Simple Ways Your Trucking Company Can Be More Eco-Friendly

During the course of operating your trucking company, you might have wondered if there are steps you can take to be more environmentally friendly, no matter how minor those steps might be. You’ll be pleased to know that there are actions that support eco-friendly trucking companies. Find out how you can do your part to preserve Mother Earth without going to great lengths, or great expense.

Careful Route Planning

Simply taking out time to plan your route and have any other drivers you have plan their routes go a long way in saving resources as well as money. Traffic jams, construction and poor weather conditions can all increase your traveling time and the emissions churning out into the environment.

Slow Down

Pay close attention to the posted speed limit. Slowing down just five miles makes a big difference in the emissions your trucks are putting out. Going back to the tip touched on above, by meticulously planning out your route, there’s less chance of you needing to rush to make it to your destination on time. Additionally, get into the habit of looking both far and near while driving so you can slowly start slowing down when you see a field of brake lights coming up.

Recognize Opportunities to Turn Your Truck Off

When the opportunity presents itself, turn your truck off rather than leaving it on and burning gas (as well as money). Whenever you’re at a truck stop, take advantage of electrification systems or auxiliary units so you can keep the temperature in your truck comfortable without using your own diesel (and money).

Take Good Care of Your Truck

Properly maintaining your truck and its equipment are essential to allowing it to operate at peak efficiency, saving money and doing your part to preserve the environment. Just like you would with a regular automobile, you want to keep up with fluid levels, proper tire pressure and adhere to a routine maintenance schedule as recommended by the truck manufacturer. Taking proper care of your truck is not only great for the environment, but goes a long way in avoiding breakdowns and similar issues later on down the road, which saves money, time and frustration.

No matter how great of a job you do when it comes to taking exemplary care of your truck, it’s not going to last forever. If your current truck is older than seven years, not only is it likely to have poor emissions control, it might be time to think about retiring that truck.

Upgrade Your Equipment

With the money you save on maintenance and diesel, you can look into adding aerodynamic panels to your truck. What they do is help boost your overall fuel efficiency, and you’re sure to love how they make your truck look. There are also exhaust control devices, engine upgrade kits and engine repowers, some of which make for great options for older truck models.

Don’t Forget the Office

You can take your eco-friendly practices outside your truck and inside your base of operations. Specifically, consider starting a recycling program with designated bins. Taking steps to ensure lights are turned off in rooms that aren’t in use and doing the same with computers and equipment saves money as well as electricity. Having meetings devoted to enacting new eco-friendly practices with your drivers and staff helps ensure everyone is aware of what they can do to go green.

Intelligent Logistics

While planning routes and deliveries, bear in mind where different loads are going. If two or more are headed for the same endpoint, do yourself (and the Earth) a favor and think about combining them. Doing so saves time while maximizing efficiency.

Stay Informed of Current Regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have taken steps to create regulations specific to the trucking industry in response to global warming. It’s best that you know what’s going on with both regulatory bodies so you know what to expect down the line and to better ensure you don’t fall behind on the latest requirements. Keeping your finger on the pulse of the latest requirements and developments gives you plenty of time to make all necessary changes, which is better than scurrying and playing catch-up before a deadline that’s right around the corner.

Look Into Alternative Fuels

There are alternative fuels you might want to consider if you’re concerned about the impact diesel has on the environment. Specifically, you can choose between propane, electricity, CNG and hydrogen. Do your research to see which you feel is a good fit for you, your company and your budget. Additionally, there might be special credits or write-offs you can take advantage of by switching to an alternative fuel, which can offset any investment you have to make to change fuel types.

Having a more eco-friendly trucking company doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money. Put these suggestions into action and see how they work for you and Mother Nature.

 

The ELD Deadline Has Passed: Now What?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration put into effect a new mandate for truck drivers regarding how they log their hours. The ELD mandate went into effect on April 1, 2018 and requires all drivers to now use an electronic logging device to track and record their hours of service. These devices are installed into the vehicles and automatically record driving times. If a driver is found to not have an ELD and not be using one to log hours of service, the driver will fail an inspection and not be able to drive.

