Renewable Diesel

Renewable Diesel

Renewable Diesel

found to reduce 2x more CO2 than BEVs

 

Is there still a viable option for internal combustion diesel engines? The answer is a resounding yes according to a recent report by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).

In May 2022, the ATRI compared the life-cycle carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of petroleum diesel fueled trucks to alternative fueled trucks. Their findings included a potential 30% decrease in life-cycle CO2 per truck through the use of battery electric vehicle (BEV) trucks and a 67.3% decrease through the use of renewable diesel (RD) in existing Class 8 trucks.

RD is a fuel that is produced to be “chemically identical” to petroleum diesel; thus, RD can be mixed with petroleum diesel in any amount or used as a standalone, drop-in fuel in a traditional diesel truck without consequences.

A second ATRI study, published in December 2022, looked at the technical and electric infrastructure-related challenges of shifting to BEV trucks. That report identified substantial barriers to implementation including:

• Insufficient electricity generation, transmission and distribution in the U.S.;
• The need for a widely accessible truck charging network; and
• Complications related to the mining and processing of battery materials

Now, the ATRI has taken a more robust look at the factors and benefits of using RD as an alternative to BEV in its research titled Renewable Diesel – A Catalyst for Decarbonization.

Renewable Diesel is a biofuel (not fossil) and represents an alternative and/or supplement to petroleum diesel. Biofuels are made from plant- and animal-based products and waste streams that are converted into a usable fuel. Biofuels are considered renewable since they are derived from organic material that can be grown – such as soybean, corn oil and even algae which would help to satisfy those that fear competition with food sourcing.

In the U.S., California leads the push for zero-emission vehicles. In its current long-term regulatory focus for heavy-duty trucks, zero “tailpipe” emissions not necessarily lifecycle emissions is highlighted. This essentially limits the trucking industry to a few options. All the while, an increasing number of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) are required to be brought to the new truck market until a no new internal combustion mandate in 2036 for class 4-8 trucks.

So what can be done? Well, let’s take a look at the European Union’s (EU) example, the EU provides member states a choice of decarbonization options. The Council of the EU has stated that “while the strengthened CO2 reduction targets will accelerate the uptake of ZEVs, a significant part of the stock of heavy-duty vehicles on the roads will remain internal combustion engine vehicles”. Recognizing ZEV challenges, the EU chose to raise the overall renewable energy consumption to 42.5% by 2030 across all sectors instead of a mandate for ZEVs.

The bottom line is that while we have a serious emissions problem we also need to keep freight moving. RD use decreases CO2 emissions significantly when compared to petroleum diesel. However, an across the board ZEV trucks mandate would result in higher overall CO2 emissions compared to policies and programs to increase the production and use of RD.

Considering that BEVs produce substantially more CO2 emissions over their life-cycle than do internal combustion RD, why isn’t there a bigger effort towards renewable fuels to supplement ZEVs? Shouldn’t all CO2 emissions be considered – not just at the tailpipe?

$5,000,000 Minimum Liability Insurance Proposed

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

H.R.6884 Fair Compensation for Truck Crash Victims Act is a bill that attempts to raise the existing minimum insurance requirements for commercial truckers from $750,000 to $5 million.

H.R.6884 was referred to and introduced into the House of Representatives on December 22 by Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.). This is the third such attempt at increasing liability minimums by the Representative. Garcia believes current minimums are not adequate to cover today’s medical costs and potential losses from serious crashes. The $5 million figure would also be indexed for inflation.
Numerous crash studies over the years have placed the majority of fault (up to 91%) on the four-wheeling public yet a minimum insurance increase is only being considered for commercial carriers. Every crash, every fatality and every injury is a tragedy, but laying blame, guilt and burden solely on motor carriers does not seem to fit the bill. There is no data to corroborate that raising minimums would improve safety as the Representative claims it would.
According to a researcher at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, “The actions of other vehicles on the road contribute substantially to the toll. Even if all trucks were operated perfectly, only a minority of the fatal crashes would be eliminated.”

