Ford introduces new F-600, Transit

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Ford announced at the Work Truck Show a new F-600 Super Duty chassis cab. The Class 5 truck has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 22,000 lbs and rounds out Ford’s commercial vehicle line, which has been completely revamped.

The product line revamp began 13 months ago and included updates to the Transit, Super Duty chassis cab, medium-duty trucks and E-Series. Ford claims to be the only full line manufacturer of Classes 1-7 commercial vehicles.

“The updates we’re announcing today were driven by our customers’ focus on improving safety, reducing cost, and increasing uptime and productivity,” said Mark Buzzell, director of fleet, lease and remarketing operations with Ford. “Giving our customers the freshest lineup plus driver-assist technologies and connectivity is a great example of Ford delivering smart vehicles for a smart world.”

New driver assist technologies include automatic emergency braking, which is standard in the 2020 Transit and 2019 Transit Connect, and available as an option in the remainder of Ford’s commercial vehicles.

Also new is a 7.3-liter V8 gasoline engine, which is available in the Super Duty chassis cab, F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks, and the E-Series, F-53 and F-59 stripped chassis.

Ford says the new engine delivers more torque and power than the 6.8-liter V10 engine it replaces.

The new F-600 is designed for customers who need to mount heavier upfits but don’t want to move into a larger Class 6 truck. The company said it falls between the F-550 and F-650. It is sized like the F-550 but has an upgraded driveline and chassis components, as well as higher-weight-rated 19.5-inch tires and wheels. It will be available for order in early 2020, Ford announced, with deliveries beginning in mid-2020.

Mike Pruitt, chief engineer for Super Duty, said the F-600 is “right-sized to deliver the capability of a Class 6 truck, including a maximum GVWR of 22,000 lbs, in that familiar Class 5 Super Duty package. You don’t have to choose between a truck that doesn’t have enough payload or is simply too big.”

The 2020 Transit has been updated, and now can be ordered with two all-new engines paired with a new standard 20-speed transmission, which Ford says will offer improved fuel economy. Exterior updates include an available power sliding door for the cargo van, and three new grilles. The interior gets new fabrics, a redesigned instrument panel and available 8-inch touchscreen.

The F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks can be ordered with gas or diesel engines.

The new Transit comes with all-wheel drive, and will also see two new engines and a new 10-speed automatic transmission. New driver-assist features include automatic emergency braking.

“We integrated Transit’s new all-wheel-drive system into the vehicle design early on to ensure it does not raise the load floor or seat height, making this van configuration as easy to enter and exit as the standard rear-wheel-drive model,” said Ray Eyles, Ford Transit chief program engineer. “This is a significant benefit for commercial drivers who are in and out of their vehicles dozens of times a day.”

Tim Stoehr, general fleet marketing manager, said “the system continuously monitors and optimizes torque output and can send up to 100% to the front wheels if required.”

It also has drive modes that can adapt to mud and ruts and slippery conditions, “so a driver can tailor their all-wheel-drive system to maximize performance in the specific environment they’re in at the time,” Stoehr explained.

The new engines include a 3.5-liter PFDi V6, which is standard, and an optional 2.0L EcoBlue bi-turbo I4 diesel engine. A 3.5L EcoBoost gas engine is also available, with auto start/stop technology.

“The North American truck and van business would be a Fortune 40 company with over $7 billion in revenue,” Buzzell said, adding Ford sold more commercial vehicles last year than its closest four competitors combined. It also grew its market share by 1%.

Buzzell noted Ford is now directing 90% of its investment dollars into trucks, vans and utility vehicles.

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11,000 UPS Freight drivers may go on strike on Monday

UPS Freight could find itself without 11,000 of its truck drivers by Monday if negotiations with the Teamsters Union continue to go south.

Every five years, UPS Freight and the Teamsters Freight National Bargaining Committee, the Union representing UPS’ truck drivers, negotiate a labor contract, but this year negotiations have come to a halt. Neither side can agree on a contract, so UPS Freight drivers are threatening to go on strike if an agreement cannot be reached by Monday, November 12th.

