“JUNE GLOOM” FOR TRANSPORTATION
The month of June in Southern California is commonly referred to as “June Gloom” – a term for a weather pattern that results in cloudy, overcast skies with cool temperatures during the late spring and early summer, commonly occurring in the month of June. Well, this could apply to the trucking industry, as well. Drivers and motor carriers better start paying more attention to their CSA and SMS scores, because if they don’t, they will find very cold shoulders from their insurance companies. The insurance market is tight – I am seeing motor carriers that are NOT getting their insurance renewed because of bad SMS scores.
Just before I sat down to do this article I received a call from a desperate carrier in San Jose who had just found out from his agent that in eleven (11) days, when his insurance expires, his insurance company was not going to renew his policy. He called in hopes that we (NTA) could not only help him with his SMS scores, but also convince his insurance company to renew his policy. Having only 11 days, he barely has enough time to get his loss runs and all the rest of the information together that he needs to find a new insurance company. Mind you, this carrier had a “Satisfactory Rating” in 2008 showing on his Safersys Report, and only one (1) Alert on his SMS under Vehicle Maintenance violations. His SMS score is 69.5% – which is just over the threshold of 65%. All the rest of his Basic scores are 0%.
To bring on even more gloomy skies, the trucking industry will be busy finding ways to comply with 27 new congressionally-mandated regulations expected over the next two years. Yes, that’s right – 27 new regs in 24 months! The following are just a few. Sometime this month, the FMCSA is expected to issue a proposed drug and alcohol clearinghouse rule. It will allow carriers to view driver alcohol and drug test failures, as well as refusals to take the tests. Also, maybe in June, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to issue a truck speed-limiters rule. The latest hours-of-service rule is also set to become effective on July 1, unless an appeals court rejects the rule in response to a lawsuit filed by the ATA and other groups attempting to block some provisions of the rule.
This summer, OSHA is set to issue a “fall protection” rule that might require dock-leveling systems to prevent workers from falling when loading or unloading trucks. Also this summer, the FMCSA is scheduled to issue a final Unified Registration Systems rule that will streamline the federal registration process by combining the DOT’s identification number system, the single state registration system and the financial responsibility system into a single online federal system. The FMCSA is also on track to issue a medical examiner’s certification integration rule to require examiners to transmit medical exam results to state transportation departments for use in issuing commercial driver licenses. Also this summer, a final “pattern-of-violations” rule is due that will allow regulators to shut down fleets that employ officers who have shown an “egregious disregard” for safety regulations.
In September, the FMCSA is scheduled to issue a proposed rule for electronic logging devices (ELD). A final ELD rule is not expected until the summer of 2014. Early next year, the FMCSA is expected to issue a proposed rule that will define how the agency will use the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) data to declare whether a motor carrier is fit or unfit to operate, and a proposal to outline medical requirements for insulin-dependent truckers. And, lastly, in March of 2014, the FMCSA is expected to issue a final rule mandating electronic stability systems.
UTAH & INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS
For those independent contractors in Utah, you may or may not know that the State of Utah passed House Bill 308 which modifies the Workers’ Compensation Act to address the independent contractor status, for purposes of workers’ compensation, of individuals operating under an agreement with a motor carrier. The bill exempts from the definition of employee, for purposes of workers’ compensation, certain individuals who operate a motor vehicle under an agreement with a motor carrier, if certain conditions are met. The bill establishes that independent contractors must now provide proof of occupational accident coverage. NTA’s insurance division is proud to announce that it is in the process of offering this program to all of the independent contractors in the state of Utah. This occupational accident insurance is underwritten by ACE American Insurance Co. The coverage meets the requirements of HB 308, and helps to provide valuable benefits and financial security when a work-related accident occurs. Coverage includes dry van operations, refrigerated haulers, flatbed pullers, aggregate haulers, dump trucks, tankers, auto carriers, redi-mix trucks, and many other types of haulers, subject to the insurance company approving the application.
LOAD BOARD FRAUD ON THE RISE
Load board fraud is on the rise, and the crooks are getting smarter. Since there is no one to really enforce the rules, it is becoming the old “Wild West” out there. A well-known broker received a call at 3 p.m., the day before the 4th of July holiday. The caller said he had a load to move from Dallas to Muncie, IN for $1,100. The broker was convinced that his company employees had jumped through all of the hoops – they checked the trucker’s phone numbers, address, SMS scores, insurance certificate, safety rating, truck and trailer numbers, everything – they even spoke to the driver, who supposedly was picking up the load. The shipper even confirmed that a driver had shown up to pick up the load. But it wasn’t until 45 days later that the broker found out that the carrier wasn’t who he said he was and that his company had been scammed, along with 40 others. Apparently, the crooked trucker re-brokered the load for $1,700 with another carrier, and even picked up a fuel advance! There are currently no industry figures for the effects of re-brokering fraud, largely because theft and fraud are underreported crimes, so reliable information is difficult to get. So, your homework is to keep reading 10-4 and to join NTA for even more up-to-date news. For more information, call NTA at (800) 805-0040 or visit them at www.ntassoc.com today.