Preparing for a Compliance Audit

Compliance Audit: How to Be Ready Long Before You Are Notified

Preparing for a compliance audit can be a very nerve-wracking, time-consuming event. From the minute you receive a notification of an audit, your brain begins to spin with all of the requirements and reporting that are necessary to pass. However, it is suggested that you prepare yourself and your team long before the letter arrives. This can be accomplished by the implementation of a solid workflow and a professionally organized record keeping system. Here are a couple of ways that you can help to guarantee a successful audit.

Make sure your team members are all using the same documentation.

It can be difficult to find the right logging system for your company, but once you decide on one, stick to it and make sure everyone is using it. If everyone in your fleet uses the same logging device or same logging documents providing information to an auditor becomes much easier.

Keep your team members on the same schedule

A large part of compliance auditing is making sure everyone and everything is happy and healthy. This includes both drivers and machinery. It is much easier to manage the health of both your employees and their machinery if they are all getting regular check-ups. Designate certain times of year for your employees to check in on their health, update medical certification, and make sure you have regularly scheduled maintenance for your fleet.

Regularly review your paperwork

While regularly reviewing your paperwork and logs seems like an easy concept, it is often over-looked because it seems so mundane. However, if you keep a good schedule of looking through accident documentation, health files, receipts, and trip reports when the time comes for an audit the entire process will seem much less overwhelming.

If you are able to implement and keep these practices, you will be on the road to success and be passing your compliance audit with flying colors!

Trucking Business Services

Trip Sheet Central (TSC) is a truck-business management suite designed specifically for Truck Carrier Operations. It is ideal for lease and owner-operators, fleet-owners and company drivers.

Whether you're looking for a simple do-it-yourself book-keeping solution, or a full-service accounting service, we can customize a package to meet your bookkeeping, fuel tax reporting, business consulting, coaching and mentoring needs.

Bookkeeping / Fuel Tax Reporting

Our bookkeeping services keep your financials current to help you review how your business is performing, and make sound business decisions.

TSC will organize and maintain your:

  • Trucking Trip Sheets
  • Income/Expense Statements
  • Profit/Loss Statements
  • Accounting Statements
  • Quarterly IFTA Tax Reporting
  • IRP Mileage Reports
  • Other Custom reports
  • General book-keeping
  • Fleet/Equipment Maintenance Records

If you need to setup your own trucking business or add to your MC Authority checkout TSC Authority

Call us today for a free business analysis: (800) 644-2040

Keeping the Books Straight for Truckers

Virtual Assistant
  • How do I know whether my trucking business is turning a profit?
  • How do I setup an accounting system for my trucking business?
  • Is there a one-size-fits-all book-keeping system for trucking businesses?
  • I do not want to learn how to do accounting, do I need to hire an accountant?
  • Staying organized is not one of my strengths -is running a trucking business for me?
  • I think my truck revenue was over $250,000 last year, but I can't tell where it went!
  • How do I keep track of which shipper or broker owes me money?
  • I think the economy is busting my truck business, -maybe?
  • My spreadsheet is out of whack! I can't tell whether the numbers are real or not.
  • Is there a way I can stick it to the man and win in my small trucking biz?
  • Do you hate doing Taxes?
  • Do you know how much your trucking business made last month?
  • Can you provide accurate information about that load you hauled last month to Denver?
  • How much am I paying my owner-operators?
  • Do you have a clue who your customers are?
  • Do you need help keeping your bookkeeping up-to-date?

These are critical questions to ask yourself if you're in the trucking biz, and all too often we don't have straight answers to go along. It's hard enough to juggle all the responsibilities of running your business, let alone fit and keep all the puzzles in place.

Read more

8 Key Reasons Why Many Trucking Businesses Fail

Trip Sheet Central provides professional bookkeeping services, and IFTA (Fuel) Tax reporting for small to medium-sized truck fleets, business owners, lease/owner-operators and independent truck drivers.

Request a FREE quote, or complete and return this Quick Survey for a FREE consultation.

314-266-8450 / info@tripsheetcentral.com

  1. Lack of planning

    Running a trucking business is just like running any other type of business, but with many different regulations to work with; and a very unique type of client-base.

    It's not enough just to hold a CDL; --as a business owner you need careful planning, and help from various professionals to build a good foundation

  2. Poor Management

    Enlist the services of a professional management team, or a bookkeeping service to help you keep the numbers straight.

    This is one of the weakest points in many small businesses, including trucking. If you don't know where the money goes, or how much is coming in--you are less likely to manage the business well.

  3. Low cash-flow

    Cash-flow issues tend to be a combination of several factors such as: not enough customers or business, low-paying freight, high costs of operations, too many unpaid invoices, etc.

    Identify strategies to improve or manage your business' cash flow, or get help from a business manangement service.

  4. No collection strategy

    Whether your small trucking business is sailing smoothly, treading water or moving against a strong tide during these tough economic times, having a reliable collection strategy is key to maintaining enough cash flow to remain profitable.

    Learn more about this here

  5. Low paying freight – no knowledge of market rates

    No business can thrive for long when costs of operation are higher than incoming revenue
    Check your profit/loss statements, cash-flow or income/expense statements to review whether your business is profitable. Are the numbers what you would like to see?

    Consider paying a freight/load service to get better paying freight, or adjust your quotes. Also make sure you are getting paid all fuel and weight surcharges on every load

  6. Failure to stay compliant – resulting in fines and being shut down by DOT

    If you practice staying compliant and encourage safe driving from your drivers, you are more likely to avoid all the headaches that come with being non-compliant.

    Have a written safety plan, procedures for staying legal, and provide regular training/refresher courses to drivers. Avoid business shortcuts --there are none

  7. Partner with the wrong people

    Business partnerships tend to ruin friendships; --avoid them
    If you must enter a partnership, make sure you have an operating agreement, properly documented business documents, and an exit strategy.

    If it's not on paper, maybe it's not for real -just sayin'

  8. No professional help

    Let's face it- how many business owners are also accountants, safety managers, marketing gurus, etc? Not many.

    As a business owner, one of your top jobs is finding and hiring the right people for the job, or getting a service meet the needs you cannot do well on your own.

    Seek advice from the right places – double-check any business advice.

Do you know your BASIC?

Trip Sheet Central

The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program of the FMCSA was designed to weed out as many as 5 percent, or 150,000, of the country's 3 million or so long-haul truck drivers they believe are involved in a disproportionately high number of truck accidents and fatalities.

CSA uses a complex scoring system to rate the nearly 700,000 DOT-registered interstate trucking companies on seven "Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories", known as "BASICs."

The seven (7) BASIC categories are

  1. Unsafe Driving - Operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) by drivers in a dangerous or careless manner. Example violations: Speeding, reckless driving, improper lane change, and inattention. (FMCSR Parts 392 and 397)
  2. Fatigued Driving (Hours-of-Service) - Operation of CMVs by drivers who are ill, fatigued, or in non-compliance with the Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations. This BASIC includes violations of regulations pertaining to logbooks as they relate to HOS requirements and the management of CMV driver fatigue. Example violations: Exceeding HOS, maintaining an incomplete or inaccurate logbook, and operating a CMV while ill or fatigued. (FMCSR Parts 392 and 395)
  3. Driver Fitness - Operation of CMVs by drivers who are unfit to operate a CMV due to lack of training, experience, or medical qualifications. Example violations: Failure to have a valid and appropriate commercial driver's license (CDL) and being medically unqualified to operate a CMV. (FMCSR Parts 383 and 391)
  4. Controlled Substances/Alcohol - Operation of CMVs by drivers who are impaired due to alcohol, illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications. Example violations: Use or possession of controlled substances/alcohol. (FMCSR Parts 382 and 392)
  5. Vehicle Maintenance - Failure to properly maintain a CMV. Example violations: Brakes, lights, and other mechanical defects, and failure to make required repairs. (FMCSR Parts 393 and 396)
  6. Cargo-Related - Failure to properly prevent shifting loads, spilled or dropped cargo, overloading, and unsafe handling of hazardous materials on a CMV. Example violations: Improper load securement, cargo retention, and hazardous material handling. (FMCSR Parts 392, 393, 397 and HM Violations)
  7. Crash Indicator - Histories or patterns of high crash involvement, including frequency and severity. It is based on information from State-reported crashes.

A carrier's measurement for each BASIC depends on the following:

  1. The number of adverse safety events (violations related to that BASIC or crashes)
  2. The severity of violations or crashes
  3. Date when the adverse safety events occurred (more recent events are weighted more heavily)

Carriers are scored in each category. The worse the carrier's performance -the higher the score. Warning letters are sent to fleets with scores above 65 (60 for HazMat carriers).

IRP – International Registration Plan

The International Registration Plan (Plan) is a registration reciprocity agreement among states of the United States, the District of Columbia and provinces of Canada providing for payment of apportionable fees on the basis of total distance operated in all jurisdictions

Interview with Allen Smith

Show Notes

About the Show

Our special guest, Eddie Gichuhi ran over the road for seven years facing the many challenges of being an independent owner operator in a very competitive business environment. Seeing the struggles faced by drivers, he set out to build and design the ultimate bookkeeping service for small to medium sized truck fleets, business owners, owner-operators and company truck drivers. As founder of Trip Sheet Central, he developed a proven framework that truck business owners can use to manage their businesses and grow in strength and profit. If you're serious about having your own successful trucking business, you will not want to miss this show.

Introduction

After having logged roughly half a million miles over several years on the open road, I like to sit at my home office doing IFTA taxes (road taxes), accounting and bookkeeping for other truckers. I enjoy what I do now- helping truckers run and manage their business by working with them directly to create a system that helps them maximize profits and free up time for them to do the things they like most.

