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

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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.

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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!

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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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