Reducing Environmental Damage Caused by Commercial Trucks in the US: A Worthwhile Objective

Posted March 7, 2017 by Administrator

The environmental impact of the trucking industry has escalated concerns among shippers, carriers, environmentalists, and state and federal governing bodies. Authorities in freight shipping have responded to recent studies on the effects of climate change in the last decade by taking measures to reduce carbon footprint. Even though the new government has promised to ease regulations, the trend toward environmentally-friendly shipping practices is still relevant and beneficial in terms of environmental burdens and accelerated resource depletion as well as decreasing shipping rates.

The measures implemented by authorities include green shipping practices and new regulations designed to minimize the impact of trucks on the environment. For example, a new set of fuel economy regulations was issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency in 2015. The new regulations will require fleet-wide modifications for may shipping providers. The regulations go into effect in 2018; the deadline for full compliance is 2021.

The trucking industry has a long way to go to fully embrace the vision of a green industry by its leaders. Every day in America thousands of trucks travel countless miles, all the while consuming massive amounts of fuel and oil and polluting the air with CO2. Technological advances in the industry are expected to support environmental protection improvements. Investors are taking an interest in new innovations that will clearly reduce emissions.

Autonomous trucks have captured news headlines and the imagination of the American public simultaneously. Expected benefits of these so-called “driverless vehicles” include better controls on speed as well as improved fuel efficiency.

Real-time tracking of delivery trucks is another important technological advancement in the industry. Real-time tracking will improve efficient routing, which translates into less fuel consumption. Emerging big data solutions being implemented by freight providers include filling trucks and minimizing deadhead return trips, which in turn reduces fuel consumption on every pound of freight.

New technologies in the market involve engine management systems that control idling time during driver downtime. These innovative technologies enable trucks to maintain a comfortable temperature without idling the engine, thus saving fuel.

Other trucking-related innovations that are already available and are environmentally-friendly include:

  • aerodynamic panels
  • wide base tires
  • low viscosity lubricants
  • exhaust system upgrades
  • eco flaps
  • auxiliary power units
  • speed limitations, and
  • liquid natural gas powering.

Drivers themselves can increase the efficiency of their trips by paying attention to fuel consumption. Reducing speed by as little as 5 miles per hour can have a significant impact on lowering their fuel consumption. Taking the time to slow down before stopping and increasing speed slowly when accelerating as well as shifting gears progressively can lower fuel consumption by 5-10 percent.

Fleet managers can start by keeping their trucks well-maintained, which will optimize efficiency. Hybrid technology may be a viable option for some fleets. Less aggressive driving practices will set the stage for lowering fuel consumption as well as improving safety for drivers.

There is a long, costly process ahead in the trucking industry toward achieving the vision of a greener freight industry in the U.S. That said, many new innovations in the industry will not only reduce emissions but will also reduce costs and improve the safety of U.S. roadways. It’s time for the trucking industry to make a conscious effort to reduce the negative effects of pollution and over-consumption of fossil fuels. Not only is it the right thing to do, but making an effort to reduce the carbon footprint will improve the bottomline of trucking companies, large and small.

Hidden Risks for Dairy Farmers

Posted February 23, 2017 by Administrator

Many dairy farmers’ top priority is their cows’ projected milk yield. They focus on elements that affect their cows’ health and wellbeing such as preventing common diseases and providing proper housing for the animals. Many are expecting a higher yield of milk by pounds per cow. This is largely due to enhanced nutrient content and digestibility of 2016’s forage crops. However, unexpected challenges threaten this projection.

Harvest Delays and Grain Maturation

The 2016 corn silage and high moisture harvest pose certain risks to dairy farmers. For one, harvesting was delayed. This resulted in the plants and grains maturing past their optimal stages. This contributed to diminished nutrition quality of the harvest, which has a direct effect on dairy cows and their milk output.

Defensive Tactics

There are numerous options available to dairy farmers to combat this issue. Unfortunately, decreased dairy performance is rarely a single-culprit issue. Multiple factors often combine to reduce the animals’ health as well as milk output. Some of these are anti-nutrition factors such as mold, yeast, and toxins.

