International Roadcheck June 6-8, 2017

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CVSA Puts Special Emphasis on Cargo Securement

Mark your calendars for June 6-8, 2017. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) 30th annual International Roadcheck will take place during those three days. International Roadcheck is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial motor vehicles in the world covering Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Over the 72-hour period, CVSA-certified commercial motor vehicle inspectors Throughout North America will conduct inspections of commercial motor vehicles and their drivers. Each year, International Roadcheck places special emphasis on a category of violations. This year’s focus is cargo securement. While checking for compliance with safe cargo securement regulations is always part of roadside inspections, CVSA is highlighting cargo securement safety this year as a reminder of its importance to highway safety.

According to the CVSA, damaged or defective tiedowns, loose or unfastened tiedowns, and not having the required number of tie-downs are the most common violations. Drivers need to take specific care in calculating the weight of the cargo plus any length requirements when determining the correct number of tiedowns required.

TIP: unmarked or illegible markings on tiedowns may cause an inspector to error on the side of caution and downgrade your tiedown and its Working Load Limit (WLL) which could cause you to be cited.

Inspectors will primarily be conducting the North American Standard Level I Inspection, which is the most thorough roadside inspection. It is a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of both driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness. Drivers are required to provide items such as their driver’s license, hours-of-service documentation, motor carrier registration and shipping documentation, and inspectors will be checking drivers for seat belt usage and the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The vehicle inspection includes checking items such as the brake systems, cargo securement, coupling devices, driveline/driveshaft, exhaust systems, frames, fuel systems, lighting devices (required lamps), steering mechanisms, suspensions, tires, van and open-top trailer bodies, wheels, rims and hubs, windshield wipers, and emergency exits (on buses). Learn more at cvsa.org.

America’s Aging Infrastructure

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Aging Infrastructure

The U.S. has a failing infrastructure and we have to find a way to pay to upgrade it now. That was the reoccurring message delivered during a recent Senate hearing on Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America.

According to the Senate panel and those testifying before the panel, underdeveloped ports, failing locks, constrained rail, crumbling bridges, congested roads and insufficient waterways are all part of an aging U.S. infrastructure that is straining to meet the demands of the 21st century population and commerce. Testifying before the panel, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka provided an estimate that the U.S. infrastructure deficit is approaching $4 trillion.

Five experts representing different areas of the U.S. economy were on-hand to opine on the state of the country’s network of movement and industry. During the hearing there were suggestions on how to relieve stress and congestion throughout the network, but in no way did anyone suggest that stress relievers would fix the underlying and costly need for maintenance and upgrade. Conversely, David MacLennan, CEO of Cargil (representing food and agriculture) stated that the consequences of inaction will have a rippling effect all the way up the supply chain. MacLennan made specific reference to the devastating effect on corn prices paid to farmers following hurricane Katrina in 2005 that represented $3 billion in lost market value.

Like a broken record from previous hearings, the consensus was that the country’s infrastructure is deficient, but funding the effort to fix it remains elusive. The favored method of payment discussed during the hearing was an increase in the federal fuel tax indexed for inflation and a user fee to address those that are less reliant on fuel but no less reliant on the system. Fedex CEO, Frederick Smith stated “the entire country is moving away from internal combustion engines” making the current fuel tax insufficient. Additionally, he suggested the use of RFID modules on vehicles to track distance traveled as a way to calculate the user fee.

As part of his first 100 days in office, President Trump has pledged to fill the $1 trillion gap noted by the National Association of Manufacturers as improvements needed to our transportation systems over the next 10 years. We can only hope that not only will this happen within that time, but it will happen in an manner that brings the country together. That would be Huge.

New CCIA Gear

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Our 2017 shirt design features America’s “Mother Road” Historic Route 66.
New CCIA Gear

Our new design is set on 100% preshrunk cotton in American royal blue. The shirt design showcases American strength, ingenuity and pride starting with the symbolic Bald eagle clasping onto California’s Route 66 highway sign. The trucking industry, a key component to the prosperity of American businesses is featured with an 18-wheeler in silhouette along the road with the sun shinning brightly in the background. The term “Mother Road” is draped across the top of the design on a colonial-aged scroll adding a much needed feeling of maturity and patriotism. To add a little flare and to leave no doubt about the message, “HISTORIC ROUTE” was drawn in a vintage font and prominently place in the center of the design. Stars complete the image by surrounding the artwork and compounding the American theme.

Route 66 was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System. US 66 was established on November 11, 1926 and was completely paved by 1938. The highway originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending at Santa Monica, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles.

The new highway brought life and economic prosperity to those communities along its path and would eventually lead to the construction of the U.S. Highway System. The trucking industry compounded that prosperity and would eventually form the backbone of the U.S. economy.

The decline of Route 66 began in late 1950’s with the signing of the Interstate Highway Act by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985.

Job-Related Fatalities Rank #1, Injuries #6

According to a blog by the U.S. Department of Labor, one out of every six American workers killed on the job is a tractor-trailer truck driver. In 2014, 761 truck drivers were killed while working, marking the fifth year in a row those numbers have increased. Of those fatalities, 78% were caused by transportation incidents.

