Connect with us

The Nation

U.S. says driving would be riskier if fuel standards tougher

Published

on

WASHINGTON  — The Trump administration says people would drive more and be exposed to increased risk if their cars get better gas mileage, an argument intended to justify freezing Obama-era toughening of fuel standards.

Transportation experts dispute the arguments, contained in a draft of the administration’s proposals prepared this summer, excerpts of which were obtained by The Associated Press.

The excerpts also show the administration plans to challenge California’s long-standing authority to enact its own, tougher pollution and fuel standards.

Revisions to the mileage requirements for 2021 through 2026 are still being worked on, the administration says, and changes could be made before the proposal is released as soon as this week.

The Trump administration gave notice earlier this year that it would roll back tough new fuel standards put into place in the waning days of the Obama administration. Anticipating the new regulation, California and 16 other states sued the Trump administration in May.

Overall, “improvements over time have better longer-term effects simply by not alienating consumers, as compared to great leaps forward” in fuel efficiency and other technology, the administration argues. It contends that freezing the mileage requirements at 2020 levels would save up to 1,000 lives per year.

New vehicles would be cheaper — and heavier — if they don’t have to meet more stringent fuel requirements and more people would buy them, the draft says, and that would put more drivers in safer, newer vehicles that pollute less.

At the same time, the draft says that people will drive less if their vehicles get fewer miles per gallon, lowering the risk of crashes.

David Zuby, chief research officer at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said he’s doubtful about the administration’s estimate of lives saved because other factors could affect traffic deaths, such as automakers agreeing to make automatic emergency braking standard on all models before 2022. “They’re making assumptions about stuff that may or may not be the same,” he said.

Experts say the logic that heavier vehicles are safer doesn’t hold up because lighter, newer vehicles perform as well or better than older, heavier versions in crash tests, and because the weight difference between the Obama and Trump requirements would be minimal.

“Allow me to be skeptical,” said Giorgio Rizzoni, an engineering professor and director of the Center for Automotive Research at Ohio State University. “To say that safety is a direct result of somehow freezing the fuel economy mandate for a few years, I think that’s a stretch.”

Experts say that a heavier, bigger vehicle would incur less damage in a crash with a smaller, lighter one and that fatality rates also are higher for smaller vehicles. But they also say that lighter vehicles with metals such as aluminum, magnesium, titanium and lighter, high-strength steel alloys perform as well or better than their predecessors in crash tests.

Alan Taub, professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Michigan, said he would choose a 2017 Malibu over a heavier one from 20 years earlier. It’s engineered better, has more features to avoid crashes and additional air bags, among other things. “You want to be in the newer vehicle,” he said.

An April draft from the Trump administration said freezing the requirements at 2020 levels would save people $1,900 per new vehicle. But the later draft raises that to $2,100 and even as high as $2,700 by 2025.

Environmental groups questioned the justification for freezing the standards. Luke Tonachel, director of the clean-vehicle program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the risk from people driving more due to higher mileage is “tiny and maybe even negligible.”

Under the Trump administration proposal, the fleet of new vehicles would have to average roughly 30 mpg in real-world driving, and that wouldn’t change through 2026.

California has had the authority under the half-century-old Clean Air Act to set its own mileage under a special rule allowing the state to curb its chronic smog problem. More than a dozen states follow California’s standards, amounting to about 40 percent of the country’s new-vehicle market.

Asked if he thinks a freeze in U.S. mileage standards is warranted, EPA acting administrator Andrew Wheeler told a small group of reporters at EPA headquarters last week, “I think we need to go where the technology takes us” on fuel standards.

Wheeler did not elaborate. Agency spokespeople did not respond when asked specifically if the EPA acting chief was making the case that modern cars could be both fuel efficient and safe.

Wheeler also spoke out for what he called “a 50-state solution” that would keep the U.S car and truck market from splitting between two different mileage standards.

The Department of Transportation said in a statement that the final fuel economy standards would be based on sound science. The department cautioned that a draft doesn’t capture the whole picture of the proposed regulation.

