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ATA’s Spear, OOIDA’s Spencer testify at state of trucking hearing

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ATA President and CEO Chris Spear, left, told a House panel that ATA wanted to work with lawmakers as they begin work on a transportation reauthorization bill. Seated beside Spear is OOIDA President Todd Spencer. (Courtesy: HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES)

WASHINGTON — American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear Wednesday told members of a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee the ATA is committed to working with lawmakers as they begin work on a transportation reauthorization bill.

Meanwhile, Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association told the committee that the state of the American trucking industry is “broken.”

The two executives were among several witness who spoke during the hearing — dubbed as “Under Pressure: The State of Trucking in America” — before the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Spear also spoke to the industry’s commitment to strengthen and grow the industry’s workforce, as well as to maintain fair and free trade.

“ATA pledges to help this subcommittee write legislation that takes into consideration the state and future of the trucking industry, looking beyond the hood – 5, 10, 15 years out – and how we can improve safety through innovation; how we can grow a diverse, well-trained workforce that shores up the very real and well-documented shortage of talent; how trucking can generate and invest real money into our decaying infrastructure; and, how trucking can help you shape free and fair trade agreements that make the United States the strongest economy in the world.”

In his testimony, Spear said the industry is committed to safety on the nation’s highways, and to the deployment of proven technologies that will make the roads safer.

“Safety anchors the very foundation of the trucking industry, shaping our core values and decision making,” he said. “That is why the trucking industry invests approximately $10 billion annually in safety initiatives, including onboard technologies such as electronic logging devices, collision avoidance systems and video-event recorders.

“These investments also include driver safety training, driver safety incentive pay and compliance with safety regulations,” Spear said, “and while some of these investments are made to meet a myriad of regulatory requirements, many of them are voluntary, progressive safety initiatives adopted by our members and they’re paying dividends in highway safety.”

Spear’s full testimony, which can be read here,  outlines ATA’s agenda for reauthorization, which includes data-driven improvements to the current hours-of-service rules, rejection of onerous mandates for dubious technologies, support for proven safety technology systems, enhanced employer notification systems, use of hair samples for mandated drug screenings, workforce development measures like the DRIVE-Safe Act and increased infrastructure investment.

Spencer shared in his testimony concerns about the lack of driver training, truck parking shortage, excessive detention time and over-regulation.

He said that trucking is broken, but certainly not beyond repair, and that the most critical components are the drivers.

“Large motor carriers are pressuring Congress to enact unsafe policies to combat a fictitious driver shortage, while doing nothing to address their precariously high turnover rates. The American economy is stronger than it has been in years, but many drivers are still struggling to make ends meet,” Spencer said.

The association has long sought ways to address one of the biggest inefficiencies in the industry which is excessive detention, a problem that makes it difficult for drivers to earn a living since they are typically paid by the mile and not by the hour.

Spencer said OOIDA also supports robust training standards for new entrants, including behind-the-wheel experience. Spencer will also label the driver shortage as a myth, pointing toward high turnover rates among large motor carriers as one of the industry’s most pressing problems.

Spencer’s full testimony can be read here.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Mike

    June 14, 2019 at 3:33 am

    Overegulation, overegulation, overegulation! Prisoners have more freedom than drivers! After 22 years of driving I can’t wait to quit. Between elogs and cameras all over the truck, who would want to do this anymore? I used to encourage those around me to drive, not anymore. This is the most overegulated industry to the point it is ridiculously out of control. Hire people with an IQ higher than a brick and you wouldn’t have the problems that you do! Stop making it easier “automatics” for anyone to drive a truck. I have a saying, just because you can get a cdl doesn’t mean you should! And, just because you have a cdl doesn’t mean you should utilize it! I can say more but, whats the point, just like writing this much. Good luck!

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The Nation

Reason report: U.S. highway conditions worsening in important categories

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This map from the Reason Foundation report on America's road shows how state fared in the rankings. (Courtesy: REASON FOUNDATION)

LOS ANGELES — After decades of incremental progress in several key categories, Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report finds the nation’s highway conditions are deteriorating, especially in a group of problem-plagued states struggling to repair deficient bridges, maintain Interstate pavement and reduce urban traffic congestion.

“In looking at the nation’s highway system as a whole, there was a decades-long trend of incremental improvement in most key categories, but the overall condition of the highway system has worsened in recent years,” says Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “This year we see some improvement on structurally deficient bridges, but pavement conditions on rural and urban highways are declining, the rise in traffic fatalities is worrying, and we aren’t making needed progress on traffic congestion in our major cities.”

The 24th Annual Highway Report, based on data that states submitted to the federal government, ranks each state’s highway system in 13 categories, including traffic fatalities, pavement condition, congestion, spending per mile, administrative costs and more. This edition of the Annual Highway Report uses state-submitted highway data from 2016, the most recent year with complete figures currently available, along with traffic congestion and bridge data from 2017.

