Industry Insights

Driver pay has surged so far in 2018, NTI reports, with gains expected to continue

June 15, 2018

Per-mile company driver pay in the first quarter of 2018 surged compared to the same quarter a year ago, according to data from the National Transportation Institute, with some fleets, mostly midsize to large carriers, pressing driver pay ahead by a range of 7 to 11 cents a mile compared to 2017’s first three months.

“That’s a staggering amount,” says NTI President Gordon Klemp, who’s tracked driver pay changes since 1994. “These are very aggressive moves.”

Klemp said 6.25 percent of fleets tracked by NTI instituted pay boosts in the 7- to 11-cent range. Another 43.75 percent of fleets surveyed by Klemp boosted driver pay in the 4- to 6-cent range, also historically strong gains, said Klemp. The remaining 50 percent of carriers in Klemp’s data set raised pay by 1 to 3 cents a mile.

The wage increases were part of industry-wide efforts to retain and recruit drivers, says Klemp. NTI saw almost no increase from the year prior in 2017’s first quarter, he said. Pay moves didn’t begin until last spring and summer, and this cycle of driver wage hikes was shorter than most, says Klemp.

Fleets are now at the tailend of about an 8-month cycle of pay increases, he says. In that time, nearly all of the fleets he’s studied — 81 percent — have raised company driver pay. “That’s also very high,” he says. “It tells us this pay cycle is going to end pretty quickly. There aren’t many fleets left who haven’t moved. We’re going to continue to see that last roughly 20 make their moves [soon], and I expect another round of pay moves to kick off sometime this fall.”

Broken out by segment, refrigerated haulers saw the biggest per-mile pay gains, 3.3 cents a mile. Flatbed driver pay climbed 3 cents a mile, and per-mile van pay climbed an average of 2.7 cents.

Sign-on bonus rates also surged in the first quarter, according to NTI data. Sign-on bonuses for van drivers grew to a $7,000 average, NTI reports — a big jump from 2017’s first-quarter $1,500 average. Sign-on bonuses for reefer drivers grew to $3,000 on average, up from 2017’s first-quarter average of $1,000. Flatbed bonuses moved to a $6,000 average, up from $1,500.

Klemp says data for the first two months of the second quarter (April and May) show continued acceleration in driver pay, with pay announcements from December and January beginning to kick in.


CCJ Digital

Claim Spotlight

Preventable or not? Driver’s U-turn goes awry

June 15, 2018

John Doe was eastbound on a four-lane turnpike near Greensboro, N.C. It was 10 p.m., the sky was heavily overcast, and the turnpike was as dark as the inside of his diesel’s crankcase. In preparation for making a U-turn at the intersection with Grits Road, which was dead ahead, Doe moved into the left lane, actuated his left-side flashers and started to brake.

By the time Doe had stopped at the intersection, the traffic signal in his lane was red. That gave Doe time to extract a celery stalk from his survival rations, adjust the bass on his satellite radio and glance at the adjacent lane via his right-side West Coast and convex mirrors, which at that time revealed nothing.

Seconds later, while the traffic light still was red, Tommy “The Duke” Gripley became weary of staring at the rear of Doe’s trailer and began maneuvering his dark blue 1957 “Heavy Chevy” – 327 with multiple Holley carbs, column-mounted Sun tach and four-on-the-floor Hurst – into the right lane, next to Doe’s saddle tank. When the light turned green, Doe quickly started to turn, his rig extending into the right lane to complete the maneuver when … Sproing! Oh no! His trailer’s ICC bar had encountered the Chevy’s left front fender!

Because Doe contested the preventable-accident warning letter from his safety director, the accident was turned over to the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee. NSC upheld the preventable ruling, concluding that – despite Doe’s claim that the Heavy Chevy had materialized from thin air – Doe had not checked his mirrors adequately. Also, attempting a wide U-turn at a dark intersection on a high-speed road wasn’t exactly a safety-award-winning idea, either.

CCJ Digital 

Industry Insights

Convoy announces nationwide rollout, new driver-friendly features in app

March 27, 2018

After barely two years, app-based freight matching service Convoy on Tuesday announced it has expanded its network nationwide.

Convoy has grown its footprint from the Peugeot Sound-area, to the Pacific Northwest, to west of Rockies and is now offering loads coast-to-coast with more than 100,000 trucks and drivers on the network.

To coincide with the expansion of the network, Convoy is adding three new features to its platform, each aimed at pairing carriers to shippers while also adding layers of convenience for drivers.

A Suggested Reload option shows carriers loads that will be immediately available after dropping off an initial load. When a carrier searches for jobs in the app, Convoy suggests recommended reloads near their drop off location that can be booked instantly, allowing carriers to plan ahead and avoid driving an empty truck. 

