Wireless Inspections By DOT

Think of it….not having to stop at the DOT inspection station. No waiting in line…no sitting on the scales or worrying about the inspector going page by page through your log book. No more being late for delivery appointments because you were held up at a surprise inspection.

These thoughts, along with increased fuel efficiency, not having to stop at
roadside inspections, and CSA credits could all become a reality in the not so distant future thanks to the Smart Roadside Initiative-a research project of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The purpose of the SRI is to identify technology that allows vehicles to not only communicate with each other but also to communicate with surface transportation infrastructure-including electronic wireless roadside inspection (WRI) sites that can assess the driver and vehicle safety records while trucks and buses are in motion.

The e-inspections offer several benefits, including fuel economy and safety as the inspections do not require the vehicles to slow down or stop. The wireless inspections would utilize one of three platforms; Commercial Mobile Radio Services, Dedicated Short -Range Communications and Universal ID technologies. All three of these were tested in a pilot that the FMCSA reported on in June. The FMCSA stated that “while none of the methods were perfect, the WRI system holds promise and that it should move forward if the technological and implementation challenges can be overcome.”(TT 7/21). With the improved efficiency and utilization of already existing technology, such as infrared screening systems, electronic logging devices and in cab communicators, the WRI would scan and transfer data from the truck to an operations center where it would be combined with the companies fleet information already existing in state and federal databases. The collective data would then be sent to the processing system to be evaluated. Once the processing is complete the driver will be sent a message either telling them to pull over for full inspection, or continue on. The Idea is to use geofencing. Once a truck entered a certain”Fenced” area, it would be scanned, and all the information transferred and analyzed, before he reached the other edge. The scan would yield information on the tires, brakes, license plates, weight, and general condition of truck and trailer, along with driver information.

The goal is that with the use of technologies geared toward safety, inspections will become more efficient and effective. The WRI’s would allow drivers and companies that comply with all state and federal regulations, to bypass roadside inspections all together, allowing the inspectors in the field to thoroughly and accurately inspect the vehicles and drivers on the roads that truly need it. In theory this would result in more inspections being completed, fully and completely, with the outcome of getting unsafe trucks and drivers off the roads.

While there are already inspections and standards in place, the FMCSA does admit to and acknowledge the flaws in the current system. They are hoping that with the implication of these WRI’s it will help fill the gaps in the current processes. With the increasing number of commercial vehicles on the roads, and the decreasing number of inspectors (currently only 13,000 inspectors for 4.5 million registered trucks) thorough inspections are not being completed. According to the FMCSA even though 3.5 million roadside inspections are completed annually there is insufficient data to compile complete CSA BASIC percentages on 89%of carriers. According to Duane DeBruyne of the FMCSA “the near term objective of SRI is to create and test a prototype system that integrates numerous roadside safety screening technologies into one interface, aiding roadside safety enforcement by reducing the number of screening interfaces that must be observed.

Preparations are under way to test prototype wireless roadside inspection systems already. The tests will take place in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. The Mississippi Department of Transportation has confirmed that the state is already testing WRI technology using a mobile inspection station. The tests are expected to include 1,000 trucks and scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017. Next they will analyze the existing roadside safety technologies and identify the gaps, and a benifits analysis will be conducted and a tool developed for use by states in assessing their roadside safety technology needs. Debruyne states that “the success of of SRI does not require changes being made to vehicles and highways, and it would be a big step forward to provide a consolidated e-screening interface for roadside safety enforcement personnel.”

Government agencies are not the only ones involved with trying to improve trucking efficiency either. In 2013 Drivewyze, PeopleNet, Zonar And XRA conducted and e-inspection demonstration for FMCSA and FHWA officials. Two commercial trucks, and one motor coach equipped with new mobile safety-compliance technology participated in a drive-by demonstration at the West Friendship Weigh Station and Inspection Site in Maryland. Observers witnessed the trucks and bus electronically communicating with the weigh-station system as they approached the facility without having to slowdown. Important safety information-including driver identification, electronic-logging records and vehicle weight- were communicated in real time while the vehicles remained in motion, at highway speeds.

