Health Benefits of ELDs and Hours of Service Rules

One of the most important aspects of being a professional truck driver is staying healthy. If your health is compromised, you aren’t able to handle your loads and deliver freight on a timely schedule. More importantly, if you develop certain medical conditions or health problems you may not be able to keep your commercial driver’s license. This is also the case for truck drivers who are put on certain types of medications to battle health issues. One way to be proactive about your health is to understand which medical conditions are more likely to effect you due to your occupation as a truck driver.

Most Common Health Concerns

Truck drivers operate on unpredictable schedules and work long hours, which makes it difficult to study this population. So for this study only 1,670 truckers working long haul trucking jobs were interviewed at random at 32 truck stops in the US. This is important to note, considering there are nearly 1.8 million truck driving jobs among heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The sample size is a very small number in comparison to how many long haul truckers there are over the road.

Furthermore, the study doesn’t indicate the haul types of this sample, nor does it note if the drivers are hauling for trucking companies like Mesilla Valley Transportation, P&S Transportation and Poly Trucking, or as independent truck drivers and owner operators. As you know some of the best paying trucking companies also offer health benefits, wellness programs, smoking cessation services, and weight loss competitions. Additionally, truck drivers have access to health and wellness services at truck stops across the US with walking trails, basketball courts, and gyms. So there are ways that truck drivers can be proactive about their health if they choose to be.

However, the study titled “Obesity and Other Risk Factors: The National Survey of U.S. Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury” published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, does document certain conditions are more likely to be noted in long haul truck drivers. These include:

  • Obesity
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Hypertension and heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Less than 6 hours of sleep in a 24-hour cycle

If you are a truck driver you already know this. Being in a sedentary occupation where you are sitting behind the wheel for 8 hours a day is akin to being an office worker sitting in front of a computer. You are going to suffer health problems because of this, no matter if you are an OTR trucker or office worker. Obesity comes from a lack of physical activity, which is the natural result of sitting in the same seat for hours on end.

Following along is the health problems associated with a lack of exercise and obesity—high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. If you smoke cigarettes to help you stay alert due to a lack of sleep, then that only adds to your health problems. Speaking of a lack of sleep, getting fewer than 6 hours of sleep adds to your risk of health problems since you’re not giving your body time to recover during a full night’s sleep. It is a cycle that you can easily slip into if you are a long haul trucker working a steady trucking job.

Solutions to Trucker Health Concerns

While hours of service regulations and the electronic logging device rule are not the most popular government mandates among truckers, these come with their benefits. Hours of service regulations provide some enforcement of health safety for drivers that they may otherwise overlook. For example, the hours of service limits the amount of time you can be behind the wheel in between resting periods. It also enforces break times so that you have time to get out of your seat and get to moving.

Now for the ELD rule the safety benefits for truckers are still hotly debatable. Yet the main reason for these devices is to make sure truck drivers aren’t bending the hours of service rules to accommodate their delivery schedules. The idea behind the ELD rule is to prevent truckers from altering their paper logs so they can get more hours behind the wheel within a 24-hour period. After all, for truck drivers the sooner they can make a delivery, the quicker they can get paid and move on to the next money making load. At the same time, when truckers are doing this everywhere, it reduces the benefits of the hours of service rules, which are also enforced to keep truckers out from behind the wheel for long periods of time.

Truck drivers don’t want to hear about the benefits of compliance requirements for hours of service rules or electronic logging devices. Yet the reality is these two regulations were designed to reduce the most common health problems associated with the trucking occupation. If truckers are going to be required to use ELDs and this slows these drivers down, there will be negative consequences on the economy. However, for the truckers this should help to slow down the health costs of being a truck driver. And as a truck driver money might be important, but your health is the most important aspect of all.


Trucking Industry Applauds the Latest Changes to 34-hour Restart Rules

Parked trucks idlingOnce again the 34-hour restart is up for debate and possible removal of all restrictions. If you are hauling trucking loads for trucking companies like Celadon Trucking, US Xpress or Butler Transport, then you are all too familiar with the 34-hour restart. This hours of service provision has been changed so often that is difficult to keep track. Discover the latest change with the restart rule to ensure you are in compliance.

The 34-Hour Restart Rule

If you are new to truck driving jobs, then you want to make sure you understand this convoluted hours of service rule. As it stands the 34-hour restart gives commercial truckers the chance to reset their HOS clock whether they are on a 60- or 70-hour schedule. The reason for the restart rule is to allow truck drivers to get back rolling on the road sooner if need be. With the restart rule you can set your weekly cycle hours at zero, giving you more freedom to complete your trucking routes. You are able to take a minimum of 34 consecutive hours for either off duty or sleeping berth time, or any combination of both.