Kristen Forecki, Convoy’s vice president of carrier engagement and expansion, says this feature was designed to allow carriers to fill backhauls, or to pick up other loads along their way to other drop-points.

A Request a Load feature lets drivers post their availability, along with a preferred city of origin and destination and pickup and drop-off times.

The Convoy platform will notify carriers when a load matching their parameters has been found. Carriers can also set the post to recur automatically if they regularly have availability at a given time and day.

“If you always know on Thursdays you’ll be looking for a particular back haul, you can set a recurring [post] up for that,” Forecki says.

For drivers trapped at the dock waiting for their shipper, Convoy is rolling out Automated Detention. Payable on the first minute of the third hour at a shipper’s facility, drivers can simply request detention pay through the press of a button within the Convoy app.

“When drivers have to wait at a facility, we want them to know they are going to be paid for that time,” Forecki says.

Convoy’s geo-fencing technology verifies that the driver arrived at the facility on time. The shipper has two hours to get the truck loaded and back underway. At the beginning of the third hour, Forecki says Convoy pays a $40 per hour detention rate regardless if shipper reimburses them.

“Drivers feel today like they have to fight for detention and we just wanted to eliminate that completely,” she says.

Not only do shippers pay detention when they have wait times at their facilities, but Convoy says their average price to book a truck goes up. For example, Convoy’s data suggests that facilities with an average of six hours wait time pay up to 30 percent more to book a truck than a facility with an average of 2 hours wait time.

Convoy also announced a partnership with Goodyear in which active carriers receive an up to 30 percent discount on tires.

Roadside assistance is also offered, free of charge, to carriers hauling a load booked through the Convoy platform.


CCJ Digital

Claim Spotlight

Mitigating Theft

January 26, 2018


  • Over the year and a half, there has been a severe rash of high end automobile cargo thefts in the Atlanta area.
  • More than 10 cargo theft claims have been filed for losses occurring within the 285 Perimeter around Atlanta.
  • The majority of the thefts are concentrated in the southwest suburbs around the airport (Union City, College Park, East Point, etc.).
  • Car thieves are targeting high-end dealerships, such as Audi, BMW, Infiniti, and Porsche.
  • Here is how these losses typically occur:
    • As the driver unloads the units, he or she stages them in a different area, leaving the keys inside the unlocked cargo unit.
    • After the first one, two, or three are unloaded, another vehicle with a driver and several passengers pulls up to the staged cars.
    • The passengers get out of the vehicle, get into the unlocked cargo vehicles, and all the vehicles drive away.
  • I know of only one instance when the thief was apprehended; the stolen units are rarely recovered.

Drivers should use extra care when delivering to the above-mentioned areas.  These losses can be easily prevented by the drivers removing the keys from the staged cargo units and only providing the keys to the consignee at the time the delivery receipt is signed.  Until the delivery receipt is signed and the liability transfers to the consignee, drivers should keep the keys on their persons at all times.


Car thieves know that keys are often left inside the cargo units, making the auto hauling industry especially susceptible to theft losses.  If we change our practices as an industry, we can help shrink the imaginary target car thieves see when they look at an automobile hauler.


Claim Spotlight

Predictive analytics, part 2: an escape route from accidents

August 10, 2017

Motor carriers use a variety of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications to monitor driving behaviors. Most of these technologies are designed to alert management if drivers exceed safe thresholds for speed, acceleration/deceleration rates, g-forces and other vehicle operation and sensor data.

Many can also score driver behaviors and create risk profiles. To get picture-perfect visibility of behaviors and metrics that accurately predict accidents, a growing number of fleets are using video-based driver risk management systems.

With forward and inward-facing event recorders, the systems capture risk factors due to weather, driver distractions, short following distances, traffic violations and other bad habits that cannot be detected by sensors alone.

Some technology providers offer managed services where their analysts will review video clips of critical events to capture such risks. Additionally, some have devised powerful algorithms to correlate driving behaviors with collision risks.

The algorithms translate a complex set of driving behaviors into easy-to-use scores and drill-down reports to manage risk.

The SmartDrive video-based safety system has a scoring algorithm that combines recent observations of risky behaviors with the predictive value of these observations. Its algorithm normalizes individual driver scores for risk exposure based on hours or miles driving.

The SmartDrive Safety Score identifies specific skills and behaviors that individual drivers need to improve on to reduce collision risk. Fleets use these scores alongside video clips to coach drivers and change behaviors.

