The Final Phase of the ELD Mandate

The final phase of the ELD mandate is quickly approaching.  By December 17th, all trucks still using Automatic On Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) are required to make the switch.

The biggest question is, will we see the same effect on rates that be saw previously? The final phase of the switchover could potentially lead to lower productivity and higher rates.  In 2017 we saw a reduced capacity with led to higher rates and they stayed high all throughout 2018.

There are still millions of trucks that have not made the switch.  Analysts estimate about 40% of Class 8 trucks still need to replace or upgrade the systems.  For many, it is just a simple software update, but for others it could involve installing new hardware.  Donald Broughton, transportation financial analyst said, “Some AOBRDs were cell phone apps that didn’t plug in, and those will soon be non-compliant, including many of the legacy systems from companies we all think of as the dominant players in the industry.”

One of the most important things with the switchover is making sure drivers get the proper training to avoid hits to their CSA scores.  Vice President of Risk Services for Reliance Partners and a former FMCSA investigator, John Seidl said, “We could see a reduction in capacity due to shippers and 3PLs who impose a firm CSA threshold for carriers,” said Seidl, who previously worked as an FMCSA inspector and served on the National ELD Implementation Team. Seidl said these are areas drivers will need to watch out for:

  • Understanding how to properly transfer the data file to the roadside inspector.
  • Proper use of personal conveyance and yard moves.
  • Retaining required ELD paperwork in the cab of the truck.

One big change with the ELD and paperwork, is that drivers must always be in possession of the ELD manual, instruction card, and directions for transferring the data file and handling malfunctions, according to Seidl.  Drivers will be penalized up to three CSA points, one for each missing document.  This is a change from the AOBRD rules of one point.

Carrier Expenditures on the Rise

In 2018 trucking companies saw a surge on per-mile costs.  On average carriers saw an increase of up to 13 cents a mile, according to American Transportation Research Institute‘s (ATRI) annual survey of carrier spending. Carriers pre-mile expenditures are suffering because of the increase.

One of the biggest factors leading to the rising costs for carriers is the higher spending on driver wages and benefits 7 straight years; regardless of the jump in pre-mile fuel cost carriers experienced from 2017 to 2018. ATRI reports show that between fuel, wages, and benefits carrier expenditures grew more than 66% per-mile!

Increased costs a mile carriers spent in 2018

  • Driver wages- 59 cents
  • Fuel- 43 cents
  • Driver benefits- 18 cents
  • Drivers wages- 3.9 cents
  • Insurance premiums- .9 cents up to 8.4 cents

While all other expenditures were seeing increases, the only category to stay static was tires at 3.8 cents per mile.  Many other categories also stayed around the same with very little increases.  Truck payments & leases up to 26.5 cents, repair/ maintenance 17.1 cents, tolls 3 cents, and licensing up to 2.4 cents per mile.

According to the ATRI, carrier per-mile costs since 2016 have seen an increase of more than 25 cents a mile.  The industry hasn’t seen this much of an increase since 2011 and 2014.  While costs may have dropped in 2015 from 2014, the spending hikes have greatly surpassed previous years.

For 2019, as expected we saw a spike, but not to the highs of 2018.  This year there is much more capacity, and this has helped to keep rates and costs lower.

Truck Driver Shortage

Truck driver shortage


It is no surprise we need more truck drivers in America.  This shortage of drivers is causing shippers to have to delays on their shipments and causing them to require buyers to pay higher prices to allow on-time delivery of goods.


According to the American Trucking Association, the industry needs to hire more than 900,000 drivers to account for the rising demand.  In the United States, over 70 percent of our goods are moved by trucks.


Derek Leathers, CEO of Omaha-based trucking company Werner Enterprises, tells Here & Now‘s Meghna Chakrabarti that truckers drive the American economy, but in recent years the industry has struggled to attract new drivers.


The trucking industry is in dire need of drivers.  According to DAT Solutions, only one truck was available for every 12 loads needing to be shipped at the start of 2018, which is the lowest ratio since 2005.  Not only is there a lack of drivers, there is also a lack of qualified drivers.  This is very big problem for the industry, economy, and supply chain as a whole.