Other elements are bacteria-based. Sometimes, feed or other toxins found on the farm can overwhelm an already nutritionally deficient cow. Other times, excessive starch in the animals’ diets can create the perfect environment for mold and bacteria to take over in the intestines and hindgut. The best way to avoid this scenario is by dairy farmers, consultants, and trusted veterinarians working together.

Outside factors affecting production is not unique to dairy farmers. Nearly all trades that fall under the agribusiness umbrella will feel the sting of external influences on their bottom line at some point. While these companies can take steps to work together and mitigate these issues, having appropriate insurance is vital. Cline Wood is the paramount provider of agribusiness insurance products. We treat your business as our own and provide customized services to meet your needs. Contact us to learn more.

TMPS for a Safer Fleet

Posted February 16, 2017 by Administrator

Maintaining proper tire pressure is a major component of vehicle maintenance for many commercial truck drivers. However, frigid winter temperatures can make some drivers prone to taking shortcuts while manually checking their tire pressure. For example, they may opt to check only the outer tire of a dual tire set up. It can be difficult to access the inner tire, and many drivers assume the pressure is about the same as the outer tire.

Having a tire pressure monitoring system (TMPS) can provide data for all tires, inner and outer, with much higher precision than a manual check. This will make life on the road easier for many truck drivers. TMPSs can also reduce safety risks related to inadequate tire pressure monitoring such as blowouts and longer stopping distances.

In addition to improving transportation safety, TMPSs provide the following benefits:

  • Reduced fuel consumption and emissions. Underinflated tires reduce fuel efficiency and increase emission output. Fuel costs are one of the greatest expenses of operating a fleet, which is why improving fuel efficiency is a common concern among fleet managers.
  • Improved lifespan of tires and tread. Underinflated tires have irregular wear patterns and can affect re-treading. Ensuring tires have the appropriate pressure can improve the duration of any given set of tires.
  • Reduced frequency of broken down trucks. About two-thirds of road calls relate to tires. The costs associated with these kinds of calls include servicing the vehicle, replacing the tire casings if necessary, and lost productivity/business.

Making use of TMPS can save fleets a considerable amount of money. However, ensuring driver safety is the paramount benefit. Reducing transportation risks is an excellent way to reduce insurance costs as well. As a national commercial property and casualty insurance agency that serves the commercial trucking industries, Cline Wood can help fleet owners manage their risk to improve their bottom line. Contact us today to learn more.

Know the Risks Your Agribusiness Faces

Posted February 9, 2017 by Administrator

Agribusinesses face a variety of risks that other businesses do not. Some risks, such as events that affect pricing, are the same for all institutions. Other risks are unique to agriculture-based businesses, such as farming. If you own an agribusiness, you need to familiarize yourself with all of the risks that can affect your company. Below are some of the common risk factors farmers face.

Price Risk

Problems with pricing often occur after a farmer has already committed to production. Production is a lengthy process for agribusinesses. For example, farmers must invest in feed and equipment to produce the best possible livestock. It can take months or even years to see a return on their investment. During this period in time, global and local market pricing can shift and have a dramatic effect on farmers’ bottom line.

Production Risk

Agribusinesses face distinctive production risks compared to other industries. Some examples include harsh weather, droughts, insects, and a variety of other environmental factors. These elements are uncontrollable and sometimes unpredictable, which can hinder production output.

Institutional Risk

Changes to government policies can affect multiple industries. For farmers, the biggest risks come with changes to regulations regarding how they grow their crops and raise their livestock as this can have a significant effect on production costs. Other changes that can affect farmers are rules regarding manure disposal, conservation and land use mandates, or tax law updates.

Agribusinesses cannot afford to ignore these risks. The best way to reduce risk is to invest in the proper types and amount of insurance. To learn more about how insurance can reduce your agribusiness’ risk, contact the experts at Cline Wood.

