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How Rainy Days Affects Shipping in Southern California

Have you ever gone shopping during a rainstorm or unusual weather? You may have noticed that grocery stores and other markets were low on inventory for certain products. This happens because weather has an enormous impact on the freight industry—and in a variety of ways. Even the best trucking companies with the most efficient systems experience delays due to inclement weather. In Southern California, we are also affected by fires that cause obstacles in the form of dangerous conditions and the closing of major highways.

Bad weather is a serious safety hazard for drivers. Driving in bad weather or even after a storm is risky—nearly 50 percent of accidents occur when it’s raining. Truck drivers must use extreme caution so that they minimize the risk of having an accident and ultimately flipping their load. They need to be careful and even stop altogether sometimes when roads are too slippery or gridlocked, or their vision is impaired by rain. Poor weather can also result in roads being closed or the occurrence of a natural roadblock.

Snow and ice are typically the greatest factors that slow down truckers and overall shipping speed. While these conditions are rarer in Southern California, when they do occur, most drivers do not have the experience to navigate their vehicles safely. These inexperienced drivers often cause the majority of accidents occurring in bad weather.

California’s biggest culprit for slowing shipping speeds is rain and high winds. Research shows that rain can slow down truckers by 25 percent. High winds are also dangerous because they can negatively affect a vehicle’s stability and create roadblocks by pushing branches, rocks and tumbleweeds onto the road.

Rains and winds can alter a driver’s visibility which almost doubles the chance of an accident happening on the road. This past January, winds in coastal areas of California reached 50 mph while areas in the valley and mountain regions hit highs of 75 mph. The unpredictable changes in weather, coupled with a few inches of rain sitting on the roads, creates a very dangerous situation for drivers to take light loads through.

Fortunately, most companies that offer Less-Than-Load (LTL) Shipping services companies, like Best Yet Express, do their best to offset the impact of weather issues. We maintain a large fleet of trucks in case an incident occurs and one of the trucks is damaged. We may also use containers designed to protect cargo that is susceptible to spoiling from temperature change.

Best Yet Express is proud to be one of the freight companies located in Southern California that you can trust, whether it’s hiring us for freight shipping, cross-docking services, or any other of our services. Click here to learn why Best Yet Express is considered one of the best trucking companies in the state.

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The Basics of NMFC Codes

In the world of shipping, National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) codes are critical to the freight classification process. Nearly every type of product or commodity shipped in this country has its own NMFC code that helps carriers determine the cost of any given load. Therefore, it’s essential for freight companies to use the right one to ensure timely delivery and accurate price estimates.

The History of NFMC Codes

When regulators became aware of the need for better industry standardization, The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) developed a classification system. The system breaks every type of freight into 18 different classes, each denoted with a code number between 50 and 500. These codes allow carriers and shippers to determine tariffs and rates for shipments.

The Basis for Classes

The well-defined classes of this system are based on four factors that determine how easy it is to transport a specific commodity. This is often referred to as a commodity’s “transportability.” In general, the higher the code number of the item, the more expensive it will be to transport.

These factors include:

Density

How much space does the cargo use in a trailer relative to its weight? This requires accurate information about the product’s weight and dimensions.

Stowability

Is the commodity particularly heavy, bulky or large? Is it a unique shape that requires a certain position in the trailer?

Liability

Is the product fragile or perishable? Does it need to be temperature-controlled? Does the cargo contain hazardous materials? What is the commodity’s value?

Ease of Handling

How difficult is it to handle the commodity?

Why NMFC Codes Are Beneficial

In addition to enabling realistic pricing estimates for carriers and shippers, NMFC codes illustrates specific packaging requirements for every class. This helps make sure that shipments get to their destinations in the best condition possible.

Visit this link to learn how top freight companies like Best Yet Express ensure the safest, most efficient delivery for every type of shipment.

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The Impact of the AB5 State Law on Freight Companies

The California Assembly Bill 5, also known as the AB5, passed in September and is making waves across many industries, including transportation and freight. The AB5 bill limits independent contractors in the state of California, including owner-operator truck drivers and freight companies. It may be a wise decision to take a look at your vendor list and decide who you should work with. Although it may not seem like too large of an issue as a vendor, hiring independent contractors or companies that use independent contractors in 2020 may become a larger issue.

In order to be marked as an independent contractor, the worker MUST follow these three rules known as the ABC Test:

(a) the worker is free from control and direction in the performance of services; and
(b) the worker is performing work outside the usual course of the business of the hiring company; and
(c) the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business.

This law has quite a large effect on many companies who classify their drivers not as employees but as independent contractors, like Lyft and Uber, as well as a large effect on the hiring entity, such as yourself. You should expect to see price increases from many vendors who use independent contractors as their main workforce. In order to still manage their workforce the same as they normally would, they’ll have to increase rates to pay their “new” employees correctly.

However, many of these independent contractors may choose to step away from companies and look for ways to maintain their freelancer status, including leaving California. Unlike many other positions, truckers may benefit more as independent contractors than they would as an employee of a larger company. However, these independent contractors that you may have considered hiring before may not be able to pass the ABC test and you may find yourself in a complicated legal situation as their potential employer and financially responsible for more than just their paycheck. Prepare yourself for next year by investigating your vendor list and reading up on the AB5 law as time goes on to make sure you don’t overpay for services and that you are compliant with the law.

The good news is, Best Yet Express customers will not be impacted because all of our staff, including our truck drivers, are employees. You’ll never have to worry about AB5 compliance or added costs due to legal issues surrounding it. We will continue to take care of our customers’ needs without any negative impact from this law passing.

Click here to learn more about Best Yet Express, our services and what sets us apart from other freight companies.

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The Impact of Longer Detention Times

A recent study by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) found that truckers are waiting longer at customer docks than in previous years. The wait times associated with both pickup and delivery, known as “detention,” rose significantly since 2014, when more than 1,900 fleets and 1,600 drivers from various freight companies were originally polled. Drivers reported a 27.4% increase in delays of six hours or more when they were surveyed again in 2018.

This research conducted by the ATRI, which is the independent research arm of the American Trucking Associations, brings awareness to the full financial impact associated with detention times. As truckers spend longer time periods waiting at loading docks, this cuts into revenue and gross profits for freight companies and drivers, and ultimately, increases consumer costs. According to a 2018 report by the Department of Transportation, wait times are estimated to cost trucking companies and drivers over $1 billion per year in revenues lost.

Delays also increase the pressure on drivers, who typically get paid by the mile, to hustle to pick up their next load. While some companies charge hourly detention rates, the length of time drivers wait before the fees begin can vary depending on the contract. As a result, drivers may speed or drive while tired to make up for lost time. This raises the risk of accidents and impacts drivers’ overall health.

Truckers report that it’s common to see 20 to 30 trucks waiting to unload and that detention lasts anywhere from two to eight hours. The 2018 survey found that 40% more drivers reported that the majority of delays were due to customer actions. They cited strained shipping operations and delays at store loading docks or outside distribution center gates. Drivers and carriers noted that well-organized customers who utilized technology, maintained tight schedules and took advantage of flexible business hours were able to reduce delays.

While 2018 was characterized by longer wait times, it was also one of the busiest years for freight companies. The American Trucking Associations reported that trucks moved 11.49 billion tons of freight across the country, a 15.3% increase from 2014. Hopefully, this research will help the industry devise better driver detention strategies for both carriers and drivers, and provide insight to educate customers on better loading and unloading practices.

Click through to learn more about what sets Best Yet Express apart from other freight companies.