Showing posts from tagged with: trucking blog

How to Improve Your CSA Score in 5 Steps

Posted December 6, 2018 by Administrator

All Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores are available to the public, which has a direct effect on how much business a trucking company can accrue. Customers prefer companies with better scores, plain and simple. However, having a good CSA score also means fewer roadside inspections and interventions.

While CSA scores may be a significant source of frustration for fleets and owner-operators, they do serve an important purpose. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) developed the initiative with the goal to improve roadway safety for drivers, passengers, and the motoring public at large. When a fleet or independent driver falls below acceptable standards, they run the risk of fines and interventions. Fleets that want to avoid interventions and keep their hard-earned cash should adhere to the following:

  1. Make changes starting at the top. Company leadership needs to show they are serious about improving CSA scores if they want their employees to follow suit. Taping flyers up around the office won’t cut it, either. Fleet managers need to foster a culture of safety by holding regular discussions and imbuing everything they do with safety in mind.
  2. Get employees onboard. Once management makes safety a personal priority, they need to help employees do the same. While most drivers are aware of the importance of CSA scores, they aren’t always so sure of the nuances. If they don’t understand what’s expected of them or just how serious safety violations are, they won’t be able to comply.
  3. Understand the top violations. FMCSA assigns a score to every CSA violation, meaning some are worse than others are. For example, failing to carry a valid medical certificate is a one-point violation whereas problems with lights carry a six-point penalty. Tire-related violations carry an even heavier penalty at eight points per violation. Avoiding these top point-heavy violations goes a long way toward keeping CSA scores low.
  4. Update safety procedures. Trucking companies can take a hard look at their CSA score to determine how they accumulate most of their violations. From there, they can update company policy to include those areas in drivers’ pre-trip inspections. Making pre-trip inspections mandatory is also necessary to prevent avoidable violations.
  5. Challenge citations. FMCSA doesn’t write CSA violations in stone. Carriers have two years to challenge citations. If they can get a citation dismissed, FMCSA removes the points from their CSA score. Even getting a violation’s severity reduced is worth the effort because it will mean fewer points toward the overall CSA score.

Improving CSA scores is vital to keeping a trucking company in business. Poor scores mean fewer customers, heavier fines, and more frequent interventions by the Department of Transportation (DOT). However, better CSA scores also mean improved safety, which is a top priority for any fleet. To learn more about improving your fleet’s safety, email us at safetrucking@clinewood.com.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

3 Technologies That Will Define the Future of Trucking

Posted October 16, 2018 by Administrator

For the past several years, the IAA Commercial Vehicles shows have circled around the themes of electrify, automate, and connect. Now, the trucking community is getting a glimpse into what those elements will mean for the industry’s future.

Electric Trucks

In previous years, the shows placed a premium on connectivity over electrification, but they’ve since swapped their focus. This is unsurprising given the rise of Nikola and Tesla electric vehicles as well as the positive public perception for electric transportation. As urbanization continues to spread across the country, the transportation industry has to address problems such as congestion, air quality, and more. Trucks made for an easy target; going electric means no emissions, less noise, and an easier path to creating autonomous processes to reduce traffic problems.

Automation Before Autonomous

The IAA made it a point to stress the preference for automation over fully autonomous vehicles. This is in large part because there is no reliable timetable for when autonomous vehicles will be ready for deliveries in every situation trucking can present (i.e. weather, terrain, human drivers, etc.). However, automating functions for safety and productivity are well underway. Some existing examples of automation already in use include automated emergency braking and systems that adjust trucks to keep them in their lanes.

Understanding Connectivity

Connectivity used to be at the forefront of the IAA, but its descent to the bottom of the list is unsurprising. Connectivity is already flourishing in the trucking industry after years of advancements. In fact, the progression of connectivity is what paved the way for innovations in electrification and automation. Telematics represented one of the biggest breakthroughs in connectivity and now drivers can interface with their vehicles and the vehicles around them for predictive maintenance, platooning, etc.

The presentations and displays at the past few IAA shows paint a clear picture of the future of trucking. Trucking companies need to embrace the message of electrify, automate, and connect if they want to remain relevant. To stay up to date with the latest trucking innovations and how they will affect your trucking business, contact the experts at Cline Wood.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

How Will Technology Affect the Future of Freight?

Posted September 18, 2018 by Administrator

For the last half-century, truck drivers and carriers booked their oversize loads through traditional methods such as by phone, fax, or email. However, recent data suggests this is poised to change. While three-quarters of individuals have had positive experiences with traditional brokers, almost as many (73%) would like it if they never had to use one again. What this indicates is the system works, but it doesn’t work as well as drivers and carriers would prefer. Seeing an opening for opportunity, innovators jumped onto the scene.

