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Paper Work: Written Cell Phone Policy

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

A cell phone policy seems straight forward. Don’t Use Cell Phone on the Road. It’s the law in many states in personal autos, and it’s a written rule by the FMCSA. So why should you include a cell phone policy in your manual:

  • Drivers can face penalties up to $2,750 and disqualification for multiple offenses. Motor carriers are also subject to civil penalties up to $11,000.
  • All cell phone violations will also impact SMS results (10 Points)
  • MVR cell phone convictions are a disqualifying offense with any insurance companies
  • Cell phone records are listed as discoverable and can be used in court

When developing employee handbooks, we often think of the exposures of the drivers on the road; but what about the dispatchers? Look at (b) on the both of the rules from FMCSA:

§Part 392.80 Prohibition against texting
(a) Prohibition. No driver shall engage in texting while driving.
(b) Motor Carriers. No motor carriers shall allow or require its drivers to engage in texting while driving.
§Part 392.82 Using a hand-held mobile telephone
(a) No driver shall use a hand-held mobile telephone
(b) No motor carrier shall allow or require its drivers to use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV

One of the issues is that some dispatchers text drivers in reference to updating them on loads. Our policy reflects not only the drivers’ responsibility, but the dispatchers’ as well. How do you share load information, and locations, and exposures ahead? How do you communicate with your fleet?

If you want to add a cell phone policy to your employee handbook, give us a call.

Quality Over Quantity

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

When my grandfather enlisted in World War II, his father bought him a watch. The Massachusetts farmer couldn’t afford the gift, but he believed in investing in the best tools. My grandfather wore that watch every day of his life. In contrast, I have purchased 3-4 watches over the course of my 30 years. All of the watches were relatively cheap. They worked for a time, but they ultimately got wet, broke, or just stopped working. Where my great-grandfather made one investment in a quality product, I went for affordable, and in the end will spend more money on watches than my grandfather.

With the recent changes to the FMCSA, we’ve been receiving a lot of questions about Electronic Logging Devices. As your trusted Risk Managers, we do not officially endorse any ELD Manufacturers, as we don’t endorse any Truck Manufacturers, Tire Dealers, or Shoe Brands. Each of these decisions is unique for your individual business.

When researching major purchases, we like to ask our clients the following questions:
  • Where is the Best Bang for Your Buck? – Does the product only provide the bare minimum required by the mandate or can it expand? Can you add GPS, cameras, or sensors? Will this product help grow your operation or does it simply keep you in compliance?
  •  What is the Total Cost of Ownership? – This includes installation, maintenance, repairs, ease of training, and ease of use for your drivers.
  • Who is the Manufacturer? – A lot of new companies enter emerging markets, but how many have staying power? New businesses have a high failure rate. Therefore if your manufacturer goes under, you won’t be able to service, repair, or upgrade the product, and will have to start the purchasing process all over again. Name recognition and industry experience is a great indicator of future success.

At Dawson Transportation Services, we are advocates for Quality. Like my grandfather’s watch, we believe in adding value over the long term. We are not striving to be the cheapest or the most expensive, and we don’t blanket support one ELD system. We are pursuing the best fit for your specific company. We are happy to help you in researching any products or services that can help your business grow, thrive, and prosper.

If you have any questions, please contact us at any time.

Keeping the Forward Facing Camera in Focus

Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Focus. Focus on the road. Focus on the conditions. Focus on the mini-van in the next lane. On your route. On your fuel. On your hours. Focus on the distracted drivers that surround you. The ability to focus for 11 hours is incredibly difficult. The average commercial driver makes 160 decisions per mile, and that adds up to over 28 million driving decisions annually.

Studies have shown that passenger vehicle drivers are at fault for 80.6% of crashes between a truck and a passenger vehicle [1]. In a court of law however, responsibility is assigned to the motor carrier in full or in part a majority of the time.

The biggest benefit of forward facing cameras (Dash Cams) is the guaranteed record of critical events. This helps protect the driver and the motor carrier from frivolous litigation because forward facing videos will help identify the truth in many accidents.

Recently a passenger vehicle slammed into the side of one of our insureds. The video shows our truck driving down the center of his lane and suddenly the camera shakes from the crash. The passenger vehicle claimed the trucker swerved into him. The video cleared the driver and the claimant’s insurance had to pay for the damages, NOT the motor carrier. If your driver didn’t do anything wrong, you will have proof.

