Federal Law Relaxes HOS 34-hour Reset Rules

It’s been about two month since President Obama signed a bill that suspended portions of the federal Hours of Service, or HOS, requirements.

Truckers still can’t drive more than 60/70 hours in a 7/8 consecutive day period. Those who reach that 70 hour maximum must also “reset” or break for 34 consecutive hours before picking back up again.  The changeup – drivers are no longer required to be off-duty twice from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., and they can also reset as many times as necessary per week, or 168 hours.

When we say suspended we mean suspended enforcement.

Back in December, President Obama signed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015. It’s a law that funds the federal government through September 2015. The legislation specifically states the US DOT and its Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration cannot use the money it receives to enforce those specific reset provisions. That also goes for state agencies using federal grant money from the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program.

Let’s go back to that word suspend. It does not mean revoked. The rules could be reinstated following a required safety study that will examine the health and fatigue impacts of the reset provisions. Upon completion, that report will go to the US House and Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Still, the relaxed reset regulations are welcome by many in the trucking industry.

Ahead of the suspension, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) surveyed its members about HOS regulations. More than 4,000 members answered the 14-question survey and included specific, negative comments about reset rules.

“The 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. part has set me back a half day on my route several times and having to take 168 hours between restarts is absolutely ridiculous. The people coming up with these ideas have no clue what they are doing.”

“The result of the 34‐hour restart requiring 2 periods from 1am‐5am insures that I am ALWAYS driving in the heaviest rush hour traffic on Monday mornings.  Definitely not safer, in my opinion.”

Nearly half of the truckers surveyed said if they could change one, Hours of Service regulation it would be the 34-hour reset.

Have you been happy with the reset rule suspensions? Would you change any other HOS rules? Tell us by commenting on our Facebook Page or Tweet us @USCargoControl.

image of truck driver safety handbook

Winter Weather: Be Aware and Prepared

Winter weather has been wreaking havoc all across the United States this week. It’s no surprise when snow and ice descend on the Midwest or Northeast, but when freezing conditions are impacting the sunny, south things are getting a little weird.

Trucker Brock Gadberry is no stranger to winter, he grew up on a farm in Missouri and currently lives in Nebraska. On Monday he was in the thick of winter’s mess, but this time in the south.

Trucker Brock Gadberry encounters icy conditions on Highway 67 just north of Alamogordo, TX.
Trucker Brock Gadberry encounters icy conditions on Highway 67 just north of Alamogordo, TX.

Gadberry tells us temperatures hovered right around 28 or 29 degrees, cold enough to freeze bridges and overpasses. He says it spit freezing rain as he drove all the way from Little Rock to Dallas.

“I never really had to slow down, cruise over the bridges and keep goin’,” Gadberry said. “It’s always [bad]  when they hit the brakes on the bridges.”

Gadberry pulls tankers hauling locomotive engine oil all over the country. He knows it’s important to be prepared for whatever mother nature has up her wicked sleeve, and he’s always ready with extra food, blankets and clothing.

To keep himself and his equipment safe he looks to the advice of  his father, a seasoned driver with 40 years experience and two million miles under his belt. brock photo 2

“He always told me never drive outside what you are comfortable handling,” Gadberry explained.

Sometimes Gadberry will look to tools for help, like tire chains. He says he’s rare to use them, but they are always in his truck.

Tire chains can help drivers keep better control in icy, snowy and slushy conditions. U.S. Cargo Control carries two styles of snow chains. Our Glacier Chain is a lighter, more cost-effective chain that’s good to have on hand during an emergency. Our Premium Chain is more heavy duty and best for drivers who regularly use them during winter driving conditions.

Some states require truckers to store chains in their rigs. The laws vary state to state so it’s a good idea to contact the Department of Transportation, or DOT, where you are. Many of the laws can be found on the web, we even have a handy post on our blog that breakdowns chain regulation by state.

Whether you use snow chains or not, it’s important to be aware and prepared. Those are two things Gadberry, a life-long trucker knows all too well.

“We run all over the Midwest and sometimes we have to go, just grit my teeth and go,” Gadberry said.

Brock photo 3Do you have snowy or icy photos of your rig? Post them to our Facebook Page. Or Tweet us @USCargoControl.

 

Taking a Shot at Hot Shot Trucking

It’s a niche part of the trucking industry that’s starting to boom: hotshot trucking.

Hotshot trucking, or hot shot trucking, is a pretty simple concept. A heavy-duty pickup pulls a flatbed instead of using a traditional semi-trailer truck.

Randy Eilerts has been in the hotshot game since October, but he’s been driving semis for years. He operates Tallgrass Trucking LLC out of Algona, Iowa. Randy's Rig

“I have had this idea for several years now and when I was fed up with my day job I just jumped in feet first and did it,” Eilerts explained.

Randy Eilerts runs a hotshot rig out of Algona, Iowa, phtot courtesy Tallgrass Trucking LLC
Randy Eilerts runs a hotshot rig out of Algona, Iowa. Photo: Tallgrass Trucking LLC

Eilerts runs a Dodge 3500 pickup truck that hauls a PJ 30’ low-pro gooseneck trailer with ramps. He and his hotshot rig move a wide range of loads all over the Midwest and as far south as Texas.  His operation carries everything from heavy equipment and machinery to hay, lumber and building materials.

Companies typically hire hotshots if they need speedy deliveries or have smaller loads. The term originated in the oil fields of Texas where pickups would make a quick run for parts preventing the rigs from having to shut down. Now, you see hotshots hauling loads all across the country. More people are taking a shot at the business because it’s cheaper to start-up compared to traditional trucking.

