This is the TDMST Weekly Round-Up of news affecting professional truck drivers, written by Vicki Simons for the week ending February 15, 2020.
We welcome your comments, thoughts and feedback on the items of your choice below.
1. Regarding trucking companies folding and cash flow:
A number of articles this week focused on the theme of how to identify if a trucking company may be preparing to close, including:
- Here are the 5 Things That Will Stop Cash Flow in a Trucking Business
- How to spot your carrier might be going under
- 7 signs that the trucking company you work for could be closing
Also, here’s an article from a Canadian source about truck drivers having rights after fleet bankruptcies.
A February 11, 2020, article states, “Citing rising insurance costs and the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate, a Nashville, TN-based refrigerated carrier [Howard Baer, Inc.] has called it quits after 69 years.”
This trucking company closure was also reported here.
I feel compelled to ask: Even though autonomous trucks may not have drivers, how will they get by without the insurance hikes?
2. Regarding a possible coronavirus pandemic:
A number of articles published this week address this issue in the USA:
- Prepare your fleet for a pandemic
- U.S. trucking unlikely to take big hit from coronavirus
- Coronavirus may impact inbound freight, not trucker health
- Will coronavirus affect your supply chain?
I recommend that truckers boost their immune systems — and keep them boosted — in order to stay healthy and well.
3. Regarding truck operations:
Ron Zima has been concerned about clean air ever since he “started noticing cars idling in the parking lot of his children’s elementary school in 2006” and “helped reduce idling” in one capacity by 80%.
The article further states that:
- according to the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, Ill. — and not including the cost of engine wear and tear — “[in] the U.S. alone, rest-period truck idling consumes up to 1 billion gallons of fuel annually at a cost of $3 billion”; and
- the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) stated in a report: “By investing in idle-reduction technologies, a fleet can save 1,800 gallons of fuel per truck per year.”
According to a February 10, 2020, article, “The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has established a task force to examine how rising commercial premiums is impacting Canadian companies and consumers.”
One fleet’s customers are receiving a discount for installing dash cameras.
The article says:
90% of customers say Samsara has helped improve safety within their fleet. Plus, more than 50% of dash cam customers have used Samsara footage to exonerate drivers in the past year — saving $5,000 to $25,000 on average, with some customers saving over $100,000 a year.
When I saw the title of this article — How to Speed Up the Shop — I laughed.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are practices within a truck repair shop that can be made more efficient.
Imagine how much happier truckers will be — and how much time they’ll save — when this takes place!
Last week, I mentioned the article How Do DTC Codes Work — DTC meaning Diagnostic Trouble Codes — and this week, this week we learn:
Still confused about “personal conveyance”?
Check out the guidelines with a trailer.
If you haul any load that is higher than a bridge you will be driving over — or a tunnel you will be driving through — check to make sure that your load will fit!
We read from a February 11, 2020, article that an over-height load struck a bridge on I-10 in Houston, Texas, causing the 10-foot barrels to roll in traffic.
Obtain at least one 25-foot metal measuring tape — like the one shown here through our affiliation with Amazon.com — and measure the height of your load before you start moving.
If you have any questions about the route you should take, get help.
Do not risk an accident!
Saving money may be a good thing in some cases, but is a good thing to reduce costs by 75% when it comes to truck driver hazmat training costs?
What are your thoughts?
Please share them below.
4. Regarding distracted driving and illegal activity:
I’ve read about and seen a lot of different kinds of distracted driving in my time, but one trucker in Washington State made a “stunning admission” after he was caught operating his semi-truck at 17 mph over the speed limit.
As it turned out, Trooper Thorson reported that “the suspect produces/records music while driving down the highway”!
This situation was also reported here.
Remember that when you are operating any kind of vehicle — and especially a commercial motor vehicle for pay — that is your primary responsibility.
Do not engage in any activity that will distract you from your primary responsibility to navigate your vehicle safely down the road.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents working at the port of entry in El Paso, Texas, seized a record-breaking “1,543 pounds of liquid methamphetamine” with a street value of “$30 million” that was hidden in a load of cleaning supplies, according to a February 13, 2020, article.
Although this investigation is ongoing, the trucker will most likely be severely punished.
This seizure was also reported here.
5. Regarding cargo theft:
A February 11, 2020, article states: “The Illinois Department of Transportation and the State Police are warning drivers of thieves targeting truckers at [the eastbound and westbound] rest areas [near Minooka] on Interstate 80.”
This situation was also reported here.
Be sure to practice good in-truck home security by
- keeping your doors locked and
- using other legal means of protecting yourself and your possessions.
Cargo theft recording firm SensiGuard reported in their annual report that “The total number of cargo thefts in the U.S. increased in 2019 over the previous year, while the average values of those thefts decreased.”
