on a wrist to conduct voice-based communication) or stand-alone electronic device;

(2) Writing, sending, or reading any text based communication, including a text message, instant message, e-mail, or Internet data on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device. This prohibition does not apply to a voice-based communication which is automatically converted by a device to be sent as a message in a written form, or to a device used for navigation or global positioning system purposes;

(3) Watching a video or movie on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device other than watching data related to the navigation of such vehicle; or

(4) Recording or broadcasting a video on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device (except for electronic devices used for the sole purpose of continuously recording or broadcasting video within or outside of the motor vehicle).

Note: anyone making or uploading videos for YouTube using a handheld telecommunication device or other digital recorder while driving would be in violation. And, of course, watching a movie on a cell phone while driving is a major no-no.

COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATORS

1.    Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators can only use one button to begin or end a phone call
2.    Cannot reach for a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device that it no longer requires the driver to be a seated position or properly restrained by a safety belt

The only exceptions are emergencies and reporting hazards, and use by utility personnel or first responders in the course of their work.

Thank you for reading this.

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John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

Distracted & Deadly . . .

Distracted driver crashed into stopped tracffic

Zombie Driver . . .

It was the start of an ordinary day. Traffic on eastbound Hwy. 13 was stopped for a red light at the Washburn Avenue intersection in Burnsville, Minnesota. Little did four people know they would be involved in a serious crash that would send two of them to the hospital for treatment for injuries.

Rear-end collisions are a fairly common occurrence, about 28% of all crashes, according to the NTSB. For 2016, the last year with complete data, “Large Truck Rear-Ending Passenger Vehicle” were the cause of 4.5% of fatal collisions involving a truck (FMCSA).

This collision is unusual in two respects:

  • The crash was caught on video
  • Bad as it was, the crash could have been much, much worse

Posted by Pat Nelson on Friday, September 7, 2018

 

Ninety-seven percent of vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck in 2016 were occupants of the passenger vehicles.  Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Lessons Learned

  1. Drivers of large vehicles need to be trained. And trained in emergency procedures, to include knowing when to swerve to avoid a collision. This topic is beyond the scope of the CDL manual and needs to be covered at the company level. Drivers need to be completely indoctrinated in executing proper procedures in an emergency situation. Advanced training can include attendance at a truck skid school to practice what was discussed.
  2. Savvy fleet owners invest in collision-avoidance technology. As there are many older trucks on the road, the age of the vehicle is no excuse with new systems as Forward Collision Warning (FCW) from Mobileye, which can be mounted on any vehicle. The deployment in the 1990s of the rear-center stop light resulted in a decrease in read-end collisions, so technology can make a difference.
  3. Automobile drivers need to stay about 100 feet (7 car lengths) behind any stopped truck and use their warning flashers to get the attention of the drivers behind them, paying attention to traffic that might not stop. Then, after several vehicles stop behind their vehicle, close the gap with the truck ahead.

Thank you for reading this.

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John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

Out-of-State Garnishment Orders

Garnished wages

Out-of-State Garnishment Orders

In the last year I have been seeing more repeat requests from credit issuers (through their collection attorney) for trucking companies to execute garnishment judgments. Frequently these are out-of-state garnishment orders. Usually the judgement is for several thousand dollars. Some employers are ignoring the wage-garnishment requests. This can be at their own financial peril.

Certainly, it’s not the fault of the company that their employee has an old debt or a bad debt.

But experience suggests small problems can later turn into big problems.

Ignoring or refusing to implement a creditor garnishment order simply because it is from another state or because the employee works in a state that does not issue creditor garnishments may very well result in the company’s becoming liable for the entire judgment debt.

Martin Brook, Esq.

Be aware that if a company sits on a garnishment order long enough, that old debt may become their financial responsibility . . . plus any interest, attorney fees, collection fees, court fees, etc. . . .

Create a policy letting your employees know your organization needs to follow applicable laws regarding wage garnishments.

Garnishment Policy

Garnishment refers to a legal requirement for an employer to withhold portions of an employee’s earnings to satisfy an outstanding debt. Other terms used to refer to such a procedure are “wage attachment,” or “wage deduction procedure,” or “income execution.”

Our company (or insert your company name) is required by law to follow the garnishment order.  Common types of garnishment and wage assignments are: creditor garnishment, court order for a federal bankruptcy, court order for child support, federal or state tax levy, student loan, or employee wage assignment.

Upon receipt of a garnishment notice, the Payroll Dept. will notify the employee when the garnishment will take effect and any other necessary information.  A deduction from pay will commence and continue until we receive notification from the court or government agency that the garnishment is discharged. A garnishment order will be kept confidential and will not be held against any employee. Contact the Payroll Dept. with any of your questions about garnishments or wage assignments.

For detailed information on out-of-state garnishment orders, please see the informative article by Martin C. Brook, Esq., Compliance Rules for Out-of-State Garnishments.

