Latest Industry News Briefs Courtesy of PMTA
Work Zone Fatalities at Highest Level Since 2006, New Data Show
WASHINGTON… The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) joined state Departments of Transportation and other organizations nationwide today to urge drivers to keep highway workers safe as construction activities increase. They also urged the public to wear orange on April 28 for a national “Go Orange” Day to show their support for highway workers.
In 2019, the most recent year for which data are available, 842 people died in highway work-zone crashes compared to 757 the year before. The 11.2-percent increase is the largest percentage increase of highway work zone fatalities since 2006.
“We all have a role to play when it comes to safely repairing and improving our nation’s roads, bridges and highways,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “If you are driving and see construction work ahead – and especially workers on the job – please slow down and drive carefully.”
Crashes in highway work zones happen most frequently when drivers are not paying attention to changing road conditions. Distracted driving is a key element of many crashes, leading many drivers to crash into other vehicles, highway equipment or safety barriers.
Though highway workers are often among the victims of work zone crashes, the dangers of reckless driving more often affect those behind the wheel and their passengers. Four out of five work zone fatalities were drivers or passengers, according to FHWA data.
“The men and women fixing our nation’s highways deserve to get to work, do their job and return home safe and sound after their shift,” said Pollack. “They can’t work safely if you don’t drive safely.”
FHWA has supported work zone safety efforts for more than 20 years and, since 2005, awarded more than $40 million in grants to states for specialized work zone safety training. To date, nearly 4,300 courses have been provided to over 120,000 state and local DOT personnel or other transportation agency staff.
The USDOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will also support National Work Zone Awareness Week, in part by launching safety awareness efforts in Florida, Georgia and Texas which experience the some of the highest rates of work zone crashes involving large trucks in the country. FMCSA has also developed fact sheets, post cards and shareable social media infographics for safety partners to help amplify work zone messaging. For more information and shareable resources on FMCSA’s 2021 work zone safety campaign, visit https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ourroads/work-zone-safety-shareable-material.
For more information on this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week, visit http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/outreach/wz_awareness.htm, follow @USDOTFHWA on Twitter, and use hashtags #NWZAW, #Orange4Safety and #OrangeForSafety.
Federal Panel Issues Recommendations on Border Reopening and Future Border Policies
TORONTO… A federal COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel issued a report yesterday with proposals that could pave a path toward reopening the Canada-US border while balancing public health.
The report, entitled “Priority Strategies to Optimize Testing and Quarantine at Canada’s border”, contained several proposed measures for future land and air border ports in the future, including sustained use of the ArriveCAN app as well as vaccine “certifications.”
In November 2020, the federal Minister of Health created the panel to provide evidence and science-informed advice to the federal government related to existing and innovative approaches to testing and screening in Canada.
The expert panel also recommended the following measures to help support and meet these objectives:
* Border measures must be simple, easy to understand, equitable and consider both benefits and harms;
* Recommending the Government of Canada continue to use the ArriveCAN app to manage traveller information reporting;
* The panel acknowledged considerations regarding vaccine “certification,” and recommending a system to validate proof of vaccination for arriving travellers should be made available as soon as possible;
* The panel recommends the federal government continue screening positive cases among international travellers for variants of concern;
* Land and air border measures should remain as consistent as possible;
* The requirement for all air travellers to quarantine in government-authorized accommodations be discontinued;
* The panel recommends phased implementation of new border measures and consideration for the implementation process, including enforcement, which could take additional time to implement for certain measures.
A delegation of Canadian Trucking Alliance carrier members from each region met with the panel in March to provide the industry’s perspective on managing and preventing the spread of COVID-19 throughout the supply chain, with specific emphasis on cross-border operations.
The objectives stated in the report very much align with CTA’s recommended approach on cross-border measures, which are designed to control the spread of COVID-19; protect public health; secure the supply chain and its services by ensuring that travel restrictions are not excessive; and if required, utilize voluntary testing away from the border to monitor the constantly evolving COVID situation.
Voluntary COVID-19 testing was the recommended approach for exempt travellers arriving at the border by air and land. The report states:
“Voluntary testing on arrival for exempt travellers with lab-based PCR or rapid test: (i) Take-home sampling kit and/or scale up pharmacy capacity (ii) Self-monitoring for symptoms and no quarantine required unless the test is positive. Note: The voluntary arrival testing program should provide useful information on further potential recommendations for this group.”
