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Professional Appearance for Truck Drivers: does it affect CSA Scores?

February 18, 2013

I’m sure you’ve heard it said that first impressions are the most important. People make immediate judgments about a person’s ability, knowledge, attention to detail, etc, based entirely on their appearance. Rarely do people forget their first impressions of someone, so you should always make sure that yours was a good one. This is especially true for truck drivers. It may not be something you have considered, but truck drivers are the face of their business, so first impressions are important. A negative DOT inspection directly affects the Driver's PSP score and the carriers CSA Scores, presenting a professional appearance makes a difference.

As Truckers, you are out on the road most of the time and it’s easy to get caught up in running as many loads as possible and concentrating on making money. But even when you are on out the road, you encounter numerous people every day. Therefore, you need to be thinking about the impression that you are conveying because it will affect how people view your business. According to Mike Card, the chairmen of American Trucking Associations, Truckers do not always “garner the respect [they] deserve from the news media, the general public and our political leaders. The image of our drivers and our companies needs a makeover.”( www.transporttopics.com ) Truckers have a difficult and sometime treacherous job that deserves a certain level of respect.

Truck drivers need to start looking at their professional appearance as a component of running their business successfully and gaining the respect of their customers and peers. Here is a list of some of the most important aspects of having a professional appearance that will help your business be more successful:
  • Personal Appearance. Personal appearance and hygiene are probably the most obvious aspects of your professional appearance. Since you are the face of your business, you want to make sure you come across as experienced and reliable. No matter how good you are at your job, people are not inclined to take you seriously if you do not look like a professional. Although I’m not suggesting you wear a suit to drive your truck around, it is important that you are wearing clean clothes with minimal holes, stains, etc. Also, you should make sure that you maintain an acceptable hygiene level, i.e. brushing hair and teeth, showering on a regular basis, and washing your face. All these things add to your professional appearance and make it easier for people to respect you and value your business.
  • Truck Appearance. The appearance of your truck is another important part of how people perceive your business. It should be cleaned inside and out, on a regular basis, as well as regular maintenance. A clean truck is both for safety and so your truck does not look or sound like it’s falling apart. You want to inspire confidence in your customers.
  • Business Practices. Business practices are an equally important part of a professional exterior. Every aspect of your business that your customers are privy to should look professional. Your voicemail greeting should have the name of your business, your name, and an assurance that you will return the call as soon as you are able to do so. Your email address should also be professional. You do not want an email address that is derogatory, silly, or sports related. It’s a good idea to have the name of your business as your email address, but it’s not necessary.
  • Mannerisms. One final part of your professional appearance are your mannerisms. As an owner-operator, it is important to be on time, knowledgeable, and polite. When you look like you know what you are doing, your customers will be more likely to do business with you again. Also, you never know when you will be talking to potential customers and you never want to burn any bridges.
  • Professional Paperwork. Applications such as the free BigRoad Electronic Logs can help fleets and drivers present a more professional image as well to the roadside DOT inspectors.  Hundreds of accounts from drivers using BigRoad confirm that the DOT inspectors appreciate the clean logs, lack of errors and elimintaion of illegible handwriting.  see previous blog post about Why Paper Driver Logs Suck

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7 ways to cut your fleet insurance costs - protect your CSA scores

February 17, 2013

After a truck payment, insurance is often the biggest fixed cost for owner-operators. Whether you’re leased or running under your own authority, there’s plenty you can do to reduce costs when updating existing policies or shopping for new ones, while also protecting your fleets CSA scores.  

Mind the deductible.You can raise your policy’s deductible to lower the premium, but independents should weigh their risk in an accident with multiple claims. For example, separate $2,500 deductibles on a tractor, a trailer and cargo easily could come into play at once, yielding a $7,500 bill. Leased operators should know if their carrier holds them responsible for a certain amount of carrier liability or cargo deductibles in a loss.

Keep credit history clean. Credit reports often are pulled by underwriters to determine owner-operator insurance rates. Pay your bills on time, and follow other practices to maintain a high credit score.

Include aftermarket items in stated value. When you determine fair market value during policy updates, use online and dealer resources to help determine aftermarket add-ons’ real effect on your rig’s resale value. Also, enhancements that would lower the insuror’s exposure, like deer catchers and anti-theft devices, can bring rate discounts.

Account for safety. Don’t be shy about communicating a strong safety record during any rate quote or policy update.

Use technology to protect your CSA scores and improve Safety. Affordable electronic log apps like smartphone based BigRoad is a good first step toward proactively managing your driver logs, CSA scores and reducing your compliance liability

Compare rates. As with anything you buy, it’s wise to compare rates periodically. Before changing insurors, see if your current one offers a discount for staying with the company.

Update business information. Type of freight, miles driven and area of haul are factors that affect the accuracy of your rates.


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Do you Know your PSP Score, CSA Scores? You Should!

