Top 10 Cargo Control Products to be Thankful For

As the scent of fresh-carved turkey and pumpkin pie inches closer and closer to our noses, it’s important to resist the temptation of retreating to the comfort of your recliner for a nap or the warmth of your bed to, well, get away from the in-laws. There will be plenty of time for naps and in-law annoyances come Thanksgiving Day. Until then, you’ve got work to do.

And just in time for the holiday season, US Cargo Control has compiled a list of the top 10 cargo control products to be thankful for. One way or another, they’re all bound to come in handy this time of year.

 

best waterproof tarp material

1. Tarps

Cover your firewood, boat, or motorcycle for the winter or bring a tarp on your next hunting trip to wrap and drag back game easily. Even if you’re not a professional truck driver using tarps to cover your cargo, a good quality tarp has nearly endless possibilities.

 

 

2. Motorcycle Tie Down Straps

Your dirtbikes and motorcycles can all be transported to and from winter storage without a scratch thanks to these specialty motorcycle ratchet straps. Add a plush protective tie down cover for even more protection.

 

 

 

how effective are snow chains

3. Tire Chains

Slip a set of snow chains on your vehicle to drastically increase grip and safety. With these high-quality and easy to use tire chains, no winter weather will keep you from moving forward.

 

 

 

 

4. Recovery Strapswhere to get recovery straps

This cargo control product is an invaluable tool to have in your truck or SUV during the winter months. You can save someone’s day by pulling them out of the ditch with a heavy-duty tow strap.

 

 

 

5. Safety Trianglesemergency warning triangles

If you find yourself in a ditch or pulled over to the side of the road during these cold and dark winter nights, you’ll need to always make yourself visible to others. Keep a set of these fluorescent orange warning triangles with you to stay safe.

 

 

 

6. Blackline Ratchet Straps

It doesn’t matter how big of a Christmas tree you get when you have these heavy-duty Blackline straps. With the strongest break strength in the industry, these could be used to bring the that massive Christmas tree into Time Square.

 

 

 

 

 

7. Good-N-Tight Ratchet Strap Handle

Putting less strain on your back when tightening ratchet straps is something you’ll be thankful for, for years to come. The inventive Good-N-Tight Handle even makes the job easier by giving you three times the leverage.

 

 

 

8. Corner Protectors

These simple devices ensure that cargo (including your Christmas presents) gets delivered damage free. Plastic corner protectors also help extend the life of your ratchet straps by reducing rubbing.

 

 

 

 

9. Camo Moving Blanket

Friday night football games, early morning hunting trips, or to protect your vehicle’s seats from the dog’s hair and slobber – camo colored moving blankets can be used for much more than just moving.

 

 

 

10. USCC Branded Stainless Steel Mug

Unless your one of those people that likes a cold cup of coffee, a USCC branded tumbler is a no-brainer for cold winter months. This 30-ounce insulated mug, will keep your drink warm for up to six hours.

 

 

 

There you have it, 10 cargo control products that provide plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and beyond. Do the preparation work now and come Thanksgiving, you’ll have earned that nap, and maybe even an extra piece of pie.

 

Veterans: Getting Your CDL is Easier than You Think

veteran cdl waiverIn honor of Veterans Day 2018, we first want to extend our deepest gratitude to all the men and women of the US military both past and present. Your sacrifices are what have defined and retained our great country’s freedoms since its start.  Thank you for all that you have done and all that you continue to do.

 

For military members that have concluded their active service and are now looking to transition into a civilian career, it’s often a difficult road. However, new laws are paving the way to make it easier than ever for military veterans to get their CDL, and start a career in trucking.

 

New “Even Exchange” Policy in Wisconsin

In early October, Wisconsin announced a policy that allows military veterans to waive the knowledge portion of their civilian CDL test, and rely on their military experience instead. Coined as “even exchange,” this written test waiver aims to make it faster and easier for veterans to immediately enter the workforce.

 

Transitioning from Military to Trucking

Loyalty, honor, and self-discipline are all necessary traits of a commercial truck driver. It’s why trucking companies often seek out military veterans. But there’s also a familiar benefit for the veterans.

military veteran to truck driver

Beyond the benefit of getting a job, many veterans have discovered that the lifestyle of operating a big-rig is a lot like their time in uniform. Just as the military provided a way to see the world, trucking provides a chance to see the country which they fought to defend. And while trucking does take drivers away from home for periods of time, it is often significantly shorter than their time away during service. Many trucking companies offer generous home time options, sometimes as frequent as every weekend. And if you become an owner-operator that choice is largely up to you.

Lastly, trucking is a secure job with good pay (especially now as many companies are searching for dedicated drivers). The power of employment choice is in the hands of drivers, and it all starts with getting a civilian CDL.

