transportation industry

How Will Omicron Impact the Transportation Industry?

Since its emergence in fall 2021, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has continued to wreak havoc on the world economy. This includes the transportation industry, which has faced a series of setbacks in recent months. These obstacles include the implementation of many new regulations hindering transporters’ ability to work effectively and efficiently. Though we are only a few months into this new chapter of the pandemic, the effects of the Omicron surge are becoming clear, and it’s not good news for anybody who works in transportation. Still, to mitigate its impact, the intersection of Omicron and transportation must be understood.

New Supply Chain Delays

One of the biggest obstacles that has emerged from the Omicron surge is a new set of supply chain delays. The variant has caused many factories and distribution centers to shut down completely — either due to illness or local government mandates — and this, in turn, has caused the transportation industry to lose revenue. With these facilities closed or producing a reduced output, there is little to no product to transport. With no product to transport, transportation professionals are unable to rely on the income that would typically support the industry. This has put many smaller transport companies out of business, and it threatens the biggest transportation providers, too.

Surge in Demand for Products

Paradoxically, the decreased availability of manufactured goods is accompanied by an increased demand for many products. This is one of the most unfortunate consequences of the Omicron variant, and indeed, it has had a serious impact on consumers and suppliers alike. High demand remains for many products in the wake of Omicron, including supplies such as surgical masks and gowns, bleach wipes, thermometers, and hand sanitizer. Many grocery items, too, have been in short supply. Chicken, ketchup, and fresh produce have been out of stock in grocery stores throughout the U.S. as food distributors are unable to meet demand while fighting the effects of Omicron.

Decreased Workforce Availability

Many of the aforementioned supply chain problems, including those affecting the transportation industry, are ultimately caused by a worldwide shortage of labor. After millions were laid off from their jobs in 2020, many were hesitant to return to work. Additionally, many of the workers who are employed are unable to work due to their own infection with the Omicron variant. A single infection can shut down an entire facility, too, forcing essential staff to quarantine to prevent further spread. These obstacles have dramatically impacted the transportation industry’s bottom line, but there is protection available for many of the most serious liabilities. Transportation insurance can help your clients prevent losses caused by the risks most commonly encountered in the transportation industry.

About U.S. Risk 

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

truck driver shortage

Addressing the Current Truck Driver Shortage

Commercial truck drivers form a vital link in the supply chain. They move the bulk of retail and industrial products from ports and factories to sellers and service providers. Unfortunately, a severe truck driver shortage is already contributing to supply chain backlogs, and the problem could worsen soon. The same problems creating the driver shortage also increase transportation insurance costs due to safety risks. Although there is no one solution to the truck driver shortage, industrial and regulatory changes may ease the strain and bring new life to the industry.

How Do You Address a Driver Shortage?

Proposed changes to address the driver shortage focus on expanding the hiring pool, improving safety, and revising industry culture. As current drivers age out of the profession, the industry must adapt to hire and retain younger workers. More than half of all truckers are 45 years old or older, so industry leaders must implement changes quickly to replace them as they retire.

Lowering Age Limits

Current federal regulations prohibit people under the age of 21 from becoming interstate truck drivers. As a result, the industry loses access to potential workers who are just leaving high school. Newly-reintroduced legislation may reduce the minimum age to 18, giving trucking companies more flexibility in hiring.

Diversifying the Hiring Pool

Many people consider truck driving to be a man’s job, and the current workforce reflects that view. Women currently make up less than 7% of the trucking labor pool despite making up almost 50% of the workforce. Expanding recruitment efforts to include women could ease some of the strain on the current fleet.

Improving Culture and Lifestyle

Trucking is a notoriously dangerous and difficult job. Long shifts and tight deadlines lead to sleep deprivation, poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle, all of which cause chronic health problems. Lack of sleep escalates accident risks, as well. Long routes keep truckers away from home for weeks at a time, making any type of work-life balance impossible. Shorter shifts and trucking routes could make attracting and retaining new drivers easier, especially those with families.