While there are clearly benefits of this technology, for all aspects of the trucking industry getting the policy and program implementation from the FMCSA is one of the missing elements. However, no one is interested in a mandatory program. Everyone involved is currently leaning toward a voluntary compliance program, where carriers would have the option to participate and share additional information. For the companies that choose to share, there would be some sort incentive put into place, such as CSA credit, and being able to avoid stomping for roadside inspections, ever.

With the help of this technology, and this option for trucking companies, the roadside inspectors would be able to concentrate on full inspections on trucks and drivers that need it while at the same time increasing the information in the CSA database, and increasing the accuracy and efficiency of the CSA BASIC scoring system. There are simply not enough inspectors to currently preform the inspections, and gather enough information to sufficiently supply their databases.

What are your thoughts??? By-pass roadside inspections and the hold up in your day…or not? Let us knwo what you think!

Until next week,

*Transport Topics July 21st issue was a main source of information.*

Qualifiying Core Carriers

“We are trying to create a national standard that would lead to federal precedent”~Transportation Intermediaries President Robert Voltmann on a new bill the TIA will present to congress later this month.

The new legislation would help brokers, carriers and shippers choose and qualify new carriers in a more streamlined, effective manor. The law will not only simplify the process for brokers by stating that as long as a carrier is licensed, insured and does not have an unsatisfactory safety rating they are qualified, but also address inconsistencies in handling of liability cases. The TIA and other unnamed sponsors of the bill are pushing for this to help regulate the Carrier Safety Administration in the way they develop the carrier safety scores and ratings. It would help put the CSA where it needs to be, helping carriers, brokers, shippers and law enforcement effectively spot, report, and recognize problem carriers.

Currently, the criteria for selecting carriers is up to the individual broker or shipper. While there are steps that every broker should be taking to set up with new carriers, including:verifying MC number, checking FMCSA safety rating, insurance coverage, years in service, size of fleet, lanes, type of authority, and a full background check on the company, it is not always possible to get it all done in the time you have. Most times when setting up with a new company brokers are doing it on the fly. The broker has a hot load, and the only truck available is a new carrier, meaning the broker is doing a quick check, and verifying the bare minimum to get the truck under their load only to find out later that the carrier may not meet all of the brokers qualifications.
The stipulations of the new bill would have the CSA inspecting and reporting on all carriers in a much more accurate and timely manor. It would enable brokers and shippers to be able to truly rely on the safety ratings, and CSA scoring of satisfactory, conditional and unsatisfactory and make them inspect and rate all carriers that currently have an NA rating(meaning that they have not had enough, or any inspections to give them a rating).

“We want the CSA to work, so that the agency can tell us who the unsafe carriers are. Our legislation takes the uncertainty out of the equation. It is not a get out of jail free card” Voltmann said at the TIA meeting in Tucson in April. He also stated that the legislation would not block suits from being filed when drivers are negligent, and that liability in such cases would not be caped.

Carriers, shippers and brokers are all open to liability with the way things currently stand. A broker for example in one state, that books a truck from another state to move a load through three different states, is open for a liability case in any or all of the states involved if their carrier selection process is not up to par. With this federal legislation, the playing field will become much more even, and also help pin point the responsible party in cases such as the example above where a lawyer can seek out a friendlily judge in any of the states involved to place blame on the broker or shipper. If a shipper or broker is doing what the new federal mandate and set of rules says they must, then what judge has the right to say that they were in the wrong?

As things stand right now, brokers and shippers using only CSA scores to select carries are open to lawsuits, and judgements due to this. If a company is relying only on these scores, they are not getting all the information for this carrier, and at the same time if they do not consult the CSA the same is happening. There are current flaws in the CSA system, that is widely agreed, and a large part of this bill is to correct these, and make it the main go to for carrier qualification.

Until this bill is formally presented to congress, and voted on, the decision and process is still completely in the broker or shippers hands. So, use your head and take the time to do the research you and your company feel is needed to fully and satisfactorily qualify carriers. Each company should have a full process that all employees must follow, and you need to make sure your employees are! At the bare minimum this should include checking the FMCSA, MC number, insurance, and something like either TIA Watchdog, or Carrier 411 where you can run a fairly quick and thorough background check on all carriers. There are several places to verify carriers, so make sure you are doing your part!

