Cargo theft jumped another 46% to begin 2024

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, May 10, 2024:

Cargo thefts hit record high in first quarter

In the first quarter of 2024, criminal activities impacting the logistics and transportation industry reached new highs, according to cargo theft recording firm CargoNet.

CargoNet documented a staggering 925 incidents in the record-setting quarter, marking a substantial 46% increase compared to the first quarter of 2023 and a concerning 10% rise from the fourth quarter of 2023.

The average stolen shipment value in the first quarter of 2024 was $281,757, while the declared total value was $76 million. By extrapolating the average shipment value across events without a declared value, CargoNet estimates that a total of $154.6 million worth of goods were stolen during this period.

CargoNet Q1 2024 cargo theft trendsCargoNet reported a 46% year-over-year increase in recorded cargo theft in the first quarter of 2024, continuing a trend of skyrocketing theft activity.CargoNet

While reported events increased in most states, the most significant spikes were observed in California (with a 72% year-over-year increase), Illinois (with a 126% year-over-year increase), and Texas (with a 22% year-over-year increase).

Certain commodities -- such as small appliances, liquor, energy drinks, and copper -- were heavily targeted. Thieves demonstrated a propensity to steal a wide array of goods, posing a significant threat to industries nationwide.

Much of the threat came in the form of complex fraud schemes, where entire truckloads were picked up and never delivered or delivered with digitally altered paperwork to hide the theft from the customer.

However, simple cargo theft, including the whole theft of unattended, loaded trailers and pilferage of unattended, loaded trailers, remained a persistent issue. Notable hotspots for such thefts included Southern California, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, as well as the corridor spanning New York, North Jersey, and Eastern Pennsylvania.

Looking ahead to the second quarter and beyond, CargoNet anticipates that high levels of non-delivery thefts and strategic shortages will continue.

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[Related: Cargo theft is skyrocketing, and double brokering is partly to blame]

FMCSA to allow tanker fleet to use certain pulsating brake light module

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted an exemption to Gemini Motor Transport, the fuel transport arm of Love’s Travel Stops, to allow the fleet to use the Intellistop module, which pulses the required rear clearance, identification, and brake lamps from a lower-level lighting intensity to a higher-level lighting intensity 4 times in 2 seconds when the brakes are applied and then returns the lights to a steady-burning state while the brakes remain engaged.

Gemini was one of six fleets that requested a waiver to use the Intellistop module last February, but FMCSA has not yet published a decision for the other five fleets. Gemini’s exemption is effective for five years through May 12, 2029.

FMCSA previously denied an exemption request from Intellistop itself, which was seeking an industry-wide waiver to allow all interstate motor carriers to use its module. The agency said the scope of the request was too broad, but explained individual motor carriers could apply for exemptions.

“With an individual motor carrier exemption, the agency can also more easily monitor compliance with terms and conditions intended to ensure operations conducted under the exemption do in fact provide an equivalent level of safety,” FMCSA noted.

The exemption is, however, restricted to a finite number of vehicles in Gemini’s fleet. The waiver limits the device to 25% of Gemini’s power units and 25% of its trailers during the first year of operation under the exemption, and to 50% of its power units and 50% of its trailers during the second year.

The fleet also must maintain a control group of equal size of its power units and trailers equipped with the Intellistop unit during the first two years of the exemption, and the CMVs in the control group would operate on routes with schedules that are similar to those of the Intellistop vehicles.

Drivers of Intellistop-equipped vehicles will also be required to check the system during pre-trip inspections to confirm that the module operates only for 2 seconds and does not interfere with the normal operation of lamps after 2 seconds. If the lamps are not steady burning after 2 seconds, the truck cannot be dispatched until repairs are made.

Gemini will also be required to submit quarterly reports to FMCSA with information regarding any crashes or other incidents involving Intellistop-equipped trucks.

[Related: Brake light manufacturer and fleets seek factory-level exemption]

Free Drivewyze in-cab alerts now available in Arkansas

Weigh station bypass network operator Drivewyze has announced that the Arkansas Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Arkansas Trucking Association (ATA) have collaborated to provide free in-cab safety alerts for truck drivers traveling on Arkansas interstates and freeways.

These proactive safety alerts, which give drivers heads up notifications of unexpected traffic congestion and other safety hazards, are provided free of charge to commercial carriers thanks to the Arkansas DOT, Arkansas Highway Police, with the support of the ATA, and delivered via the Drivewyze connected truck network.

Through Drivewyze’s Smart Roadways service, which helps state agencies extend the reach of their safety messaging programs into the cabs of trucks, more than 800 miles of roadways in Arkansas are monitored for real-time traffic activity. In addition to real-time alerts, Arkansas is providing drivers with virtual sign messaging, which can help drivers prepare for special traffic conditions or be advised of alternative routes.

Arkansas is the 10th state to offer these alerts, which provide visual in-cab messages such as “sudden slowdown ahead” along with an audible chime. The alerts are configured to allow ample time for trucks to slow down or stop, as necessary. The program is provided for free to drivers and fleets as part of the Drivewyze Free safety service, which runs on most ELDs, telematics devices, smartphones, and tablets.

“With so much truck traffic in our state, we wanted to find a way to inform truckers traveling on major roadways of sudden slowdowns,” said Joe Hawkins, State Intelligent Transportation Systems Engineer from Arkansas DOT. “It’s clear that if a truck driver knows of an upcoming sudden slowdown before he or she sees brake lights, accidents can be avoided. It takes a lot of time for a truck to slowdown, and the extra time afforded by these alerts can make all the difference in preventing a crash.”

To take advantage of this new program in Arkansas and receive free in-cab safety alerts, drivers or fleets can activate the service here.

[Related: Drivewyze unveils free safety alerts service for truckers]