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  • A message from Todd Smith, Owner of Thomas Wilson Group, LLC.

    Our customers are a part of our families!
    On the eve of our ten year anniversary, and over 15 years in the truckload business, I take a moment and reflect on our successes and failures over the last ten years.
    In the early stages of our business presenting Auto, Physical Damage, Cargo and more to the industry, we failed by not having enough markets to represent the increased opportunities we were given.  After recognizing this failure, we aggressively pursued markets to broaden the capabilities of our agency representing the trucking market.  Ten years later, if the market exists and we feel good about their financial stability chances are we represent them if we choose to.  I have never been one to “chase” markets.  In fact, in purchasing a company in 2010, part of their down fall was chasing markets.
    Our staff sleeps at night knowing that you are just not another number on a monthly printout on what we wrote that month.  Our staff is not compensated based on the accounts they write.  Someone once told me “be careful what you incentivize people to do because they will surely do it.”   I did not want that in our company.  At the end of the day, you know that we market your account like it was ours and we were spending our money.  The trucking industry is tough for the smaller fleets to make ends meet and often living week to week.  Praying that a tire or equipment does not break down.  If it does, they could be down for the count. 
    Our goal is to provide the best coverage available to trucking companies based on what they can afford.  I sat down with a customer in their office recently and attempted to explain why our quote was a bit higher from another agent from the same company.  My response was two-fold.  We do not get paid on writing your account but making sure all our customers are insured properly based on the information provided to us to get a quote.
    We have never been one to focus on the individual account from a revenue standpoint BUT to make certain coverage is provided to you based on the information you give us.   Dictonary.com  defines integrity as the following:  1.  Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.  2.  The state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.  3.  A sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition.
    We are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but know that we take every account and determine if we can help the customer succeed in today’s trucking market. If renewals come in lower than last year you absolutely get that benefit.
    Thanks to all our existing and new customers to come.  If we can be of service to you contact us at 866.223.8013

     — Varying opinions can be found at truck stops on a government regulation that aims to keep truckers from driving more than 70 hours a week.
    Truckers have had more than a year to adjust to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Hours of Service Rule, and while some drivers see it as a good rule that gives them more time to rest, others find it impractical in an industry that has a wide variety of types of carriers and methods.
    “You have people making rules on us that have never even been in a truck,” wide-load specialist Daniel Nephew of Waterford, Mich., said last week at the Interstate 40 Travel Center. “They’re just looking at statistics.”
    Nephew said the rules have made the roads more congested during the daytime, and made finding a parking space at a truck stop more difficult at night. In trucks without electronic recordkeeping, there is no sure way of proving adherence anyway, Nephew points out.
    “We feel that it is a productivity cut without the safety benefit,” Sean McNally of the American Trucking Association said Wednesday. “We don’t believe there’s a safety impact, but there is no data out to support it. As a matter of fact it could be detrimental to safety because of the restart provision. Because of that, we’re seeing increased truck traffic between 5 and 7 a.m. when everybody is going to school and work.”
    The “restart” provision in the current Hours of Service rules says that a truck driver who reaches the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week can only resume if he or she rests for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights “when their body clock demands sleep the most — from 1-5 a.m.” Truckers previously had a maximum of 82 hours, with no limitations on 34-hour restarts. The rules went into effect July 1, 2013.
    Two days before a June 7 truck accident that injured comedian Tracy Morgan on the New Jersey Turnpike, Land Line magazine managing editor Jami Jones wrote about an amendment that Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. Collins’ proposal would suspend the requirement of two 1-5 a.m.overnights during the “restart” and would allow more than one “restart” in a seven-day period. The amendment passed and was rolled into the appropriations bill on a vote of 21-9.
    The Senate has not acted on the bill. McNally said the ATA hopes it will be enacted into law.
    Also June 5, the National Transportation Safety Board released findings of a four-year study that called for more safety features in big rigs.
    “Crashes involving single-unit trucks resulted in about 1,800 deaths each year during 2005-2009 and also caused thousands of injuries,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman. “These trucks are ubiquitous in our communities, yet they are exempted from many safety rules. We must do better for our citizens.”
    The study used a variety of data sources, including state records of police and hospital reports, federal databases, and case reviews of selected single-unit truck crashes.
    Electronic Records
    This summer, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., pushed the U.S. Department of Transportation to speed up a requirement that companies and drivers use electronic devices to log driving hours.
    “It’s just common sense. If you’re tired, you pull over and rest,” veteran driver of 28 years Wendell Ahrens said last week at the I-40 Travel Center in Ozark. “Life is more important than money.”
    Ahrens lives in Missouri and works out of North Carolina near Asheville. He stays out for 10-day stretches and said he’d rather have the old rules back with less regulation.
    “I may drive 11 hours in one day with ease, but if I have to stay in traffic a long time, I might just end up only driving five hours,” Ahrens said.
    The Hours of Service rule for truck drivers also contains an 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day limit, so basically the 11 hours of driving has to be done in 14 hours, Ahrens said. Some truckers would like to see the 14-hour rule eliminated because it reduces stress by allowing them to be able to stop the clock when they need or want to.
    Essentially, there seems to be no simple way to make a blanket rule for the 3.2 million truck drivers on American highways. McNally said “trucking is such a diverse industry flexibility is needed” with the regulations.
    Not every driver is upset with the new rules.
    Bruce Rogers, a solo long-haul carrier, said he favors the regulation. He owns and operates R-Way Express out of Spencer, Tenn.
    “I think it cuts down on accidents and it works good,” Rogers said last week while filling up at Loves Truck Stop in Ozark. “A lot of truckers don’t like it, but if you do it right and take a 34-hour break, you get more rest time. “
    Rogers said he would like to expand his operation but can’t afford to hire a new drivers.
    Doug Clayton of Miller Transports in Pryor, Okla., said he doesn’t stay out for extensive long hauls often, but was in favor of the “restart” rules.
    “With the old rules, I could barely get enough time to rest after working,” Pryor said. “By the time I got my head down a few hours, it would be time to go again.”
    Trucking On The Move
    The ATA’s American Trucking Trends 2014 report says truck freight volumes had slowed from the previous couple of years, but still rose in 2012 and boomed in 2013 thanks to energy and housing.
    Freight movement by truck is only expected to increase. According to Forecast, a collaboration between ATA and IHS Global Insight, overall freight tonnage will grow 23.5 percent from now until 2025 and freight revenues will be up 72 percent.
    Truck transportation’s average annual growth rate over the next five years is projected to be 3.3 percent, with 11,587.1 million tons moving behind trucks by 2019. By 2025, trucking is projected to occupy 71.4 percent of the transportation market, moving 12,358.8 million tons at a revenue of $ 1.177 trillion.
    Last year, trucking’s revenue was $681.7 billion. In 2019 it is projected to be $954.9 billion. Truckload volume is expected to grow 3.5 percent a year through 2019, then 1.2 percent annually from 2020 to 2025 – however, truckload carriers will make greater use of intermodal rail for intermediate and long-distance hauls, the Forecast report added.
    At 15 percent, the Okla-Ark-La-Tex region has the second-highest amount of outbound tonnage transported by truck in the nation. The Great Lakes states have the highest inbound and outbound truck tonnage.

