Industry Insights

Making the case for advanced safety systems

January 30, 2017

Safety-conscious fleets understand the role that driver training and ongoing coaching programs play in reducing accident rates and keeping Compliance Safety Accountability scores low. But even the safest drivers for the safest fleets can have accidents. And if a company driver is at fault, the costs could be catastrophic depending on the severity, especially for small to mid-sized operations.

Enter advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). These new technologies developed by suppliers and OEMs rely on a combination of radar- and camera-based components to intercede on the driver’s behalf to eliminate or greatly decrease a collision’s severity.

Employing ADAS in a fleet operation goes beyond accident avoidance. Most products on the market today can integrate with telematics providers, allowing safety managers to monitor driver performance in real time and create scorecards based on exception events such as harsh braking, following distance alerts, lane departure warnings and speeding. Safety managers can target drivers exceeding a threshold for intervention and retraining and can reward high-performing drivers for safe behaviors.

Last year, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Cypress Truck Lines ordered 30 new International ProStars equipped with the Wingman Fusion collision mitigation system and BlindSpotter side object detection system, both from Bendix.

“Safety is the most important thing we do,” says Thad Penland, Cypress’ vice president. “It all starts there. You can’t haul the first load if you’re not safe. It’s a major focus for everyone at the company. Every single decision of any significance is looked at from a safety standpoint first and foremost. In terms of equipment, we believe in active safety devices. They are a big part of our safety program.”

Calculating the return on investment for collision mitigation systems and other ADAS can be difficult since their effectiveness is hard to quantify. Still, says Penland, the technologies available today make his drivers even safer and likely already have saved the company money.

“We’ve already seen incidences where one of the Wingman systems prevented a potential accident, including two that would have been rear-end collisions,” he says.

In the future, these advances in safety technology may become more commonplace, if not outright mandatory. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s June 2015 final rule mandating the use of electronic stability control technology for all Class 7 and 8 tractors with a GVWR greater than 26,000 pounds takes effect in August. NHTSA said the mandate will prevent as many as 1,759 crashes and save 49 lives annually.


CCJ Digital

Claim Spotlight

COLD FIRE: A Dramatic Success Without Dramatization

January 30, 2017

Last December, Dixon Auto Transport driver Mike Wehling was traveling on a rural Texas road when he noticed the flames and smoke in his passenger side mirror.  His passenger side drive tire was on fire.  He pulled off to the shoulder, grabbed his new Cold Fire Tactical extinguisher, and ran around to the side of the truck.  By this point, the tire had exploded and flames were shooting six to seven feet in the air.  Mike could see the steel brake drums glowing cherry red in the overwhelming heat.  He deployed the extinguisher, and, in a matter of seconds, the fire was extinguished.  When the smoke cleared, he could see the heat had melted the aluminum wheels.

Fire losses are among the most devastating losses motor carriers suffer, yet they have always plagued the transportation industry.  Between the equipment and the cargo, the damages may easily range from $200,000 to over $500,000.  Even the best maintenance may not be enough to prevent a fire, as the causes vary widely, such as a defective wheel bearing, worn out wiring insulation, or simply an under-inflated tire.  However the fire starts, it is nearly impossible to extinguish due to the quantity of combustible materials surrounding the fire and the intense heat the fire emits that makes those same materials reignite after the initial flames are put out.

Reignition is one of the most common reasons that turns what may have been a manageable loss into an expensive conflagration.  Most dry chemical fire extinguishers put out fires by driving away the oxygen to smother the flames, but they do not address the retained heat in the object that was burning.  However, new available fire safety products, such as Cold Fire Tactical, will not only put out the flames but will also super cool the heat source and surrounding areas, thus preventing the heat from reigniting the fire.  With the right product, some fire stories like this one end in success instead of disaster, as Dixon Auto Transport discovered.  Dixon had just outfitted its entire fleet with Cold Fire Tactical extinguishers the month before.

A few weeks after the fire, in a phone conversation with Thom Payson, the president of Cold Fire Tactical, Mike explained that he was a volunteer firefighter in his South Georgia hometown and shared his experience with Cold Fire Tactical.  As a trained firefighter, Mike said he knew there was no way a regular dry chemical extinguisher could have even touched that fire, let alone put it out.