The rationale behind the rule is to give truck drivers more control over their routes and haul schedules. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted the 34-hour restart rule to give truck drivers a break if they are fatigued. As a result, there is a reported decrease in trucking accidents and fatalities over the road. 

Trucking on the Upswing

Right now we are seeing a permanent removal of the restrictions on the 34-hour restart rule. It is perfect timing, too, considering how overburdened and at max capacity the trucking industry is currently operating. Is the change to reflect a need to get more trucks rolling on the roads? Will we see more changes so to allow truck drivers more freedom and flexibility to do their truck driving jobs? That’s optimistic, especially when we see so many trucking regulations that are pushing truckers to their limits.

From new driver training to speed limiter mandates, there is struggle going on between keeping drivers under the federal government’s thumb and allowing truckers to do their job so the economy keeps moving forward. The change in the 34-hour restart rule, though, is a positive move in the right direction for truck drivers. By doing the industry research, and avoiding the commercial interests lobbying for a stake in the trucking regulation world, the federal government would do a lot better at helping truck drivers.

We want to know what you think about the newest changes to the hours of service rules in regard to the 34-hour restart. Is this a change in a positive direction? Or are you frustrated with all of the constant regulatory changes in the trucking industry on account of the FMCSA and DOT? Share your thoughts!


Why Trucking Industry Wants to Keep Diesel Emissions Reduction Act Perks

kenworth truck on the roadThe trucking industry is constantly trying to find ways to save money. At the same time the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is focused on truck driver safety, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s primary goal is to reduce environmental threats. These three entities have collided with the discussion of deregulation of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act. The Trump Administration is pushing to get rid of the DERA while the trucking industry has other plans. Find out why the trucking industry could be in favor of actually keeping a government regulation that involves technologies for fuel efficiencies.

Pros and Cons of Fuel Economy Standards

There are two sides to every coin, as goes with federal fuel emissions regulations. On the one side of the coin emissions standards prevent greenhouse gasses from being released in the environment. These gasses have devastating affects on the atmosphere and are thought to cause global warming. On the other side of the coin these emissions standards are helping trucking companies like Ronnie Dowdy, SLT and Super Service to save money at the fuel pumps. As equipment for trucking is improved controlling and reducing diesel emissions, the side effect is that these heavy duty semis are operating more efficiently.

This saves trucking companies and owner operators on the biggest expense of any trucking fleet, diesel, which accounts for more than 33 percent of a trucking operations budget. So as you can imagine the fuel economy standards set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency strike a strong fight in the trucking community. While most trucking companies and truck drivers alike want the federal government to get out of the way and let them do their long haul trucking jobs, there are some perks to having better fuel economy in big rigs.

Current Regulation by the EPA

The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulation was adopted by the Obama administration. It requires all vehicles sold in the US by 2025 to meet a 54.5 mpg fuel economy. The problem with this regulation is that auto manufacturers claim the expense of meeting this fuel economy average is prohibitive. It would drive up the costs of auto ownership and consumers would be on the losing end financially. Furthermore, the technology required to make these autos up to the CAFE standard is either not available or too expensive for all auto manufactures to use.

Now how does this apply to commercial long haul truckers and their tractor trailers? The EPA included Phase 2 standards that are tacked on to the CAFE regulation. These standards are documented in 1,690 pages of regulatory phrasing. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions aka diesel emissions would have to be reduced by 2027 in heavy trucks.
  • More than 1.1 billion metric tons of emissions equivalent to a 25 percent reduction in emissions are expected from the Phase 2 implementation.

It should be noted that the American Trucking Associations and other trucking representatives did not ask the current Presidential administration to remove the requirements. However, the industry is pushing to keep the regulation of another emissions program in place. This is where it gets tricky. The trucking industry proponents of the emissions requirements want the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act regulations to stay in place. Why? Along with these regulations come subsidies that help trucking companies pay to retrofit or replace older trucks so they are adaptive with effective emissions technology.

This is because the trucking industry is able to get better fuel economy using this technology. Better fuel economy equals more savings at the fuel pump, which is savings that help trucking companies stay afloat. The industry is worried that without the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act , and its CAFE and Phase 2 program, the companies that won’t be able to afford the technologies are not going to be viable for hauling freight. Meanwhile the trucking companies that can afford this technology, without the subsidies, will be able to pull ahead from the freight hauling competition with their improved rigs getting better fuel mileage.

