Trucking companies (or companies that just use trucks): Make the most of your industry associations

trucking associationStrength in numbers. The power of a team. A built-in support system.

No matter the size of your fleet, if you use trucks in any capacity, joining an industry association is a smart idea for your business. From big rig haulers to landscapers with a couple of light duty box trucks, the trucking industry has particular needs and a host of problems to solve, not to mention regulatory and legislative battles to fight.

Yes, you can go it alone, but why suffer through it solo when associations like the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (MTAC) can help you “make things happen”?

Founded in 1920, MTAC is a fantastic, effective group that provides a host of services for its member businesses. Part of the American Trucking Associations (a federation of associations), its mission is to protect and promote the interests of the Connecticut trucking industry: In other words, your interests.

Obviously, the first step to success here is to join an organization like MTAC, but to really maximize your membership, you need to tap into the resources it provides. Consider being proactive in these five areas where an association can really benefit your business.

Education — Industry associations make it their business to know what you need to know to operate your business effectively. They can be founts of knowledge, with best practices information about issues such alcohol and drug testing, weight laws, driver qualifications, and vehicle maintenance, to name a few.

Driver Training — A best-in-class fleet has best-in-class drivers who are up-to-date on safety protocols and a wide variety of specialty areas, such as keeping cargo secure and knowing the ins and outs of braking systems. Industry associations offer the kind of training your drivers need to stay safe and productive.

Networking — Getting out of the office (and the truck!) and getting into seminars and gatherings is a great way to follow industry trends, find business partners and customers, and bounce ideas and concerns around with others who understand the industry. Trucking associations provide a full calendar of seminars, meetings, and other events that will help you make these important connections.

Lobbying — One of the most important services a trucking association will provide is lobbying on behalf of its members at the state and federal level. Though you don’t necessarily need to be climbing the Capitol’s steps, you do need to make sure your association understands your concerns. After all, they are there to represent you. Make sure your representatives know what’s on your mind!

Problem Solve — Industry associations exist to help your business thrive. They can help you work through thorny problems and they can help with things like supplying log books, driver qualification files, vehicle maintenance records and other compliance documentation.

Join your association, but don’t neglect it! Make sure you make the most of it.

P.S. Many of these offerings will help your business in one key area: keeping your worker’s compensation costs as low as possible. For more information, check out my recent [link] white paper, “How to avoid worker’s compensation claims in the trucking industry.”

Joe Pinto
Risk Management Consultant
jpinto@srfm.com

Joe Pinto

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live and Drive Safely: 6 Essential Ways Truckers Can Stay Healthy

Live and drive safely: 6 essential ways truckers can stay healthyTrucking doesn’t lend itself to healthy lifestyles. You’re cramped into a small space, miles from home and familiar places. It’s easy to chow down a Twinkie because it’s quick or sip a triple-sugar coffee to stay awake.

However, your health is the most important thing you have. Here are a few ways you can stay healthy on the road.

1. Don’t diet; focus on being healthier

Instead of temporarily dieting, focus on eating healthier all the time. Plan to eat reasonable, healthy meals for your height and weight (here’s a good calculator).

Don’t expect rapid weight loss. Somedays, fast food is your only options. When that happens, adjust your daily meal plan to compensate.

Avoid processed foods. Even though these are the most readily available at rest stops and gas stations, they’re just empty calories with little nutrition. Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables. 

2. Quit smoking right away

Smoking is a common way to pass the time when you’re driving. It’s easy to lose track of how many packs you’ve gone through each day.

The National Institute of Health reports that 54% of truckers are smokers, considerably higher than the general population. To protect your lungs, heart, skin, and stomach, stop smoking immediately. It’s disastrous to your health.

3. Make time to exercise each day

Within the confines of your truck, it’s impossible to exercise safely. The only way to burn some calories is to schedule work out time into your day.

Depending on your route and time-table, this may be tough, but you don’t need to do much. Walking for just 45 minutes can burn more than 400 calories. If you’re eating sensibly, that’s akin to cutting out an entire meal.

