Thursday, August 30 2018
ORLANDO, Fla. —This month of September we close the 3rd quarter of the year and it’s that time of the year when the industry analyzes current trends and challenges to identify areas of opportunity as well as a course of action to be proposed for the following year.
Many of these issues and challenges have been previously discussed in our blog. On a recent interview, Chris Spear, chief executive of the American Trucking Associations, reiterated his aggressive agenda that includes recruiting teenage truck drivers, a gas tax increase to fix roads and safety technology for greater trucking industry productivity.
Four topics, aside from the driver shortage issue, are taking most of the attention in terms of priorities for the next year: Productivity, infrastructure, safety technology and tariffs.
Trucking is booming. But a shortage of trucks and technicians to fix them is as chronic as the lack of drivers. The capacity crunch is raising load prices. That’s good in the short term. But unless the industry can become more efficient, it risks losing business to other transportation modes. According to Spear, there are many laws that haven’t been modified for the last 35 years, included are the productivity laws that haven’t been changed since 1982. One example he emphasized on are regulations like the hours-of-service rule that restricts drivers to 11 hours behind the wheel in a 14-hour period need to be modified because some shippers are considering it an inefficient practice not up to speed with the economy growth.
Also, truckers could drive less and earn the same pay if regulations allowed more flexible sleep breaks to avoid traffic bottlenecks, according to a study by the American Transportation Research Institute. Replicating flexible hours-of-service rest breaks across the industry could save drivers 2.3 million hours and $150 million in annual operating expenses, according to ATRI.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began studying alternatives to the 10-hour sleep mandate in 2015. The agency on Aug. 21 announced a 30-day comment period for an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to changes in the hours-of-service rules.
Automated driving assist and autonomous driving technologies could help drivers be safer, more efficient, more productive and less fatigued. The chief executive of the American Trucking Association believes there is no reason for truck drivers to feel threatened by it. He compared its implementation to that of airplanes that could take off and land on their own but still, pilots are the ones in control.
The trucking industry pays half of the federal Highway Trust Fund. According to the association’s top executive, without new money or continued diversion of funds from other areas, the trust fund will go broke in 2020. He believes a 20-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax increase over four years that would raise $340 billion will be included and defends higher fuel taxes as the most efficient way to pay for road and bridge upkeep.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an important discussion because trucks account for most of the border crossings into Mexico and Canada. Right now, truck and trailer makers are building in surcharges to offset tariffs on imported aluminum and steel.
Although some tensions were present at the beginning of the process the recent deal with Mexico came quickly enough to bring back hope to members of this important industry for our country.
Wednesday, July 25 2018
If you are an independent truck driver and don't hire the services of a professional accountant important to know that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reminding owners of most heavy highway vehicles that the time to file Form 2290, Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax Return, began July 1, 2018.
You may now use a credit card or debit card to pay the Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax.
The highway use tax applies to highway motor vehicles with a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more. This generally includes large trucks, truck tractors, and buses. The tax is based on the weight of the vehicle and a variety of special rules apply. These special rules are explained in the instructions to Form 2290.
If you have a change in your vehicle status you must :
In 2018, the IRS expects to receive almost 800,000 Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax Returns. Though some taxpayers have the option of filing Form 2290 on paper, taxpayers with 25 or more taxed vehicles must e-file Form 2290. Returns must be filed and tax payments made by Aug. 31, 2018, for vehicles used on the road during July.
The IRS encourages all owners to take advantage of the speed and convenience of e-file and paying any tax due. There is no need to visit an IRS office because the form can be filed and any required tax payment can be made online. Visit IRS.gov for a list of IRS-approved e-file providers and to find an approved provider for Form 2290 on the 2290 e-file partner’s page.
Generally, e-filers receive their IRS-stamped Schedule 1 electronically minutes after filing. They can then print the Schedule 1 and provide it to their state department of motor vehicles, without visiting an IRS office.
For those who want face-to-face service, all IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers now operate by appointment and taxpayers can call 844-545-5640 to schedule one. See the Taxpayer Assistance Center page on IRS.gov for details.