The Trucker’s Solution

If the EPA loses the CAFE program under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, trucking companies will also lose their subsidies, or at least that’s the concern at the moment. Petitioners of the deregulation include the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association, Navistar, Volvo Group North America, Cummins, and Daimler Trucks. The hope is that the current administration will keep in place money saving methods for fleets improving their fuel economy. For the trucking industry this is less an environmental issue and more of an economic concern. That is the angle that the ATA and other trucking leaders should take in hopes of getting the Republican-backed Congress to show support of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act in some form.


Hair Testing for Truckers Up in the Air

trucker truck driving and checking eld or gpsWay back when the FAST Act was passed in 2015, it included a mandate that approved hair sampling for drug tests in the trucking industry. This would be used to test truck drivers for drugs and alcohol when they apply for truck driving jobs. But here it is in 2017 and we haven’t seen the new hair testing rules, or the program put into place that would monitor and test truckers. 

Drug Free Commercial Drivers

In the FAST Act the Drug Free Commercial Drivers mandate states: “After the Department of Health and Human Services issues scientific and technical guidelines for hair testing as a method to detect controlled substance use, FMCSA will initiate a rulemaking to permit hair testing as an acceptable alternative to urine testing for certain drug tests.” While the trucking industry is expecting hair sampling to be mandated already, the phrase “scientific and technical guidelines” offers a good reason why we aren’t using this testing method. What we need to see now is the next step in the process. This is what leaders in the trucking industry are calling to happen given the need for improved drug testing methods for truckers.

Drug Testing Truckers

When it comes to being a truck driver you cannot do drugs, period. In fact, you can’t even take most prescription medications from a doctor, or even over the counter drugs. Drinking alcohol is not allowed within 24 hours of hauling a load, and you should never drive while under the influence of anything. But some truck drivers do it, which creates all sorts of safety hazards for everyone involved. Yet it is simply not an option to drive with 80,000 pounds of freight when intoxicated. That’s why drug testing for truckers is so important.

Pre-employment drug testing is required by the Department of Transportation, while random drug testing is enforced by trucking insurance companies. The federal agency responsible for drug testing at the workplace is the Department of Health and Human Services via the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. All employee drug testing is controlled by this agency, and the FAST Act gave HHS exactly one calendar year to get a system in place to monitor hair sampling for truck drivers. Yet if you check the HHS list of official drug test methods, hair sampling is nowhere to be found. And some trucking companies aren’t happy about it.

A Push for Hair Sampling

The problem with hair sampling is that it is expensive to do compared to urine sampling. However, that is the only problem. Hair sampling offers far greater benefits by eliminating the possibility of cheating on a drug test. It also allows for more efficient testing. For example, a truck driver who uses cocaine, this substance is only in the blood stream for a few days. After that, a urine analysis can’t detect it, and the trucker would be considered negative for drugs. If that same driver was tested using hair sampling there would be proof of cocaine use for months in the hair follicle. Furthermore, while you may be able to shave your hair, the hair follicle cannot be removed or altered, which makes cheating on hair sampling impossible.

For trucking companies like CRST Malone, EL Hollingsworth and Heartland Express that certainty is powerful. It promises trucking employers that their truck drivers are not intoxicated while hauling, which offers substantial benefits. The question is, will we finally see hair sampling pushed through to the enforcement level with the new POTUS administration, or will this regulatory measure also be dropped?

Should Trucking Industry Move to Two Trailers at 33 Feet in Place of Twin 22s?

trucking rig with doubles trailersIn a recent study commissioned by the Americans For Modern Transportation, the use of twin 33 trailers would be both safe and fuel effective for the trucking industry. The study was conducted by Dr. Ronald Knipling, a traffic safety researcher with more than three decades of experience. But wait, would making double trailers truly be safe for drivers and the general public? After all, when you are talking about adding 11 feet to the length of a tractor trailer it raises all kinds of alarms. Doubles are already more dangerous to pull than singles, which is why we don’t see as many of these trailer types being hauled. So is there much weight behind the AMT’s notion of switching to twin 33s?