Who / what I represent

My work revolves around creating and improving simple business processes that help truckers work better at managing their business make a profit and stay compliant with all federal and state trucking regulations.

Background

When I started trucking more than seven years ago, all I had was a dream, a poor plan and misguided advice on the whole concept of trucking being a profitable venture. Little did I know that it wasn't just about finding high-paying loads and submitting the freight-bill, there was a lot more I was not prepared for. Like keeping track of expenses, knowing my cost per mile for each load, understanding variable versus fixed costs and how they impacted my business, paying owner-operators, keeping tabs on contracts, insurance, vendors, suppliers, licenses, permits and even complying with state and federal laws related to the industry.

The first couple of years I was just lucky, I was able to out-earn my ignorance but that soon came to an end when I was faced with the tough questions like:

  • How do I know whether my trucking business is turning a profit?
  • How do I setup an accounting system for my trucking business?
  • I do not want to learn how to do accounting, do I need to hire an accountant?
  • How do I keep track of which shipper or broker owes me money?
  • How do I stay on top of Fuel Taxes, business taxes, due dates for filing taxes, due dates for business licences, insurance, etc.?

These are critical questions to ask yourself if you're in the trucking business, and all too often we don't have straight answers to go along. It's hard enough to juggle all the responsibilities of running your business, let alone fit and keep all the puzzles in place.

One thing I discovered kind of dishearteningly, is that not too many people in the trucking biz want to talk about the secrets of their successes, or show you how to turn things around. My take on it: Not too many know how to do it right, and even fewer have the right tools to do it.

When I woke up from the daze, I resolved to use my experience, information technology skills, and proven techniques learned over time to build a system that works, a framework that truck business owners can use to manage their businesses -and win.

The Solution - Keeping the Books Straight

A few facts about trucking (which you have already heard about 10 times today already):

  • Ninety percent of trucking businesses fail within the first 14 months. Building a profitable trucking business takes more than hard work, it takes having the best business plan in place. Without the knowledge and expertise of a professional trucking based management system, nearly 9 out of 10 new owner operators will fail.
  • Running a trucking business, or any business without some basic tools or a management system is like driving a truck without any instruments! You know the posted speed limit is 65mph but you don't know how fast or how slow you're going, or even worse, you don't know where you're going because now you're finally loaded, dispatch is gone for the weekend and the bill of lading has no address.
  • You need a plan. The same way you wouldn't begin to build a $100,000 home without a blue-print is the same approach you should take when starting your trucking business.

The system I developed is called Trip Sheet Central (TSC) -- What is it?

This system needed to meet some very basic needs in order to work.

Here are 3 of them and I will go over each of them in more detail:

  1. 1st - Easy to use
  2. 2nd - Available
  3. 3rd - Affordable

TSC is a web-based truck-business management suite designed specifically for Truck Carrier Operations. It is ideal for truck owner-operators, truck fleet-owners and company drivers. TSC will simplify your trucking business operations by helping you organize your trucking trip sheets, income and expenses, shippers, receivers, accounting statements, driver payroll, IFTA tax information and driver qualification files.

TSC works by analyzing cash flow to determine profitability, creating real-time profit-loss statements, operating expense statements, invoices, driver settlement reports and many more business statements.

All your business critical information is organized in one place, and accessible securely from anywhere using an internet connection. All you need is your laptop/computer and username/password - just like checking your bank balance online.

This is a web-based solution built from experience and extensive user testing. Many features have been added as a result of requests and feedback from trucking companies that use TSC. The solution is simple to use, yet powerful enough to meet even the toughest record-keeping requirements prescribed by the FMCSA.

So let us go back to the 3 basic requirements:

  1. Easy to use
    • TSC is designed from the ground up to be used by almost anyone.
    • There is very little training to start using it, and in many people are able to get used to it very quickly because of the familiar language used in the trucking industry such as Bill of Lading, Shipping Documents, Pick up, Delivery, etc.
    • Provides the most common business reports such as Profit/Loss, Cash flow, Cost/Mile break-down, plus many other custom reports.
    • IFTA/Fuel Tax preparation is simplified to the point where you just print the tax return when you need it.
  2. Available
    • TSC is available 24/7/365 Access
    • Online when you are. At your own pace!
    • Nothing to download or install
  3. Affordable
    • TSC is built with the owner-operator in mind. So affordability is a key issue. TSC has several options to choose from based on individual needs so you only pay for what you use.

Why choose TSC? What are the benefits?

Cost Effective

Most operations with 1 to 3 trucks have gross revenues of between $150,000 to $500,000 - for these types of businesses it is more cost effective to outsource the bookkeeping to our monthly service for a fraction of the cost of a full-time accountant. (take the time to count how many hours a month you spend balancing your books, creating invoices, maintaining company information -- and then multiply that by how much you think your time is worth, then write a check)

Accessible

  • Trip Sheet Central is a web-based set of tools that require only an internet connection -on your laptop, ipad or smartphone
  • 100% of our customers' paperwork is converted into electronic format for permanent storage, making it easy to retrieve on demand. We are doing our part to be environmentally friendly.
  • All information processed using TSC can be accessed in real-time in a report or via search.

Automatic Invoice Generation

  • TSC automatically calculates and generates shipper/broker invoices in PDF format ready to print, fax or even mail. The ability to create invoices in real time is critical to ensuring that your cash-flow is not affected due to not submitting paperwork in a timely way.
  • Easily generate an invoice and email or fax it to the freight-bill payer as soon as your truck unloads. Immediate billing increases your chances of being paid ahead of the competition while all information about the load is available and fresh on everyone's mind.

Business Tools for trucking

  • Create a quote in seconds using the built-in Rate Advisor to help you negotiate the best rates
  • Mileage calculator city to city or zip to zip
  • National and regional fuel price information at your fingertips to help with planning and routing management.

Shipper/Broker Contacts

Access your shipper and broker contact information in a search-able address book that is continuously updated as you build your shipper and broker database. Add important notes or remarks as needed to the shipper/broker profiles as reminders or even for the benefit of other authorized users on your account.

Marketing / Lead Generation Tool

  • As your shipper database grows, you can begin to prospect for business to fill those empty trucks at market rates instead of back-haul rates or running huge dead-head miles.
  • You've seen it before: -a broker tenders a great load paying lots of money to a far away place and when you get there there are no loads coming back. Well, if you continuously grow your shipper database, you can easily start prospecting for return loads from that far away place before the truck gets there, thereby reducing your idle time and making money on the return trip at outbound market rates.

Secure / Encrypted website

Manage your business data securely. This website uses industry strength encryption technology to secure all communications between your browser and our servers. Notice the padlock icon that means secured!

Daily Data Backup

Never lose your information again. Our servers are backed up on a daily basis to ensure that customer data is not compromised or lost in the event of a catastrophic event.

What kind of support is available?

TSC goes beyond just bookkeeping and fuel taxes, we also have a business mentoring program for company drivers who want to transition to becoming owner-operators, or owner-operators who want to start over or make changes to their operation so they can be profitable.

Conclusion

Don't let these tough questions keep you up at night. TSC can help you get back on track with your business to let you concentrate on what you do best. We will be your virtual assistant who does the back-office bookkeeping and business management that is necessary to keep your business running smoothly.

Take me up on answering these questions and see whether Trip Sheet Central is for you. I'll set you up on a demo account, spend 45 minutes to an hour (at no charge) to analyze your business situation and suggest a strategy for success.

All you need is the willingness to turn your business around, and a risk-free way to get ahead of the competition. Start making your business work for you. Take control of the numbers.

Trip Sheet Central

Simplify your truck business management

About TSC

Trip Sheet Central (TSC) is a web-based truck-business management suite designed specifically for Truck Carrier Operations.

Ideal for TRUCK owner-operators, truck fleet-owners and company drivers.

Mission

Our mission is to help you as a truck business owner stay on track with your business and let you concentrate on what you do best. We will be your virtual assistant who does the back-office bookkeeping and business management that is necessary to keep your business running smoothly.

Products & Services

Truck Bookkeeping, Driver Trip Sheets, IFTA Quarterly Tax Filing, Billing Service, Records Management for FMCSA (DOT) Compliance, Business Management Service

Key Business Functions of TSC

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPI) Reports / Business Performance Snapshot
  • Detailed Trip Sheets
  • Comprehensive Trip Analysis
  • Driver Settlement Reports
  • Create and Send Professional Invoices
  • Financial Accounting
  • IFTA Miles and Tax Worksheets
  • Current and Historical IFTA Tax Rate Tables
  • Fleet Maintenance Records
  • FMCSA Compliance Records Management
  • Lane Analysis
  • Unlimited Fleet Size Management
  • Owner-Operator Business Tools

Data Management

  • Shippers, Receivers
  • Freight Brokers, Agents
  • Business Contacts
  • Drivers, Employees, Contractors
  • Fleet Equipment
  • Vendors, Suppliers
  • Contacts Management

Financial Accounting

  • Track Trip Expenses
  • Track Operating Expenses
  • Income and Expense Statements
  • Profit and Loss Statements
  • Cash Flow Statements
  • Open Invoice Report
  • Driver Settlement Reports
  • Key Performance Indicators Reports

Access

  • Secure Web, Online
  • Multi-User Access
  • Multi-Level User Configuration
  • Trucker, User Friendly
  • Accountant Friendly
  • Real-Time Dynamic Reports

Technology & Support

  • Turn-Key Software Development Cycle
  • FREE Program Updates
  • Automatic Upgrades
  • Daily Backup
  • FREE Technical Support
  • FREE Customer Support

TSC Updates

There have been so many changes in the last year and a half to list all of them here. In summary, Version 2.01 (Released 01/21/2011) is now live. Here are some of the new features introduced in 2.01:

  • New Electronic Document Management capabilities
  • New Electronic Driver Qualification File system integrated with TSC
  • Improved Driver Settlement Calculations for special types of contractors/employees
  • Smart Shipper suggestions based on trip plan
  • Improved navigational aides to provide faster access to frequently used screens
  • Updated Chart of Accounts and Expense categories
  • More business reports to manage cash-flow
  • Improved user-interface to help with faster data-entry
  • Bug fixes, many code improvements and speed enhancements

Trucker Safety – Are You In Control?

