DOT Promotes Flexibility in Trucking Hours to Maintain Trucker Safety

In a recently released memo, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) detailed final rules updating the hours of service to increase safety on roadways by updating existing regulations for commercial truck drivers.

The need for this change has come about due to the disruption in the nation’s trucking supply chain as a result of COVID-19. The outbreak of the virus this last spring upended everything from logistics to international shipping, which then trickled down to trucking companies, altering their service hours. In turn, this increased demand has affected trucker’s overall safety.

The solution from the FMCSA was implemented to bring more flexibility to new hours of operation, thus encouraging more rest and support for truck drivers.

Hours of Service Rules: A Closer Look

First adopted in 1937, FMCSA’s hours of service rules specify the permitted hours of operation for commercial truck drivers. In 2018, FMCSA penned an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to receive public comments on the HOS rules to limit unnecessary burdens placed on truck drivers while upholding Trucker safety on highways and roads. In 2019, the Agency published a detailed proposed rule which received plenty of public commentary.

Based on these comments and input, FMCSA’s final rule on hours of service offers some revisions to the existing rules.

First, the FMCSA will increase safety and flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after eight hours of consecutive driving and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty status.

Secondly, the FMCSA will modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow truck drivers to split their required 10 hours of off duty time into two periods. Also, the FMCSA will modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending the maximum window of time during which truck driving is allowed by two hours.

Lastly, the FMCSA will change the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the truck drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the truck driver may work from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

This change in hours of service rules is estimated to provide nearly $274 million in cost savings on an annual basis for the U.S. economy and American consumers. The trucking industry, although it has seen some disruption in recent years due to fewer available drivers and automation in driving technology, is still a major component of the national economy. The industry employs more than seven million people and moves nearly 75% of the nation’s domestic freight.

Since the onset of COVID-19, truck drivers have played a key role in getting the country through by driving supplies from state to state. FMCSA has provided relief to commercial truck drivers to get medical supplies, food, and household goods to Americans in need during these unprecedented times.

About Western Truck Insurance Services
Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!

What the Trucking Industry Should Know About OSHA Inspections

The trucking industry has seen major changes in a number of ways recently. Whether it’s systematic changes to legislation, like with California’s AB-5 legislation, or through unprecedented disruptions to supply chains, like with COVID-19, truck drivers and trucking companies have needed to adapt to the evolving industry. But while these changes have seemed abrupt, causing trucking companies to rethink how they approach everything from Truck insurance to operating hours, some industry updates can be prepared for, like with the recent OSHA updates meant to protect workers in the industry.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the right to inspect any workplace. There are many different things that might trigger an inspection, but the ultimate goal is to make sure a business is compliant with rules and taking the right precautions to keep its employees safe.

Here are some things that the trucking industry should know about OSHA inspections.

What Are Some Reasons an OSHA Inspection Takes Place?

As noted above, OSHA has the right to inspect any company at any time to look for any discrepancies when it comes to workplace safety. OSHA prioritizes inspections, according to the most hazardous workplace, which puts the trucking industry front and center since it’s repeatedly referenced as a dangerous work environment for all involved. Here are some reasons why an inspection might be carried out:

  • Imminent Danger: These are hazardous scenarios that can end up causing death or serious injury to people.
  • Severe Injuries: The employer must report any major injury or illness promptly to OSHA, which then carries out an inspection.
  • Employee Complaints: OSHA encourages employees to speak up and report any health and safety hazards or violations.
  • Referrals: This kind of inspection occurs when a government agency, other organization or individual has reported a possible hazard at a worksite.

Typically, OSHA does not give employers a warning before it conducts their inspections. Exceptions to this rule might include imminent danger scenarios and inspections that can effectively be conducted following regular business hours.

How Can Trucking Companies Handle an Inspection?

Businesses that are covered by the OSHA Act should already have a course of action in place for handling potential inspections. Since these inspections can happen at a moment’s notice, preparation is key. Doing this will increase preparedness and limit the chances of panic should an OSHA inspector show up at a trucking company’s worksite or operations center.

When an OSHA inspector arrives, it’s important for trucking company supervisors to obtain their credentials and be cooperative. While volunteering information isn’t the right choice upfront, it still helps to be cooperative and not try to obstruct an inspection. The last thing a trucking company would want is to get in an inspector’s way or give up information that was not asked for in the first place.