The Basics of 22s and 33s

Currently if you have a truck driver job pulling doubles, this means you are hauling two 28-foot trailers for a total length of 60 feet for the trailers and 73 feet 11 inches for your total rig. If the use of twin 33s were to be implemented, this would involve hauling two 33-foot trailers for a total trailer length of 70 feet. Your total rig would increase by a foot in length to almost 84 feet. This would allow drivers to haul more freight at an increased volume capacity of 18.6 percent, while the maximum weight would not increase. According to the study by Dr. Knipling this increased length would be safer than pulling the 22s. Furthermore, it would make a dramatic change to the economic and safety issues associated with hauling doubles, of which 33s are perceived to be the better option.

Economic Benefits of Doubles

Pulling doubles would save the trucking industry $2.6 billion in shipping costs, according to the study. This benefit would come from decreasing the amount of time it takes for freight haulers to deliver the goods. Fewer trucks on the road means less traffic and congestion, to the tune of 53.2 million hours saved thanks to twin 33s. Trucks would require less fuel accounting to 255 million gallons of diesel saved with the implementation of these doubles.

Safety Concerns With Longer Doubles

The move to twin 33s sounds like it would be more dangerous for truck drivers. You are pulling longer trailers that reduce your ability to see or control what’s going on in the back of you. When it comes to cross winds and traffic congestion, this could be a huge negative for haulers. However, the switch to 33s would make for a longer wheelbase, while not increasing the amount of weight in a truck. This is super important considering that truckers can only haul so much weight, and this includes the weight they are already carrying. Heavier trailers would mean that these truckers would have to haul less freight, which defeats the purpose of money making measures like twin 33s.

Furthermore the study shows that the actual turning radius would be improved for truck drivers pulling twin 33s in comparison to single 53-foot trailers. The twin 33s would have a tighter turning radius, which would make this trailer type safer to maneuver. So while trucking companies like Werner Enterprises, Barr-Nunn and Celadon Trucking may not utilize doubles now, if the standard length changed to twin 33s this could very well help to make trucking safer.

Who are Americans for Modern Transportation

The Americans for Modern Transportation is a coalition that was formed to improve trucking safety and efficiency. The coalition’s mission statement also includes: “We will advocate for policies that modernize the delivery of products and consumer goods to businesses and consumers across the country.” Several leading trucking companies are affiliated with establishing the AMT including FedEx, UPS, XPO Logistics, ULINE, Estes, and Sysco. Trucking associations affiliated with the coalition include the American Highway Users Alliance, National Association of Manufacturers, and the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council.


Weighing Both Sides of the Discussion: Should States Pass ELD Rule for Intrastate Trucking

truck on the road with texas flag on truck grillIn case you haven’t heard yet, the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will be going stateside soon. For starters, Texas is interested in establishing an ELD mandate on the local level. This will affect intrastate truck drivers hauling freight in Texas. While the federal ELD mandate does not apply to intrastate drivers, the federal regulatory rules state that what happens on the federal level must also happen on the state level.

Part of this is to provide uniformity for commercial drivers, trucking companies, and Department of Transportation inspectors. However, there is a limit to the amount of power federal regulators should have on the state level, according to many state legislators. Let’s break this down to determine the options that trucking companies and carriers of regional freight will have if states begin implementing the ELD rule.

Interstate versus Intrastate Laws

While the FMCSA requires all commercial truck drivers to use electronic logging devices, this mandate is only for interstate truckers. That includes those over the road truckers who cross state lines to deliver freight. It does not apply to regional trucking jobs held by truckers who stay within their home state. Those drivers are exempt from the ELD rule, sort of. See, the issue is that any federal rule that is passed by the FMCSA must also be applied to the state legislature in all affected states. More specifically federal regulations require states to comply with laws set on the national scale. Therefore, the ELD rule that is imposed on over the road truckers will have to be implemented on the state level.

The difference here is that most states already use the federal hours of service code for its intrastate truckers, as well as interstate truckers. Those states that have a unique hours of service code, which includes Texas, California, Washington, Hawaii and Alaska. For example, truck drivers in California can drive for up to 12 hours with 16 on-duty hours. In Alaska truck drivers can haul freight for up to 15 hours of behind the wheel time in a 20-hour stretch. And in Hawaii truck drivers don’t have to keep log books at all.

So for these states there is the issue of translating the federal regulation of the ELDs to the state’s intrastate hours of service system. Since jurisdiction for intrastate freight is controlled by individual states, it is up to the states to either comply with the federal hours of service rule or to establish a new system that works with ELDs. This means these states have the opportunity to refuse to comply with the Electronic Logging Device mandate. Some states including California are already refuting the safety data that supports ELDs, and are less likely to approve the federal regulation on an intrastate level because of the loss of driving time for California truck drivers.