Safety Matters

The safety of truckers is an ever increasing topic, and if everyone did their part to look out for themselves and others we can all be a little safer.

Following are a few simple tips to stay safe and help others:

On The Road

  • Be alert when leaving. Criminal surveillance often begins at, or within a mile of, your origin
  • Do not discuss your cargo, destination, or other trip specifics on open channels or near people you don't know
  • If you believe you are being followed, call 911 and your dispatcher immediately
  • Avoid being boxed in. Where possible leave room in front and behind your truck
  • Look for vehicles following you, especially if there are 3 or more people in a car
  • If you believe you are being hijacked, try to keep your truck moving

Stopping

  • Leave your truck in a secure parking lot or truck stop if possible; if not, be certain someone can watch your vehicle.
  • If team driving, always leave one person with the truck.
  • Never leave your vehicle running with the keys in it; shut off the engine and lock the doors.
  • If at all possible, do not stop in areas that are considered "hot spots" - unsafe or high crime areas.
  • Always lock the cargo door(s) with padlocks.
  • Use seals to prevent and identify tampering.

Your Truck

  • Use an engine kill switch.
  • Use tractor and trailer brake locking devices.
  • Criminals know about electronic tracking systems and how to dismantle them; check your system regularly, and notify dispatch when it is not working.
  • If you drop a trailer, use a fifth wheel lock whenever possible.

Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP)

What is it?

The Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) is a screening tool that allows motor carriers and individual drivers to purchase driving records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). Records are available for 24 hours a day via Web request.

Seal of the US Department of Transportation

Driver Information Resource records (DIR) purchased through PSP contain the most recent 5 years of crash data and 3 years of roadside inspection data from the FMCSA MCMIS system. The PSP will only contain MCMIS information.

FMCSA developed the PSP system to make safety performance information electronically available for pre-employment screening purposes which are mandated by Congress in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, Title 49 U.S. Code, section 31150 Public Law 109-59 Section 4117. FMCSA believes that making this driver data available to potential employers and operator-applicants will improve the quality of safety data and help employers make more informed decisions when hiring commercial drivers. The PSP provides more rapid access to commercial driver safety performance information than was previously available under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or Privacy Act requests.

Sample PSP Driver Authorization Form

Motor carriers may request Driver Information Resource records only for the purpose of conducting pre-employment screening and are required to obtain written consent before a driver's information is released from PSP. Individual drivers or operator-applicants may purchase their own Driver Information Resource record at any time.

PSP only contains MCMIS inspection and crash information that is uploaded into MCMIS by FMCSA Federal staff and State partners.

Non-motor carrier entities like insurance companies will not be able to access driver information. The only allowed use of information from PSP is to conduct pre-employment screening.

Prospective driver applicants should look out for an authorization form that looks like this one here (right).

What’s the Code?

Detroit Diesel

Fault Codes for Detroit Diesel Series 60 Engines

Have you ever wondered what those engine codes mean when you have a check-engine light on in your truck?

Well, wonder no more because the following codes are supplied as a trouble-shooting guide for mechanics. These codes are not for the faint-of-heart, and you should always have your truck serviced by a qualified professional

  • These codes are for your reference only. Detroit Diesel Series 60 Engines only
  • Please note: Codes 43, 44, and 45 are critical codes and if they are shown, the Stop Engine Light will come on which causes the engine protections to engage and your engine may shut down.
  • All other codes will cause the Check Engine Light to come on which will not engage the engine protections and will allow the engine to continue running.
  • If any of these codes are shown, please contact the nearest Detroit Diesel service center.
Flash CodeDescription
11VSG Sensor Input Voltage Low
12VSG Sensor Input Voltage High
13Coolant level Sensor (CLS) Voltage Low
14Oil or Coolant Temperature Sensor (OTS or CTS) Voltage High
15Oil or Coolant Temperature Sensor (OTS or CTS) Voltage Low
16Coolant Level Sensor (CLS) Voltage High
17Bypass or Throttle, Valve Position Sensor Input Voltage High
18Bypass or Throttle, Valve Position Sensor Input Voltage Low
21Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) Voltage High
22Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) Voltage Low
23Fuel Temperature Sensor (FTS) Voltage High
24Fuel Temperature Sensor (FTS) Voltage Low
25No Codes
26Auxiliary Engine Shutdown #1 or #2 Input Active
27Air Inlet or Intake Air, Temperature Sensor Input Volage High
28Air Inlet or Intake Air, Temperature Sensor Input Volage Low
31Engine Brake Output Open Circuit or Short to Ground
32CEL or SEL Short to Battery or Open Circuit
33Turbo Boost Sensor (TBS) Voltage High
34Turbo Boost Sensor (TBS) Voltage Low
35Oil Pressure Sensor (OPS) Voltage High
36Oil Pressure Sensor (OPS) Voltage Low
37Fuel Pressure Sensor (FPS) Voltage High
38Fuel Pressure Sensor (FPS) Voltage Low
41Timing Reference Sensor (TRS)
42Synchronous Reference Sensor (SRS)
43Low Coolant
44Oil or Coolant High Temperature
45Low Oil Pressure
46Low Battery Voltage
47Fuel, Air Inlet, or Turbo Boost Pressure High
48Fuel or Air Inlet Pressure Low
51EEPROM Error
52ECM - Analog to Digital Failure
53EEPROM Non-Volatile Memory Failure
54Vehicle Speed Sensor Fault
55J1939 Data Link Failure
56J1587 Data Link Failure
57J1922 Data Link Failure
61Injector Response Time Too Long
62Auxiliary Output Short ot Battery or Open Circuit or Mech Fault
63PWM Drive Short to Battery or Open Circuit
64Turbo Speed Sensor Input Fault
65Throttle Valve Position Input Fault
66Engine Knock Sensor Input Fault
67Coolant or Air Inlet Pressure Sensor Input Voltage High
68Idle Validation Switch Open Circuit or Short to Ground
71Injector Response Time Too Short
72Vehicle Overspeed
73Gas Valve Position Input Fault or ESS Fault
74Optimized Idle Safety Look Short to Ground
75ECM Battery Voltage High
76Engine Overspeed with Engine Brake
77Fuel Temperature High
81Dual Fuel BOI or Exhaust Temperature Voltage High
82Dual Fuel BOI or Exhaust Temperature Voltage Low
83Exhaust Temperature or External Pump Pressure High
85Engine Overspeed
86External Pump Pressure Sensor Input Voltage High
87External Pump Pressure Sensor Input Voltage Low

CSA 2010

What is CSA 2010?

CSA 2010

Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA 2010) is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Agency's enforcement and compliance program.


Under CSA 2010, FMCSA will:

  • Reach more CMV carriers earlier and more frequently
  • Improve efficiency of carrier investigations by focusing on specific unsafe behaviors, identifying causes, and requiring corrective actions
  • Hold carriers and drivers accountable for their safety performance, demanding and enforcing safe on-road performance

How will this change affect drivers?

  • Unsafe carrier and driver behaviors that lead to crashes will be identified and addressed
  • All safety-based roadside inspection violations will count, not just out-of-service (OOS) violations
  • Drivers will be more accountable for safe on-road performance - good news for drivers with strong safety performance records

What can drivers do to prepare for the change?

  1. Know and follow safety rules and regulations
  2. Become knowledgeable about the new Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) and how FMCSA will assess safety under CSA 2010
    Review the Safety Measurement System (SMS) methodology document
  3. Keep copies of inspection reports
  4. Learn about employers' safety records
  5. Know the Facts

CSA 2010 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Online Resources

CSA 2010 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

CSA 2010

Under CSA 2010, CMV carrier and driver safety performance records will be more important than ever and all safety-based violations from roadside inspections will count, not just OOS violations. Drivers should know what CSA 2010 will mean for them and how they can prepare for this important, new safety program.

Why does FMCSA's new CSA 2010 program emphasize driver safety enforcement?

Studies have shown that unsafe driver behavior, both on the part of CMV drivers and other drivers, is a major contributor to CMV-related crashes. Some studies indicate that a small segment of the CMV driver population is involved in a disproportionately large number of crashes. As a result, during the CSA 2010 Operational Model Test, FMCSA is expanding its approach to identifying and addressing unsafe drivers during interventions with motor carriers.

Can you describe the CSA 2010 driver safety enforcement process?

The driver safety enforcement process provides FMCSA with the tools to identify CMV drivers with safety performance problems and to verify and address the issues. The new tools enable Safety Investigators (SIs) to identify drivers with poor safety histories who work for carriers that have been identified as requiring a CSA 2010 investigation. If the investigation results verify the driver violation(s), FMCSA takes an enforcement action against that driver, such as a Notice of Violation (NOV) or a Notice of Claim (NOC).

What kinds of driver safety performance data is CSA 2010 looking at?