Understanding the Proliferation of the Online Freight Marketplace

When people began booking their freight online, 77% indicated the experience was superior to traditional brokers. This is unsurprising as booking their trips online netted 61% of them more money. Of those who have not yet tried booking freight online, 81% indicated they would like to try it. When asked why they dislike traditional brokers, carriers gave the following responses:

  • 53% of drivers indicated traditional brokers were missing information or provided wrong information about the freight
  • 50% of drivers reported poor communication with traditional brokers
  • 40% of drivers received their payments late from traditional brokers
  • 29% never received payment at all from traditional brokers
  • 28% received unfair compensation from traditional brokers for their work

When asked what features they liked and required of the online marketplace, carriers indicated the following:

  • 28% of carriers indicated fast pay and no factoring fees was most important
  • 25% specified better information about freight
  • 20% prefer the online marketplace’s pricing transparency

Another benefit of the online marketplace is carriers don’t have to spend as much time locating their next load. They also often receive a higher rate of pay per mile. One of the biggest examples of the online freight marketplace is Uber Freight. Launched over a year ago, Uber Freight helps match carriers to shippers much like the traditional ride service matches riders with drivers. Uber Freight allows drivers and carriers to apply filters for location, drive distance, and more to identify loads that meet their needs.

With the shifting trucking landscape, it can be difficult for trucking companies to keep up with new technology. If your trucking business is struggling to adapt to new industry changes, Cline Wood can help. Contact us to learn more about running your business as effectively as possible.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

Improving Driver HOS Compliance

Posted August 27, 2018 by Administrator

Proponents of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate champion the device as an enforcer of existing rules. While detractors balked at the technology, advocates argued the devices didn’t change the hours of service (HOS) regulations. They contended that so long as drivers were complying with the HOS rules, the device wouldn’t change their day-to-day driving. However, therein lies the problem.

The 14-hour rule says a driver’s clock starts when he or she gets behind the wheel. The clock is a measure of duty time, not driving time, which is where most of the problems begin for truck drivers. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created the HOS regulations with the intent to improve safety, drivers are saying the rules are creating the opposite scenario. ELDs don’t allow for any wiggle room, and drivers are now feeling much more pressure to deliver in a certain time frame. While drivers may be complying with HOS regulations, many contend they are engaging in unsafe driving practices to do so.

For example, drivers who don’t make their destination one day may begin their next day at midnight after a few hours of sleep. Another issue is drivers can’t put a pause on the ELD if they are tired. Even if drivers begin to feel drowsy, they feel compelled to continue driving until their 14-hour allowable on-duty time expires for the day rather than stopping for a rest and picking back up again later that day. This can result in several hours of drivers operating a CMV while tired. Other serious safety concerns include:

  • Drivers rushing through work zones to beat the clock
  • Serious instances of road rage during traffic backups
  • Limited parking while the HOS clock ticks down on an ELD

Compounding this problem are unnecessary wait times. Drivers have long complained about loading and unloading times at shipping and receiving facilities. Now, that time spent sitting counts against their on-duty hours, and drivers are taking umbrage. Opponents argue drivers should charge retention rates for long shipping and receiving wait times, but it’s not always that simple. Many drivers encounter shippers and receivers that refuse to pay retention fees and then switch to a different driver or fleet.

To make matters clear, drivers do not have a problem with ELDs; they have a problem with the existing HOS regulations. Before ELDs, drivers could find a way to fudge their hours. Now, they have no such recourse since ELDs are tamper-proof. Drivers believe trucking associations and FMCSA can resolve most of their problems by addressing the following key areas:

  • Reducing wait times at shipping and receiving facilities
  • Improving parking so drivers aren’t rushing against the clock to find a safe place to rest
  • Amending the HOS regulations

The final point above will require more than proposed changes and rule-making. Truck drivers contend that FMCSA doesn’t understand their industry, and makes regulations about a job they don’t comprehend. Drivers urge lawmakers to get behind the wheel with them for a week to see how HOS regulations are having the opposite intended effect. Truck drivers believe that only by experiencing the job can regulators make smart and effective rulings. To learn more about trucking safety, contact the experts at Cline Wood.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

The Importance of a Driver Employee Referral Program for Trucking Companies

Posted August 13, 2018 by Administrator

In light of the current truck driver shortage, many trucking companies are raising pay as well as using a mix of recruitment strategies to attract new driver candidates. One of the most effective recruitment policy is an employee referral program.

The retention rate of employees that are referred by an existing employee will stay with your company an average of 2.7 years, compared to 1.5 years for candidates that were recruited from job boards. Employee referrals result in the most qualified applicants at a 1 to 10 ratio; applicants recruited through another avenues average 1 to 18.