Making Hasty Decisions

Another consideration is whether states need to develop an ELD rule on the state level now or not. After all, the hope around the trucking industry is that the ELD mandate will be nixed as part of Trump’s deregulation move. If states jump the gun and go forward with state-level, intrastate-mandated ELDs, this could be disastrous in the instance that Trump were to reverse the ELD regulation. That would cause states like Texas that are pushing forward with the use of ELDs to backtrack, a costly move both politically and economically. Plus, trucking companies like National Strategic Transport, Purdy Brothers Trucking, and Shaffer Trucking will have to comply with state regulations, as well as FMCSA rules. So should states stay with the use of paper logs, or are electronic logs a sure thing? That is the question that state leaders will have to ask.

Overreaching Federal Bounds

The third concern is whether these ELDs are going to cross the boundaries of federal versus state law. Yes, the federal regulations require states to comply with federal level laws when it comes to commercial truck drivers. However, this does not mean that states have to do everything that the federal agency is doing. For example, if states were to come up with a different way of using ELDs that provides truck drivers with increased privacy, will these states be allowed to take this new path? Furthermore, for those states that believe in a lack of federal oversight and more power on the state level, the enforcement of ELDs for intrastate trucking could be a hot topic issue come election season.

Coming to a Conclusion

Finding a way to improve truck driver safety is paramount for everyone involved in the trucking industry. This includes those with power on the federal level, as well as state leaders. After all, if freight isn’t moving through states and across the country, then the nation is going to suffer great economic losses. Therefore, the discussion on how to implement electronic logging devices for all truckers including intrastate drivers needs to keep trucker safety in mind. The focus should be on the current studies and research backing interstate use of ELDs and whether this data is relatable on the intrastate level. There very well may need to be a new round of safety research provided on the state level among regional trucking jobs to determine if, and how, ELDs would benefit these truckers’ safety.

Truckers Hauling Hazmat Loads with TWIC Cards Get a Break

greenbelt truck hauling hazmat loadThe American Trucking Associations, the National Tank Truck Carriers, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association have all agreed on something. These trucking organizations want to improve the security clearance process for truck drivers hauling hazardous materials or freight into classified or high-security facilities. Brought before the

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee this legislation would make it easier for OTR truck drivers hauling hazmat or loads to sensitive areas. Check out why it is redundant for truck drivers to have to get a TWIC card when they are already approved as hazmat truck drivers.

Support for Truckers

For drivers for trucking companies like Loudon County, Marten Transport or Melton Truck Lines this new legislation will free up the ability for truckers to haul hazmat freight, as they already are, with fewer loops to jump through. OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer noted, “No group is more concerned with transportation security than the truckers moving the cargo. For too long, these hard working men and women have been frustrated with bureaucracy and costs of duplicative and redundant background checks. They deserve a better system….the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act is a significant step in the right direction.”

The trucking industry is seeing vast support on this issue. The bill will include:

  • A provision to develop a surface transportation advisory committee
  • An assessment of the TWIC program
  • An allowance for TWIC holders to get a hazmat endorsement without additional background checks

Getting Security Clearance

Currently the process for truck drivers hauling hazardous materials or loads into secure areas, involves the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program or TWIC. This program is part of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and is required of all truck drivers and workers who haul freight to maritime vessels and facilities in the US. The current requirements is to:

  • Have a background check completed to ensure you aren’t a security threat
  • Be a US citizen or immigrant of certain categories
  • Fill out an application
  • Schedule an appointment with the TSA to conduct your interview.
  • Pay up to $125.25 for the TWIC identification card, depending on whether you have a reduced rate or not; truck drivers with the hazmat endorsement on a CDL can be eligible for the reduced rate of $105.25
  • Receive your card in the mail or pick it up at the place where you applied for the card

It can take anywhere from 30 to 45 days to receive a response from the TSA that they are reviewing your information. If your fingerprints aren’t captured properly, it can take even longer, and as this is listed on the TSA website as an issue, it must be a common occurrence. Once you receive your TWIC card it is good for five years, after which you must reapply.

Problems with TWIC Program

The main issue here is the timeframe for getting a TWIC card. Let’s say you are a hazmat endorsed truck driver getting ready to take a load for a new client that requires you to deliver to a highly sensitive site. You must have the TWIC clearance to get the job. Unfortunately you aren’t already certified so you are forced to wait for over a month to get approved and a TWIC card. By then the customer is long gone. The time frame is only the first issue though.

