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FMCSA puts final nail in the coffin for restart regs

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration confirmed on its website that the 2013 regulations on the 34-hour restart will not go back into effect, given the results of a study released this week.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has notified Congress that the required study of the those regs revealed they provided no safety benefit. The notification verified a DOT Inspector General notice issued last week on the study’s conclusions.

The 34-hour restart regulations took effect July 1, 2013, and were suspended on Dec. 15, 2014, following widespread pushback from the industry. As part of a broader hours-of-service overhaul by the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the regulations required any 34-hour restart to include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods and allowed truckers to only take one restart per 168-hour period.

Congress suspended those provisions in December 2014 and required FMCSA to perform the study to determine whether they could go back into effect.

The study, however, concluded the regs did not enhance safety or reduce driver fatigue. FMCSA, in partnership with Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute, studied 235 truck operators for five months. Half of the drivers operated under the July 2013-December 2014 regs. The other half did not, meaning their restarts did not need two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods. Those drivers could also use the restart as often as they wanted.

Not only did the drivers operating under the more restrictive regulations show no greater levels of safety, in some cases they were less safe, according to FMCSA’s summary of the research provided to Congress this week.

For instance, drivers whose restarts included the two early morning periods recorded 0.37 safety critical events per 100 hours of driving, compared to 0.34 events for drivers operating otherwise. Safety critical events included hard braking, hard acceleration, swerves, contact with other objects and speeding. Likewise, drivers who were only allowed to use one restart in a 168-hour period recorded 0.37 safety critical events in 100 hours of driving, compared to 0.36 for the other driver subset.

Drivers were monitored via video recorder systems that trigger during safety-critical events, which were then reviewed by researchers. The agency and VTTI also employed and analyzed electronic logging device data. Wrist-worn actigraphs were used to determine sleep timing and quality, and brief psychomotor vigilance tests helped measure alertness levels.

The subset of drivers whose restarts did not require the early mornings periods also recorded slightly longer sleep duration during their restarts — 8.86 hours, compared to 8.83 hours for those whose restarts included two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods.

Their stress scores were also lower during their duty periods and during their restart periods, and the psychomotor alertness tests revealed better response speeds than the other subset of drivers.

Their fatigue scores were slightly higher during their restart periods, but were the same during on-duty periods.

The report was reviewed and verified by the DOT’s Office of Inspector General and the Institutional Review Board.

The large majority of drivers studied were in long-haul operations –  187. The remainder were in regional and short-haul applications. Of the 235, 130 were dry van haulers, 59 refrigerated and 35 flatbed. Eleven were tank operators. The drivers represented 95 carriers, and they were asked to not change their schedules as part of the study. Cumulatively, the drivers took more than 3,000 restarts during the five-month period.

Nearly all of the drivers studied were men, 224. Their average age was 45.

Given the study’s results, all that remains of the 2013 hours of service rule is the 30-minute break required within the first eight hours on duty. FMCSA denied a request from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance to rescind the break in the regulations last year.

Courtesy of overdriveonline.com

Olivier-VanDyk Insurance and The Angel Tree Toy Drive

Olivier-VanDyk Insurance is proud to be a participating location for The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Toy Drive. We know there are many opportunities to give back this time of year, but please take a moment to learn about this wonderful mission to help those in need right here in our community.

The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Toy Drive was founded in 1985 as a way to provide Christmas gifts for children and teens in the west Michigan who are in need and may not otherwise receive any gifts. This is a community partnership with WOOD TV 8 and The Salvation Army and many businesses around the area. Olivier-VanDyk Insurance is excited to be joining the Angel Tree Toy Drive this year as a drop off location!

Olivier-VanDyk Insurance has a beautifully decorated Angel Tree in our lobby with tags on it. If you are in the area, please stop by and take a tag from the tree. The tag will represent a child or teenager (gender and age) which will help you decide what kind of gift to purchase. If the tag is for a teen, they are asking for gift cards to a major retailer such as Meijer or Target.  We ask that no gift or gift card exceed $20. If you purchase a gift, please be sure to drop it off unwrapped. We will be accepting donations at our Angel Tree in our lobby between now and December 12, 2016.

If you would like more information about The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Toy Drive, you may click here: http://angeltree.sawmni.org/wmniangeltree/Home

We look forward to being able to spread a bit of extra cheer throughout the community this holiday season by partnering with our generous customers and employees of Olivier-VanDyk Insurance and providing Christmas gifts to area children and teens in need. Please stop in or call if you have any questions.  We hope to see you at the Angel Tree!

Oh, Deer!

Deer Incidents

We have seen an uptick in the number of deer/car accident in the past 7-10 days.  For deer hunters, this is a positive sign as bucks are coming into rut and are quite active.

