Welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? newsletter. In this issue, new bill looks to raise insurance coverage by 556%, pallet shortages, Germany goes driverless and more.
H.R. 2687 — On April 20, U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García reintroduced a bill that would raise insurance requirements for motor carriers from $750,000 to $4.92 million and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is not happy about it. OOIDA took to Facebook Monday, pleading with truckers to take action against the proposed 556% increase in coverage.
The case for — Garcia argues that the Insurance Act is necessary as the minimum insurance requirement has not been increased since 1980. In June of last year, when House lawmakers voted to increase insurance minimums to $2 million, proponents of the amendment argued that the current insurance liability requirement does not adequately compensate victims of accidents involving large trucks. That bill died in the Senate.
“It should come as no surprise that Rep. García is working with his trial lawyer allies to exponentially boost current insurance levels, as they typically receive 30-40% of a settlement against a motor carrier.” — OOIDA on Facebook
The case against — Last year, when the amendment to increase insurance coverage to $2 million was introduced, OOIDA laid out its case against the bill. “This amendment will do absolutely nothing to improve safety on our highways,” Todd Spencer, president and CEO of OOIDA, said in a statement. “What this proposal will do is destroy small trucking businesses in every corner of the country.” The lobbying group also points out that current minimum insurance requirements already cover 99.4% of crashes involving trucks.
Poison pill — While arguments fly as to why Garcia decided to reintroduce a bill at $4.92 million when an amendment calling for a $2 million coverage hike failed last year, OOIDA isn’t waiting around to hear it. Land Line reports OOIDA is working with a coalition of about 60 organizations from the agriculture, manufacturing, materials and towing industries to oppose a minimum insurance increase of any kind. Facebook user Bob Johnson wasn’t pulling any punches: “I’d like to be able to understand his logic for the increase from 750k to exactly 4.92 million, other than making lawyers richer.”
Pallet prices jacked
Up 400% — Another week, another shortage. Are you starting to get the feeling supply chains are interconnected? The latest victim of the great restocking is the very backbone of cargo: the humble pallet. ISM currently lists wood for pallets and wood pallets both as commodities in short supply and increasing in cost. Remember that lumber shortage? Pallet manufacturers are competing with housing and other industries for the same raw materials to make new pallets, which is driving prices up even further. Retail and grocery restocking has also put existing pallets out of position, creating further imbalances. While plastic pallets are an option, of the 1.8 billion pallets currently in use, 93% are made from wood.
Driverless vehicles approved on public roads … in Germany
Ghost ride the whip — A bill that passed last week will pave the way for driverless vehicles on German roads in ’22. TechCrunch reports that included in the bill are possible initial applications for self-driving cars, such as public passenger transport, business and supply trips, and logistics and delivery. For vehicles to qualify under the legislation, they need to adhere to Level 4 autonomy. That basically means that vehicles can drive on their own without human intervention. However, their uses are limited to specific parameters. What makes Germany’s bill unique is that it is the furthest toward integrating driverless vehicles with regular traffic.
“There are some companies that I would consider traditional underwriters who are developing a new practice around insuring autonomous vehicles.” — Jason Palmer, general manager of Transportation Intelligence at Omnitracs
Speaking of insurance — FreightWaves’ Alan Adler reports that autonomous trucking software developer TuSimple and Liberty Mutual insurance are working together to figure out how to insure a truck without a meat sack behind the wheel. How exactly underwriters will determine the risk level of an autonomous truck vs. a traditional one remains to be determined.
Close call in Kittery
Bottle crash — Last Sunday at approximately 4:09 a.m., Eric Morris, 65, of Portland, Maine, fell asleep at the wheel, striking a guardrail on I-95 in Kittery. Seacoastonline reports that the tractor-trailer rolled over into the center median guardrail before becoming engulfed in flames. Morris was able to escape the truck of his own accord. He was sent to Portsmouth Regional Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Ironically, he was hauling a load of Poland Spring Water.
Don’t call it a comeback
Where were you in 2004? — “Shrek 2,” “The Passion of the Christ,” Outkast’s “Hey Ya!,” Maroon 5, Motorola’s RAZR and emo weren’t the only things raging 17 years ago. That’s also the last time the Brood X cicadas emerged from the Earth. Now it’s mating season and the male cicada is singing his song of love to attract a mate. However, residents in Georgia are bugging out over it and so are emergency responders.
Loud like love — How harmful could a swarm of nature’s little slackers be? Up to 120 decibels, according to officials. That’s as loud as a rock concert! But how do they do it? According to the Baltimore Sun, “Cicada songs begin inside a pair of drumlike organs — tymbals — on either side of the male insect’s abdomen. When the cicada wants to sing, it tenses a muscle attached to each tymbal, distorting the structure much the way a soda can dents when poked with a finger.”
I’m calling the cops — Although many communities have noise ordinances that make volumes above 85 decibels illegal, how are you going to find handcuffs small enough to arrest an insect, let alone a massive swarm of them? Now, officials in Georgia are pleading with locals to stop calling 911 on the creatures. Entomologist May Berenbaum reminded The Guardian that mosquitoes kill far more people than any other animal, including cicadas.
Nuts and popcorn — Those who have ventured a taste of what Brood X offers claim cicadas have notes of nuts and the finish of popcorn. According to Wired, a New Haven, Connecticut–based chef renowned for pioneering sustainable sushi, Bun Lai is creating a pop-up dining experience around them. He sees them as a free-range, eco-friendly protein and plans to serve them in a paella, on a pizza and as a sushi ingredient. Personally, I think I’ll just get ear plugs.
This week on Insiders
Thursday — On this episode of FreightWaves Insiders, I’m catching up with Embedded Ventures co-founder and CEO/General Partner Jenna Bryant. We’re talking about how venture capital works, what’s investible in supply chain, how to get ahead in a world that’s only 4% female and more.
Catch FreightWaves Insiders when it airs on FreightWavesTV every Thursday at 3:30 p.m. ET or listen on demand on your favorite podcast player by following FreightWaves Insiders.
WTT?!? this week
Wednesday — Driver recruiting and retention with Max Farrell, CEO of WorkHound, Robert Moffitt, EVP and director of operations at Legend Transportation, Charles Gracey, president of Hot Seat Services, and Krenar Komoni, CEO of Tive.
Friday — NASA lands on the show as Cliff Lanham and Lili Villareal share with us the logistics behind moving some of the largest and most delicate instruments on and off our planet: rockets!
Now on demand
Mental health on the move
Nuclear verdicts and weapons
Why this Brooklyn Net invested in trucking
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