One contributing factor to this issue, is the age and gender of the drivers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of a driver is 55 years old, while the industry is heavily influenced by males.  Women only make up 6 percent of the industry.


The trucking industry doesn’t provide for a very good lifestyle. As a truck driver, it is understood that you will be on the road and away from family for extended periods of time.  As well as, working for long hours, for a medium annual wage of $41,340.  “Pay in the industry’s come up considerably. Here at Werner our pay’s up 17 percent over the last couple of years,” Leathers says. “First-year entrants into the industry now make around $50,000 a year depending on what part of the business they go in. So, it’s a good job. It pays well; you can build a family around it. It’s about getting that awareness out there.”



7 Things You Need To Know About The DOT Truck Inspection

7 Things You Need To Know About The DOT Truck Inspection


The unfortunate part about being a truck driver, is the DOT inspection.  While it can seem like such a hassle, in the long run it could save your life.  At some point, you will have to have the inspection, either roadside or in trucker slang at the “chicken coop” (aka check station).


States run their inspections and “chicken coops” all differently.  If you are the lucky pick of the day you will be pulled aside upon entering the station.   However, if you are lucky enough to get through, no need to stop!


This article will help you become prepared in case you are chosen!


Step 1: Driver Pre-Trip Inspection


With any car or truck, it is smart to always do regular checks on your vehicle to prevent any accidents or damage.  Truck drivers should refer to the DVIR or driver vehicle inspection report from time to time and make sure the items listed are in good working condition.  By taking a little extra time, you could save yourself from potentially receiving violations.  Some items on this report include: battery, clutch, lights, and steering just to name a few for the truck itself.  For the trailer, this can included hitch, brakes, and tires.


According to the DOT these reports are actually supposed to be done every day! A mechanic will then check this list also, making any needed corrections and then giving his signature of approval.  During the inspection, inspectors check these reports to make sure the vehicle is in tip-top condition, making sure any repairs get done.


Step 2: DOT Truck Inspection: The 6 Levels


While many think that they DOT is in charge of determining how many levels an inspection consists of, this is incorrect.  A partnership between the government and the trucking industry actually works to establish the national standards for the inspection.  The federal government works to create the rules, and the industry state partners decide how they should be enforced.  This involves making decisions on the requirements for inspection, training law enforcement, and deciding what the out of service criteria is.


Level 1


Complete DOT inspection.  The complete inspection involves the driver, paperwork, and truck being checked. Every aspect of the truck will be inspection. Yes, even crawling under it.  Typically, this is completed at the station.  If you pass, you get a sticker!


Level 2


This involves the inspection of the driver and vehicle.  No crawling under or climbing over the truck, just checking the paperwork and making sure the truck reflects what it says.


Level 3


This level is all about checking the driver and credentials.  Inspectors will check their electronic log and any other necessary paperwork onboard.


Levels 1-3 are pretty routine.  Drivers will encounter these basically every day.


Level 4


Special checks.  Pretty much a “special check” is an inspection done because the DOT wants to gather more specific information.  They are looking to collect info to support a study or to refute the data of a previous study.  Most of the times this is mechanically. However, in some cases in can involve the driver.  Special checks, are mostly done for common violations found during an inspection.  Typically, is it is done for a driver, it related to hours of service.


Level 5


Drivers, your safe on this level (or not), it’s all about your truck.  This inspection is mostly done as a compliance review or a safety audit.  Additionally, they can be performed per the company’s request.


Level 6


A level 6 inspection is only done for truckers that haul transuranic waste or radioactive material.  This type of inspection is very thorough not only for the driver but for inspectors as well.


Step 3: What to expect?


If you’re the lucky one to be chosen, you will be greeted by an inspector who will take you into your own lane.  You will have to turn the truck off and in some cases, remove the key from ignition.  Wheels chocked, brakes released, and hand over your electronic log device.  This begins level 1 of the inspection.  One of the most important things, is to be organized.  This will not only help the inspector, but it can also help speed up the process.  A couple tips to move it long, know your dashboard, know where your controls are.  Know how to work your electronic log, you will need to access it and be able to email your logs.  Organizing your permits will also help to save time.