Eilerts says most hotshots cost $50,000-$80,000 to get going. Big ticket items include obvious equipment needs like pickups and trailers. He says most hotshots use a 3500 to 5500 truck and a 40 ft. mini-float trailer.

Cargo control items like chains, binders and ratchet-straps are also necessary to secure the load. Eilerts keeps about ten of each tool on him, along with various sizes of tarp and many, many bungee cords.  He’s purchases many of those items including 2” ratchet straps, strap protectorschains and load binders from US Cargo Control.

Randy Eilerts uses U.S. Cargo Control straps to secure his hot shot load.
Randy Eilerts uses U.S. Cargo Control straps to secure his hotshot load.

Equipment costs are just half the battle. Starting-up also requires tedious paperwork.

“I did a lot of research beforehand so I kind of knew what to do, but there have also been some challenges and surprises along the way,” Eilerts said.

Those challenges include learning and fulfilling state and federal regulations.  An article on Overdrive breaks down some of the requirements which include obtaining a U.S. DOT motor carrier authority, liability insurance, drug and alcohol testing membership, driver qualification filings and required hours of service.

A CDL, or commercial driver’s license, is also necessary for hotshot drivers with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 lbs. or more.

But for someone like Eilerts hotshot trucking is the way to go. He enjoys being his own boss and doesn’t feel like the typical trucker when he’s navigating from the cab of his pickup truck.

“I enjoy doing it because I like to work alone and I get to travel and see the country,” Eilerts said.

Another picture from Randy

 

 

How to Clean a Truck Tarp

10407646_10153909185742619_9104224955897160765_nIt’s that time of year for road grime from salt, sand and slushy roads, and tarps often bear the brunt of the mess. Cleaning a lumber tarp or steel tarp can be a pain simply due to its size and weight, but a thorough cleaning will also extend the working life of it, so it’s worth the time and effort. Removing any excess mud and muck can also lighten the load which is always a good thing.

Begin by laying the tarp as flat as possible. If you absolutely don’t have room for the full tarp to lie flat, you can work in sections. One tip we’ve gotten from the pro drivers is to simply lay the tarp on your flatbed when cleaning.

You can purchase a special cleaner made just for tarps and tents. These concentrated formulas are generally safe for all tarps and are excellent at removing road grime, grease and oils, insects, and even rust marks from some fabrics. If you’ll be cleaning your tarp on your grass or other area near landscaping, pets, etc. consider using a biodegradable cleaner like Simple Green. Another milder option is a dish washing soap like Dawn.

Clean carefully around rings and grommets, and ensure the areas are dry before storing.

Dilute the cleaner with warm water as directed, and let it sit on the tarp for 10-15 minutes to loosen the top layer of grime. Apply additional cleaner and scrub. Using a wide push broom is a great way to scrub your tarp without sacrificing your back muscles.  Using a power washer is also an option, but use on the lowest setting possible to minimize any risk of tears. Repeat the soaking/scrubbing as needed. Pay special attention to cleaning around any grommets, rings, and fabric insets.

Tarp repair kit, $19.99
Tarp repair kit, $19.99

Once clean, this is the best time to inspect your tarp for any weak spots that may require patching. Tarp repair kits include everything you need to make small repairs. Patches can also be fashioned out of older tarps, simply cut the pieces you need to size. Just be sure your tarp is dry before attempting to apply a patch.

If you’ll be storing your tarp after the cleaning, be sure it’s completely dried before folding. Any moisture left can result in mold and mildew forming.

Keep in mind, these are cleaning tips for vinyl steel and lumber tarps which are generally made of a tough PVC-coated polyester. Other types of tarps such as canvas may shrink or be susceptible to chemical cleaners and may shrink if used with water that is too hot.

Have a tarp cleaning tip to share? Send us a message, or add it below in the comments.

New Products: Grade 120 Chain

PewagChain-by-the-foot_1
Grade 120 chain by the foot

If you’re looking for the best lifting chains and bulk chain in the industry, look no further than grade 120 chain.

120 grade chain is a new generation of high performance chain. With working load limits 50% higher than traditional grade 80 chain, and 20% stronger than grade 100 chain, it’s ideal for any application requiring superior strength.

The higher levels of strength also allows for significant reduction in overall chain weight, an excellent benefit for lifting applications.

The added strength comes from the chain’s square link design, which provides higher wear resistance. Because there’s increased contact between the links’ bearing surfaces, pressure is reduced on the chain, which reduces overall wear and encourages a longer working life.

Grade 120 connecting link
Grade 120 connecting link

This square profile also offers up to 38% higher moment of resistance in comparison to traditional round links in the same diameter. This translates into the chain being able to withstand bending forces- making it the superior chain for heavy duty jobs.

In comparing chain with the same dimension and workload, grade 120 alloy offers a design factor of 6:1 compared to G80 with 4:1.

120 grade chain is manufactured with a powder coat finish for corrosion protection. The bright blue color also makes it easily identifiable.

Grade 120 Eye Self Locking Hooks
Grade 120 Eye Self Locking Hooks

Our grade 120 chain comes from the experts at pewag, the leaders in chain technology and manufacturing since its first documented forging plan in Austria in 1479. pewag’s North American distribution company and service center was founded in 1975.

We’re pleased to carry grade 120 chain in four sizes: 9/32″, 5/16″, 3/8″, and 1/2″, all in full drum sizes of cut lengths by the foot. Grade 120 fittings are also available. Shop the full selection here: Grade 120 chain.