Tuesday, September 15, 2015

New Transport Plates are in!

New Indiana Transport Plates are in for 2016! Please see Teresa DURING REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS to exchange your plates out as soon as convenient! Please don't wait until the last minute and make it difficult to keep running.

The process is simple; please just bring your old plates and registration in during regular business hours sometime before the end of September, and Teresa or Laurie will get a new set issued to you. If you do not have your new plates before the end of September, you will, unfortunately, be placed in lock until you can make it in to bring your old plates.

Thanks for helping make this a smooth process. Drive safe!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Make More Money Running As A Team!

At other companies, transport drivers of the motorized and towable variety each suffer from a few issues. For the pickup truck owner/operator, it is the case of deadheading all the way back home or to the terminal more often as not. For the motorized driver, it is how to get home after a delivery.

At Synergy, by trying to team our drivers, both of these drivers stand to make more money! Here's how...

Lets look at Mary Motorized taking a box truck and Pete Pickup pulling a triple axle trailer to Denver....

Goshen, IN to Denver, CO - Running Separately
Mary Motorized Pete Pickup
Pay 1109 miles $942.65 Pay  1109 Miles $1,474.97
Costs Fuel $225.07 Costs Fuel Out $266.16
  Trip Home $215.50   Fuel Back $210.71
        Wear & Tear $221.80
Net Pay Run Profit $502.08 Net Pay Run Profit $776.30
Now, let's team these two up and see how much more they can make...
Goshen, IN to Denver, CO - Running Together
Mary Motorized Pete Pickup
Pay 1109 miles $942.65 Pay  1109 Miles $1,474.97
Costs Fuel $225.07 Costs Fuel Out $266.16
  Trip Home $105.36   Fuel Back $105.35
        Wear & Tear $221.80
Net Pay Run Profit $612.22 Net Pay Run Profit $881.66
 With Mary helping pay the fuel costs coming home for a ride with Pete, rather than riding the Greyhound, she earns over $110 more! And Pete, with a person coming home and splitting costs, makes an additional $115! By working together, the Synergistic effect kicks in, and these drivers combined earn over $225
If you are interested in making far more money by teaming with another driver, talk to your dispatcher about teaming up! If you're an owner/operator, and know someone who might make a good driver for us, let recruiting know, and we will get to work signing on your teammate!

Note that truck expenses listed above are estimated and can vary depending on the truck and how the driver operates and maintains it.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Why we no longer care about the Minnesota Transporter Plate

"Effective immediately per Minnesota DOT, we no longer need to run Minnesota transporter plates.  Any vehicles and trailers with a combined GVW under 26,000 need to have our Indiana Transporter Plate on..." 

Transporters know the old story....Indiana Transport Plates are good in every United State and Canadian Province, except one: Minnesota. For years, Minnesota did not recognize Indiana Transport Plates (and, as one may suspect, Indiana decided not tor recognize Minnesota Transporter plates). This agreement, or lack thereof, is called "reciprocity." Reciprocity, basically, is an agreement between two bodies that if one recognized the other's laws, then that recognition will be returned. 

So for years, Minnesota Transporter plates have not been reciprocal with any other state or province. This could actually result in fines for people using Minnesota Transporter plates outside Minnesota. 

On July 22, 2015, Minnesota's Department of Public Safety issued a statement, recognizing a change in Minnesota Statute. 

During the 2015 legislative session the Minnesota legislature amended the drive-away in-transit law (also known as the transporter or DRW plate).  Effective July 1, 2015 the Minnesota DRW plate will be issued only to Minnesota-based transporters and the restriction that the plate be used only within the state of Minnesota has been removed.To assist out of state transporters driving through Minnesota, there are reciprocity agreements between Minnesota and 14 states and one Canadian province. Under the terms of these reciprocity agreements, an out of state transporter may travel on Minnesota roads using their home-based DRW plate. 

This means that te Minnesota plate is no longer required to be used in Minnesota for Synergy RV Transport. It also means that Synergy drivers CAN NO LONGER USE Minnesota plates.  

