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Truck Inspections – How to Improve Your Scores

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Annual DOT truck inspections may be stress-worthy, but here is a list of ideas to help you get off on the right foot with your inspectors.

First Impressions

The attitude and habits of the driver are the first thing the inspectors will notice as they begin their job. Having a polite and cooperative demeanor will go a long way, as well as tidy habits inside your cab. A messy, dirty cab will make for a bad start to your inspection, but a clean and orderly space with documents neatly in order, will go a long way to making that first impression a good one. The state of your cab will definitely reflect on the other parts of your truck, and having your documents clear and in order will make the rest of your inspection go much more smoothly.

Documents

Here is a list of just some of the documents you will be required to show your inspector:

  • Liability coverage
  • MCS-90 or MCS-82 form counter signed by your insurance provider
  • Accident register
  • Employee training records

You will also need to have the vehicle markings in their prominent places. This includes the carrier’s legal name and the DOT assigned number, clearly appearing on both sides of every commercial vehicle.

Driver

Each driver must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and endorsements in line with their vehicle class. Carriers need to have proof of drug and alcohol tests for each of their employees. This includes pre-employment, post-accident, and random drug and alcohol testing.

It is the carrier’s responsibility to make sure to have complete records for each driver, recording daily start and stop times, on duty hours, etc.

Vehicle

Here are a few things that can tend to be overlooked before your inspection, yet are easy to double check: 

Your seat belts will need to be in good working order. A quick look to check the condition of the driver’s and passenger’s belts is well worth your time. 

An emergency kit, well stocked with spare fuses and circuit breakers, warning hazard triangles and fire extinguisher should be in place. Check the condition of all the parts of your kit to be sure they are clean and functional. 

Clean or replace dirty and weathered reflectors and reflective strips. You may have checked all of your lights, but the reflectors are an important part of your vehicle’s safety features, as well.

Wheel fasteners are one of the common problems cited during inspections. Check the condition of your lug nuts as an extra precaution.

This is just a short reminder of a few things you can do to improve your results during annual DOT truck inspections. We would be glad to discuss more specific details with you to make sure you have the best chance of passing your inspection with flying colors. It is one of the major factors in getting insurance coverage and we want to help increase your chances of keeping your vehicles in service, and your business running as smoothly as possible. Give us a call!

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5 driving tips to lower your 18 wheeler insurance rates

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You can lower your commercial trucking insurance rates in many ways. I help drivers and fleet owners do that every week in my agency. I’ve got years of experience navigating the insurance road to find companies and coverage that will save you money.

But your over-the-road safe driving matters too.

As I work on my side to save you money on your Texas commercial 18-wheeler insurance, you can help by contributing safe driving. Safe drivers save a lot on their insurance rates.

You already know how to drive safely.

But knowing, and remembering, are two different things. You probably have more safe driving tips than these. Please share them with me in the comments below.

Here are my top five 18 wheeler safe driving tips. These are especially helpful if you have new drivers in your fleet:

1. Slow down.

We all know this. But it’s so easy to forget when you are behind schedule because of an unplanned detour. In our personal cars, we can “feel” how much distance we need to come to a complete stop on the highway. After all, we’ve been driving for years.

But behind the wheel of your “office” on the highway, it can take up to twice as much distance to stop.

According to Udot:

“A passenger vehicle weighing 4,000 pounds, traveling under ideal conditions at a speed of 65 miles per hour would take 316 feet to stop. In comparison, a fully loaded tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds traveling under ideal conditions at a speed of 65 miles per hour will take 525 feet to stop.”

When you get behind the wheel of your mobile office, intentionally change how you think about speed and stopping distances.

2. Exercise “trailer-awareness.”

What’s your load? How heavy is it? What’s the length? Are there any unusual shifting risks?

These are questions that should uppermost in your mind, especially as you pull out of the yard. All loads are not created equally. You know this, but fatigue can cause you to forget that “this load is different.”

It’s not just the tractor you should be “feeling.” Listen for, and get a sense for, your new load.

3. Use a trucker’s GPS.

I’m sure most of you have a quality trucker’s GPS.

But if you don’t… think about getting one. The added features like customized truck routing, and road warnings for weight limits and bridges are amazing.

A “best of the best” GPS can reduce frustration. Less frustration will make you a safer driver. And a safer driver has a better driving record, which means lower insurance premiums.

