How Truck Fleets are Working to Halt the Spotted Lanternfly Invasion.

The Spotted Lanternfly is a new invasive insect in southeastern Pennsylvania which poses a substantial threat to agriculture with a potential economic impact in the billions of dollars. The bugs can quickly spread to other areas by hitching a ride on trucks, in trailers or even on the driver.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Dana D. Rhodes, the trucking industry will play a vital role in helping to halt this invasive bug. States along the East coast, including New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut, are working together to find solutions, such as training and roadside inspections, to help contain the bugs. Continue reading

DOT Hours of Service: Understanding the Unique Compliance Requirements.

The federal Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations are designed to keep fatigued drivers off the nation’s roadways. The rules set limits on how much time commercial drivers can spend behind the wheel, mandate certain amounts of rest, and require documentation.

The interstate trucking safety rules apply to anyone who operates a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) that weighs or is rated at 10,001 pounds or more or that is placarded for hazardous materials. In-state-only rules may vary somewhat from federal rules. Companies and drivers are required to know and comply with all regulations. Ongoing training for drivers, dispatchers, safety personnel, and others is critical for staying well-informed about these ever-changing rules.

Preventing fatigued driving increases highway safety and prevents crashes, injuries, fatalities, cargo claims, fines, high CSA scores, and litigation. HOS compliance is one area of emphasis during Continue reading

5 Reasons You’ll Love the VDO RoadLog

The ELD Mandate is here. December 17, 2017 is the day set by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration) requiring ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) for interstate commercial trucks.

But where do you start and what should you look for in an ELD, and are there benefits to switching from manual logs to elogs sooner than mandated?

In this article, we discuss the VDO RoadLog ELD from Continental and the features that Owner Operators, fleets, and even roadside inspectors, say they appreciate the most.

Two VDO Models – One Great Solution to YOUR Needs
Before we get into the specific features, it’s helpful to know is that the VDO unit is available in two models.  The VDO RoadLog ELD (with no monthly fees) and  The VDO RoadLog ELD PLUS with Cellular Connectivity. The main difference between the two is that the PLUS version allows drivers to wirelessly upload data and requires a monthly fee if activated. The version without cellular connectivity requires the use of the RoadLog Driver Key (usb drive) for manual data transfer, but requires no monthly fee.

That being said, let’s dive into the features that can help make your job a little easier:

1. Choose Which Works Best for You: No Monthly Fees -or- Affordable Wireless Connectivity
The fact that it’s easy to use and affordable has made the VDO RoadLog popular among owner operators and small to medium fleets. There are no monthly fees or contracts, as we discussed above, for the regular RoadLog and drivers can manually transfer data through the driver key. This works very well for Owner-Operators with 1-10 or so trucks.

Fleets over 10 vehicles, or thereabouts, may prefer the wireless version (the RoadLog Plus) which will give their drivers the ability to wirelessly upload their data for an affordable monthly fee.

TIP:  Maybe you’re a small business now, but you are growing and are trying to decide between the unit with or without cellular connectivity. Choose the RoadLog PLUS with cellular connectivity. You can turn off the cellular connectivity for now and still pay no monthly fees.  Just activate it when you’re ready to move to wireless.

2. Built-in Printer – print and go at roadside inspections
When going through a DOT roadside inspection, we all want to hear the “You’re good to go!” from the inspector as quickly as possible. And the built-in printer helps that happen. Simply print your logs right from your truck, and hand them to the compliance officer – the same as you’ve done with manual logs. The printout is similar to the log book style so the inspector is able to quickly view the data – making the printer a feature that the inspector appreciates just as much as the driver.

The printout immediately eliminates any technology compatibility issues with having to transfer/display data electronically at a roadside inspection. And, because it is a thermal printer, it never requires any ink.

VDO RoadLog Electronic Logging Device

Simply print your logs right from your truck, and hand them to the compliance officer.

