How the ELD Mandate Can Drive Up Freight Rates and Disrupt the Industry

Trucker Driving on Two Lane HighwayThe trucking industry has been teetering on the electronic logging device issue for a years now. Not many wanted to see it come to fruition, and now that the December compliance deadline is rolling around, trucking companies and truck drivers across the nation are hoping for a reversal on the ruling. Mainly this is due to the deregulation stance of Trump, which has sparked optimism in ELD dissenters. The main reasons these individuals and companies hope that the ELD mandate will get dropped is due to a loss of productivity.

Freight Rates in Steady Climb

Whether you haul freight for a company like Core Carrier Corp, Horizon Transport, or McLeod Express LLC you are at the mercy of industry freight rates. These rates are regularly reported according to haul type, i.e. spot van line haul rates, flatbed truck rates, etc. By looking at freight rates over an extended period of time, trucking industry analysts and experts can predict to some capacity the handle the heavy loads. These rates have already begun to increase in 2017 at nearly 3 points higher than years prior for dry van and flatbed trucking loads. As rates increase this should be good news for trucking fleets, but unfortunately the rate increases must be taken into account with other circumstances.

Running at Max Capacity

The trucking industry has been running its trailers at maximum capacity for a while now. Those in trucking are reeling from the low cost of diesel fuel thanks to the North Dakota oil boom starting in 2012, which declined in 2015. Then in the summer of 2016 we had the port trucking strikes that held up imported goods and backlogged the trucking industry. Combined with the Great Recession, this scenario put the industry in dire straits that are now being worked out as company inventories are built back up to optimal operation capacities. However, the industry has not been able to keep up with this growth, which has also been fueled by the new Presidential administration’s optimistic economic forecast. We simply don’t have enough trucks and trailers to increase supply routes.

Decline in Reliable Truck Drivers

In addition, the industry lacks reliable truck drivers to handle the heavy increase in trucking jobs. Several factors are at play when it comes to truck driver retention and trucker shortage. The lack of aged and experienced truck drivers willing to take over the road trucking jobs is the primary issue. However, the retirement of the baby boomer generation combined with the increased job force of millennials who favor tech over trucking is not helping matters. The industry can’t find drivers to fill the seats of semi trucks, even if the industry increased freight hauling capacities at the fleet level.

Perfect Storm for Industry Disruption

As the US economy is booming following the new Presidential administration, these rates are expected to increase. That’s a given as economic growth is passed along to the trucking carriers handling the nation’s goods. At the same time you have the issue of truck driver shortage and lack of truck driver retention that has been plaguing the industry for years now. Combine this with the enforcement of ELDs and you have a perfect storm for trucking industry disruption.

ELDs will force drivers to slow down and take longer to deliver freight. For truck drivers on the ELD system, they are going to be required to stop on a set “9-to-5” type working schedule. Unfortunately this is not conducive with the job of a truck driver. For example, if you are going to have a load delivered in Phoenix for an Arizona trucking company, and you know that Phoenix traffic is horrendous at a certain time of the day, pre-ELDs you are able to take a break when it works best for you. The problem here is that truck drivers are constantly altering their paper logs to accommodate this type of scheduling.

When ELDs are mandated across the board, it will severely limit a truck driver’s ability to drive on a realistic schedule. As a result, more than 70 percent of independent truck drivers and small trucking companies have said they will quit the trucking business before they comply. Tack on all of the truck drivers near retirement age who say the same thing. Now imagine if this takes place, and the trucking industry, already at a max capacity with limited skilled drivers and an increase in freight rates, will be in serious trouble. Fewer companies in operation and drivers on the roads, and for longer delivery times, means that freight will be stuck in transit for more time, creating havoc for shipping customers and causing a decline in economic confidence and stability.

Transforming Trucking Hours of Service According to Driver Roles

Kenworth semi truck driving on the interstateOne of the first tasks of being a commercial truck driver is understanding how to calculate your hours of service. Between on-duty and off-duty hours you only have so many hours in a day to get a load delivered. Balancing the number of HOS that you have remaining, while still getting to your destination in good time is challenging at best. While these rules can be difficult they do serve a good purpose in keeping truck drivers safe and free of fatigue. However, the problem is that the current hours of service system is set up in a standard way so that all truck drivers of all haul types have to follow the same rules. What if there was a better way to handle hours of service rules at the federal level?

Basics of Hours of Service Rules

As it stands, hours of service rules apply across the board for all truckers with limited exemptions. Those with exemptions of the rule operate in such a manner that the HOS could not effectively work in those industries, i.e. mining and hauling cattle. So for every trucker out there hauling property, or passengers, they must drive for up to 11 hours after having 10 consecutive hours off-duty. Or they can drive for 10 hours after being off-duty for 8 hours. The way the system works is the hours of service rules expect all over the road truck drivers to operate on the exact same time schedule. Unfortunately, the HOS system overlooks the fact that truckers are humans, and that the haul types they take make all the difference in the way hours of service operates for them.