As a truck driver you already go through a stringent background check and ongoing inspections at the federal level. If you have gotten your hazmat endorsement for your CDL, then you already did a background check and fingerprints. In other words you have already met the requirements by the TSA for the TWIC card, but under the guise of a separate federal agency. Why should you be subject to having to reapply for the security clearance when your CDL endorsement proves you are good to go? Commercial truck drivers are dealing with duplicate background checks that prevent them from doing their job, which is detrimental to the economy.


What is the Safest Truck Driving Job?

truck route signThe priority of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is to make highways safer for both truck drivers and motorists. This is why the FMCSA requires truck drivers to get commercial driver’s license, record their hours of service in a log book, and get inspected by the Department of Transportation. It’s also why truckers have to get DOT physical exams, to ensure they are healthy enough to handle truck driving jobs. Along with all of this regulatory stuff that the FMCSA does, the organization compiles tons of data at the same time. In a recent report the data suggests that certain haul types are more likely to be involved in crashes than others. Find out if your truck driving haul type is causing you to live on the dangerous side.

Big Data and Trucker Safety

The data presented in the report titled “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2014” covers all of the fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2012 to 2014. Also known as big data, this information is key to understanding truck driver safety in a relatively fast fashion. The report breaks down the data very simply according to cargo body type and number and percentage of fatal crashes.

  • The haul type that was involved in the most crashes in that three-year period is van or enclosed box trailers.

From 2012 to 2014 that number has decreased from 1,649 to 1,585, making box van trucks involved in 42 percent of crashes in 2014. That sounds like a lot, but it is critical to put this data into context. Dry van truck loads are the most common in the US. More importantly, those numbers are declining, while the number of truck drivers hauling dry van loads is increasing.

Hazards of Hazardous Materials

On the other hand if you are hauling hazardous materials you would think that your chances of getting involved in a crash or trucking fatality would increase. However, according to the data:

  • Only 3 percent of trucking accidents that were fatal involved a hazardous materials load.
  • The percentage is even smaller for those involved in nonfatal crashes, for which only 2 percent were identified by a hazardous materials placard.
  • For those hauling hazardous materials, flammable liquids like oil and fuel are the most dangerous. Forty-nine percent of the 3 percent of fatal crashes involving hazardous materials were associated with flammable materials.

If you break this down, only 1 percent of truck crash fatalities are resulting from hauling flammable liquids. That’s not bad at all considering how dangerous this haul type is, and that goes to show how good truck drivers are at doing their job.

Pulling Singles or Doubles

For the majority of truck drivers in the US for companies like Hunt Transportation, National Strategic Transport, and Purdy Brothers Trucking, it’s all about pulling singles, single trailers that is. However, double trailers are becoming more commonplace in the trucking industry in the US in order to get goods delivered on time. Among those drivers hauling singles versus doubles, you would think that pulling doubles is more dangerous. And you would be mistaken.

  • It turns out that single semi-trailers were involved in 63 percent of fatal crashes in 2013.
  • As for those truckers pulling doubles, these only accounted for 2 percent of truck accident deaths.
  • Some truckers in the US are pulling triples, and the data shows only 0.1 percent of these were involved in a fatal crash.

Again, as with the dry van trailers, the big difference in numbers is due to the sheer volume of singles on the roads. You are far more likely to see a single trailer being pulled than any doubles and definitely triples. What is more important here is that we keep a check on the number of trucking crash deaths that occur in the next few years. Why? As fleets are maxed out and freight demand continues to climb, we can anticipate seeing more carriers and truck drivers hauling doubles and triples. Yet the concern is whether or not this type of haul is safe overall. When you have two trailers being pulled it creates a whole new dynamic for the driver as well. Newbies and rookie drivers simply aren’t cut out for the experience needed to haul these advanced convoys. At the same time, when you can haul twice as much product in half the time, the market beckons for you to pull doubles and triples.

The Bottom Line

As a truck driver use this information to help you be confident in choosing your next trucking job. Understand that truck driving safety begins and ends with you as a driver. Rather than worry about getting into a truck crash, know that the data suggests that no one haul type is more dangerous than the other. It all boils down to the number of truck drivers and hauling types on the road.