Sunday, June 24 2018
ORLANDO, Fla.— Global trade has taken off with the rise of outsourcing, the opening of emerging markets and technological advances. For 2018, the World Trade Organization projects a 4.4 percent world merchandise trade volume growth rate following a 4.7 percent rate in 2017, the strongest rate since 2011. However, new tariffs could threaten port trucking just as the industry is dealing with dramatically rising costs for fuel, driver pay and maintenance of increasingly more complicated vehicles.
New tariffs put up to 7 percent of Asia-to-U.S. shipping at risk and impact 1 percent of total global shipping. The trucking industry, already beset with such problems as declining drivers and regulatory requirements, including electronic logging of driving hours and limits on how long truckers can drive daily and in a week, will also feel the pain. Cross-border trade with Canada and Mexico is at risk. With NAFTA already in a questionable state, tariffs could financially impact revenues of leading U.S. trucking firms.
There’s much speculation concerning what tariffs and a potential trade war could mean for the U.S. Based on basic economic theory and past history, the result could mean more regional versus global trade with supply chains focusing on domestic transportation and warehousing.
According to industry experts, if tariffs are imposed on steel, aluminum, and other relatively low value/ high-density items, unless it sets off a trade war (which is always possible) there shouldn’t be much of a change on the other end of the tangible goods spectrum. The currently proposed tariffs are centered upon goods that are relatively low value / high density in their nature, but tariffs on steel would make us less competitive in the world market for the manufacture of autos, so we will make fewer of them. That is important to understand because there is a big difference between the freight flow of an imported car and a domestically produced or exported car. Moving a car produced with steel that is cheaper overseas results in one freight move, from the port to the dealership. The freight moves for making a car here or making a car here and exporting it are multifold. You move the iron ore and metallurgical coal from the mine to the steel plant, steel from the steel plant to the auto parts or engine plant, auto parts and engines from the plant where they are produced to the car assembly plant, and from the car assembly plant to the dealership or to the port to be exported to another country.
It has been the opening of markets and the deregulation of transportation in the late 70s and early 80s first in airfreight and then in railroads and trucking that helped create an environment in which the world’s largest and most competitive transportation companies (and national transportation infrastructure) were built.
Regarding the negotiations with NAFTA, the American Trucking Association’s—Chief Economist, Bob Costello, noted in a recent series of industry presentations that “NAFTA is critical to trucking,” with cross-border NAFTA freight representing $6.5 billion in revenues annually for trucking firms, with 31,000 truck driver jobs “completely dependent” on hauling cross-border goods.
“Suffice to say that NAFTA is a really big deal to the trucking industry”
Saturday, May 19 2018
Orlando, Fla.— According to the American Truck Association, the industry has been struggling with driver shortages for the past 15 years. During the Great Recession, freight volumes dropped, allowing the industry to meet demand with fewer drivers. But when volumes recovered in 2011, the driver shortage became a problem again.
Currently, more than 70 percent of goods consumed in the US are moved by truck, but the industry needs to hire almost 900,000 more drivers to meet rising demand. There are many reasons for the driver shortage, but one of the largest factors is the relatively high average age of the existing workforce.
According to surveys by ATA, the average driver age in the for-hire over-the-road truckload industry is 49. Other trucking sectors have an even higher average age, like less-than-truckload and private carriers. While the driver shortage is not as acute in these sectors as it is in the over-the-road truckload sector, the high average age still affects the overall shortage. As these two groups see drivers retire, they often go into the truckload labor pool to recruit drivers.
Motor carriers struggle to find enough qualified drivers. Many carriers, despite being short drivers, are highly selective in hiring drivers because they have made safety and professionalism high priorities.
If the trend continues, there could be severe supply chain disruptions which may cause significant shipping delays, higher inventory carrying costs, and perhaps shortages at stores. Because trucks account for 70.6% of all tonnage moved in the U.S., it is highly unlikely that the driver shortage could be reduced in any significant manner through the modal shift (i.e., shifting a large amount of freight from the highway to the rails).
