2018 International Roadcheck: Focus on Hours-of-Service Compliance

Heads up. The largest targeted commercial vehicle enforcement program is back again. From June 5th – 7th, CVSA inspectors will be out in droves conducting North American Standard Level I Inspections at checkpoints across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.  

If a critical violation is found, inspectors may place you out of service.

Learn what to expect during this 72-hour International Roadcheck to ensure you and your vehicle are ready for inspection.  

Hours-of-Service Compliance 

Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations have always been a hot topic amongst truck drivers and carriers. Since recent ELD implementation, demands for change to the current HOS regulations have only increased.

But law enforcement is not backing down.

ELD mandate HOS rules
The more familiar you are with your ELD device, the quicker your inspection will go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the CVSA, thirty-two percent of all drivers who were placed out of service during the 2017 International Roadcheck had violated HOS regulations.

This year, HOS compliance is the main focus for inspectors. 

Remember, simply having a functioning ELD is not enough for you to pass inspection. To verify HOS compliance, make sure you have all your supporting documents ready and available for inspection. The more familiar you are with your ELD device, the quicker your inspection will go.

What Else to Expect from International Roadcheck 2018 

There will be more roadside inspections during this 72-hour period than any other time all year. And, while there will be an average of around 17 vehicles inspected every minute, it will still take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to complete an inspection.

Most likely, an inspector will come to open your door and talk with you for a bit. He or she will be checking for signs of drug and alcohol use. Have your licenses and other driver documents ready. Next, they will be checking to ensure your seatbelt and fire extinguisher are in working order.  Then, they will get under your hood and inspect your entire vehicle from front to back. 

The main areas they will be inspecting include brake systems, coupling devices, driveline/driveshaft components, exhaust systems, frames, fuel systems, lighting devices, steering mechanisms, suspensions, tires, wheels, rims and hubs, and even windshield wipers. 

They will also be checking for proper cargo securement 

International Roadcheck CVSA sticker
A CVSA decal will prove you passed inspection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If no critical inspection item violations are found, you will get a CVSA decal put on your vehicle. This will prove you successfully passed your inspection and keep you from going through another inspection for the next three months.  

Have you ever been through an International Roadcheck inspection? Share what you experienced in the comments below, and stay safe out there. 

7 Tips for Smarter Truck Parking

There’s no question that lack of available parking is a major challenge for truck drivers across the United States. Even after the introduction of Jason’s Law back in 2012, commercial drivers are still struggling to consistently find safe parking spots. 

In 2017, truck parking ranked fourth overall on the ATRI’s list of Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry survey. If you look only at the responses of commercial drivers, truck parking is the second most critical issue. 

While these tips won’t make new parking spots magically appear, they can help you park smarter and sleep easier. 

1. Plan Ahead  

Pre-plan when and where you’re going to stop each day. Obviously, the goal is to avoid highly congested areas and areas with high crime. Tools like Google Earth and the TruckerPath app are great ways to see how crowded an area is in real time.

 2. Park Early  

Truck stops usually start filling up early in the evening. If you start your day earlier, you can park before others. If you can’t park early, try reserving a parking spot at the truck stop where you plan on stopping.

 3. Avoid Parking Near an Entrance  

It will be tempting to grab the closest spot when you pull in tired. But parking spots on the end of rows, and in the front third of a parking lot, are where the heaviest traffic and highest chance of accidents are.

4. Be Picky About Who You Park Next to  

If the truck next to you is parked over the line, or at an angle, try finding a different spot. If you must park there, it’s not a bad idea to take down their license plate and DOT information.

5. Avoid Backing Out of Spots  

It will be much quicker and easier getting back on the road if you choose a spot you can either pull through or back into.

6. Choose a Well-Lit Area  

Parking near plenty of bright lights will decrease your chances of being targeted by thieves. Seek out truck stops and department store parking lots that are filled with floodlights.

7. Seal Your Truck 

If you’re going to sleep in your truck, close all your windows, put up window screens, and keep valuables out of sight. Consider installing a dash cam for extra peace of mind. Sometimes just the sight of them is enough to deter potential thieves.  You can also use bungee cords or tie down straps to latch your truck’s doors shut from the inside.

12 Top-Notch Truck Stops in America with Secure Parking

truck stops across America

Every long distance driver needs a place to refuel, recharge, and most importantly – a place to feel safe parking. We’ve compiled a list of truck stops across America that stand out for their secure parking and generous amenities.  

These are the types of truck stops we need more of across America. 