Embracing Technology

Current technological trends offer innovative solutions to truck driver shortages. Driverless vehicles are still in the testing phase but show potential for addressing increased trucking needs. Automated trucks would still require CDL-qualified drivers but would reduce the demands on their time and attention.

The benefits of modernizing the hiring practices and work culture in trucking extend beyond the supply chain. Happier, healthier drivers improve safety and stability in the labor force. Reducing the hazards associated with trucking could lower transportation insurance costs and other losses, effectively boosting company profits. Long-term solutions to the driver shortage require cooperation among private industries, the federal government, and workers.  

About U.S. Risk 

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830. 

trucking accidents

How Can Trucking Companies Prevent Accidents on the Road?

The commercial trucking industry operates over a million vehicles on U.S. roadways and covers millions of miles each year. Trucking company owners know this volume of trucks and routes represents a significant risk exposure. While transportation insurance is designed to provide coverage against operational and liability risks, accident prevention is a key component of risk management. A single truck collision can result in expensive property damage, loss of vehicles, and bodily injury or death. In this guide, we will explore industry best practices for your clients to use in preventing trucking accidents.

Accident Prevention 101

Many truckers believe that accidents are unavoidable. Truckers traverse millions of miles each year, transporting goods between manufacturing and production centers and retail establishments. Every time a truck is on the road, the potential for a vehicular accident is ever-present. From minor collisions to those involving multiple vehicles and extensive property damage or injury, accidents can have harmful effects on fleet owners’ financial assets.

The truth is that most trucking accidents are preventable. Accidents can and do occur, but with the right safety-oriented practices and training in place, the transportation insurance risks associated with truck crashes can be managed effectively.

Accident Prevention: Best Practices

Accidents between commercial trucks and other road users occur nearly every day. There are many factors leading up to collisions involving trucks, including unfavorable road conditions, distraction hazards, and driver fatigue. To prevent accidents from interfering with your clients’ business prospects, the following tips may be useful to supplement the protection of transportation insurance:

Training is key. Whether your fleet employs new drivers or experienced truckers, regular and ongoing training can help minimize the impacts associated with accidents. Training should include defensive driving tactics, reducing distractions, and operating vehicles safely in adverse weather conditions.

Slow down. Reducing speeds on roads helps to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents. Professional truckers know that arriving safely is far more important than arriving early. An added bonus of slowing down is that this practice helps save on fuel expenses, one of the leading overhead costs for fleet operators.

Focus on inspections. Daily pre-trip inspections are mandated by law. They can also pinpoint issues with trucks that can lead to on-the-road accidents. Be thorough with inspections, looking for any issues that can result in unsafe vehicle operation.

Route planning can reduce accidents. Truck owners have access to powerful fleet management systems that can identify hazardous road conditions and weather. Planning routes ahead of time to avoid these hazards greatly reduces the chance of having an accident. Truckers can also use GPS systems and road maps to help plan the most efficient routes, helping to improve safety on the road.

Implement a top-down safety culture. The most successful organizations take safety seriously by implementing programs and procedures to reduce risks. Trucking companies have the same ability, and this culture must permeate the entire organization from managers to dispatchers, freight handlers, and drivers. By adopting a safety-oriented workplace culture, truckers can help to reduce the accident risks they face on the road – and the entire company benefits from this approach.

Fleet owners should periodically review their transportation insurance policies to ensure this coverage is suitable for current and emerging risk profiles. Policies can be modified to address any coverage gaps. With transportation insurance and with the accident-avoidance tips above, truckers can continue to provide their essential services to the American economy.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Transportation Industry: Potential New Risks

The commercial transportation industry has seen dramatic changes over the course of the past decades. The industry has adopted emerging technologies to improve safety and efficiency in operations. As part of a broad risk management strategy, technology represents a means of reducing risk exposures as a supplement to the protections of transportation insurance. One of the technologies receiving attention within the transportation sector is that of artificial intelligence, or AI. The relationship between AI and transportation is growing at exponential rates and has the potential to help companies manage risks better than ever before.