Postal Fleet Services, a major mail hauler that primarily contracts with the United States Postal Service, was not using any technology to monitor driving behaviors before it deployed SmartDrive.

“We did it old school,” says Jeremy Collins, director of business and safety development. The St. Augustine, Fla.-based carrier was assessing risk by looking at MVRs, employment history, logbook records and road tests, among other manual practices.

As a result, management was “reactive” to information that came in from CSA inspections, citizen complaints and accidents, he says.

The company piloted the SmartDrive system and within a few weeks saw its SmartDrive Safety Score decrease by 85 percent. The company has since deployed the technology in its fleet of 700 trucks, he says.

The system gives Postal Fleet Service visibility of risky driving behaviors like texting, not using seat belts and many kinds of distraction. Collins specifically remembers an instance where the system discovered a driver had a bad habit of drifting to the left.

“It was a small behavior that he was not aware of,” Collins says. “That is the level of detail we can get to.”

Risky combinations

As fleets adapt new safety technologies on the path towards autonomous vehicles, some risky driver behaviors will go away but others may emerge.

On a monthly basis, Lytx, which provides the video-based DriveCam safety system, analyzes the correlations its algorithms find for behaviors and risk to see if “anything has significantly changed,” says Michael Phillippi, vice president of software development and operations.

Lytx’s algorithms assign point values to risky behaviors from analysis of a database of more than 70 billion driving miles. The Lytx score increases as drivers accumulate risks the system identifies from driving events that trigger video capture.

The risks include observed behaviors and scored combinations of behaviors. An example of a behavior combination is a driver being distracted by a handheld cellphone while having less than two seconds of following distance. This combination would have more risk than the sum of the individual behaviors. In other words: 1+1=3.

Lytx says its algorithms move past causal relationships of risk, such as drowsy driving, and identify correlative behaviors that multiply the risk. Not wearing a seat belt is an example of a correlative behavior. Its data show that an unbelted driver is 3.4 times more likely to get into a collision than an average driver.

The overall goal for the Lytx score, Phillippi says, is to provide fleets and drivers with easy-to-use information that makes coaching events as effective as possible.

On the fast lane to an accident

According to the theory called Heinrich’s Pyramid, for every 300 acts of risky behavior there are 29 acts that lead to a minor incident or scary near-miss, and one act that leads to a serious injury or fatality.

The risks are much higher for driving, according to analysis by Lytx. By analyzing over 50 billion miles of driving data, Lytx found that for every 190 acts of risky behavior there are 6 minor injury and/or property damage collisions and one fatality accident.

Taking a closer look at the Lytx data from DriveCam-captured events, about 50 of the 190 acts of risky behavior are drivers not wearing seatbelts, or being distracted by hands-free/handheld cellphone use, or food and drink in the cab.

Combinations of behaviors are even more serious. Lytx data reveals the riskiest combination of behaviors as:

  • Not looking far enough ahead combined + insufficient following distance
  • Not looking far enough ahead + handheld cell phone
  • Not scanning intersection + entering intersection with a stale yellow light
  • Cell phone use (hands-free or held) + poor lane-keeping

Making real-time predictions

Omnitracs offers seven predictive models that tailor to different types of fleets and industry challenges. For larger carriers, the company builds custom models that use any data the customer is willing to share — safety, operations, finance, demographic data and more.

For smaller carriers, Omnitracs offers two predictive models that both use hours-of-service data for different purposes. One detects turnover risk and the other accident risk. By using hours-of-service data, the predictive models have a standardized data set for analysis.

Ram Renganathan, senior data modeler for Omnitracs, says the company is working on projects that will be able to make real-time predictions, and deliver predictions to managers and to drivers. He notes the company has already invested in the infrastructure necessary to handle big data and real-time analytics.

As an example of what is possible, imagine a driver getting a message that recommends pulling over to take a nap when a system detects a high accident risk due to fatigue.

Omnitracs is looking for opportunities to create such real-time predictive models. As one step in this process, its Critical Event Video product could be updated with algorithms that identify traffic signs and objects. This would make it possible to capture drivers’ reaction to speed limits and stop lights as well as monitor their following distances, he says.


CCJ Digital


Claim Spotlight

Preventable or not: Merging four-wheeler mauls truck’s fender

August 9, 2017

Shortly before the accident, tractor-trailer driver John Doe was listening with disbelief to a Channel 19 account of a luckless New Jersey carrier being fined thousands of dollars by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration because forklift operators weren’t wearing seatbelts. Huh? Are these enforcement guys nuts? The last time Doe had heard of a forklift flipping was back in 1968 during a wild New Year’s Eve barrel race between a Clark and a Hyster!