More than one study by the Department of Transportation acknowledges the disparity in fault between commercial trucks and the motoring public and went as far as listing the unsafe driving acts of those car drivers in the study, here are the top 10:

  1. Driving inattentively (e.g., reading, talking on the phone, fatigue-induced)
  2. Merging improperly into traffic, causing a truck to maneuver or brake quickly
  3. Failure to stop for a stop sign or light (also, early or late through a signal)
  4. Failure to slow down in a construction zone
  5. Unsafe speed (e.g., approaching too fast from the rear/misjudging truck’s speed)
  6. Following too closely
  7. Failure to slow down in response to environmental conditions (e.g., fog, rain, smoke, bright sun)
  8. Changing lanes abruptly in front of a truck
  9. Driving in the “no zones” (left rear quarter, right front quarter, and directly behind)
  10. Unsafe turning, primarily insufficient headway

In 2020, instead of a standalone bill, Garcia added a provision as part of the highway bill that would have increased insurance minimums. That provision was supported by Democrats in the House but ultimately failed in the Senate. Truckers are urged to stay vigilant on this issue and let their voices be heard by contacting their lawmakers and encouraging them to oppose Garcia’s bill.
We will keep you posted if/when this bill moves at all. Source: H.R.6884

Biden to sign executive order to thwart cyber attacks at the nation’s ports

President Biden is set to sign an executive order that looks to bolster the Department of Homeland Security’s authority to address maritime cyber threats which can cause just as much, if not more, damage than a storm or another physical threat.

The Coast Guard will also issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish minimum cybersecurity requirements that meet international and industry-recognized standards to best manage cyber threats.

“There’s a reason that we not only are issuing cybersecurity minimum requirements for ports, but also putting in place a maritime directive focused on cyber risk management for ship-to-shore cranes manufactured by China.” That was a comment from Anne Neuberger, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technologies.

Chinese-manufactured ship-to-shore cranes make up the largest share of the global market and account for nearly 80% (nearly 200) of cranes at U.S. ports. By design, these cranes may be controlled, serviced, and programmed from remote locations. These features potentially leave Chinese-manufactured cranes vulnerable to exploitation.

In July last year, one of Japan’s largest ports, the port of Nagoya, fell victim to a cyber attack which caused a massive system failure and disrupted operations at container terminals in the port.

According to Neuberger, the Biden administration has been working on this notice of proposed rulemaking and executive order for the last 18 months. Additionally, she said that while it certainly ties to particular concerns about Chinese cyber activity, they also have concerns regarding criminal activity.

Dash Cam Defense

Over the past decade, litigation targeting the trucking industry has skyrocketed. Motorists involved in crashes with big rig trucks are being conditioned by law firms through continuous advertising to sue those carriers for big payouts. Sadly, this is happening regardless of fault, damages or injury.

Dash Cam Defense

 

When involved in a crash one of the ways trucking operations are helping to shield themselves from unwarranted liability is by installing dash cameras in their vehicles. This is a trend that is gaining a lot of popularity as litigation becomes a more routine part of the claims handling process. Some insurance companies are even surveying their insureds for a partnership to have those cameras installed.

 

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) reports that large verdicts against trucking fleets continue to increase dramatically, both in number and in size of awards. Research conducted over 13 years of data reveals that in the first five years of that data (600 cases between 2006 and 2019), there were 26 cases settled for over

$1 million, and in the last five years, there were nearly 300 cases. Considering that just one bad crash can jeopardize a company’s future, carriers must take extra steps to (at the minimum) defend their driver’s actions behind the wheel. This must include vehicle maintenance and driver selection.

Example scenario: Over the past summer, one of our clients was traveling through an intersection and collided with a motorist and their family turning left in front of him. The initial charge was made against the truck driver placing blame solely on him for speeding through the intersection.

In this particular case, our client’s vehicle was not equipped with a dash camera. However, the determined minds of the claims staff including the driver decided to approach surrounding businesses for any video cameras they may have had rolling at the time of the crash. Fortunately for our client, one business owner’s camera captured the entire incident and thankfully they were willing to share that video. The video evidence along with data from the truck’s engine control module validated the driver’s innocence and showed the driver of the other vehicle making a poor choice that led to the crash.
Without this evidence, attorneys likely would have scoured his record looking for any missed maintenance, prior crashes, citations, criminal history, etc in an effort to paint an irresponsible and reckless monster behind the wheel. They would then point their attention at the company that hired this “irresponsible” driver and add them to the lawsuit.

As you might imagine, this is not a situation anyone would want to be in. Still, it happens frequently and truckers need to be prepared. We highly recommend installing dash cameras in your vehicle(s). Additionally, companies need to adhere to strict maintenance schedules, make necessary repairs, and vet drivers before putting them in a position of power behind the wheel. It is advisable to conduct regular driver meetings to discuss trends, expectations, what-to-dos and incentives. Reach out to us if we can be of assistance.

What’s at stake with who you’re hiring

Our claims professionals are always looking out for the best interests of all parties along the insurance process. While the following issue has not risen to the status of a claims trend, it is alarming due to the potential for a nuclear verdict.

Knowing what’s at stake by hiring a driver to work for you is something both you and your insurance professional should have discussed. However, when a carrier goes against the advice of that professional and/or operates contrary to the stipulations in their insurance contract, they are creating additional exposure that could lead to a claim of negligence.

