CDTA Newsletter

July 2018 Articles

CVSA’s annual driver-focused enforcement blitz next week
Source: https://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, July 13, 2018

Operation Safe Driver Week, an annual enforcement spree put on by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, is set this year for July 15-21.

 
 

During the weeklong blitz, enforcers will be focusing on traffic violations, seat belt enforcement, driver roadside inspections and driver regulatory compliance. CVSA says driver behavior is the cause of more than 88 percent of large truck crashes and 93 percent of passenger vehicle crashes.

Driving behaviors that will be targeted during the week include speeding, distracted driving, texting, failure to use a seat belt, following too closely, improper lane change, failure to obey traffic control devices and more.

Last year, nearly 39,000 citations and warnings were issued to truck drivers during Operation Safe Driver Week. More than 84 percent of these violations were for state and local moving violations.


 

FMCSA: Numbers Show ELD Mandate Is Working
Source: https://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, June 25, 2018

The electronic logging device mandate is working, said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as it posted a new infographic on its website it plans to update monthly. FMCSA describes the infographic as a "snapshot of the positive impact electronic logging devices (ELDs) are having on improving hours-of-service compliance on our nation’s roads."

 
 

Since the ELD mandate went fully into effect April 1 with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Out-of-Service criteria for ELDs, less than 1% (4,720) of all driver inspections (559,940) have resulted in the driver being cited for operating without a required ELD or grandfathered AOBRD, the agency reported.

According to the infographic, only 0.64% of driver inspections in May had at least one hours-of-service violation.

Compare this to a year earlier, in May 2017, when 1.31% of driver inspections had at least one hours-of-service violation.

The rate dropped significantly after December 2017, when the first “soft enforcement” phase went into effect, dropping from 1.19% in December to .83% in January. The rate stayed right around that mark for the first quarter of the year, then dropped again once the "hard" deadline hit in April, to .69%.

Meanwhile, trucking interests are pushing for legislation on Capitol Hill that would reform the underlying hours of service regulations, now that strict enforcement is highlighting some of the operational difficulties with the rules, such as the Honest Operators Undertake Road Safety, or HOURS, Act (H.R. 6178). Other bills would ease the rules for specific types of trucking, most specifically livestock haulers.


 

11 Habits That Are Ruining Your Sleep (and How to Fix Them)
Source: https://www.livestrong.com/; by Meghan McDowell, June 15, 2018

We all know what it feels like not to get enough sleep. And the scary thing is that the effects are almost instantaneous. Insufficient sleep has been linked to car crashes, industrial disasters and medical errors. In the long-term, poor sleep habits are linked to chronic diseases, increased mortality and overall reduced quality of life. National Sleep Foundation environmental scholar Natalie Dautovich says that deep, quality sleep is important for cognitive, physical and social functioning. Here are 11 surprising habits that might be ruining your sleep and some tips for getting a better night’s sleep tonight.

 
 

1. Working Too Much

According to a 2014 study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, work was the primary culprit that kept people from getting enough sleep. Unsurprisingly, this was often tied to early start times and long commutes. Another 2014 study found that repeatedly getting too little sleep could lead to memory problems. And University of Arkansas research found that lack of sleep might make someone more likely to react emotionally when facing stress. According to the National Sleep Foundation, those 18 to 64 years old should get between seven and nine hours a night, and those 65 and older should get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Try negotiating for a later start time at work: Researchers found that starting one hour later in the morning increased sleep time by about 20 minutes.

2. Using Electronics Before Bed

You’ve probably heard that it’s not recommended to use your smartphone in bed. Reading on your cell phone, laptop or e-reader before bed can mess with your circadian rhythms, according to a 2014 study conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital comparing e-readers to traditional books. Researchers found that the blue light from electronic devices resulted in taking longer to fall asleep, reduced melatonin and reduced alertness in the morning. Solution: Read a book, not your email.

3. Drinking Alcohol Before Bed

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2014 Sleep in America Poll, 12 percent of parents often or sometimes drink alcohol to help them sleep. But although alcohol initially acts as a sedative, it actually diminishes your quality of sleep. A 2011 article in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that large amounts of alcohol not only interfere with sleep quality, but also impedes the restorative functions of sleep. Researchers found this to be especially true for regular heavy drinkers. A 2015 study, also published in ACER, found that drinking before sleep disrupts "non-rapid eye movement" sleep, and regular disruptions to sleep can affect well-being, learning and memory. The solution to this is easy: Decrease the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption before bed.

4. Playing Catch Up on Weekends

It’s tempting to "borrow from your future self" by skipping sleep during the week, then making up for it on weekends. But even 30 minutes of lost sleep a day can add up to long-term consequences for your body weight and metabolism. A researcher from Weill Cornell Medical College found that people with a weekday sleep deficit were 72 percent more likely to be obese and were also more likely to be insulin resistant, meaning sleep debt could contribute to developing Type 2 diabetes. But researchers also found that a 30-minute nap can reverse the impact of a night of poor sleep, which might be a good technique for night and shift workers.

5. Constant Sleep Disruptions

Even if you’re in bed for eight hours, if you’re often woken up, you might feel as if you haven’t gotten any rest at all. Even small amounts of light and noise can be a barrier to obtaining deeper, restorative sleep, says the National Sleep Foundation’s Natalie Dautovich. Research from Tel Aviv University’s School of Psychological Sciences found that interrupted sleep is the same to your body as four or fewer consecutive hours of sleep. No surprise here: This type of sleep was linked to difficulties thinking, a shorter attention span and a bad mood. Even if the interruptions are just five minutes, they can have serious consequences. To limit disruptions, set your phone to automatically revert to “sleep” mode at bedtime. And although sleep masks and ear plugs can help, researchers from Capital Medical University concluded that in a bright, noisy environment, taking one milligram of fast-release oral melatonin could help you get more (and better) sleep.

6. Skipping Your Workouts

Although feeling tired isn’t always a great motivator when you’re trying to fit in a workout, regular exercise has been shown to improve your sleep quality and reduce feelings of sleepiness during the day. A 2011 study published in Mental Health and Physical Activity found that getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week resulted in a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality for participants. Maciek Drejak, founder of the Sleep Cycle alarm clock, which asks users to record sleep diaries to examine lifestyle habits that contribute to sleep quality, says, “We frequently see low sleep quality scores connected with a low number of daily workouts.” He also says that users with more workouts also reported lower coffee consumption. Consider upping your exercise to get a better night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundations 2013 Sleep in America poll found that, regardless of exercise level, one-half of respondents reported that their sleep quality improved on days they exercise.

7. High Daily Stress

High stress and poor sleep might be a "chicken or egg" scenario because feeling tired adds to feelings of stress and makes high-stress situations harder to handle. According to a 2013 survey by the American Psychological Association, 43 percent of respondents said that stress had caused them to lie awake at night in the past month, and those with lower stress levels reportedly got more hours of sleep each night than those with higher stress levels. And according to Maciek Drejak, founder of the Sleep Cycle alarm clock, users with a high daily stress recorded low sleep-quality scores. One solution? Spend more time in bed. Drejak also said that users with more time in bed generally record lower stress levels. Trouble falling asleep? Try meditating. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, sleep time, efficiency and quality all improved after patients used meditation. And according to a 2015 article published by JAMA Internal Medicine, mindfulness meditation improved sleep quality for older adults who suffer sleep disturbances.

8. Being Addicted to Caffeine

According to lifestyle habits reported by users of the Sleep Cycle alarm clock, which tracks sleep quality and helps users wake up during lighter sleep periods, users with later bedtimes and wake-up times generally record higher coffee consumption. Although caffeine can help with alertness during the day, it stays in your body for hours after consumption, meaning it might make it harder to fall asleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. As a stimulant, caffeine can also cause insomnia or sleep disturbance. Many of us are addicted to caffeine, but drinking less, especially in the hours before bed, could also ultimately reduce daytime sleepiness if sleep quality improves. And maintain a regular exercise routine to gain more energy. Sleep Cycle founder Maciek Drejak found that users who record more daily workouts also report lower coffee consumption.

9. Burning the Midnight Oil

We have electricity to thank for allowing us to work or socialize long after the sun has gone down, but research published in a 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that this disrupts the body’s perception of how long the night is. According to the research, exposure to electrical lighting after the sun has gone down suppresses melatonin levels and its functions -- like sleepiness, body temperature, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. The solution is relatively straightforward: If you’re up way past sunset, dim the lights while you work and consider taking melatonin if you have trouble falling asleep.

10. Ignoring Aches and Pains

Sleeping through physical discomfort can limit the body from going into deep sleep, says Kurt Walchle, founder of Active Edge, which imbeds products like Survival Straps with electromagnetic frequencies that reduce inflammation. "Inflammation, back pain, headaches and ailments like arthritis and fibromyalgia all negatively affect REM sleep," Walchle says. “A person can be in non-REM sleep and not even realize the body is having these pains." He recommends rehabilitation, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. In clinical trials, Walchle says that participants wearing Active Edge products reported a decrease in back and neck aches and a decrease in soreness, stiffness and pain -- and improved quality of sleep.

11. Double-Timing Your Bedroom

Don’t feel tired when you head to bed? Using the bedroom environment for tasks other than sleeping can create feelings of wakefulness rather than sleepiness when you are in the room, says the National Sleep Foundation’s Natalie Dautovich. Activities she warns against include watching TV, doing work or having discussions. So for those tasks you’d be advised to get a (different) room. "Ideally," she says, "the bedroom should be 60 to 69 degrees, dark, quiet and comfortable." Still not sleeping well? Dautovich recommends keeping a sleep diary like the one available on the NSF website. She recommends noting how factors such as the length of sleep time, bedtime and wake time are associated with next-day performance. "Critically evaluating daytime activities, the evening routine and the bedroom environment can be useful for identifying sleep-interfering behaviors."


 

Indicators: Driver turnover rate jumped to 94 percent in 2018’s first quarter
Source: https://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, June 7, 2018

CCJ‘s Indicators rounds up the latest reports on trucking business indicators on rates, freight, equipment, the economy and more.

 
 

The driver turnover rate at large truckload carriers (those with more than $30 million a year in annual revenue) climbed six percentage points from the prior quarter to a rate of 94 percent, according to the American Trucking Associations’ quarterly report. What’s more, the turnover rate at large truckload fleets was 20 percentage points higher than the same quarter in 2017.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello says the climbing turnover rate is "consistent with continued tightness in the market for drivers."

"Anecdotally, carriers continue to struggle both recruiting and retaining quality drivers," he says, "leading to increasing wages. The tight driver market should continue and will be a source of concern for carriers in the months ahead."

The turnover rate at small truckload carriers (those with less than $30 million in annual revenue) fell from the prior quarter but was up 7 points from last year’s first quarter. Turnover rate at small truckload carriers was 73 percent.

The turnover rate at less-than-truckload carriers rose two points to 10 percent.


 

Ride share companies fought stronger background checks, report says
Source: https://kdvr.com/; by CNN Wire, June 1, 2018

For anyone looking, it wouldn’t have been too hard to uncover Talal Chammout’s sordid past.

 
 

A simple internet search would have turned up news accounts of his criminal history, such as his assault conviction or the time a federal judge sentenced him to 6½ years in prison for being a felon in possession of firearms.

The judge in that case ticked off a string of allegations against Chammout at his sentencing: He had been accused of shooting a juvenile in the leg, seeking to smuggle rocket launchers into the Middle East, attacking his wife with a crowbar and plotting to hire a hit man.

Three years after he was released from prison, Chammout wanted to be an Uber driver. The company did not run a background check on him and he was allowed to drive in 2015. Three months later, he followed one of his passengers into her home and sexually assaulted her. He is now serving a 25-year prison sentence.

It wasn’t the only time Uber welcomed a driver who should have been barred under the company’s policy that excludes people with convictions of serious crimes or major driving offenses from shuttling passengers, a CNN investigation into rideshare background checks found.

Among the shady drivers who cleared Uber’s screening process: A man convicted of attempted murder who is now accused of raping a passenger in Kansas City; a murderer on parole in Brazos County, Texas; a previously deported undocumented immigrant who is now facing trial for sexually assaulting three passengers and attacking another in San Luis Obispo, California. They no longer drive for Uber.

Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft have approved thousands of people who should have been disqualified because of criminal records, according to state agencies and lawsuits examined by CNN.

In statements to CNN, Uber and Lyft said their background checks are robust and fair. Uber acknowledged past mistakes in its screening process, but said, "More than 200,000 people failed our background check process in 2017 alone. While no background check is perfect, this is a process we take seriously and are committed to constantly improving."

Though both companies say they support thorough vetting, they have pushed back on government efforts to add other layers of scrutiny to the screening process. CNN found a massive lobbying effort from rideshare companies led by Uber has successfully fought off additional backgrounding requirements for drivers, such as fingerprint scans or government screening, that some state and local officials say would help protect passengers.

Uber has played a key role in shaping the language of many state laws governing rideshare companies, giving the company authority to conduct its own background checks in most states with little or no oversight, unlike many taxi operations. The company has been particularly forceful in its opposition to requirements that would force it to check criminal records through an applicant’s fingerprint.

Of the 43 states that have passed laws or rules regulating rideshare driver background checks and eligibility, none require fingerprint-based checks, CNN found. In 31 states, the laws largely mirror Uber’s recommended screening policies, in some cases nearly word-for-word.

Legislative sources from 25 states told CNN Uber directly influenced the writing of their laws.

"Uber has essentially regulated itself," said a former Uber employee and in-house lobbyist, who requested anonymity citing concern over possible backlash from a current employer. The former employee added that in most states, lawmakers just inserted Uber’s language.

An email between an Uber lobbyist and a lawmaker underscores the point.

As Wyoming State Rep. Dan Zwonitzer prepared to introduce a bill to regulate rideshare companies in his state in December 2016, an Uber lobbyist emailed him, pushing for a change in the proposed legislation.

"The draft includes a government-run background check. We need to change it back to the model language," wrote the lobbyist, Erin Taylor, protesting a proposal in the bill that would require fingerprint checks.

She also asked "Do you have any idea why they keep straying from the model bill language?" according to the email Zwonitzer shared with CNN.

The bill became Wyoming law in 2017 and left background checks up to Uber, as the lobbyist had requested. Zwonitzer said the final bill was the result of back-and-forth discussions with Uber and other stakeholders, but he said Uber "drew a line in the sand" about background-check requirements.

Taylor did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

A CNN investigation in April revealed more than 100 Uber drivers had been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers in the past four years. After questions from CNN for that report, Uber announced a policy change to rerun background checks annually and said the company would invest in technology to identify new criminal offenses.

But some state regulators and attorneys suing Uber say those updates do not go far enough. Critics of the rideshare companies’ background checks say drivers should submit to additional scrutiny, such as in-person interviews, government screening or fingerprint checks, which use biometric information to search for criminal records in an FBI database. Most US taxi and limousine drivers are required to obtain special licenses and undergo fingerprint checks.

Uber and Lyft’s background checks are mostly conducted by a third-party startup company called Checkr, which uses individuals’ names and Social Security numbers to find applicable information. It checks a national sex offender database, federal and local court records and databases used to flag suspected terrorists.

Three former Uber employees who worked on policy told CNN Uber seeks to approve new drivers as quickly as possible to maintain a large workforce and therefore opposes requirements to fingerprint applicants, which can add weeks to the onboarding process.

Uber and Lyft say fingerprint-checks reference historical arrest records, which can have discriminatory effects on some minority communities that face disproportionately high arrest rates. An Uber spokesperson told CNN arrest records are incomplete and often lack information about whether a person has been convicted of a crime.

Some states, according to Checkr, limit the records background check companies can report, which can create discrepancies between private background checks and those run by governments. For example, Massachusetts prohibits the reporting of convictions that are older than seven years.

Lobbying on steroids

In city after city across the United States, Uber has used the same overarching strategy to expand its business.

After launching in 2010, Uber began entering cities without coordinating with city governments or local taxi and limousine regulators. The Uber app then would become so popular with riders and drivers that any attempts by city officials to create regulations were met with fierce resistance, both by users of the app and by Uber’s lobbyists, multiple city and state officials told CNN.

Uber, along with its competitor Lyft, would then turn to state capitals to lobby for broader legislation that benefited the rideshare industry, undercutting local regulations or proposals.

Uber has hired at least 415 lobbyists throughout the country since 2012, lobbying disclosures show. Lyft has hired at least 147 lobbyists in 34 states. This count does not include lobbyists hired for work at the city and federal level.

When the city of Boise, Idaho, advocated for fingerprinting all Uber drivers in 2015, records show Uber retained a lobbyist who worked on getting a bill passed at the state level. The lobbyist said he personally drafted Idaho’s legislation, according to a recording of his presentation to state lawmakers. That bill became state law, overriding Boise’s proposal.

"Lobbying is nothing new but this is lobbying on steroids," said Miya Saika Chen, an attorney who has studied rideshare laws at the nonprofit Partnership for Working Families. "The speed with which Uber and Lyft got these bills passed is unique," she added, noting that most became law between 2014 and 2017.

In Ohio, State Rep. Mike Duffey used language shared by an Uber lobbyist in his testimony introducing a bill to regulate rideshare companies, according to emails obtained by the National Employment Law Project shared with CNN. When another legislator’s aide emailed Duffey reports that questioned Uber and Lyft’s screening processes, Duffey emailed an Uber lobbyist and said, "Let’s discuss."

Duffey’s bill became law and went into effect in 2016, overturning Columbus’ ordinance that mandated rideshare drivers be fingerprinted. In a statement to CNN, Duffey said it "is exceedingly normal" for stakeholders to suggest language for bills and added that his bill received unanimous support in the Ohio House of Representatives.

In Texas, Austin and Houston also previously required rideshare drivers to undergo fingerprint background checks, but in 2017 Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that specifically voided all local rideshare regulations. That same year, Uber and Lyft together spent up to $2.3 million on 40 lobbyists in the state, records show.

A Texas legislative aide told CNN Uber and Lyft "contributed" to the formation of the bill. The aide, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record, said, "Uber had one of the bigger lobby teams we’ve seen … but there was no pressure," he said.

Out of 43 states with laws or rules on screening requirements, all except one give rideshare companies (or third-party companies they choose to hire) the sole responsibility of conducting criminal background checks on potential drivers. Massachusetts has a two-tiered system, where the company runs a background check and then the state’s public utilities department runs another.

The city of New York is the only jurisdiction in the United States where rideshare drivers must undergo fingerprint checks.

Seven other states have not passed laws regulating rideshare companies’ background checks.

Some laws give authority to state agencies to impose additional regulations on rideshare companies’ screening processes or audit their records, and some of those reviews have found drivers who should have been disqualified because of criminal convictions.

For example, Maryland’s Public Service Commission reviews the applications of drivers approved by rideshare companies. The commission has rejected about 1,653 rideshare driver applications with disqualifying criminal records since December 2015, even though those drivers passed the rideshare companies’ background checks.

Massachusetts began running its own background checks on Uber and Lyft drivers through a deal reached with the companies in 2017. Out of 170,000 rideshare applications that had been approved by the companies, the state rejected about 20,000 under its regulations, the bulk of which related to licensing, driving or non-felony issues. However, the state denied 3,471 prospective drivers for violent crimes and 109 for sex offenses. About 1,500 drivers have successfully appealed denials, but most of those involved driver’s license issues.

The taxi industry, which fiercely competes with rideshare companies, has also lobbied at the state level to have rideshare drivers undergo similar screening processes as taxi and limousine drivers, which mostly comply with fingerprint background checks.

"Expediency is overriding safety," said Matthew Daus, a former commissioner of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission. "Taxis and limos are still required to abide by the old, more stringent rules, but Uber and Lyft have a free for all. It’s become the Wild West."

But others point out that fingerprinting and accessing the FBI’s data has limitations as well.

"The FBI background-check system was designed for investigations, not employment vetting, and many of its records are incomplete," said Arthur Rizer, who has studied the rideshare industry and justice at the R Street Institute, a free-market research organization.

Uber says the rideshare industry, like others, has relied on business and legislative experts to work with government officials to develop regulations that protect consumers while enabling technological growth.

While some city officials argue transportation should be regulated at the local level and that passenger safety concerns should matter more than ease of travel, Uber says it advocates for state regulations as opposed to local ordinances because rides often cross between jurisdictions.

A Lyft spokesperson said in a statement that Lyft has worked with policymakers in nearly every state to standardize and strengthen background checks.

The sufficiency of Uber and Lyft’s background checks have been challenged by dozens of civil lawsuits.

A proposed federal class-action containing allegations of sexual assault by Uber drivers says the company should pay damages for "failing to warn passengers about the inadequacy of its background screening."

In a lawsuit filed in 2015, the woman sexually assaulted by Talal Chammout accused Uber of overlooking his criminal convictions for assault and possessing firearms as a felon as well as other allegations. Authorities had also investigated Chammout for alleged offenses that he was never convicted of, including shooting a 15-year-old, assaulting and threatening to kill his wife, negotiating to purchase anti-aircraft missiles, and discussions with an undercover FBI agent who posed as a hit man.

According to the lawsuit, Chammout used a fake commercial driving permit to apply to Uber.

The civil lawsuit was dismissed in 2015, though the parties declined to say how the case was resolved. CNN reported in April that Uber, like many large companies, requires all parties to sign confidentially agreements when cases are settled.

Uber sent a letter to the city of Dallas stating that when Chammout first signed up with Uber in 2014, his account was marked “Will Not Be Driving.” But in 2015, an Uber representative mistakenly allowed him to drive even though he never underwent a background check.

In May, a jury found Chammout guilty of sexually assaulting the woman.

Some authorities have fined rideshare companies for issues related to driver vetting.

Uber agreed to pay up to $25 million in 2016 to settle a lawsuit brought by the district attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles, who accused the company of misleading customers about the quality of their background checks, which they argued suffered “systemic failures.” Lyft settled a lawsuit with similar claims brought by the same district attorneys for $500,000 in 2014.

Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission is seeking to fine Uber more than $4 million for approving dozens of drivers with disqualifying records based on state law. Uber has challenged the fine, which remains pending before an administrative judge.

As part of its investigation, the commission did not find any disqualifying records that warranted a fine against Lyft, according to the commission’s director, Doug Dean.

Dean said he and other state officials have pressed for additional screening of rideshare drivers that includes fingerprinting, which he said would enable his commission to receive notification in-real time if a rideshare driver is arrested.

Dean said Uber’s lobbyists swayed state lawmakers to not include that mandate in legislation that passed in 2014.

"They sold it to the legislature as this is innovation and its jobs and it works everywhere else so let’s just do it," Dean said. "They didn’t stop to really think long and hard about public safety I’m afraid."


 

June 2018 Articles

Fuel prices jump for ninth consecutive week
Source: https://www.ccjdigital.com/fuel-prices-jump-for-ninth-consecutive-week/; by Matt Cole, May 22, 2018

Diesel prices across the U.S. have now increased for nine consecutive weeks, dating back to the end of March.

 
 

During the most recent week ending May 21, the U.S.’ average price for a gallon of on-highway diesel jumped 3.8 cents to $3.277, according to the Department of Energy’s latest numbers. During this run of price increases, the national average diesel price has jumped 26.7 cents.

Prices increased in all regions across the U.S. in the week, with the most significant increase coming in California, where prices jumped 4.4 cents.

California is also still home to the highest average fuel prices across the country at $3.973 per gallon, followed by the West Coast less California at $3.503 per gallon.

The cheapest diesel can be found in the Gulf Coast region, $3.055 per gallon, followed by the Lower Atlantic, $3.163 per gallon.

Prices in other regions, according to the DOE, are:

- New England – $3.282

- Central Atlantic – $3.42

- Midwest – $3.218

- Rocky Mountain – $3.348

ProMiles’ numbers during the week saw fuel prices during the week jump 9.2 cents to $3.29 per gallon nationwide.

According to ProMiles’ Fuel Surcharge Index, the most expensive diesel can be found in California at $4.016 per gallon, and the cheapest can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $3.14 per gallon.


 

What's Behind the Tight Freight Market, and How Long Will It Last?
Source: https://www.truckinginfo.com/301547/whats-behind-the-tight-freight-market-and-how-long-will-it-last; by Deborah Lockridge, May 11, 2018

Although the April 1 start to "hard enforcement" of the electronic logging device mandate does not seem to have had a huge effect on trucking capacity (except perhaps in flatbeds), there are a number of other factors that are working to keep capacity tight and rates high, likely at least until late this year, according to FTR.

 
 

Avery Vise, FTR vice president of trucking research, shared the latest data with callers during a May 10 State of Freight webinar.

The key economic indicators affecting trucking are all positive, or at least neutral, he said. One possible concern is business inventories, which have ticked up higher recently. Potential reasons for that could be related to the need to keep product closer to customers for online sales, or even a reaction to the trucking capacity shortage itself, he said, as companies hold back some slower-moving inventory.

Of course, there are a number of external factors that could affect that rosy picture, including trade tensions and rising oil and fuel prices. But overall, Vise said, we can expect continued growth in the near term.

The flatbed sector is especially hot, and FTR expects loadings to be up 7% to 9% year-over-year through the year, perhaps even higher. Growth in van and reefer will not be as spectacular, but both will be solid through 2018.

The ELD Mandate and Capacity

But what everyone really wants to know is, how has hard enforcement of the ELD mandate affected capacity?

The best indicator for this, Vise said, is the spot market. Data from Truckstop.com, he said, suggests that capacity was tightening well before the initial December 18 ELD deadline, as many fleets went ahead and phased in the use of electronic logs before that date. "We did see a pretty substantial jump" during the first week of the ELD mandate, he said.

However, when you look at the April 1 deadline, at which point drivers were to be put out of service and points assessed on a carrier’s CSA record, something interesting happened, Vise said. "While the [Truckstop.com] MDI did rise the first week of April, it dropped the following week. That could reflect some typical softness after Easter, but the numbers do suggest there’s not any kind of catastrophe related to hard enforcement. In fact, the period between Dec. 18 and April 1 might have represented the worst of the impact."

Even more curious, he said, is what happened with weekly ELD violations, which actually dropped during the first week of full enforcement.

One possible reason for that is that carriers simply waited to install or activate their ELDs until the hard deadline, knowing that until then the violations would not mean an out of service violation or CSA points.

Another possible reason would be that anti-ELD owner-operators and small carriers simply parked their trucks. However, he said, if that were the case, "we would expect a huge imbalance in the spot market, which we did not see."

However, the data also shows, unsurprisingly, that non-compliance with the ELD mandate "has been almost totally on the lower end of the market… nearly 80% of violations are carriers with fewer than 20 trucks." Carriers with 101 to 999 trucks made up only 3% of the violations.

Why Is the Flatbed Sector so Hot?

Truckstop.com’s Market Data Index tracking the spot market is overall in record territory, but that is principally due to “unprecedented tightness” in the flatbed sector, Vise said. Flatbed rates are up 45 cents per mile since the end of 2017, while van and refrigerated freight rates are down from their year-end highs.

Several possible reasons are combining to create this situation, he said, both on the demand side and the supply side of the equation. There’s more demand for flatbeds coming from recent strength in manufacturing and construction, as well as recent increases in petroleum prices pushing more domestic production.

On the supply side, Vise said, many people think the ELD mandate is hitting flatbed the hardest. This sector includes a lot of owner-operators and small carriers and is typically not the first to adopt new technology, he noted.

"There could also be equipment constraints. We saw a sharp increase in flatbed trailer orders starting in September, and that continued until very recently."

The Driver Shortage and Tight Trucking Capacity

For over a year now, fleets have been saying that they could haul more freight if only they had the capacity to do it – chiefly limited by the driver shortage. And that’s certainly still continuing.

In the first three months of the year, the for-hire trucking industry was busy adding jobs, but that fell in April. "And this is not in a period where you would anticipate freight demand to soften to any kind of degree that would account for job losses," Vise said. "We think carriers have largely exhausted the supply of potential drivers who already had CDLs and were employable."

In addition to the low level of unemployment nationwide, Vise said, "you have competition [for labor] from sectors like manufacturing and construction, and even local delivery, which has grown sharply over the last year."

One of the problems, he said, is that despite the number of carriers raising driver pay overall, "there isn’t much difference between wages in trucking and those in home building and manufacturing."

What’s the Outlook for Trucking Capacity?

When you take all these factors, and add in the fact that railroads do not seem to be in a position to provide much additional capacity, either, "you end up with essentially full utilization of seated trucks, and this is where we’ve been essentially since the hurricanes. We don’t see any meaningful change until the fall."

By that point, he said, fleets will have taken delivery of new trucks and trailers that are currently in the production pipeline, and aggressive driver recruiting efforts may have borne fruit by then. Also acting to help ease the capacity crunch will be things like schedule changes, more drop-and-hook operations, and other ways to eke out more efficiencies and take out lost time.

As a result, he said, FTR expects elevated year-over-year growth in rates to continue through the second quarter, but to come down somewhat from "fairly inflated levels" later in the year.

Don’t expect that change to come from any reprieve from the ELD regulations, Vise said – although he sees it as "quite possible" that a current temporary exemption for livestock haulers will be made permanent.

More likely, Vise said, would be relief from the underlying hours of service rules themselves, although that’s a longer-term prospect. He pointed out that there’s a pilot program under way to test moving back to a split-sleeper berth option, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has petitioned for the ability to pause the 14-hour on-duty clock once during a shift for up to three hours.

"If these things come together during a business-friendly administration, I would anticipate a good chance that one of these has a chance of happening in the next few years," he said.


 

10 Daily Rituals That Set You up for Success
Source: https://www.livestrong.com/; by Paige Brettingen, March 8, 2018

The secret to having a good day as often as possible? It starts with your rituals. From exercise to meditation to quality time with family, they’re the ordinary, everyday tasks that have a big impact on your physical and emotional health. "No matter how big or small, our rituals add meaning to our lives," says Laurie Gerber, life coach and co-president of Handel Group Life Coaching.

 
 

"Rituals can keep us grounded and connected, no matter how hectic life is or how much things change." Far too often, though, we view our rituals as another to-do on our list instead of treating them as sacred tasks that help us feel like our most authentic selves. Read on to see if any of these rituals speak to you in bringing about your best days.

1. Engage in Playtime

Playtime is essential for all of us — grown-ups included. It just looks different as an adult. For life coach Laurie Gerber, there’s "playtime" for herself, which involves 10 minutes of meditating each day. There’s Saturday-morning breakfast with her toddler, which usually involves more conventional play. And then there’s grown-up playtime spent talking and cuddling with her husband at night.

Fitting fun into your day will be the foundation of happiness and productivity. Start by making a list of all of the things that make you feel happy and fulfilled, and then map out how to incorporate them more into your week. Maybe it’s going for more hikes, joining an intramural sports team, enjoying a dinner out each week with your spouse or meeting up with friends more often after work.

2. Design Your Day

One of life coach Laurie Gerber's favorite rituals is to write a “daily design” of how she wants her day to play out. She even emails it to her co-workers and friends so they can hold her accountable for what she hopes to accomplish. “Not only does this practice keep me connected to my friends, it has me at the source of my day’s creation and not simply acting in response to it,” she says. Gerber also has an “imprinting” ritual she does before bed each night. Before she falls asleep, she shuts her eyes and visualizes anything she wants to happen the next day as having already happened. This allows her to go into the next day with full confidence that it already is a good one.

3. Track Your Time

It’s a common assumption that we don’t have the time to do more of what makes us happy, especially during the week. Between work and family commitments, being perpetually busy has become a standard part of life. That said, it’s helpful to see if you’re underestimating how long certain tasks are taking. For example, are you scrolling through Facebook longer than you realize in the mornings? Could that time be replaced with a 15-minute meditation or a quick workout?

"I see again and again that people get up at 5:30, but don’t leave the house until 8, which is a long time to not use consciously," says Laura Vanderkam, author of "What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast." Devote the morning to your personal priorities and chances are that your day will go a lot smoother because you’ve put your happiness at the top of the to-do list.

4. Make Breakfast the New Dinner

We’re wired to think that dinner is the meal where everything important is supposed to happen — where families strengthen their bond and where couples reconnect. In reality, a harried week packed with differing schedules makes family dinners a novelty these days. And what couple doesn’t want to collapse on the couch with takeout and Netflix at the end of a stressful day?

For all of these reasons, author Laura Vanderkam recommends trying out family breakfasts and date mornings. Typically, breakfast is the one meal where everyone can actually sit down together without extracurricular activities or late meetings getting in the way. Likewise, going out to breakfast with your partner is often easier to schedule and bound to get your day off to a positive start.

5. Tackle the Hardest Task First

If you have a task hanging over your head that requires more willpower than you can muster, the trick is to focus on it at or just before 8 a.m., says author Laura Vanderkam. She notes how research suggests our willpower peaks at 8 a.m., usually following breakfast, and that the worst time to accomplish a difficult task is around 4 p.m. for the majority of us. "Your willpower is like a muscle that gets fatigued throughout the day," she says. "If you can, try not to set your first meeting until after you’ve been at work for an hour or an hour-and-a-half so you can focus that time on getting those tasks done."

6. Get Creative in the Morning

Mornings are also the perfect time for any creative endeavors you’re pursuing. Author Laura Vanderkam suggests setting aside time in the morning for that novel you’re writing or the piano skills you’re set on improving. Finding the motivation to practice your craft is usually rare after a long workday when all you want to do is relax. When you’re tempted to hold off until you get home in the evening, repeat Vanderkam’s mantra: If it has to happen, it has to happen first. "If you keep saying you’ll get to it when you have the time or the energy, it will never happen," she says.

7. Unwind Just Before Bedtime

There’s no way around it: The key to a good day, a good mood and good health is a good night’s sleep. Just as you set an alarm to wake up in the morning, author Laura Vanderkam believes it’s imperative to set a bedtime alarm as well. Program it on your smartphone so that it goes off at the same time each night. And then leave the phone outside your bedroom or put it on silent or in airplane mode to ensure an undisturbed night of sleep. If you know it takes you some extra time to fall asleep, set that alarm for a good 30 minutes to an hour earlier than your bedtime to ensure you’re giving yourself plenty of time to unwind with a bath or a book.

8. Sleep Away the Unproductiveness

Think about the most unproductive hours of your day. Do they usually involve catching up on a show (or two or three) that inevitably keeps you up later than you intended? If so, it may be time to crack down on your screen time and start gravitating toward bed even sooner (thanks to your new bedtime alarm). Author Laura Vanderkam has observed that the most successful people she interviewed for her book tend to take unproductive hours and put them toward sleep.

While 8:30 p.m. might seem like a ridiculously early bedtime for some, the upside is that it leads to a more fulfilling morning, which starts at 5 a.m. with you feeling completely rested and having three whole hours to meditate, exercise and enjoy a good book over coffee. "Find a way to do that and you’ll discover more time in your day," she says.

9. Pay Attention to Your Relationships

If an important relationship in your life is suffering, an otherwise good day instantly becomes diminished. Life coach Laurie Gerber’s favorite ritual in this department involves having at least one deep, loving conversation with her husband daily without interrupting him. She also makes it a point to French-kiss her husband each day.

Platonic and professional relationships are equally important to cultivate. Start by giving a compliment to a co-worker or a friend each day, and hold yourself accountable to make sure you follow through. "Put in a self-imposed consequence should you not keep your ritual. If you do not French-kiss your husband or compliment a co-worker daily, you lose your favorite nightly libation or TV show — whichever just made you cringe more," says Gerber.

10. Make the Time

It's easy to retreat to the excuse of "I don’t have time." The truth is that you do. You just have to make the time. And one glaring area of your life that probably needs it most is time for just yourself. Again, morning is the ideal time to fit this in, says author Laura Vanderkam — even if it just means getting up 10 minutes before everyone else in the house to sip your coffee in peace. "Time in the morning is for yourself before the rest of the world invades. And, just like your bills, you need to pay yourself first before you pay others," she says.


 

Cargo theft firms report declining theft numbers in 2018
Source: https://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Matt Cole, May 16, 2018

Cargo theft recording firms SensiGuard and CargoNet released this week their first quarter reports on cargo theft in the United States, with both firms reporting a decline in the number of thefts and the average value of thefts. CargoNet reported a total of 159 cargo theft events in the U.S. and Canada during 2018’s first quarter, while SensiGuard reported 115 cargo thefts.

 
 

According to CargoNet, the combined number of cargo theft reports in the U.S. and Canada dropped 23 percent year-over-year. The firm also notes a “marked decrease” in the average value per theft, which dropped from $164,185 in 2017’s first quarter to $90,883 in 2018’s first quarter.

The firm adds that 98 trucks and 119 trailers were reported stolen during the quarter, down from 138 tractors and 149 trailers a year ago.

CargoNet’s report states that food and beverage loads ranked as the most-stolen, but thefts of food and beverage items decreased 39 percent year-over-year. Household good and electronics were the second- and third-most stolen items.

Additionally, the firm reports that most states recorded decreases in cargo theft during the quarter, including a 60 percent decrease in New Jersey.

SensiGuard’s figures show a 22 percent decrease in cargo theft volume year-over-year, and a 15 percent decrease in value. According to the firm, there were no thefts valued at $1 million or higher in the first quarter of this year.

In contrast to CargoNet’s numbers, SensiGuard reports that electronics were the most-stolen items in the quarter, accounting for 24 percent of total thefts. Food and drinks accounted for 19 percent of the nation’s total thefts, SensiGuard’s numbers show.

California ranked as the top state for cargo theft, according to SensiGuard, with 37 percent of total thefts, followed by Illinois and Florida with 13 percent and 11 percent of the total, respectively.

Unsecured parking areas were the most prevalent location for thefts, accounting for 92 percent of all thefts that a location was noted. Thefts from secured parking and warehouse/distribution center locations each accounted for 4 percent of the total.


 

Positive drug tests in the driver workforce hit 10-year high
Source: https://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Aaron Huff, May 8, 2018

Newly released data show that trucking and other safety-sensitive workforces have the highest drug-positive test rates in a decade. The positivity increases are driven primarily by cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.

 
 

The data also show the four common opioids that the U.S. DOT added last year in urine testing — hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone — have a higher positivity rate than the two opioids that were previously being tested — codeine and morphine.

The following data is a summary of a recent report compiled from 10 million U.S. drug tests conducted by Quest Diagnostics, a large medical lab. Many of Quest Diagnostics’ clients have safety-sensitive workforces that have federally required drug testing, including pilots, bus and truck drivers.

Cocaine

In the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforce, for which only urine testing is permitted, cocaine positivity increased by eleven percent (0.28 percent in 2016 versus 0.31 percent in 2017). This is the third consecutive year of increases in this workforce segment.

A new pattern emerged in this year’s analysis, with cocaine positivity in urine testing increasing significantly in certain states among the general U.S. workforce. Double-digit year-over-year increases in at least four of the five past years were seen in the states of Nebraska (91 percent), Idaho (88 percent), Washington (31 percent), Nevada (25 percent), Maryland (22 percent), and Wisconsin (13 percent).

Methamphetamine

In the general U.S. Workforce between 2013 and 2017, methamphetamine positivity rates increased 167 percent in the East North Central division of the Midwest; 160 percent in the East South Central division of the South; 150 percent in the Middle Atlantic division of the Northeast; and 140 percent in the South Atlantic division of the South.

The percentage increase in these four U.S. Census divisions ranged between nine percent and 25 percent between 2016 and 2017.

Quest Diagnostics has created this map that shows positivity by state and compared to the national average.

Marijuana

Overall, marijuana positivity continued its five-year upward trajectory in urine testing for both the general U.S. workforce and the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforce. Marijuana positivity increased four percent in the general U.S. workforce (2.5 percent in 2016 versus 2.6 percent in 2017) and nearly eight percent in the safety-sensitive workforce (0.78 percent versus 0.84 percent).

Increases in positivity rates for marijuana were most striking in states that have enacted recreational use statues since 2016. The increases in marijuana positivity for safety-sensitive workers increased by 39 percent in Nevada, 20 percent in California, and 11 percent in Massachusetts.

"These increases are similar to the increases we observed after recreational marijuana use statues were passed in Washington and Colorado," said Barry Sample, PhD, senior director, science and technology, Quest Diagnostics.

Prescription opiates

Nationally, the prescription opiate positivity rate dropped by double digits on a national basis for the general U.S. workforce in urine drug testing. The rate declined 17 percent between 2016 and 2017 (0.47 percent versus 0.39 percent).

Prescription opiate testing for safety-sensitive transportation workers covered under U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rules went into effect in January 2018. Based on four months of data in 2018, Sample says the positivity rate for hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone are "certainly higher by large multiple" compared to the positivity rate for codeine and morphine.

The additional four prescription opiates being tested are not more impairing nor more addicting than morphine, he says. Quest Diagnostics and other laboratories refer positive test results to a medical review officer (MRO). The MRO will then determine if the driver has a valid prescription for the drugs and has the ability to issue a safety concern letter to the employer.

Combined testing

Many trucking companies are conducting hair follicle testing in addition to the DOT-mandated urine test. Based on Quest Diagnostics data, Sample says hair testing gives higher positivity rates.

Hair tests detect patterns of repetitive drug use, he says. It is the most effective test for detecting cocaine use, says Sample, who has a Ph.D. in pharmacology and is a board-certified toxicologist.

In other industries, oral fluid tests are also commonly used. Sample says the drug positivity rate for marijuana use is higher in oral fluid testing compared to hair or urine tests.

"There is value in having more than one testing specimen at your disposal," he says. A primary advantage that hair and oral fluid testing have over urine tests is they are observed collections, which makes them impossible to subvert in private, Sample says.


 

May 2018 Articles

The Driver Deficit: Seeking Solutions
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com; by Linda Longton, April 23, 2018

Strong freight, tight capacity and surging rates mean conditions for carriers "are approaching their most favorable situation in 14 years," according to FTR's Trucking Conditions Index.

 
 

Except, that is, when it comes to drivers.

Long a major headache for carriers, in today’s environment, the search for drivers is "getting really, really competitive," says Gordon Klemp, president of the National Transportation Institute, whose company tracks driver pay and benefits. "In the first two months of this year, the numbers of pay changes — we’ve never had a first quarter that’s even close," he says. "And the size of some of the changes is pretty impressive."

Desperate to take advantage of the booming freight market, carriers are offering drivers incentives ranging from higher pay and jumbo-sized bonuses to improved creature comforts and generous benefit packages. While experts say such approaches only encourage turnover, other tactics could provide long-term solutions to some of trucking’s systemic problems. At the same time, increasingly sophisticated technologies are giving fleets more tools to help recruit and retain this scarce resource.

Ask drivers why recruiting and retaining them is so challenging, and three out of four say carriers "don’t pay enough," according to a recent survey by CCJ sister brands Truckers News and Overdrive. That’s a criticism many fleets are taking to heart: Truckers News has reported more than 25 pay changes since October, and Klemp notes that many took effect immediately. Historically, fleets might announce a pay bump in January but make it effective in late March, he says.

Klemp also expects some fleets that made announcements early in the year to raise pay again, possibly in the third quarter, based on competitive pressures and continuing strength in freight rates. "Pay won’t move unless rates are going up,” he says. Klemp predicts that if GDP is above 3 percent in the last three quarters, pay will be 15 percent higher on Dec. 31, 2018, than it was the prior year.

Alongside pay increases, many fleets are offering attention-grabbing sign-on bonuses. Klemp’s company reports median sign-on bonus amounts in February were three or four times as high as those a year earlier, depending on the segment. While such bonuses are common, many experts suggest any sign-on pay beyond what’s needed to cushion the transition to a new job only encourages turnover.

And sign-on bonuses may not be all that effective — at least for attracting the best candidates. Most veteran drivers "don’t trust them," says Michael Fisk, director of hiring, marketing and driver development for Roadmaster Group, based in Glendale, Ariz. That’s perhaps why only 2 percent of respondents to a recent Truckers News survey said they would change jobs for a large sign-on bonus.

Fleets in the Southeast that typically lag other regions in terms of pay have announced the largest cost-per-mile raises, Klemp says. "The aggressiveness of pay changes down there might indicate they are hurrying to catch up to their counterparts in the Midwest and Northeast where they bump up against them." The Northeast is historically the highest-paying region, and pay changes there have been fewer, he says.

Increasingly, fleets are tailoring pay packages to not only attract new talent but also reward existing drivers. K&B Transportation (CCJ Top 250, No. 124), based in South Sioux City, Neb., recently announced graduated pay increases tied to company longevity and starting at zero to six months on up to more than five years. Similarly, Joplin, Mo.-based CFI announced its Experienced Driver pay package in November when "we realized it took too long for our own experienced drivers to reach the top of our pay scale," says Michael Hinz, senior vice president of sales and operations.

Bringing consistency to driver pay is key, says Phil Byrd, chief executive officer of Bulldog Hiway Express, based in North Charleston, S.C. "Drivers and potential drivers are looking for reliable income — not $1,000 this week, $500 next week,” Byrd says. “They want a predictable weekly income like most people do." Drivers paid on Bulldog’s "salary plus" receive a salary and then incentives to help them earn above their base.

The growth of Amazon and consumer expectations for next-day deliveries have enabled teams to command large pay premiums, Klemp says, with experienced teams getting "into pretty rarified air" compensation-wise. Some carriers such as Tennessee-based Covenant Transport (No. 39) and U.S. Xpress (No. 16) are offering teams substantial bonuses. Covenant’s program pays $2,000 every time a team passes 60,000 paid miles together, up to a total of $40,000. U.S. Xpress has a similar plan but is offering a $50,000 bonus paid in $2,000 increments and in vacation time over a four-year period to current and future team drivers.

Beyond pay and bonuses, many carriers are looking for creative ways to cut through the recruiting noise and get drivers’ attention. Inwood, N.Y.-based Express Trucking & Courier, which provides expedited high-value shipping, offers free health insurance for drivers and their families with a $15 co-pay through United Health Care — a benefit that Ken Deocharran, Express president, values at $2,000 per month. If drivers already have medical coverage through a spouse, they can use the money to pay for their mortgage, rent or car payment, up to the $2,000, he says. The concept has been well-received, Deocharran says. "We put out an ad, and within 24 hours, 60 drivers responded. … It gave us a competitive edge in the market."

However, it does little good to raise pay, boost bonuses and sweeten benefits if fleets don’t communicate these changes effectively to potential candidates and their own drivers. That’s where technology plays an increasingly important role. Whether through social media, email or a customized fleet portal, successful fleets use any means available to cultivate relationships with drivers. "It used to be ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ ” says Roadmaster’s Fisk. “Now, if it’s a ‘no’ now, we’re going to stay in touch with you. It has to be relational, where they’re interacting with you as well."

As carriers deal with the realities of today’s more severe driver shortage, many are looking for ways to be more flexible in their hiring standards while maintaining safe operations, FTR notes in its Trucking Update. Fisk suggests fleets take a more sophisticated approach to hiring. "We constantly assess and reassess how we hire," he says, evaluating each candidate from an individual perspective.

If a driver had a traffic accident at 19 and now is 35, Fisk considers the current level of maturity and possible change in habits "instead of just having a list of nonqualifiers," he says. Such flexibility may require implementing additional programs or other requirements for the new hire to be successful.

Meanwhile, despite fleets’ best efforts to recruit each other’s drivers, many are content to stay put. Amid the flurry of carrier pay announcements, last month Truckers News and Overdrive asked drivers and owner-operators how likely they were to change jobs. Forty-seven percent said they have no plans to jump carriers because they are happy with their current employer. Another 17 percent said changing jobs was "just too much hassle."


 

Fleet Survey Shows Driver Shortage Continues to Impact Equipment Buying Plans
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Deborah Lockridge, May 2, 2018

A quarterly survey of a varied panel of trucking fleets finds continued strong plans to buy more trucks, especially among larger fleets, and among private fleets looking to address capacity and rate issues – but those truck orders are in many cases about other things than adding capacity, because drivers continue to be in short supply.

 
 

The second quarter Fleet Sentiment Report by CK Commercial Vehicle Research reports that its buying index, tracked since 2008, while not at peak, is "rolling along at a nice solid clip with a 117.8 reading." The index tracks both how many fleets are planning purchases of medium- and heavy-duty trucks and trailers, as well as the volume of those planned orders.

In addition, CKCVR’s "How’s Business" rating reflects the positive outlook for carriers. The survey asks, "Considering all the factors that impact your company, on a scale of 1-5 (with being poor and 5 being excellent) in your opinion, what is the overall outlook for your fleet in the next three months?" After setting a record during the January survey, the reading fell a bit in Q2, but still remains at a high 4.29 on a scale of 1-5.

Basically, the same percentage of survey participants that planned to purchase trucks during the first quarter plan to place orders during Q2. So far in 2018, larger fleets are tending to place orders more than the smaller fleets.

Private fleets are definitely active in purchasing new equipment. While they made up 32% of the reporting group, they represented 37% of the fleets that are planning to place orders. Comments from the private fleets mentioned the increasing rates from common carriers as a strong incentive for them to increase their own fleet. The capacity problem plays into that as well, as company brands are impacted (negatively) by any delivery problems.

Some of the other reasons fleets cited for their equipment-buying plans included:

- Newer trucks are more reliable, and more uptime means more productivity and essentially more capacity

- New trucks help recruit and retain drivers

- The new tax law has freed up some capital

- Booming economy and good business environment for fleets

- Locking in build slots in a "hot" order climate

- Concern about getting ahead of rising equipment prices

- Better fuel economy

However, for most of the fleets planning to buy in the survey, those equipment purchase plans for Q2 do not include many units for ‘straight-up’ capacity additions – that is, adding equipment to their population of vehicles. That doesn’t take into account how many fleets are using newer, more productive equipment to add hauling capacity.

Fleets had, up to a point, been adding trailers to increase their capacity (more drop and hook, etc.), CKCVR notes, but "based on what our fleets are reporting – now the majority of fleets are designating most, if not all, of their equipment purchases to replacement."

That's because there aren't enough drivers to put behind the wheel. Fleets in the survey continue to say they would add more capacity if they had more drivers; there’s plenty of freight to haul. The percentage of fleets in the survey who indicate they have a driver shortage has now gone over 70% for the first time. In addition, the fleets that say they have a driver shortage – almost 75% – now need them to fill current seats. Three quarters also indicate they can’t grow because drivers are not available.


 

10 Daily Habits to Increase Your Productivity
Source: https://www.livestrong.com/; by Sarah Stevenson, March 9, 2018

A typical chaotic day may have you ping-ponging from meeting to meeting, from your phone to your computer and back again, leaving you feeling like you accomplished very little. How to manage? It’s all in the routine. For Benjamin Spall, co-founder of My Morning Routine (MyMorningRoutine.com), which publishes inspiring routines from people like best-selling authors and successful entrepreneurs, these daily rituals enable us to nurture many habits at once. "We all have something we want to start doing, and it’s through creating a routine (whether it takes place in the morning, afternoon or evening) that we can more easily make this habit, and many more, a part of our life." Shelby Castile, a licensed therapist, is a firm believer that routines are necessary for a productive, balanced life. "When we put routines in place for ourselves and our families, it brings a sense of security that we all really need," she says. "When we know what to expect -- and know what’s expected of us -- our decisions get better and our behaviors improve." Here are 10 daily habits that will keep you focused and productive.

 
 

1. Have a Consistent Bedtime

While tough to schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day has many benefits. You begin to set your internal clock to get tired at a certain time and also become energized at a certain time. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the current recommended sleep durations should be seven to nine hours for adults 18 to 64 years and seven to eight hours for adults 65 and over. Set up a bedtime and waking time that will sync with your work schedule or life in general. If you go to bed at 10 p.m. each night, you can wake up around 6 a.m., giving you two hours to get ready and get to work if you are an 8-to-5er.

Tweak it according to your own personal schedule so it can work for you.

2. Review Your Goals First Thing in the Morning

If you’re reading this article, you are probably the type of person who already makes to-do lists. You’ve realized that a full agenda is more manageable when it’s recorded instead of swimming around in your head. You might also enjoy the sense of accountability a to-do list gives you, including the feeling of accomplishment when you are able to check off each task. For Sam Thomas Davies, author of "Unhooked: How to Break Bad Habits and Form Good Ones That Stick," a powerful, morning ritual is the best way to get what you want because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Just as important, he says, "I’ve found reading your goals first thing in the morning helps you distinguish the vital few from the trivial many, and makes your highest contribution toward what matters most."

3. Make Being Active a Given

According to researchers in the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, exercising just 20 minutes each day increases the amount of oxygen that rushes to the brain. This boosts brain functions related to memory and processing. It also greatly increases your brain’s ability to create new neural pathways, speeding up your capacity to get things done. Make it a habit to be active each and every day in order to integrate it into your life -- like showering and brushing your teeth. "Habits in motion tend to stay in motion," says Davies. "If we start a habit but don’t complete it, we tend to experience intrusive thoughts until we do." Most people become more productive when certain other activities can go on autopilot; for example, if we thought about breathing all of the time, we’d never get anything done.

4. Do an Efficiency Check-In

Castile says, "When it comes to daily routines, consistently checking in with yourself and reassessing what’s working and what’s not working is essential." If you want to up your productivity, evaluate your most basic daily routines and figure out how to tweak them. Reflect on or journal about the efficacy of each day’s routines until you have a good feel for what you need to streamline. For example: If you prepared your clothes the night before, were you able to accomplish more the next day? If you took a one-hour break at noon, were you able to get more work done in the morning or afternoon? Or do you need to take a later break so you have more morning time to be productive? There is no point in keeping routines that don’t actually help you throughout your day, so decide what is and isn’t working for you.

5. Know If You’re an Early Bird or Night Owl

While night owls are not as productive early in the day, they may be able to accomplish a ton later in the afternoon. Meanwhile, early birds can burn through paperwork bright and early, but tend to slow down as the day draws on. "Doing what works for you doesn’t mean doing what you want, when you want," says Spall (http://benjaminspall.com). "When we figure out when we’re most productive, we’re on the road to improving the quality (and quantity) of our output." Be aware of when you have the most energy and take advantage of that time. If you’re a morning person, you may want to frontload more of your to-do list early in the day so you don’t have as much to do when you’re losing energy.

6. Designate No-Technology Times

New technological advances have offered us an incredible jump when it comes to productivity. However, at times the daily digital revolution can be a huge impediment. Try setting aside specific times throughout the day when you turn your phone on silent and don’t check it. Another strategy to combat tech "time sucks": Decide on periods throughout the day during which you’ll check your emails and respond to them. That way you won’t let them float in throughout the day to pull your attention away from the time-sensitive work in front of you. And rethink your shutdown time at night. Shelby says, "I consistently advise my clients to remove technology from their evening routine altogether. My motto is: ‘Anything after 8 can wait!’ Most people are surprised at how much more fulfilled they feel and how much more they actually get done!"

7. Do NOT Multitask

It turns out we’re all not the champion multitaskers that we thought we were. Research that Stanford University professor Clifford Nass performed found that even high multitaskers who are consuming information and using various types of technology aren’t great at ignoring irrelevancy, which should be an important component in multitasking. "It turns out multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking," he told PBS in a 2009 interview. More evidence has emerged in recent years pointing to the fact that our brains can’t handle the overload of multitasking, especially when it comes to learning something new. To be more efficient, take time to focus on a specific task that you know will require a vast amount of attention. And while you’re at it, don’t put off the big tasks to get the small ones done and "out of the way." That’s not strategy, it’s procrastination.

8. Prepare the Night Before

Ever get up five minutes late and spend the rest of your day catching up? On those days you hit every red light, your clothes are still wet because the dryer went off too early and the coffeemaker breaks. Try preparing for the next day the night before and you may suddenly feel like you are 20 minutes ahead instead. The night before, pack your lunch, chose your clothes, set the coffeemaker on a timer and have all your supplies waiting for you by the door. You will then have time to sit at every red light (even though when you’re on time it seems like you hit green lights all the way)!

9. Start Off Calm

Starting off your day on the wrong foot can wreck the whole day! But starting each day in a calm, peaceful way can even mend waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Castile states, "I often suggest my clients begin their day with a morning meditation or self-affirming exercise." Spend a couple of minutes setting a positive intention for your day, and create a mantra like, "I see the value of each person I come into contact with" or "I choose happiness." Furthermore, Spall suggest that you use "waking up as your cue to get out of bed and start doing some light stretching, followed by some push-ups, before transitioning into your favorite yoga pose. Or you can use waking up as your cue to grab a book from your bedside table and read 10 pages before popping on the kettle and starting breakfast." Start off calm and you can’t go wrong!

10. Take Regular Breaks

In a study published in the Journal of Cognition, subjects were asked to remember numbers in their mind for periods of time. As the clock ticked on, subjects significantly declined in their ability to remember the numbers. However, when the researchers asked the subjects to recall the numbers in shorter increments of time, they were easily able to recall them. Researchers suggest that doing work in smaller bouts of time while integrating rest between tasks will increase a person’s productivity level. There are very large bodies of research that also support taking actual lunch breaks that consist of relaxing, walking in nature and quiet solitary time away from your desk. When you "go go go" without stopping to relax, you deplete your mind’s and body’s ability to be at their best. So do yourself a favor and make it a habit to take little breaks throughout your day, even if it’s just taking a 20-minute walk around your building at work.


 

Crime report: Another CDL fraud scheme, former trooper sentenced in bribery scheme, more
Source: https://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, April 19, 2018

Action in three trucking-related crimes has recently been reported by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General and The Dallas Morning News, including a CDL testing fraud scheme, a reincarnated carrier and a former state trooper sentenced to prison time for accepting bribes.

 
 

Mississippi CDL examiners indicted for issuing fraudulent CDL skills test scores

Two third-party CDL examiners in Mississippi, Benjamin McGriggs and Robert Davis, were indicted on March 6 for making and using false writings and documents.

According to OIG, the pair accepted cash payments from CDL skills test applicants in lieu of administering the test. In exchange for cash, McGriggs and Davis allegedly provided approximately 65 CDL applicants with CDL test score sheets that falsely certified that the drivers successfully completed the skills test when they had actually never taken the test.

S.C. man indicted in reincarnated carrier scheme

On March 27, Cameron Banks was indicted on three counts of falsification of records in federal investigations with intent to impede, obstruct and influence FMCSA’s process of investigation and proper administration.

According to OIG, the indictment alleged that on three separate occasions between 2015 and 2018, Banks accessed FMCSA’s database and completed a Motor Carrier Authority application to avoid out-of-service orders FMCSA had placed on DOT numbers he operated. OIG says on each occasion, Banks didn’t disclose any relationship with other entities licensed by FMCSA within the previous three years.

The indictment also charged him with healthcare fraud and money laundering.

Former Texas trooper gets prison time for accepting bribes for clean inspections

Kevin Gerard Cauley, a former Texas Department of Public Safety sergeant, has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for accepting bribes from a trucking company in exchange for clean inspection reports, according to a report from the Dallas Morning News.

Cauley reportedly pleaded guilty last June to one count of honest services wire fraud.According to the report, Orlinte Cruz, the owner of Dallas-based trucking companies Cruz and Sons Transportation and UGMA Logistics, approached Cauley in July 2014 about conducting safety inspections for the company.

From that point through September 2015, Cauley reported conducting 39 Level 1 inspections on Cruz and Sons trucks, all of which were given a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance inspection decal.

Cruz reportedly paid Cauley at least $4,000 for the clean inspections. Cruz pleaded guilty earlier this year and has yet to be sentenced.


 

Safety Groups Seek End to Roadway Fatalities
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, April 19, 2018

A coalition of safety groups has released an ambitious plan to eliminate roadway deaths by 2050 in response to rising fatalities in recent years that have reversed the progress of earlier decades.

 
 

About 5,000 more people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016 as compared with 2011, according to the National Safety Council.

The report — A Road to Zero: A Vision for Achieving Zero Roadway Deaths by 2050 — spotlights three key initiatives to reduce fatalities. It was released on April 19 by the Road to Zero Coalition. It was authored by the Rand Corporation, a nonpartisan research institution.

The three-prong strategy calls for being more tenacious with tactics that work through proven, evidenced-based strategies; advancing life-saving technologies in vehicles and infrastructure; and, prioritizing safety by adopting a safe systems approach and creating a positive safety culture.

The report is the result of the collaboration of some 650 organizations and the council, which manages the coalition.

In 2010, it was estimated that crashes cost the U.S economy roughly $835 billion, and there were 15,000 crashes per day, notes the report. Moreover, in 2016, nearly 38,000 lives were lost on U.S. roadways, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Tactics for turning the tide as noted in the report, include enforcing and strengthening current traffic safety laws, providing new resources for traffic safety researchers and practitioners, and supporting those who design and build roads and vehicles.

In addition, progress will require continued vehicle safety improvements, specifically using technology. While widespread use of fully automated vehicles is still decades away, the coalition proposes accelerating the benefits of new technologies by creating partnerships between public safety and health groups and industry professionals.

Finally, fostering a safety culture and adopting a safe systems approach is imperative. Many businesses have made great improvements in fatality and injury rates through adopting a safety culture, and a number of cities have adopted a Vision Zero strategy incorporating the safe systems approach that accommodates human error. These ideas need to be shared and spread across the nation, according to the coalition.


 

April 2018 Articles

Driver who saved crash victim named 2018 Goodyear Highway Hero
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com; by Matt Cole, March 23, 2018

Ancaster, Ontario-based Frank Vieira has never been one to shy away from helping people on the road, and Thursday night at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., he was honored as the 35th annual Goodyear Highway Hero for his willingness to stop and help those in need.

 
 

Vieira, a driver for Connell Transport out of Hamilton, Ontario, says he was "put in the right place at the right time" last year when he was driving on a different route from his normal daily routine on a detour and heard a loud crash from the other side of the two-lane country road. He says the accident was too close for him to see in his mirror immediately, so he pulled over to the shoulder and approached the scene where an SUV had run into the back of a parked roll-off truck.

"I immediately pulled over and jumped out of the truck, found clean gloves in my truck in case there was any metal shroud or anything," Vieira says. "I put my left hand on this unfortunate person’s neck because he had been pierced by a broken steering wheel through the right side of his neck. There was a lot of blood, so I put as much pressure on that as I could, and I used my right hand to use my phone…and called 911."

Vieira went on to say around that same time, the driver of the roll-off truck walked back to see what was going on to see if he could offer any assistance but fainted when he saw what was going on.

"When he fainted, now I have my right hand on my phone, my left hand holding onto someone, and I also notice that this fellow’s left leg was now in the oncoming traffic, so I used my right leg to pull his leg closer to me," he adds. "It all seems like it was a half hour, but it all happened in three minutes."

While Vieira says he did not want to have future contact with the accident victim because "I don’t want anybody to feel like they owe me anything," he says he heard from the fire department after the crash that the driver survived the incident.

Vieira says he has no formal training in assisting trauma victims, but in his 31 years on the road, the 48-year-old driver says he has seen it all happen before.

"The only training that I would associate to this is just experience," he says. "I’ve seen a lot, so it’s probably made it easier to jump in without having to hesitate. I gave it no thought. I immediately looked for where is this blood coming from, and I applied as much pressure as I could."

Through his career, Vieira has hauled throughout Canada and the U.S., amassing more than 8 million miles over the years. He now drives a tanker locally around Toronto.

Vieira says he hopes his story "inspires all drivers, especially new drivers, to have more willpower to perform these extraordinary acts."

For receiving the honor, Vieira received a $5,000 prize, a ring and a trophy from Goodyear. The two other finalists, Brian Bucenell and Ryan Moody, also received cash prizes.


 

ELD Mandate: 10 Things You Need to Know as Full Enforcement Hits
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Jack Roberts, March 29, 2018

The long, divisive slog is over. As of April 1, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s electronic logging device mandate goes into full effect, requiring most commercial vehicles to have a compliant electronic logging device in the cab to track the driver’s hours of service.

 
 

There has been resistance to the regulation, especially among drivers and owner-operators, and the ramp up to full implementation has been slow and fractured. There also was some confusion among drivers, fleets, and even enforcement officials about some points of the rule.

So, since the rule went into effect in December, violators have not been subject to being placed out of service or having the violation affect their CSA scores. But starting April 1, any driver operating a commercial vehicle without a compliant ELD or Automatic Onboard Recording Device will be subject to the full weight of the law if caught.

To help make sure you’re ready, we pulled together some of the top things you need to know before Sunday...

1. Most motor carriers and drivers who use logbooks are now required to use ELDs

The ELD rule applies to most motor carriers and drivers current­ly required to maintain records of duty status (RODS) per Part 395, 49 CFR 395.8(a).

The rule allows limited exceptions, however, including:

- Drivers who operate under the short-haul exceptions may contin­ue using timecards; they are not required to keep RODs and will not be required to use ELDs

- Drivers who use paper logs for not more than eight days out of every 30-day period

- Drivers operating a power unit that is part of a driveaway/tow­away shipment

- Drivers who are driving or towing a recreational vehicle that is part of a driveaway/towaway shipment

- Drivers who are operating vehicles with an engine model year old­er than 2000.

In addition, there are some temporary exemptions that have been added since the rule originally went into effect, among them one for livestock haulers through the end of September, as well as one for short-term rental trucks until April 19, 2018. There's also an eight-day exemption from the ELD mandate for rental trucks which runs for five years.

If you're operating under any of these exemptions, make sure the driver understands and that there's documentation in the truck related to the exemption, such as a copy of the exemption, proof that an engine is an older model not subject to the rule, etc.

2. The grace period is over

In late August, FMCSA and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance announced a phased-in approach to the ELD mandate and said they would delay implementing out-of-service criteria related to ELDs until April 1, 2018 – although individual jurisdictions could still choose to issue citations. And just a month before last December's deadline, FMCSA announced violations would not affect CSA scores during this transition period.

3. The hours of service rules have not changed

Some drivers believe that the hours of service rules have changed. They have not. But ELDs are pointing out non-compliance issues that drivers may not have been aware of.

For instance, once a driver comes back on duty after 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time, that driver cannot drive beyond 14 consecutive hours, even if he or she had to spend several hours detained at a shipper or receiver's facility. Under paper logs, many drivers reported shorter detention than they actually experienced.

The sleeper berth rule requires drivers to spend at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate two consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two. Some drivers mistakenly believe that they can take that eight hours in the sleeper berth and the other two hours separately, but they must be taken in one 10-hour block in order for the 14-hour on-duty clock and the 11-hour driving clock to reset.

"The 60- or 70-hour limit will reset after a driver has taken 34 hours of consecutive off-duty status," said James McCarthy, Business Development/Marketing Manager for VDO RoadLog. "This has always been the case and the implementation of the ELD mandate hasn’t affected this rule in any way."

4. If a driver does not have a legal and functional ELD in their cab after April 1, they can be placed out of service

A driver who is required to have an ELD under the above rules can be placed out of service if he or she:

- Is using an unauthorized logging device not registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

- Is unable to produce and transfer data electronically from an ELD to an authorized law enforcement officer, or to produce the data via the display or print it out. A driver with an AOBRD can be placed out of service if unable to display or produce records of duty status

- Indicates a special driving category when not involved in that category (considered a false log)

- Is required to have an ELD and the vehicle is not equipped with one (or an Automatic On-Board Recording Device/AOBRD until Dec. 17, 2019)

5. Penalties for non-compliance with the ELD mandate

Once full enforcement begins on April 1, drivers required to operate with an ELD but found to be lacking a device will be placed out of service. That OOS order will be in effect for 10 hours for truck drivers. At the end of the OOS period, the driver will be allowed to continue to his or her next scheduled stop using paper logs. But the driver should not be dispatched again without an ELD. If he or she heads out again without an ELD, the driver may be placed OOS yet again and the motor carrier will be subject to further enforcement action.

The fine or fines for not having an ELD will likely be the same as a driver could expect if being cited for not possess­ing a paper log pre-ELDs, including monetary penalties and points under CSA’s Fatigue BASIC. Fines and citations for violations of the HOS rules remain the same, and drivers with ELDs or AOBRDs will be fined and cited for violations of the HOS rules revealed by such devices.

For fleets and drivers using AOBRDs, the compliance regime has not changed. Those devices have been in service for sever­al years and all the requirements and obligations of 49 CFR 395.15 will continue to apply.

6. Understand the AOBRD grandfather provision

The grandfather clause in the electronic logging device rule excuses carriers and drivers from complying with the ELD rule so long as they were already using previously compliant automatic onboard recorder devices to track driver hours of service before the ELD rule’s actual Dec. 18, 2017, compliance date.

In just the past few weeks, the FMCSA put out new guidance on AOBRDs widening the exemption. A motor carrier that had installed and required its drivers to use an AOBRD before Dec. 18, 2017, may now install and use a new “ELD-capable device that runs compliant AOBRD software” until Dec. 15, 2019, which is when the AOBRD grandfather clause expires.

FMCSA’s new position does not negate the requirement that any new AOBRD installed must be able to be updated for mandate compliance by Dec. 16, 2019.

There are some key differences between an ELD and an AOBRD. From law enforcement’s viewpoint, it’s the software in the device that matters, not the device itself. Among these differences, a roadside inspector should be able to check a driver’s HOS record on the screen of the device. With some AOBRDs, that might require a file upload. That’s a provision the inspector may not understand. So it is in the driver's best interest to provide as much help as possible to the inspector.

7. How to make sure your ELD is compliant

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration maintains a reg­istry of devices that have been self-certified to meet the ELD specifica­tions. The motor carrier is responsible for checking that their device is registered. This includes checking both the registration and revocation list periodically. The list of registered and revoked ELDs can be found at: https://3pdp.fmcsa.dot.gov/ELD/ELDList.aspx.

If an ELD is removed from the registration list, FMCSA will make efforts to notify the public and affected users. Motor carriers and drivers are encouraged to sign up for ELD Up­dates to receive notifications when an ELD has been listed on the Revocation List.

Because this is essentially a "buyer beware" situation, motor car­riers should also familiarize themselves with the ELD rule and use the FMCSA’s ELD checklist at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/ elds/choosing-electronic-logging-device-checklist.

Note that ELD vendors/manufacturers are not required to notify motor car­riers if a device has been removed from the ELD registration list.

8. Drivers need to have the right ELD-related documents in their vehicle

To help assist the DOT officer during an inspection, all drivers should have these ELD materials on hand:

- An ELD user manual

- An instruction sheet for transferring HOS data

- An instruction sheet for reporting possible ELD malfunctions

- A supply of paper log sheets as backup

9. If your ELD malfunctions...

If an ELD malfunctions, a motor carrier must correct, repair, replace, or service the malfunctioning ELD with­in eight days of discovering the condition or a driver’s notification to the motor carrier, whichever occurs first; and require the driver to maintain paper record of duty status (RODS) until the ELD is back in service.

10. Annotate, annotate, annotate

It's vital that drivers and back-office staff understand and make use of annotating the ELD hours of service record to indicate problems or extenuating circumstances.

When something goes wrong on a paper log, the driver makes a note on the paper log. The ELD has the same capability.

If you have to make an edit, make sure to include an annotation so it's clear what happened. Those notes will be there for you and your company and for enforcement as well.


 

Why won't women drive your trucks?
Source: http://www.fleetowner.com/; by Aaron Marsh, March 20, 2018

Achieving more equal representation of men and women in trucking—as well as attracting younger generations, minorities, and more diversity in the industry—may come down to a single word: support. But there's more going on here.

 
 

Women driving heavy trucks in the United States is by no means unprecedented, nor is it new. Yet in a society where women make up about 51% of the population and an industry that's been crying "driver shortage, driver shortage" for years, only about one out of every 15 over-the-road truck drivers is a woman.

What's the problem?

There are certainly clues. Here's an exercise you can listen for in conversations lately: someone starts talking about their personal experiences or something they like to do, then someone else approvingly hits them back with, "Same," indicating their own similarity in a word.

It's about inclusion and sharing things in common. In Fleet Owner's conversations, that's something fleets have found has been lacking when it comes to women in trucking's ranks. And no one wants to be the oddball out, feeling isolated in their job or at the workplace.

Breaking the mold

A. Duie Pyle, a carrier providing truckload, less-than-truckload and logistics services in the Northeast, has made some strides in this regard. The company didn't set out by trying to bring in more women or diversity to its workforce, per se; the idea was to set up better succession planning and having the right person in each job, and Pyle started taking a different approach about seven years ago.

"Before, it was more of an 'ordained' person. They simply moved up a notch," said Randy Swart, chief operating officer at Pyle, describing the old system's rigidity. To change that, the company would identify and help prepare maybe three employees who could take over if another employee, perhaps a manager they reported to, left—whether it was a planned or unplanned transition.

"This allowed women to compete for jobs that they might not have competed for within our organization before, and be very successful at it," Swart noted. And as the organization indeed started seeing more women and diversity in its workforce, it became easier to add more.

"When it comes time to interview other women or show them that there are career paths within the organization—whether it be drivers or front-line supervisors, managers, directors and so on—that's really our theory as this has progressed," he explained. "If your organization reflects diversity from the top down, you'll be much more successful in attaining and securing different people in your front-line jobs, your driving jobs, your dock worker jobs, your fleet technicians, all those things.

"Because then they can see a career path and promotability," Swart continued. If Pyle were to hire a woman as a new customer service rep, for example, she might see male and female leaders in her department. Or the next level up might be a woman in marketing or a director of quality.

"There is nothing that would trigger in their mind, 'I've been hired into this organization and all it is is a male-dominated company," Swart pointed out.

Pyle has also taken the diversity message to heart in promotional materials used in the company's recruiting and outreach efforts. Women and minorities appear in those, "and it's really an inclusive package," according to Swart.

Along those lines, Garner Trucking, a truckload carrier and warehousing/ logistics provider based in Findlay, OH, is also sure to include women in its messaging. Sherri Garner-Brumbaugh, the company's president and CEO, noted in a roundtable discussion this month hosted by fleet management technology provider Omnitracs that she'd heard feedback from Garner's female truck drivers that women don't appear as truck drivers on billboards.

"Guess what we did?" she said. "We did a billboard of all my women in front of a truck along with myself, and we had that out there for a while and we've used that on our social media. It's just simple things like that—'I don't see myself out there, so it must not be a friendly industry for me.'"

That image issue—combating the thought that trucking and the businesses surrounding it are "a man's world," which has traditionally been the case and presumption—are also a major focus at Women in Trucking (WIT). During Omnitracs' roundtable discussion, WIT President and CEO Ellen Voie talked about the group's efforts to help update that image.

Those begin by reaching out to the next generation of youth. WIT has created a transportation patch for the Girl Scouts, an activity book for kids on the supply chain and trucks' role in that, and a truck driver doll called "Claire" that will be available at TA Petro truck stops and on Amazon.com, for instance.

"We want young girls to look at trucks and have a personal relationship with them," Voie said. The group also has an "image team" that helps spotlight women's role in trucking at media events and with legislators.

Yes, but...

For all these kinds of efforts to address trucking's image and make it more inclusive to women, it's still an uphill battle to attract women to the truck driver role specifically. WIT tracks the number of women working as over-the-road truck drivers, and the current figure is about 6-7% of the total.

Again, look at A. Duie Pyle, where women represent more than 50% of director-level management and the company seeks to foster a diverse workforce. Swart said the number of women driving the company's trucks remains stubbornly below that 6-7% mark, even as the company continues trying to bring on more.

And there's Garner, which is led by a woman and also promotes women as drivers and in other roles. Women work as the company's recruiter and retention manager. There, Garner-Brumbaugh noted in the roundtable discussion, "I have a little over 100 drivers, and I have four female drivers right now"—so that's a simple 4%.

Here's some further insight:

- Women may not want the truck driver job, as it stands. After all, it's hard enough getting men to fill available seats, and the driver shortage is nothing new. Both Swart and Garner-Brumbaugh alluded to the driver position's need for better work-life balance, since drivers can still be away from home for extended periods or keep difficult hours. In 2018, that may be putting off both genders somewhat, and younger workers in general.

- Anti-harassment policies can help, but drivers don't only work at your terminal. There's a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment at Garner Trucking: "This will provide an exit from our employment," Garner-Brumbaugh said. It's also part of the culture at Pyle, where "taking an aggressive stance many years ago on workplace diligence, making sure we had empathy within the workplace, and making sure that we had a harassment-free workplace has been very valuable to us," noted Swart.

"It doesn't matter what gender you are," he added. "That just lets you flourish."

Even if that's the culture at the office or the terminal, guess what—that's not the only environment in which the driver must work. "Sadly, sometimes [sexual harassment] could potentially come from the customer base, too," Garner-Brumbaugh said during the roundtable. "Our drivers face challenges when they're maybe coming into a shipping location or wherever they find themselves on the road."

Maybe that's a shipper or receiver that has one poorly kept restroom women won't want to use. Maybe it's a dimly lit truck stop that would make women feel uncomfortable, perhaps putting them at greater risk of sexual assault. Don't overlook the fact that truck drivers often have to take what they can get for parking—be they male or female—and if you're begging for a decent spot to stop, bit tough to be very choosy.

- Along those lines, women truck drivers don't feel particularly safe. Not surprisingly given the above, WIT interviewed women truck drivers and found they rated their safety an average of 4.4 on a scale of one to 10. "That means we have a lot of work to do to make sure that they feel safe at the loading dock or at the truck stops," Voie said.

- Technology can improve things in many ways. Women may be able to shift a manual transmission just as well as men, but adding automated manual or automatic transmissions to trucks has been cited over and over as a way to help bring women and younger drivers into the fold.

Whether you can drive a stick or not, driving a truck safely requires focus, and having a transmission that does the complicated shifting can allow the driver to focus more of his or her attention on the road. Voie pointed out that that potentially increased safety factor in trucks may help get women to drive your vehicles.