Some of the most successful trucking companies have employee referral programs. There are several advantages to hiring an applicant that has been referred by a current employee.

  • In general, the time required to interview and check references for a new hire that has been referred by an employee is less – 20 days on average for a referral as opposed to 39 days for someone hired via a job board
  • New hires know at least one person in the company, giving them someone to turn to for guidance and support
  • When an employee refers someone to the company, it helps to retain both the existing employee and the new one

If your company is not using this valuable recruitment strategy, it is a good idea to consider instituting an employee referral program. Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you design a new program or fine tune an existing one.

  1. Who can participate?

Who will be eligible to participate in your employee referral program? Is it limited to drivers, or will you include managers, interns, temps or other staff members?

  1. How will the program work?
  • Will you give a different amount to different types of applicants (i.e. experienced drivers, recent grads, less experienced drivers, students, etc.)?
  • Will you offer a one-time bonus or offer incentives for various milestones, such as the new hire completing their first load or remaining active for 90 days, etc?
  • Will you offer to earn mileage pay for each mile your referred driver covers?
  • Make sure you specify reward amounts and payout timeframe and structure.
  1. How will you track the program?

Set up an applicant tracking system that includes a referral source field (type of referral = employee) and the name of the referrer. Collect any other pertinent information, such as the date of the referral. You can use a simple tracking form such as Google Docs or an Excel spreadsheet to track the information.

  1. How will you market the program?

Consider using the following marketing tactics to get the word out about your employee referral program:

  • Launch party to build excitement
  • Pre and post launch communications in company email, newsletter or other communications systems you are currently using
  • Consider using a SMS texting service to continue to reach out to your existing driver-base
  • Make sure your hiring managers and recruiters understand the program completely and the value it brings the company
  • Don’t forget to let new hires know about the program as they can be a valuable source of new applicants.
  • Hold fun driver referral contests that give drivers an exciting reason to recommend new applicants. The rewards/prizes should be interesting and relevant to drivers. Keep the contest fun and engaging and recognize participants throughout the entire campaign.
  1. Are you using employee referral program best practices?
  • Keep the rules of the program simple and easy to understand. If it’s too complicated, people will be discouraged from wanting to participate.
  • Use an interactive system that makes it easy and personalized for employees, such as setting up a cloud-based referral system.
  • Make sure you follow through on the rewards of the program as promised.
  • Don’t be stingy with rewards – your employees are helping your company and should be rewarded accordingly.
  • Contact the referrers and thank them personally. People really appreciate the recognition and are more likely to refer in the future.

Employee referrals are a powerful source of finding potential drivers. When they have an incentive to make the effort to make a recommendation, your company will benefit with more leads, new hires and better retention rates.

Cline Wood Insurance offers customized insurance, risk products and services that will improve your bottom line. You can depend on Cline Wood to offer solutions tailored to your needs. To learn more about how Cline Wood can help your trucking company, click here.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

Propel Your Trucking Fleet Into the Future with IoT Technology

Posted April 10, 2018 by Administrator

The trucking industry drives the economy, literally.

Trucking fleets carry more than 70 percent of the freight that is transported throughout the U.S. Since so much cargo is being transported by tractor trailers, it is critical that trucking companies manage their fleets with as much efficiency as possible by keeping their expenses low and productivity high. Today, many trucking fleets are achieving this through the power of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Businesses in a wide range of industries are eagerly adopting IoT technology, and the trucking industry is no exception. Experts predict that 80 billion IoT devices will be online by 2025. All of these devices will be generating a great quantity of data – perhaps as much as 180 zettabytes. Companies are leveraging this wealth of data to improve customer service, increase productivity, reduce operating costs and automate processes.

In addition to these advantages, trucking companies that want to upgrade their fleets with IoT can further leverage the technology to increase safety and provide greater product and asset visibility.

Here are some innovative ways trucking fleets are using the IoT.

  1. IoT sensors

Sensors that are attached to rigs are able to collect valuable data about the vehicle. This data can then be used to gain useful insights to track, monitor, analyze and maintain all assets in real-time, wherever they are in the network.

  1. Sensor data and condition monitoring

Sensors collect and transmit key data to a central location, enabling fleets to monitor the condition of their trucks. For example, if the tire pressure on a vehicle gets low, an alert can be sent to the driver or maintenance shop so the tire can be properly inflated before there is a blow-out on the freeway.

  1. Data analysis

IoT and sensor data is useful for more than identifying maintenance issues. Data can be used to track patterns and needed areas for improvement. For example, if a certain brand or type of battery is dying too quickly, a report can detect the issue quicker than in the past.