What to Look For When Buying a Certified ELD

Trucker Inside Trucking CabIf you are like the thousands of other truck drivers around the nation worried about the ELD situation, you want some answers. You want the facts, from the feds, about what to do when it comes to buying an electronic logging device. Whether you are driving for Shaffer Trucking, Werner Enterprises, Barr-Nunn or some other top paying trucking company, you have to be ELD compliant by the end of the year. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to buy your electronic logging device, while remaining compliant with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

What to Avoid in ELDs

A big misconception among truck drivers and some trucking company owners shopping for electronic logging devices is that they can get a tablet, or just an app, and they’ll be good to go. Unfortunately this is not correct. Yes, you can get a tablet or an app to use with your ELD. In fact these gadgets and programs are handy for using ELDs. However, in order to be compliant for the FMCSA ELD rule:

  • The electronic logging device must be attached to the tractor’s engine.
  • It must be a certified device according to the requirements by the FMCSA.

If you are using an app you have found on iTunes or Google Play, and that is all, for your ELD compliance, it’s not going to be enough. When December rolls around you will end up getting inspected by the DOT and your e-logs will not be legit. Don’t let this happen to you.

When choosing your electronic logging device here is what you want to look for:

  • A device that includes a tracking system that must be hardwired to your truck engine.
  • An ELD that will record your hours of service log
  • A unit that can connect wirelessly or via Bluetooth to the internet in order to transmit your ELD records to the FMCSA

These three points are paramount, and without each you will not be compliant. Now when it comes to purchasing an ELD system, you’ll need the following:

  • A unit that will attach to your truck’s diagnostic port for direct communication with your truck’s engine
  • A handheld device, such as a tablet, that allows you to access the data gathered by the ELD; this can also be your smartphone via an app

The two devices work together to monitor and record your hours of service and other driving data. You will need to use both to be compliant.

Choosing Compliant ELDs

Now about that certified device part. How does an electronic logging device become certified by the FMCSA? As of March 2017, the FMCSA is not certified devices on its own accord. Instead companies selling ELDs that want to get certified must self-certify their devices. This means that these companies are expected to use the list of self-certification criteria and deem their device qualified. As you can imagine, there will be some ELD providers that attempt to self-certify devices that are not up to par. As a result, here at the onset of this new federal mandate, you want to take the time to check out the ELD you are purchasing.

List of Compliant Devices

The FMCSA has a regularly updated list of devices that are compliant. The current devices that are self-certified for truck drivers to use for the ELD mandate as of December 2017 include:

  • Load Logistics TMS by Support Resources,Inc.
  • Gorilla Safety ELD by Gorilla Fleet Safety, LLC
  • FleetUP by FleetUp
  • DriverLog by Wireless Links
  • Hutch ELD by Hutch Business Group Inc
  • TSO INCABIN PLUS by TSO MOBILE by Tracking Solutions Corp
  • e-Track Certified by ATS Fleet Management Solutions
  • KeepTruckin ELD by KeepTruckin, Inc
  • Geowiz Truck Tracker Edition by GeoSpace Labs
  • at.eDash by Assured Tracking Inc
  • MW-ELD-J9C by Mobile Warrior LLC
  • Hours of Service by VisTracks, Inc
  • driveTIME by Cartasite
  • E-Log Plus by E-Log Plus
  • DSi eLogs by Dispatching Solutions Inc
  • Titan Logbook ELD by Certified Tracking Solutions
  • Fleetwatcher E-Logs by Earthwave Technologies
  • ELD Fleet by Global Tracking Communications, Inc
  • TheTMS ELD Product Solution by THETMS Inc
  • M2MIM ELD by M2M In Motion
  • EDGE MDT by iGlobal LLC
  • Saucon Prox ELD by Saucon Technologies, Inc
  • SIMPLEELOG by Simple Elog Inc
  • SIMPLETRUCKELD by SimpleTruckELD Inc
  • GEO83A by HCSS
  • ELD001 by Locus GPS
  • GEO001 by Geosavi Inc

As noted on the FMCSA list, each of these companies is only self-certified that these devices are compliant. It doesn’t mean that the FMCSA is approving these devices. Therefore you are responsible for making sure your ELD is compliant—even if you choose one of these devices from this list. Otherwise you are held accountable per the FMCSA for not having an ELD that meets federal requirements.