Also in the safety category, both Garner and Pyle noted their addition of collision-avoidance technology in trucks. In addition to its Class 8 power units, Pyle has added smaller Class 5 trucks to its fleet in part to help new drivers test out the role and transition to getting a commercial driver's license. WIT's Voie referenced trucking companies that use personal safety devices—press a button and the device can track your position, and someone contacts the driver to check if things are okay.

- Give some thought to your driver training options. One way to drive women off is to force them into an uncomfortable situation in driver training. Do they have the option to go out on the road with another female?

"We have an industry that wants to pretend that there's no difference in gender when you train," Voie contended. "I find it very difficult when you have a young female who has to go out with a male trainer in the cab of a truck for weeks at a time." Garner Trucking's female driver trainers help women coming on learn the ropes, so to speak, in terms of staying safe on the job and can help ease the new driver transition, Garner-Brumbaugh said.

- In an environment that often sees high rates of driver turnover, hiring women might help. Lauren Domnick, senior director of analytics and modeling at Omnitracs, said the company's data shows that women drivers tend to stick with a company more than men do, and they also typically have fewer preventable accidents.

"If we're looking at recruiting and safety and retention, women seem to be better candidates in that regard, so we'd encourage folks to reach out and bring more women into the organization," Domnick said.

That matches up with Pyle's experience with retention. "Once we've had women come to work and drive for us, we've been quite successful in retaining them," he told Fleet Owner. "That has not been our issue with women drivers; it's finding them."

- Women may respond to an "in" in trucking. WIT's Voie said that in the group's experience, many women truck drivers had some connection to the industry; they didn't necessarily come to it themselves.

"83% of the women in the industry came into trucking because of a family member or a friend," she said. "Typically, that means that a husband, a boyfriend, a dad, a brother has said, 'Hey, why don't you get your CDL and come out on the road with me?'"

- Forget 18 wheels for a minute; consider two. It's just an informal tip from WIT, but if you want to recruit women as truck drivers, try a biker rally.

Polling female drivers on the group's Facebook page, WIT found that nearly 80% of the respondents had a motorcycle license and owned a motorcycle or rode motorcycles. Consider that motorcycles not only are the most dangerous form of transportation, they also place the rider right over the engine or motor, creating a very different motor-machine-driver connection than passenger cars do.

"Those are the women who aren't afraid of engines, and they're not afraid of being in a male-dominated environment," Voie noted.

- Old perceptions die hard. Going back to the image of trucking needing some updating, Voie pointed out that women have been getting a message that either overlooks or excludes them from trucking for many years. That's going to take some time and effort to change.

"Women look at the industry as a very male-dominated industry, and they think that you need strength to drive a truck or mechanical skills or that it's dirty or they have to do a lot of lifting, unloading and things like that," she said. "They often feel they aren't qualified for this job."

Meanwhile, it's not just a perception that women would be getting such a message. Only about 4% of trucking companies are using women in their recruiting ads, Voie noted from a best practices study WIT conducted.

"That's just wrong," she said. "They're not even putting women in the ads or they're using terms that maybe will exclude women."


 

15 Secrets to a Better Work-Life Balance
Source: https://www.livestrong.com/; by Sara Schapmann, March 27, 2018

With every gadget available to keep employees plugged in 24/7, work-life balance can seem like the stuff of fairy tales. Though they may have a hard time achieving it, Americans value a rewarding life outside of the daily grind and are happier in jobs that allow them some freedom. A March 2013 study by management consulting firm Accenture found that work-life balance contributed more to happiness and job satisfaction than factors such as money or titles. You may not be able to make drastic changes in the amount of time you’re on the clock, but small changes may help you feel better about your situation.

 
 

1. Detach From Technology

Turn off your smartphone and power down your laptop or tablet. Unplugging from the constant barrage of messages, distractions and updates can be freeing. An October 2009 study from Harvard University found that when individuals refrained from checking work email and voicemail just one night a week, they felt more positively about their job situation. Participants also reported feeling more effective at work. Determine what part of the day or evening is “safest” to power down and commit to just 30 minutes a day of technology-free time -- job-related or other. Work your way up to an hour or more per day if you like the results.

2. Schedule Downtime

Work can leave you depleted when you constantly feel like you’re giving of yourself all day long and into the evening to meet expectations. Make an effort to give back to yourself to create balance. You may be more likely to stick to some "me time" if you actually put it on your schedule. Whether you use an electronic calendar or do it the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, block out time to decompress every week and stick to it. Even if you can only devote 15 or 20 minutes a day to stepping back from the demands of work, family and social obligations, carving out this time can be refreshing and gratifying.

3. Just Say No

You may not always be able to say no to new projects at work, but you do have control over many of your after-work commitments. Free time is a precious commodity, so take stock of your leisure-time activities and determine what's actually enriching your life -- and what isn't. Perhaps you have a habit of saying yes to social outings that give you little to no pleasure. Or maybe you find yourself volunteering for time-consuming tasks like leading your kids soccer team fundraiser or serving on the condo-association board. When deciding to participate in a non-work-related activity, ask yourself if it's a "must do," a "can wait" or a "can live without" experience.

4. Spread Out Weekend Chores

If you're working long hours during the week, you may find yourself stockpiling chores and errands to tackle on the weekend. Cramming a list of tasks into days off can feel similar to work. If possible, try to squeeze a few chores into the nooks and crannies of your weekdays so that you're able to relax a little on the weekend without feeling like you're punching the clock. An October 2013 study by Stanford researchers found that Americans' emotional well-being increases notably on the weekends. Take advantage of that re-energizing weekend boost by minimizing chores and things that feel like work.

5. Explore Flex Time Options

Flextime gives employees the option to vary starting and departure times as long as they work an agreed-upon number of hours per week. Some companies also allow employees to vary the length of their workday -- putting in longer hours some days and shorter hours on others. “More companies are offering flextime,” says Paige Hall Smith, an associate professor of public-health education and director of the Center for Women’s Health and Wellness at the University of North Carolina. “Flexibility with work hours is especially important for parents who need options in order to balance demands with children.” Ask about your company’s policy on flextime. If it doesn’t have one, ask your supervisor if it’s a possibility.

6. Meditate

You can’t add hours to the day, but you can help make the existing hours count more and feel less stressful. Meditation can be good for the soul and the schedule. A 2012 study from the University of Washington found that meditation helped participants concentrate for longer periods of time, work more productively and experience less job-related stress. Give office meditation a try. If you are more effective during the day, you will get more done, and that will allow you to leave the office sooner and prevent mistakes that cause you to have to redo work.

7. Negotiate Smarter

Instead of just negotiating compensation after you’ve landed a new job or during annual reviews, negotiate for more vacation time, the option to work remotely, flextime and other work-life balance assets. “Also, consider very carefully where you work if you have the choice,” says public health educator Paige Hall Smith. “When interviewing for a job, investigate the company’s policies about working remotely, pregnancy leave and more to see if the company is really family-friendly and committed to work-life balance.” Look at reviews online and do some digging to gather clues about the work culture. You can find out a lot on your own without actually asking these questions in an interview.

8. Outsource Your Chores

Sometimes throwing money at a problem is worth the benefit to your state of mind. Pay for a little help and you’ll knock a few items off your to-do list and open up your schedule to participate in enjoyable activities during downtime. These days you can get just about anything delivered to your door -- including groceries. Housecleaning and landscaping services are abundant and often reasonably priced. There are even organizations that allow you to pay individuals to run your errands. You can set a price for professional errand runners to do everything from picking up dog food and filing your papers to doing your laundry and raking your yard.

9. Make Yourself Invaluable

Make yourself indispensable before you start setting boundaries at your work. “Do such a good job that they can’t imagine living without you,” says Leni Miller, author of “Finding Right Work: Five Steps to a Life You Love.” “Then have really clear, calm, direct lines of communication about what you need to stay healthy and productive.” Offer rational reasons for cutting back on overtime or unplugging from work email after a certain hour. If the culture is such that you feel your job will be in jeopardy for having these types of conversations, it might be time to start searching the job boards for positions that better align with your values.

10. Develop Creative Solutions

Depending on your work culture and particular situation, schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss ways to alleviate burnout and obtain a better work schedule. “It’s best to come up with a solution before you ask your manager to fix the problem,” says author and consultant Leni Miller. For example, team up with a co-worker on a pressing project and swap out which days you stay late. Ask if you can leave a couple of hours early a few days a week to pick up your kids from school or take care of other matters, but agree to be available via phone for emergencies and to work from home two hours in the evening in exchange.

11. Stay Active

Carving out time in your already-busy schedule for exercise may sound like a tall order, but the benefits extend beyond just physical health and are worth the time commitment. A 2013 study by Russell Clayton, an assistant professor of management at Saint Leo University in Florida, found that exercise not only lowers stress, but also helps individuals feel more confident and more equipped to deal with family and work issues. Exercise created an overall feeling of better work-life balance in participants. Hit the gym, run the stairs, ride your bike to work -- the key is to get moving.

12. Rank Your Priorities

Decide what's most important to you outside of work. Rank your outside-of-work activities and values in order of importance. If family makes the top of your list, commit to family dinner every night. If exercise is a de-stressor that you don’t want to live without, put the gym at the top of your non-negotiable list. Determine how you would most like to fill your downtime and commit to these priorities first before you engage in others. If you’re working long hours, you’ll likely need to drop some of your leisure activities and chores from time to time, but if you have a couple of important pursuits that you always fit in, you may feel less cheated of your time.

13. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Ask yourself if you’re putting unnecessary expectations on yourself. If you’re working long hours and still trying to fit in family, friends and “me time,” letting some of the small stuff slide may improve your state of mind. Maybe dusting or the dishes can be postponed for a few days. Perhaps getting the car washed or going through your mail can wait until the weekend. Your job puts enough demands on your energy and time, so try not to compound the problem by putting pressure on yourself at home. Be good to yourself and take a break now and then.

14. Tune Into Yourself

Pay attention to when you feel most productive during the day and when you feel tired or irritated. You can track this by jotting down brief descriptions of how you feel hour by hour for a few days. Knowing when you are at your prime and ready to tackle the most pressing tasks can help you plan your day effectively. Though this approach won’t give you more hours in the day, it will curb some of the stressed-out feelings that come with trying to accomplish a hard task when you have limited energy and concentration. You’ll feel more balanced and make the most of your time.

15. Strive for Work-Life Integration

Ask yourself if your current position is aligned with your core values, skills and talents. The reality is that many jobs place demands on time beyond the standard nine to five. If you're in a career that fulfills you, these demands might not feel so intrusive. Author and consultant Leni Miller likes to use the term "work-life integration" rather than work-life balance. "When people are clear about the parameters of their right work, they are able to integrate the demands of work into their daily lives happily and without resentment," she says. "If their work is right for them, they want to be in it."


 

Driver shortage: It’s a good time to be an owner-operator
Source: https://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Linda Longton, March 23, 2018

Owner-operators are reaping the benefits of a hot freight market, where spot rates jumped more than 20 percent at the end of last year. Owner-operators paid on a percentage of load “can make six figures in this market,” says Todd Amen, president and chief executive officer of ATBS, which provides business consulting services for independent and leased contractors.

 
 

"We think it’s going to be a terrific year for owner-operators," says Gordon Klemp, president and CEO of the National Transportation Institute, which tracks driver pay. "Top drivers are going to realize that a lot of owner-operators are making a lot of money," which could lead some of them to consider buying their own truck, likely through lease-purchase but also potentially outright.

The recent tax overhaul – with its 100 percent depreciation in the first year on new and used trucks and trailers – smooths the way for drivers who can get financing to make the leap into truck ownership without going through a lease-purchase program. Add to that the bargains available on three- to five-year-old used trucks, and it "really changes the complexion of being an owner-operator," Klemp says.

Despite challenges in recent years, the owner-operator population has held steady, Amen says, with at most a 5 percent drop during the last couple of years. Owner-operator revenues have crept back up slowly after dropping more than 20 percent since 2005 because of the Great Recession and downward trends in length of haul and other operational factors. In 2017, ATBS clients averaged $60,182.

Owner-operator income could take a hit when the electronic logging device mandate reaches full implementation on April 1. "It could be a pretty rugged period when people start going out of service," Klemp says. An informal poll by CCJ sister brand Overdrive in January found nearly 26 percent of respondents still had not gotten an ELD.

Owner-operators who used to make money driving 130,000 miles per year can’t do it anymore because of ELDs, Amen says. He sees them responding in one of two ways: They lease on with a fleet and run under its ELD system, or they try to make enough money on the spot market to account for their lost productivity. "Smart fleets are out recruiting some of that ‘hired gun’ (true independent) capacity,” Amen says.

Whenever freight levels are strong and fleets have a hard time finding drivers, they turn to owner-operators to fill the capacity gap. Most large carriers that lease on drivers have maintained the size of their owner-operator fleet, Amen says, but some with "aggressive programs are on a trajectory to grow 10 to 15 percent."

In some cases, carriers have successfully recruited owner-operators who have paid off their lease-purchase truck by offering the chance to make more money on a percentage pay program. "We’ve heard of a few places that have record recruiting classes," Amen says.


 

FMCSA: A Driver Found Lacking Required ELD May Finish Trip
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by TruckingInfo Staff, March 16, 2018

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has advised how the electronic logging device mandate will be enforced beginning April 1, 2018, when the period of "soft enforcement" ends, according to a post by Daren Hansen, senior editor of Transportation Safety for J.J. Keller & Associates.

 
 

Once full enforcement begins on April 1, drivers required to operate with an ELD but found to be lacking a device will be placed out of service (OOS). That OOS order will be in effect for 10 hours for truck drivers.

At the end of the OOS period, the driver will be allowed to continue to his or her next scheduled stop using paper logs. But the driver should not be dispatched again without an ELD.

And if the driver is dispatched again without an ELD, he or she may be placed OOS yet again and "the motor carrier will be subject to further enforcement action," FMCSA said.

Also starting on April 1, any ELD violations recorded on roadside inspection reports will count against the driver’s and the carrier’s scores in FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) system.


 

March 2018 Articles

Uber: Trucking to become more localized, driver jobs should be safe
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com; by CCJ Staff, February 14, 2018

Silicon Valley giant Uber, whose ridesharing platform upended the taxi business a half-decade ago and who more recently has set its sights on self-driving technology and freight-matching systems, said in a recent report that it doesn’t expect truck driving jobs to dissipate should autonomous trucks become prevalent.

 
 

Rather, the company says, it sees a shift in the types of truck driving jobs available. While long haul driving jobs could succumb to the market pressures of self-driving rigs, the company concludes there will be a spike in the number of drivers needed for localized driving jobs. “We would expect to see close to 1 million jobs shift from long haul to local haul,” the company wrote in a blog post published this month. “Plus about 400,000 new truck driving jobs will be needed to keep up with the higher demand” of local freight movement, the company says.

Uber researchers also project that the industry will move away from per-mile pay structures in favor of hourly pay. And don’t expect the bottom to suddenly fall out with any of the changes, Uber says, saying "any of these impacts would happen gradually over time."

Uber’s Feb. 1 report comes amid growing concerns among drivers and regulators about the impact that a sudden uptake of autonomous truck tech would have on the millions of workers employed as truck drivers.

While long-haul operations are better suited for autonomous tech, says Uber, local driving applications such as urban delivery and transfers to and from so-called transfer hubs “will be hard for self-driving trucks to match for a long time.” Such local routes are projected to become more prevalent due to economic trends like e-commerce and urbanization.

These factors will make driving jobs more appealing, says Uber, as they promise more home time and more consistent pay.

In sum, Uber ran nine scenarios of how autonomous tech adoption could change the trucking industry. In all nine, the industry shifted toward more localized hauls and away from long haul operations. "This research doesn’t give us a definitive answer on the future of trucking, but it helps us understand what could happen, using real economic data and insights about the actual products we’re working to build."

"As the trucking landscape evolves with the introduction of self-driving technology, we hope to help drivers gain more control over their daily lives," the company writes. "We don’t know exactly how fast self-driving trucks will become part of the industry, or how much impact they will have in the coming years, but we believe that they will help the industry, and the people who keep it running."


 

Truck Parts Coming to a 3D Printer Near You
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Denise Rondini, February 2018

Daimler Trucks North America recently announced a pilot program to produce plastic parts using 3D printing. “The mission of this program is to embrace new technologies as a way to deliver service to our customers through better parts availability,” said Angela Timmen, aftersales purchasing manager for interior/exterior cab and major components for DTNA.

 
 

The pilot program is aimed at older trucks with hard-to-source parts and parts with long lead times, she explained, offering this scenario: "One hypothetical example might be an older aftermarket part that required significant investments to develop and tool when it was in production, but now only sells a few a year in the aftermarket. If the tool were to break, it might make sense to 3D print the replacement parts instead of repeating the original investments."

Not only is this an economic decision, she said, but it also helps avoid making a fleet wait days or weeks for a replacement part.

The program is focusing on a variety of parts with different characteristics to allow the company to learn as much as possible during the pilot.

There are many who see more far-reaching consequences of 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing. "I see [3D printed parts] as being transformative," said Eric Starks, chairman and CEO of FTR. "I think this will be one of the biggest trends we see in 2018 and into 2019. I believe every supplier in some capacity will have an additive manufacturing program before long."

Both Starks and David Gerrard, managing partner at Cornerstone Growth Advisors, see 3D printing introducing more customization to the trucking industry. Timmen agreed: "In the future, technologies like 3D printing could give us new ways to mass-customize our trucks and provide better service to our customers."

As with any new technology, 3D printing has its challenges. Gerrard enumerated some of them: "How big will the printers be? How fast will they be? How expensive? How versatile on the raw materials one can use to print parts? And maybe the biggest ones are, where will the printer be based and who will own it?"

Additive manufacturing has the potential to change the current supply chain. Gerrard wondered whether contract-manufacturing companies with locations scattered across the country could even take the place of parts distribution centers. "I think the mindset of this technology is thinking about moving from weeks to days to hours [to get parts]," he said. "As long as it takes cost and time out of the supply chain, then it is incredibly beneficial to fleets."

Starks sees ramifications beyond just replacement parts. Depending on the size and scope of additive manufacturing, the way freight gets moved could change. "Let’s say there is a plastic piece of a component that is inexpensive and has traditionally come from offshore and moved through the ports to distribution centers. If parts are produced through additive manufacturing, you will be moving more commodities like plastics and resins and even metal and wood rather than finished goods."

DTNA’s initial foray into 3D printed parts is a good way to test the waters and find out about fleet acceptance. "The industry is probably going to be less accepting of a critical part being made via additive manufacturing at first," Starks said. However, he believes that once these non-critical parts prove their worth and have low failure rates, "then we will move fairly swiftly to using additive manufacturing for other, more critical parts."

While DTNA has only launched a pilot program, Starks believes, "it actually will become a very robust system fairly quickly for the industry."


 

Cross-Border Freight Value Increases for 14th Straight Month
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Truckinginfo Staff, February 27, 2018

The value of freight moving between the U.S. and next door neighbors Canada and Mexico posted its 14th straight year-over-year gain in December, according to new Transportation Department figures.

 
 

The value totaled $93.5 billion as all five major transportation modes carried more freight by value with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners as it posted an overall 7.4% rise.

The value of commodities moving by vessel increased 37.8%, pipeline by 14.2%, truck by 5.4%, air by 4.1%, and rail by 2.8%.

The large percentage increase in the value of goods moving by vessel was due in part to a 11.4% year-over-year crude oil price increase, according to the report, and a 22.2% increase in the tonnage of mineral fuels transported by vessel.

Trucks carried 60.7% of U.S.-NAFTA freight and continued to be the most utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $29 billion of the $50.5 billion of imports, or 57.4%, and $27.8 billion of the $43 billion of exports, or 64.6%.

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 14.5% of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 8.4%; pipeline, 6.5%; and air, 4.1%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 81.7% of the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.

U.S.-Canada Freight Value Jumps Nearly 10%

Comparing December 2016 to December 2017, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows increased by 9.5% to $48.7 billion as the value of freight on all five major modes increased from a year earlier.

The value of freight carried by vessel increased by 61.1% due in part to an increase in the unit value and an 42.8% increase in the tonnage of mineral fuels traded. Pipeline increased by 15.3%, rail by 10.1%, air by 7.2%, and truck by 6.4%.

Trucks carried 55.1% of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 15.3% followed by pipeline, 11.6%; vessel, 5.3%; and air, 4.9%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82% of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows.

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was mineral fuels, of which $5.6 billion, or 61.7%, moved by pipeline and $2.1 billion, or 23% by vessel.

U.S.-Mexico Freight Value Rises More Than 5%

The value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows increased by 5.2% to $44.8 billion in December 2017 compared to a year earlier as the value of freight on three major modes increased.

The value of commodities moved by vessel increased by 28.7%, truck by 4.5%, and pipeline by 0.7%. Rail decreased by 4.9% and air by 0.8%.

Rail declined largely because the value of vehicles and parts it carried in December 2017 dropped 9.8% from December 2016, the department said. Total vehicles and parts freight with Mexico grew however, contributing to increases in truck, vessel and air in December 2017 over the previous year.

Trucks carried 66.8% of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 13.7% followed by vessel, 11.7%; air, 3.2%; and pipeline, 0.9%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 81.4% of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in December 2017 was vehicles and parts, of which $3.7 billion, or 45%, moved by truck, and $3.4 billion, or 41.4%, moved by rail.


 

FMCSA issues guidance to carriers seeking to challenge crashes in DataQs system
Source: https://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Matt Cole, February 8, 2018

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued further guidance to clarify how carriers can dispute certain crashes initially ruled preventable and have them removed from their Compliance, Safety, Accountability scores.

 
 

The agency’s Crash Preventability Demonstration Program, a pilot program that launched in August that allows carriers to send crash review requests through the DataQs system, hasn’t had the smoothest launch, says FMCSA.

In a Federal Register notice published Wednesday, Feb. 7, the agency says some submitters have entered crashes under the standard review program in DataQs rather than the crash preventability program. The notice states carriers who submit crashes with the selection of "Not an FMCSA-reportable crash" will have the request closed without a preventability determination. For the crash preventability program, carriers need to select "Crash could not be prevented," ensure that the crash occurred after June 1, 2017, and select an eligible crash type.

When the program was announced in July, FMCSA said the following crash types are eligible for review during the pilot program:

- When a truck was struck by a driver under the influence or a related offense

- When a truck was struck by a motorist driving in the wrong direction

- When a truck was hit in the rear

- When a truck was hit while legally stopped or parked

- When a pedestrian or car drives in front of a truck in an attempt to commit suicide by truck

- When a truck sustains disabling damage after hitting an animal in the road

- When a crash is caused by an infrastructure failure or falling trees, rocks or other debris

- When a truck is hit by cargo or equipment from another vehicle

In order for a preventability determination to be reversed, carriers are required to submit "compelling evidence that the crash was not preventable," FMCSA says in its Feb. 7 notice. The agency doesn’t require any specific documentation, so it is up to the carrier to submit any evidence relevant to the crash. FMCSA says it can also request additional information on a crash submission, including proof of a valid CDL and medical certificate.

If a crash is determined after review to still have been preventable, carriers can choose to re-open the request if they have additional documentation that could prove non-preventability.

When reviewing requests, FMCSA can make three determinations: "Preventable," "Not preventable" or "Undecided." In the case of an "Undecided" ruling, the agency says the documentation submitted wouldn’t allow for a conclusive decision. A carrier’s SMS rating would include a note that reads, "FMCSA reviewed this crash and could not make a preventability determination based on the evidence provided."

If a preventable crash ruling is overturned to "Not Preventable," law enforcement will be able to see a carriers’ Crash Indicator BASIC percentile both with and without the crash, along with a note indicating FMCSA reviewed the crash and determined it was non-preventable. Crashes deemed to be non-preventable during the pilot program will still appear in the CSA SMS, but won’t count against the carrier. FMCSA says it believes it’s important to display all crashes, regardless of the preventability determination, to provide "the most complete information regarding a motor carrier’s safety performance record."

FMCSA says more than 2,500 requests have been submitted since the pilot program opened on Aug. 1.


 

Map: A state by state look at ELD mandate enforcement
Source: https://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, February 5, 2018

Courtesy of CCJ sister site Overdrive, the graphic above shows how truck enforcers in each state are handling enforcement of the electronic logging device until April 1. Though the U.S. DOT required nearly all truckers who keep records of duty status to switch to an ELD by December 18, there’s somewhat of a soft enforcement period ongoing until April 1, the date established by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance for when out-of-service orders for non-compliance will begin being issued.

 
 

Some states, as the graphic shows, have told enforcers outright to not issue citations or tickets for non-compliance until April 1, while others have left the decision up to the officers themselves.


 

30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge Day 25: Top Tips for Keeping Stress at Bay
Source: https://www.livestrong.com; by Rachel Grice, January 22, 2018

Stress. We all have it, and we all manage it differently. There's good stress and bad stress. In fact, a little bit of stress can actually be a good thing! Some people thrive with a consistent amount of stress in their lives. It can push you to meet a deadline or inspire some in-the-moment creativity.

 
 

However, when stress starts taking over your life, that's never a good thing. So it's important to know what's triggering your stress and what you can do about it. Here's your guide for dealing with stress so that it doesn't derail your healthy lifestyle.

Common Negative Side Effects of Stress

How do you know when stress is a bad thing? (Besides that feeling in your gut that tells you something is wrong.) Here's what to look for:

- Unintended weight gain

- Impaired ability to sleep

- Weakened immune system (getting sick all the time)

- Increased allergy attacks

- Memory loss or increased forgetfulness

- Hair loss

- Slow workout recovery

- Depression and/or anxiety

- creased sexual performance, erectile dysfunction and/or loss of libido

Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Stress

So now that you know you're facing down a wall of stress, what can you do? Here are a few tips to get it under control.

1. Know thyself. Be aware of your stress triggers and be proactive in how you handle them. Try various stress-relieving techniques and take note of which one(s) work best for you. Maybe yoga is too much but deep breathing does the trick.

2. Go work out. Exercise reduces stress hormones, boosts energy and releases endorphins. Even if it's just a walk around the block, you'll get outside, breathe fresh air, clear your head and get your heart rate up.

3. Relax. Consciously controlling the way you react to stress can help minimize it. This could be as simple as stepping away from your computer to look out the window or you can take a meditation break. Or schedule yourself a spa day for a whole lotta zen.

4. Stretch it out. When stress hits, your muscles tense up, so perform some basic stretches to stay loose. You don't have to be a yogi to get the benefits, and dynamic stretches or mobility drills help get your joints and muscles moving.

5. Hydrate. Drinking plenty of water will help your body better handle the effects of stress. And limiting coffee, sodas and other sources of caffeine can help, too.

6. LOL. A good laugh can counteract the effects of stress, so fire up your favorite comedy clips or visit your favorite funny websites for some quick comic relief.

7. Find a friend. Studies have found that people who are more socially connected live longer, happier lives. So call up a buddy and grab lunch or go for a walk on the beach. (Bonus points for hugging! Physical contact is a huge stress reliever.)

8. Journal. When life's stressors seem like too much to take, write it all out. There's catharsis in venting all of your frustrations onto the page. Plus, it might even help you come up with a creative solution.

9. Breathe. You might be holding your breath or breathing irregularly without even realizing it. By focusing on your breath for a few minutes, you take your mind off your stress and flush your body with much-needed oxygen.

10. Eat better. Nosh on foods like red grapefruit, steel-cut oatmeal, avocado and oysters, which all have proven stress-fighting benefits.

Manage your stress — don't let it manage you!


 

February 2018 Articles

Drug testing and trucking
Source: http://www.fleetowner.com/; by Sean Kilcarr, January 24, 2018

The industry is racing towards a crossroads that could potentially sideline more workers as a number of factors begin to converge.

 
 

There is no doubt we’re well past a crisis point when it comes to drug use in this country – especially due to the abuse of prescription opioids (which is having direct highway safety repercussions) and efforts to "decriminalize" marijuana.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), unintentional opioid overdose deaths alone totaled 37,814 in 2016 due to drugs that include prescription opioid pain relievers such as oxycodone, heroin, and illicitly-made fentanyl. That’s out of total U.S. overdose deaths of 64,000 in 2016, which is expected to rise 21% once 2017’s figures are tallied and is even higher than deaths from motor vehicle crashes.

That’s truly a frightening statistical marker.

And though there’s been a long and largely successful push to lessen the stigma of recreational marijuana use, it’s still a drug – like alcohol – that significantly impairs a person’s ability to operate motor vehicles, commercial trucks, and other equipment in a safe manner.

Thus truck drivers – like airline pilots and other transportation workers – can be fired for using it, even though it may be now legal for them to use it where they live.

The real issue, though, is how drug use impacts safety and the bottom line costs of running a business, especially in the freight sector.

Dr. Todd Simo, chief medical officer at HireRight, conducted an interesting webinar this week to look at some of those issues – especially when it comes to the type of drug tests trucking companies can use to screen their workforce.

First, he noted that the "self-reported" use of drugs is rising pretty sharply, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), climbing from 7.3% in 2013 to just under 9% by 2016.

"There’s been a creep up in the percentage in people self-reporting that in the last 30 days they took an illicit drug," he said. "That’s primarily being driven by use of marijuana – and it’s not all that surprising as there seems to be an acceptance of that in today’s society."

He said there are now 28 states with medical marijuana statutes in place, with 11 of them requiring that "some accommodation" needs to be made when possible for workers who claim to need it for medical reasons, though transportation companies don’t need to do that for safety reasons.

Only four states – Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado – have "decriminalized" marijuana, with four others waiting in the wings.

Simo said the issue and that use of marijuana, even under for "medicinal" purposes, is widening and that brings with it safety and costs risks for businesses.

"The original intent of medical marijuana laws was to help terminally ill people at the end stage of life: people with AIDS and terminal cancer," he explained.

"But today over 90% of the diagnoses for medical marijuana prescriptions is for ‘chronic pain,’ not cancer or AIDS. And when the laws first came out, the average age of those users was 50 and above. Now the average age is in the upper 20s," Simo said. "Don’t get me wrong; I am pro-medical marijuana compassionate care. But I have problem when people are using it in their prime working years."

He noted that there are three reasons for that: 1) Chronic marijuana users are five times to likely to file claims for workman’s compensation injuries; 2) They have three times higher medical costs, and; 3) They only work at 67% predicted efficiency – a number driven by absenteeism, which runs "north of 20 times per year" on average.

Thus detecting drug use via a screening process and disqualifying and applicant before they start work saves a company an average of $14,000 per occurrence, Simo said – largely due to avoiding the costs noted in the three factors above.

He added that the Department of Transportation (DOT) began including opioids as part of the drug screening tests required for transportation workers as of January 1 this year and Simo thinks that inclusion will bump up the "hit rate" for drug detection.

"More analysis equals more laboratory "positives" and we think we’ll see a 0.9% increase in positive DOT drug tests," he said. "Right now the positive rate is about 2% of all tests and so that should increase to 2.9%; that’s an over 30% jump. That means more medical reviews and more delays than we are used to seeing from a laboratory testing perspective."

Simo also noted that new forms of drug testing – such as using hair or oral fluids as opposed to just urine tests – are running into some headwinds.

"HHS [the Department of Health and Human Services] has wanted to write a rule for oral fluid testing since 2015 – but’s it is still not able to get it out the door," he explained.

"And hair testing is something HHS does not like. From my discussions with them, the issue is that hair is not a ‘homogenous’ substance: it is different in color, texture, and length. People ‘do something’ to it as well: they wash, curl, and straighten it. So it is not as uniform as oral fluid or urine testing. On top of that, the three laboratories that conduct hair testing all do it a different way."

It doesn’t help that darker hair can actually attract and "hold" more chemicals. For example, Simo noted that higher levels of codeine – which is used in cold medicine – can be deposited in darker hair, which can trigger a lab positive and medical review.

All of this serves as backdrop for a much bigger effort taking place in the trucking industry – the creation of a national "clearinghouse" for drug and alcohol tests.

The final rule – passed in December 2016 – requires motor carriers, medical review officers, third-party administrators, and substance abuse professionals to report information about drivers who:

- Test positive for drugs or alcohol;

- Refuse drug and alcohol testing; and

- Undergo the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process.

Additionally, motor carriers will be required to annually search the clearinghouse for current employees, and during the pre-employment process for prospective employees, to determine whether a driver violated drug or alcohol testing requirements with a different employer that would prohibit them from operating a commercial vehicle.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require employers to conduct pre-employment drug testing and random drug and alcohol testing and motor carriers are prohibited from allowing employees to perform safety-sensitive functions, which include operating a commercial truck, if the employee tests positive on a DOT drug or alcohol test.

In accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a), a driver must grant consent before an employer can request access to that driver’s clearinghouse record and before FMCSA can release the driver’s clearinghouse record to an employer. But after registering with the clearinghouse, a driver can review his or her information at no cost, the agency noted.

But while it is supposed to go "live" in the 2019-2020 timeframe, Simo said the work to build the "clearinghouse" or database hasn’t started yet.

"A third party is to build it but the RFP [request for proposal] has not been released," he said. "FMCSA has also said third parties will be able to tap into database on behalf of motor carriers and present their findings to them. But what that [process] will ultimately look like is still to be determined."

That delay is also putting off what many believe will be an inflection point of change in trucking that could prove bigger than that of the recent imposition of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.

John Larkin – director and head of transportation capital markets research for Stifel Capital Markets – noted late last year that an "emerging theory" is that the trucking drug and alcohol clearinghouse could ultimately have a bigger impact than ELDs, though he expects it to be at least two or more years before it will have an impact.

"We believe that even at fleets known for safe driving operations there will be instances of drivers no longer being able to drive because of past

DUI [driving under the influence] or DWI [driving while intoxicated] infractions; those issues are too widespread to not touch every large fleet, in our estimation," he said in a research brief.

"The drug and alcohol clearinghouse is expected to be implemented starting in early January 2020. But, according to Annette Sandberg, the founder of TransSafe Consulting, very little progress has been made on building a database of offenders," Larkin added. "Therefore, we wonder whether that deadline is ultimately pushed back even though it appears that there is very little appetite to repeal it entirely."

It’s just one more item fleet executives need to keep their eyes upon in the weeks and months ahead.


 

Pirates pitcher suspended 80 games for positive drug test
Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com; by Associated Press, January 27, 2018

Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander Nik Turley has been suspended for 80 games without pay after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

 
 

The commissioner's office said Saturday that Turley tested positive for Ipamorelin. The suspension will start at the beginning of the regular season.

The 28-year-old Turley made his major league debut last year for Minnesota, going 0-2 with an 11.21 earned-run average in 10 appearances. Pittsburgh claimed him off waivers in November.


 

10 Daily Habits to Increase Your Productivity
Source: https://www.livestrong.com/; by Sarah Stevenson, October 11, 2017

A typical chaotic day may have you ping-ponging from meeting to meeting, from your phone to your computer and back again, leaving you feeling like you accomplished very little. How to manage? It’s all in the routine. For Benjamin Spall, co-founder of My Morning Routine (MyMorningRoutine.com), which publishes inspiring routines from people like best-selling authors and successful entrepreneurs, these daily rituals enable us to nurture many habits at once. "We all have something we want to start doing, and it’s through creating a routine (whether it takes place in the morning, afternoon or evening) that we can more easily make this habit, and many more, a part of our life." Shelby Castile, a licensed therapist, is a firm believer that routines are necessary for a productive, balanced life. "When we put routines in place for ourselves and our families, it brings a sense of security that we all really need," she says. "When we know what to expect -- and know what’s expected of us -- our decisions get better and our behaviors improve." Here are 10 daily habits that will keep you focused and productive.

 
 

1. HAVE A CONSISTENT BEDTIME

While tough to schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day has many benefits. You begin to set your internal clock to get tired at a certain time and also become energized at a certain time. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the current recommended sleep durations should be seven to nine hours for adults 18 to 64 years and seven to eight hours for adults 65 and over. Set up a bedtime and waking time that will sync with your work schedule or life in general. If you go to bed at 10 p.m. each night, you can wake up around 6 a.m., giving you two hours to get ready and get to work if you are an 8-to-5er. Tweak it according to your own personal schedule so it can work for you.

2. REVIEW YOUR GOALS FIRST THING IN THE MORNING

If you’re reading this article, you are probably the type of person who already makes to-do lists. You’ve realized that a full agenda is more manageable when it’s recorded instead of swimming around in your head. You might also enjoy the sense of accountability a to-do list gives you, including the feeling of accomplishment when you are able to check off each task. For Sam Thomas Davies, author of "Unhooked: How to Break Bad Habits and Form Good Ones That Stick," a powerful, morning ritual is the best way to get what you want because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Just as important, he says, "I’ve found reading your goals first thing in the morning helps you distinguish the vital few from the trivial many, and makes your highest contribution toward what matters most."

3. MAKE BEING ACTIVE A GIVEN

According to researchers in the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, exercising just 20 minutes each day increases the amount of oxygen that rushes to the brain. This boosts brain functions related to memory and processing. It also greatly increases your brain’s ability to create new neural pathways, speeding up your capacity to get things done. Make it a habit to be active each and every day in order to integrate it into your life -- like showering and brushing your teeth. "Habits in motion tend to stay in motion," says Davies. "If we start a habit but don’t complete it, we tend to experience intrusive thoughts until we do." Most people become more productive when certain other activities can go on autopilot; for example, if we thought about breathing all of the time, we’d never get anything done.

4. DO AN EFFICIENCY CHECK-IN

Castile says, "When it comes to daily routines, consistently checking in with yourself and reassessing what’s working and what’s not working is essential." If you want to up your productivity, evaluate your most basic daily routines and figure out how to tweak them. Reflect on or journal about the efficacy of each day’s routines until you have a good feel for what you need to streamline. For example: If you prepared your clothes the night before, were you able to accomplish more the next day? If you took a one-hour break at noon, were you able to get more work done in the morning or afternoon? Or do you need to take a later break so you have more morning time to be productive? There is no point in keeping routines that don’t actually help you throughout your day, so decide what is and isn’t working for you.

5. KNOW IF YOU’RE AN EARLY BIRD OR NIGHT OWL

While night owls are not as productive early in the day, they may be able to accomplish a ton later in the afternoon. Meanwhile, early birds can burn through paperwork bright and early, but tend to slow down as the day draws on. "Doing what works for you doesn’t mean doing what you want, when you want," says Spall (http://benjaminspall.com). "When we figure out when we’re most productive, we’re on the road to improving the quality (and quantity) of our output." Be aware of when you have the most energy and take advantage of that time. If you’re a morning person, you may want to frontload more of your to-do list early in the day so you don’t have as much to do when you’re losing energy.

6. DESIGNATE NO-TECHNOLOGY TIMES

New technological advances have offered us an incredible jump when it comes to productivity. However, at times the daily digital revolution can be a huge impediment. Try setting aside specific times throughout the day when you turn your phone on silent and don’t check it. Another strategy to combat tech "time sucks": Decide on periods throughout the day during which you’ll check your emails and respond to them. That way you won’t let them float in throughout the day to pull your attention away from the time-sensitive work in front of you. And rethink your shutdown time at night. Shelby says, "I consistently advise my clients to remove technology from their evening routine altogether. My motto is: 'Anything after 8 can wait!' Most people are surprised at how much more fulfilled they feel and how much more they actually get done!"

7. DO NOT MULTITASK

It turns out we’re all not the champion multitaskers that we thought we were. Research that Stanford University professor Clifford Nass performed found that even high multitaskers who are consuming information and using various types of technology aren’t great at ignoring irrelevancy, which should be an important component in multitasking. "It turns out multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking," he told PBS in a 2009 interview. More evidence has emerged in recent years pointing to the fact that our brains can’t handle the overload of multitasking, especially when it comes to learning something new. To be more efficient, take time to focus on a specific task that you know will require a vast amount of attention. And while you’re at it, don’t put off the big tasks to get the small ones done and "out of the way." That’s not strategy, it’s procrastination.

8. PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE

Ever get up five minutes late and spend the rest of your day catching up? On those days you hit every red light, your clothes are still wet because the dryer went off too early and the coffeemaker breaks. Try preparing for the next day the night before and you may suddenly feel like you are 20 minutes ahead instead. The night before, pack your lunch, chose your clothes, set the coffeemaker on a timer and have all your supplies waiting for you by the door. You will then have time to sit at every red light (even though when you’re on time it seems like you hit green lights all the way)!

9. START OFF CALM

Starting off your day on the wrong foot can wreck the whole day! But starting each day in a calm, peaceful way can even mend waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Castile states, "I often suggest my clients begin their day with a morning meditation or self-affirming exercise." Spend a couple of minutes setting a positive intention for your day, and create a mantra like, “I see the value of each person I come into contact with” or “I choose happiness.” Furthermore, Spall suggest that you use "waking up as your cue to get out of bed and start doing some light stretching, followed by some push-ups, before transitioning into your favorite yoga pose. Or you can use waking up as your cue to grab a book from your bedside table and read 10 pages before popping on the kettle and starting breakfast." Start off calm and you can’t go wrong!

10. TAKE REGULAR BREAKS

In a study published in the Journal of Cognition, subjects were asked to remember numbers in their mind for periods of time. As the clock ticked on, subjects significantly declined in their ability to remember the numbers. However, when the researchers asked the subjects to recall the numbers in shorter increments of time, they were easily able to recall them. Researchers suggest that doing work in smaller bouts of time while integrating rest between tasks will increase a person’s productivity level. There are very large bodies of research that also support taking actual lunch breaks that consist of relaxing, walking in nature and quiet solitary time away from your desk. When you "go go go" without stopping to relax, you deplete your mind’s and body’s ability to be at their best. So do yourself a favor and make it a habit to take little breaks throughout your day, even if it’s just taking a 20-minute walk around your building at work.


 

Crime report: CDL testing schemes, inspection bribes, reincarnated carrier, more
Source: https://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, January 18, 2018

Action in five trucking-related crimes has recently been reported by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, including drug testing fraud, CDL testing schemes, a carrier operating without authority and DOT inspection bribes.

 
 

An Ohio-based trucking company was ordered to pay a criminal fine of $525,000, forfeit $215,012.55 and serve three years of probation after not reporting large cash transactions to the IRS and conspiring with at least five other carriers to reincarnate operations to avoid out-of-service orders issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Enson Trading LLC, doing business as Eternal Food Service (EFS) allegedly received $12,173.54 in cash from a customer without filing with the IRS, according to the OIG. Additionally, between June 2010 and July 2014, OIG says EFS conspired to get new carrier registrations and reincarnate.

A Texas fleet owner pleaded guilty on Jan. 2 for paying Texas Department of Public Safety officers for clean inspections. Cruz has yet to be sentenced after his plea.

Orlinte Cruz, owner of 30-truck fleet Cruz and Sons Transportation, allegedly paid a DPS trooper $4,000 in exchange for favorable Level I safety inspections between July 2014 and September 2015. According to OIG, the trooper submitted 39 false truck inspections to the FMCSA database.

A Washington state-based drug tester pleaded guilty to defrauding companies that hired her to administer DOT drug testing programs.

Christine Clark, owner of Premium Drug Screening in Shelton, Wash., was supposed to collet urine specimens from employees and send them to certified labs for testing, according to OIG. Instead, she allegedly fabricated DOT drug test reports to make it look like the urine specimens had been tested.

Between 2009 and 2015, only 94 of the 592 samples collected by Clark were tested by labs. Fleets that contracted with Clark used her fabricated results to meet DOT drug testing requirements.

Donald Freeman, a California DMV employee, and Juan Arroyo Gomez pleaded guilty Dec. 14 to charges related to their roles in a CDL testing scheme.

According to OIG, between July 2016 and May 2017, Freeman allegedly was paid to access and alter DMV database records to fraudulently indicate applicants had passed written CDL exams when they had not. Gomez allegedly paid Freeman for the fraudulent CDLs.

A former Mississippi CDL trainer recently pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft for his role in providing fraudulent paperwork to CDL applicants in exchange for money.

Derrious Emadrick Dillon, of McComb, Miss., was fired from a company that provided CDL training and certification, but continued providing paperwork to CDL applicants after his termination. According to a report from the District Attorney’s office, Dillon obtained a list of authorized CDL instructors and ID numbers in Mississippi. He used these names and ID numbers to create false paperwork stating CDL applicants had passed the written test, when they had never taken the tests.

The report states Dillon received $200-$400 for each set of fraudulent paperwork. Dillon faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


 

It's Not Your Imagination — the Flu Is REALLY Bad This Year
Source: https://www.livestrong.com; by Shannan Rouss, January 22, 2018

Mom’s chicken soup is no match for this year’s flu. Sadly, so far this season, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data say the flu has led to the death of 20 children, a number that’s likely to increase in the coming months. By contrast, there were only three flu-related deaths in children at this same time last year. Although the CDC doesn’t track adult deaths from the flu, they say that the number of hospitalizations from this year’s epidemic is also on the rise. During the first week of January, the cumulative rate of flu-related hospitalizations was 22.7 out of 100,000, twice the amount it was the week before. Compare that to last year, when the hospitalization rate was only 7 per 100,000 for the same time frame.

 
 

What’s more, in the 13 years the CDC has been tracking the flu, the epidemic is the most widespread it’s ever been, Time reported. 'This is the first year we had the entire continental U.S. be the same color on the graph, meaning there’s widespread activity in all of the continental U.S. at this point," said CDC Influenza Division Director Dr. Dan Jernigan.

So why is the flu so rampant? Each year, different strains of the flu circulate. This year, it’s H3N2 that’s making the rounds. As Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told National Geographic, "H3N2 is historically the bad actor among influenzas." He also explained that people tend to have less exposure to H3N2 than other strains, which means they’re less likely to have built up an immunity.

There’s also the issue of the flu vaccine, which experts say is only about 30 percent effective. The reason? The vaccine is grown in chicken eggs, and "when this year’s vaccine was being incubated, the virus mutated while it was growing and became less effective," according to National Geographic.

That said, the CDC still recommends getting vaccinated if you haven’t already, especially considering that flu season can continue until as late as May. Once you get your flu shot, it will take another two weeks for the protective antibodies to kick in. In the meantime, check out these tips for fending off the flu.

And if you do come down with flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, runny nose, body aches, etc.), see your doctor right away about getting a prescription for antiviral medicine. "Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick," the CDC notes on its website.

And if you are already sick, stay away from work! Your co-workers will thank you.


 

January 2018 Articles

Safety Tips for Winter Driving Conditions
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, December 21, 2017

American Trucking Associations (ATA) and America’s Road Team Captains are spreading holiday cheer —along with critical safety tips for traveling through adverse weather conditions.

 
 

"Inclement weather conditions on the road create driving hazards that require extra attention during the winter months," said America’s Road Team Captain Rhonda Hartman, of Old Dominion Freight Lines. "When traffic volumes increase around some of the major travel holidays, it makes driving safely even more difficult. So, as professional truck drivers, we have some tips for you and your family."

ATA’s Our Roads, Our Safety coalition partners at AAA, project more than 107 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles this holiday season, making this year a 3% increase from 2016. High traffic volume can contribute to increased risk of congestion and accidents. Winter weather amplifies the danger of being stranded, broken down or involved in an accident, and not being properly prepared with basic travel needs such as food, blankets, and water can lead to life-threatening scenarios.

"As a truck driver, I am one of the last people out on the road helping Santa with his presents during the holiday season," said America’s Road Team Captain Tim Melody, of ABF Freight Systems Inc. "Having an informed motoring public that understands and adjusts to the hazards of winter driving makes my job easier."

Snow and ice pose unique challenges for drivers. Being acutely aware of the weather conditions and forecast can prevent unexpected circumstances and make for a safer trip. Practicing caution at all times, even when traveling at low speeds on city streets, can prevent property damage and injury.

Impaired driving also puts the general motoring public at risk, including the professionals tasked with delivering holiday gifts, decorations and foods. Arranging safe methods of transportation this holiday season is very important.

"As a truck driver from the chilly state of Minnesota, I have to be prepared to make quick decisions when confronted with snow, ice and other forms of wintery weather, and I count on the people around me to make quick, safe decisions as well," said America’s Road Team Captain Bill Krouse, of YRC Freight. "It’s important to be constantly aware of your surroundings, the weather and the flow of traffic. We all share the road with families, neighbors, friends, and colleagues who are trying to celebrate 2017 and the coming new year, and it is irresponsible to put other people in danger by being neglectful of your duties as a driver."

- Remove ice and snow from your vehicle: Clear your windows and roof of snow to ensure you have maximum visibility and avoid creating a hazard for the vehicle behind you. Do not allow ice and snow to create additional blind spots on your vehicle.

- Slow Down: Chances of a crash nearly triple when driving faster than surrounding traffic. Skidding becomes more likely at increased speeds, especially on icy roads, or if you are driving a sleigh like Santa.

- Buckle Up: A safety belt will not prevent a collision, but it will save a life.

- Do not drive impaired: Driving is a great responsibility and your fellow travelers are relying on safe, attentive drivers to respectfully share the road and make good decisions. Lay off the eggnog if you plan to drive.

- Avoid impaired drivers: Report drunk drivers to 911 – after safely pulling over – and stay on the line to help locate the suspected vehicle. A call can save lives. Erratic breaking, weaving between lanes, straddling the center line or taking excessively wide turns can all be signs of impaired driving.

- Be aware of truck blind spots: Trucks deliver all of your favorite holiday traditions. Pass on the left where the truck’s blind spot is much smaller.

- Keep your eyes on the road: Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents and one of the leading causes of death amongst teenagers. Even just two seconds of distraction time doubles the chances of an accident. Use your cell phone when stopped and never text while driving. Technology gifts are popular during the holiday season, but should not be operated while driving.

- Do not cut in front of large trucks: Remember trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them. Consider this while watching the bowl games: fully loaded tractor-trailers can take the length of a football field plus both end zones to make a complete stop. ATA partnered with AAA, the American Bus Association and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on this recently released video about stopping distances.

- Prepare your vehicle for long distance travel: Before you head out to see your aunts, uncles, and cousins, check your wipers and fluids and have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance before you leave your home can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road.

- Prepare yourself for long distance travel: The vehicle needs maintenance and the driver needs plenty of rest and hydration to function at his or her best. If you feel drowsy, pull over and wait until you are more alert.

- Leave early and avoid risks: Leave early to reduce anxiety about arriving late. Road conditions may change due to inclement weather or traffic congestion.

- Be aware of the vehicle in front of you: Leave extra room between you and the vehicle ahead.


 

14 New Year's Resolutions That Are Bad Ideas
Source: https://www.livestrong.com; by Sara Schapmann, January 2, 2018

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Right around the end of the year (or the beginning of a new year), people create their lists of vows to stop bad habits and start positive ones. Individuals have long embarked on the quest for self-improvement at the beginning of each new year to varying degrees of success. You may have even set some for yourself in years past. From dieting and fitness to relationships and finances, before you pen this year's list of New Year's resolutions, keep reading to learn how to avoid setting yourself up for potential failure and instead set realistic, attainable goals.

 
 

1. FIXATING ON A NUMBER ON THE SCALE

Don’t get caught up in the numbers game. Setting your sights on a do-or-die weight can create problems. Not only do you risk feeling discouraged if you don’t hit your ideal weight as quickly as you’d like, but if you've also started an exercise program, you're likely losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time. "As you are building lean muscle and reducing your overall body fat, you may notice the number on the scale staying static or actually increasing," says Ashley Yandle, fitness expert and owner of Ashley Lane Fitness. Instead of focusing on reaching that magic number, create resolutions that center around inches lost or fitting into a certain (realistic) size of jeans or dress.

2. VAGUE RESOLUTIONS TO "BE BETTER"

Becoming "better" is a resolution that sounds great in theory but can set you up for failure. Betsy Sobiech, personal growth and development expert and founding partner of Tiara International, LLC, warns goal makers to be careful of the "er" trap. "Get healthier. Be better. Work harder. These are potential traps because they can never be accomplished," she says. "You won't know when you have accomplished enough or have reached your milestone." Instead, craft a goal that will clearly demonstrate that this area of life is important. For example, you could replace a resolution like "be a better friend" with "send handmade birthday cards" or "plan a girls' weekend away."

3. RESOLUTIONS TO GET MARRIED

If your partner has been dragging his or her feet about getting married, resolving to give them an ultimatum to ensure that your year includes a walk down the aisle could backfire. Personal growth expert Betsy Sobiech warns that while you might think you're just being clear and strong about your goals when you give an ultimatum, it could do more harm than good. "Ultimatums generally put people on the defensive," she says. "The choices people make under this kind of pressure are typically not in line with the overall best decision." A more productive resolution could be to work with your partner this year to determine if your values and goals are ultimately in line with each other's.

4. RESOLVING TO ELIMINATE CARBS OR FATS

Some of today's popular diet trends instruct you to eliminate carbohydrates or fats from your diet. Fitness expert Ashley Yandle doesn't recommend taking it to this extreme. “We need carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to build a lean and healthy body,” she says. “By eliminating carbohydrates, you can starve your body of energy it needs to function.” Instead of cutting carbs out altogether, incorporate healthy ones like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice and low-sodium rice cakes to fuel your body and build muscle. The same goes with fats. Don't cut fats out of your diet; instead, choose foods with healthy fats like olive oil, avocados and nuts to help you feel satisfied and full.

5. RESOLVING TO GET EVERYTHING ORGANIZED

Sure, this one sounds good on the surface. Organization is a positive attribute, after all. But this goal is vague and vast. Committing to organizing your entire life is pretty ambitious. "Consider the continuum of your life," says Jean Costa-McCutcheon, psychotherapist, life coach and owner of Potentia Counseling and Coaching. "Think about how you might make smaller, more ‘chunked down' changes." Instead of a blanket commitment to organizing all aspects of your life, decide that you'll clean one cabinet at home or one desk drawer at work a week. The trick is to make the goal specific and achievable enough that you don’t get discouraged and give up altogether.

6. RESOLUTIONS TO JOIN A GYM (IF YOU HATE THE GYM)

Some New Year’s goal-setters may think that just belonging to a gym will inspire them to work out constantly, even if they hate the gym. However, Michelle Babb, nutritionist and owner of Eat.Play.Be. warns that a consistent exercise schedule can be difficult enough without trying to drag yourself to the gym if you just don't like being there. "Find some type of physical activity that helps you feel strong and confident in your body," says Babb. "You'll be much more likely to exercise regularly." Recall activities you've enjoyed in the past and focus on those. Go ice skating, bicycling, roller blading, hiking or take a dance or swim class.

7. SETTING AN UNREALISTIC DEADLINE FOR WEIGHT-LOSS GOALS

Date-specific resolutions may seem less vague, but focusing on an unrealistic end date for reaching a perfect weight could put stress and pressure on you and backfire if you don't meet your goal by that day. Instead, consider revising your goal to focus on sustainable behaviors that will help you lose weight and get healthy. Examples of these types of goals are aiming to work out at least three times a week or increasing the number of servings of fruits and vegetables in your diet by three each day. Look at the big picture and cut it down into smaller resolutions that support the end goal. To keep you accountable and to track your progress, start logging your food and exercise using a tool, like LIVESTRONG.COM’s MyPlate app.

8. COMMITTING TO TRAINING GOALS BEYOND YOUR CURRENT ABILITIES

When it comes to setting training goals for yourself, consider your current physical condition, says personal trainer, nutrition coach and owner of MissFIT, Kayla Pevehouse. For example, if you can barely walk a mile, don't resolve to run a marathon. Start small and work your way up to more lofty goals. For the non-runner who wants to start running, Pevehouse recommends a “couch to 5k” program, and then progressing from there. "If you jump right into an intense training program without the proper conditioning beforehand, you are not only setting yourself up for failure on your resolution but also potentially for a major injury," she says.

9. RECYCLING OLD RESOLUTIONS

Perhaps you have a list of unchecked goals from last year. Be cautious about recycling those for this year. Personal growth expert Betsy Sobiech encourages people to ask themselves if it's really going to happen or if you're setting yourself up for failure again. This is even more significant if the goal has made the list for several years in a row. Sobiech says you might want to consider giving yourself a break and focusing on something else instead. "If you really want this to be the year, make sure you have done the internal work on your motivation and mindset to truly go for it," she says.

10. OUTLAWING SPLURGES

It's hard to make the "nice" list all the time. Allow yourself to be "naughty" every so often. Deprivation could set you up for a binge later. Fitness expert Ashley Yandle suggests following an 80/20 rule when it comes to eating healthy. Eat clean 80 percent of the time and permit yourself to have two or three cheat meals a week. Allow yourself to have that glass of wine or cheeseburger here and there, and then get right back on your diet-friendly meal plan. "You need your healthy lifestyle to work with your life," says Yandle. "It doesn't matter how amazing a meal plan and workout regime may be -- if you can't stick with it -- it doesn't do you any good."

11. VOWING TO MEDITATE FOR AN HOUR EVERY DAY

Meditating can be seriously life changing, but it's new to you, committing to it for a generous amount of time every day might not be the best approach. When you commit to a daily goal, it often doesn't take long before the business of life knocks you off track. You miss one day, and you're already behind and may feel that you've failed yourself. "This type of goal often subconsciously reinforces a feeling of disappointment in ourselves and failure to make progress," says personal growth expert Betsy Sobiech. Start by committing to meditate just five minutes a day, a few days a week. Once you've made that a habit, increase the time and frequency.

12. GOING ON A TRENDY CRASH DIET

The grapefruit diet, the raw food diet and any other one-ingredient diets are all unhealthy trends that involve eating an abundance of the same type of food. Not only do you run the risk of getting bored with this approach, but you'll also miss out on a number of nutrients you get from a well-rounded diet. Personal trainer Kayla Pevehouse recommends thinking of food as fuel. Learn to understand the foods and portions that will help you reach your specific health goals. "Resolve to eat a well-balanced, whole-foods-based diet and add color to your meals," says Pevehouse. "Mix it up instead of eating the same things all the time. Avoid processed foods and sugars but don’t avoid specific macronutrients."

13. NEGATIVE RESOLUTIONS

Stop drinking coffee. Don't watch television. Avoid eating desserts. Sometimes it's all in the wording. Positioning your resolution negatively can make it harder to achieve. "It's ineffective to word a resolution negatively," says personal growth expert Betsy Sobiech. "It's a self-punishing way to word our goals." When you word your goals negatively, you're focusing all of your attention and energy on the activity you are trying to avoid, which doesn't provide direction or motivation. Instead, Sobiech recommends crafting positive goals such as, "Be healthy enough to run a 5K," or "Start each day with a glass of water." This focuses your attention on moving forward.

14. RESOLVING TO GET A NEW JOB

Resolutions that are absolute and lack focus won't set you up for success. Obtaining a new job is a great goal, but this goal is out of your hands to some degree. Sure, you can apply and interview all that you want, but it doesn't guarantee you'll be hired. The job market fluctuates as does the timing of hiring surges. Putting pressure on yourself to get a new job -- or else -- with no milestones or plan can be overwhelming. Set more manageable, realistic goals. Jean Costa-McCutcheon, professional psychotherapist and life coach, suggests setting a more attainable goal such as networking with one new person or exploring one new career path each week.


 

With ELD mandate here, FMCSA looks to clarify personal use of trucks
Source: https://www.ccjdigital.com/; by James Jaillet, December 15, 2017

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released a proposal to slightly alter the guidance issued to carriers and drivers involving the use of their truck as a personal vehicle to travel to their home or to restaurants and motels along their route. The guidance, though related to hours of service regs in general and not specifically the use of electronic logging devices, stems from questions surrounding the use of trucks as personal conveyance vehicles that have arisen as the ELD mandate put more focus on the special driving category.

 
 

The agency in the coming days will publish a notice in the Federal Register to announce the proposed changes and field comments for 30 days from industry stakeholders.

The key change to the personal conveyance guidance is the removal of the requirement that trucks be unladen to be used for personal conveyance. FMCSA says the change is mostly meant to allow straight truck drivers the opportunity to use their truck, even if it is laden with work- or load-related materials or tools, for personal use.

The agency appears to envision drivers of tractor-trailer combination vehicles dropping their trailer before using the truck as a personal conveyance vehicle. The proposed update to the guidance does nothing to change that interpretation, only removing the requirement that the vehicle be unladen.

As proposed, the guidance would allow drivers to use their truck for personal conveyance when off duty in "time spent traveling from a driver’s en route lodging," like a motel or truck stop, "to restaurants and entertainment facilities and back to the lodging," according to the agency’s notice. Also included is "commuting from the last location where on-duty activity occurred to the driver’s permanent residence and back to the last on-duty location," as well as driving from trailer-drop lots to a driver’s residence and between work sites and residences.

Personal conveyance under the changed guidance would not cover "movement of a [truck] to enhance operational readiness," such as moving closer to a pick-up or drop-off point, the agency says. Also forbidden from personal conveyance use are (1) driving bobtail or with an empty trailer to a location to pick up another load, (2) driving an unloaded truck to a designated parking area after being unloaded and (3) "repositioning a CMV and or trailer at the direction of the motor carrier."

Overdrive will publish a link to the full notice once published and the corresponding comment portal. FMCSA says it is seeking feedback from industry stakeholders regarding other scenarios in which personal conveyance would be appropriate.

When ELDs are placed into personal conveyance mode, their location functionality changes, tracking the truck only within a 10-mile radius via GPS, rather than the one-mile radius required for on-duty recording.


 

Calif. Utility Equipment Investigated for Connection to Fires
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, December 13, 2017

Southern California Edison (SCE) equipment is under investigation for its connection to recent fires in the state. Six fires began earlier this month as seasonal Santa Ana winds picked up, affecting nearly 264,000 acres across five counties in the region. Although investigations into the fires may last for months, power lines downed by high winds have caused similar brush fires in the past, reports the Los Angeles Times.

 
 

Southern California Edison isn’t the only utility under investigation. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)was investigated earlier this year to determine whether power lines owned by the utility caused the wildfires in Northern California, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. PG&E was asked to preserve any equipment damaged by the flames, including power poles, to determine whether equipment was properly maintained.

It is unknown whether SCE was asked to do the same, but a representative from the Public Utilities Commission told the LA Times that all utilities are required to save some evidence under existing regulations.

According to a press release from the utility, restoration of SCE equipment damaged by one fire is complete, with restoration for two more fires to be completed soon. More than 600 SCE workers have been deployed in the wildfires to repair equipment, set poles, install electrical equipment, and string wire. As of December 11, crews replaced 300 of the more than 500 destroyed power poles.


 

Uber’s criminal background checks aren’t cutting it
Source: http://www.denverpost.com; by The Denver Post Editorial Board, December 8, 2017

Oh, Uber. What have you done?

 
 

Turns out the free-spirited disruptive business model fueling Uber’s success in Colorado and elsewhere comes with a major flaw. Last month state regulators slapped a nearly $9 million fine on the ride-share company after finding that its system for checking drivers for criminal backgrounds leaves a lot to be desired.

Officials with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission found that 63 Uber drivers had issues with their driver’s licenses, and 57 of them had violations that represent a threat to public safety. The PUC asked Uber and ride-share competitor Lyft in August to submit records of all drivers accused, arrested or convicted of crimes that would disqualify them from ride-sharing service, according to The Denver Post’s Tamara Chuang.

Regulators did so after Vail police let them know that an Uber driver in March yanked a passenger from the car and kicked him in the face. There have been other instances of trouble. In July an Uber driver in Denver pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace after rolling his car on the leg of parking attendant at Denver International Airport.

Lyft handed over about 20 records, but none proved problematic. Uber turned in more than 100, stating that the drivers no longer worked for the company. When Uber’s records were crossed-checked against state crime and court databases, officials discovered other violations and found that many of the drivers used aliases.

The review found that a dozen drivers had felony convictions, 17 had major moving violations and three had interlock driver’s licenses — among the penalties for drunken driving.

Yes, even the more regulated taxi companies plying our streets sometimes have drivers who turn out to be bad actors. But Colorado’s ride-share law allows the newcomers to avoid the fingerprint background checks run through the FBI and Colorado Bureau of Investigation that cabbies must submit to. Instead, ride-share companies are allowed to run private background checks.

The companies lobbied hard for the privilege, but it has led to thousands of their drivers being banned from work in other states, after follow-up screening found the private system allowed in bad apples, including 51 registered sex offenders in Massachusetts.

Uber says that the fingerprint method doesn’t always work, arguing that there are gaps between state and federal records. But PUC officials say fingerprint background checks are better at catching drivers who rely on aliases, a claim supported by the findings that led to the $8.9 million fine.

Uber is contesting the fine, which suggests the company would be unwilling to voluntarily change its system.

We like the convenience and affordability that ride-share companies offer and share in the excitement of those who love the service. In the pioneering early days of the ride-share experiment, we understood the argument that riders understood that they were risking a far less regulated option than taxis.

But now that ride-share services are ubiquitous, our guess is many riders assume the drivers are legit.

In the next legislative session, Colorado lawmakers ought to consider revisions to the law they passed in 2014 enabling the service. Better background checks make good sense.


 

December 2017 Articles

FMCSA to Study 'Excessive Commuting' by Truck Drivers
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by David Cullen, November 27, 2017

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking comment on a proposed survey of "excessive commuting" by truck drivers. The agency is defining as excessive any commuting to work that exceeds 150 minutes.

 
 

The survey would focus on the prevalence of such commuting in a commercial motor vehicle; the number and percentage of CMV drivers who commute; the distances they travel and the time zones they cross; the impact of such commuting on safety and fatigue; and existing commuting policies of motor carriers.

In its notice on the survey, published in the Federal Register for Nov. 27, the agency said it is inquiring about trucker commuting practices to fulfill Section 5515 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. That section of the 2015 highway bill requires FMCSA to conduct a study on the safety effects of commutes by motor carrier operators that exceed 150 minutes. The FMCSA administrator is then required to submit a report to Congress on the findings of the study.

Providing some background context, FMCSA also stated that "in the past two decades, as the number of workers has increased and the distance to affordable housing has also increased in most metropolitan areas, commuting times have increased in the United States."

The agency went on to say that long commuting times can adversely affect CMV drivers "in multiple ways," including:

- Compromising off-duty time. "Long commuting times can reduce a driver’s available off-duty time for sleep and personal activities. This can lead to excessive fatigue while on duty, creating safety concerns for both the CMV driver and other drivers on the roads."

- Impacting driver health. "A recent study was conducted that monitored 4,297 adults from 12 metropolitan Texas counties. In this region, 90% of people commute to work. The study found that the drivers who have long commuting times were more likely to have poor cardiovascular health and be less physically fit. This study showed that people who commute long distances to work weigh more, are less physically active, and have higher blood pressure."

Although it is not mentioned in the FMCSA notice on the survey, it is generally understood that the FAST Act provision calling for the survey was written in response to circumstances related to the June 2014 crash of a Walmart truck into a limo van that killed comedian James McNair and seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan.

A subsequent investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the truck driver’s fatigue played a role in the accident. Walmart driver Kevin Roper was on hour 13 of a 14-hour shift, but he had driven for 12 hours from his home in Georgia to Delaware to start his route. Roper was indicted for charges of manslaughter, vehicular homicide and aggravated assault.


 

DOT adds four prevalent opioids to driver drug screening panel
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Matt Cole, November 13, 2017

The U.S. Department of Transportation is amending its drug testing panel to add four commonly abused opioids to meet new Health and Human Services drug testing guidelines.

 
 

A Final Rule was published in the Federal Register Monday, Nov. 13, and the new testing standards will go into effect on Jan. 1.

New drugs that drivers will be tested for include hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone. The drugs are usually taken as pills. According to the CDC, opioid abuse has seen a dramatic increase in recent years.

Additionally, the DOT will remove methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA) from the existing drug testing panel and add methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA).

The rulemaking also clarifies that only urine testing is allowed for DOT drug tests. Point-of-collection urine testing or instant tests are not allowed, as the tests have to be screened and confirmed at HHS labs.

The DOT states in the rulemaking it is aware that the HHS is looking into allowing oral fluid testing and hair testing under its guidelines, but until those methods of testing are added, DOT cannot recognize them. The agency adds that if HHS does add other testing methods to its guidelines, it will follow with its own rulemaking to conform.


 

Crime report: CDL drug testing schemes, CDL fraud, more
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, November 15, 2017

Action in six trucking-related crimes has recently been reported by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General and the Texas Comptroller:

 
 

Two California DMV employees plead guilty in CDL fraud

Lisa Terraciano and Kari Scattaglia, employees of the California DMV, pleaded guilty Nov. 3 for their roles in a conspiracy to sell Class A CDLs without the buyer having to take or pass the required tests.

OIG’s investigation revealed the pair accessed the DMV’s database and altered the records of applicants to fraudulently show they had passed the required written tests, when the applicants had not passed, and in some cases not taken, the tests. Scattaglia was also found to have altered records to show applicants had also passed the driving tests.

The investigation determined that Terraciano caused at least 148 fraudulent CDLs, including permits, to be issued, and Scattaglia caused at least 68 fraudulent CDLs, including permits, to be issued.

California woman pleads guilty in CDL drug testing scheme

The former owner and operator of Advanced Substance Abuse Programs in Redding, Calif., pleaded guilty Oct. 20 to mail fraud and false statements to a government agency for failing to follow the law with random and pre-employment drug testing services to motor carrier drivers.

OIG reports Demetri Dearth collected urine specimens from commercial drivers between March 2009 and February 2010, but did not forward the specimens to certified labs as the law required. Instead, she created false Custody and Control Forms, stating the specimens had been released to FedEx to be sent to a lab. The urine samples never left Dearth’s lab, according to OIG.

She also reportedly falsified reports indicating a medical review officer (MRO) had reviewed the results of urine tests when the tests had never occurred. The false reports named legitimate MROs, provided their addresses and presented forged signatures.

Suspended PA chiropractor pleads guilty to medical exam fraud

Joann Wingate, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., pleaded guilty Nov. 7 to wire fraud and false statements for violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration medical exam and drug and alcohol testing programs.

OIG’s investigation found that Wingate falsified FMCSA-regulated medical examiner’s certificates and drug-testing chain of custody forms, forged documents by using the identity of an unsuspecting licensed physician and falsified other documents by claiming to be a medical review officer. She also allegedly continued to perform FMCSA-regulated medical exams for CDL holders, for payment, after her chiropractic license was suspended in 2013.

Wingate allegedly admitted to unlawfully performing DOT medical exams and submitting false medical examiner’s certificates to state DOTs. She also admitted to contracting with a trucking company to handle its DOT drug and alcohol program requirements in exchange for payment, even though she wasn’t qualified as an MRO.

FMCSA suspends Missouri medical clinic, owner and chiropractor

On Nov. 1, FMCSA suspended David L. Biersmith and his business, Industrial Medical Center (IMC) in Independence, Mo., and chiropractor James Lindsey from doing business with the federal government. The agency is also proposing to debar Biersmith, IMC and Lindsey from doing business with the government for five years.

On April 20, Biersmith pleaded guilty to making false statements and to healthcare fraud related to fraudulent medical exams of commercial truck drivers and veterans. OIG states he did not have a medical license or other medical credentials, but he signed the name of a legitimate chiropractor, without permission, on medical reports for at least 65 truckers.

Florida man convicted of fuel tax fraud, credit card abuse in Texas

Daniel Danger, 51, was sentenced Oct. 11 to 10 years in prison for transporting motor fuel without shipping documents, evading motor fuel tax and tampering with physical evidence, and two years in prison for credit card abuse, following an investigation by the Texas Comptroller’s Criminal Investigation Division. Danger was also fined $10,000.

California man pleads guilty to illegal transportation of fireworks

Ernesto Alvarez Jr., of Long Beach, Calif., pleaded guilty Nov. 2 to illegally transporting hazardous materials. OIG says he transported more than 8,000 pounds of illegal fireworks in a rental truck without hazmat placards.

The case began in June 2016 when federal and local law enforcement conducted a warranted search of a warehouse in which they found large quantities of illegal fireworks in the warehouse and in a rental truck outside. Alvarez reportedly admitted the fireworks were his, and that he was responsible for transporting them into California from Nevada.


 

Highway Deaths Responsible for Rise in Transportation Fatalities
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Truckinginfo Staff, November 22, 2017

The National Transportation Safety Board has released data showing that 2,030 more people died in transportation accidents in 2016 than in 2015, with highway deaths accounting for 95% of all transportation fatalities.

 
 

The data indicate 39,339 people lost their lives in transportation accidents in 2016, compared to the 37,309 who died in 2015. In addition to the increase in highway fatalities, rises were also seen in the marine and railroad sectors, with a slight decrease in aviation fatalities.

U.S. roadway deaths increased from 35,485 in 2015 to 37,461 in 2016. Of that number, fatalities in passenger vehicles increased from 12,761 in 2015 to 13,412 in 2016.

"Unfortunately, we continue to see increases in transportation fatalities," said Robert Sumwalt, NTSB chairman. "We can do more, we must do more, to eliminate the completely preventable accidents that claim so many lives each year. Implementation of the 315 open safety recommendations associated with the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements has the greatest potential to reverse this alarming trend."

Because of the increase in travel around holidays like Thanksgiving, NTSB is reminding drivers to watch out for distracted, drunk, and drowsy drivers, who are often key factors in highway deaths.

There was an increase in deaths from railroad and marine deaths for the year as well, but aviation deaths were down very slightly from 416 in 2015 to 412 in 2016. Most aviation deaths occur in civil aviation accidents. The number of fatal general aviation accidents decreased to 213 in 2016 resulting in the fatal accident rate dropping below 1 fatal accident per 100,000 flight hours for the first time in 50 years. Aviation statistics are tracked and compiled by the NTSB. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides marine statistics, and the U.S. Department of Transportation provides statistics for all other modes.


 

10 Simple Ways to Be Fully Present in Your Life
Source: https://www.livestrong.com/; by Natasha Burton, November 2, 2017

You’ve heard the advice time and time again: Staying present in each moment of your life allows you to cherish your existence more fully. But often, being in the “now” is much easier said than done. Everyone has obligations, to-do lists, worries and annoyances that transport them from the world around them and into the labyrinths of their minds. However, by learning a few simple techniques, you can shake yourself out of your head and back into your life. Here, experts share easy changes you can make today to fully live in the present.

 
 

1. START NOTICING YOUR BREATH.

Structured breathing is a great way to guide yourself back into the current moment, says licensed professional counselor Julianne Schroeder. She suggests adopting what’s called 4 x 4 breathing — a technique used by Navy SEALS — anytime you notice that you're lost in thought, anxious or just feeling emotionally out of sorts.

"Take a deep inhale — as if you were going to blow a balloon — for four seconds followed by a deep exhale through your nose or mouth for four seconds," she says. "Continue this cycle for one minute." Afterward, you should feel a sense of calm, looser muscles and decreased heart rate. With a clearer head, you can more easily focus on what’s right in front of you.

2. INCORPORATE MINI MEDITATIONS INTO YOUR DAY.

While we often associate meditation with quiet rooms, being alone and maybe some chanting, you can actually meditate anywhere and at anytime as a way to feel present. "My favorite presence exercise is simply concentrating on your breath and the rise and fall of your chest," says stress expert Kathy Gruver, author of "Conquer Your Stress."

"On the inhale you think, ‘I am.’ On the exhale you think, ‘at peace.’ If other thoughts intrude, which they often do at first, just dismiss them and return to the mantra." You can use this technique at work, at home, on your commute — anytime you feel yourself floating away from right now.

3. STASH YOUR TECHNOLOGY.

One of the benefits of being present lies in how you can deepen your connections with the people around you. But most of us aren't very good at splitting our attention between people and devices. In fact, we're not actually able to multitask effectively and can only switch our attention from one task to another, says marriage and family therapist Shadeen Francis.

"Every time you check your phone, you are missing moments of connection to those around you," Francis says. "Make a rule for no phones at dinner, or turn off your ringer as you enter a party." The virtual world can wait. Being present requires your full attention.

4. DIFFUSE YOUR THOUGHTS.

The anxiety and stress of what might happen in the future can overcome the present moment, which really gets you trapped in your head. To combat this, Julianne Schroeder, a licensed counselor, suggests trying a technique she calls "thought diffusion," in which you train your mind to stop judging negative thoughts.

"For example, as you are preparing to give an important presentation and find yourself nearly in panic mode, you might say to yourself, ‘Thank you, Anxious Mind. I appreciate you caring about how well I do, but freaking out just isn’t helpful,’" she says. "As you turn your focus back to the present, you may have to repeat this sentiment until your attention is rooted in the now."

5. STRIKE A YOGA POSE.

Yoga is an incredibly mindful practice that helps you get out of your head and into your body. "In addition to cultivating present-moment awareness, continued practice helps to reprogram your body and brain’s physical and emotional response to stress," counselor Julianne Schroeder says.

But you don’t need to commit to an hour-long class to reap the benefits of yoga. Schroeder suggests trying two key grounding poses when you feel the present slipping away: Lie down with your legs positioned up a wall or do a basic sun salutation sequence to instantly change your focus.

6. CALL A SHORT TIME-OUT.

Taking solo time to recharge your batteries is a great way to ground yourself. But not everyone has enough hours in the week to make this happen. However, you can still find peace in the present by pausing before beginning any new task or part of your day, suggests wellness chiropractor Michelle Robin, D.C.

"If you’re rushing to a meeting, pause outside the door and take a breath or two before going in," she says. "Before you start hustling to get dinner on the table after a long day, pause to take a breath and let go of the time before now and be present while you lovingly prepare food for your family." This will bring you back to the present so you can give that activity or person your full attention.

7. SET REMINDERS.

It’s easy to forget to stay present, despite our best efforts. So instead of trying to outsmart your wandering mind, find a way to remind yourself, suggests certified yoga instructor and integrated life coach Madeleine Culbertson.