3. Automatic software updates – Keeps you current with the latest changes
Keeping up to date with the most current FMCSA regulations is automatic with the VDO RoadLog.  When there’s a change to an FMCSA regulation your VDO software will update to reflect the latest regulations. As a registered VDO RoadLog user, you can rest assured you’re always in the know, and in compliance.

If you’re about to exceed any of the upcoming limits, it will even send you an alert letting you know — helping you steer clear of compliance violations and fines as much as possible.

4. Your edge to getting the best loads
Because fleets may receive more favorable insurance rates if they can show that their drivers are operating in compliance, it benefits them to hire a driver who is already ELD equipped. These drivers are able to show that they operate safely and within compliance and can have a positive impact on a fleet’s CSA scores. Additionally, it can give a driver an advantage when it comes to receiving the best loads from their favorite carriers. For many drivers, this advantage has been their motivator for going ahead and making the switch from paper logs now.

If you are an owner-operator, you may also be interested in this article from Overdrive – “An owner-operator option for ELDs.”

5. Automatically generate your logs – no calculator needed
Use the VDO RoadLog not only for tracking Hours of Service, but also for recording a whole host of other data automatically. Data, such as DVIR (Driver Vehicle Inspection Report), IFTA (International Fuel Tax Association) and IRP (International Registration Plan)  is also captured and provides a complete FMCSA compliant report you can use to run your trucking operations safer and more efficiently.


Automatically capture Hours of Service, as well as other data such as DVIR, IFTA and IRP.






We’re here to help
Find a part number, cross reference a part, or ask a question by contacting our customer service team at 855.885.5631 or

Roadcheck 2015.

Roadcheck is an annual event sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), North America’s leading commercial vehicle enforcement organization. Within a 3-day period, 10,000 CVSA and FMCSA inspectors conduct roadside inspections at more than 1,500 locations. The goal of this event is to increase safety and security on the highways and reduce the number of crashes involving commercial vehicles.

All commercial motor vehicles (trucks, buses, and motorcoaches), plus all CMV drivers of those vehicles, could be subject to a roadside inspection.

The event begins at midnight on June 2 and runs for 72 straight hours — JUNE 2-4.

Last year, during Roadcheck 2014, 23% of all the vehicles inspected were placed out of service. Nearly 1 in 4 vehicles!

• Total inspections — 73,475
• Vehicle out-of-service rate — 23%
Cargo securement violations in relation to all OOS violations — 11.5%
Brake-related violations in relation to all vehicle OOS violations — 46.2%
• Driver out-of-service rate — 4.8%
• Seatbelt violations issued — 825

That’s just a sampling of last year’s results.

To help ensure your vehicles and drivers are prepared to pass a comprehensive inspection, such as Roadcheck 2015, we’ve gathered some of our top educational choices from safety expert J.J. Keller that can help you protect your safety reputation, CSA BASIC scores, and bottom line.


The Cargo Securement Handbook for Drivers provides need-to-know securement guidelines on proper use of blocks, ropes, chains, bars, and more for flatbeds, dry vans, reefers and other widely used types of trailers.

Cargo Securement Handbook for Drivers

“Cargo Securement Handbook for Drivers”

The CSA Handbook – A Complete Guide for CMV Drivers is the only handbook that covers all information CMV interstate truck and bus drivers need to operate successfully under CSA. Provides fingertip access to explanations of the seven BASICs, severity tables, and tips for avoiding the most common violations. Explains how to prepare for roadside inspections, rights during inspection, what not to do, and steps to take after inspection.

CSA Handbook - A Complete Guide for CMV Drivers

“CSA Handbook – A Complete Guide for CMV Drivers”


Out of Service Criteria Handbook and Pictorial Edition identifies Critical Vehicle Inspection Items following a roadside inspection. Details criteria that can prohibit a motor carrier or operator from driving or operating a commercial motor vehicle for a specified period of time or until the condition is corrected. Includes a full set of CVSA Inspection Schematics.