What Are the Penalties of Noncompliance?

Not all companies are prepared for an inspection, or at least not thrilled to see an inspector come onto their site. If OSHA gives out a de minimis violation, meaning it’s a technical violation that has no direct effect on the health and safety of truck drivers, then OSHA will not issue a citation. However, there are serious penalties that OSHA can give out, such as:

  • Serious violations: this means there’s a significant chance that death or serious physical harm may occur, and the employer should have been made aware.
  • Willful or repeated violation: An employer intentionally and knowingly violated OSHA’s rules.
  • Failure to Abate: The employer failed to correct a previously cited violation. Money penalties for these violations are adjusted each year, but a serious violation can exceed $12,000.

What Should Trucking Companies Know About New OSHA Regulations?

OSHA spent most of last year increasing its number of employer inspections and pursuing new rulemakings and programs. In 2019, it conducted more than 33,000 inspections addressing workplace violations related to falls, chemical exposure, silica exposure, and other hazards.

OSHA also recently issued a proposed rule that would amend parts of the cranes and derricks in construction standard, as well as those that have to do with industrial trucks. The proposed amendments will include correcting references to power line voltage, broadening for forklifts carrying loads under the forks.

This also encompasses trucking companies that operate on commercial sites. Trucking companies should be aware of the violations listed above and avoid any potential fallout or legal ramifications that may come. This will help to keep employees safe and the entire work environment compliant with any updates OSHA may have.

About Western Truck Insurance Services


Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!

AB-5 Legislation Update

The state of California has asked a federal court to begin lifting the preliminary junction against imposing AB-5 on the state’s trucking industry. The requests to the Court of Appeals for the state’s 9th Circuit is part of the appeal of the attempt by the California Trucking Association (CTA) to be granted an injunction against the position that AB-5 has put the trucking industry in.

The state’s AB-5 Legislation has been a topic of controversy for over a year now. What it does is move 2018’s Dynamex California Supreme Court decision into law, which established an ABC test to determine the status of an independent contractor that could essentially eliminate the owner-operator model in California, and disrupting everything from investing in commercial truck insurance, such as general liability insurance, and the sharing economy.

According to the appeal by the attorney general’s office, the law set in place by the FAA in the early 90s “preempts state and local regulation that has a significant effect on the prices, routes or services of motor carriers.” This has been the position of the CTA as well and a case they have been trying to make since AB-5 began picking up steam last year.

The state’s appeal is mostly looking at the prices, routes, and services, as mentioned above, in the preliminary injunction. The state cited legal precedents that it said should be looked at as meaning that state labor regulations are not preempted by the Federal Aviation’s act.

Independent Contractors and Trucking Companies

If the argument that AB-5 doesn’t entirely ban the hiring of independent contractors as truck drivers by a company, the state’s argument stays focused on prices, routes, and services. The test brought on by AB-5, the ABC test, and the earlier standard used to decide if someone is a full-time employee or a contractor do not define the rights or benefits that a trucking carrier has to provide its drivers.

The state went on to argue that the decision to grant the injunction then offers no “substantive analysis on what impact labeling motor carriers’ drivers to be ‘employees’ will have on prices, routes, and services”. The state argues that what might be seen as a hurried nature of the CTA action is reason enough to overturn the injunction.

The state’s filing says the ABC test became a reality for trucking companies and their drivers with the Dynamex decision, which was put into place in April of 2018. However, the injunction wasn’t put into motion until December of 2019, plenty of time for the plaintiffs to seek injunctive relief during that time period.

About Western Truck Insurance Services
Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!

Poor Trucking Maintenance & Accidents

Collisions with large trucks on the road typically result in major injuries and even death. And with the rise in trucking accidents in recent years, it’s important to look at the factors that are creating this issue. Large truck accidents have many different potential causes. Driver error may play a part, but the main issues relate to poor trucking maintenance. From tire health to checking fluids, it’s important for truck drivers to understand the danger poor maintenance plays in accidents.

Dangers of Poor Trucking Maintenance

With as much weight as trucks put on the road and as much time as they spend traveling, it’s no surprise that they these vehicles need regular maintenance. Routine trucking maintenance should be completed just like any regular commuter vehicle. Sometimes, however, fleets of vehicles in a trucking company are not serviced frequently enough, leading to more potential incidents.