Minnesota Revisor Of Statutes 2015
Letter from Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety Subject: Minnesota Drive Away In-transit transporter licenses

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Supporting Documents

Hello Everyone,

We have been struggling to get everybody to turn in at least one supporting document for each log that shows driving. FMCSR 395.8(k)(1) states ”Each motor carrier shall maintain records of duty status and all supporting documents for each driver for a period of six months from the date of receipt.” At this time we are only asking for one supporting document a day, we’ll worry about all supporting documents later. We need to get on board with complying with this regulation.

Starting August first any logs that show drive time that do not have a supporting document of some type shall not be processed. It will be returned to the driver through the files in in the driver room and if the driver has logs missing that are more than thirteen days old the driver will be locked until the logs are turned in satisfactorily.

Tom Gibson
Synergy RV Transport
574-537-1860 x 119

Notice how the supporting document, an ATM receipt, shows that the driver was in Goshen at 3:21 PM Eastern time, just like his log says.

FMCSR 49 CFR 395.8 : "(k) Retention of driver's record of duty status. (1) Each motor carrier shall maintain records of duty status and all supporting documents for each driver it employs for a period of six months from the date of receipt."

75 Federal Register 32984, June 10, 2010 : According to DOT enforcement personnel, "Supporting documents are the records of the motor carrier which are maintained in the ordinary course of business and used by the motor carrier to verify the information recorded on the driver’s record of duty status. Examples are:
  • bills of lading,
  • carrier pros,
  • freight bills,
  • dispatch records,
  • electronic mobile communication/tracking records,
  • gate record receipts,
  • weight/scale tickets,
  • fuel receipts,
  • fuel billing statements,
  • toll receipts,
  • toll billing statements,
  • port of entry receipts,
  • cash advance receipts,
  • delivery receipts,
  • lumper receipts,
  • interchange and inspection reports,
  • lessor settlement sheets,
  • over/short and damage reports,
  • agricultural inspection reports,
  • driver and vehicle examination reports,
  • crash reports,
  • telephone billing statements,
  • credit card receipts,
  • border crossing reports,
  • custom declarations,
  • traffic citations,
  • overweight/oversize permits
  • traffic citations. Supporting documents may include other documents which the motor carrier maintains and can be used to verify information on the driver’s records of duty status."

FMCSR 49 CFR 395.8(k)(1);
FMCSR 49 CFR 395.8 Guidance Question 10
75 Federal Register 32984, June 10, 2010

What kind of a drivers license do I need?

This is a very common question from drivers, and the answer is both complicated and simple. Basically, you need the lowest "for-hire" license that your state offers. A "for-hire" license allows you to drive for hire, basically to get paid for driving. A commercial driver license from any state, regardless of class, allows you to drive for hire, although different classes allow you do drive larger or smaller combinations.

If you do not have a CDL, then your state may issue a specific for-hire license. Or your state may not. If your state does not offer a for-hire license, then, by default, a standard operator's license from your state of residence will work.

States that do offer a for-hire license are as follows:
  • Alaska - Chauffer License
  • Georgia - Class C License
  • Illinois - Class C License (For Driveaway Only)
  • Indiana - Chauffer License (or Operators with F Endorsement)
  • Iowa - Chauffer License
  • Lousiana - Chauffer License
  • Maryland - Chauffer License
  • Michigan - Chauffer License
  • Mississippi - Class D License
  • Missouri - Class E License
  • Nebraska - Chauffer License
  • Nevada - Operators license with a J-Endorsement
  • New York - Class E License
  • North Carolina - Class C License
  • Tennessee - Operators license with an F-Endorsement
  • West Virginia - Chauffer License
As more states' rules evolve toward a CDL only, these regulations may change. Verify that this list is correct for your state before attempting to drive commercially. Ask your license branch representative what minimum license is required for you to drive commercially in interstate commerce.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Logging Updates - Company Speed Limit and More

I met with our compliance company yesterday afternoon and would like to let you all know they are very eager to work with us to help us improve.  

1. They have assigned us our own tech to work on our logs.  So from now on we have one point of contact to resolve any problems that may come up.  This means that errors on the violation letters from Compliance should go down. 

2. On logs where the log show you EMPTY the company speed limit has been removed.  I need to emphasize, if you have any load information on the log at any point in the day the company speed limit is in force for the entire day!  However on days where you are returning empty and that is what you enter in the load data the company speed limit will no longer apply.  