If you have pets, you need a plan.  Pets have to be secured before the inspection can begin.


Step 4: The Paperwork

You will be required to show the following:

  • Driver’s license
  • Electronic log
  • Truck and trailer registration
  • Insurance
  • IFTA Card (International Fuel Tax Agreement)
  • Permits
  • Bill of landing, shipping papers or invoices
  • USDOT Hazmat permit
  • FMCSA Safety Permit (high risk loads)
  • Special Permit (hazmat materials)
  • State Hazmat Permit
  • Emergency Response Information or MSDS
  • Written Route Plan (hazardous materials)
  • Copy of FMCSR Regulations
  • Oversize Load Permits


Step 5: Common Violations


Some of the most common violations found during an inspection include the electronic log not being up-to-date.  This could also include the log being falsified.  The 14-hour rule and the form of which the log is done in could be incorrect.


With the truck, typical violations include:

  • Brake problems such as out of adjustment
  • Tires
  • Load securement
  • Lights
  • Oil leaking
  • Windshield damage and obstruction
  • No proof of annual inspection


Lastly, hazmat loads:

  • Improper placards,
  • Improper marketing
  • Expired permits
  • No permit
  • Violations with shipping papers


Step 6: The outcomes


The best outcome every driver hopes for; no violations! Many companies actually have incentive programs to influence drivers to get clean inspections.

With violations, there are two types: non-out of service and out of service.


Non-out of service:


These violations can still warrant a ticket.  An example of this type would be an error in the form and manner on the electronic log, or as simple as a clearance light.  Sometimes these violations can be “forgiven” and no ticket is issued.


Out of service


This violation is one of the federal regulations listed by the CVSA. It must be listed in the criteria or it falls under non-out of service violations.  You will get a ticket whether you own the truck or you drive for a company.  It is important to listen to the officer because every state is different.


You may be asking yourself, now what?  It is important to have a plan in place making sure you have a list of numbers to call to get a service truck.  Most often, officers will escort you to the nearest town so you are left stranded.


Step 7: Be prepared!


The most important thing to do is to be prepared.  Complete a pre-inspection yourself, you might be able to catch things that might warrant you a violation and be sure to make note of these on your driver inspection report.  Be organized, keep all of your documents in one easy to access place.  This will help move the process along faster and your inspector will thank you! Listen to instructions and what the officer is telling you.  If you don’t understand, just ask.  Lastly, be polite! They are there for your safety and making them mad will not help you in the end!

What Hazards Should Truck Drivers Be Aware Of?

What hazards should truck drivers be aware of?


There are many things that could be consider a hazard for any driver on the road.  As defined by Webster’s Dictionary, a hazard is classified as an unavoidable danger or risk, even though often foreseeable. Many things can be defined as a hazard to a driver. For example, a driver in front of you all of the sudden braking hard.


How to identify hazards


Hazards become emergencies when there is little to no time to act.  One example would be someone cutting you off, but if you had more time to prepare for this you could have slowed down or switched lanes to prevent the accident.   Drivers who do not see it coming would make a quick reaction of slamming on their brakes or switching into another lane.  Which in turn could lead to an accident.


Most often there are signs of hazards when driving.   Once you are able to learn what these potential hazards are, you will be more aware of them when driving. Some hazards include:


  • Work zones: This is always a hazard. This can include people on the road, narrow lanes, uneven surfaces, and even sharp turns.  It is important to watch other for other drivers as they could be distracted.  Additionally, construction vehicles could be entering and exiting the road.  Driving at a slower speed and using more caution is essential in work zones.
  • Drop-offs in pavement: Quite often roads have sharp drop-offs on the end due to the pavement.  Be sure to avoid driving on this as it could cause you to wreck, getting the edge of your tire stuck on it, making it hard to steer.
  • Objects in the road: Anything that has fallen in the road, that shouldn’t be there is a hazard. This can cause severe damage to your tires and rims, electrical and brake lines, or even potentially get stuck between dual tires.  Even objects that look harmless could potentially cause harm.  It is important to remain alert for objects in the road and be able to plan on how to avoid them.
  • On and off ramps: Exit and entrance ramps cause be very dangerous for truck drivers. Posted speed limit signs indicated the speed for cars, but not necessarily the safe speed for trucks or other heavy vehicles.  Trucks should exercise caution going downhill or around sharp turns.

