Reactions to ELD Ruling

DRIVER HESITANCY ABOUT ELDs

As we approach the second phase of the three-phase compliance time line, there has been increasing hesitancy and even full-blown refusal from those in the trucking industry. Some of the complaints are reasonable: they are worried about the high costs of the logging systems themselves, as well as the upkeep of the devices draining the resources of smaller companies and ultimately putting them out of business. The ELDs can cost anywhere from $160 to $500 and the upkeep depends on the system. If you want more information about those costs, check out this blog I wrote when the initial ruling was made. Some of the other fears, however, can easily be soothed.

The trucking industry is typically very slow to change, and most major compliance rules are met with a lot of initial push back. One concern that emerged following the ELD mandate that has  snowballed within the last few weeks, is the security of the systems themselves in regard an outside person’s ability to hack into them. There are a number of people that are under the belief that because the ELDs are a computer system that monitors the activity of the engine and the brake system, that a hacker can take control of the system from outside of the vehicle. That is not quite true. ELDs, while they do operate on a computer system, do not automate the vehicle, and do not have the capability of doing so. They are completely safe to use. The FMCSA addressed this issue and many others on their FAQ page. There is no current requirement for the automation of truck-tractors, and it is unlikely that there will be any time soon. The nation, or really the world in general, cannot function without the trucking system as it currently stands, and human skills and reasoning in this area are not things that can easily be replaced by a machine. Truckers do not need to worry about ELDs subjecting them to harm or a violation of their safety. If you would like to learn more about ELDs and the FMCSA’s rule, visit their website, or check out our blog.

Written by: Shayla Powers

Tesla’s Effect on the Industry

Tesla’s Effect on the Industry

Photo credit: Tesla.com

Last week Tesla announced their redesigned heavy-duty, aerodynamic electric semi truck. While there are already some electric trucks on the road, Musk and his brand tend to be a big influence in the world of vehicles. The new design is sleek and more aerodynamic, with covered wheels and a bullet nose. These changes will allow for faster speeds and more efficient fuel use. The most surprising change, however, is the placement of the driver in the cab– right in the middle. Sitting in the center, rather than all the way to one side, gives the driver more visibility and ultimately more control over the vehicle. It also reduces the amount of space from side to side, decreasing the amount of drag for the wind, and increasing the speed of the vehicle. Musk said in his speech that they specifically designed the truck to resemble a bullet, and considering the infamous bullet trains, it was a smart move if speed was what they were aiming for.

Photo credit: Tesla.com

The semis are Class 8 rated, meaning the gross weight of the vehicle is 80,000 pounds. It reaches sixty miles per hour in twenty seconds– that’s about 40 seconds quicker than a diesel. The trucks run on what Musk called megachargers, which are solar powered, and each unit will contain four motors. He did not disclose the capacity of the batteries, nor the horsepower. Fully loaded, the semi can travel around 500 miles at highway speeds. Musk said that the Tesla semis were intended for short-range, regional routes, like port-to-distribution transportation. They do, however, satisfy many of the freight requirements, since the average route is significantly lower than 500 miles. Around eighty percent of the goods transported in the United States moves less than 250 miles. However, he also claimed that a long-haul sleeper cab is being developed.

Photo credit: Tesla.com

The design and the driver placement make sense, economically, but will the slow-changing trucking industry accept these changes, or will there be push back? With the capability of much higher speeds, the issue of safety will surely come up, but Musk says safety won’t be an issue. The vehicles are equipped with the top-of-the-line safety and driver assistance systems, to the extent that they will be able to be fully autonomous when, or if, that is made legal. There is no doubt that Tesla and this new design will make a significant impact on the trucking industry, it has all the potential to be revolutionary. The question is, how long will that change take?

For more info, visit:

https://www.tesla.com/semi/

https://www.trucks.com/2017/11/20/trucking-industry-tesla-truck-disruption/

https://www.trucks.com/2017/11/17/elon-musk-unveils-tesla-electric-semi-truck/

Musk’s presentation:

https://youtu.be/nONx_dgr55I

Written by: Shayla Powers

The Problem of Port Trucking

The Problem of Port Trucking

In a recent investigation, USA Today found that port truckers on the eastern coast have been forced to work under inexcusable conditions. There is a growing, consumer-driven interest in the way that our products are made; whether it be a preference for humane manufacturing, American made, Eco-friendly, etc., most Americans care deeply about the products that they buy. But there is almost no attention to the way that they are transported, even amid an escalating problem with the transportation industry. Drivers work longer hours for less pay, and while there is legislation and rules in place to prevent such exploitation, companies are particularly good at evading them. Port drivers are often trapped into abusive labor contracts and lease-to-own agreements without knowing what they are agreeing to beforehand, whether it be from language barriers or threat of job termination.

