New Agency Director at NIS

Northern Insurance Specialists (NIS) recently hired Ron Haws as the new Agency Director. With years of experience managing complex business operations in the hospitality industry, Haws believes he is uniquely suited to bring value and exceptional customer service to the commercial trucking industry.

One of his initial goals in his new role as Agency Director is to help truckers reduce operating expenses by enhancing compliance rates. Haws says, “The [trucking] industry is highly regulated and insurance is often one of the largest expenses a trucking company has to manage. Our role at NIS is to help truckers understand the importance of proper compliance with DOT regulations and the need to be vigilant and safe on the roads. Even the smallest DOT infractions can be very costly for truckers.”

As Agency Director, Haws will be responsible for helping both small and large commercial trucking companies meet their insurance needs. Haws added “I am excited to be part of such a strong team of professionals. NIS and our sister company Compliance Navigation Specialists, which specializes in safety and compliance management, are quickly working their way to the front when it comes to insurance and compliance for the trucking industry.”

With autonomous trucks on the horizon and increasing demand for transportation services due to a thriving economy, including demand from e-commerce, NIS is poised to become an industry leader in educating truckers on how to cut expenses through increasing their compliance to regulations. In a time of extreme industry flux, NIS is confident Haws will bring strong leadership to the business unit.

 

Advantages of having ELDs for Drivers

ELDs are the new technologically advanced system for tracking driver safety and hours on the road.  While they may take some time to get used to, it can be done.  Read about some of the advantages of the new federally mandated law and learn why you should see it as an advantage instead of an annoyance.

Systems like the Pedigree ELD system can track your driving habits to help you stay safe and compliant with the new laws.

  1. An ELD can lead to more money for you!
    It has been estimated that drivers spend over 20 hours per year filling out paper logs of their driving.  With an ELD system the driver no longer needs to fill these out, eliminating approximately 15 minutes each day just for paperwork while still staying compliant.  You can also round your driving to the nearest minute instead of 15 minutes.  While these amounts of time may seem small they definitely do add up.
  2. ELDs eliminate the lengthy inspection process.
    The results are clear cut for the officer.  There are no questions because everything is in one place and tracked digitally.
  3. No more pesky paperwork for the truck driver
    Most truck drivers hate filling out all the paperwork after each drive. With the addition of an ELD system, drivers no longer have to fill it out because they just need to quickly login to the system and then they are done!
  4. Get a warning when you are getting close to your maximum time
    ELDs will tell you when you are getting too close to breaking a rule whether it be missing your 30 minute break or driving too long in one day.  The system is designed to help you stay safe and compliant and avoid fines that could cost you.
  5. Build a resume for yourself!
    ELD systems allow a driver to have documented proof of their safety record.  When they are applying for new jobs they can show the new potential employer how safe they are.

 

There are so many advantages of the new ELD system.  Between making extra money and building a resume for yourself, the new system is helping more drivers to stay safer than ever and be able to prove that they are.

 

Does all this sound complicated?  Having a company that will consult with your ELD management system will help save you time and hassle.  Give us a call today!

1-888-260-9448

 

Driver Shortage Hits Consumers in the Wallet

Shipping costs have skyrocketed in the United States in 2018, a sign that an economy warming up after a recession might be starting to overheat.

Higher transportation costs are beginning to cause prices of anything that spends time on a truck to rise. Amazon just implemented a 20 percent hike for its Prime program that delivers items to customers in two days. General Mills said prices of some of its cereals and snacks are going up because of a rise in freight costs. Tyson Foods, a large meat seller, also recently announced they will increase prices, blaming higher shipping costs.
The trucking industry shows that an extraordinary labor shortage in one corner of the economy can spill out and affect the economy as a whole.

Why can drivers not be found?

The United States has had a truck driver shortage for years, but experts say it’s hitting a crisis level this year. Young Americans ignore the shortage because, though necessary for a growing economy, the job is not well respected and it requires time away from friends and family. Freight companies continue to incentivize with sign-on bonuses and substantial raises.

“It’s as bad as it’s ever been” to find drivers, said Bob Costello, chief economist at the American Trucking Associations. “Companies are doing everything they can to make drivers happy: increasing pay and getting them home more often, but that means they aren’t driving as many miles.”
America had a shortage of 50,000 truck drivers at the end of last year, Costello found, up from a shortage of 36,500 in 2016. He says “without a doubt” it’s going to be even higher this year.

 

Congress Considering Allowing Drivers to Pause the 14-hour Clock Up to 3 Hours

A bill filed in the U.S. House Thursday by Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) would allow drivers to take one break per day — up to three hours — that does not count against their 14-hour on-duty time, set forth by the hours-of-service limitations. The Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers Act (REST Act) would still require drivers to log 10 consecutive off-duty hours before beginning their 14-hour on-duty period. The bill mirrors a petition filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which calls for an option for drivers to pause their daily 14-hour clock up to three hours, and the removal of the required 30-minute break.