Out of Service Criteria Handbook and Pictorial Edition

Out of Service Criteria Handbook and Pictorial Edition


Roadside Inspections: A Driver’s Guide – DVD Training is specifically tailored for drivers and carriers to help them pass roadside inspections, and covers the following topics:
– Roadside inspections – who conducts them and why
– The Six Levels of Inspections
– How drivers should prepare for a roadside inspection
– How drivers should prepare their vehicles for a roadside inspection
– How drivers should conduct themselves during a roadside inspection
– CVSA out-of-service criteria
– Results and consequences of a failed roadside inspection

Roadside Inspections - A Driver's Guide. DVD Training

Roadside Inspections – A Driver’s Guide. DVD Training


Are your vehicles inspection-ready? And your drivers, too? If not, either or both could be placed out of service. And that can lead to a multitude of negative consequences, including delayed shipments, lost revenue, a tarnished company image, loss of customers, DOT penalties, and a hit to your CSA BASIC scores.

Are your vehicles and drivers ready for Roadcheck 2015? Let us know what your biggest challenges are this year in our comments section below.

Copyright 2015 J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. Copied with permission

How Does CSA Affect Small Carriers?

 The size of the carrier is not a factor in deciding which carriers the FMCSA will investigate, but size is a factor in how carrier scores are calculated.

The first question that comes up in many discussions is, “What is CSA and what does it do?”

Despite all of the folklore that has been built around it, at its core, CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) is simply a program used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to track and evaluate carriers based on compliance and crash history. Carriers that do not score well in the system are the ones FMCSA will spend time warning or investigating.

How the scoring works
The scoring in the system is based on roadside inspections, violations listed on roadside inspection reports, and crash reports. Violations are “valued” based on severity and time. The severity of a violation is based on its relationship to crash causation. Severity weighting uses a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being violations that have the closest relationship to crash causation.

The time factor involves multiplying the severity of a violation by a “time weight.” The severity for any event (inspection, violation, or crash) that has occurred in the last 6 months is multiplied by 3. If the event took place between 6 and 12 months ago, it is multiplied by 2. Events that took place between 12 and 24 months ago are multiplied by 1. Events over 24 months old are not used in the scoring.

In most of the Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), the total of all severity- and time-weighted violations is divided by the time-weighted inspections a carrier has undergone. This results in a “BASIC Measure” that reflects a “violation rate per inspection,” with severity and time factors considered.

Two of the BASICs, Unsafe Driving and Crash, use a different process for calculating the measures. It involves dividing the total of all severity- and time-weighted violations by the company’s power unit count that has been multiplied by a utilization factor. The utilization factor is based on the carrier’s average miles per power unit. The power unit count and mileage are taken from the carrier’s MCS-150s that have been on file over the last 18 months.

Once the BASIC Measures have been calculated, they are compared to other carriers’ BASIC Measures.

To start this comparison process, carriers are placed into “Safety Event Groups” in all of the BASICs. Depending on the BASIC, the groups are based on the number of violations, inspections, or crashes. The result is that small carriers are compared to small carriers and large carriers are compared to large carriers. The carrier with the best (lowest) measure in each group gets a “percentile rank,” or BASIC Score, of “0.” The carrier with the worst (highest) measure in the group gets a BASIC Score of “100.” All other carriers in the group will have a score in between these two extremes based on their BASIC Measure.

Carriers that do not perform well are the ones that are placed on the “intervention list,” and can expect the FMCSA to take action against them. The action can include a warning or an investigation.

Because the system uses DOT numbers as its basis, if you are an owner-operator operating under your own DOT number, all inspections and violations are scored directly against your DOT number. If you are leased onto another carrier and operate under that DOT number, your inspections and violations are scored under that DOT number.

There are ‘minimums’
Each of the BASICs has minimum standards; that is, inspections, violations, and crashes, to be scored. If the carrier does not have enough data in a BASIC, the carrier is not scored in that BASIC. Here is a table that explains what is required in each BASIC to receive a score.

Data requirements
All three criteria below, where applicable, must be met before a BASIC score (percentile) will be assigned.