 

What it takes for Military Members to get a CDL

While the new even exchange policy only applies to residents of Wisconsin, there is a CDL road skills test waiver in place at the national level. That policy still requires veterans to pass the written knowledge test, but they are not required to take the skills test. Below is an overview of the requirements for veterans with a military CDL to get their civilian CDL. Keep in mind that local state laws (like that of Wisconsin) may make it even easier for you to obtain your CDL.

 

CDL Skills Test Waiver Requirements

  • Military trucking driving experience of at least 2 years
  • Application within 1 year of discharge
  • Passing the written knowledge test
  • Possession of only 1 driver’s license within the past 2 years (other than military license). Also, your license may never have been suspended, revoked, or canceled
  • No offenses on your driving record such as alcohol or drugs, leaving scene of an accident, operating with a suspended license, or fatalities caused by negligence.
  • No serious traffic violations.

 

military cdl waiver requirements

 

 

 

If you’re a veteran with military truck driving experience, the first step to starting a career in trucking is to fill out the Application for Military Skills Test Waiver.

 

USCC is Committed to Military Veterans

While a day of celebration and gratitude for our veterans is a great start, our dedication to the prosperity of military veterans can’t end there.

That’s why US Cargo Control stays committed to veterans all year long by offering a 10% discount to all military veterans and their dependents.

From ratchet straps for everyday use to complete flatbed starter kits that will help get veterans geared up for their new career, USCC is proud to provide everyone with the cargo control equipment they need to keep moving forward.

 

CVSA Roadcheck Inspection Results for 2018

Back in June, we wrote about the 3-day International Roadcheck that was about to affect thousands of truck drivers across North America. Organized by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), the focus in 2018 was on Hour-of-Service Compliance.

Now, thousands of roadside inspections later, the CVSA has released the results of their annual driver and vehicle inspections.

 

How many trucks and drivers were affected?

At a high-level view, 67,603 roadside inspections were conducted on large trucks and buses. That number is up a bit from last year’s 62,013 total inspections. This year’s inspections resulted in 11,910 vehicles being placed out-of-service and 2,666 drivers found to have conditions that placed them out-of-service. Another 211 were placed out of service due to hazardous materials/dangerous goods (HM/DG).

This means that out of all the North American Standard Level I Inspections (45,501), a whopping 21.6 percent resulted in a commercial vehicle being placed out of service.

Keep in mind that 60,321 of the total inspections were conducted in the United States, while just 7,282 were done in Canada.

 

CVSA roadcheck 2018 official inspects truck for violations
In 2018, there were 5,590 more inspections compared to 2017.

 

What does being placed out-of-service mean?

Being placed out-of-service does not mean the driver or vehicle is a lost cause. A vehicle that is placed out of service must have the mechanical issue corrected before its allowed to be on the road again, and a driver who is in violation has to correct their infraction before getting back behind the wheel.

Let’s look at exactly what caused these drivers and vehicles to be, at least temporarily, put out of commission.

 

Top 3 reasons for vehicles being placed out-of-service

Here are the top violations of the 2018 International Roadcheck according to the CVSA.

  1. Brake Systems – 4,545    (28.4 percent)
  2. Tires & Wheels – 3,060    (19.1 percent)
  3. Brake Adjustment – 2,612    (16.3 percent)

 

Top 3 reasons for drivers being placed out-of-service

  1. Hours of Service – 1,328    (43.7 percent)
  2. Wrong Class License – 649    (21.4 percent)
  3. False Record of Duty Status – 309    (10.2 percent)

 

 

Other reasons for being placed out-of-service

hours of service compliance top violation for 2018 roadcheckBelieve it or not, there were 729 safety belt violations and about 72 drivers were in violation of drug/alcohol policies. Of the 211 placed out-of-service for hazardous materials or dangerous goods, 25.6 percent was due to loading or securement.

And while it’s obvious that many drivers were tripped up by this year’s focus on hours of service regulations, last year’s spotlight on proper cargo securement showed up as a problem area again this year. About 1,548 vehicles, or 13 percent of total out-of-service vehicles, were found to have insufficient cargo securement.

 

A good reminder to stock up on quality cargo securement equipment from US Cargo Control.  Our 4″ ratchet straps all meet or exceed industry standards, and our heavy-duty Blackline straps hold the strongest break strength in the industry.

 

best straps for heavy cargo securement compliance
Found only at USCC, Blackline straps are some of the strongest straps ever made.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share your roadcheck story

Have you experienced a Roadcheck Inspection? How did it go? Share your best (or worst) stories in the comments below.

 

How to Choose and Use Tire Chains like a Pro

Tire chains are a lifesaver once roads become covered with ice and hard-packed snow. Here in Eastern Iowa, the temperatures are falling quickly as we wave farewell to summer and slide closer towards winter. Make sure you’re fully prepared for hazardous winter road conditions by stocking up on quality steel tire chains for your vehicle.