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John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

FDA Safety Course for Food Haulers

 

Highway truck

Training Requirements

Motor carriers hauling food products need to maintain training records for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as required by the ‘Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Rule.’

If you are involved with food or temperature-controlled food cargo in the supply chain, the rule likely applies. See the chart below for any exceptions to the rule.

Smaller fleets are exempt from this rule if they have less than $500,000 in gross annual revenue.

The requirements of the new rule include:

  • Trailers are properly pre-cooled
  • Proof of shipment temperatures can be provided
  • Standardized operating procedures are in effect for the cleaning, sanitizing and inspection of the trailer.

The FDA has a new online training course for motor carriers and their drivers. Click here: Sanitary Transportation Rule training.

sanitary transportation rule

 

I took the course. There are several modules and a few questions after each part. Depending on how fast you read, it will take 20 to 40 minutes. At the end there is a form to print a out a certificate. Keep a copy for your records, and perhaps write the date on the back.

If your company is in the food supply chain, I would recommend having all of your drivers take this online FDA course.

FDA Food Safety Certificate

Thank you for reading this.

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John Taratuta, Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

 

 

ELD Tips

Roadside Inspection

Quick Tip

Last week in his Fleetup.com webinar, Samuel Mayfield passed on an excellent tip that applies to the carriers who might be late-adopters of the ELD mandate and perhaps experiencing technical or other issues.

Have a DOT roadside inspection done before April 1st to see if unit passes muster and any ancillary requirements (spare logsheets, instruction card, data exchange, etc) are met. On April 1st, full enforcement of the ELD mandate will go into effect, and it might be good to know if the system is functional and operates legally. Some drivers have reported ELD problems.

Mystery Mileage . . .

“For those companies who are subject to the ELD Mandate, make sure your drivers are not “killing” the app on their cell phone or tablet while On Duty (if your ELD solution uses such). Doing so creates UDRs that will need to be addressed later and sometimes will result in lost data.” Samuel Mayfield

UDRs are Unidentified Driving Reports, also called Unidentified Driving Events (UDEs), or Unidentified Driving (UD) by some device makers. All miles driven must be assigned to a driver.

If no driver is assigned to a vehicle’s ELD while that vehicle is in motion, the ELD will likely flag that as unidentified driving. Unidentified driving could happen if a driver fails to log on or if an unassigned driver (for example, a shop mechanic doing a road check) would operate the vehicle.

Unidentified driving that is assigned to a driver needs to be acknowledged and approved by the driver.

Document how you track and allocate all unassigned unidentified driving.

(1 minute 21 second video)

Any products or services mentioned above are for informational purposes only.

Thank you for reading this.

Picture of John Taratuta

John Taratuta, Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

FMCSA Answers Your Top ELD Industry Questions

paperless logging is here

The FMCSA Speaks

On Monday, March 12, 2018, Teletrac Navman and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted an hour-long webinar and Question and Answer session on Phase II of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate.

Bill Mahorney, Division Chief at the FMCSA, and LaTonya Minns, Transportation Specialist at the FMCSA updated listeners on what is happening regarding the deployment of ELDs by motor carriers.

  1. If you needed to do paper logs (also know as a record of duty status—RODS), then you need to have an ELD in your truck.
  2. There is an Agriculture Exemption under 49 CFR 395.1(k). Agricultural operations. The provisions of this part shall not apply during planting and harvesting periods, as determined by each State, to drivers transporting (1) Agricultural commodities from the source of the agricultural commodities to a location within a 150 air-mile radius from the source;(2) Farm supplies for agricultural purposes from a wholesale or retail distribution point of the farm supplies to a farm or other location where the farm supplies are intended to be used within a 150 air-mile radius from the distribution point; or(3) Farm supplies for agricultural purposes from a wholesale distribution point of the farm supplies to a retail distribution point of the farm supplies within a 150 air-mile radius from the wholesale distribution point.
  3. If an Ag exempt driver stays within the 150 air-mile radius (about 172 miles), then that time is hours-of-service exempt and does not need to be recorded or counted, unless one goes outside the radius.
  4. The term ‘Nominal Hours of Service’ refers to minor infractions that an enforcement officer can, at their discretion, cite as such. In general they refer to an hours of service violation that is 15 minutes or less in duration.
  5. If an ELD (or AOBRD) malfunctions, the driver must notify his carrier within 24 hours and then recast their previous 7-days of logs, and continue to manually record their logs on paper until the unit is repaired. If it will take longer than 8 days, they need to contact and notify their area FMCSA office to report the issue and continue to use paper logs.
  6. Driver must record their End of Day activities, if not driving. It was recommended to change your duty status and then off off the unit, complete your work, then log back in and fill in the missing details.
  7. Edits. Upload the information before requesting an edit.The driver has the option of declining the edit or assigned miles.
  8. An exempt driver can be a driver who is driving an ELD-equipped vehicle, but not required to log their miles. He would have an ‘exempt driver account’ with the carrier.
  9. An unidentified driver is someone who drove a CMV but did not login on the ELD. All unidentified driver mileage needs to be assigned to a driver by the carrier.
  10. Edits. There can be no shrinking of the driving time. The only exception might be a team-driver who had not properly logged off and other driver drove for him.
  11. Drivers will be placed out-of-service on or after April 1, 2018 if they do not have an ELD and it is required.
  12. In the case of independent contractors (ICs) or Owner-operators, if you are running under the carrier’s authority (their DOT number), then it’s the carrier’s responsibility to keep the ELD logs. If it is your authority, then you are responsible.
  13. Personal conveyance guidelines or regulations are in the works, but have not been finalized.