The report also highlighted what was essentially a zero positivity rate among truck drivers from three voluntary testing programs at multiple locations across Canada last year.
“The Canadian Trucking Alliance would like to once again thank the Expert Panel Co- Chairs Sue Paish and Dr. Irfan Dhalla for meeting with CTA and listening and considering our industry’s concerns and applying our reasoning behind our recommendations,” said CTA director of Policy, Lak Shoan.
“CTA will continue to work collaboratively with Government of Canada to ensure that our industry continues to manage health and safety to the highest degree; trains and prepares its members on the mandatory ArriveCAN requirement, while helping to certify our supply chain remains secure and continues to function at the level required to fuel the Canadian economy.”
Daimler Truck AG And Volvo Group Fully Committed To Hydrogen-Based Fuel-Cells – Launch Of New Joint Venture Cellcentric
Gothenburg, Sweden / Stuttgart, Germany … Two leaders of the commercial vehicle industry – Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group – officially outlined their pioneering roadmap for the new fuel-cell joint venture cellcentric, as part of an industry-first commitment to accelerate the use of hydrogen-based fuel cells for long-haul trucks and beyond. With the ambition of becoming a leading global manufacturer of fuel-cell systems, cellcentric will build one of Europe’s largest planned series production of fuel-cell systems, with operation planned to commence in 2025. To accelerate the rollout of hydrogen-based fuel-cells, the two cellcentric shareholders call for a harmonized EU hydrogen policy framework to support the technology in becoming a viable commercial solution.
These ambitions were revealed as part of an exclusive digital launch today, led by Martin Daum, CEO of Daimler Truck AG, and Martin Lundstedt, CEO of Volvo Group. Designed to help meet the 2050 targets of sustainable transport and a carbon-neutral Europe as part of the European Green Deal, cellcentric will develop, produce and commercialize fuel-cell systems for both long-haul trucking and other applications. The joint venture can draw on decades of expertise and development work from both Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group.
According to Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group, purely battery-electric and hydrogen-based fuel-cell trucks will complement each other depending on the individual customer use case. Battery power will be rather used for lower cargo weights and for shorter distances, while fuel-cell power will tend to be the preferred option for heavier loads and longer distances.
Martin Daum, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler Truck AG and Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, says: “Hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electric trucks will be key for enabling CO2-neutral transportation in the future. In combination with pure battery-electric drives, it enables us to offer our customers the best genuinely locally CO2-neutral vehicle options, depending on the application. Battery-electric trucks alone will not make this possible. Together with our partner Volvo Group, we are therefore fully committed to our fuel-cell joint venture cellcentric and we are both pushing forward the development of the technology as well as the series production preparations. Regarding the necessary hydrogen infrastructure, it is clear that green hydrogen is the only sensible way forward in the long term.”
Martin Lundstedt, CEO of Volvo Group, says: “Our united ambition is to meet the targets in the Paris agreement of becoming CO2-neutral by 2050 at the latest. We are convinced that hydrogen fuel-cell technology plays an essential role in helping us reach that milestone. But we know there is so much more to achieve than just the electrification of machines and vehicles. There needs to be greater cooperation between public and private stakeholders to develop the necessary technology and infrastructure, which is why we are calling for united action from policymakers and governments around the world in helping us make hydrogen fuel-cell technology a success. Partnerships like cellcentric are vital to our commitment to decarbonizing road transport.”
The major truck manufacturers in Europe, also backed by Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group, are therefore calling for the setup of around 300 high-performance hydrogen refuelling stations suitable for heavy-duty vehicles by 2025 and of around 1,000 hydrogen refuelling stations no later than 2030 in Europe. This joint initiative, using hydrogen as a carrier of green electricity to power electric trucks in long-haul operations, is one important part of decarbonizing road transport.
As CO2-neutral trucks are currently significantly more expensive than conventional vehicles, a policy framework is needed to ensure demand and affordability. According to Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group, this should include incentives for CO2-neutral technologies and a taxation system based on carbon and energy content. An emissions trading system could be an additional option.
Clear roadmap towards series production of fuel-cell systems and fuel-cell trucks
Currently, cellcentric is conceptualizing the plans for its large-scale series production. More details and a decision on the location will be revealed over the course of 2022. As a significant step towards series production, preparations for pre-series production are taking place at a new site in Esslingen near Stuttgart. In parallel, cellcentric is scaling up on-going prototype output.