 

When to use Snow Chains

Obviously, you’ll want to use tire chains when there’s a layer of snow or ice on the road you’re driving on. But, you do not want to drive with snow chains on your truck or semi tires when there is no snow or ice present. This could not only cause damage to the road (which can result in fines), but it could also destroy your tires.

Since you never know exactly when snow or ice could show up, it’s smart to carry a full set of tire chains with you in your vehicle. Commercial truck drivers, who need numerous tire chains, might consider investing in a toolbox for their truck or a tire chain carrier that will help protect chains and also keep them organized.

 

Tire Chain Laws

There are strict tire chain laws in many states that require truck drivers to have the appropriate tire chains in their rig at all times. Once the snowy weather sets in, it’s common to see roadside checkpoints pop-up where officials check to make sure you have the proper number of chains. If you don’t, you may be fined. Some states also have laws that explicitly prohibit the use of tire chains in certain situations, so be aware of the laws in the state which you are driving.

how fast can you go with tire chains
Most people recommend you not exceed 30mph with tire chains on.

 

How Fast can you Drive with Chains?

If you have tire chains on, you should really never be going faster than 30mph. Faster speeds risk damaging the chain links and that could wreak havoc on your tires or fenders.

 

Practice Installing your Tire Chains

Winter weather changes quickly and some roads you drive on will be worse than others depending on when a snowplow comes through. Instead of learning how to put your tire chains on when you’re pulled over on the side of the road in the middle of a blizzard, it’s a smart idea to practice putting them on and off in more favorable conditions. This will help minimize frozen fingers and also save you a bunch of time. Also, if you don’t already, you should keep a high visibility reflective safety vest with you and emergency warning triangles so that passing drivers can see you in those low-visibility conditions.

 

Tire Chain Comparison Guide

The main difference among the tire chains sold at US Cargo Control is seen in the chain link styles. The Glacier chain made by Pewag has twist links, while the more premium Pewag tire chain features square links. Square links provide higher traction on ice compared to twist links but come at a higher cost. Twist links and square links both perform quite well in snow. Another huge benefit to using square link tire chains is their ability to be reversed without causing damage. This allows them to have double the life, and also makes it easier to install them.

snow chains for sale online
The more economical Glacier snow tire chains are a lighter weight since they are made of carbon steel.
how effective are snow chains
The Premium Pewag tire chains are heavier since they are made of a thicker alloy steel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buy the Best Tire Chains

Below is a chart that outlines all the differences you should know when deciding which type of tire chain is best for you.

Part #Tire SizeSingle or Dual Tire?Chain WeightLink StyleSteel TypeSteel ThicknessReversible?Side Cam Installation?
TC225SG22.5"Single51 Lbs.TwistCarbon6mmNoYes
TC225SP22.5"Single56 Lbs.SquareAlloy7mmYesYes
TC225DG22.5"Dual94 Lbs.TwistCarbon6mmNoYes
TC225DP22.5"Dual103 Lbs.SquareAlloy7mmYesYes
TC245SG24.5"Single56 Lbs.TwistCarbon6mmNoYes
TC245SP24.5"Single59 Lbs.SquareAlloy7mmYesYes
TC245DG24.5"Dual101 Lbs.TwistCarbon6mmNo Yes
TC245DP24.5"Dual105 Lbs.SquareAlloy7mmYesYes

 

Headache Racks: 5 Reasons why your Semi Truck should have one

Headache racks for semi trucks are a smart investment for any serious truck driver looking to maximize their truck’s protection, their own personal protection, or to increase storage and truck accessory options.

 

What is a Headache Rack?

A headache rack is commonly fabricated using aluminum, steel, or stainless steel. They are installed right behind your truck’s cab mainly to protect you and your truck from loose objects that may fly through the back glass. However, this is just one benefit to having a headache rack.

 

heavy duty headache racks for semi
This 70″ wide aluminum headache rack features an E-Z view window for rear window visibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is it Called a Headache Rack?

It’s unclear whether the name headache rack originated from the fact that they prevent cargo from flying through and hitting you in the head, or because they help prevent a headache you would experience if your truck is damaged. Another theory is that the rack itself can cause a headache if you are not careful when climbing around the back of your cab.

 

5 Benefits of a Headache Rack

Despite the potential for a self-inflicted head bump, there are 5 huge benefits to installing a truck headache rack.

 

1. Safety

Heavy-duty headache racks are the best way to prevent tools, cargo, or road debris from flying through your rear window and causing damage to your truck or to yourself. Another cool benefit is the fact that headache racks help reflect sunlight, so less heat gets into your cab.