4. Wash your hands frequently

When you spend long stretches of time eating poorly, sleeping irregularly, and sitting down, your immune system suffers. Everyday bacteria and viruses you would ordinarily repel can become dangerous.

The best way to prevent foreign substances from getting inside your body is to wash your hands. This is especially important for truckers and drivers who spend a lot of time using public facilities.

5. Get proper rest

This is a tall request for some truckers who are pressured by tight deadlines. You may want to get ahead of traffic or take advantage of good weather. If you get a bonus for early deliveries, you’ve definitely pushed your limits. Even if you want to respect your sleep needs, your job and industry work against you.

Chronic sleep deprivation significantly affects your health and driving performance (especially focus). Falling asleep at the wheel behind a heavy truck can be catastrophic. Make sure you’re sleeping as much as you can during your mandatory 10-hour break, even if it hurts your wallet.

6. Reduce your stress

Between traffic and tight deadlines, truckers attract stress. Stress isn’t frustration; it can have physical effects on your body. Aside from changing professions, reduce stress with relaxing activities, like listening to music, mediation, and exercise.

Employers would be wise to set up a properly designed wellness program to ensure their drivers are living healthy lives that keep them safe and productive.

Marty Shea

Director of Sales

mshea@srfm.com

Live and drive safely: 6 essential ways truckers can stay healthy

Disruption Ahead: The Brave New World of Self-Driving Cars

the self-driving car is comingLike it or not, self-driving cars are coming.  A rapid increase in the use of “autonomous automobiles,” as industry savants prefer to call them, is seen by many as a foregone conclusion.  Following the early lead of Google, which has been developing the concept for over six years, virtually every carmaker in the U.S. market is working on some version of this new technology.  Some, like Tesla and Cadillac, are already introducing aspects of these systems into their cars.  The ultimate mass-market endorsement, though, was surely the recent Time Magazine cover story that devoted a whopping nine pages to the subject, mostly extolling the upsides of this “next big thing” and the vastly transformative affect it will have on our lives.

Within the US insurance industry, however, everything about the coming of the self-driving car is not so rosy.  While much about the future of these cars is open to vigorous debate — for the simple reason that their full impact on the daily lives of American drivers is unknowable at this point — many in the insurance industry see these new cars as a potential source of disruption.  And not in the happy, trendy way tech entrepreneurs like to throw that term around.  The capacity for autonomous driving to reduce traffic accidents and especially fatalities, and all of the personal, legal and emotional costs that come with them, will likely undermine much of what is currently considered accepted fact in the automobile insurance business, and not just a little.

The most dire outlook so far was laid out last year in a report by the influential accounting firm KPMG, which predicted that a steep decline in automobile accidents over the next decade would be followed by a corresponding drop in accident claims and insurance premiums.  Within 25 years, the report predicts, these declines could reduce the volume of the entire insurance industry to “40 percent of its current size.”  According to the Insurance Information Institute, research shows that even in its earliest stages, the bits of driverless technology and related safety features already introduced into American cars have begun to reduce the number of fatalities between 2008 and 2011 by as much as a third.  This trend will pick up more speed as more pieces of these systems are added will have an ever greater influence on the economics of the industry.

 Other predictions about the timing and extent of these changes vary greatly.  The most optimistic estimates for the complete adaptation of the autonomous automobile pinpoint the year 2030 as the date by which all American cars will have this technology.  Other sources see too many potential roadblocks still lying ahead for there to be complete market penetration by anything close to that date.  Most estimates see a gradual introduction of features over the next two to three decades with a proportional decline in the role of the driver as the technology is refined and the public, as well as federal and local governments become more comfortable with it.  By some accounts, the complete integration of this technology could take another 30 to 40 years, if not longer.

In addition to the fundamental economic impact of driverless cars on the insurance industry, there is also a thicket of legal and political issues about liability and culpability that has to be cleared over the next several years, a task made all the more difficult because many of those issues need to be worked out on a state-by-state basis.  If the past is any indication, the big question about who is responsible in a collision involving an autonomous car: the owner, the car manufacturer or the developer of the technology — and their respective underwriters will be pounded out one small increment at a time.  So hang on for a very bumpy ride, which is the one aspect of this automotive innovation that is not likely to be fixed by technology.

Jonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant
jbelek@srfm.com

Jonathan-Belek

Is it a bird, a plane or a liability?

Domino’s wants to deliver your pizza with one, and your cousin had one fly over her beach wedding.  

The use of drones, or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), has exploded in recent years.  The small remote controlled planes are being flown by hobbyists to government personnel monitoring disasters and crops.

The Federal Aviation Administration is finalizing its regulations for commercial drone use, which wouldDelivery Drone open up air space to allow businesses to deliver their goods via drones. The agency estimates that by 2020 some 30,000 drones will be used for business purposes.

What impact will all these drones buzzing around mean for the insurance industry?

Many insurance experts agree that drone coverage for commercial use is new territory for the industry and will be a growing market sector for the carriers. As far as what the insurance coverage will look like down the line, it’s hard to analyze and estimate the liability involving privacy issues, bodily injury and property damage when commercial drone use is still new and the FAA hasn’t hashed out its final regulations.

Even personal drones present certain risk challenges for the industry. Many people want one – it’s a fun toy and the popularity will continue to grow.  A recent Forbes article stated that Google Trends list drones as the one of top items people want to buy.  But the popularity of personal drones has some insurance companies changing their policies to make them more specific.  Personal drones are covered under homeowners’ policies, but liability for an accident caused by drones in urban areas present challenges. The Chubb Group, a property casualty insurer, found that three quarters of people surveyed worry about a drone crashing into their house or injuring someone.  Every carrier is different – if you are a drone owner – it’s best to give us a call to discuss your policy!

While the insurance industry continues to fly in the skies of drone territory, some companies are ready to use them internally to evaluate claims and assess your roof damage. Many are considering using drones to replace human adjusters.  The jury is still out in my book whether this is a good thing or not!

What are your thoughts on the drone industry?  Do you have one now or thinking of buying one – we would love your feedback!

On the insurance side of things, if you thinking of buying a drone for commercial or recreational use?  Sinclair Risk and Financial Management can help make sure you are properly protected.  Call me at 203-265-0996 or email me at jbelek@srfm.com.

Jonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant
jbelek@srfm.com

 

 

Life is a highway. Drive safe this summer

Marty SheaYou’ve been on the road for hours, hauling your load in the sweltering heat. The sun is so hot it crawls on your skin. You have only a few miles to reach your destination to get some needed rest when your rig starts to overheat.

Your day just got longer…. and hotter.

Summer driving for long-haul truckers present certain challenges. But there are ways to stay ahead of the game by protecting truckers from the heat and performing seasonal safety checks and basic maintenance on trucks.

Here are seven tips to keep your fleet in tip top shape and safe this summer.

Check your oil.  You want a cool engine during long summer hauls. Make sure there is enough engine oil to keep your truck engine cool and well lubricated. Check the gauge often to make sure the levels are adequate.

Keep your tires inflated. Tires wear out faster in hot temperature, so check your tire pressure before you head out on the road in order to prevent flats or blowouts.

Check your battery. Believe it or not, the heat takes a toll on batteries. Check your battery to be sure the heat is not evaporating the fluid and overcharging it.

Keep an eye on coolants. Check your antifreeze level. Keeping it in normal range will prevent trucks from overheating and creating engine trouble. Always remember to never remove the radiator cap until the engine has cooled.

Check your brakes.  Make sure your brakes are working properly. Hot temperatures can compromise them.  The last thing you need is a brake issue as you are descending a mountain!

Keep yourself hydrated. Rigs need fluids to keep them running properly and so do truckers. Drink plenty of water. Keep bottled water with you while driving so you can hydrate yourself and avoid heat stroke and cramps.

Wear Sunscreen. UV sun rays are dangerous and can penetrate glass. Protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen, wear polarized sun glasses and wear long sleeves.