Last March, FMCSA removed the requirement that drivers’ 34-hour restarts include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods, which is a core component of an hours of service overhaul instituted back in July 2013. The mandatory 30-minute break was also added then. The 30-minute break remains in place, despite other portions of the rule being gradually removed by Congress.

 

CVSA Roadcheck set for june 5-7: hours of service focus

The CVSA has released the focus of the 2018 summer roadcheck, planned for June 5-7 – Hours of Service. Are you ready?

Regardless of Electronic Log Device compliance or exemption, the CVSA expects drivers’ to be compliant to hours of service regulations.

From the press release: “Although the electronic logging device (ELD) rule that went into effect on Dec. 18, 2017, does not change any of the underlying hours-of-service rules or exceptions, the ELD mandate placed a spotlight on hours-of-service compliance,” said Capt. Turner. “We thought this year would be a perfect opportunity to focus on the importance of the hours-of-service regulations.”

 

Surviving an IFTA Audit

Have you ever been through an IFTA audit? If you haven’t been through one, would you be stressed if you received a call or a letter stating you are due for one?

I have been in many clients’ IFTA audits. If you are keeping accurate mileage and fuel receipts, you have nothing to worry about. But sometimes that is easier said than done. I have had new clients contract with Compliance Navigation Specialists (CNS) to complete a mock audit or represent them in an actual audit and have come across some common problems. Below were some of the more frequent challenges and how to avoid them:

  • The first common problem I come across has to do with fuel receipts. It’s important to know that drivers must provide documentation proving the miles they ran, as well as the fuel purchased. Often times drivers are either missing fuel receipts or using a credit card that doesn’t show gallons purchased. I have even witnessed a client bringing their fuel receipts down from their attic and open up the box to find that the heat erased the ink on the thermal receipts. All of these issues cause challenges in an IFTA audit and can be prevented. I recommend getting a fuel card to keep accurate records of fuel purchased per gallon per truck.
  • When it comes to miles, the main problems I see are missing trip sheets, inaccurate mileage recorded by the driver, or inaccurate mileage for a GPS system. Drivers are responsible to make sure their GPS is reading the odometer mileage and working consistently. It’s good practice to test the GPS system periodically to make sure it is working properly. If the GPS system fails for any reason, the driver must recreate their trips to complete their taxes.
  • Drivers are required to keep supporting records and documents for four years from the tax return due date or filing date, whichever is later, plus any time period included as a result of waivers or jeopardy assessments. If a driver is reporting their IFTA taxes wrong or is just bad at record keeping, they could get hit with back taxes and interest. As an example, if a driver is bad at record keeping and can’t prove their mileage, the state has the right to calculate their miles per gallon by 4.0 mpg. This can cause serious back taxes, plus interest. In Pennsylvania, a trucker challenged the 4.0 mpg factor in Nedeljko Gunjak, Inc. v. Commonwealth, docket no. 455 F.R. 2013. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has denied the appeal of a motor carrier’s assessment for additional fuel use tax that was more than $300,000 under the International Fuel Tax Agreement.  Due to the carrier’s absence of records that IFTA requires a motor carrier to keep, the state, following an audit, had imposed a 4.0 miles-per-gallon factor on all the carrier’s operations, and made such other audit adjustments as were warranted by the best information available. The taxpayer’s argument was that they presented the required records. PA court said that the records the carrier had shared were so obviously inaccurate as to preclude any reliance.While this finding is by no means novel, it is a good time emphasize how important it will be when a carrier faces an IFTA audit that its records be reasonably complete and accurate. At CNS, we have several tools and management processes to keep you in compliance with IFTA, so if you do get notified of an IFTA audit you will not have to worry. For additional information about CNS’ IFTA audit services visit www.cnsprotects.com/ifta-audit/ or email us at info@cnsprotects.com.

Contributed by John Irwin, CNS CEO

Diesel Prices have dropped to record low for 2018

With the most recent drop in diesel fuel prices for the week of March 5th– March 12th, truckers will be noticing the lowest price points since the New Year, according to the Department of Energy’s latest report.

The average price for a gallon of on–highway diesel in the U.S. is 1.6 cents lower than it was just a week ago, coming in at $2.976. This is the lowest that diesel prices have dropped since the week ending January 1st, a little over two months ago when diesel prices were $2.973 per gallon throughout the U.S.

The region with the biggest drop in prices was in the Lower Atlantic region, where prices dropped 2.3 cents per gallon. But it wasn’t just in the Lower Atlantic region where drivers saw a decrease in the price of diesel, the entire country saw prices fall in every region except for California. In California, the price per gallon remained the same as it had been the week prior.