How Haul Types Differ

So here’s an idea, what if hours of service were set up to accommodate haul types? For example, if you are a truck driver who hauls tanker and hazardous materials, for these types of trucking jobs you would follow different hours of service rules than flatbed truck drivers. Why? For starters, tanker and hazmat loads require you to have more training and experience. You are also required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) endorsement to haul hazmat and tanker loads, making your job skills more valuable. So for these more advanced trucking jobs the hours of service rules should be more stringent.

Consider, for example, the hours of service rules for truck drivers hauling oversized truck loads. These types of trucking jobs are one-off, meaning that most truckers are not hauling oversized freight on a regular basis. However, when a trucker gets an oversized load they are required to follow special hours of service regulations. They are not allowed to drive before dawn or after dusk, period. Yes, this gives these drivers a smaller window for getting their load delivered on time, but it also ensures the safety of the driver and the freight. Yet truckers are paid more for their time and effort, which balances out the payday at the end of the week.

Hours of Service by Haul Type

For the easiest trucking jobs including drop and hook freight in dry van trucks the basic hours of service rules would apply. Then you have flatbed trucking loads that require you to get out and check, and tighten or adjust, your straps and tarps every so many miles. This type of trucking job should have more flexibility with hours of service compared to dry van truck loads that are hands-off. The time taken out of a work day to manage the flatbed load should be accounted for in the hours of service.

For reefer truck loads, drivers are required to stop and physically measure the temperature of their cooling systems. These drivers also have to spend more time maintaining and refueling these refrigerating systems in these trailers. This takes more time out of driving and should also be accounted for via hours of service. If truckers were provided with hours of service rules that better met the tasks required of these jobs, then it would be more realistic for drivers.

Arranged by Driver Type

The next area to amend would be to make hours of service rules fit the type of driver on the road. You have over the road or long haul drivers, as well as regional truck drivers. Additionally, truck drivers range from entry level to experienced with a small percentage driving on CDL probation statuses. Hours of service rules should be changed according to your driver type.

For instance, someone who is on probation might have restricted hours of service until they have fulfilled the requirements to regain full HOS status. Entry level drivers might also have limited hours of service until they have proven they are capable of handling the job. For these types of drivers there is reason to reduce their on-duty time, and this could reduce the safety risks associated with new drivers or those who are already in trouble for breaking hours of service rules.

What about truck drivers who have been driving OTR for 10 years and have covered a million miles without an accident? These drivers would have more flexibility and freedom with their hours of service rules. Obviously they know what they are doing and they are safe behind the wheel, or else they wouldn’t have accomplished such a solid trucking career. Additionally, these drivers have established themselves as experienced professionals and should be treated as such.

Removing the hours of service rules altogether for seasoned truckers isn’t feasible under the DOT system. However, what if we graduated experienced drivers to a minimal hours of service program? This would be something for truckers to strive for in their careers, and it would also show that we trust and respect these drivers for their dedication to trucker and highway safety.

As we move into the world of electronic logging devices this graduated system could be feasible. After all, every truck driver will be required to use these systems for tracking their individual routes. Why not set up the system so that the hours of service rules change according to the haul types inputted by the driver when they leave the yard each route?

What do you think? How should the hours of service rules be updated to better meet truck drivers’ needs?


Saia LTL Freight Expands Trucking Business to Northeastern US

Saia truck on highwayIt’s always a good sign when trucking companies are expanding operations. This indicates the US economy is on the upward swing. It also means that truck drivers are going to have an easier time in finding trucking jobs. If you are thinking about hauling LTL freight for Saia, Inc. now is the time to go for it. As the company is opening up four new terminals in the Northeastern part of the country, even truck drivers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have an opportunity to get hired on. Find out where these new terminals will be located and how this is set to expand Saia LTL Freight’s holdings.

Saia Inc. Earliest Expansion

Saia started way back in 1924 in Houma, Louisiana. By 1986 the company became one of the largest LTL carriers with more than 1,000 employees and $50 million in revenue. Expansions began throughout the company’s home state of Louisiana and across Texas. A merger, a division, several acquisitions, and an integration later, and Saia, Inc. now includes LTL freight, Action Express, and WestEx divisions. In 2007 the trucking company earned over $1 billion in gross revenue after going public in 2006. By 2012 Saia, had expanded into third-party logistics and non-asset based truckload service logistics. This expands Saia, Inc. from a straightforward trucking fleet to a company offering multi-tiered logistics services. Today Saia trucking employs 9,000 individuals at 148 terminals throughout the US and Canada.