Daimler Truck AG’s and Volvo Group’s goal is to start with customer tests of fuel-cell trucks in about three years and to be in series production of fuel-cell trucks during the second half of this decade. All vehicle-related activities are carried out independently from each other, as both companies remain competitors in all vehicle and product ranges, and particularly in fuel-cell integration solutions for all products.
Joint venture for fuel-cell systems
On 1 March 2021, Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group formed cellcentric. To that end, Volvo Group acquired 50 percent of the partnership interests in the existing Daimler Truck Fuel Cell GmbH & Co. KG for approximately EUR 0.6 billion on a cash and debt-free basis. In November 2020, Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group signed a binding agreement for the joint venture. A preliminary non-binding agreement had already been signed in April of the same year.
More than 300 highly specialized experts work for cellcentric in inter-disciplinary teams at locations in Nabern, Stuttgart (Germany) and Burnaby (Canada). Around 700 individual patents have been issued so far, underlining the leading role played by the company when it comes to technological development.
Brake Safety Week Set for Aug. 22-28
Greenbelt, MD… This year’s Brake Safety Week is scheduled for Aug. 22-28. During Brake Safety Week, commercial motor vehicle inspectors emphasize the importance of brake systems by conducting inspections and removing commercial motor vehicles found to have brake-related out-of-service violations from our roadways. At the same time, many motor carriers work to educate their drivers and maintenance service providers on the importance of brake system safety.
Throughout the week, inspectors will conduct North American Standard Inspections of commercial motor vehicles, focusing on the vehicle’s brake systems and components. In addition, inspectors will compile data on brake hoses/tubing, the focus area for this year’s Brake Safety Week, to submit to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). CVSA will report its findings later this year.
Jurisdictions devote a week to conducting commercial motor vehicle inspections, identifying brake violations and removing vehicles with out-of-service brake violations because:
* Brake system and brake adjustment violations accounted for more vehicle violations than any other vehicle violation category, accounting for 38.6% of all vehicle out-of-service conditions, during last year’s three-day International Roadcheck inspection and enforcement initiative.
* “Brake system” was the third most cited vehicle-related factor in fatal commercial motor vehicle and passenger vehicle crashes, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) latest “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts” report.
* Brake-related violations accounted for eight out of the top 20 vehicle violations in 2020, according to FMCSA's Motor Carrier Management Information System.
* During last year’s Brake Safety Week, 12% of the 43,565 commercial motor vehicles inspected were placed out of service for brake-related violations.
The dates for Brake Safety Week are shared in advance to remind motor carriers, drivers and commercial motor vehicle mechanics/technicians to proactively check and service their vehicles to ensure every commercial motor vehicle traveling on our roadways is safe, mechanically fit and compliant. Recent researchhas shown that announcing enforcement campaigns ahead of time improves overall compliance better than surprise enforcement campaigns and for longer periods after the event.
August, the month of CVSA’s Brake Safety Week, is also Brake Safety Awareness Month. Law enforcement agencies will work to educate commercial motor vehicle drivers, motor carriers, mechanics, owner-operators and others on the importance of proper brake maintenance, operation and performance through outreach, education and awareness campaigns.
Bendix Driver Assistance Cameras Earn Fmcsa Exemption
ELYRIA, OH… With a decision that helps enable the next generation of advanced driver assistance systems and provides fleets with even more valuable data and options to enhance vehicle, driver, and roadway safety, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC has received a five-year regulatory exemption for Bendix’s windshield-mounted video cameras. These components are part of the Bendix® Wingman® Fusion™ collision mitigation technology, AutoVue® 4G Lane Departure Warning (LDW) System by Bendix CVS, and SafetyDirect® by Bendix CVS. The exemption allows the housing for the Bendix safety cameras – including a driver-facing camera as part of the SafetyDirect system – to be mounted slightly lower on the interior of the windshield than was previously permitted.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced its decision April 6, and the exemption is in effect until April 6, 2026.