ELD Mandates Improve Safety in the Transportation Industry

ELD Mandates Improve Safety in the Transportation Industry


Last year the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA announced the electronic logging device (ELD) manage to improve safety in the industry.  This is a device that is able to record the driving time automatically on a vehicles engine.  This not only provides a greater level of safety for drivers and other drivers on the road, but it also simplifies the process of logging time and is more accurate than the traditional paper log method.


This new mandate, according to the FMCSA, is to provide more compliance with hours of service regulations.  The mandate helps regulate the hours a driver is on the road to prevent tiredness that could cause potential unsafe situations for other drivers.  Not only does the ELD record their driving hours, it is also able to monitor other things such as location, miles, and movement.


Many concerns from drivers are being raised with this mandate.  One being, that this will impact their pay and hours.  With this mandate, it also strictly enforces 55-hour work week limits.  Which will affect their pay.  This is inconvenient to drivers and shippers, because of supply and demand.  If drivers, meet their legal limits they will be unable to go over to meet the high demands of shippers.


Drivers are not the only ones affected by this but shippers also.  This brings on an additional cost to them because to install one in a truck, it can cost an average of $584. Additionally, there is a monthly subscription free of $20.


One concern that has arose from this, is that due to drivers logging less time, they will feel the need to drive more aggressive and speed causing potential accidents to haul loads faster to move more and make more money.


While this is just one concern of many, there are benefits of this mandate.  This includes more monitoring of drivers, safer roads, automated processes, less fuel consumption, and saving shippers money.



Is A Career As A Truck Driver Worth It?

Is A Career As A Truck Driver Worth It?


A career in truck driving can be very challenging and rewarding.  However, it’s not for everyone.  Over the years wages have changed and many people think truck drivers aren’t paid adequately for the nature of the job.  Being on the road so much and away from family and friends also turns many people away from the industry.


In a blog, written by Brett Aquila, he talks about what he loves about the industry.  He mentions of quality of the trucks.  Stating that today’s trucks have the best technology and comfort yet.  The industry has made great strides to provide truckers with the best technology and safety features available.  This also includes communication and navigation systems.


On average, truck drivers make around $40,000 – $50,000 a year.  For a blue collared job, this is pretty good pay.  However, over the last 25 years or more, pay has been steady.  This year, we have seen a high demand for more drivers.  Many companies offering huge pay incentives for those who sign up.  They also are offering many bonuses including those for safe driving.


Now, drivers can be more regionalized.  This is a huge plus for many drivers.  They get more opportunities to be at home.


On the other hand, Aquila mentions many things that he does not like about the industry. One being the process is a pain.  To become a driver, you must pass background checks, drug tests, physicals, credit check, fingerprinting, employment verification, and many rules and regulations.


Also, enforcement is strict.  There will always be cameras on you inside the truck at all times.  Driving reports will also be sent to your company.  Your trucks every movement is tracked.  You will endure regular inspections and could be pulled over for an inspection at any given moment.  Companies will know everything that is going on every second of the day.


One of the biggest complaints today is traffic.  It is growing by the day. More and more drivers are distracted causing more wrecks.  Drivers have to be aware of this and drive with an extra level of caution.


Lastly, while the pay is pretty good, it is also not increasing.  Aquila states he has had the same pay since he started in 1993.



General Mills

Many companies are starting to take a hit from the rising prices in fuel, driver shortages, and the increasing demand.  One company that is coping with this is General Mills.  What they thought was going to be a time of very profitable growth, has suddenly become quite the opposite.  Higher cost for moving their goods has taken a hit into their profits.


According to General Mills, they began warning the investors last month that there was trouble.  This “trouble” however; was bigger than expected and their shares plummeted 9%, becoming the biggest single-day drop in nine years according to the company.