February 12, 2013

This is the first article in a good series by Todd Dills of OverDrive Online describing PSP (Pre-employment Screening Program) and other data collection techniques by FMCSA under the CSA program.  It is becoming increasingly important for truck drivers and fleet operators to regularly verify and protect their PSP and CSA scores.  Link to original article in OverDrive Online

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CSA Scores a Competitive Weapon for small fleets?

February 07, 2013

A good article was published in the Truck News Blogs by James Menzies regarding CSA as a competitive weapon. More of the smaller companies and O/O's will need to establish their own track record and procedures if the trend of the larger trucking companies to hold their data and methods as a competitive advantage, because they have the money and the means to collect/process and control the information.  We see many small fleets customers using the BigRoad fleet management platform to level the playing field and compete fairly with the big guys.

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Trucks waste $27B/year due to congestion - fleet tracking can help

February 05, 2013

Many fleets are finding that real time tracking with traffic alerts for drivers and dispatchers can help reduce getting caught in traffic. Though traffic congestion in U.S. cities has remained relatively stable in recent years, delays are still costing commuters and truckers hefty sums, according to an annual study – with an estimated $27 billion worth of time and diesel fuel wasted by trucks alone in 2011 due solely to traffic jams.  

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Did You Know?…Interesting Trucking Facts

February 01, 2013

Think you know everything about the trucking industry?  Below are some interesting facts you may not have known; from the history of the first tractor trailer to interesting tidbits that will spark any truck lover’s interest.

The First Tractor Trailer

The first tractor trailer was invented in 1914 by Charles Freuhauf, who was a German-American blacksmith. Freuhauf built the truck in Detroit at a merchant’s request to transport his boat to the Ford Motor Company.  Freuhauf was then asked to build a similar tractor trailer to haul lumber, leading him to establish the Freuhauf Trailer Company in 1918. More info about first tractor tralier

The Fifth Wheel

John Endebrock, a sales representative at the Sechler Company, a carriage manufacturer which changed its name to The Trailmobile Company in 1915 when Endebrock created a trailer that could be pulled by a Ford Model T, created the fifth wheel, a mechanism that couples the tractor to the trailer. Link to more about the Fifth Wheel

The Motor Carrier Act

Passed by Congress in 1935, allowing the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to “grant operating permits, approve trucking routes,” and “set uniform tariff rates for hauling freight,” leading to little competition among trucking companies.  The ICC was abolished in 1995. Link to to history of US trucking industry

The Department of Transportation

Created in 1967, the DOT sets requirements on braking standards, maximum work hours, and “overall safety fitness of interstate carriers.”  (http://www.irs.gov/businesses/article/0,,id=170623,00.html)

Maximum Weight Requirements

In 1982, the Surface Transportation Act was created, stating that interstate highway trucks cannot have a total weight of more than 80,000 pounds.

Largest Tractor

The world’s largest tractor was created by the French in 2005.  Named the TRACTOMAS TR 10X10, created by NICOLAS Industrie, this tractor has a “tare weight of around 40 tonnes, along with a vehicle total weight of 71 tonnes,” with an overall weight of truck and trailer of about 600 tonnes. Link to more about Abnormal worlds largest highway tractor

Largest Cargo Theft

To date, the largest cargo theft resulted in $76 million worth the loss from an Eli Lilly and Co. warehouse loaded with prescription drugs in Enfield, Conn. on March 14, 2010.

#1 Driver Log app on Android

BigRoad is the fastest growing electronic log application on the Android smartphone and tablet platform.  It also has one of the highest ratings of any trucking app on Android with a driver rating of 4.53 out of 5 stars




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The smell of an EOBR by any other name - ATA softening stance?

January 18, 2013

I think Todd Dills of OverDrive Online is accurate when he says it appears that the ATA's Bill Graves is softening his stance on EOBR's - referring instead to 'Electronic Logs' as the imperative.  Maybe the EOBR mandate will also be seen as too heavy handed - and too much 'BigBrother' by the time it comes to pass?  This potentially has significant implications for the mutlitude of small carriers and independent Owner Operators represented by David Owens', NASTC (National Association of Small Trucking Companies) that are going ahead on their own with the adoption of electronic logs on their own with providers such as BigRoad

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Weigh Scale Pre Clear app integrated in BigRoad Android elog app

January 16, 2013

BigRoad is excited to include a link to enable weighscale bypass or preclear in our free trucker app.  Too much time is spent in 'chicken coops' across the nation and this app was selected as the best in breed for getting pre clearance.  Drivewyze PreClear is an innovative new way for commercial vehicles to bypass weigh stations and mobile inspection sites.

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Small Trucking Companies adopting eLog solutions from BigRoad and NASTC

January 15, 2013

A new electronic hours-of-service logging application is now available for small trucking companies and owner-operators. The app, from BigRoad, is specially designed for use by small fleets looking for a cost-effective logging solution.

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National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC) Partners with BigRoad to Provide Electronic HOS Logs and Fleet Management to Members

January 14, 2013

Smartphone app for independent drivers and small fleets offers common sense, low cost solution for Hours of Service (HOS) and Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) compliance

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