Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Latest On Cargo Theft And Safety

The fact is organized cargo theft is on the rise and any conscientious, professional truck driver should constantly have it in the back of his or her mind.

As the internet changes the way commerce gets done, it also provides a new avenue by which thieves can find out where loads are, or which loads contain high-value merchandise. Both fleets and truck drivers alike need to be able to determine where loads are most vulnerable and ensure theft is avoided year-round.

How Bad Is It?

It’s hard to pin down an exact number regarding the value of stolen goods in cargo crimes because a varied number of incidents simply go unreported – whether for fear of rising insurance rates or bad publicity.

Still, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates cargo loss value at somewhere between $15 and $30 billion per year. No small number, indeed.

In 2015, the average loss per incident came in at just under $200,000. The numbers, compiled by a group that collects and organizes such data, recorded 10 thefts that rang in over $1 million in value. Through the first quarter of 2016, over 600 cargo-theft incidents were reported.

How Is It Changing?

Organized theft rings, whether they focus solely on cargo or not, are using increasingly-sophisticated tactics to nab large hauls and cause an overall rise in the nationwide average value per cargo theft incident.

Criminals are able to learn where partiuclar manufacturing and distribution hubs are and troll load boards to get information about shipments and locations. They use black market software to zero in on specific shipments at specific times. Coordination is key, and criminals are very good at it.

And unfortunately, their tactics are evolving. No longer are they just unloading a trailer, hitching up a truck and driving away with both tractor and trailer. Now they are dealing in strategic theft, which includes everything from identity theft to fictitious pickups and even vehicle decoys.

In a situation where identity theft occurs, a thief may secure and pick up the load simply by pretending to be the carrier. When a fictitious pickup occurs, a thief generally arrives ahead of the scheduled vehicle with virtually undetectable forged paperwork. They pick up the load and by the time the real truck arrives, the perpetrators are long gone.

Strategic cargo theft is rapidly outpacing traditional cargo theft as the go-to method for would-be cargo thieves. Still, it represents only around 15 percent of total cargo theft in the country.

Where’s It Riskiest?

Currently, the riskiest states for cargo theft are California, Texas, Florida, Georgia and New Jersey. During the first three quarters of 2016, California and Texas consider to remain the riskiest spots for cargo theft.

Year-over-year, California reported a 40-percent increase in cargo thefts in the third quarter of 2016. San Bernadino County alone saw a 229-percent increase, a truly staggering number.

Also consider the time that thieves are most likely to strike. According to the latest data, available from 2015, almost half of all cargo thefts happened sometime between Friday and Sunday. The most popular time? In the very early morning hours between 3:00am and 5:00am; essentially just before sunrise.

What Are They Taking?

Food and beverage remains far and above cargo thieves favorite target, at least in 2015. Over 24 percent of all cargo theft incidents fell under the food and beverage category. Nuts, soda, juice, tea and water topped the list.

Electronics and home-and-garden goods came in next, ringing in around 15 and 12 percent of thefts. Electronics are, by far, the costliest losses, but food and beverage remains the most attractive target because their low price point warrants less security measures, making them easier to steal.

So, no matter where you’re heading or what you’re hauling, always keep your cargo safety in mind. You simply never know who might be out there looking to get away with your load.

Keeping Your Eyes Open

It’s the call no one wants. You’re an enterprising fleet manager who just received word that one of your most experienced, reliable truck drivers was in a collision while operating a truck hauling a tank filled with hazardous materials.

Though terrible situation this may be, you have the tools necessary to immediately assess the situation and make a determination on how to proceed. Your truck is equipped with the latest equipment, so you immediately check the data from your onboard computer.

Keeping Safety in Mind

You note that the operator made a quick lane departure. What’s the damage? How much will repairs cost? Might this impact your CSA scores?

With so many questions, critical safety measures and clear answers might come few and far between. With the proper equipment, these questions come with answers.

Today’s fleet continues to look for ways to deliver the insights required to get the most from their truck drivers. It’s not just about the bottom line, it’s about how a fleet can proactively reduce risk and lower collisions.