 

2. Hauling Tools

installing aluminum headache rack with lights
This 80″ wide heavy-duty headache rack features two locking chain racks and a full tray.

Many semi truck headache racks come equipped with tool racks or trays that allow quick but secure access to your roadside tools and cargo securement supplies. This Merritt® headache rack comes with two locking chain racks and a full tray to keep transport chains secured.

 

3. Mounting Lights

Installing a headache rack on your truck also provides an additional mounting surface for lighting and other accessories. Once the rack is in place, it’s easy to mount LED beacon lights, light bars, warning lights, or even radio antennas.

 

4. Mounting a Toolbox

Even though many semi truck headache racks have storage options built-in, there’s no such thing as too much tool storage. And just like with lighting, a headache rack also provides a sturdy mountable surface for an additional toolbox. Since many semi truck toolboxes have locks, they are a great accessory to have right behind your cab.

 

5. Cool Looking

Last but not least, let’s talk about how cool these headache racks look. A new headache rack adds a fresh look to any truck and can even be powder-coated to color match your rig (if you’re not into the base metallic silver look). They add a more rugged look to your rig, while also serving multiple highly useful purposes.

understand the benefits of an aluminum headache rack
Headache racks add a rugged look to your rig and also serve multiple useful purposes.

 

Types of Headache Racks

Headache racks are commonly made of aluminum, steel, or stainless steel (or a composite).

Aluminum headache racks are popular due to their low weight, corrosion resistance, and affordability.

Obviously, stainless will beat aluminum in overall corrosion resistance (ideal for those salty winter roads), but the low weight of aluminum will help keep your rig’s total weight much lower.

 

Truckers Show True Character at “18 Wheels for Bubba” Event

dakota bubba cadd party
16-year-old Dakota “Bubba” Cadd has always had an interest in trucks. (source)

If there was ever a question about the integrity or spirit of truck drivers, this recent story sets the record straight.

On August 18th, more than 180 trucks and around 1,200 people attended a surprise birthday party for Dakota “Bubba” Cadd. Bubba is a trucking enthusiast who suffers from Dandy-Walker Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and seizures. This affects his brain development and movement, requiring him to be in a wheelchair.

“It was a pretty amazing event,” said Peggy Cadd, mother of 16-year-old. “Everything about it was awesome.

 

How it all started

Bubba can often be found sitting right outside his home, along Highway 26 in Milton, Wisconsin. He likes watching trucks drive by and trying to get them to blow their thunderous horns. His mother says he’s been fascinated by trucks ever since she can remember.

Because of his dedication and love for watching trucks, he has become well-known to those who regularly pass by.

Mark King, a truck driver for CH Hall Trucking in Stillman Valley, Illinois, doesn’t have a horn to honk, so after seeing Bubba nearly every time he passed by, he decided to brighten his day in a different way.

In July, King decided to leave a CH Hall Trucking shirt and toy semi-truck on the lawn for Bubba. Peggy shared the story of King’s generosity on social media, which then inspired local retired driver, Jeremy Wallenkamp, to throw a party for Bubba.

18 wheels for bubba post
Peggy Cadd posted a picture of Bubba with his presents from CH Hall Trucking. (source)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 Wheel for Bubba

Wallenkamp created a Facebook page, called “18 Wheels for Bubba,” and asked local trucking companies to donate shirts and hats for Bubba’s party. To his shock, the event went viral and garnered support from truckers as far as Australia and New Zealand.

On the big day, Bubba arrived at a local park, still unaware of the massive party awaiting him.

“When we pulled in, he looked at me and said ‘me’ as in ‘is this all for me,'” Peggy said. “We said, ‘yeah, this is your birthday party, and the truckers came for you.'”

bubba's party in milton
Over 180 trucks showed up at Schilberg Park in Milton for Bubba’s birthday party. (source)

 

At the event, Bubba rode in trucks and even became an honorary member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. He was also given a CB radio, so now he can talk to the truckers that pass by.

“I just want to show him the support from our industry that he deserves,” said Wallenkamp. “He loves trucks. There’s a lot of great people in the trucking industry, and we just want to be there and support him and stand next to him.”

 

So, next time you find yourself on Highway 26 in southern Wisconsin, keep an eye out for Bubba. And don’t forget to give him a honk.

18 wheels for bubba
Dakota “Bubba” Cadd’s hometown of Milton, Wisconsin is about 10 miles north of Janesville.

 

4 Simple Ways to Get the Best Fuel Mileage for Your Semi-Truck

increase semi truck MPGWhen you think of semi-trucks, fuel efficiency probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, on average, semi-trucks get only 6.5 miles per gallon according to this Wired article. And while they comprise just 4.3 percent of vehicles in the US, they consume more than 25 percent of all fuel burned annually.

