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.

Ways to Improve Your Fleet

Managing a trucking fleet comes with a host of challenges for owners and individuals in the industry. From evolving technology to changes in legislation from state to state, trucking fleets have more than just the day-to-day to take care of.

There is a major amount of pressure that comes with maintaining a successful and efficient fleet. A fleet manager is responsible for purchasing vehicles, driver management, record keeping, and vehicle maintenance, among other things. While this can be a grind, there are a number of things that can be done to enhance the efficiency of a fleet.

Here are some things to consider when looking for ways to improve your fleet.

1. Insurance

First, it’s always important to make sure your fleet is running under the right truck insurance coverage. Having coverage such as truck liability policy and physical damage will keep your fleet covered during the time of a claim. Truck insurance is the first step to ensuring your company, employees, finances, and daily operations are protected moving forward. Not having insurance will open you up to major financial and reputational losses that could have devastating consequences.

2. Maintenance Strategy

Fleet managers need to be sure to strategize and create plans to make sure their vehicles are running in excellent condition. Larger truck fleets carry their own in-house service centers for maintenance to be conducted on a regular basis on their premises. If your fleet is a smaller business, it is more practical to hire out a company to keep your trucks serviced. No matter who’s taking care of your trucks, it’s important to get them taken care of on a regular schedule to keep efficiency up.

3. Manage Your Drivers Effectively

Fleet managers need to be able to communicate with their drivers effectively. Communication in the trucking industry is crucial for any fleet. Truck drivers need to be able to reach out to their managers easily and the flow of information needs to remain open and efficient. One way this is being done is by installing electronic logging devices (ELD’s) that monitor driver behavior; tracking if a driver is frequently speeding or breaking excessively.

Through ELD’s and regular communication with drivers, fleet managers can keep everything running smoothly.

4. Evaluate Your Assets

Fleet managers and vehicle technicians should be aware of the status of their assets. Beyond knowing your vehicle’s conditions and current service parts inventory levels, it’s also crucial to completely have a grasp on how every vehicle is used as well as how its components work. For this, it’s important to evaluate your fleet’s assets on a regular periodic basis, which can help you make adjustments to current business demands.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Servicesis 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.

Fleets: How They’re Growing, and What Operators Are Concerned About

According to statistics from Government Fleet, smaller trucking fleets are taking over the roads, beating out bigger operations when it comes to picking up business. However, with growth among smaller fleets, a mix of issues such as training needs and replacement budgeting are causing a stir. Also, in the industry as a whole, a growing driver shortage tied with a surge in e-commerce is creating a major disparity in being able to serve customers on time.

As fleets grow and business picks up, stakeholders in the industry are scrambling to find ways to be effective and stay ahead of the curve. Here are some major issues operators are concerned about:

Driver Shortage

As mentioned above, the truck driver shortage is starting to be un-ignorable. According to the American Trucking Association, the industry is short on truck drivers by an estimated 63,000 positions. And even with a pay increase of more than 15 percent in the median salary range over the past six years, the demand for getting new drivers behind the wheel hasn’t been met.

To make matters worse, companies can expect to see that shortage increase, especially with an aging workforce. The average age of a driver hovers around 50 years old, and younger drivers aren’t applying as frequently as they used to.

Deteriorating Infrastructure

In 2016, one of the major campaign topics among both major parties had to do with infrastructure spending. It is clear that the country needs to put more effort into rebuilding our roads, bridges, and highways.

Safe and reliable infrastructure is important to the industry and crucial for trucking companies to be able to operate efficiently and safely. Efforts have been discussed to pump more funds into the industry, but there has yet to be any major legislation passed.

Safety

Speaking of safety concerns, truck drivers are witnessing a sharp rise in not only accidents on the road but fatalities. In 2017, more than 37,000 people died in auto crashes, a decrease by two percent from the prior year. However, commercial trucking made up 4,761 of those deaths, marking a nine-percent increase and hitting its largest level in 29 years.

Now, major distractions on the road are starting to influence these numbers as truck drivers and commuters are becoming more and more distracted by phone use. This puts a whole new layer of importance on the need for commercial truck insurance to protect companies and their drivers from claims related to accidents and death. While not everything can be prevented, it can be protected by maintaining comprehensive commercial truck insurance coverage.

Trucking Regulations

The laws and regulations affecting the industry are constantly under review and being revised. What’s more, different states see their own regulations change, like in California, where the recently passed AB-5 bill is upending what it means to be an independent contractor.

Electronic logging requirements are also starting to shape the industry as the electronic logging devices that are being mandated have been installed to help create a safer work environment for drivers. These devices help to accurately track, manage, and share the records of duty status of drivers.

Next, drivers are starting to see drug and alcohol sobriety tests be more intensely enforced. Updates to drug and alcohol testing, while beneficial for everyone on the road, including everyday commuters, can be costly, taking up space in an operation’s budget. Trucking fleets are having to find ways to keep budgets slim or even find room by cutting services.