Consider how much you want to keep your truck drivers, cargo and vehicles safe. There are a number of ways to achieve that goal. From in-classroom training to onboard vehicle-based technologies, there’s a lot on offer. Have you considered lane-departure warning or collision avoidance systems?

Another area of consideration lies in your truck drivers’ individual performance. What is their current operating environment? From seat belt compliance to texting while driving, how up-to-date are your people? Are there some sites that are safer than others? When it comes to specific operators, what skills should you focus on?

Stay on top of the curve by identifying a broad-spectrum of potential risks and safety factors. There are a number of ways to manage this, fleet-wide.

Utilizing the Latest Tech

Over the past 20 years, heavy-duty commercial motor vehicles have become increasingly more sophisticated. They can now be outfitted with the latest technological means to preventing crashes and completing post-crash forensics.

What you need to do is prioritize your safety management program to account for risky or unsafe behavior in real time. You need a off-load and alert management systems. The fact is, as a fleet manager, you need immediate access to information that matters the most.

With clarity, fast and effective decisions can be made. Keeping your fleet competitive requires you to focus on resources; to manage the overhead of technology investments in a way that meets your safety goals without increasing overall costs.

Save time and deliver results through integrated safety systems. After all, there are few better ways to gain a real and sustainable competitive advantage.

Face it, much like every other transportation company, learning how to manage CSA scores is a critical aspect of business. Over the past 12 months, a number of companies have received notices saying that if their CSA scores are “marginal” or “above threshold” they may not be able to conduct business with certain brokers and shippers.

From video-based systems to other systematic approaches to consistent and actionable coaching across the fleet, you need a well-formed program to immediately impact not just your bottom line, but your overall safety margin.

It’s no secret that running a transportation company isn’t a walk in the park. If there was ever more of a time to ensure you fleet is focused on programs that significantly increase safety performance, it is now.

Still, you need to ensure you are utilizing cost-effective methods to both meet goals and keep people employed. You need to better protect your truck drivers, decrease your risk exposure and keep your equipment in tip-top shape.

Looking for a competitive advantage that is both sustainable and bottom-line friendly? ALWAYS keep safety in mind.

The Story On Holiday Driving Dangers And Preventable Accidents

Holiday is a time of joy and merriment. It’s a time when there will be wreaths on grills, Christmas lights on the dash and rear-view mirrors draped in mistletoe and holiday cheer. Sleigh bells will ring and Christmas carols will echo across CB radios.

Christmas is a time when you get home after a long time on the road and enjoy the smells of turkey, dressing, and sweet potato pie.

And yet, it’s also a time a time when there’s going to be a lot more people on the road, which could lead to more accidents, especially in icy conditions. This is why it’s so important to ensure that we are driving as carefully as possible.

Danger During the Holidays

We have no desire to scare anyone, but the fact is there are typically more accidents during the holidays. From more cars on the road to more people drinking and driving, road accidents typically increase during the holiday season.

But there is also another critical factor that contributes to unsafe roads during the holidays, and it’s one that might surprise you: Speeding. According to a recent study, during the holiday period from November through December, speeding was a factor in 30 percent of all crashes, far higher than normal.

In total, speeding accounts for around 12,000 fatal crashes a year, according to the NTSB. This is important to note because most people equate holiday accidents with drunk driving, when in fact speeding is also a culprit.

According to another report – the Crash Stats Study – compiled by the NTSB, the deadliest day of the year for speeding related crashes is New Years Day, followed by Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. Rounding out the list are Thanksgiving and Christmas.

While it may seem like New Year’s Day is an obvious choice, in reality that’s a bit of a surprise with all the empty roads and ride sharing services available that day. Still, roads can be icy. So, where do big rig trucks fit into this equation?

Preventing Crashes

Per recent statistics, about one in eight fatal accidents involves a large heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle. About one in ten fatalities is a pedestrian, with the same amount also accounting for motorcycle fatalities.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Of all the drivers who were cited in an accident, almost 15% had been involved in previous accidents. Another 14% had had their license revoked in the past, with 4% having a previous DWI.

Would you believe that of all those statistics, only 1% of truck drivers had been previously convicted of a DWI, while a whopping 23% had a previous speeding conviction. And over 16% had previous accidents. An obvious pattern should be emerging here.