The new program focuses on driver enforcement for serious rule violations, such as:

  • Driving while disqualified
  • Driving without a valid commercial driver's license
  • Making a false entry on a medical certificate
  • Committing numerous Hours-of-Service violations

Do tickets or warnings that drivers receive while operating their personal vehicles impact the new SMS?

No. Tickets or warnings that drivers receive while operating their personal cars are State citations and do not count in the new measurement system. SMS only uses violations of FMCSA's regulations, and those regulations only apply to people driving large CMVs. In measuring on-road safety performance, SMS uses all safety-based violations documented at roadside inspections as well as Statereported crashes.

Will CSA 2010 assign safety ratings to individual CMV drivers?

I heard that CSA 2010 is designed to rate CMV drivers and to put many of them out of work this summer. Is that true?

No. Under CSA 2010, individual CMV drivers will not be assigned safety ratings or Safety Fitness Determinations (SFDs). Consistent with the current safety rating regulations (49 CFR part 385), individual drivers who operate independently as a "motor carrier" (i.e. have their own USDOT number, operating authority, and insurance) will continue to be rated as a motor carrier, as they are today, following an onsite investigation at their place of business. CSA 2010 is designed to meet one overriding objective: to increase safety on the Nation's roads. Therefore, it is, by design, a positive program for drivers and carriers with strong safety performance records. CSA 2010 sends a strong message that drivers and carriers with poor safety performance histories need to improve.

What is the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) and when does it start?

PSP is a new FMCSA program mandated by Congress that is designed to assist the motor carrier industry in assessing individual operators' crash and serious safety violation history as a pre-employment condition. The program is voluntary. It is not part of CSA 2010. The system is expected to launch in 2010. For more information about PSP, visit FMCSA's PSP website

What is the detailed process for drivers to contest information contained in their FMCSA driver records?

Drivers should use FMCSA's DataQs system to challenge data in FMCSA databases. To do this, drivers can go to the DataQs registration page, select "Register Online" as a general public user, and create a DataQs account profile. Once registered, drivers can challenge their data by following detailed instructions in the help menu. The Agency is in the process of improving the DataQs Website to make the process of challenging data more apparent to drivers.

CSA 2010: Facts

With so much at stake with the new CSA 2010 initiative and not enough education on the subject, here are a few facts to consider:

  • Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA 2010) does not give the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) the authority to remove 175,000 drivers from their jobs and cannot be used to rate drivers or to revoke a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). FMCSA does not have the authority to take those actions. Only State agencies responsible for issuing licenses, CDL or otherwise, have the authority to suspend them. CSA 2010 does introduce a driver safety assessment tool to help enforcement staff evaluate drivers’ safety as part of motor carrier investigations.
  • Using the new Safety Measurement System (SMS), FMCSA continues to hold motor carriers responsible for the job performance of those who work for them. Therefore, motor carriers are held accountable for their drivers’ errors such as speeding. This is a longstanding FMCSA position and is not unique to CSA 2010 or the new SMS.
  • Carriers who are considering hiring drivers can review "Driver Profiles" if the drivers have authorized the release of their information. These profiles are compiled from FMCSA’s Driver Information Resource (DIR) and will be available to carriers through FMCSA’s new Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP). Drivers can view their own profiles. PSP is only available as a pre-screening tool and not for use in evaluating current drivers. PSP was mandated by Congress and is not a part of CSA 2010.
  • While some third party vendors are developing and marketing CSA 2010 driver scorecards, consumers should know that these companies do not have access to the driver violation histories in the FMCSA databases despite some claims that they do. FMCSA has not and will not validate any vendors’ scorecards or data. Also, keep in mind that the SMS is subject to change prior to its launch in response to the test results.
  • Potentially erroneous violations on carrier/driver records can be submitted for review. The DataQs system (https://dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov), which does not change under CSA 2010, allows motor carriers and drivers to make a Request for Data Review (RDR) of information that resides in FMCSA databases such as crash and inspection reports.

Simple Ways to Improve Truck Fuel Mileage

That driver on the CB said his truck gets 8mpg - Is that even possible?

You can make that statement ring true for your rig by making small changes in your driving habits and how you maintain your equipment.
There are many factors, technical and general that contribute to how large commercial trucks perform in the area of fuel efficiency, but this short article covers just some of the basic things you can do to improve fuel mileage.

Read more

Virtual Assistant

Keeping the Books Straight for Truckers

Virtual Assistant
  • How do I know whether my trucking business is turning a profit?
  • How do I setup an accounting system for my trucking business?
  • Is there a one-size-fits-all book-keeping system for trucking businesses?
  • I do not want to learn how to do accounting, do I need to hire an accountant?
  • Staying organized is not one of my strengths -is running a trucking business for me?
  • I think my truck revenue was over $250,000 last year, but I can't tell where it went!
  • How do I keep track of which shipper or broker owes me money?
  • I think the economy is busting my truck business, -maybe?
  • My spreadsheet is out of whack! I can't tell whether the numbers are real or not.
  • Is there a way I can stick it to the man and win in my small trucking biz?
  • Do you hate doing Taxes?
  • Do you know how much your trucking business made last month?
  • Can you provide accurate information about that load you hauled last month to Denver?
  • How much am I paying my owner-operators?
  • Do you have a clue who your customers are?
  • Do you need help keeping your bookkeeping up-to-date?

These are critical questions to ask yourself if you're in the trucking biz, and all too often we don't have straight answers to go along. It's hard enough to juggle all the responsibilities of running your business, let alone fit and keep all the puzzles in place.

Read more

Trucker Tools of the Trade

Trucker Tools of the Trade

Have you ever sat looking out your office window (also known as the windshield or windscreen in your truck cab) and seen a rookie driver walk across the shipper's yard dressed in flip-flops and disheveled hair, and thought to yourself: ".. now how do you figure that image will present to the shipping clerk on the other side?"

Appearances are everything. It pays to prepare yourself to meet your customer. Whether you're a truck driver, a one truck operation, mega-fleet operation, dispatcher or back-office staffer. In the trucking business, it is especially more important because the sale doesn't end when you pick up the load, it begins when you pick it up -or at the very least: your sales relationship starts there.

Owner-operators and small truck-business owners have to compete with the multi-million dollar trucking outfits with scores of back office personnel, marketing teams, dispatchers, etc. You have a tight budget, so your best bet is to compete and excel at the nuances of marketing that don't cost a lot of money -like personality, good manners, appearance, courtesy, etc. Even a smile on your face, and body language can create or leave a good first impression on your customer. It pays to be nice to the people who make it happen. (It's good on your heart too!)

The Tools

The following is a short list of tools that I found useful in my years of trucking, and that went a long way in giving me peace of mind "..down the open road".
There are many more tools to discuss, but we'll leave that for another day.

Spiritual Strength

Every person needs something they believe in. The statement may be very subjective, but it reflects my thoughts (and views) on personal transcendence -a higher calling, and service to others. Whether you profess a christian faith, or islam, or budhist, or any religion, -you could benefit from being at peace in your mind about your beliefs and what drives you forward.

Family

Maintaining good relations with family and friends may contribute to a sense of well-being and let you focus on your business activities. It may also work to your advantage to have your family help you take care of the things you cannot attend to while you're on the road away from home. For me, I found my wife to be a great resource in planning and keeping track of important activities that needed to be done. She also took care of the business mail that arrived while I was away.

Relationships can get very stressful especially when conducted on a long-distance basis as is the case with most truck drivers and owner-operators, so making sure that loose ends are tied and you have a solid family support system will work very well for you. Remember that negative energy from broken relationships can draw tremendous amounts of energy that would otherwise be focused on your business. Take care of those loose ends in your relationships and start experiencing a new positive energy within you -definitely good for business.

Laptop

Now some more exciting stuff..
You need a good, solid reliable laptop computer to manage your business with. In this day and age, pencil and paper are no longer good enough to manage a business as complex as trucking.

As of this writing, a reliable laptop computer configured for business use will cost between $500 and $1000. Essential things to have on your laptop are:

  • Wi-Fi (wireless) internet capability
  • Long battery life, or extra battery
  • Well padded laptop bag for storage. Laptops are very susceptible to shock and vibration, and no warranty covers defects caused by shock and vibration. You certainly want peace of mind that your data will not be corrupted from a broken hard-drive.
  • A bright, glare resistant screen. The screen size does not matter, just choose one that you feel comfortable with and that won't cause you to strain your eyes while using it. Most laptops come with screen sizes of between 15" - 17". The larger the screen, the more pricey the laptop. Personally, a 15.4" wide screen works very well for me.

Other essentials for your laptop would include the accessories that help you work better, like a laser/optical mouse, mouse pad, USB headset/microphone if you use VOIP telephony services (e.g. Skype, Google Voice, etc.)

Printer/Scanner

This is a must-have item in your truck. It is necessary for you to be able to scan all your shipping paperwork, print directions, pre-plans from your dispatcher, print faxes received online, etc.

Printing business papers or faxing at the truck-stops and travel centers is very expensive. It costs between $2 and $5 per transaction and these charges can easily add up to a significant amount every month. Remember that keeping your operating costs in check will save you money and improve the overall bottom line for your business.

These days, most shippers and brokers accept electronic copies of documents for proof of delivery (POD) or billing purposes. Electronic transmission of paperwork also guarantees that you won't lose paperwork in the mail, and let's you keep the original documents for your records. By sending documents electronically, you are also able to maintain the same electronic copies for easy reference or remote retrieval.

Hi-Speed/Wi-Fi Internet Access

This is how you stay connected to the business world online.