A claim for negligent entrustment arises when one party is held liable for negligently giving someone else a “dangerous instrumentality” with which that person causes injury to a third party. This could be interpreted as an employer entrusting a driver with a vehicle with which that driver isn’t operating responsibly. It could also be interpreted as an employer allowing a driver to operate their vehicle that the driver is not qualified to operate.

A claim for negligent hiring arises when an employer knew or should have known of an employee’s potential risk to cause harm, or if the risk would have been discovered by a reasonable investigation.

Please review the scenarios below that could be labeled as irresponsible and create unnecessary exposure.

• Do you have drivers (often part-time) delivering your loads that your insurance company does not know about? You should be notifying your insurance agent about all your drivers. Your agent knows your policy better than you and if there is an issue with that driver or the policy, they will notify you of the risk or help to deal with that exposure.
• Are your drivers allowing passengers to ride along in their vehicle during on-duty time? Many commercial insurance policies have exclusions for passengers, most notably family members. If you’re not sure, ask your agent before allowing passengers and instruct your drivers accordingly.
• Do your drivers have the proper license type to operate your vehicles and is it valid? Obtaining MVRs at least annually for your drivers is a legal requirement to stay compliant with FMCSA guidelines. However, anything can change within a year, and verifying the validity of those licenses periodically is just good business practice. Drivers don’t always self-update with changes.
• Are your driver’s medical cards current? This is something to stay on top of. Should your driver have a medical event while driving that would have excluded them from being behind the wheel, you could have a claim that will quickly escalate.

You and your insurance professionals are on the same team and need to be on the same page with your operational exposure. If you are ever in doubt about coverage, don’t just chance it, give them a call.

Latest Claims Trends

It is our intent to regularly inform you of trending claims affecting our insureds. Having examined our most recent claims data, our analysts have detected two trends that need attention.

First, our claims handlers have been receiving claims where other vehicles have been crashing into our insured’s vehicles. Secondly, rear-end crashes persist as a chronic claim.

In situations where another vehicle collides with yours, it is imperative that you document as much about the crash as possible. Due in large part to a trucker’s liability limits being significantly higher than 4-wheel motorists, the industry is under assault by fraudulent individuals/groups and attorneys dedicated towards acquiring and litigating trucker claims regardless of fault.

In documenting the scene, you should be photographing all angles of the crash including the area of impact. Be sure to photograph signs, license plates of vehicles involved, the intersection, and skid marks. Try to do this while maintaining relativity to the crash area. Additionally, seek out names and numbers of any witnesses and be sure to take time to write down your account of the incident.

With respect to rear-end crashes, these crashes are chronic and should continue as a hot topic discussion at driver meetings. Below are some tips to reducing this type of crash.

If you are in a rush, you will likely be driving too fast for conditions or too close to be able to stop in time to avoid a collision. Maintain space between you and the vehicle ahead of you. A 3-second cushion should be minimum at higher speeds. Maintaining this cushion is very important due to motorists merging unexpectedly and braking quickly.

Distractions can take your attention from the road. A loaded semi traveling at 60 mph will travel 88 feet per second and need roughly 500ft to fully stop. At that same speed a 4-wheel motorist can stop in around 200ft. Minimize your distractions and keep focused on the road.

Hit & Run – was it you

We have coached you before that when you are involved in a crash, safely pull over to evaluate and secure the scene, exchange information and take photographs. But what if you didn’t know you were involved in a crash.
Driving an 80,000 lb tractor trailer combination on today’s busy roads is a challenging task. So much so, it requires a licensed professional to do so – even then accidents happen. So what should you do if after a couple miles you are pulled over and told you were involved in a crash that you have no knowledge of. Not only involved, but now are being accused of leaving the scene of an accident.
Believe it or not it’s not so uncommon of an occurrence where a truck clips something like a tree, fence or even a vehicle without knowing – especially when turning. For me, having an office on the 3rd floor near a freeway where big trucks frequent is an awakening experience. You regularly feel the rumble of the truck’s mass and weight coming down the street followed by the jarring sounds of the trailers lifting and falling back onto their couplers.
Being inside the cab with that going on can certainly mask an event as mentioned above. Being accused of leaving the scene of an accident is very serious. Being convicted of that is far worse. Hit and Run involving property damage or injury/death can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the seriousness of the circumstances involved. A conviction of a hit and run is an automatic one year disqualification of your commercial operating license for the first offence and disqualification for life for a second offence.
If you receive a ticket for leaving the scene, you’re going to need counsel and you will likely appear before a judge. The ticket is the driver license side of things, but there is also a criminal side that deals with intent.
The general standard for intent is, did you or did you not know that you hit something and left the scene and/or should you have known that you hit something being a professional driver with your experience, your particular vehicle and load.
Evidence helps. Just because you are accused of being involved in a crash, doesn’t mean you were. Inspect your truck for any markings/damage consistent with what is being alleged and always take pictures. In one case, our insured was able to provide his load ticket and GPS tracking for the day in question which proved he wasn’t in the area at the time of the crash. So taking note of the time can be very important.
The bottom line is that any time you notice something abnormal, you should make an effort to check it out. It may be nothing or there could be an issue with your vehicle that could create a bad situation or worse. The point is not to dismiss a potential warning sign. Like the Boy Scout motto reads “Be Prepared” and their slogan that reads “Do a good turn daily”. For you drivers, those daily turns are very important.