At the moment, Doe was moseying along at 55 mph in the far-left lane of three-lane one-way Muttonbutt Road, approaching the intersection with Route 4. The light ahead had just turned green, and Doe’s lane was devoid of traffic. Cautiously decelerating to 35 mph before entering the intersection – where vehicles in the center and right lanes had started to move – Doe suddenly noticed a dull-green Mercury Cougar in the middle lane whose left-turn signal was flashing.

Whoa! Suspecting that the Cougar intended to leap across his bow onto Route 4, Doe hit the brakes, sounded his horn and swerved to the left. But alas, the Cougar’s elderly driver, Matty Munchley, was sure she could squeak past the nasty ol’ truck, and … WHUMPPO! Oh no! Doe had been struck, with his right front fender sustaining a spontaneous structural reconfiguration. Munchley was OK, albeit mighty miffed.

Since Doe contested the warning letter from his safety director for a preventable accident, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee was asked to resolve the controversy. NSC quickly ruled in Doe’s favor, concluding that there was nothing more he could have done to avoid being pounced upon by the Cougar.


CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Indicators: Trucking adds a few jobs in July, report indicates contract rates still weak

August 9, 2017

Trucking added 400 jobs in July: Total employment in the for-hire trucking industrygrew by 400 jobs in July, according to the latest employment report issued by the Department of Labor.

July’s gains come after three months of declines in industry employment. However, due to strong gains in February and March, trucking industry employment is still up compared to 2016. July’s total, 1.4706 million, was 22,000 jobs greater than the same month last year.

The U.S. economy as a whole added 209,000 jobs in the month, pushing the country’s unemployment rate to 4.3 percent.

The construction industry in July added 6,000 jobs. Manufacturing grew by 16,000 jobs.

Shippers Conditions reflect weak contract pricing:Market conditions in May for shippers, as measured by the monthly Shippers Conditions Index from FTR, reflects “moderately favorable truck freight growth and continued weak contract pricing,” FTR reported this week. Spot market rates for truckload segments have been climbing most of the year, but such pricing increases have yet come to fruition in the contract market.

FTR predicts the industry capacity to tighten over the next year, which would “alter the landscape,” FTR notes, likely to put upward pressure on rates. We are back at the status quo, with moderate growth in both the overall economy and truck freight,” says FTR COO Jonathan Starks. “Contract pricing remains relatively favorable for shippers. It is only in the spot market, which continues to show strong results on both demand and rates, that we see the signs of changing conditions. We continue to expect implementation of ELDs, coupled with moderate increases in freight, to make for a more fraught environment for shippers.”

CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Revolutionizing Uptime: Navistar’s OnCommand™ Connection helps fleets operate more efficiently

August 9, 2017

OnCommand™ Connection is part of the OnCommand™ family of fleet management services from Navistar and is the first open architecture system that works with all telematics systems. Navistar’s connected services specialists answer your questions about how OnCommand Connection works for your fleet. Linda Negel is the senior manager for business strategy in Navistar’s Connected Services and holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science with a specialty in heterogeneous database technology. Andrew Dondlinger is vice president, general manager of Navistar’s Connected Services business and is a 28-year veteran of the technology and automotive industries, including IBM and PriceWaterhouse Coopers. He has been with Navistar for 12 years.

Q: How does Navistar’s OnCommand Connection work with a fleet made up of multiple makes and models?

A: OnCommand Connection (OCC) uses a unique, open architecture diagnostics platform that leverages the SAE J1939 communication standard used by all OEMs. This allows OCC to support remote diagnostics for all makes and models of heavy-duty trucks and buses. To date, over 250,000 vehicles are registered in OCC, 60 percent of which are vehicles from other OEMs.

Q: What kind of maintenance information do your customers find most valuable?

A: The most valuable data comes from our Fault Code Action Plans (FCAPs), which are available only in OCC. FCAPs not only give customers information about what is happening with their vehicles in simple English, but they also provide questions to review with the driver to determine whether they have a fault or a problem. Once we know we have a problem, the FCAP also speeds access to diagnostic and repair information to get the truck back in operation faster.

Q: How do predictive maintenance alerts work?

A: OCC can be customized to send alerts when certain conditions occur. For example, a fleet manager can set an alert for a specified time, date and frequency whenever a low fluid condition occurs.

Q: Describe some interesting patterns that have emerged from studying customer data.

A: We applied a machine learning technique to group vehicles based on their actual usage data. We looked for any unusual patterns between the groups. It quickly picked up a fleet that was beginning to have a high rate of failure on a component. We were able to work with them to replace it proactively and save them from unscheduled downtime. We also noticed an increase in our Class 8 long haul vehicles traveling off road in the fall in the Midwest. Turns out they were driving out into farmers’ fields to pick up corn to deliver to processing locations.

