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Truckers, loggers push back on Oregon’s climate proposals

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Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney addresses a group of loggers and truckers outside the Oregon state Capitol Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in Salem, Oregon.  Truckers are protesting two Oregon climate bills that they say will raise fuel and equipment costs, putting them out of business. (Associated Press: SARAH ZIMMERMAN)

SALEM, Ore. — Dozens of industrial trucks drove laps around the Oregon state Capitol Wednesday, blaring their horns and releasing plumes of diesel into the air as part of a demonstration against Oregon’s climate policies that loggers and truckers say will devastate their business.

It comes as a key legislative panel approved a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, setting up the ambitious climate proposal for a full floor vote. The bill, along with another addressing diesel emissions from heavy-duty trucks, are meant to reduce the emissions behind global warming and stem the tide of climate change.

Some employers have welcomed the changes, saying cap and trade has been carefully negotiated for over a decade and will actually bring new, high paying jobs to some of the most remote parts of Oregon.

“This actually opens the door to an incredible amount of high paying jobs,” said Matt Swanson with the Northwest Carpenters Union, which represents carpenters and construction workers. “As we transition to cleaner technology, we will need more construction workers on the ground, including in rural areas, to build new infrastructure.”

The program sets aside $10 million every two years for investments in transitioning displaced workers to clean energy jobs, providing unemployment benefits plus career and technical training. There are also wage and labor standards built in to ensure these new jobs offer fair pay and other worker benefits.

But truckers and loggers say that there’s no reason for the state to move forward with such an ambitious climate platform since Oregon’s emissions make up far less than one percent of the global problem.  Workers add that such emissions changes would put them out of business, raising fuel and equipment costs.

“It’s the height of conceit and arrogance to say that we are responsible for this issue or that we could even do anything to fix it,” said Gregg Budge, who owns his own trucking company in Vernonia, northwest of Portland. “If their concept of climate change is a real thing, Oregon is such a minuscule part of this world that this legislation would do nothing.”

Under a cap-and-trade program, the state puts an overall limit on emissions and auctions off pollution permits or “allowances” for each ton of carbon industries plan to emit. Only the largest polluters are targeted, and the idea is that as the emissions limit becomes stricter over time, it will be in industries’ financial interest to switch to green technology. The state ultimately aims to reduce emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The change is expected to raise gas prices by about 22 cents a gallon for the first year, with gas rising above $3 dollars a gallon by 2050, according to the Legislative Revenue Office. Some of those costs would be returned to low-income drivers under a fuel rebate program written into the bill.

The trucking industry is also likely to experience a reduction in tax rates, which state economists say will lower some of the financial impacts of the program.

But truckers maintain that even with those caveats, the proposals only showcase how little lawmakers understand industry in rural Oregon. Truckers have to buy their own trucks and in many cases aren’t reimbursed by employers for the price of fuel.

They say that they’re being punished double by lawmakers: cap and trade would raise fuel prices, while a proposed clean diesel bill would require some truckers to buy new engines or vehicles, upgrades that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The diesel measure aims to phase out diesel engines produced before 2007, and the proposal only applies Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties, which are primarily urban areas.

Senate President Peter Courtney addressed a crowd of protesters outside the Capitol, acknowledging their frustrations with the proposals.

“I see you glaring at me and I get that,” he told a crowd, adding that he wouldn’t “celebrate” the passage of either proposal.

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  1. Dean Fern

    June 19, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    How is this going to work for a O/O with one truck yes my truck is parked in Clackamas county.I drive 16 miles in and out of the county. Yes the truck is loaded and unloaded in Clackamas county then driven to Seattle to do my route 99% of the route is in Washington. Why would I need to comply with this if my truck is used 99% of the time in the state of Washington but I live and own a truck in Clackamas County does not make any sense to me at all.

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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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