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the concept that allows computers to make human-like decisions in solving problems. Sometimes referred to as machine intelligence or machine learning, AI technology has the ability to remember commands, respond to nuances in language, learn from experiences, and perform functions without direct input from humans.

Although the theoretical concept of AI has been around since the early days of the 20th century, it was not until computing technology was able to process complex commands that theory became reality. In the late 1950s, researchers were able to demonstrate the capabilities and promise of AI, and developments expanded rapidly throughout the 1970s and into today.

AI in the Transportation Industry

How is AI being incorporated into transportation industry operations? There are several promising applications in the transportation sector, including:

  • Autonomous or “self-driving” vehicles
  • Traffic and route management systems
  • Control over remote devices like drones
  • Life-saving systems aboard vehicles
  • Operational efficiency improvements in shipping, trucking, and rail transportation

The goal of incorporating this technology into transportation operations is to not only improve efficiencies, but to protect the lives and safety of employees, cargo, passengers, and business assets. In many ways, AI serves as an extension to the coverages of transportation insurance by reducing operational risks and their associated liabilities.

New Technologies, New Liabilities

Although AI has shown great promise in improving operational efficiency and safety within the transportation industry, the technology is not without its potential liabilities. In other words, while reducing certain risk exposures, AI may contribute to new risks. Any time new technologies are adopted, new liability exposures can emerge. For transportation, potential liabilities include:

  • Assigning responsibility in cases of traffic collisions, particularly when autonomous vehicles are involved. Who is liable in a crash caused by a vehicle without a human driver?
  • Data and cyber security risks, including data breaches or loss of sensitive business data.
  • Virtual hijacking, or the possibility that autonomous vehicles and AI-based systems can be compromised by hackers.

There are also unexpected or unforeseen risks, such as system-wide failures that lead to entire segments of the transportation sector to come to a stop. Imagine an AI-powered computer network managing a fleet of autonomous vehicles. Now imagine that network experiencing a critical hardware or software failure. Such a catastrophic failure could lead to vehicles losing control or becoming grounded. It could also lead to significant liabilities in terms of property damage, injury, and business interruption. Transportation insurance experts understand that new ways of thinking must be focused on the liability implications of AI. AI represents great promise, but insurance protections must also adapt to meet changing risks.

As AI technology matures, new applications will continue to be developed in all aspects of the commercial transportation industry. In the not-too-distant future, we may have fewer vehicle crashes, lower transportation costs, and more efficient traffic flows on our highways. Transportation industry players must balance the advantages of AI against liability risks. With transportation insurance protections and a better understanding of the advantages and risks of AI, companies can make more informed decisions about the future of their operations.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.


Truckers Among High Priority Vaccine Deployment Group

America’s truckers are the lifeblood of commerce. As the coronavirus pandemic has tightened its hold on the U.S. economy, truckers are an essential component in delivering goods from manufacturing and production centers to end users. To help protect the nation’s trucking industry, a leading immunization advisory group placed truckers in the next priority group for COVID-19 vaccines. This move, coupled with the protection of comprehensive transportation insurance, helps to manage the risks truck drivers face in their daily operations.

Trucking Associations Weigh In

In mid-2020, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Canadian Trucking Alliance began to voice concerns about vaccine prioritization in the commercial transportation industry. The ATA sent position letters to the White House, the National Governors Association, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arguing that as essential workers, truckers must be included among priority vaccination groups. Widespread infection with COVID-19 has affected workers in all corners of the country, including thousands of commercial vehicle operators. Based on their vital role in delivering not only goods, but the COVID-19 vaccines themselves, protecting truckers makes sense from economic and risk management perspectives. This move can only strengthen the protections of transportation insurance in the commercial trucking industry.