What Happens When a Truck Is Not ELD Compliant?

The rules under the mandate indicate that on and after April 1, 2018, all drivers must use an ELD. If a driver is not using one, he or she cannot drive and must be placed out of service. They will not be required to stop driving at an inspection point, though. They can continue to their destination, but cannot drive after that. The driver cannot drive again until after a ten hour period even if he or she becomes compliant within that time. Drivers may face fines if they are not compliant with the law.

How To Ensure Compliance

Drivers and carriers must take ELD requirements seriously to avoid penalties. To ensure compliance, drivers need to choose a device from the list of FMCSA-approved ELDs. It is also important for drivers to remember that not all electronic recording devices are created equal, and therefore, not all are approved. The devices that will comply with FMCSA regulations all draw information from the engine automatically. Also, as part of the mandate, a driver must have with him or her in the truck the user manual, ELD malfunction sheet and data transfer instructions.

Once they have a device, truck drivers need to learn how to use it. Having it is not enough to be completely compliant. It is important that a driver knows how to transfer the information on the ELD because this must be done during inspections. In addition, every driver must know how to log out.

Dealing With Common Issues

Since ELDs are being used to monitor service hours and ensure drivers are staying within the limits and operating legally, it is imperative to ensure the information on the device is accurate. However, there have already been some common issues that are causing problems for truck drivers.

As with any electronic device, an ELD can malfunction. This was taken into consideration when the law was implemented. If their devices malfunction, drivers are allowed to use a paper log system for up to eight days while the ELD is repaired. The eight day period can be extended but a request must be made. Extensions are typically granted if the device is not accurately recording hours due to an internal issue, but decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

ELDs have an edit feature that every truck driver needs to know how to use. Edits may be required in many different situations to fix issues with recorded hours that were not actually drive hours. Only a driver should edit information in the ELD because the driver is the one ultimately responsible for the information. Edits made by others have to be approved through the system before they are recorded. If a driver does not okay an edit, it will not be recorded.

The device keeps a record of both edited and unedited versions of the logs, so any mistakes can be fixed and edits cannot be used to get around the hours of service laws.

Another common issue is hours when the driver is not the one behind the wheel yet they are recorded as drive hours. The best way to avoid this issue is to assign a maintenance log in for anyone else who will drive the truck. For example, if the truck requires maintenance, then whenever the truck is driven by maintenance personnel, they need to use the maintenance log in. That way, the hours are going under something and not being left for the driver to have to worry about.

While the new ELD rule can be great for many reasons, such as reducing paperwork, some may find it frustrating. However, being compliant with the FMCSA’s ELD requirements is mandatory. Drivers are the ones who ultimately hold the responsibility to ensure compliance. They need to be aware of the rules and know how to use the device properly or they could face penalties.

Tools Every Truck Driver Needs On the Road

In their quest to make their deliveries and keep clients happy, truck drivers have to make sure they bring everything they need to keep their operation, truck and health going strong while out on the open road. There’s a lot that can go into a truck driver’s toolkit, but knowing the most important items goes a long way in saving room, time and potentially even money along with the trucking company’s reputation.

High-Quality Sunglasses

New truck drivers might not realize how being exposed to abundant sunlight for long period of time can have a negative effect on their driving abilities. Sunglasses are essential tools for truck drivers, mainly because they keep them from getting headaches, becoming tired and straining their eyes, which can lead to more problems later on. Because shades are likely to break or become lost, it’s a good idea to buy more than one pair at a time for quick and easy access in case the current pair becomes damaged while out on the road.

Flashlight

The exact opposite of sunlight, darkness can also prove problematic for drivers. A good flashlight helps drivers see better at night, inspect their trucks while stopped after the sun goes down and feel safe. Drivers will have several different flashlights to choose from, including shake flashlights. In any case, it’s best to have plenty of batteries available.