A High-speed internet connection plan will let you manage your business better by allowing you access to online load-boards, shipper/customer databases, online faxing, or even real-time access to your business tools and data as is possible with Trip Sheet Central (TSC).

Choose a plan that does not limit you to a certain usage per month because overage charges can get very expensive.
A good plan these days costs between $50 and $90 a month -a small price for a business to stay on the cutting edge and compete on the same level with other companies using sophisticated technology platforms.

Cell Phone

Communication by cellphone is still the top method drivers use to do business with the home terminal/office, shippers/receivers, brokers, and stay in touch with family and friends. A cellphone can also be used to communicate emergency information or get directions if you have a GPS enabled phone.

With that said, you shouldn't have to pay premium for good service. Shop for the best carrier rates and coverage coast to coast. The last thing you want is for your cellphone to register "no-service" as soon as you lose sight of the town lights on your west-coast mirrors! I don't have a preference for which cellphone carrier to recomend, but I would go with one that is available nationwide, includes long-distance, does not charge roaming charges and the service can be possibly bundled with high speed internet service.

Business Website/Email

A website presence opens opportunities to tell business partners and customers all about your company. It provides an inexpensive marketing avenue for your services. Almost gone are the days when you had to print brochures and pamphlets about your business and mail them to a limited geographic area.

At the earliest opportunity in your business, you should include plans to setup a website and email addresses. At a minimum, your website should contain information on how to contact you, your location and services, and possibly ways for your customers to interact or provide feedback to you.

A professional looking website may also help you score high "first impression" points with potential customers who look you up on the web.

Additionally, be sure to add your company's website on all stationary, invoices, bills of lading, and all public and customer-facing documents. That will help put your business name upfront and center, and invite customers to learn more about your business online.

Trip Sheet Central (TSC) - A truck-business management suite

Trip Sheet Central (TSC) is a web-based truck-business management suite used to keep track of trucking business records, trip sheets, income and expenses, shippers and receivers, accounting statements and IFTA tax information. It is designed for truck owner-operators, truck fleet-owners and company drivers.

TSC analyses truck business profitability, cost-per-mile, creates real-time profit-loss statements, cash-flow, operating expense statements, invoices, driver settlement reports and many more business statements.

All your business critical information is organized in one place, and securely accessible from wherever your busy schedule takes you -on the road, at the truck-stop, in your office, at home or from any internet connected computer.

More information on what TSC can do for you is available at:
https://www.tripsheetcentral.com/learn-more-about-trip-sheet-central/

Load Boards

Over the last few years internet freight load boards have become the primary source of freight loads for many owner-operators. Load boards work by allowing brokers and shippers to post available freight, and interested parties bid for them.
Trucking companies also post available equipment and interested shippers and brokers bid to contract the equipment to haul their freight.

As a small business trucking company, using these load boards can supplement your available freight business by ensuring you do not have to run huge dead-head miles.

There is no need to subscribe to all available load boards since most shippers and brokers post freight to all boards. Choose the load board that has the features you need, like credit monitoring, performance reports, fraud prevention, payment histories on demand, etc. Internet load boards cost between $35 and $70 a month depending on options chosen.

Equipment Service Contracts

Inevitably when running high maintenance equipment like semi tractors and trailers, break-downs will occur. It's not a matter of if, it's a question of when. You need to be prepared to handle these situations so they don't turn into emergencies and show stoppers for your business.

I recommend setting up a couple of strategies:

  1. Service contracts or accounts with vendors who provide service nationwide and are accessible 24 hours day or night:

    This is necessary to give you peace of mind that when your truck breaks down in the middle of nowhere you can obtain reliable service from vendors who are familiar with your equipment types.
    A simple plan may include towing services, tires services and preventive maintenance.

    Contrary to popular belief that vehicle dealerships cost more than other repair facilities, I found that maintaining active accounts with a combination of my truck manufacturer dealerships and several major truck-stop chains was actually very cost effective. If you have a small fleet you could try keeping the same type and model to reduce the number of accounts you have to maintain, and also benefit from volume discounts on parts and service.

  2. Equipment maintenance escrow fund:

    Even with a fabulous service contract or account you still have to pay for the service. So put some money away into an escrow-like account which you can draw when needed. Use the money for maintenance costs only and replenish withdrawn funds as soon as possible.
    A good amount to save is 10 cents for every mile traveled, loaded or empty, for each tractor and trailer unit. This works!

Fuel Card or Money Card

Fuel cards and money cards are a great way to keep track of trucking expenses if they have detailed reporting features that you can access online or in your monthly statement. These statements can help you meet record keeping requirements mandated by the FMCSA.

Perhaps an even bigger benefit is that your back-office support person can make funds from paid invoices available by depositing into the accounts that support your fuel/money cards. Most establishments now take debit cards, so you don't have to carry large amounts of cash.

TIP: Use your debit/fuel/money card only when you have full control or the person swiping the card is in full view during the transaction. This can help prevent identity theft from dishonest establishment employees. If you feel the financial transasction will be compromised, pay cash or avoid the establishment altogether.

Always reconcile your expenses as quickly as possible into your business-management software, preferably on a daily basis.

Credit Union or Bank Account

Take the time to open a small business banking account to simplify your record keeping and life. Shop around for the best deal. Small business banking varies in fees and features.

The costs of a business account are far less than the benefits to your business. Fees are partly tax deductible as an expense.

Keep in mind that your business may grow. Opening a business account with a bank earlier can help with required financing in the future.

Remember to run your business as a business and do not mix personal funds with business funds.

See our in-depth report on how to start a trucking business for more information.

Proper Permits and Licenses

Imagine having to stop at the port of entry for every state you travel through to obtain a trip permit for that state.

I'm thinking of long lines, long wait times, commercial vehicle inspection, driver inspection, confusing paperwork, and the list goes on.. -Urgh

Now imagine watching the green light and the single chirp on your pre-pass in-cab device, followed by the green by-pass signal from the DOT's weigh-in-motion telling you to 'keep on rollin' -Sweet!

As a truck-business owner, you could benefit greatly by obtaining all the state-specific permits in advance.
Licenses like IRP, IFTA and UCR cover 48 states in USA and 10 of the 13 Canadian provinces.

Benefits of an IFTA, IRP or UCR include

  • A single fuel tax license and one set of decals that authorizes your vehicles to travel in all member jurisdictions
  • A single fuel tax report that details your operations in each of the member jurisdictions
  • Ability to credit the fuel tax overpayment for one jurisdiction against the tax liability for another jurisdiction, which reduces or possibly eliminates a payment
  • Ability to remit one check, or receive one refund from the base jurisdiction
  • Audit conducted by the auditors from your base jurisdiction, instead of potentially 58 US and Canadian jurisdictions

Who is Responsible for Filing IFTA?

Sample TN IFTA Tax Return

How Does IFTA Apply to Carriers Operating on Lease Agreements?

Generally, the owner of the vehicle is responsible for reporting and paying fuel taxes.

However, some lease agreements specify which party —the lessor (owner) or the lessee —will be responsible for reporting fuel taxes. The responsible party should obtain the IFTA license and file quarterly taxes.

No matter who obtains the IFTA license, the driver of an IFTA-licensed vehicle must carry a copy of the license and the vehicle must display IFTA decals.

We also recommend that a copy of the lease agreement be kept in the vehicle's cab.

Keep your eyes on the road

US DOT Bans Texting at the Wheel

Texting while Driving

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) today (01/26/2010) announced federal guidance to expressly prohibit texting by drivers of commercial vehicles such as large trucks and buses. The prohibition is effective immediately and is the latest in a series of actions taken by the Department to combat distracted driving.

The Department wants the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe, and will be taking more steps to eliminate the threat of distracted driving.

The action is the result of the Department's interpretation of standing rules. Truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750.

"Our regulations will help prevent unsafe activity within the cab."
- Anne Ferro, Administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

FMCSA research shows that drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds while texting. At 55 miles per hour, this means that the driver is traveling the length of a football field, including the end zones, without looking at the road. Drivers who text while driving are more than 20 times more likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers. Because of the safety risks associated with the use of electronic devices while driving, FMCSA is also working on additional regulatory measures that will be announced in the coming months.

Visit www.distraction.gov to learn more about the efforts the U.S. Department of Transportation is working on to combat distracted driving.

How do I pay my OTR drivers and owner-operators?

The trucking business provides unique challenges for business-owners when it comes time to paying employees who are rarely physically present at the office or main business location on payday. Truck drivers cannot be expected to try to make it back to the office so that they may pickup their weekly or bi-weekly paycheck, hence the challenge to small truck-business owners: How do you pay your over-the-road (OTR) drivers and owner-operators?

Book-Keeping Record System

The first challenge involves calculating the proper payroll numbers based on how you pay your drivers, i.e. by the mile, by number of hours worked, or on a load by load basis.

You should begin by setting up an accounting system that is appropriate for your type of business operation, and also easy to use. There are many good accounting software packages in the marketplace, but few make the grade when it comes to trucking operations.

TSC provides cutting edge accounting capabilities and book-keeping specifically designed for trucking operations. Using TSC, you should be able to run real-time reports that provide answers to such questions like:

  • How much is my paycheck this pay-period?
  • Can I get a summary of all miles ran in this pay-period?
  • Can you print the last 5 pay stubs for a specific driver or employee?
  • Can you print or provide a summary of all activity by certain equipment or drivers?

If your current system cannot answer questions like this in real-time, you should look into TSC -We can help.

Electronic Transfers and Payroll Cards

In my experience the easiest, safest and most cost-effective way to pay remote employees (workers who are not regularly based at the home office), is by payroll card. There are numerous vendors who provide payroll card services.