“As more fleets, drivers, and truck builders incorporate these safety technologies into their vehicles, it’s important that we’re able to continue advancing the systems without fleets and drivers having to worry about violating windshield clearance rules,” said Fred Andersky, Bendix director – demos, sales, and service training. “This decision builds on similar previous exemptions that were made permanent, and it’s limited to the Bendix camera housing – which is about 5.6 inches tall and 5.4 inches wide. It allows the bottom of the component to reach eight inches below the top of the area swept by the windshield wipers – about an inch lower than the current regulation permits.”
In announcing the decision, the FMCSA noted, “The Agency has determined that lower placement of the ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) technology would not have an adverse impact on safety and that adherence to the terms and conditions of the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety provided by the regulation.”
Under the FMCSA prohibitions on obstructions to a driver’s field of view, devices such as antennas or transponders that are mounted at the top of a windshield must be located outside the area swept by the windshield wipers. Because the Wingman® Fusion™active safety system and AutoVue® LDW are effective in most weather conditions where lane markings are visible, the systems’ forward-facing cameras need to be mounted within the swept area of the windshield wipers. Motor carriers using approved safety technologies such as lane departure warning systems and collision mitigation systems can mount devices within the newly revised area, although the devices must still remain outside the driver’s sight lines to the road, highway signs, and signals.
The driver-facing camera covered by the exemption is part of the powerful fifth generation of the SafetyDirect® processor platform, which Bendix launched in 2019. SafetyDirect is the user-friendly web portal that provides fleet operators with comprehensive feedback on their fleet and drivers, along with videos of severe events. The system wirelessly transmits real-time data and event-based information from a vehicle’s J1939 network to the fleet’s back office for analysis.
“This particular FMCSA decision is a narrow one, specific to Bendix,” Andersky noted. “And it expects that fleets and drivers will apply a level of common sense. The wrong devices, or too many of them in the sweep area, can still be in violation of the windshield obstruction rules. It’s important for fleets that are not using Bendix devices to check with their system supplier concerning the appropriate windshield clearance exemption for the device being used. If not, the fleet could be subject to inspection violations.”
Bendix launched the first generation of its powerful Wingman Fusion family of technologies in 2015, integrating radar, camera, and a vehicle’s brake system to create its flagship driver assistance system. Since then, Bendix has regularly expanded and improved the Fusion system’s capabilities through advancements such as multi-lane autonomous braking (AEB) and highway departure warning and braking.
AutoVue® is a vision-based system linking a camera with a 60-degree field of view to an on-board computer that uses image recognition software to track visible lane markings. This market-leading LDW system continually monitors a vehicle’s position and detects when the vehicle begins to drift toward an unintended lane change. Upon detection, AutoVue emits a distinctive “rumble strip” or other audible warning to alert the driver to make a correction.
“The Wingman® Fusion™ system, AutoVue, and SafetyDirect® are on select vehicles through our network of Bendix Authorized Upgrade Centers, which means this exemption can also benefit fleets deciding to add these safety systems to vehicles already in service,” Andersky noted. “The upgrades are available for certain models manufactured by International® Trucks, Kenworth Truck Company, Mack® Trucks, Peterbilt Motors Company, and Volvo Trucks NA. More information on the program and vehicle upgradability by make and model is available at bendixcvsupgrade.com.”
Andersky added, “These are driver assistance and not driver replacement technologies. No technology replaces the need for skilled, alert drivers practicing safe driving habits, and that ongoing, proactive, comprehensive training is crucial to fleet and driver safety. Safe operation of the vehicle ultimately remains in the hands of the driver at all times, and advanced driver assistance systems are not meant to encourage or enable aggressive driving.”
Bendix safety technologies are part of the company’s ever-growing portfolio of commercial vehicle developments, helping deliver safety, efficiency, and vehicle performance, with the backing of unparalleled post-sales support. On all fronts, Bendix strives to help fleets and drivers lower total cost of vehicle ownership (TCO), encouraging investment in equipment and technologies that make highways safer for everyone.
ATA Truck Tonnage Index Decreased 0.3% in April Index 6.9% Above April 2020
Arlington, VA… American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.3% in April after increasing 2.3% in March. In April, the index equaled 114.7 (2015=100) compared with 115.1 in March.
“After a revised increase in March of 2.3%, the April index declined just slightly,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The outlook is solid for tonnage going forward as the country approaches pre-pandemic levels of activity, with strong economic growth in key areas for trucking – including retail, home construction and even manufacturing.