4. Walk delivery spots in advance.

You get to your drop point. It’s a new one. You’re tired and just want to unload and leave. You don’t feel like getting out and walking the yard. It just seems like too much.

Do it anyway.

Park your rig in a safe place, get out, and take a few minutes to patrol on foot. Look for obstacles and potential trap spots. Plan your moves in and out.

Planning on foot can reduce small accidents. Don’t forget that small accidents are still claims. And we all know what a claim can do to renewal insurance premiums.

Think, plan, and pay attention.

Your brain is the best tool you have to lower your commercial insurance rates on your 18-wheeler.

While driving, be thinking 3 steps ahead all the time.

What road will give you the best mileage and safest route? Is it really safe to change lanes now, or can it wait? What strategy is best for getting through Dallas at rush hour?

You’re always the quarterback calling the plays, and the wide receiver making the touchdown. Pay attention at all times. The best truckers are the veterans who understand this. These are the drivers who get the lowest rates.

Call me for a quote.

I’ve been insuring 18 wheelers for many years. It’s my job to save you money while covering you with the insurance plan that’s exactly right for you. Call me today at (281) 449-0111.

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Getting the Best Coverage with Your Trucker’s Insurance

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There are many choices you will face while making insurance plans for your trucking business. To understand what is required and what is just good sense, it’s always best to talk to your insurance agent. There are several variables depending on whether you own a fleet or if you own your own rig. Here are a few options that you will want to familiarize yourself with as you consider what kind of coverage you may need.

Requirements to protect those around you

Public liability insurance is required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for interstate truckers. This will protect you if you are involved in any accidents where another person is hurt or someone else’s property is damaged.

The bodily injury portion of the public liability insurance will cover any medical bills that have occurred to other people who may be involved in an accident with you. Property damage, of course, covers the costs of other’s property that is damaged due to an accident.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires different minimum coverage depending on your cargo. You will need to find the minimum requirements that are affected by the cargo you are carrying. Hazardous materials and oil will need a higher minimum, for example, where non-hazardous cargos will have a lower minimum requirement.

Will you be bobtailing?

As long as you are hauling a trailer, this will not be a concern. However, if at any time you will be driving without a trailer, make sure that you are covered. There are several scenarios where you will need the extra bobtail insurance.

If you are hauling under someone else’s authority and drop off your trailer, this is the right choice for you. If you want to avoid lawsuits and out of pocket expenses in case of an accident that occurs while you are driving without a trailer, you will want the extra coverage from bobtail insurance.

Are you still financing your rig?

Physical Damage insurance is a requirement if you are financing your truck. Even if you own your truck outright, this is still the smart option for you.

Physical Damage insurance will cover any damage done to your tractor or trailer due to any accidents you may be involved in.

These are just some of the options available to you as a trucker. We have the knowledge and experience to help you choose the right insurance plan for you.

Check your insurance today

Hi, I’m Jack Armstrong, and I’ve been insuring big rigs for many years. Give me a call at (281) 449-0111, and I’ll make sure you are covered the right way.

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18 Wheeler Insurance Rates – 10 Tips to Lower Them

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Do you know if you are paying too much for your 18 wheeler insurance coverage? Here are some tips to help keep your premium down.

Keep your rig in shape

Make sure your truck is serviced and kept in tip-top shape. By checking all of your equipment and having a certified DOT mechanic to go through everything for you regularly, you can be sure to see results. Your DOT safety record makes a difference.

Age and experience

Younger, older and less experienced drivers are typically involved in more accidents. Experienced drivers between ages 30 and 62 have the lowest risk, which lowers their premium. Regardless of your age or experience, the best way to keep your truck insurance rates low is to keep a clean record.

The road less traveled may not be your best choice

Routes matter. Consider your routes and avoid those that include possible extreme weather or highly populated metro areas if you are looking to keep your 18 wheeler rates low.

A company by any other name is not so sweet

Do your best to stay in business, not changing your name or switching things up. Newer operations are considered a higher risk, so stick with what is familiar.

Looking for a good excuse for a new truck?

Newer vehicles with the latest equipment always make the best impression. By keeping your fleet up to date, you will be keeping your rates at their lowest.

Take it easy

Slow and steady wins the race. By keeping your record clean, you will keep your truck insurance premiums from going up. The driver with past accidents tends to be the driver with future accidents, so take it easy and don’t take risks.