The draft said a 2012 analysis of fuel economy standards under the Obama administration deliberately limited the amount of mass reduction necessary under the standards. This was done “in order to avoid the appearance of adverse safety effects,” the draft stated.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. MrBigR504

    August 12, 2018 at 5:44 am

    So if my car gets great gas mileage, i will drive more and be at a higher risk of an accident? Phew, I’m glad i was born AT NIGHT and NOT LAST NIGHT!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Nation

86.5% of trucks inspected during CVSA Brake Safety Week had no OOS issues

Published

on

During a roadside inspection, if an inspector identifies critical vehicle inspection item violations, he or she will render the vehicle out of service, which means those violations must be corrected before the vehicle may proceed. (The Trucker file photo)

GREENBELT, Md. — The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance said Tuesday that inspectors conducted 34,320 commercial motor vehicle inspections during CVSA’s Brake Safety Week and placed 4,626 vehicles — or 13.5% — out of service after critical brake-related conditions were identified during roadside inspections.

CVSA noted that a majority — 86.5% — of vehicles inspected during the September 15-21 time period did not have any critical brake-related inspection item violations.

In 2018, CVSA said out of 35,080 inspections, 4,955 trucks — or 14.1% — were placed out of service.

In 2017, CVSA conducted only a Brake Safety Day, which resulted in 14% of trucks inspected being put out of service.

During a roadside inspection, if an inspector identifies critical vehicle inspection item violations, he or she will render the vehicle out of service, which means those violations must be corrected before the vehicle may proceed.

Sixty jurisdictions in Canada and the U.S. participated in this year’s Brake Safety Week.

In the U.S., 49 jurisdictions conducted 31,864 roadside inspections and placed 4,344 (13.6%) commercial motor vehicles out of service because of brake-related violations. In Canada, 11 jurisdictions conducted 2,456 roadside inspections and 282 (11.5%) commercial motor vehicles were placed out of service for brake-related violations.

As part of this year’s Brake Safety Week, inspectors also collected and reported data on brake hoses/tubing.

  • 2,567 units had chafed rubber hose violations.
  • 1,347 units had chafed thermoplastic hose violations.
  • 2,704 violations of § 393.45 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and Canadian equivalent violations included chafed rubber hoses.
  • There were 1,683 violations of § 393.45 of the FMCSRs and Canadian equivalent violations that included kinked thermoplastic hoses.

“Inspectors conduct more than 4 million roadside inspections every year and checking brake components is just one element of the inspection procedure inspectors perform on commercial motor vehicles every day,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “This inspection and enforcement event reminds drivers and motor carriers of the importance of properly functioning brakes and spotlights the work done by inspectors, motor carriers and drivers every day to keep our roadways safe by ensuring vehicles are in appropriate working condition.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, highway crash fatality data for 2018, there was a 2.4% decline in overall fatalities, the second consecutive year of reduced crash fatalities. However, conversely, for 2018, large-truck related fatalities increased by 0.9%.

“While we applaud the decrease in the overall number of fatalities on our roadways last year, we’re alarmed by the increase in the number of large-truck-related fatalities,” Samis said. “CVSA conducts high-profile, high-visibility enforcement events, such as Brake Safety Week, to reduce the number of fatalities occurring on our roadways. Roadway safety is our number one priority and we will continue our efforts to improve brake safety throughout North America.”

Brake Safety Week is an inspection, enforcement, education and awareness initiative that is part of the Operation Airbrake Program sponsored by CVSA in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators.

 

 

 

Continue Reading

The Nation

Interstate bridge tolls key to Connecticut $21B plan; HD trucks would pay $7

Published

on

Gov. Ned Lamont’s transportation plan includes a proposal to place electronic toll gantries at 14 highway bridge locations across the state, 11 of which are located on interstates, including I-95, I-84, I-91, I-395 and I-684. (Associated Press: JESSICA HILL)

HARTFORD, Conn. — A $21 billion transportation plan proposed by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont November 7 would invest $14 billion in Connecticut’s roads and bridges plus $7 billion in its public transit systems over the next decade and would rely on interstate bridge tolls for part of that funding.

The governor’s plan includes a proposal to place electronic toll gantries at 14 highway bridge locations across the state, 11 of which are located on interstates, including I-95, I-84, I-91, I-395 and I-684, according to a report in the Journal, the official magazine of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials..

Connecticut’s tolling proposal matches a similar effort instituted in Rhode Island in 2018 – an effort that survived a federal court challenge in March – although in Rhode Island’s case, its interstate bridge tolls apply only to heavy trucks.

The governor’s $21 billion plan, which breaks down to $2.1 billion worth of investment in Connecticut’s transportation system annually, is a more than $500 million per year increase compared to the previous level of state investment – which is roughly $1.6 billion per year, according to news sources.

“For generations, the state has neglected critical investments in our infrastructure, hampering economic growth and leaving residents in endless hours of traffic wondering why state officials didn’t fix these problems years ago,” Lamont said in a statement.