The USA Today article stated that the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports in southern California account for 37% of container traffic into the United States and drivers at these two ports are subject to some of the worst conditions. The drivers are overworked and underpaid, and have little to no leverage to improve their situation– the article likened their plight to modern indentured servitude. The lease-to-own contracts leave them in debt and their low wage insures that they are unable to leave the position, even if they wanted to. Due to the high amounts of debt, fees, and fines, many drivers end up losing their rigs anyway.

Trucking companies find any and every loophole available to avoid treating their drivers like human beings. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the government regulates a minimum wage ($7.25) and maximum number of hours per week (40) for employees, but these trucking companies do not classify their drivers as employees, but independent contractors, which allows them to overwork and underpay them. On the rare chance that legal action is taken against them, companies have been known to shut down and reopen under a new name in order to sidestep paying back wages. Additionally, longshoremen unions are jacking up worker’s wages, which drives up consumer prices. All of these problems fall onto the backs of truck drivers, and while there have been some remedies proposed in Congress, we have seen little progress. It is questionable whether or not governmental pressure would even alleviate these problems, since trucking companies have evaded intervention in the past.

The USA Today investigation into this issue makes a persuasive case for a reform in the trucking industry, particularly on the eastern coast. Consumer interest in the products that they buy should not end with manufacturing, and retailers concerned with image should be more vocal as well.

For more information:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/06/20/rigged-system-rips-off-port-truckers-editorials-debates/103015290/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/11/05/protect-port-truckers-exploitation-editorials-debates/811562001/

Written by: Shayla Powers

CDL Regulations Waived for C.R. England

CDL Regulations Waived for C.R. England

The FMCSA is renewing an exemption for one of the largest refrigerated fleets in the United States, C.R. England. The exemption is for a federal rule requiring a CDL holder to be in the front seat of a truck with a student driver at all times. With the rule exemption, commercial learner’s permit holders that have passed the CDL skills test will be allowed to operate in a team with a licensed driver. There still has to be a CDL holder in the truck, just not necessarily in the front seat, which C. R. England says will allow them to operate more efficiently until they get back to their home state and the permit holder can obtain their CDL card. The exemption was first granted to the company in June of 2015, and ran through June of this year. This renewal will last until June 2022.

C.R. England stated in their renewal application that 3,046 drivers had utilized the exemption since it was granted, and their data showed better safety outcomes than non-exempt drivers. The FMCSA reported 11 accidents involving drivers using the exemption, none of which resulted in a fatality. England said that changes to the CDL issuance rules make it more difficult for drivers to physically get to their home state to receive their actual CDL card. They said that while the intentions of the FMCSA were good (reducing fraud), they did not grant states the power to issue temporary CDLs in order to allow drivers to return to their home state with the legal paperwork. The FMCSA has granted similar exemptions to other companies recently, and allowed the public to give their input before they allowed the renewals. The majority of comments against the exemption stated that the permit holders were too inexperienced and were safer with a CDL holder in the front seat. The FMCSA rebutted, saying that drivers that have passed the CDL skills test would already have their license had they been in their home state and therefore have the necessary skills to drive legally.

For more information about the exemption, checkout www.overdriveonline.com or www.truckersnews.com.

Written By: Shayla Powers

Driver Shortages and Pay Gap

Driver Shortages and Pay Gap

In the United States, the average age of truck drivers is 52, a number that increases every year, and efforts to recruit and retain younger employees have been largely unsuccessful. Some think that the shortage in younger drivers is due to a industry-wide bad image and reputation, and other think that it has to do with a combination of long hours and low pay. However, an increasing majority thinks it’s both. Low fuel prices, a steady economy, and consumer demand for online products has skyrocketed the demand for industry, but the wages are not worth the long hours away from home like they used to be. The younger generation is also passing up the trucking industry for jobs that are less physically demanding and less regulated.

Although the millennial generation has overtaken the baby boomers as the largest group in the workforce, the number of 25- 34 year-olds in the trucking industry has dropped by 50 percent.  Issuance of CDLs is up by 10 percent in 38 states, but the retention rate is less than half, with a third leaving in the first 90 days. Licensing fees add up, tickets can be fatal, and for most, the pay just isn’t worth the money that they need to shell out before they can even operate.

This labor shortage is no new complication– the industry has essentially been short of drivers since the 80s, when deregulation caused a jump in the number of trucking companies and therefore the need for drivers. It doesn’t seem likely that this shortage will end anytime soon, either. The American Trucking Association estimates that the industry will need around 890,000 new drivers by 2025 to meet the rising demand for online goods. Along with lower pay, drivers feel an increasing disconnect with their companies, stating that they feel like “throwaways,” although the shortage of drivers suggest otherwise.  So while the solution seems simple (i.e. higher pay) there’s more to the issue than what meets the eye.

Written By: Shayla Powers

For more info, visit:

www.trucks.com

fleetowner.com

www.truckinginfo.com

Crash Preventability Demonstration Program

Crash Preventability Demonstration Program

The FMCSA has unveiled yet another plan to help improve highway and road safety: the Crash Preventability Demonstration Program. This program is designed to assess the preventability of the most common types of motor carrier involved crashes, and is expected to run a minimum of two years, starting August 1, 2017.  If you were involved in a crash on or after June 1st and would like to report it, go to https://dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov.