Your cargo matters

What you choose to carry makes a difference in the risk category. Cargo with high value has a higher risk for theft, temperature sensitive cargo can be spoiled, and there are many other factors. Keep this in mind when you chose your loads.

Safety matters

Safety features such as warning stickers really do help. Other helps could include company safety programs or driver safety training. By educating yourself and your drivers, you are lowering the risk of future accidents and higher rates.

Raising your deductible can help

You will be responsible for paying a higher deductible if there is a truck insurance claim, but it may be worth it in the long run to lower your premium.

Deal with an insurance company that has experience with 18 wheelers.

When you come to Texas Commercial Insurance, you can rest assured that you have experienced agents to back you up. Established in 1959, we are ready to help you find the best coverage whether you drive your own truck or if you have your own fleet. Contact us so we can work with you to find the best rates and the best coverage to fit your needs.

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Ways to Improve Your Truck Mileage

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The cost of operating a big rig today has gone up dramatically. Soaring gas prices and other incidental costs have created a climate in which it’s absolutely a requirement to find ways to save. From Texas Truck Insurance come these tips on saving money on the cost of your 18 wheeler operations.

AAA tells us that the average diesel price is $3.90 per gallon. The average 18 wheeler truck has the ability to hold between 150 and 300 gallons of fuel. At that price point, it means that every time that you fuel up your truck it’s going to cost you between $600 and $1100 dollars at a rough estimate. Getting fueled up for the long haul trips is nothing short of astronomical in pricing. For everyone, from the large trucking company to the small independent trucker, saving money today on the cost of fuel is imperative and in some cases, it’s survival.

There are a few ways to improve your fuel-efficiency even when you’re driving one of the big rigs. If you’re in it to improve your take home and increase your overall bottom line– and these days, who isn’t– you can lower the out-of-pocket expenses for fuel by making a few simple changes to the way in which you operate your truck.

Better Speed Management.

Driving can be a long haul–hence the term long-haul trucker. The temptation to get there more rapidly and to increase your speed to do so is strong. Driving as fast as you are legally able to do in order to get from one place to another is something that many drivers succumb to over time. Keeping your foot off the gas and taking your time to get there has a massive advantage. It costs a lot less to get from point A to point B. Even while taking longer, you’re going to pay less to get them and you don’t risk a ticket along the way. Trucking costs enough without adding additional expenses such as fines and costs.

Keep Your Weight as Low as You Can.

It’s tempting to add those extra items to the cab. When you do that, it increases the amount of fuel that you use. It may actually be cheaper to stop for a meal than to carry that mini fridge and microwave with you.

Check Your Tire Pressure Regularly

In every vehicle, cars as well as big trucks the tire pressure can help to regulate the amount of fuel that you use. When your tires are not properly inflated they can lower your take home and increase the amount of fuel that you use on a day to day basis. Check them at least weekly to make sure that they are properly inflated.

These little tips from Texas Truck Insurance can help you to prevent using more fuel than you want to use and can keep your truck humming along for a lot less money.

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Texas Working to Lower Work Comp Costs

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Texas claims that legislative and administrative changes to the Texas Workers’ Compensation system has been lower costs the last few years. We won’t argue that. But are the lower costs coming at the expense of the employer and his or her employees?

Some think so.

The Office of Injured Employee (OIEC), as well as many attorneys who represent injured workers, complain that the cost savings come at an unacceptable cost.

We think a couple of things. First, there is no free lunch when it comes to Workers’ Compensation insurance. A win on one side of the ledger always comes at a loss on the other side. So we are glad to hear that someone is watching the regulators.

Secondly, we know that all these changes may have an impact on you, the business owner. We specialize in Texas Workers’ Compensation isnurance. If you haven’t reviewed your Texas work comp policy in a while, now would be a good time. Call us at (281) 449-0111, or submit a Texas work comp quote request online.

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Regulations to Reduce Truck Driver Fatigue

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced last year new hours of service regulations designed to reduce truck driver fatigue. Since that took effect last July 1, we would like to know your thoughts.

They said that over 85% of truckers won’t notice a difference. Maybe that’s true. Some early studies by academics are showing that new new regulations are working. But they are academics. We would rather hear from you to know if they are keeping long haul drivers safer.

If you drive an 18 wheeler, let us know what you think in the comments. And while you are at it, if you are paying too much for your truckers insurance in Texas, call us at (281) 449-0111 for a quote, or get a quote online.

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