If a poorly maintained truck is back on the road, the risk of incident is much higher than if it were to be restored. Even if the driver practices the necessary safety measures, the hazards presented by a poorly maintained truck could cause accidents.

No matter the reason behind a trucking accident, truck drivers should be driving with the right level of truck insurancethat keeps them protected. This kind of coverage, including general liability and physical damage coverages, can provide peace of mind after an accident. In addition, this insurance policy will provide the funds needed to repair a truck’s damage to make sure it remains in its optimal operating condition.

Brakes and Steering

Any issues with brakes and steering that a truck driver notices must be given attention. The vehicle in question needs to undergo a full inspection to make sure that all brakes are working as they should be and that the steering is in good working condition. Failure to check on brakes and steering could end up causing a major accident, especially as the brakes on these large trucks undergo much more strain and wear and tear than typical vehicles, this is especially important. Trucking maintenance should be comprehensive and prioritize the most-used features of the vehicle.

Vehicle Fluids

Large trucks do require routine fluid checks, just like your average everyday sedan or pickup. It’s important that brake fluid, steering fluid, motor oil, and radiator fluid are checked on a regular basis. Simple additions of these fluids can keep the truck running smoothly during its commute.

Tire Health

Over time, the weight and wear put a strain on a truck’s tires. Similar to brakes, this a routine check that should never be skipped. There should also be an emphasis on proper rotation and replacement, as well. A large truck that has a damaged or worn set of tires can be a hazard to anyone around them on the road. The risk of vehicle loss due to tire blowouts puts everyone in harm’s way.

Broken and Damaged Lights

A broken taillight, as simple and unassuming as it may seem, can end up causing major problems. If a turn signal or headlight is out, this could increase the risk of collisions since many trucks travel by night. When any light is not working properly, it could lead to a potential accident that can be avoided with the right level of regular care and simple trucking maintenance checks.

About Western Truck Insurance Services


Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!

COVID-19: Temporary Suspension of Motor Carrier IRP Requirements

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to create stress and disrupt our daily lives when it comes to fearing for our health and safety, lawmakers and industry leaders are also having to deal with the logistical and economic fallout that could happen as a result. From businesses closing down for two weeks to people staying indoors throughout the day, practically every industry is taking a hit as spending, investing, and overall business have all come to a veritable halt.

Texas Suspends Motor Carrier IRP Requirements

In Texas, the state’s governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster on Friday, March 13, as coronavirus began to spread and cause panic. And as the state looks to test more citizens for the virus, Abbot has waived certain regulations related to commercial trucking. The motor carrier IRP requirements suspension will help to expedite commercial vehicle delivery of more supplies in every truckload, including items like cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and grocery store items.

Desperate Times

The waivers implemented by Abbott will be coordinated through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and will look to restock shelves and make more items readily available.

“As the State of Texas works to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, we are taking precautionary measures to ensure that Texans have access to the goods and supplies they need,” said Governor Abbott. “Suspending these state trucking regulations will improve our ability to deliver the necessary supplies throughout the state so that grocers and retailers are able to continually stock their shelves. I want to remind Texans that stockpiling resources is neither necessary nor productive. The State of Texas is prepared and will continue to take action to support our communities.”

The 3 Suspended Statutes

Three specific sets of statutes have been suspended by Abbott. They include:

  • The International Registration Plan (IRP) vehicle registration under Transportation Code 502.091 and 43 Tex. Admin. Code 217.56, as long as the vehicle is registered in one of the 48 contiguous states of the United States
  • The oversize and overweight permitting requirements under Transportation Code, Chapters 621 through 623, as well as Title 43, Chapter 219 of the Texas Administrative Code, for all divisible and non-divisible vehicles and loads
  • The 72-hour and 144-hour temporary registration permits under Transportation Code 502.094 and 43 Tex. Admin. Code 217.40(b)(3), as long as the vehicle is registered in one of the states of the United States

Abbott also announced that drive-thru testing is now available in San Antonio with more of these test sites opening up soon. The San Antonio location has been testing first responders, health care workers, operators of infrastructure and key resources, and high-risk patients. Next, Abbott plans on opening more drive-thru testing sites for truck drivers in Dallas and Austin.