"Set reminders on your phone. Every hour or so, have a soft chime go off with a personalized reminder to bring you back to the moment," she says. Some questions she uses are: "What is the quality of your breath?" "What makes you smile right now?" "What do you appreciate right now?" Use these or create your own to keep on the path toward living more in the moment.

8. BEGIN TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE.

Setting aside time to give thanks each day helps you remember what’s meaningful and important to you. "Find three things every day that you can be grateful for," says licensed counselor Julianne Schroeder.

"It can be as simple as having a good cup of coffee or having noticed less traffic on the way to work. The act of being grateful not only can shift your awareness to the present, with continued commitment to practicing gratitude it could contribute to improved mental health over time." Soon enough, you’ll be seeking out moments, people and things to be thankful for, encouraging you to soak up every experience.

9. GROUND YOURSELF OUTSIDE.

Being in nature can both invigorate you and make you feel more focused, licensed counselor Julianne Schroeder says. If you don’t already make time to get outside, start incorporating short walking meditations into your day. "Stand solidly on the ground and spend several moments noticing how your body feels. Start with the soles of the feet and work upward, relaxing each body part as you become aware of it," she says.

"Begin to walk slowly, focusing on your surroundings and what you see, hear, smell and feel." As thoughts come up, acknowledge them and then get right back into the present moment. End your walks by sitting on a patch of grass to further ground yourself, Schroeder says. Pay close attention to the sensations of the sun, wind and grass on your feet and skin.

10. WRITE IT DOWN.

The act of writing out your thoughts helps empty your mind, steering you closer toward being in the present. "You can find journals with prompts or free write," licensed counselor Julianne Schroeder says. "Allowing yourself to identify thoughts and feelings as they are in the present can help you clearly see if there are action-based steps you can take to help yourself."

Even if you’re not a writer, giving yourself the freedom to put pen to paper, without judgment, can be a helpful emotional release as well, freeing up your mind to focus on what’s happening in the current moment.


 

Zonar Lists Top 10 Most Dangerous Roads for Truckers
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, November 14, 2017

Fleet management technology provider Zonar has created a graphic of the top 10 most dangerous roads in the U.S. for truck drivers, based on information from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

 
 

Zonar created the graphic ahead of the holiday season when, on average, there are approximately 36% more vehicles on the road. Higher traffic combined with bad weather conditions and shorter daylight, puts truck drivers at a higher risk of an accident during the holiday season, according to Zonar. The company analyzes data from commercial vehicles to provide drivers and managers with information and analysis to better navigate and safely manage cargo and passengers.

"With more people behind the wheel during the holidays, we want to make sure everyone knows which routes require a bit more caution driving through," says Gary Schmidt, vice president, business solutions at Zonar. "Our top priority when designing any product is to ensure that everyone on the road stays safe – whether you’re a truck driver headed cross country or a family on a road trip to Thanksgiving dinner."

According to the Department of Transportation, the top 10 most dangerous roads for truck drivers based on total accident volume between 2013 -2016 are:

Road Contact
I-10 Alabama
I-95 Florida
HWY-75 Idaho
I-40 Arkansas
US-1 Florida
M-20 Michigan
I-80 Border of Nebraska and Colorado
HWY-5 Colorado
I-70 Maryland
SC-35 South Carolina


 

The Scary Way Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Brain
Source: https://www.livestrong.com/; by Shannan Rouss, November 8, 2017

If you’re struggling to stay alert after a sleepless night, blame your brain cells. According to a new study published in the journal Nature Medicine, missing out on sleep doesn’t just leave you sluggish, it can actually slow down the neurons in your brain, making everyday tasks — from commuting to work to responding to email — more challenging.

 
 

"We were fascinated to observe how sleep deprivation dampened brain cell activity," said lead study author Yuval Nir, Ph.D., of Tel Aviv University, in a press release. "Unlike the usual rapid reaction, the neurons responded slowly and fired more weakly, and their transmissions dragged on longer than usual."

But perhaps the greatest risk of sleep deprivation had to do with your brain’s ability to process and respond to visual information. Think of the pedestrian who steps in front of your car while you’re driving. "The very act of seeing the pedestrian slows down in the driver’s overtired brain," said senior study author Itzhak Fried, M.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles. "It takes longer for his brain to register what he’s perceiving."

The study included 12 patients preparing for an epilepsy-related surgery at UCLA. Prior to surgery, the individuals had electrodes implanted in their brains to pinpoint the location of their seizures. (Sleep-deprivation can trigger seizures, so patients were kept awake in the hopes of reducing the amount of time they would need to be in the hospital.) The electrodes recorded the firing of brain cells as patients attempted to complete various cognitive tasks.

In addition to neurons firing more slowly, the researchers also observed slower, "dream-like" brain waves interrupting normal, waking brain processes in the sleep-deprived. "This phenomenon suggests that select regions of the patients’ brains were dozing, causing mental lapses, while the rest of the brain was awake and running as usual," said Fried.

In the end, the researchers say the results have serious implications for how we think about a lack of sleep.

"Severe fatigue exerts a similar influence on the brain to drinking too much," Fried said. "Yet no legal or medical standards exist for identifying overtired drivers on the road the same way we target drunk drivers."


 

November 2017 Articles

Driver Shortage Could Hit All Time High This Year
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Deborah Lockridge, October 22, 2017

ORLANDO – The trucking industry could be short 50,000 drivers by the end of 2017, warned American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello Sunday at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition.

 
 

The driver shortage was a key part of a wide-ranging presentation called "How Do Your Numbers Stack up?"

According to the report, ATA’s first in-depth examination of the driver shortage since 2015, the driver shortage eased in 2016 to roughly 36,500 – down from 2015’s shortfall of 45,000.

"We experienced a 'freight recession,' last year, which eased the pressure on the driver market," Costello said. "Now that freight volumes accelerating again, we should expect to see a significant tightening of the driver market."

In the report, ATA projects the shortage to reach 50,000 by the end of 2017 and if current trends hold the shortage could grow to more than 174,000 by 2026.

Driver turnover at large truckload fleets, which hit an all time high of 130% in 2005, averaged 81% last year with the freight slowdown. But by the second half of this year, it was back up to 90%, Costello noted.

While 50,000 is an all time high for the industry, he said, it feels even worse. "There’s quality vs. quantity. This is where the shortage feels much worse."

Derek Leathers, president and CEO of Werner Enterprises, explained, "The real issue I think we’re all faced with is the quality driver shortage. The ability to find drivers who meet the quality expectations we all have. This summer we crested 100,000 applications for the year. The problem was the hire rate in terms of meeting quality criteria was 2.7%."

Costello detailed the causes of the shortage in the report, including the demographics of the aging driver population, lifestyle issues, regulatory challenges and others; as well as possible solutions.

Over the next 10 years, he said, we need to attract almost 900,000 new people to the industry.

Demographics is a big part of the problem. ATA’s research arm, the American Transportation Research Institute, recently updated its demographic data on drivers and found some 57% of drivers are 45 or older. Only 4.4% are 20-24 years old, noted Rebecca Brewster, president and COO of ATRI.

"These demographics are daunting," Leathers said. "I’m happy to report ours have moved about 10 years to the left, thanks to the focus we’ve put on bringing more young people in."

"While the shortage is a persistent issue in our industry, motor carriers are constantly working to address it," Costello said. "We already see fleets raising pay and offering other incentives to attract drivers. Fleets are also doing more to improve the lifestyle and image of the truck driver, but there are also policy changes like reducing the driver age as part of a graduated licensing system, or easing the transition for returning veterans, that can make getting into this industry easier and therefore help with the shortage."

This led to a discussion of ATRI’s efforts to develop a younger driver assessment tool. The idea is to look at the characteristics of some of the industry’s best drivers and look at things such as personality traits, health, risk tolerance, age, attitudes regarding safety, and cognitive ability, and try to find younger candidates with similar traits.

"As we thread this needle as an industry," Leathers said, "we’re going to have to bend over backwards to address every safety concern and some we probably haven’t thought of."

Brewster noted that a new data point added to ATRI’s industry metrics this year was more granular data on incentives and bonuses. The average bonus safety bonus per driver was $1,499, the average on-time delivery bonus was $1.946, with an average $949 starting bonus and $1,143 retention bonus."

Leathers mused, "Do these reflect what we stand for? In my mind what we ought to be doing is paying the folks in the truck in our fleet today and taking care of them every way we can. Put the money with the person who’s already proven they can do it," rather than large sign on bonuses. "It's nice to see more emphasis on safety, on-time and retention bonuses."


 

California Wildfires: Can Burning Marijuana Fields Get You High?
Source: https://www.livescience.com; by Elizabeth Palermo, August 19, 2015

Recent wildfires in Northern California have consumed tens of thousands of acres in the past several weeks. In a paradoxical twist, some of the farms set ablaze in the recent conflagrations were marijuana farms, which produce plants that are meant to be burned (though not quite like this).

 
 

News reports about the burning pot plants have focused on the effects the ignited plants might have on the state's medical marijuana industry. But what about other side effects caused by the burning plants? Namely, are the burning pot farms going to get anybody high?

"Unfortunately, no. Or fortunately, no, depending on your perspective," said Ryan Vandrey, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. It's very unlikely that nonsmoking Californians will suddenly get the munchies or experience any of the other reported effects of the intoxicating plant, Vandrey told Live Science. [11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

It's not that marijuana smoke can't get you high. It can, according to a study that Vandrey and his colleagues published in May in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The study found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from secondhand pot smoke can build up in a nonsmoker's body, enough so to make him or her feel intoxicated, and in some cases, enough so that he or she would even fail a drug test. (THC is one of the chemicals in marijuana that bonds with cannabinoid receptors in parts of the brain associated with things like pleasure, coordination, memory and time perception. Scientists think THC is likely the chemical behind the "high" people feel when they smoke weed.)

But in order for the THC in secondhand pot smoke to get you high, you'd need to breathe in an awful lot of it, said Vandrey, who noted that this kind of hand-me-down high only occurs when non-pot smokers are stuck in a "hot box" situation (i.e., a room with no windows or any other source of ventilation).

"We evaluated the conditions under which you'd need to be to get intoxicated from secondhand smoke exposure, and it needs to be very extreme," Vandrey told Live Science. In the study, the researchers put 12 participants in a small, Plexiglas chamber and gave half of them joints (marijuana cigarettes) to smoke. Even when a regular air conditioner was set up in the enclosure, enough smoke from the room filtered out so that the nonsmokers stuck in the "hot box" didn't experience a buzz, Vandrey said.

Outside, where there is a constant circulation of air, it's hard to imagine that a person could breathe in enough marijuana smoke to feel the effects of the drug, said Vandrey, who added that a person would have to stand at the edge of a burning field of marijuana and gulp in the smoke for it to have any effect.

And guess what? Standing at the edge of a burning marijuana field, gulping up smoke, is a very, very bad idea, according to Vandrey, as well as the American Lung Association, which recommends that people exposed to wildfire smoke, even from afar, should filter the smoke with a mask and, if possible, stay indoors, away from potentially harmful clouds of soot and ash.


 

5 Tricks to Be Happier and More Productive
Source: http://www.livestrong.com/; by Sarah Stevenson, October 23, 2017

You know it when you’re in it.

 
 

It’s when you’re writing in your journal without writer’s block, getting lost in a stimulating conversation or surfing a wave with no fear. Some refer to it as being "in the zone" or even "disappearing".

There are many ways to define "flow," a term used to describe random indescribable bursts of energy, bouts of euphoria or just being completely engaged in an activity with pointed focus and enjoyment.

We spoke with Dr. Sven Hansen, founder of The Resilience Institute, whose company provides training for executives and professionals to ensure they're performing at their best. According to Hansen, flow can increase productivity up to five times and leaves employees feeling deeply satisfied.

"Flow is a state of excellence where we perform at our best. Our talents and skills meet meaningful challenge," says Hansen. "Forty years of research demonstrates that each one of us can learn how to find flow in our lives."

It may be nearly impossible to live in a constant state of flow, but you can certainly increase the amount of time you spend in a flow state of mind — heightening your overall success. Here are five ways to introduce and increase flow in your everyday life.

1. Focus Your Attention

Emails, texts, the internet, television and friends begging for your attention can knock you right off task. Suddenly, that project that was supposed to take you 20 minutes to complete has taken two hours. One great way to make sure you stay focused and create effortless flow is to shut off all the possible distracters.

According to Dr. Sven, "When you do something, do it with 100-percent focus." When you really want to accomplish something, give yourself a break from the world. Turn off your phone, shut down the computer, walk away from the TV and let people know that you’re busy and you’ll get back to them later: You’ve got a masterpiece to create!

When you create this space for activities, you can achieve that feeling of timelessness, get delightfully lost in the activity and present much more progress than you dreamed possible.

2. Set Clear and Tangible Goals

Part of creating flow in your everyday life requires discipline. Create boundaries around what it is you want to accomplish.

Getting lost in several activities at once can turn into a waste of time and hurt the rest of your day’s to-do list. It would be a shame to eliminate the euphoric gift that flow has to offer just because you failed to set goals you can actually achieve. So if you would like to lose yourself in your work and make a living doing so, set clear and tangible goals.

For example: "I want to educate the world about the value of maintaining a healthy diet." That means that you need a clear agenda on where to focus your attention, giving you the needed structure to stay within the boundaries of your duties. Then you can set aside a specific amount of time to complete each task.

Remember to keep checking in to see that your actions are matching up with your goals. This will keep the work in flow mode.

3. Check in With Yourself

Do you hate your job? With flow you can train your brain to fall in love with it or to push you in a different direction. All you need to do is simply check yourself.

"One sure sign that you are in flow is how you feel," says Hansen. "Flow is the difference between a job you hate and a job you love." Many of us spend almost every day with people we can’t stand, going to jobs we hate and wasting valuable energy that we will never get back. So maybe it’s time we begin to have an inner dialogue with ourselves.

Check in with yourself often, asking, "How does this activity make me feel?" Take notes so you can reference the times you felt energized, happy and inspired as well as the times you felt depleted, drained and frustrated. Your internal compass is an amazing guide for leading you to where you should focus your attention.

4. Create Flow in Everyday Tasks

Dr. Eric Maisel, author of more than 40 books, who specializes in life purpose, mental health and creativity coaching, says to "create flow in your everyday tasks by creating a ceremonial bridge — maybe a deep breath and a smart thought — that reminds you that you want to get quiet, go deep…"

Before each everyday task, if you slow down and simply take a deep breath in and out it can change how you see everything.

The act of cleaning the dishes quickly becomes a moment-by-moment fulfilling task. Make tiny goals like cleaning a dish or completing a spreadsheet, and the process of flow can take over. You are left with sparkling dishes and a deep sense of accomplishment.

5. Use Downtime for Creative Work

Discipline yourself to use your time wisely. The moments that tick away while watching mindless TV or scrolling through Facebook feeds are gone forever. These activities can steal flow from you in the moment and keep you from creating flow in the future.

"We all throw away 15 minutes here and 20 minutes there by checking our email for the millionth time, playing some computer game or surfing the internet," says Maisel. "Don’t scorn those 15 minutes and 20 minutes and just cavalierly throw them away! Instead, create a list of small creative tasks… that can be tackled whenever those 15 or 20 minutes become available!"

Also, instead of numbing out, go deeper into your imagination. Pull out a paintbrush, turn on some music and dance, do something creative — anything that will get your inventive side working — and flow will soon follow.

Life is too short to waste away minutes, weeks and years tripping over your own feet through the monotony of your days. Consciously take hold of how you move (aka flow) through this world so that you live an inspired, meaningful life and leave an inspiring and meaningful legacy.

You will be pleasantly surprised how connecting with your inner flow can transform so much in your life.


 

The Four Best Benefits of Using Pre-Employment Assessments
Source: http://www.selectinternational.com/; by Amber Thomas

There are many advantages to using properly designed and implemented pre-employment assessments, but it can be confusing to figure it all out without an education or extensive experience in using assessments for selection. It is no surprise, then, that many trailblazers who wish to bring assessments to their organizations have a difficult time explaining the value of assessments internally. Here are a few ideas for explaining the value of assessments to your key stakeholders. Properly designed assessments are:

 
 

1) Tied to key competencies required for the job, in a legally defensible way.

At Select, we follow current professional and legal standards when setting up any selection criteria. This includes a job analysis, where we learn more about the education, technical skills and "soft skills" needed to perform the job. We do this through a combination of survey work, focus groups and observation. Afterward, we map all selection criteria to the competencies that were identified in the analysis. This ensures that your content is job related, which is key to both predicting success on the job, and to ensuring legal defensibility.

2) Used to screen out candidates that are likely to display risky behaviors, in a consistent and fair way.

One of the hallmarks of any great selection system is that each step provides utility and value. This means that you’re making meaningful decisions based off of each step. Decisions like – is this person considered an applicant? Will this person be interviewed? Did this person meet our expectations in the interview? Your process should provide clear, job-related and consistent answers to these questions by screening out candidates who do not meet the criteria required.

3) A great way to let your recruiters spend more time with only qualified candidates.

Assessments save your organization time and money by letting your personnel focus their time with candidates that meet the benchmark on competencies needed for success on the job. This is especially important for organizations that have a small recruiting team, or just want to leverage their recruiting talent in other ways. How many resume reviews, phone screens and on-site interviews could be avoided if you knew ahead of time that the candidates weren’t the right fit? A little money spent on an assessment that screens out the wrong candidates translates to hours of time back in your teams’ day.

4) Created with the end in mind.

Some assessments are designed to screen out risky candidates while others are designed to take a "deep dive" into numerous competencies and help you identify the cream of the crop. Just like you wouldn’t use a hammer to fix a watch, you wouldn’t use a screening assessment as the only tool to help select your next VP. The right tool must be carefully selected based on the situation and the desired outcome.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry! You don’t need to have this all figured out right now. Use these four points to help drive the conversation about using employee assessments at your organization. And be sure to ask questions to all potential vendors questions based off of these points.


 

October 2017 Articles

Crime report: Fleet owners indicted for evading shutdown order, former DOT employee convicted of bank fraud, more
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, September 21, 2017

Action in four trucking-related crimes has recently been reported by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General and NJ.com, including bank fraud, bribery, shutdown order evasion and unpaid tolls.

 
 

Utah brothers indicted for scheme to evade out-of-service order

Jay and Garrett Barber were indicted Sept. 6 on charges related to a scheme to evade enforcement of an imminent hazard order issued against their trucking company. The indictment includes 36 counts involving conspiracy, false statements, aggravated identity theft, and mail and wire fraud.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued the order in March 2012 against Reliable Transportation Services Inc., and its owner Jay Barber, based on numerous safety regulation violations. Instead of complying with the order, the brothers allegedly devised a scheme to continue operating their trucking companies.

Former FMCSA employee convicted on bank fraud charges

Darryl Williams, a former FMCSA and Federal Railroad Administration employee, was convicted Aug. 25 on bank fraud charges.

According to the OIG, from Nov. 2010 through Oct. 2016, Williams attempted to obtain money, loans and lines of credit by lying about his employment status, employer, job title, length of employment and salary. To support his applications for lines of credit, he allegedly falsified, forged or manipulated his DOT leave and earnings statements.

OIG says he falsely indicated on the applications that his job title was investigator with DOT.

Virginia DOT supervisors, trucking company owners indicted for bribery scheme

Two VDOT supervisors – Anthony Willie and Kenneth Adams – and four northern Virginia trucking company owners – Rolando Alfonso Pineda Moran, Shaheen Sariri, John Williamson and Elmer Mejia – were indicted on charges of conspiracy and fraud.

The indictment alleges that beginning in 2013, Willie and Adams used their positions as VDOT employees to enrich themselves by negotiating bribe agreements with several owners and operators of trucking and snow-removal companies. From the 2013-2014 snow season to the 2015-2016 snow season, Willie and Adams allegedly received approximately $140,000 in cash bribes from the trucking companies.

Trucking company owner charged with toll evasion

A New Jersey trucking company owner, Edwin Galvez, was pulled over earlier this month on the George Washington Bridge after police discovered he owed $11,500 in unpaid tolls, according to a NJ.com report.

The report states Galvez drove his truck through an E-Z Pass lane without paying, and a check of his plates showed he owed for the tolls and had 99 violations. Galvez, the owner of LaCieba Trucking, was charged with theft of services and toll evasion, according to the report.


 

Skipping background checks could be costly
Source: http://www.autonews.com/; by Jamie LaReau, September 20, 2017

During the decade Mo Zahabi spent working at car dealerships, he was continually shocked by the lack of due diligence in hiring.

 
 

"At the last dealership group I worked for, there was somebody who'd been there for 12 years when we found out he'd been in prison at one point," says Zahabi, director of product consulting for VinSolutions, a customer relations management software developer in Mission, Kan. "He was one of the best salespeople I'd worked with, so he really was reformed, but it blows my mind so few dealers do background checks."

Conducting criminal background checks on potential hires is a best practice, yet many dealers skip them, and that's a problem, insurance experts and consultants say. The biggest payouts insurers make to dealers are for losses from misappropriation of cash, parts shortages, and finance and insurance scams, all of which could be mitigated by hiring people with proven clean records, the experts say. The less the risk of fraud at a dealership, the less the dealer pays for insurance. So if it's permissible to run a criminal background check, do it, they say.

"You do not want people on the payroll who have a propensity to have criminal behavior at work," says Adam Robinson, CEO of consultancy Hireology in Chicago. "Criminal background checks are not a place where you want to save $20."

Indeed, in a 2016 report on occupational fraud — defined as fraud committed by a person against the organization for which he or she works — the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners said the median loss for all cases compiled was $150,000, with 23 percent of cases causing losses of $1 million or more.

That's one reason dealer Aaron Zeigler, president of Zeigler Auto Group in Kalamazoo, Mich., spares no expense when it comes to doing criminal background checks and drug tests on all hires at the group's 23 stores. He started the policy in 2010.

"If anybody's had a felony on the record, I'm the only one who can override it to hire them," Zeigler said. "It's amazing the stuff the background checks come up with."

In fact, on just the second criminal background check Zeigler's group performed, it found the applicant's resume was full of lies. "He'd actually been in prison for the past 17 years for murder," Zeigler said.

For Zeigler to hire a person with a felony conviction, he said, the crime would have to be 15 to 20 years old and the person would have to show he or she is reformed. He said it's "pretty rare" for him to hire someone with a criminal record, especially in the F&I department, where money is handled.

Price of omission

Insurance underwriter Risk Theory, of Dallas, asks its dealer clients if they do employee background checks when it's determining their insurance coverage and rates. A background check could include a federal criminal check, a local county criminal check or a drug screening, said Bob Tschippert, senior vice president of Risk Theory. Of the nearly 1,000 dealerships that applied with Risk Theory last year, about 86 percent answered yes to the question, he said.

Tschippert said he is surprised it's not 100 percent given that dealers who don't do background checks pay more for insurance. He declined to say how much more, but added: "An insurance company is there to make a profit. If the loss ratio is there where they can't make a profit, they can either cancel the account or price it to where they can make a profit."

It costs about $20 to $40 to do a federal and county criminal background check on someone, Tschippert said. Yet not doing one can be much more costly. If a dealer suffers high employee turnover from bad hires, it costs thousands to recruit and train new hires, he said.

On top of that, Tschippert said, if an employee steals expensive parts or embezzles money, a forensic accountant could charge the dealer $200 an hour or more to comb through the records, sometimes going back several years, to track the losses.

Dealers also can't presume a veteran employee is a trustworthy employee, experts warn.

Victimized

One dealer client told Tschippert that buying "employee dishonesty coverage" and doing background checks were not necessary because his employees were like family. That dealer later learned a longtime controller had stolen $125,000 from him, Tschippert said.

In 2012, dealer Danny McKenna discovered two of his veteran employees at McKenna Automotive Group in Norwalk, Calif., were in collusion and had stolen about $600,000 from him over several years. On top of that loss, it cost McKenna close to $1 million to pay for accountants, investigators, lawyers, bank fees, back taxes and reimbursements to employees who should have earned commissions off the money stolen, he says. To avoid prosecution, the former employee and the co-conspirator agreed to repay about $300,000, McKenna said.

Then there was the case of eight former employees of Serra Nissan in Birmingham, Ala., who pleaded guilty to felony charges including conspiracy to fraudulently boost loan approvals and car sales in 2015.

F&I consultant Becky Chernek urges her dealer clients to thoroughly vet all potential hires and employees with background checks, reference checks, behavioral assessment tests and drug testing.

"If they don't, they're going to have constant turnover, which is going to cost them in deals that aren't funded properly," said Chernek, president of Chernek Consulting in Atlanta. "I've seen F&I people steal money from the dealer in down payments and other ways, or capping a deal at a certain amount showing a certain profit was generated that really wasn't or blatantly taking the down payment from customers."

Why not vet?

So given the financial risks, why don't all dealers vet?

Hireology's Robinson said some dealers view it as an unnecessary expense until it proves worthwhile. For example, one of his clients, a large dealership group, resisted Hireology's push to do criminal background checks for precisely that reason, he said. But Robinson insisted the group pilot it at one store. The result changed minds.

"The first hire they were about to make under this pilot was a registered sex offender convicted of child pornography distribution and indecent exposure," Robinson said. "Here's a dealership with a day care on-site. They were quickly convinced that criminal background checks were a good policy."

In many cases, dealers don't do checks because they have a high turnover rate and don't want the hassle of running frequent screenings, Tschippert said. "But it's a best practice, and you're protecting your reputation."

Many dealers still have an "old-school mindset," said VinSolutions' Zahabi. "They are very lazy in the hiring process" and don't have a vetting protocol in place, he said. Plus, many don't have a human resources department to handle a process. Still, he said, the justification for criminal background checks is there.

"I don't want somebody with a criminal background in a car taking my kids for a test drive," Zahabi said. "Likewise, if someone committed an act that was fraudulent, would you want them working in your dealership?"


 

Why Going to Work Hungover May Be a Complete Waste of Time
Source: http://www.livestrong.com/; by LEAH GROTH, July 18, 2017

There are few things more miserable than waking up after a night of heavy drinking and realizing that instead of just sleeping off your hangover, you’ve got to actually get up and go to work.

 
 

Most people take a shower, suck it up and brave the world with a gigantic coffee in hand because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Well, not necessarily!

Some medical experts, like this psychologist writing for The Conversation (an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community), believe that staying home and nursing that hangover is not only better for you, it’s better for the your entire office.

In fact, a startling 83 percent of employees admit that being hungover at work impacts their performance; a third claim they "drift off" and are unable to work at their usual pace; and just less than 30 percent suffer from headaches and are unable to concentrate. A study from Norway also found that being hungover can contribute to increased conflicts with other employees and a decrease in job completion.

And it’s no wonder: A hangover is no joke when you consider what it does to your body and your mind. Alcohol is seriously dehydrating, which is one of the main reasons you feel so crappy the day after a booze binge. Vomiting, headaches, dizziness, nausea, lack of energy and high blood pressure are just a few of the physical ways the body reacts. But there are other, lesser-known factors that contribute to the suckiness of a hangover.

For instance, the reason you feel like throwing up is because your intestines and stomach are majorly inflamed, and that sweating is likely due to the fact that alcohol impacts your sleep and also your metabolism. There are also psychological implications, such as increased anxiety, depression and irritability. Not fun at all.

And then there’s the issue of drunk driving. Depending on how much alcohol you consumed the night before and whether your drinking continued into the next day, the physical act of getting to work can be tricky. Driving while intoxicated obviously isn’t safe or legal, and if you get arrested or into an accident (and then arrested) there will be serious repercussions. Even if the alcohol isn’t traceable in your blood, scientific data maintains that hangovers "significantly" impair driving. So do not take that chance.

When you stop and consider that you’re not functioning at 100 percent, you’re causing conflicts with your workmates and you’re possibly putting your and other’s lives at risk, it seems pretty obvious that going to work with a bad hangover is a complete waste of time.

Avoid this situation completely by simply not getting too drunk on a work night — but if you must, be smart about it. Drink plenty of water in between alcoholic drinks, and make sure to eat something so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallies the monetary damage of hangovers on the United States workforce at a whopping $90 billion per year, which includes both the people who fail to show up after a night of drinking and those who simply cannot function.

So if sobriety is simply unavoidable, it’s up to you to use your discretion and determine whether suiting up and showing up will be more detrimental to your well-being (and everyone else’s) than just staying in bed and working on lightening the load in your Netflix queue.

What Do YOU Think?

Do you ever go to work with a hangover? Have you noticed that it impacts your productivity? Do you think it’s OK to call in sick with a hangover?


 

Tread carefully when screening potential hires, experts say
Source: http://www.newsday.com/; by Jamie Herzlich, September 11, 2017

Many employers use background screening to vet prospective employees.

 
 

In fact, 89 percent of companies conduct employment background checks, and 80 percent of the time these checks uncover issues and information they otherwise wouldn’t have found, according to a recent report on background screening trends and best practices by Sterling Talent Solutions.

Still, background screening laws can be complex, which is why 25 percent of survey respondents cited ensuring they are complying with ever-changing screening laws as their second biggest screening challenge.

Making it even more tricky is the fact that laws vary depending on where you are hiring, says Clare Hart, CEO of Manhattan-based Sterling Talent, a provider of employee background screening services.

This means "employers need to understand the compliance requirements at the federal, state and sometimes local level," she says.

For example, New York City employers are restricted by law from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until after a conditional offer has been made. But that is not the case on Long Island, says David Mahoney, a partner and member of the labor and employment law group of Jericho-based SilvermanAcampora LLP.

Still, legislation like the law in New York City is gaining momentum nationally, which is why Mahoney doesn’t recommend that employers even on Long Island ask about criminal convictions before a conditional offer of employment is made.

These laws are in place for a reason, says Catherine Aldrich, vice president of operations at HireRight, an Irvine, California, employment screening provider. They’re designed to ensure that a candidate is not eliminated from the hiring process just because he or she has a criminal background, which may have no bearing on the job, she says.

"Any employer who is looking to use a criminal conviction as the reason it doesn’t hire a job applicant must be prepared to defend that decision and explain why a criminal conviction should disqualify the applicant from performing that job," says Mahoney.

Even outside of New York City, the New York Correction Law, which applies to Long Island, generally bars employers from posting job solicitations that either require applicants to have no criminal history or a clean background, he says.

So you have to tread carefully, and it seems employers are.

This year only 48 percent of organizations reported asking candidates to disclose criminal records early in the application process, when just two years ago that number was 76 percent, says Hart.

As a general recommendation, employers are advised to review the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Federal Trade Commission guidance on background checks; find it at nwsdy.li/checks.

One key requirement to be cognizant of is that employers must obtain a signed authorization form from the candidate prior to ordering a background check, says Aldrich.

"We’ve seen employers sued for non-compliance for not giving the right forms," she says.

All employees have the right to be given the results of their background check as well, she says, noting there is a specific process an employer must follow if a background check results in not hiring the candidate.

For one, an employer must provide the applicant notice of the adverse action (ie. the decision to not hire the person) and other information that allows the applicant to see the basis of that decision, says Keith Gutstein, a partner at the Woodbury law firm of Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck.

The applicant also has the right to contact the agency that did the report, and the employer must provide the name and phone number of the agency to the applicant, he says. The applicant then has the right to dispute the agency’s finding with the agency, he says.

Be careful not to deny employment based solely on a criminal conviction, he says. The New York Correction Law requires a further analysis to be done before making an adverse employment decision, says Gutstein.

"You have to figure out, Would hiring this applicant pose an unreasonable risk to property or people?" he says. "Does the conviction bear a direct relationship to the job?"


 

Indicators: Driver turnover rate swelled in second quarter
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by James Jaillet, September 18, 2017

CCJ's Indicators rounds up the latest reports on trucking business indicators on rates, freight, equipment, the economy and more.

 
 

The driver turnover rate at large truckload fleets jumped 16 percentage points to 90 percent in the second quarter of 2017, according to the American Trucking Associations' quarterly report. The turnover rate at small fleets, those with less than $30 million in annual revenue, also leapt, climbing 19 points to 85 percent.

"After a period of relatively low turnover, it appears the driver market is tightening again, which coupled with increased demand for freight movement, could rapidly exacerbate the driver shortage," says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.

"We predicted that last year’s period of relatively low and stable turnover could be short-lived if the freight economy recovered from 2016’s freight recession," he added. "It appears those predictions were correct and we may be seeing the beginnings of a significant tightening of the driver market and acceleration of the driver shortage."


 

September 2017 Articles

To get hiring right, startups are expanding background checks of potential staff
Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/; by Saumya Bhattacharya, August 8, 2017

NEW DELHI | Mumbai: Startups are doing more background checks than before on their potential employees, as they are faced with the pressure to hire right.

 
 

As much as 87% of discrepancies found during a recent survey by background screening solutions firm First Advantage were at the level of senior management. Of these candidates, 42.3% were in the 22-30 age group, indicating that a significant chunk of them belonged to the startup ecosystem.

"We see more startups seeking background checks. Wrong hiring can sully the image of the startups, and cash-strapped startups can’t afford to hire the wrong person," First Advantage managing director Purushotam Savlani said.

Employees can easily go from being assets to liabilities, and pose a risk to the credibility established by the startup, especially those in the financial technology sector, he said. Most of the background checks that the startups want to do are in skills, leadership styles, credentials and possible cases of sexual harassment against the potential employee.

Paytm has engaged a professional agency to validate the past employer credentials, educational qualification and criminal antecedents for all new employees. "Any reported noncompliance in background verification ensures strict action against the candidate, leading to revocation of the offer or termination of employment. Candidates are made aware of this procedure as a part of the selection experience," said Paytm associate vice president Manav Jain.

Customer-facing roles, in particular, are a key focus area when it comes to background checks during the hiring process. "These are the folks who are actually delivering to people’s houses, so safety is a key issue," said TN Hari, HR head at online grocery player BigBasket.

"We have two agencies to do background checks on these individuals for us," he added. For senior management, informal reference checks are conducted to see where the potential hire stands on issues such as integrity, taking ownership, overall attitude, etc., said Hari. At online furniture and home décor brand Urban Ladder, the company religiously does three things when hiring employees and senior management: mandatory reference checks through internal or external networks, a legal verification for customer-facing employees and putting them through a thorough training and induction process. "Background checks and verifications are essentially fencing mechanisms for an organisation," co-founder Rajiv Srivatsa said. One of the reasons startups are seeking more background checks is that in such early-stage companies, there are fewer people overseeing payroll, checks and vendor lists, making it easier for an insider to siphon off money and get away with it. "Running thorough background checks and reference checks help startups protect themselves from these types of bottom feeders, and is one of the reasons you should expect a background check before being hired with a developing entrepreneurial firm," said First Advantage’s Savlani.

At the top levels, ensuring the right hire becomes much more important. "The impact of senior management hires is massive in a company’s evolution. You need to have a thorough understanding of that person’s integrity and values. The more companies align on that right from the beginning, the better it is for all concerned," said Sandeep Murthy, a partner at venture capital firm Lightbox Ventures.

But while screening is important, so also is hiring someone who is the right cultural fit. "We screen for aptitude, but hire for attitude," said Murthy. Vivek Prabhakar, CEO of Chumbak Design, said while senior hires are always carefully vetted, for him the more important aspect is the culture test to see whether the candidate is a good fit for the company.

"We don’t want people who engage in politics or disrupt the equilibrium of the organisation. What we are looking for are people who gel with the organisational culture; others are weeded out," Prabhakar said.


 

NFL Season May Bring Increased Drowsy Driving Risk
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, August 21, 2017

A spike in drowsy driving incidents among waste drivers seemed to correspond with the return of the the NFL season, according to video-based technology safety company Lytx. From 2012 to 2016, the August-to-November time frame saw a 53% increase in incidents involving drowsy driving or falling asleep at the wheel, compared to the rest of the year. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the risk was up 78% compared to the rest of the year, according to Lytx.

 
 

November of 2016 showed a 112% increase in drowsy driving or falling asleep driving events among waste drivers over the rest of the year, while Mondays and Tuesdays during those four months saw an average 170% spike.

"This study tells us that waste companies would benefit from encouraging their drivers to get more sleep on football nights," said Dave Riordan, Lytx chief client officer. "Since the start of football season coincides with the onset of back-to-school schedules, drivers are doubly challenged to get a good night's rest."

Lytx made these findings by analyzing behaviors among drivers of 33,000 private waste vehicles from 2012 to 2016. Lytx says its DriveCam video-based telematics system is used by many of the major national waste companies as well as dozens of municipal waste fleets in the U.S.

"Waste drivers have one of the toughest jobs in America, and on top of a strenuous work day, they tend to have very early shifts, heading out to make their rounds before the sun's come up," said Darrell Smith, president and CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Association. "Combine that with a late night of watching football, and the risk of drowsy driving is predictable but solvable."


 

THIRD OF EMPLOYERS SAY BAD BACKGROUND CHECK EXPERIENCES COST THEM JOB CANDIDATES
Source: http://www2.staffingindustry.com/; by Staffing Industry Staff, August 8, 2017

Employers need to make sure they are not experiencing candidate fall off because of a poor background check experience, according to a recent CareerBuilder study. The survey found 38% of employers have lost a candidate because they had a negative experience with their background check. However, less than half of HR managers who conduct background checks, 44%, have tested their background check experience themselves. When employers did test their process, 14% rated their background check candidate experience as fair or poor.

 
 

A poorly conducted background check is one of the most common reasons employers lose candidates that have already accepted job offers; 21% of employers who have lost candidates that have accepted a job offer say it was because background screening took too long, and 20% said it was because a candidate had a poor experience with background screening.

Additionally, a negative experience with a company’s HR technology — such as a job application or background check process — can affect a candidate’s opinion of the company overall. Fifty-six percent of candidates think less of a company if they have a poor experience with their HR technology, and 8% of those who have accepted a job offer then withdrew have done so because a background check took too long or they had a negative experience with the background check/drug check.

"Employers are aware conducting background checks is an important business process, but few invest time to evaluate the candidate experience, ease of use, simplicity, and impact on the hiring process," said Ben Goldberg, CEO of Aurico, a CareerBuilder company that provides background screening and drug testing. "The longer the background check process, the higher risk of losing a quality candidate to another employer. Employers should test their application and background check process and ensure candidates have a positive experience."

The survey was conducted online within the US by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,369 hiring and human resource managers and 3,462 employees. It was conducted between May 24 and June 16, 2017.


 

Increased Costs Could Mean Less Favorable Trucking Conditions
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, August 22, 2017

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index fell by more than two points in June as a result of increased costs for labor, fuel, and equipment, reflecting less favorable conditions for trucking.

 
 

The June TCI dropped to a reading of 4.54 for the month. Market tightness is seen as likely shorter than expected due to a possible drag on capacity caused by upcoming regulations, according to FTR.

"Despite the monthly drop from May to June, the TCI has stayed in a relatively stable range since this time last year," said Jonathan Starks, FTR's COO. "It remains positive, but does not yet indicate that a significant change in operations is occurring."

FTR is maintaining a favorable freight forecast for the rest of the year, but does not expect as strong of a result for 2018. It is projecting around half of the growth for next year with an increased risk of recession toward the end of 2018.

"The potential for such a change increases as we move through 2018, with ELD implementation and continued freight growth hindering truck capacity," said Starks. "We are also beginning to hear stories of increased difficulty in hiring as the economy begins approaching full employment."

The spot market has shown strong increases in recent weeks it could be an indicator as to how rates in the contract market are likely to move, according to Starks.

"Spot data in early August shows that the rate increases have hit the double-digit mark and are still moving up," said Starks. "Market participants need to continue evaluating conditions ahead of the ELD implementation in December to make sure that they are prepared for the possible disruptions that could occur."


 

How E-Commerce Disrupts Trucking
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Jim Beach, August 2017

NASHVILLE, TN -- While disruption may be a current buzzword, it’s as old as capitalism itself, said Thom Albrecht, president of Sword & Sea Transportation Advisors, a securities analysis firm. Speaking at the PeopleNet and TMW in.sight User Conference + Expo Aug. 15, Albrecht said that when there’s real disruption market leaders are displaced.

 
 

The examples are legion: the horse and buggy vs. the automobile; ice boxes vs. refrigerators; and more recently the example of Kodak, which held the first patent for a digital camera, but couldn’t see the real value of the technology or how it would affect its core business of making film. And of course, everyone knows about the disruptions that Uber and Airbnb created in taxi cab and hotel markets.

And of course, there is Amazon and other retail e-commerce sites, which have totally disrupted the retail industry in terms of brick and mortar stores. Albrecht argues Amazon is the latest disruption in a trend affecting retail. Before that, he said, catalog sales took a bite out of department stores, big box stores took another bite, and Amazon and similar ventures put the big box stores down.

Albrecht predicts malls will continue to contract – their numbers will decrease until only a few are left. Even now, 28% of malls account for 70% of mall sales. What that means for retail is that much of the free labor and transportation they had once relied on is gone.

Before Amazon and direct shipment of goods to consumers, they had to drive to the store and pick up their goods, he said. Now, we demand delivery and in many cases demand it the next or even same day we order. As a result, Albrecht said projections call for 20% more brick and mortar stores to close with the next five to eight years. In fact, Amazon’s sales growth in many consumer segments has far outpaced each segment overall growth. For instance, ecommerce’s share of the beauty care market is 28% with year-over-year sales growth of $1.6 billion, while brick and mortar stores’ sales growth was minus $170 million.

Every retail category is gaining momentum in e-commerce, as we have begun to buy things online we wouldn’t have three to four years ago, he said, paced by millennials buying much of their goods online.

That includes food items, which along with a few other trends is changing food logistics. For instance, this year 31% of online shoppers were willing to make at least one food order online. Last year that figure was 19% and in 2015 it was 8%. Online spending on food and alcohol is expected to grow from $14 billion in 2016 to $125 billion in 2020.

The popularity of online food kits may have something to do with that, Albrecht said. Another trend affecting food logistics: changing tastes. Year-to-year sales growth at independent restaurants grew 6-8%, while chain restaurants saw about 1% growth.

What does that mean for trucking? Albrecht thinks there will be fewer full truckloads, more transparency, and compression of rates. Autonomous vehicles could add capacity and electric trucks could reduce operating costs, he said. But both of those trends may depress rates. On the bright side, however, is that with more transparency, good service can win out over lower rates if the rate spreads are smaller.

He also foresees dry van shipments going down while refrigerated shipments will increase; fewer Class 8 trucks and more medium-duty trucks, although not everyone in the industry agrees with that assessment.

To manage your company in disruptive times, Albrecht suggests a few principles. First, see change properly – be ready to change your operation if necessary. Second, being the biggest and the smartest may not protect you, since leading companies rarely see disruption coming as they are focused on what they have always been doing.

Don’t be afraid to hurt a part of your business if need be. For instance, Amazon was the leading seller of books but they developed the Kindle anyway, knowing that e-books would eat away at regular book sales. Watch out for the low margin, low volume parts of the business, as that’s where disruptors get a toe-hold. As an example, Albrecht cited how parcel carriers siphoned off small and mid-sized shipments from LTL carriers until the FedEx’s and UPS’s of the world became LTLs themselves.

And to tackle disruption, it may be better to establish an autonomous unit outside of the "homeoffice" culture, he said.


 

10 Things Your Boss Wants You to Do Without Being Told
Source: http://www.livestrong.com/; by Natasha Burton, August 11, 2017

Depending on how effusive — and prone to giving feedback — your boss is, it can be hard to know exactly what he or she really needs from you. But no matter what industry you work in, there are some universal traits that higher-ups wish the people they manage had, according to experts.Not only do these characteristics make a boss’s day-to-day easier, having them may put you on a fast track for a raise or promotion. With that in mind, here are 10 ways to be the rockstar employee your boss dreams of.

 
 

DO YOUR JOB.

Yes, this sounds obvious, but actually delivering results is the primary thing your boss needs from you. After all, it’s why she hired you."You have the tools and the knowledge to deliver results, and it’s up to you to do so," says Rob Mead, head of marketing at Gnatta, a customer service company. "Your leader will be there for advice, support and to get you through the tough times, but you need to provide results and she will then fulfill her end of the bargain by helping you get to the next level." Coasting along won’t win you any points with the boss — nor will it advance your career.

BE ON TIME.

"Whether it’s to a meeting, for a deadline or just to a team happy hour, nothing is more offputting than someone being late," Mead says.Yes, sometimes being tardy is unavoidable — traffic, family emergencies and other conflicts arise — but it’s on you to have the grace to communicate with your boss and your colleagues when these things happen. "Leaders remember who’s there on time, and those people will be the ones they can count on," he adds.

PROVIDE CONTEXT.

Bosses are typically busy managing everything from people to crisis situations while trying to lead a business — no easy task. So giving yours a frame of reference when speaking or sending an email about projects and deliverables can make a world of difference, according to executive coach and TEDx speaker Lynn Carnes. "Recognize that you have incredible power to shape how the boss sees something if you go beyond the typical vague question of ‘What do you think?’" she says. "A quick sentence of context — like, ‘This is about the XYZ project’ or ‘I’ve been thinking about our ABC campaign’ — gets her on the same page as you quickly." Plus, the forethought that your boss has many other things on her mind is also much appreciated.

GET TO THE POINT.

Coupled with providing context, Carnes says, is getting to your point quickly. "Nothing drives a boss crazier than for you to beat around the bush waiting for her to connect the dots," she says. "Trust that your boss can ‘handle the truth’ and make your statement or ask for what you need as clearly as possible." If you’re writing an email, take the time to edit your message for length and break down what you need to say into bullet points so your boss can easily read and understand what you’re trying to relay. Any opportunity you can create to save your boss time — and help her avoid unnecessary frustration — will benefit you too.

SCHEDULE TIME.

It happens to the best of us: You stop by your boss’s office and ask, "Got just a second to go over this?" and 20 minutes later you’re getting to the end of your "quick second," at which point your boss doesn’t seem to be paying attention. "You think it’s because he doesn’t like your ideas or doesn’t care about your problem," Carnes says. "In reality? It’s because he is now running late for a meeting and is trying not to be rude by cutting you off." Be realistic about the time you need with your boss, and don’t pop into his office for a “sec” if whatever you have to say will inevitably take longer. Instead of showing up unannounced, have the forethought to schedule time with him and get on his calendar.

HAVE A CAN-DO ATTITUDE.

Sure, being an overly positive Pollyanna might just annoy your boss (and everyone else in your office, to be honest), but there is something to be said about an employee who willingly takes on the challenges of her job. If you don’t agree with a decision or a direction the boss wants to go in, then by all means push back and explain your position, but don’t be the person who continually gripes over how difficult or insurmountable your tasks are. "As someone for whom being positive doesn’t come naturally, it took me time to master this, but it’s key," Mead says. "Being told that something is impossible is a switch off for any senior person — there’s always a way to do something. Stating that something can’t be done is never the right answer."

SOLVE PROBLEMS, DON’T CAUSE THEM.

We’ve all heard this one: Don’t bring problems, bring solutions. "It’s a massive cliché, but, as with all clichés, it contains a grain of truth," Mead says. "If you always bring problems, people will eventually stop listening. If you bring solutions, however, you’ll be remembered positively — even if they don’t always work 100 percent of the time." He explains that leaders are always looking for people who care enough about their roles to improve both their own areas of responsibility and those of others. Having the creativity and ingenuity to at least try to resolve complications will get you recognized for being resourceful and for being a team player who looks out for the greater good.

TAKE INITIATIVE.

Being a self-starter goes a long way toward impressing the boss, yet taking initiative is seldom done, says Jessica Tsukimura, head of the New York Client Services team for Stag & Hare, a global branding and design agency. In fact, she says that this quality is usually the main piece of feedback for her team in every performance review. "See an issue or a need internally or with a client? Why not try to develop solutions before it’s assigned to someone? This showcases your willingness to pitch in as well as your ability to problem solve and be effective," Tsukimura says. "Your proactive nature will make you stand out among your peers, and your boss will no doubt take notice."

TAKE NOTHING PERSONALLY.

To quote "The Godfather" (and "You’ve Got Mail"), what happens at the office "isn’t personal, it’s business." This is especially true when it comes to the feedback your boss gives you."Bosses need to give constructive feedback on your work without worrying about hurting your feelings," Carnes says. "And if you do find yourself having taken things personally, you don’t have to react. When you get defensive, it sends a warning signal that there is something to worry about." Instead, she advises taking a deep breath and remembering that feedback will help you flourish and grow.

DON’T JUDGE.

Bosses have to constantly make decisions. Some of these are very difficult, and many of them cannot be discussed in detail with employees. Chances are that you won’t agree with all of them. But it’s up to you how you react to them."While it’s OK to ask the boss why a decision was made, recognize that she may not be at liberty to share all the details," Carnes says. "It’s a great time to assume positive intent and give her the benefit of the doubt given the set of circumstances she was in." Passing unnecessary judgment can come off as childish and even discourage your boss from envisioning you in a more senior role down the line.


 

August 2017 Articles

ELDs in cyberspace: evaluating the risks to data security, privacy
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Aaron Huff, July 20, 2017

As of Dec. 18, most drivers who currently maintain records-of-duty status — approximately 3 million, according to the FMCSA — will either be using electronic logs or be at risk of getting an out-of-service violation.

 
 

Most fleets will be using devices that come with a monthly service plan, most often associated with a connection to the cellular data network. By definition, the connectivity of ELDs make them an Internet of Things (IoT) device. This may cause some concerns over cybersecurity.

In 2016, AT&T reported a 3,198 percent increase over the last three years in the number of attackers scanning for vulnerabilities in IoT devices. AT&T also conducted a survey last year of businesses to gauge their potential security threats. Fifty-eight percent said they were not confident in the security of their IoT devices.

Cybersecurity was hardly a concern 25 years ago when fleets began using mobile communications systems to connect with drivers and vehicles via satellite networks. With millions of ELD devices about to go online, could they be the gateway for hackers to gain access to sensitive information?

Probably not, but here are four possible areas of concern:

1. Remote control trucks

The University of Michigan made news in 2016 when researchers presented at an August conference results from their experiments with the vulnerability of big rigs’ electronic systems. Researchers plugged into a 2006 tractor’s diagnostics port, and this was in part the result:

By sending digital signals within the internal network of a big rig truck, the researchers were able to do everything from change the readout of the truck’s instrument panel, trigger unintended acceleration, or to even disable one form of the semi-trailer’s brakes.

Since the late 1990s, fleets have used telematics devices to remotely plug into the controller area network (CAN) of trucks to capture data from their engines and electrical-mechanical systems.

Incidents of remotely hacking into the ECMs of engine and braking systems have not happened — yet.

Spokespeople from ELD suppliers say the probability of hacking into electronic logs — either the current AOBRD (395.15) and the new ELD standard (395.16) — to access the CAN bus of vehicles is virtually impossible. That’s because ELDs are provisioned to read data only.

"We don’t give (our application) rights to be able to write or make requests. All we do is read," says Marco Encinas, a marketing and product manager of Global Platforms at Teletrac Navman, which offers the Director ELD product. "There is no protocol in the system that allows us to engage, change code, or manipulate the ECM computer on the vehicle."

As an extra layer of precaution, PeopleNet, one of the two largest fleet mobility providers, has embedded chips in its ELD devices in order to authenticate the connection between the device in the vehicle and its cloud management system.

"Our latest devices will all ship with an encryption chip built in to authenticate the device to the cloud in addition to standard authentication of the driver’s credentials upon login," says Eric Witty, vice president of product. "That way we have assurance that both the device and the person are authenticated in our system."

And through PeopleNet’s partnerships with truck OEMs, "we continue to undergo security audits and improvements to our software and hardware solutions to ensure we minimize any risk of these telemetry devices being exploited to access the vehicle," he adds.

2. Access to ELD data

Besides preventing ELDs from talking to vehicles, the suppliers interviewed for this article say their applications are restricted from sharing data with other applications on the device or vehicle.

"We follow secure code development practices that isolate the ELD application code from other applications on the devices," says Andrew Dondlinger, Navistar’s vice president for Connected Services. "The ELD application also requires positive user credentials before allowing for the collection of the vehicle’s ELD data by any user, or by any other application."

Navistar offers an ELD app that connects the driver’s mobile device to the OnCommand Connection Telematics device. The app is available through its new OnCommand Connection Marketplace.

PeopleNet has traditionally favored using company-owned, personally enabled (COPE) communications devices as part of its strategy to allow fleets to deploy proprietary company apps and approved third-party programs on the same device that runs their PeopleNet software, Witty says.

PeopleNet envisions having "companion apps" that will give drivers access their own log data as well as giving access through a secure driver portal.

"The security concerns are much the same as the ELD device itself. We will address them by ensuring we are using the same standards such as secure HTTP (SSL/TLS) similar to how banks secure communication for their mobile applications," he says.

Teletrac provides a Garmin GPS tablet to run its ELD application. The only other app on the device is Garmin navigation. "We don’t allow third-party apps to be downloaded," Encinas says. The tablets communicate through serial connection to a black box that has cellular connectivity.

The display tablets do not have their own cellular connection, which prevents software from being loaded onto the devices.

"For us it’s about being able to control the types of data communicated to the hardware and to us to limit possibilities for distraction," he says.

3. Reporting malfunctions

No ELD product on the market is foolproof. In the event of a hardware, software or connection malfunction the FMCSA requires that ELDs report the error to the driver and fleet management for support activities.

The OnCommand Connection telematics device continuously monitors the truck health status, which includes electronics, Dondlinger says. "In the event of a detected malfunction on the truck, OnCommand Connection will provide the customer – and Navistar as well – with a health report highlighting the faults on the truck, along with a ‘Fault Code Action Plan,’ which is a recommended sequence of actions to address each fault."

Similarly, if a malfunction is detected by Teletrac’s Director ELD application, the device continues to record any data that it can from the vehicle and the driver’s duty status. The driver is alerted by a fault message indicator and fleet management is alerted through the web portal to notify dispatchers.

Teletrac’s support team can do an over-the-air reset if needed, Encinas says.

4. Data privacy

Data privacy is another topic that surrounds industry-wide adoption of ELDs. Independent owner-operators may not want the carriers or freight brokers they work for to have visibility of their logbook data. On the other hand, fleets want visibility to identify drivers who have time remaining on their clocks to make an extra pickup or delivery, for example.

"The whole question about data gets typically framed in data privacy or data security. As a consumer you don’t want anybody to know where you’ve been, but in a business context, the area of privacy is much less prevalent," says Dirk Schlimm executive vice president of Geotab, a telematics and ELD provider.

Some ELD providers see an opportunity to aggregate the hours-of-service and telematics data they collect from their customers. With their customers’ permission, they could use the data to power a freight matching system or a usage-based model for vehicle and liability insurance, for example.

"It will be very hard in the future for any business of any size to compete without data," Schlimm adds. "You just have to give everybody secure and safe access to that data."


 

TravelCenters of America Reaches Out to Truckers in Need
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, July 21, 2017

TravelCenters of America, operator of the TA and Petro Stopping Centers travel center brands, will launch its annual campaign on August 1, in support of the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund, a nonprofit that helps truck drivers suffering financial hardship due to medical problems.

 
 

The month-long campaign will run at participating TA and Petro locations through August 31.

During the event, guests and employees at TA and Petro Stopping Centers will be invited to make contributions to assist truckers in need. As in past years, commemorative wristbands and SCF keychains will be made available for $1 and $5 respectively. Contributions may be made at participating TA and Petro restaurants, travel stores, fuel buildings and truck service facilities. One hundred percent of proceeds go directly to SCF.

"As we kick off our eighth year of the SCF campaign, we couldn’t be happier to continue supporting drivers in need and knowing that our customers and employees are helping answer prayers for those dealing with financial burdens due to sickness or injury," said Tom O’Brien, president and CEO of TravelCenters.

TravelCenters has been supporting drivers through SCF since 2010.  The TA and Petro annual campaign marks the largest single contribution the Fund receives each year.  As of July 2017, SCF has helped more than 1,900 truck drivers and their families with monthly bills, including utilities and mortgages.

"We are so excited for another year of Band Together!" said Dr. Donna Kennedy , executive director of SCF. "This campaign is instrumental in allowing us the honor of offering assistance to drivers in need. The number of applications we receive skyrocket during and immediately after the campaign. This program not only raises money to help drivers, it clearly raises awareness for those in need. We are so appreciative of TA, the employees and the drivers that contribute."

Professional drivers who are suffering from financial hardships due to medical problems can apply to the SCF for assistance at www.truckersfund.org.


 

The Evolution of Background Screening
Source: https://www.hrtechnologist.com/; by Rhucha Kulkarni, July 20, 2017

Background verification is a very important part of recruitment, to ensure no black sheep becomes a part of the organization. However, it can be a tedious experience for both the candidate and the recruiter. Recruiters spend a lot of time verifying data, digging out sources, and eliminating potential risks, despite availing the services of professional background check agencies. Candidates, on the other hand, complain about never-ending response times, random questions, and in general, a lot of fuss around the process. It is the responsibility of the employer to create a great candidate experience, and therein the agency’s responsibility to streamline and modernize the background verification process for a great client experience. This is happening gradually thanks to the marriage of recruitment and technology.

 
 

In recent times background screening vendors have updated their tools and solutions in a bid to create a seamless candidate and employer experience. Some of the very visible additions have been the rise of customized features and easy standardization of data forms. Another candidate-friendly feature at the communication-end is that candidates are being updated about their progress status in real-time. Also, mobile is increasingly being used as the background check medium, allowing on-the-go action on the agenda. The recruiter is being spared operational hassles through better integration of the processes with applicant tracking systems and small changes like digital signatures.

However, this is not enough. With the rise of the gig economy, the very nature of background verification is changing. Service providers are looking at ways to verify credentials of part-time workers, freelancers, and independent contractors, who are typically more difficult to track. This change is happening, slowly but surely. Hire Right has come up with a study—a substantial 86% of companies now screen contingent workers, up from 41% just five years ago. This is a reflection of the talent landscape where organizations are relying increasingly on the gig workforce owing to their flexibility, just-in-time approach, and lower costs.

As these various work models become mainstream, the challenge will be to bring together greater uniformity in the background screening process to make it efficient and standardized. The way ahead is to develop new standards for gathering, sending, and sharing candidate information to make it more seamless and consistent. Recruiters and talent acquisition professionals must put on their problem-solving hats and think about their current pain-points as a starting agenda. They must engage with vendors that follow a metrics-based, performance oriented screening process that talks about hit rates, turnaround time, and service request tackling. The way ahead to make the process efficient and effective is to gather all the valuable data together, understand it, analyze it, and take action on it decisively to eliminate the pain points. This can save both candidates and recruiters a lot of hassle to enhance the recruitment experience as a whole.


 

Preventable or not: Trucker’s wide left doesn’t go right
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, July 12, 2017

At dawn, trucker John Doe ambled toward the ready line with a granola bar and a jug of steaming hot coffee for extra pep. The day’s tow was a 48-foot flatbed laden with steel coils. After his pretrip inspection, Doe wheeled his rig out of the terminal yard and headed eastward on four-lane Pickwick Pike. The sun rose in a cloudless sky, and traffic was light.

 
 

Doe looked forward to an easy trip, but his milk run was about to go sour. Pickwick Pike dead-ended at Route 7, where he needed to turn left. To ensure room for a wide turn, Doe got into the right lane, and when the light turned green, he eyeballed Route 7 for red-light runners, then cautiously started to execute his turn.

In the adjacent turn lane, bus driver Wilbur Smurd also started to turn left, but he didn’t turn sharply enough and moved partially into the next lane. In shocked disbelief, Doe stopped dead and sounded his horn, but Smurd failed to react and sideswiped Doe’s tractor. It took another granola bar to calm Doe down, but even that couldn’t help him get over the warning letter he received from his safety director for a preventable accident.

Doe disagreed that he should have hung back and anticipate that the large bus would encroach on his lane. Asked to resolve the dispute, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee ruled in Doe’s favor. He had proceeded with caution and reacted properly but still fell prey to the bus driver, who had plenty of room to maneuver and initially did not appear to pose a threat, NSC said.


 

What Just One Glass of Wine Does to Your Brain
Source: http://www.livestrong.com/; by PAIGE BRETTINGEN, July 16, 2017

Remember how moderate drinking was once believed to be a boon to our health, our hearts and our brains? Well, thanks to a recent study, that bubble just burst.

 
 

According to new research published in the British Medical Journal, moderate drinking (the equivalent of one 5-ounce glass of wine per day plus "a little extra" on the weekends) can cause some concerning changes to the brain. These changes include three times the risk of right-sided hippocampal atrophy (a type of brain damage that can impact spatial navigation and potentially lead to Alzheimer’s and dementia) of non-drinkers.

The study, which tracked 550 participants for more than 30 years since 1985, also found that heavy drinkers (those who had two glasses of wine or beer each night) had the largest mental decline. This decline was evident in their "lexical fluency" (the ability to name as many words starting with the same letter in a short amount of time) as well as poorer white matter integrity, which helps us process thoughts quickly.

"We knew that drinking heavily for long periods of time was bad for brain health, but we didn’t know at these levels," said Anya Topiwala, a clinical lecturer in old-age psychiatry at the University of Oxford and co-author of the research, reports The Guardian.

But what surprised researchers the most was how moderate drinkers were affected.

Among those who didn’t drink at all, 35 percent had a shrinkage on the right side of the hippocampus portion of the brain compared to 77 percent of heavy drinkers, who had a similar shrinkage. For moderate drinkers, the figure was 65 percent.

This isn’t the first study where the "one glass of wine a day" habit has come under scrutiny. A study published last month concluded that a glass of wine a day could also increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

If anything, these studies may be a good wake-up call to reassess our drinking habits, including whether we’ve been grossly underestimating what "moderate drinking" actually means.

But even if more research does continue to validate that moderate drinking leads to cognitive decline, not all hope is lost. In fact, research shows that regaining brain function (along with a resurgence of new brain cells) is possible within a year of abstaining from alcohol. And a few other added benefits of kicking the alcohol habit include a lowered risk of certain cancers, pancreatitis, digestive problems, stroke, depression and anxiety.

We’ll raise a mocktail to that.


 

Drug testing is a big drag on American manufacturing
Source: http://theweek.com/; by Peter Weber, July 25, 2017

The Federal Reserve listed potential workers failing drug tests as a problem for the U.S. economy in its April, May, and July Beige Book economic surveys, and Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen told Congress this month that opioid abuse is one of the factors hampering labor participation for prime-age workers. But the abuse of prescription opioids and growing use of marijuana is being felt especially in the manufacturing sector, where up to half of applicants for good-paying factory jobs in the upper-Midwest rust belt fail their drug tests, The New York Times reports. Untold others don't apply because they know they will fail.

 
 

"We are talking to employers every day, and they tell us they are having more and more trouble finding people who can pass a drug test," says Edmond C. O'Neal at Northeast Indiana Works, an education and skills-training nonprofit. "I've heard kids say pot isn't a drug. It may not be, but pot will prevent you from getting a job." This isn't because of moral strictures among manufacturers or legal niceties, he adds. "Relaxing drug policies isn't an option for manufacturers in terms of insurance and liability."

As Michael J. Sherwin, CEO of the 123-year-old Ohio metal fabricator Columbiana Boiler in Youngstown explains, "The lightest product we make is 1,500 pounds, and they go up to 250,000 pounds," so "if something goes wrong, it won't hurt our workers. It'll kill them — and that's why we can't take any risks with drugs." That's a problem for his company, which is losing business to overseas rivals because of labor shortages, he adds. "We are always looking for people and have standard ads at all times, but at least 25 percent fail the drug tests." You can read more about the knotty problem of drugs and jobs, and the special concerns about shifting marijuana laws, at The New York Times.


 

July 2017 Articles

Bracing for Uber’s impact: How worried should your fleet be about market disruptors?
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Jeff Crissey, June 20, 2017

The “sharing economy,” loosely defined as peer-to-peer transactional systems for goods and services, has upended traditional industries across the globe. Last month, rideshare industry giant Uber launched its long-awaited Uber Freight, bringing with it the potential for disruption in the way carriers and owner-operators bid on and move freight in the future.

 
 

Before you turn a blind eye to Uber’s new trucking venture, consider the impact the company’s model had on the taxi service industry. According to a report by expense management company Certify, Uber’s share of the passenger fare market grew from roughly 13 percent in January 2014 to 45 percent in January 2015. In metropolitan cities across the country, taxi cab registrations and permits are down by half or more.

And why not? Outside of one harrowing Uber experience in Panama headed the wrong way down a one-way street that left the driver in tears and me nearly wetting my pants in the backseat, I have found the idea of waiting four or five minutes for a less-expensive Uber or Lyft in a (often) cleaner, newer car or SUV a much better experience than hailing a cab.

And the taxi industry isn’t alone. Bike share companies are decimating personal bicycle sales in urban areas, and Airbnb and VRBO are upending the hospitality industry. An HSV Consulting & Valuation report commissioned by the Hotel Association showed Airbnb has a $2.1 billion annual impact on the hotel industry and government in New York City alone.

"What makes you successful on the way up makes you risk-adverse when you are on top,” said Steve Sashihara, president of Princeton Consultants during a panel discussion last month at the CCJ Symposium in Asheville, N.C. “Taxi companies were capable of disrupting their own industry, but they didn’t."

As worrisome as Uber Freight is to some carriers, it also takes direct aim at brokers, load boards and other intermediaries who would be cut out of the service.

With an estimated $1.45 trillion in annual spending on logistics and transportation in the United States, the trucking industry clearly is an attractive marketplace for outsiders. It has seen several Uber-like and Uber-light models crop up in recent months, including HaulHound, Convoy and FreightRover. But based on Uber’s performance in the rideshare market, they likely will enter the market as the 800-pound gorilla.

Uber Freight’s freight matching service will start out with full truckload dry van and refrigerated trailer loads booked weeks in advance or even same-day. The app lists loads that carriers and drivers can book on a mobile device. Payments are made within seven days of load completion.

Sashihara shared statistics from his firm’s 2017 survey of transportation executives, of which 45 percent of respondents were carriers. According to the survey results, 57 percent of respondents said "Uberization," or "radical disintermediation" as Sashihara refers to it, will have a moderate or large impact on freight transportation in the next seven years. Only 14 percent said it will have no real impact, and 29 percent said it will be limited to small niches of the industry.

To better prepare for success in the face of disruption to freight transportation, Sashihara said fleets must work hard to improve user-friendly automation and recommended they find ways to limit emails, phone calls and paper forms throughout the freight transaction process.

While it remains to be seen what impact Uber and other freight-matching services will have on the traditional trucking model, the industry would be wise to learn from the lessons of other industries and not dismiss it outright. Just ask a taxi driver – if you ever get in a cab again.


 

Spot Truckload Freight Rates Soar Along With Load-to-Truck Ratios
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Evan Lockridge, June 14, 2017

Average spot truckload freight rates jumped sharply for the second straight week in all three major equipment types while load-to-truck ratios also headed much higher for the week ending June 10, according to new figures from DAT Solutions and based on its network of load boards.

 
 

The number of available loads was up 30% compared to the previous week, which was shortened by the Memorial Day holiday and included the annual Roadcheck truck inspection blitz. A 20% increase is more in line with expectations.

According to DAT, brokers and shippers paid a premium for capacity in most major markets and lanes. Load-to-truck ratios reflected the increased freight activity:

- Van ratio: 5.7 loads per truck, up 12% from previous week

- Reefer ratio: 10.1 loads per truck, up 33%

- Flatbed ratio: 49.2 loads per truck, up 27%

Nationally, the number of posted van loads increased 12% while truck posts were 8% higher. The national average van rate gained 6 cents to $1.79 per mile. Outbound rates were up in almost every major van freight market:

- Los Angeles: $2.28 per mile, up 10 cents

- Chicago: $2.06 per mile, up 6 cents

- Dallas: $1.76 per mile, up 3 cents

- Charlotte: $2.16 per mile, up 11 cents

- Philadelphia: $1.73 per mile, up 5 cents

Of the top 100 van lanes, only 26 had lower rates.

Reefer load posts increased 30% while truck posts fell 2%, which helped move the national average rate 7 cents higher to $2.11 per mile. California shipments are expected to stay strong at least through the Fourth of July, and a few lanes crossed the $3 mark:

- Fresno-Denver surged 61 cents to $3.14 per mile

- Los Angeles-Portland, Oregon, was up 45 cents to $3.33 per mile

- Sacramento-Portland added 50 cents to $3.21 per mile

- Sacramento-Salt Lake City rose 27 cents to an average of $3.00 mile

Florida outbound rates tumbled, including Lakeland-Charlotte, which plunged 84 cents to an average of $1.82 per mile.

In the flatbed sector, the load-to-truck ratio skyrocketed as load posts increased 38% while truck posts increased 9%.

The national average rate increased 3 cents last week to $2.15 per mile, the highest weekly average rate in nearly two years. Flatbed demand can be volatile and shifts on a lane-by-lane basis, according to DAT.

Key outbound flatbed rate movers last week include:

- Las Vegas, $2.82 per mile, up 36 cents

- Cleveland, $2.31 mile, up 11 cents

- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, $3.41 per mile, up 2 cents

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.


 

FMCSA releases 2 proposals to alleviate driver shortage
Source: http://www.wastedive.com/; by Cole Rosengrens, June 13, 2017

Dive Brief:

 
 

- Two proposed rules have been announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that aim to address the growing driver shortage, as reported by Fleet OwnerThe first rule would allow states to waive the commercial driver's license (CDL) knowledge test for veterans and active duty service members that were regularly employed as commercial drivers within the last year.

- The second rule would let states issue CDL learner's permits with one-year expirations, as opposed to the current six-month maximum. The intention is to reduce paperwork and re-testing fees for applicants that need more time.

- "Taken together, these two proposals will help ease the entry for thousands of qualified individuals into career opportunities as professional truck and bus drivers – a critical occupation facing an acute labor shortage in our country," said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson in a statement. "We could eliminate unnecessary burdens to both the applicants and to the states, save time, reduce costs and, most importantly, ensure that states only issue commercial driver’s licenses to well-trained, highly qualified individuals."

Dive Insight:

The driver shortage remains a pressing issue for numerous industries, inspiring regulatory updates on multiple fronts that could help mitigate its effects. Last month, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee also pushed two bills forward that could expedite the certification process for current and former military personnel seeking CDLs.

Industry organizations such as the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) have lobbied for policies to ease the CDL transition for veterans in the face of tens of thousands of open positions in the coming years. Because of their experience driving commercial vehicles and working in a structured team setting veterans are seen as particularly appealing candidates for the waste sector. Companies are also working to recruit more women and young people as both are currently underrepresented behind the wheel.

Though some reports indicate that advancements in autonomous vehicles could eventually make some of these open positions obsolete, that does little to address the current shortages many companies are experiencing. The issue is so acute in some regions that it is affecting collection schedules and has become a recognized fact of life for some local governments.


 

FTC Warns Employers: Keep Background Check Disclosures Simple
Source: http://www.lexology.com/; by Epstein Becker Green, June 1, 2017

The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") recently issued guidance discussing certain disclosure and authorization requirements that employers must satisfy prior to obtaining background screening reports for prospective employees. If your company obtains background information to screen prospective employees, now is a good time to make sure you are complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA").

 
 

Under the FCRA, background screening reports are either "consumer reports" or "investigative consumer reports" when they are used for employment purposes and include information bearing on a consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living. Notably, the definition of "consumer report" also includes oral or other communications, and is not limited to written communications.

If your business uses background screening reports to assist with hiring decisions, remember, the FCRA requires the following steps:

1. Prior to obtaining a background screening report about a prospective employee, employers must inform the person that they plan to get the report, and obtain the individual’s written permission allowing the employer to do so.

2. If the background screening report discloses information that may cause the employer to not hire the prospective employee, the employer must notify the individual of the report’s findings and provide them with a copy of the report. The employer must then give the prospective employee a sufficient amount of time to review the report so they can contest any findings that might be incorrect. Although the law is silent on what constitutes "sufficient time," the FTC has generally found that five business days satisfies this requirement.

3. If the employer eventually chooses not to hire the prospective employee based in whole or in part on information provided in the background screening report, the employer must give notice to the prospective employee that says they were not hired due at least in part to the result of the background screening report.

One of the biggest sources of litigation with respect to background check reports recently has been over the disclosure and authorization requirements. The disclosure must be in a clear and conspicuous format that prospective employees will understand. Employers must also get the prospective employee’s written permission prior to getting a background screening report. Per the FCRA, employers may either separate the disclosure and authorization or combine the two into a single document.

The disclosure must be in a stand-alone format, meaning it cannot be in an employment application or a part of a lengthy onboarding packet. Employers can include some minor additional information in the disclosure, such as a brief description of the nature of consumer reports, but only if such information does not confuse or detract prospective employees from the substance of the disclosure.

The FTC guidance provides some examples of the types of provisions that should not be in a disclosure or authorization request:

- Employers should not include language that purports to release them from liability for conducting, getting, or using a background screening report.

- Employers should not include a certification by the prospective employee that all information in his or her job application is accurate.

- Employers should remove any language that purports to require prospective employees to acknowledge that the employer’s hiring decisions are based on legitimate non-discriminatory reasons.

- Employers should remove overly broad authorizations that allow the release of information that the FCRA does not allow to be included in a background screen report – for example, bankruptcies that are more than 10 years old.

According to the FTC guidance, a disclosure statement (including a combined disclosure and authorization) containing complex legal jargon, additional acknowledgements, or waivers of liability makes it more difficult for prospective employees to understand the main purpose of such documents. Additionally, including other acknowledgements or releases of liability is beyond the scope of what the FCRA permits in the disclosure statement, and the inclusion of such provisions may cause employers to run afoul of the statute. If employers have additional waivers, authorizations, or disclosures that they wish to give to prospective employees, they should present them in a separate document rather than in the FCRA disclosure and authorization.

Failure to comply with the FCRA is not without consequences. Indeed, employers who do not act in accordance with the FCRA are subject to civil penalties under the statute. Willful non-compliance may result in damages up to $1000, court determined punitive damages, and the recovery of costs and reasonable attorney’s fees in successful actions to enforce liability. The FCRA also contemplates negligent noncompliance. Employers who are negligently non-compliant with the FCRA can be liable for any actual damages sustained by the consumer, as well as the recovery of costs and reasonable attorney’s fees in successful actions to enforce liability.

Employers who conduct background screenings on potential employees should be mindful of the FTC’s continued enforcement efforts with respect to the FCRA.


 

Supreme Court declines to hear ELD lawsuit
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by James Jaillet, June 12, 2017

In a victory for the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Supreme Court has said it will not hear a lawsuit challenging a DOT rule requiring truck operators to use electronic logging devices to track hours of service. The Supreme Court’s June 12 decision leaves in place a lower court ruling upholding the mandate and its Dec. 18 compliance deadline.

 
 

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association spearheaded the lawsuit, with its outside legal counsel representing OOIDA and owner-operators Richard Pingel and Mark Elrod. OOIDA says it’s "extremely disappointed that the Supreme Court does not see the merit in reviewing our case with so many questions about its constitutionality."

The group says it will continue to press the issue in Congress.

ATA, meanwhile, says it concurs with the Supreme Court’s decision. "We are pleased to see that the Supreme Court will not interfere with the implementation of this important, and Congressionally mandated, safety rule. We will continue to support FMCSA as they work toward the December deadline for electronic logging devices and urge them to provide certainty to the industry about when and how to comply with this rule by continuing to move toward implementing this regulation on schedule." ATA, meanwhile, says it concurs with the Supreme Court’s decision. "We are pleased to see that the Supreme Court will not interfere with the implementation of this important, and Congressionally mandated, safety rule. We will continue to support FMCSA as they work toward the December deadline for electronic logging devices and urge them to provide certainty to the industry about when and how to comply with this rule by continuing to move toward implementing this regulation on schedule."

OOIDA sought to have the mandate struck down in court, arguing it violated drivers’ Constitutional protections against warrantless searches and seizures and that the rule did not meet Congressional stipulations set for an ELD mandate.

In its appeal to the Supreme Court, OOIDA and the trucker plaintiffs argued the mandate has implications even outside of trucking, as it pertains to "millions of ordinary citizens going about their normal work days under constant, electronic surveillance without warrants," said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer last month.

OOIDA brought the lawsuit in March 2016 against the DOT and its sub-agency the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. A three judge panel on the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case last September. The next month, it ruled against OOIDA and in favor of the DOT, dismissing all of OOIDA’s arguments against the mandate.

The plaintiffs appealed the ruling to the 7th Circuit, asking for a rehearing en banc — that is, for all 13 judges on the 7th Circuit bench to evaluate whether the case can be reheard. That appeal was denied.

The 7th Circuit appellate court is only outranked by the U.S. Supreme Court. In April, OOIDA filed a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to take up the case. The justices conferred on OOIDA’s appeal June 8. Its decision issued Monday effectively ends OOIDA’s court challenge.


 

Summer and protection against skin cancer
Source: https://www.ushealthworks.com/; by US Health Works, May 17, 2017

May is the official month to talk about skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, and this makes sense since summer is all about skin being exposed to sunlight.

 
 

Your skin is important. It is a big part of the first impression you make, and can undermine your confidence if it doesn’t look good.

Skin is the body’s largest organ. It is a complex and magical organ. Among its least celebrated jobs is keeping the insides on the inside. Not only does that make life easier (you don’t have to carry yourself around in a large bucket), it keeps the insides moist and hospitable.

Skin also keeps the core body temperature set where everything works best. Our skin is flexible, tough and self-repairing. Intact skin is germ-proof. We are wired for pressure, temperature and pain, with a huge range of perception. One thing skin doesn’t do is breathe. So it will take more than gold paint to do you in.