The program allows motor carriers and drivers to submit Requests for Data Review through a FMCSA system; the data will then be looked over and the crash will be determined either Preventable, Not Preventable, or Undecided. Their preliminary decisions will be posted on the DataQ system and will make enforcers, as well as carriers, aware of the evaluations so that they can provide further documentation if available. For crashes found Not Preventable, the notice will provide the crash report number, DOT number, carrier name, date of the crash, the state the crash occurred in, and the crash type (i.e. infrastructure failure, being struck by a motorist/another carrier, etc.). However, before they issue their final decision, the general public can provide input in cases labeled Not Preventable, which provides insight from people that experience these problems first-hand. The final determinations will be located on the Safety Measurement System (SMS). 

The FMCSA will use the data obtained from this program, along with others, to improve the agency’s ability to identify risks imposed by motor carriers and institute measurements to help combat truck-trailer involved accidents in the future, as well as examine the costs and benefits of further testing. These crash ratings will not retroactively pardon carriers for violations, nor will they impact other systems within the FMCSA. They will be used to reduce the frequency of accidents in the future. The list of eligible crashes can be found here, and a step-by-step video on how to submit a request is available here.

Written by: Shayla Powers

Michigan Speed Limits

Michigan Speed Limits

After months of speed and safety tests, Michigan has begun the process of replacing speed limit signs on over 1,000 miles of highway across the state, following legislation that was passed at the beginning of the year. In January, Michigan passed a series of laws allowing the speed limits to be raised on certain stretches of road, including both freeways and trunk lines. This raised speed limits on a little over 600 miles of road, will give Michigan the highest legal speed limit of any of the Great Lakes states.

When considering these changes, experts looked at crash patterns and frequency, as well as the surrounding terrain. They also polled the people that travel on these stretches of road. These polls showed that drivers in these areas were already driving at these speeds prior to the new legislation, and newer safety regulations for vehicles make the higher speeds just as safe as the lower ones. Because of the newer safety regulations, residents of Michigan should not see an influx of car crashes, which should keep insurance premiums the same.

Michigan uses a split speed limit system that places the maximum speed for truckers lower than those for other motorists, which is meant to factor in the longer amount of time it takes for heavier vehicles to slow down. The new laws raise motorist speeds from 70 to 75, and the speed for trucks over 10,000 pounds from 60 to 65. The minimum speed limit remains at 55 MPH. Along with the new speed limit signs, MDOT will install advisory curve warning signs, shorten passing zones, move signs, and change pavement markings where necessary. Despite the added safety precautions and research, there is still a fair amount of opposition to the raised speeds– among these opposition groups are the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety and AAA Michigan.

If you would like to learn more about these changes, visit http://www.michigan.gov/mdot., or if you would like to see specific areas being affected, visit http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdot/MDOT_ProposedRoutesSpreadsheet_558270_7.pdf.

Written By: Shayla Powers

Electronic Logging Devices

 

Electronic Logging Devices

The newest wave in the trucking industry is Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). These devices synchronize with a truck to automatically record driving times, and are intended to create safer work environments and provide more accurate hours of service. The new ELD rule will be implemented over a four year period and will ultimately replace the old automatic onboard recording devices. This rule is not only for carriers in the United States– Mexico and Canada domiciled drivers will also be required to use ELDs when operating in the U.S. For more information on exemptions and specifications, visit the FMCSA website.

ELDs must be certified, and it will be mandatory to register them with the FMCSA, and in theory, will make it much easier to share and manage driving logs– this also means that it will be much harder to lie on logs. Unfortunately, they can also be a money drain on small businesses; the FMCSA examined a number of ELDs and set a benchmark for what business owners can expect to pay for each vehicle. Annually, the devices (per truck) range from $165 to $183, with the most popular devices running close to $500. The FMCSA predicts that the long-term savings will largely outweigh the initial cost, but for some, that may be too late. The FMCSA estimates total ELD adoption costs to be around $975 million dollars, including driver and inspector training.

Despite high costs, fleet management using ELDs can also be beneficial– the constant monitoring of truck activity can help reduce fuel costs, downtime, and total crashes. The regulation also provides definitive precautions and protocols for harassment, which is defined as “an action by a motor carrier toward one of its drivers that the motor carrier knew, or should have known, would result in the driver violating [a rule],” suggesting once again that one of the main concerns is the safety of drivers.

Checklist for choosing an ELD.

Written by Shayla Powers

Expansion in Shipping and Delivery

Expansion in Shipping and Delivery
By: Shayla Powers

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… a drone? We’ve all heard about them, and some of us may have seen them in action, but what threat, if any, do they pose to the trucking industry? Over the past few years, companies such as

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