THE PROPOSED POSSIBLE SOLUTION
Fleets with self-driving long-haul trucks and traditional human-driven regional routes could help the trucking industry address the problem of an aging driver workforce.
Uber, has been tackling this issue investing in both self-driving trucks and Uber Freight, a free app that matches carriers and their drivers with loads to haul. The biggest technical known hurdles for self-driving trucks are driving on tight and crowded city streets, backing into complex loading docks, and navigating through busy facilities. This is an area that is not expected to be solved by robots, it requires the human capability to maneuver and it won’t change at least for the near future until the so-called “smart cities” are built in a very long term.
Understanding that truck drivers have a very tough job on the roads, on which the number of driving hours can be grueling to the point that may become dangerous, the long haul portion of driving, self-driving trucks can ease some of the burdens of increasing demand. This could also create an opportunity for drivers to shift into local haul jobs so they can stay closer to home.
Uber argued that rather than a future of autonomous trucks replacing the humans in the trucking workforce with robots, the technology could be used to both alleviate the driver shortage and help make the existing driving jobs more appealing to younger prospective drivers.
The company began a research project into the potential impact of self-driving trucks on the trucking industry. Working with an estimate of 1 million self-driving trucks on the road by the year 2028, Uber found that the number of truck driving jobs would still increase overall in the same period. While the autonomous vehicles would reduce the number of long-haul trucking jobs, it would create far more short-haul driving opportunities.
Thursday, April 19 2018
Orlando, Fla. — The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the trucking industry’s not-for-profit research organization, has recently released the topics for the 2018 industry research.
The Board approved priorities do cover a wide array of critical industry issues including the impact that urban planning and “smart city” design have on truck operations, inconsistencies in CDL testing, and continuing research on the impact of autonomous technologies on the trucking industry .
2018 ATRI Top Research Priorities
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) and its Federation partners in the State Trucking Associations (STA) continually seek opportunities to identify and prioritize the industry’s most pressing concerns. For the past 13 years, the industry has relied on the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI’s) annual industry survey to better understand trucking’s most critical issues as well as to identify preferred strategies to address them.
Monday, March 26 2018
Orlando, Fla.— The Electronic Logging Devices Mandate (a.k.a. ELD) began its second phase on December 19th, 2017. For those in the trucking industry, it meant changing completely the way work hours are logged.
The ELD mandate is a rule that will enforce commercial motor vehicle drivers, who are currently required to record their hours of service, to record them using ELDs. More specifically, the mandate is targeting drivers with trucks model year 2000 or newer. Both Canada and Mexico-domiciled drivers are included in the mandate, as well.
There are a few exceptions that won’t require the use of ELDs:
• Drivers who use paper logs no more than 8 days during any 30-day period.
• Driveaway-towaway drivers (were the vehicle driven is the commodity) or the vehicle being transported is a motor home or a recreation vehicle trailer (at least one set of wheels of the vehicle being transported must be on the surface while being transported)
• Drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.
The mandate has been divided into three phases and its phase one went into effect in December 2015, giving carriers about two years to prepare to comply with the new regulation.
During phase two, in effect now, which is focused on compliancy, the enforcement and penalty phases are actually postponed until April 1, 2018. In other words, drivers will not receive points against their compliance, safety, and accountability score if they fail to meet the ELD requirements until April 1st, but drivers can still be given warnings (or possibly a fine) if they don’t have an ELD or grandfathered Automatic On-Board Recording Device when pulled over between now and the first of April.
In phase three, which is the final, carriers and drivers must be prepared to fully comply to the mandate and is predicted to take place after December 16, 2019. From then onward, all drivers and carriers will be held responsible for complying to the official ELD mandate — overruling any current exceptions to the rule.
Despite the inconvenience of installing new systems and the amount of training and familiarization it may bring at the beginning, there are a few benefits that we most focus on:
• ELDs make it easier, simpler, and quicker to keep driver logs.
• ELDs limit mistakes and reduce form and manner errors.