Backup Smartphone

While everyone has a smartphone, it’s especially important that truck drivers have backup smartphones with them as part of their must-have truck tools. It’s also worth considering having a phone devoted specifically for trucking. Trucking phones should have high-definition cameras to take images of or scan important documents, and apps designed to improve productivity as well as find great prices on fuel. Some truckers might prefer to keep their personal lives separate from their professional lives, and having two different phones can go a long way in achieving this goal.

Utility Knife

Utility and pocket knives are great for a number of uses both on and off the road. Twine can be cut from a haul, and drivers can also use the blade of a knife to take tire tread depth measurements.

GPS Navigation

This one might seem obvious, but it’s important to point out here that any GPS navigation devices truckers buy to add to their truck driver tools should be made specifically for OTR truck drivers rather than passenger automobiles. It’s also best to opt for devices with high-quality maps that are upgraded on a constant basis to account for things like construction, traffic jams, road closures and the like.

Work Gloves

There’s more to truck driving than just sitting behind the wheel; it can also be quite physically demanding work. For that reason, drivers should have a good pair of work gloves with them at all times. Cowboy gloves are a good option for protecting the hands and making work easier.

Mallet & Hammer

Along with a utility knife, a mallet and hammer can also make a truck driver’s job that much easier and more efficient. Not only can the combination be used alone, it can be used with other tools as well. And speaking of tools…

Spare Parts

Even a well-tended truck can have its share of problems while on the open road. Having such spare parts as air/fuel lines, liquid wrench, antifreeze, bulbs, fuses and brake fluid can take care of emergency fixes and help with on-the-road maintenance.

Spanners

Besides adjustable spanners, oil filter spanners are also good to have in a trucker’s arsenal. That being said, long-haul drivers might find they’re better off with metric and complete US spanner sets. It never hurts to complete the collection by adding socket spanners as well.

Cash

While truck drivers might know where the physical road takes them, there’s no guarantee where the road of life will take them. That’s why it’s a good idea to have physical cash on hand; you never know when a card reader will go down or the nearest ATM is several miles away. Having a couple hundred dollars in physical cash is sure to come in handy sooner or later.

Water

Don’t find out the hard way how much the price of bottled water can fluctuate between different states. Besides the price difference, it’s also a good idea to have water on hand to stay properly hydrated.

Slow Cooker

It doesn’t hurt to have a slow cooker while on the road. Healthy meals aren’t always within easy reach while traveling, but that doesn’t mean drivers have to do without or settle for poor-quality food. Having a slow cooker makes it easy to not only eat healthily, but eat when you want to rather than having to wait to pass a place you like.

Truck driving can be that much more satisfying with the right equipment and tools. Before you set out on the road again, make sure you have these packed and ready to go.

What is the ELD Mandate?

Truck drivers and other commercial motor carriers need to be aware of the ELD mandate, which all commercial fleets must implement by December 18, 2017. Some drivers may be asking, what is the ELD mandate? ELD stands for Electronic Logging Device, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration passed a rule that requires commercial vehicles to use these devices to electronically record a driver’s duty status.

Prior to the mandate, truck drivers used paper logbooks to record their hours of service. Not only does an ELD reduce the time it takes to fill out the paperwork, it also provides a number of other benefits to drivers as well as fleet and safety managers.

ELD System Functions

Tracking compliance in regard to hours of service is just one of the functions of an ELD system. Some of the others include:

  • Report on driver behavior – this includes information about idling, hard braking, and speeding
  • Map integration and rerouting – helps truckers avoid construction and navigate areas of high traffic
  • Automation of IFTA – makes it easier for companies to report fuel use under the International Fuel Tax Agreement
  • Streamlines DVIR – drivers must record and turn in driver vehicle inspection reports on a daily basis

ELD Benefits

The ELD mandate is expected to result in a number of benefits for both drivers and management. The initial goal of the system was to cut down on the amount of paperwork and increase accuracy. By doing so, it reduces the hassle of having to fill in a paper log every day; saving everyone time.