Bill Fralic Insurance Services and Cold Fire Tactical congratulate Mike Wehling for his level-headed response and decisive actions that turned a catastrophe into a spectacular success story.

For information on Cold Fire Tactical:

Contact Thom Payson



Industry Insights

Trump orders agencies to freeze new regulations, ELD mandate likely shielded

January 25, 2017

President Trump issued Friday an order to executive agencies directing them to freeze all new regulations pending further review by Trump and his team. It’s unclear, however, whether this rule will affect any coming trucking regulations, especially since the administration’s memo, circulated by Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, allows for regulations related to “health, safety, financial or national security matters” to continue.

A spokesperson for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said the impact of Priebus’ memo on pending regulations by the agency is “being assessed.”

The agency’s most recent report on coming regulations, issued in December, showed no new regulations on its calendar, following a dash at the end of former President Obama’s presidency to publish new rules.

Lane Kidd, director for the Trucking Alliance, said such memos are standard procedures for new presidential administrations. Kidd says barring further action, the rule to mandate electronic logging devices does not fall under the order, as it’s already law and is backed by a Congressional mandate. Also safe are the recently published rules to establish a CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and a rule to set national driver training standards, says Kidd.


Industry Insights

221 cargo theft incidents reported in first quarter

May 23, 2016

The number of cargo thefts in the United States in 2016’s first quarter was up 8 percent, but the average value of the thefts was down 56 percent when compared to the first quarter in 2015, according to FreightWatch International’s quarterly report, released this week.

FreightWatch recorded a total of 221 thefts in the quarter with an average loss value per theft of $112,467. No thefts with a value over $1 million were reported in the quarter, FWI reports.

Of the 221 incidents recorded, 66 occurred in January, 90 in February and 65 in March.

Food and drinks continued to be the most stolen product type in the quarter, accounting for 20 percent of total thefts in the U.S. Home and garden ranked as the second most stolen product type at 14 percent of the total.

FWI saw “a dramatic increase” in the theft of building and industrial products, 263 percent, over the first quarter in 2015, and FWI noted a correlation between geographical surges in stolen building supplies in states where the housing market is growing, most notably Texas.

In 2016’s first quarter, California tallied the most thefts with 21 percent of all recorded thefts, which represented a 42 percent increase over 2015’s first quarter. Texas ranked second with 15 percent of all thefts, followed by Florida with 14 percent. Alabama saw the biggest increase year over year in thefts, seeing a 600 percent increase – 43 percent of which were building and industrial products.

Unsecured parking continues to be the No. 1 location for thefts, accounting for 89 percent, FWI reports. Theft of full truckload also continues to be most prevalent, making up 83 percent of thefts.

CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Carrier wins Colorado case brought by drivers wanting overtime pay, breaks

May 2, 2016

Colorado intrastate truckers who transport out-of-state shipments destined instate are exempted from federal and state wage law, according to a federal appellate court.

On April 21, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district’s court award of summary judgement to the Iowa-based Decker Truck Lines (No. 135 in the CCJ Top 250). This is an order issued when case facts are not in dispute and a ruling can be issued without a trial. The courts considered previous rulings regarding the Motor Carrier Act exemption of the Federal Labor Standards Act.

The for-hire reefer and dry van carrier contracted with a beer company to pick up and deliver at two facilities, located 5 miles apart in Fort Collins. Decker drivers took outbound shipments from the brewery to a warehouse, then backhauled empty kegs, pallets and hops from there to the brewery. Most of the company’s sales are to out-of-state distributors, who receive a payment for each keg and pallet returned.

The drivers say they should have received overtime pay and breaks for the repeating schedule they worked. They drove four 12 hour-and-15-minute days one week, followed by a three-day week with the same schedule.

Last year, a U.S. district court granted Decker’s motion for summary judgment after it agreed the drivers qualified for the MCA exemption. This act exempts overtime pay requirements when the federal Secretary of Transportation has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service.

The judges also considered the kegs, pallets and hops out of state distributors returned that the drivers backhauled from the warehouse to the brewery. Temporary warehouse storage does not alter the fact that these goods were returned across state lines and ultimately destined for brewery, they stated.