Lamont said that with six of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the country and 65 percent of its highways more than three decades old with 12 percent of its bridges rated in poor condition, “virtually anyone who regularly uses Connecticut’s transportation system agrees that the state desperately needs to make targeted improvements that reduce congestion and make travel quicker, safer, convenient, and reliable”

To pay for this 10-year transportation plan – dubbed Connecticut 2030 or CT2030 for short – the governor proposes to use a mix of fiscal resources, including:

  • $750 million in annual federal funding and grants.
  • Transportation Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act or TIFIA loans, loans from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau, and Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing loans.
  • State general obligation bonds
  • The transfer of all car sales taxes to Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund by 2023, making that fund solvent while establishing a 15 percent reserve fund.
  • Imposing select highway bridge tolls costing 50 cents to $1 for cars, $1.25 to $2.50 for medium-sized trucks, and $3.50 to $7.00 for heavy trucks. Lamont said he expects 40 percent of those tolls to be paid by out-of-state drivers.

“For the future of our state, we can no longer kick the can down the road on these improvements – we must fix this long overdue problem and move our state forward today,” the governor said.

Continue Reading

The Nation

Voters approve 90% of 305 state and local transportation ballot measures

Published

on

Officials said the preliminary results of the November 5 election reaffirm a decade-long trend of voters strongly supporting investments to maintain and improve their state or local transportation networks. (Courtesy: ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

WASHINGTON— Voters in 19 states on November 5 sent a decisive message of support for transportation investment, approving almost 90 percent of 305 state and local transportation ballot measures.

In total, the 270 approved initiatives are expected to generate over $9.6 billion in one-time and recurring revenue, according to the analysis conducted by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (ARTBA-TIAC). Two measures in Texas are still pending.

“The ballot results are a great reminder infrastructure investment remains one of the few areas where red states, blue states, Republicans and Democrats can all come together,” ARTBA President Dave Bauer said.  “It should also demonstrate to lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the public will be on board for the passage of a long-term bill that significantly boosts highway and transit investment at the federal level.”

A complete report and an all-new interactive dashboard that filters results by state, mode, year and type of initiative are available at the Center’s flagship website at www.transportationinvestment.org.

The preliminary results reaffirm a decade-long trend of voters strongly supporting investments to maintain and improve their state or local transportation networks. Voters have approved 81 percent of nearly 2,000 transportation investment ballot measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC since 2010, including this year’s results.

“Public support for increasing infrastructure investment continues to help local governments and the transportation construction community improve safety, mobility and overall quality of life for residents as projects get underway,” said Carolyn Kramer, ARTBA-TIAC director.

Voters in Maine overwhelmingly approved, by a 76 percent to 24 percent margin, a $105 million bond measure to support transportation infrastructure projects. The vote was Maine’s seventh successful transportation bond in eight years.

While transportation investment fared well nationwide, Washington state voters endorsed by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin a measure that reduces or repeals certain motor vehicle taxes and fees and removes the authority to impose certain new fees without their approval. This decision will cost the state nearly $4.3 billion in state and local transportation revenue over the next six years.

Voters in Colorado rejected by a 55 percent to 45 percent vote a measure that would have permitted the state to retain excess tax collections in order to fund education and transportation.

The 305 measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC is the largest number ever for an odd-numbered, off-year election. Although historically most transportation measures are put on the ballot in even-numbered years when congressional or presidential elections drive higher turnout, an increasing number of measures are being considered by voters during odd-numbered years and primary elections.

There were 57 measures in 12 states that would raise over $20 million each, compared to 21 measures in 2017.  Of that total, 89 percent were approved.  Of 25 measures that would raise over $100 million, voters approved 92 percent.  This included a bond measure in Harris County, Texas to support transit expansions in Houston under the “Moving Forward Plan.”

Of the local ballot measures, most (302 of 305) were property tax increases, primarily in Ohio (154) and Michigan (15), where many municipalities consistently ask voters to renew such assessments to pay for local roads and infrastructure repairs.

Additionally, local bond measures in Texas appeared on 25 ballots and received 96 percent approval, which will generate nearly $6 billion. Most of these measures established municipal utility districts.

The approved measures will support $7.7 billion in new transportation investment revenue and $1.9 billion in continued funding through tax extensions, renewals or protections. The timing of the market impact of these actions is difficult to project as revenue approved will last up to 25 years.

 

 

Continue Reading

Trending