These are just a few tips for keeping your fleet safe on the road this summer- for more information on our Safety Training program for the Trucking Industry, drop me an email mshea@srfm.com

 

 

CT Trucking Insurance: Can Technology Improve Fleet Operations? Part 2

CT Trucking Insurance: Can Technology Improve Fleet Operations? Part 2 CT Trucking Insurance Can Technology Improve Fleet Operations Part 2

As we previously mentioned, the integration of new technologies has helped commercial fleet owners monitor their vehicles and drivers, but the question remains, are these efforts actually improving industry efficiency and safety? The answer in most cases is yes.

Fleet owners and industry members report that GPS monitoring and electronic logging devices (ELDs) have been extremely helpful in obtaining useful day to day data about their operations. These technologies are particularly useful because they collect data about travel as well as vehicles operations. There are many platforms which track how far each truck traveled, during which hours, at what speeds, using which routs. All of this information can then be analyzed to improve logistics strategies and adjust business practices and policies to help maximize efficiency. Fleet owners can monitor whether or not drivers are maximizing their fuel usage and time wisely and even identify drivers who may be operating the vehicles improperly or erratically.

Furthermore, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication’s technologies are creating safer road conditions and help to avoid accidents and collisions, which in turn cut down losses and liability exposures for business owners. V2V technology has been so impactful, that the U.S. Transportation Department recently began drafting policies which would require automakers to outfit all future vehicles, commercial and consumer, with vehicle-to-vehicle communication and driver alert systems. Proponents of the technology assert that V2V and other crash avoidance technology can help save more thousands of lives a year and millions of dollars in property damage and losses. Researchers have found that the use of crash avoidance technologies can be expected to help prevent some 600,000 accidents.

While technology can be a huge asset to the Connecticut trucking industry and commercial fleet owners, even the best monitoring and safety precautions cannot always prevent occasional accidents and losses. At Sinclair Risk and Financial Management, we understand the complexity of the Connecticut trucking industry and specialize in helping fleet owners protect their operation and assets. Our CT trucking insurance programs are tailored to the unique niche needs of trucking operations. Our policies and plans are fully customizable and offer the flexibility your operations needs now and as you continue to grow and adapt in the future. To learn more about our CT trucking insurance programs, or any of our commercial offerings, give us a call today at (877) 602-2305.

CT Trucking Insurance: Can Technology Improve Fleet Operations? Part 1

CT Trucking Insurance: Can Technology Improve Fleet Operations? Part 1 CT Trucking Insurance Can Technology Improve Fleet Operations Part 1

Over the last few years, there has been a growing interest in the integrated use of telecommunications and informatics, such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS), in commercial vehicles to improve safety and efficiency. Originally relying on simple GPS tracking systems, trucking fleets have been monitoring their vehicles and drivers for nearly two decades, but modern improvements on telematics technology are revolutionizing the way commercial vehicle owners manage and keep track of their assets. Modern vehicle telematics essentially refer to the integrated infrastructure of wireless communications technology, GPS and tracking capabilities, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications systems, electronic logging systems, and integrated sensor technology that can influence and monitor a vehicle on the move.  These technologies enable fleet owners to monitor everything from the location of their vehicles to the rate of travel, fuel efficiency, and ever some operator’s driving behaviors.

In recent years, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has pushed for the widespread the adoption of such technologies, including electronic logging devices and V2V communications systems in hopes of improving the record-keeping and accountability among fleet operators and drivers. Experts project that by 2019 more than 50 million commercial vehicles will have integrated telematics systems, from taxis and long-haul trucks to construction and emergency services vehicles. The appeal is that these technologies are able to monitor vehicles and drivers to help fleet owners keep records of fleet activity and locations at any given time. Such data can be used for risk mitigation, loss evaluation, strategic planning, and other tactical applications as well as accident reconstruction for cases involving commercial vehicles.

Technology can be a huge asset to the Connecticut trucking industry and commercial fleet owners, but even the best monitoring and safety precautions cannot always prevent occasional accidents and losses. At Sinclair Risk and Financial Management, we understand the complexity of the Connecticut trucking industry and specialize in helping fleet owners protect their operation and assets. Our CT trucking insurance programs are tailored to the unique niche needs of trucking operations. Our policies and plans are fully customizable and offer the flexibility your operations needs now and as you continue to grow and adapt in the future. To learn more about our CT trucking insurance programs, or any of our commercial offerings, give us a call today at (877) 602-2305.

