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 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

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

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.