Citing data from the Bureau, truck drivers also have the highest number of nonfatal injuries and illnesses requiring days off from work across all occupations (55,710 in 2014). In this category, truckers ranked 6th behind police officers and sheriffs, firefighters, highway maintenance workers, correctional officers and nursing assistants.

The dominant injury-related causes were slips, trips and falls, followed by overexertion. Most likely causes were pushing and pulling containers; lifting heavy items while loading and unloading; and routinely getting in and out the vehicle.

Some prevention tips are listed below.

    • Use good body position / posture in all tasks.
    • Use mechanical aids whenever possible
    • Use three points of contact when working on
    elevated work surfaces.
    • Don’t jump off your vehicle or trailer
    • It is always better to face the direction you
    want to go rather than walk backwards
    • Be careful when opening up a trailer as loads
    can shift.
    • Get help securing your loads and stay out
    of the direct path of the strap as it may break.

CSA Update

In a Senate hearing on June 8, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx testified about the status of reform to the controversial CSA program and when the carrier scores will be returned to the public website.

The FAST Act (the current five-year, $305 billion transportation bill) requires that the CSA scores be removed from public view and fixed before they can be publicly held out as factual safety data.

Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) stated that the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office and internal DOT reports concluded that the CSA program was badly in need of reform. Following that statement, Thune asked Foxx “when will the (CSA) program be reformed” so that the CSA motor carrier scores “can be returned to the public website with confidence that the analysis is appropriate and represents the risk of an individual carrier.” Foxx replied, “it’s going to take a while to do revised analysis”. He continued by stating, “I would expect it might take a year or two probably more like two years before that information would be posted back up.”

http://www.commerce.senate.gov

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International Roadcheck (June 7-9)

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) 29th annual International Roadcheck (I-R) will take place June 7-9, 2016. I-R is a 72-hour period when approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial, territorial and federal inspectors in jurisdictions across North America perform large truck and bus safety inspections. During I-R, inspectors primarily conduct North American Standard Level 1 Inspections which include an examination of both the driver and vehicle.

Drivers are required to provide items such as their license, endorsements, medical card and hours-of-service documentation, and may be checked for seat belt usage and the use of alcohol and/or drugs. The vehicle inspection includes checking items such as the braking system, securement of cargo, coupling devices, exhaust system, frame, fuel system, lights, steering mechanism, driveline/driveshaft, suspension, tires, van and open-top trailer bodies, wheels and rims, and windshield wipers.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION Re: Volvo Safety Recall

IMPORTANT INFORMATION Re: Volvo Safety Recall

USDOT Announces Unrepaired Recalled Volvo Trucks That May Still be Operating on the Nation’s Roadways Are in an Unsafe Condition, “such vehicles are to be immediately ordered out-of-service by federal and state roadside safety inspectors.”

Get more details in the two attached FMCSA announcements.

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LATE REPORTING OF CLAIMS

LATE REPORTING OF CLAIMS
Comes with consequences

Call Your Agent

So many things can happen in a short amount of time and when you delay reporting a claim, those “things” can be forgotten, embellished and/or lost forever. If it is something that can help in your defense, you don’t want it lost.

When you are involved in any type of claim that has property damage or injury, it is imperative that you let your insurance agent know as soon as possible so that the process of discovery can begin. In many instances, an insurance company can have an independent adjuster dispatched to the scene to begin the process.

Witnesses: When there are witnesses to a claim, it is critical to talk to those witnesses as soon as possible in order to get their version of the story. Details can become fuzzy or lost altogether as time goes by. Always get names and phone numbers of witnesses – especially if they cannot stay at the scene.

Your story: When you or a driver are involved in a claim, the details are so important, e.g. how many people were in a particular vehicle at that time? We see claims where individuals that were not even involved in the crash are claiming injury. Write down the details, take pictures and/or have someone in the company designated to conduct post-accident interviews.

Scene changes: The more time that goes by the more a scene can change. Skid marks fade and/or other skid marks occur, spills get cleaned and damages get repaired. When there isn’t proper documentation and examination of the scene, it becomes more difficult for a claims professional to do their job.

Unnecessary expenses: Expenses can occur when a claim is reported late to your insurance company. When a claimant’s vehicle is damaged, they will likely need a rental. The longer the life of the claim, the more rental expense is incurred. Additionally, claimants can rationalize that the insurance company is not properly tending to their claim and respond by hiring an accident attorney. These attorneys are synonymous for inflating charges.

Your damages: Another item to note is that when you are involved in a claim, your damages need to be fixed as soon as possible as well. We see claims where damaged parts from a previous crash fall off of the vehicle and cause another separate claim.

Please report your claim as soon as possible to give your claims professionals the best chance at defending you and reducing your exposure to unnecessary costs. A notice of an incident to an agent is a notice of claim. You should expect confirmation from the insurance company of the claim within a reasonable amount of time.