Dispatchers are able to keep up with a driver’s status in real time, and there is increased communication with those on the road. This helps them plan for the trip more efficiently and make sure everyone is in compliance in regard to the hours of service. Drivers themselves are also able to make better time because their routes are more streamlined thanks to the rerouting function.

For many companies, an ELD system will lead to increased revenue over time. This is especially true for businesses that integrate ELDs with other telematic equipment throughout their fleets. The data gained from these systems can help in the following ways:

  • They can show how to reduce the costs of operations and fuel
  • Show how to proactively maintain fleet equipment
  • Demonstrate how to create more uptime
  • Increase utilization rates

Integrating ELD systems can also improve customer satisfaction. With the optimized routing of trucks, materials and supplies are delivered quicker and with fewer delays.

Improved safety is also a benefit of using ELDs. Commercial trucking companies have a lot of liability, and overtired drivers have always been an issue. Because an ELD keeps track of the hours of service, drivers cannot fudge the time they are on the road. This keeps them more alert and able to stay safer, reducing the number of accidents. In fact, studies have shown that drivers who are well rested log around 10 percent more miles every week and are less likely to quit the job compared to those who work on limited sleep.

The rule surrounding ELDs include articles that prevent drivers from harassment. If drivers feel they have a valid case, the mandate has a provision for drivers to file a complaint with the regulatory board.

Exemptions to the Mandate

While most commercial trucks are required to have ELDs installed by December 18 of 2017, there are exceptions to the rule. Small businesses that have vehicles that are older than 2000 are not required to comply with the new rules. Companies with driveaway-towaway functions are also exempted as long as the shipments include the driven vehicles. For example, the ELD rules do not apply to businesses that deliver new motor coaches, and similar vehicles, to the dealers direct from the manufacturers.

Companies that do not have  long-distance operations,  are not subject to the log book rules, may not need to install ELDs. This is because records that are limited to fewer than eight days every 30 days are part of the exceptions.

ELDs and Tired Drivers

Although the use of ELDs have shown to reduce accidents due to less driver fatigue, the mandate is not enough to prevent tired drivers from being on the road. Companies are strongly encouraged to analyze the data they collect from the ELDs. Comparing different schedules and driving behavior can go far to determine which drivers are the safest on the road.

Some data scrutiny has shown that consistency is important. Drivers who start at the same time every day, no matter what that time is, are at a lower risk on the road. Those who drive irregular shifts tend to have more accidents.

Surprisingly, data has shown that short-haul drivers typically are at higher risk than drivers who drive longer hauls. The theory is drivers with longer drives have more opportunities to take a break and even a short nap if needed.

Our Favorite Apps for Truckers

Make the most of your smartphone. This handy device isn’t just for checking emails and making calls on the go. With the right apps your phone can quickly become an indispensable work tool, something you use just as often as your logbook or your pocketknife. Here are some of our favorite apps for truckers.

Find a Truck Stop

When you need a hot shower or want to spend an evening streaming Netflix, you need the amenities of a truck stop. Wherever your travels take you, find a truck stop with ease using Trucker Path Pro. One of the top rated apps for finding truck stops this app can help you find and compare options, check fuel prices, and see real-time parking availability. If you have a specific chain you like to frequent, look for their specific app (most big name truck stops have one), but this app is ideal for checking out a broad range of available options. Available for Android or Apple.

Find a Rest Stop

Need a potty break? The USA Rest Stop Locator app can help you stretch your legs, check your load, or find an easy access bathroom anywhere in the U.S. Choose your state or browse the map and quickly find the rest stops nearest you. Available for Android or Apple.

Stay in Touch

You miss a lot when you’re away from home, but video chat apps can make it easier to stay in touch with friends and family back home. Skype is available for most mobile devices, including Android, Apple, Blackberry, Amazon Fire, and others. You can Skype with others for free if they use the service too or can call landlines around the world for set, per minute or per month fees. The Facebook Messenger app also offers video call options.

