Rhode Island would be first state to impose carbon tax; trucking industry braces for higher costs

Carbon TaxA bill currently under consideration by the Rhode Island legislature would make the Ocean State the first to impose a “carbon tax” on fossil fuel production. This is important news for the trucking industry because if enacted as written it means gasoline and diesel fuel producers will be hit with a new tax which will be passed along one way or another to long haulers.

Meant to accelerate the state’s transition from oil, gasoline, and natural gas to local renewable energy like solar and wind power, it would do so by taxing, among other products, gasoline and diesel fuel. The bill, known as the Clean Energy Investment and Carbon Pricing Act of 2017, imposes a $15 tax on each ton of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gasses emitted from the burning of a fossil fuel.  Gas and diesel retailers would either have the fee paid by their distributors or collect it at the pump.

Either way, that cost will be coming out of truckers’ pockets.

Meant to be proactive against the effects of climate change, the bill’s intent is to “Create a clean energy and jobs fund to foster innovative practices, which will strengthen Rhode Island’s position in advancing efficient use of energy, make Rhode Island a nationally recognized leader in energy efficiency, stimulate job creation, and enhance innovation-based economic growth.”

These are lofty goals. State Senator Jeanine Calkin of Warwick, sponsor of the bill, called it “our generation’s moonshot and we need to take steps to do it right now.”

Providence Rep. Aaron Regunberg, sponsor of the bill in the state house, added, “The need for this legislation has never been more critical.”

Will it pass? That’s hard to say, but the tendency of politicians to draft legislation that chips away the trucking industry’s bottom line isn’t going away anytime soon.

The Rhode Island carbon tax is just one of many trucking and transportation related issues that we follow closely here at Sinclair Risk. We couldn’t do our job if we didn’t! We pride ourselves on our deep industry knowledge and our proven track record of helping clients mitigate risk and keep their losses low.

Sinclair’s proprietary Risk Safeguard Advantage is a financial risk management system designed to dramatically reduce organizational exposures and premium costs while consistently improving productivity and morale. Elements included for our trucking clients include a driver incentive program, driver qualifications review program, defensive driver training, and expert help on responding to OSHA citations.

Interested in learning more? Check out my recent white paper, “How to avoid getting run over by a massive fleet insurance price increase.”

Jonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant
jbelek@srfm.com

Jon Belek

How to Get Your Truck Drivers to Actually Use Your Wellness Program

wellnessTruck drivers have unique health concerns. An NIOSH survey found that 50% are smokers and 70% are obese. They’re prone to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney failure, back problems, and motor vehicle accidents related to fatigue and stress. These problems can lead to a loss of their Medical Examiner’s Certificate and their CDLs.

You want your staff to be healthy, comfortable, satisfied with their jobs, and working regularly, so you’ve implemented a company wellness program. The problem is… Your drivers aren’t using it.

That’s not unusual. 60% of employees don’t use wellness programs because they aren’t aware of it or the company culture doesn’t truly support the program. (Most drivers who use wellness programs are women.)

So how do you get your fleet of drivers to take advantage of your wellness program?

Step 1: Gather input from your drivers

Wellness programs with the best performance and highest adoption rates are ones that meet your employee’s needs. If none of your drivers smoke, a quit-smoking incentive won’t be very effective.

Talk to your drivers and ask what type of program would make their lives better. It could be challenging to query your entire crew if you don’t see them often, but it’s worth the effort.

Step 2: Reward drivers for healthy behavior

A proper wellness program addresses a few key areas of people’s health:

  • Diet – Your program should not only instruct your drivers how to choose healthy foods, but help them acquire those foods when they are on the road. It’s not easy to eat well when your options are limited.
  • Stress – Deadlines and traffic cause stress, which can affect the body. Educate your drivers on methods to relax, such as meditation and exercise.
  • Exercise – Build your drivers’ schedules so that they have time to get some simple exercise.
  • Avoiding bad behaviors – Risky behaviors like drug use and smoking have terrible effects on our health and ability to work. 54% of truckers are smokers, so this is an important area to address.
  • Hygiene – On the road, there aren’t many places to stop for proper body care. Coordinate your drivers’ routes so they have chances to stop at facilities with the right amenities.
  • Sleep – Chronic sleep deprivation affects your drivers’ ability to work, as well as their safety. Your wellness program should reward drivers for taking adequate sleep stops.

Many programs educate their staff about these health concerns, but they fail to go far enough. You need to actively incentive your employees to take part. Award bonuses for achieving health goals like losing weight or visiting the doctor.

If your drivers have any unique needs that learned from step one, make sure to include them in your program as well.

Step 3: Get executives and managers to participate in the program

Instead of paying lip-service to the program, managers and leaders within the organization should participate as well. If your wellness program encouraged weight loss, follow the plans advice to take off a few pounds yourself so your employees can see the benefits of the program and that you’ve implemented practical solutions.

Step 4: Create a communication strategy

Your drivers can’t make use of your program if they don’t know about it, but traditional methods of communication can be tough for on-the-road people you rarely see.

Make use of text messaging and radio messaging (via CB radios, not FM/AM channels). Create a company Facebook page or group. Stuff messaging into their check envelopes. If you have access to their vehicles, leave information on the seat so they can’t miss it.

Furthermore, enlist “cheerleaders” who actively encourages other employees to sign up for your wellness plan. Choose cheerleaders who work in various departments and levels in your company. They should approach other employees like them in terms of position and pay scale, so that everyone is recruited by a peer (people feel more comfortable with the program when they enroll with others like them). You might need to incentive these persons with commissions.

