Have a Happy and Safe 4th of July!

The 4th of July is one of the most celebrated holidays in America. People gather around and celebrate America’s Independence in many different ways. On average during the 4th of July weekend, 74 million Americans will attend a cookout, 150 million hot dogs will be eaten, and over 600 million dollars will be spent on fireworks. Sounds like a great time right? Of course it does!

Unfortunately, some people will not be celebrating on the lake or at a cookout. Some people will be behind the wheel of a truck this weekend. These people are essential to our country. They help deliver all the things that people have the freedom to buy, use, and enjoy. Since they don’t always get to enjoy the 4th like most Americans, it is only right for everyone to thank them for what they do. Truck drivers are vital to the economy and they work hard so we can have everything we want. So, if you see a truck driver this weekend, be sure to thank them for all that they do.

Another way that pedestrian drivers can thank truckers is by driving safely. Although this weekend is one of the most fun weekends of the year, it is also one of the busiest and most dangerous holiday weekends for travel. Over 40 million people will travel 50 miles or more by car. With so many people traveling at one time, safety becomes even more important. Not every driver on the road will be driving safely, that is why truck drivers must be extra cautious during this time. If 40 million drivers on the road doesn’t make you want to drive safely, then maybe the fact that over 68 million cases of beer will be bought this weekend. This weekend has some of the highest rates for DUI and drunk driving related accidents. This number can be reduced if we all do our part. Truck driver or not, you must be extremely cautious while driving this weekend. Pay attention and be aware of the vehicles around you. Remember, the life you save just may be your own.

Have fun and be safe this weekend.


National Unemployment Rate Low, Good News for Trucking


The unemployment level of the United States recently hit its lowest level since 2008. Currently the unemployment rate is 6.3%. This is good news for everyone in the U.S. especially truck drivers and transportation companies. The U.S. Labor Department showed that 288,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in April. Of those jobs, 6,800 were in for-hire trucking and over 11,000 of those jobs were in the more broad transportation industry.

With the increase in jobs comes an increase in national spending. And with an increase in spending, more raw materials are needed, therefore, giving more business to the transportation industry. Factories shipping levels are the highest they have been since 1992. Durable and capital goods shipment levels have increased on average one percent per month for the last few months, more good news for the transportation industry.

The auto sales industry is also at a high point in its recent history, with an estimated 1.4 million cars being sold in April, more than 8% higher than the numbers from April of 2013. Again, good news for trucking companies, more cars being built equals a higher need for raw materials. The auto industry is a key driver in the steel industry which is one of the largest markets for flatbed transportation.

The key indicators are all pointing North. Unemployment is down and shipping needs are up. Trucks are in high demand and capacity per load is near record lows. Keep in mind that the transportation industry has not even moved into the peak shipping season – industry analysts and carriers are universally predicting very tight capacity and truck availability at premiums. This is all very good news for the transportation industry.

By: Dan Taylor, Sr. Vice President and General Manager at Conexus

Dan Taylor

Mr. Taylor serves as General Manager of Conexus Logistics LLC, providing flatbed, van, specialized, and LTL logistics and freight brokerage services. He has over 30 years experience in domestic and international sales, marketing, and operations. Mr. Taylor holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Marketing and in Management & Labor Relations from Oklahoma State University. He is an active member of the American Trucking Association and a former board member of The Trucking and Profitability Strategies Committee at the University of Georgia.

5 Steps to Expanding Your Distribution in 2014


ArrowsA New Year is a great time to start the process of expanding your distribution network, and if your expansion plans reside beyond the scope of your current transportation providers, it’s time to look for another partner. But don’t worry, choosing a trusted carrier can be easier than you think. Use the following tips as a guide to choosing the right transportation provider to help you expand your business.

