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State DOT officials call for greater emphasis on safety

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Roger Millar, at podium, secretary of the Washington DOT, said more data-driven processes are needed to provide information for targeted investments. Millar is shown, from left, George McAuley, PennDOT;  Julie Lorenz, Kansas DOT; and Mike Tooley, Montana DOT. (Courtesy: AASHTO JOURNAL)

PARK CITY, Utah — A greater emphasis needs to be placed on safety by state departments of transportation, according to a panel discussion held at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 2019 spring meeting here.

Mike Tooley, director of the Montana Department of Transportation, moderated the panel discussion and noted that, “safety needs to be our most important job, because, if you can’t survive the trip, transportation becomes a quality of life and public health issue.”

According to a report in the Journal, AASHTO’s official publication, Tooley, recently named chairman of AASHTO’s Committee on Safety and a 28-year veteran of the Montana State Highway Patrol, said “we need to have more conversations and change the culture not only in our departments but with the people behind the wheel [of motor vehicles]. The person behind the wheel needs to adopt a culture of safety; we can’t engineer our way out of this. The whole goal is to move to zero fatalities because no other number is acceptable.”

Julie Lorenz, secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation, echoed Tooley’s point, noting that “we do not have the same urgency for safety in the public sector as there is in the private sector.”

She stressed that state DOTs “have to push safety every single day; that will inform everything I do as long as I have this job.”

Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and recently appointed chair of AASHTO’s Agency Administration Managing Committee, said more than 700 people were killed in fatal crashes on his state’s roads in 2018, generating $8.6 billion a year in crash-related spending.

“The key thing is, who are the people involved in these crashes? Many, we are finding out, are tourists,” Wilson said. “We are also finding drugged driving is a big issue, with opioids and marijuana, as well as distracted driving. We’ve also seen an alarming uptick in pedestrian and bicycle fatalities – they’re up 20 percent – so we’re trying to be more progressive with the adoption of national standards to protect those users.”

He added, however, that funding is an issue. “We’re only spending $60 million to $70 million a year on safety. And I like to say we have a wheelbarrow full of needs for transportation but only a thimbleful of funds,” Wilson said “So we need to make better decisions with that funding so we can save more lives and reduce deaths on our system.”

Yet Jay Norris, director of safety at the Tennessee Department of Transportation, emphasized that overcoming such challenges is what state DOTs do best. “We’ve dealt with flooding, tornadoes, wildfires; we can deal with this,” he said. “Our people are our most important resource.”

To that end, Ed Hassinger, deputy director and chief engineer of the Missouri Department of Transportation, noted that a “realignment of values and mission statements” is one tactic his agency is employing to “deal” with the safety issue.

“Safety, service, and stability is now our mantra,” he said. “We are realigning the things we’re doing around safety. For example, we used to allocate our safety funds based on the number of crashes that occurred on particular roadways. Now we’re allocating them based on fatalities and rate our [transportation] projects on how well they can contribute to reduced fatalities. We’re putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to safety.”

George McAuley, deputy secretary of highway administration for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the new chair of the steering committee guiding the AASHTO Innovation Initiative, added that 94 percent of all motor vehicle crashes have a “human behavior component,” according to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And one way of reducing if not eliminating that as a safety issue is the broad deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles or CAVs.

“CAVs offer a huge opportunity to reduce [fatality] numbers,” he explained. “I don’t know how that future trends out, but the advantage is that human behavior factors go away as a factor if CAVs are deployed widely over the next decade. So by 2030 and 2040 we could witness a huge decline in [traffic] fatalities. It’s not that far out – in 10 years I think we’ll see quite a bit of [CAV] volume. So we need to make sure our infrastructure is aligned and ready for it.”

Roger Millar, secretary of the Washington Department of Transportation, noted that most state DOTs won’t have enough money to do everything they need to do when it comes to safety improvements. “Thus we’ll need more data-driven processes that will provide a basis for regional administrators and others to make targeted investments with the resources we have,” he said.

Millar emphasized that “this needs to become a real focus” for state DOTs for “as we encourage more people to walk and ride bicycles to be healthier, we don’t want them to be killed doing it. Roughly 40 percent of the trips people take go less than five miles. But they take the vast majority of those trips in cars because it is the only way to do it safely. So we need to change our design standards from ones highly-oriented around passenger vehicle mobility to personal mobility; ones not focusing on the mobility ‘containers’ we use to move around.”

