dora-transparent3You’ve reached “The Deerfield Transportation Trucking Insurance Blog,” we’re  glad you’ve dropped by. We hope you will avail yourself of what we think is a wealth of relevant & useful information regarding all things Trucking. We believe that good decision making starts with good information. The challenges you face every day can be a lot more manageable if you’re in the know. We don’t mind saying we’re experts in Trucking Risk & Insurance, so please don’t hesitate to call us if you’d like to have a conversation about your specific Trucking Risk, Insurance, & Compliance needs, concerns, or whatever is on your mind. We trust this will be an ongoing & important resource for you now and in the future, so please don’t hesitate to come back as often as you like, we’re always adding new content. Here’s to your increased knowledge!

Dora Odom







Texas Supreme Court allows loss-of-use damages for total loss cases

On January 8, 2016, the Texas Supreme Court released a decision that reversed a 60-year trend in Texas auto insurance litigation. In J&D Towing, LLC vs. American Alternative Insurance Corp. (AAIC), the Court reversed a confusing trend of prohibiting the recovery of loss-of-use damages in total loss cases. Traditionally, claimants whose damaged property can be repaired are entitled to recovering the cost of repairs as well as loss-of-use damages. Because claimants whose property is totally destroyed often replace the property immediately, and because courts have tried to limit the possibility of double recovery, claimants who have suffered a total loss have only been entitled to the fair market value of the lost property. Though it has been the norm in Texas courts for decades, the Fort Worth Court of Appeals decided in Morrison v. Campbell in 2014 that “there is no compelling or logical reason to treat loss of use claims differently in destroyed property cases than we do in repairable property cases.” The Court was not trying to establish a new general rule, but ruled that a claimant should be able to recover loss-of-use damages on top of the fair market value of lost property when an insurer delays payment on a total loss. This 2014 ruling helped support J&D Trucking’s successful appeal to the Texas Supreme Court concluded two years later. Chronology of the case: How J&D Towing, LLC vs. American Alternative Insurance Corp. (AAIC) upended a 60-year tradition In December 2011, on its way to repossess a vehicle, J&D Towing’s only tow truck was struck in the passenger side by a car. All parties agreed that... read more

FMCSA Basics: Driver Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates interstate trucking and bus transportation. The agency’s regulations and methodologies are ever always in flux, with changes proposed as recently as January 15, 2016. The medical qualifications and regulations for drivers are no exception, though general requirements have remained relatively consistent. Here’s what you need to know about general requirements and recent changes in the regulations. DRIVER REQUIREMENTS For the legal, in-depth version of driver requirements, view Rule 391 on the FMCSA website. In short, CMV drivers are required to: • Be at least 21 years old • Be able to read and speak the English language well enough to dothe job • Be able to safely operate the motor vehicle he/she will be driving • Be physically qualified to operate the vehicle • Have a currently valid commercial motor vehicle operator’s license issued by his/her state of residence • Not be disqualified to operate a motor vehicle • Have successfully completed a road test or its equivalent • Follow the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations • Have a Driver Qualification File w/Medical Certification A Driver Qualification (DQ) file consists of: • An application for employment • A motor vehicle record (MVR) from states • Previous employer information • Road test form and certificate or license or certificate accepted in lieu of road test • Medical exam certificate, original or a copy, plus any letter granting a waiver of a physical disqualification • Annual motor vehicle record • Annual review of driving record • Annual list of violations • Entry-level driver training certificate (if applicable) • Longer combination vehicle driver training certificate (if applicable) Physical qualifications To qualify physically, drivers must not have any the following conditions if it is likely... read more