1. Conduct Interviews
You wouldn’t hire a new person to your team without putting them through interviews with insightful staff members, and the process of selecting a new transportation provider should be no different. Talk to the people who would actually be handling the transportation of your goods and find out if you can work well together. Ask if you will have a dedicated staff member assigned to your loads or if it will get handled by whoever is available at the time. Do they provide a direct number with which you can reach the person handling your load? Do they have experience moving your type of equipment? Make sure they understand the specifics of what you are moving.

2. Experience Matters
When choosing a new transportation provider, make sure they understand your business. During initial conversations, throw out some industry-specific jargon and ask how they would handle certain scenarios. Refer to actual situations that have gone well or poorly in the past and take careful note of their answers. Someone who understands your business will easily be able to provide detailed solutions that are in line with your business needs.

3. Less IS More
It may seem counter-intuitive but having fewer transportation providers will not only make managing your transportation less complex, it will also save you money. By carefully choosing one 3PL with a vast network of providers you can negotiate lower rates than if you only use a 3PL for ad hoc projects. Most 3PLs give deference to repeat customers and will be willing to accept a lower rate if they know more business will come. Take Wal-Mart for example, they can offer the lowest prices because of the volume they sell, the same is true for a good 3PL.

4. Choose Flexibility
When moving goods across international borders, finding a transportation provider with flexibility at the border is gold. Ideally, partner with a provider that has a yard and equipment at an international border crossing location. This allows for greater flexibility and control over your loads that can save you thousands of dollars and countless headaches. If your transportation provider has to trans-load at the border and doesn’t have a yard to do it in or the equipment necessary to move it, you could pay substantially more in inflated fees to rent the equipment you need. And then there is the added rise of having a random machinery operator move your load for you. You would be far better off to choose a transportation provider that can handle everything for you.

5. Maximize Your Network
In order to gain maximum effectiveness from your transportation provider be sure to choose a partner with a vast network of trucks and equipment. Typically, a 3PL has far greater flexibility than a standard carrier because they are not limited to a specific number of trucks or regions. However, not all 3PLs will have the experience or network to deliver in the area you need. When choosing a 3PL make sure to ask for a history of transporting loads within the necessary area.

Armed with the above tips you are well on your way to expanding your service area in 2014. Just remember, it’s easy to find a provider, but to achieve maximum success do your homework, and you can find a partner who can really help you expand your business into the New Year and beyond.

Learn To Speak Like a Trucker


CB Radio

What does “eye candy in a pregnant roller skate” mean? Learn this and many other terms in our driver lingo guide.

If you’ve ever had the privilege of speaking to a seasoned truck driver, you know they have a language all their own. So if you want to know what a driver means when he says, “We’ve got a meat wagon headed eastbound with the hammer down. He’s on fire,” this blog post is for you. The following are truck driver terms collected from both seasoned and new truck drivers. Learn from this list, be inspired to coin your own terms, or add to our collection. We would love to hear from you.

10-4: I heard you

30 or 40 Weight: Coffee

Alligator (Gator): Shredded tire on the road

B-Train: Two trailers connected by a fifth wheel trailer

Bad Bear: Trucker pulled over

Barney Fife: Overly-eager police

Bear Bait: A speeding four wheeler without a radio or scanner

Bear in the Air: An airplane or helicopter

Bear Report: Truckers heading opposite directions exchange last know locations of bears (police)