BASIC Min. # of inspections/crashes in past 24 months Min. # of violations/crashes in past 12 months Min. # of violations recorded during latest relevant inspection
Unsafe Driving 3 inspections 1 violation 0
Drug & Alcohol 1 inspection 1 violation 0
HOS Compliance 3 inspections 1 violation 1
Driver Fitness 5 inspections 1 violation 1
Vehicle Maintenance 5 inspections 1 violation 1
HM Compliance 5 inspections 1 violation 1
Crash Indicator 2 crashes 1 crash


These standards are why many small carriers, including one-truck owner-operators, are not scored in most or all BASICs. They either do not have enough inspections or violations to receive a score.

Drivers are separate
The driver scoring system is different. All drivers are scored in the Driver Safety Measurement System, which works basically the same as the carrier system discussed above. The differences are that drivers are not held responsible for certain technical violations and the driver system uses a different time weighting.

In the driver scoring system, drivers are scored independently of the carriers. It does not make any difference what carrier the driver is working for when the inspection and/or violation occurs.

Driver scores are completely confidential and they are only used by FMCSA investigators when investigating carriers. Part of the carrier investigation process is to review the carrier’s drivers’ BASIC scores, and investigate the drivers that have high scores.

How do I make my BASIC scores better?
The easiest way to get better BASIC Scores (as a carrier or as a driver) is to get good inspections. In five of the BASICs, this will make an immediate difference due to the “violation free” inspections being used directly in the math. In the other two BASICs (Unsafe Driving and Crash), good inspections do not help in the math, but they don’t hurt you either since there is no violation to bring into the BASICs for scoring.

What’s the challenge with being a small carrier?
The challenge is, once a small carrier gets a score, the carrier does not have a broad base of inspections over which to “spread” the violations. The result is that each violation has a significant impact on the carrier’s BASIC Measures, and therefore scores. The Safety Event Groups used in the comparison process help even this out, but only to a certain point. In most BASICs, the smallest Safety Event Groups are based on 3 to 10 inspections or 5 to 10 inspections. One violation spread over 3 inspections has quite a different impact than one violation spread over 10 inspections.

Also, small carriers are not likely to see an increase in inspections due to increased BASIC Scores, so getting good inspections to offset high scores is difficult. Large carriers that have high scores will see an increase in inspections, and if they can pass them they can actually see their scores lowered fairly quickly.

So what is the biggest challenge with being a small carrier as far as CSA is concerned? Once you get a bad score, it is hard to get it to come down. What’s the solution to this challenge? Avoid violations in the first place. This can be done by being aggressive with maintenance and inspection, and keeping your credentials and log current at all times.

About Ryder Fleet Products:
Ryder Fleet Products provides a wide range of truck parts, shop supplies & safety items for the medium and heavy duty truck industry at prices much lower than retail. And we offer FREE shipping for orders over $250. Find a part number, cross reference a part, or ask a question by contacting our customer service team at 855.885.5631 or

Thomas Bray is an editor in the Transportation Publishing Department of the Editorial Resource Unit at J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc, specializing in motor carrier safety and operations management

Copyright 2013 J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.        Copied with permission

This article first appeared on HDT/,, is the website of Heavy Duty Trucking


Roadcheck 2014: Preparing Your Drivers for Increased Enforcement


Roadcheck is an annual event sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), North America’s leading commercial vehicle enforcement organization. Within a 3-day period, 10,000 CVSA and FMCSA inspectors conduct roadside inspections at more than 1,500 locations. The goal of this event is to increase safety and security on the highways and reduce the number of crashes involving commercial vehicles.


All commercial motor vehicles (trucks, buses, and motor coaches), plus all CMV drivers of those vehicles, could be subject to a North American Standard Level 1 roadside inspection.


The event begins at midnight on June 3 and runs for 72 straight hours — JUNE 3-5.