1. Florida 595– Davie, FL  

Conveniently located at the intersection of I-595 and I-441. With over 450 parking spaces and 24/7 on-site security, you can sleep without worry. The sports bar and chrome shop don’t hurt either. 

2. Lodi Travel Center– Lodi, OH  

Reserve one of the almost 250 parking spaces by going to their website. They also have a laundry room, pet area, repair shop, general store, and more. After you eat in the 24-hour restaurant, you can burn some calories playing basketball, horseshoes, or bag toss.  

3. Bosselman Travel Center– Grand Island, NE

Described as ” the most luxurious, full-service travel facility in the Midwest.” With over 400 parking spaces, a movie theater, chiropractic office, and masseuse – it may well be. 

4. Clearwater Travel Plaza– Clearwater, MN 

Located just off I-94, 60 miles west of the Twin Cities. This place aims to make you feel at home. You can relax in the drivers’ lounge with free wi-fi and flat-screen TVs. They will even deliver food and drink from the restaurant, pub, bakery, or food court – right to your chair. 

5. Little America– Flagstaff, AZ 

Little America is a mini-chain that knows how to treat their guests. Expect a spacious, fenced, and lighted parking area. They also offer hot showers, fine dining, and a 24/7 repair shop. 

6. Jubitz Travel Center– Portland, OR       

Jubitz is just off I-5 at Exit 307. With over 300 parking spaces, showers, oversized towels, and jacuzzi tubs, this place is certainly worth checking out.  

7. Johnson Corner Truck Stop– Johnson, CO 

Located just off I-25 at Exit 254. This historic stop has been open 24 hours a day since 1952. That’s the type of dedication to truckers we need more of! They offer overnight parking and cinnamon rolls as big as dinner plates. What more could you ask for? 

8. Davis Travel Center– Stony Creek, VA 

Take Exit 33 off I-95 to get to this spacious travel center. Fuel up your rig, then fuel yourself up at Denny’s, Subway, or Starbucks. Overnight parking available. 

9. Dysart’s Truck Stop– Bangor, ME 

Family-owned for over 45 years. This place has ample space in their well-lit parking lot. Enjoy authentic Maine cuisine in their restaurant, and de-stress in the arcade room.  

Iowa 80 is the World's Largest Truck Stop
The World’s Largest Truck Stop is in Walcott, Iowa

10. Iowa 80 Truck Stop– Walcott, IA 

With over 900 spots, no truck parking list is complete without Iowa 80. The World’s Largest Truck Stop. Some call it the “Trucker Disneyland.” With eight restaurants, a dentist, museum, and so much more, this place could easily have its own zip code.

11. North Forty Truck Stop– Holladay, TN 

Take Exit 126 off I-40. In addition to overnight parking and spacious showers, this stop has laundry rooms, a barbershop, and even a masseuse. Also, the 24/7 restaurant has a reputation for making delicious southern comfort food.

12. South of the Border– Hamer, SC 

Okay, this stop isn’t so much about the parking as it is the fun. There’s a golf course, reptile lagoon, and 200-foot Sombrero Observation Tower. If you’re driving through South Carolina, you must check this place out. 

Where is Your Favorite Truck Stop? 

We love to hear from you! Have you visited any of these locations? Maybe you’ve been to a place that deserves to be on this list. Let us know in the comment section below.

Top 5 Major Challenges Facing the Trucking Industry Today

Since 1954, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has been on a mission “to conduct transportation research with an emphasis on the trucking industry’s essential role in a safe, efficient, and viable transportation system.” 

The ATRI, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, recently released their annual report outlining the most critical challenges facing the trucking industry in 2017.  The report is based on survey responses from trucking industry stakeholders across the country, including both motor carriers and professional drivers. 

We’ve compiled a summary of the top five major challenges. 

 1. Driver Shortage  

This has been an industry concern for years, but it hasn’t been at the top of the list since 2006. As the health of the U.S. economy improves, the demand for drivers has simultaneously increased. The problem, according to ATRI research, is that nearly 57 percent of the trucking workforce is at least 45 years old. If this trend continues, the American Trucking Associations estimates that the shortage will reach over 174,000 drivers by the year 2026. 

This chart, from ATRI, shows the low percentage of young truck drivers compared to other industries.