Electric-Powered Vehicles the Future of Commercial Trucking

Posted February 2, 2017 by Administrator

Battery-electric vehicles with zero-emissions are most certainly the future of the trucking industry in America. The cost savings of electric trucks is staggering; current high fuel and maintenance costs will someday be a burden of the past for America’s fleets. The electric truck markets are growing rapidly; many options are now commercially available. There are already new competitors in the U.S. that offer off-road yard tractors and urban utility trucks with ranges in excess of 100 miles.

The benefits of commercial electric vehicles include:

  • Reduction in energy-consumption. Electric delivery trucks use 30 percent less total energy.
  • Reduced emissions. Electric trucks emit 40 percent less greenhouse gases than diesel trucks
  • Similar costs. When you take the cost of purchase and operating, diesel-fueled and electric trucks cost roughly the same.
  • Elimination of noise pollution. Electric trucks virtually eliminate the city/urban noise pollution, a major factor in densely populated urban cores where hundreds of thousands of people must put up with extreme noise pollution from the current internal-combustion-engine technology.
  • Elimination of air pollution. Currently, people must deal with dirty exhaust and smelly CNG fumes. Electric trucks will bring a quantifiable environmental impact that will be welcomed, especially in densely populated urban areas.

Not every trucking company will rush to replace their diesel-fueled vehicles with electric ones, though. There are important criteria to consider for trucking fleets that are considering being on the forefront of change. Here is some of what must be considered:

  • Routes and distance from electric truck stops. The ideal trucking routes are ones that are fixed and low mileage. If routes are consistent and within the distance of electricity-charging stations they may be a good fit for electrification.
  • Company interest. While most companies have the word “sustainability” in their mission statement, not all are ready to make the trade-off between environmentally-friendly and the initial cost of vehicle replacement. However, some companies make the decision to make the shift in order to benefit the planet.
  • Emissions regulations. Virtually all air regulating agencies across North America have continually increased truck emissions regulations, and this trend will continue to mean tighter restrictions in the future.
  • Ease of transition. Some industries are less complex, which will make it easier for them to make the decision to convert to electric power.

In the not-so-distant future expect to see more affordable electric vehicles; the number of electric vehicles may even outnumber diesel-fueled vehicles as people around the world continue to demand a shift to greener commercial vehicles. Expect to see the price of batteries lower which will mean that tomorrow’s electric vehicles will be less expensive to own than today’s gas and diesel  powered vehicles.

Cline Wood represents top trucking and agribusiness insurance carriers across the country. We have access to all types of insurance programs. We treat your company as if it were our own. Contact us today to find out how we can help you manage your risk, which directly contributes to your bottom line.

Petitioners Ask FMCSA to Reconsider Insufficient Final Rule for Entry-Level Truck Drivers

Posted January 25, 2017 by Administrator

On December 7, 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued the Final Rule for Entry-Level Driver requirements. Since then, four groups have petitioned the FMCSA requesting that the new rules be rescinded.

The final rule does not include a behind-the-wheel standard for student drivers. Instead, it only requires a skill test administered by state licensing agencies. Initially, in the proposed rule that was announced last March, FMCSA had included a provision that would require new drivers to undergo 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training. The petitioners are concerned that, without the behind-the-wheel training, new drivers will not be adequately prepared to operate safely on public roadways.

The four petitioners that are asking the FMCSA to reconsider their new driver requirements include the following entities:

  1. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety,
  2. the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association,
  3. the Truck Safety Coalition, and
  4. Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways.

The petition was filed December 21, 2016.

The petitioners cited the following concerns about the Final Rule.

  • It is critical that new drivers spend time actually operating a commercial motor vehicle on public roads with an experienced instructor trained on how to handle safety critical situations.
  • Real-world experience is needed in order to enhance the ability of commercial driver license (CDL) applicants to safely operate a tractor-trailer and avoid crashes and other traffic incidences. More than one body of experts concur with this assertion.
  • CDL applicants need more than rudimentary skill sets to pass maneuvering tests, thus placing the CDL applicant, the public and other drivers at risk for safety violations, injury, and death.

In order to support their claim that the Final Rule is not adequate, the petitioners cited a 1995 Highway Administration report. The report, titled “Assessing the Adequacy of Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Training,” asserts that the minimum criteria on eight key factors of driver training, including time behind the wheel, should be set at “38.5 hours for heavy trucks and motor coaches as well as 9 hours for school buses.”

