The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), part of the Department of Transportation, several years ago enacted regulations impacting the number of hours professional truck drivers are allowed to drive without resting. Rest and sleep was chosen as an excellent alternative to bennies, gallons of coffee, cans of Red Bull, and playing Mega Death CDs at full volume in the cab. These Hours of Service (HOS) rules became law in 2011. In 2015, FMCSA adopted legislation requiring that by the end of 2017, all commercial truck drivers have an electronic logging device (ELD) installed on their trucks. These are intended to replace the handwritten logs drivers had to fill out. The ELDs are actually connected to the truck’s engine, reporting time of use.
An Expensive Gamble!
Violating HOS regulations is risky and expensive. It’s estimated that over $32,000 in HOS violation fines are levied every hour. That means that in less than five months in 2017, over $107,435,000 in fines have been charged to drivers and carriers. That’s money that’s basically given away. Individual fines can run form $1,000 to over $120,000. It’s a safe bet that a $120,000 fine comes with a shutdown and loss of license. The handwritten logs have to be turned on at regular intervals. Falsifying these also carries huge penalties.
Some viewed the announcement of the ELD requirement quite skeptically. They felt that this was “Big Brother” sticking his nose in the drivers’ and carriers’ business. Having to report your activities to an electronic device was akin to having to wear an ankle bracelet while under house arrest. Because of the device’s initial cost, many saw it as a needless profit-sucking government regulation. Still others feared that their driving habits were being directly transmitted to local law enforcement. Only a minuscule 0.0002% felt that the ELD could read their minds and steal their souls.
Actually, drivers are finding that ELDs are making them money. It allows them more time on the road. Handwritten logs required rounding time up to the next 15-minute increment. ELDs do it to the minute. The devices have built in audio alarms that warn the driver when they are approaching HOS limits. The devices do not transmit information to law enforcement agencies. Additionally, roadside inspections go much faster. HOS compliance can be determined at a glance. DOT audits of the carrier go faster too.
ELDs can also make money for the driver, in addition to avoiding crippling fines, by monitoring the driver’s driving habits; speeding, hard braking, excessive idling. With all drivers using an ELD, all drivers operate on a level playing field. Their time can be maximized, instead of letting them sit idle at a dock. A huge discovery was that ELDs did not punish small fleets or owner operators by lowering their utilization. Price volatility was a non-issue.
The implementation of ELD use levels the playing field for everyone by helping drivers maximize their truck’s performance, and by helping with HOS compliance. Both traditional and non-asset transportation companies are realizing that using real-time data and maximizing drivers’ time are defining the future of the industry. This type of innovation increases profits and facilitates more use of freight factoring companies such as Steelhead Factoring. With HOS fines going down, cash flow is improved.
How Skilled Are You!
“This here’s the Rubber Duck.” In 1975, some forty-two years ago, the song “Convoy” hit the airwaves and became a number one hit song. It told the story of some “outlaw” truckers who tore up their “swindle sheets” dumping them on the scales as they bypassed weigh stations, and roared through state police and National Guard roadblocks at 98MPH! All this done while they talked to each other on their CB radios.
A lot has changed since then. Today’s long haul driver is a professional businessman, or businesswoman. Highway safety is a very important part of this professionalism. It was this emphasis on highway safety that lead to the creation of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. The CVSA is an association of North American governmental jurisdictions dedicated to enforcement of uniform safety inspections. Founded in 1980, the CVSA covers the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Every year they conduct an international enforcement event, inspecting commercial motor vehicles and their drivers. Each year, there is an emphasis on a different category of violation.
CVSA’s 2017 International Roadcheck Enforcement Event will take place over three days in June; 6/6 to 6/8. This year’s event will place special emphasis on cargo safety. Nothing is quite as thrilling as driving down an Interstate and seeing a flatbed load of train car axles break loose and come flying toward you at 80 MPH.
Inspectors will be primarily conducting the 37-step North American Level I Inspection, checking both the driver and the vehicle. This is the most thorough roadside inspection CVSA gives. This year, there will be special attention paid to cargo safety.