  1. New business processes

IoT can help your company optimize your day-to-day operations. The types of logistics optimizations that could be impacted include:

  • Enhancing delivery strategies
  • Cutting travel costs
  • Reducing emissions
  • Routing optimization
  • Reduce tolls and fees
  • Fuel conservation.

Do You Know All of the Hours of Service Rules?

Posted April 3, 2018 by Administrator

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces several rules regarding how many hours a commercial driver may operate his or her vehicle as well as how many hours he or she can be on duty before taking a break. FMCSA drafted these hours of service (HOS) regulations to reduce drowsy driving and the related accidents. Commercial drivers need to be aware of these rules to avoid fines and out-of-service orders.

Commercial Drivers Carrying Property

There are different rules depending on the type of cargo a driver is transporting. Drivers delivering property must adhere to the following:

  • 11-hour driving limit. Drivers can drive up to 11 hours provided they had 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time prior.
  • 14-hour limit. Drivers may not operate their vehicle after being on duty for 14 hours. The 14-hour rule only applies after the driver completes 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time.
  • Rest breaks. Drivers must allow up to eight hours after they came off duty or rested in a sleeper berth for a minimum of 30 minutes before driving again. Short haul exemptions and mandatory in attendance time exempt certain drivers from this rule.
  • 60/70-hour limit. After being on duty for 60/70 hours in 7/8 consecutive days, drivers must take 34 hours or more of consecutive time off duty. The 7/8 day period resets after the driver completes the 34-hour restart.
  • Sleeper berth provision. Drivers who opt to use the sleeper berth provision must take at minimum eight sequential hours in the sleeper berth as well as a separate two sequential hours in the sleeper berth, off duty, or some combination of the two.

Commercial Drivers Carrying Passengers

Commercial drivers that transport living passengers have slightly different rules. While the 60/70 hour limit and sleeper berth provision are the same, there are notable differences such as there is no regulation for rest breaks. Other variances include:

  • 10-hour driving limit. Drivers can drive up to 10 hours provided they had eight consecutive hours of off-duty time prior.
  • 15-hour limit. Drivers may not operate their vehicle after being on duty for 15 hours. The 15-hour rule only applies after the driver completes eight consecutive hours of off-duty time.

Failing to comply with HOS rules can land drivers in hot water. FMCSA may subject them to fines or place them out of service entirely depending on the severity and frequency of the violation(s). These are just some of the numerous safety regulations commercial drivers need to know. As a transportation insurance expert, Cline Wood can help drivers and fleets identify areas of risk as well as implement solutions to mitigate them. To learn more, contact us today.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

How Will New Tax Reform Laws Impact Fleet Truck Drivers?

Posted March 19, 2018 by Administrator

The new tax laws that were passed in December 2017 include good news and bad news for trucking drivers, but mostly good news for independent owner-operators. While nothing changes for the tax year 2017, starting in 2018 company drivers will no longer be able to itemize their expenses. This law will dramatically change the number of itemizations a driver is entitled to deduct, especially per diem expenses, which traditionally has reduced drivers’ taxable income and put more refund money into their pocket.

In the past, drivers were able to deduct per diem and other expenses, such as:

  • Mobile phone and service
  • Work boots
  • Gloves
  • Bed linens for the sleeper
  • Other necessities required for on-the-road travel that was not provided by their company.

These itemizations disappear under the new tax law. However, don’t panic! The standard deduction that everyone is entitled to has almost doubled to $12,000, which should help offset the impact of the loss of the expense deductions, but it doesn’t offset all of it.
Luckily enough, there is a workaround.

Fleets will still be able to deduct the per diem that the company pays drivers as part of their wage. If a driver is paid per diem, a percentage of the cost will be per diem wage that is not taxed. Under the old laws, per diem paid to the driver by the company was almost always added back in because it needed to be reported to the IRS as income. Since this could be itemized by the driver, it made sense to claim this as income. But under the new law, per diem reimbursement pay can be written off by the company as part of their corporate expense. Everybody wins if the company chooses to operate this way.

Independent owner-operators and small fleet owners will still be able to itemize per diem deductions. They will also receive a 20 percent tax break, which will save them even more money. As long as trucking companies raise the amount of reimbursement per diem paid to drivers as wages, everyone will come out ahead under the new tax reform laws.

Regardless of the type of trucking company you operate, it is imperative that you seek out the services of a reputable tax preparer that is knowledgeable about the trucking industry. And, by the same token, it is vital that you seek out a reputable insurance carrier that understands the trucking industry. Click here to learn more about how the experts at Cline Wood can help you manage your risk.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

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