North Dakota ranks first in the Annual Highway Report’s overall performance and cost-effectiveness rankings of state highway systems for the second year in a row. North Dakota’s rural and urban Interstate pavement conditions both rank in the top 10 and the state has kept its per-mile costs down.  Virginia jumps an impressive 25 spots in the rankings—from 27th overall in the previous report—into second-place in performance and cost-effectiveness.  Missouri, Maine and Kentucky round out the top five states.

The state highway systems in New Jersey (50th), Alaska (49th), Rhode Island (48th), Hawaii (47th), Massachusetts (46th) and New York (45th) rank at the bottom of the nation in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. Despite spending more money per mile than any other state, New Jersey has the worst urban traffic congestion and among the worst urban Interstate pavement conditions in the country.

The study finds pavement conditions on both urban interstates and rural interstates are deteriorating, with the percentage of urban Interstate mileage in poor condition increasing in 29 of 50 states. One-third, 33 percent, of the nation’s urban Interstate mileage in poor condition is concentrated in just five states: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, and New York.

It’s not just urban Interstates with the rougher pavement, however, the Annual Highway Report finds the percentage of rural arterial principal roads in poor condition at its worst levels since 2000.

Similarly, the study’s three traffic fatality categories —overall, urban and rural—all show more fatalities in 2016 than in any year since 2007.

The most positive news is on bridges, where 39 states lowered the percentage of bridges deemed structurally deficient. Unfortunately, 18 percent or more of bridges remain structurally deficient in these five states: Iowa, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

Traffic congestion remains about the same from the previous report, with Americans spending an average of 35 hours a year stuck in traffic. Drivers in New Jersey, New York, California, Georgia and Massachusetts experience the longest delays due to urban traffic congestion in their metro regions.

The Annual Highway Report finds states disbursed about $139 billion for state-controlled highways and arterials in 2016, a four percent decrease from approximately $145 billion spent in 2015.

“Some may point to the slight decrease in overall state highway spending in 2016 as a cause of the lack of improvement in key highway metrics, but 21 states made overall progress in 2016. Examining the 10-year average of state overall performance data indicates that the national system performance problems are largely concentrated in the bottom 10 states,” Feigenbaum said. “Toward the bottom of the rankings, you have highly populated states, like last-place New Jersey, along with Massachusetts, New York, and California to a lesser extent, that are spending a lot but often failing to keep up with traffic congestion and road maintenance. There are also a few very problematic low-population states like Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii and Alaska, which contribute an outsized share of the nation’s structurally deficient bridges, poor pavement conditions, and high administrative costs—money that doesn’t make it to roads.”

New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut spent the most on their highways on a per-mile basis, with each state spending more than $200,000 per mile of highway it controls. In contrast, Missouri, which ranks third overall in performance and cost-effectiveness, did so while spending just $23,534 per mile of highway it controls.

Massachusetts ranks low in the overall rankings but shows the nation’s lowest traffic fatality rate, while South Carolina reports the highest.

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The Nation

Colorado mountain safety effort includes Dryvewyze, PrePass, motor carrier group

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A tractor-trailer straddles a runaway truck ramp along I-70 in Colorado. One of the Colorado ramps, the Lower Straight Creek runaway truck ramp on westbound I-70 at milepost 211.83 is the most used truck ramp in the United States, being used once a week on average during the summer months. (Courtesy: COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Colorado State Patrol, the Colorado Motor Carriers Association and in-cab driver alert providers PrePass Safety Alliance and Drivewyze, is helping enhance safety for truckers traveling through the state’s mountainous areas.

The Mountain Rules is a comprehensive, strategic and safety-focused effort to inform and educate in-state and interstate trucking companies and drivers on the challenges of driving in Colorado’s mountains.

It includes information on potential hazards and a consistent reminder on the need to be slow, steady, and safe for the long haul.

“It’s no secret that our mountains create immense challenges for semi-truck drivers,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “The Mountain Rules has a simple mission — get everyone home safely — and this campaign, which supports CDOT’s Whole Safety – Whole System initiative, is a major step towards achieving that goal.”

In addition to an educational effort, The Mountain Rules consists of infrastructure and informational improvements, including:

  • Signing eastbound Interstate 70 and all eastbound chain stations, east of the Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnels, with information on the brake check locations for truckers.
  • Restriping the wide eastbound exit ramp at the Genesee Park Interchange into a more defined short-term truck parking area where overheated brakes can cool down and equipment checks can take place prior to the final descent into the Golden area.
  • A new subscription-based, in-cab alert system, warning truck drivers about specific areas where brake failures could occur, and the location of brake check and runaway truck ramps.
  • Information gathering on the feasibility of a new ramp and other measures to mitigate runaway trucks, such as geometric and signage improvements to the existing Mount Vernon Canyon Truck Runaway Ramp.

“I want to dispel any misconceptions, myths or rumors about truck ramps for all commercial carriers who travel our mountain corridors,” said CSP Col. Matthew Packard. “Commercial carriers will not be cited by law enforcement for using truck ramps. Should your brakes fail, please save lives and use the ramps.”