“Additionally, the index increased on a year-over-year basis for the first time since March 2020. Part of the reason for the gain was due to an easy comparison with when the index fell significantly in April 2020,” he said. “But I’m expecting increases, albeit smaller than April’s, on a year-over-year basis going forward. Trucking’s biggest challenges are not on the demand side, but on the supply side, including difficulty finding qualified drivers.”
March’s reading was revised up to +2.3% from our April 20 press release.
Compared with April 2020, the SA index jumped 6.9%, which was preceded by a 2.4% year-over-year decline in March.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 114.3 in April, 4.2% below the March level (119.3). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 72.5% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 11.84 billion tons of freight in 2019. Motor carriers collected $791.7 billion, or 80.4% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.
ATA Launches “Battle of the States” National Truck Driving Championship - Federation Adapts Annual Event into a Virtual Format
Arlington, VA… The American Trucking Associations called for the nation’s safest and most professional truck drivers to participate in the 2021 National Battle of the States: Virtual Truck Driving Championships.
“Our industry has braved the front-line, providing essential services and delivering goods to American households throughout the nation in the fight against COVID-19. It’s yet another reason to celebrate our industry heroes – truck drivers,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “The National Battle of the States: Virtual Truck Driving Championships will provide our industry an opportunity to recognize the best of the best in our industry.”
The event will begin on July 31 with state-level trivia contests based on Facts for Drivers, federal and state laws, state trucking history and culture. That leads into the national competition that takes place on August 14 with the National Battle of the States.
“NTDC is annually one of the highlights of the ATA calendar, and we are very happy to bring the ‘Super Bowl of Safety’ back in this virtual format,” Spear said.
For more information on how to qualify for the National Battle of the States: Virtual Truck Driving Championships, visit BattleofTheStates.trucking.org.
Supply Chain Leaders Call on Congress to Pass Bipartisan DRIVE-Safe Act
Arlington, VA… 117 organizations representing all levels of the U.S. supply chain sent a letter to transportation leaders in Congress urging passage of the DRIVE-Safe Act, legislation to remedy the nation’s growing shortage of truck drivers by promoting opportunity and enhancing safety training for emerging members of the trucking workforce.
Although 49 states and the District of Columbia currently allow individuals under the age of 21 to obtain a commercial driver’s license and operate commercial vehicles in intrastate commerce, these same individuals are prohibited by federal law from driving a truck across state lines until they turn 21. The ban on interstate commerce also precludes them from hauling any freight intrastate that originated from out-of-state, such as cargo shipped by air into their state of domicile.
The DRIVE-Safe Act would change this through a rigorous two-step apprenticeship program that creates a path for these drivers to participate in interstate commerce. As the name implies, however, the legislation’s first priority is safety. In order to qualify, candidates must complete at least 400 hours of additional training—far beyond what is required of any other CDL holder in the nation. All qualified drivers participating in the apprenticeship program would be accompanied by an experienced driver in the cab and would only be allowed to drive trucks outfitted with the latest safety technology, including active braking collision mitigation systems, forward-facing event recording cameras, speed limiters set at 65 miles per hour or less and automatic or automatic-manual transmissions.
The legislation had strong, bipartisan support in the 116th Congress that spanned the ideological spectrum and was reintroduced last month by Sens. Todd Young (R-Indiana), Jon Tester (D-Montana), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Angus King (I-Maine), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) in the Senate, and by Reps. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Indiana), Jim Cooper (D-Tennessee), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan), Jared Golden (D-Maine), Troy Balderson (R-Ohio), Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa), Bruce Westerman (R-Arkansas) and Darin LaHood (R-Illinois) in the House.
In the letter, supply chain leaders cite the impact that the driver shortage is having on their operations, the transportation of goods and consumer prices:
Seventy percent of the nation’s freight is carried by commercial trucks, and while demand is projected to increase over the next decade, the threat posed by the driver shortage stands to disrupt the continuity of the supply chain. This is especially problematic as the nation and our economy recover from the monumental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a recent estimate, the trucking industry needs an additional 60,800 truck drivers immediately—a deficit that is expected to grow to more than 160,000 by 2028. In fact, when anticipated driver retirement numbers are combined with the expected growth in capacity, the trucking industry will need to hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade, or an average of nearly 110,000 per year.
The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the truck driver shortage, and the temporary closures of state DMV’s and truck driver training schools dried up the already fragile pipeline of new drivers entering the trucking industry.