He also noted that “this can be a very polarizing conversation, so we need to bring data and safety perspective to it. We need to recognize effective designs can provide optimal safety performance. And we’re really interested in ‘mobility on demand’ or ‘mobility as a service’ as they’ll help us bring more tools to the transportation game.”

 

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1 Comment

  1. Christian standard

    June 4, 2019 at 12:26 am

    As they say all of this non sense, they continue to raise the speed limits on highways exceeding 80 mph. Hmmmm, common sense much?

    What a waste of our tax dollars for these yahoo talking heads. Fricking mouth breathers!

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The Nation

Mack Trucks doubles down on debut of RoadLife 2.0

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Mack Trucks kicked off RoadLife 2.0 with the debut of two episodes on roadlife.tv. One features the grueling efforts of Alaska Department of Transportation snowplow drivers to clear one of the snowiest highways in the United States. (Courtesy: MACK TRUCKS)

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Mack Trucks is doubling down on the debut of RoadLife 2.0 with the launch of two episodes on roadlife.tv.

Featuring the grueling efforts of Alaska Department of Transportation snowplow drivers to clear one of the snowiest highways in the U.S., to the challenge of building a modern logistics business from the ground up, RoadLife 2.0 picks up from last season, sharing the stories of everyday people doing extraordinary things.

“Our first episodes feature Alaska DOT and Full Tilt Logistics, two organizations with very different missions,” said John Walsh, Mack Trucks vice president of marketing. “Yet in both of their stories, a number of commonalities emerge: hard work, dedication and the ability of Mack trucks to help them achieve success.”

The Richardson Highway is the only road in and out of Valdez, Alaska, the terminus for the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline, and Alaska DOT relies on two Mack Granite model snowplows to keep the road open.

Battling in the neighborhood of 400 inches of snow annually, Alaska DOT relies on the trucks’ brute strength to clear the road, as well as some high-tech tools to make sure they stay on the road, even in whiteout conditions. A sophisticated differential GPS system with an in-cab display shows drivers where the truck is located to within less than an inch.

“Now, it’s almost like a video game,” said Mark Hanson, Alaska DOT terminal manager in describing the differential GPS system. “If I start going over the centerline, the indicator on screen turns red to tell me I’m not where I need to be. If I’m in a white out, I still know where I’m at in the road.”

Reno, Nevada-based Full Tilt Logistics takes the meaning of a family business to the next level. Starting with just three trucks, five members of the Novich family quickly grew the business into a 16-truck fleet hauling high-value loads across the western United States.

Full Tilt operates with the Mack Anthem model.

“When we were first starting out, I was doing some research into the driver shortage, where it’s at now and where it’s going,” said Cris Novich, managing director, transportation for Full Tilt Logistics. “It became abundantly clear that our No. 1 customer is the driver. If we keep them happy, they will want to come work here.”

Additional RoadLife 2.0 episodes will premiere throughout the summer and into the fall. Viewers can watch RoadLife episodes on roadlife.tv and Amazon Prime Video, with additional content featured on Mack Trucks’ social channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

 

 

 

 

 

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WIT, Freightliner seek nominee for Influential Woman in Trucking Award

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The winner of the 2019 Influential Woman in Trucking award will be announced at the WIT Accelerate! Conference & Expo held in Dallas September 30-October 2. (Courtesy: WOMEN IN TRUCKING)

PLOVER, Wis. — Women In Trucking Association and Freightliner Trucks are seeking candidates for the 2019 Influential Woman in Trucking award.

The award was created in 2010 and recognizes women who make or influence key decisions in a corporate, manufacturing, supplier, owner-operator, driver, sales or dealership setting.

The winner must have a proven record of responsibility and have mentored or served as a role model to other women in the industry.

“The Influential Woman in Trucking Award recognizes exceptional women leaders who have been advocates and role models to others,” said Ellen Voie, president and CEO, Women In Trucking. “Each year, I am thoroughly impressed by the caliber of women nominated.”

Now in its ninth year, the award honors female leaders in the trucking industry.

Past recipients include Marcia Taylor, CEO of Bennett International Group; Rebecca Brewster, president and COO, American Transportation Research Institute; Joyce Brenny, president, Brenny Transportation/Brenny Specialized; Rochelle Bartholomew, CEO, CalArk International; Kari Rihm, president, Rihm Kenworth; Ramona Hood, vice president of operations, planning and strategy, FedEx Custom Critical; Daphne Jefferson, former deputy administrator at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and Angela Eliacostas, founder and CEO, AGT Global Logistics.