Bear Trap: A speed trap with multiple officers

Beaver: A woman

Beaver with a Kickstand: A Man

Bed Bug Hauler: Furniture mover

Belly Wrap: Straps placed around a load of pipe to keep it bound together

Bobtailing: Driving without a trailer

BTW: Behind the wheel

Bubblegum Machine: A police car with the lights on

Buck 10: 110 km/hour

Buck Board: A flatbed truck with 4-6 wheels

Buster Brown Driver: UPS Driver

Candy Wrapper: A state trooper in an unmarked vehicle

Chicken Coop: Weigh Station

Chicken Lights: Extra marker lights – decorative lights

Choke and Puke: Restaurant

Christmas Tree: A truck and trailer with a lot of lights

City Kitty: Local police officer

Clean and Green: No police or speed trap ahead

Comic Book: Log book

Conestoga wagon: A flatbed with a retractable cover

County Mounty: Sheriff officer

Crazy Four Wheeler: A car or truck driving erratically

Diaper Wrap a Load: Wrap the load from the bottom up

Diesel Bear: Department of Transportation enforcer

Dirty Side Up: Rollover on the highway

Dog Trail: Secondary roads in bad condition

Double Nickel: 55 MPH

Drop and Hook: Dropping off one trailer and picking up another

Eye Candy in a Pregnant Roller Skate: A beautiful woman in a VW Beetle

Flip Flop/Flip Side: Return trip

Four Wheeler: A regular car or truck

Four Wheeler Having a BBQ: A vehicle on fire

Freight Hauler: Van trailer puller

Freight Shaker: Freightliner truck

Front Door: The leader of a group of trucks

Full Grown Bear: Highway patrol

Full Grown Bears Hanging at the Chicken Coop: Get ready to be inspected at the weigh station

Georgia Overdrive: Transmission in neutral going downhill

GO Go Girls: A livestock trailer filled with pigs

Go Go Juice: Fuel

Got your ears on?: Is your CB radio on?

Grass Burners: Exhaust pipes that are low and horizontal

Hammer Down: Accelerating or going to max speed

Hand: Experienced driver

Handle: A driver’s nickname over the CB radio

Hanging Iron: Chaining up

In the Cradle: In the middle of a group of trucks

Jake Break: The engine break

K Whopper: Kenworth truck

Keep the Wheels Between the Ditches and the Bears Out of Your Britches: Keep it legal and safe – A.K.A Have a good trip

Kicker: CB amplifier

Kojak with a Kodak: Policeman with a radar gun

Large Car: A nice-looking, fast rig

Load of Dispatcher Brains: An empty trailer

Meat Wagon: Ambulance

Meet and Turn: Meeting another truck at a predetermined point to exchange trucks or trailers and return home

Monkey Butt: Seat rash from sitting too long

MT: Empty

Need 40 acres: Need to turn around

On Fire: An ambulance or police vehicle with the lights on

On My Back Door: Behind you

On Your Donkey: Close on your back side

Pancake: Brake chamber

Parking Lot: A truck hauling vehicles

Pete: Peterbuilt truck

Pickle Park: A rest area

Pig Tail: Electrical connector to trailer

Plain Wrapper: An unmarked police car

Polar Bear: White car with no writing on it

Possum Belly: A lowboy trailer

Ratchet Jaw: A talkative person

Rolling Billboard: A trailer covered with graffiti or advertisement of some sort

Saddle: Drivers Seat

Salt Shaker: Snowplow

Schneider Eggs: Construction zone barrels

School Bus: A driver trainer with a student driver

Seat Cover: An attractive woman in the passenger seat of a rig

Shake the Bushes: One truck going ahead of others to look for police cars

Shake the Trees and I’ll Rake the Leaves: The lead vehicle will look for police up ahead, the rear vehicle will look for police behind

She Bear: A female police officer

Shining Up For Inspection: A car hauler dragging chains

Shiny Jewelry: Snow chains that have been on for a while

Silver Bullet: A tank trailer

Single Stack Mack with a Window in the Back: Gutless day cab that can’t pull well

Skateboard: An empty flatbed truck

Skating Rink: Black ice or slippery roads

Skip Talk: Talking long distance on a CB radio

Skirts Are Flapping: Loose tarps on a flatbed

Slip Seat: Getting out of one truck and returning home in another at a meet point

Spreading Mayo and Mustard: Crews painting lines on the highway

Stacks: Exhaust pipes that run up the rear corners of a truck cab

Stall and Crawl/Bump and Grind: Stuck in lots of traffic

Steering Wheel Holder: A new or discourteous driver – all they are good for is holding the steering wheel