Until Next week,

Driver Shortage, A Problem In Our Industry.

“Truck Drivers Needed!”
“Get your CDL Today!”
“Sign on Bonus for new drivers!”

The ads and catch phrases go on and on…but they are there for a truly valid reason…The shortage of qualified drivers that the trucking industry has been facing for several years is a very real problem.

As a 3PL, we feel the shortage in just about every avenue of what we do. From available trucks, to rates, to ensuring our customers freight gets picked up and delivered as it should, when it should. But it isn’t just 3PL’s such as ours that feel the effects, it is the shippers, receivers, carriers and even though most people don’t realize it, the consumers.

According to the American Trucking Association (ATA) there is a shortage of about 20-25,000 drivers per year across the US. The current average age of commercial drivers is 55, as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and with retirement on the rise among these drivers the number of qualified personnel needed is only going to increase. It is projected by the US government that nearly 330,000 truckers will be needed by the year 2020. That is a lot of jobs to fill!

Although retirement among the current generation of drivers is part of the issue, it is by no means the only reason for this shortage.

New regulations put in place for our industry by the government also have a huge impact. The new hours of service compliance that went into effect in the summer of 2013 seems to be one of the biggest factors. With the shortened hours and miles drivers are allowed a day, plus the additional breaks they are required to take it is affecting the paychecks of not only owner operators, but drivers that get payed by the mile. (Which is very common for those of you that are not aware!) Drivers are only allowed 11 hours of on the road time per 24 hour period now, and must take a 30 minute break within the first 8 hours, meaning they really only have about 10 1/2 hours of drive time per day (https://cms.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/summary-hours-service-regulations-july-1-2013). Keep in mind that loading, unloading, paperwork and pre-trip checks are all included in the “on duty” hours.

New driver recruitment is a factor in the shortage as well…there are less and less young people turning to trucking as a career. With long periods of time away from home, regulations that are in place and changing on a regular basis, and the cost of good schooling carriers are finding it harder and harder to find god quality drivers. Many carriers are now offering sign on bonuses, reimbursement for school, and guaranteed time home in an effort to attract potential employees.

Currently the driver shortage is mostly manageable, but as more retire, and less start in the industry there remains a hole that will only get bigger. And it is not just the carriers and 3PL’s that will feel the impact of this, but the shippers, manufacturers and consumers. As it becomes more and more difficult to find available trucks, shippers and manufacturers will find it harder to get their products out, causing the consumer to either pay more for what they want, and in most cases need, or not be able to find the product in the store. It is the age old case of supply and demand.

Many people in the general public do not realize the very important role that truck drivers play in their world…everything the average person owns moved at least once on a truck before it got to your hands. Truckers really do keep America moving and eating, and clothed….

Trucking is still, and will always be, a good and viable career. As an industry we need to pull together to keep things rolling (in a literal and figurative way!).

Shippers, let’s try to remember that there are real people behind the wheel, who have families to support, and bills to pay.

Carries, keep in mind that not all 3 PL’s and Brokers are out to take your money…many of us are here to help you make the most that you can! (We really do care!)

Brokers and 3PL’s…let’s keep in mind that without good drivers, we don’t have jobs!

Consumers, the next time you see an 18 wheeler cruising down the road, take a minute to think about how long they have been out, how many miles they have driven, and that there is a very good chance they are carrying something you will eventually possess.
And everyone should take a moment to thank them when they get the chance!

How do you think we can reverse the shortage? What are your thoughts on how to find, hire and keep good drivers?

Until next week,

Here are some web sites that you may find interesting or helpful…

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration…..https://cms.fmcsa.dot.gov/
Driver Solutions (helps pair carries seeking drivers with individuals looking to get into the field)…http://greatcdltraining.com/
Sage Truck Driving Schools (nationwide!)….www.sageschools.com
The National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools (NAPFTDS)….http://napftds.org/

Women In The Trucking Industry

As Kelly and I get ready to head to Chicago to meet one of our biggest accounts, I can’t help but think about the roles of women in our industry.