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President signs highway legislation into law

With one day left before the latest transportation funding extension expired, the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) securing Highway funding for the next five years. The FAST Act authorizes federal surface programs through fiscal year 2020 providing $305 billion for roads, bridges and mass transit.

President Obama put pen to paper signing the FAST Act into law late December 4th securing long-term transportation funding for the first time in over a decade. The House of Conferees representing both houses signed off on their compromise bill on Dec. 1. Two days later, the House passed the Act by a vote of 359-65 on Dec. 3. That same evening, the Senate followed suit with a vote of 83-16.
The $305 billion comes in reauthorizing the 18.5 cent-per-gallon fuel tax and $70 billion in subsidies. Lawmakers have resisted increasing the federal gas tax and instead are using offsets to bridge the annual shortfall. The $70 billion comes from: tapping into the surplus of the Federal Reserve bank; reducing dividends that are paid to banks; adding additional customs fees; selling oil reserves; and privatizing some IRS tax collections.

Minimum Liability Insurance – In accordance with the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the FMCSA was required to conduct a study on the issue of minimum financial responsibility limits for motor carriers. With skyrocketing medical costs and high-profile crashes i.e., Walmart vs Tracy Morgan and the Skagit River bridge collapse that far exceeded the insurance aggregates, FMCSA floated a proposal to more than triple those minimums to somewhere around $3.5 million. However, studies (including FMCSA’s own study) have shown that roughly half of 1% of all truck-involved crashes even exceed the current minimum levels. Likely consequences of such an increase would be increased insurance premiums, critical driver acceptance policies and the large scale attrition within the workforce. Surely, such an increase would be devastating to the economy, the majority of America’s motor carriers and the insurance industry. In the end, however with a lot of grass roots effort by the trucking industry, the message was received by politicians who have quelled the Agency’s off-base efforts.

The FAST Act includes language that mandates responsible consideration from the FMCSA when introducing language that would increase the minimum liability insurance requirement on trucking businesses. For instance, prior to issuing a final rule, consideration must be given for the potential impact on: the safety of motor vehicle transportation; and the motor carrier industry; the ability of the insurance industry to provide the required amount of insurance; the extent to which current minimum levels of financial responsibility adequately cover medical care; compensation; and other identifiable costs; the frequency with which insurance claims exceed current minimum levels of financial responsibility in fatal accidents; and the impact of increased levels on motor carrier safety and accident reduction.
Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) – The Government Accountability Office, various law enforcement organizations, truckers and politicians alike have been extremely critical of the FMCSA.

So much so that, included in the Act are requirements to thoroughly review and reform the Agency’s procedures. Specific to the trucking industry, the FMCSA is required to commission a study of the Agency’s CSA program and the Safety Measurement System (SMS) utilized by the CSA program. Very important is that from the time of enactment (December 4) and until further notice, the Act requires that the FMCSA remove from public websites any analysis, enforcement and inspection data regarding motor carriers of property.

The CSA study mandated by the FAST Act is charged with getting into the weeds as to the accuracy and benefit of the program – especially with its Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). The study will attempt to identify the relative value of inspection information and roadside enforcement data; identify any data collection gaps and the impact of those gaps to the CSA program; and identify the accuracy of safety data including the use of data in which a motor carrier was free from fault and much more.

Hair testing – The regulations permit motor carriers to use hair testing as an acceptable alternative to urine testing in both pre-employment screening and random testing if the operator was subject to hair testing for preemployment testing.
You can view a the full bill at: http://transportation.house.gov/

Spotlight on crashes

Multiple Vehicle Crash

As we have noticed an uptick in the frequency of multiple-vehicle crashes, we would like to pass on some key points to consider with respect to liability arising out of these types of crashes. The key for investigators is to determine the sequence of events. The following would be typical questions you might be asked following a crash.

      1. Were you stopped before the impact?
      2. If not, how far were you from the vehicle ahead before you made contact?
      3. How many impacts did you feel?
      4. What was the severity of each impact?
      5. Was a lane change the cause of the crash?

In addition to the information above, any photos that you could provide before the vehicles are moved would help to preserve the scene for accident investigators. As always, safety first. Do not put yourself in an unsafe area to take photos. When safe, take photos of all angles, both the whole scene and the impact areas. Take photos of signs, intersections and skidmarks. Photos go a long way in helping claims representatives to corroborate any received testimony.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Always give yourself enough room to stop behind the vehicle in front of you. If you are being followed too closely, increase your distance from the vehicle ahead to help prevent a rearend crash.
Another type of crash we are seeing more often is trucks backing into dock doors and stationery vehicles. These accidents have been occurring with seasoned drivers. Safety coordinators should add these accident types to their driver meeting notes as the development of bad habits and not asking for assistance is more likely to blame than actual ability.

When a parking situation is tight – especially when backing, you should always get a spotter to assist you. If the area appears to be too tight, stop and ask to have the obstacle moved to accommodate your truck and trailer size. Do not risk a claim. When backing without a spotter, be sure to get out of the truck and check for obstacles and people that might be behind and/or alongside your vehicle and trailer.