Stinger: Multiple Axles with variable length tongue that connects to the rear of a load bearing trailer

Suicide Jockey: Driver hauling explosives

Swamp Donkeys: Moose

Swindle Sheets: Pages in a driver’s daily log book

Talk Box: CB radio

The Big Word: A “Closed” sign at a weigh station

The Little Word: An “Open” sign at a weigh station

The Heater is on: CB power boost is on

Thermos Bottle: An insulated Tanker

Through the Woods: Driving on back roads or rural highways

Texas speed bump: An Armadillo on the road

Triple Digits: Over 100 MPH

Trucked Up Pill Driver: A driver who needs to stop and sleep

Turn-N-Burn: Drop a load and start a return trip

Turnpike Doubles: A tractor (truck) pulling two 48′ trailers

Twin Stack Mack: Little truck with a big truck attitude

Wearing Jewelry: A rig and trailer wearing snow chains

White Line Fever: When you are hypnotized by the white line of the highway, and don’t remember how you got where you were going

Wide Nose: Conventional truck with an extended or extra wide hood

Wiggle Wagon: Two to three trailers linked together

Alamo: San Antonio, TX

Big A: Atlanta, GA

Big D: Dallas, TX

Bikini: Miami, FL

Bright Lights: Las Vegas, NV

Chi-Town: Chicago, IL

Cigar City: Tampa, FL

Circle City: Indianapolis, IN

Cow Town: Fort Worth, TX

Disney: Orlando, FL

Gateway/The Arches: St Louis, MO

Gay Bay: San Francisco, CA

Going to the Bottom: McAllen/Brownsville, TX

Guitar/Music City: Nashville, TN

Left Coast: California

Mardi Gras: New Orleans, LA

Mile High: Denver, CO

Queen City: Charlotte, NC

Sand Pile: Phoenix, AZ

Smoke City: Birmingham, AL

The Beach: The Vancouver area

The Shaky Side: California

If you have additional terms you’d like to add, please list them in the comments. Thank you to all who contributed to this post and thank you for all that you do.

Essential Transportation Reference Guide


Dictionary of Transportation Lingo

The essential transportation reference guide for transportation professionals.

Whether you are new to the transportation industry, are a seasoned veteran or just want to better understand the terminology, this comprehensive reference guide if for you. The following is a list of widely used terms which will help you with deciphering bills, articles, comments, and communications made by transportation professionals and the mainstream media in reference to everything transportation.

Accessorial Charge: Amount billed for additional, supplemental or special services provided, usually a flat fee. Examples include: Tarps, dunnage, layovers, detention, etc.

• All-in Line Haul: FSC + Line Haul.

• Backhaul (Headhaul): The return movement of a transportation vehicle from its delivery point back to its point of origin.

• Bill of Lading (BOL): Paper document between a shipper and carrier acknowledging the receipt of goods for transport. Describes the nature of the cargo, amount of cargo by weight, size and/or number of pieces, and the origin and destination of cargo.

• Broker (freight): Individual or company that serves as a liaison between another individual/company that needs shipping services and an authorized motor carrier. Determines the needs of a shipper and connects that shipper with a carrier capable of transporting the items at an acceptable price.

• Carrier: Utilizes trucks and/or trailers to move goods from point A to point B.

• Coil Racks: Prefabricated cradles made of wood or steel made to hold rolled coils to keep them from rolling on a trailer.

• Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA): An FMCSA program designed to provide motor carriers and drivers with attention from FMCSA and State Partners about their potential safety problems with the ultimate goal of achieving a greater reduction in large truck and bus crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

• Commodity: Any article of commerce, including raw material, manufactured or grown products.

• Consignee: The person or location to whom the shipment is to be delivered whether by land, sea or air.

• Container (Shipping Container): Standard-sized rectangular box used to transport freight by ship, rail or highway. International shipping containers are 20’ or 40’, conform to International Standards Organization (ISO) standards and are designed to fit in ships’ holds. Domestic containers are up to 53’ long, of lighter construction and are designed for rail and highway use only.