The I-70 Mountain Corridor will be the initial pilot for The Mountain Rules. CDOT then will expand the program to other mountainous locations.

“Our mountains and the highways winding through them provide some of the greatest vistas in the world and make Colorado special,” said the Chairman of the CMCA Jim Coleman. “These same roadways, such as I-70, pose a particular challenge for truck drivers and truck brakes, with long and steep downgrades of up to 7% percent. This outreach effort and program will go a long way in educating truck drivers of how to navigate through our mountains, which will enhance safety for all highway users.”

Drivewyze said with its alerts subscribers will have their drivers receive in-cab alerts of upcoming safe locations to pull over for brake check inspections and see prompts to gear low while showing suggested maximum speeds down steep grades. It will also alert drivers of upcoming runaway ramps. Colorado was Drivewyze’s first state in the new alert program. Seven Colorado mountain passes are part of the Drivewyze Safety

According to Brian Mofford, vice president of government experience at Drivewyze, Colorado’s I-70 West, which goes from Vail Pass from the west through Eisenhower Tunnel (elevation 11,158) to Mt. Vernon Canyon to the east, represents 60 miles of difficult driving. “It’s a challenge for truck drivers with steep grades and heavy traffic, especially for those new to mountain driving,” he said. “Drivers have to be in tune with their surroundings, check their brakes and be prepared for constant downshifting and speed control. Brakes can get hot and fail for those who are not ready. It’s why we also have notifications for runaway ramps as a last resort safeguard for a safe stop. Our alerts will help keep preparations top of mind to help keep truck drivers and the motoring public safer.”

PrePass said its alerts are a feature of the MOTION weigh station bypass mobile application. The alerts notify truck drivers of steep grades ahead from a distance of approximately five miles away, and also notify them as they approach any of five runaway truck ramps along the route. Drivers will also receive alerts for seven sites along I-70 where they can perform brake checks and/or during winter, complete truck tire chain-ups or removals.

“These dynamic alerts will improve highway safety by notifying truck drivers well in advance of steep grades and sites where they can check their brakes,” said Terry Maple, regional director for PrePass Safety Alliance. Maple, former Superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol, said the additional alerts will minimize distractions because they require no interaction on the part of the driver.

I-70 is known as having one of the country’s most difficult passes for truck drivers. An out-of-control runaway truck in April slammed into stopped traffic near Lakewood, killing four people. Other tragedies have been averted thanks to truck drivers using the corridor’s five runaway truck ramps along the route. The Lower Straight Creek runaway truck ramp along westbound I-70 at milepost 211.83 is the most used truck ramp in the United States, being used once a week on average during the summer months.

 

 

 

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The Nation

Canadian study identifies speed as best predictor of car crashes

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Researchers said when crash cases were compared to the control cases using a sophisticated penalty system for four kinds of bad driving, speeding emerged as the key difference between them. (Courtesy: UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO)

WATERLOO, Ontario, Canada — Speeding is the riskiest kind of aggressive driving, according to a unique analysis of data from on-board devices in vehicles.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo examined data from 28 million trips for possible links between four bad driving behaviors – speeding, hard braking, hard acceleration and hard cornering – and the likelihood of crashes.

Their analysis revealed speeding is a strong predictor of crashes, while statistically significant links for the other kinds of aggressive driving couldn’t be established.

“For insurance companies using this telematics data to assess who is a good risk and who isn’t, our suggestion based on the data is to look at speed, at people driving too fast,” said Stefan Steiner, a statistics professor in Waterloo’s faculty of mathematics.

Data for the study came from insurance companies in Ontario and Texas with clients who had on-board diagnostic devices installed in their vehicles.

In the first study of its kind, researchers initially analyzed the data to identify 28 crashes based on indicators such as rapid deceleration.

Each vehicle in those crashes was then matched with 20 control vehicles that had not been in crashes, but were similar in terms of other characteristics, including geographic location and driving distance.

Steiner said when the crash cases were compared to the control cases using a sophisticated penalty system for the four kinds of bad driving, speeding emerged as the key difference between them.

“Some of the results are no surprise, but prior to this we had a whole industry based on intuition,” said Allaa (Ella) Hilal, an adjunct professor of electrical and computer engineering. “Now it is formulated. We know aggressive driving has an impact.”

Steiner cautioned that the study was limited by several unknowns, such as different drivers using the same vehicle, and more research is needed to verify the results.

But he said the analysis of telematics data could eventually revolutionize the insurance industry by enabling fairer, personalized premiums based on actual driving behavior, not age, gender or location.

Hilal believes the data could also make roads safer by giving drivers both tangible evidence and financial incentives to change.

“Having this information exposed and understood allows people to wrap their minds around their true risks and improve their driving behaviors,” she said. “We are super pumped about its potential.”

Manda Winlaw, a former mathematics post-doctoral fellow, and statistics professor Jock MacKay also collaborated on the study, using telematics data to find risky driver behaviour, which appears in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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