Moving Forward with Saia

The expansions continue with Saia LTL Freight, which is now based in Georgia, expanding to the Northeast. This trucking carrier is adding four new terminals to its list of coverage areas. By May 2017 Saia, Inc. will have four terminals in:

  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Newark, New Jersey

These terminals will allow Saia LTL Freight to haul goods more directly to its customers. The company’s premium LTL freight services will be supported by the updated operational layout of the new facilities. In order to improve efficiency at the terminals Saia, Inc. has been working directly with sales and leadership teams to make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s one thing to open up new facilities to expand trucking jobs in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. However, Saia is ensuring its employees are completely prepared to handle the new operational processes. Everything is expected to be in full operation mode by May 2017.

Future Growth Predicted

Saia, Inc. has also invested in a trucking facility located in Laurel, Maryland. This terminal is planned to be opened later in the year. By adding this Maryland trucking facility this will allow Saia LTL Freight to expand throughout Maryland, northern Virginia and Delaware. Tack these states on to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey terminals, and it is clear that Saia Freight is primed to take its claim over the increased freight in the Northeastern US.

At the same time, this is a strong indicator in the growth of LTL freight, thanks to door-to-door expedient shipping that’s becoming more popular here in the US. You can expect on Saia, Inc. to continue to expand and offer its truck drivers plenty of LTL freight. If you are considering driving for Saia LTL Freight now is the perfect time to get into the door of this growing trucking company.

* Click to apply for a trucking job with Saia LTL Freight

Ryder Recognizes the Top 3 Truck Drivers in Trucking Company

rear view of Ryder truck on the roadRyder System, Inc. is a transportation and supply chain corporation, established in 1933 with a single Model A Ford. Today the company employs more than 33,100 individuals. To recognize the best of the best, the 44th Annual Driver of the Year Award was presented recently. At this year’s ceremony three top truck drivers at Ryder received Driver of the Year awards. Let’s meet these three truckers.

Junior Belt, Ryder SCS

As a Ryder SCS (supply chain systems) driver Junior Belt hauls regionally in London, Kentucky. In 28 years of being the SCS driver for the Toyota account, Belt has covered 2 million miles without getting into an accident that he could have prevented. This is in addition to four prior years as a truck driver, which grant him with more than 3.1 million miles behind the wheel of a big rig. To show his support for safety in truck driving, Belt has become a certified driver trainer via the Ryder Driver Development Program. This allows Belt to advance his truck driving career by becoming a CDT for Ryder so to help new truck drivers become road ready. For Ryder the benefit of having a senior truck driver with vast behind the wheel experience ensures the next generation of truck drivers will be up to the task.

Willie Anderson, Ryder DTS

Working for Ryder DTS or dedicated transportation services, Willie Anderson has been driving for Ryder for more than 20 years, while being a professional truck driver for 34 years. Over the course of his career Anderson has covered 2.8 million miles. His career includes driving DTS for Shell Exploration and Production Company via Royal Dutch Shell. As a representative of Ryder, Anderson operates specialized equipment, runs complex routes, and wear branded uniforms that showcase the Ryder brand. He is a stellar representative of the company. In addition to Belt, Anderson is also a certified driver trainer, as well as a Driver Ambassador for job recruiting. As a military veteran himself Anderson makes it his mission to help other vets. As such, he is a Veteran Buddy who helps military truck drivers transition into civilian life and commercial trucking jobs. This program gives Anderson the opportunity to bring his military and trucking career full circle.

Gilbert Gutierrez

Gilbert “Gil” Gutierrez has been selected as the Ryder FMS (fleet management solutions) Driver of the Year. As a truck driver in California Gutierrez is a dedicated driver for Spicers Paper company. Gutierrez has hauled for this independent paper merchant for more than 37 years, the duration of his truck driving career. Over this time he has covered more than half a million accident free miles. Considering the high congestion of Southern California, and the strict guidelines that the CA DOT puts on truck drivers, this is quite the accomplishment. Thanks to Gutierrez’ dedication and experience over nearly four decades of being a professional truck driver for Ryder, this truck driver showcases what is possible for drivers dedicated to their career.

Note from the Ryder CEO

Ryder Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Sanchez said, “Ryder is extremely proud to be affiliated with such dedicated, trustworthy professional drivers like Junior, Willie, and Gil, who are the best of the best in the industry and who epitomize what it means to go above and beyond. Their impeccable safety records are a testament to their commitment to safety and excellence, as well as to their company and its customers. They are the engine that helps keep businesses running and consumers happy. The Driver of the Year Award program gives Ryder the perfect platform to show its appreciation and respect for those honorees, who demonstrate extraordinary safety leadership, coupled with a sincere devotion to helping others.”

By recognizing the best drivers the company has to offer, Ryder Systems, Inc. is able to honor the hard work and dedication of these three truck drivers. The industry needs more drivers like Gil, Willie, and Junior. Their families and communities must be proud, but the real benefit is in keeping the trucking industry at its utmost safety and professionalism.