When selecting a payroll card vendor, choose one that has low transaction costs for both you and the employee. Some vendors charge you to load money on the cards, and also charge the employee for using the card -avoid those vendors. Choose one that has an upfront pricing strategy, and which also provides additional services like fuel and supply purchase management.

Check these tips for choosing a Payroll Card

In the past I have used T-Chek with great success, but there are others like Comdata and FlyingJ PDCA Money Card that work well, and are specific to the needs of the transportation industry.

W2 or 1099?

This is a frequently asked question for small business owners who use independent contractors in their business.

It is critical that you, the business owner, correctly determine whether the individuals providing services are employees or independent contractors. Generally, you must withhold income taxes, withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, and pay unemployment tax on wages paid to an employee. You do not generally have to withhold or pay any taxes on payments to independent contractors. If you are an independent contractor and hire or subcontract work to others, you will want to check the IRS website to determine whether individuals you hire are independent contractors (subcontractors) or employees.

Is Your Freight Broker Legit?

Bogus Broker

First off -who, or what is a Broker or Agent, or Consignor?

A Freight Broker or Freight Broker Agent as they are sometimes called is the entity that arranges transportation services between shippers, receivers and your company. In almost all cases they are the ones whom you invoice to pay the freight bill. If your company acts as its own freight broker, that is good news because you are ahead of the competition. However, even trucking companies that find their own freight sometimes need a Freight Broker to secure a load.

For the purpose of this discussion, we will refer to as Freight Brokers all those known by various names but who we have identified as the entities that act as third parties to the actual Shippers, Consignors or Consignees.

Freight Brokers are regulated by the US Department of Transportation (www.fmcsa.dot.gov) . They are required to obtain and maintain a Property Brokers License, a Surety Bond (BMC-84) or Trust (BMC-85) that can be tapped to pay freight-bill claims, and be properly registered with the Uniform Carrier Registration (UCR) program that was introduced around 2007/2008.

Some Freight Brokers also carry contingent liability insurance that covers them in case of a claim that is not covered by a shipper's or trucking company's cargo liability insurance. -Yes! That's right -shippers also carry cargo liability that covers such things as cargo going bad, damage caused by their cargo to property, etc. Shippers rarely reveal that they carry any insurance on the cargo they tender for transport. -A 10 seconds thought process should reveal that when you have a size-able interest in your cargo, you'd want some peace of mind and not just entrust 100% that Joe Broker or Speedy Transport will have the necessary or adequate insurance to cover loss/damage.

So now that you know who a Freight Broker is, how do you check at the time you are about to take a load from them whether they are still legit from last week?

There are several ways that you can do this, and some processes that you should implement in your truck business model to ensure that your broker is not just legitimate, but is also financially sound enough to pay you for the load.

  • Maintain a database of ALL Freight Brokers that your company works with. This database should be easily accessible and should be viewed as a business tool to help in your decision-making. Some easy ways to maintain such a database would be to create a spreadsheet or filing system that you consult every time you deal with the broker. Using a simple spreadsheet or manual process can get out of hand very quickly, not to mention that it doesn't scale very well for use with other staff members in your business. I recommend a solid program like TSC (click here to learn more) which tracks and maintains Freight Broker data and has quick links to current information from the FMSCA database for each broker.

    Your Freight Broker database should contain as much data about the broker as possible, and include all contact information, payment history, transaction history, etc. Consult this database each time you work with the broker to verify information about the broker, and update any changed data.

  • Check the Freight Broker's credentials online. This is an absolute must every time to make sure the broker's license has not been revoked, or their BMC-84 Surety Bond / BMC-85 Trust fund has been removed. Current Freight Broker licensing information can be obtained on the FMCSA official website: http://li-public.fmcsa.dot.gov/LIVIEW/pkg_carrquery.prc_carrlist free of charge. A regular check can quickly reveal whether the broker is in trouble, if for instance you notice that the bond has been cancelled, or the licence has been revoked and reinstated too many times.
  • Always make sure you have the Freight Brokers current phone numbers, fax numbers and written payment policy for each load.
  • Each load tendered to you must have a dated, signed Rate Confirmation spelling out the shipper(s), consignee(s), product, transportation equipment required, and more importantly: the payment rate for the load. The rate confirmation should also specify other things such as who is responsible for unloading, and who is responsible for which costs. It's the tiny details that become big problems later on if they are not properly addressed.
  • Check with the shipper to verify they know the broker, and that they have an ongoing relationship regarding the load tendered to you. This simple action can save you from picking up a load that has been double-brokered.
  • Check all references provided by the Freight Broker, and more if you can by checking some online services like Internet Truckstop or GetLoaded. You should also subscribe to reputable business credit reporting services that allow you to check the payment records or the Broker, and that also notify you if certain key indicators show financial problems with the broker.
  • Even after performing your due diligence to check out the broker, sometimes you encounter some smooth talking broker that fools you into believing he is legit. To help protect yourself even further, make sure you get a properly completed, legible, signed Bill of Lading from the shipper. Always make sure the consignee signs the Bill of Lading, or a receipt for the goods delivered. Always make and keep copies of all pages of any paperwork relating to the load.
  • If there are changes in instructions after the load is picked up, get the changes in writing - obtain a new rate confirmation, and a new Bill of Lading or amendment to the BOL faxed to you. You should have the updated documents before delivering the load. The Freight Broker or Shipper have very little incentive to provide accurate documentation once the delivery has been made, so be sure to make it a condition of delivery that you receive proper documentation.

To summarize, also learn to trust your gut feeling about a Broker when the deal sounds to good to be true. Build or join a peer network of people in the trucking business with whom you can network for insight and reference. If you do not know the broker well, do not act on rush orders or the promise of paperwork later -that is a sure sign of fraud; walk away from the deal.

Hours of Service Sessions

Seal of the US Department of Transportation

Industry News: FMCSA to Hold Hours of Service Sessions

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced on January 5th that it will hold three public listening sessions to solicit comments and information on potential hours of service (HOS) regulations. The Agency wants to know what factors, issues and data it should be aware of as it prepares to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on HOS requirements for property carrying commercial motor vehicles (CMV) drivers.

The sessions will be held in the Washington, DC, Dallas and Los Angeles areas. The listening sessions will allow interested persons to present comments, views and relevant research on revisions FMCSA should consider in its forthcoming rulemaking. All comments will be transcribed and placed in the rulemaking docket for the FMCSA's consideration.

Safety Requirements For New Trucking Companies

Seal of the US Department of Transportation

Industry News: Agency Raises Safety Requirements For New Trucking Companies

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will begin enforcing its New Entrant Safety Assurance Process rule, which requires newly registered truck companies to meet stricter safety requirements. This final rule raises the compliance standards for passing new entrant safety audits and requires that new carriers correct safety deficiencies before being granted permanent registration.

Under the new requirements, a newly registered trucker will automatically fail its safety audit if violations of any one of 16 essential federal regulations are discovered. These regulations cover controlled substances and alcohol testing, hours-of-service rules, driver qualifications, vehicle condition and carrier insurance responsibility.

Failure to pass a new entrant safety audit may result in revocation of a carriers registration, unless that carrier takes corrective action within a time period established by FMCSA. Additionally, if certain violations are discovered during roadside inspections, the new carrier may be subject to an expedited safety audit or a compliance review that can result in fines or an out-of-service order.

For more information on the New Entrant Safety Assurance Process rule, visit the FMCSA website at www.fmcsa.com.

Keywords: FMCSA Requirements,New Trucking Company,Safety Requirements,Industry News,Audit

Staying in Good Books with the DOT

Seal of the US Department of Transportation

In order to maintain good standing with state and federal regulations, Department of Transportation (DOT) Safety and Compliance investigators routinely audit carriers' safety practices within the first 18 months of operation. They ask questions, look at paperwork and inspect vehicles to verify compliance with the state and federal regulations that apply to the carrier's situation.

There are several regulations that are so important that violating them causes an order to park your equipment until everything is fixed. In a nutshell, these regulations are concerned with:
  • Alcohol and controlled substances testing and using impaired drivers
  • Commercial drivers' licenses and drivers' physical fitness to drive
  • Proof of insurance
  • Equipment repair and inspection

New Entrant Safety Audit Busters

Unofficially known as the 16 Deadly Sins, these violations cause automatic failure of a new entrant safety audit

  1. Failing to implement an alcohol and/or controlled substances testing program.
  2. Using a driver known to have an alcohol content of 0.04 or greater to perform a safety-sensitive function.
  3. Using a driver who has refused to submit to an alcohol or controlled substances test.
  4. Using a driver known to have tested positive for a controlled substance.
  5. Failing to implement a random controlled substances and/or alcohol testing program
  6. Knowingly using a driver who does not possess a valid commercial driver's license.
  7. Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting or authorizing an employee with a CDL which is suspended, revoked, or canceled by a State or who is disqualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
  8. Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting or authorizing a driver to drive who is disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
  9. Operating a motor vehicle without having in effect the required minimum levels of financial responsibility coverage.
  10. Operating a passenger carrying vehicle without having in effect the required minimum levels of financial responsibility.
  11. Knowingly using a disqualified driver.
  12. Knowingly using a physically disqualified driver.
  13. Failing to require a driver to make a record of duty status.*
  14. Requiring or permitting the operation of a commercial motor vehicle declared “out-of-service” before repairs are made.
  15. Failing to correct out-of-service defects listed by driver in a driver vehicle inspection report before the vehicle is operated again.
  16. Using a commercial motor vehicle not periodically inspected.*

* Requires a violation of 51 percent or more examined records to trigger an automatic failure.