Kelly started this company in 2010 after separating from the company her sister started and ran for over twenty years. With over twenty years of experience, and the gumption to break out on her own to become the founder of her own brokerage, she is definitely a strong women in our field.

And there are so many other strong and amazing women in our business.

Some are drivers, out there on the roads everyday. Fighting the traffic, weather, new regulations and “old school” thinkers out there that still can’t imagine female drivers. To you ladies, I say thank you, and way to go! Keep up the amazing job you are doing! You are out there on the “front lines” being the face of women in trucking, breaking down barriers and changing opinions and for that, you deserve another round of thank you’s! According to Go by Truck News, there are approximately 3 million drivers in the US, and of those 200,000 are females and those numbers are on the rise, there has been a 50% increase in female drivers since 2005.

Some of the women in our industry are CEO’s, presidents, founders, and business owners. To you women, I offer a round of virtual applause! You have truly changed the face of trucking. You have fought to prove that we can hold our own in a male based field! You have not only built companies, managed drivers, dispatchers and customers, but also raised children, had relationships and kept your household running! As a women working for a women, I truly appreciate all that you have done to make strides and move things forward for those of us that are following in your footsteps!

Women have been in transportation since the days of horses and carts and we are growing stronger by the day, with the help of groups like Women in Trucking (http://www.womenintrucking.org/) “Women In Trucking was established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry.”(WIT website).

In short, if you are a women in trucking, give yourself a hand, and be safe out there! And if you are a women who would like to get into trucking, in any facet of our amazing industry there are many places to acquire good solid information, and leads for job openings! ( I will include a few links for you at the end!) And if you are someone that just wants to support the efforts and advances of some of these amazing women, let them know it!

Until Next week,

Women in Trucking web site…..http://www.womenintrucking.org/
Real Women in Trucking web site….http://www.realwomenintrucking.com/
Lady Truck Drivers.com…..http://www.ladytruckdrivers.com/
American Trucking Association(ATA)…..http://www.truckline.com/

Mid-America Trucking Show

This spring the Mid-American Trucking Show was held in Louisville KY on March 27-29. We were not lucky enough to be able to make it this year….hopefully next year! I just wanted to take a quick minute to share some of the highlights from this years show with some of you that missed it also!

People from all fifty states and some from overseas converged on Louisville for the show this year. This spring was the third best attended show with just over 79,000 attendees! There were 1,077 exhibitors there, filling the entire Kentucky Exposition Center.

The Mid- American truck show is a one stop shop for trucking! There are carriers, customers, equipment manufactures and just about anybody else involved in the industry! All of the latest equipment, tools and technology are showcased, along with all the latest in law changes. There are law makers on site, along with FMCSA representatives.

Some of the additional classes and educational seminars you could attend to hear and be heard in dealt with the FMCSA Hot topics of the year, correctly researching natural gas for freight haulers, the very hot topic of ELD’s, what they mean for the entire industry, and the pros and cons, being a successful owner operator, and creating good relationships between carriers and brokers.

There seems to be no end to the amount of information and contacts a truly motivated individual could walk away from the show with! There seems to be a little bit of something for everyone at the show, no matter what part of the industry your in, our how long you’ve been in it!

It is definitely on the must do list for us! I added some links to the websites and magazines that have way more information about this show than I could possibly fit into my little blog! Have a great weekend!

The official web site for the show is…www.truckingshow.com
Overdrive Magazine has a great spread about the show in their April 2014 issue, the online vervision is availabe at…OverdriveOnline. com
and Transport topics has a few articles, and a great photo gallery of this years show at…ttnews.com

Diesel Declines 1.6¢ to $3.959 a Gallon; Gasoline Gains 1.7¢ in Ninth Straight Increase

Diesel dipped 1.6 cents to $3.959 a gallon, its fourth straight decline and fifth in six weeks, while gasoline rose for the ninth straight week, the Department of Energy reported April 7.