Furthermore, here are some 2019 statistics from the article:
- full truckload thefts accounted for 54% of thefts;
- 17% of all thefts were electronics, “the most-stolen product type”;
- 44% of all thefts took place in California, Georgia and Texas;
- in this order, the months during which theft took place most often were November, December and October; and
- the “average loss value [was] $118,396”.
Continually review best practices regarding cargo security.
6. Regarding staged truck crashes:
It angers me when people deliberately target any group of people to take advantage of, for their own personal greed.
According to a February 12, 2020, article, “Five people involved in plots to stage crashes with big rigs and then demand multi-million dollar payouts pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges last month.”
The last paragraph of the article implies some things that you may consider doing to protect yourself, your rig, and your trucking job:
Legal experts advise, and many trucking stakeholders are expressing concern, that staged crashes are on the rise as massive jury verdicts in personal injury cases continue to incentivize such unlawful behavior.
While we have a page on our site about truck cams, the most familiar types are:
- either forward-facing (out the windshield)
- or cab-facing (into the cab to record the trucker’s actions).
To protect yourself from situations described in the article in this section, you may consider investing in a system of cameras that record video around all sides of your truck at all times so that you will be cleared when people try to scam you.
7. Regarding tolls:
A number of recent articles about Rhode Island’s tolls include:
- Rhode Island eyes plan to double truck-only toll, which states, “Rhode Island’s truck-only tolling plan (also known as RhodeWorks) has been criticized by trucking industry members and stakeholders for putting an unfair burden on truckers” (also reported here); and
- Rhode Island DOT claims its toll hike is not really a toll hike, in which the RI DOT Director claimed that because 12 gantries are being installed instead of 14, they’re “simply collecting the money they would have gotten at those other gantries anyway”.
A February 13, 2020, article says that “Rhode Island [is] accepting public comments on [the] proposed truck toll hike”, so if you find this unacceptable, please submit your comments.
8. Regarding productivity and trucker retention:
Whereas Howard Baer, Inc. ceased operations in part due to ” older and tired [drivers who] just [wanted] to retire instead of dealing with ELDs”, we read elsewhere that ELDs are pushing drivers to “find ways to remain ‘productive'”.
Do you feel that ELDs have made you more productive?
Please share your comments below.
Would “A sack of groceries [and] a steady salary” make you more likely to stay with a trucking company?
A February 11, 2020, article reports that North Dakota-based Great Plains Transport thinks so.
The article says:
Many truck drivers will tell you that an unexpected setback — like a long detention time, a weather delay, or an emergency repair — is one of the most stress-inducing things that can happen. After all, for most drivers, if the wheels aren’t turning, they aren’t getting paid. And not knowing whether your paycheck will be enough to cover your expenses is a huge source of stress for any driver.
If you drive for any trucking company that pays a weekly salary or guaranteed income, please let us know through the form below how that is working out for you.
9. Regarding owner-operator tips:
A number of articles posted recently may help owner-operators:
- 7 Tips For Buying Your First Truck as an Owner Operator
- Owner Operator Tips For Choosing the Best Make of Truck
- Your Quick Guide to Buying a Semi Truck
- 10 Practical Tips To Simplify the Process of Financing a Semi Truck
- How to Calculate Owner Operator Trucking Cost Per Mile
- What You Need to Know About Being an Independent Trucker
- Am I Too Old To Become an Owner Operator?
- Want to be an owner-op? This driver’s story is a must-watch.
If you are an owner-operator or independent trucker, beware of entering into trucking contracts with “extreme” language that “favors shippers” and tries to “transfer all liability” to another party.
10. Regarding truck-only lanes:
According to a February 12, 2020, article: “The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) says that they are ahead of schedule to open up [a 40-mile stretch of] truck-only interstate lanes [on I-75]”.
11. Regarding “anticipatory” truck crashes:
More and more often, I am seeing videos on CCJ Digital’s “Preventable or not?” series where truck crashes are being ruled as preventable because the truck driver did not “anticipate” the impatient actions of other drivers.
In the video embedded in a February 10, 2020, article, I came to the same “distance” conclusion as the commenter who stated:
based on your video, Doe did not have enough room to move to the right lane, then come back to the left lane to make his turn. Also changing lanes that much in a short distance may have flagged police to see if he was intoxicated. Doe had no way to know the sports car was also going to make a left turn – therefore the responsibility should not have been laid at Doe’s feet.
The two other points that this commenter made are quite valid.
You may wish to consult your trucking company’s Safety Director about scenarios like this, to find out what he/she has to say.
12. 3-Year Anniversary!
On February 11, 2020, I celebrated my 3-year anniversary of writing trucking commentary on this site entitled TDMST Weekly Round-Up.
It’s an honor to serve you!
My husband Mike and I wish you — and all professional truck drivers — safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road.