FMCSA Essentials: Compliance, Safety, Accountability

The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program is the cornerstone of the compliance and enforcement efforts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). CSA collects data on carriers’ safety performance nationwide and targets the FMCSA’s enforcement intervention resources at the most noncompliant and unsafe companies. Rather than rely on FMCSA’s team or law enforcement partners to track millions of CMV companies and commercial driver license holders, the scientific CSA model allows the FMCSA to use data from state partners across the country and correct issues before they cause crashes and cost lives. What are the components of CSA? CSA is made up of three parts: Measurement. CSA uses inspection and crash data to identify high-risk carriers. Evaluation. CSA contacts a large number of high-risk carriers and drivers with customized information and an updated Safety Fitness Determination methodology. Intervention. CSA aims to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of enforcement officers’ interventions, including warning letters, roadside inspections, and investigations. How does the CSA measure safety? Until 2010, FMCSA relied on a data-driven analysis system called SafeStat. While SafeStat successfully identified carriers at risk for crashes, it proved to be too simplistic. Additionally, it did not focus on behaviors of CMV drivers, which the FMCSA Large Truck Crash Causation Study showed needed serious attention. Today the FMCSA uses the Safety Measurement System (SMS), its new “workload prioritization tool.” ¹ The tool continues to undergo improvements. In September 2015, the Safety Measurement System (SMS) Methodology was updated to reflect stakeholders’ suggestions. How does the SMS work? The SMS incorporates motor carrier data from safety-based violations, State-reported crashes, and the Federal motor carrier census to... read more

It’s Official: The FMCSA Has Published Its Final ELD Rule, to General Acclaim

Adopting electronic logging devices is no longer an option for most interstate CMV operations. On December 16, 2015, the Federal Register published the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s final rule on Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting Documents. Proposed in early 2014 and revealed on December 10th by the FMCSA, the rule requires model year 2000 and newer trucks involved in interstate travel to start using ELDs by December 2017. After a similar 2010 ELD rule failed due to litigation concerning harassment and supporting documents, the FMCSA learned its lesson. It has taken steps to explicitly prohibit the coercion of drivers and even took on authority to enforce the rule against shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries—not just motor carriers. While the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and Truck Renting and Leasing Association have raised concerns, responses to the 2015 Final Rule have largely been positive. ELD Final Rule: Key Points Approximately three million commercial vehicle drivers will be impacted by the ELD mandate. There is a two-year compliance window for commercial truck and bus drivers to adopt ELDs. The ELD rule makes procedural and technical provisions to prevent harassment related to ELD data. The rule establishes technology specifications for manufacturers to create compliant devices and allows the use of certified smart phones and other wireless devices as ELDs. Carriers that have already installed compliant automatic onboard recording devices are allowed to keep using them for two years after the compliance date. The FMCSA anticipates that the rule will result in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion (mostly in processing paperwork time and cost) and the... read more

Key FMCSA Resources & Definitions for Carriers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Transportation whose primary mission is “to prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses”.¹  This mission translates into a large range of programs and thousands of pages of regulations and resources for carriers, drivers, and consumers. In this section of our FMCSA series, we’ll look at key resources and terms for truck and bus companies looking to comply with federal standards. Key Resources The FMCSA website contains a wealth of information. For example, Carriers can find their company profile and safety information on the Registration and Licensing page. Full updated regulations can be viewed and searched through the Regulations page of the FCMSA website. The website also features 94 FAQs specifically relevant to Carriers. There are thousands of pages of very specific information on the FMCSA website. In 2009 the agency published an easy-to-read guide to the most relevant information: the 162-page A Motor Carrier’s Guide to Improving Highway Safety, a PDF accessible online. IMPORTANT DEFINITIONS The following terms are essential to understand as a carrier. Interstate vs. Intrastate Commerce Interstate commerce describes a vehicle, passengers, or cargo that crosses a state boundary or intends to cross a state boundary. Intrastate commerce occurs within one state. FMCSRs FMCSR is an acronym for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation. These are published in the Federal Register and compiled in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), parts 300-399. You can search regulations, rule making documents, and notices on the Regulations page of the FMCSA website. HMRs HMRs are Hazardous Materials Regulations. (HMs are hazardous... read more

