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Tatum Dodd

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)issued a national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide coronavirus, known as COVID-19, outbreak.

 This declaration is the first time FMCSA has issued nation-wide relief and follows President Trump issuing of a national emergency declaration in response to the virus.

“Because of the decisive leadership of President Trump and Secretary Chao, this declaration will help America’s commercial drivers get these critical goods to impacted areas faster and more efficiently,” said FMCSA acting administrator Jim Mullen. “FMCSA is continuing to closely monitor the coronavirus outbreak and stands ready to use its authority to protect the health and safety of the American people.”

FMCSA’s declaration provides for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs for:

  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19
  • Supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, necessary for health care worker, patient and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities
  • Food for emergency restocking of stores
  • Equipment, supplies and persons necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19
  • Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes
  • Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services

To ensure continued safety on the nation’s roadways, the emergency declaration stipulates that once a driver has completed his or her delivery, the driver must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and eight hours if transporting passengers.

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Potential changes to the hours-of-service rules for commercial drivers remain under review, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration official said.

Speaking Feb. 17 at the Omnitracs Outook user conference in Las Vegas, FMCSA’s acting associate administrator for enforcement Joe DeLorenzo called the public comments filed with the agency last year “full and helpful.” He declined to offer any specific timetable other than stating the HOS rule is among the “top priorities” for acting administrator Jim Mullen.

DeLorenzo also noted the public will be aware when a final rule is passed to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. Last August, FMCSA proposed five key changes to the HOS rules, including tweaks to the 30-minute rest break and allowing drivers to have more flexibility in splitting the 10-hour required off-duty time.

DeLorenzo said he believes the agency is on the way to giving commercial drivers some additional flexibility, but called HOS a complicated issue and that in the end everyone could still be “a little unhappy.” He added that could be a signal the agency got rule changes right.

DeLorenzo also offered an upbeat assessment of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, noting that there were more 100,000 data transfers during January. Overall, HOS violations are going down and law enforcement officers are working to catch any new methods drivers could use to try to falsify electronic records.

DeLorenzo suggested most of 2020 will still be about everyone adjusting to full-time use of ELDs - and not older generation automatic onboard recording devices. That includes being prepared for any instances when the device is not functioning as expected. He recommended keeping detailed notes in the event something strange happens to avoid confusion should there be a roadside inspection.

Kerri Wirachowsky, director of roadside inspection programs with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Administration, spoke of the ongoing need for drivers to receive training on the devices. During inspections, time can be saved when drivers understand how to transfer data and are properly logging in and out during the day.

Confusion over whether certain drivers are actually exempted from aspects of the HOS rules is an area of concern for law enforcement as FMCSA considers changes, she added.

While Canadian-based fleets operating in the United States must use an electronic log to track hours, fleets operating only in Canada have until June 2021, when that nation’s ELD mandate is implemented.

Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, noted that country will require ELD makers to have the devices certified by third parties, a step not required in the United States. Millian called it “the right way to do it,” but pointed out it will be several more months before any of the those third parties are in place, condensing the total time available for certification.

During the panel discussion, FMCSA's DeLorenzo also shared his personal thoughts on both the recently implemented drug and alcohol clearinghouse of commercial drivers, as well as the agency’s decision to boost the random testing rate back to 50% from 25%.

He said while these individual agency actions could put a strain on the overall driver pool, they will improve safety. For example, he said one failed test was a school bus driver taking a “return-to-duty” drug test.

On the increased random test requirement, DeLorenzo said he was not surprised the total number of positives rose above 1%, citing the expansion of marijuana legalization to more states and the addition of synthetic opioids to the Department of Transportation’s testing protocol.

Marijuana is legal across all of Canada and Millian said it is important a test for impairment is developed, beyond testing for the presence of the drug. “A failed test [for marijuana] doesn’t mean impairment,” he said.

Millian added there is no currently no legal requirement in Canada to test commercial drivers - something his group is actively working to change.

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The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) International Roadcheck 2020 will take place May 5-7. International Roadcheck is a high-volume, high-visibility three-day enforcement initiative that highlights the importance of commercial motor vehicle safety through roadside inspections. Over that 72-hour period, commercial motor vehicle inspectors in jurisdictions throughout North America will conduct inspections on commercial motor vehicles and drivers.