Start working on these issues early to avoid problems "down the road" in your trucking operations. A good rule of thumb is to educate drivers, dispatchers and the book-keeping people in your business to maintain good records, follow standard operating procedures and guidelines, as well as staying informed about current FMCSA and DOT changes in regulations.

If possible, us a good book-keeping system like Trip Sheet Central (Learn more) or similar product.

Did you know this about Trip Reports?

  • State laws require truck-operators to keep a record of distance driven and the fuel (including type of fuel) purchased in each state.
  • Each trip report must cover all distances travelled including dead-head miles.
  • Properly completed trip reports will help you avoid fines and assessments against your company.
  • If your vehicle or unit breaks-down and you get a replacement or re-power unit, you must complete a separate trip report for each vehicle to cover the distance travelled for each unit, including fuel purchased.

October Newsletter

Welcome to the October Edition of the TSC Newscast!

Thank you for your continued business!

Trip Sheet Central (TSC) continues to provide services to hundreds of satisfied truck-business owners, owner-operators and company drivers. We are excited to announce some major improvements and features to our suite of business-management services.

New/Enhanced Features

  • IFTA Mileage and Tax Worksheets:
    • Break-down of toll miles vs non-toll miles is now reported in the IFTA Mileage and Tax Summary report.
    • Many questions have been asked about which miles matter in the IFTA report: Some states consider toll miles as exempt, while others do not. TSC takes the approach taken by most states, i.e: toll miles are exempt from IFTA taxes, but fuel purchased on the toll road counts.
  • Vendor Transactions Report
    • Option to add/manage your own vendors in addition to global list of vendors is now available.
    • Save Location and Contact information for vendors in the quick add vendor form
    • Review transaction details in the new Vendor Transactions Report
  • New Message Center
    • Access to System Messages is now even easier with color coded display from My Dashboard
    • Read and respond to application messages, ask questions, find answers from within TSC

October Specials

Free data upload from your spreadsheets. - TSC will, free-of-charge import data from your excel spreadsheets to help you catch up with data entry.

We realize many of our customers were using difficult to maintain spreadsheet programs that they don't know how to migrate to TSC without many hours of laborious data-entry -we can help!

Send us your spreadsheets of brokers, drivers, shippers, receivers, manual trip sheets, bills of lading and we'll import them into TSC. FREE this month (a $250 value!)

Referral Cash $$

The greatest compliment you can give us is a referral. Refer your business partners, associates and friends who you think could use TSC. We'll set them up on a trial account, provide unlimited training and support, AND send you $10 for each confirmed sign-up. -No waiting, no fine print. It's that easy -your friend signs up -we send you $10, and there's no limit on how many can sign up!

Thanks for your business!

The Team @ Trip Sheet Central
Business Tools for Truckers, by a Trucker!

Build an Effective Collection Strategy

Build an Effective Collection Strategy

Whether your small trucking business is sailing smoothly, treading water or moving against a strong tide during these tough economic times, having a reliable collection strategy is key to maintaining enough cash flow to remain solvent.

By taking a few measured steps, you can create a streamlined collection process to help boost your business' cash flow and alleviate concerns about how to handle late payments.

Consider these tips when developing your collection strategy:

  1. Create a tracking system. Develop a payment-tracking system that alerts you of overdue payments. The sooner you're aware of late payments, the sooner you can take action. Consider utilizing software specifically designed to track payments or consult your banker or financial advisor for suggestions about how to get started.
  2. Follow strict protocol for missed payments. With your tracking system in place, create a contract delineating clear payment guidelines so there is no room for client misinterpretations. Ask your clients to sign the agreement before providing your products or services. Have a letter outlining the consequences of a missed payment ready to mail, and follow up with a phone call to the client in case a payment becomes late. A phone call reinforces the importance of prompt payment and may provide additional insight about why the payment is late.
  3. Conduct credit checks. When working with a new client, it may be wise to conduct a thorough credit and background check. Consider enlisting the service of a professional credit check company or accessing credible, inexpensive online resources.
  4. Avoid extended payment terms. Try not to extend payment terms beyond 30 days when the economy is tight. If you have an existing contract that extends beyond 30 days, consider offering a discount for faster payment. Don't extend credit or terms unless you've verified that a customer is in a position to repay.
  5. Avoid spinning your wheels. If you are not having success with your collection efforts, consider enlisting the help of a collection agency or legal expert.

Consider incorporating the following tools into your collection strategy to facilitate increased cash flow:

Invoice your clients as soon as possible. The faster you can invoice your client, the quicker you can get paid. This is especially true if your client has time-based terms of payment, such as net 14 or net 7, etc. The clock usually starts when the client receives all completed paperwork and invoice. Trip Sheet Central creates an invoice as soon as all load details have been entered into the system thereby giving you the opportunity to submit the invoice as soon as your truck is unloaded.

Direct deposit. To facilitate faster access to funds, consider signing up for direct deposit, ACH transfers or Remote Deposit --a service that enables small businesses to scan deposit checks at their office and electronically transmit them to the bank. Most banks offer this service, and some financial institutions offer software that enhances clients' operating efficiency by integrating directly with their accounting software and enabling them to update their account receivables in one process.

With a reliable and efficient collection strategy in place, you can devote your valuable time to other key elements important to the ongoing success of your business.

Hours-of-Service Regulations

The Hours-of-Service regulations (49 CFR Part 395) put limits in place for when and how long commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers may drive. These regulations are based on an exhaustive scientific review and are designed to ensure truck drivers get the necessary rest to perform safe operations. FMCSA also reviewed existing fatigue research and worked with organizations like the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies and the National Institute for Occupational Safety in setting these HOS rules.

The regulations are designed to continue the downward trend in truck fatalities and maintain motor carrier operational efficiencies. Although the HOS regulations are found in Part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, many States have identical or similar regulations for intrastate traffic.

Read the most current HOS rules and regulations at the FMCSA website

Frequently Asked Questions about IFTA

What is IFTA?

IFTA is the International Fuel Tax Agreement. Through the IFTA, member jurisdictions act cooperatively to administer and collect motor fuel use taxes.

Which jurisdictions are members of IFTA?

The 48 contiguous States of the United States and the 10 Canadian Provinces are members of IFTA.

Should I apply for an IFTA license?

If you are based in a member jurisdiction and operate a qualified motor vehicle in 2 or more member jurisdictions, yes. If you usually operate your vehicles only in one jurisdiction, but make occasional trips outside the base jurisdiction, you may elect to purchase trip permits for that occasional travel. Permitting services can usually be contacted from any major truckstop. Contact a permitting service for rates.

What is a qualified motor vehicle?

A Qualified Motor Vehicle is a motor vehicle used, designed, or maintained for transportation of persons or property and:

  • has two axles and a gross vehicle weight or registered gross vehicle weight exceeding 26,000 pounds or 11,797 kilograms; or
  • has three or more axles regardless of weight; or
  • is used in combination, when the weight of such combination exceeds 26,000 pounds or 11,797 kilograms gross vehicle or registered gross vehicle weight.

Where should I go to apply for an IFTA license?

You should contact the jurisdiction where you are based. Your base jurisdiction is the jurisdiction where you have your qualified motor vehicles registered, where you have some travel, and where the operational control and operational records are maintained or can be made available.

What if I have qualified motor vehicles registered in more than one jurisdiction?

It is important that you contact one of those jurisdictions. You may be able to consolidate your operations under one license. The jurisdiction you contact will assist you and give you information on how that can be accomplished.

Taking care of family -last?

That's an odd headline, but I figure it oughta catch anyone's attention fairly quickly.

As an owner operator, or independent truck business owner, you may fall into the category of small business owners that do not have big company benefits like health insurance or life insurance. Insurance of any kind these days is outrageously expensive, and even with the folks in congress talking about it all the time it is still a few years away from being useful to us right now when we need it.

I want to focus for now on life insurance. Driving a truck is much safer these days but there is still the odd chance that as a truck driver you could be involved in a fatal crash. Back when I was driving a truck, there are times I would be just so tired and yet I could not stop because I needed to cover more miles to make an on-time delivery. In many of those instances I dreaded falling asleep at the wheel and the thought of being in a crash often kept me awake. I thought of my wife and kids back home who depended entirely on me for the bread on the table, clothing, shelter, -you name it. I thought about buying life insurance and the one quote I got was so high I immediately shelved the idea.

Well, I'm now more informed about life insurance and the kind to buy. I'm not an expert on this, but I do know that Guaranteed Level Term Life Insurance can be purchased for less than a couple lunches a month. For instance, you can buy a $400,000 15-20yr guaranteed level term life insurance policy for about $30/month or a couple hundred/year depending on your age and health. This is a good buy, and peace of mind knowing that you're taking care of your family the last time you do. To get a free quote and see just how affordable it is go to Zander Insurance' website www.zanderins.com

How do you ask a Shipper to start paying a Fuel Surcharge?

This is a difficult subject to discuss with the shipper because it means raising rates -you could lose the business you've been getting from that shipper. So how do you go about get the fuel surcharge to cushion the high cost of fuel hitting your business?

If you have had this shipper/customer for a while, the task is somewhat easier and could be discussed over the telephone and followed up with a letter spelling out the details. Of-course any time you are about to raise, check to see what the market is doing and then tread carefully. Here is a sample letter that you can use when notifying your shipper about the pending increase:

Your Company
Address Here
City, State Zip


Date

Mr. Shipper
123 Main Street
Your Town, USA 12345

Dear Sirs:

I am sure that you are aware that fuel prices have spiraled upward over the past several months, and presently are higher than they have ever been in our history. We have acted in good faith in our attempt to resist seeking relief, but this has placed an undue burden on us. We had hoped that this would be a short term inconvenience, but now it looks as if it will last longer than expected. Due to the critical nature of the current situation, we can no longer continue to absorb these increased costs.