• Distribution Center (DC): A location where goods and materials are stored until they are ready to be moved to their end destination.

• Dead-Heading: Operating a truck without cargo.

• Declared Value: The value of a shipment imported for resale, as declared by the shipper or owner.

• Dedicated Team: A team of drivers who take turns driving a dedicated truck.

• Dedicated Truck: Refers to a driver pulling freight for one specific customer only, where only that load is on the truck. No partial loads can be added.

• Detention/Demurrage: Charge by the carrier for excess retention of their equipment. Typically caused by untimely loading or unloading.

• Door-to-Door: Synonymous with Thru Trailer Service (TTS) but can also mean simply handling the shipment from the shipper to the consignee.

• Double Drop: A flatbed with the lowest deck. Normally used for oversized or over-height loads.

• Department of Transportation (DOT): Oversees U.S. federal highway, air, railroad, maritime and other transportation administration functions.

• D.O.T. Number: License administered to for-hire carriers by the Department of Transportation. (Not the same as Motor Carrier #).

• Dunnage: Filler material placed in empty spaces to keep cargo from moving or falling. Typically lumber, foam padding or inflatable bags.

• Duty Status: Drivers must maintain a daily 24-hour logbook (Record of Duty Status) documenting all work and rest periods. It must be kept current to the last change of duty status. Records of the previous 7 days must be retained by the driver and presented to law enforcement officials on demand.

• Escorts: Vehicles assisting in the movement of large, over-dimensional shipments. Escorts make sure the truck has plenty of space to move and alerts drivers of a shipment coming towards them. Help stop traffic with beacon lights and/or flags.

• Excess Value: Amount of declared value of a shipment that is above the carrier’s limit of liability.

• Expedited: The process of shipping at a faster rate than normal. Usually includes team drivers, overnight and/or air services.

• Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): Operates within the D.O.T. with a mission to prevent commercial motor-vehicle related fatalities and injuries by enforcing safety regulations and improving safety information systems.

• Freight Class: In LTL shipping, the category of freight as defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association. Identifies the size, value, and difficulty of transporting your freight. This determines the carrier’s shipping charges.

• Freight Forwarder: Facilitates shipping of goods for a third party. Similar to a ‘Freight Broker’ but typically handles international goods, is defined as a carrier and can be held responsible for claims and loss of cargo.

• Fuel Surcharge (FSC): The price of fuel can substantially change the cost of moving freight. Therefore, the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy publishes a U.S. National Average Fuel Index every week. Transportation companies will often include a FSC to the cost of moving freight either based on cents per mile or percentage of the line haul amount.

• Hazmat: Hazardous materials as classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Transport of hazardous material is strictly regulated by the US D.O.T.

• Hot Shot: Smaller trailers that are pulled by larger pickup trucks. Typically 24-40’ in length and cannot handle as much weight as a regular tractor trailer. Common for moving smaller loads or LTL shipments.

• Hours of Service (HOS): Regulations that put limits for when and how long drivers may drive.

• Interchange Agreement: Agreement and/or contract between two companies to switch or take control of a trailer in order to pick up and deliver shipments. Common along border towns between Mexican and U.S. companies in order to cross the border.

• Intermodal: A single trailer or container that encounters multiple forms of transportation along its route, such as truck/ship or truck/rail.

• Just in Time (JIT): Manufacturing system which depends on frequent, small deliveries of parts and supplies to keep on-site inventory to a minimum.

• Lane: A move from point A to point B. Many companies will have a lane that they run on a regular basis called a “dedicated lane”.

• Layover: When a driver is detained overnight or for a 24-hour period while waiting to pick up or deliver a shipment. Fees are usually involved.

• Line Haul: The rate per mile in dollars and cents for transporting items.

