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Latest Industry News Briefs Courtesy of PMTA

July, 2016

White House reviews truck efficiency standards 

The White House has started to review a regulation setting new efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for heavy trucks and buses.

The Hill reports the review process at the Office of Management and Budget, which usually takes up to 60 days but could take longer, is the last step before regulators can make the rule final and release it publicly. The office said late Monday that it started its review, which is meant to determine whether the rule complies with the law and the Obama administration’s priorities.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation proposed the rule jointly last July. The final version is under wraps while the administration reviews it.

It would apply to newly built heavy-duty vehicles through 2027, expanding the previous rule standard that applies through 2018. That rule, made final in 2012, was the first-ever efficiency and greenhouse gas rule for big trucks.

Seat Belts Required for Passengers in Large Trucks Starting Aug. 8 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a final rule in the Federal Register on June 7 requiring that all passengers traveling in property-carrying commercial motor vehicles wear seat belts.

While it already requires that drivers wear seat belts, the agency has been silent on whether passengers riding in large trucks must use seat belts.

“The only quantifiable cost of the final rule is the value of the person’s time necessary to buckle the seat belt, which is negligible,” FMCSA said in a June 6 pre-publication announcement. “The benefits of this rule are any fatalities or injuries avoided or reduced in severity as a result of seat belt use.”

The rule, effective Aug. 8, holds motor carriers and drivers responsible for ensuring that passengers riding in property-carrying CMVs are using seat belts.

Freight Rates Push Lower as Truck Capacity Outweighs Demand ($) 

Wall Street Journal reports shippers are using greater leverage in a weak U.S. trucking market to drive down freight rates. A report published Tuesday by Cowen and Co. and Chainalytics said the spot market, where shipping prices currently are cheaper, is taking a bigger role in truck transportation as companies look to take advantage of plentiful capacity on the roads.

PA establishes Autonomous Vehicles Testing Policy Task Force 

PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards announced that the state would form an Autonomous Vehicles Testing Policy Task Force that will help develop guidance the agency will use to draft autonomous vehicle policies.

PennDOT will chair the task force, which is comprised of state, federal and private-industry officials such as the Federal Highway Administration, AAA, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Uber Technologies.

Carnegie Mellon University, which hosted the Task Force meeting and demonstrated its autonomous technologies after the event, the university’s faculty and students have been working for more than 30 years to ensure that self-driving cars will be safe, affordable, and ultimately, accepted by the public. The university says it has created 14 generations of self-driving vehicles and its latest – a 2011 Cadillac SRX – takes ramps, merges onto highways and cruises at 70 mph by itself. Read more at CCJ Digital Online.

Fleets Cite Safety Gains, Reduced Claims Costs with Onboard Cameras 

TT reports in Philly several fleet safety executives said their investments in technologies such as collision mitigation systems and onboard video have significantly reduced crashes and claims costs at their companies. They also discussed the merits of speed limiters and strategies to help alleviate the truck parking shortage during a panel discussion here May 24 at the 2016 ALK Transportation Technology Summit. Pitt Ohio installed lane departure warning systems about nine years ago, purchased forward-facing cameras in 2011 and then added collision avoidance in 2013. “We were able to see a huge reduction in accidents with our drivers from the alerts that these systems give off when there’s an event,” Jeff Mercadante, the fleet’s vice president of safety, said during the panel moderated by Osiecki, executive vice president and chief of national advocacy at American Trucking Associations.

Autonomy - tech public doesn’t want? 

A recent study by the Univ. of Michigan Transportation Research Institute conducted by UMTRI researchers Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak, investments being made in autonomous driving lie in stark contrast to the wishes of the people who will be affected most by it – the motoring public.

The university recently polled 618 people with nearly 46 percent saying they preferred no vehicle automation at all. Another nearly 39 percent were willing to sign-off on partial vehicle automation. The prospect of full vehicle automation scared the hell out of all but 15.5 percent of respondents.

Court grants FMCSA an extension to file response to ELD lawsuit

Transport Topics reports that the court overseeing the lawsuit against the U.S. DOT’s electronic logging device mandate has granted the DOT a roughly two-week extension to file its court-required response to the litigation. 

The DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s response was originally due May 31. But the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the agency a 15-day extension, as requested by FMCSA on May 16, court documents show.

FMCSA must now issue its response by June 15. The plaintiffs in the case, which includes the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and truckers Mark Elrod and Richard Pingel, under the new schedule now have until June 29 to file a court response to the agency’s brief.

OOIDA filed its complaint against the agency and its mandate in late March, saying the rule violates truckers’ constitutionally protected privacy rights and does not promote safety.

Trucking to FMCSA: Safety fitness proposal ‘premature’ 

The proposed change in the way the DOT rates carriers defies the will of Congress, is based on a flawed foundation, and simply doesn’t improve on the current system—that’s the trucking industry’s near-unanimous assessment, based on formal comments filed on the Safety Fitness Determination rulemaking docket.

The American Trucking Assns. sums up the opinions of its members and many others in its filing regarding the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s data-driven revision.

“ATA is strongly opposed to FMCSA’s Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) proposal and calls on the agency to rescind it,” ATA says. “Congress has clearly communicated its concerns about the reliability of Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Safety Measurement System (SMS) data in assessing the safety performance and crash risk of individual fleets.

Trucking stakeholders urge FMCSA to hold off on Safety Fitness rule until CSA is reworked 

Many trucking industry stakeholders weighed in during the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Safety Fitness Determination proposed rule comment period, urging the agency to hold off on the rulemaking until the Congressionally mandated reforms are made to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Safety Measurement System.

The December-passed FAST Act highway bill requires the agency to the rework CSA system following the myriad of reports pointing out the system’s major flaws.