The drivers’ demands include, higher wage increases, better pay for drivers who do dock work, less requirements for pension and vacation benefits, and restrictions on subcontracting. The strike has already been approved by members, but they say they feel it is a “last resort,” reported Business Insider.

UPS Freight Drivers have been voting on what is described as the “last, best, and final offer” UPS will make with the Teamsters since November 7th but the votes will not be counted until Sunday, November 11th, and if the majority does not agree with the contract, 11,000 UPS Freight drivers will not be showing up to work on Monday.

“It is an offer that rewards our employees with wages and benefits at the top of the industry and compensates them for their contributions to the success of the company,” UPS said of the contract.

“We are disappointed that the Freight Teamsters union leaders have chosen to announce the potential for a strike, should their members vote ‘no’ on the offer. The company has now begun discussions with UPS Freight customers to inform them of the potential for service disruption and the need to arrange alternative carriers,” they added.

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Smartway Excellence Award Given To ABF Freight

Earlier today, ArcBest carrier ABF Freight reported that the company was awarded with a 2018 Smartway Freight Carrier Excellence Award on October 29 at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition in Austin, Texas.

According to sources at ABF Freight, the 2018 Smartway Award is awarded t by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to freight carriers who demonstrate company performance that is environmentally conscious as well as actions that reduce freight emissions.

“I am proud that the EPA has recognized ABF Freight and our commitment to maintaining environmental quality,” said Judy R. McReynolds, ArcBest chairman, president and CEO. “At ABF Freight and ArcBest, we are committed to promoting a greener supply chain that minimizes our environmental impact.”

ABF Freight reports that since 2006 it has been a SmartWay partner, receiving a 2014 Smartway Excellence Award.

Sources at ABF Freight report that company has taken initiatives to conserve fuel and reduce emissions since 1976, and that the company initiated more fuel-efficient trucks beginning in 1994.

ABF Freight was reportedly chosen to receive the award alongside 40 recipients, chosen from a pool of over 3,700 company and organizations that participated in the EPA Smartway Program.

“These companies inspire others in the freight sector to invest in innovative technologies and business practices that save fuel, cut costs and protect the environment,” said Bill Wehrum, assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Air and Radiation.

More information on ABF Freight may be found at the company’s site.

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National Truck Driver of the Year Awarded To ABF Freight Driver

Earlier today, Fort Smith, Arkansas-based logistics company ArcBest announced that David Boyer, company driver for the company’s less-than-truckload division ABF Freight has been named National Truck Driver of the Year by the American Trucking Associations.

Having represented ABF Freight multiple times at the National Truck Driving Championships as well as the Virginia State Truck Driving Championships, ABF Freight reports that Boyer stands as an example of excellent driving and passion for a safe driving culture.

“David Boyer is an exemplary example of a great truck driver who is passionate about highway safety,” said Tim Thorne, ABF Freight president. “David is the best of the best, and I’m very proud that he represents ABF Freight and our industry.”

ABF Freight reports that Thorne has previously been honored with the Virginia Governor’s Transportation Safety Award as well as the 2018 recipient of the Virginia Truck Driver of the Year.

Thorne has reportedly received the 2 Million Mile Safe Driving Award from ArcBest as well as a 35-year Safety Performance Plaque, in addition to participating in annual philanthropic drives such as the Mid-Atlantic Charity Fun Drive and God’s Pit Crew.

More information on ArcBest and ABF Freight may be found at the company’s site.

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Yet another local ban on truck parking

A city in Connecticut has banned commercial trucks from parking on city streets for “long periods of time.”

The long-term parking ban went into effect on October 1st in Milford, Connecticut and applies to semi tractors, tractor trailers, boats and campers on city streets and does not affect the long-term parking of cars, compact “bus-type” vehicles, and pickup trucks used for private transportation.

According to the Milford Mirror, the ordinance came about over the summer after residents began complaining about commercial trucks “parking regularly on neighborhood streets.”

“The purpose is not to restrict normal commercial activity, rather to address the issue of commercial vehicles being parking perpetually on city streets for long periods of time,” said community Alderman Frank Smith.