Gasoline rose 1.7 cents to $3.596, DOE said following its weekly survey of filling stations. The price has jumped 30.4 cents in the past two months.

Average U.S. diesel prices have fallen a combined 6.2 cents since hitting $4.021 on March 10, its highest level in a year.

Trucking’s main fuel is 1.8 cents below its price in the corresponding week last year, while gasoline is 1.2 cents below a year ago.

Each week, DOE surveys about 400 diesel filling stations and 800 gasoline stations to compile national average prices.

By Transport Topics

Work Zone Awareness Week Targets Dangers of Speeding

This week is National Work Zone Awareness Week, and this year’s theme is highlighting the dangers and consequences of speeding through construction and work zones.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has coordinated and co-sponsored the event with other transportation groups since 1999.

“Work Zone Speeding: A Costly Mistake,” is this year’s slogan, according to the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials, which posted a 30-second video on its website.

American Trucking Associations Work Zone Awareness Week Targets Dangers of Speeding
ed all motorists to slow down, and ATA’s America’s Road Team captains — professional truck drivers selected for their exemplary records and commitment to safety — offered several tips for drivers moving through work zones.

They include slowing down, expecting the unexpected, not tailgating and keeping a safe distance, paying attention to posted signs, avoiding distracted driving, being patient and being aware of blind spots.

“Motorists need to slow down and take caution when driving through work zones,” Bryan Wold, an America’s Road Team captain and a driver for Con-way Freight. “Reducing speed, paying attention and keeping a safe distance from other motorists and workers will help move everyone through the construction areas safely.”

By Transport Topics

Worries Over Driver Shortage Outweigh Improving Market

GRAPEVINE, Texas — The truck driver shortage dominated the discussion here at the Truckload Carriers Association’s annual meeting, tempering an otherwise mostly positive outlook for the industry and the overall economy.

The industry is doing well on most fronts, except for the seat in the truck cab. This is the year of the driver, a couple years ago, we would all say customer is No. 1. Well, today, driver is No. 1, driver No. 2, driver No 3, customer No. 4.”

Besides the driver shortage, executives met to develop potential solutions to the highway-funding crisis that could curb the trucking industry’s ability to grow and to meet shippers’ demands.

To attract and retain drivers, carriers are starting to pay higher wages and are talking to shippers about how they can become more driver-friendly.

We’ve just got to do a better job of really getting the shippers onboard with this problem — and some shippers understand that, but many of them don’t and don’t care.

Shippers need to help create lanes where drivers can run enough hours to make a living but not so many hours that they’re exhausted. They also need to avoid long detention times for drivers and do simple things like clean their yards so truck tires don’t blow out and delay drivers for hours.

TCA President Chris Burruss said that, given the difficulty in finding drivers, the industry is looking at how it can raise wages and increase home time.

“If we can’t find people who want to do the job, then what’s wrong with the job?” Burruss asked. “And if we have to think about changing some things to make it more desirable, then I think we have to start having those discussions.”

Gary Salisbury, CEO of Fikes Truck Line in Hope, Ark., said he believes the rapid adoption of telematics has cost trucking its older drivers, who are fearful that they cannot learn to use such things as electronic logging devices.

Drivers also spoke about the ELD proposal, which would require commercial drivers to log their work hours electronically. One veteran driver described himself as “computer illiterate” and said he must use paper logs if he is to remain in the industry.

Another driver said he has used ELDs and does not like them, but conceded they do certain things well.

Owner-operators generally supported testing as a way to improve highway safety, and brokers were opposed to testing.

ELD’s Are In Our Future, and Coming to a Truck Near You.

Truck technology vendors said they see no major flaws in the federal government’s new proposal to require electronic logging devices in commercial trucks, but they are seeking further clarification on some facets of the expected rule.

Based on their assessments of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed regulation, most ELD providers said software updates will enable them to meet the proposed technical requirements rather than having to make major hardware changes to their current on board systems.

