Trucking’s Top 10 & More

THE TOP 10 PROBLEMS IN TRUCKING. Every year the American Transportation Research Institute conducts a survey throughout the trucking industry to find what areas or topics are issues to companies and executives. This year, 3,200 responses were gathered from carriers and commercial drivers. As 2016 nears its end, one issue in particular has been named as the #1 problem: electronic logging devices. ELDs topped the list of worries because of its impending mandatory implementation date of December 1, 2017. While still a little more than one year away, trucking companies have to prepare well ahead of time in order to avoid possible fines. The survey also found 65% of respondents stated that productivity may be impacted when ELDs are fully implemented. Estimates of productivity loss may range anywhere from 3% to 5%. ELDs are also a top concern because of the costs companies will incur installing the ELDs in their trucks.

Those productivity losses won’t only come from the ELD mandate, as survey respondents also highlighted nine other top worries heading into 2017. So, without further ado, here is the top 10 list, as compiled by the American Transportation Research Institute: 1) the ELD mandate; 2) Hours of Service rules; 3) the overall economic impact of trucking regulations; 4) truck parking; 5) the economy; 6) the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program; 7) the driver shortage; 8) issues with driver retention; 9) the current state of our nation’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges and funding levels; and 10) driver distractions.

This survey is important because it provides a road-map for issues the industry will likely have to address in the coming months and years. Knowing what the industry is concerned about, and what strategies it views as most promising for addressing each issue, allows the state and federal agencies to better focus their collective efforts on behalf of motor carriers and their employees. Trucking is already a valuable component of the American economy, and any productivity effects or heavy burdens will cause ripple effects throughout other industries.

THE “GREEN” FUTURE OF CALIFORNIA. Continuing to cement his environmental legacy, Governor Brown recently released his sweeping blue-sky plans to propel California’s trucks, ships and trains toward a zero-emissions Shangri-La type of future. The unprecedented effort aims to totally reshape how cargo is moved around the state in the next 14 years. Over the past year, planners from the state’s department of transportation, air-quality board, energy commission and Brown’s economic development wing hammered out the Sustainable Freight Action Plan. With this collection of goals, Brown wants to make the freight-moving industry in California run much cleaner, without sacrificing its competitive edge.

Some of the many goals in this plan include: deploy 100,000 trucks, trains and cargo-moving machines fueled by cleaner fuels or electricity by 2020; launch stricter emissions regulations for trains, delivery trucks and vehicles used at airports by 2023 (in a state that already has the nation’s toughest air-quality rules); create incentive programs, marketing campaigns and even a sustainable-freight “think tank” that encourages the development of greener technologies; and, generally, to make the industry more efficient (the less time vehicles spend on the road, the less they pollute, and the more competitive they are).

This plan summarizes five pilot project concepts the state agencies are considering recommending for further development and potential implementation within 20 years: 1) establish a food consolidation and distribution hub in Northern California to promote a more efficient delivery system using clean trucks and rail services; 2) utilize a combination of strategies to address urban freight congestion and emissions in the Bay Area, including off-peak delivery, truck parking and charging, collaborative logistics, cargo bicycles and local workforce development; 3) create a biomethane production cluster and fueling infrastructure for trucks in the San Joaquin Valley; 4) create an “Advanced Technology Trucks Only” lane in Southern California dedicated to trucks with options for intelligent transportation systems, connected vehicles technologies, collaborative logistics, zero and near-zero emission trucks, and truck platooning; and 5) create an “Advanced Technology Truck Fast Lane” at the border dedicated to clean trucks with intelligent transportation systems and connected vehicle technologies to allow for faster inspection and processing of freight trucks crossing the border.

DRIVER COERCION COMPLAINTS LEAD TO NEW FOCUS. The “Driver Coercion” rule has changed the focus for the FMCSA – it has caused them to move complaints from the bottom of their list to the top. While following up on these complaints, they may not be finding the coercion claimed, but after going through the process, they are finding issues that are causing conditional ratings and fines. It is essential that you do not let your guard down and remain focused on having the processes and procedures in place to ensure that you are compliant.

In regards to the Hours of Service, this generally tends to be the greatest focus of the FMCSA (which is no different than compliance and focused reviews). But, you need to make sure that you are paying close attention to supporting documents with respect to time and date. In regards to Fuel Reports versus actual fuel receipts, banking laws require that the time of transaction be recorded. As a result, your purchases will have the time recorded. If your report does not have the time recorded, then you need to contact your supplier and make sure your reports do (otherwise, FMCSA will do it for you when they come in). Information from your GPS systems are now being used to cross-reference with your stated hours of service, as well, so make sure that your current AOBRD’s settings match what will be on the ELDs.

Surviving in today’s highly-regulated and competitive environment is getting harder each day. If you are having trouble complying, or even understanding all of the rules, give us a call at (562) 279-0557 or jump on our website (www.ntassoc.com) and become an NTA member today. You will not regret it. We are here to help you – and not just to survive, but to thrive! So, until next month, “Drive Safe – Drive Smart!”

About Wayne Schooling

Wayne Schooling has been in the transportation business since 1962. Starting out as a driver, Wayne later made the switch to management. Over the years, he has accumulated 22 various awards and honors, been involved with 6 professional affiliations, has spoken at several lectures, and earned 3 professional diplomas. Wayne, who has written for 10-4 Magazine since 1994, is currently President Emeritus of the NorthAmerican Transportation Association (NTA).