“It will make our city safer,” added alderman Jeremy Grant, who also believes the ban will protect the city’s waterways.

City officials assure that the new ordinance does not apply to large pickup trucks.

“This is not going to affect their [pickup truck’s] ability to park in front of their house,” Alderman Anthony Giannattasio said.

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ATA Announces 2019-2020 Road Team Finalists

Earlier in September of this year, truckers from across America met up in Texarkana, Texas at the Texarkana Convention Center in order to commemorate Burt Reynolds in an even produced by the Small Business In Transportation Coalition.

According to the SBTC, the event was organized in conjunction with a memorial ceremony and film festival honoring Burt Reynolds’ career, as well as car chase re-enactment featuring a 1976 Trans Am on Saturday, September 29th.

I wish y’all (sic) could feel the way I do right now knowing we put together a really special event for a trucking icon I am proud to call my hero,” said James Lamb, SBTC President. “So many people I know became truckers because of this man’s movies. I was so happy to see so many of my fellow Americans join us in Texarkana and waving American flags along the six-state convoy route. In these tumultuous times, we really should look for more feel-good opportunities like these to bring people together over common bonds.”

The SBTC reports that on the afternoon of Sunday, September 30th, a police-escorted trucker convoy gathered for an “Eastbound and Down Memorial Convoy” that featured more than 30 vehicles.

The convoy, which saw the vehicles travel across state lines for 13 hours was reportedly shut down in Alabama due to weather and road closures.

“We know many drivers were disappointed they had to stop so close to the end,” said Lamb. “We were equally disappointed that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an agency of the United States Department of Transportation, declined to process our emergency request for a waiver of the Hours of Service regulations so drivers would be exempt from the 11 hour rule for this one time memorial run.”

The event reportedly saw sponsorship from Miller-Coors as well as Travel Centers of America.

More information on the SBTC and their events may be found at the Coalition’s site.

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State insurance risk pool halves commercial auto surcharge

The North Carolina Reinsurance Facility (NCRF) will dial down the surcharge it has put on insurance policies for commercial drivers in the state.

Officials with the state’s insurance risk pool will implement a 7.83% surcharge, which will be assessed on both new and renewal commercial vehicle policies in NC, effective October 01; previously, the surcharge was 14.63%.

Transport Topics reported that the surcharge applies only to commercial liability coverages, which include bodily injury liability, property damage liability, medical payments, uninsured motorists and underinsured motorists’ coverage premiums. The surcharge will not be applied to a motor carrier’s policy for collision or comprehensive coverage.

The surcharge will be assessed on NC motor carriers, motor coach operators, taxi owners, logging truck operators, dump truck operators and others.

NCRF originally imposed the surcharge to recoup the losses it had sustained over the past four years. The facility attributes its losses to charging rates too low for uninsurable truckers and the decision to insure ineligible motor carriers.

The agency is facing a $96 million shortfall.

While some have welcomed the surcharge reduction, others are concerned that it does not improve the agency’s financial situation.

“They’re just putting it off. They’re still not managing it correctly,” said Rob Moseley, a Greenville, SC attorney whose clients include trucking companies in NC. “When you’re the one nobody wants to insure, you ought to be prepared to pay a higher rate. In North Carolina they’re not paying a higher rate, they’re paying market or better. That’s what is continuing to lead to the shortfall.”

“Rather than the people in the pool paying those losses, the people who are outside the pool also are being asked to pay the losses,” Moseley told Transport Topics.

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Logging truck insurance is hard to come by

Although the logging industry continues to get safer, it’s still consistently ranked as the most dangerous industry in the United States – and many carriers seem scared to get too involved, according to one industry insider.

Tom Buckingham, general manager of the Forest Insurance Center in Newberry, MI, said the industry is continually working to improve and innovate to be safer – to both improve conditions for employees, and also remedy a public perception about logging dangers.

But carriers, particularly for logging trucks, continue to be slim picking for insured companies, he said.