About Western Truck Insurance Services


Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

California Truckers and Teamsters Appeal to Ninth Circuit After Ruling

The trucking industry in California has been caught up in a whirlwind of legal battles in the last few months as new legislation has been proposed, passed, and protested around the classification of workers in the industry. Everyone from truck drivers to dock workers to independent contractors are all involved as the state’s new AB5 bill, which represents a total change in how these employees can receive benefits and even find the right level of commercial Truck insurance for their daily operations.

Now, in a new appeal, truckers and teamsters in the industry are voicing their concern. A U.S. District Court judge has issued a preliminary injunction in the AB5-related case of California Trucking Association, et al., v. Attorney General Xavier Becerra, et al., and International Brotherhood of Teamsters temporarily blocking the ABC test.

What is the AB5 Bill?

AB5 essentially codifies the Dynamex case from April 2018 in which California’s Supreme Court determined that an ABC test must be used to determine worker classification in wage-order claims. Under this new test, a worker is presumed to be an employee. To go about this in a successful way, a company must demonstrate that the worker satisfies all three parts of the test.

These three parts include:

  • The worker is free from control and direction in the performance of their services
  • The worker is performing work outside the usual course of the business of the hiring company
  • The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade or business

AB5 makes the ABC Test the law in the state, but it also expands beyond wage-order claims to all provisions under the state Labor and Unemployment Insurance codes.

Making Their Appeal

The AB5 test went into effect on January 1 of this year and has faced plenty of backlash already from the trucking industry as well as the gig economy, a major player in the state with companies like Lyft and Uber. The California Trucking Association and two independent motor-carriers won a preliminary injunction on January 16, after a judge found that they’d established a likelihood of success on the merits of the arguments they were making.

The truckers involved in the injunction argued that FAAA preempts the ABC test because it requires them to classify all drivers as employees, causing major interference with their routes, services, commercial truck insurance, and prices.

The following is a statement from Julie Gutman Dickinson, local counsel to the Teamsters Port Division:

“We are not surprised by the Court’s decision to issue a preliminary injunction blocking application of AB5’s ABC test to California truck drivers; however, the decision does not impact port and rail drivers’ fight for their employee rights and an end to systemic wage theft. The bottom line is that in every port trucker misclassification/wage theft case to date, misclassified California port truck drivers have been found to be employees NOT independent contractors under the California Borello test. It simply does not matter whether you apply the ABC test under Dynamex, AB5, or the Borello test, they are employees under all tests. The Court’s preliminary injunction has no practical effect on the employee status of these drivers—they are clearly employees.

In Regards to Wage Claims

“In over 500 wage claim cases at the California DLSE, drivers have uniformly been found to be employees NOT independent contractors under the Borello test. There is not one case that I am aware of where any driver has been found to be an independent contractor under Borello. And in all private litigation I have participated in and am aware of, port and rail drivers have uniformly been found to be employees under the Borello test. Indeed, the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals has made crystal clear that Borello is NOT preempted under the FAAA.

The Test

“The question of whether the ABC test is preempted will go through legal proceedings before there is any final determination. Even if ultimately prong B is found preempted, prongs A and C should remain intact as they have in other jurisdictions. Further, even if the ABC test as a whole were ultimately found to be preempted for interstate drivers, it would still be immaterial to the fact that these drivers have been uniformly found to be employees under Borello, a test that has definitely been determined NOT to be preempted.”

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!

Truck Parking Safety Tips

For truck drivers, finding available and safe parking on the road has been a problem for as long as trucking has been a service. Now, the issue has grown as the rise of e-commerce has put more trucks on the road. But, just as many states across the country have closed down rest areas due to cost cutting and changes to hours of service rules.

With more trucks on the road, driver frustration when it comes to finding sensible and safe parking is at an all-time high. As three million trucks drive across the country, only 300,000 parking spaces await them when they need a break. While some trucks return to their terminals before the day is done, there’s still a surplus of truck drivers who need to find their own spot for the night.

So, what can truckers do to not only find a space but be safe?

Position for Safety

When a driver pulls into a truck stop, they should park as far away from traffic as they can. This means that they will need to park in the back of a lot. It may be tempting to just pull into the nearest space when you’re driving in, but other people will be finding spots there too. Avoid parking in a spot near the end of a row as these are closest to the parking lot traffic.