For all the wonders of skin, it has an Achilles heel: skin doesn’t tolerate ultraviolet radiation (UV).  Approximately 90% of the skin cancers in the world are due to UV exposure. Particularly bad is high levels of UV exposure during childhood – that puts a little different spin on those glorious days as a high school lifeguard.

Skin cancer is divided into three types: basal cell, squamous, and melanoma. To use an analogy, if your skin is healthy grass, then basal cell is a solitary milkweed, squamous is crab grass and melanoma is dandelions, gone to seed, after a breeze.

A basal cell cancer is the least dangerous of the skin cancers.  It almost doesn’t deserve to be called a cancer. It is a red, slightly raised lesion that slowly grows and doesn’t heal. The center part may be crusted, looking like a minor injury. Unless you are unlucky enough to have one growing someplace important, a basal cell is easily defeated. Like the milkweed, removing it completely is straightforward and curative.

A squamous cell skin cancer is more aggressive. Unsurprisingly it occurs on sun-exposed areas. It starts as a nodule, and the middle portion breaks down, causing ulceration. This is a pretty scary looking lesion, which doesn’t heal. These spread about 20% of the time, and that opens Pandora’s Box. A cure is much harder to get once the cancer has spread.

Melanoma gets all the press. What makes melanoma scary is that after it spreads, it can grow anywhere. Inside your eye, heart or brain are just a few of the awful areas melanoma can end up. Melanoma, like forest fires, is easily stopped in the beginning. Beware of funny looking moles. Uneven pigment and uneven lesions that are growing, changing, or not healing are all worrisome for melanoma. Catch it early and an excisional biopsy both diagnoses and fixes the problem.

Sunblock is a good thing, it prevents cancer. Apply it 30 minutes before going outside (it has to “soak in”).  Apply an ounce (a shot glass full) to your whole body. Never use less than SPF 15. If you are active, especially in the water, reapply sunscreen every three hours. Remember that high SPFs block a higher fraction of UV (SPF 15 blocks 98%, SPF 50 about 99.4%) but not for any longer time period.  Reapply every few hours.

Finally, remember to examine your own skin and occasionally, take some time to get your skin checked.  While standing in front of a dermatologist with minimal covering sounds unpleasant, compared to a colonoscopy, it’s a walk in the park.

Take care, Dr. B


 

June 2017 Articles

Responsible representation: The importance of industry background checks
Source: http://www.wastedive.com/; by Cole Rosengren, April 19, 2017

Many aspects of the waste industry have changed, but old perceptions about criminal elements still persist for some members of the public — and can be reinforced by rare incidents involving fraudulent activity.

 
 

Luckily there's a way to combat these incidents, which may be more obvious than expected: background checks.

Establishing a thorough background check procedure for both employers and employees is seen as one way to ensure everyone is playing by the same rules. Like many aspects of the waste industry, the requirements for an employer to obtain a state or local permit can vary, though the basics of background or work eligibility checks for employees are governed nationally. In the most general sense all of these requirements are meant to ensure that companies know who they're hiring and can’t gain an unfair advantage by cutting any corners with wages, safety or disposal practices. The companies that do this often get more attention than the ones who are in full compliance.

"There’s always been operators like that in this business. There’s also really good operators," said Steve Changaris, northeast regional manager for the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA). "I think that the changes in the industry with the public companies and the private equity has brought additional new disciplines."

The scale of some companies in the industry allow for human resources departments that can apply more uniform standards when it comes to the hiring process. Though Melissa Sorenson, executive director of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), said it is now common for companies across all industries to contract with third parties for these services.

"Having a partner who focuses solely on background checks versus members of your own team who tend to be experts in your own industry and field is often important," said Sorenson.

According to a recent NAPBS survey conducted by HR.com, 96% of respondents use some form of background screening during the hiring process. Preventing potential workplace violence was cited as the top reason, though the survey also found that improving hiring quality, protecting company reputation and complying with regulations were all key factors.

The basics of how the background check process should work are set out in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has also taken action in the past regarding violations of this law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can get involved to address any potential discrimination in the screening process. Additional local laws may also limit whether employers can ask about an applicant’s previous salary or criminal record.

Ensuring accuracy

Keeping track of all this can be complicated, especially when the added layer of a staffing agency comes into play. Sorenson said the key to making these relationships work is establishing clear responsibility for who will perform background checks in the contract between a company and an agency. If the agency is doing it, she recommended building in the option for an audit to confirm that checks are indeed happening and to help maintain the company’s reputation.

"Ultimately the individuals themselves are representing the brand not necessarily of the staffing agency, but of the entity whom they’re performing work for," she said.

The potential for issues with a staffing agency was highlighted by the recent sentencing of two former Waste Management employees related to convictions for identity theft and hiring undocumented workers in Texas. The company switched staffing agencies and reportedly implemented new controls after the initial incident occurred in 2012.

Close to 600,000 employers now use a system called E-Verify, a Department of Homeland Security program, as a way to check work eligibility. Applicants can check their own eligibility online for free at any time or employers can also do it within a set period of time after an offer has been made.

Currently this system is only required for federal contractors and vendors, but a number of states have also adopted their own laws applying it to government employees and some elected officials would like to see it expanded even further. This year legislation was introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley, S.179, that would eventually require all U.S. employers to begin using E-Verify.

Getting lawmakers involved

New regulation is also being discussed regarding the backgrounds of employers themselves. Different states take different approaches and the more stringent systems are mainly concentrated in one part of the country.

"The background checks issue is generally limited to certain Northeast locations, where organized crime used to be closely intertwined with some companies in the waste industry," wrote David Biderman, CEO of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), via email. "Different jurisdictions have different policy drivers that, potentially, lead to dissimilar background checks. [New York City] is still concerned about keeping organized crime out of the industry. In another location, regulators may be interested in other factors."

New York’s current system is regulated by the city’s Business Integrity Commission. Efforts to establish similar regulations for Connecticut in 2009 were opposed by the National Solid Waste Management Association and ultimately unsuccessful. New Jersey’s solid waste industry is regulated by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and attorney general through a program called A901.

Yet as highlighted over multiple years by New Jersey’s State Commission of Investigation (SCI), including in a recent report titled "Dirty Dirt," individuals with organized crime connections have still been allowed to operate in the state's recycling industry because it isn’t covered by that program. These "dirt brokers" have allegedly dumped thousands of tons of contaminated soil in various locations, which will cost the state and local municipalities significant amounts of money to remediate.

As described by the SCI, "...these flagrant and continuing abuses by unscrupulous self-proclaimed recyclers have tarnished and undercut the economic viability of legitimate elements of the industry."

Senator Ray Lesniak, who was originally involved in the creation of the A901 program, has introduced a bill that would expand the same background check requirements currently in place for solid waste to all aspects of the recycling industry including these "dirt brokers."

The bill has been stalled since it was originally introduced in 2016, but Lesniak said he plans to begin pushing for it again soon.

"This new report adds additional evidence to the fact that the organized crime influence is growing and that something needs to be done about it now," said Lesniak.

While so far Lesniak has not met with members of the local recycling industry he is open to hearing their feedback.

"One of the things we don’t want to do is cast a wide net if a less intrusive action requirements will do the job," he said.

The NWRA has not taken an official stance on the bill yet, but Changaris said local members are amenable to the regulation in the industry that is currently in place and ready to discuss the new proposal when called upon.

"I know there is wide acceptance of the A901 program by the hauling industry in New Jersey and no interest to call for major reforms or its elimination. The companies recognize the value that it has," he said.

****

As these requirements evolve compliance will continue to be key for employers in terms of how they conduct background checks on their employees and how they follow permitting requirements. In the same way employers want to know they can trust their employees, customers also want to know they can trust the employers. Finding the balance between transparency and ensuring regulations aren't overly burdensome to business will continue to be important as the industry works to shed the vestiges of old stereotypes.


 

Samsung and Magellan Partner on ELD Solution
Source: http://www.worktruckonline.com/; by WorkTUCK Staff, April 28, 2017

Samsung Electronics America has partnered with GPS navigation provider Magellan to deliver an ELD-compliant hours-of-service tracking solution for short- and long-haul trucking.

 
 

Samsung mobile devices will now be part of Magellan’s fleet management solutions portfolio as part of an agreement between the companies. Magellan’s fleet solutions can be integrated and pre-loaded across a range of Samsung mobile devices, requiring minimal installation for drivers and offering device flexibility for fleets.

They are available on the Samsung Galaxy E and Galaxy A tablets, as well as select Galaxy S7 smartphone models.

Magellan and Samsung’s fleets solutions include:

ELD-compliant Hours of Service: Magellan's FMSCA-certified hours of service offers automated logging tools, reports, and alerts to keep drivers on time and in compliance. A dispatch and backend web portal allows for HOS, DVIR and IFTA reports, while on-device data transfer and co-driver support makes roadside inspections more simple and efficient.

Magellan Fleet Navigation: Magellan's commercial fleet navigation software delivers truck-specific map data, ranging from maximum vehicle heights on bridges to roads allowing hazardous containers. Combined with Magellan's routing engine, the solution provides a safety-focused navigation experience for truck carriers.

Multi-Purpose Use: In addition to fleet use, the solution also serves as a personal device that offers access to a driver's favorite content, such as movies, books, and music, for downtime while on the road.

"Helping the trucking industry be compliant with ELD standards by the end of the year is critical and Samsung is committed to bringing these solutions forward," said Kevin Gilroy, executive vice president and general manager, Samsung Electronics America. "The Magellan HOS Compliance solution is a powerful, comprehensive product that brings the best of fleet navigation software to the market."


 

Industry reps sound off to FMCSA on autonomous vehicle tech’s safety concerns, opportunities for reform
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Todd Dills, April 25, 2017

With several companies jockeying to bring autonomous trucks to market, industry stakeholders this week stressed to a panel of top officers from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration the importance of manned control for tractor-trailers, at least for the foreseeable future. Commenters at the public FMCSA meetings also noted the potential for hours of service reform relative to autonomous vehicle tech.

 
 

The agency’s listening session on autonomous vehicles was held at the semi-annual Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance workshop Monday. Attendees of the workshop and others from the public offered commentary on several issues relative to developing an appropriate regulatory framework for the operation of highly automated commercial motor vehicles with advanced driver-assist systems.

During the meeting, commenters shared a variety of information related to the design, development, testing and deployment of highway automated commercial vehicles. Special regulatory requirements as technology moves into the arena of near-full autonomy — in the areas of driver and tech credentialing, hours of service, inspection, repair and maintenance — were on the table for input.

"Vehicle manufacturers and technology developers continue to design, test and develop driver-assistance systems," noted Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson in opening remarks. "We encourage these developments and applaud the innovators,” regarding the technology broadly as an opportunity to enhance safety. The primary focus of the session, she added, was to ensure that related "regulations provide appropriate standards for safe operation. … Our goal is not to impede progress, but for us as regulators to try to run alongside development …. [continuing to be the] voice of safety in the room."

More than one commenter emphasized the need for a human to remain in control of the vehicle. Truck operator Bryan Spoon, a board member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, illustrated such with an example of the kinds of safety decisions operators make on the road, invoking a hypothetical near-crash where the choices are to "his this brick wall" and destroy the truck or "deviate and hit kids in a crosswalk," Spoon said. "What choice does our automated vehicle make?" Destroy itself or "a group of schoolchildren in a crosswalk?"

Such thorny questions around the implications of robotics in heavy-vehicle technology were, however, by and large on the backburner throughout the session — practical matters emerged in two big areas of discussion: hours of service and the CDL.

Hours of service

Those believing FMCSA ought to incentivize adoption/development of highly automated driver-assist technology insisted there has to be a return on investment — the biggest opportunity for such appeared to be in the hours of service regulations.

Consultant Richard Bishop noted the "interesting situation" for tech developers today, given a seeming lack of return-on-investment potential for carriers who might choose to take up Level 3 and higher automated systems (Level 5 is considered near fully automated). "There would be more private investment in Level 3 systems if hours of service were [such that] you could get more of a return on investment," Bishop said. Of course, he also noted, "hours is a very contentious place" for regulators to go, and one where owner-operators experience many of their biggest business headaches.

Bishop wondered about the pathway for FMCSA to "get to a place [in the regulations] where that driver can get into the cab of the automated vehicle and he’s on-duty not driving. I think the tech will get us there." Bishop went on to offer the example of long waits in line by dray drivers at ports he’d seen, where two hours of waiting isn’t uncommon and with the truck moving no faster than 5 mph. In a highly-automated situation, that might even make for an opportunity to get into the bunk for sleeper-line time.

Fred Kovall of Anderson Trucking Service wondered "if the driver has to be in the truck and has to have some control over it, how many hours in a row can you pay attention doing nothing" in a highly-automated-vehicle environment? A recent study presented at the Managing Fatigue conference in March suggested such automated driving may be more fatigue-inducing than active control.

"Right now," Kovall added, drivers can drive "for 11 hours – you want to extend beyond that? … My biggest concern is how do we keep them occupied, busy and awake." (Kovall saw a remote-control drone-type situation in the future for any truly "driverless" vehicle.)

Tom Balzer of the Ohio Trucking Association noted that hours of service as an issue "hasn’t been settled in 12 years and will remain so for the next 25 because of the changes in technology. … You probably won’t find a distinct long-term plan to deal with hours."

Sean Garney, representing the American Trucking Associations, concurred to an extent. "We talk about return-on-investment in the trucking industry, removing the driver to create additional efficiencies," but "there are efficiencies to be gained with the driver still on the truck." He emphasized that the technology is a long way from coming to full flower and though the conversation may be premature, the "hours of service piece is one of the more interesting conversations."

The CDL

Starkly divergent points of view around the need for special credentialing for autonomous vehicle operation came from several commenters.

Some states have been approaching the issue of endorsements differently as highly automated light- and heavy-duty vehicles have been tested. FMCSA "does not require a special [CDL] endorsement for autonomous operation" currently, said Jack Van Steenburg, the agency’s Chief Safety Officer.

Former driver and current MCO Transport Safety Director Danny Hefner illustrated the need for special skills, noting fears around safety and autonomous vehicles, particularly in the event of one of the most precarious of highway emergencies for operators — a steer-tire blowout. "Will the truck be able to maintain its lane" without immediate driver control? he asked. "That kind of thing can lead to several highway deaths." Hefener concluded that "drivers operating these vehicles should have a special endorsement," something that said they’d "been specifically trained and can meet the requirements."

Tom Foster of the Washington State Patrol, too, picked up a tire-related failure situation as a means of illustrating what he saw as the long-term necessity of active human involvement in the operation of highly automated commercial vehicles. "What does the citizen do when a retread comes off an breaks a windshield? As law enforcement, how do we intervene and stop the vehicle? I think having the driver in the seat is important. We’ve got great drivers in this country and I don’t want to ever minimize the importance of those people."

Ognen Stojanovski of Uber/Otto, the company behind last fall’s Budweiser partially automated beer run last year, disagreed with the prevailing sentiment about special CDL credentialing via an endorsement or other mechanism.

"No changes to existing regulations are needed when a person is required to be in the driver’s seat," he said, likewise with hours. "Operators required to be behind the steering wheel will perform the same duties. Existing regulations … already ensure drivers are capable."

Moving farther along — if automated vehicles remove the human — "FMCSA may need new regulations," he said. Nearing the end of the transition period, ultimately, "If it requires just the push of a button" to engage an automated system, "it may be appropriate to allow the driver to record time spent in the sleeper" on the road as such. "FMCSA should recognize the distinction between [automated vehicles] that require the driver" to be engaged, "and those that don’t."


 

Safety Tip: Understanding Flood Dangers
Source: http://www.worktruckonline.com/; by WorkTUCK Staff, May 8, 2017

In recent days, flooding in the Midwest and South has claimed the lives of at least nine people and closed hundreds of roads. Rain-drenched Missouri has bore the brunt of the flood damage, with authorities scrambling to prevent the breach of local levees and to oversee evacuations.

 
 

Fleet drivers in all states need to be informed about the dangers of flash floods. More people are killed by flooding, on average, than any other single severe weather hazard, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Here are tips from the NOAA you can pass along to fleet drivers as a friendly reminder:

Remember…

- Do not drive onto a flooded roadway.

- Do not drive through flowing water.

- If you approach a roadway that is flooded, turn around – don’t drown.

- Drive with extreme caution if roads are even just wet or it's raining. You can lose control of your vehicle if hydroplaning occurs. This is when a layer of water builds up between your tires and the road, resulting in no direct contact between your vehicle and the road.

If a Flash Flood Warning is issued for your area…

- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Act quickly to save yourself — you may not have much time.

- Get out of areas subject to flooding and move to a safe area before access is cut off by floodwaters. Low spots such as dips, canyons and washes are not the places you want to be during flooding.

- Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.

- Stay off the roads if possible. If driving is necessary, do not attempt to drive over a flooded road since the depth of the water is not always obvious and the roadway may no longer be intact under the water.

- Never drive around a barricade. They are placed there for your protection. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and move to higher ground before water sweeps you and your vehicle away.

- Do not try to walk, swim or play in flood water. You may not be able to determine if there are holes or submerged debris, or how quickly the water is flowing, and you may be swept away. If water is moving swiftly, as little as 6 inches of water can knock you off your feet. There is also a danger of hazardous materials polluting the water. Also, remember that water is an electrical conductor. If power lines are down, there is a possibility of electrocution.

- Continue to monitor the situation through media updates.


 

Increases in Illicit Drugs, Including Cocaine, Drive Workforce Drug Positivity to Highest Rate in 12 Years
Source: https://blog.employersolutions.com/; by Nicole Jupe, May 16, 2017

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) reveals insights into patterns of drug use among the American workforce. It has been published annually for more than 25 years as a public service for government, employers, policymakers, media, and the general public. This year’s report will be presented at the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) annual conference, a gathering of industry professionals focused on safety, regulatory affairs, ethics, and workplace drug testing education from all over the world.

 
 

In examining the latest data, Barry Sample, Ph.D., Senior Director of Science and Technology at Quest Diagnostics, said, "This year’s findings are remarkable because they show increased rates of drug positivity for the most common illicit drugs across virtually all drug test specimen types and in all testing populations." He noted the following key findings from millions of workplace drug test results.

- Overall positivity in urine drug testing among the combined U.S. workforce in 2016 was 4.2 percent, a five percent relative increase over last year’s rate of 4.0 percent, and the highest annual positivity rate since 2004 (4.5 percent).

- Cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine use is up broadly among the U.S. workforce across multiple drug test specimen types and testing populations.

- Cocaine positivity increased 12 percent in 2016, reaching a seven-year high of 0.28 percent.

- The positivity rate for cocaine in post-accident urine drug tests was more than twice that of pre-employment urine drug tests in both the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive and the general U.S. workforces.

- In Colorado and Washington, the overall urine positivity rate for marijuana outpaced the national average in 2016 for the first time since the recreational statutes took effect.

- Year over year marijuana positivity increased nearly 75 percent in oral fluid testing. In addition, positivity increased in both urine and hair testing in the general U.S. workforce.

- Between 2012 and 2016, methamphetamine positivity climbed 64 percent in the general U.S. workforce and 14 percent among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers.

- Heroin detection, indicated by the presence of the 6-acetylmorphine (6-AM) metabolite, plateaued in the general U.S. workforce while prescription opiate detection declines.

"Once again, the DTI statistics reveal the on-going threat to workplace safety posed by substance abuse. While the national dialogue swirls around marijuana and opiate issues, we find cocaine—a substance with well-established dangers—continuing its troubling upswing not just in the general workforce, but in safety-sensitive jobs with federally-mandated testing," said Matt Nieman, General Counsel, Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace and Principal, Jackson Lewis P.C. "That positive test results for cocaine persist, let alone are increasing, should serve as a reminder to employers and employees that there is no substitute for vigilance in any effective effort to thwart the potential impacts of workplace substance abuse."

Along with this year’s data, we are offering an interactive map to illustrate overall positivity and positivity by drug for the past 10 years in urine testing. Users can search by both zip code and year for six illicit drugs: 6-AM (heroin metabolite), amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and PCP at QuestDiagnostics.com/DrugMap.

Workplace drug testing promotes a safe, healthy and productive environment for employees. Our analysis suggests that employers committed to creating a safe, drug-free work environment should be aware of the potential for drug use among their workforce.


 

More American Workers Are Testing Positive for Drugs
Source: https://www.wsj.com/; by Lauren Weber, May 16, 2017

More than one in 25 U.S. workers fail their employer’s drug tests; marijuana is on the rise, according to Quest Diagnostics

 
 

More U.S. workers are testing positive for illicit drugs than at any time in the last 12 years, according to data coming out today from Quest Diagnostics Inc., one of the largest workplace-testing labs in the nation.

The number of workers who tested positive for marijuana rose by 4%, while positive results for other drugs also rose. The increases come against a backdrop of more liberal marijuana state laws and an apparent resurgence in the use of drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.

In 2016, 4.2% of the 8.9 million urine drug tests that Quest conducted on behalf of employers came back positive, up from 4% in 2015. It is the highest rate since 2004, when 4.5% of tests showed evidence of potentially illicit drug use.

Marijuana remains the most commonly used drug among U.S. workers and was identified in 2.5% of all urine tests for the general workforce in 2016, up from 2.4% a year earlier. Quest also tests people, such as bus drivers and airline pilots, in jobs that affect public safety. For these jobs, regular drug testing is mandated by federal rules. In this segment, 0.78% of workers tested positive for marijuana, up from 0.71% in the previous year.

Workers in states that permit recreational marijuana use appear to be picking up the habit. The number of workers testing positive in Colorado rose 11%; in Washington—9%. The rates of increase in these states, the first to legalize pot, were more than double the increase nationwide in 2016.

In prior years, trends in those states tracked what was happening across the U.S.

Employers in Colorado and Washington can fire or choose not to hire someone who tests positive for marijuana despite the state laws. More recent statutes in states like Maine would give employers less leeway for punishing workers with traces of pot in their urine.

Drug use appears to be higher among the broader American population compared with just workers and job applicants subject to testing. In 2015, 6.5% of Americans ages 26 and older admitted on a government survey that they had used marijuana or hashish in the prior month, according to the National Institutes of Health’s most recent analysis of drug use. Among those 18 to 25 years old, the share climbs to 19.8%.

Another concern for employers is the continuing rise in cocaine positives, particularly in drug tests conducted after workplace accidents. Of U.S. workers tested by Quest, traces of cocaine were found in 0.28% of tests. The share of positives from postaccident tests was more than twice as high as the rate from pre-employment assessments.

"While a test can’t tell you whether or not the use of cocaine is what caused that incident, it certainly raises the level of concern that cocaine may have had some impact," said Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology for Quest’s employment-testing unit.

Amphetamine positives—which include Adderall, commonly prescribed for attentiondeficit hyperactivity disorder—rose for all workers to 1.1% of urine tests, up from 0.97% in 2015. Some positive results are later discarded if a worker produces a doctor’s prescription for a legal drug. Quest found that methamphetamine positives continue to climb in the general workforce, rising 64% between 2012 and 2016, amounting to an overall positivity rate of 0.18% for the general workforce last year.

One bright spot: The use of prescription opioids like oxycodone appears to be on the decline. In 2016, even heroin positives leveled off—a reversal of a previous pattern. In the past, heroin positives increased as law-enforcement agencies and regulators cracked down on illegal opioid prescriptions, Dr. Sample said.


 

May 2017 Articles

The Price of Compliance
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Todd Dills

Today’s electronic logging devices are different animals from the onboard communications and logging systems of even a decade ago. And while the $1,000-plus onboard systems with expensive ongoing costs in maintenance and subscriptions haven’t gone away entirely, many inexpensive options exist, even among dedicated units.

 
 

Hardware purchase costs for dedicated-unit systems range from a little more than $400 for Hutch’s Mercury unit up to $2,000 for PeopleNet’s top-of-the-line, fully functional custom fleet management device.

For engine-connection-device purchases for BYOD ("bring your own device") systems, costs range from around $170 up to about $500 on the top end.

Most systems with subscription-based pricing, even those with the most expansive functionality for fleets, can start with no hardware investment other than a lease cost rolled into a monthly or annual fee. Monthly subscription costs vary with the variety of services used, though many start at as little as $15.

It’s possible to satisfy the requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ELD mandate for as little as a one-time $200 investment. Zed Connect made news in March for its Zed ELD, turning the common BYOD pricing model on its head.

Most BYOD ELDs, as evident in our comparison chart, operate in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, with subscription fees ensuring full functionality. While many give away or lease engine-plug-in hardware, Zed is charging just $200 for the hardware and giving away the smartphone app and web-based administration portal.

"This is an application of an innovative company that believes there are a lot of truckers out there who actually don’t want to have that monthly fee and the charges for a lot of things that aren’t applicable to their business," says Jill Nowlin, Zed’s sales director.

Tailoring the company’s e-log offering to small fleets and owner-operators, Nowlin likens the more well-equipped services to cable TV packages. "You get 800 channels, and you only want two or three," she says. "We’re targeting that group to be able to give them an ability to meet this mandate" and not keep a monthly fee subtracting from the bottom line in perpetuity.

Along with Zed, Blue Ink Technology has adopted a similar pricing model for its BYOD ELD – a $295 one-time hardware purchase. BIT’s Mike Riegel expressed a similar desire to provide something "very lean" and simple to "keep the cost low" for small fleets and owner-operators.


 

How to Choose the Best Background-Screening Provider
Source: https://www.shrm.org/; by Dave Zielinski, March 29, 2017

The stakes for choosing a background-screening provider have always been high, but now that decision looms larger than ever. As laws governing background checks constantly shift, regulatory oversight expands and the ranks of applicants misrepresenting themselves grows, selecting a vendor to conduct background screens of your candidates assumes greater weight.

 
 

Yet complying with the requirements of regulators and legislators is only half the battle in background screening. Vendors and employers alike must roll out the red carpet for a third member of that screening triad: job applicants themselves. Poor experiences during the application process can turn off top candidates and reflect badly on an organization's brand.

SHRM Online interviewed industry experts and HR practitioners for advice on how to evaluate and choose a background-screening partner. Included is an extensive comparison of top screening vendors in the market.

Compliance Is the Top Criterion

Experts agree that any selection process should begin by verifying that a screening provider is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). That seal of approval ensures that a provider has been independently audited to confirm it adheres to best practices across the breadth of its operating procedures and policies.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Conducting Background Investigations and Credit Checks]

Because background screens must comply not only with federal law but also with differing state and local legislation, providers need to monitor diverse and ever-shifting laws, said Les Rosen, an attorney and CEO of Employment Screening Resources, a San Francisco-based background-screening provider. One area that requires close attention is the fast-growing "ban-the-box" movement that mandates removal of criminal history questions from job applications, delaying those questions until later in the hiring process. Currently, the law has been adopted by 25 U.S. states and many other cities and counties.

Julia Mair, chief marketing officer for New York City-based screening provider Sterling Talent Solutions, said the top screening challenge that Sterling's customers report is ensuring compliance in a shifting regulatory and litigation environment.

"Every time a state, city or county changes a ban-the-box regulation, employers need to be aware of that," Mair said. "Screening providers have to be able to monitor and communicate those changes to clients that are hiring in those geographies or it opens the door to litigation."

Screening providers should conduct criminal records searches using the most accurate means possible, Rosen said, which still requires onsite visits to courthouses rather than searching online databases.

"Database-only background checks can be the enemy of due diligence," Rosen said. "In any database, there are false positives and false negatives and records aren't always complete or up-to-date."

When a criminal record is reported, Rosen said, screening firms should have experts on staff to review the record and determine if there are any legal issues in reporting findings.

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) governs how background checks must be conducted and requires providers to use procedures that ensure maximum accuracy in reporting.

"Providers should have the ability to quickly notify their clients of any changes in the FCRA or other applicable laws," Rosen said, and also should conduct annual FCRA compliance audits of their own operations.

To protect data privacy, Rosen said, HR professionals should ask if the screening is performed by workers in the United States; if the work is offshored, providers should explain how data privacy will be protected. Vendors also should know about the European Union (EU)-United States Privacy Shield Framework launched in 2016—regulations that replaced the Safe Harbor Framework provisions—and should comply with data privacy requirements for screening applicants from EU countries.

With more employers screening candidates with international backgrounds, Mair said, it's important that screening providers be equipped to conduct background checks in countries that may still rely on paper-based records or have varied jurisdictional laws.

Turnaround Times and Costs

With hiring decisions tied to acceptable background checks, HR naturally seeks the fastest turnaround times possible, especially in high-volume hiring scenarios or when there is fierce competition for talent. Although improvements in technology and data-sourcing practices have reduced turnaround times, most standard criminal records searches still take between 24 and 48 hours, screening experts say. A basic criminal search can be done faster, while screens that include employment, education and reference checks will take longer, as will most checks of applicants with international backgrounds.

There isn't wide differentiation in pricing among providers, but "buyer beware" still applies. "If costs are too cheap, you might be getting questionable database results, practices that aren't FCRA-compliant or customer service that isn't high-quality," Rosen said.

Providers can take shortcuts in sourcing records to reduce their costs, he added, so it pays to understand data acquisition processes. "Unless an employer knows how the sausage is being made, they wouldn't have an idea that they are not getting accurate and actionable criminal record reports," he said. While screening firms access similar information, the methods and supply chains they use to source records can differ.

HR buyers should seek screening providers that match their organization's business strategy and culture, said Melissa Sorenson, executive director of the NAPBS. If your company is technology-oriented, depends on a fast onboarding process or places high priority on the candidate experience, you should seek screening companies with strengths in those areas, she advised. "Identifying a screening partner that aligns with your priorities and corporate values enhances the partnership as well as the applicant experience," Sorenson said.

Technology Considerations

The sophistication and flexibility of a vendor's technology platform separates top providers from the rest of the pack. Any vendor should have an intuitive, scalable and configurable screening platform, experts agree.

"Mobile access, automated data entry and real-time reporting capabilities are key today," said Joe Jaeger, chief revenue officer of First Advantage, a background-screening provider headquartered in Atlanta. "Hiring managers and recruiters are often on the run and need the ability to access screening reports and confirm answers that aid in making faster hiring decisions."

Global capabilities play a larger role today, Jaeger said. "Finding a provider that operates on a global platform with customer service delivered by those who understand local laws and regulations is highly valuable when screening an increasingly global workforce," he explained.

The ability of vendors to integrate with a wide variety of applicant tracking systems (ATSs) has become table stakes in the selection game. Such integration creates workflow efficiencies that make life easier for HR and job applicants. With candidate data pouring directly into an ATS, employers can store information such as past employment, education and any criminal history in one location and reduce administrative processing time. For job candidates, such integration eliminates the need for frustrating dual entry of personal data like Social Security number.

Platform flexibility is an important selection criterion, Sorenson said. "The regulation and litigation in this space is such that there are constant changes that require employers to amend forms and processes based on their own risk tolerance," she said. "Ensuring that your screening partner has flexibility in its system to allow for such changes is important."

Top systems also allow applicants to enter required personal information or provide consent for checks via self-service portals and mobile devices, not just by fax or computers. Mobile-friendly systems serve applicants on the devices they use most, and self-service portals create fewer data entry mistakes and less time wasted playing phone tag or completing cumbersome paper forms.

"HR should be able to automatically send personalized e-mail to applicants so they can fill out forms to initiate the screening process and also receive completed reports easily," Rosen said. "Everything today should be mobile-friendly and paperless."

Candidate Experience

How vendors treat applicants during the screening process also should factor into selection decisions, with a smooth and transparent application experience being the goal. Vendor systems and staff should be equipped to answer applicant questions promptly and offer user-friendly dispute processes should issues or discrepancies arise around report results.

"Applicants should know what to expect from the process and be kept informed throughout," Sorenson said. "If they have questions, they should be able to get in touch with providers easily, and when they request a copy of a report, they should receive it efficiently. A seamless ability for applicants to interact with a potential employer and a screening provider makes the process quicker, smoother and more enjoyable for the entirety of the relationship."

Hiring employees with criminal records or who falsify employment or educational histories can have lasting fallout for organizations. That makes choosing the best background-screening provider among the more important decisions that HR leaders will make.


 

Two Plead Guilty in Michigan CDL Fraud Scheme
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com; by Trucking Info Staff, April 10, 2017

Two former Detroit DOT employees pleaded guilty for their roles in a CDL fraud scheme.

 
 

On March 28, Calvin Foulks and Michelle Reed pleaded guilty in Michigan State Court, Detroit, to forgery and bribery. Foulks, of Southfield, Michigan, and Reed, of Novi, Michigan, also agreed to pay restitution to the city of Detroit in the amounts of $1,000 and $625 respectively.

In February 2017, Foulks and Reed turned themselves in and were arraigned on felony charges for taking more than $4,000 in cash bribes in return for falsifying multiple Michigan Department of State documents. The forged documents stated that applicants had taken and passed the CDL skills test when, in fact, they had not.

The Michigan Secretary of State invalidated 85 CDL tests related to the scheme. Affected drivers were required to retest before their CDL driving privileges could be restored.

DDOT Director Dan Dirks said the incidents happened between May 2012 and June 2013. Once it was discovered, DDOT stopped conducting its own CDL testing. Since that time all DDOT drivers have received their certifications through a third-party vendor, according to the Detroit Free Press. The cost for this certification is paid for by the students.

DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with assistance from the Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force, which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Detroit Police Department-Internal Affairs, and the State of Michigan Attorney General’s Office.


 

Could the ELD solve the attraction to smartphone distraction?
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Jason Cannon, April 18, 2017

Could the ELD solve the attraction to smartphone distraction?

 
 

You’re driving along and hear that distinctive "ding." You pick up your phone, read the text and hammer out a reply with one knee on the steering wheel to keep your lane. With mobile device already in-hand, might as well check Facebook, right? Twitter? Oh, a couple new emails.

Before you realize it, you’re straddling the lane divider and probably speeding.

It happens. It’s stupid, but it happens.

A recent study conducted by SmartDrive Systems concluded that most distracted drivers are 36 percent more likely to be involved in a near collision than other drivers.

That’s not all that difficult to wrap your head around; that distracted drivers are more likely to have an accident. But an interesting footnote, according to the study, is that drivers distracted by a mobile device are 88 percent more likely to be involved in a near collision than all other drivers and nearly three-times more likely than all other drivers to drive 10 mph or more over the speed limit.

SmartDrive analysis of in-cab video and observation data gathered over 14.5 billion driving miles show that distracted drivers are more likely than all other drivers to have a near collision, fail to stop at an intersection and exceed the speed limit.

The only practical way to remove the temptation for quick check of the phone is to turn it off and store it out of reach. If you have a video-based driver monitoring system, you can monitor whether or not it’s happening but that doesn’t prevent it. But with the electronic log mandate looming later this year, mobile devices will be placed in a tempting position – within the driver’s reach.

ELDs basically come in two forms: fixed-mount/dedicated and smartphone/app based.

The "bring your own device" method uses Bluetooth to communicate with a smartphone or tablet via a dongle connected to the ECM through the onboard diagnostics port. Not only does that put the driver’s phone within reach, it makes it a vital function of the business.

The one thing the ELD mandate most-assuredly is going to do is press drivers for more efficiency, and that could lead to improved safety and less distraction on the road.

According to Telogis, fleets outfitted with electronic logging devices reported a 12 percent reduction in crashes and a drop in speeding and harsh braking incidents.

SmartDrive’s study says drivers distracted by a mobile device waste 8 percent more fuel, than other drivers but Telogis says ELD users have seen a 25 percent saving in fuel costs, and a 30 percent savings in unproductive idling.

How SmartDrive’s study will wash with Telogis’ data with a wide adoption of ELDs in the years ahead will be interesting to see.


 

FMCSA’s study on adding split sleeper berth flexibility to hours of service could start this year
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, April 6, 2017

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s study on split sleeper berth flexibility for truck operators will likely enter the data collection phase later this year, says Kelly Regal, the agency’s associate administrator for research and information technology. Regal spoke last month at the Managing Fatigue conference in San Diego, Calif.

 
 

The data collection phase is when researchers began the actual testing component of the study, meaning the driver research subjects will begin operating under a more flexible hours of service schedule that allows them to split their 10 off-duty hours into splits of 5/5, 4/6 and 7/3, as opposed to only the 10/0 and 8/2 splits currently allowed.

It will then compare those in a naturalistic driving study to drivers operating without the flexible sleeper split options.

The agency announced early last year intentions for the study. It has partnered with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to produce the research.

The current step, Regal noted, is to clear the methodology and approach with the White House Office of Management and Budget for review and approval to proceed. "We’re right now planning to start data collection in the fall of 2017." Before it starts, VTTI will be recruiting operators to participate and have said they’ll notify the press when recruitment begins.

Kimberly Honn, Washington State University principal researcher at the Sleep and Performance Research Center, also a partner on the new study, spelled out that the berth-rules exemption that would be provided to drivers participating in the study would enable 3/7-, 4/6- and 5/5-hour splits of the 10-hour required off-duty period. "We know a lot of drivers do choose daytime sleep," Honn said. "But if they can get some of their sleep during the nighttime hours it may be beneficial for them – as good as or better than consolidated daytime sleep."

Much of the trucking industry in recent years has clamored for greater flexibility of drivers’ off-duty time, arguing the 14-hour clock is too stiff to take into account truck drivers’ wildly variable schedules.

Study participants, Honn noted, would be supplied custom ELDs outfitted with alternative exemption-capable rule-sets as well as SmartDrive forward and driver-facing cameras to record critical events on the road. They would wear actigraph watches during waking and sleeping hours, capable of syncing with a supplied smartphone for recording sleep/wake patterns. Drivers would also be asked to utilize the smartphones two to four times a day for three-minute psychomotor vigilance task tests to measure response time/patterns to assess fatigue levels in order to give researchers an indication of whether those utilizing more flexible berth periods experienced substantially different fatigue outcomes than others.


 

Thousands of current Uber, Lyft drivers fail new background checks
Source: https://www.bostonglobe.com; by Adam Vaccaro and Dan Adams, April 5, 2017

More than 8,000 drivers for ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft have been pulled off Massachusetts roads after failing a new state background check, for infractions that range from license suspensions to violent crimes and sexual offenses, according to records released Wednesday.

 
 

The state reviewed the criminal and driving records of nearly 71,000 drivers who had already passed reviews by the companies, and rejected 8,206 — about 11 percent.

Hundreds were disqualified for having serious crimes on their record, including violent or sexual offenses, and others for driving-related offenses, such as drunken driving or reckless driving, according to the state Department of Public Utilities.

The agency said it rejected 51 applications from sex offenders and 352 for incidents related to "Sex, Abuse, and Exploitation."

The new state system, which began checking records in January, rejected many drivers who had first passed the companies’ own reviews. The results prompted concerns about passenger safety, especially since some of the rejected drivers may have been on the roads for years.

"These statistics show clearly that passengers were potentially at risk before regulations took effect," said Mayor Carlo DeMaria of Everett, where two sexual assault cases were brought against Uber drivers in 2016.

Barring a successful appeal, rejected applicants can’t drive for a ride-hailing operation.

Regulations authorized by the Legislature in 2016 are some of the strictest for ride-hailing drivers in the nation. The state says drivers can be disqualified if their records show license suspensions, driving infractions, or serious crimes such as sexual and violent offenses, among other charges.

Some legal advocates said the results raise questions about whether the state’s background checks are too stringent, disqualifying applicants who may have committed a minor violation decades ago or whose cases were settled without a conviction.

The state looks back seven years for violations such as reckless driving, license suspensions, and less serious violent crimes. But it looks back for unlimited periods at other offenses, such as sex crimes, more serious violent crimes, and drunken driving that results in serious injury or death.

Uber and Lyft each pointed out that they are limited by state law to checking just the last seven years of an applicant’s history, which they said explains why so many drivers they had passed flunked the government’s more thorough review. Lyft said only “a small percentage of our drivers failed,” while Uber added that the unlimited reach of the government’s background checks is unfair to drivers who are trying to overcome past troubles.

"Thousands of people in Massachusetts have lost access to economic opportunities as a result of a screening that includes an unfair and unjust indefinite lookback period.

"We have an opportunity to repair the current system in the rules process so that people who deserve to work are not denied the opportunity," the company said.

Uber officials have said that the company runs criminal background checks on all new drivers and rescreens them twice a year. Under the company’s rules, drivers can’t join the service if they have had a felony conviction in the past seven years or a major driving violation, such as a suspended or revoked license or registration, in the past three years.

The most common reasons for rejections were related to driver’s license status: Many had suspended licenses or had not been driving long enough to qualify for the ride-hailing services.

Also disqualified were drivers who had court cases that ended not with a conviction but in a continuation without a finding, a form of settlement that defendants can later get dismissed.

One is Erik Scott, a Peabody resident who began driving with Uber last year. In January, he was told he could no longer operate after failing the state’s background check. The reason, he said, was a continuance without a finding stemming from a street fight in the 1990s, when he was in his early 20s.

"I agree Massachusetts should have stringent background checks," Scott said. "But if the case is dismissed and there’s no conviction, then a driver should be able to earn a living, regardless."

Pauline Quirion, an attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services who represents workers with criminal backgrounds trying to reenter the workforce, said her office has received numerous inquiries from drivers who were disqualified for minor, long-ago offenses.

By not considering the circumstances of each individual’s conviction, Quirion argued, the state could be exposing itself to discrimination lawsuits, because longstanding racial inequities in the criminal justice system mean nonwhite workers are more likely to have records.

"What about somebody who abused drugs, but now they’ve been sober for 20 years? Or a domestic violence victim who has a conviction for throwing a can at her abuser?" Quirion wondered. "Would anyone be worried about her driving an Uber?"

Moreover, the appeals process available to drivers is extremely limited; the state automatically rejects appeals from applicants who have any of 18 disqualifying conditions, ranging from a suspended license to a violent crime. Scott, for example, said his appeal was summarily dismissed.

Concerns about passenger safety have been stoked by a series of sexual assault charges against Uber drivers in recent years. They include a 34-year-old driver arrested in 2016 in Everett for allegedly raping a 16-year-old passenger; the driver had an extensive criminal background, including an array of motor-vehicle charges and a 2008 drug conviction that resulted in a prison sentence.

Outside Massachusetts, the ride-hailing companies typically are the only entities that vet drivers; even states that have adopted regulations for the burgeoning industry generally rely on the companies. But in Massachusetts, after tense negotiations that included lobbying by the taxi industry and Boston Police Commissioner William Evans to require fingerprinting, lawmakers last summer added a state-run background check.

Critics say the results of the state reviews vindicate their claim that the companies’ checks were lax.

"These were 8,200 unqualified and potentially dangerous individuals to the public who were driving around," said Donna Blythe-Shaw, a labor organizer and advocate for Boston cab drivers, who must undergo fingerprint checks by the city. "The good news is that they’re not on the road any longer. The bad news is that the [companies’] system is deeply flawed."

Evans said the rejections were "a good sign we’re looking into making sure our drivers are qualified and our riders are safe."

"You can’t be too safe," he added, saying that he still wants drivers to undergo a fingerprint-based background check, like those his department imposed on cab drivers, beginning in February 2016.

The state checks began in January, after Uber and Lyft signed an agreement to submit their drivers to the reviews a year before the law would have required. Drivers had until Monday to submit their applications to the state.

In a statement, Governor Charlie Baker said “public safety is a top priority” and that his administration looks forward "to future partnerships with Uber, Lyft, and others to grow this innovative industry and support more jobs and economic opportunities for all."


 


 

FMCSA ups fines for violations
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com; by Matt Cole, April 11, 2017

The U.S. DOT has increased fines across the board for violations of federal trucking regulations, it announced Wednesday.

 
 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is required by Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 to adjust fine amounts each year based on inflation.

A Final Rule that will be published in the Federal Register Wednesday, April 12, will make the new fine amounts effective 10 days following the rule’s publication. The 2015 Act requires FMCSA issue the inflation adjustments by Jan. 15 each year, meaning the agency missed its deadline. FMCSA says delaying the implementation further than 10 days "would be contrary to the public interest."

Last year, the agency issued a "catch-up" adjustment, which raised some fines and lowered others. This year, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget provided guidance to FMCSA for a cost-of-living adjustment multiplier of 1.01636. Given this multiplier, all of the fine amounts increased, as seen here.


 

April 2017 Articles

ELD Certification: What Does it Really Mean?
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Deborah Lockridge, March 2017

Motor carriers beware: FMCSA does NOT "certify" ELDs.

 
 

If you see an announcement that an electronic logging device has been "FMCSA certified" to meet the new mandatory ELD regulations that go into effect Dec. 17, you might assume that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has performed some sort of testing to verify that that the ELD does in fact comply with those regulations.

That assumption would be wrong.

Earlier this year, FMCSA posted a notice on its Facebook page that "some ELD manufacturers are improperly marketing their devices as ‘FMCSA-certified.’ This is incorrect. FMCSA maintains an online registry of devices vendor-certified by the manufacturer."

In guidance last September, FMCSA advised, "Prior to purchasing an ELD, carriers and drivers should confirm that the device is certified and registered with FMCSA and listed at this website: https://3pdp.fmcsa.dot.gov/ELD/ELDList.aspx. Devices not vendor-certified by manufacturers and registered with FMCSA may not be compliant with the FMCSRs."

But in reality, there’s no guarantee that the ones on the list are actually compliant, either.

Registration, not verification

"In order to certify their product, ELD manufacturers simply conduct their own tests," explains Alexis Cappelle, ELD program manager for Continental Corp. "However, the tests may or may not follow FMCSA's test specifications. As a result, fleets may not know if an ELD registered on FMCSA's website is actually compliant. A system registered today may be found non-compliant tomorrow and removed from the list."

John Seidl, a longtime commercial enforcement officer who’s now a transportation consultant with Integrated Risk Solutions, puts it a bit more bluntly: To get on the list, "In layman’s terms, you just say, ‘I’m an ELD.’"

Tom Cuthbertson, vice president of regulatory affairs with Omnitracs, explains that "it’s a registration process; it’s not a certification process. At this point FMCSA, they’re not vetting documentation."

Joel Beal, general manager of Loadtrek, has been in the electronic logs business since 1998. Unscrupulous ELD providers, he says, "could throw together some Word docs and check a few things off and [say] ‘Voila, I’m certified.’"

Gorilla Safety, however, says "the self-certification process is not as easy as one might think. The FMCSA doesn’t just ‘trust’ that you are compliant. Instead, they ask for additional details of your product, documentation and other items important in the process."

Cuthbertson explains that there is a list of documents ELD suppliers must upload to the website to register, such as a driver user card, instructions on transfer of data to law enforcement, malfunction and diagnostics, photos, and serial numbers of the products.

Nevertheless, Gorilla Safety admits, "With that said, there is much room for ambiguity."

"The assumption is compliance," says David Heller, vice president of government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association. "Like any rule — when they issue the hours of service rule, they expect drivers to comply. They’re not going to be out there looking at these carriers… it’s up to the provider to develop the device to the specs" provided by FMCSA.

Avery Vise with TransComply, a compliance support firm for smaller carriers, says in developing this self-certification process, the agency "has not really fully taken into account… the upside of being able to entice people to buy your product because you’re registered is great enough that some of these vendors may well self-certify even if they’re not remotely compliant. Some of them have been on the list from within a few weeks of the list being available, and it seems unlikely they went through a very rigorous process."

Independent verification

This is why PIT Group, a Canada-based testing group better known for its fuel efficiency testing, last year announced that it would offer independent testing and verification of ELDs.

"In advance of the ELD mandate in the U.S., a growing number of suppliers are self-certifying ELDs," said Yves Provencher, director of the PIT Group. "But suppliers that come to us for ELD verification will differentiate themselves in the market because our testing is thorough and unbiased, and it will cover the most up-to-date requirements in the ELD rule."

One ELD provider that has teamed up with PIT for independent verification is ERoad, which expects to be on the FMCSA ELD provider list very soon. The New Zealand-based telematics provider is relatively new to the North American market but has been in business since 2000.

Gorilla Safety is another company that has turned to outside help. It is using KPMG, one of the "big four" auditing firms, to review testing procedures, results, security governance and more.

The company explains that in self-certifying, ELD providers can use the ruling itself or the testing manual. However, "We have found many discrepancies between the ruling and the published testing manual, causing Gorilla Safety to err on the side of safety and use the ruling itself in these cases. Due to this ambiguity, it was important to Gorilla Safety to enlist the help of a well-recognized third-party for our testing procedures, test result review and final assessment."

Gorilla says there are still challenges to using a third-party certification. "The third party provider could be engaged to test one version of the software. In this case, how do they assure ongoing versions of the software remain compliant? Secondly, how can the client be sure the testing company takes the most conservative approach, assuring compliance? Third, what is the reputation of the third-party testing firm? Is this a company you have heard of before and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt is above board? Will you stake your company on it? These are all important questions."

What happens if it’s not compliant after all?

If for some reason the device is discovered down the road to not be compliant, the carrier is in a tight situation. While the driver can use paper logs temporarily, the FMCSA says motor carriers will have eight days from notification to replace a noncompliant device with a compliant one.

"This is the same time allowed to take action on ELDs that need to be repaired, replaced, or serviced," says Duane DeBrunie, FMCSA spokesman. "In the event of a widespread issue, FMCSA will work with affected motor carriers to establish a reasonable timeframe for replacing non-compliant devices with ELDs that meet the requirements."

Vise says "this provides little comfort to carriers. It sounds as if FMCSA only plans to be flexible if there is a ‘widespread issue.’ That is of little consolation to a carrier that relied on ELD registration in its decision to purchase a system."

Eric Witty, vice president of product at PeopleNet, says "a system that’s noncompliant should be one of the most concerning things for people. If they buy a system that claims to be compliant and FMCSA says, ‘We don’t think this is compliant and you need to get it corrected,’ you’d better make sure whoever you’re doing business with has the ability to react. Otherwise you could get into a rip-and-replace situation where you have to replace it with a new one."

Why don’t I recognize most of these names?

As of this writing, there are just under three dozen ELDs on the list. But if you’re looking for longtime electronic log and in-cab computing companies such as Omnitracs or PeopleNet, you may be puzzled to find they aren’t there. Some providers say they won’t feel comfortable self-certifying their e-log systems as an FMCSA-compliant ELD until they’ve completed more testing.

Pete Allen, executive VP of sales for MiX Telematics, notes that the ELD certification guidelines are a 500-plus-page document with a lot of technical details. As an ELD provider, he says, "you want to make sure you’ve got it right before you [self-certify]. We are planning to do it well before the deadline. Our platform we’re putting out in the field today is ELD ready, it just needs a software update."

At Omnitracs, Cuthbertson explains, there’s a lot of testing to go through before they will feel comfortable registering as self-certified. "We support quite a number of HOS rulesets you have to go through. We want to make sure if our customers are using California ag rules or Texas oil field rules, all this stuff has to be tested together."

However, ERoad says the ELD rule does not require those HOS rule sets to be built in. "There are no technical specifications that require all the standard and specialized HOS rule sets to be provided on the ELD," says Gail Levario, vice president of strategy and market development. "It is an optional value-added feature for an ELD to have the built-in HOS functionality." ERoad is one ELD provider that says it will soon be on the self-certified registration list, with the help of a third-party verification service from PIT Group.

The ERODS file

One of the key sticking points cited by some ELD providers is related to how enforcement officials will check driver logs. Many officers will be using a software called ERODS (short for Electronic Record of Duty Status) to translate data from a file transferred from the ELD into a consistent format that will automatically do the math.

To get that file to the officer, it can be done via telematics (uploaded via web services or sent in an attachment to an email), or peer to peer (a short-distance transfer protocol such as Bluetooth or a USB file transfer.)

"This USB file transfer is not your $15, 6-GB thumb drive," says Cuthbertson. "This is an approximately $100 malware-protected thumb drive that enforcement would own, not the carrier or the driver."

Seidl says not all states will do the file transfer to ERODS. In that case, there are two options:

• The driver can print a copy of the log to give to the enforcement officer. Very few systems will have this capability.

• If the ELD is set up to allow it, the driver can hand the actual device to the enforcement officer to look at a display that mimics the traditional paper log grid. Cuthbertson notes that the display under ELD rules must have additional fields displayed for the officer, such as the odometer reading.

However, apparently the ERODS software is not yet ready, and FMCSA has not given ELD providers a way to test the actual files to make sure they will transfer properly. FMCSA has been clear that this is not a requirement to self-certify, but some ELD providers would feel better about putting themselves on that list if they were able to test this file.

Duane DeBrunie, FMCSA spokesman, says the requirements for the output file are outlined in the technical specifications. "The manufacturer’s responsibility is to ensure the output file meets that requirement. If it does, the manufacturer can self-certify. FMCSA is in the process of testing its ability to receive and process the output file, but that will not be part of the certification process."

PeopleNet’s Witty explains, "It’s not that we don’t want to be [on the list] and that customers don’t constantly ask why we’re not, but even though it’s self-certification, there is a testing process…. and one of those things is being able to create and exchange a file with the FMCSA, and the FMCSA is not even done creating the web services that allow you to exchange the file. So until then, you can’t really verify it.

"We could in spirit say we’ve done all the other testing, we’ve created a file and reviewed it and believe it meets the criteria without actually exchanging it with FMSA and could be on that list today, but we’ve chosen not to because we believe until you can actually do the testing and be sure it works," Witty says.

Beal says the fact that there is no way to really test the file makes many ELD providers nervous.

"As most developers and engineers will tell you, building a file to spec doesn’t always mean it’s going to work," Beal explains. "There are some very smart people who question the structure of the file. We would never release a product that isn’t tested because you just never know. So we’re hoping in the next month or two we get access to some sort of testing environment."

One company that’s not particularly concerned about it is ERoad, which was expected to be added to the FMCSA self-certified list in March.

"We’re still waiting for FMCSA to finalize the file transfer, [but] we have no doubt that after what we’ve done with the 600-page document and how well we’ve translated that into a very workable product that we'll be able to do the same with the file transfer," says ERoad President Norm Ellis. "That’s not an area we’re particularly concerned about and we’ll be ready to comply as soon as it’s shared with us."

And in fact, says ERoad’s Levario, "The way that the ELD mandate has been written, the ELDs can be implemented without ERODS, because roadside inspectors will fall back to the display requirement of the ELD to be able to conduct their inspection."

Or, they can fall back on an ELD which can print the logs, which is what Continental’s VDO Road Log ELD does. Capelle says "standards for roadside log data transfers are not yet in place, and may not be in place for years to come. As enforcement starts truly checking the logs from ELDs, scrolling through electronic displays and smartphones will be very difficult and time-consuming. Many drivers will want to look for a system that doesn't require them to hand over their smartphone or tablet to enforcement … An ELD that can print out an instant log answers the need for fast inspections and maintaining privacy."

Teletrac Navman is addressing the problem by guaranteeing updates to its customers as needed for compliance. "Certain aspects of technical specifications that ELD devices will be required to comply with have yet to be published," it noted in an announcement. "As a result, Teletrac Navman will continue to upgrade existing Director HOS customers with the relevant compliance specifications when and as they become defined; ensuring customers' Director investments remain protected after the December 18, 2017, and December 16, 2019, compliance deadlines."

What can you do?

Cuthbertson was on the MCSAC subcommittee that wrote some of the technical specs. "I know what the detail is, and it’s pretty significant. I’m not going to disparage anybody; I’m just saying people should look at the products, understand the regulation, and go through the checklist to make sure all those items are there. Don’t just say, ‘They're on the list, that’s a good product.’ It’s buyer beware."

There is a checklist that ELD providers are supposed to go through in order to self-certify. For instance, Beal says, the system is supposed to allow you to do a diagnostic health check to make sure the system is running.

"A lot of systems have been known to go down for hours at a time and record nothing," Beal says. There are provisions to make sure the system is tied into the truck’s electronic control module and read specific information from it, such as speed and distance. There are certain ways the information has to be displayed in the cab of the truck.

"If you’re reasonably honest and competent, you can do your own homework and figure out if [an ELD] meets [the standards] or not," Beal says.

MiX Telematics' Allen recommends fleets work to understand the technical requirements and make sure whoever they pick meets the requirements. "It’s a self-certification process, and just because a company fills out the form that says they do, doesn’t mean they do." He recommends fleets consider creating test scenarios to help evaluate possible ELD vendors. For instance, how are the new editing requirements handled?

"They must have a log in for the driver; they must prompt for any unassigned mileage to find out if should go against that driver. They also need to validate any edited logs. All edits are put in the driver’s hands, but if a manager does an edit, it must be prompted to the driver to accept or reject."

Another scenario, Allen says, is if you have certain specific hours of service challenges such as oil field rules. "I’ve been doing this 25 years and I’ve seen companies that don’t interpret the hours correctly, so the system doesn’t work for certain scenarios."

Fleets, he says, could create a couple of such scenarios for a potential vendor and ask them to demonstrate how their system handles them, or request that a couple of units be installed and run a live test for a week or so alongside the paper logs.

Vise suggests that at the very least, "the simple thing to do is to ask the manufacturer what they have done with the product to differ from an AOBRD [the regulatory standard in effect for e-logs currently in use]. Don’t say, "Do you do this or that;’ just say, ‘What have you done.’ See if they can explain it, see if they understand the difference. Any credible supplier should know.

"The other thing they should do is they really should insist on or try to insist on a provision in their supply agreement that calls for damages in the event there’s a delisting, in the event FMCSA ultimately determines that an ELD is not compliant and says essentially that we’ll buy back the devices and compensate for any lost time because a driver or truck had to be grounded. The upshot is really that a disreputable provider is not going to agree to that. If they’re not going to stand by their product, then I would recommend moving on to someone else."


 

Audit: Some Californians cleared to work without background checks
Source: http://www.kcra.com; by KCRA Staff, March 15, 2017

DSS continues to improper checks 3 years after KCRA investigation, state law

 
 

State auditors found that California does a poor job of screening social services workers and sometimes allows people with previous arrests or convictions to work in facilities that care for children, adults and seniors.

The report was released Tuesday, three years after a KCRA investigation found that the Department of Social Services (DSS) was clearing people who were convicted of serious crimes to work without proper background checks.

In 2014, KCRA 3 Investigates found that DSS was sending letters clearing people who were convicted of violent offenses like sex with a minor, elder abuse, arson and other crimes without looking into their backgrounds. The department had said they would clear them and do the proper check later.

That report sparked a state law which requires the DSS perform proper background checks. Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, authored the bill in 2014, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

State auditors said in the last two years, DSS still wasn't performing the proper background checks.

"You know, we worked really hard to get at this problem,” Maienschein said Tuesday. "This is a serious problem, and to see people just not complying with the law is incredibly frustrating."

The audit pinpoints several areas where the DSS falls short and allows people to work before they are cleared. The report found:

• DSS was not getting the proper information from the California Department of Justice (DOJ).

• DOJ stopped providing complete criminal histories and the information it did provide is often tardy.

• DSS does not always obtain or review all appropriate information before allowing individuals access to facilities.

• DSS granted exemptions allowing more than 40 people to get licenses between 2013 and last year, despite being convicted of identity theft, pimping, pandering or certain sex crimes.

• DSS and four other departments within the California Health and Human Services Agency do not share critical information.

As a result, "Social Services does not receive all of the information it needs to protect vulnerable clients," auditors said.

Auditors found that in 17 of the 18 cares they reviewed, DSS did not properly review background information on those seeking state licenses, sometimes ignoring convictions for relatively minor crimes.

All told, auditors found six times in 2014 and 2015 where justice officials did not notify the department of convictions, though department officials found out in other ways. Two of those convictions -- for child abuse and for inflicting pain on an elderly or dependent adult -- were enough to disqualify the applicant from getting a license.

Auditors found one case where the DOJ did not disclose that an applicant seeking a license had committed assault with intent to murder as a minor.

"We like to focus more on the felonies and the misdemeanor convictions and arrests because those are things we look at as being risks to individuals in facilities," DSS spokesperson Michael Weston said. "Whereas something that is an infraction, most likely on an appeal, somebody can have that overturned by a judge."

DSS said it welcomes the recommendations by the auditor. The agency claims it did not get proper information from the DOJ. The audit report said changes should be made to state law to require the DOJ to give full background information to the department.

A pending bill, SB420, by state Sen. William Monning, D-Carmel, would require justice officials to disclose more information.

Auditors said lawmakers should also add to the list of crimes that keep individuals from obtaining a state license.

Portions of the report "are somewhat disturbing," said Bob Alvarez, a spokesman for Sen. Kathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, who sought the audit. He said Galgiani may seek changes in state law as the auditors recommended.

The social services department "will continue to improve processes to ensure that individuals caring for adults and children are properly cleared," said spokesman Michael Weston, adding that "much of this work is already underway."

DOJ officials did not immediately comment Tuesday, but told auditors that state law must be changed before it can provide more information.


 

ATA Pulling for Hair-Testing Standards
Source: http://www.worktruckonline.com; by David Cullen, March 21, 2017

The American Trucking Associations is continuing its push to allow hair-testing to be used in lieu of urinalysis to detect drug use by CDL driver applicants.

 
 

In a March 20 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear called for HHS to quickly release guidelines and standards for the use of hair samples in mandatory drug testing of truck drivers.

ATA pointed out in a statement that HHS has yet to issue the necessary standards that would allow those tests to be implemented. It also noted that this week ,the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (an HHS agency) will hold Drug Testing Advisory Board meetings to consider hair-testing, "putting HHS well behind its congressionally mandated deadline."

"Many trucking companies are using urinalysis to meet federal requirements, while also paying the additional cost to conduct hair testing," Spear said in the letter. "We are frustrated that the previous administration failed to meet the statutory deadline and believe your leadership will finally see a resolution to this long-standing and important safety rule."

According to ATA, the association and many of its member carriers contend that, based on experience, "hair-testing is more effective at preventing habitual drug users from obtaining jobs as truck drivers, thus improving highway safety."

"Making sure America’s truck drivers are safe and drug-free is among ATA’s highest priorities," Spear said. "This commitment is why ATA led the charge for mandatory drug-testing of commercial drivers, for the creation of a clearinghouse for drug and alcohol testing results, and the use of hair-testing."

Spear’s letter comes a month after the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (a.k.a. the Trucking Alliance) submitted a set of detailed comments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that strongly support a petition calling for motor carriers to be exempt from having to use urinalysis to test for drug use by CDL driver applicants.

In January, David Heller, vice president of government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association, told HDT that once HHS "vets its guidelines to incorporate hair testing as an 'and/or option' for its drug testing protocols, carriers can use that option to better define the drug history of a potential driver."


 

5 Trends in FMCSA Compliance Reviews
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com; by Don Jerrell, HNI, March 2017

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently announced that it is changing the process for performing compliance reviews. Specifically, they referred to expanded interviews with members within the organization. (The truth is, they have been doing this for a while, but recently completed all the training and therefore made the announcement.)

 
 

Does this mean that compliance reviews have changed?

Yes and no. FMCSA had already trended from full reviews to focused reviews. However, there are some things that we are seeing with regards to compliance reviews. From our perspective, here are five items that we are seeing:

1. Many reviews are occurring due to complaints vs. CSA scores.

Historically, complaints were considered a lower priority by FMCSA in deciding to perform a compliance review. CSA scores that had BASICs on alert were the primary determining factor for a compliance review. However, recently the complaints are taking a much higher priority than previously. There are a couple of reasons for this:

• Driver coercion rule:In 2016, the DOT released the final rule regarding driver coercion (different from harassment, which is tied to electronic logging devices). As a result, most complaints are being treated as if coercion has occurred. Thus, the visit. What is interesting is that little if any cases of coercion are being found. What is happening is during the investigation the inspector is “discovering” issues that now result in a compliance review being performed while the inspector is at that location. We have seen several carriers who have no scores on alert (in fact have “best in class” scores) in CSA BASICs, but are now receiving a focused review (usually hours of service – but not always), which is resulting in a "conditional" rating along with a fine. 

• Ease of filing a complaint: FMCSA has made it very easy for someone to file a complaint. Previously the complainant was requested to put something in writing and send in to the FMCSA. Now the complainant can just go through the FMCSA website and to enter the complaint.

2. Hours of service, in particular false logs, is still the most common violation.

We are still seeing that hours of service is the most common area where violations are occurring during these focused reviews; primarily falsification. Carriers need to make sure they are cross referencing time (not just date) documents with the driver’s logs. These documents could include fuel (from fuel reports not paper receipts), tolls, reimbursement receipts, etc.

3. The DVIR process has now popped up as an easy target

Before December 2015, it was more difficult for an inspector or auditor to be able to make a case with regards to driver vehicle inspectino reports. With drivers turning in a DVIR daily and the requirement of finding a pattern of 10% (critical) in order to make a case that would result in a fine, it was very difficult and time-consuming for the inspector to gather enough information. However, with the new rule of only filling out a DVIR when a defect has occurred, it is much easier to make a case. Throw out all the clean ones and what do you have left?

So inspectors are using roadside inspections that had maintenance issues listed and asking for the DVIR that corresponds with that date. No DVIR or an issue not listed? That’s one. Now you need at a minimum of 10 to make up for that one. Other items that could be used against a DVIR would include breakdown reports filled out by the driver and given to the shop for repairs, and maintenance records that show multiple items that it would be obvious the driver should have been aware. 

We recommend carriers to (at a minimum) do the following:

- Cross reference roadside inspections that have maintenance issues listed with the drivers DVIR.

- Look at your internal processes to see how drivers are communicating to the shop when repairs are needed and cross reference with the driver’s DVIR.

- Train the shop to report when they see or perform repairs that should have been seen by the driver and compare to the driver’s DVIR.

4. Changes to the medical card verification process are causing compliance concerns.

The "grace" period is over. If you are not verifying the physician's license via the national registry and/or not running a CDLIS report, you will be a target.

There has been an interesting battle as to when a report from a system vs. a CDLIS report is acceptable. We recommend the carrier run the new CDLIS report, but there has been an interpretation that says if “all” the required information is on a report, you can use that instead – the issue being "all the required information."

5. Drivers operating with suspended or invalid CDLs.

It only takes a few of these violations to get a BASIC on alert status in CSA. You need to make sure that you have an internal process to monitor and make sure driver’s licenses are not being suspended. (Don’t count on the driver.)

Not updating medical information is a suspension. Many states are not communicating back and forth on suspended licenses too.


 

As Opioid Epidemic Rages, Worksite Policies Overlook Prescribed Drugs
Source: https://www.shrm.org/; by Stephen Miller, CEBS, March 2017

How to craft drug policies to include prescription medications

 
 

Seventy-one percent of U.S. employers say they have been affected in some way by employee misuse of legally prescribed medications, including opioids, according to a new survey.

"Most drug addictions today don't begin on the street; they start in a doctor's office with legal, valid prescriptions," said Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, a nonprofit chartered by Congress. "Employers must understand that the most dangerously misused drug today may be sitting in employees' medicine cabinets. Even when they are taken as prescribed, prescription drugs such as opioids can impair workers and create hazards on the job."

Most employers have a drug-free workplace policy directed at illegal drugs, along with an alcohol abuse policy, but most don't have a prescription drug policy in place, Hersman said during a press briefing. Meanwhile, "misuse has grown rapidly, and employers have struggled to keep pace."

The council's survey findings, released on March 9, build on 501 interviews with HR decision-makers across the U.S. at organizations with 50 or more employees. All respondents were involved in, or ultimately responsible for, their workplace's strategy and policies on health and safety (including drug and alcohol policies) or health care benefits.

Other findings from the survey include:

- 19 percent of employers feel "extremely prepared" to deal with prescription drug misuse in the workplace.

- 81 percent lack a comprehensive drug-free workplace policy.

- 41 percent of those that drug test employees are not testing for synthetic opioids.

"Encouragingly, 70 percent would like to help employees who are struggling with prescription drug misuse return to their positions after completing treatment," said Hersman.

[SHRM members-only HR Q&A: What laws should companies be aware of when implementing a drug testing program?]

Coverage of Alternative Therapies

Hersman advised employers to work with their insurers to cover alternative therapies so that employees can avoid taking opioids or other addictive medications for chronic pain. Alternative therapies include acupuncture, guided imagery, chiropractic treatment, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback and others.

While 88 percent of survey respondents were interested in their health insurer covering alternative pain treatments, 30 percent of those employers indicated they would not act on that interest by negotiating expanded coverage with insurers—suggesting a missed opportunity to provide employees with healthier pain-relief options.

Establishing a Policy

Taking medications with a valid prescription is not illegal, which has made enacting prescription drug policies and understanding the need for them difficult, Hersman noted.

The National Safety Council provides a free Prescription Drug Employer Kit to help employers create prescription drug policies and manage opioid use at work. The kit recommends actions that HR managers can take, including:

- Define the employee's role in making the workplace safe. A drug-free workplace program (DFWP) should state what employees must do if they are prescribed medications that carry a warning label or may cause impairment. Commonly abused medications include hydrocodone (prescription medications Lortab and Vicodin, for example); benzodiazepines (tranquilizers like Valium, Librium, Xanax); barbiturates (phenobarbital, butalbital, secobarbital, downers); methadone (increasingly prescribed as a painkiller); buprenorphine (often used to treat heroin addiction); and stimulants (like Ritalin and Dexedrine).

The DFWP should also spell out the steps an employer will take if it suspects a worker is using these kinds of medications without a prescription, in larger doses than prescribed or more frequently than prescribed.

- Add prescription drug testing to illicit drug testing. There are tests that detect legally prescribed and commonly abused medications, such as those listed above. Working with legal counsel, the employer should decide if additional testing is warranted for pre-employment screening, or for pre-duty, periodic, at random, post-incident, reasonable suspicion, return-to-duty or follow-up situations.

- List the procedures or corrective actions the employer will follow when an employee is suspected of misusing prescription drugs or for an employee with confirmed prescription drug abuse. This should include how the misuse will be identified, what the worker's leave options are, what medical certifications are required for medical leave and the conditions that must be met before the employee can return to work.

- Obtain legal advice. An attorney experienced in DFWP issues should review the policy before it's finalized.

- Train supervisory staff and educate employees. Educate managers and supervisors about prescription drug abuse and what to do if they suspect an employee has a problem.

- Review service coverage for behavioral health and/or employee assistance program (EAP) needs. Evaluate the behavioral health portions of health insurance policies and EAP contracts to ensure employees are covered for abuse of prescription drugs.

Employers have been held legally responsible when workers who were injured on the job and prescribed medications have accidentally overdosed, "but the biggest reason employers should care about the issue is out of concern for their employees," Hersman noted. "Research indicates that those struggling with substance abuse have better sustained recovery rates if their employers help them to receive treatment and monitor their recovery, than if treatment is initiated by family or friends," she said. "For some workers, employer engagement may be the difference between life and death."


 

Preventable or not: Trucker’s trip ruined by railroad track drama
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com; by CCJ Staff, March 2017

At a roadside safety inspection that morning (which earned him a CVSA decal), tractor-trailer driver John Doe had a brief chat with the safety specialist about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s emphasis on violations under Compliance, Safety, Accountability. Trucking companies now must be on guard for even the smallest infractions, Doe was advised. Good thing he’d rolled into fleet headquarters yesterday for a preventive maintenance check, 10-4?

 
 

Suddenly, Doe’s musings were interrupted by the realization that he was fast approaching an intersection controlled by a traffic light. About 60 feet beyond the intersection was a railroad grade crossing with another traffic light plus signal arms and bells to warn of an approaching locomotive. Since both traffic lights were green, Doe proceeded and was a few feet from the tracks when … Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! … Egad! The light at the grade crossing had just turned red, and the gates were descending!

If Doe stood on the brakes, the little car that presumably still was tailgating his rig surely would run smack into his underride guard, 10-4? And what about that phone call from his fleet manager about that hard-brake alert? So Doe reluctantly floored the accelerator and … CRACK! Oh no! A signal arm descended upon, and severely mangled, Doe’s shotgun-side West Coast mirror! Argh!

Since Doe contested the preventable-accident warning letter from his safety director, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee was asked to render a final decision. To Doe’s dismay, NSC ruled against him, noting that it’s better to risk being rear-ended by a Honda Civic than to be sideswiped by a freight train. Doe should have panic-stopped, NSC decided.


 

March 2017 Articles

Commentary: Parts - At A Vending Machine Near You
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Denise Rondini, February 2017

Typically when we think of vending machines, we think of snack foods or beverages. More recently, however, they are being used in industrial applications.

 
 

Companies such as Fastenal and 1sourcevend are installing vending machines in industrial plants, where they vend things like tools, safety glasses, and even small parts. Fastenal has gone one step further with its Fast P.O.D, a shipping container that acts as a mini-store. The shipping containers have been altered to accommodate computer equipment, to improve security, and to include insulation and heating and air conditioning.

Whether a shipping container or a vending machine, the idea is to bring parts closer to the customer.

"I think it will fit [with trucking]," says Mark Hill, president of 1source vend. "As we say here, we manage widgets. We don’t care what they are. It is about management and replenishment of [needed] items." Initially, Hill thought the vending machines in industrial applications would be used for high-value items, but he says, "a lot of it has turned out to be low-cost items, and that has been driven by the customer."

He says customers don’t want to run out of things they need, and although places like Amazon and others say they can get a needed item delivered the next day, with a vending machine there is no need to wait.

Will vending machines work in the trucking industry? Bill Wade, managing partner, Wade & Partners, thinks so. "I think it would be especially good for the heavy truck business. You could put all the wear items like belts, hoses, seals, bearings, etc., in them."

While you might not be able to put a whole suspension in a vending machine, "you definitely could carry rotors, drums, disc brake pads," he adds. If a pod system was used, Wade believes it could also serve as a core depot, where a fleet could leave used cores for later pickup by a distributor or dealer.

Gary Polipnick, executive vice president of FAST Solution at Fastenal, believes truck stops would be a great place for the company’s Fast P.O.D. or even a vending machine. "It could be used for common things like diesel additives or quarts of oil — some real basic things. It is a nobrainer." He adds, "Vending machines or Fast P.O.D. systems are accessible 24/7, so if a driver needs something like a headlight, he can pick it up when he stops to eat or use the restroom."

Current industrial vending machines work via a magnetic swipe card or other device that tracks who has purchased a part. Hill says in addition to tracking purchases by employees, 1sourcevend machines can track which department or which job the part was for. In the case of a vending machine at a truck stop or other more public location, credit card purchases would be allowed.

Both the vending machine and the shipping pods keep track of inventory levels and send alerts when minimum stocking numbers have been reached, allowing for replenishment before a product runs out.

Machines do not have to be stocked with the same products, meaning a distributor or dealer could tailor each machine to a fleet’s specific needs at a specific location.

Think the idea is not realistic for trucking? Remember that it was not that long ago that the idea of Amazon being in the truck parts business seemed far-fetched, Wade notes. "Last year Amazon did something like $1.89 billion in truck parts sales. That would make them the biggest truck parts distributor in the world."

While a vending machine solution is not going to cover everything, it is one way to get parts closer to the end user. "I think anybody who looks at this idea and doesn’t see a possibility for it is just not looking too hard," Wade says.


 

Should You Hire Someone with a Criminal Record?
Source: https://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu; by Kellogg Staff, February 3, 2017

Companies that give ex-offenders a fresh start may be rewarded with employees who stick around. Based on the research of Dylan Minor, Nicola Persico and Deborah M. Weiss

 
 

Each year, more than 650,000 prisoners in the U.S. are set free. But many employers are unwilling to hire them—a trend with enormous social implications, since being employed increases an ex-offender’s chance of reintegrating into society and staying out of jail.

Employers often worry that people with criminal records will steal, behave unethically, harass coworkers, or become violent. Or these applicants may be perceived as less competent; if they have spent time behind bars, maybe they lack social and professional skills.

But how true are these assumptions?

A team of researchers at Kellogg and Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law wondered whether employers were right to be concerned. When they analyzed data on about a quarter of a million applicants for sales and customer service jobs in the U.S., they found that ex-offenders who did get hired were no more likely to be fired later than non-offenders. And they were less likely to quit — saving their firms a significant amount of money in employee turnover costs.

"For these companies, turnover is huge," says coauthor, Dylan Minor, an assistant professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at Kellogg. If an employer has thousands of workers, "at the end of the year, that’s going to be a big difference."

The picture was not entirely rosy. The researchers found that in sales positions, people with criminal records were more likely to be fired for misconduct. So if a firm is filling a position where unethical or illegal behavior could dramatically affect the company, such as a financial job, the employer might be wise to avoid hiring an ex-offender, Minor says.

"There could be an opportunity to hire some people, give them a second chance, and even get a more loyal employee."—Dylan Mino

For other types of work, though, companies that automatically blacklist applicants with criminal records might want to reconsider their policies.

Minor says he has heard employers say, "I’d never hire someone with a background." But, he notes, "there could be an opportunity to hire some people, give them a second chance, and even get a more loyal employee."

Hiring Ex-Offenders

A job is a crucial step in establishing a new life upon release from prison. Yet, one study found that eight months after getting out of jail, more than half of ex-offenders did not have current jobs. And being unemployed is strongly linked to a higher risk of committing another crime. In other words, many of these rejected applicants are likely to end up back in prison.

Minor and his colleagues Nicola Persico, a professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at Kellogg, and Deborah Weiss, director of the Workforce Science Project at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, examined data from a hiring consultancy on more than 1 million job applicants from 2008 to 2014. The records covered 11 companies in the U.S., mainly for sales representatives in call centers and customer service positions. For about 264,000 candidates, information was available on whether or not the person was an ex-offender.