“I think what we’ve seen across the nation is that many carriers that used to offer log truck insurance are no longer there,” he said. “Many carriers that used to offer property insurance, fire insurance for saw mills, are no longer there. And that is of much concern to this group … maintaining stable markets.

“Market availability has shrunk extremely.”

In the Midwest and Pacific Northwest there are “a handful” of carriers available, but once you get into the Deep South, Buckingham said, “there are very, very few carriers available for log trucks and chip haulers, and they’re very expensive”.

The insurers that remain in the forestry space are “committed” to the industry, however, Buckingham said.

The dangerous nature of the industry – with loggers dying from felling and saw injuries, and being severely injured a long way from medical help – keeps most insurance carriers from touching the industry.

“Not everybody has the expertise to dabble in the forest products industry,” said Buckingham. “The general insurance companies in the States, many of them shy away from logging and log trucks because of the severity factor. Many insurance companies want nothing to do with that high-risk, high-hazard occupation.”

Nevertheless, though, insurance for loggers remains strong business, Buckingham said. After all, logging isn’t going anywhere.

“To put that in perspective: if you’re against logging, try using plastic toilet paper,” he said.

The industry is focussed on heightening public awareness that “wood is good,” Buckingham added.

“The industry is always looking for technical ways to become more proficient in what they do. And safety – safety is of paramount concern, for the general public as well as employees within the industry.”

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20 Least Expensive Trucks To Insure In America

We decided to profile the cheapest trucks to insure in America to help your decisions.

Unless you are swimming in cash and don’t fear a financial disaster, you may want to consider insurance premiums that you can pay for different models of trucks. This may be a major determining factor in deciding which truck is ideal for you. Once you get your truck, you will finish paying for your vehicle loan, but you will never stop paying insurance premiums until you sell your truck. If you consider this, you will need to determine what trucks are within your budget for insurance before you make a purchase decision.

If you are on a budget, you may be tempted to go for a cheaper truck in the mistaken belief that this will cost you less to insure. Generally, that might be accurate, but there are other factors that can drive down insurance rates for a higher end truck.

An upscale truck may be cheaper to insure since because of low claim rates made by others with a similar truck. As well, buying a second-hand truck will not necessarily result in cheaper rates. A truck might be prone to breakdowns, or the model may have a bad record of frequent accidents.

It would be unwise to get a cheaper truck only to end up spending so much more on insurance and other costs as compared to someone with a pricier truck. We decided to profile the cheapest trucks to insure in America to help your decisions. Check out the list here.

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Insureds misusing their personal vehicles for commercial work? They’re going to get caught

A technology data company is helping carriers catch out insureds who are misusing their policies by using personal vehicles for commercial work.

Alex Young, vice president of risk solutions at Digital Recognition Network (DRN), said the company has contracts with 11 carriers and is in talks with 15 more – which would make up 70% of the vehicle insurance market in the United States.

The company’s data recognition service has built up more than six billion data points of car license plate sightings across the country. With 2,000 car-mounted license plate readers circling the country’s streets non-stop, all day, every day, using license plate-recognition technology, the company can spot when identified vehicles are being used inappropriately.

“Every insurance carrier knows they have this problem,” Young said. “Many believe the problem is minor, and, in any case, up to this point there has been no effective way of discovering the issue. When insurance carriers see the results of DRN’s [data recording], they are generally surprised by the size of the problem.

“We have had carriers with as much as 40% of their ‘at risk’ VINs showing signs of commercial use. The adoption of this product to eradicate commercial use from the personal lines insurance carriers has been rapid.”

Young said a carrier provides a list of VIN numbers it considers “at risk” for commercial use – such as Transits, Sprinters, Econolines, large pickups – and then DRN can pull from its database multiple shots of those vehicles in various situations they’ve been spotted.

“We discover the commercial use by reviewing our pictures gathered from license plate recognition sightings and look for commercial attributes such as signage, ladders, ladder racks, tools, equipment, commercial trailers, etc.,” Young said.

“We look for vehicles that have been insured for personal use and look for indicators that they are used for commercial purposes. The reason this is important is that the risk is significantly different and can lead to losses that are not reflected in the premium charged.”

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