3, We are looking into why we have so many PTI violations.  Please keep in mind that Synergy requires a Pre-trip and Post-trip Inspection every day. We will keep you posted what we find on this issue.  

One issue that we need to improve on is missing logs.  Our discussion here was simple and to the point; we know that there are problems with logs coming up missing after we ship them and we held them accountable for that.  However we also have a problem with logs coming in on time.  As usual, the vast majority of our drivers a great about getting their logs in on time but we have “some” who need to step it up and pay a little more attention to this portion of the job.  Synergy policy requires that logs be turned in with every run.  If you are not taking loads then you need to submit logs once every seven days.

As you can see, not only do we want to see improvement from our drivers, we want to see improvement from our compliance company and ourselves.  If we all work as a team, the Synergystic effect will get the job done.

Tom Gibson

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Driver's Meeting Recap

Hello Everyone,

As most of you know, on June 24th we had a drivers meeting.  Andy started the meeting talking about trailers and rates.  He brought up that trailers are still moving but many of the dealers had ordered stock late last year so there is not some of the panic buying going on this year like went on last year.  He also addressed the rate cut that the manufacturers had put on us.  None of us liked it but, if we didn’t accept it,  the manufacturers would simply give the trailers to the transporters who did and there would literally be no trailers right now. 
Tom addressing the drivers at the Hernandez Event Center
Tom addressing the drivers
The bulk of the meeting was spent on Compliance.  As everyone is probably aware, we have some issues in this area and they never seem to get any better.  Tom spent about an hour and three-quarters up front going through our current scores, answering questions and explaining what will happen.  Probably the biggest question asked was about logging back.  It is true that if your truck has a GVWR under 10,000 pounds FMCSR does not require to log back.  It is also true that Synergy RV Transport is allowed to be more restrictive than FMCSR but not more lenient.  This is one of those areas that we are being more restrictive.  We will not have two classes of people at Synergy; EVERY TOWABLE DRIVER SHALL LOG BACK.  The reality is almost everybody already is and the few that aren’t will find out, very soon,  that we are serious about people following the rules. 
FMCSRs require that drivers log all commercial movement. This includes:
  • All time and miles that the driver is under load,
  • All time and miles that the driver is returning from a delivery either to his or her home or the terminal, and
  • All time spent driving from home or elsewhere to the terminal with the intent of picking up a unit or dispatching.
Although we have to conform in all areas, we have significant problems in two areas Driver Fitness and Hours of Service. In driver fitness the problems are pretty simple:
  •  not having the medical card with you, or
  • the GVWR of your trailer and truck adds up to more than 26,000 pounds if you don't have a CDL. 
The problems with hours of service are many.  I already addressed logging back to Goshen or to home.  If you call dispatch and get a load prior to leaving your home, you are required to log from home to Goshen.  The absolute biggest problems are:
  • the log not being current to the last change of duty status,
  • not having the previous seven days with you,
  • not having a supporting document for every log,
  • driving past eleven hours, fourteen hours or driving and being on duty more than eight consecutive hours without a thirty minute break off duty  (line 1) break.   
There are many more but those are the first we need to correct.

The other area where we seem to have some problems is getting drivers to send in their DOT inspections.  All DOT inspections shall be sent in within twenty-four hours or at the beginning of the next normal working day, regardless of whether you passed or not.  To be honest we will know anyway, save yourself some hassle and send them in.

I have taken over dealing with the log violations, our goal is not to create a lot discord. Actually quite the opposite; our goal  to correct training deficiencies or mis-conceptions that may exist.  Then if there are a few people who just refuse to comply we will deal with them one on one.


Tom Gibson

Monday, June 8, 2015

Window Tint Regulations Decoded

The issue of window tint seems to come up almost daily in the RV Transport industry. As is to be expected, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation governing this is pretty clear, but not the easiest to understand.

The Regulation Says...