• Logbooks: Books carried by truck drivers in which they record their hours of service and duty status for each 24-hour period. These are required in interstate commercial trucking by the U.S. D.O.T.

• Less-Than-Truckload (LTL): Quantity of freight less than that required for the application of a full truckload (FTL) rate. Often a carrier will place several LTL shipments on the same truck to reduce the cost to the shipper.

• Motor Carrier Number (MC#): License administered to for-hire carriers by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA).Commonly referred to as USDOT numbers.

• National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC): A standard comparison of commodities moving in interstate, intrastate and foreign commerce. There are 18 commodity classes based on an evaluation of four transportation characteristics: density, stowability, handling and liability. These characteristics establish a commodity’s transportability.

• Owner-Operator: Truck driver who owns and operators their truck(s).

• Over-Dimensional (Wide Load): Cargo that is larger than the legally defined limits for width, length, height, and/or weight and cannot be broken down into smaller units.

• Pallet Jack: A tool used to lift and move pallets and other heavy packages and products.

• Partial: Truck used to compile multiple shipments from several customers in order to utilize the entire truck. Due to this, transit times can be longer than dedicated truckloads due to multiple stops.

• Permits: Permission obtained from states allowing carriers to transport freight that exceeds the legal weight and size limits.

• Placard: Warning signs placed on all four sides of a trailer denoting that they are carrying hazardous materials.

• Proof of Delivery (POD): Signed documents (usually a Bill of Lading) that show a shipment was received at the delivery location.

• PRO number: A number assigned by the carrier to reference the shipment. This is also used for tracking.

• Pup Trailer: Short semitrailer, usually between 26’ and 32’ long, with a single axle.

• Ramps: Carried by some open deck truckers to help facilitate the loading and offloading of shipments. Mostly found on step decks that are trying to haul cars and other drivable equipment.

• Rate Confirmation: A document that confirms the agreed upon amount for the cost of service between the shipper and carrier.

• Reefer: A trailer with insulated walls and a self-powered refrigeration unit. Most commonly used for transporting food.

• Removable Goose Neck (RGN): A specialized type of heavy-haul flatbed trailer that can provide drive-on drive-off accessibility. The trailer deck is attached to a “gooseneck” which can be raised and lowered then removed from the trailer for transportation.

• Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC): Unique 2-4 letter code used to identify transportation companies.

• Shipper: Consignor, exporter or seller named in the bill of lading, who may or may not be the same as the party responsible for initiating a shipment.

• Sliding Tandem: Mechanism that allows a tandem axle suspension to be moved back and forth at the rear of a semitrailer, for the purpose of adjusting the distribution of weight between the axles and fifth wheel.

• Spread Axle (Spread Tandem): Tandem axle assembly that is spaced further apart than the standard spacing of 54”.

• Straps: Strong vinyl straps used to secure and tie down freight to a trailer.

• Tanker: Cylinder designed to haul liquids like fuel or oil.

• Tandem Axle: Pair of axles and associated suspension usually located close together.

• Team (Driver Team): Team of two drivers who alternate driving and resting. This practice is typically used for expedited shipments but will have a greater cost.

• Third Party Logistics/Freight Broker: Individual or company that serves as a liaison between another individual or company that needs shipping services and an authorized motor carrier. Provides the necessary transportation but does not function as a shipper or carrier.

• Thru Trailer Service (TTS): When cargo remains on the same trailer during an international shipment. This is the opposite of a trans-load and is generally considered safer by most companies.

• Trans-Load: The movement of a product from one trailer to another trailer in order to keep a shipment going. This is standard practice at international U.S. borders where carriers can only operate in one country and must pass off the load to a carrier authorized to transport loads in the country of the load’s destination.

• Truck-Mounted Crane: A self-propelled loading and unloading machine mounted on a truck body.

• Truck Order Not Used (TORD): When a shipper orders a truck to pick up but cancels after a truck has been dispatched. There is typically a fee associated with this.

• Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC): Needed to gain unescorted access to secure areas of Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) regulated facilities and vessels.

• Van: An enclosed boxlike motor vehicle having rear or side doors and side panels used for transporting goods.

HOS Changes: Find Out What It Means for Your Supply Chain



The FMCSA has rolled out new changes to it’s Hours of Service. Be aware of the changes and how they will affect your freight.

By Kyle Gholston, CTB, Vice President of Conexus

It’s here. The dreaded Hours-of-Service (HOS) changes. Drivers, carriers and distributors alike have feared these changes for the last 18 months ever since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced them in December 2011. July 1, 2013 they went into effect and so far, the sky has not fallen, the transportation industry has not come to a complete stop and as far as we can tell, Armageddon has not begun. However that doesn’t make the changes any less difficult to adhere to. These new restrictions impose more stringent rules upon transportation providers, who must comply or face steep penalties for neglecting to do so. So why is the FMCSA making these changes to the existing HOS regulations, what are they and how do they affect freight? The following is a breakdown of the new HOS regulations imposed by the FMCSA and how they are changing the way freight is being moved.

Reduction in work week hours. One of the biggest and most difficult changes the FMCSA has made to the HOS is the reduction in the number of hours drivers are allowed to be behind the wheel in a week from 82 hours to 70. That breaks down to a maximum of 60 hours logged for a driver on a 7-day work week, and a maximum of 70 hours for an 8-day work week. The work week restarts once a driver takes 34 consecutive hours off duty and a restart may only be used once per week, or every 168 hours from the beginning of the previous week. During the 34 hours off-duty each week, there must be two time periods of sleep from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. when the body requires the most rest.

What it means: This is a significant and particularly difficult challenge for trucking companies who still have the same, if not more demand for shipping product but suddenly have fewer hours per driver to do it. This means that trucking companies will need to hire more drivers to meet the same amount of demand, further exemplifying the increasing Driver Shortage. Trucking companies have had 18 months to plan and prepare for these changes so they have likely staffed more drivers and have worked out new driver scheduling processes that adhere to these new FMCSA guidelines, but it will be an ongoing struggle to find enough drivers with enough hours to get shipments delivered on time.

More Required Breaks. The previous daily HOS laws regarding the 11 and 14 hours remain the same. There is also no change to the requirement that drivers must take 10 consecutive hours off duty or in sleeper berth in order to renew their 11 and 14 hour clocks. However, changes to FMCSA regulations now require drivers to take a minimum of a 30 minute break during their first 8 hours on duty, which cannot include loading, unloading, or fueling. All Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV) must adhere to these changes immediately. However, out of concern for the safety of livestock, which would be sitting in the CMV during the summer heat, a 90-day exception has been granted to livestock transportation in regards to this additional 30 minute break.

What it means: This change, while seemingly small in nature, will account for longer overall drive times for shipments that require more than an 8-hour drive. Driver managers and schedulers will have to take this half hour into account when scheduling load pick-up and arrival times. Even if a driver is only an hour away from the drop off location, the driver must take the required 30 minute break within the first 8 hours on duty. One minute past 8 hours on duty and the driver is in violation. The repercussions of this new requirement could cause a driver to arrive late for a pick-up or delivery thus causing the driver to arrive beyond receiving hours for a particular business, delaying the shipment an entire day or more. Shipments which require even longer travel times will be even greater affected.

Whether these changes appear great or small, the penalties for not complying with them can be severe. Driving (or allowing a driver to drive) more than 3 hours beyond the driving-time limit could be considered an egregious violation resulting in an $11,000 fine per offense for the company and a $2,750 fine for the driver. But according to the FMCSA, there is a reason these new regulations are so important. After years of research, the FMCSA believes these changes will save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries per year, which is the ultimate motivation behind the changes. Keeping drivers rested will not only result in safer roads, but also better health conditions for drivers, which according to the FMCSA, will result in an estimated $470 million in savings from improved driver health.