The key thing is to make sure you have the proper documentation for the unit, know what to do if the unit fails, and know your exemptions (ag, drive-away/tow-away, etc) if you are exempt.

Stay tuned for more EDL updates.

Thank you for reading this.

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John Taratuta, Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

 

 

 

Reading the Federal Regulations

truck convoy

Bit O’ Trucking History

Congress passed the Motor Carrier Act of 1935, which regulated motor carrier transportation under the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) until January 1, 1996, when the ICC was discontinued.

All “Acts” and other federal laws are codified in the Code of Laws of the United States of America, also known as United States Code, U.S. Code, U.S.C., or USC.

One of the first trucking rules the ICC issued in 1937 was No. MC-2, which established the Hours of Service rules. Although the Hours of Service have been modified over the years, such rules are not part of the United States Code, but part of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). (See www.ecfr.gov)

How to Read or Cite the CFRs

The CFR is divided into 50 subject matter titles. Title 49 CFR covers Transportation. The titles are further divided into chapters, parts, sections and paragraphs.

49 CFR 395 is read as: Title 49, part 395 (the part for Hours of Service or HOS).

The part number is divided from the section number by a period. The order of the sections is numerical: 395.1, 395.2, 395.3 . . . 395.15, etc.

49 CFR 395.11(c)(1) would be read as “title 49, part 395, section 11, paragraph (c)(1).”

The section symbol, §, may be used to shorten a citation: § 395.11(c)(1). The section symbol always “stands alone.”

The Federal agency in charge of enforcing and occasionally updating the Hours of Service regulations is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The FMCSA has jurisdiction over any regulated drivers and motor carriers.

Definitions of HOS terms used by the FMCSA are generally found in § 390.5 or § 395.2. For example:

Driver means any person who operates any commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

An automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD) is a device that meets the requirements of § 395.15 Automatic on-board recording devices. All AOBRDs  placed into service before December 18, 2017, need to be replaced with ELDs before December 16, 2019.

An electronic logging device (ELD) is a device used to electronically and automatically collect information needed for HOS requirement compliance, replacing (but not totally eliminating) paper log books (also known as the Record of Duty Status or RODS)

Driving time means all time spent at the driving controls of a commercial motor vehicle in operation, per §395.2 Definitions.

Most of the terms in the regulations are defined in the beginning of each section.

How to Flip Between the USC and CFRs?

Sometimes it is necessary to see what the intent of the lawmakers was when they wrote the law by going back to the USC. Some aspects of transportation law (disclaimer I am not an attorney) may not be clearly codified in the CRFs. There is a better way than trying to Goggle what you want to find—the Table of Parallel Authorities (opens in .pdf).

Regulated drivers, safety managers, driver supervisors and company management should be more than familiar with the rules that govern safe highway use. One of the better ways is to keep a copy nearby. Knowing what the regulations say is the great foundation for any safety program.

Get a Copy of the Code of Federal Regulations

There are at least three vendors who sell the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. All motor carriers and drivers should have a current copy (not over a year old).

Thank you for reading this. Please visit our website for more information on how to increase profitability in the surface transportation business.

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John Taratuta, Risk Engineer, Ph. 989-474-9599

 

 

 

 

Brakes or No Brakes—Stay in Control

Dump truck crashes on 2222

The dump lost its brakes, went through the intersection and hit several vehicles before it went off the bridge off of Texas 2222.

Brake Check!

Professional drivers do a brake check before starting the day AND before fully committing to a downgrade.

This can mean daily doing those ‘dumb’ checks required by the CDL test like the Air Brake Leak Down Test and the Stall Test, and fully stroking the brakes by pressing the pedal to the floor—so the automatic slack adjusters (ASAs) stay in adjustment.