The court also disagreed with the drivers’ contention that they would be classified as equipment operators under the Colorado Minimum Wage Order. It affirmed Decker’s argument they are interstate drivers, which exempts them from this order.

CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Truck-related fatalities down, but injury crashes on the rise

May 2, 2016

Earlier this month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Analysis Division released its annual “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts” study examining truck- and bus-related crash statistics for 2014.

The first thing that caught my eye in the 120-page report was the decrease in large trucks involved in fatal crashes. Citing information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, FMCSA said 3,744 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes in 2014, a 5 percent drop from 2013. Even better, the fatality rate in truck-related crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by large trucks declined by 6 percent, from 0.143 to 0.134.

A look at the combination truck crash statistics – which provides a better representation of the Class 8 market – showed similar improvements. Combination trucks (defined as a truck tractor pulling any number of trailers and bobtails) involved in fatal crashes fell from 2,813 in 2013 to 2,717 in 2014. The rate fell from 1.67 to 1.60 on a 100 million VMT basis. There also was a slight decline in the overall fatality numbers, from 2,896 to 2,839.

The 2014 declines in fatality crashes follow a four-year period where such crashes steadily increased by 20 percent. Reversing that trend certainly is worth talking about.

“It is a tragedy whenever there is a fatality on our highways, but the trucking industry is pleased to see that it is a tragedy that fewer and fewer Americans are experiencing,” said Bill Graves, ATA president and CEO. “While the one-year decline being reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is positive, the long-term trend is of paramount importance, and that trend is impressive. The number of crashes involving large trucks has fallen 39 percent since 2004, and while there is much more to do, that is a figure our professional drivers, our safety directors, our technicians and our safety partners in federal and state law enforcement can be proud of.”

But before the industry celebrates too much, the report shows – and as Graves said in his statement – there is much more to do to improve safety. According to FMCSA’s report, large trucks involved in injury crashes rose sharply in 2014, from 73,000 to 88,000. Persons injured in large truck crashes per 100 million VMT rose from 34.6 to 39.8, the highest number since 2006.

The combination truck injury crash numbers aren’t any better: 45,000 combination trucks were involved in injury crashes in 2014, compared to 38,000 in 2013. On a 100 million VMT basis, the rate rose from 22.6 to 26.4.

Large trucks and combination trucks were not alone in the increase. Passenger vehicles involved in injury crashes also rose, from 2.74 million to 2.82 million, as did passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes, from 34,886 to 34,984. Of all vehicle types included in the report, only buses showed a reduction in injury statistics, and it was dramatic: Buses involved in injury crashes fell from 18,000 to 11,000 and from 118.0 to 69.7 on a 100 million VMT basis.

It’s important to note that FMCSA’s report doesn’t measure crash accountability for any of the vehicle groups, and some industry estimates say as much as 80 percent of all truck-involved crashes are not the fault of the truck driver. But there’s no argument that the year-over-year truck-related injury crash statistics aren’t flattering.

However, if you take a step back and look at the data from a historical perspective, it shows a 33 percent decrease in combination trucks involved in injury crashes going back to 1994. The reduction in fatality crash data is even more impressive. Fatalities in combination truck crashes fell from a high of 5,148 in 1979 (before deregulation) to 2,839. And those numbers are something for which we all can be proud.

CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Driver turnover at large fleets surges above 100%

April 29, 2016

Latest figures on driver turnover: The turnover rate at large truckload fleets continued to rise in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to quarterly data released April 25 by the American Trucking Association, who pegged the annualized turnover rate for large truckload fleets at 102 percent in the quarter.

2015’s fourth quarter was the second straight in which turnover at large fleets was at 100-plus, the first time since 2012.

Turnover rate at small truckload carriers also rose, climbing 21 points from the third quarter to 89 percent. ATA sets the cutoff for small and large carriers at $30 million in annual revenue.

Despite the surge in turnover at small truckload fleets, the segment’s turnover rate was still six points lower than the same quarter in 2014, per ATA’s data.