One service that is being weighed by operations, but is still a necessity, is commercial truck insurance. Truck liability insurance should be kept as part of an operation’s budget outline and different commercial truck insurance brokers, like Western Truck Insurance, are able to provide personalized and form-fitting commercial truck insurance to fit a company’s needs.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Servicesis 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.

How CAB Reports Function in Underwriting Trucking Operations

When it comes to trucking operations, having truck insurance is an important component to keep everything moving in a transparent way. However, if a motor carrier’s driving history is flagged with having the same number as another company, finding the right coverage can be increasingly difficult.

Interpreting risk information should be in every carrier’s understanding of how motor truck cargo insurance works, especially in terms of understanding risk factors and underwriting motions. Certain determinations are made by tools like the Central Analysis Bureau, or CAB, and the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS).

Here are some questions that are usually brought up when a CAB reports risk information in underwriting.

Under what circumstances would the CAB report a prior-used VIN?

Typically, an owner-operator leased to an insured would operate under a permanent lease. If the owner-operator, however, has their own authority, this may show up as “during.” Also, the insured may have already de-leased an owner-operator or sold the equipment during the period in question, which would trigger the CAB.

If a company’s DOT number has been captured by a DOT officer mistakenly, which is uncommon, it can be corrected by a company challenging the inspection. Also, a company may be operating under multiple authorities, which would trigger a shared VIN notification to the CAB.

If an owner-operator is hauling for the insured under their authority, is inspection data going to be reflected on the CAB report?

Data for inspections is captured under the Department of Transportation number for both the company the diver is operating under at the time of inspection as well as the driver’s own record. This kind of information is kept stored in a separate database so confusion is limited. Driver data is typically only available to individual drivers and their potential employers.

Regarding trucking insurance, what underwriting actions are taken when CAB motions that an insured or applicant shares a phone or email address with multiple carriers?

Something like having a shared number or email address, or even physical address, doesn’t necessarily mean shared ownership, but this is something that will be deemed as needing to be looked at. Usually, a common reason behind shared contact information is when a permitting office lists their number and address instead of the trucking company’s information.

Another reason behind sharing a number or address is when smaller operations share an office of dispatch. The CAB will look at ownership and make sure it’s separate and that there is no shared use of drivers or equipment.

What’s more, there may be outdated information listed with the FMCSA, which needs to be updated on a biannual basis.

Understanding underwriting risk factors is important for motor carriers in gaining motor truck cargo insurance. It’s vital to address any anticipated concerns at the time of submission as anything looked over or missed may bring about a more limited chance of gaining insurance.

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.

How Trucking Operations Can Protect Their Drivers’ Mental Health

While it’s important for trucking professionals to do their job well, including getting every haul to its destination on time and taking care of their payload to the utmost, it’s also important for drivers to take care of their self, just like how trucking companies can take care of their operations with truck insurance.

Driving for long hours alone on the road can take a toll on drivers’ mental and physical outlines, so knowing how you can take better care on the road is key. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, more than one million truck drivers in the United States will be involved in serious road accidents at some point in their careers, opening the door for post-traumatic stress.

Trucking companies can take care of their employees by offering suggestions to keep their minds sharp and spirits lifted. Here are some suggestions:

Consider a Travel Companion

If it’s allowed, truck drivers can consider bringing on a co-pilot for long hauls. This will help beat road isolation that becomes a common threat for drivers. From spouses to friends, fellow drivers or even dogs, having someone in the passenger seat can help keep spirits up, especially for bigger projects.

Keep a Strong Network

During taking breaks on the road, drivers should check in with loved ones or even support groups back home. The good news is there are so many different ways to stay connected. Social media, video calling, text, email–drivers have so many options to keep in touch. Even a quick chat between stops can make a big difference.

Have a Routine

Sometimes it actually backfires to have the same routine every day. But for drivers it can give them something to look forward to. From waking up at certain times to having morning rituals, like a stretch session or going on a run before getting the day started, drivers should make an effort to have some consistency every day. After the day gets going, drivers can add some variety to their days by looking forward to checking in with family and friends, posting on social media or even listening to podcasts.

Keep Fit

Spending long hours behind the wheel can also be hard on the body; back stiffness and leg problems are the most prevalent. That’s why making small efforts to keep fit on a schedule can make a big difference. Not only will staying active be helpful to the body, it can also be good for the mind and soul by adding confidence and helping with sleep. From light jogs to yoga to high-intensity interval training, drivers can help keep their mind and body in shape.

Bring Some Comforts From Home

While truck cabs may not be a good replacement for your living room back home, they can still stand in as great reminders of what’s waiting for you. Bring photos and small decorations to remind you of home and family or even just your favorite spots back in your hometown, like restaurants and sports venues.

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.