Log Your Hours

Ditch the paper log and go electronic, without having to spend a fortune on expensive software. If you want a highly quality, easy to use electronic log, try KeepTruckin, our recommendation for ELD mandate compliance. This program automates log audits, alerting to anytime there is an hours of service violation. If you’re tired of faxing in paper logs, go electronic with one of the most affordable and convenient options available. Free and paid plans are available.

Keep Up On Inspections

Manage your required inspections in a snap with the DVIR 2.0 Pre-Trip Inspection app. The app allows for the required signature and reports are easily emailed for up to 100 days. You can even add custom inspection criteria as needed. Available on Android.

Truck Insure On-the-Go

Sending insurance certificates has never been easier. Our mobile app allows you to quickly send your insurance information to brokers, clients, and others with just a few clicks. Fax and email sending options are available. If you use Western Truck Insurance Services for your truck insurance needs, this app is a must.

Do you use any of these handy apps? Which ones are your favorite?

 

The Latest Stats in Trucking

Have you taken the chance to review the Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics for 2015? This handy guide is released yearly by the FMCSA and gives those working the transportation industry an insightful look into the state of the industry. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to check it out, we’ve pulled out a few of the statistics we found most interesting.

Trucks Carry a Big Majority of Our Nation’s Freight

It’s no secret to those working in the transportation industry, but without trucks, nothing would move. In 2012 trucks carried 70.2% of the total weight of freight moved across the U.S. Air (0.03%) and rail (11.1%) can’t even come close to competing with those numbers.

Large trucks accounted for 9.2% of all the 2,988.3 billion vehicle miles traveled in 2013 for a total of 275 billion miles traveled. There are more than 10.5 million large trucks registered in the U.S. (8,126,007 straight trucks and 2,471,349 tractor-trailers).

Seat Belt Use on the Rise

Seat belt use by large truck drivers is on the increase. In 2012, 74% of flatbed drivers wore seatbelts, but in 2013 that number increased to 82%. These increases are exciting, but we hope to see even higher numbers in the next report. If your truck is rolling, you should be wearing your seat belt. The percentage of drivers involved in fatality crashes without a seatbelt has been dropping considerably, down from 14.9% in 2005 to 9% in 2013.

Roadside Inspections… Everything You Need to Know

Make sure you read the section on inspections. There’s a great map that highlights the number of inspections performed by county (hint… California is a big state for inspections) and valuable information about the most common violations (log violations topped the chart). The information in this section can help you ensure that you’re not making common mistakes so you’re ready for your next inspection.

Fatal Crashes Statistics from 1975 to Now

Although fatal crashes involving large trucks have been on the rise the last couple of years, they are still much lower than they were in the 1970s and even in the 1980s. In 2013 there were 3,541 fatal crashes involving large trucks, fewer than the number of fatal crashes in 1975 with almost double the number of registered trucks. Clearly the changes that have been made from then until now have brought about positive change in trucking safety. What changes can we still make to ensure the roads are a safer place for all of us?

Take some time and orient yourself with this valuable information today.

All of these items, and more, can save you valuable money on your insurance. If you have questions on how you can apply this information to your risk management practices, give us a call and remember… Travel with Care!

CARB Compliance Issues- A Deeper Look at Low Rolling Resistance Tires

If you drive a box type trailer in California (including dry van and refrigerated van trailers) you likely are aware of the low rolling resistance tire regulations that are currently being phased in. What you might not know however is how these tires work and how using them impacts you. Keep reading for all the details, including tips for maximizing your tire investment.

What Are Low Rolling Resistance Tires?

Low rolling resistance (LRR) tires are a special type of tire designed to improve fuel efficiency by reducing the rolling resistance. They are required for certain trailers and tractors as part of California’s Heavy Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Regulation. As tires move on the road, this resistance turns energy exerted by a vehicle into heat, not forward movement, and can result in a great deal of energy waste. For heavy trucks it is estimated that up to 15-30% of fuel consumption is used to overcoming rolling resistance. LRR tires cut down on this resistance saving money in fuel costs and cutting down on greenhouse gasses.

