You Can Run A Successful Trucking Company: Here’s How

If you’re a truck driver thinking of starting your own business, or if you just have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to start your own trucking company, you’ll want to proceed the right way. While there’s certainly much to be gained by having your own business, you’ll want to have the right info for starting a successful trucking company rather than a company that’s destined to be an expensive failure.

Make Sure You Have Quality Equipment

No matter how great of a business plan, name or location you have, you’ll need to have it all backed up with the right equipment as you learn how to run a trucking company. Once you’ve compiled a list of all the equipment your company will need, you’ve got to decide whether you’ll be better off renting it all or buying it outright. While buying equipment guarantees you’ll be the owner, you might prefer to lease equipment that’s bound to become obsolete in the next few years. There’s also the fact that you might not be in a financial position to buy what you need, especially if you hope to grow your trucking company as much and as soon as possible.

Identify Your Customer Base

After you’ve decided how to take care of your equipment needs, it’s time to turn your attention to finding customers to deliver to and work with. Load boards are most certainly a great place to start while getting your feet wet, but one of the main problems with these boards is that you’ll probably have to be the lowest bidder. There’s also the fact that you’ll find load boards are quite competitive, making it hard for a new business like yours to get a good foothold.

You’ll be better off splitting your time and focus between load boards and making sales calls to find customers on your own and start forging relationships and business connections that way. Once you’ve managed to prove yourself to customers through sales calls and solid customer service, you could find you no longer need to even think about looking at load boards.

Learn How to Bid and Handle Common Expenses

When it comes to biding, you’ve got to learn how to find the balance between offering customers a good deal and actually making money. This is likely to take some getting used to, so give yourself plenty of time when you’re first getting started.

To help strike an equilibrium, get to know your expenses. For instance, how much do common truck repairs cost? If there are any trucks that will soon need maintenance, how much do you think that will cost? What do fuel prices look like right now, and how might they change in the future? You might also have to charge more depending on where you deliver and how difficult it is to get to your final destination. Always have enough for unexpected emergencies, because there are bound to be more than a few when you least expect or want them.

Don’t Forget About the Back Office

What happens in the background of your business operation is just as vital as what’s going on in the foreground. If your trucking company has more than one employee, you might need office space to keep things running smoothly. If so, decide the size of office you’ll need to accommodate the size of your business, the office equipment you’ll require and what needs to take place in the office.

Should your business grow large enough, you may have to bring on additional employees, like a secretary. Be sure to account for this in your business plan as well as your expenses. In addition to paying a salary, you also have to think about taxes, benefits and the like. Even if you’re just getting started as a single owner-operator trucking company, it won’t hurt to do some research to see what you’ll be expected to handle should you decide to expand.

Anticipate Cash Flow Problems

Even when business is booming, there’s always a chance your business will bust in the future. Rather than wait for that to happen, go ahead and start planning for it now. Something else to consider is the fact that just because you deliver something today doesn’t mean you’ll get paid for it anytime soon; you might have to wait as many as 90 days to receive payment, which can throw your cash flow off track.

Look into freight factoring as a way to keep cash flowing in while still allowing your customers to pay in 40, 60 or more days. This gives everyone the best of both worlds without ruffling any feathers.

There’s a lot to being the owner of any kind of business, but there are special considerations to make when it comes to owning a truck company. Be sure to keep the above info in mind as you get started.

Owner Operator Semi-Truck Financing

Getting a loan on a commercial vehicle can be a complex process. Lenders tend to be more lenient with semi truck loans, because the vehicle possesses high collateral value and is typically only used for business purposes. However, getting semi truck financing isn’t going to be a walk in the park either. You will need to show the commercial lender that you can make loan payments. Here are six things you can do to improve your chances of getting commercial truck financing:

1. Have a registered business.

Most states require an LLC or corporation to register through the Secretary of State. If  you are a sole proprietor, you should be able to show business income through your taxes. As a new sole proprietor, you may want to get an employer identification number (EIN) or have a doing business as (DBA) name. Your lender may also want you to have a CDL, a Motor Carrier (MC) number and USDOT number. Some lenders want to see some experience, at least two years, in the industry.

2. Work on your personal credit.

For new owner operator financing, you may need to have a personal credit score of 600 or more to qualify for financing. If you’ve been in business for a couple of years, you may have a little more leeway. As a sole proprietor, you are probably relying more on your personal credit than your business credit. The higher your score, the better chances you have to qualify for a loan and for a lower down payment.