• ELDs provide information to drivers and motor carriers so that drivers can better manage fatigue and schedule issues.
• ELDs correctly record location and accurate information to easily track duty status.
• ELDs are a good management tool and back office asset to improve productivity and enhance compliance.
• With ELDs, there is less paperwork, and driver logs are orderly, clear, and accurate.
While the interstate Hours Of Service rules remain you will now be able to download a driver’s report within 30 seconds during an inspection.
Always remember that education is your best ally when it comes to new industry-wide rules and changes. The better informed you are about these current phases and exceptions, the better prepared you will be to avoid fines and other unnecessary complications.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extraordinary educational resources on this topic if you have further questions.
Thursday, February 15 2018
Orlando, Fla.— If you are in the truck industry in Central Florida, you must know the Florida Trucking Association puts up a series of resources to keep you well informed about the state’s requirements for your type of job in terms of safety as well as legislation.
We all know this is the type of business where if you are not in the road, you may not make money, but it is of uttermost importance to stay up to date with rules, regulations and safety measures. Failing to comply with those may also result in loss of business, lawsuits, and ultimately, severe consequences like revoking your permits leaving you unable to operate.
In the coming days, for example, the National American Transportation Management Institute will hold a Safety and Compliance Course in Bartow, Florida.
The course will consist of three seminars held back-to-back, which you can take advantage of all, or attend the ones you are most interested in.
Discussion topics are:
DOT Compliance & Safety (1 day): Focuses on driver qualifications, safety fitness and safety ratings, roadside inspection, CDL requirements and driver physicals. Master skills necessary to survive a DOT safety audit.
Controlled Substances & Alcohol Mandatory Training (0.5 days): Complete the DOT mandatory supervisor training requirements for alcohol & controlled substances.
HOS & Driver Logs (0.5 days): Hands-on interactive seminar providing training on federal Hours of Service and the proper use of driver logs.
The seminars will take place at Polk State College (Bartow Campus) on March 22-23, 2018. You can register directly at the NATMI website and there is a discount fee for FTA and NATMI members.
There will also be a Safety Certification Program in Jacksonville on February 26 through March 2, 2018 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. This event will take place at the Four Points by Sheraton, Jacksonville Baymeadows.
These will also back-to-back courses on Motor Fleet Safety Basics the first 2 days and Managing Motor Fleet Safety Program the other two days. The courses must be taken in the classroom and an the exams will be administered the morning after the second course.
The NATMI exists to improve the performance and productivity of the professionals directly responsible for effective fleet and driver performance – risk managers, safety and security directors, maintenance managers, and commercial driver trainers. It is no surprise that the Florida Trucking Association often teams up with them and encourage industry members to obtain the available certifications.
Their training and certification programs are outcome-focused and utilize rigorous instructional design standards. “Outcome-focused” means that the process, structure, and content of the programs are focused on the desired outcomes that our professional development programs should bring. For the companies who employ our certification program graduates, these outcomes include:
• reduced accidents and injuries
• lower vehicle maintenance costs
• improved driver retention
• improved operational efficiency
• better management systems
The trucking industry continues to evolve and adapt to changes in transportation laws and policies, and in energy costs. More than 80 percent of freight by weight is hauled by the industry, making trucking the cornerstone of commerce in the United States. Hauling fuel, agriculture, and other important products from fourteen ports to thousands of locations throughout Florida and the United States makes for sure everybody’s life more a convenient one.
Saturday, January 20 2018
Orlando, Fla. — In America, we all know who drives the economy. Transportation makes economic activity possible by enabling the production of goods and services—for instance, in carrying the raw materials needed to manufacture goods. Transportation also serves as a major economic activity itself. Households, businesses, and the government directly consume transportation goods (e.g., vehicles and motor fuel) and services (e.g., public transit and commercial airline transportation) to meet their travel needs. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics has come up with the most recent report about the contribution of the transportation sector.