Plan Your Route

Truckers are already following a pre-planned route as it is. However, they should also factor in fuel stops and truck stops that will be used en route. Try to plan the driving schedule around fulfilling miles and driving hours within certain regulations, as well as factoring in arriving at truck stops early. Competition for finding available parking can be hard, so planning where to park will help you avoid any illegal or unsafe parking.

Protect Your Cargo

If you plan on sleeping in your cab overnight at the truck stop, remember to take some extra care in order to protect you and what you’re hauling. Close the windows up, lock the doors, and keep valuables, such as cell phones and electronics, out of sight. It can also help to have window shades installed to keep out any potential for wandering eyes.

To go even further, truckers can install dash cams for truck insurance purposes as well as to help boost their peace of mind. Truck insurance, such as crime insurance, can help truckers and the companies they drive for avoid major legal fees if a safety issue does occur. While no one wants to look forward to a safety issue wherein truck insurance is used, it doesn’t hurt to have assets protected under this coverage.

Add Some Strategy

Parking spots that are more strategically planned for are the ones that won’t require a driver to back out when they have to leave in the morning. Try to find spaces that let you pull through or back into. Also, be aware of the parked trucks around where the spot is located and try not to park in a space where the other trailer will have to back up towards when it’s leaving.

Go for Well-Lit Spaces

Parking under or near lights, or in truck stops where floodlights are present is better than going for a dark lot. While a dark lot may look like it’s ideal for cutting out extra light and will help you sleep, it’s not as safe. Lights help to turn thieves away or at least shine a light on them if they try to steal. Truck stops always have people coming and going, so find a balance between an optimal parking spot location and one that’s well-lit.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

Trucking by the Numbers: Cargo Theft, Operational Costs, and More

The trucking industry has seen a seismic change in everything from day-to-day operations, technology, and operational costs, causing operators in the industry to have to review their goals, needs, and finances. With a new year upon us, it’s important to look at the outlook of the industry and see how companies need to adjust heading into a new year and new quarter.

Here’s a closer look at the trucking industry and how everything is stacking up.

Operational Costs

According to ATRI’s newest Ops Costs report, operational costs in the trucking industry haven’t changed too much from the prior year. The average marginal cost per mile incurred by motor carriers in 2018 increased by a 7.7-percent mark to $1.82. Costs rose in every cost center, save for tires, with fuel costs experiencing the highest year-over-year growth at 17.7 percent.

In the truck insurance industry, insurance costs saw the second-fastest yearly growth at 12 percent. But even with this increase, trucking companies are needing to fit this expense in their monthly budgets to protect against costly claims on the road or to even protect them from roadside incidents, such as accidents or lost or stolen merchandise.

Repair and maintenance costs have increased by 24 percent since 2012, hovering around 17 cents per mile, even with an increase in sales of new trucks and trailers. Altogether, motor carrier operational costs have jumped up by more than 11.6 percent.

Roadway Incidents and Deadly Jobs

Transportation incidents have continued to rise in the industry, representing the most common fatal workplace injury. Roadway incidents involving motorized vehicles are the leading fatal cause, followed by pedestrian vehicular incidents. Increased efforts in the industry are in motion to provide drivers with the tools to drive defensively even with a higher rate of traffic congestion.

In 2018, the industry saw a two-percent increase from 2017 in fatal work injuries in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The fatal work injury rate remained the same at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time workers. Truck drivers had the most fatalities of any broad occupation group in 2018, and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers had the second-most fatalities.

Cargo Theft

The holidays have just passed, and numbers out of the season in terms of cargo theft are expected to be high, as usual. The Christmas season is usually the busiest time of year when it comes to cargo theft, and with a rise in e-commerce causing more trucks to be on the road, it’s no secret that cargo theft is something to be concerned about at a growing rate.

It’s estimated that about two thefts take place every day during the holiday shopping season, a 20-percent increase compared to the remainder of the year with electronics being the main target.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

Layoffs are Part of a Troubling Trend in Trucking

The trucking industry has been going through major reformation in recent years with the push to go more tech-savvy. Autonomous trucking operations are starting to take over the highways and byways in America with companies like Uber Freight and TuSimple planning more available freight deliveries in the coming months.