Each year, International Roadcheck places special emphasis on a category of violations. This year’s focus is on the driver requirements category of a roadside inspection. According to the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) fiscal 2019 data, of the 3.36 million inspections conducted, 944,794 driver violations were discovered, of which 195,545 were out-of-service conditions.

“With last year’s federal electronic logging device (ELD)  full-compliance mandate in the U.S., the Alliance decided that this year’s International Roadcheck would be the perfect opportunity to revisit all aspects of roadside inspection driver requirements,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police.

During International Roadcheck, CVSA-certified inspectors primarily conduct the North American Standard Level 1 Inspection, a 37-step procedure that includes two main inspection categories: an examination of driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness. A third category, hazardous materials/dangerous goods, may also be part of a Level I Inspection. Depending on weather conditions, available resources or other factors, inspectors may opt to conduct the Level II Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection, Level III Driver/Credential/Administrative Inspection or Level V Vehicle-Only Inspection.

An inspector will start each inspection procedure by greeting, interviewing and preparing the driver. The inspector will collect and verify the driver’s documents, identify the motor carrier, examine the driver’s license or commercial driver’s license, check record of duty status and review periodic inspection report(s). If applicable, the inspector will check the Medical Examiner’s Certificate, Skill Performance Evaluation Certificate and the driver’s daily vehicle inspection report. Inspectors will also check drivers for seat belt usage, illness, fatigue, and apparent alcohol and/or drug possession or impairment.

The vehicle inspection includes checking critical vehicle inspection items such as: brake systems, cargo securement, coupling devices, driveline/driveshaft components, driver’s seat (missing), exhaust systems, frames, fuel systems, lighting devices, steering mechanisms, suspensions, tires, van and open-top trailer bodies, wheels, rims and hubs, and windshield wipers. Additional items for buses, motorcoaches, passenger vans or other passenger-carrying vehicles include emergency exits, electrical cables and systems in engine and battery compartments, and temporary and aisle seating.

If no critical vehicle inspection item violations are found during a Level I or Level V Inspection, a CVSA decal will be applied to the vehicle, indicating that the vehicle successfully passed a decal-eligible inspection conducted by a CVSA-certified inspector. However, if a required rear impact guard is inspected during a Level I or Level V Inspection and violations are present, a CVSA decal will not be issued.

If an inspector does identify critical vehicle inspection item violations, he or she may render the vehicle out of service if the condition meets the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria. This means the vehicle cannot be operated until the vehicle violation(s) are corrected. A driver can also be placed out of service for driver credential-related issues or driver conditions, such as fatigue or impairment.

In the past, International Roadcheck usually took place during the first week of June. However, this year, International Roadcheck was moved up by one month, from June to May, when the weather may be more favorable for many jurisdictions.

“Announcing the dates of International Roadcheck has always been a deliberate, thoughtful and purposeful decision by the Alliance,” said Sgt. Samis. “By announcing the dates in advance, we hope to remind motor carriers of the importance of proactive vehicle maintenance and remind drivers to be prepared for inspections and to always conduct pre- and post-trip inspections. We want every vehicle and driver inspected during this initiative to pass inspection with no violations.”

Sgt. Samis added, “We’re aware that some drivers opt to stay off roadways during the three days of International Roadcheck. Although there is certainly an increase in the number of inspections conducted during International Roadcheck, it’s important to remember that inspections are conducted every day of the year. Inspectors will be inspecting commercial motor vehicles the day before International Roadcheck starts, the day after it ends, as well as any other day of the year.”

International Roadcheck is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial motor vehicles in the world, with approximately 17 trucks and buses inspected, on average, every minute in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. during a 72-hour period. Since its inception in 1988, more than 1.6 million roadside inspections have been conducted during International Roadcheck campaigns.

 

Source: American Trucker (www.trucker.com)

 

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While Santa gets a lot of the credit, we know who is doing the real work.  The holiday season is one of the most special times of year, and it would not be possible without the help of our commercial truck drivers.

With Christmas right around the corner, we must remember to give thanks to our truck drivers for keeping our tables full and for all the gifts under the tree.  So, from all of us at Precision Insurance & Financial Services, we’d like to thank you for helping make Christmas the special day it is! Have a great holiday and drive safe!