Last year, during Roadcheck 2013, 24.1% of all the vehicles inspected were placed out of service. Nearly 1 in 4 vehicles! Are your vehicles inspection-ready? Are your drivers ready, too? If not, either or both could be placed out of service. That can lead to a multitude of negative consequences, including delayed shipments, lost revenue, a tarnished company image, loss of customers, DOT penalties, and a hit to your CSA BASIC scores.

Roadcheck 2013 results:

  • Total inspections — 73,023
  • Motorcoach inspections — 1,471
  • Vehicle out-of-service rate — 24.1%
  • Cargo securement violations in relation to all OOS violations — 11.7%
  • Brake-related violations in relation to all vehicle OOS violations — 49.6%
  • Driver out-of-service rate — 4.3%
  • Seatbelt violations issued — 899

That’s just a sampling of last year’s results.


We offer a wide range of products and services to help you ensure your vehicles and drivers are prepared to pass a comprehensive inspection — during Roadcheck 2014 and throughout the year — so you can protect your safety reputation, CSA BASIC scores, and bottom line.

These are just a few of the products that J.J. Keller has to offer in order to keep your vehicles and your drivers on the road. Be sure to visit for a complete list of J.J. Keller products.

Are your vehicles and drivers ready for Roadcheck 2014?

JJ Keller
    Copyright 2014 J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.® * Copied by permission



Obama orders New Fuel Efficiency Standards

On February 18, 2014, President Obama announced tighter fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty fleet vehicles, the latest stage in his effort to tackle climate change without waiting for Congress to act.

The new fuel-efficiency regulations will be drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department and they will be in place by March 31, 2016.

“The goal we are setting is ambitious,” Obama said of his plans to set new fuel standards. “But these are areas where ambition has worked out really well for us so far.”

Although heavy-duty fleet vehicles account for 4% of registered vehicles on the road in the United States, they account for approximately 25% of road-fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions coming from the transportation sector.

Obama would also like to see the fuel efficiency for light vehicles and trucks improve by 2025.  The light-vehicle standards are eventually projected to reduce fuel consumption by 2.2 barrels per day.

During past efforts, the administration experienced resistance from manufacturers when Washington wanted to dictate the costly improvements. But, now that the administration has made reducing fuel consumption a top priority, manufacturers have sought to have a great voice in shaping these standards. 

Obama also mentioned that his administration is offering a tax credit to manufacturers of heavy-duty alternative fuel vehicles as well as companies that are building infrastructure, so vehicles that running on alternative fuels have places to fill up.

What kind of impact do you think these changes will have on the climate as well as fuel consumption?

Benefits of Checking Tire Pressure Regularly

We all know that the weather plays a big part on the pressure in your tires. Hot weather can cause your tires to overinflate; cold weather may cause your tires to dangerously deflate.

We also know that underinflated tires can wear out more quickly than tires that are properly pressurized. Maintaining proper air pressure is the single most important things drivers can do for their tires. Under inflation is the worst enemy a tire can have, as it causes unwanted wear and tear on your vehicle. It also reduces your fuel economy by making your vehicle work harder because of soft tires. Underinflated tires can also lead to other major tire failures such as more flats, blowouts, skids, and longer stopping distances.

To help alleviate experiencing any major tire failures, Ryder Fleet Products suggests checking your tire pressures at least once a month with a reliable tire gauge.  To find the proper air pressure for your tires, consult your owner’s manual for the recommend tire pressure PSI.

The closer your tire pressure is to your vehicles manufacturer suggested guidelines, the better your vehicle will perform. Below are a few benefits you can experience with properly maintained tire pressure:

  • Safety – Underinflated tires can cause your Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS) or Traction Control Systems (TCS) to not function properly.
  • Fuel Consumption Properly inflated tires provide better handling while helping your vehicle run more efficiently improving your fuel consumption.
  • Easier on the Environment – Properly inflated tires will help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide a vehicle emits into the environment.
  • Cost Saving – By ensuring your tires are properly inflated, your vehicle will run more efficiently and prolong the life of your tires. Proper inflated tires will also help to prevent unwanted body damage to your vehicle from hitting potholes.
  • Better Handling – Properly inflated tires help your vehicle run smoother while absorbing the friction from the road or hitting potholes.
  • Tire Longevity – Properly inflated tires will help prevent unwanted tread wearing.
  • Vehicle alignment – Properly inflated tires will help keep your vehicles alignment properly aligned while adding to your tires lifespan.