Here are some of the most important highlights related to our industry:
Taking a look at the quantified contribution of the transportation industry to the U.S. economy just reiterates what we know about this important sector: it makes economic activity possible and serves as a motor to the U.S. Economy.
Thursday, December 28 2017
Orlando, Fla. — It’s the beginning of the Winter Season and for us in Orlando it doesn’t represent a big issue, except for foggy mornings that make our driving time a little difficult and risky. Although employers cannot control roadway conditions, they can promote safe driving behavior by ensuring workers.
Employers should set and enforce driver safety policies. Employers should also implement an effective maintenance program for all vehicles and mechanized equipment that workers are required to operate. Crashes can be avoided. Learn more at: Motor Vehicle Safety (OSHA Safety and Health Topic’s Page). Also, employers must ensure to have insurance coverage that is in good standing.
Some owner operators do need to travel interstate and may face bigger trouble and risks on the road. The longer the haul or the steeper the terrain, as in certain areas of the central and western United States, the more dangerous it can be.
Even though the weather may not look bad when you head out, things can change in a hurry. Once cold weather hits, it's best to always be prepared for the worst. So, in other words, if you are not destined to drive south,
being prepared for the best is key.
Here are some some safety tips provided by truckdrivingjobs.com
1) Safety Inspections and Walkarounds
While many companies mandate safety inspections for company drivers, particularly OTR drivers, on a daily basis, many veteran drivers overlook this simple and important step. A low tire can cut fuel mileage, and if the low tire is one of the main drive tires, the driver's control can be severely and dangerously compromised. Besides proper tire inflation and possible damage, the driver should also check the fluids (oil, windshield, transmission, and so on), as well as the wipers and brake lines.
2) Radio Traffic
Many drivers have gotten out of the habit of monitoring citizen's band (CB) radio traffic in favor of listening to satellite radio such as Sirius. This practice can be problematic because it prevents drivers from getting crucial early warnings about such things as road closures, hazardous conditions, and traffic accidents. Many drivers have learned the hard way that listening to CB traffic may not be the most interesting thing to do, but it can give vital advance warning of unsafe conditions so drivers can alter their travel plans according to weather and related problems.
3) Snow Tires and Chains
Many states, particularly in mountainous areas such as the portion of the US west of the Rocky Mountains, have areas where snow tires and chains are not just recommended, but mandatory. Failure to observe chain laws can result in expensive fines and blights on drivers' records. It can also create dangerous conditions for the driver, the cargo, and other drivers on the road. Many areas where chains are required feature a combination of steep uphill and downhill grades and valleys where snow, ice, and wind come together to produce hazardous weather conditions. Studded snow tires and chains are designed to add traction and prevent slippage on snowy or icy pavement, as well as making stopping or slowing easier and less dangerous under these conditions.
4) Speed Is Deadly
While the overland shipping industry relies heavily on speed to get vital goods from place to place, the fact is that speed is not always a good thing. During winter storm conditions, high winds and low visibility due to blowing snow can severely impact the stability of a load or the vehicle and prevent the driver from seeing obstacles and hazards on or near the roadway. Even more dangerous is so-called "black ice," which creates a nearly frictionless surface on the road that can cause even the biggest tires to slip. Thousands of accidents every year are attributed to black ice. In addition to the potential damage to the vehicle itself, fragile cargoes can easily be damaged or destroyed in such accidents. While owner operators may find themselves facing penalties due to keeping their speeds low, these penalties are trivial compared to losing their cargoes, their lives, or the risk of causing someone else to lose theirs.
5) Pull Over
Unfortunately, all the precautions, skill, and nerve in the world cannot overcome the dangers of severe winter weather. In these situations, it is better for a driver to pull over and find a place to wait out the storm. Many drivers cite the possible expense of not making a delivery as scheduled as a good reason to press on in extreme weather conditions, but if the snow is falling faster than salt and sand trucks or plows can clear it away, this kind of thinking can result in a tragic accident. Of course making a timely delivery is important, but relatively few loads can legitimately be said to be "life or death" matters. Sitting in a motel room or truck stop waiting for a storm to break may not seem like the most cost-effective way of getting from place to place, but contrasted against the risk of having an accident that will assure the load never gets where it's going, most drivers will agree that it is far better to wait.