The petitioners have requested a stay of the effective date of the 2016 Final Rule until the FMCSA can review their concerns and render a decision on their Petition for Reconsideration.

Cline Wood represents top trucking and agribusiness insurance carriers across the country. We have access to all types of insurance programs. We treat your company as if it were our own. Contact us today to find out how we can help you manage your risk, which directly contributes to your bottom line.

Protecting Your Farm with Uniquely Tailored Coverages

Posted January 18, 2017 by Administrator

Maintaining a successful farm is not an easy job. Some may argue it is not a job at all, but a way of life. Unfortunately, farms face a number of threats that jeopardize farmers’ livelihood. In order to ensure a thriving farming environment, farmers need to be aware of the risks and take measures to mitigate them. The best way to do so is by investing in coverages that are uniquely tailored to the risk exposure of your area and the nature of your business.

Types of Insurance All Farmers Need

With the right insurance, farmers can remove the stress of worrying about risk factors and instead focus on the farm itself. There are four types of insurance all farmers should consider.

  • Farm liability protection. This insurance protects individuals from losing their farms because of liability issues. This includes bodily injury, associated medical costs, and damage to other people’s property. It can also provide legal defense if necessary.
  • Dwelling coverage. This is often part of a homeowner’s insurance policy. It provides coverage for damage to the individual’s home in the event of a disaster. Some examples include hail, windstorms, theft, and vandalism.
  • Farm equipment coverage. This type of insurance offers coverage for farming equipment, materials, and machines. This insurance can provide blanket protection up to a certain dollar amount or individuals can itemize high-cost items.
  • Barn insurance. Farmers purchase this type of insurance for barns and other buildings on their property. Some examples include buildings that house livestock, equipment, and so on.

By taking these necessary precautions, farmers can reduce their risk. This will allow farmers to focus more of their attention on operating their farm than worrying about what threatens it. To learn more about how insurance can improve your agribusiness, contact the experts at Cline Wood.

9 Extreme Winter Weather Driving Tips for Truck Drivers

Posted January 11, 2017 by Administrator

Winter snow and ice storms can be breathtakingly beautiful and dramatic because they deliver very cold rain that freezes on contact and coats everything with a layer of glimmering ice. But ice storms can be incredibly dangerous for anyone on the road because the roads become slippery like a skating rink. It is just as easy for someone to plow into your vehicle as it is for you to lose control.

Here are 9 tips you can use to increase your awareness of how to drive in inclement conditions. If an ice storm is in the forecast, it’s best to stay off the road, but if you’re already driving and rain starts turning into ice, follow these tips.

  1. Slow down

Slow down and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles to give everyone more time to react in slippery conditions.

  1. Accelerate slowly

Be sure to apply the gas slowly to avoid losing traction and skidding on the ice.

  1. Brake safely

Apply the brakes earlier than you normally would because it takes longer to slow down on icy roads.

  1. Look out for icy patches

Steer clear of glossy ice patches on the road. Be especially vigilant on bridges, entrance and exit ramps and roads near water because these areas will freeze up first.

  1. If you lose traction

If you feel your vehicle start to slide, remove your foot from the gas pedal. Don’t slam on the brakes because that can cause you to skid and lose control. Keep your steering wheel straight but if your vehicle starts to veer to one side, gently steer into that direction. Steer toward an area where you can regain traction. Do not apply the brakes until you’ve regained traction.

  1. Avoid cruise control

Even a light tap on the brake pedal to deactivate the cruise control can cause you to skid when driving on a slippery surface. Also, you have less control of your vehicle when it’s in cruise control mode.

  1. Watch for trees and power lines

Watch out for overhead trees and power lines. If you see a power line down, do not drive over it.

  1. Prepare ahead

Advanced preparation can help immensely when it comes to extreme weather driving.

