Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020:
Trucking companies targeted in staged-accident insurance fraud scheme
Twenty-eight individuals have been charged over the course of the last 11 months for intentionally staging automobile accidents to defraud trucking companies and their insurance providers, according to press releases from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Seven of the 28 individuals charged have since pleaded guilty.
Indictments allege that five of the 28 individuals charged were “slammers” who intentionally caused accidents to defraud trucking companies and their insurance providers in the New Orleans metro area. Others among the 28 individuals facing charges were passengers in vehicles used to stage accidents.
One of the so-called “slammers” was Cornelius Garrison, 54, of New Orleans, who was charged Sept. 18 with staging more than 50 accidents and allegedly was paid more than $150,000 by an unnamed co-conspirator.
According to the indictment, Garrison was instructed on how many passengers to use in the staged accidents and to avoid areas patrolled by the Louisiana State Police and instead stage them under the jurisdiction of the New Orleans Police Department, mostly along I-10 from Slidell to Baton Rouge. The indictment also alleges that Garrison and other co-conspirators referred the staged accident cases to various unnamed attorneys, who, according to previous indictments, paid conspirators for their referrals following the staged accidents.
Garrison would target tractor-trailers that were changing lanes, the indictment alleges, and would cause the accident by striking the truck in their blind spot using a “slammer vehicle.” After the accident, Garrison would then exit the vehicle from the passenger side to avoid being seen by the truck and told the passengers to call 911 to report they had been hit by a truck. A passenger would then falsely claim to have been the driver at the time of the accident.
New Orleans CBS affiliate WWL-TV reported Sept. 24 that just days after being named in an indictment, Garrison had been murdered in New Orleans. According to the report, Garrison had been cooperating with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office for several months.
Drivewyze offering weigh station bypass service through KeepTruckin platform
KeepTruckin ELD users now have access to the Drivewyze PreClear weigh station bypass services through KeepTruckin’s App Marketplace, thanks to a partnership announced Tuesday between the two companies.
Using the KeepTruckin Vehicle Gateway, KeepTruckin customers can take advantage of a special introductory free trial offer of the weigh station bypass service.
“In today’s landscape, fleet efficiency has never been more important,” said Charles Julius, head of product for KeepTruckin’s App Marketplace. “By providing weigh station bypass availability from Drivewyze directly within our KeepTruckin platform, we’re helping customers and their drivers stay on the road longer to generate more income and ultimately grow their businesses. The free trial will give a risk-free opportunity to see how trucks can take advantage of this benefit.”
With the Drivewyze PreClear weigh station bypass service, KeepTruckin customers can receive bypass opportunities at more than 800 locations in 47 states and provinces. The service requires no transponders to be installed and leverages KeepTruckin’s installed Vehicle Gateway.
Mack completes $84M renovation of manufacturing facility
Mack Trucks announced it has completed an $84 million renovation project at its Lehigh Valley Operations in Macungie, Pennsylvania.
The project “revitalized the facility’s infrastructure, equipment, systems and processes to create a modern Lean Manufacturing environment,” the company said in a statement.
“Mack’s Lehigh Valley Operations has built high-quality heavy-duty trucks that our customers depend on for 45 years,” said Martin Weissburg, president of Mack Trucks. “This investment in the plant, our people and new processes allows us to continue delivering on Mack’s legendary durability through integrated, modern manufacturing.”
Included in the upgrades were a 300,000 square-foot expansion to improve material handling and flow; installation of new equipment and tooling; implementation of new manufacturing IT systems; and construction of a new audit building equipped with stalls and CNG test pads for quality checks on completed vehicles.
The facility also added a new 20,000 square-foot building for a Customer Adaptation Center and to support the Mack LR Electric model that will be commercialized in 2021.