 

Whether you’re an owner-operator or you manage an entire fleet, you understand that high fuel costs result in decreased profits. But, with a little effort and initial investment, reducing fuel consumption might be simpler than you think.

 

1. Stay on top of truck maintenance.

This is one of the most important and simplest things you can do to maximize fuel efficiency in just about any vehicle. It’s basic mechanics and the benefits go far beyond better gas mileage. Regular maintenance such as on-time oil changes, filter changes, and regular fluid level inspections will keep everything operating at its best for longer. Also, remember to periodically check your tire pressure and add air if necessary.  Not only does this prolong the life of your tires, it also adds quite a bit to your fuel efficiency.

 

2. Drive with efficiency in mind.

Changing the way you drive costs you nothing, yet it’s often the hardest change to make. One of the biggest culprits of high fuel consumption is frequent accelerating and braking. Minimize braking to a full stop as much as you can, and accelerate more slowly. Also, staying in a higher gear helps save fuel. On the other hand, letting your truck idle for long periods of time can quickly cost you at the pump. This Arrow Truck article suggests turning your truck off if it’s going to be sitting for more than five minutes. Just one hour of idling will burn a full gallon of gas.

stay in a high gear for best semi truck gas mileage
Staying in a higher gear increases fuel efficiency.

 

3.  Equip your rig with fuel-efficient products.

This is the one that requires a bit of an initial investment, but the long-term payoff can really be worth it. There are a variety of aerodynamic additions you can make to both your tractor and your trailer that will result in higher MPGs. Everything from your mudflaps, bumpers, mirrors, hood, roof, and even headlights can become more aerodynamic. You may also consider automated manual transmissions. They replace your manual shifter and clutch with a computer that shifts the manual transmission at the optimal time. The North American Council for Freight Efficiency claims that automatic manual transmissions can improve average fuel efficiency by 1-3 percent.

 

4. Secure cargo low and even.

Each time a load goes on your truck, think of it as a part of your truck. Just like mudflaps and mirrors, your cargo can cause you to be more or less aerodynamic depending on how it’s loaded. When cargo is loaded unevenly, it can increase the fuel needed to get your truck moving. Also, it’s best to keep your cargo load height as low as possible on flatbeds to reduce wind resistance.

how to get best fuel economy in semi truck
Load cargo evenly to maximize fuel economy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using the proper cargo securement equipment will ensure all your cargo stays put and remains intact. Visit uscargocontrol.com for all your cargo equipment needs. 

 

Why Hours of Service Rules Could Change for Livestock Haulers

A Senate proposed bill called “The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act” has the potential to significantly change Hours of Service (HOS) rules and ELD enforcement for thousands of drivers.

The bill aims to modify HOS requirements for transporters of livestock and insects. Now that ELD enforcement has started, industry stakeholders are more divided than ever on whether livestock truck drivers should have to comply to the same HOS limitation that other drivers do.

Read on to gain a full understanding of the situation and come to your own conclusion on this debate.

 

What the Livestock Exemption Bill Says

The bill only applies to drivers transporting livestock (as defined in section 602 of the Agricultural Act of 1949) or insects. And the proposed hours of service exemption would only be applicable to drivers who travel no more than 300-air miles from their pick-up point.  Here are the details of the proposed bill.

Livestock drivers would be exempt from hours of service requirements in the following situations:

A) at a plant, terminal, facility, or other property of a motor carrier or shipper or on any public property during which the driver is waiting to be dispatched.

B) loading or unloading a commercial motor vehicle.

C) supervising or assisting in the loading or unloading of a commercial motor vehicle.

D) attending to a commercial motor vehicle while the vehicle is being loaded or unloaded.

E) remaining in readiness to operate a commercial motor vehicle; and

F) giving or receiving receipts for shipments loaded or unloaded.

In addition, the proposed bill states:

1) the driver may take 1 or more rest periods during the trip, which shall not be included in the calculation of the driving time;

2) after completion of the trip, the driver shall be required to take a rest break for a period that is 5 hours less than the maximum driving time under paragraph (2);

3) if the driver is within 150 air-miles of the point of delivery, any additional driving to that point of delivery shall not be included in the calculation of the driving time; and

4) the 10-hour rest period under section 395.3(a)(1) of that title shall not apply.

 

The Argument for Support

Supporters of the bill say the current one-size-fits-all HOS rules do not make sense when it comes to transporting live animals. They say that forcing a driver to stop and wait 10 hours before driving again strands the animals in potentially dangerous conditions.