Creating a Safe Driving System

Every professional truck driver should be operating using a safe driving system. There are several aspects to an effective self-policing program.

First, always stay in your lane and be prepared to stop. It may sound simple, but they are the most important truck driving safety aspects to remember.

Also, never get too comfortable. Some truckers, after getting some experience under their belt, will often begin to get a little complacent, thinking they’ve got driving a big rig truck in the bag. Remember, there’s a lot more to driving a heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle than where you’ve pointed the nose.

Always take into consideration that during the holidays, the roads will be packed and city driving will be even more precarious. Avoid cutting in and out of traffic and lane dodging. Keep your presence clear to all those around you and always operate with reduced speed, especially in areas where snow and ice may be on the road.

Keep these tips in mind for a safe haul this holiday season. And from all of us here at the Trucking Safety Blog, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

How Do Truck Crashes Relate To Regulations

Of course, an inescapable collision with a heavy-duty commercial vehicle is anyone’s worst nightmare. Still, there are plenty of instances where truck crashes don’t result in major injury, and the numbers have been dropping steadily over the decades, so should people be worried?

Let’s look at the hard data. First, we’ll start with the fact that heavy-duty commercial trucks were involved in 411,000 crashes in 2014. That represents a doubling over 2010, when the numbers began to rise a bit.

As we’ve reported on before, in 2014, 3,903 people died in trucking-related accidents. Truck-occupant deaths have seen a quarter-point rise, while trucking accident injuries have seen a 39 percent jump. So should we be worried?

Consider a couple counterpoints. The recession put the brakes on the trucking industry, so crash statistics likewise saw a dip where reporting measures are concerned. So these new numbers pretty much track right alongside the industry’s recent recovery. But is there still a threat to the system somewhere? And how do rules and regulations play into the picture.

Fatigue and Regulations

Driver fatigue is a problem in the trucking industry, but is often under reported. But according to recent studies, when truck drivers and fleet managers are trained to recognize sleep disorders and combat the onset of fatigue, fewer accidents result. Near-crash scenarios, such as nodding off, dropped by a full 40 percent.

According to the FMCSA’s numbers, nearly all truck drivers involved in a fatal crash during during 2013 were either considered fatigued or had exceeded the hours-of-service limits.

Last summer, the NHTSA and FMCSA put forth a proposal that would mandate all heavy-duty commercial trucks and other similar vehicles be maintained with speed-limiting governors.  The agencies say the lower truck speeds could save as many as 500 lives a year. They also say that lower speeds translate into lower fuel economy.

Finally, pointing a dollar figure to the problem, the regulatory groups posited that the initiative could save the industry up to $1 billion in fuel annually. And while the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has been heavily lobbying for this change, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is firmly against it.

The Debate

At this point in time, truck drivers can legally drive for 60 hours over seven days. They can also do 70 hours over eight days, but they do have a 34-hour rest period before starting again. In 2013, trucking companies were able to get the 1:00am to 5:00am mandatory rest period suspended.

The ATA was vehemently opposed to mandated nighttime rest periods, saying the rule made the roads less safe. They mentioned that they weren’t necessarily asking for additional hours, but rather the flexibility to use them efficiently and effectively, in the method of their choosing, within the law.

Then, in 2014, another transportation bill amendment saw a rider attached that would have expanded a driver’s on-duty time to 82 hours a week. Again, that amendment was cut. The new version now allows 73 hours in seven days, which stands at 13 hours over the current limit.

Final Rules

Still, this is about more than effective fatigue training. There are more pieces of legislation in the works. One would raise the maximum vehicle weight from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds. Consider that in Minnesota it is already legal for logging trucks to weigh up to 99,000 pounds and it isn’t hard to see where this could all go.

The final few pieces of pending legislation that could have a big impact on safety includes one that seeks to block all trucking safety records from the public for a minimum of two years.

Finally, the FMCSA is proposing to institute a “non-preventable” crash clause where the truck driver is proved not at fault. So where will all this go? While no one knows just yet, modern truck drivers have plenty to think about, and safety isn’t free.