AB5 – SCOTUS says no review

June 30 – The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to
hear the California Trucking Association’s (CTA)
appeal of California’s Independent Contract rule
(AB5) a California state law aimed at reclassifying
owner-operators as motor carrier employees. This
means that California’s AB5 law, which would
eliminate the traditional subhaul model is expected
to take effect by July 7. Work stoppages at ports
across the state have been planned by truckers in
protest of the bill.
It is unclear how/if AB5 will impact out-of-state
truckers doing business in California. However,
the CTA believes it will have a meaningful impact
as noted in its brief to the Supreme Court: AB5
applies to all drivers while operating in California
including those from out-of-state. Accordingly,
AB5 would require all carriers and their drivers to
comply with California’s laws for employees. AB5
therefore would obligate carriers to either — use
an employee driver for the entire trip (even if the
driver could lawfully operate as an owner-operator
in other states) or — incur the expense and delay
of transferring the freight to a truck driven by an
employee when the freight enters California or to
a truck owned by an owner-operator when the
freight leaves California. The government makes
no attempt to explain how this problem could be
addressed.
The CTA is seeking a new injunction and is
currently assessing its position in obtaining a
determination that AB5 is preempted under the
Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act.
The association believes that it will take some
months to come up with an effective strategy.
A trial attorney for the CTA (Bob Roginson) recalled
how Uber and Lyft were initially made example
of when AB5 first came out. Roginson expects
a similar move from the state with prominent
trucking companies now that the injunction is
lifted.
Because of the litigious environment in California,
all motor carriers need to mitigate risk by
immediately evaluating their operating models in
the state. We are monitoring the situation and will
update as things progress.

California AB5 Update

The California Trucking Association’s case against California’s Independent Contract rule (AB5) has taken a big hit.

In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 to remove the current preliminary injunction against AB5. Following that ruling, the Association filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, instead of making a decision to hear the case, asked the U.S. Solicitor General to weigh in. After months of silence, the Solicitor General has returned with the conclusion that AB5 would not have a significant impact on prices, routes or services and that further review is unwarranted.

This is not just a California issue. As noted in CTA’s brief to the Supreme Court: AB-5 applies to all drivers while operating in California including those from out-of-state. Accordingly, AB-5 would require all carriers and their drivers to comply with California’s laws for employees. AB-5 therefore would obligate carriers to either — use an employee driver for the entire trip (even if the driver could lawfully operate as an owner-operator in other states) or — incur the expense and delay of transferring the freight to a truck driven by an employee when the freight enters California or to a truck owned by an owner-operator when the freight leaves California. The government makes no attempt to explain how this problem could be addressed.

It is unclear whether or not the Supreme Court will still hear the case or take the advice of the Solicitor General and let the Ninth Circuit’s ruling stand. If the Supreme Court denies review, AB5 will be implemented in the state’s trucking sector immediately. Should the Supreme Court choose to review the case, there is no timeline for completion.

Summer adjournment is at the end of June, but there is no guarantee that the court will make a decision by that time. In that case, a decision would carryover into the next court session which begins in October.

FMCSA Proposes Rule for Speed Limiters

Comment period extended to July 18

The FMCSA is intent on implementing a speed limiter rulemaking. The proposed rule targets motor carriers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 26,001 pounds or more, whichever is greater, that are equipped with an electronic engine control unit (ECU) capable of governing the maximum speed. The rule states that those CMVs be required to limit their speed (to be determined by the rulemaking) and to maintain that ECU setting for the service life of the vehicle. With this notice of intent, FMCSA requests public comments and data regarding the adjustment or reprogramming of ECUs. The comment period has been extended through July 18. Let your voice be heard. Visit the proposed rule here or visit the Federal Register at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/05/04/2022-09443/parts-and-accessories-necessary-for-safe-operations-speed-limiting-devices.