So what about you? Since the changes went into effect, have you noticed any difference in your shipments or in the cost of moving freight? Let us know how the new HOS regulations have affected your business.

Kyle Gholston is a Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) Certified Transportation Broker (CTB) and the Vice President of Conexus.

Top Ten Border Crossing Pitfalls to Avoid – Part II


By Patty Hinojosa, Director of Logistics at Conexus

Shipping goods and materials North and South across the border of Mexico can be a complicated, expensive and frightening process – if you don’t know what you’re doing. But armed with the following guidelines you will be able to conduct your transportation needs across our southern border with the ease. This is part II of the Top Ten Border Crossing Pitfalls to Avoid when transporting goods across the U.S./Mexico border. For Part I, click here.

Avoid common border crossing pitfalls by following expert advice.

Avoid common border crossing pitfalls by following expert advice.

6. Lack of follow-up. One of the most important and difficult aspects of shipping is keeping track of where your freight is at all times. And when it comes to crossing the border, communicating updates and a sense of urgency regarding your shipment to the customs broker is essential otherwise your load could be pushed to the bottom of the pile leaving you with a hefty bill laden with detention fees. To help avoid this, aim for a carrier that offers Door-to-Door Service – this is when one transportation provider is your point of contact throughout the entire shipment and is responsible for picking up the load in the United States and seeing it through all the way to its final destination in Mexico.

If your load is particularly delicate, search for a carrier that offers Through Trailer Service. Through Trailer Service goes above and beyond Door-to-Door Service by not just offering one point of contact throughout the shipment’s entire journey, but offering shippers the option of keeping their load on the same trailer from pick-up all the way through to delivery in Mexico without having to trans-load from trailer to trailer at the border. This is a particularly attractive option for shippers moving

7. No options at the border. When choosing your transportation provider, choose one that can help you mitigate detention charges at the border. Ideally, look for a provider who has a facility at the border. In a pinch, your carrier can unload your freight at their border facility until the shipment is ready for crossing. This can save you thousands of dollars in detention charges if your shipment is delayed for any reason. Choosing a transportation provider that gives you this kind of flexibility is key.

8. Searching for a customs broker too late. This is a big pitfall for shippers that can be easily avoided but is so often overlooked. It may seem like a good idea to just get the shipment on its way to the border and plan on finding a customs broker before the freight gets there. However, it typically takes three days or more to get set up with a customs broker. During that time, a pre-assigned customs broker could be performing 90% of the work it takes to get your freight across the border before it ever arrives. When the load gets to the border, the customs broker has little else to do than simply inspect the load and get you on your way.

9. Customs broker is not located at your point of crossing. Another common problem we see is freight trying to cross the border at a point where the customs broker is not located. It’s important to know where your customs broker is located and whether or not they have multiple offices. You may have a fantastic customs broker for all your loads moving through El Paso but before using that broker to handle your load moving through Laredo, make sure he has offices there as well. Some brokers are only in one location and as a result are not able to handle multiple points of entry.

10. Lack of consolidation. This is one of the most important factors for a shipper to remember as not following this step can cost a shipper thousands of dollars in fees if improperly handled. When moving a machine or other items that require more than one truck load, all the trucks must be at the border for crossing at the same time. A customs broker cannot cross the load until all pieces are accounted for. Depending on the number of loads and length of time between each one, a shipper could be handed a huge bill of detention fees while all trucks are made to wait to cross the border until all the other trucks arrive. A shipment of multiple trucks takes a big more coordination to get them all to the border at the same time, but the stress savings and financial savings makes it imperative to coordinate all these shipments seamlessly.

Remember, shipping in and out of Mexico doesn’t have to be complicated. The right transportation provider can help you navigate these and other pitfalls with ease. If you choose the right provider, you can ship in and out of Mexico with ease.

Patty Hinojosa is the Director of Logistics at Conexus in Laredo, Texas.