Drivers will be required to show their drivers licenses, shipping documentation, hours of service documentation, and registration. Inspectors will also be checking for the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. The vehicle itself, and its many operating systems, goes through a rigorous inspection. International Roadcheck is the world’s largest targeted enforcement program on commercial motor vehicles. Every minute during the Roadcheck Event, 17 trucks or busses are inspected across North America. Since this program began in 1987, over 1.5 million roadside inspections have been conducted.
If the vehicle successfully passes the CVSA inspection, the inspector will affix a CVSA decal on the windshield. Vehicles displaying the decal are generally not subject to re-inspection for three months.
In addition to the Annual International Roadcheck Enforcement Events, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, through its trained governmental inspectors, conducts an additional 4 million inspections. These are based on procedures and criteria created by CVSA, known as the North American Standard Inspection Program. The CVSA is administered by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada, and Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transportation. This group ensures that vehicle and driver safety criteria are uniform throughout North America.
New technologies and levels of training have enhanced the professionalism of the trucking industry. The CVSA works on keeping everyone safe. The days of “a Jimmy haulin’ hogs,” and “callin’ all trucks” to “go a-huntin’ bear” are gone.
When you absolutely have to make sure you make the delivery on time…
Spring season is just around the corner and owner operator truck drivers across the country know this is the peak season for produce shipping. The ripple-effect of the season affects almost every sector in the industry, even those not directly related to produce shipping. Status Transportation became one the best trucking companies for owner operators by recognizing and seizing opportunities like these for its owner operators.
Load rates during produce season
During produce season it might be more difficult for shippers to find trucks readily available to haul non-perishable goods therefore creating a short-term truck shortage. Most truckers are running loads from farms to wholesalers or food manufacturing companies. As a result of this shortage, there is a rise in load rates across the board including loads not related to produce shipping. This is one of the seasons when independent truckers can have the highest paying owner operator jobs.
Preparing for the season
First of all, as a rule of thumb to be prepared for any season, you should make sure your truck is in tip-top condition by staying on top of your truck and trailer maintenance. Produce is a time-sensitive commodity that requires you to make sure you will be able to deliver on schedule. That being said, make sure to take care of any mechanical issues in order to avoid any unexpected mechanical breakdowns. Take some time to address any major repairs or maintenance so you can run confidently knowing your rig will be reliable when accepting one of these time-sensitive loads.
Vented dry vans
Drivers leasing to owner operator trucking companies don’t necessarily require to have a reefer trailer to transport produce. Vented vans allow for air to flow freely, enabling truckers to run loads that otherwise would require a reefer trailer. In fact, there are many goods that are transported in vented vans like corn, watermelons, pumpkins, potatoes, onions and nursery stock.
Adjust your running strategy
Increase your owner operator revenue by adjusting your running strategy accordingly. Communicate with your dispatcher ahead of time and plan a running strategy that will put you in the best position to run seasonal loads. Many owner operators tend to prefer one region of operation and stick to it based on the number of tolls, traffic or how close it is from home. In order to monetize from the spring season, it is important to adjust your region of operation.
According to a recent report by the United States Department of Agriculture, the top ten city destinations are:
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Chicago, Illinois
- Dallas, Texas
- Los Angeles, California
- Miami, Florida
- New York, New York
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Seattle, Washington.
Status Transportation reviews dispatching strategies on a continuous basis adjusting its game plan with the purpose of helping drivers to increase their revenue. The trucking industry is a fast moving environment in which you need to make quick decisions, so be open to new regions of operation, trust your dispatcher and move depending on what goods are trending and pretty soon you’ll see an increase in your owner operator pay.
Written by Erik Chavez (Status Transportation)
Here at Steelhead Finance, we take pride in the quality of services to our clients as well as our ability to create an enjoyable environment for our team. That’s exactly what we are… a team. We work together to effectively solve problems and create new opportunity in order to grow the businesses we work with every day. With this standard, it’s clear why our own employees have voted for us in the Oregon Business Magazine – 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon for the second year in a row. Not only that, but we ranked seventh for 2017!