Therefore, we must implement a temporary fuel surcharge on all shipments. This fuel surcharge will remain independent from our base rates and will be shown as a separate entry on our freight bills. We will compute the fuel surcharge on a mileage basis, and it will reflect the extra cost of the fuel used in the specific trip.

Our computations will be based on the U.S. National Average Diesel Fuel Index. (You may view the charts provided by the Department of Energy by visiting their website at http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/wohdp/diesel_detail_report.asp . We will review this data and calculate our actual costs on a weekly basis. The figure used for cost per gallon is also region specific, established by the average cost of fuel per gallon, on the date and in the load's origination point.

We regret that this action is necessary and deeply appreciate your understanding and partnership with us in helping to share the burden of these fuel cost increases. Together, we will keep our nation strong during this time of crisis. We hope that this solution will keep the goods and services that power our great nation’s economy moving.

Respectfully,

Name

Company

I am sure there are other ways that this subject can be approached. Any thoughts out there?

Manage TIME instead of rate/mile

To maximize profit, manage TIME instead of rate/mile.

Choose the load with the best average revenue/day

Why?

In the trucking business, fixed costs usually run about $80 - $100 per day. As an independent owner-operator you still need about $100 a day for personal, family and home expenses that you must meet whether you're loaded or not -even on weekends!

How do I start a trucking business?

TSC Makes Trucking Business Success A Reality

Starting a trucking company will require coordinating a number of processes. Federal and state registrations and permitting are required, as well as securing insurance.

The trucking business requires a special kind of person to succeed. Special in the sense that even though the basic characteristics of smart, persistent, articulate and well organized, one also requires patience, dedication and a reliable support system.

OK! Let's get started...

Business Plan

You need a plan. The same way you wouldn't begin to build a $100,000 home without a blue-print is the same approach you should take when starting your trucking business. Yes that's right - Trucking Business!

Lay out on paper everything you can think of that you'll need to do. Your plan should be guided by facts, research and professional advice from experienced people in the trucking industry.

At a minimum, your business plan should include:

  • Organizational setup (company name, location, management, etc)
  • Financial plan (cash flow, balance sheet, projections, etc.)
  • Operating plan
  • Marketing plan
  • Growth plan
  • Research and development
  • Exit plan

Choosing a Company Name

It is very important to decide on what to call your company from the start. This name will be your company's identity and should be unique, easy to spell and pronounce, and most desirably -should be available as a web site domain name. So for instance, if you choose to call your company Quick Transport, Inc., then you should check to see whether the domain name www.quicktransport.com is available and reserve it by registering with a reputable service like PairNIC (www.pairnic.com).

Resources

Here are some government/state websites where you can obtain more information and specifics on creating a company in your state.

I will be adding more links to this post for all states

Tax ID / Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)

This is an important step in setting up your business. Get this setup as soon as possible.

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also known as a federal tax identification number, and is used to identify a business entity.

This EIN is your permanent number and can be used immediately for most of your business needs, including:

  • opening a bank account;
  • applying for business licenses;
  • filing a tax return by mail

However, no matter how you apply (phone, fax, mail, or online), it takes up to two weeks before your EIN becomes part of the IRS' permanent records.

You must wait until this occurs before you can:

  • file an electronic return
  • make an electronic payment
  • or pass an IRS Taxpayer Identification Number matching program.

Do not pay anyone to get this for you! It is free.

Go to http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98350,00.html and do it yourself.

Bank Account

Take the time to open a small business banking account to simplify your record keeping and life. Shop around for the best deal. Small business banking varies in fees and features.

The costs of a business account are far less than the benefits to your business. Fees are partly tax deductible as an expense.

Keep in mind that your business may grow. Opening a business account with a bank earlier can help with required financing in the future.

Remember run your business as a business and do not mix personal funds with business funds.

Apply for an USDOT number and MC number

Register your business with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). Trucking companies, commonly referred to as carriers, are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. All trucking companies are required to have a USDOT number, obtained by registering with the U.S. Department of Transportation. When you begin the registration process there are some things that you need to know about your trucking company.

Setting up Insurance

Contact an insurance company or broker that specializes in trucking companies and request a quote for insurance. They will generally require information on your vehicles, drivers, type of cargo and distance traveled (interstate, intrastate, international, for example). Proof of insurance is required for a number of permits and filings that are required to start a trucking company. However, don't secure your insurance too soon, because you will be paying for insurance that you can't use until everything else is in place! Ask your insurance agent if it is possible to have your insurance effective date about 2 weeks after you secure insurance - that will allow you some time to get all of the other paperwork done.

Apply for an IRP/License Plates

Develop your International Registration Plan, or IRP. When you license your commercial vehicle in your home based state, you have to fill out an IRP form. This form requires you to identify the U.S. states, Canadian provinces and Mexican states that you will be traveling in. This form also requires you to estimate the number of miles that will be traveled in each state. Your fee is based on the number of states and the number of miles traveled in each state.

Apply for an IFTA License

The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) form is completed with basic truck and company information and submitted to the IFTA office to receive an IFTA sticker. This IFTA sticker must be placed on the vehicle. IFTA filings are required on a quarterly basis. The IFTA filing consists of documenting the number of miles driven in each state and the number of gallons purchased in each state for the quarter. You will, generally, send in a fee when you send in your quarterly IFTA filing-unless you get really bad fuel mileage! Trip Sheet Central offers IFTA fuel tax reporting at affordable rates.

Learn more about IFTA

Apply for your Unified Carrier Registration (UCR)

UCR is a relatively new registration. This registration allows you to carry cargo across state lines. There is a simple online process available from most state Department of Transportation websites. You may also contact your state public utilities commission office (PUCO) for the form. This form requires basic company and vehicle information.

Apply for State Specific Permit Requirements

Many states require registration or permits for carriers that will be hauling intrastate cargo or even for carriers that will cross the state line en route to another location. These states include Oregon, Texas, Kentucky, New Mexico and New York. For example, a KYU number is required for all carriers that travel in or through the state of Kentucky. This number is obtained by filling out a form and sending it into the state. They get their money when you file a quarterly report that indicates how many miles you drove in the state of Kentucky for that quarter.

Once you determine the states that you will be traveling in or through, contact the Motor Carrier office in that state. This office may operate under a different name but will generally be a part of the state department of taxation or motor vehicles.

Signage Required on Vehicle

Post the following signage on your vehicle:

  • Company Name
  • Home Terminal Location
  • USDOT
  • MC Number
  • Last 8 digits of the vehicle VIN
  • Truck Number

Additional information may need to be on the signage, such as your KYU number, if required. Tip: You can have vinyl signs printed for a low price at most print shops like FedEx Kinkos. Truck-stop printers are generally more expensive.

Driver Qualification Files and Other Records

This step must be complete before you can begin trucking operations of any kind. All drivers must undergo and pass a drug screen test and physical/medical exam before starting work. A medical certificate is issued after these tests, which must be carried by the driver at all times he/she is on duty. A copy of the medical certificate (card) will need to be on file at the home terminal.

  • Perform a department/bureau of motor vehicles search on your driver, for all states that he/she has held a license in for the past ten (10) years. Perform this search annually.
  • Perform a pre-employment check on your driver and obtain employment history for the last ten (10) years.
  • Sign up for participation in a Drug/Alcohol program which will provide random and post accident drug tests.
  • Create or sign up for participation in a safety program.
  • Create or sign up for participation in a maintenance program (includes preventative maintenance, annual inspection and repairs).
  • Create or sign up for participation in a Log auditing program.
  • Create an accident register-documentation of any accidents that vehicle is involved in-regardless of who is at fault.
  • Document vehicle information-VIN and gross vehicle weight.
  • Document all dispatch data-listing when, for whom, where and what were shipped to whom and where.
  • Document fuel purchased; listing quantity and location

Keep all the driver information above in the Driver Qualification file at the home terminal. It must be available when your trucking company is audited. All trucking companies must undergo an audit within the first eighteen months of operation.

Truck Permit Book/Dossier

The transportation industry is a heavily regulated industry. Documentation that confirms that your trucking company is properly licensed and has all the necessary permits must be available for inspection in the truck.

It is a good idea to have duplicate copies of all licenses and permits at the home terminal.

Documentation required in the truck at all times includes:

  • CAB card - This record shows your current USDOT number, MC number, IRP, UCR and IFTA jurisdiction information. It is normally valid for one year and must be renewed annually. Tip: Always renew early to avoid steep fines, penalties and down-times resulting from a failed road-side or weigh-station inspection.
  • Any required permits or filings for individual states will need to be carried in the vehicle as well.
  • Proof of Insurance. Truck Insurance companies will normally send you a cab card insurance certificate. The actual policy will normally be mailed to the home terminal where it should be kept.
  • Driver's Daily Log Books. Your driver will need to complete, on a daily basis, a driver's daily log.
  • Daily Vehicle Inspection. Your driver will need to complete, on a daily basis, a vehicle inspection report. Standard driver's daily logs incorporate the vehicle inspection on the form.
  • Bills of Lading. For every load picked up by the driver, the shipper will issue a bill of lading (BOL) to be delivered with the shipping. The BOL is a manifest describing the cargo being hauled, and information about the origin and destination. A copy of the BOL should be sent to the home terminal for billing and record maintenance when the truck is unloaded.