“The rising turnover rate, coupled with anecdotal reports from carriers, shows what a premium there is on experienced, safe drivers,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “And those drivers have and will continue to benefit from rising wages and benefits.”

The turnover rate at less-than-truckload carriers rose one point to 11% in the final quarter, and averaged 11% for all of 2015.

CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Fuel prices rise for second week in a row, remain below $2

March 3, 2016

For the second week in a row, fuel prices climbed slightly, according to the Department of Energy’s weekly report, with prices increasing by six-tenths of a cent during the week ending Feb. 29.  The average price of a gallon of on-highway diesel now stands at $1.989, remaining below $2 a gallon for the third consecutive week.  Prices increased in all regions except New England and the Central Atlantic, where prices dropped by six-tenths of a cent and 1.3 cents, respectively.  The most significant increase came in the Rocky Mountain region, where prices increased by 2 cents.

The nation’s most expensive diesel can be found in California at $2.302 per gallon, followed by the Central Atlantic division at $2.171 per gallon.

The cheapest fuel is in the Gulf Coast region at $1.874 per gallon, followed by the Rocky Mountain region at $1.881 per gallon.

Prices in other regions are as follows:

  • New England – $2.154
  • Lower Atlantic – $1.945
  • Midwest – $1.937
  • West Coast less California – $2.054

ProMiles’ numbers have the average price of a gallon of on-highway diesel at $1.941 per gallon nationwide, matching the DOE’s increase of six-tenths of a cent during the week.

According to ProMiles’ Fuel Surcharge Index, the most expensive diesel can be found in California at $2.246 per gallon, and the cheapest can be found in the Rocky Mountain region at $1.854 per gallon.


CCJ Digital



Industry Insights

Driver coercion rule published, takes effect in January; fines carriers up to $16k for coercion instances

November 30, 2015

The U.S. Department of Transportation published Nov. 30 a Final Rule that sets up new fines for carriers, brokers, shippers and others for pressuring truck drivers to operate outside of federal safety regulations. Such coercive acts generally come in the form of threatening truck drivers with fewer miles, fewer loads or other economic harm.  The rule goes into effect Jan. 30, 60 days from its publication date in the Federal Register. It enacts fines of up to $16,000 for any carrier, broker, shipper, receiver or anyone else in the supply chain who attempts to force drivers to operate their vehicles when it would violate federal rules to do so, such as when a driver is out of hours.

The rule defines coercion as: “A threat by a motor carrier, shipper, receiver or transportation intermediary, or their respective agents…to withhold business, employment or work opportunities from or to take or permit any adverse employment action against a driver in order to induce” the trucker to drive “under conditions which the driver stated would require him or her to violate one more more of” FMCSA regulations. The agency made a slight change to the definition after the public comment process was complete, following concerns about the wording from broker and carrier groups. The $16,000 penalty is also $5,000 higher than the $11,000 proposed last year by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in the proposed version of the rule. The agency cited inflation and concerns of commenters as its reason.

The rule also establishes protocol for drivers to report instances of coercion to FMCSA for a follow-up investigation and minimum criteria for FMCSA to investigate such claims. Drivers must file their complaints with the agency within 90 days of the occurrence of any alleged coercion acts and must provide FMCSA with any evidence they may have, such as messages or recorded phone conversations. The rule is at least in part related to the agency’s coming electronic logging device mandate, though it stands alone in its own right and was required by Congress in its 2012-passed MAP-21 highway bill.

CCJ will have more coverage the rule and what it means for carriers this week.

Read more :

Industry Insights

FMCSA director gives preview of safety fitness rule

March 7, 2015

A spokesperson for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration gave some insights into what motor carriers can expect from the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rule, which the agency expects to publish in June.

Joe DeLorenzo, FMCSA director, Office of Enforcement and Compliance, spoke at the Omnitracs Outlook user conference, Feb. 8-10 in Dallas. Compliance, safety, and accountability is a three-part program. The Safety Measurement System (SMS) and CSA intervention process comprise the first two parts; the SFD rule is the third, he said. SMS is a computerized process that identifies unsafe carriers by mapping violation data from 3.5 million roadside inspections that take place every year to seven assessment categories, called BASICs, and by using Peer Group rankings. (more…)

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