Finally, never give up

Don’t expect to achieve your program adoption number in the first week. Your employees need time to become aware of the program and commit to using it. Be positive, sell the benefits, and always be available for wellness counseling and enrollment.

Jill Goulet
Risk Management Consultant
jgoulet@srfm.com

Jill Goulet

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trucking Risk Insights: Top 10 Vehicle Violations – 2016

Top 10 Vehicle Violations—2016

A roadside inspection is an examination of individual commercial motor vehicles and drivers by a Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) inspector to determine compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and/or Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs). Serious violations result in the issuance of driver or vehicle out of service (OOS) orders. These violations must be corrected before the affected driver or vehicle can return to service.

Trucking ViolationsJonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant
jbelek@srfm.com

Jon Belek

Trucking P&C Pro-File Newsletter – February 2017

New Study Links Multiple Health Conditions to Preventable Crashes

It can be extremely difficult for commercial truck drivers to stay healthy on the job. Drivers often work long hours without rest, stay seated all day and don’t have access to exercise or nutritious meals. However, a new study conducted by the University of Utah School of Medicine found that drivers with three or more health conditions are much more likely to get into preventable crashes.

The study, which examined the medical records of nearly 50,000 commercial drivers, tracked a number of medical conditions that could have a negative impact on a driver’s performance—such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and anxiety.

Although the study found that drivers who have only one of the conditions

could often control it while on the road, the number of crashes increased significantly when drivers had three or more conditions. The average rate for crashes that result in an injury for all truck drivers is approximately 29 for every 100 million miles traveled, but the rate is 93 for every 100 million miles traveled for drivers who have at least three of the flagged conditions.

Transportation Industry Seeks to Limit New Rule-making

Representatives from the transportation industry have petitioned the Trump administration to slow the rule-making procedures of various federal agencies by adding more steps to the process and including business representatives in future rule-making discussions.

Although agencies such as the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) currently go through public steps in their rule-making processes, some business owners believe that the Obama administration bypassed these processes through executive orders and safety advisories. They say this could force businesses to adopt costly new procedures with little evidence of their effectiveness.

New Interstate Passenger Resource

The FMCSA recently released an online

resource to help businesses that transport passengers across state lines. The resource includes a list of requirements that have changed over the years as a result of litigation, legislation, and rule-making. Additionally, passenger carriers can determine their registration requirements, minimum levels of financial responsibility and any applicable safety and commercial regulations.

For more information on keeping your business compliant with FMCSA regulations, contact us at 203-265-0996 today.

Jonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant
jbelek@srfm.com

Jon Belek

High blood pressure — A hidden danger for your truck drivers

Doctor with patientIf you’re running a logistics business or division, you know how important it is to have reliable and healthy truck drivers. Although most health conditions are easy to diagnose and treat, there’s one in particular that’s tricky to spot — High blood pressure. That’s because high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) often doesn’t show any symptoms, and that’s a real problem.

Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to significant problems for your truck drivers including:

  • An enlarged heart, a big risk for heart failure.
  • Aneurysms in blood vessels, which can be fatal.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Vision problems and blindness.

It’s estimated that over 65 million Americans (around a third of the adult population) have high blood pressure, and one in three of those people aren’t aware they’re affected.

Why high blood pressure is a real issue for truck drivers
Truck drivers have a greater risk of high blood pressure than others, mainly due to the nature of their work. Some of the causes of high blood pressure include:

  • A poor diet with too much salt — Eating healthily on the road is a real challenge, and many truck drivers will opt for fast food. Unfortunately, the high proportion of salt and lack of other nutrients is a risk factor.
  • Too much alcohol – We hope you already have drug and alcohol testing policy and procedures in place to ensure no drinking on the job, but you can’t control what happens after hours.
  • Lack of exercise — Spending almost all of their working life behind the wheel of a truck leaves little time for exercise. Being overweight or obese significantly increases the chances of high blood pressure.
  • Stress and anxiety — Dealing with other road users can create significant stress for long-haul truck drivers.

Dealing with high blood pressure issues for your drivers
As with most health issues, prevention is much better than cure. That’s why taking a few simple steps could reduce the risk of high blood pressure in your drivers, help them stay healthy, and reduce downtime due to sickness. Some of the steps you can take include:

  • Education and training — Let your truck drivers know about the risks of high blood pressure including why and how they could be impacted. Encourage them to get tested and provide clear, simple ways for them to get training on how to avoid the issue.
  • Policy changes — Introduce policies that encourage healthier behavior. Give truck drivers a 30 or 45 minute break each day that they can use to exercise. Incentivize them to eat more healthily by providing discounts for particular types of restaurants or meals.
  • Support and resources — Get some help in place. Arrange for a nurse to come on site to provide blood pressure testing and personalized advice on what your truck drivers can do. Provide maps of where to find restaurants with healthy eating options on the popular trucking routes. Introduce a formal wellness program into your workplace.
  • Health insurance and medication — Even with all these preventative measures, you will still have some drivers who develop high blood pressure problems. In those cases, you’ll want to ensure they have the right health insurance and get access to the doctors and medications they need to control their medical conditions.

If you want to keep your truck drivers healthy and happy, you can start right now. Just using one or two of these suggestions could significantly reduce the frequency and impact of high blood pressure problems. That means healthier employees, less time off sick, and a more efficient trucking operation.

Jonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant
jbelek@srfm.com

blood pressure trucking

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

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.