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 The problem is, much of this information was outdated.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this information to the FMCSA from their last update, but if things changed during the year, the information was outdated.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’.

Will the Changes to Freight Broker Requirements Impact You?

Brokers and freight forwarders play a valuable role in the transportation industry often acting as the go between for carriers and consumers. They match willing trucks with loads that need hauling and help get goods from one end of the country to the other. Since those doing the shipping are often unaware of the intricacies and difficulties involved in transportation, brokers and freight forwarders save carriers a lot of trouble by helping ensure everything is ready to go. As any busy trucker knows you don’t have time to spend hours on the phone; brokers and freight forwarders deal with the customer so you can focus on driving (and getting there safely).

The FMCSA recently made changes to the requirements for freight brokers. Will these changes have any impact on you?

Freight Brokers Must Hold $75,000 Surety Bond

Beginning Oct. 1, 2013 the amount of bond a freight broker must hold increases to $75,000, up from $10,000. This is a big increase and will primarily impact small and new brokers. Group surety bonds are not currently allowed, but the FMCSA may revise this after evaluation.

Definition of Broker Changed

Another big change is a change in wording redefining broker as a person that arranges the moving of freight for a fee. The new law specifically prohibits motor carriers from brokering loads unless they are registered brokers. If you arrange for loads to be moved, you must register as a broker, even if it’s just a few loads on the side. Enforcement for this provision might take time to develop as it is difficult to determine how many motor carriers also broker loads.

Motor carriers that want to register as brokers should file an OP-1 Form with the FMCSA. Include your US DOT number, but leave the MC number blank. The FMCSA issues a separate MC number for brokering authority.

Actionable Changes You Can Make

The new laws mean changes for the transportation industry. Here are a few changes you might want to make in accordance with the new laws:

  •  Avoid accepting loads from unregistered brokers.
  •  Register with the FMCSA as a broker if you currently broker loads.
  •  Increase your bond amount if you are a registered broker.

How Will These Changes Affect You?

The full results of this change are yet unknown. It may result in less brokering fraud since it will be more difficult to start up a new operation. Bond premiums will be higher and more difficult to obtain. Freight rates may also increase since the new bond requirements will be more expensive, thus pushing up the cost of transportation. This may also lead to less competition and fewer brokers, especially small brokers. With fewer small brokers large brokers may increase profits and decrease payouts to owner operators. Larger bonds will provide more protection for non-payment. Only time will reveal the full impact of these changes on those across the transportation industry. The one thing we do know however is that these changes will make an impact.

While the FMCSA’s recent changes primarily deal with freight brokers, they will have an effect on all involved in transportation. How do you see these changes impacting you?

New Hours of Service Go Into Effect This July- Are You Ready for the Changes?

Do you wish you had a little more time on your hands? Working as a trucker often means long hours, many more than the typical American worker. While numerous people punch the time clock at their 40 hour a week jobs, some truckers drive as many as 82 hours any given week. If you feel like you need a vacation, you’re not alone, but the change in the hours of service rules from the FMCSA probably wasn’t the type of extra hours you were hoping to receive. These new rules mean big changes for many truckers and will have a real impact on how you work, how you drive and even on your insurance coverage starting in July of this year.

What Are the New Rules?

The new rules go into effect in just a few months; familiarize yourself with them now so you’ll be ready to follow them come July. Here are some of the highlights:

·        Number of Total Driving Hours Per Week Reduced- One of the biggest changes in the new hours of service rules impacts drivers who drive the maximum number of allowed hours each week. Currently an average of 82 hours of weekly driving time is allowed, but once the new rules take effect this number will decrease to 70 hours per week. No changes have been made to the number of allowed driving hours each day which will remain at 11.

·        Changes to 34 Hour Restart- Drivers working long hours often utilize the 34 restart to gain additional allowable driving hours during the week. After taking a 34 hour break the number of hours driven is reset to 0, allowing drivers to get a clean start on hours for the coming week. With the new rule each 34 hour restart must now include two consecutive 1 am to 5 am periods (driver’s local time). This reduces fatigue and allows the body to get optimal, nighttime sleep. Additionally the restart will only be available just once each week (168 hours).

·        30 Minutes of Rest Required Every 8 Hours- While the changes to the maximum number of weekly hours and the 34 hour restart will only effect truckers driving long hours, one provision will impact almost every trucker on the road. Starting in July all truckers will be required to take a 30 minute break every 8 hours. This break can be taken at any time, but you must never remain on duty for more than 8 consecutive hours without taking a break. You don’t have to rest during your break; it can be spent getting a meal, taking a walk, etc. as long as you’re off duty and not working.

·        More Information About the New Rules of Service- Get all the details about the new rules of service by reading the full report from the FMSCA. They have also prepared a helpful question and answer page that may answer some of your biggest questions regarding the upcoming changes.

The new regulations won’t just change the way you drive; they can also impact your insurance rates. Safety violations, including hours of service violations, can leave a negative mark on your SMS (Safety Management System) scores, which could potentially lead to higher insurance premiums. However, the reverse is also true. Truckers that consistently observe safety regulations and avoid receiving violations can often improve their insurance rates and save money. Whether you’ve got a few violations on your record or a perfectly clean report Western Truck Insurance Services would love to help you find the best rate possible. While trucking regulations change, one thing that will always remain the same is our focus on quality and helping drivers like you save time and money on great truck insurance.