           Air-Brake Check Checklist

Chock or Block wheels and start the engine

Build air pressure up to 120 PSI

Turn engine off

Release the parking/trailer brakes (push knob(s) in/down) After air pressure stabilizes wait 1 minute

Air Pressure should drop no more than 3 PSI in a minute Hold the brake pedal down firmly

After pressure stabilizes hold pedal for 1 minute

Listen for audible air leaks

Air pressure should drop no more than 3 PSI in one minute (tractor only) or 4 PSI in 1 minute if combination unit

Turn the ignition switch on (but not the engine)

Pump the brake pedal until the low air warning buzzer sounds at 60 PSI

Continue to pump brake pedal until the red brake button pops out between 20 & 45 PSI

Remove chocks/blocks

If a trailer is attached:

With trailer brakes applied and tractor brakes released, complete 2 firm tug tests to be sure the trailer brakes are properly adjusted and hold against the tug

When the truck is in motion apply the service brakes to be sure they are operational

 

Check the Brakes before a Downgrade, Too . . .

The integrity of the brake system needs to be checked before a downgrade as well. It only takes a second to see if you have some pedal. And be sure to place the vehicle in the proper gear for the grade.

Why Are Daily Brake Checks Necessary?

Daily brake checks are necessary for several reasons:

  • All equipment degrades over time due to wear and tear. Drivers then start to adjust their driving behavior to compensate for the failing performance of the brake system. There have been serious crashes where it was later found that only one of the foundation brakes were properly working and in adjustment.
  • We need to catch things before bigger problems occur
  • Sometimes adjustments are made that compromise the system (slacks are backed off by mistake, or air lines mis-routed during a service—It happens!)
  • Your life and the lives of the public are on the line
  • Brake citations—year after year—are the number one citation during roadside inspections

Stay in Control

A cardinal rule of diving is always keep the vehicle under control—no matter the situation. It is never a good situation when a driver loses control of the vehicle.

Daily brake checks can catch a small problem before it turns into a big problem, help keep the ASAs in proper adjustment, and help the driver to always stay in control.

Thank you for reading this.

Learn more about brake inspections:  Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Inspections

Winter Driving Woes . . .

Tesla pulling truck in NC

Tesla assisting a semi in North Carolina

No Traction—No Action

Those of us living in the snow belt fully experience winter in all its glory. For truck drivers it means breaking out the anti-gel, chains—when needed, gallons of window wash, and brushing off your dormant winter driving skills.

Know, know, know . . .

Commercial drivers also need to know when to use the “diff lock” (Inter-Axle Differential (IAD) Lock, also known as the Power Divider) and, perhaps more importantly, when not to use it.

Due to the significant number of failures surrounding the Inter-Axle Differential (IAD) Lock, also known as the Power Divider, there is confusion and frustration with the proper use of this component. The IAD is often referred to as the “weak link” of your truck’s drive train and can be a big unexpected maintenance cost. If you catch the damage early through oil analysis tests the repair can cost $1600, but if it progresses to a catastrophic failure, it can cost up to $7000. —Team Run Smart

In addition to your vehicle’s special safety features as the diff lock, winter driving techniques need to be reviewed with all of your drivers.

According to education expert Ulrich Boser, author of Learn Better (Amazon’s 2017 best science book of the year), experience isn’t always the best teacher—we have to make sense of what we know or think we know. Mastery is not the same as familiarity. Many experienced drivers have never used chains, know about anti-gel fuel conditioners, how to avoid a skid, or how to use their vehicle’s safety features, etc.

Driving on An Icy Patch

Drivers need to be aware of road ice, especially on bridges and in shaded areas. Sudden braking on ice can cause a skid and loss of control. Sometimes even taking your foot off of the fuel pedal can induce a skid—defined as uneven tire rotation. A driver should press the clutch in (with a manual transmission) or slide the shifter into Neutral with an automatic transmission, and roll over the ice until safe control of the vehicle can be regained.

Driving on Snow

Truck tires can be warm coming off a roadway. Ice easily forms when the vehicle is parked on a snow-covered . Keep some sand in the truck for extra grip. A chain can be placed under the tire.

A key technique when driving on snow is to not spin the tires when starting. Spinning the tires can form more ice. A much better technique is to ease off into a slow start. One way to get rolling in the snow is to start in a higher gear. Drivers are usually very surprised how well this works in snow.

Check Driver’s Knowledge . . . and Review

To know if your drivers make sense of driving in winter or any other season, it is wise to check their understanding. This can take the form of a pre-training questionnaire, pop-quiz during training, a formal assessment or a combination of the above.

If knowledge is not up to snuff, then a safety review is needed. Training adults is not the same as instructing juveniles. Content and materials need to be useful, relevant, and presented in a respectful manner. In addition, the adult learner needs to feel comfortable and at ease during the process.

Be sure your drivers have the right Knowledge, Skills or Attitudes (KSAs) to successfully negotiate driving in deep snow and in any other condition this winter.

Thank you for reading this. Much success in 2018.

Learn more about inspections: Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Inspections