Phase 1b

The ATA’s concerns were addressed in December, 2020, when the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) hosted a virtual public meeting to address vaccine prioritization recommendations. In a 13-to-1 vote, the committee, a group of experts from the CDC and other disease prevention agencies, recommended that truckers be placed Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccine deployment. Truckers join other essential workers in Phase 1b.

Final decisions on vaccine deployment are left to state authorities, but transportation industry analysts are confident truckers will gain this valuable protection once delivery of vaccines is made in the nationwide distribution rollout. The ACIP continues to study data from subsequent clinical trials in order to better prioritize vaccine distributions but stated that emergency action is needed to protect critical transportation workers.

Government Support for the Transportation Industry

Recognizing the vital role truckers play in restoring the U.S. economy, several other regulatory agencies have done their part. The most prominent of these is the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), which has created hours-of-service regulation exemptions for trucking companies and their drivers. The exemptions apply to commercial drivers that provide direct emergency assistance.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration extended its own Emergency Declaration to ensure the efficient and speedy delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, medical supplies, and equipment needed to combat the pandemic. The Emergency Declaration, No. 2020-002, provides emergency relief from certain parts of the Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, including rules governing empty vehicles and work break/rest requirements. By supporting the commercial trucking sector, federal and state regulators are helping to speed recovery while minimizing the burdens on truckers. These moves, coupled with vaccine prioritization and the protection of commercial transportation insurance, serve to provide a powerful risk management strategy for commercial vehicle companies and their operators.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.


The Impacts of COVID-19 on the Trucking Industry

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic dominated headlines around the world. COVID-19 affected all areas of commerce, including the transportation industry. Ever-shifting consumer demands, coupled with significant challenges associated in supply chains and driver personnel presented unforeseen risks to trucking operations. As a fundamental part of risk management, commercial transportation insurance helps to ease some of the financial impacts truckers face in the wake of COVID-19. Industry analysts suggest that the impacts of the pandemic on the trucking industry may continue to influence this critical commerce sector long into the future. Here’s how.

Consumer Demands and Supply Chain Interruptions: Symptoms of the Pandemic

Consumer demands shifted dramatically as a result of the pandemic. Certain essential commodities, including disinfectant products, medical supplies, and groceries experienced wild swings in demand; personal protective equipment like masks and gloves were also eagerly sought out by consumers. Manufacturers and producers are sometimes unable to keep up with those demands, and that weakness in the supply chain directly affected the transportation industry. Initially faced with too many truckers and not enough cargo, shipping rates plummeted. The “spot market”, which covers approximately 20% of the commercial freight-hauling industry in the United States, experienced an upheaval. This spot market is a system by which cargo is paired with available trucking operations; when cargo loads exceed available transportation options, shipping rates rise. With breaks in the supply chain caused by uneven consumer demands and failures in production, trucking companies saw a significant decline in rates, ultimately affecting their business continuity.

Infections in the Trucking Workforce

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to spread across the country, a new risk exposure to the transportation industry was revealed: illnesses among truckers. COVID-19’s profound health effects grounded thousands of truckers, keeping them from contributing to the flow of consumer goods. In the early part of the pandemic, there were more truckers than available cargo loads. Increasing infection rates in most states took their toll on the transportation sector, and in some cases resulted in halting of trucking operations.

Regulators took note of the looming shortages in the trucking workforce, and made provisions to ease restrictions in an effort to get more truckers onto America’s roadways. One agency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, waived certain licensing regulations for a three-month period, allowing those with a commercial learner’s permit to take to the road and reducing the staffing shortages faced by so many trucking operations.