One supporter of the bill is The National Pork Producers Council. They argue that pigs and other livestock are vulnerable to health issues triggered by extreme temperatures.

livestock hauling exemption pigs

Steve Hilker, a Transportation Committee Chairman for the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), also voiced support for the livestock exemption bill. In a Progressive Farmer article, Hilker says the ELD mandate (which digitally records and reports HOS compliance) leaves cattle potentially stranded roadside on a truck. “The list of poor outcomes begins to grow exponentially almost immediately,” says Hilker. He also raises the concern that putting livestock haulers through this would only add pressure to an already “thinly populated driver pool.”

 

The Argument for Opposition

Those against the bill say making an exemption defeats the purpose of the hours-of-service rules: increased safety for people on our roadways.

And opposers say making an exemption for a federal regulation is a slippery slope. They worry that once there is an exemption for one portion of the industry, it will set a precedent and potentially open the door to more exemptions down the road.

One key opponent of the bill is the American Trucking Associations (ATA). In an interview with Transport Topics, Bill Sullivan, leader of advocacy for ATA, stated, “lives of livestock should not be a priority over the lives of people. Sullivan goes on to say, “This bill would allow truck drivers to stay behind the wheel for almost twice as long as they’re permitted under the current hours-of-service rules, it needlessly and recklessly jeopardizes the safety of people who travel our highways.”

 

hoursofservicecompliance

Current Status for Livestock Haulers

This bill was just introduced on May 23, 2018, so it is still in the first stage of the legislative process. It is typical for a bill like this to first be considered by a committee before it is possibly sent on to the House or Senate. If both the House and Senate pass the bill, it must then be signed by the President to become law.

However, it doesn’t look promising for supporters of the bill.

An A.I.-powered data analysis firm called Skopos Labs predicts the bill has just a 4% chance of becoming law.

Currently, there is a temporary exemption for livestock and insect haulers until September 30, 2018. But, livestock truckers will have to start complying with current ELD and HOS rules if nothing is passed by that time.

 

 

Uber Freight Expands Capabilities with Fleet Mode

You’ve probably heard of the Uber app before. Open the app, see available drivers, and reserve a ride. Within minutes, a vehicle is there to pick you up and already knows where you need to go. No phone calls or reservations, and payment is seamless. Pretty slick, but what does it have to do with the trucking industry?

Well, about a year ago, Uber introduced Uber Freight. And it’s as simple as open the app, see available loads, and book a job. But, up until now, it has only been used by owner-operators.

That all changed last month when Uber Freight introduced fleet mode. It’s an extension of Uber Freight that is focused on helping trucking fleets negotiate shipments more efficiently. And fleets are already seeing time-saving results.

 

Uber freight for trucking fleets
Uber Freight gives truckers “fee-free payment within 7 days”

What can you do with Uber Freight?

Before we dive into this new fleet mode, it’s helpful to understand more about what Uber Freight can do. Uber Freight is a free app that matches carriers with shippers. According to the Uber Freight website, load pricing is upfront and set. This means no haggling or back-and-forth negotiations with brokers. However, fixed rates mean drivers can’t manage to negotiate higher pay for delivery.

While some drivers say they wish they had the ability to negotiate higher rates, this policy has undoubtedly resulted in quicker and more efficient shipping agreements. And given the recent ELD mandate and current HOS regulations, time spent driving instead of talking is priceless.

The part that drivers seem to enjoy most about the Uber Freight app? Fast payment. The app promises “fee-free payment within 7 days of delivery.” No more waiting months to receive payment.

 

How fleet mode enhances Uber Freight

Released in May 2018, fleet mode is an addition to the Uber Freight app that allows fleets to manage and assign shipments.

Eric Berdinis, a senior project manager at Uber, says fleet mode streamlines the communication between the dispatcher and their drivers. Now, dispatchers are not only able to see available loads on the app, they can also access a page that displays all the drivers in their fleet in real-time. The drivers may have a status of available, busy with another load, or offline. So, dispatchers can assign a load to an available driver and once the driver accepts; the dispatcher, Uber, and the shipper get simultaneous confirmations.

While there is no limit to the number of drivers a company can manage, Uber expects it to be used mostly by fleets with around 10 trucks.

Phil DeKnight, the owner of DeKnight Enterprises, has three drivers in his fleet. In a Trucks.com article DeKnight says, “Before, I would spend a lot of time on the phone finding out more information about a load, then have to check with my drivers to see if they have enough hours to haul it, only to find out that the load’s gone. I don’t have to do that now.”

 

uber freight launches fleet mode
In Uber Freight fleet mode, dispatchers can view driver status in real time.

 

The future of digital freight

Obviously, digital freight marketplaces are nothing new. Uber Freight has been around for over a year now. And other freight booking apps, like ITS Broker, Getloaded, and Trucker Path have been on the scene for over half a decade.