However, if the video reveals the motor carrier to be at fault, then it’s a learning opportunity for the driver and the motor carrier. We at Dawson Transportation Services feel it’s better to know the truth than to rely on a “he said/ he said” argument.

Many owner operators have begun purchasing their own dash cams from truck stops to confirm their story. They realize the importance of having 10 seconds of video if something were to happen. The footage can be used to improve safety systems and driving practices.

Insurance companies are beginning to team up with fleet monitoring companies to offer discounts on services and equipment. With the new EDL rules coming out we expect more teaming up from motor carriers, EDL companies, and video recorders. Make sure to research the best system for your company.

[1] Blower, D. The Relative Contribution of Truck Drivers and Passenger Vehicle Drivers to Truck-Passenger Vehicle Traffic Crashes, Publication No. UMTRI-98-25, University of Michigan Transportation Research Instituted, Ann Arbor, MI June 1998

FMCSA – Safety Fitness Rule Proposal

Thursday, January 21, 2016
The FMCSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register to establish new methods for determining a motor carrier’s fitness to operate in interstate and intrastate commerce.

The proposed rule will eliminate the existing three-category rating system of “satisfactory-conditional-unsatisfactory” in favor of a single determination of “unfit.”

Unlike the current system, which is based entirely on the FMCSA’s on-site investigation, the proposed safety fitness determinations will be based on roadside inspection, on-site investigations, or a combination of the two.

While the proposed rule does afford carriers that receive the “unfit” rating the opportunity to petition the FMCSA to upgrade the rating in limited circumstances, carriers whose proposed ratings become final will be prohibited from operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate or intrastate commerce.

According to the proposed rule, the FMCSA will assess carriers on a monthly basis using fixed failure metrics for each of the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (“BASICs”). Carriers that fail two or more of the BASICs in a given month will receive a proposed “unfit” rating. BASIC failures can stem from:

1. On-road safety data exceeding the “absolute failure standards” of a given BASIC

2. A single acute or critical violation discovered by the FMCSA in a given BASIC during an investigation

3. Some combination of the two

The proposed “absolute failure standards” for each BASIC differ from the current intervention thresholds in that they would reflect the carriers’ own performance against the failure standard and would not be impacted by other carriers’ performance.

The NPRM, is available on the FMCSA’s website (click here). They are seeking comments on several components of the proposed rule. Initial comments are due by March 31, 2016. The FMCSA will be accepting response comments through the end of April.  

FMCSA Lowers the Drug Testing Rate

Tuesday, January 05, 2016
Starting January 1st, 2016, the FMCSA has lowered the annual minimum random drug-testing rate for CDL holders from 50% of the average number of CDL driver positions to 25%.

The decision was based on three consecutive years of federal surveys that found less than 1% of tests to be positive for controlled substances. This change will help reduce the testing burden faced by the industry, and has received support from the American Trucking Association.

If at any time the positive rate for controlled substances exceeds 1%, the testing rate will revert back to 50%. But for the calendar year of 2016, carriers should plan for 25%.
This change does not alter the minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing. That will remain at 10% for 2016.

 If you have any questions, please contact us at any time.

Anti-Indemnification Language

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

We are proud to report that Ohio has become the 44th State to enact Anti-Indemnification Language for Motor Carrier Contracts.

Some shippers have been passing their liability onto the trucking industry and forcing the motor carriers to bear the weight of the shippers’ actions, as they have the power in the relationship. This Bill will help level the playing field for trucking companies when negotiating contracts.

Dawson Transportation Services’ President, John Burtch, provided testimony as part of the process and is pleased with the outcome. 

“We are very excited regarding the passage of this legislation and proud the Ohio Trucking Association, under the leadership of Tom Balzer, spearheaded the effort. Tom asked our office for some case support and for personal testimony, which we were happy to provide. This legislation is fair and brings Ohio into line with several other states that have passed similar laws. Kudos to Tom B and his staff at the OTA for a strong lobbying effort.”- John Burtch

The law will go into effect in March 2016.

If you have any questions regarding any of your contracts, please contact us at any time.