Long-Range Effects on Trucking Operations

Not all of the effects of the coronavirus on the American transportation industry are negative. Some have had positive effects, and will influence trucking operations for years to come. One of the leading effects that has emerged in the pandemic has been that of widespread adoption of technology solutions to reduce physical contact between stakeholders. So-called “contactless” and paperless technologies like electronic bills of lading, payments, and virtual communications between trucking salespeople and vendors/manufacturers have served to protect truckers and end users from the potential spread of infection. They also help to streamline operations, reducing paperwork-related issues.

Trucking office management has also benefited from remote-work technologies such as video conferencing and virtual communications systems. Managers forced to work from home during the pandemic can easily remain in contact with vendors, employees, and contractors. Remote working has been shown to improve the work/life balance as well, and analysts from numerous industries suggest this solution will have long-ranging benefits far after the COVID-19 pandemic is past.

New driver onboarding procedures have seen significant changes due to the health risks associated with the coronavirus. Portions of new driver orientation operations have been moved to an online environment, reducing the costs associated with in-person orientation. Orientation sessions are streamlined as well, being able to be completed in less time and with less overhead. Still, there are certain advantages to in-person interaction, and many transportation industry companies are creating hybridized orientations with both virtual and in-person components.

It is expected that many of the changes being experienced in the trucking sector will remain long after the pandemic, as in addition to the health-protective benefits of adopting technologies and revamping procedures, the cost benefits far outweigh any potential drawbacks. These changes will drive down the costs associated with commercial transportation insurance claims and are a valid part of the post-pandemic risk management model. COVID-19 has been difficult for many in the transportation industry, but has served as a learning and growing experience for many forward-facing trucking firms.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

COVID-19 Commercial Transportation Impact

How is COVID-19 Affecting the Commercial Transportation Industry?

The commercial transportation industry is a vital component of American commerce. 24 hours a day, vehicles and their drivers’ transport goods to all corners of the country. Even in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, commerce depends on the smooth and efficient transportation of goods, placing commercial drivers into the category of essential personnel. COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, has created significant challenges for the commercial transportation industry. In any risk management strategy for trucking operations, commercial transportation insurance is a vital component. Understanding the evolving challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the U.S. is another means of managing risk exposures.

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Trucking and Fleet Risk Management Strategies

Trucking and Fleet Risk Management Strategies

Among business operations, trucking companies and fleet management firms face some of the most diverse and dynamic risks. Transportation is inherently risky, with many moving parts coming together to transfer cargo and personnel across the country. Unfavorable road conditions, vehicle breakdowns, logistical concerns, weather, regulatory compliance – each of these represents a significant challenge for transportation-oriented businesses. U.S. Risk Underwriters, a leading provider of specialty insurance solutions for the transportation industry, knows that fleets must adopt risk management strategies not only to protect cargo and employees but to minimize the liabilities that can negatively impact future business. 

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Distracted Driving A Rising Issue in Transportation

Distracted Driving: A Rising Issue in Transportation

The rise of technologies like mobile computing, onboard navigation, and infotainment systems have given rise to new risks on America’s roadways. Distracted driving is a growing issue across transportation sectors, resulting in billions of dollars in injuries, property damage, and lost revenue each year. Transportation insurance brokers like U.S. Risk Underwriters know that fleet managers must understand this emerging risk as a means of combating the expenses and liabilities associated with distracted driving. By gaining an understanding of distracted driving’s impact, transportation-oriented businesses can better protect drivers, vehicles, and cargo from loss.

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Winter Safety Hazards in the Transportation Industry

Winter Safety Hazards in the Transportation Industry

Winter weather creates unique challenges for the transportation industry. Poor driving conditions, freezing temperatures, and an increased risk of injury are all associated with winter storm activity. The transportation sector already faces numerous risks in its daily operations, and these risks are only compounded in the winter months. U.S. Risk Underwriters, a leading provider of specialty insurance solutions for the transportation industry, knows that fleet owners and operators should be aware of winter-related risks. With this knowledge, drivers and related personnel can be better protected no matter what winter brings. 

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