This push to go autonomous has some trucking companies and trucking professionals worried that the need for drivers will start to go away. But the entire trucking industry has started to see a major slowdown as a whole, adding to the doubts around truck driver job security.

In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the trucking industry saw more than 10,000 truckers lose jobs between July and September. The layoffs are a result of a major slowdown in manufacturing related to the US-China trade dispute that’s currently ongoing, marking a major indication of an entire economic recession in the U.S.

Long Time Coming?

Analysts have been showing concern around the slowdown in the economy for some time, pointing out the role that trucking is playing. Job growth overall has slowed down in recent months across a number of sectors with payrolls averaging about 161,000 per month compared to 223,000 the same timeframe last year. This has caused a stir among trucking companies who need to find ways to do everything from completing their current orders and budget for layoffs. Things like truck insurance and ordering new vehicles may have to be put on hold even though they may be pertinent to an everyday operation.

Trucking has historically been known for hiring and firing thousands of people at once, bringing in loads of people or cutting whole swaths at a moment’s notice. For instance, in the summer of 2018, the industry saw a boost of 37,000 jobs after loads of new trucks were ordered to keep up with the surge in everything from e-commerce to international trade. But with standstills at the U.S.-Mexico border for trucking freight and another standstill with China over trade tariffs, the trucking industry has been caught in the middle.

Recent layoffs also mirror an overall shift in the services offered through trucking, such as same-day or next-day delivery in the e-commerce space. There are still areas where the trucking industry is hiring regularly, such as courier and messaging service companies, which are seeing solid bumps in opportunity due to more activity on sites like Amazon and eBay.

National networks like UPS and FedEx, can provide the dedicated capacity to large-sized customers to make sure there are no gaps in freight service, but for smaller and mid-sized companies that lack scale, this trend could be dire in the long run, maybe even leading to the demise of a number of companies.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

Intentional Pairing: An Operations Change That Could Lead to Lowered Trucking Costs

Trucking companies have been operating with drop-and-hook operations for some time hoping to maximize efficiency. But while many trucking companies stick with this method, there’s little focus when it comes to matching tractors. In a new report from the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), it’s pointed out that a change in operations to allow for more intentional pairing as it’s known could lower overall trucking costs and have more room for needful assets such as hiring and truck insurance.

But while it’s projected to help with efficiency and cut costs, some leaders in the industry argue against pairing, saying that while it’s a good idea, it’s not really feasible. Even with a net improvement of five to 10 percent, as stated by the NACFE, the case to change things up may not be compelling enough.

Studying The Road

In the study, titled “The Feasibility of Intentional Pairing,” the NACFE portrays pairing as a dream for engineers, allowing for the design of an integrated tractor-trailer combination to be operated in a cost-cutting way. The report, which spans 86 pages, outlines everything needed to change for a complete overhaul of how things get done on the road through pairing. Through a survey of 50 fleets, including big names in the industry like Werner, UPS, and PepsiCo, NACFE found that the majority of fleets operate in drop-and-hook with the focus on keeping the trailer in motion as much as possible.

The benefits of pairing would be on a sliding scale according to the NACFE’s findings. Fleet annual net MPGs would improve and intentionally pairing by model type would provide the best opportunity for gains on the road.

The ability to pull this kind of move off is still questionable as many variables are involved and would require a whole new way to go about moving freight around. From time to pricing to asset location, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to an issue.

According to the NACFE, a growing number of GPS tracking systems and more data does present a new opportunity for a more efficient asset optimization in certain applications of freight, such as shipping beverages around. These commodities already operate in a certain manner as fleets pair weight-reduced tractors with weight-reduced trailers to maximize payload.

Altogether, NACFE, concluded that intentional pairing, while a great idea, and something to look forward to in the future, is not a full-fledged reality at this point. But the new technology does offer up opportunities through asset tracking and asset management. With data available around these entities, including driver information, tractor characteristics, asset status, locads, weather, and routes, better operational decisions can be made.

By combining this with the vehicle data, it could allow fleets to match trucks to certain shipping situations. Lightweight tractors could be paired up with lightweight trailers in order to maximize payload potential, even if it’s resulted in a shorter lifespan for those assets. Tractors with down-sped transmissions could be used for routes where technology can best be of benefit.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.