FMCSA published its long-awaited proposal on ELDs on March 13. The plan — mandating that all interstate truck drivers implement the use of ELDs two years after the rule becomes final — is intended to enforce hours-of-service rules to mitigate fatigue, eliminate driver harassment and diminish paperwork burdens.

Not only do drivers want electronic logging, it’s critical for them. It means management can’t over-work the driver anymore. He can say to management, ‘I’m done for the day and you can’t do a damn thing about it, so call me in 10 hours.’ ”

It’s a carrot-and-stick issue, balancing what you get for them in addition to compliance for you. Drivers resisted the changes at first, but eventually bought into it. The logging helps with their [Compliance, Safety, Accountability] scores.

Fleets that already have logging devices on their trucks would have two additional years from the compliance date to install new devices if theirs do not meet the technological specifications contained in the proposed rule.

The proposal said that most HOS recording devices and systems manufactured on or after 2010 will be able to comply with the rule with relatively inexpensive software.

The technology companies want clarity on such matters as security, engine connectivity and data transfer, for example, but they also said the proposed rule would give them enough flexibility to develop a range of new products.

Any hardware changes would probably be related to the roadside data-delivery process, depending on how the final rule takes shape.

February Class 8 Sales Up 11% ……….Thats The Highest Gain in Four Months

This story appears in the March 17 print edition of Transport Topics.

U.S. retail heavy-duty truck sales rose 11.2% to 13,949 units in February, the highest percentage gain in four months, Wards Auto.com reported.

Sales have risen a cumulative 9% in the past three months — almost 4,000 units above the comparable three-month period a year earlier.

The total for last month was the second-highest for February since 2007. It followed a 7.5% year-over-year gain in January and was the highest since sales rose 15.6% in October. It also marked the first month since October in which all original equipment manufacturers reported year-over-year increases.

“That’s a pretty decent number for February,” said Steve Tam, vice president at ACT Research Co. in Columbus, Ind. “We typically don’t see a lot of movement from January to February.”

ACT expects sales “will be accelerating later in the year,” and the group is holding to its forecast of a 13% gain for 2014 over last year, Tam told Transport Topics.

Like sales, new truck orders also have been increasing. Orders climbed about 30% in February and more than 50% in January, ACT reported.

While total sales were the lowest since last March, it was the sixth straight year-over-year increase. Sales had declined year-over-year 12 straight months before the recent turnaround.

Ward’s said Navistar International Corp.’s sales rose 9.5% in February to 2,026, although its International brand fell to No. 3 in overall market share, with 14.5%, from 18.2% in January.

“Our sales efforts are beginning to pay off as evidenced by our January and February performance, and this gives us confidence that we are gaining momentum,” Jack Allen, Navistar’s chief operating officer, told TT.

Allen said the company’s full-year forecast “largely remains unchanged. We are forecasting a combined Class 8 industry of 220,000 to 230,000 retail sales. Although the market seems poised for more, the next few months will tell.”
Freightliner Trucks posted the highest overall total, rising slightly year-over-year to 5,439 units, reversing a year-over-year drop in January.

Freightliner, part of Daimler Trucks North America, held the top spot in market share at 39%. A company spokesman said that DTNA would comment on its sales outlook at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

Peterbilt Motors Co. reported the biggest monthly increase, up 26.6% to 2,073 units. The OEM rose to No. 2 in market share with 14.9%, up from No. 3 in January.

Kenworth Truck Co., which along with Peterbilt is part of Paccar Inc., sold 1,716 trucks in the month, up 19% from a year ago.

Combined, Paccar accounted for 27.2% of heavy-duty market share. That was second among corporate OEMs behind DTNA, which posted a 41.2% market share, including about 300 Western Star units.

Paccar officials with Kenworth and Peterbilt declined to comment last week.

Volvo Group units Volvo Trucks and Mack Trucks posted gains of 16.9% and 14.7%, to 1,480 and 896 trucks, respectively.

Volvo Trucks accounted for 10.6% market share, equaling its January total, and Mack’s slipped sequentially to 6.4%. The two combined for 17% market share, putting Volvo Group third behind DTNA and Paccar.

Volvo and Mack declined to comment on the sales figures last week.