As a trucking factoring company established in 1981, the Steelhead team members seem to really appreciate our ability to collectively work hard to give top-notch customer service. We recognize how much our clients rely on what we do for them. We are reminded each day that the littlest thing can go a long way. While we definitely hunker down to meet regular deadlines, train to become better at what we do, and maintain necessary communications, we also strive to incorporate an element of fun that creates the right balance of Steelhead Finance culture.
Among many other in-office competitions, the team had a great time competing in a HORSE basketball tournament with prizes up for grabs this last year. Even better, the CEO was leading the charge in tracking the bracket and scheduling! We had regular barbeque sessions throughout the year with top-tier bratwursts, chicken, and all the sides. When you mix in the other regular lunches provided you can tell the company really cares about the employees when it comes to the little things that make a big difference with a staff.
In an era where many small and medium-size businesses are downsizing the benefits packages, the owners of Steelhead Finance have decided to retain a very competitive array of benefits. This consists of one of the best medical programs in Southern Oregon, dental, vision, 401k with matching, 50% off gym membership, and automotive discounts.
We appreciate our many trucking clients, our vendors, and the factoring company crew that makes it all possible… each member of Steelhead. They aim to do more than punch in and out for paycheck. With our mission and values, we believe in achieving something more to better ourselves and the people we work with everyday… inside and outside our building walls.
Cheers to another amazing year!
There has been a lot of buzz regarding the introduction of Electronic Log Devices (ELD) rule. From recent studies, it has been identified that most of the drivers have mixed emotions when it comes to the usage of electronic logs when compared to paper logs. In other words, some drivers prefer electronic logs whereas others prefer to stick to the paper logs. People who are used to paper logs find it a challenging task to move to paper logs as well.
What is the Electronic Log Device, or ELD?
The simplest of explanations, ELD is the solution that enables drivers in the transportation industry easily track the hours of service to maintain HOS compliance. All CDL drivers will be required to use an ELD by December 2017 in order to maintain records in order to stay in compliance with the Hours of Service rule.
What does the Electronic Log Device need to do?
There are specific technical qualifications that each added device must feature:
- It must connect to the engine of the truck to ensure it records when the truck is in motion
- The driver must be able to log in and select On-duty, or On-duty Not Driving – must be automatically selected based on the movement of the truck
- The device must be able to display a Record of Duty Status to ensure the driver can easily see hours in a day
- Provide data that can be sent out to law enforcement
- Ensure the device meets the appropriate stipulation
Using an ELD to save time
The most prominent benefit associated with electronic logs is the ability to pre-plan all the trips in advance. This will assist the truck drivers to stay away from frustration and make their lives easy. On average, a truck driver fills out 240 RODS in a given year. An ELD can potentially reduce the amount of time drivers take to log their Hours of Service by up to 19 hours per year.
It can also help them to save a considerable amount of money throughout the entire journey. As a result, it would financially benefit the trucking company in the long run. This helps debunk the common misconception that the incorporation of ELDs will increase the likelihood of owner/operators out of business due to the perceived cost to get things in order. After making the switch to the ELDs, you won’t be required to round up to the nearest 15 minutes, but instead to the nearest minute resulting in more accurate miles logged.
What can I expect to pay to incorporate an ELD?
Years ago many fleets paid upwards of $2,500 per device. Today, technology and performance has only gotten better and more affordable. As hardware costs have decreased the prices for the common ELD have dropped significantly. FMCSA estimates that the cost of an ELD will be $495 per truck on an average annual basis.
Am I being watched?
Many assume that the information will be transmitted to law enforcement and/or DOT automatically. The truth is an ELD is simply replacing the paper logbook. No data is being transmitted to trigger any violations. There are also privacy provisions in place to give the drivers more peace of mind. When it comes down to it, the DOT will not be playing big brother to monitor your every move. It will allow a faster roadside inspection and maintain a higher level of accuracy.
Will my smartphone work as an ELD?
A smartphone or tablet by itself will not suffice to meet ELD requirements. In order to meet compliance, the device must be certified and synchronized with the vehicle’s engine.