And as a result of the already crippling driver shortage, companies in supply chains across the economy are facing higher transportation costs, leading to increased prices for consumers on everything from electronics to food.
NATSO, NACS Commend Senate EPW for Advancing Bipartisan Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021
Alexandria, VA… NATSO, the national association representing the travel plaza and truckstop industry, and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) today commended the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for advancing a bipartisan, five-year, $303.5 billion highway reauthorization bill, “Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021.”
NATSO and NACS applaud the Committee for ensuring that highway and infrastructure programs are adequately funded without repealing the federal prohibitions on tolling existing interstates or commercializing rest areas.
“We applaud Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.VA.) for introducing a bipartisan effort to address the nation’s critical infrastructure needs through the ‘Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021’,” said NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings. “This measure marks a critical step in ensuring that we adequately fund surface transportation and address the nation’s infrastructure needs. We look forward to working with Congress to ensure that we advance those opportunities that harness the private sector’s ingenuity to take meaningful steps to improve the environment.”
“Bipartisan agreement on how to address our infrastructure needs is welcome,” said NACS CEO Henry Armour. “We look forward to continued work with the Senate to ensure that the legislation takes full advantage of the opportunity to leverage private sector investment and bring the benefits of competitive markets to all vehicle drivers. It is essential that any infrastructure bill avoids the negative repercussions that could come if funding mechanisms were used to undermine the competitive market.”
NATSO and NACS strongly support private sector investments in alternative fuels, including renewable diesel, biodiesel, natural gas, ethanol and electric vehicle charging, and the travel plaza, truckstop and convenience store industries are making significant investments in this regard.
NATSO and NACS support efforts to prioritize private investment in electric vehicle charging and other alternative fuels along designated highway corridors.
We commend the EPW Committee members for ensuring that grant recipients must contract with a private entity rather than allowing the government to own and operate refueling infrastructure. Ensuring that the private sector invests in alternatives is key to meeting the fueling needs of the traveling public.
With regard to electric vehicle charging, the associations urge Congress to implement additional guardrails to ensure that utilities are not permitted to make all electricity customers pay for them to own and operate EV charging stations while also receiving federal funds for their installation. That double-dipping would waste federal funds and force utility customers to provide a regressive subsidy.
The private sector is both willing and able to make these investments on a competitive basis.
OOIDA Opposes House Highway Bill
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, released his highway bill proposal which includes an unnecessary increase in minimum liability insurance for motor carriers that the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says is a poison pill. While the association was pleasantly surprised the bill included a remarkable $1 billion to address the serious shortage of truck parking, OOIDA will aggressively oppose the “INVEST in America Act” until the insurance increase to $2 million and several other anti-trucker provisions are removed.
“Everyone knows this increase will do absolutely NOTHING to improve safety on our highways and will destroy small trucking businesses,” said Todd Spencer, President and CEO of OOIDA. “What good is a highway bill when it does more to support the unbridled greed of trial lawyers than truckers?”
The bill features several other provisions OOIDA opposes, including required screening for sleep apnea, restrictive limits on personal conveyance, the return of CSA scores to public view, new authority for congestion pricing, an automatic emergency braking (AEB) mandate and a potential side underride guard mandate.
While OOIDA opposes the bill for its inclusion of harmful requirements that will needlessly jeopardize small trucking businesses, the $1 billion investment in truck parking projects is a major victory for OOIDA.
“For years, we have been pushing the federal government to take the lead in addressing the number one concern for truckers – the lack of truck parking,” Spencer explained. “We’re pleased Chairman DeFazio’s proposal includes $1 billion to expand capacity. We just wish he would have left the other junk out of it.”
Beyond the truck parking investment, the bill does include other positive policies, including increased funding for highway construction, efforts to combat both excessive detention time and predatory lease-to-own schemes, and also further analysis of questionable H-1B Visa use within the trucking industry.
In the end, the poison pill of an insurance increase overshadows the beneficial features of the bill, forcing OOIDA to oppose the legislation.
“Increasing minimum insurance requirements from $750 thousand to $2 million on the heels of a major economic disruption will be nothing short of disastrous for many small motor carriers and owner-operators,” Spencer continued. “If the economic impacts of COVID-19 didn’t destroy their businesses, Congress will by enacting this catastrophic policy.”