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Latest Industry News Briefs Courtesy of PMTA

December, 2016

Driverless-car makers worry that California’s proposed rules will slow their progress

California’s proposed rules for self-driving vehicles got another road test Wednesday, as vehicle makers and industry groups expressed concern at a public workshop that the Department of Motor Vehicles’ regulations could slow development of the technology and conflict with more flexible federal guidelines.

Recent revisions to the proposed rules, which were released late last month, include a requirement that companies “self-certify” that their vehicles meet both federal vehicle safety standards and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s guidelines for autonomous vehicles.

Manufacturers must also obtain an ordinance or resolution from local authorities that specify the roadways, speeds and other conditions that their vehicles are designed to operate in to ensure that communities have input on where testing occurs, the DMV said in a notice issued in September.

Feds may further target fuel as national carbon tax looms

Climate change is fundamentally altering the way companies are doing business, a leading climate researcher told the trucking industry about Canada’s move towards a national carbon tax framework where polluters pay.

Earlier in October, the federal government indicated that all provinces must have a carbon pricing plan in place by 2018 that meets a minimum of $10 per tonne, rising by $10 per year to a cost of $50 per tonne of emitted carbon dioxide by 2022.

As Canada’s second worst offender for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), the transportation industry comprises 23% of the country’s annual GHG output. Within the sector, freight trucking accounts for more than 54 megatonnes of GHGs each year, specifically representing 7.5% of Canada’s annual GHG emission total, according to Environment Canada. GHGs are gases that allow allow heat from the sun to enter the Earth’s atmosphere, but prevents it from exiting, like a greenhouse.

Truck Tonnage Falls 5.8% in September, Underlying Soft Market 

U.S. truck tonnage fell 5.8% in September, reversing the positive trend in August and marking the first year-over-year decline in the American Trucking Associations index since October 2015.

The Oct. 18 report from ATA said the seasonally adjusted index level for the month was 132.7, down from 140.8 in August and the all-high record of 144 in February. The index compares business activity to a base level of 100 in the year 2000.

The seasonally adjusted tonnage index fell 0.7% from the September 2015 reading. In August, the year-over-year increase was 5.2%. Through September, however, tonnage remained up 3%, from 2015, according to the report.

“Adjusting for the larger ups and downs this year, as well as talking with many fleets, I currently see a softer than normal freight environment, which is likely to continue until the inventory correction is complete,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Looking ahead, the slow growth economic environment does not suggest that significantly stronger truck tonnage numbers are in the near term, either.”

FMCSA Issues Safety Advisory - Samsung Galaxy Note7 Smartphone

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is issuing a safety advisory to provide notice and information to owner, operators and passengers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) of the risks and regulations associated with transporting damaged, defective, or recalled lithium cells or batteries or portable electronic devices, including the Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphone devices recently recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

According to the CPSC, the lithium-ion battery in the Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphones can overheat and catch fire, posing a serious burn and fire hazard. The recall affects nearly two million Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphones.

While carrying the Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphone aboard a CMV by drivers and passengers has not been banned, FMCSA is recommending that all persons who wish to carry these devices on a CMV, including motorcoaches, take the following precautions:

·Turn off the device;

· Disconnect the device from any charging equipment;

·Disable all applications that could inadvertently activate the phone (e.g., alarm clock);

·Protect the power switch to prevent its unintentional activation; and

·Keep the device in carry-on baggage or on your person. Do not store in an inaccessible baggage compartment.

Roads Signs Are As Important To The Future Of Driverless Cars As Artificial Intelligence

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication is critical for the future of the autonomous car.

But vehicle-to-infrastructure communication is what will tie everything together.

“If we look at it in a very basic level, automated and connected vehicles, to make this happen … it requires an ecosystem to work together,” said Tammy Meehan Russell, global portfolio manager for intelligent transportation at 3M. “Very basically that ecosystem is vehicle, human and infrastructure.”

Phase 2 truck emissions regulations officially slated for publication

A final rule to establish new emissions and fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, yielding huge fuel economy benefits, is expected to be published in the Federal Register Oct. 25 and take effect at the end of December.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration developed the Phase 2 greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards to immediately follow the Phase 1 standards, which will be fully implemented in 2017.

Governor Wolf Vetoes SB 286 (DRPA Compact Reform)

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has vetoed SB 286 (Delaware River Port Authority). This bill amends Act 200 of 1931, which provided for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to enter into a compact with the State of New Jersey establishing the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA). DRPA is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of four bridges crossing the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey and the Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO) commuter rail line between South Jersey and Philadelphia. This bi-state agency is funded by the tolls that commuters pay to cross the bridges. The legislation further sets forth the parameters of the compact.

USDOT Issues 30-Day Extension to Public Comment Period for Proposed Rule Requiring Speed Limiters for Large Commercial Vehicles

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a 30-day extension http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/rulemaking/pdf/Sp… of the public comment period for a September 7, 2016, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking http://www.nhtsa.gov/About-NHTSA/Press-Releases/nh… which would require all newly manufactured U.S. trucks, buses, and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with speed limiting devices.

The new public comment deadline of December 7, 2016, will provide all interested parties sufficient opportunity to fully develop and submit comments and evidentiary materials to the agencies via www.regulations.gov https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/09/07/2016-20934/federal-motor-vehicle-safety-standards-federal-motor-carrier-safety-regulations-parts-and.

Requiring speed limiting devices on heavy vehicles could save lives, as well as an estimated $1 billion in fuel costs each year.

Autonomous trucks are coming to the mainstream sooner than you think

We may appear on the cusp of a driverless future, but the reality of automated vehicle technology suggests we’re not quite ready to be magically whisked about town by our smart cars. Robotic drivers will be all over our the road soon enough, and one of the first examples that makes an impact won’t be a sexy Tesla sedan. It may just be a big rig.

Automated trucking doesn’t sound nearly as glamorous as a computerized chauffeur—see the recent, highly publicized automated beer run by Anheuser-Busch—but it could truly be game-changing. More, better, faster, and cheaper deliveries could cascade across the economy; imagine Amazon Prime on steroids. And, the shift may come much faster than you think. 

Federal Self-Driving Car Policy on Right Road, But Real Safety Standards Still Needed

The new federal policy on self-driving cars and trucks recently released by the Obama administration is headed in the correct direction. The guidance issued last month requires a safety assessment before automated vehicles are deployed and is not the complete sellout to industry that many safety advocates had feared.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also took an important enforcement step by issuing a guidance bulletin with the new policies making it clear that it can act and demand a recall when an autonomous feature or vehicle poses a safety threat.

But the nation still needs strong, enforceable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for the autonomous driving features starting to be equipped on cars and trucks and eventually for fully self-driving vehicles._

When manufacturers build cars and trucks, they must meet specific standards for crash protection - for example, providing seat belts, air bags and adequate bumpers. Trucks are required to have rear underride guards. There’s no reason why autonomous driving features on cars, trucks and commercial vehicles should not also have to meet predetermined criteria and measures.