Cargo Theft — Security and Responsibility

Cargo Theft is a common crime; a crime of opportunity. Cargo goods are easy to access and abundant across the country.  Statistics estimate that cargo theft cost the shipping industry about $25 billion a year. Cargo theft happens frequently in terminals, truck stops, warehouses, parking lots, and most commonly in trucks parked on the street. This is a problem that occurs all around the country. To minimize Cargo theft we recommend these Prevention Procedures:  About Personnel: Get to know your drivers before hiring by performing a pre-employment screening. Unattended Trucks: Make sure your units are equipped with an alarm system and locked completely. About Routes: Make sure your routes are done with a minimum of stops and don’t leave your vehicle unattended in an unsecured area at any time. About Subcontractors: If you use subcontractors you need to obtain as much information about the company and driver as possible. About Equipment: Secure all trailers or containers making sure they are seal/locked correctly and against a wall. Yards or Parking Lots: Ensure adequate lightning, fences and security cameras and guards are provided to prevent unauthorized vehicles from entering the location.... read more

“Lets Talk About Driving”

Are you a good driver? Do you know that the Safety Measurement System Results from the FMCSA website could affect your insurance rating? The SMS is a recompilation of public information of your trucking business to evaluate your safety compliance with regulation. This information includes driving violations, crash history, fatigue, driver fitness, drugs and alcohol Cargo and maintenance. You can also find your OOS ( out of service). It is important to know that Insurance Company underwriters have the capability and duty to check these results to get to know their risks. Theycould base part of their insurance rating from the information obtained not only from the MVR (Motor Vehicle Record), but also from the SMS. TIPS : DGO Insurance advises you follow the “10 steps for good driving” featured, to get on the road in perfect alignment with regulation. The FMCSA encourages you to check your SMS results periodically. You can also correct any erroneous data by request to the FMCSA. Our commitment to you is to inform you of the benefits of having a good driving record and an excellent maintenance program for your trucks  to be able to get a great insurance coverage at as low a cost as possible.... read more

How Important Is Cargo Securement?

How many times have you witnessed a truck/trailer (small or large), with loose or improperly secured cargo? A piece of loose cargo can easily bounce off the vehicle and present a hazard to other motorists or pedestrians. As truck operators, you are expected to safeguard the product transported. The motoring public expects a company or organization to protect it against the risk of becoming involved in a crash caused by shifting or falling cargo. Safe cargo handling minimizes company liability exposure and helps project a safety-conscious corporate image. Also, cargo securement expect fleet managers to protect the company from expensive claims whether those claims are cargo or tool/material losses or third-party liability claims. In addition to strictly monetary costs, other potential costs may arise: The impact of an injury or fatality. The effect on customers if the cargo or service is not delivered. The impact on a company’s third-party insurance rates. The consequences of a vehicle loss on business operations. To proactively deal with these cost and liability issues, a company must develop and implement a cargo securement process. Ensure all drivers are adequately trained for the specific class of vehicle they operate. As the old adage advises, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Cover the Basics of Cargo Securement Good housekeeping practices for all fleet and non fleet vehicles are important. A clean, tidy vehicle is the first step in projecting a positive corporate image to customers and the motoring public. Complete a thorough pre-trip vehicle inspection, including all components and accessories. Remove all debris from the vehicle bed or trailer deck. These areas... read more

FMCSA Overview

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the safety of Commercial Motor Vehicles, or CMVs. It is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Transportation whose primary mission is “to prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses,” according to its Facebook page. What is a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV)? A CMV is a vehicle used on highways in interstate commerce that either: Weighs more than 10,000 lbs. (26,000 lbs. in Texas) Transports or is designed to transport 16 or more people (including the driver), or -more than 8 people for compensations Transports hazardous materials in quantities requiring placarding What does the FMCSA do? The agency’s mission is to “reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving commercial motor vehicle (CMV) transportation through education, innovation, regulation, enforcement, financial assistance, partnerships, and full accountability.”¹ Its three core principles involve raising the bar to entry for the industry, hold carriers and drivers to high safety standards, and remove the highest risk drivers, vehicles, and carriers (truck and bus companies) from the roads. The FMCSA enforces safety regulations, improves information systems and CMV technologies, keeps operating and equipment standards high, and generally promotes safety awareness. It works closely with Federal, State, and local enforcement agencies, as well as the motor carrier industry and organized labor groups. While the FMCSA’s work targets CMV drivers and carriers, the agency also promotes safety awareness to the public through various programs and resources, such as Look Before You Book and Protect Your Move. History and success Formerly a part of the Federal Highway Administration, the FMCSA was established in 2000 in accordance with the Motor... read more
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