Although we are in Michigan, our neighbors at The Ohio Insurance Institute report that accidents spike from October to January, which is the height of deer mating and migration season. Deer are most active at dusk and dawn (from 5pm to midnight and 5am to 8am).  Unfortunately, this is also the time during which most cars are travelling on the roadways.

Below are a few reminders to help prevent an accident.

Steer Clear of Deer

  • Watch for deer between sunset and midnight, and during pre-dawn hours when they’re most active.
  • Slow down in posted deer-crossing areas.
  • If you see 1 deer, remember that others are probably nearby.
  • Use high beams at night in deer territory when there is no oncoming traffic.
  • If a deer is frozen in your headlights, honk your horn in a loud, sustained blast.
  • Don’t rely on deer whistles or roadside reflectors; they have not been proven effective.
  • If you can’t avoid a deer, brake and stay in your lane. Don’t endanger other vehicles.
  • If you strike a deer, do not touch the animal. It may harm you or further injure itself.
  • Call police immediately if you hit or are hit by a deer.
  • Take pictures of the accident scene and vehicle damage for your insurance claim.

Sources: Insurance Information Institute. Mitch Wilson, Ohio Insurance Institute.

If you are involved in an incident with a deer, please remember to report the claim to your insurance company.  You will be required to secure an estimate for the damages sustained to your vehicle and make arrangements to have it repaired.  Your claim may be subject to a deductible

depending on the type of coverage you elected. If you have opted not to have physical damage coverage for your vehicle, then there would be no coverage for the damage sustained.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your auto policy coverages, please contact your Personal Lines Account Manager at Olivier-VanDyk Insurance Agency at 616-454-0800.

 

ELD mandate upheld in court

A federal mandate requiring nearly all U.S. truck operators to use electronic logging devices to track duty status has been upheld in court, meaning the December 18, 2017, compliance date remains effective.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal court overseeing the case, voted unanimously to keep the mandate in place, securing a victory for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and its ELD rule. Its decision was issued Oct. 31, following oral arguments made in Chicago on Sept. 13.

The decision does not change the rule’s exemption for pre-2000 year-model trucks, which are allowed to operate without an ELD.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a lawsuit on behalf of two truckers in March in an attempt to have the mandate overturned. But OOIDA was unable to convince the court of its arguments that the rule violates truckers’ Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. OOIDA also claimed the rule didn’t meet standards set by Congress for an ELD mandate — an argument the court also rejected.

The court, however, disagreed, writing the rule “is not arbitrary or capricious, nor does it violate the Fourth Amendment.”

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is the same court that tossed out FMCSA’s 2010-published ELD mandate on the grounds that the rule didn’t do enough to protect truckers from harassment by carriers via the devices.

The court in its Oct. 31 decision said the agency fixed those issues in its 2015-issued rule.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is the highest court in the country next to the Supreme Court. OOIDA still has the option to appeal a ruling.

The Supreme Court, however, has signaled it may not take up the case, at least from preliminary filings made this year.

The ELD mandate rule, published December 2015, requires all truckers currently required to paper logs to transition to an ELD by December 18, 2017.

 

Courtesy of Overdrive Online

Safety Inspection Blitz Oct. 16 to Oct. 22

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will ramp up enforcement activity starting Sunday for its annual Operation Safe Driver Week enforcement blitz.

From Oct. 16 to Oct. 22, law enforcement agencies across North America will engage in heightened traffic safety enforcement and education aimed at unsafe driving by both commercial motor vehicle drivers and car drivers.

CVSA says the Operation Safe Driver program was created to help reduce the number of crashes, injuries and deaths involving trucks, buses and cars due to unsafe driving behaviors. During the week, there will be increased traffic enforcement for both cars and trucks.

Specifically, CVSA says law enforcement will be looking for speeding, failure to use a seat belt, distracted driving, failure to obey traffic control devices, following too closely, improper lane change and more.

During the 2015 Operation Safe Driver Week, more than 21,000 vehicles, including trucks and cars, were pulled over, and more than 19,000 roadside inspections were conducted on commercial vehicles. The top five warnings and citations given to commercial drivers during the 2015 event were size and weight, speeding, failure to use seat belt, failure to obey traffic control device and using a handheld phone.

Courtesy of ccjdigital.com

 

DOT Proposes Speed Limiter Rule

Federal safety regulators are proposing that heavy-duty vehicles be equipped with speed-limiting devices set to a specific maximum speed. A notice of proposed rulemaking was issued jointly on Aug. 26 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The NPRM comes after a decade-long push by trucking and safety advocates to put such a requirement in place for trucks and other commercial vehicles.