But, because loads per available truck trailer have nearly doubled in the last year, (6.6 loads compared to 3.5 loads last year according to DAT solutions) shippers are actively seeking the newest and most effective ways to secure drivers. Meanwhile, drivers and carriers are constantly looking for the newest ways to increase efficiency and bottom-line earnings. These digital freight apps offer the potential to help a wide range of workers in the ever-important trucking industry.

 

Is your fleet looking to increase cargo equipment allocation efficiency? With dedicated teams and the ability to create custom products and custom pricing programs, US Cargo Control can get you what you want, when you need it. It’s just one reason why carriers and owner-operators across the country count on US Cargo Control for all their cargo securement needs. Visit our website or give us a call at 866-444-9990 today.

How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Affects the Trucking Industry

April 2019 might seem far away, but the decisions you’re making now are affecting how much money you’ll end up paying next tax season. And with the newly implemented Tax Cuts and Jobs Act  in effect, next years return will be calculated much different than prior years.

To understand how new tax laws affect the trucking industry, and learn how to make optimal financial choices today, read on.

business tax documents
source: Getty Images

What does the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act change?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law by President Trump on December 22, 2017, has brought more change to the U.S. tax code then Americans have seen for the last 30 years. While there are many variables to consider, Troy Hogan a transportation industry tax expert and CPA at Katz, Sapper, and Miller Advisory Group says there are three main takeaways that all trucking companies should be aware of.

1. Depreciation and Equipment Transactions

Previously, bonus depreciation only applied to new property, but it now includes old property as well. From now until the year 2023, acquired equipment that is placed in service will be allowed a 100 percent write off under the newly revised bonus depreciation rules. Starting in 2023, that 100 percent write off will decrease 20 percent each year until it no longer exists at the end of 2026.

Section 179 has been expanded and now allows for up to $1 million in equipment expensing. However, total equipment purchases can’t exceed $2.5 million for the year. Hogan says to keep in mind that some states allow for bonus depreciation, but not the Section 179, and vice-versa.

Like-kind exchanges have gone away for equipment, but are still in effect for real-estate.

2. Per-Diem Programs

Trucking companies who do not currently have a per-diem plan may want to consider adding one. Drivers of companies that do not offer a per-diem plan will no longer be able to claim their own per-diem deduction as an itemized deduction. Therefore, even though tax rates overall have decreased and standard deductions have doubled, some company drivers may see an increased tax bill next year.

That’s why Jim O’Donnell, CEO, and Founder of Trucker Tax Service, told Fleet Owner he has “already heard from one client that his company is going to bump the per diem pay to 16 cents a mile.”

Because per diem pay is considered reimbursement pay, it does not need to be claimed on tax returns. Higher per diem rates put more money in the driver’s pocket and keeps it there. In addition, trucking companies can turn around and write that reimbursement pay off as an expense. It’s a win-win situation, and a simple way trucking companies can attract and retain drivers.      

3. Tax Rates and Entity Tax

C corporation tax rates have been reduced from 35 percent to 21 percent. However, C corporations will still be subject to double-taxation. Meanwhile, S corporation and other pass-through entities will see a new 20 percent deduction for domestic qualified business income.

Hogan has cautionary advice for S corporations considering making the switch to a C corporation. He warns that S corporation shareholders with suspended losses would have to forfeit those losses if a switch was made. In addition, S corporations are not subject to gross income limitations when choosing an accounting method.

how tax cuts affect truckers
source: Walter Hodges/DigitalVision/Getty Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How should trucking companies react to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?

It’s important for trucking companies to understand new tax laws and how to best take advantage of them. But, it’s also important to remember that these tax laws mean different things for different trucking companies. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, it’s all about making the overall best choices for your particular fleet. Even more important, fleet owners must not become so focused on their current year tax situation that they ignore the long haul. Successful businesses consider and plan for the long term.

For example, a fleet owner might consider buying a truck late in the year to gain the deduction. It’s true that will result in lower taxes for that fiscal year, however, the acquisition is just a short-term piece of the equipment’s overall lifecycle. For a truck to be deducted, it must be placed in service before the end of the tax year. That means additional operation, maintenance, and compliance costs now, and for years down the road. And this is all assuming that you actually need the truck.

The best course of action is to meet with a tax expert you trust in order to understand all the changes this new tax code has brought. What is best for one company, may not be ideal for yours. This post does not intend to provide any specific tax advice. 

 

Hauling Wide Loads and Oversize Loads: Important Questions to Consider

Hauling wide loads or oversize loads can be a daunting challenge. There are many variables you must consider prior to taking on these jobs: permits, route selection, required truck and bed size, pilot cars, cargo securement equipment, and of course, oversize load/wide load banners and signage

Because wide load and oversize load regulations vary from state to state, the preparation required to haul these loads can often be more work than the haul itself.

