FreightWavesTV saw resounding success in 2020. Amid the chaos and concerns that stirred the industry throughout the year, FreightWaves’ analysts and on-air talent quickly became a beacon of information and insight for logistics providers, offering clarity for those facing great uncertainty.
One of the network’s most prominent programs is Fuller Speed Ahead. Hosted by FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller, the show provides exclusive interviews with prominent and intriguing figures from across the freight landscape. Each episode drives thought leadership and provides insightful commentary through firsthand, unadulterated discussions between Fuller and each guest.
As we wave goodbye to 2020, FreightWaves takes a look back at some of our favorite interviews of the year.
Taylor & Associates transportation lawyer Kristen Johnson shared her thoughts on the largest nuclear verdict ever against a single trucking defendant and the steps trucking companies should take to avoid a similar result.
In October, Top Auto Express Trucking Co. was slapped with a $411 million verdict for damages stemming from a 2018 accident involving a motorcyclist. The ensuing crash occured when one of the carrier’s semi-trucks jackknifed after trying to avoid a collision, resulting in an 18-vehicle pileup and eight hospitalizations.
The plaintiff’s attorney asserted that the motorcycle rider sustained severe, life-threatening injuries after being thrown from the motorcycle when he struck a stopped vehicle in the emergency lane that had no lights on. The motorcyclist claimed he rode onto the median to avoid the pileup.
Things went downhill fast in the courtroom as Johnson reasoned that a default judgment was made against Top Auto Express as the judge called for “severe sanctions for abandoning the case.” The Pembroke Pines, Florida-based trucking company ultimately represented itself, as its lawyers had previously withdrawn from the case.
“They actually had a finding of liability because they failed to cooperate and did not respond over the course of the litigation. Ultimately, plaintiff’s counsel moved for a default judgment against this particular trucking company,” Johnson said.
“The $411 million will never be collected in its entirety but it’s interesting that there’s really no limit on what the jury can do as they obviously had free rein to come up with that number. As an award, it’s essentially meaningless for collection but it may have some other meaning for plaintiffs down the road that want that big of a number.”
The vacuous void of space is ripe for business and investment opportunities, according to Robert Jacobson, author of “Space is Open for Business.” He believes that advancements made in low-Earth orbit, including life sciences and microgravity research in addition to launching 5G satellites, has sparked an interest in searching beyond the stratosphere for life solutions.
“We’re developing a core infrastructure like spaceports, launch facilities, new satellite infrastructure, new types of satellites,” Jacobson said. “As we’re building up this core infrastructure, that will allow the applications developers to create new businesses and new tools that will be useful for us here on Earth and in the space ecosystem.”
Johnson also noted that investments in deep space endeavors have sparked the development of engines that are reusable and can restart as well as lunar mining. He referenced Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin, which is building landers that aim to land cargo on the moon.
“Start looking at where are the gaps. There could be a space segment that could help fill that,” Jacobson said.
Ellen Voie, CEO and president of the Women in Trucking Association, spotlighted the industry’s growing number of female drivers as well as the best practices for attracting women inside a male-dominated environment.
“Women look at the trucking industry and don’t picture themselves in it,” Voie said. “We’ve struck a nerve in this industry and I want to be the disruptor. I want us to come out and say, ‘This is how we can make a more female-friendly work environment for everyone.’ I think the industry is willing to listen.”
The Women in Trucking Association is a nonprofit organization that encourages the employment of women in trucking, celebrates their accomplishments and minimizes the obstacles women face in the industry. Voie proudly stated that the 13-year-old association has accumulated 5,500 members across 10 different countries.
Voie urges transportation executives to be aware of possible unconscious male-oriented bias around the workplace as existing hierarchies and power structures may limit opportunities for women. She also suggests that social media advertising showcasing women and their passion for trucking can be very effective.
Baton’s mission is to eliminate wasted time in trucking through its streamlined, tech-enabled pickup and delivery (P&D) platform. The San Francisco-based company’s elastic model of on-demand capacity aims to crack down on detention — a dreaded time when trailers aren’t moving and carriers aren’t making money.
Andrew Berberick, co-founder of Baton, pointed out the industry’s huge waste: detention — otherwise known as ”dwell hell,” dwell in transit and inter-appointment dwell — the time in which a driver waits for his backhaul.
Using Baton, carriers can drop off and pick up loads through a nationwide network of drop zones. While long-haul drivers are off with another shipment, Baton’s network of local drivers handles the final mile of delivery.
“Baton operates a tech-enabled network of drop zones that we’ve placed in and around major metropolitan areas,” Berberick said. “Large carriers operate this model in areas where they have high freight density. In fact, we’re able to expand their footprint and help grow market share. By building density with the large carriers, we can democratize the model for the smaller guys.”
Full disclosure: Craig Fuller is an adviser to Baton.
The ultimate goal of self-driving truck company Plus is to make autonomous trucking a reality. Founded in 2016, the Cupertino, California-based company has developed an advanced autonomous driving system for the implementation of large-scale driverless commercial freight transport.
“We think that there is a tremendous potential in the autonomous vehicle space to improve safety, reduce costs, reduce CO2 emissions and just drive overall economic efficiency,” said Shawn Kerrigan, Plus co-founder and chief operating officer.
As reported earlier by FreightWaves, Plus completed a commercial freight cross-country trip from California to Pennsylvania in December 2019 using a Level 4 autonomous truck for Land O’Lakes in just three days. A licensed driver and safety engineer were on board for the trip.
Level 4, otherwise known as high automation, is considered to be fully autonomous driving, although human override is still possible.
Kerrigan considers 2024 to be the year when the industry can realistically expect to see Level 4 autonomous vehicles roaming the highways.
“It’s a function of when the original equipment manufacturers are ready and the Tier 1 components you need are ready and the regulatory pieces are ready and so on,” Kerrigan said. “So there’s a lot of different things that need to line up for that to happen. But I think that the types of time frames that we’re seeing is probably around 2024 to start to see some initial operation in Level 4.”
Although based in the United States, Kerrigan said that Plus will roll out its first product in China through its partnership with Chinese truck maker FAW Jiefang.