    Todd E. Smith
    Thomas Wilson Group, LLC

  • The Trucker News Services

    WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Monday announced the implementation of changes to state and federal data systems that will allow states to reflect the results of adjudicated citations related to roadside inspection violation data collected in the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS).
    The policy on recording results of adjudicated citations in FMCSA data systems only applies to citations issued during roadside inspections occurring on or after Aug. 23, 2014.
    Drivers and carriers must submit copies of certified documentation of adjudicated citation results through a Request for Data Review (RDR) in FMCSA's DataQs system to initiate the process. MCMIS has been modified to accept adjudication results showing that a citation was dismissed or resulted in a finding of not guilty; resulted in a conviction of a different charge; or, resulted in conviction of the original charge.
    The adjudicated citation results will impact the use of roadside inspection violation data in other FMCSA data systems, including the Safety Measurement System and the Pre-Employment Screening Program.
    These systems will be updated to remove violations that were dismissed or resulted in a finding of not guilty, and will reflect violations that resulted in a different charge.
    These changes build upon FMCSA’s efforts to improve the quality and uniformity of roadside inspection violation data with input from the public, States, motor carriers, and drivers.
    FMCSA outlines the policy in a Federal Register notice published June 5, 2014.

    Todd E. Smith
    Thomas Wilson Group, LLC

  • 3 Ways to Qualify for a $75K Broker Bond

    Since the transportation bill became law a few months ago, I have received a lot of calls from brokers who want to understand the implications for their business. The law, dubbed Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), includes many provisions that affect freight brokers, but the $75,000 bond requirement has been the subject of the biggest controversy.
    When concerned clients ask my advice about the new bond, I urge them to calm down. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced that its target date for enforcement is October 1, so there is still time to prepare and to consider the options.
    There is also a lot of confusion and misinformation about the bond. For example, many brokers fear that the larger bond will not be available.  That simply is not true.  There are sureties that are eager to provide $75,000 bonds to qualified brokers and freight forwarders.
    Here are three things you need to know about the bond:
    1. For the first time freight forwarders will be required to post bonds.  If a company has both broker and freight forwarder authority, two bonds will be required.
    2. Carriers that broker loads will be required to obtain brokerage authority and post a bond. 
    3. Brokers will have to increase the amount of their current bond or trust account.
    It is important to understand that surety bonds are completely different from insurance policies.  With an insurance policy, the insurance company agrees to pay for defined risks of loss in exchange for your premium payment.  The insurance company uses its own money to pay claims.  A bond is merely a guaranty, backed by the surety’s financial strength, that the broker will pay legitimate freight bills in the agreed-upon manner.  The surety is not assuming risk, because it will use the broker’s money to pay those bills.  The underwriting on a bond is based upon the broker’s credit history, reputation, and financial strength.  That means the broker’s financial statement is crucial; it must show that the broker has the cash to reimburse the surety if there are any claims against the bond.
    Here are three ways for small brokers and freight forwarders to prepare for the underwriting requirements of a $75,000 bond:
    1. Talk to your accountant about improving your financial statement to support the $75,000 bond. 
    2. Provide a letter of credit from a bank. 
    3. Use the brokerage owner’s personal financial statement to support the bond. 
    You may find that some combination of these strategies is best for your company. You may also need to consider changing your corporate structure, especially if you are operating as a Sub-S corporation or LLC.
    What’s your next step? Meet with a good accountant and a banker to prepare for the surety’s underwriting requirements, so you can secure a $75,000 bond and keep your business on a solid footing.
    Mark Yunker, vice-president of business insurance agency RJ Ahmann Company, is an expert in the area of contingent cargo insurance for the transportation industry. With more than 20 years of experience, Mr. Yunker is a consultant to DAT on insurance issues.