Q: How can OnCommand Connection help a fleet manager take the guesswork out of managing their fleet?

A: Let’s consider the example of a fleet manager who schedules a report in OCC reporting that a low coolant condition occurs. The driver may have added coolant and made the diagnostic trouble code go inactive. The manager has been notified of the condition and can decide that a repair is needed before any progressive damage can occur.

Q: How do you monitor the health of the vehicle in real time?

A: The electronic components on a vehicle are constantly sending information to the communication network or “CAN bus”. This information includes status and health information about the vehicle as well as Diagnostic Trouble Codes – messages about potential issues. TSP’s collect this information as it is generated and send it to OCC. Customers can see this information in the OCC portal as soon as it is sent.

Q: Describe how an action plan works?

A: Fault Code Action Plans (FCAPs) are unique to OCC. While the data from TSPs tell what the condition of a vehicle is, FCAPs tell the “why” and the “how”. They even provide a list of questions to ask the driver so a fleet manager can fully understand what issues are occurring and what needs to be done to get the vehicle back on the soon as possible.

Q: How do the mapping and alerts tools add to a fleet’s bottom line?

A: Alerts tell the fleet manager about potential issues immediately – before they become catastrophes. Mapping tells the manager where the vehicle is when immediate attention is needed, and where the nearest service facility is. Our customers have reported up to an 80 percent reduction in roadside breakdowns and more than 30 percent reduction in maintenance costs as a result of using OCC.

Q: Will there be an ELD offering?

A: Yes. Our ELD product is currently in development and will be available in 2017. It will leverage our OnCommand Link device, which provides 2-way communication with the vehicle communication network.


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Claim Spotlight

Preventable or not? Hard braking for deer spells trouble

August 9, 2017

Much to his relief, the palletized load of drums for Pooka’s Pool Supply was John Doe’s last scheduled delivery for the day. After backing his trailer to the loading dock, supervising the unloading process and completing the usual exchange of paperwork, he hurried over to the employee vending area to buy some heavy-duty coffee.

Returning to his rig, Doe saw forklift operator Morty Furndock returning a 55-gallon drum to the trailer. It appeared that the drum was destined for Pooka’s second store on the other side of town. So Doe found some rope and secured the drum to a section of rub rail by the rear door. The rest of the trailer now was empty.

A few minutes later, Doe was cruising down the freeway at 55 mph in the wake of another truck. Suddenly, the trucker in front panic-stopped to avoid a deer, so Doe also hit the brakes hard, causing the drum to break free, slide down the length of the metal-floored trailer and smash into the header, damaging it severely. Since Doe contested the warning letter for a preventable accident from his safety director, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee was asked to make a final ruling.

NSC quickly ruled in Doe’s favor because he had been traveling at a safe speed for conditions, had been following the truck at a safe distance, had made a totally-controlled stop and presumably could not have anticipated the heavy rope he had acquired from Pooka’s Pool Supply was faulty and, therefore, insufficient to restrain the drum during rapid deceleration.


CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Report classifies nearly 56,000 U.S. bridges ‘structurally deficient’

February 20, 2017

Approximately 1,900 bridges along the United States’ interstate system are deemed structurally deficient, a fraction of the nearly 56,000 bridges with the same designation, according to a report released by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

The organization’s analysis of U.S. Department of Transportation data on bridges in 2016 found that the country’s 55,710 structurally deficient bridges are crossed more than 185 million times each day. The number of bridges in the report is down a half percent from 2015.

The average age of the nearly 56,000 structurally deficient bridges, according to ARTBA, is 67 years old, compared to just 39 years old for non-deficient bridges. Additionally, 41 percent of all bridges in the U.S. are at least 40 years old and have had no major reconstruction work done to them.

“America’s highway network is woefully underperforming. It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization,” says ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black. “State and local transportation departments haven’t been provided the resources to keep pace with the nation’s bridge needs.”

Looking at the bridge data state-by-state, ARTBA found that Iowa, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Ohio and New York have the most structurally deficient bridges. Washington, D.C., Nevada, Delaware, Hawaii and Utah have the least, the report states.

ARTBA says at least 15 percent of the bridges in eight states – Rhode Island, Iowa, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, West Virginia, Nebraska, North Dakota and Oklahoma – are also structurally deficient.

During regular inspections of bridge decks and support structures, bridges are rated on a scale of zero to nine, with nine being “excellent” condition, ARTBA says. A bridge is classified as structurally deficient and in need of repair if it scores a four or below.


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