The regulation that governs window tint is "§ 393.60: Glazing in specified openings." Specifically, § 393.60 (d) states:
Coloring or tinting of windshields and windows. Coloring or tinting of windshields and the windows to the immediate right and left of the driver is allowed, provided the parallel luminous transmittance through the colored or tinted glazing is not less than 70 percent of the light at normal incidence in those portions of the windshield or windows which are marked as having a parallel luminous transmittance of not less than 70 percent. The transmittance restriction does not apply to other windows on the commercial motor vehicle.
 The guidance from the FMCSA on this section confirms that, indeed, windows may be tinted:
Question 1: May windshields and side windows be tinted? 
Guidance: Yes, as long as the light transmission is not restricted to less than 70 percent of normal (refer to the American Standards Association publication Z26.1-1966 and Z26.1a-1969).
However, this is VERY misleading.

The Regulation Means...

 Notice that the regulation never addresses what level of tint can be added to the front side windows and the windshield. The regulation never addresses how dark the tint can be, only that 70% of light must pass through the window when measuring "parallel luminous transmittance."

 What is Parallel Luminous Transmittance?

Luminous Transmittance is simply a measurement of how much of the light on one side of the glass makes it to the other side. If a window were made of perfectly clear glass (which, by the way, does not exist.....any glass blocks some of the light), then the VLT would measure 100%.

If we measure standard, untinted safety glass, the results are somewhat surprising. Standard safety glass (usually tempered glass on the side windows, laminated safety glass on the windshield) blocks 20% to 25% of the glass with no additional tint whatsoever. 
Adding even a small amount of tint will almost always push the VLT below the federal legal limits.
Even if the tint is barely noticeable, the violation becomes even more severe.

How is VLT measured?

Visible light transparency can be measured in a number of ways, but the most popular choice (by both Synergy RV Transport and by law enforcement) is by a tint meter. The tint meter simply provides light on one side of the glass and measures how much of the light goes through the window.
For law enforcement it is an easy read. They place this on the window, and if it reads less than 70 (as it will with any tinted glass), they write the ticket. 

But it is legal in my state!

Like most regulations involving passenger vehicles, tint laws can vary wildly by state. Some states mandate 70% or greater VLT, while some states allow almost black tint to be passed through. Some states even govern the color of the tint that can be used.
The good news for us is we do not have to know the laws of every state because, as commercial drivers operating commercial motor vehicles, we only need to comply with federal regulations. The bad news is the federal regulation leaves precisely zero grey area.....tint on the windshield or front side windows is non-compliant. Although the regulation allows tinting, almost any level of tint is going to push a window under the 70% mark and make it non-compliant.

How can this affect me?

If the commercial motor vehicle you are driving has tint that reduces the VLT of the windshield or the front side windows, to below 70%, you can be cited. This citation comes with CSA points that are on your record for three years as well as a fine of up to in excess of $400. Moreover, since law enforcement personnel have a well-earned reputation for disliking window tint, you increase your chances of getting a closer look from an inspector. Finally, if your visibility is called into question in an accident investigation, the accident could be considered more your fault.

Sources: FMCSR Part 393.60 (Regulation and Guidance)

Copyright © 2015 Synergy RV Transport, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Monday, May 18, 2015

To Tank or Not To Tank - Auxiliary Fuel Tanks

Auxiliary fuel tanks have been a staple for the industry for many years. In recent times, the DOT has taken a more stringent look into these tanks.

Having an auxiliary tank in the bed of the truck, to many drivers, is well worth the expense and extra weight, and pays for itself by reducing the number of fuel stops and allowing the driver to purchase fuel in regions where it is less expensive.

If a driver has decided to invest in a new tank, he or she should be certain that it conforms to all regulations, but specifically §393.67:

Tank must conform to all rules in §393.67, and must be marked "Meets all FMCSA requirements for non-side-mounted fuel tanks"

The tests for these tanks are very specific and rigorous, and include leak tests and drop tests. These tests are designed to ensure that fuel does not leave the tank in a catastrophic way during a wreck of some kind, and every tank used legally in interstate commerce has passed these tests and bears the certification above.

Tank must be mounted in a "workmanlike manner."

This verbiage is a little grey, in that "workmanlike manner" is open to interpretation. The intent of the regulation is that the fuel tank not be able to shift, overturn, fall out, or otherwise move around while the truck is in motion or during a catastrophic event. Almost all legally approved tanks will have mounting points to allow them to be attached to the truck, and we recommend attaching them to the frame of the truck if at all possible, rather than just the bed. Consult the Driver's Handbook on Cargo Securement published by the FMCSA for guidance.