The researchers first investigated whether these companies were indeed more reluctant to hire candidates with criminal records. Looking at the overall data set, the researchers did not initially see a pattern suggesting that the employers were less likely to hire people with a criminal history.

Persico points out that while that may seem surprising, it is important to remember that those who apply for a job are a self-selected group.

"Applying is costly in terms of time, and so presumably only those who have a reasonable chance of being hired choose to apply," he says. "With this self-selected group of applicants, those with a criminal record presumably have some other positive attribute that, while unobservable to us researchers, makes them optimistic that they can get hired despite their criminal record."

But if the team analyzed specific positions and controlled for some aspects of education and work history, differences emerged. The hiring rate for ex-offenders was 3.7 percentage points lower than for non-offenders in sales positions and 1.7 percentage points lower in customer service positions.

Reducing Employee Turnover

What happens to ex-offenders that are hired?

Contrary to what employers might assume, the team saw no difference in firing rates between workers with and without criminal records. The data did not specify which crimes the employees had committed, so it is possible that the companies hired ex-offenders only if they had a less serious criminal history. That said, the ex-offenders whom the firms do hire appear to perform no worse than non-offenders, Minor says.

And when the team examined rates of voluntary quitting, ex-offenders actually did better. On average, employees stayed at their jobs for about five months. But workers with criminal records stuck around for an average of about three weeks longer than those without records. While that might not seem like much extra time, each turnover costs the firm about $4,000. So the researchers estimate that hiring ex-offenders could save companies about $1,000 per year per position.

Put another way, the turnover rate for employees with criminal records is about 13% lower. "They’re more loyal to the firm," says Minor, who speculates that they might stay longer because they do not have as many options to work elsewhere.

Trouble in Sales

Employers’ concerns about ex-offenders are, however, partially justified. The team studied workers who had been fired specifically for misconduct, which could range from stealing to workplace violence. The researchers saw no difference in customer service jobs. But when they examined sales positions, they found that employees with criminal records had a 28% higher risk of being terminated for misconduct than coworkers without records.

It is not clear why this pattern would arise in sales. Perhaps people with a penchant for bad behavior are more attracted to sales positions. Or maybe the sales environment somehow encourages workers to act unethically.

The results suggest that employers should be cautious about hiring an ex-offender to perform, say, a job involving sensitive business information. “I would think twice before hiring someone with a record in that setting,” Minor says.

Ban the Box Laws

Policies have been implemented to help ex-offenders get jobs, but they may not always work as intended. In some areas, regulations known as ,"ban the box" laws prevent companies from asking candidates on their initial applications whether they have a criminal record. Instead, employers must wait to find out until later in the hiring process. But some studies suggest that in the absence of this information, employers may discriminate more strongly based on racial stereotypes instead.

This research cannot address whether "ban the box" policies should continue. The data covered only ex-offenders who applied for jobs, and it is possible that people with particularly bad criminal records did not even bother trying. If candidates were no longer required to disclose their backgrounds up front, perhaps the serious criminals would seek work more frequently, with different results.

However, the study does suggest that, at least for some occupations, ex-offenders can become valuable employees. Educating employers about these findings could open the door to more applicants with criminal records, Minor says. And that could keep more people out of jail.

"If these people don’t get a job, the chances are that they’re going right back," he says. "It’s this vicious circle that’s really tough to get them out of."


 

Do You Have a Will?
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com; by TruckingInfo Staff, February 9, 2017

I hope this doesn't come across like an admonishment from a reformed smoker, but I just lost my father, and I'm happy to say he died with a will. That will make the next few months much easier on me and my sister. Dad had it all in place, right down to phone numbers and email addresses for those that held his important papers. Unfortunately, statistics suggest that anywhere from one-half to two-thirds of Americans do not have a will or even any written instructions or last wishes to guide their next of kin.

 
 

Dad was in his mid-80s and had terminal brain cancer, so he knew the end was inevitable. However, he put his affairs in order when he was in his 30s. That's just the kind of man he was. He didn't want my mother to have to deal with the problems associated with his passing while keeping the mortgage paid and food on the table. My grandfather, too, was pretty well organized in this regard. It took me a while longer to get my affairs in order. It was not until my daughter was 9 that my wife convinced me to visit the lawyer and have something drawn up.

A story in USA Today from June 2015 notes that according to a 2015 Rocket Lawyer estate- planning survey by Harris Poll, 64% of Americans don't have a will. Of those without a plan, about 27% said there isn't an urgent need for them to make one — and 15% said they don't need one at all.

A poll conducted by Gallup in May of 2016, just two weeks after the passing of pop singer Prince, who did not have a will, showed he was not alone in that regard. The poll revealed that 68% of those aged 65 and older have a will, compared with just 14% of those younger than age 30. Of Americans whose annual household income is $75,000 or greater, 55% have a will, compared with 31% of those with incomes of less than $30,000. And while 61% of those with a postgraduate education have a will, only 32% with a high school education or less do.

I write this today thinking mostly about truck drivers, but it applies to anyone in any line of work. Considering that driving a truck is one of the riskiest occupations in the country, it behooves drivers to consider their final will and testament at their earliest opportunity. The will is a legal document that not only determines who gets your money and property when you die, it can also determine who gets guardianship of your minor children, or in whose care an aging parent might wind up. Without a clear statement of your intentions in the form of a will, the state might make these decisions for you, or decide how to divvy up your assets – possibly including your truck if you're an owner-operator.

When I was driving, back in my 20s, 30s, and 40s, I had some property, I had a little money in the bank and a few investments. But I never had the time (or saw the value) to commit my final wishes to paper. Back then dying was the furthest thing from my mind, despite driving past at least one fatal collision nearly every day. The reminders were there, but I managed to ignore them.

I was lucky, I suppose, in that nothing serious ever happened to me. I was never even badly injured on the job or in civilian life. Once my daughter came along, my outlook changed. I continued to think of myself as bullet-proof, but I finally understood what it would cost my wife if she had to get by without my income, and how unlikely it would be that my daughter would ever go to college without a portion of that income shaved off for a school fund.

I had previously set up a life insurance policy, but it would provide little more than what was needed to cover a pauper's funeral. Of course I wanted more for my family, and they needed the protection of a much more comprehensive policy. As for the will, in addition to naming my wife and daughter as beneficiaries, it also addressed my desire that my sister become my daughter's guardian (along with sufficient resources to pay for her upkeep and education) in the event my wife and I both died prematurely.

I survived the risky years, and my daughter has graduated from college. If I keel over tomorrow, that same policy will now provide enough to set her up in a first home and pay for her kids to at least start college. The value of the policies have been building, while other policies will cover my funeral expenses (which are considerable, let me assure you), and pay for all the services my family is likely to need if I suddenly disappear. I'm in my late 50s now and fairly healthy, and statistically still have a few years left in me. I recently updated my will to include recently acquired assets, changes in the financial needs of my next of kin and wishes for my funeral arrangements.

When you're gone, it's not you who makes such decisions; in the worst case, the state can step in and make them for you. Those decisions might not be in your survivors' best interests. So, if you haven't already done so, please consider talking with a lawyer and getting your affairs in order. Death and wills are strange things to talk about when you're 20 or 30, but every day you put it off increases the chances that somebody else might wind up making some very important choices for you.


 

Trucking groups urge new DOT Secretary to scrap new carrier rating system, citing lingering CSA faults
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com; by Todd Dills, February 21, 2017

Trucking groups have united in urging Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to order the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to rescind a proposed rule issued in January 2016 that would institute a new carrier rating system based on carriers’ scores in the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.

 
 

In a Feb. 15 letter to Chao, a large and wide-ranging group of industry stakeholders said the proposed Safety Fitness Determination rule should come only after FMCSA revamps the CSA system itself, due to the inconsistencies and flaws of the current CSA Safety Measurement System and its BASICs.

"Our major concern with the proposal is that the new proposed methodology utilizes flawed [CSA/SMS] data and scores," the letter’s signatories write.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued by FMCSA in January 2016 followed Congress’ removal of CSA/SMS percentiles from public view, ordering then a study and potential revamp of the program, by little more than a month.

That’s study’s results have been slow in coming to light, and at the time of the SFD NPRM, a smaller coalition within the trucking industry alleged the NPRM itself was a violation of the December 2015 FAST Act highway bill, which included language prohibiting developing a safety-rating rule that utilized percentiles and category alerts. Though DOT pushed back on that contention, the broad-based nature of this latest letter’s signatories is evidence it’s taken hold in a much bigger way a year later.

An eight-member coalition petitioned the agency last January to have the the rulemaking suspended. Another push was made in March by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

The latest letter brings in a large variety of state and private industry associations, including the American Trucking Associations, OOIDA, the National Association of Small Trucking Companies and Western States Trucking Association, among many others. The broad nature of the signatories "should indicate how seriously everyone views this issue," says WSTA’s head of regulatory affairs, Joe Rajkovacz. "And the hope that with new leadership in Washington, legitimate industry concerns will finally be dealt with positively."


 

Young Millennials Are Worst Behaved Drivers, New Research Reveals
Source: http://www.forbes.com/; by Tanya Mohn, February 17, 2017

Teens typically take the rap for their risky driving, but new research indicates that young millennials garner the top spot on the list of worst behaved U.S. drivers. The findings, issued in a report released last week by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research and education organization, show that about 88 percent of young millennials (adults between the ages of 19-24) engaged in at least one risky behavior behind the wheel in the past 30 days.

 
 

These dangerous behaviors - which increase crash risk -- included texting while driving, redlight running and speeding.

"Alarmingly, some of the drivers ages 19-24 believe that their dangerous driving behavior is acceptable," Dr. David Yang, the AAA Foundation’s executive director, said in a statement. "It’s critical that these drivers understand the potentially deadly consequences of engaging in these types of behaviors and that they change their behavior and attitudes in order to reverse the growing number of fatalities on U.S. roads."

The findings come as U.S. traffic deaths rose to 35,092 in 2015, an increase of more than 7 percent and the largest single-year increase in five decades, the group said. And new estimates based on an analysis of preliminary data by the National Safety Council indicate the spike in deaths is the most dramatic two-year escalation since 1964 and an indication that 2016 may have been the deadliest on the nation’s roads since 2007.

For the first time in nearly a decade, the council noted, as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year, a 6 percent increase over 2015 and a 14 percent increase over 2014.

The survey results are part of the foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The data are from a sample of 2,511 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days.

Among drivers ages 19-24, 88.4 percent reported engaging in speeding, red light running or texting behind the wheel in the past 30 days. Drivers in that age group are:

--1.6 times as likely as all drivers to report having read a text message or e-mail while driving in the last 30 days and nearly twice as likely as all drivers to report having typed or sent a text message or e-mail while driving.

--1.4 times as likely as all drivers to report having driven 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street and nearly 12 percent reported feeling that it is acceptable to drive 10 mph over the speed limit in a school zone, compared to less than 5 percent of all drivers.


 

February 2017 Articles

U.S. DOT Proposes 4 Opioids for Drug Testing Panel
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by TruckingInfo Staff, January 23, 2017

The Department of Transportation is proposing to amend its drug-testing program regulation to add four opioids (hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone) to its testing panel.

 
 

In addition, it is proposing to add methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) as an initial test analyte and remove methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA) as a confirmatory test analyte.

Published in the Federal Register for Jan. 23, the notice of proposed rulemaking aims to align DOT’s regulated-industry drug testing with the Department of Health and Human Services’ laboratory drug-testing requirements.

DOT said the NPRM also would clarify certain existing drug-testing provisions as well as remove outdated information from the current regulation and remove the requirement for employers and C/TPAs to submit blind specimens.

In addition, DOT said some other elements of the proposal would:

- Remove, modify, and add specific definitions and make certain definitions consistent with those of HHS

- Remove blind specimen testing

- Modify several provisions related to urine specimens

- Add emphasis to an existing Part 40 provision that prohibits DNA testing of urine specimens

- Add clarification to the term "prescription"

- Modify sections related to how MROs verify test results related to semi-synthetic opioids

DOT noted that it is required by the Omnibus Transportation Employees Testing Act to follow the HHS requirements for the testing procedures/protocols and drugs for which it tests.


 

4 Ways to Improve Your Office's Work Environment
Source: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/; by Shannon Gausepohl, Business News Daily Staff Writer, January 12, 2017

The overall vibe of a workplace, from the office layout and break-room setup to co-worker dynamics and company culture, has a huge impact on your team's performance and happiness.

 
 

"Positive workplaces tend to exhibit a common set of traits that foster excellence, productivity and camaraderie," Linnda Durré, wrote for Monster.com.

The reverse is also true: If people are physically, mentally or emotionally uncomfortable in the office, they're unlikely to be successful or satisfied with their jobs. Here are four ways you can improve your work environment and, in turn, employee engagement.

Identify good and bad staff

Smart businesses know that a good work environment starts with hiring the right people.

Make sure you're hiring people who are professional, can work in a team and can contribute to a positive work environment," said Jazmin Truesdale, a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Mino Enterprises. "One bad apple can spoil the bunch."

The same idea translates to those who are already in the office. When employees are working alongside a high density of toxic workers, there is a 47 percent chance that they, too, will become toxic, Dylan Minor, an assistant professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, told Business News Daily in 2015. Minor called the situation "ethical spillover," reinforcing that toxicity is, in fact, contagious.

"It's amazing to watch one bad attitude affect everyone's daily performance," added Claire Marshall Crowell, chief operating officer of A. Marshall Family Foods/Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant. "I can't tell you how many times I have been thanked after letting poisonous employees go. Though it's a hard thing to do, it ultimately impacts the working environment, which can be felt by not only our employees, but also by our [customers]."

Improve communication

Be cognizant of how you're interacting with employees. Team members and upper management should consider the flow of communication and whether it's affecting the office environment.

"Employees are motivated and feel valued when they're given positive reinforcement and shown how their work contributes to the success of the business," said Dominique Jones, chief people officer at Halogen Software.

This means going beyond a 'Hey, good job' and making the time to regularly offer employees specific feedback on how their work is feeding into the broader business objectives, she noted.

Giving feedback makes a difference for employees, especially millennials, according to a survey from ManpowerGroup. Managers should be open to feedback as well, said Samantha Lambert, director of human resources at Blue Fountain Media.

"When you involve your staff in decision making in an effort to create a better work environment, they feel valued," Lambert said. "Don't be afraid to ask employees for their opinion on a new benefit offered or what they think of a new client project."

While you're working on communication, don't forget to show gratitude for hard work. According to David Sturt, executive vice president at the O.C. Tanner Institute, an employee recognition and corporate gifting firm, effective employee recognition can transform and elevate an organization.

"It ignites enthusiasm, increases innovation, builds trust and drives bottom-line results," he said. "Even a simple 'thank you' after an employee goes above and beyond on a project, or puts in a series of late nights, goes a long way."

Make the office comfortable

Beyond cultural changes, there are other, simpler solutions that can improve how the office operates. Working in a clean, attractive office can have tremendous effects on co-worker and manager relationships, said Mike Canarelli, CEO and co-founder of Web Talent Marketing.

"Even if the sun can't shine into your workplace, make an effort to provide a relaxing atmosphere with comfy furniture, working equipment and a few 'extra-mile' amenities," he noted.

For example, give your employees the flexibility to choose to work where they're comfortable, including comfy chairs or a choice of whether to sit or stand at their desks.

"Make it easy for them to purchase things like exercise balls and plants on the company dime," said AJ Shankar, CEO and founder of litigation software company Everlaw. "We also trust our employees to manage their own time. They're free to take breaks to play games or just recharge as necessary."

When they choose a space that makes them comfortable, give them the freedom to customize their area, as everyone works differently, said Josh Turner, CEO of UsersThink, a tool for companies to receive feedback. He suggested getting rid of "the same issued everything" and giving everyone a budget to customize their his or her own setup.

Be flexible

Being an understanding leader can encourage better production and a more positive workplace. Ashley Judge, president of The Funtrepreneur gift-selling sites, encourages employees to schedule their personal lives the way a CEO does.

"Unless it conflicted with a meeting, I wouldn't think twice about scheduling a midday doctor's appointment or more trivial personal appointment, such as a haircut, and I encourage [my team] to do the same," Judge said. "A trusted, hardworking employee should be able to schedule their day like a CEO."


 

Digital disruption, friend or foe (part 1): Self-driving trucks, Uber-for-freight
Source: http://fleetowner.com/; by Kevin Jones, January 30, 2017

Despite questions, autonomous vehicles are rolling sooner than expected

 
 

The potential for autonomous trucks to disrupt freight transportation—or at least the recognition, by carriers and shippers, of that possibility—has surged in the past year, according to an updated survey by Princeton Consultants. But the industry still might not fully appreciate the changes that are coming.

"Our firm believes self-driving trucks are going to get here faster and have more impact than the survey results [showed]," Princeton Consultants CEO Steve Sashihara said, and he cited a load of freight delivered recently by a sensor-driven truck in Colorado. "It’s no longer crazy white cars driving around cities; it’s starting to really happen. … There’s some amazing, smart engineers working on this. On the highways, the technology is already here."

As for adoption by the trucking industry, there’s a “solid” business case based around the salary expense and hours limitations of human truck drivers, he explained, speaking in a Stifel Capital Markets conference call Friday.

Princeton projects implementation of self-driving truck technology in three phases:

1. Truck autopilot, assisting a traditional driver who’s still in the seat—variations of which are currently being tested on U.S. highways;

2. Linehaul driverless, for on-highway freight moves (perhaps in pelotons) and with first/last mile conventional drayage—"think of this as the new intermodal," Sashihara said.

3. Door-to-door driverless, but not before the public believes the technology is safer than human drivers.

And while that full, Level 5 autonomy is still some time in the future, the public is rapidly being won over by the rollout of self-driving passenger vehicles, Sashihara added.

"When most people are trying to imagine this, [full autonomy] is where they’re getting hung up. They’re saying ‘have you ever seen a truck back into a dock, or how many docks there are in a crowded city—can a robot really do that?’" he said. "The nice thing about step 2 is you don’t have to worry about that—it’s the long-haul up and down the highways in pelotons; and the peloton itself may save 15% in fuel."

In last year’s survey, Princeton found that only 28% of respondents believed self-driving trucks would have a moderate or large impact, compared to 40% in the latest survey. The number who said there would be "no real impact" fell from 24% to 19% this year.

As business advisors, Princeton is recommending carrier executives take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to self-driving vehicles and drones, both in terms regulations and the rapidly evolving equipment itself.

But Sashihara also discussed the disruptive potential of "Uber for freight," or "radical disintermediation" of the freight transportation market. With 57% of the survey respondents anticipating a moderate to large impact, the sentiment was basically unchanged from a year ago.

"I don’t think we can sit back and just wait for things to happen, but that doesn’t mean we should create our own Uber-like channels. Whether we are a buyer of freight, a seller, or an intermediary, we have to improve our user friendliness and automation," he said. "It’s undeniable that like Amazon really did to retailing, Uber really disrupted taxis—and that’s not such a big leap from taxi to commercial freight."

The takeaway: Easy access to real-time market data and the ability to quickly tender a load and get a price is the direction freight transportation is heading. Still, cross-country freight moves are a lot more complicated than carrying a passenger across town—and that’s why Sashihara suggests change will more likely come from within the industry than from an outsider.

"There’s a lot moving parts and non-obvious stuff, so it’s hard to think that a couple of people will graduate from Berkeley and disrupt the trucking industry," he said. "There’s a lot of inefficiencies in our marketplace, but I think it will be someone who is more of an insider who will say, ‘how can we think bigger than most and come up with some disruptive ways of really moving the needle?’"


 

Lawsuit seeks $350 million from CRST for 2014 crash that injured CHP trooper
Source: http://www.landlinemag.com/; by Greg Grisolano, January 20, 2017

A lawsuit seeking hundreds of millions in damages against CRST, Inc., its subsidiaries and a former company driver for their role in a July 2014 crash that severely injured a former California Highway Patrol officer and his brother.

 
 

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleges that CRST Inc., CRST Van Expedited, and other companies were negligent in the hiring of driver Hector Contreras, who was behind the wheel of one of the company’s 2014 Freightliner tractors when the rig reportedly crossed the center line and struck a private passenger vehicle carrying California Highway Patrol officer Michael Lennig and his brother Matthew on July 7, 2014. The suit alleges that Contreras was under the influence at the time of the crash.

The suit claims that CRST and its associated companies failed and refused to properly hire, screen, train and/or supervise their employees. The lawsuit seeks punitive damages in excess of $350 million.

According to the complaint, CRST was negligent by failing to perform an adequate background check on Contreras, failing to follow their own policies, and failing to pull Contreras off of the road following four previous accidents before the July collision.

Among the allegations in the lawsuit are that CRST and its affiliated companies failed to conduct an in-depth background check on Contreras, and hired him despite his alleged record of having been convicted of driving under the influence, grand theft auto, and “multiple convictions for the possession of illicit substances and illicit substance use.” The lawsuit also claims that from his hire date of Dec. 5, 2013, and the date of the crash, Contreras caused a total of four preventable collisions, including two that occurred less than two weeks before the crash with the Lennigs.

"CRST driver Hector Contreras has a long list of prior convictions ranging from driving under the influence, possession of drug paraphernalia, and felony grand theft auto," plaintiffs’ attorney Khail Parris said in a press release. "CRST had also been alerted by his co-driver that Hector Contreras posed a danger to the public at large."

CRST Expedited did not respond to a request for comment.

Despite causing four preventable collisions, Contreras was only required to attend one defensive driving course. Two months prior to the collision, the lawsuit states, Contreras’ co-driver notified CRST that the defendant was pulled over by law enforcement for tailgating and speeding in a construction zone.

The suit also alleges that Contreras, who had been hired in December 2013, was driving the truck without a co-driver, in violation of the company’s own policy of having new employee drivers undergo a probationary period with a co-driver.

The crash occurred on State Route 14 in Mojave, in a construction zone on the Red Rock Canyon Bridge. According to a press release issued Thursday by the Parris law firm, Matthew suffered a traumatic brain injury, severe injuries to his arm, and multiple fractures to his ribs. Michael, a California Highway Patrol officer, shattered two vertebrae and sustained a traumatic brain injury.

The lawsuit also seeks damages from several construction companies for failing to erect "K-rails" or any other barriers between northbound and southbound traffic which would have prevented the crash.


 

11 Strategies For Achieving A More Diverse And Productive Work Environment
Source: http://www.forbes.com/; by Theodore Henderson, January 20, 2017

When public companies release information on how their policies keep up with the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, it sets an impressive standard for other businesses to live up to. Citigroup, Coca-Cola, IngramMicro, Oracle and JPMorgan Chase — to name a select few — may have the funds to manage diversity better than most, but managing diversity in the workplace isn't as capital intensive as it seems.

 
 

Workplace diversity is achievable by businesses regardless of nature, size or budget. It can revolutionize the way business is done today the same way it did since the first models were drawn in the '60s. Managing diversity in the workplace, however, shouldn't end with federal laws or with top management of corporations. There should be involvement in every level of leadership in a company.

Since everyone benefits in the triumph of a business, there must be a collective effort when it comes to leading in a diverse workplace. It should be made clear to every employee to take an open attitude to create and promote a diverse environment. This makes it possible to plant the beginnings of a successful business built on creativity and innovation. In my personal experience and study, the best way to achieve a productive and diverse environment is not just leadership by example but with the use of specific strategies:

1. Set small teams that will get new employees actively involved and fully integrated into the company's culture. The introduction to a company's culture may happen naturally, but it's better to intentionally create open communication lines where issues can be addressed. The interactive exercises in my course "Creating Teamwork and Partnerships" drives this point home to the participants through the use of short video reenactments and short scripted role plays to reinforce given situations, such as handling needy colleagues and domineering supervisors.

2. Practice mentorship to encourage retention and focus on long-term career goals. Discuss opportunities for advancement and growth offered by the firm. Remember the initial point for any good mentoring program starts with two important questions: What is the reason you are starting the program? How does success look for the company and the participants?

3. Create learning and development programs that focus on building relationships and skills. Reward employees based on performance. According to the Human Resources Council, "Employee training is the responsibility of the organization. The responsibility of management is to provide the right resources and an environment that supports the growth and development needs of the individual employee."

4. Schedule activities outside of work that encourage communication and fun interactions. Promote healthy relationships and friendships among colleagues through social or community involvements.

5. Get employees' participation in hiring new talents and ask for referrals. Partner with schools to introduce the company's culture, help young people build self-esteem, and educate on the benefits of diversity. Many colleges and even high schools welcome this type interaction with the corporate sector. It shows not only business leadership but social responsibility also.

6. Provide diversity training to make employees more aware of what constitutes a diverse workplace. Demonstrate how each can contribute to help in the company's success. If you are not convinced of training value in this area, consider the following three points as highlighted in a study by NCRVE UC Berkeley.

1. "Managers become more effective because they can provide suitable job assignments and at the same time they can evaluate employees properly.

2. "Second, employees also gain benefits. As their motivation and morale increases, they become more satisfied with their work. They can also have access to better mentoring and coaching. In addition, they are more committed to their professional growth because performance becomes the criterion for success.

3. "Finally, the organization and its environment will improve. The workforce becomes more loyal to the organization because employees develop a sense of ownership."

7. Make communication lines accessible across different generations (traditionalists, baby boomers, generations X, Y and Z) within a workplace. Use current technology to encourage participation and informality. An article from Harvard Business Review called "Managing People from 5 Generations" notes: "For the first time in history, five generations will soon be working side by side. But whether this multi-generational workplace feels satisfied and productive is, in large part, up to you: the leader."

8. Develop company policies aligned with government laws on equal employment opportunity. Set a team that will focus on diversity policy implementation to ratify across-the-board changes. There are convenient online resources to familiarize you and your team on this topic. For example, one such source is "Laws Enforced by EEOC."

9. Celebrate important events such as International Day to End Racism, Gay Pride celebrations in June, International Day of Person with Disabilities, and International Women's Day every March. My recommendation is that you establish a calendar to follow for the relevant groups in your company. Doing this shows leadership and commitment that you value and recognize diversity.

10. Establish proper decorum on how to address transgendered or disabled employees. For clarification, the term "transgender" is commonly used to refer to people who do not identify with their birth sex or with society's view of male and female gender roles. According to Society for Resource Management,"Transgender persons include people who are transsexual, cross-dressing, androgynous and gender-nonconforming, among others."

11. Create an environment that is disability inclusive. The key ingredients to this are leadership and communication. Leadership must ensure company commitment to disability inclusion at all levels of your organization — including the C-suite. Communication must be unequivocal and demonstrated by expressing commitment to disability inclusion, both internally and externally, and providing training on workplace issues related to disability.

Workplace diversity is unavoidable. In spite of the challenges it may impose, managing diversity in the workplace should be everyone's business. When working properly, diversity will provide improvements to the bottom line if supported by executive leadership and management.

Diversity can also contribute to the company's development by allowing this collective knowledge or fresh perspectives to drive innovations of products, methods, and systems. Begin with making small attempts because no matter how minor; the impact will prove to be profound in the long run.


 

January 2017 Articles

Med examiner who cleared thousands of truckers charged with issuing fake certifications
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by James Jaillet, December 16, 2016

Update, 12/20:The DOT says truckers affected by the Lefteris’ arrest will be notified via mail that they need to be re-certified within 30 days. See further CCJ coverage at this link.

 
 

An Atlanta, Georgia-based medical examiner has been arrested and charged by federal investigators for allegedly issuing medical certifications to truck drivers without performing full medical exams, according to court records. Dr. Anthony Lefteris, who operated out of an Atlanta-area Petro truck stop, could have issued certifications to thousands of truck drivers.

The DOT has not said whether truckers who received medical certification from Lefteris will need to be recertified and, if so, the deadline for doing so. CCJ will publish that information when it becomes available. The DOT has added a note to Lefteris’ listing in the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners telling drivers not to schedule appointments with him. The note says Lefteris is no longer certified to perform the exams.

Lefteris could have issued certifications to more than 8,000 truckers since the FMCSA’s medical examiner registry rule took effect in 2014, based on the average number of certifications prosecutors allege Lefteris issued per month.

Lefteris issued about 360 truck operators a month, DOT investigators allege in an affidavit filed to a U.S. District Court in north Georgia. Most examiners only perform 13 to 14 a month, prosecutors say in the affidavit.

He was arrested Dec. 1 and has been granted a public defender, court documents reveal. Lefteris has not yet made a plea in the case, but he is due back in court Dec. 20. Charges against him include eight counts of false writing/documentation of the DOT’s exam forms and false entry into DOT records with the intend to impede and influence.

Officers from the U.S. DOT and the U.S. Department of Justice began investigating Lefteris in September, according to court documents, following a written statement from a driver who said Lefteris gave him a medical certification but didn’t perform any tests or examination procedures, even after the driver told him he had previously been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Three undercover officers, all of whom hold a Georgia-issued CDL, later visited Lefteris’ office at different times, according to court records. In all three instances, Lefteris granted the officers medical certification without performing all tests required, according to a sworn affidavit submitted by the officers. Lefteris failed to perform vision and hearing tests, urinalysis, blood pressure check or heart rate test, officers allege.

Prosecutors say Lefteris uploaded MCSA-5875 (the forms used by medical examiners) to the DOT for all three officers with fake numbers recorded in fields meant for the urinalysis, the vision and hearing exams, pulse and others.

Officers also performed surveillance outside Lefteris’ office during the investigation, court documents reveal. An affidavit submitted to the court alleges that on Nov. 9, 2016, officers saw 12 people enter Lefteris’ office and about eight leave. When agents went inside to ask Lefteris’ questions regarding the morning’s visitors, they discovered he’d failed to perform urinalysis on those patients, too, officers claim.

Federal law requires examiners to perform all of the tests Lefteris allegedly skipped when examining the undercover officers. The urinalysis is not for drug testing but to test protein, blood and sugar in urine, “which may be an indication that further testing is needed to rule out any underlying medical problems that impact a driver’s ability to drive safety,” prosecutors said in the complaint against Lefteris.


 

DOT Proposes V2V Rule for Cars; Could One for Trucks Be Far Behind?
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by David Cullen, December 13, 2016

While the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission issued a proposed rule on Dec. 13 aimed at getting vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology on all new light-duty vehicles, NHTSA Communications Director Bryan Thomas confirmed for HDT that there is "no [similar] rulemaking as of yet" in the works for commercial vehicles.

 
 

Thomas noted that "research is ongoing and we see great potential" in V2V technology for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses as well. Per a NHTSA fact sheet on the light-duty proposal, the agency is "working with industry" on continuing research "to adapt the technology for these vehicles."

V2V is a companion technology for autonomously driven vehicles, including platooned trucks that are electronically linked while operating on the road.

At an October news briefing, Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, said that the lobby was determined to make sure trucking has "a seat at the table" along with the automotive industry when policies are developed to allow and further vehicle automation.

"The technology is here and will grow rapidly," Spear said on the show floor of ATA’s Management Conference & Exposition. "Suppliers are already creating connected and automated technology." But he added that trucking is "a different animal than the car side," so ATA is aiming to ensure the industry’s voice is heard as federal policymaking develops.

Spear then pointed out that the first federal guidelines for the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles, released by the Department of Transportation in September, were developed with almost no input from the trucking industry.

Asked on Dec. 13 to review the current landscape for a V2V commercial-vehicle rulemaking, ATA Executive Vice President of Advocacy Bill Sullivan told HDT that a lot has changed since Spear spoke out less than three months ago on trucking being consulted by DOT regarding such activity.

"Chris [Spear] was right in speaking out and, since then, we do have a seat at the table [with DOT]," said Sullivan. "This V2V rulemaking is for light-duty vehicles and it points in the right direction. It sets the bar high in respect to preserving a data spectrum for safety communications. We are hopeful this approach will continue under the Trump administration."

According to DOT, the proposed rule would enable V2V communication technology on all new light-duty vehicles, "enabling a multitude of new crash-avoidance applications that, once fully deployed, could prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes every year by helping vehicles ‘talk’ to each other."

The rule would require V2V devices to operate through standardized messaging that DOT said would be developed with industry. More specifically, NHTSA said that V2V devices would use dedicated short range communications (DSRC) to transmit data, such as location, direction and speed, to nearby vehicles.

That data would be updated and broadcast up to 10 times per second to nearby vehicles. Using that information, V2V-equipped vehicles could identify safety risks and provide warnings to drivers to avoid imminent crashes.

NHTSA pointed out that vehicles equipped with automated driving functions— such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control— could also benefit from the use of V2V data to better avoid or reduce the consequences of crashes.

DOT also announced that, separately, the Federal Highway Administration plans to soon issue guidance for Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications, “which will help transportation planners integrate the technologies to allow vehicles to ‘talk’ to roadway infrastructure such as traffic lights, stop signs and work zones to improve mobility, reduce congestion, and improve safety.


 

FMCSA Again Delays Rollout of Online DOT Registration System
Source: http://capitolweekly.net; by John Howard, December 23, 2015

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has again delayed implementation of the final stage of its Unified Registration System for new motor carriers.

 
 

Completion of the URS rollout had last been scheduled for January 14, 2017, a date announced back in July. Prior to that, the implementation date had been set for Sept. 30, 2016.

Now, the agency has instead announced it will publish a notice in the Federal Register early next month that will state the newly revised URS compliance date.

By way of explanation, FMCSA said it recently completed a "complex migration" of its IT systems to a cloud environment. "This mitigation effort was a necessary step in order to provide a foundation to successfully implement URS."

However, the agency said the new implementation delay is necessary "because additional time is needed to securely migrate data from multiple legacy platforms into a new central database" and to conduct further compatibility testing with its state-agency partners.

"By moving the implementation date, FMCSA is providing its State partners more time to develop, update, and verify data connectivity and system reliability," the agency said. "The additional time will also enable the Agency to conduct more thorough training and to implement broader outreach and education activities that will provide for a seamless transition."

URS is a simplified online registration process. It combines multiple legacy reporting forms into a single, online "smart form" that is designed to streamline the registration and renewal process. When fully implemented, URS will allow FMCSA to identify unfit carriers and detect unsafe truck and bus companies that are trying to evade enforcement actions. Offending companies often attempt to regain U.S. DOT registration by registering as a different or unrelated business entity.

Since the December 2015 launch of the initial phase of URS, FMCSA estimates that the industry has saved more than $3 million in registration expenses. What's more, the agency said that using URS, it has so far issued over 100,000 new USDOT numbers; removed more than 360,000 dormant USDOT numbers from its databases; and achieved “a 100 percent screening of operating authority applications for disqualified carriers attempting to fraudulently ‘reincarnate’ as new operators."


 

FMCSA Keeps Controlled Substance Random Testing Rate
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, December 13, 2016

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that the controlled substances random testing rate for regulated motor carriers will remain at 25% for 2017.

 
 

In 2016, FMCSA lowered the minimum annual drug testing rate from 50% to 25% following three straight years (2011, 2012, 2013) of drug testing data that indicated that the positive rate for controlled substances was less than 1%. Federal regulations allow the agency to lower testing rates when positive rates are under 1% for two consecutive years.

"We will continue to monitor the data closely, and should the positive rate for drug use rise above the 1% threshold in the upcoming 2015 survey, the national random testing rate requirement will be immediately increased to 50%," said Scott Darling, FMCSA administrator.

FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey measures the percentage of CDL drivers who test positive for drugs and/or alcohol as a result of random and non-random testing. In 2014, FCMSA required carriers to randomly test 50% of their CDL drivers for drugs and 10% for alcohol.

According to the survey, for random drug and alcohol testing conducted in 2014 (the most recent data available):

• The estimated positive usage rate for drugs in 2014 was 0.9%. For 2012 and 2013, the estimated positive usage rate for drugs was estimated to be 0.6% and 0.7%, respectively.

• The estimated violation rate for alcohol usage (the percentage of drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04 or higher) in 2014 was 0.08%. For 2012 and 2013, the alcohol usage violation rates were 0.03% and 0.09%, respectively.

"For the safety of everyone traveling on our highways and roads, no driver should ever get behind the wheel under the influence of drugs or alcohol," said Darling. "Commercial motor vehicle companies must comply with the crucial safety responsibility of conducting rigorous drug and alcohol testing programs for all of their CDL drivers."


 

December 2017 Articles

FMCSA to Study 'Excessive Commuting' by Truck Drivers
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by David Cullen, November 27, 2017

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking comment on a proposed survey of "excessive commuting" by truck drivers. The agency is defining as excessive any commuting to work that exceeds 150 minutes.

 
 

The survey would focus on the prevalence of such commuting in a commercial motor vehicle; the number and percentage of CMV drivers who commute; the distances they travel and the time zones they cross; the impact of such commuting on safety and fatigue; and existing commuting policies of motor carriers.

In its notice on the survey, published in the Federal Register for Nov. 27, the agency said it is inquiring about trucker commuting practices to fulfill Section 5515 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. That section of the 2015 highway bill requires FMCSA to conduct a study on the safety effects of commutes by motor carrier operators that exceed 150 minutes. The FMCSA administrator is then required to submit a report to Congress on the findings of the study.

Providing some background context, FMCSA also stated that "in the past two decades, as the number of workers has increased and the distance to affordable housing has also increased in most metropolitan areas, commuting times have increased in the United States."

The agency went on to say that long commuting times can adversely affect CMV drivers "in multiple ways," including:

- Compromising off-duty time. "Long commuting times can reduce a driver’s available off-duty time for sleep and personal activities. This can lead to excessive fatigue while on duty, creating safety concerns for both the CMV driver and other drivers on the roads."

- Impacting driver health. "A recent study was conducted that monitored 4,297 adults from 12 metropolitan Texas counties. In this region, 90% of people commute to work. The study found that the drivers who have long commuting times were more likely to have poor cardiovascular health and be less physically fit. This study showed that people who commute long distances to work weigh more, are less physically active, and have higher blood pressure."

Although it is not mentioned in the FMCSA notice on the survey, it is generally understood that the FAST Act provision calling for the survey was written in response to circumstances related to the June 2014 crash of a Walmart truck into a limo van that killed comedian James McNair and seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan.

A subsequent investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the truck driver’s fatigue played a role in the accident. Walmart driver Kevin Roper was on hour 13 of a 14-hour shift, but he had driven for 12 hours from his home in Georgia to Delaware to start his route. Roper was indicted for charges of manslaughter, vehicular homicide and aggravated assault.


 

DOT adds four prevalent opioids to driver drug screening panel
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Matt Cole, November 13, 2017

The U.S. Department of Transportation is amending its drug testing panel to add four commonly abused opioids to meet new Health and Human Services drug testing guidelines.

 
 

A Final Rule was published in the Federal Register Monday, Nov. 13, and the new testing standards will go into effect on Jan. 1.

New drugs that drivers will be tested for include hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone. The drugs are usually taken as pills. According to the CDC, opioid abuse has seen a dramatic increase in recent years.

Additionally, the DOT will remove methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA) from the existing drug testing panel and add methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA).

The rulemaking also clarifies that only urine testing is allowed for DOT drug tests. Point-of-collection urine testing or instant tests are not allowed, as the tests have to be screened and confirmed at HHS labs.

The DOT states in the rulemaking it is aware that the HHS is looking into allowing oral fluid testing and hair testing under its guidelines, but until those methods of testing are added, DOT cannot recognize them. The agency adds that if HHS does add other testing methods to its guidelines, it will follow with its own rulemaking to conform.


 

Crime report: CDL drug testing schemes, CDL fraud, more
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, November 15, 2017

Action in six trucking-related crimes has recently been reported by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General and the Texas Comptroller:

 
 

Two California DMV employees plead guilty in CDL fraud

Lisa Terraciano and Kari Scattaglia, employees of the California DMV, pleaded guilty Nov. 3 for their roles in a conspiracy to sell Class A CDLs without the buyer having to take or pass the required tests.

OIG’s investigation revealed the pair accessed the DMV’s database and altered the records of applicants to fraudulently show they had passed the required written tests, when the applicants had not passed, and in some cases not taken, the tests. Scattaglia was also found to have altered records to show applicants had also passed the driving tests.

The investigation determined that Terraciano caused at least 148 fraudulent CDLs, including permits, to be issued, and Scattaglia caused at least 68 fraudulent CDLs, including permits, to be issued.

California woman pleads guilty in CDL drug testing scheme

The former owner and operator of Advanced Substance Abuse Programs in Redding, Calif., pleaded guilty Oct. 20 to mail fraud and false statements to a government agency for failing to follow the law with random and pre-employment drug testing services to motor carrier drivers.

OIG reports Demetri Dearth collected urine specimens from commercial drivers between March 2009 and February 2010, but did not forward the specimens to certified labs as the law required. Instead, she created false Custody and Control Forms, stating the specimens had been released to FedEx to be sent to a lab. The urine samples never left Dearth’s lab, according to OIG.

She also reportedly falsified reports indicating a medical review officer (MRO) had reviewed the results of urine tests when the tests had never occurred. The false reports named legitimate MROs, provided their addresses and presented forged signatures.

Suspended PA chiropractor pleads guilty to medical exam fraud

Joann Wingate, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., pleaded guilty Nov. 7 to wire fraud and false statements for violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration medical exam and drug and alcohol testing programs.

OIG’s investigation found that Wingate falsified FMCSA-regulated medical examiner’s certificates and drug-testing chain of custody forms, forged documents by using the identity of an unsuspecting licensed physician and falsified other documents by claiming to be a medical review officer. She also allegedly continued to perform FMCSA-regulated medical exams for CDL holders, for payment, after her chiropractic license was suspended in 2013.

Wingate allegedly admitted to unlawfully performing DOT medical exams and submitting false medical examiner’s certificates to state DOTs. She also admitted to contracting with a trucking company to handle its DOT drug and alcohol program requirements in exchange for payment, even though she wasn’t qualified as an MRO.

FMCSA suspends Missouri medical clinic, owner and chiropractor

On Nov. 1, FMCSA suspended David L. Biersmith and his business, Industrial Medical Center (IMC) in Independence, Mo., and chiropractor James Lindsey from doing business with the federal government. The agency is also proposing to debar Biersmith, IMC and Lindsey from doing business with the government for five years.

On April 20, Biersmith pleaded guilty to making false statements and to healthcare fraud related to fraudulent medical exams of commercial truck drivers and veterans. OIG states he did not have a medical license or other medical credentials, but he signed the name of a legitimate chiropractor, without permission, on medical reports for at least 65 truckers.

Florida man convicted of fuel tax fraud, credit card abuse in Texas

Daniel Danger, 51, was sentenced Oct. 11 to 10 years in prison for transporting motor fuel without shipping documents, evading motor fuel tax and tampering with physical evidence, and two years in prison for credit card abuse, following an investigation by the Texas Comptroller’s Criminal Investigation Division. Danger was also fined $10,000.

California man pleads guilty to illegal transportation of fireworks

Ernesto Alvarez Jr., of Long Beach, Calif., pleaded guilty Nov. 2 to illegally transporting hazardous materials. OIG says he transported more than 8,000 pounds of illegal fireworks in a rental truck without hazmat placards.

The case began in June 2016 when federal and local law enforcement conducted a warranted search of a warehouse in which they found large quantities of illegal fireworks in the warehouse and in a rental truck outside. Alvarez reportedly admitted the fireworks were his, and that he was responsible for transporting them into California from Nevada.


 

Highway Deaths Responsible for Rise in Transportation Fatalities
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Truckinginfo Staff, November 22, 2017

The National Transportation Safety Board has released data showing that 2,030 more people died in transportation accidents in 2016 than in 2015, with highway deaths accounting for 95% of all transportation fatalities.

 
 

The data indicate 39,339 people lost their lives in transportation accidents in 2016, compared to the 37,309 who died in 2015. In addition to the increase in highway fatalities, rises were also seen in the marine and railroad sectors, with a slight decrease in aviation fatalities.

U.S. roadway deaths increased from 35,485 in 2015 to 37,461 in 2016. Of that number, fatalities in passenger vehicles increased from 12,761 in 2015 to 13,412 in 2016.

"Unfortunately, we continue to see increases in transportation fatalities," said Robert Sumwalt, NTSB chairman. "We can do more, we must do more, to eliminate the completely preventable accidents that claim so many lives each year. Implementation of the 315 open safety recommendations associated with the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements has the greatest potential to reverse this alarming trend."

Because of the increase in travel around holidays like Thanksgiving, NTSB is reminding drivers to watch out for distracted, drunk, and drowsy drivers, who are often key factors in highway deaths.

There was an increase in deaths from railroad and marine deaths for the year as well, but aviation deaths were down very slightly from 416 in 2015 to 412 in 2016. Most aviation deaths occur in civil aviation accidents. The number of fatal general aviation accidents decreased to 213 in 2016 resulting in the fatal accident rate dropping below 1 fatal accident per 100,000 flight hours for the first time in 50 years. Aviation statistics are tracked and compiled by the NTSB. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides marine statistics, and the U.S. Department of Transportation provides statistics for all other modes.


 

10 Simple Ways to Be Fully Present in Your Life
Source: https://www.livestrong.com/; by Natasha Burton, November 2, 2017

You’ve heard the advice time and time again: Staying present in each moment of your life allows you to cherish your existence more fully. But often, being in the “now” is much easier said than done. Everyone has obligations, to-do lists, worries and annoyances that transport them from the world around them and into the labyrinths of their minds. However, by learning a few simple techniques, you can shake yourself out of your head and back into your life. Here, experts share easy changes you can make today to fully live in the present.

 
 

1. START NOTICING YOUR BREATH.

Structured breathing is a great way to guide yourself back into the current moment, says licensed professional counselor Julianne Schroeder. She suggests adopting what’s called 4 x 4 breathing — a technique used by Navy SEALS — anytime you notice that you're lost in thought, anxious or just feeling emotionally out of sorts.

"Take a deep inhale — as if you were going to blow a balloon — for four seconds followed by a deep exhale through your nose or mouth for four seconds," she says. "Continue this cycle for one minute." Afterward, you should feel a sense of calm, looser muscles and decreased heart rate. With a clearer head, you can more easily focus on what’s right in front of you.

2. INCORPORATE MINI MEDITATIONS INTO YOUR DAY.

While we often associate meditation with quiet rooms, being alone and maybe some chanting, you can actually meditate anywhere and at anytime as a way to feel present. "My favorite presence exercise is simply concentrating on your breath and the rise and fall of your chest," says stress expert Kathy Gruver, author of "Conquer Your Stress."

"On the inhale you think, ‘I am.’ On the exhale you think, ‘at peace.’ If other thoughts intrude, which they often do at first, just dismiss them and return to the mantra." You can use this technique at work, at home, on your commute — anytime you feel yourself floating away from right now.

3. STASH YOUR TECHNOLOGY.

One of the benefits of being present lies in how you can deepen your connections with the people around you. But most of us aren't very good at splitting our attention between people and devices. In fact, we're not actually able to multitask effectively and can only switch our attention from one task to another, says marriage and family therapist Shadeen Francis.

"Every time you check your phone, you are missing moments of connection to those around you," Francis says. "Make a rule for no phones at dinner, or turn off your ringer as you enter a party." The virtual world can wait. Being present requires your full attention.

4. DIFFUSE YOUR THOUGHTS.

The anxiety and stress of what might happen in the future can overcome the present moment, which really gets you trapped in your head. To combat this, Julianne Schroeder, a licensed counselor, suggests trying a technique she calls "thought diffusion," in which you train your mind to stop judging negative thoughts.

"For example, as you are preparing to give an important presentation and find yourself nearly in panic mode, you might say to yourself, ‘Thank you, Anxious Mind. I appreciate you caring about how well I do, but freaking out just isn’t helpful,’" she says. "As you turn your focus back to the present, you may have to repeat this sentiment until your attention is rooted in the now."

5. STRIKE A YOGA POSE.

Yoga is an incredibly mindful practice that helps you get out of your head and into your body. "In addition to cultivating present-moment awareness, continued practice helps to reprogram your body and brain’s physical and emotional response to stress," counselor Julianne Schroeder says.

But you don’t need to commit to an hour-long class to reap the benefits of yoga. Schroeder suggests trying two key grounding poses when you feel the present slipping away: Lie down with your legs positioned up a wall or do a basic sun salutation sequence to instantly change your focus.

6. CALL A SHORT TIME-OUT.

Taking solo time to recharge your batteries is a great way to ground yourself. But not everyone has enough hours in the week to make this happen. However, you can still find peace in the present by pausing before beginning any new task or part of your day, suggests wellness chiropractor Michelle Robin, D.C.

"If you’re rushing to a meeting, pause outside the door and take a breath or two before going in," she says. "Before you start hustling to get dinner on the table after a long day, pause to take a breath and let go of the time before now and be present while you lovingly prepare food for your family." This will bring you back to the present so you can give that activity or person your full attention.

7. SET REMINDERS.

It’s easy to forget to stay present, despite our best efforts. So instead of trying to outsmart your wandering mind, find a way to remind yourself, suggests certified yoga instructor and integrated life coach Madeleine Culbertson.

"Set reminders on your phone. Every hour or so, have a soft chime go off with a personalized reminder to bring you back to the moment," she says. Some questions she uses are: "What is the quality of your breath?" "What makes you smile right now?" "What do you appreciate right now?" Use these or create your own to keep on the path toward living more in the moment.

8. BEGIN TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE.

Setting aside time to give thanks each day helps you remember what’s meaningful and important to you. "Find three things every day that you can be grateful for," says licensed counselor Julianne Schroeder.

"It can be as simple as having a good cup of coffee or having noticed less traffic on the way to work. The act of being grateful not only can shift your awareness to the present, with continued commitment to practicing gratitude it could contribute to improved mental health over time." Soon enough, you’ll be seeking out moments, people and things to be thankful for, encouraging you to soak up every experience.

9. GROUND YOURSELF OUTSIDE.

Being in nature can both invigorate you and make you feel more focused, licensed counselor Julianne Schroeder says. If you don’t already make time to get outside, start incorporating short walking meditations into your day. "Stand solidly on the ground and spend several moments noticing how your body feels. Start with the soles of the feet and work upward, relaxing each body part as you become aware of it," she says.

"Begin to walk slowly, focusing on your surroundings and what you see, hear, smell and feel." As thoughts come up, acknowledge them and then get right back into the present moment. End your walks by sitting on a patch of grass to further ground yourself, Schroeder says. Pay close attention to the sensations of the sun, wind and grass on your feet and skin.

10. WRITE IT DOWN.

The act of writing out your thoughts helps empty your mind, steering you closer toward being in the present. "You can find journals with prompts or free write," licensed counselor Julianne Schroeder says. "Allowing yourself to identify thoughts and feelings as they are in the present can help you clearly see if there are action-based steps you can take to help yourself."

Even if you’re not a writer, giving yourself the freedom to put pen to paper, without judgment, can be a helpful emotional release as well, freeing up your mind to focus on what’s happening in the current moment.


 

Zonar Lists Top 10 Most Dangerous Roads for Truckers
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, November 14, 2017

Fleet management technology provider Zonar has created a graphic of the top 10 most dangerous roads in the U.S. for truck drivers, based on information from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

 
 

Zonar created the graphic ahead of the holiday season when, on average, there are approximately 36% more vehicles on the road. Higher traffic combined with bad weather conditions and shorter daylight, puts truck drivers at a higher risk of an accident during the holiday season, according to Zonar. The company analyzes data from commercial vehicles to provide drivers and managers with information and analysis to better navigate and safely manage cargo and passengers.

"With more people behind the wheel during the holidays, we want to make sure everyone knows which routes require a bit more caution driving through," says Gary Schmidt, vice president, business solutions at Zonar. "Our top priority when designing any product is to ensure that everyone on the road stays safe – whether you’re a truck driver headed cross country or a family on a road trip to Thanksgiving dinner."

According to the Department of Transportation, the top 10 most dangerous roads for truck drivers based on total accident volume between 2013 -2016 are:

Road Contact
I-10 Alabama
I-95 Florida
HWY-75 Idaho
I-40 Arkansas
US-1 Florida
M-20 Michigan
I-80 Border of Nebraska and Colorado
HWY-5 Colorado
I-70 Maryland
SC-35 South Carolina


 

The Scary Way Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Brain
Source: https://www.livestrong.com/; by Shannan Rouss, November 8, 2017

If you’re struggling to stay alert after a sleepless night, blame your brain cells. According to a new study published in the journal Nature Medicine, missing out on sleep doesn’t just leave you sluggish, it can actually slow down the neurons in your brain, making everyday tasks — from commuting to work to responding to email — more challenging.

 
 

"We were fascinated to observe how sleep deprivation dampened brain cell activity," said lead study author Yuval Nir, Ph.D., of Tel Aviv University, in a press release. "Unlike the usual rapid reaction, the neurons responded slowly and fired more weakly, and their transmissions dragged on longer than usual."

But perhaps the greatest risk of sleep deprivation had to do with your brain’s ability to process and respond to visual information. Think of the pedestrian who steps in front of your car while you’re driving. "The very act of seeing the pedestrian slows down in the driver’s overtired brain," said senior study author Itzhak Fried, M.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles. "It takes longer for his brain to register what he’s perceiving."

The study included 12 patients preparing for an epilepsy-related surgery at UCLA. Prior to surgery, the individuals had electrodes implanted in their brains to pinpoint the location of their seizures. (Sleep-deprivation can trigger seizures, so patients were kept awake in the hopes of reducing the amount of time they would need to be in the hospital.) The electrodes recorded the firing of brain cells as patients attempted to complete various cognitive tasks.

In addition to neurons firing more slowly, the researchers also observed slower, "dream-like" brain waves interrupting normal, waking brain processes in the sleep-deprived. "This phenomenon suggests that select regions of the patients’ brains were dozing, causing mental lapses, while the rest of the brain was awake and running as usual," said Fried.

In the end, the researchers say the results have serious implications for how we think about a lack of sleep.

"Severe fatigue exerts a similar influence on the brain to drinking too much," Fried said. "Yet no legal or medical standards exist for identifying overtired drivers on the road the same way we target drunk drivers."


 

November 2017 Articles

Driver Shortage Could Hit All Time High This Year
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Deborah Lockridge, October 22, 2017

ORLANDO – The trucking industry could be short 50,000 drivers by the end of 2017, warned American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello Sunday at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition.

 
 

The driver shortage was a key part of a wide-ranging presentation called "How Do Your Numbers Stack up?"

According to the report, ATA’s first in-depth examination of the driver shortage since 2015, the driver shortage eased in 2016 to roughly 36,500 – down from 2015’s shortfall of 45,000.

"We experienced a 'freight recession,' last year, which eased the pressure on the driver market," Costello said. "Now that freight volumes accelerating again, we should expect to see a significant tightening of the driver market."

In the report, ATA projects the shortage to reach 50,000 by the end of 2017 and if current trends hold the shortage could grow to more than 174,000 by 2026.

Driver turnover at large truckload fleets, which hit an all time high of 130% in 2005, averaged 81% last year with the freight slowdown. But by the second half of this year, it was back up to 90%, Costello noted.

While 50,000 is an all time high for the industry, he said, it feels even worse. "There’s quality vs. quantity. This is where the shortage feels much worse."

Derek Leathers, president and CEO of Werner Enterprises, explained, "The real issue I think we’re all faced with is the quality driver shortage. The ability to find drivers who meet the quality expectations we all have. This summer we crested 100,000 applications for the year. The problem was the hire rate in terms of meeting quality criteria was 2.7%."

Costello detailed the causes of the shortage in the report, including the demographics of the aging driver population, lifestyle issues, regulatory challenges and others; as well as possible solutions.

Over the next 10 years, he said, we need to attract almost 900,000 new people to the industry.

Demographics is a big part of the problem. ATA’s research arm, the American Transportation Research Institute, recently updated its demographic data on drivers and found some 57% of drivers are 45 or older. Only 4.4% are 20-24 years old, noted Rebecca Brewster, president and COO of ATRI.

"These demographics are daunting," Leathers said. "I’m happy to report ours have moved about 10 years to the left, thanks to the focus we’ve put on bringing more young people in."

"While the shortage is a persistent issue in our industry, motor carriers are constantly working to address it," Costello said. "We already see fleets raising pay and offering other incentives to attract drivers. Fleets are also doing more to improve the lifestyle and image of the truck driver, but there are also policy changes like reducing the driver age as part of a graduated licensing system, or easing the transition for returning veterans, that can make getting into this industry easier and therefore help with the shortage."

This led to a discussion of ATRI’s efforts to develop a younger driver assessment tool. The idea is to look at the characteristics of some of the industry’s best drivers and look at things such as personality traits, health, risk tolerance, age, attitudes regarding safety, and cognitive ability, and try to find younger candidates with similar traits.

"As we thread this needle as an industry," Leathers said, "we’re going to have to bend over backwards to address every safety concern and some we probably haven’t thought of."

Brewster noted that a new data point added to ATRI’s industry metrics this year was more granular data on incentives and bonuses. The average bonus safety bonus per driver was $1,499, the average on-time delivery bonus was $1.946, with an average $949 starting bonus and $1,143 retention bonus."

Leathers mused, "Do these reflect what we stand for? In my mind what we ought to be doing is paying the folks in the truck in our fleet today and taking care of them every way we can. Put the money with the person who’s already proven they can do it," rather than large sign on bonuses. "It's nice to see more emphasis on safety, on-time and retention bonuses."


 

California Wildfires: Can Burning Marijuana Fields Get You High?
Source: https://www.livescience.com; by Elizabeth Palermo, August 19, 2015

Recent wildfires in Northern California have consumed tens of thousands of acres in the past several weeks. In a paradoxical twist, some of the farms set ablaze in the recent conflagrations were marijuana farms, which produce plants that are meant to be burned (though not quite like this).

 
 

News reports about the burning pot plants have focused on the effects the ignited plants might have on the state's medical marijuana industry. But what about other side effects caused by the burning plants? Namely, are the burning pot farms going to get anybody high?

"Unfortunately, no. Or fortunately, no, depending on your perspective," said Ryan Vandrey, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. It's very unlikely that nonsmoking Californians will suddenly get the munchies or experience any of the other reported effects of the intoxicating plant, Vandrey told Live Science. [11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

It's not that marijuana smoke can't get you high. It can, according to a study that Vandrey and his colleagues published in May in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The study found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from secondhand pot smoke can build up in a nonsmoker's body, enough so to make him or her feel intoxicated, and in some cases, enough so that he or she would even fail a drug test. (THC is one of the chemicals in marijuana that bonds with cannabinoid receptors in parts of the brain associated with things like pleasure, coordination, memory and time perception. Scientists think THC is likely the chemical behind the "high" people feel when they smoke weed.)

But in order for the THC in secondhand pot smoke to get you high, you'd need to breathe in an awful lot of it, said Vandrey, who noted that this kind of hand-me-down high only occurs when non-pot smokers are stuck in a "hot box" situation (i.e., a room with no windows or any other source of ventilation).

"We evaluated the conditions under which you'd need to be to get intoxicated from secondhand smoke exposure, and it needs to be very extreme," Vandrey told Live Science. In the study, the researchers put 12 participants in a small, Plexiglas chamber and gave half of them joints (marijuana cigarettes) to smoke. Even when a regular air conditioner was set up in the enclosure, enough smoke from the room filtered out so that the nonsmokers stuck in the "hot box" didn't experience a buzz, Vandrey said.

Outside, where there is a constant circulation of air, it's hard to imagine that a person could breathe in enough marijuana smoke to feel the effects of the drug, said Vandrey, who added that a person would have to stand at the edge of a burning field of marijuana and gulp in the smoke for it to have any effect.

And guess what? Standing at the edge of a burning marijuana field, gulping up smoke, is a very, very bad idea, according to Vandrey, as well as the American Lung Association, which recommends that people exposed to wildfire smoke, even from afar, should filter the smoke with a mask and, if possible, stay indoors, away from potentially harmful clouds of soot and ash.


 

5 Tricks to Be Happier and More Productive
Source: http://www.livestrong.com/; by Sarah Stevenson, October 23, 2017

You know it when you’re in it.

 
 

It’s when you’re writing in your journal without writer’s block, getting lost in a stimulating conversation or surfing a wave with no fear. Some refer to it as being "in the zone" or even "disappearing".

There are many ways to define "flow," a term used to describe random indescribable bursts of energy, bouts of euphoria or just being completely engaged in an activity with pointed focus and enjoyment.

We spoke with Dr. Sven Hansen, founder of The Resilience Institute, whose company provides training for executives and professionals to ensure they're performing at their best. According to Hansen, flow can increase productivity up to five times and leaves employees feeling deeply satisfied.

"Flow is a state of excellence where we perform at our best. Our talents and skills meet meaningful challenge," says Hansen. "Forty years of research demonstrates that each one of us can learn how to find flow in our lives."

It may be nearly impossible to live in a constant state of flow, but you can certainly increase the amount of time you spend in a flow state of mind — heightening your overall success. Here are five ways to introduce and increase flow in your everyday life.

1. Focus Your Attention

Emails, texts, the internet, television and friends begging for your attention can knock you right off task. Suddenly, that project that was supposed to take you 20 minutes to complete has taken two hours. One great way to make sure you stay focused and create effortless flow is to shut off all the possible distracters.

According to Dr. Sven, "When you do something, do it with 100-percent focus." When you really want to accomplish something, give yourself a break from the world. Turn off your phone, shut down the computer, walk away from the TV and let people know that you’re busy and you’ll get back to them later: You’ve got a masterpiece to create!

When you create this space for activities, you can achieve that feeling of timelessness, get delightfully lost in the activity and present much more progress than you dreamed possible.

2. Set Clear and Tangible Goals

Part of creating flow in your everyday life requires discipline. Create boundaries around what it is you want to accomplish.

Getting lost in several activities at once can turn into a waste of time and hurt the rest of your day’s to-do list. It would be a shame to eliminate the euphoric gift that flow has to offer just because you failed to set goals you can actually achieve. So if you would like to lose yourself in your work and make a living doing so, set clear and tangible goals.

For example: "I want to educate the world about the value of maintaining a healthy diet." That means that you need a clear agenda on where to focus your attention, giving you the needed structure to stay within the boundaries of your duties. Then you can set aside a specific amount of time to complete each task.

Remember to keep checking in to see that your actions are matching up with your goals. This will keep the work in flow mode.

3. Check in With Yourself

Do you hate your job? With flow you can train your brain to fall in love with it or to push you in a different direction. All you need to do is simply check yourself.

"One sure sign that you are in flow is how you feel," says Hansen. "Flow is the difference between a job you hate and a job you love." Many of us spend almost every day with people we can’t stand, going to jobs we hate and wasting valuable energy that we will never get back. So maybe it’s time we begin to have an inner dialogue with ourselves.

Check in with yourself often, asking, "How does this activity make me feel?" Take notes so you can reference the times you felt energized, happy and inspired as well as the times you felt depleted, drained and frustrated. Your internal compass is an amazing guide for leading you to where you should focus your attention.

4. Create Flow in Everyday Tasks

Dr. Eric Maisel, author of more than 40 books, who specializes in life purpose, mental health and creativity coaching, says to "create flow in your everyday tasks by creating a ceremonial bridge — maybe a deep breath and a smart thought — that reminds you that you want to get quiet, go deep…"

Before each everyday task, if you slow down and simply take a deep breath in and out it can change how you see everything.

The act of cleaning the dishes quickly becomes a moment-by-moment fulfilling task. Make tiny goals like cleaning a dish or completing a spreadsheet, and the process of flow can take over. You are left with sparkling dishes and a deep sense of accomplishment.

5. Use Downtime for Creative Work

Discipline yourself to use your time wisely. The moments that tick away while watching mindless TV or scrolling through Facebook feeds are gone forever. These activities can steal flow from you in the moment and keep you from creating flow in the future.

"We all throw away 15 minutes here and 20 minutes there by checking our email for the millionth time, playing some computer game or surfing the internet," says Maisel. "Don’t scorn those 15 minutes and 20 minutes and just cavalierly throw them away! Instead, create a list of small creative tasks… that can be tackled whenever those 15 or 20 minutes become available!"

Also, instead of numbing out, go deeper into your imagination. Pull out a paintbrush, turn on some music and dance, do something creative — anything that will get your inventive side working — and flow will soon follow.

Life is too short to waste away minutes, weeks and years tripping over your own feet through the monotony of your days. Consciously take hold of how you move (aka flow) through this world so that you live an inspired, meaningful life and leave an inspiring and meaningful legacy.

You will be pleasantly surprised how connecting with your inner flow can transform so much in your life.


 

The Four Best Benefits of Using Pre-Employment Assessments
Source: http://www.selectinternational.com/; by Amber Thomas

There are many advantages to using properly designed and implemented pre-employment assessments, but it can be confusing to figure it all out without an education or extensive experience in using assessments for selection. It is no surprise, then, that many trailblazers who wish to bring assessments to their organizations have a difficult time explaining the value of assessments internally. Here are a few ideas for explaining the value of assessments to your key stakeholders. Properly designed assessments are:

 
 

1) Tied to key competencies required for the job, in a legally defensible way.

At Select, we follow current professional and legal standards when setting up any selection criteria. This includes a job analysis, where we learn more about the education, technical skills and "soft skills" needed to perform the job. We do this through a combination of survey work, focus groups and observation. Afterward, we map all selection criteria to the competencies that were identified in the analysis. This ensures that your content is job related, which is key to both predicting success on the job, and to ensuring legal defensibility.

2) Used to screen out candidates that are likely to display risky behaviors, in a consistent and fair way.

One of the hallmarks of any great selection system is that each step provides utility and value. This means that you’re making meaningful decisions based off of each step. Decisions like – is this person considered an applicant? Will this person be interviewed? Did this person meet our expectations in the interview? Your process should provide clear, job-related and consistent answers to these questions by screening out candidates who do not meet the criteria required.

3) A great way to let your recruiters spend more time with only qualified candidates.

Assessments save your organization time and money by letting your personnel focus their time with candidates that meet the benchmark on competencies needed for success on the job. This is especially important for organizations that have a small recruiting team, or just want to leverage their recruiting talent in other ways. How many resume reviews, phone screens and on-site interviews could be avoided if you knew ahead of time that the candidates weren’t the right fit? A little money spent on an assessment that screens out the wrong candidates translates to hours of time back in your teams’ day.

4) Created with the end in mind.

Some assessments are designed to screen out risky candidates while others are designed to take a "deep dive" into numerous competencies and help you identify the cream of the crop. Just like you wouldn’t use a hammer to fix a watch, you wouldn’t use a screening assessment as the only tool to help select your next VP. The right tool must be carefully selected based on the situation and the desired outcome.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry! You don’t need to have this all figured out right now. Use these four points to help drive the conversation about using employee assessments at your organization. And be sure to ask questions to all potential vendors questions based off of these points.


 

October 2017 Articles

Crime report: Fleet owners indicted for evading shutdown order, former DOT employee convicted of bank fraud, more
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, September 21, 2017

Action in four trucking-related crimes has recently been reported by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General and NJ.com, including bank fraud, bribery, shutdown order evasion and unpaid tolls.

 
 

Utah brothers indicted for scheme to evade out-of-service order

Jay and Garrett Barber were indicted Sept. 6 on charges related to a scheme to evade enforcement of an imminent hazard order issued against their trucking company. The indictment includes 36 counts involving conspiracy, false statements, aggravated identity theft, and mail and wire fraud.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued the order in March 2012 against Reliable Transportation Services Inc., and its owner Jay Barber, based on numerous safety regulation violations. Instead of complying with the order, the brothers allegedly devised a scheme to continue operating their trucking companies.

Former FMCSA employee convicted on bank fraud charges

Darryl Williams, a former FMCSA and Federal Railroad Administration employee, was convicted Aug. 25 on bank fraud charges.

According to the OIG, from Nov. 2010 through Oct. 2016, Williams attempted to obtain money, loans and lines of credit by lying about his employment status, employer, job title, length of employment and salary. To support his applications for lines of credit, he allegedly falsified, forged or manipulated his DOT leave and earnings statements.

OIG says he falsely indicated on the applications that his job title was investigator with DOT.

Virginia DOT supervisors, trucking company owners indicted for bribery scheme

Two VDOT supervisors – Anthony Willie and Kenneth Adams – and four northern Virginia trucking company owners – Rolando Alfonso Pineda Moran, Shaheen Sariri, John Williamson and Elmer Mejia – were indicted on charges of conspiracy and fraud.

The indictment alleges that beginning in 2013, Willie and Adams used their positions as VDOT employees to enrich themselves by negotiating bribe agreements with several owners and operators of trucking and snow-removal companies. From the 2013-2014 snow season to the 2015-2016 snow season, Willie and Adams allegedly received approximately $140,000 in cash bribes from the trucking companies.

Trucking company owner charged with toll evasion

A New Jersey trucking company owner, Edwin Galvez, was pulled over earlier this month on the George Washington Bridge after police discovered he owed $11,500 in unpaid tolls, according to a NJ.com report.

The report states Galvez drove his truck through an E-Z Pass lane without paying, and a check of his plates showed he owed for the tolls and had 99 violations. Galvez, the owner of LaCieba Trucking, was charged with theft of services and toll evasion, according to the report.


 

Skipping background checks could be costly
Source: http://www.autonews.com/; by Jamie LaReau, September 20, 2017

During the decade Mo Zahabi spent working at car dealerships, he was continually shocked by the lack of due diligence in hiring.

 
 

"At the last dealership group I worked for, there was somebody who'd been there for 12 years when we found out he'd been in prison at one point," says Zahabi, director of product consulting for VinSolutions, a customer relations management software developer in Mission, Kan. "He was one of the best salespeople I'd worked with, so he really was reformed, but it blows my mind so few dealers do background checks."

Conducting criminal background checks on potential hires is a best practice, yet many dealers skip them, and that's a problem, insurance experts and consultants say. The biggest payouts insurers make to dealers are for losses from misappropriation of cash, parts shortages, and finance and insurance scams, all of which could be mitigated by hiring people with proven clean records, the experts say. The less the risk of fraud at a dealership, the less the dealer pays for insurance. So if it's permissible to run a criminal background check, do it, they say.

"You do not want people on the payroll who have a propensity to have criminal behavior at work," says Adam Robinson, CEO of consultancy Hireology in Chicago. "Criminal background checks are not a place where you want to save $20."

Indeed, in a 2016 report on occupational fraud — defined as fraud committed by a person against the organization for which he or she works — the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners said the median loss for all cases compiled was $150,000, with 23 percent of cases causing losses of $1 million or more.

That's one reason dealer Aaron Zeigler, president of Zeigler Auto Group in Kalamazoo, Mich., spares no expense when it comes to doing criminal background checks and drug tests on all hires at the group's 23 stores. He started the policy in 2010.

"If anybody's had a felony on the record, I'm the only one who can override it to hire them," Zeigler said. "It's amazing the stuff the background checks come up with."

In fact, on just the second criminal background check Zeigler's group performed, it found the applicant's resume was full of lies. "He'd actually been in prison for the past 17 years for murder," Zeigler said.

For Zeigler to hire a person with a felony conviction, he said, the crime would have to be 15 to 20 years old and the person would have to show he or she is reformed. He said it's "pretty rare" for him to hire someone with a criminal record, especially in the F&I department, where money is handled.

Price of omission

Insurance underwriter Risk Theory, of Dallas, asks its dealer clients if they do employee background checks when it's determining their insurance coverage and rates. A background check could include a federal criminal check, a local county criminal check or a drug screening, said Bob Tschippert, senior vice president of Risk Theory. Of the nearly 1,000 dealerships that applied with Risk Theory last year, about 86 percent answered yes to the question, he said.

Tschippert said he is surprised it's not 100 percent given that dealers who don't do background checks pay more for insurance. He declined to say how much more, but added: "An insurance company is there to make a profit. If the loss ratio is there where they can't make a profit, they can either cancel the account or price it to where they can make a profit."

It costs about $20 to $40 to do a federal and county criminal background check on someone, Tschippert said. Yet not doing one can be much more costly. If a dealer suffers high employee turnover from bad hires, it costs thousands to recruit and train new hires, he said.

On top of that, Tschippert said, if an employee steals expensive parts or embezzles money, a forensic accountant could charge the dealer $200 an hour or more to comb through the records, sometimes going back several years, to track the losses.

Dealers also can't presume a veteran employee is a trustworthy employee, experts warn.

Victimized

One dealer client told Tschippert that buying "employee dishonesty coverage" and doing background checks were not necessary because his employees were like family. That dealer later learned a longtime controller had stolen $125,000 from him, Tschippert said.

In 2012, dealer Danny McKenna discovered two of his veteran employees at McKenna Automotive Group in Norwalk, Calif., were in collusion and had stolen about $600,000 from him over several years. On top of that loss, it cost McKenna close to $1 million to pay for accountants, investigators, lawyers, bank fees, back taxes and reimbursements to employees who should have earned commissions off the money stolen, he says. To avoid prosecution, the former employee and the co-conspirator agreed to repay about $300,000, McKenna said.

Then there was the case of eight former employees of Serra Nissan in Birmingham, Ala., who pleaded guilty to felony charges including conspiracy to fraudulently boost loan approvals and car sales in 2015.

F&I consultant Becky Chernek urges her dealer clients to thoroughly vet all potential hires and employees with background checks, reference checks, behavioral assessment tests and drug testing.

"If they don't, they're going to have constant turnover, which is going to cost them in deals that aren't funded properly," said Chernek, president of Chernek Consulting in Atlanta. "I've seen F&I people steal money from the dealer in down payments and other ways, or capping a deal at a certain amount showing a certain profit was generated that really wasn't or blatantly taking the down payment from customers."

Why not vet?

So given the financial risks, why don't all dealers vet?

Hireology's Robinson said some dealers view it as an unnecessary expense until it proves worthwhile. For example, one of his clients, a large dealership group, resisted Hireology's push to do criminal background checks for precisely that reason, he said. But Robinson insisted the group pilot it at one store. The result changed minds.

"The first hire they were about to make under this pilot was a registered sex offender convicted of child pornography distribution and indecent exposure," Robinson said. "Here's a dealership with a day care on-site. They were quickly convinced that criminal background checks were a good policy."

In many cases, dealers don't do checks because they have a high turnover rate and don't want the hassle of running frequent screenings, Tschippert said. "But it's a best practice, and you're protecting your reputation."

Many dealers still have an "old-school mindset," said VinSolutions' Zahabi. "They are very lazy in the hiring process" and don't have a vetting protocol in place, he said. Plus, many don't have a human resources department to handle a process. Still, he said, the justification for criminal background checks is there.

"I don't want somebody with a criminal background in a car taking my kids for a test drive," Zahabi said. "Likewise, if someone committed an act that was fraudulent, would you want them working in your dealership?"


 

Why Going to Work Hungover May Be a Complete Waste of Time
Source: http://www.livestrong.com/; by LEAH GROTH, July 18, 2017

There are few things more miserable than waking up after a night of heavy drinking and realizing that instead of just sleeping off your hangover, you’ve got to actually get up and go to work.

 
 

Most people take a shower, suck it up and brave the world with a gigantic coffee in hand because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Well, not necessarily!

Some medical experts, like this psychologist writing for The Conversation (an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community), believe that staying home and nursing that hangover is not only better for you, it’s better for the your entire office.

In fact, a startling 83 percent of employees admit that being hungover at work impacts their performance; a third claim they "drift off" and are unable to work at their usual pace; and just less than 30 percent suffer from headaches and are unable to concentrate. A study from Norway also found that being hungover can contribute to increased conflicts with other employees and a decrease in job completion.

And it’s no wonder: A hangover is no joke when you consider what it does to your body and your mind. Alcohol is seriously dehydrating, which is one of the main reasons you feel so crappy the day after a booze binge. Vomiting, headaches, dizziness, nausea, lack of energy and high blood pressure are just a few of the physical ways the body reacts. But there are other, lesser-known factors that contribute to the suckiness of a hangover.

For instance, the reason you feel like throwing up is because your intestines and stomach are majorly inflamed, and that sweating is likely due to the fact that alcohol impacts your sleep and also your metabolism. There are also psychological implications, such as increased anxiety, depression and irritability. Not fun at all.

And then there’s the issue of drunk driving. Depending on how much alcohol you consumed the night before and whether your drinking continued into the next day, the physical act of getting to work can be tricky. Driving while intoxicated obviously isn’t safe or legal, and if you get arrested or into an accident (and then arrested) there will be serious repercussions. Even if the alcohol isn’t traceable in your blood, scientific data maintains that hangovers "significantly" impair driving. So do not take that chance.

When you stop and consider that you’re not functioning at 100 percent, you’re causing conflicts with your workmates and you’re possibly putting your and other’s lives at risk, it seems pretty obvious that going to work with a bad hangover is a complete waste of time.

Avoid this situation completely by simply not getting too drunk on a work night — but if you must, be smart about it. Drink plenty of water in between alcoholic drinks, and make sure to eat something so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallies the monetary damage of hangovers on the United States workforce at a whopping $90 billion per year, which includes both the people who fail to show up after a night of drinking and those who simply cannot function.

So if sobriety is simply unavoidable, it’s up to you to use your discretion and determine whether suiting up and showing up will be more detrimental to your well-being (and everyone else’s) than just staying in bed and working on lightening the load in your Netflix queue.

What Do YOU Think?

Do you ever go to work with a hangover? Have you noticed that it impacts your productivity? Do you think it’s OK to call in sick with a hangover?


 

Tread carefully when screening potential hires, experts say
Source: http://www.newsday.com/; by Jamie Herzlich, September 11, 2017

Many employers use background screening to vet prospective employees.

 
 

In fact, 89 percent of companies conduct employment background checks, and 80 percent of the time these checks uncover issues and information they otherwise wouldn’t have found, according to a recent report on background screening trends and best practices by Sterling Talent Solutions.