The area of the country where the lowest diesel prices can be found is in the Gulf Coast region, where the price per gallon is $2.782. The runner up for the nation’s cheapest diesel fuel is the Lower Atlantic region, where prices are at $2.871 per gallon.

So where can truckers expect to pay the most per gallon? California, where prices are $3.652 per gallon, with the next closest region being the Central Atlantic region, with prices at $3.221 per gallon of diesel fuel.

According to the DOE, below are what prices are like in other regions of the country:

·        Midwest – $2.899

·        Rocky Mountain – $2.903

·        West Coast/ Less California – $3.052

·        New England – $3.107

 

Contributed by Ryan Ward, CNS DOT Consultant & Account Manager

Marijuana remains off-limits for truckers, even as more states move toward legalization

As more states legalize the use of marijuana, questions continue to arise about whether drug testing rules and protocols will change for DOT-regulated drivers. More than half of the states in the U.S. have approved the drug for medicinal and/or recreational use to date, and many CMV drivers are wondering if they live or work in a state that has legalized pot, does that mean they can partake without any consequences?

The Department of Transportation says, “No.” Marijuana is still illegal under the federal law, meaning all employees who are subject to federally-mandated drug testing are still prohibited from using the drug. This group of employees includes anyone who operates commercial vehicles. The DOT has made it perfectly clear that the state initiatives will have no bearing on the Department of Transportation’s regulated drug testing program.

Even if you live in a state where marijuana is legal and you have been prescribed the drug for medical reasons, you are still prohibited under federal law to use the drug while employed as a CMV driver and will still be required to take DOT-mandated drug tests.

One of the many services offered at Compliance Navigation Specialists is the Drug & Alcohol Consortium Administration Services, available to companies that are regulated by Federal and State government. Our DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing Compliance Services include: pre-employment screening; computerized random selection; regulatory review of compliance records; compliance management reports; administrative testing services; more than 10,000 collection site locations; statistical reporting; and more.

Contact us with your questions about drug and alcohol screening or if you’d like to learn more.

888-260-9448 or info@cnsprotects.com

 

Contributed by Shirley Burkholder, DOT Specialist at Compliance Navigation Specialists

 

 

Raymond P. Martinez Confirmed as Administrator of the FMCSA

The Senate confirmed Raymond Martinez as Administrator of the FMCSA late Tuesday, reports confirm.
Martinez was nominated in September by President Donald Trump, and testified before a panel of Senators in October. During his testimony, Martinez said he intends to uphold the agency’s electronic logging device mandate and institute data-driven reforms to the agency’s regulatory process and, specifically, the oft-criticized Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. “We need to be using sound science,” he said then. “The key thing is whether the data we use to compile these assessments are accurate, reliable and fair. If the data is unreliable, we lose credibility with stakeholders and the entities we regulate. And we do a disservice to the public.”
Martinez succeeds Scott Darling, who ran the agency in the final two years of President Obama’s term. Darling’s term ended when Trump assumed office, and FMCSA Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson has headed the agency on an interim basis since last January.

How to check and understand your CSA scores

The Compliance Safety and Accountability (CSA) system is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) data-driven safety compliance and enforcement program. The program was designed to improve safety and prevent commercial motor vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities. CSA uses data from roadside inspections and crash reports from the last two years in determining scores, which are organized in 7 categories:

  • Unsafe driving
  • Hours of service compliance
  • Driver fitness
  • Controlled substance or alcohol violations
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Hazardous material compliance
  • Crash indicators

Using the 7 BASIC categories, the CSA groups carriers with the same range of safety events together. Carriers are ranked and assigned a percentile from 0-100, reflecting the percentage of trucking companies that are scoring better in that specific category. For example, a rating of 60 would mean 60 percent of companies in your rating group are scoring higher than your company. The scores are defined as:

  • 0-49 Satisfactory
  • 50-74 Conditional
  • 75-100 Unsatisfactory

The FMCSA has a website called SAFER (Safety and Fitness Electronic Records) where carriers can go to search their company by name or DOT number. Once inside the company profile, select SMS Results to see your company’s CSA scores. (Note: In order to see your company’s detailed CSA scores, a DOT pin is required. All carriers receive this DOT pin with their DOT number. If you forget or do not know your DOT pin, it can be easily obtained by contacting the FMCSA.)

Carriers should frequent this site. On the last Friday of every month the system is updated and carriers can see if trends for their company are moving in the right direction.

Learn more about your CSA scores, what they are, how they are calculated and how to lower them.

You can also gather more information from the FMCSA Driver Safety Education Center or visit the Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System.

Contributed by DOT Consultant and Account Manager, Rob Duvall