Dawson Transportation Services

Thanksgiving Wishes and Tips for Truckers

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

For all you do throughout the year delivering everything we need to the places we need them, and especially to those of you that will be on the road this holiday weekend, Dawson Transportation Services would like say THANK YOU to all the hard-working truck drivers out there.

Below are links to some articles that you may find interesting. We wish you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving for Truckers

Trucking, Turkeys, and Thanksgiving

FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): The Series Part 2

Monday, November 09, 2015

Last month we hosted a webinar to explore the current status of the FSMA. Jonathan Stringer, Sr. Corporate Cargo Claims Attorney for Great West Casualty Insurance, did a great job breaking down the proposed rules and answering some of the participants’ most pressing questions. We wanted to share the highlights of the presentation with you. Click the link below to learn more.

FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): The Series Part 1

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On March 31st 2016, the FDA will submit the finalized rules for the FSMA to the Federal Register.   The proposed rules will address the sanitary transportation of both human and animal food traveling via motor or rail vehicle, by specifically defining requirements for: 

  • Vehicles and transportation equipment
  • Transportation operations
  • Information exchange
  • Training
  • Records
  • and Waivers

We, here at Dawson Transportation Services, will spend the next few weeks breaking down the new rules and showing what it means for modern trucking operations.

The History

  • January 4th, 2011, President Obama signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, into Law. 
  • This is the first food safety law in over 70 years
  • The Purpose: To better protect human and animal health by helping to ensure the safety and security of the food and feed supply.

The focus of the FSMA, is to prevent food safety problems before they occur. The FSMA is to establish criteria and definitions that would apply in determining whether food is adulterated as a result of it being transported or offered for transport under conditions that are not in compliance with the sanitary food transport regulations.

The 6 Focuses of the Food Safety Modernization Act

  1. Preventive controls requirements for human food
  2. Preventive controls requirements for animal food
  3. Standards for produce safety
  4. A foreign supplier verification Program for importers
  5. A program for accreditation of third-party auditors to conduct food safety audits
  6. To Focus mitigation strategies to prevent intentional tampering to cause large-scale public harm

What to Expect

The Food Safety Modernization Act will affect all aspects of the current transportation landscape.  The rules on the horizon will address:

  • Vehicles and Transportation Equipment – requirements for the design and maintenance to ensure that it does not cause food that it transports to become contaminated
  • Transportation Operations – defining steps to ensure food is not contaminated during transportation (i.e. adequate temperature controls)
  • Information Exchange – Standardized procedures to share information between shippers, carriers and receivers, regarding prior cargos, cleaning of equipment and temperature controls
  • Training – Carrier personnel sanitary transportation practices and documentation of the training
  • Records – Requirements for maintaining written procedures and records related to equipment cleaning, cargo history, and temperature control
  • Waivers – Procedures by which the FDA will waive any of the above requirements

Over the next few months we will breakdown the definitions, requirements, and procedures as they are released.   Additionally, Dawson Transportation Service will be offering a 1-Hour Webinar on October 21, 2015 to discuss the FSMA and its implications for the modern trucking company.  Please sign up here: Webinar Registration Site

For more information, please contact

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week: a TL of Thanks

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

To The Drivers:  Thank You.

Thank you for the long and the short hauls.  Thank you for tankers, the dumps, the flatbeds, the vans,  the reefers, the wide loads, and the bobtails.  Thank you for keeping our manufacturing plants stocked, and for getting their products into stores.  Thank you for the food on our tables. Thank you for the clothes on our backs. Thank you for our economy. 

Thank you for your professionalism.  For keeping shipments cold. For keeping loads secure. For following the DOT rules and regulations.  For the medical check-ups, the filings, the licenses, the authorities, and the detailed logs.  Thank you for all the thankless jobs that go unnoticed.

Thank you for being guardians of the highway. For helping civilians change tires, check their engines, and for giving directions.  For honking at the kids in the back seats.  For making sure the other drivers are safe and get where they’re going.

Thank you for the hours you spend in the cab, and in Truck Stops, and away from home.  Thank you, to your families, who’s make plenty of sacrifices, that allows you to keep America moving.  Thank you for always looking down the road.  

We, at Dawson Transportation Services, appreciate you and want to wish you a happy and safe National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

Dawson Companies
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Richfield, Ohio 44286 •
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