If you have a lower credit score, you may want to find a co-signer or work on your credit score before applying for a loan. If you are behind on child support, have had a recent bankruptcy or repossession or have a tax lien, the lender may refuse financing. Take care of your finances before applying for a commercial loan.

3. Find a good truck to buy.

The lender may have specific requirements about the truck, for example, it may need to be less than 10 years old, or have less than 700k miles on it. This is to protect their investment as well as your business. Older trucks break down more frequently. The collateral value isn’t as high. However, provided the truck is in good condition, it’s easier today to purchase the truck through a private party or even an auction. Generally, you will need this information

  • Make, model, year and mileage
  • Serial number
  • Pictures of the truck
  • Condition report
  • Specifications of the sale, the seller, new or used truck, etc.
  • Check with the lender for everything you need to finalize the purchase

4. You will need money for a down payment and cash reserves.

Most of the time, you won’t qualify for 100 percent financing. Having a down payment of 10 to 30 percent will reduce your loan payment quite a bit and make the lender feel more confident in your ability to repay the loan. Your lender may also want to see a cash reserve of one to three months to cover repairs, insurance and expenses in case you have a slow month. It makes good business sense to have a little extra in the bank. You never know when you may have to wait for payment or have to take time off because you have the flu. Unexpected things can often upset your finances more than you realize.

5. Have insurance lined up.

Generally, you will need insurance to cover the truck before lender releases the money to pay for the truck. The type of insurance your business requires will depend on many factors, as does the cost of insurance. Make sure you have a policy lined up while you’re working with lenders.

6. Work with your lender.

Traditionally, owner operator loans were only available through financial institutions, such as banks or credit unions, but there are many more lenders in the marketplace today. Many online lenders have almost instant credit decisions, allowing you to have more options for commercial truck loans.

You may want to consider each company carefully before applying. First, lenders may have different qualification requirements. They may also specialize in different types of loans or only work with certain leases. Every lease application can affect your personal credit. Do your research first. Don’t just take the first approval you get. Read all the terms and conditions of the loan application before signing.

Enjoy Financial Freedom

Owning any type of business doesn’t mean that you will be free from responsibilities. You may not have a boss looking over your shoulder any longer, but your stakeholders will be expecting you to make payments on time. However, when you purchase your own new or used semi truck, you are on track to having financial independence. It will take hard work, but you can do it. Just make sure you take the time to understand the requirements of owning your own truck.

Winter Preparedness Checklist

During cold conditions, your business’s equipment is stressed. It’s not just your heating system, but the electrical, the windows and plumbing can all be affected by the cold. Use this checklist to prepare your business for brutal winter conditions.

Trucking companies need to be especially cautious and ready when the winter weather hits. There are simple steps you can take to prepare your fleet for winter driving and help avoid issues like frozen truck brakes.

Protect Your Business During a Cold Snap

When your business faces extreme temperatures, winter weather preparedness is very important. Preparing for winter season includes taking care of your building and your employees:

  • Have a chain of accountability within your organization. Ensure maintenance, building owners and business owners are working efficiently to get the building ready. You don’t want to duplicate efforts, but you need to make sure everything is getting done.
  • Inspect the building, making sure windows, doors and dampers are closed. Caulk all openings where cold air can enter the building. Have snow and ice removal arranged before you need it. Schedule a maintenance check during a storm or cold weather to keep everything running or at the least, to know when you’ll need to call in repairs.
  • Inspect the roof for leaks and debris. Make repairs when necessary.
  • Give your employees emergency contact information for snow removal, heating repair, utilities and road conditions. Have a plan for employees who cannot get out in bad weather conditions to keep everyone safe. Get your employees to sign up for weather alerts, either by text or through another app.
  • Expect flooding. Keep vulnerable equipment and stock out of harm’s way. Either move it to a location where water can’t reach it, or move it up on raisers.
  • Keep cold-weather gear on hand for employees, such as flashlights, blankets, gloves, hats, snow shovels and ice-melt chemicals. Make sure everyone knows where it’s stored and that it’s there for their use.
  • Make sure you have a list of client and employee contact information somewhere other than your computer, phone or electronic device. If the power goes down, you may not have access to that information.
  • Consider leaving a trickle of water running to keep constant movement in the pipes to prevent freezing. Know where the water shutoff to the building is. Turn off the water if the pipes do freeze, to prevent a leak when the water comes back on.
  • If the building does remain empty for a long period of time, have someone assigned who can check indoor temperatures and other issues.