Must be marked appropriately

Auxiliary tanks that are compliant will bear certain identifying marks, such as:
  1. Month and year of manufacture
  2. Manufacturer's name
  3. Some way to identify the location of manufacture
You will find that most legal tanks will also have a liquid capacity rating in gallons marked as well
Any legally compliant tank will have the appropriate markings on an easily accessible and readable plate.

Tank of appropriate size

If you are a diesel driver, the maximum auxiliary fuel tank you can have is 450 liters (119 gallons). Anything greater than this and it could be considered transporting goods, in this case, diesel fuel, which places you in the the Hazardous Materials area of the regulation book.

Tank should be properly plumbed

The regulations regarding fuel lines, including protection of and tolerances for, is pretty specific. Having unprotected or damaged rubber hoses containing a combustible liquid is a bad idea, and the regulations reflect this. 
An adapter kit can be of help to plumb your auxiliary tank into your fuel fill hose.

Note that this list is not complete...we have just hit the high points. Also, bear in mind that these rules are for diesel, not gasoline. Using an auxiliary tank with a gasoline system is very different and, due to tank size restrictions, not worth the effort. We hope this information helps you in your decision to purchase, install, and use a compliant auxiliary fuel system.

Sources: FMCSR Parts 393.65 and 392.51, Driver Handbook on Cargo Securement Ch. 1

Copyright © 2015 Synergy RV Transport, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 1, 2015

CVSA Announces 2015 Blitz Dates

CVSA has announced the dates and areas of focus for the 2015 International Roadcheck (aka DOT Blitz). This year's IRC will be in the first week of June, specifically June 2 through June 4, 2015, and will focus on Cargo Securement.

Even though Cargo Securement is the focus, we can expect (from past years) that most CMVs running on this weekend will be given some form of inspection (Either a level 1 or level 2).

Says the CVSA about the event:
International Roadcheck, now in its 28th year, is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial motor vehicles in the world, with nearly 17 trucks or buses inspected, on average, every minute across North America during a 72-hour period in early June. Each year, approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial and federal inspectors in every jurisdiction across North America perform the truck and bus inspections.
International Roadcheck is an annual three-day event when CVSA-certified inspectors conduct compliance, enforcement and educational initiatives targeted at various elements of motor carrier, vehicle, driver and cargo safety and security.
Since its inception in 1988, roadside inspections conducted during Roadcheck have numbered over 1.4 million, resulting in more than 318 lives saved and 5,840 injuries avoided. It also provides an opportunity to educate industry and the general public about the importance of safe commercial vehicle operations and the roadside inspection program.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) sponsors International Roadcheck with participation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (Mexico).
We will update as more information becomes available. Read more about it here.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Infamous 30-Minute Break Rule

The 30-Minute Break rule (the most recent major change to our hours of service rules) has been around since 2013, and still many drivers are having difficulty understanding how it works.

Basically, the 30-Minute Break rule states that a driver can not work more than 8 hours without taking a 30 minute break. The 30-minute break must:
  • Not include any work activities at all (including fueling, inspections, etc.)
  • Must be a period of 30 consecutive minutes (can't be two 15-minute breaks, etc.)
  • Must be shown as "Off Duty" on your daily log.
For Example, this driver delivered a unit to College Park, Georgia. He stayed within his 11-Hour Driving limit and 14-Hour Duty Period limit, but violated the 8-Hour/30-Minute Break rule.
This driver jeopardized his profits from this run by ignoring the 30-Minute Break rule.

In a DOT stop, the driver could have been cited and put out of service for ignoring the break any time after 2:00 PM, and could be cited if his or her records are audited after the fact.

When he or she had fueled in Elizabethtown, KY, the driver could have taken his 30-Minute Break off duty and still made the delivery.

Even with a 30-Minute Break, this driver makes the delivery legally!
 The best time to take the 30-Minute Break if a driver intends to work his or her full 14 hours is between the 6th and 8th hour of the work day. This way a driver can not accidentally work more than 8 hours after his or her break.

We hope this helps! Be safe, drivers, and have a great day! We are thankful for what you do!

Sources: FMCSR Part 395.5(a)(3)(ii)

Copyright © 2015 Synergy RV Transport, Inc. All Rights Reserved