Still, background screening laws can be complex, which is why 25 percent of survey respondents cited ensuring they are complying with ever-changing screening laws as their second biggest screening challenge.

Making it even more tricky is the fact that laws vary depending on where you are hiring, says Clare Hart, CEO of Manhattan-based Sterling Talent, a provider of employee background screening services.

This means "employers need to understand the compliance requirements at the federal, state and sometimes local level," she says.

For example, New York City employers are restricted by law from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until after a conditional offer has been made. But that is not the case on Long Island, says David Mahoney, a partner and member of the labor and employment law group of Jericho-based SilvermanAcampora LLP.

Still, legislation like the law in New York City is gaining momentum nationally, which is why Mahoney doesn’t recommend that employers even on Long Island ask about criminal convictions before a conditional offer of employment is made.

These laws are in place for a reason, says Catherine Aldrich, vice president of operations at HireRight, an Irvine, California, employment screening provider. They’re designed to ensure that a candidate is not eliminated from the hiring process just because he or she has a criminal background, which may have no bearing on the job, she says.

"Any employer who is looking to use a criminal conviction as the reason it doesn’t hire a job applicant must be prepared to defend that decision and explain why a criminal conviction should disqualify the applicant from performing that job," says Mahoney.

Even outside of New York City, the New York Correction Law, which applies to Long Island, generally bars employers from posting job solicitations that either require applicants to have no criminal history or a clean background, he says.

So you have to tread carefully, and it seems employers are.

This year only 48 percent of organizations reported asking candidates to disclose criminal records early in the application process, when just two years ago that number was 76 percent, says Hart.

As a general recommendation, employers are advised to review the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Federal Trade Commission guidance on background checks; find it at nwsdy.li/checks.

One key requirement to be cognizant of is that employers must obtain a signed authorization form from the candidate prior to ordering a background check, says Aldrich.

"We’ve seen employers sued for non-compliance for not giving the right forms," she says.

All employees have the right to be given the results of their background check as well, she says, noting there is a specific process an employer must follow if a background check results in not hiring the candidate.

For one, an employer must provide the applicant notice of the adverse action (ie. the decision to not hire the person) and other information that allows the applicant to see the basis of that decision, says Keith Gutstein, a partner at the Woodbury law firm of Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck.

The applicant also has the right to contact the agency that did the report, and the employer must provide the name and phone number of the agency to the applicant, he says. The applicant then has the right to dispute the agency’s finding with the agency, he says.

Be careful not to deny employment based solely on a criminal conviction, he says. The New York Correction Law requires a further analysis to be done before making an adverse employment decision, says Gutstein.

"You have to figure out, Would hiring this applicant pose an unreasonable risk to property or people?" he says. "Does the conviction bear a direct relationship to the job?"


 

Indicators: Driver turnover rate swelled in second quarter
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by James Jaillet, September 18, 2017

CCJ's Indicators rounds up the latest reports on trucking business indicators on rates, freight, equipment, the economy and more.

 
 

The driver turnover rate at large truckload fleets jumped 16 percentage points to 90 percent in the second quarter of 2017, according to the American Trucking Associations' quarterly report. The turnover rate at small fleets, those with less than $30 million in annual revenue, also leapt, climbing 19 points to 85 percent.

"After a period of relatively low turnover, it appears the driver market is tightening again, which coupled with increased demand for freight movement, could rapidly exacerbate the driver shortage," says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.

"We predicted that last year’s period of relatively low and stable turnover could be short-lived if the freight economy recovered from 2016’s freight recession," he added. "It appears those predictions were correct and we may be seeing the beginnings of a significant tightening of the driver market and acceleration of the driver shortage."


 

September 2017 Articles

To get hiring right, startups are expanding background checks of potential staff
Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/; by Saumya Bhattacharya, August 8, 2017

NEW DELHI | Mumbai: Startups are doing more background checks than before on their potential employees, as they are faced with the pressure to hire right.

 
 

As much as 87% of discrepancies found during a recent survey by background screening solutions firm First Advantage were at the level of senior management. Of these candidates, 42.3% were in the 22-30 age group, indicating that a significant chunk of them belonged to the startup ecosystem.

"We see more startups seeking background checks. Wrong hiring can sully the image of the startups, and cash-strapped startups can’t afford to hire the wrong person," First Advantage managing director Purushotam Savlani said.

Employees can easily go from being assets to liabilities, and pose a risk to the credibility established by the startup, especially those in the financial technology sector, he said. Most of the background checks that the startups want to do are in skills, leadership styles, credentials and possible cases of sexual harassment against the potential employee.

Paytm has engaged a professional agency to validate the past employer credentials, educational qualification and criminal antecedents for all new employees. "Any reported noncompliance in background verification ensures strict action against the candidate, leading to revocation of the offer or termination of employment. Candidates are made aware of this procedure as a part of the selection experience," said Paytm associate vice president Manav Jain.

Customer-facing roles, in particular, are a key focus area when it comes to background checks during the hiring process. "These are the folks who are actually delivering to people’s houses, so safety is a key issue," said TN Hari, HR head at online grocery player BigBasket.

"We have two agencies to do background checks on these individuals for us," he added. For senior management, informal reference checks are conducted to see where the potential hire stands on issues such as integrity, taking ownership, overall attitude, etc., said Hari. At online furniture and home décor brand Urban Ladder, the company religiously does three things when hiring employees and senior management: mandatory reference checks through internal or external networks, a legal verification for customer-facing employees and putting them through a thorough training and induction process. "Background checks and verifications are essentially fencing mechanisms for an organisation," co-founder Rajiv Srivatsa said. One of the reasons startups are seeking more background checks is that in such early-stage companies, there are fewer people overseeing payroll, checks and vendor lists, making it easier for an insider to siphon off money and get away with it. "Running thorough background checks and reference checks help startups protect themselves from these types of bottom feeders, and is one of the reasons you should expect a background check before being hired with a developing entrepreneurial firm," said First Advantage’s Savlani.

At the top levels, ensuring the right hire becomes much more important. "The impact of senior management hires is massive in a company’s evolution. You need to have a thorough understanding of that person’s integrity and values. The more companies align on that right from the beginning, the better it is for all concerned," said Sandeep Murthy, a partner at venture capital firm Lightbox Ventures.

But while screening is important, so also is hiring someone who is the right cultural fit. "We screen for aptitude, but hire for attitude," said Murthy. Vivek Prabhakar, CEO of Chumbak Design, said while senior hires are always carefully vetted, for him the more important aspect is the culture test to see whether the candidate is a good fit for the company.

"We don’t want people who engage in politics or disrupt the equilibrium of the organisation. What we are looking for are people who gel with the organisational culture; others are weeded out," Prabhakar said.


 

NFL Season May Bring Increased Drowsy Driving Risk
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, August 21, 2017

A spike in drowsy driving incidents among waste drivers seemed to correspond with the return of the the NFL season, according to video-based technology safety company Lytx. From 2012 to 2016, the August-to-November time frame saw a 53% increase in incidents involving drowsy driving or falling asleep at the wheel, compared to the rest of the year. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the risk was up 78% compared to the rest of the year, according to Lytx.

 
 

November of 2016 showed a 112% increase in drowsy driving or falling asleep driving events among waste drivers over the rest of the year, while Mondays and Tuesdays during those four months saw an average 170% spike.

"This study tells us that waste companies would benefit from encouraging their drivers to get more sleep on football nights," said Dave Riordan, Lytx chief client officer. "Since the start of football season coincides with the onset of back-to-school schedules, drivers are doubly challenged to get a good night's rest."

Lytx made these findings by analyzing behaviors among drivers of 33,000 private waste vehicles from 2012 to 2016. Lytx says its DriveCam video-based telematics system is used by many of the major national waste companies as well as dozens of municipal waste fleets in the U.S.

"Waste drivers have one of the toughest jobs in America, and on top of a strenuous work day, they tend to have very early shifts, heading out to make their rounds before the sun's come up," said Darrell Smith, president and CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Association. "Combine that with a late night of watching football, and the risk of drowsy driving is predictable but solvable."


 

THIRD OF EMPLOYERS SAY BAD BACKGROUND CHECK EXPERIENCES COST THEM JOB CANDIDATES
Source: http://www2.staffingindustry.com/; by Staffing Industry Staff, August 8, 2017

Employers need to make sure they are not experiencing candidate fall off because of a poor background check experience, according to a recent CareerBuilder study. The survey found 38% of employers have lost a candidate because they had a negative experience with their background check. However, less than half of HR managers who conduct background checks, 44%, have tested their background check experience themselves. When employers did test their process, 14% rated their background check candidate experience as fair or poor.

 
 

A poorly conducted background check is one of the most common reasons employers lose candidates that have already accepted job offers; 21% of employers who have lost candidates that have accepted a job offer say it was because background screening took too long, and 20% said it was because a candidate had a poor experience with background screening.

Additionally, a negative experience with a company’s HR technology — such as a job application or background check process — can affect a candidate’s opinion of the company overall. Fifty-six percent of candidates think less of a company if they have a poor experience with their HR technology, and 8% of those who have accepted a job offer then withdrew have done so because a background check took too long or they had a negative experience with the background check/drug check.

"Employers are aware conducting background checks is an important business process, but few invest time to evaluate the candidate experience, ease of use, simplicity, and impact on the hiring process," said Ben Goldberg, CEO of Aurico, a CareerBuilder company that provides background screening and drug testing. "The longer the background check process, the higher risk of losing a quality candidate to another employer. Employers should test their application and background check process and ensure candidates have a positive experience."

The survey was conducted online within the US by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,369 hiring and human resource managers and 3,462 employees. It was conducted between May 24 and June 16, 2017.


 

Increased Costs Could Mean Less Favorable Trucking Conditions
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, August 22, 2017

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index fell by more than two points in June as a result of increased costs for labor, fuel, and equipment, reflecting less favorable conditions for trucking.

 
 

The June TCI dropped to a reading of 4.54 for the month. Market tightness is seen as likely shorter than expected due to a possible drag on capacity caused by upcoming regulations, according to FTR.

"Despite the monthly drop from May to June, the TCI has stayed in a relatively stable range since this time last year," said Jonathan Starks, FTR's COO. "It remains positive, but does not yet indicate that a significant change in operations is occurring."

FTR is maintaining a favorable freight forecast for the rest of the year, but does not expect as strong of a result for 2018. It is projecting around half of the growth for next year with an increased risk of recession toward the end of 2018.

"The potential for such a change increases as we move through 2018, with ELD implementation and continued freight growth hindering truck capacity," said Starks. "We are also beginning to hear stories of increased difficulty in hiring as the economy begins approaching full employment."

The spot market has shown strong increases in recent weeks it could be an indicator as to how rates in the contract market are likely to move, according to Starks.

"Spot data in early August shows that the rate increases have hit the double-digit mark and are still moving up," said Starks. "Market participants need to continue evaluating conditions ahead of the ELD implementation in December to make sure that they are prepared for the possible disruptions that could occur."


 

How E-Commerce Disrupts Trucking
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Jim Beach, August 2017

NASHVILLE, TN -- While disruption may be a current buzzword, it’s as old as capitalism itself, said Thom Albrecht, president of Sword & Sea Transportation Advisors, a securities analysis firm. Speaking at the PeopleNet and TMW in.sight User Conference + Expo Aug. 15, Albrecht said that when there’s real disruption market leaders are displaced.

 
 

The examples are legion: the horse and buggy vs. the automobile; ice boxes vs. refrigerators; and more recently the example of Kodak, which held the first patent for a digital camera, but couldn’t see the real value of the technology or how it would affect its core business of making film. And of course, everyone knows about the disruptions that Uber and Airbnb created in taxi cab and hotel markets.

And of course, there is Amazon and other retail e-commerce sites, which have totally disrupted the retail industry in terms of brick and mortar stores. Albrecht argues Amazon is the latest disruption in a trend affecting retail. Before that, he said, catalog sales took a bite out of department stores, big box stores took another bite, and Amazon and similar ventures put the big box stores down.

Albrecht predicts malls will continue to contract – their numbers will decrease until only a few are left. Even now, 28% of malls account for 70% of mall sales. What that means for retail is that much of the free labor and transportation they had once relied on is gone.

Before Amazon and direct shipment of goods to consumers, they had to drive to the store and pick up their goods, he said. Now, we demand delivery and in many cases demand it the next or even same day we order. As a result, Albrecht said projections call for 20% more brick and mortar stores to close with the next five to eight years. In fact, Amazon’s sales growth in many consumer segments has far outpaced each segment overall growth. For instance, ecommerce’s share of the beauty care market is 28% with year-over-year sales growth of $1.6 billion, while brick and mortar stores’ sales growth was minus $170 million.

Every retail category is gaining momentum in e-commerce, as we have begun to buy things online we wouldn’t have three to four years ago, he said, paced by millennials buying much of their goods online.

That includes food items, which along with a few other trends is changing food logistics. For instance, this year 31% of online shoppers were willing to make at least one food order online. Last year that figure was 19% and in 2015 it was 8%. Online spending on food and alcohol is expected to grow from $14 billion in 2016 to $125 billion in 2020.

The popularity of online food kits may have something to do with that, Albrecht said. Another trend affecting food logistics: changing tastes. Year-to-year sales growth at independent restaurants grew 6-8%, while chain restaurants saw about 1% growth.

What does that mean for trucking? Albrecht thinks there will be fewer full truckloads, more transparency, and compression of rates. Autonomous vehicles could add capacity and electric trucks could reduce operating costs, he said. But both of those trends may depress rates. On the bright side, however, is that with more transparency, good service can win out over lower rates if the rate spreads are smaller.

He also foresees dry van shipments going down while refrigerated shipments will increase; fewer Class 8 trucks and more medium-duty trucks, although not everyone in the industry agrees with that assessment.

To manage your company in disruptive times, Albrecht suggests a few principles. First, see change properly – be ready to change your operation if necessary. Second, being the biggest and the smartest may not protect you, since leading companies rarely see disruption coming as they are focused on what they have always been doing.

Don’t be afraid to hurt a part of your business if need be. For instance, Amazon was the leading seller of books but they developed the Kindle anyway, knowing that e-books would eat away at regular book sales. Watch out for the low margin, low volume parts of the business, as that’s where disruptors get a toe-hold. As an example, Albrecht cited how parcel carriers siphoned off small and mid-sized shipments from LTL carriers until the FedEx’s and UPS’s of the world became LTLs themselves.

And to tackle disruption, it may be better to establish an autonomous unit outside of the "homeoffice" culture, he said.


 

10 Things Your Boss Wants You to Do Without Being Told
Source: http://www.livestrong.com/; by Natasha Burton, August 11, 2017

Depending on how effusive — and prone to giving feedback — your boss is, it can be hard to know exactly what he or she really needs from you. But no matter what industry you work in, there are some universal traits that higher-ups wish the people they manage had, according to experts.Not only do these characteristics make a boss’s day-to-day easier, having them may put you on a fast track for a raise or promotion. With that in mind, here are 10 ways to be the rockstar employee your boss dreams of.

 
 

DO YOUR JOB.

Yes, this sounds obvious, but actually delivering results is the primary thing your boss needs from you. After all, it’s why she hired you."You have the tools and the knowledge to deliver results, and it’s up to you to do so," says Rob Mead, head of marketing at Gnatta, a customer service company. "Your leader will be there for advice, support and to get you through the tough times, but you need to provide results and she will then fulfill her end of the bargain by helping you get to the next level." Coasting along won’t win you any points with the boss — nor will it advance your career.

BE ON TIME.

"Whether it’s to a meeting, for a deadline or just to a team happy hour, nothing is more offputting than someone being late," Mead says.Yes, sometimes being tardy is unavoidable — traffic, family emergencies and other conflicts arise — but it’s on you to have the grace to communicate with your boss and your colleagues when these things happen. "Leaders remember who’s there on time, and those people will be the ones they can count on," he adds.

PROVIDE CONTEXT.

Bosses are typically busy managing everything from people to crisis situations while trying to lead a business — no easy task. So giving yours a frame of reference when speaking or sending an email about projects and deliverables can make a world of difference, according to executive coach and TEDx speaker Lynn Carnes. "Recognize that you have incredible power to shape how the boss sees something if you go beyond the typical vague question of ‘What do you think?’" she says. "A quick sentence of context — like, ‘This is about the XYZ project’ or ‘I’ve been thinking about our ABC campaign’ — gets her on the same page as you quickly." Plus, the forethought that your boss has many other things on her mind is also much appreciated.

GET TO THE POINT.

Coupled with providing context, Carnes says, is getting to your point quickly. "Nothing drives a boss crazier than for you to beat around the bush waiting for her to connect the dots," she says. "Trust that your boss can ‘handle the truth’ and make your statement or ask for what you need as clearly as possible." If you’re writing an email, take the time to edit your message for length and break down what you need to say into bullet points so your boss can easily read and understand what you’re trying to relay. Any opportunity you can create to save your boss time — and help her avoid unnecessary frustration — will benefit you too.

SCHEDULE TIME.

It happens to the best of us: You stop by your boss’s office and ask, "Got just a second to go over this?" and 20 minutes later you’re getting to the end of your "quick second," at which point your boss doesn’t seem to be paying attention. "You think it’s because he doesn’t like your ideas or doesn’t care about your problem," Carnes says. "In reality? It’s because he is now running late for a meeting and is trying not to be rude by cutting you off." Be realistic about the time you need with your boss, and don’t pop into his office for a “sec” if whatever you have to say will inevitably take longer. Instead of showing up unannounced, have the forethought to schedule time with him and get on his calendar.

HAVE A CAN-DO ATTITUDE.

Sure, being an overly positive Pollyanna might just annoy your boss (and everyone else in your office, to be honest), but there is something to be said about an employee who willingly takes on the challenges of her job. If you don’t agree with a decision or a direction the boss wants to go in, then by all means push back and explain your position, but don’t be the person who continually gripes over how difficult or insurmountable your tasks are. "As someone for whom being positive doesn’t come naturally, it took me time to master this, but it’s key," Mead says. "Being told that something is impossible is a switch off for any senior person — there’s always a way to do something. Stating that something can’t be done is never the right answer."

SOLVE PROBLEMS, DON’T CAUSE THEM.

We’ve all heard this one: Don’t bring problems, bring solutions. "It’s a massive cliché, but, as with all clichés, it contains a grain of truth," Mead says. "If you always bring problems, people will eventually stop listening. If you bring solutions, however, you’ll be remembered positively — even if they don’t always work 100 percent of the time." He explains that leaders are always looking for people who care enough about their roles to improve both their own areas of responsibility and those of others. Having the creativity and ingenuity to at least try to resolve complications will get you recognized for being resourceful and for being a team player who looks out for the greater good.

TAKE INITIATIVE.

Being a self-starter goes a long way toward impressing the boss, yet taking initiative is seldom done, says Jessica Tsukimura, head of the New York Client Services team for Stag & Hare, a global branding and design agency. In fact, she says that this quality is usually the main piece of feedback for her team in every performance review. "See an issue or a need internally or with a client? Why not try to develop solutions before it’s assigned to someone? This showcases your willingness to pitch in as well as your ability to problem solve and be effective," Tsukimura says. "Your proactive nature will make you stand out among your peers, and your boss will no doubt take notice."

TAKE NOTHING PERSONALLY.

To quote "The Godfather" (and "You’ve Got Mail"), what happens at the office "isn’t personal, it’s business." This is especially true when it comes to the feedback your boss gives you."Bosses need to give constructive feedback on your work without worrying about hurting your feelings," Carnes says. "And if you do find yourself having taken things personally, you don’t have to react. When you get defensive, it sends a warning signal that there is something to worry about." Instead, she advises taking a deep breath and remembering that feedback will help you flourish and grow.

DON’T JUDGE.

Bosses have to constantly make decisions. Some of these are very difficult, and many of them cannot be discussed in detail with employees. Chances are that you won’t agree with all of them. But it’s up to you how you react to them."While it’s OK to ask the boss why a decision was made, recognize that she may not be at liberty to share all the details," Carnes says. "It’s a great time to assume positive intent and give her the benefit of the doubt given the set of circumstances she was in." Passing unnecessary judgment can come off as childish and even discourage your boss from envisioning you in a more senior role down the line.


 

August 2017 Articles

ELDs in cyberspace: evaluating the risks to data security, privacy
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Aaron Huff, July 20, 2017

As of Dec. 18, most drivers who currently maintain records-of-duty status — approximately 3 million, according to the FMCSA — will either be using electronic logs or be at risk of getting an out-of-service violation.

 
 

Most fleets will be using devices that come with a monthly service plan, most often associated with a connection to the cellular data network. By definition, the connectivity of ELDs make them an Internet of Things (IoT) device. This may cause some concerns over cybersecurity.

In 2016, AT&T reported a 3,198 percent increase over the last three years in the number of attackers scanning for vulnerabilities in IoT devices. AT&T also conducted a survey last year of businesses to gauge their potential security threats. Fifty-eight percent said they were not confident in the security of their IoT devices.

Cybersecurity was hardly a concern 25 years ago when fleets began using mobile communications systems to connect with drivers and vehicles via satellite networks. With millions of ELD devices about to go online, could they be the gateway for hackers to gain access to sensitive information?

Probably not, but here are four possible areas of concern:

1. Remote control trucks

The University of Michigan made news in 2016 when researchers presented at an August conference results from their experiments with the vulnerability of big rigs’ electronic systems. Researchers plugged into a 2006 tractor’s diagnostics port, and this was in part the result:

By sending digital signals within the internal network of a big rig truck, the researchers were able to do everything from change the readout of the truck’s instrument panel, trigger unintended acceleration, or to even disable one form of the semi-trailer’s brakes.

Since the late 1990s, fleets have used telematics devices to remotely plug into the controller area network (CAN) of trucks to capture data from their engines and electrical-mechanical systems.

Incidents of remotely hacking into the ECMs of engine and braking systems have not happened — yet.

Spokespeople from ELD suppliers say the probability of hacking into electronic logs — either the current AOBRD (395.15) and the new ELD standard (395.16) — to access the CAN bus of vehicles is virtually impossible. That’s because ELDs are provisioned to read data only.

"We don’t give (our application) rights to be able to write or make requests. All we do is read," says Marco Encinas, a marketing and product manager of Global Platforms at Teletrac Navman, which offers the Director ELD product. "There is no protocol in the system that allows us to engage, change code, or manipulate the ECM computer on the vehicle."

As an extra layer of precaution, PeopleNet, one of the two largest fleet mobility providers, has embedded chips in its ELD devices in order to authenticate the connection between the device in the vehicle and its cloud management system.

"Our latest devices will all ship with an encryption chip built in to authenticate the device to the cloud in addition to standard authentication of the driver’s credentials upon login," says Eric Witty, vice president of product. "That way we have assurance that both the device and the person are authenticated in our system."

And through PeopleNet’s partnerships with truck OEMs, "we continue to undergo security audits and improvements to our software and hardware solutions to ensure we minimize any risk of these telemetry devices being exploited to access the vehicle," he adds.

2. Access to ELD data

Besides preventing ELDs from talking to vehicles, the suppliers interviewed for this article say their applications are restricted from sharing data with other applications on the device or vehicle.

"We follow secure code development practices that isolate the ELD application code from other applications on the devices," says Andrew Dondlinger, Navistar’s vice president for Connected Services. "The ELD application also requires positive user credentials before allowing for the collection of the vehicle’s ELD data by any user, or by any other application."

Navistar offers an ELD app that connects the driver’s mobile device to the OnCommand Connection Telematics device. The app is available through its new OnCommand Connection Marketplace.

PeopleNet has traditionally favored using company-owned, personally enabled (COPE) communications devices as part of its strategy to allow fleets to deploy proprietary company apps and approved third-party programs on the same device that runs their PeopleNet software, Witty says.

PeopleNet envisions having "companion apps" that will give drivers access their own log data as well as giving access through a secure driver portal.

"The security concerns are much the same as the ELD device itself. We will address them by ensuring we are using the same standards such as secure HTTP (SSL/TLS) similar to how banks secure communication for their mobile applications," he says.

Teletrac provides a Garmin GPS tablet to run its ELD application. The only other app on the device is Garmin navigation. "We don’t allow third-party apps to be downloaded," Encinas says. The tablets communicate through serial connection to a black box that has cellular connectivity.

The display tablets do not have their own cellular connection, which prevents software from being loaded onto the devices.

"For us it’s about being able to control the types of data communicated to the hardware and to us to limit possibilities for distraction," he says.

3. Reporting malfunctions

No ELD product on the market is foolproof. In the event of a hardware, software or connection malfunction the FMCSA requires that ELDs report the error to the driver and fleet management for support activities.

The OnCommand Connection telematics device continuously monitors the truck health status, which includes electronics, Dondlinger says. "In the event of a detected malfunction on the truck, OnCommand Connection will provide the customer – and Navistar as well – with a health report highlighting the faults on the truck, along with a ‘Fault Code Action Plan,’ which is a recommended sequence of actions to address each fault."

Similarly, if a malfunction is detected by Teletrac’s Director ELD application, the device continues to record any data that it can from the vehicle and the driver’s duty status. The driver is alerted by a fault message indicator and fleet management is alerted through the web portal to notify dispatchers.

Teletrac’s support team can do an over-the-air reset if needed, Encinas says.

4. Data privacy

Data privacy is another topic that surrounds industry-wide adoption of ELDs. Independent owner-operators may not want the carriers or freight brokers they work for to have visibility of their logbook data. On the other hand, fleets want visibility to identify drivers who have time remaining on their clocks to make an extra pickup or delivery, for example.

"The whole question about data gets typically framed in data privacy or data security. As a consumer you don’t want anybody to know where you’ve been, but in a business context, the area of privacy is much less prevalent," says Dirk Schlimm executive vice president of Geotab, a telematics and ELD provider.

Some ELD providers see an opportunity to aggregate the hours-of-service and telematics data they collect from their customers. With their customers’ permission, they could use the data to power a freight matching system or a usage-based model for vehicle and liability insurance, for example.

"It will be very hard in the future for any business of any size to compete without data," Schlimm adds. "You just have to give everybody secure and safe access to that data."


 

TravelCenters of America Reaches Out to Truckers in Need
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, July 21, 2017

TravelCenters of America, operator of the TA and Petro Stopping Centers travel center brands, will launch its annual campaign on August 1, in support of the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund, a nonprofit that helps truck drivers suffering financial hardship due to medical problems.

 
 

The month-long campaign will run at participating TA and Petro locations through August 31.

During the event, guests and employees at TA and Petro Stopping Centers will be invited to make contributions to assist truckers in need. As in past years, commemorative wristbands and SCF keychains will be made available for $1 and $5 respectively. Contributions may be made at participating TA and Petro restaurants, travel stores, fuel buildings and truck service facilities. One hundred percent of proceeds go directly to SCF.

"As we kick off our eighth year of the SCF campaign, we couldn’t be happier to continue supporting drivers in need and knowing that our customers and employees are helping answer prayers for those dealing with financial burdens due to sickness or injury," said Tom O’Brien, president and CEO of TravelCenters.

TravelCenters has been supporting drivers through SCF since 2010.  The TA and Petro annual campaign marks the largest single contribution the Fund receives each year.  As of July 2017, SCF has helped more than 1,900 truck drivers and their families with monthly bills, including utilities and mortgages.

"We are so excited for another year of Band Together!" said Dr. Donna Kennedy , executive director of SCF. "This campaign is instrumental in allowing us the honor of offering assistance to drivers in need. The number of applications we receive skyrocket during and immediately after the campaign. This program not only raises money to help drivers, it clearly raises awareness for those in need. We are so appreciative of TA, the employees and the drivers that contribute."

Professional drivers who are suffering from financial hardships due to medical problems can apply to the SCF for assistance at www.truckersfund.org.


 

The Evolution of Background Screening
Source: https://www.hrtechnologist.com/; by Rhucha Kulkarni, July 20, 2017

Background verification is a very important part of recruitment, to ensure no black sheep becomes a part of the organization. However, it can be a tedious experience for both the candidate and the recruiter. Recruiters spend a lot of time verifying data, digging out sources, and eliminating potential risks, despite availing the services of professional background check agencies. Candidates, on the other hand, complain about never-ending response times, random questions, and in general, a lot of fuss around the process. It is the responsibility of the employer to create a great candidate experience, and therein the agency’s responsibility to streamline and modernize the background verification process for a great client experience. This is happening gradually thanks to the marriage of recruitment and technology.

 
 

In recent times background screening vendors have updated their tools and solutions in a bid to create a seamless candidate and employer experience. Some of the very visible additions have been the rise of customized features and easy standardization of data forms. Another candidate-friendly feature at the communication-end is that candidates are being updated about their progress status in real-time. Also, mobile is increasingly being used as the background check medium, allowing on-the-go action on the agenda. The recruiter is being spared operational hassles through better integration of the processes with applicant tracking systems and small changes like digital signatures.

However, this is not enough. With the rise of the gig economy, the very nature of background verification is changing. Service providers are looking at ways to verify credentials of part-time workers, freelancers, and independent contractors, who are typically more difficult to track. This change is happening, slowly but surely. Hire Right has come up with a study—a substantial 86% of companies now screen contingent workers, up from 41% just five years ago. This is a reflection of the talent landscape where organizations are relying increasingly on the gig workforce owing to their flexibility, just-in-time approach, and lower costs.

As these various work models become mainstream, the challenge will be to bring together greater uniformity in the background screening process to make it efficient and standardized. The way ahead is to develop new standards for gathering, sending, and sharing candidate information to make it more seamless and consistent. Recruiters and talent acquisition professionals must put on their problem-solving hats and think about their current pain-points as a starting agenda. They must engage with vendors that follow a metrics-based, performance oriented screening process that talks about hit rates, turnaround time, and service request tackling. The way ahead to make the process efficient and effective is to gather all the valuable data together, understand it, analyze it, and take action on it decisively to eliminate the pain points. This can save both candidates and recruiters a lot of hassle to enhance the recruitment experience as a whole.


 

Preventable or not: Trucker’s wide left doesn’t go right
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, July 12, 2017

At dawn, trucker John Doe ambled toward the ready line with a granola bar and a jug of steaming hot coffee for extra pep. The day’s tow was a 48-foot flatbed laden with steel coils. After his pretrip inspection, Doe wheeled his rig out of the terminal yard and headed eastward on four-lane Pickwick Pike. The sun rose in a cloudless sky, and traffic was light.

 
 

Doe looked forward to an easy trip, but his milk run was about to go sour. Pickwick Pike dead-ended at Route 7, where he needed to turn left. To ensure room for a wide turn, Doe got into the right lane, and when the light turned green, he eyeballed Route 7 for red-light runners, then cautiously started to execute his turn.

In the adjacent turn lane, bus driver Wilbur Smurd also started to turn left, but he didn’t turn sharply enough and moved partially into the next lane. In shocked disbelief, Doe stopped dead and sounded his horn, but Smurd failed to react and sideswiped Doe’s tractor. It took another granola bar to calm Doe down, but even that couldn’t help him get over the warning letter he received from his safety director for a preventable accident.

Doe disagreed that he should have hung back and anticipate that the large bus would encroach on his lane. Asked to resolve the dispute, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee ruled in Doe’s favor. He had proceeded with caution and reacted properly but still fell prey to the bus driver, who had plenty of room to maneuver and initially did not appear to pose a threat, NSC said.


 

What Just One Glass of Wine Does to Your Brain
Source: http://www.livestrong.com/; by PAIGE BRETTINGEN, July 16, 2017

Remember how moderate drinking was once believed to be a boon to our health, our hearts and our brains? Well, thanks to a recent study, that bubble just burst.

 
 

According to new research published in the British Medical Journal, moderate drinking (the equivalent of one 5-ounce glass of wine per day plus "a little extra" on the weekends) can cause some concerning changes to the brain. These changes include three times the risk of right-sided hippocampal atrophy (a type of brain damage that can impact spatial navigation and potentially lead to Alzheimer’s and dementia) of non-drinkers.

The study, which tracked 550 participants for more than 30 years since 1985, also found that heavy drinkers (those who had two glasses of wine or beer each night) had the largest mental decline. This decline was evident in their "lexical fluency" (the ability to name as many words starting with the same letter in a short amount of time) as well as poorer white matter integrity, which helps us process thoughts quickly.

"We knew that drinking heavily for long periods of time was bad for brain health, but we didn’t know at these levels," said Anya Topiwala, a clinical lecturer in old-age psychiatry at the University of Oxford and co-author of the research, reports The Guardian.

But what surprised researchers the most was how moderate drinkers were affected.

Among those who didn’t drink at all, 35 percent had a shrinkage on the right side of the hippocampus portion of the brain compared to 77 percent of heavy drinkers, who had a similar shrinkage. For moderate drinkers, the figure was 65 percent.

This isn’t the first study where the "one glass of wine a day" habit has come under scrutiny. A study published last month concluded that a glass of wine a day could also increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

If anything, these studies may be a good wake-up call to reassess our drinking habits, including whether we’ve been grossly underestimating what "moderate drinking" actually means.

But even if more research does continue to validate that moderate drinking leads to cognitive decline, not all hope is lost. In fact, research shows that regaining brain function (along with a resurgence of new brain cells) is possible within a year of abstaining from alcohol. And a few other added benefits of kicking the alcohol habit include a lowered risk of certain cancers, pancreatitis, digestive problems, stroke, depression and anxiety.

We’ll raise a mocktail to that.


 

Drug testing is a big drag on American manufacturing
Source: http://theweek.com/; by Peter Weber, July 25, 2017

The Federal Reserve listed potential workers failing drug tests as a problem for the U.S. economy in its April, May, and July Beige Book economic surveys, and Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen told Congress this month that opioid abuse is one of the factors hampering labor participation for prime-age workers. But the abuse of prescription opioids and growing use of marijuana is being felt especially in the manufacturing sector, where up to half of applicants for good-paying factory jobs in the upper-Midwest rust belt fail their drug tests, The New York Times reports. Untold others don't apply because they know they will fail.

 
 

"We are talking to employers every day, and they tell us they are having more and more trouble finding people who can pass a drug test," says Edmond C. O'Neal at Northeast Indiana Works, an education and skills-training nonprofit. "I've heard kids say pot isn't a drug. It may not be, but pot will prevent you from getting a job." This isn't because of moral strictures among manufacturers or legal niceties, he adds. "Relaxing drug policies isn't an option for manufacturers in terms of insurance and liability."

As Michael J. Sherwin, CEO of the 123-year-old Ohio metal fabricator Columbiana Boiler in Youngstown explains, "The lightest product we make is 1,500 pounds, and they go up to 250,000 pounds," so "if something goes wrong, it won't hurt our workers. It'll kill them — and that's why we can't take any risks with drugs." That's a problem for his company, which is losing business to overseas rivals because of labor shortages, he adds. "We are always looking for people and have standard ads at all times, but at least 25 percent fail the drug tests." You can read more about the knotty problem of drugs and jobs, and the special concerns about shifting marijuana laws, at The New York Times.


 

July 2017 Articles

Bracing for Uber’s impact: How worried should your fleet be about market disruptors?
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Jeff Crissey, June 20, 2017

The “sharing economy,” loosely defined as peer-to-peer transactional systems for goods and services, has upended traditional industries across the globe. Last month, rideshare industry giant Uber launched its long-awaited Uber Freight, bringing with it the potential for disruption in the way carriers and owner-operators bid on and move freight in the future.

 
 

Before you turn a blind eye to Uber’s new trucking venture, consider the impact the company’s model had on the taxi service industry. According to a report by expense management company Certify, Uber’s share of the passenger fare market grew from roughly 13 percent in January 2014 to 45 percent in January 2015. In metropolitan cities across the country, taxi cab registrations and permits are down by half or more.

And why not? Outside of one harrowing Uber experience in Panama headed the wrong way down a one-way street that left the driver in tears and me nearly wetting my pants in the backseat, I have found the idea of waiting four or five minutes for a less-expensive Uber or Lyft in a (often) cleaner, newer car or SUV a much better experience than hailing a cab.

And the taxi industry isn’t alone. Bike share companies are decimating personal bicycle sales in urban areas, and Airbnb and VRBO are upending the hospitality industry. An HSV Consulting & Valuation report commissioned by the Hotel Association showed Airbnb has a $2.1 billion annual impact on the hotel industry and government in New York City alone.

"What makes you successful on the way up makes you risk-adverse when you are on top,” said Steve Sashihara, president of Princeton Consultants during a panel discussion last month at the CCJ Symposium in Asheville, N.C. “Taxi companies were capable of disrupting their own industry, but they didn’t."

As worrisome as Uber Freight is to some carriers, it also takes direct aim at brokers, load boards and other intermediaries who would be cut out of the service.

With an estimated $1.45 trillion in annual spending on logistics and transportation in the United States, the trucking industry clearly is an attractive marketplace for outsiders. It has seen several Uber-like and Uber-light models crop up in recent months, including HaulHound, Convoy and FreightRover. But based on Uber’s performance in the rideshare market, they likely will enter the market as the 800-pound gorilla.

Uber Freight’s freight matching service will start out with full truckload dry van and refrigerated trailer loads booked weeks in advance or even same-day. The app lists loads that carriers and drivers can book on a mobile device. Payments are made within seven days of load completion.

Sashihara shared statistics from his firm’s 2017 survey of transportation executives, of which 45 percent of respondents were carriers. According to the survey results, 57 percent of respondents said "Uberization," or "radical disintermediation" as Sashihara refers to it, will have a moderate or large impact on freight transportation in the next seven years. Only 14 percent said it will have no real impact, and 29 percent said it will be limited to small niches of the industry.

To better prepare for success in the face of disruption to freight transportation, Sashihara said fleets must work hard to improve user-friendly automation and recommended they find ways to limit emails, phone calls and paper forms throughout the freight transaction process.

While it remains to be seen what impact Uber and other freight-matching services will have on the traditional trucking model, the industry would be wise to learn from the lessons of other industries and not dismiss it outright. Just ask a taxi driver – if you ever get in a cab again.


 

Spot Truckload Freight Rates Soar Along With Load-to-Truck Ratios
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Evan Lockridge, June 14, 2017

Average spot truckload freight rates jumped sharply for the second straight week in all three major equipment types while load-to-truck ratios also headed much higher for the week ending June 10, according to new figures from DAT Solutions and based on its network of load boards.

 
 

The number of available loads was up 30% compared to the previous week, which was shortened by the Memorial Day holiday and included the annual Roadcheck truck inspection blitz. A 20% increase is more in line with expectations.

According to DAT, brokers and shippers paid a premium for capacity in most major markets and lanes. Load-to-truck ratios reflected the increased freight activity:

- Van ratio: 5.7 loads per truck, up 12% from previous week

- Reefer ratio: 10.1 loads per truck, up 33%

- Flatbed ratio: 49.2 loads per truck, up 27%

Nationally, the number of posted van loads increased 12% while truck posts were 8% higher. The national average van rate gained 6 cents to $1.79 per mile. Outbound rates were up in almost every major van freight market:

- Los Angeles: $2.28 per mile, up 10 cents

- Chicago: $2.06 per mile, up 6 cents

- Dallas: $1.76 per mile, up 3 cents

- Charlotte: $2.16 per mile, up 11 cents

- Philadelphia: $1.73 per mile, up 5 cents

Of the top 100 van lanes, only 26 had lower rates.

Reefer load posts increased 30% while truck posts fell 2%, which helped move the national average rate 7 cents higher to $2.11 per mile. California shipments are expected to stay strong at least through the Fourth of July, and a few lanes crossed the $3 mark:

- Fresno-Denver surged 61 cents to $3.14 per mile

- Los Angeles-Portland, Oregon, was up 45 cents to $3.33 per mile

- Sacramento-Portland added 50 cents to $3.21 per mile

- Sacramento-Salt Lake City rose 27 cents to an average of $3.00 mile

Florida outbound rates tumbled, including Lakeland-Charlotte, which plunged 84 cents to an average of $1.82 per mile.

In the flatbed sector, the load-to-truck ratio skyrocketed as load posts increased 38% while truck posts increased 9%.

The national average rate increased 3 cents last week to $2.15 per mile, the highest weekly average rate in nearly two years. Flatbed demand can be volatile and shifts on a lane-by-lane basis, according to DAT.

Key outbound flatbed rate movers last week include:

- Las Vegas, $2.82 per mile, up 36 cents

- Cleveland, $2.31 mile, up 11 cents

- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, $3.41 per mile, up 2 cents

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.


 

FMCSA releases 2 proposals to alleviate driver shortage
Source: http://www.wastedive.com/; by Cole Rosengrens, June 13, 2017

Dive Brief:

 
 

- Two proposed rules have been announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that aim to address the growing driver shortage, as reported by Fleet OwnerThe first rule would allow states to waive the commercial driver's license (CDL) knowledge test for veterans and active duty service members that were regularly employed as commercial drivers within the last year.

- The second rule would let states issue CDL learner's permits with one-year expirations, as opposed to the current six-month maximum. The intention is to reduce paperwork and re-testing fees for applicants that need more time.

- "Taken together, these two proposals will help ease the entry for thousands of qualified individuals into career opportunities as professional truck and bus drivers – a critical occupation facing an acute labor shortage in our country," said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson in a statement. "We could eliminate unnecessary burdens to both the applicants and to the states, save time, reduce costs and, most importantly, ensure that states only issue commercial driver’s licenses to well-trained, highly qualified individuals."

Dive Insight:

The driver shortage remains a pressing issue for numerous industries, inspiring regulatory updates on multiple fronts that could help mitigate its effects. Last month, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee also pushed two bills forward that could expedite the certification process for current and former military personnel seeking CDLs.

Industry organizations such as the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) have lobbied for policies to ease the CDL transition for veterans in the face of tens of thousands of open positions in the coming years. Because of their experience driving commercial vehicles and working in a structured team setting veterans are seen as particularly appealing candidates for the waste sector. Companies are also working to recruit more women and young people as both are currently underrepresented behind the wheel.

Though some reports indicate that advancements in autonomous vehicles could eventually make some of these open positions obsolete, that does little to address the current shortages many companies are experiencing. The issue is so acute in some regions that it is affecting collection schedules and has become a recognized fact of life for some local governments.


 

FTC Warns Employers: Keep Background Check Disclosures Simple
Source: http://www.lexology.com/; by Epstein Becker Green, June 1, 2017

The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") recently issued guidance discussing certain disclosure and authorization requirements that employers must satisfy prior to obtaining background screening reports for prospective employees. If your company obtains background information to screen prospective employees, now is a good time to make sure you are complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA").

 
 

Under the FCRA, background screening reports are either "consumer reports" or "investigative consumer reports" when they are used for employment purposes and include information bearing on a consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living. Notably, the definition of "consumer report" also includes oral or other communications, and is not limited to written communications.

If your business uses background screening reports to assist with hiring decisions, remember, the FCRA requires the following steps:

1. Prior to obtaining a background screening report about a prospective employee, employers must inform the person that they plan to get the report, and obtain the individual’s written permission allowing the employer to do so.

2. If the background screening report discloses information that may cause the employer to not hire the prospective employee, the employer must notify the individual of the report’s findings and provide them with a copy of the report. The employer must then give the prospective employee a sufficient amount of time to review the report so they can contest any findings that might be incorrect. Although the law is silent on what constitutes "sufficient time," the FTC has generally found that five business days satisfies this requirement.

3. If the employer eventually chooses not to hire the prospective employee based in whole or in part on information provided in the background screening report, the employer must give notice to the prospective employee that says they were not hired due at least in part to the result of the background screening report.

One of the biggest sources of litigation with respect to background check reports recently has been over the disclosure and authorization requirements. The disclosure must be in a clear and conspicuous format that prospective employees will understand. Employers must also get the prospective employee’s written permission prior to getting a background screening report. Per the FCRA, employers may either separate the disclosure and authorization or combine the two into a single document.

The disclosure must be in a stand-alone format, meaning it cannot be in an employment application or a part of a lengthy onboarding packet. Employers can include some minor additional information in the disclosure, such as a brief description of the nature of consumer reports, but only if such information does not confuse or detract prospective employees from the substance of the disclosure.

The FTC guidance provides some examples of the types of provisions that should not be in a disclosure or authorization request:

- Employers should not include language that purports to release them from liability for conducting, getting, or using a background screening report.

- Employers should not include a certification by the prospective employee that all information in his or her job application is accurate.

- Employers should remove any language that purports to require prospective employees to acknowledge that the employer’s hiring decisions are based on legitimate non-discriminatory reasons.

- Employers should remove overly broad authorizations that allow the release of information that the FCRA does not allow to be included in a background screen report – for example, bankruptcies that are more than 10 years old.

According to the FTC guidance, a disclosure statement (including a combined disclosure and authorization) containing complex legal jargon, additional acknowledgements, or waivers of liability makes it more difficult for prospective employees to understand the main purpose of such documents. Additionally, including other acknowledgements or releases of liability is beyond the scope of what the FCRA permits in the disclosure statement, and the inclusion of such provisions may cause employers to run afoul of the statute. If employers have additional waivers, authorizations, or disclosures that they wish to give to prospective employees, they should present them in a separate document rather than in the FCRA disclosure and authorization.

Failure to comply with the FCRA is not without consequences. Indeed, employers who do not act in accordance with the FCRA are subject to civil penalties under the statute. Willful non-compliance may result in damages up to $1000, court determined punitive damages, and the recovery of costs and reasonable attorney’s fees in successful actions to enforce liability. The FCRA also contemplates negligent noncompliance. Employers who are negligently non-compliant with the FCRA can be liable for any actual damages sustained by the consumer, as well as the recovery of costs and reasonable attorney’s fees in successful actions to enforce liability.

Employers who conduct background screenings on potential employees should be mindful of the FTC’s continued enforcement efforts with respect to the FCRA.


 

Supreme Court declines to hear ELD lawsuit
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by James Jaillet, June 12, 2017

In a victory for the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Supreme Court has said it will not hear a lawsuit challenging a DOT rule requiring truck operators to use electronic logging devices to track hours of service. The Supreme Court’s June 12 decision leaves in place a lower court ruling upholding the mandate and its Dec. 18 compliance deadline.

 
 

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association spearheaded the lawsuit, with its outside legal counsel representing OOIDA and owner-operators Richard Pingel and Mark Elrod. OOIDA says it’s "extremely disappointed that the Supreme Court does not see the merit in reviewing our case with so many questions about its constitutionality."

The group says it will continue to press the issue in Congress.

ATA, meanwhile, says it concurs with the Supreme Court’s decision. "We are pleased to see that the Supreme Court will not interfere with the implementation of this important, and Congressionally mandated, safety rule. We will continue to support FMCSA as they work toward the December deadline for electronic logging devices and urge them to provide certainty to the industry about when and how to comply with this rule by continuing to move toward implementing this regulation on schedule." ATA, meanwhile, says it concurs with the Supreme Court’s decision. "We are pleased to see that the Supreme Court will not interfere with the implementation of this important, and Congressionally mandated, safety rule. We will continue to support FMCSA as they work toward the December deadline for electronic logging devices and urge them to provide certainty to the industry about when and how to comply with this rule by continuing to move toward implementing this regulation on schedule."

OOIDA sought to have the mandate struck down in court, arguing it violated drivers’ Constitutional protections against warrantless searches and seizures and that the rule did not meet Congressional stipulations set for an ELD mandate.

In its appeal to the Supreme Court, OOIDA and the trucker plaintiffs argued the mandate has implications even outside of trucking, as it pertains to "millions of ordinary citizens going about their normal work days under constant, electronic surveillance without warrants," said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer last month.

OOIDA brought the lawsuit in March 2016 against the DOT and its sub-agency the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. A three judge panel on the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case last September. The next month, it ruled against OOIDA and in favor of the DOT, dismissing all of OOIDA’s arguments against the mandate.

The plaintiffs appealed the ruling to the 7th Circuit, asking for a rehearing en banc — that is, for all 13 judges on the 7th Circuit bench to evaluate whether the case can be reheard. That appeal was denied.

The 7th Circuit appellate court is only outranked by the U.S. Supreme Court. In April, OOIDA filed a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to take up the case. The justices conferred on OOIDA’s appeal June 8. Its decision issued Monday effectively ends OOIDA’s court challenge.


 

Summer and protection against skin cancer
Source: https://www.ushealthworks.com/; by US Health Works, May 17, 2017

May is the official month to talk about skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, and this makes sense since summer is all about skin being exposed to sunlight.

 
 

Your skin is important. It is a big part of the first impression you make, and can undermine your confidence if it doesn’t look good.

Skin is the body’s largest organ. It is a complex and magical organ. Among its least celebrated jobs is keeping the insides on the inside. Not only does that make life easier (you don’t have to carry yourself around in a large bucket), it keeps the insides moist and hospitable.

Skin also keeps the core body temperature set where everything works best. Our skin is flexible, tough and self-repairing. Intact skin is germ-proof. We are wired for pressure, temperature and pain, with a huge range of perception. One thing skin doesn’t do is breathe. So it will take more than gold paint to do you in.

For all the wonders of skin, it has an Achilles heel: skin doesn’t tolerate ultraviolet radiation (UV).  Approximately 90% of the skin cancers in the world are due to UV exposure. Particularly bad is high levels of UV exposure during childhood – that puts a little different spin on those glorious days as a high school lifeguard.

Skin cancer is divided into three types: basal cell, squamous, and melanoma. To use an analogy, if your skin is healthy grass, then basal cell is a solitary milkweed, squamous is crab grass and melanoma is dandelions, gone to seed, after a breeze.

A basal cell cancer is the least dangerous of the skin cancers.  It almost doesn’t deserve to be called a cancer. It is a red, slightly raised lesion that slowly grows and doesn’t heal. The center part may be crusted, looking like a minor injury. Unless you are unlucky enough to have one growing someplace important, a basal cell is easily defeated. Like the milkweed, removing it completely is straightforward and curative.

A squamous cell skin cancer is more aggressive. Unsurprisingly it occurs on sun-exposed areas. It starts as a nodule, and the middle portion breaks down, causing ulceration. This is a pretty scary looking lesion, which doesn’t heal. These spread about 20% of the time, and that opens Pandora’s Box. A cure is much harder to get once the cancer has spread.

Melanoma gets all the press. What makes melanoma scary is that after it spreads, it can grow anywhere. Inside your eye, heart or brain are just a few of the awful areas melanoma can end up. Melanoma, like forest fires, is easily stopped in the beginning. Beware of funny looking moles. Uneven pigment and uneven lesions that are growing, changing, or not healing are all worrisome for melanoma. Catch it early and an excisional biopsy both diagnoses and fixes the problem.

Sunblock is a good thing, it prevents cancer. Apply it 30 minutes before going outside (it has to “soak in”).  Apply an ounce (a shot glass full) to your whole body. Never use less than SPF 15. If you are active, especially in the water, reapply sunscreen every three hours. Remember that high SPFs block a higher fraction of UV (SPF 15 blocks 98%, SPF 50 about 99.4%) but not for any longer time period.  Reapply every few hours.

Finally, remember to examine your own skin and occasionally, take some time to get your skin checked.  While standing in front of a dermatologist with minimal covering sounds unpleasant, compared to a colonoscopy, it’s a walk in the park.

Take care, Dr. B


 

June 2017 Articles

Responsible representation: The importance of industry background checks
Source: http://www.wastedive.com/; by Cole Rosengren, April 19, 2017

Many aspects of the waste industry have changed, but old perceptions about criminal elements still persist for some members of the public — and can be reinforced by rare incidents involving fraudulent activity.

 
 

Luckily there's a way to combat these incidents, which may be more obvious than expected: background checks.

Establishing a thorough background check procedure for both employers and employees is seen as one way to ensure everyone is playing by the same rules. Like many aspects of the waste industry, the requirements for an employer to obtain a state or local permit can vary, though the basics of background or work eligibility checks for employees are governed nationally. In the most general sense all of these requirements are meant to ensure that companies know who they're hiring and can’t gain an unfair advantage by cutting any corners with wages, safety or disposal practices. The companies that do this often get more attention than the ones who are in full compliance.

"There’s always been operators like that in this business. There’s also really good operators," said Steve Changaris, northeast regional manager for the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA). "I think that the changes in the industry with the public companies and the private equity has brought additional new disciplines."

The scale of some companies in the industry allow for human resources departments that can apply more uniform standards when it comes to the hiring process. Though Melissa Sorenson, executive director of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), said it is now common for companies across all industries to contract with third parties for these services.

"Having a partner who focuses solely on background checks versus members of your own team who tend to be experts in your own industry and field is often important," said Sorenson.

According to a recent NAPBS survey conducted by HR.com, 96% of respondents use some form of background screening during the hiring process. Preventing potential workplace violence was cited as the top reason, though the survey also found that improving hiring quality, protecting company reputation and complying with regulations were all key factors.

The basics of how the background check process should work are set out in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has also taken action in the past regarding violations of this law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can get involved to address any potential discrimination in the screening process. Additional local laws may also limit whether employers can ask about an applicant’s previous salary or criminal record.

Ensuring accuracy

Keeping track of all this can be complicated, especially when the added layer of a staffing agency comes into play. Sorenson said the key to making these relationships work is establishing clear responsibility for who will perform background checks in the contract between a company and an agency. If the agency is doing it, she recommended building in the option for an audit to confirm that checks are indeed happening and to help maintain the company’s reputation.

"Ultimately the individuals themselves are representing the brand not necessarily of the staffing agency, but of the entity whom they’re performing work for," she said.

The potential for issues with a staffing agency was highlighted by the recent sentencing of two former Waste Management employees related to convictions for identity theft and hiring undocumented workers in Texas. The company switched staffing agencies and reportedly implemented new controls after the initial incident occurred in 2012.

Close to 600,000 employers now use a system called E-Verify, a Department of Homeland Security program, as a way to check work eligibility. Applicants can check their own eligibility online for free at any time or employers can also do it within a set period of time after an offer has been made.

Currently this system is only required for federal contractors and vendors, but a number of states have also adopted their own laws applying it to government employees and some elected officials would like to see it expanded even further. This year legislation was introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley, S.179, that would eventually require all U.S. employers to begin using E-Verify.

Getting lawmakers involved

New regulation is also being discussed regarding the backgrounds of employers themselves. Different states take different approaches and the more stringent systems are mainly concentrated in one part of the country.

"The background checks issue is generally limited to certain Northeast locations, where organized crime used to be closely intertwined with some companies in the waste industry," wrote David Biderman, CEO of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), via email. "Different jurisdictions have different policy drivers that, potentially, lead to dissimilar background checks. [New York City] is still concerned about keeping organized crime out of the industry. In another location, regulators may be interested in other factors."

New York’s current system is regulated by the city’s Business Integrity Commission. Efforts to establish similar regulations for Connecticut in 2009 were opposed by the National Solid Waste Management Association and ultimately unsuccessful. New Jersey’s solid waste industry is regulated by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and attorney general through a program called A901.

Yet as highlighted over multiple years by New Jersey’s State Commission of Investigation (SCI), including in a recent report titled "Dirty Dirt," individuals with organized crime connections have still been allowed to operate in the state's recycling industry because it isn’t covered by that program. These "dirt brokers" have allegedly dumped thousands of tons of contaminated soil in various locations, which will cost the state and local municipalities significant amounts of money to remediate.

As described by the SCI, "...these flagrant and continuing abuses by unscrupulous self-proclaimed recyclers have tarnished and undercut the economic viability of legitimate elements of the industry."

Senator Ray Lesniak, who was originally involved in the creation of the A901 program, has introduced a bill that would expand the same background check requirements currently in place for solid waste to all aspects of the recycling industry including these "dirt brokers."

The bill has been stalled since it was originally introduced in 2016, but Lesniak said he plans to begin pushing for it again soon.

"This new report adds additional evidence to the fact that the organized crime influence is growing and that something needs to be done about it now," said Lesniak.

While so far Lesniak has not met with members of the local recycling industry he is open to hearing their feedback.

"One of the things we don’t want to do is cast a wide net if a less intrusive action requirements will do the job," he said.

The NWRA has not taken an official stance on the bill yet, but Changaris said local members are amenable to the regulation in the industry that is currently in place and ready to discuss the new proposal when called upon.

"I know there is wide acceptance of the A901 program by the hauling industry in New Jersey and no interest to call for major reforms or its elimination. The companies recognize the value that it has," he said.

****

As these requirements evolve compliance will continue to be key for employers in terms of how they conduct background checks on their employees and how they follow permitting requirements. In the same way employers want to know they can trust their employees, customers also want to know they can trust the employers. Finding the balance between transparency and ensuring regulations aren't overly burdensome to business will continue to be important as the industry works to shed the vestiges of old stereotypes.


 

Samsung and Magellan Partner on ELD Solution
Source: http://www.worktruckonline.com/; by WorkTUCK Staff, April 28, 2017

Samsung Electronics America has partnered with GPS navigation provider Magellan to deliver an ELD-compliant hours-of-service tracking solution for short- and long-haul trucking.

 
 

Samsung mobile devices will now be part of Magellan’s fleet management solutions portfolio as part of an agreement between the companies. Magellan’s fleet solutions can be integrated and pre-loaded across a range of Samsung mobile devices, requiring minimal installation for drivers and offering device flexibility for fleets.

They are available on the Samsung Galaxy E and Galaxy A tablets, as well as select Galaxy S7 smartphone models.

Magellan and Samsung’s fleets solutions include:

ELD-compliant Hours of Service: Magellan's FMSCA-certified hours of service offers automated logging tools, reports, and alerts to keep drivers on time and in compliance. A dispatch and backend web portal allows for HOS, DVIR and IFTA reports, while on-device data transfer and co-driver support makes roadside inspections more simple and efficient.

Magellan Fleet Navigation: Magellan's commercial fleet navigation software delivers truck-specific map data, ranging from maximum vehicle heights on bridges to roads allowing hazardous containers. Combined with Magellan's routing engine, the solution provides a safety-focused navigation experience for truck carriers.

Multi-Purpose Use: In addition to fleet use, the solution also serves as a personal device that offers access to a driver's favorite content, such as movies, books, and music, for downtime while on the road.

"Helping the trucking industry be compliant with ELD standards by the end of the year is critical and Samsung is committed to bringing these solutions forward," said Kevin Gilroy, executive vice president and general manager, Samsung Electronics America. "The Magellan HOS Compliance solution is a powerful, comprehensive product that brings the best of fleet navigation software to the market."


 

Industry reps sound off to FMCSA on autonomous vehicle tech’s safety concerns, opportunities for reform
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Todd Dills, April 25, 2017

With several companies jockeying to bring autonomous trucks to market, industry stakeholders this week stressed to a panel of top officers from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration the importance of manned control for tractor-trailers, at least for the foreseeable future. Commenters at the public FMCSA meetings also noted the potential for hours of service reform relative to autonomous vehicle tech.

 
 

The agency’s listening session on autonomous vehicles was held at the semi-annual Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance workshop Monday. Attendees of the workshop and others from the public offered commentary on several issues relative to developing an appropriate regulatory framework for the operation of highly automated commercial motor vehicles with advanced driver-assist systems.

During the meeting, commenters shared a variety of information related to the design, development, testing and deployment of highway automated commercial vehicles. Special regulatory requirements as technology moves into the arena of near-full autonomy — in the areas of driver and tech credentialing, hours of service, inspection, repair and maintenance — were on the table for input.

"Vehicle manufacturers and technology developers continue to design, test and develop driver-assistance systems," noted Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson in opening remarks. "We encourage these developments and applaud the innovators,” regarding the technology broadly as an opportunity to enhance safety. The primary focus of the session, she added, was to ensure that related "regulations provide appropriate standards for safe operation. … Our goal is not to impede progress, but for us as regulators to try to run alongside development …. [continuing to be the] voice of safety in the room."

More than one commenter emphasized the need for a human to remain in control of the vehicle. Truck operator Bryan Spoon, a board member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, illustrated such with an example of the kinds of safety decisions operators make on the road, invoking a hypothetical near-crash where the choices are to "his this brick wall" and destroy the truck or "deviate and hit kids in a crosswalk," Spoon said. "What choice does our automated vehicle make?" Destroy itself or "a group of schoolchildren in a crosswalk?"

Such thorny questions around the implications of robotics in heavy-vehicle technology were, however, by and large on the backburner throughout the session — practical matters emerged in two big areas of discussion: hours of service and the CDL.

Hours of service

Those believing FMCSA ought to incentivize adoption/development of highly automated driver-assist technology insisted there has to be a return on investment — the biggest opportunity for such appeared to be in the hours of service regulations.

Consultant Richard Bishop noted the "interesting situation" for tech developers today, given a seeming lack of return-on-investment potential for carriers who might choose to take up Level 3 and higher automated systems (Level 5 is considered near fully automated). "There would be more private investment in Level 3 systems if hours of service were [such that] you could get more of a return on investment," Bishop said. Of course, he also noted, "hours is a very contentious place" for regulators to go, and one where owner-operators experience many of their biggest business headaches.

Bishop wondered about the pathway for FMCSA to "get to a place [in the regulations] where that driver can get into the cab of the automated vehicle and he’s on-duty not driving. I think the tech will get us there." Bishop went on to offer the example of long waits in line by dray drivers at ports he’d seen, where two hours of waiting isn’t uncommon and with the truck moving no faster than 5 mph. In a highly-automated situation, that might even make for an opportunity to get into the bunk for sleeper-line time.

Fred Kovall of Anderson Trucking Service wondered "if the driver has to be in the truck and has to have some control over it, how many hours in a row can you pay attention doing nothing" in a highly-automated-vehicle environment? A recent study presented at the Managing Fatigue conference in March suggested such automated driving may be more fatigue-inducing than active control.

"Right now," Kovall added, drivers can drive "for 11 hours – you want to extend beyond that? … My biggest concern is how do we keep them occupied, busy and awake." (Kovall saw a remote-control drone-type situation in the future for any truly "driverless" vehicle.)

Tom Balzer of the Ohio Trucking Association noted that hours of service as an issue "hasn’t been settled in 12 years and will remain so for the next 25 because of the changes in technology. … You probably won’t find a distinct long-term plan to deal with hours."

Sean Garney, representing the American Trucking Associations, concurred to an extent. "We talk about return-on-investment in the trucking industry, removing the driver to create additional efficiencies," but "there are efficiencies to be gained with the driver still on the truck." He emphasized that the technology is a long way from coming to full flower and though the conversation may be premature, the "hours of service piece is one of the more interesting conversations."

The CDL

Starkly divergent points of view around the need for special credentialing for autonomous vehicle operation came from several commenters.

Some states have been approaching the issue of endorsements differently as highly automated light- and heavy-duty vehicles have been tested. FMCSA "does not require a special [CDL] endorsement for autonomous operation" currently, said Jack Van Steenburg, the agency’s Chief Safety Officer.

Former driver and current MCO Transport Safety Director Danny Hefner illustrated the need for special skills, noting fears around safety and autonomous vehicles, particularly in the event of one of the most precarious of highway emergencies for operators — a steer-tire blowout. "Will the truck be able to maintain its lane" without immediate driver control? he asked. "That kind of thing can lead to several highway deaths." Hefener concluded that "drivers operating these vehicles should have a special endorsement," something that said they’d "been specifically trained and can meet the requirements."

Tom Foster of the Washington State Patrol, too, picked up a tire-related failure situation as a means of illustrating what he saw as the long-term necessity of active human involvement in the operation of highly automated commercial vehicles. "What does the citizen do when a retread comes off an breaks a windshield? As law enforcement, how do we intervene and stop the vehicle? I think having the driver in the seat is important. We’ve got great drivers in this country and I don’t want to ever minimize the importance of those people."

Ognen Stojanovski of Uber/Otto, the company behind last fall’s Budweiser partially automated beer run last year, disagreed with the prevailing sentiment about special CDL credentialing via an endorsement or other mechanism.

"No changes to existing regulations are needed when a person is required to be in the driver’s seat," he said, likewise with hours. "Operators required to be behind the steering wheel will perform the same duties. Existing regulations … already ensure drivers are capable."

Moving farther along — if automated vehicles remove the human — "FMCSA may need new regulations," he said. Nearing the end of the transition period, ultimately, "If it requires just the push of a button" to engage an automated system, "it may be appropriate to allow the driver to record time spent in the sleeper" on the road as such. "FMCSA should recognize the distinction between [automated vehicles] that require the driver" to be engaged, "and those that don’t."


 

Safety Tip: Understanding Flood Dangers
Source: http://www.worktruckonline.com/; by WorkTUCK Staff, May 8, 2017

In recent days, flooding in the Midwest and South has claimed the lives of at least nine people and closed hundreds of roads. Rain-drenched Missouri has bore the brunt of the flood damage, with authorities scrambling to prevent the breach of local levees and to oversee evacuations.

 
 

Fleet drivers in all states need to be informed about the dangers of flash floods. More people are killed by flooding, on average, than any other single severe weather hazard, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Here are tips from the NOAA you can pass along to fleet drivers as a friendly reminder:

Remember…

- Do not drive onto a flooded roadway.

- Do not drive through flowing water.

- If you approach a roadway that is flooded, turn around – don’t drown.

- Drive with extreme caution if roads are even just wet or it's raining. You can lose control of your vehicle if hydroplaning occurs. This is when a layer of water builds up between your tires and the road, resulting in no direct contact between your vehicle and the road.

If a Flash Flood Warning is issued for your area…

- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Act quickly to save yourself — you may not have much time.

- Get out of areas subject to flooding and move to a safe area before access is cut off by floodwaters. Low spots such as dips, canyons and washes are not the places you want to be during flooding.

- Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.

- Stay off the roads if possible. If driving is necessary, do not attempt to drive over a flooded road since the depth of the water is not always obvious and the roadway may no longer be intact under the water.

- Never drive around a barricade. They are placed there for your protection. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and move to higher ground before water sweeps you and your vehicle away.

- Do not try to walk, swim or play in flood water. You may not be able to determine if there are holes or submerged debris, or how quickly the water is flowing, and you may be swept away. If water is moving swiftly, as little as 6 inches of water can knock you off your feet. There is also a danger of hazardous materials polluting the water. Also, remember that water is an electrical conductor. If power lines are down, there is a possibility of electrocution.

- Continue to monitor the situation through media updates.


 

Increases in Illicit Drugs, Including Cocaine, Drive Workforce Drug Positivity to Highest Rate in 12 Years
Source: https://blog.employersolutions.com/; by Nicole Jupe, May 16, 2017

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) reveals insights into patterns of drug use among the American workforce. It has been published annually for more than 25 years as a public service for government, employers, policymakers, media, and the general public. This year’s report will be presented at the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) annual conference, a gathering of industry professionals focused on safety, regulatory affairs, ethics, and workplace drug testing education from all over the world.

 
 

In examining the latest data, Barry Sample, Ph.D., Senior Director of Science and Technology at Quest Diagnostics, said, "This year’s findings are remarkable because they show increased rates of drug positivity for the most common illicit drugs across virtually all drug test specimen types and in all testing populations." He noted the following key findings from millions of workplace drug test results.

- Overall positivity in urine drug testing among the combined U.S. workforce in 2016 was 4.2 percent, a five percent relative increase over last year’s rate of 4.0 percent, and the highest annual positivity rate since 2004 (4.5 percent).

- Cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine use is up broadly among the U.S. workforce across multiple drug test specimen types and testing populations.

- Cocaine positivity increased 12 percent in 2016, reaching a seven-year high of 0.28 percent.

- The positivity rate for cocaine in post-accident urine drug tests was more than twice that of pre-employment urine drug tests in both the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive and the general U.S. workforces.

- In Colorado and Washington, the overall urine positivity rate for marijuana outpaced the national average in 2016 for the first time since the recreational statutes took effect.

- Year over year marijuana positivity increased nearly 75 percent in oral fluid testing. In addition, positivity increased in both urine and hair testing in the general U.S. workforce.

- Between 2012 and 2016, methamphetamine positivity climbed 64 percent in the general U.S. workforce and 14 percent among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers.

- Heroin detection, indicated by the presence of the 6-acetylmorphine (6-AM) metabolite, plateaued in the general U.S. workforce while prescription opiate detection declines.

"Once again, the DTI statistics reveal the on-going threat to workplace safety posed by substance abuse. While the national dialogue swirls around marijuana and opiate issues, we find cocaine—a substance with well-established dangers—continuing its troubling upswing not just in the general workforce, but in safety-sensitive jobs with federally-mandated testing," said Matt Nieman, General Counsel, Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace and Principal, Jackson Lewis P.C. "That positive test results for cocaine persist, let alone are increasing, should serve as a reminder to employers and employees that there is no substitute for vigilance in any effective effort to thwart the potential impacts of workplace substance abuse."

Along with this year’s data, we are offering an interactive map to illustrate overall positivity and positivity by drug for the past 10 years in urine testing. Users can search by both zip code and year for six illicit drugs: 6-AM (heroin metabolite), amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and PCP at QuestDiagnostics.com/DrugMap.

Workplace drug testing promotes a safe, healthy and productive environment for employees. Our analysis suggests that employers committed to creating a safe, drug-free work environment should be aware of the potential for drug use among their workforce.


 

More American Workers Are Testing Positive for Drugs
Source: https://www.wsj.com/; by Lauren Weber, May 16, 2017

More than one in 25 U.S. workers fail their employer’s drug tests; marijuana is on the rise, according to Quest Diagnostics

 
 

More U.S. workers are testing positive for illicit drugs than at any time in the last 12 years, according to data coming out today from Quest Diagnostics Inc., one of the largest workplace-testing labs in the nation.

The number of workers who tested positive for marijuana rose by 4%, while positive results for other drugs also rose. The increases come against a backdrop of more liberal marijuana state laws and an apparent resurgence in the use of drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.

In 2016, 4.2% of the 8.9 million urine drug tests that Quest conducted on behalf of employers came back positive, up from 4% in 2015. It is the highest rate since 2004, when 4.5% of tests showed evidence of potentially illicit drug use.

Marijuana remains the most commonly used drug among U.S. workers and was identified in 2.5% of all urine tests for the general workforce in 2016, up from 2.4% a year earlier. Quest also tests people, such as bus drivers and airline pilots, in jobs that affect public safety. For these jobs, regular drug testing is mandated by federal rules. In this segment, 0.78% of workers tested positive for marijuana, up from 0.71% in the previous year.

Workers in states that permit recreational marijuana use appear to be picking up the habit. The number of workers testing positive in Colorado rose 11%; in Washington—9%. The rates of increase in these states, the first to legalize pot, were more than double the increase nationwide in 2016.

In prior years, trends in those states tracked what was happening across the U.S.

Employers in Colorado and Washington can fire or choose not to hire someone who tests positive for marijuana despite the state laws. More recent statutes in states like Maine would give employers less leeway for punishing workers with traces of pot in their urine.

Drug use appears to be higher among the broader American population compared with just workers and job applicants subject to testing. In 2015, 6.5% of Americans ages 26 and older admitted on a government survey that they had used marijuana or hashish in the prior month, according to the National Institutes of Health’s most recent analysis of drug use. Among those 18 to 25 years old, the share climbs to 19.8%.

Another concern for employers is the continuing rise in cocaine positives, particularly in drug tests conducted after workplace accidents. Of U.S. workers tested by Quest, traces of cocaine were found in 0.28% of tests. The share of positives from postaccident tests was more than twice as high as the rate from pre-employment assessments.

"While a test can’t tell you whether or not the use of cocaine is what caused that incident, it certainly raises the level of concern that cocaine may have had some impact," said Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology for Quest’s employment-testing unit.

Amphetamine positives—which include Adderall, commonly prescribed for attentiondeficit hyperactivity disorder—rose for all workers to 1.1% of urine tests, up from 0.97% in 2015. Some positive results are later discarded if a worker produces a doctor’s prescription for a legal drug. Quest found that methamphetamine positives continue to climb in the general workforce, rising 64% between 2012 and 2016, amounting to an overall positivity rate of 0.18% for the general workforce last year.

One bright spot: The use of prescription opioids like oxycodone appears to be on the decline. In 2016, even heroin positives leveled off—a reversal of a previous pattern. In the past, heroin positives increased as law-enforcement agencies and regulators cracked down on illegal opioid prescriptions, Dr. Sample said.


 

May 2017 Articles

The Price of Compliance
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Todd Dills

Today’s electronic logging devices are different animals from the onboard communications and logging systems of even a decade ago. And while the $1,000-plus onboard systems with expensive ongoing costs in maintenance and subscriptions haven’t gone away entirely, many inexpensive options exist, even among dedicated units.

 
 

Hardware purchase costs for dedicated-unit systems range from a little more than $400 for Hutch’s Mercury unit up to $2,000 for PeopleNet’s top-of-the-line, fully functional custom fleet management device.

For engine-connection-device purchases for BYOD ("bring your own device") systems, costs range from around $170 up to about $500 on the top end.

Most systems with subscription-based pricing, even those with the most expansive functionality for fleets, can start with no hardware investment other than a lease cost rolled into a monthly or annual fee. Monthly subscription costs vary with the variety of services used, though many start at as little as $15.

It’s possible to satisfy the requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ELD mandate for as little as a one-time $200 investment. Zed Connect made news in March for its Zed ELD, turning the common BYOD pricing model on its head.

Most BYOD ELDs, as evident in our comparison chart, operate in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, with subscription fees ensuring full functionality. While many give away or lease engine-plug-in hardware, Zed is charging just $200 for the hardware and giving away the smartphone app and web-based administration portal.

"This is an application of an innovative company that believes there are a lot of truckers out there who actually don’t want to have that monthly fee and the charges for a lot of things that aren’t applicable to their business," says Jill Nowlin, Zed’s sales director.

Tailoring the company’s e-log offering to small fleets and owner-operators, Nowlin likens the more well-equipped services to cable TV packages. "You get 800 channels, and you only want two or three," she says. "We’re targeting that group to be able to give them an ability to meet this mandate" and not keep a monthly fee subtracting from the bottom line in perpetuity.

Along with Zed, Blue Ink Technology has adopted a similar pricing model for its BYOD ELD – a $295 one-time hardware purchase. BIT’s Mike Riegel expressed a similar desire to provide something "very lean" and simple to "keep the cost low" for small fleets and owner-operators.


 

How to Choose the Best Background-Screening Provider
Source: https://www.shrm.org/; by Dave Zielinski, March 29, 2017

The stakes for choosing a background-screening provider have always been high, but now that decision looms larger than ever. As laws governing background checks constantly shift, regulatory oversight expands and the ranks of applicants misrepresenting themselves grows, selecting a vendor to conduct background screens of your candidates assumes greater weight.

 
 

Yet complying with the requirements of regulators and legislators is only half the battle in background screening. Vendors and employers alike must roll out the red carpet for a third member of that screening triad: job applicants themselves. Poor experiences during the application process can turn off top candidates and reflect badly on an organization's brand.

SHRM Online interviewed industry experts and HR practitioners for advice on how to evaluate and choose a background-screening partner. Included is an extensive comparison of top screening vendors in the market.

Compliance Is the Top Criterion

Experts agree that any selection process should begin by verifying that a screening provider is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). That seal of approval ensures that a provider has been independently audited to confirm it adheres to best practices across the breadth of its operating procedures and policies.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Conducting Background Investigations and Credit Checks]

Because background screens must comply not only with federal law but also with differing state and local legislation, providers need to monitor diverse and ever-shifting laws, said Les Rosen, an attorney and CEO of Employment Screening Resources, a San Francisco-based background-screening provider. One area that requires close attention is the fast-growing "ban-the-box" movement that mandates removal of criminal history questions from job applications, delaying those questions until later in the hiring process. Currently, the law has been adopted by 25 U.S. states and many other cities and counties.

Julia Mair, chief marketing officer for New York City-based screening provider Sterling Talent Solutions, said the top screening challenge that Sterling's customers report is ensuring compliance in a shifting regulatory and litigation environment.

"Every time a state, city or county changes a ban-the-box regulation, employers need to be aware of that," Mair said. "Screening providers have to be able to monitor and communicate those changes to clients that are hiring in those geographies or it opens the door to litigation."

Screening providers should conduct criminal records searches using the most accurate means possible, Rosen said, which still requires onsite visits to courthouses rather than searching online databases.

"Database-only background checks can be the enemy of due diligence," Rosen said. "In any database, there are false positives and false negatives and records aren't always complete or up-to-date."

When a criminal record is reported, Rosen said, screening firms should have experts on staff to review the record and determine if there are any legal issues in reporting findings.

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) governs how background checks must be conducted and requires providers to use procedures that ensure maximum accuracy in reporting.

"Providers should have the ability to quickly notify their clients of any changes in the FCRA or other applicable laws," Rosen said, and also should conduct annual FCRA compliance audits of their own operations.

To protect data privacy, Rosen said, HR professionals should ask if the screening is performed by workers in the United States; if the work is offshored, providers should explain how data privacy will be protected. Vendors also should know about the European Union (EU)-United States Privacy Shield Framework launched in 2016—regulations that replaced the Safe Harbor Framework provisions—and should comply with data privacy requirements for screening applicants from EU countries.

With more employers screening candidates with international backgrounds, Mair said, it's important that screening providers be equipped to conduct background checks in countries that may still rely on paper-based records or have varied jurisdictional laws.

Turnaround Times and Costs

With hiring decisions tied to acceptable background checks, HR naturally seeks the fastest turnaround times possible, especially in high-volume hiring scenarios or when there is fierce competition for talent. Although improvements in technology and data-sourcing practices have reduced turnaround times, most standard criminal records searches still take between 24 and 48 hours, screening experts say. A basic criminal search can be done faster, while screens that include employment, education and reference checks will take longer, as will most checks of applicants with international backgrounds.

There isn't wide differentiation in pricing among providers, but "buyer beware" still applies. "If costs are too cheap, you might be getting questionable database results, practices that aren't FCRA-compliant or customer service that isn't high-quality," Rosen said.