Keeping Your Heating System Operating Efficiently

The heating system not only keeps your employees comfortable during the cold, but it also protects your inventory, equipment and plumbing from freezing. While some of these ideas need to be in place before a cold snap, preparing for winter season will keep your building from being affected in the cold:

  • Insulate all pipes. Inspect the sprinkler system and plumbing annually. Replace damaged insulation when necessary.
  • Inspect outside dampers. Clear all vents from snow and ice accumulation quickly.
  • Your heating unit requires power to operate. Have generators on standby to keep equipment operating through any conditions. At the very least, have non-electrical portable heaters for outages.
  • Be prepared to supply back-up power to heat tracing systems, if you have it.

An ounce of prevention is worth much more than a pound of cure, in this case. Protecting your pipes before extreme cold temperatures will prevent many problems, saving you the cost of repairs and downtime.

Protect Electrical Equipment

Cold, freezing conditions can cause power outages and downed wires. When electricity is restored, the sudden surge of power can destroy modern technology that is sensitive to power surges.  When cold weather is coming in:

  • Unplug equipment, isolating it from the source of power, protecting it from power surges. If the equipment must stay running, have a backup plan. Install surge protectors, batteries or another power source.
  • If you plan on relying on generators during a power outage, test them before you need them. Have a plan to refuel generators if the outage is extended.
  • When power is restored, plug in devices and turn them on one at a time.

Reminders for Good Measure

  • Check your business insurance policies to know what is covered and what isn’t. Know your biggest risks and find ways to minimize loss instead of relying on insurance. Keep the policy number and claim information handy, to know who to call when damage occurs.
  • Take pictures of the building before the storm. This will help you identify damage that occurs during a storm.
  • Have a procedure for handling damaged equipment and inventory.
  • Take pictures of damage. Call the insurance adjuster ASAP.

Have a contingency plan in place if the worse happens. Know who to call for restoration. Have a place to set up temporary shop if a disaster strikes your building. Although you may be limited if your business is a restaurant or retail shop, you should at least stay in touch with customers and clients to limit the impact.

How Long-Haul Drivers Can Stay Awake While Driving

Though many long-haul drivers may have been lured into the industry by dreams of the open road and freedom from the stress of a 9-5 job, the job of road warrior is anything but a dream. Instead, it is filled with many different types of stress that differ greatly from those in the jobs they may have previously held.

Turning Wheels Mean Dollar Signs

One of the most stressful parts of driving long-haul is often seen plastered on t-shirts, coffee mugs and posters in truck stops across the country. Though the grammar may make some people cringe, the well-known saying “If the wheels ain’t turning, you ain’t making no money” is one that is known across all aspects of the industry. In essence, it means that anytime the truck is not moving, it is not making any money for the owner.

This leads trucking companies to come up with creative solutions, such as assigning two drivers to the same truck, each sleeping while the other is driving. It does not matter, however, if drivers are alone, or if they have a partner sleeping in the back of the rig. The long miles drive across the country can feel even longer than they really are, no matter how excited they were to begin driving a big rig for a living.

Boredom Leads to Mental Exhaustion

Current log book regulations mean that gone is the day that a driver could make his way across the country only taking cat-naps. Instead, drivers today have enforced limits on how long they can drive before they are required to take a specific length of time off-duty. There is much heated debate about whether or not the current system of hourly regulations really work out best for those who are behind the wheel, but currently they stand as law.

On average, a trucker drives anywhere between 2,000 – 3,000 miles each week. Even with enough sleep or off-duty time, the long miles put in by truck drivers can lead to a very real mental exhaustion which can, if not recognized and planned for, lead to a driver falling asleep behind the wheel. No matter if they spend those miles listening to talk radio, to music, or talking on the phone via Bluetooth headset (drivers are not permitted to hold their cell phones while they drive), the passing miles and the hypnotic hum of the tires on the road can still lead to boredom and mental exhaustion.