Ryder Fleet Products carries a wide assortment of Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TMPS) to help you properly maintain your vehicles tire pressure.  To help accomplish this, Ryder Fleet Products is happy to announce that during the month of March, all TST tire pressure monitoring products are available for 10% off by using the promo code “TST10OFF” at checkout.  With every TST tire pressure monitoring purchase during March, TST will extend its two-year warranty to three year warranty (limited time only).

When was the last time you checked your tire pressure?


Driver Medical Certification – Extension and Final Rule Update

Did you know that truck drivers now have until January 30, 2014 to provide proof of medical certification to the state drivers licensing agency? If drivers fail to comply with this request, they could have their license downgraded and lose their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).  This update requires that interstate drivers subject to CDL regulations and the Federal physical qualification requirements must retain a paper copy of their medical examiner’s certification.

The intent behind the regulation is that once drivers provide proof, that information will be entered into the Commercial Drivers License Information System database (CDLIS). The driver’s medical certification and CDL will be tied together in the database. That will allow law enforcement to check for medical certification electronically instead of depending on hard copy certificates. Drivers will no longer have to carry a hard copy of their medical cards with them.  This action is being taken to ensure the medical qualification of CDL holders until all States are able to post the medical self-certification and medical examiner’s certificate data on the CDLIS driver record.

The regulation, which went into effect in 2008, expects full compliance by January 30, 2014. The FMCSA began requiring CDL holders to identify if they hold non-excepted or excepted status.  The final rule also set the January 30, 2014 deadline for all existing CDL holders to provide proof to their home states.

For more information and updates on this rule visit the FMCSA website.

FMCSA Website Update: Safety Measurement System

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a data-driven safety enforcement and compliance program that works to improve the safety of America’s trucking industry.  In November, FMCSA launched a preview of its proposed, enhanced Safety Measurement System (SMS) website. The new site’s goal is to provide easy access to detailed trucking industry information and new performance monitoring tools. FMCSA’s ultimate goal is to achieve a reduction in crashes, injuries and fatalities, while making efficient use of available resources.

The improved site will help carriers and the public efficiently identify safety problems and get updated safety performance data.  The agency uses this data to determine which carriers pose a risk and need to be investigated.  In 2012, the SMSM public website hosted close to 48 million users, up from 30 million the previous year. The enhancements will not modify or change the SMS methodology but will enhance users understanding of the collected data, with no need for users to visit multiple sites.  The new features are based on feedback received from enforcement, industry and other safety stakeholders.

The key changes consist of the following:

  • Overall BASIC status will show where a carrier ranks and their correlation to crash rates.
  • Take-A-Tour Feature highlights enhancements to the SMS display and show visitors how to use the site.
  • Showcase of every carriers’ safety event group, the comparative groups used to calculate carrier BASIC percentile ranking.
  • Carriers’ Measure will be highlighted to help users clearly identify performance trends over time. The measure is based on computational results of the carrier’s roadside inspections or crashes.
  • Current insurance and authority status included directly on the site. Previously, users had to access FMCSA’s licensing and insurance online website to view this.
  • Carriers’ enforcement case history, including the date the case was closed, the applicable violations and the associated fines.

It’s important to note the site is being improved gradually and is based on user input, data and technology.  The preview site provides a overview of proposed changes.  After reviewing the site yourself, submit feedback via fax 202-493-2251 or visit (follow online instructions for submitting comments).  The deadline to submit comments ends January 6, 2014.  FMSCA will redesign the site with proposed changes before they are released to the public.

Important Links:

Current Safety Measurement System website

Preview of the SMS Site

Federal Register Posting  (November 5, 2013)

SMS results update schedule

FMSCA’s Guidance Document