2. 
ELD Mandate  

Even after implementation, critics of the ELD mandate continue to have concerns. These include less independence, lower wages, and more impatient driving. Also, implementation of the mandate has been less than seamless, to say the least. Nearly twenty states have already delayed writing tickets for non-compliance. Another ten states are leaving ticket writing “up to the discretion of the individual officer.” But still, a majority of ELD distaste seems to stem back to the lack of flexibility in Hours-of-Service rules.  

3. Hours of Service  

The ELD mandate more firmly enforces current Hours-of-Service rules. That’s why flexible hours of service rules are now more important to drivers than ever before. Many industry stakeholders identified the sleeper berth provision as one that needs more flexibility. It currently requires drivers to take at least eight consecutive hours in their sleeper berth. Many believe this time should be split up throughout the day. Then drivers could rest when tired and readjust driving schedules to avoid major traffic congestion.  

4. Truck Parking   

Safe and available parking is an everyday necessity for truck drivers. While this ranks fourth among all respondents, it’s the second most concerning challenge among drivers alone. Results of a 2016 ATRI study showed that 84 percent of drivers reported parking in unauthorized or undesignated parking at least once a week. The difficult choice many drivers face is whether to drive beyond what HOS rules allow, or to stop and park in an unauthorized or unsafe location. 

5. Driver Retention  

According to American Trucking Association’s 2017 second-quarter report, the turnover rate for large truckload fleets reached 90 percent. Similarly, the turnover rate for smaller carriers hit 85 percent. Obviously, adding more drivers to the workforce only proves beneficial if those drivers stay. Driver turnover raises recruitment and training costs, which only makes it harder to attract the right drivers. Some motor carriers have been trying to combat these low retention numbers by using sign-on/stay-on bonuses.  

More Critical Trucking Industry Challenges 

The additional challenges outlined in the 2017 ATRI report include:  

  1. CSA
  2. Cumulative Economic Impact of Regulations
  3. Driver Distraction
  4. Transportation Infrastructure/Congestion/Funding
  5. Driver Health and Wellness.

 

Do you agree with the need to address these issues? Are there other major challenges you face that should have made the list? Please, let us know in the comments below.  

ELD Mandate: Rerouting the Trucking Industry

Deadline to Comply Looms Near

On December 18th, the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate goes into effect nationwide. The days when truckers could log their miles and hours by hand will soon be in the rearview.

Enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the ELD mandate requires truckers to purchase and link a computerized device to their rig’s engine and onboard system. ELDs capture truckers every move: whether the engine is running, whether the vehicle is moving, and where the vehicle is located.

Some large companies, such as FedEx and UPS, have already been utilizing these devices. However, the majority of owner-operators have not.

Under the mandate, truckers will have limited driving time. 11 hours of driving a day within a 14 hour workday. Also, there is a requirement to take 10 consecutive off-duty hours per day.

Less Fatigue or Less Patience?

The intent of these embedded time-trackers is to greatly reduce roadway accidents. ELDs aim to do that by eliminating inaccurate reporting and minimizing the number of fatigued drivers. However, many truckers argue this will only add pressure to their already deadline-driven jobs, which, in turn, will outweigh the positives of reduced fatigue.

In an article by Overdrive Magazine, Darrell Wright, an owner-operator of a three-truck company, explains how this mandate may actually cause more hazardous driving. “If I’m driving 74 miles per hour and I see a car easing up on me, I will usually let off and let the car go on, but after the ELDs go into effect I can’t give that courtesy anymore because every time I let off the accelerator I lose money,” said Wright.

Trading Autonomy for Information

Another concern is data collection. To the FMCSA, constant collection will benefit the industry by clearly communicating driver, truck, and route trends. For example, ELDs can precisely track time spent waiting for loading and unloading. This will expose companies who are consistently making drivers wait unreasonable lengths of time. Theoretically resulting in more efficient shippers.

However, trucking has historically been one of the most independent professions. The idea of being tracked, monitored, and rigidly regulated leaves an unconstitutional taste in the mouths of free-spirited truckers. Most of whom already know their jobs can be done without data pools of information.

Indeed, such a sophisticated device creates a vulnerability to hacking and potential risk to drivers hauling sensitive cargo.

During an interview with Q13 Fox news, President of the United Independent Truckers of America, Harry Singh, said “This is a violation of our privacy.” Singh went on to say, “Having the tracking system in our trucks will allow the government to track us 24 hours a day and that’s not good for privacy and it’s not good for safety reasons.”

With less than one week before the deadline, the FMCSA remains full speed ahead. This, despite legislative delay attempts and ongoing truck-stop protests. Once implemented, a driver caught without an ELD can be fined or even be placed out of service.