Tried and Trusted Tips to Avoid Falling Asleep

Thankfully, drivers are typically willing to share with each other the tips and tricks that keep them from falling asleep while driving. Following is a list of ways that have been found to work for those who are looking for better ways of staying awake.

  • Healthy Food – Though it is so tempting to indulge in fast food meals while driving, many have found that healthy meals consisting of protein and complex carbohydrates help them stay awake for much longer than foods that are full of fats, salt and sugars. Healthy snacks work as well. Instead of grabbing a candy bar, truckers who want to stay awake prefer trail mix, or a bag of almonds. Having a mini-fridge and a small cooking oven in the truck are not only convenient, they enable drivers to eat much more healthy foods overall.
  • Switch up the Listening – Drivers should change up listening selections while driving. Alternate between music, talk radio, podcasts and digital books. This way, the brain will be entertained instead of falling into a bored, sleepy slump. And if all else fails, turning up the volume to ear-splitting levels and singing along seems to work as well.
  • Cat Nap – Taking a short nap before starting on a long drive can be incredibly beneficial. In fact, studies show that a nap that is under an hour can power you enough to stay awake for many more hours than had you taken a nap that lasted for a few hours. Drivers who find themselves becoming drowsy on the road can always pull over and grab a 20-minute power nap in order to make it to the needed destination.
  • Get Out and Move – Sitting for extended periods of time can be hard on a body too. Any time drivers feel sleepiness sneaking in is a good time to find a spot for some safe exercise. This can be as little as a few laps around the truck or as extensive as some push-ups, squats and a quick jog. Getting that heart rate up means the blood will be less-sluggish upon return to the drier seat.
  • Don’t fall for Caffeine – Good hydration is very important to staying alert. Unfortunately, sodas that are readily available in every truck stop do not aid to overall hydration. Even worse is the fact that drinking too much caffeine while driving can make a driver need to find a restroom much more frequently than if they had simply stayed with water.

No matter the reason for getting into the long-haul industry, the end result is typically the same after many miles driven. Being prepared to combat sleepiness and stay wide awake, no matter how long the road ahead, should be the goal of every road warrior.

Trucking Insurance – How does it Work?

Most people don’t understand trucking insurance and haven’t done enough research before buying insurance. When it comes to trucking insurance, business owners have even more options. Let’s discuss the different types of insurance so that when you are ready to buy or renew your business insurance, you will have an idea of what types of insurance will fit into your business plan and goals.

Four main types of commercial truck insurance:

  • Liability insurance (Auto & General) pays for damages you cause. This insurance is usually required by law and is not an option.
  • Bobtail insurance, which is sometimes referred to as non-trucking liability, is a voluntary type of insurance that covers your truck when you’re not under dispatch.
  • Motor truck cargo covers the freight you are pulling. Although this insurance is not required by law, the shipping company may require it.
  • Physical damage coverage bases the premium on the value of the equipment. Your lienholder may require it, but generally it is not required by law. This type of coverage protects your truck against fire, theft and other types of damage. Ask your agent what is allowed and what is excluded. Always understand your policy.

Your business may want to consider these other types of trucking-related insurance coverage:

  • Non-owned trailer liability and physical damage are policies that protect the trailer if it belongs to someone else.
  • Terminal coverage protects freight which is stored at specified terminals for a specified time frame, generally 48 to 72 hours.
  • Warehouse legal protects goods that are stored for a longer time at that the terminal coverage and for which a storage is charge is made. The amount of coverage you want is based on the amount of goods stored. Workers Compensation and/or Occupational Accident Injury Coverage to protect the individuals employed or contracted with.

Obviously, if you never store goods or you own your own trailer, you won’t necessarily be concerned about some of these types of insurance. However, it is good to know that these policies are available to protect your risk exposure. Western Truck Insurance Services is always happy to answer any of your questions about insurance to give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Saving Money on Your Trucking Insurance

Unfortunately, trucking insurance is one of the largest fixed costs of any trucking business. It’s a very important aspect of your business plan. It makes sense to work with your agent or broker to find the best coverage at the best rates to protect the future of your business and family. Although insurance can seem very costly each year, consider how much it would cost to replace your truck or cover the medical bills of a family injured in an accident. Here are some ways to get the best deals on your insurance:

  • Ask for fixed premiums.
  • Pay your insurance up front instead of in installments.
  • Ask if the insurance company has various discounts for various situations.
  • Talk to your insurer about a safety program. Many times, your insurer will help you put policies and procedures to help you run a better program.
  • Your insurer may also give a discount if your company has a written maintenance plan and a good history of looking after your vehicles.
  • Don’t overstate the value of your truck, hoping to get a better deal if it’s damaged in an accident.
  • It may not be cost-effective to have physical damage coverage on older, low value, vehicles.
  • You may also keep your premiums lower by watching your driving records closely. Make sure drivers obey traffic laws to prevent having traffic offences from accruing.
  • Talk to your insurer about where you keep your trucks, especially when parked overnight. A riskier area of the community may mean higher premiums.
  • As your vehicles get older, you may want to look at upgrading to safer and newer equipment.

Trucking insurance might be expensive, but it’s because trucks are expensive and accidents can be very costly;  especially in today’s litigious society. Trucks often carry valuable cargo which are also  subject to expensive losses.

Now that you understand the types of coverage and some of the factors that go into the costs associated with insurance, you can make better decisions about your own policies to cover your business.

Auto-Issued DOT Numbers- What We’ve Seen and What You Can Do

We’ve been seeing something a little strange lately here at Western Truck Insurance Services and we wanted to keep all of our loyal clients informed. We haven’t seen much information about this online, but it is something that several clients have experienced. If you’re having problems with this, or with anything else relating to your insurance, give us a call and we’ll happily help you sort things out.

Last year all clients with a California MCP # only were automatically issued a DOT #. We believe that the California DMV forwarded the information to the FMCSA for the applications. The problem is, much of this information was outdated. We had clients receiving their DOT # with an incorrect address, old registration information, etc. These clients never asked for or applied for this number. It was automatically issued to them. The California DMV is trying to transition to using DOT #s and provided this information to the FMCSA from their last update, but if things changed during the year, the information was outdated.

What Can Be Done?

If this happened to you, or happens to you in the future, what can you do? If you have insurance through Western Truck Insurance Services, get in touch with us and we’ll help you sort things out. This is what we’re suggesting:

  • Go online and check your information. This would typically be at the FMCSA website (https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration). You can also call them at 800-832-5660.
  • Order your PIN for future updates. This allows you to update online in the future.
  • Print the MCS 150 page.
  • Call your insurance agent and discuss how to fill everything out properly. This is very important. Make sure things are filled out correctly to avoid future problems down the road. Please call us first!
  • Fax/mail in the documentation and keep a copy for yourself.
  • This is the first time we’ve seen something like this happen, but as the transition goes through, we’ll be here to help you with this and all of your other insurance needs. Get in touch anytime you have a question. We’re here to help you ‘Travel with Care’.

Are Your Truck Insurance Rates Increasing? Here’s Why.

Truck insurance rates are skyrocketing and the reason is nuclear. We’re not talking about atomic energy, but rather a recent phenomenon in truck insurance known as ‘nuclear’ verdicts. These verdicts are shaking up the insurance industry, causing longtime truck insurers to exit the market, and making it harder and more expensive to get coverage. Here’s what you need to know.

What Are ‘Nuclear’ Verdicts?

When you purchase truck insurance you’re hoping to never have to use it, but unfortunately accidents do happen. Occasionally, when the accident is severe, your insurance company will need to negotiate a settlement on your behalf or head to court. Years ago these settlements were easy to predict, often covering lost wages or hospital bills, but things are changing. Jurys are awarding record-breaking settlements, often millions of dollars higher than lost wages alone. These super-size settlements are known as ‘nuclear’ verdicts and they have the potential to decimate profits for insurers. Since ‘nuclear’ verdicts aren’t predictable, insurers have a difficult time estimating risk and have the potential to lose millions, or even hundreds of millions, on a single claim.

How Are ‘Nuclear’ Verdicts Impacting the Truck Insurance Industry?

The unknown behind ‘nuclear’ verdicts is making truck insurance an unprofitable venture for many insurers, even some of the industry’s biggest. Major insurers including AIG and Zurich Insurance Group AG have chosen to stop offering insurance to for-hire fleets. Other insurers are hiking premiums to keep up with the increased risks and costs. Premiums have increased 10% to 30%.

Trucking companies are already spending a great deal on insurance and the extra expenses will be hard for many fleets, especially smaller ones. In 2015 the average U.S. trucking company spent just over nine cents a mile on insurance premiums. That number is expected to be much higher for 2016.