 Our office will be closed Tuesday, December 24th starting at 12P.M. and Wednesday, December 25th in observance of Christmas. Our regular hours of operation will resume Monday, December 30, 2019.

 


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The Trucking Dilemma

2019 has been a challenging year for truck drivers and their employers.  According to Broughton Capital LLC, a transportation data company, recent reports indicate that close to 650 trucking fleets shut down in the first half of the year, compared with 175 closings during the first six months of 2018.   This ranges from small fleets to even some of the larger fleets in the country.  So, what does this mean for the future of the trucking industry?

CEO of Roadmaster Group, John Wilbur, hates to see companies shut their doors and jobs being lost, just as any of us do.  However, being the straight shooter that he is, Wilbur did not hold back when expressing his thoughts and concerns, and even shed some light on many current issues in the trucking industry.  In a recent interview with Fleet Owner, Wilbur expressed these thoughts and concerns and how the recent closures throughout 2019 will affect the future.

“I need to be careful, but I see it as healthy,” he said. “We just don’t have enough barrier entry to this industry at the general freight level, and there’s too much capacity at times. So I find it’s a cleansing process. I mean, you hate to see anyone go out of business and people lose their jobs. Some companies are in the market when they shouldn’t be, then they tend to mess up, get desperate with pricing, and it messes up the market until they go away. So, it’s just a natural part of the industry cycle and how we get healthy again.”

While these reports have resulted in fear of the industry’s downfall, Wilbur believes these rumblings to be blown out of proportion.

“2019 would feel a lot better if it wasn’t for 2018,” he said. “2018 was such a barn burner of a year for the entire industry, and everybody has short memories. But if you could theoretically remove 2018 and stack 2019 up against 2017, ‘16, ’15 and ’14, it looks pretty good. So I would start from that perspective.”

So, if we start looking at things from a different perspective, what exactly does that mean for the future?

“I look at 2020 as a little bit more of the same pace that we’re seeing here in 2019. I think the good news from a trucking standpoint is that capacity might tighten up a little bit, which then manifests itself in pricing. If you really look at the industry structure, it doesn’t have a lot of barriers to entry.”

With low barrier entries, comes more issues when weaker players get into the market and stay in longer than they should.  And, unfortunately, that is exactly what we are seeing today and may see more of in the future, in terms of weaker players being pushed out of the market. 

“I look at 2020 from the macro view, and say load volume will probably be flat to up a bit, and capacity may tighten a little bit, so you may have some price support.”

With companies entering and dropping out of the market comes job loss.   This brings up an issue regarding what is said to be one of the biggest in the trucking industry: the driver dilemma.  Wilbur has a different view of the driver shortage, being that he doesn’t particularly see one.  He does, however, agree with the idea that drivers must be compensated while they are on the job, regardless of what problems arise while getting routes completed. 

“This industry has always used the mileage pay as a way to shift the risk to the driver,” he noted. “The risk of freight, the risk of weather, the risk of traffic. But that driver’s in the truck in the middle of Kansas ready to work, so why is it on him? Our drivers don’t get penalized for that. It’s been the biggest single thing we’ve done with our company that’s allowed us to grow so fast. “

This brings up an interesting argument that the focus shouldn’t be on the driver shortage, but in fact the driver retention. 

“If you can take that 90% (turnover) down to under 50%, which is where we operate, then it’s a lot easier animal to manage. But you have to question everything you do and take some risks. Because clearly what the industry is doing today isn’t working.”

In closing, it is necessary for all of us in the trucking industry to live in tomorrow.  We must always be thinking one step ahead and in trucking, that might mean a month or even a year into the future.  As the trucking industry moves into 2020, we must be ready to take steps in staying informed and ahead of the game.  And, at Precision Insurance and Finance, it is our goal to do exactly that.  With 2020 quickly approaching, it is our mission to keep our customers informed and safe on the road, so that we can keep this country moving!

 

Source:

Catarevas, Michael. “Roadmaster CEO: Fleet shutdowns ‘cleanse’ the trucking industry.” American            Trucker,  Informa USA, 4 December 2019, www.trucker.com

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is one of the most celebrated American holidays and one of the few times a year friends and family come together to share a meal.   Like many other great things in this country, this holiday would not be possible without the help of our commercial truck drivers. 