Providers can take shortcuts in sourcing records to reduce their costs, he added, so it pays to understand data acquisition processes. "Unless an employer knows how the sausage is being made, they wouldn't have an idea that they are not getting accurate and actionable criminal record reports," he said. While screening firms access similar information, the methods and supply chains they use to source records can differ.

HR buyers should seek screening providers that match their organization's business strategy and culture, said Melissa Sorenson, executive director of the NAPBS. If your company is technology-oriented, depends on a fast onboarding process or places high priority on the candidate experience, you should seek screening companies with strengths in those areas, she advised. "Identifying a screening partner that aligns with your priorities and corporate values enhances the partnership as well as the applicant experience," Sorenson said.

Technology Considerations

The sophistication and flexibility of a vendor's technology platform separates top providers from the rest of the pack. Any vendor should have an intuitive, scalable and configurable screening platform, experts agree.

"Mobile access, automated data entry and real-time reporting capabilities are key today," said Joe Jaeger, chief revenue officer of First Advantage, a background-screening provider headquartered in Atlanta. "Hiring managers and recruiters are often on the run and need the ability to access screening reports and confirm answers that aid in making faster hiring decisions."

Global capabilities play a larger role today, Jaeger said. "Finding a provider that operates on a global platform with customer service delivered by those who understand local laws and regulations is highly valuable when screening an increasingly global workforce," he explained.

The ability of vendors to integrate with a wide variety of applicant tracking systems (ATSs) has become table stakes in the selection game. Such integration creates workflow efficiencies that make life easier for HR and job applicants. With candidate data pouring directly into an ATS, employers can store information such as past employment, education and any criminal history in one location and reduce administrative processing time. For job candidates, such integration eliminates the need for frustrating dual entry of personal data like Social Security number.

Platform flexibility is an important selection criterion, Sorenson said. "The regulation and litigation in this space is such that there are constant changes that require employers to amend forms and processes based on their own risk tolerance," she said. "Ensuring that your screening partner has flexibility in its system to allow for such changes is important."

Top systems also allow applicants to enter required personal information or provide consent for checks via self-service portals and mobile devices, not just by fax or computers. Mobile-friendly systems serve applicants on the devices they use most, and self-service portals create fewer data entry mistakes and less time wasted playing phone tag or completing cumbersome paper forms.

"HR should be able to automatically send personalized e-mail to applicants so they can fill out forms to initiate the screening process and also receive completed reports easily," Rosen said. "Everything today should be mobile-friendly and paperless."

Candidate Experience

How vendors treat applicants during the screening process also should factor into selection decisions, with a smooth and transparent application experience being the goal. Vendor systems and staff should be equipped to answer applicant questions promptly and offer user-friendly dispute processes should issues or discrepancies arise around report results.

"Applicants should know what to expect from the process and be kept informed throughout," Sorenson said. "If they have questions, they should be able to get in touch with providers easily, and when they request a copy of a report, they should receive it efficiently. A seamless ability for applicants to interact with a potential employer and a screening provider makes the process quicker, smoother and more enjoyable for the entirety of the relationship."

Hiring employees with criminal records or who falsify employment or educational histories can have lasting fallout for organizations. That makes choosing the best background-screening provider among the more important decisions that HR leaders will make.


 

Two Plead Guilty in Michigan CDL Fraud Scheme
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com; by Trucking Info Staff, April 10, 2017

Two former Detroit DOT employees pleaded guilty for their roles in a CDL fraud scheme.

 
 

On March 28, Calvin Foulks and Michelle Reed pleaded guilty in Michigan State Court, Detroit, to forgery and bribery. Foulks, of Southfield, Michigan, and Reed, of Novi, Michigan, also agreed to pay restitution to the city of Detroit in the amounts of $1,000 and $625 respectively.

In February 2017, Foulks and Reed turned themselves in and were arraigned on felony charges for taking more than $4,000 in cash bribes in return for falsifying multiple Michigan Department of State documents. The forged documents stated that applicants had taken and passed the CDL skills test when, in fact, they had not.

The Michigan Secretary of State invalidated 85 CDL tests related to the scheme. Affected drivers were required to retest before their CDL driving privileges could be restored.

DDOT Director Dan Dirks said the incidents happened between May 2012 and June 2013. Once it was discovered, DDOT stopped conducting its own CDL testing. Since that time all DDOT drivers have received their certifications through a third-party vendor, according to the Detroit Free Press. The cost for this certification is paid for by the students.

DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with assistance from the Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force, which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Detroit Police Department-Internal Affairs, and the State of Michigan Attorney General’s Office.


 

Could the ELD solve the attraction to smartphone distraction?
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Jason Cannon, April 18, 2017

Could the ELD solve the attraction to smartphone distraction?

 
 

You’re driving along and hear that distinctive "ding." You pick up your phone, read the text and hammer out a reply with one knee on the steering wheel to keep your lane. With mobile device already in-hand, might as well check Facebook, right? Twitter? Oh, a couple new emails.

Before you realize it, you’re straddling the lane divider and probably speeding.

It happens. It’s stupid, but it happens.

A recent study conducted by SmartDrive Systems concluded that most distracted drivers are 36 percent more likely to be involved in a near collision than other drivers.

That’s not all that difficult to wrap your head around; that distracted drivers are more likely to have an accident. But an interesting footnote, according to the study, is that drivers distracted by a mobile device are 88 percent more likely to be involved in a near collision than all other drivers and nearly three-times more likely than all other drivers to drive 10 mph or more over the speed limit.

SmartDrive analysis of in-cab video and observation data gathered over 14.5 billion driving miles show that distracted drivers are more likely than all other drivers to have a near collision, fail to stop at an intersection and exceed the speed limit.

The only practical way to remove the temptation for quick check of the phone is to turn it off and store it out of reach. If you have a video-based driver monitoring system, you can monitor whether or not it’s happening but that doesn’t prevent it. But with the electronic log mandate looming later this year, mobile devices will be placed in a tempting position – within the driver’s reach.

ELDs basically come in two forms: fixed-mount/dedicated and smartphone/app based.

The "bring your own device" method uses Bluetooth to communicate with a smartphone or tablet via a dongle connected to the ECM through the onboard diagnostics port. Not only does that put the driver’s phone within reach, it makes it a vital function of the business.

The one thing the ELD mandate most-assuredly is going to do is press drivers for more efficiency, and that could lead to improved safety and less distraction on the road.

According to Telogis, fleets outfitted with electronic logging devices reported a 12 percent reduction in crashes and a drop in speeding and harsh braking incidents.

SmartDrive’s study says drivers distracted by a mobile device waste 8 percent more fuel, than other drivers but Telogis says ELD users have seen a 25 percent saving in fuel costs, and a 30 percent savings in unproductive idling.

How SmartDrive’s study will wash with Telogis’ data with a wide adoption of ELDs in the years ahead will be interesting to see.


 

FMCSA’s study on adding split sleeper berth flexibility to hours of service could start this year
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, April 6, 2017

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s study on split sleeper berth flexibility for truck operators will likely enter the data collection phase later this year, says Kelly Regal, the agency’s associate administrator for research and information technology. Regal spoke last month at the Managing Fatigue conference in San Diego, Calif.

 
 

The data collection phase is when researchers began the actual testing component of the study, meaning the driver research subjects will begin operating under a more flexible hours of service schedule that allows them to split their 10 off-duty hours into splits of 5/5, 4/6 and 7/3, as opposed to only the 10/0 and 8/2 splits currently allowed.

It will then compare those in a naturalistic driving study to drivers operating without the flexible sleeper split options.

The agency announced early last year intentions for the study. It has partnered with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to produce the research.

The current step, Regal noted, is to clear the methodology and approach with the White House Office of Management and Budget for review and approval to proceed. "We’re right now planning to start data collection in the fall of 2017." Before it starts, VTTI will be recruiting operators to participate and have said they’ll notify the press when recruitment begins.

Kimberly Honn, Washington State University principal researcher at the Sleep and Performance Research Center, also a partner on the new study, spelled out that the berth-rules exemption that would be provided to drivers participating in the study would enable 3/7-, 4/6- and 5/5-hour splits of the 10-hour required off-duty period. "We know a lot of drivers do choose daytime sleep," Honn said. "But if they can get some of their sleep during the nighttime hours it may be beneficial for them – as good as or better than consolidated daytime sleep."

Much of the trucking industry in recent years has clamored for greater flexibility of drivers’ off-duty time, arguing the 14-hour clock is too stiff to take into account truck drivers’ wildly variable schedules.

Study participants, Honn noted, would be supplied custom ELDs outfitted with alternative exemption-capable rule-sets as well as SmartDrive forward and driver-facing cameras to record critical events on the road. They would wear actigraph watches during waking and sleeping hours, capable of syncing with a supplied smartphone for recording sleep/wake patterns. Drivers would also be asked to utilize the smartphones two to four times a day for three-minute psychomotor vigilance task tests to measure response time/patterns to assess fatigue levels in order to give researchers an indication of whether those utilizing more flexible berth periods experienced substantially different fatigue outcomes than others.


 

Thousands of current Uber, Lyft drivers fail new background checks
Source: https://www.bostonglobe.com; by Adam Vaccaro and Dan Adams, April 5, 2017

More than 8,000 drivers for ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft have been pulled off Massachusetts roads after failing a new state background check, for infractions that range from license suspensions to violent crimes and sexual offenses, according to records released Wednesday.

 
 

The state reviewed the criminal and driving records of nearly 71,000 drivers who had already passed reviews by the companies, and rejected 8,206 — about 11 percent.

Hundreds were disqualified for having serious crimes on their record, including violent or sexual offenses, and others for driving-related offenses, such as drunken driving or reckless driving, according to the state Department of Public Utilities.

The agency said it rejected 51 applications from sex offenders and 352 for incidents related to "Sex, Abuse, and Exploitation."

The new state system, which began checking records in January, rejected many drivers who had first passed the companies’ own reviews. The results prompted concerns about passenger safety, especially since some of the rejected drivers may have been on the roads for years.

"These statistics show clearly that passengers were potentially at risk before regulations took effect," said Mayor Carlo DeMaria of Everett, where two sexual assault cases were brought against Uber drivers in 2016.

Barring a successful appeal, rejected applicants can’t drive for a ride-hailing operation.

Regulations authorized by the Legislature in 2016 are some of the strictest for ride-hailing drivers in the nation. The state says drivers can be disqualified if their records show license suspensions, driving infractions, or serious crimes such as sexual and violent offenses, among other charges.

Some legal advocates said the results raise questions about whether the state’s background checks are too stringent, disqualifying applicants who may have committed a minor violation decades ago or whose cases were settled without a conviction.

The state looks back seven years for violations such as reckless driving, license suspensions, and less serious violent crimes. But it looks back for unlimited periods at other offenses, such as sex crimes, more serious violent crimes, and drunken driving that results in serious injury or death.

Uber and Lyft each pointed out that they are limited by state law to checking just the last seven years of an applicant’s history, which they said explains why so many drivers they had passed flunked the government’s more thorough review. Lyft said only “a small percentage of our drivers failed,” while Uber added that the unlimited reach of the government’s background checks is unfair to drivers who are trying to overcome past troubles.

"Thousands of people in Massachusetts have lost access to economic opportunities as a result of a screening that includes an unfair and unjust indefinite lookback period.

"We have an opportunity to repair the current system in the rules process so that people who deserve to work are not denied the opportunity," the company said.

Uber officials have said that the company runs criminal background checks on all new drivers and rescreens them twice a year. Under the company’s rules, drivers can’t join the service if they have had a felony conviction in the past seven years or a major driving violation, such as a suspended or revoked license or registration, in the past three years.

The most common reasons for rejections were related to driver’s license status: Many had suspended licenses or had not been driving long enough to qualify for the ride-hailing services.

Also disqualified were drivers who had court cases that ended not with a conviction but in a continuation without a finding, a form of settlement that defendants can later get dismissed.

One is Erik Scott, a Peabody resident who began driving with Uber last year. In January, he was told he could no longer operate after failing the state’s background check. The reason, he said, was a continuance without a finding stemming from a street fight in the 1990s, when he was in his early 20s.

"I agree Massachusetts should have stringent background checks," Scott said. "But if the case is dismissed and there’s no conviction, then a driver should be able to earn a living, regardless."

Pauline Quirion, an attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services who represents workers with criminal backgrounds trying to reenter the workforce, said her office has received numerous inquiries from drivers who were disqualified for minor, long-ago offenses.

By not considering the circumstances of each individual’s conviction, Quirion argued, the state could be exposing itself to discrimination lawsuits, because longstanding racial inequities in the criminal justice system mean nonwhite workers are more likely to have records.

"What about somebody who abused drugs, but now they’ve been sober for 20 years? Or a domestic violence victim who has a conviction for throwing a can at her abuser?" Quirion wondered. "Would anyone be worried about her driving an Uber?"

Moreover, the appeals process available to drivers is extremely limited; the state automatically rejects appeals from applicants who have any of 18 disqualifying conditions, ranging from a suspended license to a violent crime. Scott, for example, said his appeal was summarily dismissed.

Concerns about passenger safety have been stoked by a series of sexual assault charges against Uber drivers in recent years. They include a 34-year-old driver arrested in 2016 in Everett for allegedly raping a 16-year-old passenger; the driver had an extensive criminal background, including an array of motor-vehicle charges and a 2008 drug conviction that resulted in a prison sentence.

Outside Massachusetts, the ride-hailing companies typically are the only entities that vet drivers; even states that have adopted regulations for the burgeoning industry generally rely on the companies. But in Massachusetts, after tense negotiations that included lobbying by the taxi industry and Boston Police Commissioner William Evans to require fingerprinting, lawmakers last summer added a state-run background check.

Critics say the results of the state reviews vindicate their claim that the companies’ checks were lax.

"These were 8,200 unqualified and potentially dangerous individuals to the public who were driving around," said Donna Blythe-Shaw, a labor organizer and advocate for Boston cab drivers, who must undergo fingerprint checks by the city. "The good news is that they’re not on the road any longer. The bad news is that the [companies’] system is deeply flawed."

Evans said the rejections were "a good sign we’re looking into making sure our drivers are qualified and our riders are safe."

"You can’t be too safe," he added, saying that he still wants drivers to undergo a fingerprint-based background check, like those his department imposed on cab drivers, beginning in February 2016.

The state checks began in January, after Uber and Lyft signed an agreement to submit their drivers to the reviews a year before the law would have required. Drivers had until Monday to submit their applications to the state.

In a statement, Governor Charlie Baker said “public safety is a top priority” and that his administration looks forward "to future partnerships with Uber, Lyft, and others to grow this innovative industry and support more jobs and economic opportunities for all."


 


 

FMCSA ups fines for violations
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com; by Matt Cole, April 11, 2017

The U.S. DOT has increased fines across the board for violations of federal trucking regulations, it announced Wednesday.

 
 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is required by Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 to adjust fine amounts each year based on inflation.

A Final Rule that will be published in the Federal Register Wednesday, April 12, will make the new fine amounts effective 10 days following the rule’s publication. The 2015 Act requires FMCSA issue the inflation adjustments by Jan. 15 each year, meaning the agency missed its deadline. FMCSA says delaying the implementation further than 10 days "would be contrary to the public interest."

Last year, the agency issued a "catch-up" adjustment, which raised some fines and lowered others. This year, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget provided guidance to FMCSA for a cost-of-living adjustment multiplier of 1.01636. Given this multiplier, all of the fine amounts increased, as seen here.


 

April 2017 Articles

ELD Certification: What Does it Really Mean?
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Deborah Lockridge, March 2017

Motor carriers beware: FMCSA does NOT "certify" ELDs.

 
 

If you see an announcement that an electronic logging device has been "FMCSA certified" to meet the new mandatory ELD regulations that go into effect Dec. 17, you might assume that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has performed some sort of testing to verify that that the ELD does in fact comply with those regulations.

That assumption would be wrong.

Earlier this year, FMCSA posted a notice on its Facebook page that "some ELD manufacturers are improperly marketing their devices as ‘FMCSA-certified.’ This is incorrect. FMCSA maintains an online registry of devices vendor-certified by the manufacturer."

In guidance last September, FMCSA advised, "Prior to purchasing an ELD, carriers and drivers should confirm that the device is certified and registered with FMCSA and listed at this website: https://3pdp.fmcsa.dot.gov/ELD/ELDList.aspx. Devices not vendor-certified by manufacturers and registered with FMCSA may not be compliant with the FMCSRs."

But in reality, there’s no guarantee that the ones on the list are actually compliant, either.

Registration, not verification

"In order to certify their product, ELD manufacturers simply conduct their own tests," explains Alexis Cappelle, ELD program manager for Continental Corp. "However, the tests may or may not follow FMCSA's test specifications. As a result, fleets may not know if an ELD registered on FMCSA's website is actually compliant. A system registered today may be found non-compliant tomorrow and removed from the list."

John Seidl, a longtime commercial enforcement officer who’s now a transportation consultant with Integrated Risk Solutions, puts it a bit more bluntly: To get on the list, "In layman’s terms, you just say, ‘I’m an ELD.’"

Tom Cuthbertson, vice president of regulatory affairs with Omnitracs, explains that "it’s a registration process; it’s not a certification process. At this point FMCSA, they’re not vetting documentation."

Joel Beal, general manager of Loadtrek, has been in the electronic logs business since 1998. Unscrupulous ELD providers, he says, "could throw together some Word docs and check a few things off and [say] ‘Voila, I’m certified.’"

Gorilla Safety, however, says "the self-certification process is not as easy as one might think. The FMCSA doesn’t just ‘trust’ that you are compliant. Instead, they ask for additional details of your product, documentation and other items important in the process."

Cuthbertson explains that there is a list of documents ELD suppliers must upload to the website to register, such as a driver user card, instructions on transfer of data to law enforcement, malfunction and diagnostics, photos, and serial numbers of the products.

Nevertheless, Gorilla Safety admits, "With that said, there is much room for ambiguity."

"The assumption is compliance," says David Heller, vice president of government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association. "Like any rule — when they issue the hours of service rule, they expect drivers to comply. They’re not going to be out there looking at these carriers… it’s up to the provider to develop the device to the specs" provided by FMCSA.

Avery Vise with TransComply, a compliance support firm for smaller carriers, says in developing this self-certification process, the agency "has not really fully taken into account… the upside of being able to entice people to buy your product because you’re registered is great enough that some of these vendors may well self-certify even if they’re not remotely compliant. Some of them have been on the list from within a few weeks of the list being available, and it seems unlikely they went through a very rigorous process."

Independent verification

This is why PIT Group, a Canada-based testing group better known for its fuel efficiency testing, last year announced that it would offer independent testing and verification of ELDs.

"In advance of the ELD mandate in the U.S., a growing number of suppliers are self-certifying ELDs," said Yves Provencher, director of the PIT Group. "But suppliers that come to us for ELD verification will differentiate themselves in the market because our testing is thorough and unbiased, and it will cover the most up-to-date requirements in the ELD rule."

One ELD provider that has teamed up with PIT for independent verification is ERoad, which expects to be on the FMCSA ELD provider list very soon. The New Zealand-based telematics provider is relatively new to the North American market but has been in business since 2000.

Gorilla Safety is another company that has turned to outside help. It is using KPMG, one of the "big four" auditing firms, to review testing procedures, results, security governance and more.

The company explains that in self-certifying, ELD providers can use the ruling itself or the testing manual. However, "We have found many discrepancies between the ruling and the published testing manual, causing Gorilla Safety to err on the side of safety and use the ruling itself in these cases. Due to this ambiguity, it was important to Gorilla Safety to enlist the help of a well-recognized third-party for our testing procedures, test result review and final assessment."

Gorilla says there are still challenges to using a third-party certification. "The third party provider could be engaged to test one version of the software. In this case, how do they assure ongoing versions of the software remain compliant? Secondly, how can the client be sure the testing company takes the most conservative approach, assuring compliance? Third, what is the reputation of the third-party testing firm? Is this a company you have heard of before and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt is above board? Will you stake your company on it? These are all important questions."

What happens if it’s not compliant after all?

If for some reason the device is discovered down the road to not be compliant, the carrier is in a tight situation. While the driver can use paper logs temporarily, the FMCSA says motor carriers will have eight days from notification to replace a noncompliant device with a compliant one.

"This is the same time allowed to take action on ELDs that need to be repaired, replaced, or serviced," says Duane DeBrunie, FMCSA spokesman. "In the event of a widespread issue, FMCSA will work with affected motor carriers to establish a reasonable timeframe for replacing non-compliant devices with ELDs that meet the requirements."

Vise says "this provides little comfort to carriers. It sounds as if FMCSA only plans to be flexible if there is a ‘widespread issue.’ That is of little consolation to a carrier that relied on ELD registration in its decision to purchase a system."

Eric Witty, vice president of product at PeopleNet, says "a system that’s noncompliant should be one of the most concerning things for people. If they buy a system that claims to be compliant and FMCSA says, ‘We don’t think this is compliant and you need to get it corrected,’ you’d better make sure whoever you’re doing business with has the ability to react. Otherwise you could get into a rip-and-replace situation where you have to replace it with a new one."

Why don’t I recognize most of these names?

As of this writing, there are just under three dozen ELDs on the list. But if you’re looking for longtime electronic log and in-cab computing companies such as Omnitracs or PeopleNet, you may be puzzled to find they aren’t there. Some providers say they won’t feel comfortable self-certifying their e-log systems as an FMCSA-compliant ELD until they’ve completed more testing.

Pete Allen, executive VP of sales for MiX Telematics, notes that the ELD certification guidelines are a 500-plus-page document with a lot of technical details. As an ELD provider, he says, "you want to make sure you’ve got it right before you [self-certify]. We are planning to do it well before the deadline. Our platform we’re putting out in the field today is ELD ready, it just needs a software update."

At Omnitracs, Cuthbertson explains, there’s a lot of testing to go through before they will feel comfortable registering as self-certified. "We support quite a number of HOS rulesets you have to go through. We want to make sure if our customers are using California ag rules or Texas oil field rules, all this stuff has to be tested together."

However, ERoad says the ELD rule does not require those HOS rule sets to be built in. "There are no technical specifications that require all the standard and specialized HOS rule sets to be provided on the ELD," says Gail Levario, vice president of strategy and market development. "It is an optional value-added feature for an ELD to have the built-in HOS functionality." ERoad is one ELD provider that says it will soon be on the self-certified registration list, with the help of a third-party verification service from PIT Group.

The ERODS file

One of the key sticking points cited by some ELD providers is related to how enforcement officials will check driver logs. Many officers will be using a software called ERODS (short for Electronic Record of Duty Status) to translate data from a file transferred from the ELD into a consistent format that will automatically do the math.

To get that file to the officer, it can be done via telematics (uploaded via web services or sent in an attachment to an email), or peer to peer (a short-distance transfer protocol such as Bluetooth or a USB file transfer.)

"This USB file transfer is not your $15, 6-GB thumb drive," says Cuthbertson. "This is an approximately $100 malware-protected thumb drive that enforcement would own, not the carrier or the driver."

Seidl says not all states will do the file transfer to ERODS. In that case, there are two options:

• The driver can print a copy of the log to give to the enforcement officer. Very few systems will have this capability.

• If the ELD is set up to allow it, the driver can hand the actual device to the enforcement officer to look at a display that mimics the traditional paper log grid. Cuthbertson notes that the display under ELD rules must have additional fields displayed for the officer, such as the odometer reading.

However, apparently the ERODS software is not yet ready, and FMCSA has not given ELD providers a way to test the actual files to make sure they will transfer properly. FMCSA has been clear that this is not a requirement to self-certify, but some ELD providers would feel better about putting themselves on that list if they were able to test this file.

Duane DeBrunie, FMCSA spokesman, says the requirements for the output file are outlined in the technical specifications. "The manufacturer’s responsibility is to ensure the output file meets that requirement. If it does, the manufacturer can self-certify. FMCSA is in the process of testing its ability to receive and process the output file, but that will not be part of the certification process."

PeopleNet’s Witty explains, "It’s not that we don’t want to be [on the list] and that customers don’t constantly ask why we’re not, but even though it’s self-certification, there is a testing process…. and one of those things is being able to create and exchange a file with the FMCSA, and the FMCSA is not even done creating the web services that allow you to exchange the file. So until then, you can’t really verify it.

"We could in spirit say we’ve done all the other testing, we’ve created a file and reviewed it and believe it meets the criteria without actually exchanging it with FMSA and could be on that list today, but we’ve chosen not to because we believe until you can actually do the testing and be sure it works," Witty says.

Beal says the fact that there is no way to really test the file makes many ELD providers nervous.

"As most developers and engineers will tell you, building a file to spec doesn’t always mean it’s going to work," Beal explains. "There are some very smart people who question the structure of the file. We would never release a product that isn’t tested because you just never know. So we’re hoping in the next month or two we get access to some sort of testing environment."

One company that’s not particularly concerned about it is ERoad, which was expected to be added to the FMCSA self-certified list in March.

"We’re still waiting for FMCSA to finalize the file transfer, [but] we have no doubt that after what we’ve done with the 600-page document and how well we’ve translated that into a very workable product that we'll be able to do the same with the file transfer," says ERoad President Norm Ellis. "That’s not an area we’re particularly concerned about and we’ll be ready to comply as soon as it’s shared with us."

And in fact, says ERoad’s Levario, "The way that the ELD mandate has been written, the ELDs can be implemented without ERODS, because roadside inspectors will fall back to the display requirement of the ELD to be able to conduct their inspection."

Or, they can fall back on an ELD which can print the logs, which is what Continental’s VDO Road Log ELD does. Capelle says "standards for roadside log data transfers are not yet in place, and may not be in place for years to come. As enforcement starts truly checking the logs from ELDs, scrolling through electronic displays and smartphones will be very difficult and time-consuming. Many drivers will want to look for a system that doesn't require them to hand over their smartphone or tablet to enforcement … An ELD that can print out an instant log answers the need for fast inspections and maintaining privacy."

Teletrac Navman is addressing the problem by guaranteeing updates to its customers as needed for compliance. "Certain aspects of technical specifications that ELD devices will be required to comply with have yet to be published," it noted in an announcement. "As a result, Teletrac Navman will continue to upgrade existing Director HOS customers with the relevant compliance specifications when and as they become defined; ensuring customers' Director investments remain protected after the December 18, 2017, and December 16, 2019, compliance deadlines."

What can you do?

Cuthbertson was on the MCSAC subcommittee that wrote some of the technical specs. "I know what the detail is, and it’s pretty significant. I’m not going to disparage anybody; I’m just saying people should look at the products, understand the regulation, and go through the checklist to make sure all those items are there. Don’t just say, ‘They're on the list, that’s a good product.’ It’s buyer beware."

There is a checklist that ELD providers are supposed to go through in order to self-certify. For instance, Beal says, the system is supposed to allow you to do a diagnostic health check to make sure the system is running.

"A lot of systems have been known to go down for hours at a time and record nothing," Beal says. There are provisions to make sure the system is tied into the truck’s electronic control module and read specific information from it, such as speed and distance. There are certain ways the information has to be displayed in the cab of the truck.

"If you’re reasonably honest and competent, you can do your own homework and figure out if [an ELD] meets [the standards] or not," Beal says.

MiX Telematics' Allen recommends fleets work to understand the technical requirements and make sure whoever they pick meets the requirements. "It’s a self-certification process, and just because a company fills out the form that says they do, doesn’t mean they do." He recommends fleets consider creating test scenarios to help evaluate possible ELD vendors. For instance, how are the new editing requirements handled?

"They must have a log in for the driver; they must prompt for any unassigned mileage to find out if should go against that driver. They also need to validate any edited logs. All edits are put in the driver’s hands, but if a manager does an edit, it must be prompted to the driver to accept or reject."

Another scenario, Allen says, is if you have certain specific hours of service challenges such as oil field rules. "I’ve been doing this 25 years and I’ve seen companies that don’t interpret the hours correctly, so the system doesn’t work for certain scenarios."

Fleets, he says, could create a couple of such scenarios for a potential vendor and ask them to demonstrate how their system handles them, or request that a couple of units be installed and run a live test for a week or so alongside the paper logs.

Vise suggests that at the very least, "the simple thing to do is to ask the manufacturer what they have done with the product to differ from an AOBRD [the regulatory standard in effect for e-logs currently in use]. Don’t say, "Do you do this or that;’ just say, ‘What have you done.’ See if they can explain it, see if they understand the difference. Any credible supplier should know.

"The other thing they should do is they really should insist on or try to insist on a provision in their supply agreement that calls for damages in the event there’s a delisting, in the event FMCSA ultimately determines that an ELD is not compliant and says essentially that we’ll buy back the devices and compensate for any lost time because a driver or truck had to be grounded. The upshot is really that a disreputable provider is not going to agree to that. If they’re not going to stand by their product, then I would recommend moving on to someone else."


 

Audit: Some Californians cleared to work without background checks
Source: http://www.kcra.com; by KCRA Staff, March 15, 2017

DSS continues to improper checks 3 years after KCRA investigation, state law

 
 

State auditors found that California does a poor job of screening social services workers and sometimes allows people with previous arrests or convictions to work in facilities that care for children, adults and seniors.

The report was released Tuesday, three years after a KCRA investigation found that the Department of Social Services (DSS) was clearing people who were convicted of serious crimes to work without proper background checks.

In 2014, KCRA 3 Investigates found that DSS was sending letters clearing people who were convicted of violent offenses like sex with a minor, elder abuse, arson and other crimes without looking into their backgrounds. The department had said they would clear them and do the proper check later.

That report sparked a state law which requires the DSS perform proper background checks. Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, authored the bill in 2014, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

State auditors said in the last two years, DSS still wasn't performing the proper background checks.

"You know, we worked really hard to get at this problem,” Maienschein said Tuesday. "This is a serious problem, and to see people just not complying with the law is incredibly frustrating."

The audit pinpoints several areas where the DSS falls short and allows people to work before they are cleared. The report found:

• DSS was not getting the proper information from the California Department of Justice (DOJ).

• DOJ stopped providing complete criminal histories and the information it did provide is often tardy.

• DSS does not always obtain or review all appropriate information before allowing individuals access to facilities.

• DSS granted exemptions allowing more than 40 people to get licenses between 2013 and last year, despite being convicted of identity theft, pimping, pandering or certain sex crimes.

• DSS and four other departments within the California Health and Human Services Agency do not share critical information.

As a result, "Social Services does not receive all of the information it needs to protect vulnerable clients," auditors said.

Auditors found that in 17 of the 18 cares they reviewed, DSS did not properly review background information on those seeking state licenses, sometimes ignoring convictions for relatively minor crimes.

All told, auditors found six times in 2014 and 2015 where justice officials did not notify the department of convictions, though department officials found out in other ways. Two of those convictions -- for child abuse and for inflicting pain on an elderly or dependent adult -- were enough to disqualify the applicant from getting a license.

Auditors found one case where the DOJ did not disclose that an applicant seeking a license had committed assault with intent to murder as a minor.

"We like to focus more on the felonies and the misdemeanor convictions and arrests because those are things we look at as being risks to individuals in facilities," DSS spokesperson Michael Weston said. "Whereas something that is an infraction, most likely on an appeal, somebody can have that overturned by a judge."

DSS said it welcomes the recommendations by the auditor. The agency claims it did not get proper information from the DOJ. The audit report said changes should be made to state law to require the DOJ to give full background information to the department.

A pending bill, SB420, by state Sen. William Monning, D-Carmel, would require justice officials to disclose more information.

Auditors said lawmakers should also add to the list of crimes that keep individuals from obtaining a state license.

Portions of the report "are somewhat disturbing," said Bob Alvarez, a spokesman for Sen. Kathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, who sought the audit. He said Galgiani may seek changes in state law as the auditors recommended.

The social services department "will continue to improve processes to ensure that individuals caring for adults and children are properly cleared," said spokesman Michael Weston, adding that "much of this work is already underway."

DOJ officials did not immediately comment Tuesday, but told auditors that state law must be changed before it can provide more information.


 

ATA Pulling for Hair-Testing Standards
Source: http://www.worktruckonline.com; by David Cullen, March 21, 2017

The American Trucking Associations is continuing its push to allow hair-testing to be used in lieu of urinalysis to detect drug use by CDL driver applicants.

 
 

In a March 20 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear called for HHS to quickly release guidelines and standards for the use of hair samples in mandatory drug testing of truck drivers.

ATA pointed out in a statement that HHS has yet to issue the necessary standards that would allow those tests to be implemented. It also noted that this week ,the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (an HHS agency) will hold Drug Testing Advisory Board meetings to consider hair-testing, "putting HHS well behind its congressionally mandated deadline."

"Many trucking companies are using urinalysis to meet federal requirements, while also paying the additional cost to conduct hair testing," Spear said in the letter. "We are frustrated that the previous administration failed to meet the statutory deadline and believe your leadership will finally see a resolution to this long-standing and important safety rule."

According to ATA, the association and many of its member carriers contend that, based on experience, "hair-testing is more effective at preventing habitual drug users from obtaining jobs as truck drivers, thus improving highway safety."

"Making sure America’s truck drivers are safe and drug-free is among ATA’s highest priorities," Spear said. "This commitment is why ATA led the charge for mandatory drug-testing of commercial drivers, for the creation of a clearinghouse for drug and alcohol testing results, and the use of hair-testing."

Spear’s letter comes a month after the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (a.k.a. the Trucking Alliance) submitted a set of detailed comments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that strongly support a petition calling for motor carriers to be exempt from having to use urinalysis to test for drug use by CDL driver applicants.

In January, David Heller, vice president of government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association, told HDT that once HHS "vets its guidelines to incorporate hair testing as an 'and/or option' for its drug testing protocols, carriers can use that option to better define the drug history of a potential driver."


 

5 Trends in FMCSA Compliance Reviews
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com; by Don Jerrell, HNI, March 2017

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently announced that it is changing the process for performing compliance reviews. Specifically, they referred to expanded interviews with members within the organization. (The truth is, they have been doing this for a while, but recently completed all the training and therefore made the announcement.)

 
 

Does this mean that compliance reviews have changed?

Yes and no. FMCSA had already trended from full reviews to focused reviews. However, there are some things that we are seeing with regards to compliance reviews. From our perspective, here are five items that we are seeing:

1. Many reviews are occurring due to complaints vs. CSA scores.

Historically, complaints were considered a lower priority by FMCSA in deciding to perform a compliance review. CSA scores that had BASICs on alert were the primary determining factor for a compliance review. However, recently the complaints are taking a much higher priority than previously. There are a couple of reasons for this:

• Driver coercion rule:In 2016, the DOT released the final rule regarding driver coercion (different from harassment, which is tied to electronic logging devices). As a result, most complaints are being treated as if coercion has occurred. Thus, the visit. What is interesting is that little if any cases of coercion are being found. What is happening is during the investigation the inspector is “discovering” issues that now result in a compliance review being performed while the inspector is at that location. We have seen several carriers who have no scores on alert (in fact have “best in class” scores) in CSA BASICs, but are now receiving a focused review (usually hours of service – but not always), which is resulting in a "conditional" rating along with a fine. 

• Ease of filing a complaint: FMCSA has made it very easy for someone to file a complaint. Previously the complainant was requested to put something in writing and send in to the FMCSA. Now the complainant can just go through the FMCSA website and to enter the complaint.

2. Hours of service, in particular false logs, is still the most common violation.

We are still seeing that hours of service is the most common area where violations are occurring during these focused reviews; primarily falsification. Carriers need to make sure they are cross referencing time (not just date) documents with the driver’s logs. These documents could include fuel (from fuel reports not paper receipts), tolls, reimbursement receipts, etc.

3. The DVIR process has now popped up as an easy target

Before December 2015, it was more difficult for an inspector or auditor to be able to make a case with regards to driver vehicle inspectino reports. With drivers turning in a DVIR daily and the requirement of finding a pattern of 10% (critical) in order to make a case that would result in a fine, it was very difficult and time-consuming for the inspector to gather enough information. However, with the new rule of only filling out a DVIR when a defect has occurred, it is much easier to make a case. Throw out all the clean ones and what do you have left?

So inspectors are using roadside inspections that had maintenance issues listed and asking for the DVIR that corresponds with that date. No DVIR or an issue not listed? That’s one. Now you need at a minimum of 10 to make up for that one. Other items that could be used against a DVIR would include breakdown reports filled out by the driver and given to the shop for repairs, and maintenance records that show multiple items that it would be obvious the driver should have been aware. 

We recommend carriers to (at a minimum) do the following:

- Cross reference roadside inspections that have maintenance issues listed with the drivers DVIR.

- Look at your internal processes to see how drivers are communicating to the shop when repairs are needed and cross reference with the driver’s DVIR.

- Train the shop to report when they see or perform repairs that should have been seen by the driver and compare to the driver’s DVIR.

4. Changes to the medical card verification process are causing compliance concerns.

The "grace" period is over. If you are not verifying the physician's license via the national registry and/or not running a CDLIS report, you will be a target.

There has been an interesting battle as to when a report from a system vs. a CDLIS report is acceptable. We recommend the carrier run the new CDLIS report, but there has been an interpretation that says if “all” the required information is on a report, you can use that instead – the issue being "all the required information."

5. Drivers operating with suspended or invalid CDLs.

It only takes a few of these violations to get a BASIC on alert status in CSA. You need to make sure that you have an internal process to monitor and make sure driver’s licenses are not being suspended. (Don’t count on the driver.)

Not updating medical information is a suspension. Many states are not communicating back and forth on suspended licenses too.


 

As Opioid Epidemic Rages, Worksite Policies Overlook Prescribed Drugs
Source: https://www.shrm.org/; by Stephen Miller, CEBS, March 2017

How to craft drug policies to include prescription medications

 
 

Seventy-one percent of U.S. employers say they have been affected in some way by employee misuse of legally prescribed medications, including opioids, according to a new survey.

"Most drug addictions today don't begin on the street; they start in a doctor's office with legal, valid prescriptions," said Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, a nonprofit chartered by Congress. "Employers must understand that the most dangerously misused drug today may be sitting in employees' medicine cabinets. Even when they are taken as prescribed, prescription drugs such as opioids can impair workers and create hazards on the job."

Most employers have a drug-free workplace policy directed at illegal drugs, along with an alcohol abuse policy, but most don't have a prescription drug policy in place, Hersman said during a press briefing. Meanwhile, "misuse has grown rapidly, and employers have struggled to keep pace."

The council's survey findings, released on March 9, build on 501 interviews with HR decision-makers across the U.S. at organizations with 50 or more employees. All respondents were involved in, or ultimately responsible for, their workplace's strategy and policies on health and safety (including drug and alcohol policies) or health care benefits.

Other findings from the survey include:

- 19 percent of employers feel "extremely prepared" to deal with prescription drug misuse in the workplace.

- 81 percent lack a comprehensive drug-free workplace policy.

- 41 percent of those that drug test employees are not testing for synthetic opioids.

"Encouragingly, 70 percent would like to help employees who are struggling with prescription drug misuse return to their positions after completing treatment," said Hersman.

[SHRM members-only HR Q&A: What laws should companies be aware of when implementing a drug testing program?]

Coverage of Alternative Therapies

Hersman advised employers to work with their insurers to cover alternative therapies so that employees can avoid taking opioids or other addictive medications for chronic pain. Alternative therapies include acupuncture, guided imagery, chiropractic treatment, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback and others.

While 88 percent of survey respondents were interested in their health insurer covering alternative pain treatments, 30 percent of those employers indicated they would not act on that interest by negotiating expanded coverage with insurers—suggesting a missed opportunity to provide employees with healthier pain-relief options.

Establishing a Policy

Taking medications with a valid prescription is not illegal, which has made enacting prescription drug policies and understanding the need for them difficult, Hersman noted.

The National Safety Council provides a free Prescription Drug Employer Kit to help employers create prescription drug policies and manage opioid use at work. The kit recommends actions that HR managers can take, including:

- Define the employee's role in making the workplace safe. A drug-free workplace program (DFWP) should state what employees must do if they are prescribed medications that carry a warning label or may cause impairment. Commonly abused medications include hydrocodone (prescription medications Lortab and Vicodin, for example); benzodiazepines (tranquilizers like Valium, Librium, Xanax); barbiturates (phenobarbital, butalbital, secobarbital, downers); methadone (increasingly prescribed as a painkiller); buprenorphine (often used to treat heroin addiction); and stimulants (like Ritalin and Dexedrine).

The DFWP should also spell out the steps an employer will take if it suspects a worker is using these kinds of medications without a prescription, in larger doses than prescribed or more frequently than prescribed.

- Add prescription drug testing to illicit drug testing. There are tests that detect legally prescribed and commonly abused medications, such as those listed above. Working with legal counsel, the employer should decide if additional testing is warranted for pre-employment screening, or for pre-duty, periodic, at random, post-incident, reasonable suspicion, return-to-duty or follow-up situations.

- List the procedures or corrective actions the employer will follow when an employee is suspected of misusing prescription drugs or for an employee with confirmed prescription drug abuse. This should include how the misuse will be identified, what the worker's leave options are, what medical certifications are required for medical leave and the conditions that must be met before the employee can return to work.

- Obtain legal advice. An attorney experienced in DFWP issues should review the policy before it's finalized.

- Train supervisory staff and educate employees. Educate managers and supervisors about prescription drug abuse and what to do if they suspect an employee has a problem.

- Review service coverage for behavioral health and/or employee assistance program (EAP) needs. Evaluate the behavioral health portions of health insurance policies and EAP contracts to ensure employees are covered for abuse of prescription drugs.

Employers have been held legally responsible when workers who were injured on the job and prescribed medications have accidentally overdosed, "but the biggest reason employers should care about the issue is out of concern for their employees," Hersman noted. "Research indicates that those struggling with substance abuse have better sustained recovery rates if their employers help them to receive treatment and monitor their recovery, than if treatment is initiated by family or friends," she said. "For some workers, employer engagement may be the difference between life and death."


 

Preventable or not: Trucker’s trip ruined by railroad track drama
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com; by CCJ Staff, March 2017

At a roadside safety inspection that morning (which earned him a CVSA decal), tractor-trailer driver John Doe had a brief chat with the safety specialist about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s emphasis on violations under Compliance, Safety, Accountability. Trucking companies now must be on guard for even the smallest infractions, Doe was advised. Good thing he’d rolled into fleet headquarters yesterday for a preventive maintenance check, 10-4?

 
 

Suddenly, Doe’s musings were interrupted by the realization that he was fast approaching an intersection controlled by a traffic light. About 60 feet beyond the intersection was a railroad grade crossing with another traffic light plus signal arms and bells to warn of an approaching locomotive. Since both traffic lights were green, Doe proceeded and was a few feet from the tracks when … Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! … Egad! The light at the grade crossing had just turned red, and the gates were descending!

If Doe stood on the brakes, the little car that presumably still was tailgating his rig surely would run smack into his underride guard, 10-4? And what about that phone call from his fleet manager about that hard-brake alert? So Doe reluctantly floored the accelerator and … CRACK! Oh no! A signal arm descended upon, and severely mangled, Doe’s shotgun-side West Coast mirror! Argh!

Since Doe contested the preventable-accident warning letter from his safety director, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee was asked to render a final decision. To Doe’s dismay, NSC ruled against him, noting that it’s better to risk being rear-ended by a Honda Civic than to be sideswiped by a freight train. Doe should have panic-stopped, NSC decided.


 

March 2017 Articles

Commentary: Parts - At A Vending Machine Near You
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Denise Rondini, February 2017

Typically when we think of vending machines, we think of snack foods or beverages. More recently, however, they are being used in industrial applications.

 
 

Companies such as Fastenal and 1sourcevend are installing vending machines in industrial plants, where they vend things like tools, safety glasses, and even small parts. Fastenal has gone one step further with its Fast P.O.D, a shipping container that acts as a mini-store. The shipping containers have been altered to accommodate computer equipment, to improve security, and to include insulation and heating and air conditioning.

Whether a shipping container or a vending machine, the idea is to bring parts closer to the customer.

"I think it will fit [with trucking]," says Mark Hill, president of 1source vend. "As we say here, we manage widgets. We don’t care what they are. It is about management and replenishment of [needed] items." Initially, Hill thought the vending machines in industrial applications would be used for high-value items, but he says, "a lot of it has turned out to be low-cost items, and that has been driven by the customer."

He says customers don’t want to run out of things they need, and although places like Amazon and others say they can get a needed item delivered the next day, with a vending machine there is no need to wait.

Will vending machines work in the trucking industry? Bill Wade, managing partner, Wade & Partners, thinks so. "I think it would be especially good for the heavy truck business. You could put all the wear items like belts, hoses, seals, bearings, etc., in them."

While you might not be able to put a whole suspension in a vending machine, "you definitely could carry rotors, drums, disc brake pads," he adds. If a pod system was used, Wade believes it could also serve as a core depot, where a fleet could leave used cores for later pickup by a distributor or dealer.

Gary Polipnick, executive vice president of FAST Solution at Fastenal, believes truck stops would be a great place for the company’s Fast P.O.D. or even a vending machine. "It could be used for common things like diesel additives or quarts of oil — some real basic things. It is a nobrainer." He adds, "Vending machines or Fast P.O.D. systems are accessible 24/7, so if a driver needs something like a headlight, he can pick it up when he stops to eat or use the restroom."

Current industrial vending machines work via a magnetic swipe card or other device that tracks who has purchased a part. Hill says in addition to tracking purchases by employees, 1sourcevend machines can track which department or which job the part was for. In the case of a vending machine at a truck stop or other more public location, credit card purchases would be allowed.

Both the vending machine and the shipping pods keep track of inventory levels and send alerts when minimum stocking numbers have been reached, allowing for replenishment before a product runs out.

Machines do not have to be stocked with the same products, meaning a distributor or dealer could tailor each machine to a fleet’s specific needs at a specific location.

Think the idea is not realistic for trucking? Remember that it was not that long ago that the idea of Amazon being in the truck parts business seemed far-fetched, Wade notes. "Last year Amazon did something like $1.89 billion in truck parts sales. That would make them the biggest truck parts distributor in the world."

While a vending machine solution is not going to cover everything, it is one way to get parts closer to the end user. "I think anybody who looks at this idea and doesn’t see a possibility for it is just not looking too hard," Wade says.


 

Should You Hire Someone with a Criminal Record?
Source: https://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu; by Kellogg Staff, February 3, 2017

Companies that give ex-offenders a fresh start may be rewarded with employees who stick around. Based on the research of Dylan Minor, Nicola Persico and Deborah M. Weiss

 
 

Each year, more than 650,000 prisoners in the U.S. are set free. But many employers are unwilling to hire them—a trend with enormous social implications, since being employed increases an ex-offender’s chance of reintegrating into society and staying out of jail.

Employers often worry that people with criminal records will steal, behave unethically, harass coworkers, or become violent. Or these applicants may be perceived as less competent; if they have spent time behind bars, maybe they lack social and professional skills.

But how true are these assumptions?

A team of researchers at Kellogg and Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law wondered whether employers were right to be concerned. When they analyzed data on about a quarter of a million applicants for sales and customer service jobs in the U.S., they found that ex-offenders who did get hired were no more likely to be fired later than non-offenders. And they were less likely to quit — saving their firms a significant amount of money in employee turnover costs.

"For these companies, turnover is huge," says coauthor, Dylan Minor, an assistant professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at Kellogg. If an employer has thousands of workers, "at the end of the year, that’s going to be a big difference."

The picture was not entirely rosy. The researchers found that in sales positions, people with criminal records were more likely to be fired for misconduct. So if a firm is filling a position where unethical or illegal behavior could dramatically affect the company, such as a financial job, the employer might be wise to avoid hiring an ex-offender, Minor says.

"There could be an opportunity to hire some people, give them a second chance, and even get a more loyal employee."—Dylan Mino

For other types of work, though, companies that automatically blacklist applicants with criminal records might want to reconsider their policies.

Minor says he has heard employers say, "I’d never hire someone with a background." But, he notes, "there could be an opportunity to hire some people, give them a second chance, and even get a more loyal employee."

Hiring Ex-Offenders

A job is a crucial step in establishing a new life upon release from prison. Yet, one study found that eight months after getting out of jail, more than half of ex-offenders did not have current jobs. And being unemployed is strongly linked to a higher risk of committing another crime. In other words, many of these rejected applicants are likely to end up back in prison.

Minor and his colleagues Nicola Persico, a professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at Kellogg, and Deborah Weiss, director of the Workforce Science Project at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, examined data from a hiring consultancy on more than 1 million job applicants from 2008 to 2014. The records covered 11 companies in the U.S., mainly for sales representatives in call centers and customer service positions. For about 264,000 candidates, information was available on whether or not the person was an ex-offender.

The researchers first investigated whether these companies were indeed more reluctant to hire candidates with criminal records. Looking at the overall data set, the researchers did not initially see a pattern suggesting that the employers were less likely to hire people with a criminal history.

Persico points out that while that may seem surprising, it is important to remember that those who apply for a job are a self-selected group.

"Applying is costly in terms of time, and so presumably only those who have a reasonable chance of being hired choose to apply," he says. "With this self-selected group of applicants, those with a criminal record presumably have some other positive attribute that, while unobservable to us researchers, makes them optimistic that they can get hired despite their criminal record."

But if the team analyzed specific positions and controlled for some aspects of education and work history, differences emerged. The hiring rate for ex-offenders was 3.7 percentage points lower than for non-offenders in sales positions and 1.7 percentage points lower in customer service positions.

Reducing Employee Turnover

What happens to ex-offenders that are hired?

Contrary to what employers might assume, the team saw no difference in firing rates between workers with and without criminal records. The data did not specify which crimes the employees had committed, so it is possible that the companies hired ex-offenders only if they had a less serious criminal history. That said, the ex-offenders whom the firms do hire appear to perform no worse than non-offenders, Minor says.

And when the team examined rates of voluntary quitting, ex-offenders actually did better. On average, employees stayed at their jobs for about five months. But workers with criminal records stuck around for an average of about three weeks longer than those without records. While that might not seem like much extra time, each turnover costs the firm about $4,000. So the researchers estimate that hiring ex-offenders could save companies about $1,000 per year per position.

Put another way, the turnover rate for employees with criminal records is about 13% lower. "They’re more loyal to the firm," says Minor, who speculates that they might stay longer because they do not have as many options to work elsewhere.

Trouble in Sales

Employers’ concerns about ex-offenders are, however, partially justified. The team studied workers who had been fired specifically for misconduct, which could range from stealing to workplace violence. The researchers saw no difference in customer service jobs. But when they examined sales positions, they found that employees with criminal records had a 28% higher risk of being terminated for misconduct than coworkers without records.

It is not clear why this pattern would arise in sales. Perhaps people with a penchant for bad behavior are more attracted to sales positions. Or maybe the sales environment somehow encourages workers to act unethically.

The results suggest that employers should be cautious about hiring an ex-offender to perform, say, a job involving sensitive business information. “I would think twice before hiring someone with a record in that setting,” Minor says.

Ban the Box Laws

Policies have been implemented to help ex-offenders get jobs, but they may not always work as intended. In some areas, regulations known as ,"ban the box" laws prevent companies from asking candidates on their initial applications whether they have a criminal record. Instead, employers must wait to find out until later in the hiring process. But some studies suggest that in the absence of this information, employers may discriminate more strongly based on racial stereotypes instead.

This research cannot address whether "ban the box" policies should continue. The data covered only ex-offenders who applied for jobs, and it is possible that people with particularly bad criminal records did not even bother trying. If candidates were no longer required to disclose their backgrounds up front, perhaps the serious criminals would seek work more frequently, with different results.

However, the study does suggest that, at least for some occupations, ex-offenders can become valuable employees. Educating employers about these findings could open the door to more applicants with criminal records, Minor says. And that could keep more people out of jail.

"If these people don’t get a job, the chances are that they’re going right back," he says. "It’s this vicious circle that’s really tough to get them out of."


 

Do You Have a Will?
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com; by TruckingInfo Staff, February 9, 2017

I hope this doesn't come across like an admonishment from a reformed smoker, but I just lost my father, and I'm happy to say he died with a will. That will make the next few months much easier on me and my sister. Dad had it all in place, right down to phone numbers and email addresses for those that held his important papers. Unfortunately, statistics suggest that anywhere from one-half to two-thirds of Americans do not have a will or even any written instructions or last wishes to guide their next of kin.

 
 

Dad was in his mid-80s and had terminal brain cancer, so he knew the end was inevitable. However, he put his affairs in order when he was in his 30s. That's just the kind of man he was. He didn't want my mother to have to deal with the problems associated with his passing while keeping the mortgage paid and food on the table. My grandfather, too, was pretty well organized in this regard. It took me a while longer to get my affairs in order. It was not until my daughter was 9 that my wife convinced me to visit the lawyer and have something drawn up.

A story in USA Today from June 2015 notes that according to a 2015 Rocket Lawyer estate- planning survey by Harris Poll, 64% of Americans don't have a will. Of those without a plan, about 27% said there isn't an urgent need for them to make one — and 15% said they don't need one at all.

A poll conducted by Gallup in May of 2016, just two weeks after the passing of pop singer Prince, who did not have a will, showed he was not alone in that regard. The poll revealed that 68% of those aged 65 and older have a will, compared with just 14% of those younger than age 30. Of Americans whose annual household income is $75,000 or greater, 55% have a will, compared with 31% of those with incomes of less than $30,000. And while 61% of those with a postgraduate education have a will, only 32% with a high school education or less do.

I write this today thinking mostly about truck drivers, but it applies to anyone in any line of work. Considering that driving a truck is one of the riskiest occupations in the country, it behooves drivers to consider their final will and testament at their earliest opportunity. The will is a legal document that not only determines who gets your money and property when you die, it can also determine who gets guardianship of your minor children, or in whose care an aging parent might wind up. Without a clear statement of your intentions in the form of a will, the state might make these decisions for you, or decide how to divvy up your assets – possibly including your truck if you're an owner-operator.

When I was driving, back in my 20s, 30s, and 40s, I had some property, I had a little money in the bank and a few investments. But I never had the time (or saw the value) to commit my final wishes to paper. Back then dying was the furthest thing from my mind, despite driving past at least one fatal collision nearly every day. The reminders were there, but I managed to ignore them.

I was lucky, I suppose, in that nothing serious ever happened to me. I was never even badly injured on the job or in civilian life. Once my daughter came along, my outlook changed. I continued to think of myself as bullet-proof, but I finally understood what it would cost my wife if she had to get by without my income, and how unlikely it would be that my daughter would ever go to college without a portion of that income shaved off for a school fund.

I had previously set up a life insurance policy, but it would provide little more than what was needed to cover a pauper's funeral. Of course I wanted more for my family, and they needed the protection of a much more comprehensive policy. As for the will, in addition to naming my wife and daughter as beneficiaries, it also addressed my desire that my sister become my daughter's guardian (along with sufficient resources to pay for her upkeep and education) in the event my wife and I both died prematurely.

I survived the risky years, and my daughter has graduated from college. If I keel over tomorrow, that same policy will now provide enough to set her up in a first home and pay for her kids to at least start college. The value of the policies have been building, while other policies will cover my funeral expenses (which are considerable, let me assure you), and pay for all the services my family is likely to need if I suddenly disappear. I'm in my late 50s now and fairly healthy, and statistically still have a few years left in me. I recently updated my will to include recently acquired assets, changes in the financial needs of my next of kin and wishes for my funeral arrangements.

When you're gone, it's not you who makes such decisions; in the worst case, the state can step in and make them for you. Those decisions might not be in your survivors' best interests. So, if you haven't already done so, please consider talking with a lawyer and getting your affairs in order. Death and wills are strange things to talk about when you're 20 or 30, but every day you put it off increases the chances that somebody else might wind up making some very important choices for you.


 

Trucking groups urge new DOT Secretary to scrap new carrier rating system, citing lingering CSA faults
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com; by Todd Dills, February 21, 2017

Trucking groups have united in urging Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to order the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to rescind a proposed rule issued in January 2016 that would institute a new carrier rating system based on carriers’ scores in the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.

 
 

In a Feb. 15 letter to Chao, a large and wide-ranging group of industry stakeholders said the proposed Safety Fitness Determination rule should come only after FMCSA revamps the CSA system itself, due to the inconsistencies and flaws of the current CSA Safety Measurement System and its BASICs.

"Our major concern with the proposal is that the new proposed methodology utilizes flawed [CSA/SMS] data and scores," the letter’s signatories write.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued by FMCSA in January 2016 followed Congress’ removal of CSA/SMS percentiles from public view, ordering then a study and potential revamp of the program, by little more than a month.

That’s study’s results have been slow in coming to light, and at the time of the SFD NPRM, a smaller coalition within the trucking industry alleged the NPRM itself was a violation of the December 2015 FAST Act highway bill, which included language prohibiting developing a safety-rating rule that utilized percentiles and category alerts. Though DOT pushed back on that contention, the broad-based nature of this latest letter’s signatories is evidence it’s taken hold in a much bigger way a year later.

An eight-member coalition petitioned the agency last January to have the the rulemaking suspended. Another push was made in March by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

The latest letter brings in a large variety of state and private industry associations, including the American Trucking Associations, OOIDA, the National Association of Small Trucking Companies and Western States Trucking Association, among many others. The broad nature of the signatories "should indicate how seriously everyone views this issue," says WSTA’s head of regulatory affairs, Joe Rajkovacz. "And the hope that with new leadership in Washington, legitimate industry concerns will finally be dealt with positively."


 

Young Millennials Are Worst Behaved Drivers, New Research Reveals
Source: http://www.forbes.com/; by Tanya Mohn, February 17, 2017

Teens typically take the rap for their risky driving, but new research indicates that young millennials garner the top spot on the list of worst behaved U.S. drivers. The findings, issued in a report released last week by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research and education organization, show that about 88 percent of young millennials (adults between the ages of 19-24) engaged in at least one risky behavior behind the wheel in the past 30 days.

 
 

These dangerous behaviors - which increase crash risk -- included texting while driving, redlight running and speeding.

"Alarmingly, some of the drivers ages 19-24 believe that their dangerous driving behavior is acceptable," Dr. David Yang, the AAA Foundation’s executive director, said in a statement. "It’s critical that these drivers understand the potentially deadly consequences of engaging in these types of behaviors and that they change their behavior and attitudes in order to reverse the growing number of fatalities on U.S. roads."

The findings come as U.S. traffic deaths rose to 35,092 in 2015, an increase of more than 7 percent and the largest single-year increase in five decades, the group said. And new estimates based on an analysis of preliminary data by the National Safety Council indicate the spike in deaths is the most dramatic two-year escalation since 1964 and an indication that 2016 may have been the deadliest on the nation’s roads since 2007.

For the first time in nearly a decade, the council noted, as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year, a 6 percent increase over 2015 and a 14 percent increase over 2014.

The survey results are part of the foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The data are from a sample of 2,511 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days.

Among drivers ages 19-24, 88.4 percent reported engaging in speeding, red light running or texting behind the wheel in the past 30 days. Drivers in that age group are:

--1.6 times as likely as all drivers to report having read a text message or e-mail while driving in the last 30 days and nearly twice as likely as all drivers to report having typed or sent a text message or e-mail while driving.

--1.4 times as likely as all drivers to report having driven 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street and nearly 12 percent reported feeling that it is acceptable to drive 10 mph over the speed limit in a school zone, compared to less than 5 percent of all drivers.


 

February 2017 Articles

U.S. DOT Proposes 4 Opioids for Drug Testing Panel
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by TruckingInfo Staff, January 23, 2017

The Department of Transportation is proposing to amend its drug-testing program regulation to add four opioids (hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone) to its testing panel.

 
 

In addition, it is proposing to add methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) as an initial test analyte and remove methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA) as a confirmatory test analyte.

Published in the Federal Register for Jan. 23, the notice of proposed rulemaking aims to align DOT’s regulated-industry drug testing with the Department of Health and Human Services’ laboratory drug-testing requirements.

DOT said the NPRM also would clarify certain existing drug-testing provisions as well as remove outdated information from the current regulation and remove the requirement for employers and C/TPAs to submit blind specimens.

In addition, DOT said some other elements of the proposal would:

- Remove, modify, and add specific definitions and make certain definitions consistent with those of HHS

- Remove blind specimen testing

- Modify several provisions related to urine specimens

- Add emphasis to an existing Part 40 provision that prohibits DNA testing of urine specimens

- Add clarification to the term "prescription"

- Modify sections related to how MROs verify test results related to semi-synthetic opioids

DOT noted that it is required by the Omnibus Transportation Employees Testing Act to follow the HHS requirements for the testing procedures/protocols and drugs for which it tests.


 

4 Ways to Improve Your Office's Work Environment
Source: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/; by Shannon Gausepohl, Business News Daily Staff Writer, January 12, 2017

The overall vibe of a workplace, from the office layout and break-room setup to co-worker dynamics and company culture, has a huge impact on your team's performance and happiness.

 
 

"Positive workplaces tend to exhibit a common set of traits that foster excellence, productivity and camaraderie," Linnda Durré, wrote for Monster.com.

The reverse is also true: If people are physically, mentally or emotionally uncomfortable in the office, they're unlikely to be successful or satisfied with their jobs. Here are four ways you can improve your work environment and, in turn, employee engagement.

Identify good and bad staff

Smart businesses know that a good work environment starts with hiring the right people.

Make sure you're hiring people who are professional, can work in a team and can contribute to a positive work environment," said Jazmin Truesdale, a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Mino Enterprises. "One bad apple can spoil the bunch."

The same idea translates to those who are already in the office. When employees are working alongside a high density of toxic workers, there is a 47 percent chance that they, too, will become toxic, Dylan Minor, an assistant professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, told Business News Daily in 2015. Minor called the situation "ethical spillover," reinforcing that toxicity is, in fact, contagious.

"It's amazing to watch one bad attitude affect everyone's daily performance," added Claire Marshall Crowell, chief operating officer of A. Marshall Family Foods/Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant. "I can't tell you how many times I have been thanked after letting poisonous employees go. Though it's a hard thing to do, it ultimately impacts the working environment, which can be felt by not only our employees, but also by our [customers]."

Improve communication

Be cognizant of how you're interacting with employees. Team members and upper management should consider the flow of communication and whether it's affecting the office environment.

"Employees are motivated and feel valued when they're given positive reinforcement and shown how their work contributes to the success of the business," said Dominique Jones, chief people officer at Halogen Software.

This means going beyond a 'Hey, good job' and making the time to regularly offer employees specific feedback on how their work is feeding into the broader business objectives, she noted.

Giving feedback makes a difference for employees, especially millennials, according to a survey from ManpowerGroup. Managers should be open to feedback as well, said Samantha Lambert, director of human resources at Blue Fountain Media.

"When you involve your staff in decision making in an effort to create a better work environment, they feel valued," Lambert said. "Don't be afraid to ask employees for their opinion on a new benefit offered or what they think of a new client project."

While you're working on communication, don't forget to show gratitude for hard work. According to David Sturt, executive vice president at the O.C. Tanner Institute, an employee recognition and corporate gifting firm, effective employee recognition can transform and elevate an organization.

"It ignites enthusiasm, increases innovation, builds trust and drives bottom-line results," he said. "Even a simple 'thank you' after an employee goes above and beyond on a project, or puts in a series of late nights, goes a long way."

Make the office comfortable

Beyond cultural changes, there are other, simpler solutions that can improve how the office operates. Working in a clean, attractive office can have tremendous effects on co-worker and manager relationships, said Mike Canarelli, CEO and co-founder of Web Talent Marketing.

"Even if the sun can't shine into your workplace, make an effort to provide a relaxing atmosphere with comfy furniture, working equipment and a few 'extra-mile' amenities," he noted.

For example, give your employees the flexibility to choose to work where they're comfortable, including comfy chairs or a choice of whether to sit or stand at their desks.

"Make it easy for them to purchase things like exercise balls and plants on the company dime," said AJ Shankar, CEO and founder of litigation software company Everlaw. "We also trust our employees to manage their own time. They're free to take breaks to play games or just recharge as necessary."

When they choose a space that makes them comfortable, give them the freedom to customize their area, as everyone works differently, said Josh Turner, CEO of UsersThink, a tool for companies to receive feedback. He suggested getting rid of "the same issued everything" and giving everyone a budget to customize their his or her own setup.

Be flexible

Being an understanding leader can encourage better production and a more positive workplace. Ashley Judge, president of The Funtrepreneur gift-selling sites, encourages employees to schedule their personal lives the way a CEO does.

"Unless it conflicted with a meeting, I wouldn't think twice about scheduling a midday doctor's appointment or more trivial personal appointment, such as a haircut, and I encourage [my team] to do the same," Judge said. "A trusted, hardworking employee should be able to schedule their day like a CEO."


 

Digital disruption, friend or foe (part 1): Self-driving trucks, Uber-for-freight
Source: http://fleetowner.com/; by Kevin Jones, January 30, 2017

Despite questions, autonomous vehicles are rolling sooner than expected

 
 

The potential for autonomous trucks to disrupt freight transportation—or at least the recognition, by carriers and shippers, of that possibility—has surged in the past year, according to an updated survey by Princeton Consultants. But the industry still might not fully appreciate the changes that are coming.

"Our firm believes self-driving trucks are going to get here faster and have more impact than the survey results [showed]," Princeton Consultants CEO Steve Sashihara said, and he cited a load of freight delivered recently by a sensor-driven truck in Colorado. "It’s no longer crazy white cars driving around cities; it’s starting to really happen. … There’s some amazing, smart engineers working on this. On the highways, the technology is already here."

As for adoption by the trucking industry, there’s a “solid” business case based around the salary expense and hours limitations of human truck drivers, he explained, speaking in a Stifel Capital Markets conference call Friday.

Princeton projects implementation of self-driving truck technology in three phases:

1. Truck autopilot, assisting a traditional driver who’s still in the seat—variations of which are currently being tested on U.S. highways;

2. Linehaul driverless, for on-highway freight moves (perhaps in pelotons) and with first/last mile conventional drayage—"think of this as the new intermodal," Sashihara said.

3. Door-to-door driverless, but not before the public believes the technology is safer than human drivers.

And while that full, Level 5 autonomy is still some time in the future, the public is rapidly being won over by the rollout of self-driving passenger vehicles, Sashihara added.

"When most people are trying to imagine this, [full autonomy] is where they’re getting hung up. They’re saying ‘have you ever seen a truck back into a dock, or how many docks there are in a crowded city—can a robot really do that?’" he said. "The nice thing about step 2 is you don’t have to worry about that—it’s the long-haul up and down the highways in pelotons; and the peloton itself may save 15% in fuel."

In last year’s survey, Princeton found that only 28% of respondents believed self-driving trucks would have a moderate or large impact, compared to 40% in the latest survey. The number who said there would be "no real impact" fell from 24% to 19% this year.

As business advisors, Princeton is recommending carrier executives take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to self-driving vehicles and drones, both in terms regulations and the rapidly evolving equipment itself.

But Sashihara also discussed the disruptive potential of "Uber for freight," or "radical disintermediation" of the freight transportation market. With 57% of the survey respondents anticipating a moderate to large impact, the sentiment was basically unchanged from a year ago.

"I don’t think we can sit back and just wait for things to happen, but that doesn’t mean we should create our own Uber-like channels. Whether we are a buyer of freight, a seller, or an intermediary, we have to improve our user friendliness and automation," he said. "It’s undeniable that like Amazon really did to retailing, Uber really disrupted taxis—and that’s not such a big leap from taxi to commercial freight."

The takeaway: Easy access to real-time market data and the ability to quickly tender a load and get a price is the direction freight transportation is heading. Still, cross-country freight moves are a lot more complicated than carrying a passenger across town—and that’s why Sashihara suggests change will more likely come from within the industry than from an outsider.

"There’s a lot moving parts and non-obvious stuff, so it’s hard to think that a couple of people will graduate from Berkeley and disrupt the trucking industry," he said. "There’s a lot of inefficiencies in our marketplace, but I think it will be someone who is more of an insider who will say, ‘how can we think bigger than most and come up with some disruptive ways of really moving the needle?’"


 

Lawsuit seeks $350 million from CRST for 2014 crash that injured CHP trooper
Source: http://www.landlinemag.com/; by Greg Grisolano, January 20, 2017

A lawsuit seeking hundreds of millions in damages against CRST, Inc., its subsidiaries and a former company driver for their role in a July 2014 crash that severely injured a former California Highway Patrol officer and his brother.

 
 

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleges that CRST Inc., CRST Van Expedited, and other companies were negligent in the hiring of driver Hector Contreras, who was behind the wheel of one of the company’s 2014 Freightliner tractors when the rig reportedly crossed the center line and struck a private passenger vehicle carrying California Highway Patrol officer Michael Lennig and his brother Matthew on July 7, 2014. The suit alleges that Contreras was under the influence at the time of the crash.

The suit claims that CRST and its associated companies failed and refused to properly hire, screen, train and/or supervise their employees. The lawsuit seeks punitive damages in excess of $350 million.

According to the complaint, CRST was negligent by failing to perform an adequate background check on Contreras, failing to follow their own policies, and failing to pull Contreras off of the road following four previous accidents before the July collision.

Among the allegations in the lawsuit are that CRST and its affiliated companies failed to conduct an in-depth background check on Contreras, and hired him despite his alleged record of having been convicted of driving under the influence, grand theft auto, and “multiple convictions for the possession of illicit substances and illicit substance use.” The lawsuit also claims that from his hire date of Dec. 5, 2013, and the date of the crash, Contreras caused a total of four preventable collisions, including two that occurred less than two weeks before the crash with the Lennigs.

"CRST driver Hector Contreras has a long list of prior convictions ranging from driving under the influence, possession of drug paraphernalia, and felony grand theft auto," plaintiffs’ attorney Khail Parris said in a press release. "CRST had also been alerted by his co-driver that Hector Contreras posed a danger to the public at large."

CRST Expedited did not respond to a request for comment.

Despite causing four preventable collisions, Contreras was only required to attend one defensive driving course. Two months prior to the collision, the lawsuit states, Contreras’ co-driver notified CRST that the defendant was pulled over by law enforcement for tailgating and speeding in a construction zone.

The suit also alleges that Contreras, who had been hired in December 2013, was driving the truck without a co-driver, in violation of the company’s own policy of having new employee drivers undergo a probationary period with a co-driver.

The crash occurred on State Route 14 in Mojave, in a construction zone on the Red Rock Canyon Bridge. According to a press release issued Thursday by the Parris law firm, Matthew suffered a traumatic brain injury, severe injuries to his arm, and multiple fractures to his ribs. Michael, a California Highway Patrol officer, shattered two vertebrae and sustained a traumatic brain injury.

The lawsuit also seeks damages from several construction companies for failing to erect "K-rails" or any other barriers between northbound and southbound traffic which would have prevented the crash.


 

11 Strategies For Achieving A More Diverse And Productive Work Environment
Source: http://www.forbes.com/; by Theodore Henderson, January 20, 2017

When public companies release information on how their policies keep up with the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, it sets an impressive standard for other businesses to live up to. Citigroup, Coca-Cola, IngramMicro, Oracle and JPMorgan Chase — to name a select few — may have the funds to manage diversity better than most, but managing diversity in the workplace isn't as capital intensive as it seems.

 
 

Workplace diversity is achievable by businesses regardless of nature, size or budget. It can revolutionize the way business is done today the same way it did since the first models were drawn in the '60s. Managing diversity in the workplace, however, shouldn't end with federal laws or with top management of corporations. There should be involvement in every level of leadership in a company.

Since everyone benefits in the triumph of a business, there must be a collective effort when it comes to leading in a diverse workplace. It should be made clear to every employee to take an open attitude to create and promote a diverse environment. This makes it possible to plant the beginnings of a successful business built on creativity and innovation. In my personal experience and study, the best way to achieve a productive and diverse environment is not just leadership by example but with the use of specific strategies:

1. Set small teams that will get new employees actively involved and fully integrated into the company's culture. The introduction to a company's culture may happen naturally, but it's better to intentionally create open communication lines where issues can be addressed. The interactive exercises in my course "Creating Teamwork and Partnerships" drives this point home to the participants through the use of short video reenactments and short scripted role plays to reinforce given situations, such as handling needy colleagues and domineering supervisors.

2. Practice mentorship to encourage retention and focus on long-term career goals. Discuss opportunities for advancement and growth offered by the firm. Remember the initial point for any good mentoring program starts with two important questions: What is the reason you are starting the program? How does success look for the company and the participants?

3. Create learning and development programs that focus on building relationships and skills. Reward employees based on performance. According to the Human Resources Council, "Employee training is the responsibility of the organization. The responsibility of management is to provide the right resources and an environment that supports the growth and development needs of the individual employee."

4. Schedule activities outside of work that encourage communication and fun interactions. Promote healthy relationships and friendships among colleagues through social or community involvements.

5. Get employees' participation in hiring new talents and ask for referrals. Partner with schools to introduce the company's culture, help young people build self-esteem, and educate on the benefits of diversity. Many colleges and even high schools welcome this type interaction with the corporate sector. It shows not only business leadership but social responsibility also.

6. Provide diversity training to make employees more aware of what constitutes a diverse workplace. Demonstrate how each can contribute to help in the company's success. If you are not convinced of training value in this area, consider the following three points as highlighted in a study by NCRVE UC Berkeley.

1. "Managers become more effective because they can provide suitable job assignments and at the same time they can evaluate employees properly.

2. "Second, employees also gain benefits. As their motivation and morale increases, they become more satisfied with their work. They can also have access to better mentoring and coaching. In addition, they are more committed to their professional growth because performance becomes the criterion for success.

3. "Finally, the organization and its environment will improve. The workforce becomes more loyal to the organization because employees develop a sense of ownership."

7. Make communication lines accessible across different generations (traditionalists, baby boomers, generations X, Y and Z) within a workplace. Use current technology to encourage participation and informality. An article from Harvard Business Review called "Managing People from 5 Generations" notes: "For the first time in history, five generations will soon be working side by side. But whether this multi-generational workplace feels satisfied and productive is, in large part, up to you: the leader."

8. Develop company policies aligned with government laws on equal employment opportunity. Set a team that will focus on diversity policy implementation to ratify across-the-board changes. There are convenient online resources to familiarize you and your team on this topic. For example, one such source is "Laws Enforced by EEOC."

9. Celebrate important events such as International Day to End Racism, Gay Pride celebrations in June, International Day of Person with Disabilities, and International Women's Day every March. My recommendation is that you establish a calendar to follow for the relevant groups in your company. Doing this shows leadership and commitment that you value and recognize diversity.

10. Establish proper decorum on how to address transgendered or disabled employees. For clarification, the term "transgender" is commonly used to refer to people who do not identify with their birth sex or with society's view of male and female gender roles. According to Society for Resource Management,"Transgender persons include people who are transsexual, cross-dressing, androgynous and gender-nonconforming, among others."

11. Create an environment that is disability inclusive. The key ingredients to this are leadership and communication. Leadership must ensure company commitment to disability inclusion at all levels of your organization — including the C-suite. Communication must be unequivocal and demonstrated by expressing commitment to disability inclusion, both internally and externally, and providing training on workplace issues related to disability.

Workplace diversity is unavoidable. In spite of the challenges it may impose, managing diversity in the workplace should be everyone's business. When working properly, diversity will provide improvements to the bottom line if supported by executive leadership and management.

Diversity can also contribute to the company's development by allowing this collective knowledge or fresh perspectives to drive innovations of products, methods, and systems. Begin with making small attempts because no matter how minor; the impact will prove to be profound in the long run.


 

January 2017 Articles

Med examiner who cleared thousands of truckers charged with issuing fake certifications
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by James Jaillet, December 16, 2016

Update, 12/20:The DOT says truckers affected by the Lefteris’ arrest will be notified via mail that they need to be re-certified within 30 days. See further CCJ coverage at this link.

 
 

An Atlanta, Georgia-based medical examiner has been arrested and charged by federal investigators for allegedly issuing medical certifications to truck drivers without performing full medical exams, according to court records. Dr. Anthony Lefteris, who operated out of an Atlanta-area Petro truck stop, could have issued certifications to thousands of truck drivers.

The DOT has not said whether truckers who received medical certification from Lefteris will need to be recertified and, if so, the deadline for doing so. CCJ will publish that information when it becomes available. The DOT has added a note to Lefteris’ listing in the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners telling drivers not to schedule appointments with him. The note says Lefteris is no longer certified to perform the exams.

Lefteris could have issued certifications to more than 8,000 truckers since the FMCSA’s medical examiner registry rule took effect in 2014, based on the average number of certifications prosecutors allege Lefteris issued per month.

Lefteris issued about 360 truck operators a month, DOT investigators allege in an affidavit filed to a U.S. District Court in north Georgia. Most examiners only perform 13 to 14 a month, prosecutors say in the affidavit.

He was arrested Dec. 1 and has been granted a public defender, court documents reveal. Lefteris has not yet made a plea in the case, but he is due back in court Dec. 20. Charges against him include eight counts of false writing/documentation of the DOT’s exam forms and false entry into DOT records with the intend to impede and influence.

Officers from the U.S. DOT and the U.S. Department of Justice began investigating Lefteris in September, according to court documents, following a written statement from a driver who said Lefteris gave him a medical certification but didn’t perform any tests or examination procedures, even after the driver told him he had previously been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Three undercover officers, all of whom hold a Georgia-issued CDL, later visited Lefteris’ office at different times, according to court records. In all three instances, Lefteris granted the officers medical certification without performing all tests required, according to a sworn affidavit submitted by the officers. Lefteris failed to perform vision and hearing tests, urinalysis, blood pressure check or heart rate test, officers allege.