  • Check your tire tread. Make sure your tires have adequate tread.
  • Inflate tires properly. Tire pressure drops significantly in cold weather. Check your tire pressure monthly and inflate your tires to the proper level.
  • Install tire chains. When there is a lot of snow or icy conditions and the road is completely covered, install tire chains to get better traction.
  • Keep fluid reservoirs full. It’s especially important to keep your windshield wiper fluid reservoirs full with the right freeze protection for the area in which you’ll be driving.
  • Examine your windshield wipers. Check your windshield wipers regularly. If the rubber is cracked, broken, or falling off, replace your wipers as soon as possible.
  • Check your coolant. Check your coolant or antifreeze with every fill up. Running low can potentially ruin your engine.
  • Take an emergency kit. Prepare a winter emergency kit for your vehicle. Include a jump starter that is fully charged. Also, bring a spare phone with a charger. Often, 911 calls will go through even if your phone does not have service.
  1. Monitor the forecast

Always stay on top of the weather forecast. If you can, limit driving time when there are winter storm advisories.

Cline Wood represents top trucking and agribusiness insurance carriers across the country. We have access to all types of insurance programs. We treat your company as if it were our own. Contact us today to find out how we can help you manage your risk, which directly contributes to your bottom line.

Webinar: FMCSA Regulatory Updates – What You Need to Know to Improve Scores in 2017

Posted January 4, 2017 by Administrator

Join Cline Wood University for this complimentary webinar and learn how to improve your safety scores in 2017. Subject matter expert Justin Cunningham, Director of Safety at Cline Wood, will review and analyze the latest FMCSA regulatory changes and the impact on transportation businesses. These changes could have a significant impact on your safety culture – topics include:

* Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
* Speed limiters
* CDL – Entry Level Training
* Safety Fitness Determination
* EOBR Mandate

Date and Time: Wed, Jan 11, 2017 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM CST

Register here:

Rising Insurance Costs to Dramatically Impact Trucking Industry

Posted December 27, 2016 by Administrator

Insurance rates rose substantially for trucking companies in 2016. And while trucking companies as well as independent-operators have felt the sting of rising costs, the consumer will soon feel the pain of increasing transportation prices that show up in higher costs for consumables.

There are several factors that have had an impact on the rising insurance rates in America.

  1. Insurance premiums have increased 10% – 30% as a result of very high legal settlements.
  2. Major companies (like Zurich Insurance Group AG and American International Group Inc.) have eliminated for-hire policies, making it harder for trucking companies to secure adequate coverage.
  3. New food handling transportation requirements instituted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have increased liability for trucking companies.
  4. Lesser settlements – in the $25,000 – $75,000 range – are also having an impact. Even though they are lesser amounts they are often not litigated because the cost of litigation does not make it worth taking them to court, even though many times the trucking company was not at fault.
  5. Frivolous suits are another frustrating factor because they consume resources and needlessly inflate insurance rates.

The negative risk exposure for trucking companies has translated into a renewed emphasis on safety. Safety is no longer just for safety’s sake (although it is extremely important in its own right.) Safety today has a major impact on the bottom line for the company and therefore is a business imperative. Not only are insurance premiums impacted, but safety mitigates risk which is now a significant financial factor for the trucking industry.

Insurance firms today are clear – they want to see motor carriers cultivating a culture of safety. Safety must become a core value of the company, not just a priority. A core value indicates permanency; safety has to be non-negotiable. No matter what conditions are placed on the freight load, it must be safely transported from start to finish no matter what.

Trucking company leaders need to back up the core value of safety with financial supports. For example, one safety feature that companies are installing are in-cab video systems that can provide video proof of driver actions in the case of an accident. That type of information can help drivers improve their safety practices. In-cab video – and other safety technological tools – cost money but are a good investment on the part of the company leadership.

Truck drivers themselves need to be empowered to make safety judgment calls without fear of recrimination. They are on the front lines and need to know they can challenge issues when they see them. Focusing on safety as fundamental to the trucking company or driver will help to mitigate insurance premium increases and will, ultimately, benefit everyone.

Cline Wood is a national commercial property and casualty insurance agency that serves the commercial agribusiness and trucking industries. To learn more about Cline Wood and how we can help your business mitigate your insurance risk, contact us.

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