For its part, NHTSA is calling for establishing a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. This FMVSS would require that each new “multipurpose” vehicle with a GVWR over 26,000 pounds be equipped with a speed limiting device.

The proposed standard would also require each vehicle, as manufactured and sold, to have its device set to a speed not greater than a specified speed and to be equipped with means of reading the vehicle’s current speed setting and the two previous speed settings (including the time and date the settings were changed) through its onboard diagnostic connection.

FMCSA is proposing a complementary Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation that would require each commercial motor vehicle with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds be equipped with a speed limiting device meeting the requirements of the proposed FMVSS applicable to the vehicle at the time of manufacture, including the requirement that the device be set to a speed not greater than a specified speed.

In addition, carriers operating such vehicles in interstate commerce would be required to maintain the speed limiting devices for the service life of the vehicle.

However, no speed limit has been proposed yet for the proposed limiters. The Department of Transportation said only that the proposal “discusses the benefits of setting the maximum speed at 60, 65, and 68 miles per hour, but the agencies will consider other speeds based on public input.”

“This is basic physics,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind.  “Even small increases in speed have large effects on the force of impact.  Setting the speed limit on heavy vehicles makes sense for safety and the environment.”

According to DOT, the two agencies’ review of the available data indicates that limiting the speed of heavy vehicles would reduce the severity of crashes involving these vehicles and reduce the resulting fatalities and injuries.

“We expect that, as a result of this joint rulemaking, virtually all of these vehicles would be limited to that speed,” stated DOT in its notice, which is to be published in the Federal Register. DOT said that implementing the proposal safety “could save lives and more than $1 billion in fuel costs each year.”

“There are significant safety benefits to this proposed rulemaking,” said Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. “In addition to saving lives, the projected fuel and emissions savings make this proposal a win for safety, energy conservation, and our environment.”

Courtesy of truckinginfo.com

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Tick Awareness & Tick Bite Prevention

The significant tree damage from recent storms in West Michigan has the potential for an increase in the number of ticks in the area. We would like to remind our valued customers of Olivier-VanDyk Insurance about the importance of educating yourself on ticks, tick bites, and tick borne disease prevention.

If you plan on spending time outdoors, you can protect yourself by wearing insect repellent. It is best to use insect repellents containing no more than 30% DEET. Apply repellents that contain permethrin on clothing. After spending time outdoors check your skin, clothes, and shoes for ticks. It’s also a good idea to regularly check your pets for ticks after spending time outside.

Please see your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of fever, rash, body aches, or fatigue.

The following links are for brochures from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services:

Tick Bite and Lyme Disease Prevention

Ticks and Your Health – Preventing tick-borne illness in Michigan

Best wishes from all of us at Olivier-VanDyk Insurance for continued health and safety this summer!

AFFORDABLE CLASSIC CARS

What can $15,000 get you in a car? There are plenty of exciting options in the collector car space to get the heart racing and turn your commute into a much-anticipated joyride. The classic car experts at Hagerty® recommend the following 15, all of which can be purchased for under $15,000.

 

1982-1991 Porsche 944

The Turbo and S editions may be difficult to find in good condition for under $15K, but the standard 944 can be purchased for an average of $10,500.

 

1973-1987 Chevrolet C/K Series Pickup

Most classic pickups have gained popularity among collectors in recent years, but examples from the C/K Series can still be found for about $7,500.

 

1990-1996 Nissan 300ZX

85,080 examples sold in the U.S. and today you can purchase a base model for around $8,750.

 

1982-1986 Toyota Supra

According to the Hagerty Price Guide, the average value of sporty second-gen Supras is roughly $7,000.

 

1976-1996 Jaguar XJ-S

The XJ-S is Jaguar’s longest running model, and there are many pristine examples still on the road. Whether you are looking for better fuel economy or simply want to roast tires, with XJ-S values averaging around $10,000, now is a good time to buy.

 

1984-1993 Mercedes-Benz 190

Designed as a compact executive car, they are available as a carbureted 190 or the fuel-injected 190E, and they’re a steal at an average of $4,200. Be forewarned however that maintenance and repairs can be expensive as that reputation for prestige also carries a cost.

 

1972-1980 International Scout II

For those who prefer to take the road less traveled, the International Harvester Scout II was the last hurrah of the popular 4×4 that set many SUV benchmarks. The Scout just makes the list with a $14,000 average value.

 

1976-1986 Jeep CJ-7

The average value of these rugged vehicles is $7,600 according to Hagerty’s Price Guide.

 

1965-1970 Buick LaSabre

The LeSabre and other full-size Buicks were completely restyled for the 1965 model year, featuring marginally more rounded bodylines with semi-fastback rooflines on the two-door hardtop coupes. According to Hagerty’s Price Guide, the average value for this generation is around $9,800.