What Can You Do?

There is little that drivers and trucking companies can do to fight against price increases due to ‘nuclear’ verdicts. We’re working hard to continue to provide the best coverage possible and at the best rates. We work with many of the industry’s top insurers to ensure you’re getting the coverage you need. A stellar driving record and a clean DOT safety record can also help you to lower your rates. Focus on what you can change and strive to keep your record as clean as possible. Learn more about ‘nuclear verdicts’ from this article from the Wall Street Journal.

If you have any questions, get in touch. We’re here to help you ‘Travel with Care’ and that’s one constant you can count on in a changing truck insurance industry.

 

 

Is Your Rig Ready for Winter? 7 Ways to Prepare for Plummeting Temperatures

It’s getting chilly out there. Is your truck ready? Take some time today to prep your truck for the cooler, potentially freezing, temperatures that are surely ahead. A little preparation today can save you from a whole lot of trouble later.

When Temperatures Drop, Coolant’s a Must

Anti-freeze, or coolant, provides vital protection to your truck during freezing weather. Getting your coolant system in order is one of the most important winter maintenance preps you’ll do all year. Check for leaks and low coolant levels at every PM. Use high quality coolant, obtained from a reputable source. This is one area where you don’t want to compromise on quality.

Don’t Get Stuck in the Snow- Check Your Chains

Are your chains ready to go should you need them? Many drivers take their chains off the truck and put them into storage during warm summer months, but now that the temperatures are dropping, it’s time to bring them back. Before loading them up, give them a quick check to make sure you have everything you need and that all parts are in good repair.

It’s also prime time to brush up on chain laws. Many drivers prefer to sit and wait when chain whether hits, but some states require that you carry them, needed or not. Knowing the laws in the states where you travel most can save you from expensive tickets and violations.

If you do use chains, remove them as soon as they aren’t needed. Chains that are left on too long can rip up your tires and cause road damage. Remember, chains are intended to get you out of trouble, not into it. If it is too snowy to continue, stop and wait for the weather to clear.

Are Your Tires Ready for Winter?

Tire pressure drops in cold weather. It’s time to check pressure on all your tires again. It is often most effective to check your tire pressure during your pre-trip inspection, before you do any driving. Valve caps help to ensure that ice doesn’t form in the valve core, leading to a slow pressure leak. If you’re missing any caps, replace them.

Tire pressure isn’t the only tire check you should do this winter. If you regularly drive in icy, snowy areas, consider special tires with tread designed for winter driving.

Scrape Less- Add Some De-Icer to Windshield Fluid

Check your washer fluid levels and add de-icer if needed. This will help to defrost your windshield and will keep your fluid jug from freezing solid and bursting. While you’re at it, check your windshield wipers too.

It’s Hard Being a Battery in the Winter

Cold temperatures make it more difficult for your battery to charge, often resulting in lower battery levels. Cleaning, checking, and testing the battery should be a regular part of your PM (preventative maintenance) program. If your battery is over three years old, you may want to replace it this winter.

If your truck has an APU, you can expect reduced service life from your batteries, especially during cold weather. The APU is constantly pulling power from the battery which can drain battery life.

Stock Your Truck, Just in Case

Do you have cold weather essentials on hand, just in case? You should have a heavy coat, a blanket, and some food on hand in your truck. Although we hope you’re never stranded out in the cold, you’ll be happy to have a few emergency supplies on hand. These supplies could very well save your life some day.

Is your truck ready for winter? What are your favorite ways to prepare for dropping temperatures?

 

Winter’s Coming- Driving Tips to Help You Travel with Care

If you need a reprieve from hot summer temperatures, relief is on the way. Winter is definitely coming and temperatures are dropping around the country. Plummeting temperatures present some unique challenges in the truck. Here’s our guide for safe winter driving. Do you have any tips to add to the list?

How Does Weather Impact Safety on the Road?

Each year more than 1.2 million crashes are caused by bad weather, approximately 22% of all accidents. Weather related accidents include those that occur in adverse weather (rain, sleet, snow, fog, etc.) or on slick pavement (icy, snowy, wet). On average 6,000 people are killed each year and 445,000 injured by weather related crashes. Yes, bad weather can occur any time of the year, but it is much more likely during the winter.