Raising prices are causing companies to suffer.  Higher gas prices, driver shortages, and increasing demand has forced General Mills to purchase hauling on a spot basis.  This has greatly eaten into their profits considering it is 30% to 60% more expensive.  Typically, spot rates account for 5% of their hauling costs, but now it is up to over 20%.


Like many other companies, they are looking for ways to cope.  For General Mills, this means looking at other trucking companies to acquire contracts at lower prices on train hauling.  Don Mulligan, CFO, says “In the long run, General Mills will reassess the placement of its distribution centers and the entire process for moving ingredients and finished goods. Which is a structural change that we are reacting to.”

Shipping in the Panama Canal

Shipping in the Panama Canal


In June 2016, the new third lane, which doubled its capacity, of the Panama Canal expansion project opened.  This expansion allowed for Panamax ships, which are 1,200 feet long and carry three times the cargo of the previous 965-foot-long ships.


The Panama Canal allows boats to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific through the Caribbean Ocean and vice versa.  The canal saves ships from going over 5,000 miles out of the way, to go around South America.


There are many factors that had to be considered when the canal was built. The Caribbean Ocean is lower than the Pacific, the tides, and lastly the Isthmus at Panama. This is where the engineering comes into play.  The ships will go through a series of locks that rises the ship, then lowers it back down to sea level.  This trip is 51 miles long and takes roughly 13 hours to travel.


The Panama Canal plays a vital part in the U.S. Economy.  The canal reduces inflation, which keeps the cost of goods down.  By 2018, the five ports that carry the majority of U.S. imports, Los Angeles/Long Beach (LA/LB), New York/New Jersey (NY/NJ), Seattle/Tacoma, Savannah and Oakland, will be able to receive the Post-Panamax ships.  The canal is great for the economy because it will create more jobs and allow the U.S. better access to markets in China.  Since the expansion, the port traffic is up 29 percent bringing millions of dollars to the U.S. ports.  It is now actually cheaper to ship goods via the Canal to Los Angeles than by truck or rail.


This expansion has sped up the shipping process from China to the U.S. east coast and rail.  Ships typically take 12.3 days to sail from China to the west coast.  Then to get to the east coast, the cargo is put on a train which makes the total trip 18.3 days.  This is the most common route of Asian imports to the U.S.

FedEx Is Testing Out New Technologies

FedEx has been testing out new technologies for its new Boeing FedEx Express 777.  The new technologies include a 100% biofuel plane, collision avoidance, and 3-D printed titanium parts.


The exDemonstrator program began back in 2011.  Last July, FedEx, and Boeing announced plans to create the fifth iteration of the program.  FedEx and Boeing have had a relationship for over 40 years.  This program strives to make aircrafts that are safer and more environmentally friendly and safer.


Back last December, “Hollie” was turned over to Boeing to begin testing.  The plane made its first appearance on display during and Earth Day event at the Memphis International Airport this past Monday, April 23.


David Cummingham, president and CEO or Fedex Express, was able to tour the plane on Monday.  Cunningham said, “Innovation is in FDX’s DNA, and Boeing and FedEx have had a long relationship of innovating and building new products and capabilities. “The ecoDemonstrator is just an example of that. At the end of the day, what we are all trying to do is make sure we have a safe environment, an efficient environment, and one that is sustainable from an environmental standpoint.”


A few other new neat features of this plane included a system that utilizes a laser which is able to identify clear air turbulence within 10 kilometers of the front of the plane.  This new system would be able to detect any rough air in front of the planes, in turn, allowing pilots to get passengers in their seats before hitting the rough air.


Doug Christensen is the program test manager for this program and has been involved in all 5 iterations.   While some of the technology is not close to implementation he said some, such as the new outflow valve, is very close.


Hollie Is the first commercial plane to be flown using only biofuel.  Jeanna Yu, director of technology integration for Boeing Commercial Airplanes and who over sees this program, said, “It is just such a great testament to the great partnership we have with FedEx.  FedEx has a goal of 30 percent biofuel by 2030, and we are supporting that and helping them bring new biofuels into market. Today, you can only fly a 50 percent blend, so this is a first-ever 100 percent.”



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MPCO Carriers, Inc. provides domestic freight transportation services throughout North America.


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