According to SensiGuard’s quarterly cargo theft analysis, cargo theft is on the rise in value and in volume. In Q1 of 2019, 144 cargo thefts were reported across the U.S. These thefts averaged a value of $116,717 per theft, with one theft valuing at over $1 million. SensiGuard states that these recorded thefts represent a one percent increase in value and a 25 percent increase in cargo theft volume from Q1 of 2018. The report also states that the most targeted freight for theft is categorized as “miscellaneous freight.” Mainly consisting of mixed load shipments on their way to big box stores across the country, this miscellaneous freight and electronics have the two most reported thefts.
The rise in cargo theft means that it is more important than ever to keep packages safe and secure while on the road, at truck stops, and in parking lots. Here are a few ways to keep cargo thieves at bay.
Keep Drop Off Locations Private
It may seem harmless to mention your drop off locations to family or friends. You may even do so as an added safety precaution or to give your loved ones peace of mind. However, if this information falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to compromised cargo. Cargo thieves may be targeting you through CB correspondence, social media, or even casual conversations at a truck stop. To ensure thieves are unable to trace you, be sure to keep your drop off location as private as possible.
Use Tracking Technology
While it isn’t a good idea to mention your drop off locations on social media or messenger apps, using technology is a great way to keep track of your truck in the event of a theft. There are a variety of tools available to track your truck and pinpoint its location using GPS. Geofencing apps that send a security alarm if a truck is traveling outside its given route is another great option for truckers. It is even possible to utilize immobilization technology to disable your truck until it is found.
Don’t Forget Low-Tech Devices
Padlocks, king pin locks, huck bolts, glad hand locks and seals, and air brake valves are all great low-tech ways to keep your truck and cargo safe while in route. These devices can help prevent thieves from breaking into your truck and can even work as a deterrent to stop them from trying in the first place.
Know When and Where to be Alert
As a trucker, it is important to always be aware of your surroundings. This means to stay alert and notice when you are being followed. It is also important to know when and where most crimes take place. According to Overdrive, most truck theft crimes happen on the weekend. In fact, Friday is the most common day to experience truck or cargo theft. Additionally, Georgia, California, Florida, and New Jersey experience the most cargo thefts each year, with California having the highest theft rates in the country.
Practice Safety in Parking Lots
Even when parked, it is important to stay aware of your surroundings. When in a parking lot, be sure to always keep the truck locked and in a well-lit, secure area. Even when you are out of your truck, be aware of who is around and who seems to be paying attention to your truck. Additionally, make sure you are not being followed when you exit a facility to walk back to your truck.
Perform Thorough Background Checks
Because inside cargo theft is a growing concern in the trucking industry, it is important for freight owners and employers to perform thorough screenings and background checks on all potential employees. This should especially include a full criminal record check. This can help employers lower their chances of inside cargo theft and make sure to hire honest employees.
Follow the 200-Mile Rule
Since thieves are known to follow a load as it is leaving the yard, it is important to follow the 200-mile rule. This rule encourages drivers to wait at least 200 miles before stopping for fuel, food, or breaks after picking up cargo. Many thieves expect trucks to make an early stop and will follow nearby, so waiting at least 200 miles will lower the risk of theft at your first stop.
The Trucker’s Safety Comes First
Even with cargo theft on the rise across the country, it is an avoidable crime. By following training procedures and being cautious on the road, you can deliver your cargo to its destination safely each time. However, it is important to remember that the driver’s safety is the top priority on every route. When it comes to protecting cargo, no trucker should be expected or feel obligated to protect the shipment over themselves.
Whether it is the first or twelfth time, deciding to purchase a semi-truck is a big decision for any owner operator. There are things you’ll want to make sure you learn about the truck itself, the previous owner, and information you’ll need to gather to apply for a loan.
Find out some important things to consider when searching for your next commercial vehicle.
Consider the Costs
When considering what type of semi-truck to purchase, wise owner operators will analyze the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). This calculation will include the cost of the truck throughout the entire time you plan on owning it, which includes considering the price of purchase, maintenance, warranty, fuel, insurance, downtime, as well as resale value. Taking the time to analyze TCO will give you a better understanding of how much a certain truck will cost in the long run, and it will also allow you to compare different trucks more critically. For example, one truck may cost less upfront but that does not mean it will be cheaper in the long run.
Apart from TCO, there are other “soft” costs to consider when choosing your truck. It is important to consider safety, connectivity, comfort, and other features of the truck that are harder to calculate into a dollar value.
Be Sure to Ask Questions
When buying a used truck, if it often difficult to remember all of the right questions to ask the previous owner. By not asking all questions prior to purchase, you run the risk of the truck experiencing unexpected problems later on. To ensure that the truck is in proper shape, it is important to ask for the following information:
- How often did the previous owner change the oil?
- Are copies of the truck’s maintenance records available?
- Who did the truck’s maintenance?
- What is the condition of the tires’ tread depth?
- What is the engine’s history and have there ever been any issues?
- What is the state of the drivetrain, rear-ends, wiring, suspension, and transmission?
- Have samples of the oil from the engine and transmission been analyzed?