It is the truck industry that we have to thank to deliver all the supplies to make that special Thanksgiving meal possible.  According to the National Turkey Federation, approximately 51 million turkeys are eaten over Thanksgiving every year.  While many of us simply go to the store and pick up a turkey, that luxury would not be possible without the 16,600 truckloads that deliver those turkeys across the United States.  And we must not forget about all the goods that must be delivered to ensure we have all the sides to complete our Thanksgiving feast. 

We must remember to give thanks to truck drivers for keeping our tables filled this holiday.  So, from all of us at Precision Insurance & Finance, we’d like to thank you for helping make Thanksgiving the special day it is! Have a great holiday and drive safe!

‚ÄčOur office will be closed Thursday, November 28th and Friday, November 29th in observance of Thanksgiving. Our regular hours of operation will resume Monday, December 2, 2019.


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Honoring All Who Served!

With the start of November comes Veteran’s Day- the one day a year where we celebrate the bravery and sacrifices of all U.S. veterans.  As wars end, life continues on and many of our veterans have found work in the commercial trucking industry.  In fact, 10% of veterans are employed in transportation and material moving occupations. Throughout this month, we would like to recognize these hard-working individuals for their commitment to our country and one the economy’s most important and demanding jobs.   

On behalf of all of us at Precision Insurance and Financial Services, we would like to extend a sincere thank you to America's Veterans, especially those on the road today.  At Precision Insurance and Financial Services, it is our mission to protect and maximize your assets and make your job easier, while you are on the road, just as you have done for us through your service. 

Thank you for your courage, dedication, and hard work.  Because of you, this country keeps moving!

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It is no secret that the roads are more dangerous than ever.  With smart phones and other distractions, the highways have become more accident prone and unfortunately for commercial truck drivers, the public opinion has shifted the blame towards them.  

Earlier this year, Verizon Connect conducted a survey by Wakefield Research in hopes to find an insight onto how the general public views commercial truck drivers.  The survey included 1,000 adults, who were asked a variation of questions regarding road safety.  While only 3% of all severe crashes in the US involve commercial vehicles, the survey found that 83% of drivers of passenger vehicles believed they posed less of a risk than truck drivers.  Unfortunately, that was not the only skewed result found throughout the survey.  Although only 70% of truck involved fatal crashes take place on roads other than the interstate, the majority believed more accidents occurred on interstate highways. 

While these results are subjective, the reasoning behind the misconceptions were said to have been formed by past experiences of the respondents.  So, what does that mean for truck drivers and our safety on the roads?  With these findings, Verizon Connect has incorporated many of these issues within their integrated video system in hopes to help fleet managers improve safety.  The new system features “speed overlay,” allowing fleets to view the speed of the vehicle directly within the video clip.

 

“Smart video monitoring and other emerging artificial intelligence and IoT technologies are helping commercial drivers stay safe on the road and protect themselves in the event of any incident,” aid Kevin Aries, head of global product success at Verizon Connect. (Abt, 2019)

With these new advancements, we will be able to collect new data on commercial truck drivers, creating a safer place on the road for both truck drivers and drivers of passenger vehicles.

  

 

Source:

Abt, N. (2019, October). Survey Shows Public’s Skewed View of Commerical Drivers. Retrieved from https://www.trucker.com

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Happy Labor Day!
Our office will be closed Monday, September 2nd in observance of Labor Day. Our regular hours of operation will resume Tuesday, September 3, 2019.

We would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Labor Day. 

Sincerely,
 

Precision Insurance & Financial Services, Inc.
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Welcome to the Team Reed

Reed F. Gilmore has joined Precision Insurance & Financial Services, Inc as manager and producer of our western region office in Jackson, Wyoming.  Mr. Gilmore, a transportation insurance specialist, brings years of experience in underwriting and managing portfolios of trucking and transportation clients.  He will concentrate his efforts on expanding our growing client portfolio in the western United States and will supervise our premium finance operation.  Reed is a graduate of the University of Mississippi.  He and his wife currently reside in Fort Collins, Colorado. 

 Welcome to the team, Reed!

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