While required for some tractors and trailers in California, LRR tires can be used anywhere in the country to cut down on fuel expenses.

How Much of an Impact Do LRR Tires Make?

LRR tires can make a big impact on your fuel efficiency. Some studies indicate that making the change to LRR tires could save (each year):

  • 500 Gallons in Fuel
  • 08 metric tons of CO2
  • $1,900 in Fuel Costs
  • 3% Reduction in Fuel Costs

LRR tires may wear out more quickly than standard tires. The full impact you’ll experience will vary depending on the type of tire you choose, whether you have single wide or double tires, and even how your tires are inflated. LRR tires may be more expensive (between $0 and $50 per tire), but most estimates suggest that the increase in fuel efficiency will offset the increase in tire price.

Other Methods for Improving Your Fuel Efficiency

Do you want to get the most bang for your fuel investment? LRR tires can cut down on your fuel bill, but there are other steps you can take to maximize your tire investment and to increase your fuel efficiency when using LRR tires. Here are a few tips:

  • Inflate Properly- Making sure your tires are properly inflated can make a big difference in your fuel efficiency. For example if your recommended inflation is 35 psi, but your actual inflation is only 28 psi, your rolling resistance will be increased by 12.5%.
  • Use LRR Tires for All Tires- Although incremental fuel efficiency increases can be obtained by using LRR tires on just the tractor or trailer, you’ll see the best results when you use LRR tires for all tire positions.
  • Choose SmartWay Approved Tires- SmartWay approved tires are verified by the EPA to meet specific fuel efficiency requirements. See a list of approved LRR tires here.

Are you using LRR tires? Have you noticed an impact on your fuel bill?

 

EOBRs: Coming Soon to a Truck Near You?

Do you use an EOBR? It sounds like something out of a futuristic movie, but for many truck drivers an electronic on board recording device (EOBR) is simply part of their day to day, helping track hours of service, providing information to their employer about safety, and sometimes even offering navigational help. Since the devices first came to be, government agencies have been interested in using EOBR to improve safety records and cut down on violations.

What Are EOBRs?

Electronic on board recording devices (EOBR) aren’t a new technology at all. As early as 1990, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended the mandatory use of EOBRs on all heavy duty trucks. Since that time several attempts have been made to require these electronic log books for all commercial drivers although as of now these attempts have been largely unsuccessful and highly controversial.

If you aren’t familiar with the term EOBR, you might be more familiar with some of the other terms used to describe these devices. They may also be called ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices), e-logs, paperless logs, etc. The terms may be different, but deep down they are all basically the same devices.

Recent Proposed Regulations for EOBR

The latest big push for mandatory EOBR devices came this last March with the FMCSA proposing that ELDs be a requirement for interstate commercial bus and truck companies to improve HOS (hours of service) compliance. Speaking of the proposal Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Today’s proposal will improve safety while helping businesses by cutting unnecessary paperwork – exactly the type of government streamlining President Obama called for in his State of the Union address… By leveraging innovative technology with Electronic Logging Devices, we have the opportunity to save lives and boost efficiency for both motor carriers and safety inspectors.”

The FMCSA believes that instituting electronic logs would reduce yearly fatalities by 20 and injuries by 434. Opponents to the proposed regulations fear that electronic logging could result in driver harassment and will lead to unnecessary expenses that won’t necessarily improve safety. The proposed devices would need to be integrated with the truck engine and be tamper resistant.

Electronic Logs: Will They Improve Safety?

While controversy remains over whether or not electronic logging devices are worth the investment, many large companies have chosen to adopt them voluntarily. For large organizations these devices can help companies stay on top of problems and provide better service to both their drivers and their customers. By using these logs to improve driver safety, companies can also reduce their insurance rates, often saving a substantial amount of money.

What do you think about electronic logs? Are you currently using them?