6) Safety First
Many drivers, when on the job & considering the options and planning their routes to assure timely delivery, assume a set and continuous speed throughout the trip. However, winter driving can change these considerations drastically. Particularly when snow and ice are present, keeping the vehicle's speed constant but slow enough to be able to respond effectively to hazards is a good start. Drivers often talk about "white line fever," where they slip into a fugue state and drive for minutes or hours without recalling one thing they saw. Situations like these are exceptionally dangerous, because the driver's full focus is not on the road. Additionally, odds are good the driver is not checking their mirrors or scanning the road properly. Safety and alertness should always be the first consideration when driving in winter road conditions.
From all of us in Orlando Truck Insurance, we want to wish you a happy and safe holiday season and a great new year for you and your loved ones!
Thursday, November 16 2017
Orlando, Fla. —Tesla recently unveiled its eagerly-awaited all-electric semi-truck!
Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk has promised a truck that will “out-torque any diesel semi” and drive “like a sports car.” Seeing what an all-electric semi is capable of may be the most entertaining part of the night, even if it’s not a key metric for Tesla’s trucking customers.
Still, while we all wait for the complete rollout into our roads, there are a few things the industry is watching closely.
About the Long Range
The range of any electric vehicle is the critical metric—it defines how the vehicle can be used and the size of its potential market. Five years ago, few would have thought that a long-range heavy duty-truck was even possible. That’s changing fast. Daimler, the leader in Class 8 diesel trucks, recently unveiled a 220-mile range electric big rig, establishing a new bar for the industry. Long-range hauling across vast stretches of the U.S. would likely require more than 500 miles of range.
Batteries are the single most expensive component of any electric truck, and the battery of a cross-country hauler could cost $100,000 even before you build the truck around it. The sticker price, regardless of size, is going to be higher than its diesel equivalent because of those pricey batteries.
Platooning on Autopilot
Will the truck, expected to roll out by 2020, come with some level of autonomous driving? Tesla has been in talks with California and Nevada regulators about testing semis that can automatically follow a lead vehicle, a technique known as “platooning.” Platooning cuts fuel costs by reducing wind drag. And if the autonomous driving system is good enough to run without a driver, it could also dramatically cut labor expenses.
The biggest players in freight are good at keeping their trucks in top driving condition and averse to messing with the supply chain. Convincing companies like Swift, Ryder, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to bring an electric drivetrain into their fleets will be a tough sell. Tesla has been gathering feedback from trucking companies throughout the development process (at least one, Ryder, confirmed it), so it would be a good sign if Tesla comes out of the gate with some early partnerships.
A lot of infrastructure goes into servicing big rigs. Truck stops line the world’s highways, and fleet operators stand by with mountains of replacement parts ready to fix anything that might go wrong. How do they plan to deal with these hurdles? Will they introduce a whole new type of charging system, with ultrafast chargers or a robot that swaps out used batteries for fresh ones? Who will build out and operate the charging network? Who handles maintenance and roadside assistance?
Tesla’s car factory in Fremont, California, is running out of room and Tesla’s massive battery factory near Reno, Nevada, which is still under construction, seems like a more natural fit. That factory is also where Tesla makes electric motors and drivetrains—primary components for an electric semi.
Making it attractive to drivers
In a profile in this week’s Rolling Stone, Tesla’s CEO hinted at an unspecified “driver comfort feature”. Rumor says that a sweet coffee maker can make the cut, knowing that no one will buy it because of it, but still making it convenient for truck drivers.
Perhaps Tesla’s biggest advantage over other truck makers is that its Semi will share some core parts with its first mass-market car, the Model 3. Musk disclosed that the Semi uses “a bunch” of Model 3 motors, which sit in line with the truck’s axles. These relatively cheap electric motors will give the Semi unparalleled electric torque for getting quickly up to speed with a heavy load.
For more information visit https://www.tesla.com.
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