Make Sure You Qualify for a Loan
Purchasing a commercial vehicle is not something to do on a whim. It is important to be sure you know where you stand financially and have the necessary documents in order before you try to apply for a commercial vehicle loan. Here are four questions to ask yourself when considering applying for a loan:
Do you have at least three years of verifiable driving experience?
Commercial lending companies often require drivers to have at least 2-3 years of CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) experience before acquiring a loan. Loans often come with lower contract rates for drivers with more experience.
Have you set aside funds for your down payment?
Most loans will require a down payment of at least 20 percent. However, this can also vary due to credit score, credit history, or other variables.
Do you have a co-signer?
Not everyone needs a co-signer or co-applicant to acquire financing for their next truck. However, those with negative marks on their credit will have an easier time getting approved if they sign with someone with good credit who also has a Commercial Driver’s License.
Have I gathered the other necessary stipulations for truck financing?
Every financing company will have a list of required stipulations you must provide to get approved for a loan. These typically include references, bank statements, and proof of insurance. Once you have found the truck you wish to purchase, you will also be required to provide a written quote, which typically includes the price, photos, title and vehicle registration, and other truck-specific stipulations.
Choose the Right Semi-Truck
If you can answer “yes” to these four questions, you are well on your way to obtaining your perfect truck. Purchasing a new or used semi-truck is an exciting time that can even help advance your trucking career. However, without proper attention to detail, you run the risk of not acquiring the necessary financing in time and missing out on the truck you really wanted. By taking these things into consideration and using them for future purchases, you will easily be able to find quality vehicles for years to come.
Greenhouse gas and carbon emissions are becoming more and more of an issue across the country. Fuel emissions from vehicles account for a large percentage of air pollution that occurs in the U.S. In fact, in California, 37 percent of greenhouse gas and criteria emissions come from commercial trucks and buses. Additionally, a fifth of all emissions in the state come from diesel fuel.
Across the country, the federal, state and local governments are creating initiatives to promote cleaner air for everyone and the planet. These projects involve everything from setting higher standards for technology, to providing incentives and grants to drivers.
California Initiatives to Reduce Emissions
California is leading the way in creating clean-air initiatives that work to minimize the pollution released into the air from cars, commercial vehicles, and other sources. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is California’s primary agency committed to protecting public health from the negative effects of air pollution. This organization works throughout 35 local air pollution control districts. It also leads the state in addressing worldwide climate change issues.
In 2012, CARB released the landmark Truck and Bus Regulation, which called for commercial trucks, including semi-trucks and buses, to be upgraded and replaced over time with less-polluting trucks throughout the state. This is because these high-polluting trucks are responsible for 90 percent of diesel pollution and 80 percent of smog-forming pollution. CARB hopes that in 2023, California’s trucks and busses will be 90 percent cleaner than in the year 2000.
Getting enough low-emission commercial trucks becomes a challenge due to the high cost of these new trucks. Since many are still in testing phases and supply is low, the cost of these vehicles is out of reach for many freight owners. To help with the cost of upgrading to a cleaner truck and reach their goal of getting as many low-emission commercial trucks on the road as possible, The California Air Resources Board has launched the California Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP). This program allows truckers and fleet owners in California to invest in low-carbon electric trucks faster than would be possible otherwise.
What is the HVIP Project?
HVIP is a unique program that hopes to replace traditional trucks and buses with low-carbon hybrid and electric commercial vehicles quickly by offering vouchers to qualifying freight owners. Because the largest barrier most freight owners face when it comes to supplying their drivers with updated, low-emission vehicles is the high price of these trucks, this program could greatly benefit them. With the help of a grant, owner operators can start making less of an environmental impact sooner rather than later.
As of 2019, HVIP has been able to replace more than 3,500 medium- to heavy-duty commercial vehicles. This has led to a 30 percent growth in the nation’s early market of zero-emission and hybrid vehicles. It has also helped create jobs, increase the demand for these technologies, and advance the zero-emission truck industry.
Clean Air Action Plan Technology Advancement Program
Another initiative aimed at progressing technology faster in hopes of sustaining the environment is the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan Technology Advancement Program (TAP). This initiative, based out of Long Beach and Los Angeles, is committed to encouraging the development of emission-reducing technology and getting that technology to the port market as fast as possible. They work closely with developers and port industry partners to help test, commercialize, and promote the widespread adoption of technology that will help keep the air clean at ports around the world.
Early Adopter Truck Incentive Program
The Port of Long Beach as well as the Port of Los Angeles are expanding their initiative to help get truckers behind the wheel of less-polluting rigs by giving dozens of truckers up to $100,000 each to upgrade their trucks. Known as the Early Adopter Truck Incentive Program, this concept has earmarked $14 million to help pay for new, lower emission, natural gas-powered trucks. To receive funding through this program, truckers would have to be members of the ports’ truck registry, and they would have to agree to scrap their existing truck.
Promoting a Healthier Planet
The future of trucking looks bright thanks to advancements in AI technology, the rise of electric trucks, and environmental initiatives that help to improve these commercial vehicles as well as the planet. Because of HVIP, TAP and similar programs, we can expect more fuel-efficient, responsible trucks on the road, which means owner operators and other drivers are safer than ever before. And since these new trucks are producing fewer emissions, citizens of California are able to breathe easier and create a better world for future generations. Hopefully, the combination of government initiatives and advancements in technology will be enough to preserve the planet.