 

What Makes a Shipment a Wide Load or Oversize Load? 

hauling oversize wide loads
Because these tires can’t be broken down into smaller parts, they must be hauled as an oversize load.

First, understand that a load is considered oversized based on either its width or weight. If your shipment is over on either measurement it is considered oversize. If your load meets all weight limits, but not width limits, it is considered a wide load.

Generally, if your vehicle or load is wider than 8’6″ you will need wide load permits. Legal length is usually 48′ to 53′, and maximum weight is about 46,000 pounds. However, this varies by state. Some states measure by the overall length while others only use kingpin to rear axle length.

For a comprehensive list of regulations by state, see our Wide Load and Oversize Load Banner Requirements by State post

If your shipment can be broken down into smaller or lighter parts, you will probably not be able to obtain wide load or oversize load permits.

 

When do Wide Loads and Oversize Loads Require Pilot Vehicles? 

oversize loads pilot car
Depending on your load size and route details, civilian or police escorts may be required.

If your shipment exceeds a 12′ width you may need one to two pilot vehicles. These vehicles will be able to warn you of any accidents, construction zones, bridges, low wires, or other upcoming hazards.  

Remember, many states only allow you to travel with pilot vehicles from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. 

 

How Many Safety Flags, Oversize Load Signs, and Wide Load Banners do you Need? 

Again, this all depends on the size of your shipment. Generally, you need red safety flags on all four corners of your tractor trailer and amber warning lights up top to meet visibility requirements.  

Also, you will most likely need oversize load signs or wide load banners in both the front and rear of your vehicle. If you have pilot vehicles with you, they may also need flags and lights. Keep in mind that many states restrict or prohibit oversize loads during the holidays and over weekends.

 

Be Prepared for Oversize Load and Wide Load Hauling 

With the proper planning, oversize load and wide load hauling become much more manageable. The next time you need the proper flags, banners, lighting, or signage for oversize load or wide load hauling, US Cargo Control can help get you what you want, when you need it. 

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SC&RA Hauling Job of the Year Spotlight: Precision Specialized, Edwards Moving & Rigging 

US Cargo Control is a proud member of the SC&RA and had a great time attending the SC&RA annual conference in Boca Raton earlier this year.  

The entries for 2018 Hauling Job of the Year were seriously impressive and now the results are in. 

Find out what it took for two transportation companies to take home the trophy in their respective categories and see their incredible entry videos below. 

2018 SC&RA award winners
2018 SC&RA Hauling and Moving job winners. Source: SC&RA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hauling Job of the Year – Under 160,000 Pounds

Precision Specialized, a flatbed trucking company out of Ontario, Canada took home this award. Their massive job entailed transporting 16 various sized modules for the world’s largest designer of modular plant and demonstration-scale systems. These expensive and fragile modules ranged in size from 40′ x 12′ x 12′ up to a whopping 40′ x 16′ x 14′. The driving route, from the Greater Toronto Area to just south of New York City, was nothing short of hectic.

First, weight-per-axle restrictions on the bridge connecting Canada to the U.S. required numerous special application requests. Then, construction patterns in Pennslyvania made it extremely difficult to find a viable route. Eventually, it took a full road closure for five miles in both directions and a tricky two-trailer load. After two years of careful planning, including trimming low-hanging trees and coordinating power line clearance, the job was successfully completed. Precision used their Aspen 95-ton, 13-axle rear steer perimeter trailer, with a custom-made 13-foot deck.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3FEakrge6M?rel=0

 source: PrecisionGroupAG


Hauling Job of the Year – 160,000 Pounds to 500,000 Pounds 

Edwards Moving and Rigging out of Shelbyville, Kentucky won the trophy for this middleweight category. In May 2017, they hauled three of the largest-ever fully assembled turbines 230 miles, from New York to Pennslyvania. Each turbine weighed in at 375,000 pounds and measured 16.25′ tall by 16.48′ wide.

After six months of planning and coordination with upper-level DOT personnel, the first turbine was loaded and delivered. It took 10 days and about 2,993-man hours for it to reach its destination. The route included going through a private property owner’s yard and, at one point, crossing over an interstate median and driving on the opposite side of the interstate. The final permitted weight of the configuration came to 913,227 pounds and measured 345′ x 19.5′ x 18′. It was all handled by a dual-lane 32-axle Aspen A500 expandable transporter with three Kenworth C500 tractors as the prime movers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKetJ5G8N5I?rel=0

source: edwardsmovers


How to Enter Hauling Job of the Year Competition 

Does your transportation company have an outstanding job to share? Check out the rules and regulations to understand the different categories and judging criteria.  

For all your flatbed trailer equipment, including oversize and wide load signs, check out the USCC website for quality products that are backed by teams of dedicated consultants.