Prosecutors say Lefteris uploaded MCSA-5875 (the forms used by medical examiners) to the DOT for all three officers with fake numbers recorded in fields meant for the urinalysis, the vision and hearing exams, pulse and others.

Officers also performed surveillance outside Lefteris’ office during the investigation, court documents reveal. An affidavit submitted to the court alleges that on Nov. 9, 2016, officers saw 12 people enter Lefteris’ office and about eight leave. When agents went inside to ask Lefteris’ questions regarding the morning’s visitors, they discovered he’d failed to perform urinalysis on those patients, too, officers claim.

Federal law requires examiners to perform all of the tests Lefteris allegedly skipped when examining the undercover officers. The urinalysis is not for drug testing but to test protein, blood and sugar in urine, “which may be an indication that further testing is needed to rule out any underlying medical problems that impact a driver’s ability to drive safety,” prosecutors said in the complaint against Lefteris.


 

DOT Proposes V2V Rule for Cars; Could One for Trucks Be Far Behind?
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by David Cullen, December 13, 2016

While the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission issued a proposed rule on Dec. 13 aimed at getting vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology on all new light-duty vehicles, NHTSA Communications Director Bryan Thomas confirmed for HDT that there is "no [similar] rulemaking as of yet" in the works for commercial vehicles.

 
 

Thomas noted that "research is ongoing and we see great potential" in V2V technology for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses as well. Per a NHTSA fact sheet on the light-duty proposal, the agency is "working with industry" on continuing research "to adapt the technology for these vehicles."

V2V is a companion technology for autonomously driven vehicles, including platooned trucks that are electronically linked while operating on the road.

At an October news briefing, Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, said that the lobby was determined to make sure trucking has "a seat at the table" along with the automotive industry when policies are developed to allow and further vehicle automation.

"The technology is here and will grow rapidly," Spear said on the show floor of ATA’s Management Conference & Exposition. "Suppliers are already creating connected and automated technology." But he added that trucking is "a different animal than the car side," so ATA is aiming to ensure the industry’s voice is heard as federal policymaking develops.

Spear then pointed out that the first federal guidelines for the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles, released by the Department of Transportation in September, were developed with almost no input from the trucking industry.

Asked on Dec. 13 to review the current landscape for a V2V commercial-vehicle rulemaking, ATA Executive Vice President of Advocacy Bill Sullivan told HDT that a lot has changed since Spear spoke out less than three months ago on trucking being consulted by DOT regarding such activity.

"Chris [Spear] was right in speaking out and, since then, we do have a seat at the table [with DOT]," said Sullivan. "This V2V rulemaking is for light-duty vehicles and it points in the right direction. It sets the bar high in respect to preserving a data spectrum for safety communications. We are hopeful this approach will continue under the Trump administration."

According to DOT, the proposed rule would enable V2V communication technology on all new light-duty vehicles, "enabling a multitude of new crash-avoidance applications that, once fully deployed, could prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes every year by helping vehicles ‘talk’ to each other."

The rule would require V2V devices to operate through standardized messaging that DOT said would be developed with industry. More specifically, NHTSA said that V2V devices would use dedicated short range communications (DSRC) to transmit data, such as location, direction and speed, to nearby vehicles.

That data would be updated and broadcast up to 10 times per second to nearby vehicles. Using that information, V2V-equipped vehicles could identify safety risks and provide warnings to drivers to avoid imminent crashes.

NHTSA pointed out that vehicles equipped with automated driving functions— such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control— could also benefit from the use of V2V data to better avoid or reduce the consequences of crashes.

DOT also announced that, separately, the Federal Highway Administration plans to soon issue guidance for Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications, “which will help transportation planners integrate the technologies to allow vehicles to ‘talk’ to roadway infrastructure such as traffic lights, stop signs and work zones to improve mobility, reduce congestion, and improve safety.


 

FMCSA Again Delays Rollout of Online DOT Registration System
Source: http://capitolweekly.net; by John Howard, December 23, 2015

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has again delayed implementation of the final stage of its Unified Registration System for new motor carriers.

 
 

Completion of the URS rollout had last been scheduled for January 14, 2017, a date announced back in July. Prior to that, the implementation date had been set for Sept. 30, 2016.

Now, the agency has instead announced it will publish a notice in the Federal Register early next month that will state the newly revised URS compliance date.

By way of explanation, FMCSA said it recently completed a "complex migration" of its IT systems to a cloud environment. "This mitigation effort was a necessary step in order to provide a foundation to successfully implement URS."

However, the agency said the new implementation delay is necessary "because additional time is needed to securely migrate data from multiple legacy platforms into a new central database" and to conduct further compatibility testing with its state-agency partners.

"By moving the implementation date, FMCSA is providing its State partners more time to develop, update, and verify data connectivity and system reliability," the agency said. "The additional time will also enable the Agency to conduct more thorough training and to implement broader outreach and education activities that will provide for a seamless transition."

URS is a simplified online registration process. It combines multiple legacy reporting forms into a single, online "smart form" that is designed to streamline the registration and renewal process. When fully implemented, URS will allow FMCSA to identify unfit carriers and detect unsafe truck and bus companies that are trying to evade enforcement actions. Offending companies often attempt to regain U.S. DOT registration by registering as a different or unrelated business entity.

Since the December 2015 launch of the initial phase of URS, FMCSA estimates that the industry has saved more than $3 million in registration expenses. What's more, the agency said that using URS, it has so far issued over 100,000 new USDOT numbers; removed more than 360,000 dormant USDOT numbers from its databases; and achieved “a 100 percent screening of operating authority applications for disqualified carriers attempting to fraudulently ‘reincarnate’ as new operators."


 

FMCSA Keeps Controlled Substance Random Testing Rate
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, December 13, 2016

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that the controlled substances random testing rate for regulated motor carriers will remain at 25% for 2017.

 
 

In 2016, FMCSA lowered the minimum annual drug testing rate from 50% to 25% following three straight years (2011, 2012, 2013) of drug testing data that indicated that the positive rate for controlled substances was less than 1%. Federal regulations allow the agency to lower testing rates when positive rates are under 1% for two consecutive years.

"We will continue to monitor the data closely, and should the positive rate for drug use rise above the 1% threshold in the upcoming 2015 survey, the national random testing rate requirement will be immediately increased to 50%," said Scott Darling, FMCSA administrator.

FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey measures the percentage of CDL drivers who test positive for drugs and/or alcohol as a result of random and non-random testing. In 2014, FCMSA required carriers to randomly test 50% of their CDL drivers for drugs and 10% for alcohol.

According to the survey, for random drug and alcohol testing conducted in 2014 (the most recent data available):

• The estimated positive usage rate for drugs in 2014 was 0.9%. For 2012 and 2013, the estimated positive usage rate for drugs was estimated to be 0.6% and 0.7%, respectively.

• The estimated violation rate for alcohol usage (the percentage of drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04 or higher) in 2014 was 0.08%. For 2012 and 2013, the alcohol usage violation rates were 0.03% and 0.09%, respectively.

"For the safety of everyone traveling on our highways and roads, no driver should ever get behind the wheel under the influence of drugs or alcohol," said Darling. "Commercial motor vehicle companies must comply with the crucial safety responsibility of conducting rigorous drug and alcohol testing programs for all of their CDL drivers."


 

December 2017 Articles

FMCSA to Study 'Excessive Commuting' by Truck Drivers
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by David Cullen, November 27, 2017

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking comment on a proposed survey of "excessive commuting" by truck drivers. The agency is defining as excessive any commuting to work that exceeds 150 minutes.

 
 

The survey would focus on the prevalence of such commuting in a commercial motor vehicle; the number and percentage of CMV drivers who commute; the distances they travel and the time zones they cross; the impact of such commuting on safety and fatigue; and existing commuting policies of motor carriers.

In its notice on the survey, published in the Federal Register for Nov. 27, the agency said it is inquiring about trucker commuting practices to fulfill Section 5515 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. That section of the 2015 highway bill requires FMCSA to conduct a study on the safety effects of commutes by motor carrier operators that exceed 150 minutes. The FMCSA administrator is then required to submit a report to Congress on the findings of the study.

Providing some background context, FMCSA also stated that "in the past two decades, as the number of workers has increased and the distance to affordable housing has also increased in most metropolitan areas, commuting times have increased in the United States."

The agency went on to say that long commuting times can adversely affect CMV drivers "in multiple ways," including:

- Compromising off-duty time. "Long commuting times can reduce a driver’s available off-duty time for sleep and personal activities. This can lead to excessive fatigue while on duty, creating safety concerns for both the CMV driver and other drivers on the roads."

- Impacting driver health. "A recent study was conducted that monitored 4,297 adults from 12 metropolitan Texas counties. In this region, 90% of people commute to work. The study found that the drivers who have long commuting times were more likely to have poor cardiovascular health and be less physically fit. This study showed that people who commute long distances to work weigh more, are less physically active, and have higher blood pressure."

Although it is not mentioned in the FMCSA notice on the survey, it is generally understood that the FAST Act provision calling for the survey was written in response to circumstances related to the June 2014 crash of a Walmart truck into a limo van that killed comedian James McNair and seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan.

A subsequent investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the truck driver’s fatigue played a role in the accident. Walmart driver Kevin Roper was on hour 13 of a 14-hour shift, but he had driven for 12 hours from his home in Georgia to Delaware to start his route. Roper was indicted for charges of manslaughter, vehicular homicide and aggravated assault.


 

DOT adds four prevalent opioids to driver drug screening panel
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Matt Cole, November 13, 2017

The U.S. Department of Transportation is amending its drug testing panel to add four commonly abused opioids to meet new Health and Human Services drug testing guidelines.

 
 

A Final Rule was published in the Federal Register Monday, Nov. 13, and the new testing standards will go into effect on Jan. 1.

New drugs that drivers will be tested for include hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone. The drugs are usually taken as pills. According to the CDC, opioid abuse has seen a dramatic increase in recent years.

Additionally, the DOT will remove methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA) from the existing drug testing panel and add methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA).

The rulemaking also clarifies that only urine testing is allowed for DOT drug tests. Point-of-collection urine testing or instant tests are not allowed, as the tests have to be screened and confirmed at HHS labs.

The DOT states in the rulemaking it is aware that the HHS is looking into allowing oral fluid testing and hair testing under its guidelines, but until those methods of testing are added, DOT cannot recognize them. The agency adds that if HHS does add other testing methods to its guidelines, it will follow with its own rulemaking to conform.


 

Crime report: CDL drug testing schemes, CDL fraud, more
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, November 15, 2017

Action in six trucking-related crimes has recently been reported by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General and the Texas Comptroller:

 
 

Two California DMV employees plead guilty in CDL fraud

Lisa Terraciano and Kari Scattaglia, employees of the California DMV, pleaded guilty Nov. 3 for their roles in a conspiracy to sell Class A CDLs without the buyer having to take or pass the required tests.

OIG’s investigation revealed the pair accessed the DMV’s database and altered the records of applicants to fraudulently show they had passed the required written tests, when the applicants had not passed, and in some cases not taken, the tests. Scattaglia was also found to have altered records to show applicants had also passed the driving tests.

The investigation determined that Terraciano caused at least 148 fraudulent CDLs, including permits, to be issued, and Scattaglia caused at least 68 fraudulent CDLs, including permits, to be issued.

California woman pleads guilty in CDL drug testing scheme

The former owner and operator of Advanced Substance Abuse Programs in Redding, Calif., pleaded guilty Oct. 20 to mail fraud and false statements to a government agency for failing to follow the law with random and pre-employment drug testing services to motor carrier drivers.

OIG reports Demetri Dearth collected urine specimens from commercial drivers between March 2009 and February 2010, but did not forward the specimens to certified labs as the law required. Instead, she created false Custody and Control Forms, stating the specimens had been released to FedEx to be sent to a lab. The urine samples never left Dearth’s lab, according to OIG.

She also reportedly falsified reports indicating a medical review officer (MRO) had reviewed the results of urine tests when the tests had never occurred. The false reports named legitimate MROs, provided their addresses and presented forged signatures.

Suspended PA chiropractor pleads guilty to medical exam fraud

Joann Wingate, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., pleaded guilty Nov. 7 to wire fraud and false statements for violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration medical exam and drug and alcohol testing programs.

OIG’s investigation found that Wingate falsified FMCSA-regulated medical examiner’s certificates and drug-testing chain of custody forms, forged documents by using the identity of an unsuspecting licensed physician and falsified other documents by claiming to be a medical review officer. She also allegedly continued to perform FMCSA-regulated medical exams for CDL holders, for payment, after her chiropractic license was suspended in 2013.

Wingate allegedly admitted to unlawfully performing DOT medical exams and submitting false medical examiner’s certificates to state DOTs. She also admitted to contracting with a trucking company to handle its DOT drug and alcohol program requirements in exchange for payment, even though she wasn’t qualified as an MRO.

FMCSA suspends Missouri medical clinic, owner and chiropractor

On Nov. 1, FMCSA suspended David L. Biersmith and his business, Industrial Medical Center (IMC) in Independence, Mo., and chiropractor James Lindsey from doing business with the federal government. The agency is also proposing to debar Biersmith, IMC and Lindsey from doing business with the government for five years.

On April 20, Biersmith pleaded guilty to making false statements and to healthcare fraud related to fraudulent medical exams of commercial truck drivers and veterans. OIG states he did not have a medical license or other medical credentials, but he signed the name of a legitimate chiropractor, without permission, on medical reports for at least 65 truckers.

Florida man convicted of fuel tax fraud, credit card abuse in Texas

Daniel Danger, 51, was sentenced Oct. 11 to 10 years in prison for transporting motor fuel without shipping documents, evading motor fuel tax and tampering with physical evidence, and two years in prison for credit card abuse, following an investigation by the Texas Comptroller’s Criminal Investigation Division. Danger was also fined $10,000.

California man pleads guilty to illegal transportation of fireworks

Ernesto Alvarez Jr., of Long Beach, Calif., pleaded guilty Nov. 2 to illegally transporting hazardous materials. OIG says he transported more than 8,000 pounds of illegal fireworks in a rental truck without hazmat placards.

The case began in June 2016 when federal and local law enforcement conducted a warranted search of a warehouse in which they found large quantities of illegal fireworks in the warehouse and in a rental truck outside. Alvarez reportedly admitted the fireworks were his, and that he was responsible for transporting them into California from Nevada.


 

Highway Deaths Responsible for Rise in Transportation Fatalities
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Truckinginfo Staff, November 22, 2017

The National Transportation Safety Board has released data showing that 2,030 more people died in transportation accidents in 2016 than in 2015, with highway deaths accounting for 95% of all transportation fatalities.

 
 

The data indicate 39,339 people lost their lives in transportation accidents in 2016, compared to the 37,309 who died in 2015. In addition to the increase in highway fatalities, rises were also seen in the marine and railroad sectors, with a slight decrease in aviation fatalities.

U.S. roadway deaths increased from 35,485 in 2015 to 37,461 in 2016. Of that number, fatalities in passenger vehicles increased from 12,761 in 2015 to 13,412 in 2016.

"Unfortunately, we continue to see increases in transportation fatalities," said Robert Sumwalt, NTSB chairman. "We can do more, we must do more, to eliminate the completely preventable accidents that claim so many lives each year. Implementation of the 315 open safety recommendations associated with the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements has the greatest potential to reverse this alarming trend."

Because of the increase in travel around holidays like Thanksgiving, NTSB is reminding drivers to watch out for distracted, drunk, and drowsy drivers, who are often key factors in highway deaths.

There was an increase in deaths from railroad and marine deaths for the year as well, but aviation deaths were down very slightly from 416 in 2015 to 412 in 2016. Most aviation deaths occur in civil aviation accidents. The number of fatal general aviation accidents decreased to 213 in 2016 resulting in the fatal accident rate dropping below 1 fatal accident per 100,000 flight hours for the first time in 50 years. Aviation statistics are tracked and compiled by the NTSB. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides marine statistics, and the U.S. Department of Transportation provides statistics for all other modes.


 

10 Simple Ways to Be Fully Present in Your Life
Source: https://www.livestrong.com/; by Natasha Burton, November 2, 2017

You’ve heard the advice time and time again: Staying present in each moment of your life allows you to cherish your existence more fully. But often, being in the “now” is much easier said than done. Everyone has obligations, to-do lists, worries and annoyances that transport them from the world around them and into the labyrinths of their minds. However, by learning a few simple techniques, you can shake yourself out of your head and back into your life. Here, experts share easy changes you can make today to fully live in the present.

 
 

1. START NOTICING YOUR BREATH.

Structured breathing is a great way to guide yourself back into the current moment, says licensed professional counselor Julianne Schroeder. She suggests adopting what’s called 4 x 4 breathing — a technique used by Navy SEALS — anytime you notice that you're lost in thought, anxious or just feeling emotionally out of sorts.

"Take a deep inhale — as if you were going to blow a balloon — for four seconds followed by a deep exhale through your nose or mouth for four seconds," she says. "Continue this cycle for one minute." Afterward, you should feel a sense of calm, looser muscles and decreased heart rate. With a clearer head, you can more easily focus on what’s right in front of you.

2. INCORPORATE MINI MEDITATIONS INTO YOUR DAY.

While we often associate meditation with quiet rooms, being alone and maybe some chanting, you can actually meditate anywhere and at anytime as a way to feel present. "My favorite presence exercise is simply concentrating on your breath and the rise and fall of your chest," says stress expert Kathy Gruver, author of "Conquer Your Stress."

"On the inhale you think, ‘I am.’ On the exhale you think, ‘at peace.’ If other thoughts intrude, which they often do at first, just dismiss them and return to the mantra." You can use this technique at work, at home, on your commute — anytime you feel yourself floating away from right now.

3. STASH YOUR TECHNOLOGY.

One of the benefits of being present lies in how you can deepen your connections with the people around you. But most of us aren't very good at splitting our attention between people and devices. In fact, we're not actually able to multitask effectively and can only switch our attention from one task to another, says marriage and family therapist Shadeen Francis.

"Every time you check your phone, you are missing moments of connection to those around you," Francis says. "Make a rule for no phones at dinner, or turn off your ringer as you enter a party." The virtual world can wait. Being present requires your full attention.

4. DIFFUSE YOUR THOUGHTS.

The anxiety and stress of what might happen in the future can overcome the present moment, which really gets you trapped in your head. To combat this, Julianne Schroeder, a licensed counselor, suggests trying a technique she calls "thought diffusion," in which you train your mind to stop judging negative thoughts.

"For example, as you are preparing to give an important presentation and find yourself nearly in panic mode, you might say to yourself, ‘Thank you, Anxious Mind. I appreciate you caring about how well I do, but freaking out just isn’t helpful,’" she says. "As you turn your focus back to the present, you may have to repeat this sentiment until your attention is rooted in the now."

5. STRIKE A YOGA POSE.

Yoga is an incredibly mindful practice that helps you get out of your head and into your body. "In addition to cultivating present-moment awareness, continued practice helps to reprogram your body and brain’s physical and emotional response to stress," counselor Julianne Schroeder says.

But you don’t need to commit to an hour-long class to reap the benefits of yoga. Schroeder suggests trying two key grounding poses when you feel the present slipping away: Lie down with your legs positioned up a wall or do a basic sun salutation sequence to instantly change your focus.

6. CALL A SHORT TIME-OUT.

Taking solo time to recharge your batteries is a great way to ground yourself. But not everyone has enough hours in the week to make this happen. However, you can still find peace in the present by pausing before beginning any new task or part of your day, suggests wellness chiropractor Michelle Robin, D.C.

"If you’re rushing to a meeting, pause outside the door and take a breath or two before going in," she says. "Before you start hustling to get dinner on the table after a long day, pause to take a breath and let go of the time before now and be present while you lovingly prepare food for your family." This will bring you back to the present so you can give that activity or person your full attention.

7. SET REMINDERS.

It’s easy to forget to stay present, despite our best efforts. So instead of trying to outsmart your wandering mind, find a way to remind yourself, suggests certified yoga instructor and integrated life coach Madeleine Culbertson.

"Set reminders on your phone. Every hour or so, have a soft chime go off with a personalized reminder to bring you back to the moment," she says. Some questions she uses are: "What is the quality of your breath?" "What makes you smile right now?" "What do you appreciate right now?" Use these or create your own to keep on the path toward living more in the moment.

8. BEGIN TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE.

Setting aside time to give thanks each day helps you remember what’s meaningful and important to you. "Find three things every day that you can be grateful for," says licensed counselor Julianne Schroeder.

"It can be as simple as having a good cup of coffee or having noticed less traffic on the way to work. The act of being grateful not only can shift your awareness to the present, with continued commitment to practicing gratitude it could contribute to improved mental health over time." Soon enough, you’ll be seeking out moments, people and things to be thankful for, encouraging you to soak up every experience.

9. GROUND YOURSELF OUTSIDE.

Being in nature can both invigorate you and make you feel more focused, licensed counselor Julianne Schroeder says. If you don’t already make time to get outside, start incorporating short walking meditations into your day. "Stand solidly on the ground and spend several moments noticing how your body feels. Start with the soles of the feet and work upward, relaxing each body part as you become aware of it," she says.

"Begin to walk slowly, focusing on your surroundings and what you see, hear, smell and feel." As thoughts come up, acknowledge them and then get right back into the present moment. End your walks by sitting on a patch of grass to further ground yourself, Schroeder says. Pay close attention to the sensations of the sun, wind and grass on your feet and skin.

10. WRITE IT DOWN.

The act of writing out your thoughts helps empty your mind, steering you closer toward being in the present. "You can find journals with prompts or free write," licensed counselor Julianne Schroeder says. "Allowing yourself to identify thoughts and feelings as they are in the present can help you clearly see if there are action-based steps you can take to help yourself."

Even if you’re not a writer, giving yourself the freedom to put pen to paper, without judgment, can be a helpful emotional release as well, freeing up your mind to focus on what’s happening in the current moment.


 

Zonar Lists Top 10 Most Dangerous Roads for Truckers
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, November 14, 2017

Fleet management technology provider Zonar has created a graphic of the top 10 most dangerous roads in the U.S. for truck drivers, based on information from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

 
 

Zonar created the graphic ahead of the holiday season when, on average, there are approximately 36% more vehicles on the road. Higher traffic combined with bad weather conditions and shorter daylight, puts truck drivers at a higher risk of an accident during the holiday season, according to Zonar. The company analyzes data from commercial vehicles to provide drivers and managers with information and analysis to better navigate and safely manage cargo and passengers.

"With more people behind the wheel during the holidays, we want to make sure everyone knows which routes require a bit more caution driving through," says Gary Schmidt, vice president, business solutions at Zonar. "Our top priority when designing any product is to ensure that everyone on the road stays safe – whether you’re a truck driver headed cross country or a family on a road trip to Thanksgiving dinner."

According to the Department of Transportation, the top 10 most dangerous roads for truck drivers based on total accident volume between 2013 -2016 are:

Road Contact
I-10 Alabama
I-95 Florida
HWY-75 Idaho
I-40 Arkansas
US-1 Florida
M-20 Michigan
I-80 Border of Nebraska and Colorado
HWY-5 Colorado
I-70 Maryland
SC-35 South Carolina


 

The Scary Way Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Brain
Source: https://www.livestrong.com/; by Shannan Rouss, November 8, 2017

If you’re struggling to stay alert after a sleepless night, blame your brain cells. According to a new study published in the journal Nature Medicine, missing out on sleep doesn’t just leave you sluggish, it can actually slow down the neurons in your brain, making everyday tasks — from commuting to work to responding to email — more challenging.

 
 

"We were fascinated to observe how sleep deprivation dampened brain cell activity," said lead study author Yuval Nir, Ph.D., of Tel Aviv University, in a press release. "Unlike the usual rapid reaction, the neurons responded slowly and fired more weakly, and their transmissions dragged on longer than usual."

But perhaps the greatest risk of sleep deprivation had to do with your brain’s ability to process and respond to visual information. Think of the pedestrian who steps in front of your car while you’re driving. "The very act of seeing the pedestrian slows down in the driver’s overtired brain," said senior study author Itzhak Fried, M.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles. "It takes longer for his brain to register what he’s perceiving."

The study included 12 patients preparing for an epilepsy-related surgery at UCLA. Prior to surgery, the individuals had electrodes implanted in their brains to pinpoint the location of their seizures. (Sleep-deprivation can trigger seizures, so patients were kept awake in the hopes of reducing the amount of time they would need to be in the hospital.) The electrodes recorded the firing of brain cells as patients attempted to complete various cognitive tasks.

In addition to neurons firing more slowly, the researchers also observed slower, "dream-like" brain waves interrupting normal, waking brain processes in the sleep-deprived. "This phenomenon suggests that select regions of the patients’ brains were dozing, causing mental lapses, while the rest of the brain was awake and running as usual," said Fried.

In the end, the researchers say the results have serious implications for how we think about a lack of sleep.

"Severe fatigue exerts a similar influence on the brain to drinking too much," Fried said. "Yet no legal or medical standards exist for identifying overtired drivers on the road the same way we target drunk drivers."


 

November 2017 Articles

Driver Shortage Could Hit All Time High This Year
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Deborah Lockridge, October 22, 2017

ORLANDO – The trucking industry could be short 50,000 drivers by the end of 2017, warned American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello Sunday at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition.

 
 

The driver shortage was a key part of a wide-ranging presentation called "How Do Your Numbers Stack up?"

According to the report, ATA’s first in-depth examination of the driver shortage since 2015, the driver shortage eased in 2016 to roughly 36,500 – down from 2015’s shortfall of 45,000.

"We experienced a 'freight recession,' last year, which eased the pressure on the driver market," Costello said. "Now that freight volumes accelerating again, we should expect to see a significant tightening of the driver market."

In the report, ATA projects the shortage to reach 50,000 by the end of 2017 and if current trends hold the shortage could grow to more than 174,000 by 2026.

Driver turnover at large truckload fleets, which hit an all time high of 130% in 2005, averaged 81% last year with the freight slowdown. But by the second half of this year, it was back up to 90%, Costello noted.

While 50,000 is an all time high for the industry, he said, it feels even worse. "There’s quality vs. quantity. This is where the shortage feels much worse."

Derek Leathers, president and CEO of Werner Enterprises, explained, "The real issue I think we’re all faced with is the quality driver shortage. The ability to find drivers who meet the quality expectations we all have. This summer we crested 100,000 applications for the year. The problem was the hire rate in terms of meeting quality criteria was 2.7%."

Costello detailed the causes of the shortage in the report, including the demographics of the aging driver population, lifestyle issues, regulatory challenges and others; as well as possible solutions.

Over the next 10 years, he said, we need to attract almost 900,000 new people to the industry.

Demographics is a big part of the problem. ATA’s research arm, the American Transportation Research Institute, recently updated its demographic data on drivers and found some 57% of drivers are 45 or older. Only 4.4% are 20-24 years old, noted Rebecca Brewster, president and COO of ATRI.

"These demographics are daunting," Leathers said. "I’m happy to report ours have moved about 10 years to the left, thanks to the focus we’ve put on bringing more young people in."

"While the shortage is a persistent issue in our industry, motor carriers are constantly working to address it," Costello said. "We already see fleets raising pay and offering other incentives to attract drivers. Fleets are also doing more to improve the lifestyle and image of the truck driver, but there are also policy changes like reducing the driver age as part of a graduated licensing system, or easing the transition for returning veterans, that can make getting into this industry easier and therefore help with the shortage."

This led to a discussion of ATRI’s efforts to develop a younger driver assessment tool. The idea is to look at the characteristics of some of the industry’s best drivers and look at things such as personality traits, health, risk tolerance, age, attitudes regarding safety, and cognitive ability, and try to find younger candidates with similar traits.

"As we thread this needle as an industry," Leathers said, "we’re going to have to bend over backwards to address every safety concern and some we probably haven’t thought of."

Brewster noted that a new data point added to ATRI’s industry metrics this year was more granular data on incentives and bonuses. The average bonus safety bonus per driver was $1,499, the average on-time delivery bonus was $1.946, with an average $949 starting bonus and $1,143 retention bonus."

Leathers mused, "Do these reflect what we stand for? In my mind what we ought to be doing is paying the folks in the truck in our fleet today and taking care of them every way we can. Put the money with the person who’s already proven they can do it," rather than large sign on bonuses. "It's nice to see more emphasis on safety, on-time and retention bonuses."


 

California Wildfires: Can Burning Marijuana Fields Get You High?
Source: https://www.livescience.com; by Elizabeth Palermo, August 19, 2015

Recent wildfires in Northern California have consumed tens of thousands of acres in the past several weeks. In a paradoxical twist, some of the farms set ablaze in the recent conflagrations were marijuana farms, which produce plants that are meant to be burned (though not quite like this).

 
 

News reports about the burning pot plants have focused on the effects the ignited plants might have on the state's medical marijuana industry. But what about other side effects caused by the burning plants? Namely, are the burning pot farms going to get anybody high?

"Unfortunately, no. Or fortunately, no, depending on your perspective," said Ryan Vandrey, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. It's very unlikely that nonsmoking Californians will suddenly get the munchies or experience any of the other reported effects of the intoxicating plant, Vandrey told Live Science. [11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

It's not that marijuana smoke can't get you high. It can, according to a study that Vandrey and his colleagues published in May in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The study found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from secondhand pot smoke can build up in a nonsmoker's body, enough so to make him or her feel intoxicated, and in some cases, enough so that he or she would even fail a drug test. (THC is one of the chemicals in marijuana that bonds with cannabinoid receptors in parts of the brain associated with things like pleasure, coordination, memory and time perception. Scientists think THC is likely the chemical behind the "high" people feel when they smoke weed.)

But in order for the THC in secondhand pot smoke to get you high, you'd need to breathe in an awful lot of it, said Vandrey, who noted that this kind of hand-me-down high only occurs when non-pot smokers are stuck in a "hot box" situation (i.e., a room with no windows or any other source of ventilation).

"We evaluated the conditions under which you'd need to be to get intoxicated from secondhand smoke exposure, and it needs to be very extreme," Vandrey told Live Science. In the study, the researchers put 12 participants in a small, Plexiglas chamber and gave half of them joints (marijuana cigarettes) to smoke. Even when a regular air conditioner was set up in the enclosure, enough smoke from the room filtered out so that the nonsmokers stuck in the "hot box" didn't experience a buzz, Vandrey said.

Outside, where there is a constant circulation of air, it's hard to imagine that a person could breathe in enough marijuana smoke to feel the effects of the drug, said Vandrey, who added that a person would have to stand at the edge of a burning field of marijuana and gulp in the smoke for it to have any effect.

And guess what? Standing at the edge of a burning marijuana field, gulping up smoke, is a very, very bad idea, according to Vandrey, as well as the American Lung Association, which recommends that people exposed to wildfire smoke, even from afar, should filter the smoke with a mask and, if possible, stay indoors, away from potentially harmful clouds of soot and ash.


 

5 Tricks to Be Happier and More Productive
Source: http://www.livestrong.com/; by Sarah Stevenson, October 23, 2017

You know it when you’re in it.

 
 

It’s when you’re writing in your journal without writer’s block, getting lost in a stimulating conversation or surfing a wave with no fear. Some refer to it as being "in the zone" or even "disappearing".

There are many ways to define "flow," a term used to describe random indescribable bursts of energy, bouts of euphoria or just being completely engaged in an activity with pointed focus and enjoyment.

We spoke with Dr. Sven Hansen, founder of The Resilience Institute, whose company provides training for executives and professionals to ensure they're performing at their best. According to Hansen, flow can increase productivity up to five times and leaves employees feeling deeply satisfied.

"Flow is a state of excellence where we perform at our best. Our talents and skills meet meaningful challenge," says Hansen. "Forty years of research demonstrates that each one of us can learn how to find flow in our lives."

It may be nearly impossible to live in a constant state of flow, but you can certainly increase the amount of time you spend in a flow state of mind — heightening your overall success. Here are five ways to introduce and increase flow in your everyday life.

1. Focus Your Attention

Emails, texts, the internet, television and friends begging for your attention can knock you right off task. Suddenly, that project that was supposed to take you 20 minutes to complete has taken two hours. One great way to make sure you stay focused and create effortless flow is to shut off all the possible distracters.

According to Dr. Sven, "When you do something, do it with 100-percent focus." When you really want to accomplish something, give yourself a break from the world. Turn off your phone, shut down the computer, walk away from the TV and let people know that you’re busy and you’ll get back to them later: You’ve got a masterpiece to create!

When you create this space for activities, you can achieve that feeling of timelessness, get delightfully lost in the activity and present much more progress than you dreamed possible.

2. Set Clear and Tangible Goals

Part of creating flow in your everyday life requires discipline. Create boundaries around what it is you want to accomplish.

Getting lost in several activities at once can turn into a waste of time and hurt the rest of your day’s to-do list. It would be a shame to eliminate the euphoric gift that flow has to offer just because you failed to set goals you can actually achieve. So if you would like to lose yourself in your work and make a living doing so, set clear and tangible goals.

For example: "I want to educate the world about the value of maintaining a healthy diet." That means that you need a clear agenda on where to focus your attention, giving you the needed structure to stay within the boundaries of your duties. Then you can set aside a specific amount of time to complete each task.

Remember to keep checking in to see that your actions are matching up with your goals. This will keep the work in flow mode.

3. Check in With Yourself

Do you hate your job? With flow you can train your brain to fall in love with it or to push you in a different direction. All you need to do is simply check yourself.

"One sure sign that you are in flow is how you feel," says Hansen. "Flow is the difference between a job you hate and a job you love." Many of us spend almost every day with people we can’t stand, going to jobs we hate and wasting valuable energy that we will never get back. So maybe it’s time we begin to have an inner dialogue with ourselves.

Check in with yourself often, asking, "How does this activity make me feel?" Take notes so you can reference the times you felt energized, happy and inspired as well as the times you felt depleted, drained and frustrated. Your internal compass is an amazing guide for leading you to where you should focus your attention.

4. Create Flow in Everyday Tasks

Dr. Eric Maisel, author of more than 40 books, who specializes in life purpose, mental health and creativity coaching, says to "create flow in your everyday tasks by creating a ceremonial bridge — maybe a deep breath and a smart thought — that reminds you that you want to get quiet, go deep…"

Before each everyday task, if you slow down and simply take a deep breath in and out it can change how you see everything.

The act of cleaning the dishes quickly becomes a moment-by-moment fulfilling task. Make tiny goals like cleaning a dish or completing a spreadsheet, and the process of flow can take over. You are left with sparkling dishes and a deep sense of accomplishment.

5. Use Downtime for Creative Work

Discipline yourself to use your time wisely. The moments that tick away while watching mindless TV or scrolling through Facebook feeds are gone forever. These activities can steal flow from you in the moment and keep you from creating flow in the future.

"We all throw away 15 minutes here and 20 minutes there by checking our email for the millionth time, playing some computer game or surfing the internet," says Maisel. "Don’t scorn those 15 minutes and 20 minutes and just cavalierly throw them away! Instead, create a list of small creative tasks… that can be tackled whenever those 15 or 20 minutes become available!"

Also, instead of numbing out, go deeper into your imagination. Pull out a paintbrush, turn on some music and dance, do something creative — anything that will get your inventive side working — and flow will soon follow.

Life is too short to waste away minutes, weeks and years tripping over your own feet through the monotony of your days. Consciously take hold of how you move (aka flow) through this world so that you live an inspired, meaningful life and leave an inspiring and meaningful legacy.

You will be pleasantly surprised how connecting with your inner flow can transform so much in your life.


 

The Four Best Benefits of Using Pre-Employment Assessments
Source: http://www.selectinternational.com/; by Amber Thomas

There are many advantages to using properly designed and implemented pre-employment assessments, but it can be confusing to figure it all out without an education or extensive experience in using assessments for selection. It is no surprise, then, that many trailblazers who wish to bring assessments to their organizations have a difficult time explaining the value of assessments internally. Here are a few ideas for explaining the value of assessments to your key stakeholders. Properly designed assessments are:

 
 

1) Tied to key competencies required for the job, in a legally defensible way.

At Select, we follow current professional and legal standards when setting up any selection criteria. This includes a job analysis, where we learn more about the education, technical skills and "soft skills" needed to perform the job. We do this through a combination of survey work, focus groups and observation. Afterward, we map all selection criteria to the competencies that were identified in the analysis. This ensures that your content is job related, which is key to both predicting success on the job, and to ensuring legal defensibility.

2) Used to screen out candidates that are likely to display risky behaviors, in a consistent and fair way.

One of the hallmarks of any great selection system is that each step provides utility and value. This means that you’re making meaningful decisions based off of each step. Decisions like – is this person considered an applicant? Will this person be interviewed? Did this person meet our expectations in the interview? Your process should provide clear, job-related and consistent answers to these questions by screening out candidates who do not meet the criteria required.

3) A great way to let your recruiters spend more time with only qualified candidates.

Assessments save your organization time and money by letting your personnel focus their time with candidates that meet the benchmark on competencies needed for success on the job. This is especially important for organizations that have a small recruiting team, or just want to leverage their recruiting talent in other ways. How many resume reviews, phone screens and on-site interviews could be avoided if you knew ahead of time that the candidates weren’t the right fit? A little money spent on an assessment that screens out the wrong candidates translates to hours of time back in your teams’ day.

4) Created with the end in mind.

Some assessments are designed to screen out risky candidates while others are designed to take a "deep dive" into numerous competencies and help you identify the cream of the crop. Just like you wouldn’t use a hammer to fix a watch, you wouldn’t use a screening assessment as the only tool to help select your next VP. The right tool must be carefully selected based on the situation and the desired outcome.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry! You don’t need to have this all figured out right now. Use these four points to help drive the conversation about using employee assessments at your organization. And be sure to ask questions to all potential vendors questions based off of these points.


 

October 2017 Articles

Crime report: Fleet owners indicted for evading shutdown order, former DOT employee convicted of bank fraud, more
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by CCJ Staff, September 21, 2017

Action in four trucking-related crimes has recently been reported by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General and NJ.com, including bank fraud, bribery, shutdown order evasion and unpaid tolls.

 
 

Utah brothers indicted for scheme to evade out-of-service order

Jay and Garrett Barber were indicted Sept. 6 on charges related to a scheme to evade enforcement of an imminent hazard order issued against their trucking company. The indictment includes 36 counts involving conspiracy, false statements, aggravated identity theft, and mail and wire fraud.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued the order in March 2012 against Reliable Transportation Services Inc., and its owner Jay Barber, based on numerous safety regulation violations. Instead of complying with the order, the brothers allegedly devised a scheme to continue operating their trucking companies.

Former FMCSA employee convicted on bank fraud charges

Darryl Williams, a former FMCSA and Federal Railroad Administration employee, was convicted Aug. 25 on bank fraud charges.

According to the OIG, from Nov. 2010 through Oct. 2016, Williams attempted to obtain money, loans and lines of credit by lying about his employment status, employer, job title, length of employment and salary. To support his applications for lines of credit, he allegedly falsified, forged or manipulated his DOT leave and earnings statements.

OIG says he falsely indicated on the applications that his job title was investigator with DOT.

Virginia DOT supervisors, trucking company owners indicted for bribery scheme

Two VDOT supervisors – Anthony Willie and Kenneth Adams – and four northern Virginia trucking company owners – Rolando Alfonso Pineda Moran, Shaheen Sariri, John Williamson and Elmer Mejia – were indicted on charges of conspiracy and fraud.

The indictment alleges that beginning in 2013, Willie and Adams used their positions as VDOT employees to enrich themselves by negotiating bribe agreements with several owners and operators of trucking and snow-removal companies. From the 2013-2014 snow season to the 2015-2016 snow season, Willie and Adams allegedly received approximately $140,000 in cash bribes from the trucking companies.

Trucking company owner charged with toll evasion

A New Jersey trucking company owner, Edwin Galvez, was pulled over earlier this month on the George Washington Bridge after police discovered he owed $11,500 in unpaid tolls, according to a NJ.com report.

The report states Galvez drove his truck through an E-Z Pass lane without paying, and a check of his plates showed he owed for the tolls and had 99 violations. Galvez, the owner of LaCieba Trucking, was charged with theft of services and toll evasion, according to the report.


 

Skipping background checks could be costly
Source: http://www.autonews.com/; by Jamie LaReau, September 20, 2017

During the decade Mo Zahabi spent working at car dealerships, he was continually shocked by the lack of due diligence in hiring.

 
 

"At the last dealership group I worked for, there was somebody who'd been there for 12 years when we found out he'd been in prison at one point," says Zahabi, director of product consulting for VinSolutions, a customer relations management software developer in Mission, Kan. "He was one of the best salespeople I'd worked with, so he really was reformed, but it blows my mind so few dealers do background checks."

Conducting criminal background checks on potential hires is a best practice, yet many dealers skip them, and that's a problem, insurance experts and consultants say. The biggest payouts insurers make to dealers are for losses from misappropriation of cash, parts shortages, and finance and insurance scams, all of which could be mitigated by hiring people with proven clean records, the experts say. The less the risk of fraud at a dealership, the less the dealer pays for insurance. So if it's permissible to run a criminal background check, do it, they say.

"You do not want people on the payroll who have a propensity to have criminal behavior at work," says Adam Robinson, CEO of consultancy Hireology in Chicago. "Criminal background checks are not a place where you want to save $20."

Indeed, in a 2016 report on occupational fraud — defined as fraud committed by a person against the organization for which he or she works — the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners said the median loss for all cases compiled was $150,000, with 23 percent of cases causing losses of $1 million or more.

That's one reason dealer Aaron Zeigler, president of Zeigler Auto Group in Kalamazoo, Mich., spares no expense when it comes to doing criminal background checks and drug tests on all hires at the group's 23 stores. He started the policy in 2010.

"If anybody's had a felony on the record, I'm the only one who can override it to hire them," Zeigler said. "It's amazing the stuff the background checks come up with."

In fact, on just the second criminal background check Zeigler's group performed, it found the applicant's resume was full of lies. "He'd actually been in prison for the past 17 years for murder," Zeigler said.

For Zeigler to hire a person with a felony conviction, he said, the crime would have to be 15 to 20 years old and the person would have to show he or she is reformed. He said it's "pretty rare" for him to hire someone with a criminal record, especially in the F&I department, where money is handled.

Price of omission

Insurance underwriter Risk Theory, of Dallas, asks its dealer clients if they do employee background checks when it's determining their insurance coverage and rates. A background check could include a federal criminal check, a local county criminal check or a drug screening, said Bob Tschippert, senior vice president of Risk Theory. Of the nearly 1,000 dealerships that applied with Risk Theory last year, about 86 percent answered yes to the question, he said.

Tschippert said he is surprised it's not 100 percent given that dealers who don't do background checks pay more for insurance. He declined to say how much more, but added: "An insurance company is there to make a profit. If the loss ratio is there where they can't make a profit, they can either cancel the account or price it to where they can make a profit."

It costs about $20 to $40 to do a federal and county criminal background check on someone, Tschippert said. Yet not doing one can be much more costly. If a dealer suffers high employee turnover from bad hires, it costs thousands to recruit and train new hires, he said.

On top of that, Tschippert said, if an employee steals expensive parts or embezzles money, a forensic accountant could charge the dealer $200 an hour or more to comb through the records, sometimes going back several years, to track the losses.

Dealers also can't presume a veteran employee is a trustworthy employee, experts warn.

Victimized

One dealer client told Tschippert that buying "employee dishonesty coverage" and doing background checks were not necessary because his employees were like family. That dealer later learned a longtime controller had stolen $125,000 from him, Tschippert said.

In 2012, dealer Danny McKenna discovered two of his veteran employees at McKenna Automotive Group in Norwalk, Calif., were in collusion and had stolen about $600,000 from him over several years. On top of that loss, it cost McKenna close to $1 million to pay for accountants, investigators, lawyers, bank fees, back taxes and reimbursements to employees who should have earned commissions off the money stolen, he says. To avoid prosecution, the former employee and the co-conspirator agreed to repay about $300,000, McKenna said.

Then there was the case of eight former employees of Serra Nissan in Birmingham, Ala., who pleaded guilty to felony charges including conspiracy to fraudulently boost loan approvals and car sales in 2015.

F&I consultant Becky Chernek urges her dealer clients to thoroughly vet all potential hires and employees with background checks, reference checks, behavioral assessment tests and drug testing.

"If they don't, they're going to have constant turnover, which is going to cost them in deals that aren't funded properly," said Chernek, president of Chernek Consulting in Atlanta. "I've seen F&I people steal money from the dealer in down payments and other ways, or capping a deal at a certain amount showing a certain profit was generated that really wasn't or blatantly taking the down payment from customers."

Why not vet?

So given the financial risks, why don't all dealers vet?

Hireology's Robinson said some dealers view it as an unnecessary expense until it proves worthwhile. For example, one of his clients, a large dealership group, resisted Hireology's push to do criminal background checks for precisely that reason, he said. But Robinson insisted the group pilot it at one store. The result changed minds.

"The first hire they were about to make under this pilot was a registered sex offender convicted of child pornography distribution and indecent exposure," Robinson said. "Here's a dealership with a day care on-site. They were quickly convinced that criminal background checks were a good policy."

In many cases, dealers don't do checks because they have a high turnover rate and don't want the hassle of running frequent screenings, Tschippert said. "But it's a best practice, and you're protecting your reputation."

Many dealers still have an "old-school mindset," said VinSolutions' Zahabi. "They are very lazy in the hiring process" and don't have a vetting protocol in place, he said. Plus, many don't have a human resources department to handle a process. Still, he said, the justification for criminal background checks is there.

"I don't want somebody with a criminal background in a car taking my kids for a test drive," Zahabi said. "Likewise, if someone committed an act that was fraudulent, would you want them working in your dealership?"


 

Why Going to Work Hungover May Be a Complete Waste of Time
Source: http://www.livestrong.com/; by LEAH GROTH, July 18, 2017

There are few things more miserable than waking up after a night of heavy drinking and realizing that instead of just sleeping off your hangover, you’ve got to actually get up and go to work.

 
 

Most people take a shower, suck it up and brave the world with a gigantic coffee in hand because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Well, not necessarily!

Some medical experts, like this psychologist writing for The Conversation (an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community), believe that staying home and nursing that hangover is not only better for you, it’s better for the your entire office.

In fact, a startling 83 percent of employees admit that being hungover at work impacts their performance; a third claim they "drift off" and are unable to work at their usual pace; and just less than 30 percent suffer from headaches and are unable to concentrate. A study from Norway also found that being hungover can contribute to increased conflicts with other employees and a decrease in job completion.

And it’s no wonder: A hangover is no joke when you consider what it does to your body and your mind. Alcohol is seriously dehydrating, which is one of the main reasons you feel so crappy the day after a booze binge. Vomiting, headaches, dizziness, nausea, lack of energy and high blood pressure are just a few of the physical ways the body reacts. But there are other, lesser-known factors that contribute to the suckiness of a hangover.

For instance, the reason you feel like throwing up is because your intestines and stomach are majorly inflamed, and that sweating is likely due to the fact that alcohol impacts your sleep and also your metabolism. There are also psychological implications, such as increased anxiety, depression and irritability. Not fun at all.

And then there’s the issue of drunk driving. Depending on how much alcohol you consumed the night before and whether your drinking continued into the next day, the physical act of getting to work can be tricky. Driving while intoxicated obviously isn’t safe or legal, and if you get arrested or into an accident (and then arrested) there will be serious repercussions. Even if the alcohol isn’t traceable in your blood, scientific data maintains that hangovers "significantly" impair driving. So do not take that chance.

When you stop and consider that you’re not functioning at 100 percent, you’re causing conflicts with your workmates and you’re possibly putting your and other’s lives at risk, it seems pretty obvious that going to work with a bad hangover is a complete waste of time.

Avoid this situation completely by simply not getting too drunk on a work night — but if you must, be smart about it. Drink plenty of water in between alcoholic drinks, and make sure to eat something so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallies the monetary damage of hangovers on the United States workforce at a whopping $90 billion per year, which includes both the people who fail to show up after a night of drinking and those who simply cannot function.

So if sobriety is simply unavoidable, it’s up to you to use your discretion and determine whether suiting up and showing up will be more detrimental to your well-being (and everyone else’s) than just staying in bed and working on lightening the load in your Netflix queue.

What Do YOU Think?

Do you ever go to work with a hangover? Have you noticed that it impacts your productivity? Do you think it’s OK to call in sick with a hangover?


 

Tread carefully when screening potential hires, experts say
Source: http://www.newsday.com/; by Jamie Herzlich, September 11, 2017

Many employers use background screening to vet prospective employees.

 
 

In fact, 89 percent of companies conduct employment background checks, and 80 percent of the time these checks uncover issues and information they otherwise wouldn’t have found, according to a recent report on background screening trends and best practices by Sterling Talent Solutions.

Still, background screening laws can be complex, which is why 25 percent of survey respondents cited ensuring they are complying with ever-changing screening laws as their second biggest screening challenge.

Making it even more tricky is the fact that laws vary depending on where you are hiring, says Clare Hart, CEO of Manhattan-based Sterling Talent, a provider of employee background screening services.

This means "employers need to understand the compliance requirements at the federal, state and sometimes local level," she says.

For example, New York City employers are restricted by law from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until after a conditional offer has been made. But that is not the case on Long Island, says David Mahoney, a partner and member of the labor and employment law group of Jericho-based SilvermanAcampora LLP.

Still, legislation like the law in New York City is gaining momentum nationally, which is why Mahoney doesn’t recommend that employers even on Long Island ask about criminal convictions before a conditional offer of employment is made.

These laws are in place for a reason, says Catherine Aldrich, vice president of operations at HireRight, an Irvine, California, employment screening provider. They’re designed to ensure that a candidate is not eliminated from the hiring process just because he or she has a criminal background, which may have no bearing on the job, she says.

"Any employer who is looking to use a criminal conviction as the reason it doesn’t hire a job applicant must be prepared to defend that decision and explain why a criminal conviction should disqualify the applicant from performing that job," says Mahoney.

Even outside of New York City, the New York Correction Law, which applies to Long Island, generally bars employers from posting job solicitations that either require applicants to have no criminal history or a clean background, he says.

So you have to tread carefully, and it seems employers are.

This year only 48 percent of organizations reported asking candidates to disclose criminal records early in the application process, when just two years ago that number was 76 percent, says Hart.

As a general recommendation, employers are advised to review the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Federal Trade Commission guidance on background checks; find it at nwsdy.li/checks.

One key requirement to be cognizant of is that employers must obtain a signed authorization form from the candidate prior to ordering a background check, says Aldrich.

"We’ve seen employers sued for non-compliance for not giving the right forms," she says.

All employees have the right to be given the results of their background check as well, she says, noting there is a specific process an employer must follow if a background check results in not hiring the candidate.

For one, an employer must provide the applicant notice of the adverse action (ie. the decision to not hire the person) and other information that allows the applicant to see the basis of that decision, says Keith Gutstein, a partner at the Woodbury law firm of Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck.

The applicant also has the right to contact the agency that did the report, and the employer must provide the name and phone number of the agency to the applicant, he says. The applicant then has the right to dispute the agency’s finding with the agency, he says.

Be careful not to deny employment based solely on a criminal conviction, he says. The New York Correction Law requires a further analysis to be done before making an adverse employment decision, says Gutstein.

"You have to figure out, Would hiring this applicant pose an unreasonable risk to property or people?" he says. "Does the conviction bear a direct relationship to the job?"


 

Indicators: Driver turnover rate swelled in second quarter
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by James Jaillet, September 18, 2017

CCJ's Indicators rounds up the latest reports on trucking business indicators on rates, freight, equipment, the economy and more.

 
 

The driver turnover rate at large truckload fleets jumped 16 percentage points to 90 percent in the second quarter of 2017, according to the American Trucking Associations' quarterly report. The turnover rate at small fleets, those with less than $30 million in annual revenue, also leapt, climbing 19 points to 85 percent.

"After a period of relatively low turnover, it appears the driver market is tightening again, which coupled with increased demand for freight movement, could rapidly exacerbate the driver shortage," says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.

"We predicted that last year’s period of relatively low and stable turnover could be short-lived if the freight economy recovered from 2016’s freight recession," he added. "It appears those predictions were correct and we may be seeing the beginnings of a significant tightening of the driver market and acceleration of the driver shortage."


 

September 2017 Articles

To get hiring right, startups are expanding background checks of potential staff
Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/; by Saumya Bhattacharya, August 8, 2017

NEW DELHI | Mumbai: Startups are doing more background checks than before on their potential employees, as they are faced with the pressure to hire right.

 
 

As much as 87% of discrepancies found during a recent survey by background screening solutions firm First Advantage were at the level of senior management. Of these candidates, 42.3% were in the 22-30 age group, indicating that a significant chunk of them belonged to the startup ecosystem.

"We see more startups seeking background checks. Wrong hiring can sully the image of the startups, and cash-strapped startups can’t afford to hire the wrong person," First Advantage managing director Purushotam Savlani said.

Employees can easily go from being assets to liabilities, and pose a risk to the credibility established by the startup, especially those in the financial technology sector, he said. Most of the background checks that the startups want to do are in skills, leadership styles, credentials and possible cases of sexual harassment against the potential employee.

Paytm has engaged a professional agency to validate the past employer credentials, educational qualification and criminal antecedents for all new employees. "Any reported noncompliance in background verification ensures strict action against the candidate, leading to revocation of the offer or termination of employment. Candidates are made aware of this procedure as a part of the selection experience," said Paytm associate vice president Manav Jain.

Customer-facing roles, in particular, are a key focus area when it comes to background checks during the hiring process. "These are the folks who are actually delivering to people’s houses, so safety is a key issue," said TN Hari, HR head at online grocery player BigBasket.

"We have two agencies to do background checks on these individuals for us," he added. For senior management, informal reference checks are conducted to see where the potential hire stands on issues such as integrity, taking ownership, overall attitude, etc., said Hari. At online furniture and home décor brand Urban Ladder, the company religiously does three things when hiring employees and senior management: mandatory reference checks through internal or external networks, a legal verification for customer-facing employees and putting them through a thorough training and induction process. "Background checks and verifications are essentially fencing mechanisms for an organisation," co-founder Rajiv Srivatsa said. One of the reasons startups are seeking more background checks is that in such early-stage companies, there are fewer people overseeing payroll, checks and vendor lists, making it easier for an insider to siphon off money and get away with it. "Running thorough background checks and reference checks help startups protect themselves from these types of bottom feeders, and is one of the reasons you should expect a background check before being hired with a developing entrepreneurial firm," said First Advantage’s Savlani.

At the top levels, ensuring the right hire becomes much more important. "The impact of senior management hires is massive in a company’s evolution. You need to have a thorough understanding of that person’s integrity and values. The more companies align on that right from the beginning, the better it is for all concerned," said Sandeep Murthy, a partner at venture capital firm Lightbox Ventures.

But while screening is important, so also is hiring someone who is the right cultural fit. "We screen for aptitude, but hire for attitude," said Murthy. Vivek Prabhakar, CEO of Chumbak Design, said while senior hires are always carefully vetted, for him the more important aspect is the culture test to see whether the candidate is a good fit for the company.

"We don’t want people who engage in politics or disrupt the equilibrium of the organisation. What we are looking for are people who gel with the organisational culture; others are weeded out," Prabhakar said.


 

NFL Season May Bring Increased Drowsy Driving Risk
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, August 21, 2017

A spike in drowsy driving incidents among waste drivers seemed to correspond with the return of the the NFL season, according to video-based technology safety company Lytx. From 2012 to 2016, the August-to-November time frame saw a 53% increase in incidents involving drowsy driving or falling asleep at the wheel, compared to the rest of the year. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the risk was up 78% compared to the rest of the year, according to Lytx.

 
 

November of 2016 showed a 112% increase in drowsy driving or falling asleep driving events among waste drivers over the rest of the year, while Mondays and Tuesdays during those four months saw an average 170% spike.

"This study tells us that waste companies would benefit from encouraging their drivers to get more sleep on football nights," said Dave Riordan, Lytx chief client officer. "Since the start of football season coincides with the onset of back-to-school schedules, drivers are doubly challenged to get a good night's rest."

Lytx made these findings by analyzing behaviors among drivers of 33,000 private waste vehicles from 2012 to 2016. Lytx says its DriveCam video-based telematics system is used by many of the major national waste companies as well as dozens of municipal waste fleets in the U.S.

"Waste drivers have one of the toughest jobs in America, and on top of a strenuous work day, they tend to have very early shifts, heading out to make their rounds before the sun's come up," said Darrell Smith, president and CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Association. "Combine that with a late night of watching football, and the risk of drowsy driving is predictable but solvable."


 

THIRD OF EMPLOYERS SAY BAD BACKGROUND CHECK EXPERIENCES COST THEM JOB CANDIDATES
Source: http://www2.staffingindustry.com/; by Staffing Industry Staff, August 8, 2017

Employers need to make sure they are not experiencing candidate fall off because of a poor background check experience, according to a recent CareerBuilder study. The survey found 38% of employers have lost a candidate because they had a negative experience with their background check. However, less than half of HR managers who conduct background checks, 44%, have tested their background check experience themselves. When employers did test their process, 14% rated their background check candidate experience as fair or poor.

 
 

A poorly conducted background check is one of the most common reasons employers lose candidates that have already accepted job offers; 21% of employers who have lost candidates that have accepted a job offer say it was because background screening took too long, and 20% said it was because a candidate had a poor experience with background screening.

Additionally, a negative experience with a company’s HR technology — such as a job application or background check process — can affect a candidate’s opinion of the company overall. Fifty-six percent of candidates think less of a company if they have a poor experience with their HR technology, and 8% of those who have accepted a job offer then withdrew have done so because a background check took too long or they had a negative experience with the background check/drug check.

"Employers are aware conducting background checks is an important business process, but few invest time to evaluate the candidate experience, ease of use, simplicity, and impact on the hiring process," said Ben Goldberg, CEO of Aurico, a CareerBuilder company that provides background screening and drug testing. "The longer the background check process, the higher risk of losing a quality candidate to another employer. Employers should test their application and background check process and ensure candidates have a positive experience."

The survey was conducted online within the US by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,369 hiring and human resource managers and 3,462 employees. It was conducted between May 24 and June 16, 2017.


 

Increased Costs Could Mean Less Favorable Trucking Conditions
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, August 22, 2017

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index fell by more than two points in June as a result of increased costs for labor, fuel, and equipment, reflecting less favorable conditions for trucking.

 
 

The June TCI dropped to a reading of 4.54 for the month. Market tightness is seen as likely shorter than expected due to a possible drag on capacity caused by upcoming regulations, according to FTR.

"Despite the monthly drop from May to June, the TCI has stayed in a relatively stable range since this time last year," said Jonathan Starks, FTR's COO. "It remains positive, but does not yet indicate that a significant change in operations is occurring."

FTR is maintaining a favorable freight forecast for the rest of the year, but does not expect as strong of a result for 2018. It is projecting around half of the growth for next year with an increased risk of recession toward the end of 2018.

"The potential for such a change increases as we move through 2018, with ELD implementation and continued freight growth hindering truck capacity," said Starks. "We are also beginning to hear stories of increased difficulty in hiring as the economy begins approaching full employment."

The spot market has shown strong increases in recent weeks it could be an indicator as to how rates in the contract market are likely to move, according to Starks.

"Spot data in early August shows that the rate increases have hit the double-digit mark and are still moving up," said Starks. "Market participants need to continue evaluating conditions ahead of the ELD implementation in December to make sure that they are prepared for the possible disruptions that could occur."


 

How E-Commerce Disrupts Trucking
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Jim Beach, August 2017

NASHVILLE, TN -- While disruption may be a current buzzword, it’s as old as capitalism itself, said Thom Albrecht, president of Sword & Sea Transportation Advisors, a securities analysis firm. Speaking at the PeopleNet and TMW in.sight User Conference + Expo Aug. 15, Albrecht said that when there’s real disruption market leaders are displaced.

 
 

The examples are legion: the horse and buggy vs. the automobile; ice boxes vs. refrigerators; and more recently the example of Kodak, which held the first patent for a digital camera, but couldn’t see the real value of the technology or how it would affect its core business of making film. And of course, everyone knows about the disruptions that Uber and Airbnb created in taxi cab and hotel markets.

And of course, there is Amazon and other retail e-commerce sites, which have totally disrupted the retail industry in terms of brick and mortar stores. Albrecht argues Amazon is the latest disruption in a trend affecting retail. Before that, he said, catalog sales took a bite out of department stores, big box stores took another bite, and Amazon and similar ventures put the big box stores down.

Albrecht predicts malls will continue to contract – their numbers will decrease until only a few are left. Even now, 28% of malls account for 70% of mall sales. What that means for retail is that much of the free labor and transportation they had once relied on is gone.

Before Amazon and direct shipment of goods to consumers, they had to drive to the store and pick up their goods, he said. Now, we demand delivery and in many cases demand it the next or even same day we order. As a result, Albrecht said projections call for 20% more brick and mortar stores to close with the next five to eight years. In fact, Amazon’s sales growth in many consumer segments has far outpaced each segment overall growth. For instance, ecommerce’s share of the beauty care market is 28% with year-over-year sales growth of $1.6 billion, while brick and mortar stores’ sales growth was minus $170 million.

Every retail category is gaining momentum in e-commerce, as we have begun to buy things online we wouldn’t have three to four years ago, he said, paced by millennials buying much of their goods online.

That includes food items, which along with a few other trends is changing food logistics. For instance, this year 31% of online shoppers were willing to make at least one food order online. Last year that figure was 19% and in 2015 it was 8%. Online spending on food and alcohol is expected to grow from $14 billion in 2016 to $125 billion in 2020.

The popularity of online food kits may have something to do with that, Albrecht said. Another trend affecting food logistics: changing tastes. Year-to-year sales growth at independent restaurants grew 6-8%, while chain restaurants saw about 1% growth.

What does that mean for trucking? Albrecht thinks there will be fewer full truckloads, more transparency, and compression of rates. Autonomous vehicles could add capacity and electric trucks could reduce operating costs, he said. But both of those trends may depress rates. On the bright side, however, is that with more transparency, good service can win out over lower rates if the rate spreads are smaller.

He also foresees dry van shipments going down while refrigerated shipments will increase; fewer Class 8 trucks and more medium-duty trucks, although not everyone in the industry agrees with that assessment.

To manage your company in disruptive times, Albrecht suggests a few principles. First, see change properly – be ready to change your operation if necessary. Second, being the biggest and the smartest may not protect you, since leading companies rarely see disruption coming as they are focused on what they have always been doing.

Don’t be afraid to hurt a part of your business if need be. For instance, Amazon was the leading seller of books but they developed the Kindle anyway, knowing that e-books would eat away at regular book sales. Watch out for the low margin, low volume parts of the business, as that’s where disruptors get a toe-hold. As an example, Albrecht cited how parcel carriers siphoned off small and mid-sized shipments from LTL carriers until the FedEx’s and UPS’s of the world became LTLs themselves.

And to tackle disruption, it may be better to establish an autonomous unit outside of the "homeoffice" culture, he said.


 

10 Things Your Boss Wants You to Do Without Being Told
Source: http://www.livestrong.com/; by Natasha Burton, August 11, 2017

Depending on how effusive — and prone to giving feedback — your boss is, it can be hard to know exactly what he or she really needs from you. But no matter what industry you work in, there are some universal traits that higher-ups wish the people they manage had, according to experts.Not only do these characteristics make a boss’s day-to-day easier, having them may put you on a fast track for a raise or promotion. With that in mind, here are 10 ways to be the rockstar employee your boss dreams of.

 
 

DO YOUR JOB.

Yes, this sounds obvious, but actually delivering results is the primary thing your boss needs from you. After all, it’s why she hired you."You have the tools and the knowledge to deliver results, and it’s up to you to do so," says Rob Mead, head of marketing at Gnatta, a customer service company. "Your leader will be there for advice, support and to get you through the tough times, but you need to provide results and she will then fulfill her end of the bargain by helping you get to the next level." Coasting along won’t win you any points with the boss — nor will it advance your career.

BE ON TIME.

"Whether it’s to a meeting, for a deadline or just to a team happy hour, nothing is more offputting than someone being late," Mead says.Yes, sometimes being tardy is unavoidable — traffic, family emergencies and other conflicts arise — but it’s on you to have the grace to communicate with your boss and your colleagues when these things happen. "Leaders remember who’s there on time, and those people will be the ones they can count on," he adds.

PROVIDE CONTEXT.

Bosses are typically busy managing everything from people to crisis situations while trying to lead a business — no easy task. So giving yours a frame of reference when speaking or sending an email about projects and deliverables can make a world of difference, according to executive coach and TEDx speaker Lynn Carnes. "Recognize that you have incredible power to shape how the boss sees something if you go beyond the typical vague question of ‘What do you think?’" she says. "A quick sentence of context — like, ‘This is about the XYZ project’ or ‘I’ve been thinking about our ABC campaign’ — gets her on the same page as you quickly." Plus, the forethought that your boss has many other things on her mind is also much appreciated.

GET TO THE POINT.

Coupled with providing context, Carnes says, is getting to your point quickly. "Nothing drives a boss crazier than for you to beat around the bush waiting for her to connect the dots," she says. "Trust that your boss can ‘handle the truth’ and make your statement or ask for what you need as clearly as possible." If you’re writing an email, take the time to edit your message for length and break down what you need to say into bullet points so your boss can easily read and understand what you’re trying to relay. Any opportunity you can create to save your boss time — and help her avoid unnecessary frustration — will benefit you too.

SCHEDULE TIME.

It happens to the best of us: You stop by your boss’s office and ask, "Got just a second to go over this?" and 20 minutes later you’re getting to the end of your "quick second," at which point your boss doesn’t seem to be paying attention. "You think it’s because he doesn’t like your ideas or doesn’t care about your problem," Carnes says. "In reality? It’s because he is now running late for a meeting and is trying not to be rude by cutting you off." Be realistic about the time you need with your boss, and don’t pop into his office for a “sec” if whatever you have to say will inevitably take longer. Instead of showing up unannounced, have the forethought to schedule time with him and get on his calendar.

HAVE A CAN-DO ATTITUDE.

Sure, being an overly positive Pollyanna might just annoy your boss (and everyone else in your office, to be honest), but there is something to be said about an employee who willingly takes on the challenges of her job. If you don’t agree with a decision or a direction the boss wants to go in, then by all means push back and explain your position, but don’t be the person who continually gripes over how difficult or insurmountable your tasks are. "As someone for whom being positive doesn’t come naturally, it took me time to master this, but it’s key," Mead says. "Being told that something is impossible is a switch off for any senior person — there’s always a way to do something. Stating that something can’t be done is never the right answer."

SOLVE PROBLEMS, DON’T CAUSE THEM.

We’ve all heard this one: Don’t bring problems, bring solutions. "It’s a massive cliché, but, as with all clichés, it contains a grain of truth," Mead says. "If you always bring problems, people will eventually stop listening. If you bring solutions, however, you’ll be remembered positively — even if they don’t always work 100 percent of the time." He explains that leaders are always looking for people who care enough about their roles to improve both their own areas of responsibility and those of others. Having the creativity and ingenuity to at least try to resolve complications will get you recognized for being resourceful and for being a team player who looks out for the greater good.

TAKE INITIATIVE.

Being a self-starter goes a long way toward impressing the boss, yet taking initiative is seldom done, says Jessica Tsukimura, head of the New York Client Services team for Stag & Hare, a global branding and design agency. In fact, she says that this quality is usually the main piece of feedback for her team in every performance review. "See an issue or a need internally or with a client? Why not try to develop solutions before it’s assigned to someone? This showcases your willingness to pitch in as well as your ability to problem solve and be effective," Tsukimura says. "Your proactive nature will make you stand out among your peers, and your boss will no doubt take notice."

TAKE NOTHING PERSONALLY.

To quote "The Godfather" (and "You’ve Got Mail"), what happens at the office "isn’t personal, it’s business." This is especially true when it comes to the feedback your boss gives you."Bosses need to give constructive feedback on your work without worrying about hurting your feelings," Carnes says. "And if you do find yourself having taken things personally, you don’t have to react. When you get defensive, it sends a warning signal that there is something to worry about." Instead, she advises taking a deep breath and remembering that feedback will help you flourish and grow.

DON’T JUDGE.

Bosses have to constantly make decisions. Some of these are very difficult, and many of them cannot be discussed in detail with employees. Chances are that you won’t agree with all of them. But it’s up to you how you react to them."While it’s OK to ask the boss why a decision was made, recognize that she may not be at liberty to share all the details," Carnes says. "It’s a great time to assume positive intent and give her the benefit of the doubt given the set of circumstances she was in." Passing unnecessary judgment can come off as childish and even discourage your boss from envisioning you in a more senior role down the line.


 

August 2017 Articles

ELDs in cyberspace: evaluating the risks to data security, privacy
Source: http://www.ccjdigital.com/; by Aaron Huff, July 20, 2017

As of Dec. 18, most drivers who currently maintain records-of-duty status — approximately 3 million, according to the FMCSA — will either be using electronic logs or be at risk of getting an out-of-service violation.

 
 

Most fleets will be using devices that come with a monthly service plan, most often associated with a connection to the cellular data network. By definition, the connectivity of ELDs make them an Internet of Things (IoT) device. This may cause some concerns over cybersecurity.

In 2016, AT&T reported a 3,198 percent increase over the last three years in the number of attackers scanning for vulnerabilities in IoT devices. AT&T also conducted a survey last year of businesses to gauge their potential security threats. Fifty-eight percent said they were not confident in the security of their IoT devices.

Cybersecurity was hardly a concern 25 years ago when fleets began using mobile communications systems to connect with drivers and vehicles via satellite networks. With millions of ELD devices about to go online, could they be the gateway for hackers to gain access to sensitive information?

Probably not, but here are four possible areas of concern:

1. Remote control trucks

The University of Michigan made news in 2016 when researchers presented at an August conference results from their experiments with the vulnerability of big rigs’ electronic systems. Researchers plugged into a 2006 tractor’s diagnostics port, and this was in part the result:

By sending digital signals within the internal network of a big rig truck, the researchers were able to do everything from change the readout of the truck’s instrument panel, trigger unintended acceleration, or to even disable one form of the semi-trailer’s brakes.

Since the late 1990s, fleets have used telematics devices to remotely plug into the controller area network (CAN) of trucks to capture data from their engines and electrical-mechanical systems.

Incidents of remotely hacking into the ECMs of engine and braking systems have not happened — yet.

Spokespeople from ELD suppliers say the probability of hacking into electronic logs — either the current AOBRD (395.15) and the new ELD standard (395.16) — to access the CAN bus of vehicles is virtually impossible. That’s because ELDs are provisioned to read data only.

"We don’t give (our application) rights to be able to write or make requests. All we do is read," says Marco Encinas, a marketing and product manager of Global Platforms at Teletrac Navman, which offers the Director ELD product. "There is no protocol in the system that allows us to engage, change code, or manipulate the ECM computer on the vehicle."

As an extra layer of precaution, PeopleNet, one of the two largest fleet mobility providers, has embedded chips in its ELD devices in order to authenticate the connection between the device in the vehicle and its cloud management system.

"Our latest devices will all ship with an encryption chip built in to authenticate the device to the cloud in addition to standard authentication of the driver’s credentials upon login," says Eric Witty, vice president of product. "That way we have assurance that both the device and the person are authenticated in our system."

And through PeopleNet’s partnerships with truck OEMs, "we continue to undergo security audits and improvements to our software and hardware solutions to ensure we minimize any risk of these telemetry devices being exploited to access the vehicle," he adds.

2. Access to ELD data

Besides preventing ELDs from talking to vehicles, the suppliers interviewed for this article say their applications are restricted from sharing data with other applications on the device or vehicle.

"We follow secure code development practices that isolate the ELD application code from other applications on the devices," says Andrew Dondlinger, Navistar’s vice president for Connected Services. "The ELD application also requires positive user credentials before allowing for the collection of the vehicle’s ELD data by any user, or by any other application."

Navistar offers an ELD app that connects the driver’s mobile device to the OnCommand Connection Telematics device. The app is available through its new OnCommand Connection Marketplace.

PeopleNet has traditionally favored using company-owned, personally enabled (COPE) communications devices as part of its strategy to allow fleets to deploy proprietary company apps and approved third-party programs on the same device that runs their PeopleNet software, Witty says.

PeopleNet envisions having "companion apps" that will give drivers access their own log data as well as giving access through a secure driver portal.

"The security concerns are much the same as the ELD device itself. We will address them by ensuring we are using the same standards such as secure HTTP (SSL/TLS) similar to how banks secure communication for their mobile applications," he says.

Teletrac provides a Garmin GPS tablet to run its ELD application. The only other app on the device is Garmin navigation. "We don’t allow third-party apps to be downloaded," Encinas says. The tablets communicate through serial connection to a black box that has cellular connectivity.

The display tablets do not have their own cellular connection, which prevents software from being loaded onto the devices.

"For us it’s about being able to control the types of data communicated to the hardware and to us to limit possibilities for distraction," he says.

3. Reporting malfunctions

No ELD product on the market is foolproof. In the event of a hardware, software or connection malfunction the FMCSA requires that ELDs report the error to the driver and fleet management for support activities.

The OnCommand Connection telematics device continuously monitors the truck health status, which includes electronics, Dondlinger says. "In the event of a detected malfunction on the truck, OnCommand Connection will provide the customer – and Navistar as well – with a health report highlighting the faults on the truck, along with a ‘Fault Code Action Plan,’ which is a recommended sequence of actions to address each fault."

Similarly, if a malfunction is detected by Teletrac’s Director ELD application, the device continues to record any data that it can from the vehicle and the driver’s duty status. The driver is alerted by a fault message indicator and fleet management is alerted through the web portal to notify dispatchers.

Teletrac’s support team can do an over-the-air reset if needed, Encinas says.

4. Data privacy

Data privacy is another topic that surrounds industry-wide adoption of ELDs. Independent owner-operators may not want the carriers or freight brokers they work for to have visibility of their logbook data. On the other hand, fleets want visibility to identify drivers who have time remaining on their clocks to make an extra pickup or delivery, for example.

"The whole question about data gets typically framed in data privacy or data security. As a consumer you don’t want anybody to know where you’ve been, but in a business context, the area of privacy is much less prevalent," says Dirk Schlimm executive vice president of Geotab, a telematics and ELD provider.

Some ELD providers see an opportunity to aggregate the hours-of-service and telematics data they collect from their customers. With their customers’ permission, they could use the data to power a freight matching system or a usage-based model for vehicle and liability insurance, for example.

"It will be very hard in the future for any business of any size to compete without data," Schlimm adds. "You just have to give everybody secure and safe access to that data."


 

TravelCenters of America Reaches Out to Truckers in Need
Source: http://www.truckinginfo.com/; by Trucking Info Staff, July 21, 2017

TravelCenters of America, operator of the TA and Petro Stopping Centers travel center brands, will launch its annual campaign on August 1, in support of the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund, a nonprofit that helps truck drivers suffering financial hardship due to medical problems.

 
 

The month-long campaign will run at participating TA and Petro locations through August 31.

During the event, guests and employees at TA and Petro Stopping Centers will be invited to make contributions to assist truckers in need. As in past years, commemorative wristbands and SCF keychains will be made available for $1 and $5 respectively. Contributions may be made at participating TA and Petro restaurants, travel stores, fuel buildings and truck service facilities. One hundred percent of proceeds go directly to SCF.

"As we kick off our eighth year of the SCF campaign, we couldn’t be happier to continue supporting drivers in need and knowing that our customers and employees are helping answer prayers for those dealing with financial burdens due to sickness or injury," said Tom O’Brien, president and CEO of TravelCenters.

TravelCenters has been supporting drivers through SCF since 2010.  The TA and Petro annual campaign marks the largest single contribution the Fund receives each year.  As of July 2017, SCF has helped more than 1,900 truck drivers and their families with monthly bills, including utilities and mortgages.

"We are so excited for another year of Band Together!" said Dr. Donna Kennedy , executive director of SCF. "This campaign is instrumental in allowing us the honor of offering assistance to drivers in need. The number of applications we receive skyrocket during and immediately after the campaign. This program not only raises money to help drivers, it clearly raises awareness for those in need. We are so appreciative of TA, the employees and the drivers that contribute."

Professional drivers who are suffering from financial hardships due to medical problems can apply to the SCF for assistance at www.truckersfund.org.


 

The Evolution of Background Screening
Source: https://www.hrtechnologist.com/; by Rhucha Kulkarni, July 20, 2017

Background verification is a very important part of recruitment, to ensure no black sheep becomes a part of the organization. However, it can be a tedious experience for both the candidate and the recruiter. Recruiters spend a lot of time verifying data, digging out sources, and eliminating potential risks, despite availing the services of professional background check agencies. Candidates, on the other hand, complain about never-ending response times, random questions, and in general, a lot of fuss around the process. It is the responsibility of the employer to create a great candidate experience, and therein the agency’s responsibility to streamline and modernize the background verification process for a great client experience. This is happening gradually thanks to the marriage of recruitment and technology.

 
 

In recent times background screening vendors have updated their tools and solutions in a bid to create a seamless candidate and employer experience. Some of the very visible additions have been the rise of customized features and easy standardization of data forms. Another candidate-friendly feature at the communication-end is that candidates are being updated about their progress status in real-time. Also, mobile is increasingly being used as the background check medium, allowing on-the-go action on the agenda. The recruiter is being spared operational hassles through better integration of the processes with applicant tracking systems and small changes like digital signatures.

However, this is not enough. With the rise of the gig economy, the very nature of background verification is changing. Servi