Self-Certified ELDs Criteria

In order to make sure you are getting a certified device the FMCSA has an extensive list of criteria your ELD must meet. These points require that your ELD must include:

  • Separate accounts for all users of the ELD, i.e. multiple drivers in a truck or trucking dispatchers accessing your information
  • Features an integral synchronization that connects to the engine in order to track and record engine status, movement, speed, etc.
  • Records your data automatically when operating the truck, as well as at 60 minute intervals
  • Records driver ID, your location, date, time, mileage, and your engine hours
  • Must capture your location within a one-mile radius; however, when the truck is being used for personal use it should only capture up to a 10-mile radius for trucker safety and protection
  • Uses UTC time (coordinated universal time)
  • Keeps hours of service data and driver log records for the current 24 hours, along with the previous consecutive seven day period
  • Requires you to certify your driving records after 24 hour periods
  • Doesn’t allow you or anyone else to tamper with the device or records
  • Requires you to review and approve any changes in your driving records whether or not you made them
  • Lets you print your ELD records as needed via a printed log or using a electronic file, i.e. email
  • Features either a USB2.0 or Bluetooth, or a wireless internet connection, so that you can submit your hours of service logs electronically
  • Must have a volume control feature if the device makes any audible remarks
  • Must include a daily header, along with the current driving duty status changes, and a daily log record similar to the paper log record currently used by truck drivers

In addition, when you purchase your electronic logging device it must come with a user’s manual. The device must also include instructions on how to handle record keeping in the event of a technical failure, as well as how to send your ELDs to the FMCSA and DOT.

As you can guess, if you use a free app on your tablet to track your hours using an ELD program, you will not be compliant. The ELD must have all of the above features as required by the FMCSA. Once you have an ELD that meets these requirements you are all set to be compliant come December 2017. That is, unless the current administration scraps the whole ELD ruling, which is what a lot of truckers are hoping will happen first.

Related Article

Frequently Asked Questions about the ELD Mandate

USA Truck Recognized as Most Valuable Employer for Military

USA Truck big rig on highwayUSA Truck is up for a major award. The Most Valuable Employers for Military may be awarded to USA Truck this May. The organization RecruitMilitary is awarding employers that do more than give military truckers a chance for civilian work. These are the companies going a step above what is needed to help veterans apply for truck driving jobs when they return home. In recognition of this honorable achievement, USA Truck will be listed among the top trucking companies for military job seekers looking for civilian trucking jobs. Find out what else it means to be an MVE for Military.

Military Truck Driving Company

When you drive a truck in the US military you receive skills, training, and behind the wheel experience that is resume worthy. Unfortunately you don’t also receive a commercial driver license (CDL) when you are in the military. As a result, when you come back home from active duty and search for civilian jobs for truckers, you soon learn you need to start all over. This is a major burden for military truckers, which is where and trucking companies dedicated to those in service, like USA Truck, come onto the scene.

USA Truck Nomination

As a nationwide trucking company USA Truck leads the way for customized truckload, intermodal and dedicated trucking jobs. This company also provides third party logistics solutions as a full-service freight management company. When it comes to supporting those in the US military,USA Truck is doing its part by hiring military truck drivers whenever possible. In fact, James D. Reed, USA Truck president and CEO, said, “Nearly 30 percent of our driver team members are US military veterans. Clearly, we put a premium on hiring veterans, and we’re honored to have our efforts recognized by such a prestigious organization.”

In line with these efforts, USA Truck was nominated for the MVE award for 2017. The winners of the ninth annual award will be revealed in the RecruitMilitary “Search and Employ” magazine publication in the May issue. USA Truck was nominated for the award for the company’s job driver recruitment, trucker retention, and truck driver training services for military truckers. If selected as the winner for the 2017 Most Valuable Employers for Military, USA Truck will be featured among the best employers for military job seekers. When those truck drivers from the military search for trucking jobs for military vets, they will see USA Truck as a top contender.

Meet RecruitMilitary

RecruitMilitary is a recruiting company focused on the military in the US. It is subsidized by Bradley-Morris, which allows RecruitMilitary to help more than a million individuals searching for jobs. RecruitMilitary provides a wealth of opportunities at job fairs, an online job board, and a publication for the US military that offers valuable info for job seekers.

According to RecruitMilitary president Peter Gudmundsson, “Hiring veterans just makes good business sense. It is evident that companies across the country see the value that veteran talent brings to the table by this year’s list of MVEs. I congratulate each of the finalists on their veteran hiring strategies and for their selection.”

If you have a trucking company that you feel should be nominated as an MVE for 2018, now is your chance. RecruitMilitary will open nominations for the Most Valuable Employers for Military application on Veteran’s Day. The awards are presented annually in the May/June issue of the RecruitMilitary publication in observance of Armed Forces Day.