Connecticut Risk Management: Distracted Driving & Risk Management

Connecticut Risk Management: Distracted Driving & Risk ManagementConnecticut Risk Management: Distracted Driving & Risk Management

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. As a business owner, what can you do to keep your employees safe on the road?

Thousands of business owners across the country use commercial vehicles as part of their daily operations. It’s the law to get commercial auto insurance to cover them. But have you factored your distracted driving into your risk management strategy?

Smart phones have turned the vehicle into a mobile office. Employees can check their email, type and access documents, call in to meetings, and conduct a large portion of their business from wherever they are. While it is convenient, they can also disrupt a driver’s focus if they use it on the road. Distracted drivers are a growing liability for business owners, both for their employees’ safety and passengers on the road.

Distraction occurs anytime you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off your primary task. Engaging in any non-driving activities while you are behind the wheel significantly delays your reaction time and significantly increases your risk of crashing.

Distracted driving is rampant. At any given moment, over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a handheld phone. Sending or reading texts, checking emails, even social media sites are among the most alarming distractions.

Countering distracted driving should be a part of your company’s risk management approach. Implementing a strict no-cellphone while driving policy can help drivers minimize their risk. Employee training on driver safety with a component for distracted driving can also help educate employees on the risk of driving distractions.

Commercial auto insurance is a critical component of your Connecticut risk management program. Whether you have one car or a fleet of vehicles, our risk management programs feature Accident Investigation Programs & Injury Management.  properly placed coverage is necessary to protect your assets in the event there’s an accident with the company automobile or truck. Sinclair Risk & Financial Management has solid, professional relationships with several top-rated insurance companies to provide you with a program that is both comprehensive and competitive. Contact us today for more information. (877) 602-2305

New Chrysler Commercial Vehicles of 2013

New Chrysler Commercial Vehicles of 2013New Chrysler Commercial Vehicles of 2013

In 2009, the nearly century old company founded by Walter Chrysler merged an alliance with Italian manufacturer, Fiat. This collaboration formed the Chrysler Group LLC. Although Fiat holds a majority of the company, this relationship has ultimately improved Chrysler’s sales. When the nation’s economy plunged, automakers’ sales sunk too. Chrysler was not the exception; from 2006- to 2009, they were struggling to boost up their sales. However, in 2010 they started to see progression and have since then substantially increased their sales figures. In fact, their car sales rose 27% and when comparing September 2012 to September 2011 numbers, they climbed 12%. Chrysler’s head of U.S. sales, Reid Bigland is very confident in their position in the vehicle sales industry. This optimistic and promising outlook has pushed Chrysler to become commercial. Chrysler’s transition includes a new commercial-truck division. Chrysler becomes commercial with the intention of broadening their audience to fleet buyers and small business owners. The new Chrysler commercial vehicles of 2013 has implemented new features to the Dodge Ram truck brand in order for commercial buyers and fleet buyers.

New Chrysler Commercial Trucks of 2013:

  • Improved tailgate camera: This is designed to connect images from the car’s 8.4 inch screen and the camera mounted on the rear. This will make it easier to hookup trailers.
  • Redesigned Frame: Chrysler has constructed a frame made up of high-strength steel. They also offer an optional fifth-wheel or gooseneck hitch mount.
  • Improved towing capacities: Chrysler becomes commercial by revising their steering and suspension systems.
  • Improved Engine: Their current model produces 350 horsepower at 3,000 rpm and 800 pounds-feet of torque. However, in order for Chrysler to become commercial they have increased their engine by producing 370 horsepower at 2,800 rpm and 850 pounds-feet of torque.

Chrysler becomes commercial in hopes of becoming the lead car manufacturer. These new vehicles will become available in 2013.

We can provide coverage for many types of business vehicles for your business. Give Sinclair a call at 203.265.0996 for more information about our commercial auto insurance programs.