Watch Out for Water

Rain and wet pavement are some of the biggest dangers for winter driving. Icy pavement and snow certainly cause crashes, but wet pavement is responsible for the majority. The Federal Highway Administration has found that wet pavement plays a role in 73% of weather related crashes, 80% of weather related injuries, and 77% of weather related fatalities. When it is wet, be extra cautious as this is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road.

Give Yourself Extra Time

Winter driving isn’t going to be as productive as summer driving, especially during bad weather. Plan your routes accordingly and give yourself extra time when estimating arrival times for dropping and loading. It is estimated that 23% of non-recurrent delays are due to snow, ice, and fog. Overall, 12% of total truck delay is due to weather and trucking companies lose about 32 billion hours each year due to weather related delays. During peak travel periods in Washington D.C. travel times increase approximately 24% in the presence of precipitation. Plan accordingly when winter weather is expected.

Prepare for Weather

Winter weather can leave you stranded on the side of the highway when roads get shut down or conditions are too dangerous to continue. You can’t always count on making it to the next truck stop. Stock your truck with the supplies you’ll need for a day or two of delay, just in case. Make sure you have appropriate winter clothing, including coats, hats, and gloves, ready. Keep extra food, water, and blankets in your truck. Fill up your fuel more often (try to keep at least half a tank at all times) and keep extra wiper fluid on hand. Tire chains and a windshield scraper are winter must-haves.

Watch for Ice

If you’ve ever experienced black ice, you know how scary it can be. Slick ice that comes out of nowhere, black ice is very difficult to spot. When the temperatures drop near freezing, be aware that black ice is possible and be very cautious if the road looks wet, as it may actually be ice. Bridges are especially prone to black ice. Be careful!

Don’t Be Afraid to Shut Down

We know you have deadlines to make and places to go, but getting to a drop on time isn’t worth sacrificing your safety. If you do run into weather conditions where driving is unsafe, stop and give the storm time to pass. Good communication with all parties involved will help to alleviate problems caused by winter delays. Keep everyone informed about where you are and what’s happening. Your safety this winter is a priority.

A little extra caution in the winter can help you stay safe on the road as temperatures drop. Travel with care this winter and beyond.

Trucking Trends- Where Are We Now?

The American Trucking Association recently released ATA American Trucking Trends 2016, a comprehensive analysis of the state of the trucking industry. Overall, it was a strong year for trucking and we hope it was a great one for you too.

What’s the Current State of Trucking?

Looking at where the industry is now can help you decide the best paths as you guide your business into the future. Here are a few statistics pulled from the report. What did 2015 look like for you? More information is available from the ATA.

  • Trucking Still Dominates Freight– Trucks carried more freight than any other method, approximately 70% of domestic freight tonnage.
  • Trucking Gross Revenues– Trucking collected more than $726 billion in gross freight revenues during 2015. This was a record setting year for freight revenues.
  • More Money Spent on Trucking– In 2015 trucks received 81.5% of the nation’s freight revenues.
  • Number of Trucks in Operation– More than 3.6 million Class 8 trucks were in operation in the U.S. during 2015.

Where Is the Trucking Industry Headed?

There are certainly challenges in the trucking industry, including increased regulation, fluctuating fuel costs, and driver shortages. As a driver it can be hard to know what the future holds. In addition to the annual Trucking Trends report, the ATA recently released an industry forecast, looking at the future of freight. Let’s take a look at a few highlights.

  • Expected Tonnage Growth of 35%– Between 2016 and 2027 overall freight tonnage is expected to grow 35%. The amount of freight moved by trucks will grow about 27%.
  • Pipeline Use Expected to Grow– The use of pipeline to move freight is expected to increase from about 10% to 17%. This will result in loss of market share by other methods of moving freight including trucking, water, and rail.
  • Truckload Volumes to Increase– Truckload volumes are expected to increase about 2% each year until 2022 and 1.6% annually from 2022-2027.

What Do These Numbers Mean for Me?

Only time knows exactly what’s in store for the trucking industry, but these two reports from the American Trucking Association are positive news for the industry. Right now trucking is still the predominant method for moving freight and revenue and truckload volumes are on the rise. Strong growth is expected to continue over the next several years.

As the industry changes, your insurance needs may too. We are here and ready to help you adjust your policies and find the right coverage for your situation. As your needs change, get in touch and we’ll help you keep your policies up to date.