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: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6182017700354279682

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.

Holiday Security Protocols

Posted December 23, 2016 by Erin

The Christmas and New Year holiday weekends are fast approaching. While we spend time with friends and family, cargo thieves could very well be looking to target terminals and in-transit shipments. To prepare for the long holiday weekends, we urge our members to review their security procedures and protocols. Below is a list of suggestions to help maintain the integrity of



– Check and test security alarms and surveillance systems to

ensure proper working order.

– Ensure batteries are fresh in exit doors and back up cellular

(used to maintain alarm reporting)

– Perform perimeter checks, inspect fencing or other physical

barriers to ensure they are properly secured

– Check perimeter lighting to ensure lighting is functional and

inspect timers to see that lights active at darkness

– Ensure company alarm call list is current with valid contact

information. Require responsible party to respond to all alarm

calls, even if system is suspected of malfunctioning

– Contact law enforcement and request extra patrols in the area

– Remove keys from all warehouse equipment and place in a secure


– Use a non-integrated cellular verified alarm system as a back

up to prevent burglars in the event they defeat the main system.



Freight In-Transit:

– If you have to leave your rig or loaded trailer unattended, look

for a true secure lot or authorized location to leave vehicles.

– If forced to leave vehicles at a public facility (truck stop, etc)

pick one which is well lit and utilizes surveillance equipment.

Park within camera view if possible.

– Secure the tractor with a steering wheel lock or kill switch. On

the trailer use a king pin lock and glad hand locks while using

industrial strength padlocks on the trailer doors.

– Do not leave keys inside the tractor!

– Check on the unattended vehicles as frequently as possible.

– Notify dispatch of where and when you have dropped the load

provide an estimated time of return.

– Use covert tracking devices embedded in the freight with geo-

fencing and alert notification capabilities.




SWTSC Best Practices


Southwest Transportation Security Council

5501 LBJ Freeway, Suite 800

Dallas, Texas 75240





FDA’s Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food

Posted December 23, 2016 by Erin

FDA Issues Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food

What You Need to Know

The Rule

On April 6, 2016, the FDA published its Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food establishing transportation requirements to ensure the safety of both human and animal food. This rule results from long-time concerns over the need for regulations so that foods are being transported in a safe manner. It reaffirms that transportation plays a critical role in preventing risks to the nation’s food supply.

The final rule is part of the implementation of the 2005 Sanitary Food Transportation Act (SFTA) and the 2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). These two statutes require the FDA to issue regulations requiring shippers, carriers by motor vehicles or rail vehicle, receivers, and other persons engaged in the transportation of food to use sanitary transportation practices to ensure that food is not transported under conditions that may render the food adulterated. The rule is one of seven fundamental rules proposed since January 2013 and is the sixth of seven regulations that have been finalized. This is also the only rule of the seven that is directly applicable to transportation.

The rule applies to shippers, loaders and carriers who transport food in the U.S. by motor vehicle or rail (whether or not food is offered or enters interstate commerce), and applies to food not completely enclosed by a container. Four key requirements are addressed: (1) vehicles and transportation equipment, (2) transportation operations, (3) records and (4) training. The new rule applies to the design and maintenance of vehicles and transportation equipment to ensure they do not cause the food being transported to become unsafe. It also requires specific measures be taken during the transport of food to ensure food safety, such as adequate temperatures. The rule requires carriers to train their personnel in sanitary transportation practices and to document the training conducted. Regulated parties must also maintain records of written procedures, agreements and training records (required for carriers).

So how will the rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food affect the transportation industry? First and foremost, the rule is flexible. It allows the industry to continue to use industry “best practices” which is defined as “commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective.” These practices include successful sanitation procedures, effective training programs, records retention procedures, successful inspection and monitoring programs.

The final rule indicates that businesses (other than small businesses) will have one year from date of publication to comply, so until April 7, 2017. Small businesses have 2 years to comply. “Small businesses” are defined as businesses other than motor carriers that are also not shippers and/or receivers and that employ fewer than 500 persons, and motor carriers having less than $27.5 million in annual receipts.

Before the rule becomes enforced in April 2017, those involved in the food transportation industry should review their vehicle and transportation equipment to determine how the new requirements may affect them. To comply with this new rule, all companies need to develop and implement a written procedure governing all aspects of their shipping operations. The procedure should spell out in detail the sanitation procedures for both loading and unloading and shipping equipment. If the current “best practices” are not suitable, then changes to the procedure must take place. 

Failure to comply with the rule is subject to injunction and criminal prosecution. Further, food will be deemed “adulterated” if it is transported or offered for transport by a shipper, loader, carrier or receiver under conditions that don’t comply with the rule. FDA also intends to conduct some inspections and the Department of Transportation (DOT) will establish procedures for transportation safety inspections to be conducted by DOT or state agencies.