 

1958-1959 Ford Fairlane

The 1958 Fairlane’s new style featured a long, wide and low look with a scalloped rear deck that outsold Chevrolet for the first time since 1935. These classy cars can be found for an average of $13,000.

 

1962-1967 Chevrolet Nova II

At an average value of $11,765, the first and second generations of Chevy Nova are increasingly in demand for entry-level enthusiasts and beyond who desire classic ‘60s styling in an affordable package.

 

1967-1973 Plymouth Valiant

In 1967, Plymouth introduced a new, rectangular body style that included two- and four-door sedans. The Valiant’s average value is $7,000, though you can expect to pay more for the higher-performance models.

 

1979-1985 Mazda RX-7

The Mazda RX-7’s 1.1-liter Wankel engine was an instant success, which revved to 7,000 rpm. The first-generation is incredibly affordable at right about $3,700.

 

1975-1978 Datsun 280Z

Considering the $7,500 average value and output up to 170-hp, this is the perfect way to get into a timeless sports car that resembles a Ferrari 275 GTB at a fraction of the price.

 

1961-1964 Oldsmobile 88

The fifth generation Oldsmobile 88 was a spot-on representation of the domestic market’s executive car class. If you keep your eyes peeled, you may find a roadworthy gem for around $13,000.

 

If you have a classic car and you are interested in obtaining an auto insurance quote, please contact our Personal Lines team at Olivier-VanDyk Insurance at 616-454-0800 today!

 

Employer “Pay or Play” and Marketplace Notices – What Employers Need to Know

If you were to ask someone on the street what the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is, they may say, “Free Health Insurance.”

If you were to ask that same question of any CEO, CFO, Human Resources Manager or anyone on the Human Resources team, the answer would be very different but would likely include one of these key words: Costly, Confusing, Cumbersome, or Constricting.

It is no secret that the Affordable Care Act has placed an enormous burden on employers, both financially and administratively. The ACA Employer Information Reporting alone requires great time and attention, not to mention superb record keeping and data management to produce the information required in the tight time frame given by the IRS to report this information. For companies distributing 250 or more 1095-Cs, electronic filing requirements demand outsourcing to meet the IRS’s XML coding schema.

It is overwhelming for many companies.

So, let’s say you made it through the Employer Reporting for 2015 successfully but you receive a letter in the mail from the Health Insurance Marketplace / Department of Health and Human Services referring to an employee (or former employee) of yours who received subsidies and now an employer penalty will be assessed by the IRS. What do you do now?

First, make sure all of your documentation is in order; enrollment forms, waiver or declination forms with employee signatures, electronic communication, etc. If you have offered an employee health insurance which meets the ACA standards of affordability and meets minimum value, you have met your requirements as the employer. Now you just have to prove it.

A process has been developed for employers using an Employer Appeal Request Form. This form allows you, as the employer, to dispute any assessed penalties by providing proof that coverage was offered to an employee. There is a time frame of 90 days to appeal the information provided on the notice.

Oliver-VanDyk Insurance counsels clients to promptly contact our Employee Benefits Department team members upon receipt of the initial Marketplace Notice. Within the Appeals Process, an employer may designate a secondary contact who can speak to HHS on their behalf. As a trusted benefit advisor, Olivier-VanDyk Insurance is poised to advocate on behalf of our clients in this appeals process.

Many employers who are uninformed or unassisted in this process will find themselves receiving penalties under the ACA Employer Pay or Play Mandate simply because they didn’t know or couldn’t keep up with all of the changes that the ACA has brought to their company.

If you are interested in learning how Olivier-VanDyk Insurance can assist you with understanding and navigating the ACA, feel free to contact our team of expert advisors. Each company is different and each situation requires attention – attention that we are dedicated to provide our clients.

Contact the Olivier-VanDyk Insurance Employee Benefits Team Today!

Brake Safety Week Inspection Spree Set for September 11-17

Inspectors will be keying in on brake safety again this September when the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Brake Safety Week takes place Sept. 11-17.

Across North America, law enforcement agencies will conduct inspections on commercial vehicles to look for out-of-adjustment brakes, and brake system and anti-lock braking system violations during the week.

 Specifically, CVSA says inspectors will be looking for “loose or missing parts, air or hydraulic fluid leaks, worn linings, pads, drums or rotors, and other faulty brake system components.” Inspectors will also be checking ABS malfunction indicator lights to make sure they’re in working order, CVSA says. Defective or out-of-adjustment brakes will result in the vehicle being placed out-of-service.

Most inspections occurring during the week will be full Level I inspections, according to CVSA, and 10 jurisdictions will be using performance-based brake testing to measure braking efficiency.

Courtesy of overdriveonline.com