“When I first started my career, there were very few women in the trucking industry let alone in leadership positions,” said Kary Schaefer, general manager, marketing and strategy, Freightliner Trucks and Detroit Components. “It’s amazing to see how the industry has changed and women are now a driving force in all areas of trucking. Freightliner is proud to sponsor this award and recognize those women who are not only making a difference in their own roles but for all women in the trucking profession.”

Nominations will be accepted through August 1 at https://www.womenintrucking.org/influential-woman-in-trucking.

The winner will be announced at the WIT Accelerate! Conference & Expo held in Dallas September 30-October 2.

Each finalist will be asked to serve as a panelist for the “Influential Women in Trucking” panel discussion. Those who nominate a candidate need to ask the nominee to save the date for this event if she is named a finalist.

Women In Trucking Association, Inc. is a nonprofit association established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry. Membership is not limited to women, as 17 percent of its members are men who support the mission.

 

 

 

 

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Group pushes FMCSA for rulemaking before changing crash preventability program

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The FMCSA's Crash Preventability Demonstration Program came about after motor carriers complained that there was no method in place to determine who was at fault for accidents involving big rigs. (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — A coalition of 10 trucking-related organizations has petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a rulemaking if the agency intends to change how it analyzes and publishes data on motor carrier crashes.

The petition was filed on June 14, 2019, by the Motor Carrier Regulatory Reform (MCRR) coalition, which includes organizations representing more than 10,000 carriers, shippers and brokers.

David Gee, chairman of Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation (ASECTT) said FMCSA officials have indicated that they plan to make permanent as a matter of enforcement policy its crash preventability pilot program, the Crash Preventability Demonstration Program, which has been in place for nearly two years.

As of the end of the first quarter this year, carriers had submitted nearly 11,000 requests for crash preventability determinations under FMCSA’s narrowly defined program since August 2017. However, Gee said the program has not been subject to a formal rulemaking process.

On its website, the FMCSA said the Crash Preventability Demonstration Program is expected to last a minimum of 24 months.

The agency plans to make the program permanent, Transportation Elaine Chao said during an appearance at the Mid-American Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, in March.

“As you know, this program is a response to industry concerns that crashes caused by factors outside of a driver’s control are still shown on the driver’s record,” Chao said. “Based on positive feedback from industry stakeholders, the Department will propose to make this demonstration program permanent. And, the Department of Transportation will propose to add even more of these scenarios for prevention reviews.”

The demonstration program got its impetus after motor carriers complained that there was no method in place to determine who was at fault for accidents involving big rigs, and drivers were getting penalized on their CSA scores and motor vehicle records, and carriers were getting penalized on their CSA scores.

In its explanation of the program on its website, the FMCSA said studies show that crash involvement is a strong indicator of future crash risk.

“The Crash Preventability Demonstration Program allows FMCSA to gather data to examine the feasibility, costs, and benefits of making crash preventability determinations on certain crash types,” the website says. “FMCSA will use the information from the program to evaluate if these preventability determinations improve the Agency’s ability to identify the highest-risk motor carriers.”

Drivers and carriers alike believe that about 75 percent of the crashes involving tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles are the fault of the driver of the passenger vehicle.

In its petition, the MCRR coalition argued that FMCSA must conduct a rulemaking before adopting any permanent program to call balls and strikes on crashes.

Publication of preventability metrics would, among other things, constitute a violation of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and federal executive orders intended to protect the industry against bureaucratic overreach in the name of guidance, the coalition told the agency.

The petition said a key problem with FMCSA’s approach is that the term “preventability” is an artificial construct that does not equate to carrier fault, much less to a systemic violation of safety regulations.

The MCRR coalition argues that the publication of preventability data and metrics would result in increased insurance rates and lost business by carriers that the FMCSA acknowledges are fit to operate and, therefore, fit for shippers and brokers to use.

The subjectivity of the preventability standard and its lack of due process suggest that adopting the trial program as policy guidance would hurt the industry, especially small carriers, the petition said.

The Motor Carrier Regulatory Reform coalition is an affiliation of organizations that frequently weigh in with FMCSA and Congress to promote reasonable regulation and enforcement affecting motor carriers and their business partners. The coalition membership varies slightly depending on the particular issue.

For purposes of the crash preventability rulemaking petition the coalition includes the Air and Expedited Motor Carriers Association, the Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation, the American Home Furnishings Alliance/Specialized Furniture Carriers,  Apex Capital Corp., the Auto Haulers Association of America, the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, the Tennessee Motor Coach Association, The Expedite Alliance of North America, the Transportation & Logistics Council, and the Transportation Loss Prevention & Security Association.

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