These new requirements may be used by plaintiffs to establish negligence and negligence per se, and may appear in litigation through discovery or FOIA requests. On the other hand, proper compliance with the rule will allow companies to prove safe and proper practices.

For more information on the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food visit: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/04/06/2016-07330/sanitary-transportation-of-human-and-animal-food

Article originally published by Roberts Perryman.

Anna Beck is an associate attorney at Roberts Perryman. Anna’s practice focuses on transportation, insurance coverage and defense.

Roberts Perryman has been a leader in transportation defense for over 50 years with offices in St. Louis and Springfield, MO and Belleville, IL. www.robertsperryman.com

Follow their blog at: Driven to Keep You Driving


How a Modest Farm Truck Driver Changed the Future of Global Shipping Forever

Posted December 20, 2016 by Administrator

It was during the Great Depression and Malcolm McLean, the son of a North Carolina farmer, started a trucking company to help his family survive those harrowing times. It was on one of those long hauls that he had a new idea that would someday revolutionize the shipping industry. It was the dawn the day before Thanksgiving and McLean was exhausted from driving all night. As he wearily drove up to the loading docks to deliver his produce, he realized there were at least 20 trucks already waiting ahead of him. Frustrated, tired and worried he wouldn’t make it home in time for Thanksgiving dinner the next day, he wondered if there wasn’t an easier way to unload freight.

In those days freight was unloaded piece by piece by the longshoremen. Each shipping item was first unloaded and then restocked on the ship. It would easily take a week to load a ship. McLean wondered if there was a way for his entire truck bed to be unloaded and reloaded at once.

His idea was not well received. Everyone thought the best way to improve shipping efficiency was to increase the load size by packing the freight better and by improving the speed time of the boat. No one thought his idea would make enough of a difference to be considered.

It took McLean many years to have the opportunity to try out his innovative idea. He grew his company to a large trucking fleet of over 1700 trucks by the early 1950’s. He then decided to sell his company, which sold for $12 million. He had to sell his trucking company before he could buy a shipping line, as per U.S. regulations at the time. Once he sold his trucking company, he then raised the capital to buy the shipping company and what he needed to develop his innovation.

Once he owned the shipping company he went about designing the truck bed containers, including a necessary but newly invented locking system. He then purchased two WWII tankers that he remodeled to fit the truck containers. He even designed a new crane that could easily unload the truck and stack the shipping freighters.

His inventions were well worth the wait. His new trucking container loading system reduced the cost of loading 39 times from $5.86 per ton to only $.16 per ton. Even more impressive, what had once taken a week to load now only took 8 hours. McLean had forever changed the way goods were shipped, loaded and unloaded all because of a delay at the dock way back when he was driving a truck just to keep food on the table and help his farmer neighbors.

The big takeaway here is the importance of looking at problems with a fresh eye and different perspective than may be the current norm. Sometimes it takes someone who is an outsider to see what may appear to be obvious but is overlooked by an insider in the industry.

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

How the Digital Revolution Impacts Agribusiness

Posted December 13, 2016 by Administrator

tablet farmerTechnological advances are helping farmers increase resiliency, scale and sustainability. Technology is one of the most effective tools in our society for reducing poverty because more than a third of the global population relies on agriculture for a living. New digital applications are now making it easier for farmers to improve their productivity and are helping them scale their businesses at a much faster rate than in the past as it pertains to these three key constraints: 1) resilience, 2) scale, and 3) market incentives.

Traditionally, small farms without a safety net would suffer debilitating setbacks from bad weather, crop disease and low prices. Today, farmers can access mobile apps that help take the guess work out of planting, growing and harvesting crops by providing real-time weather information and agronomic tips. Emergent market insurance players are using mobile technology to bring life and crop insurance that protect small farmers from economic shocks.

Innovative products generate mobile payments and receipts whenever farmers sell to agribusiness using their platform. This provides them with a dashboard that gives them touch point financial history right from their phone. Better tracking and reports make them more attractive to a bank when they apply for credit, insurance and other financial tools that can help them withstand potential setbacks and prevents them from being taken advantage of by buyers. Market prices are easily accessible by phone which helps them make better decisions and maximize their profits by selling at precisely the right time.

In order to be successful, farmers need sizeable, stable markets. Mobile platforms are making it easier for farmers to manage their contracts, make and accept payments, and give them clarity about their business strategy by helping them identify patterns, efficiencies and best practices. Mobile supply chain management now makes working together vastly easier for buyers and small operators.

Digital technology makes this exciting times for agribusiness. Mobile innovations are changing the way dairies tend their cows, access micro-insurance to prevent bad weather risk, or determine the most scientifically optimal time to plant crops.

The demand for food in the global economy is expected to soar 70 percent by 2050. Digital technology may very well be the answer that will help to solve some of the most difficult agricultural challenges of our time. To learn more about protecting and growing your agribusiness, contact us today.

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