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Bill to require underride guards reintroduced; opposed by OOIDA, doesn’t get ATA endorsement

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An underride crash occurs when a car slides under a large truck, such as a semi-trailer, during an accident. (Courtesy: INSURANCE INSTITUTE FOR HIGHWAY SAFETY)

WASHINGTON — Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Reps. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., and Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., have reintroduced bipartisan legislation, the Stop Underrides Act, which they say will help prevent deadly truck underride crashes.

The act was introduced in the previous Congress, but never got out of committee.

The legislation is opposed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. Neither did it get an endorsement from the American Trucking Associations.

An underride crash occurs when a car slides under a large truck, such as a semi-trailer, during an accident.

When these accidents happen, a car’s safety features are rendered useless because most of the car slides under the trailer and the truck crashes straight through the windows and into the passengers, the four members of Congress said in a news release.

Under the bill, all commercial vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more would be required to be outfitted with underride guards on both side and the rear.

According to the lawmakers, studies and pilot programs show that a simple barrier attached to the lower area of a truck, called an “underride guard,” would help prevent a car from sliding underneath a truck in an accident. Under current federal law, underride guards are not required to be on the sides or front of trucks. Underride guards are already required for the back of a truck, but the standards are outdated.

The bipartisan Stop Underrides Act would require underride guards on the sides and front of a truck and would update the outdated standards for underride guards on the back of trucks.

“Congress has the ability to make simple and commonsense changes that would save lives on the roads. Truck underride guards are one of the best and easiest solutions for protecting passengers and preventing them from being killed when a car collides with a truck,” Gillibrand said.

“ATA believes the government should focus on crash avoidance technologies and strategies rather than expensive and unproven collision mitigation equipment,” said Sean McNally, ATA vice president of communications and press secretary. “This legislation, while well-intended and a heartfelt response to family tragedy, seeks to address a certain type of truck-involved accident through a highly prescriptive mandate. Regrettably, the bill is not based on science, data or safety benefit. Moreover, the bill ignores the potential technical issues it raises, as well as the diversity of our industry and other technologies for addressing these and other crashes.”

OOIDA said such requirements cannot be accommodated on most trucking equipment and would yield little if any safety benefit, while costing truckers billions to comply.

OOIDA had previously opposed the same effort a year ago, particularly with regard to the requirements for putting side and front underride guards on all trucks and trailers retroactively.

“There is no assurance that such installations would result in fewer or less severe crashes involving heavy vehicles,” said OOIDA President Todd Spencer.

Spencer said OOIDA is aware that for several decades the federal government has considered numerous proposed rules involving underride guards, but consistently concluded that the costs and impracticality would far outweigh perceived benefits to safety.

“Nothing has changed over these years,” said Spencer. “Proponents of this effort have given little consideration to the impact that front and side underride guards would have on the daily operations of truckers,” Spencer said. “Truck drivers would face serious challenges navigating grade crossings, high curbs and numerous other road conditions. Additionally, no front underride equipment is currently on the market because the concept lacks any practicality.”

Similar to original efforts last year, two newly introduced bills, H.R. 1511 and S. 665, also seek updates to existing regulations for rear underride guards.  The association does not object to this portion of the proposals, Spencer said.

“We agree that the underride guards on the backs of trailers could be improved,” he said. “But the proposals as written go too far in broadly, retroactively requiring them on all trucks and trailers. Trucking is a diverse industry and such devices just simply can’t be attached to all types of equipment.”

DeSaulnier said in the news release that each year, truck underride collisions claim the lives of at least 300 people.

“No parent, friend, or loved one should have to suffer such a loss when there are commonsense safety improvements that can be made,” DeSaulnier said. “I am particularly thankful to Marianne Karth and Lois Durso, who each lost children in truck underride collisions, for their tireless work to make sure no other family suffers this same kind of loss.”

The Stop Underrides Act is supported by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Consumer Reports, Truck Safety Coalition, Newsal Safety Council, and Road to Zero Coalition.

 

 

 

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Penske Logistics closing Indiana terminal, laying off 80

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Reading, Pennsylvania-based Penske Logistics has indicated it plans to close its terminal in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The move will result in the layoffs of 80 workers, most of them drivers.

A company spokesman said the closure is in response to a “recent local trucking contract termination.” The layoffs are scheduled to begin when the contract runs out July 20, according to the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) that it filed with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development on May 18.

The WARN Act requires employers with 100 or more employees to provide 60 days’ notice of a possible plant closing or mass layoffs.

“All affected employees have been notified of their separation dates and have been told their separation from employment will be permanent,” Penske said in the WARN notice.

The notice goes to say there will be no “bumping” rights for any of the affected employees, meaning none of them can displace another company employee somewhere else by virtue of seniority or some other perceived hierarchical advantage.

However, Penske Logistics also told a local business news outlet that they are looking for possible relocation opportunities within the company for the laid-off workers.

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Bendix offers tips on preventing OOS order during Roadcheck

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During Roadcheck 2018 brake systems, tires and wheels, and brake adjustment represented well over half – 63.8 percent – of the violations that led to vehicles being placed out of service. (Courtesy: BENDIX)

ELYRIA, Ohio — Need evidence of how important foundational maintenance is to keeping vehicles on the road and operating safely?

Try this: During last year’s Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) International Roadcheck, brake systems, tires and wheels, and brake adjustment represented well over half – 63.8 percent – of the violations that led to vehicles being placed out of service.

With this year’s International Roadcheck around the corner on June 4-6, Bendix (Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems and Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake) reminds fleets and owner-operators that taking care of the basics is a must.

“The 2018 Roadcheck followed a common pattern of brake, tire and wheel-end issues accounting for the majority of the out-of-service violations,” said Lance Hansen, Bendix North America regional vice president – fleet/trailer sales and service engineering. “This year’s program includes a special emphasis on steering and suspension systems – but that doesn’t mean there will be less scrutiny of brake and wheel-end concerns. Simple, routine maintenance is designed to catch these issues, from improperly inflated tires to out-of-adjustment brakes. Roadcheck also highlights something else of vital importance – the need for technicians to have the latest training.”

Since its inception in 1988, International Roadcheck – the largest targeted commercial motor vehicle program in the world – has conducted more than 1.6 million total roadside inspections in the United States, Canada and Mexico. On average, the 72-hour period will see roughly 17 trucks and buses inspected every minute, with most of them undergoing the North American Standard Level 1 Inspection, a 37-step procedure that reviews both driver operating requirements and a vehicle’s mechanical fitness.

With braking systems, wheel-ends and tires in the spotlight, offers key points on inspecting and maintaining these crucial components.

Brake Check

Brake systems and brake adjustment reflect a range of issues that are easily averted through regular pre-trip inspections and preventive maintenance. Before hitting the road, drivers should always conduct standard walk-arounds with an eye out for visible brake system problems such as loose hoses or damaged brake components – air chambers or pushrods, for example.

In the shop, air brake system inspections should include the following – all of which relate directly to items inspected during Roadcheck:

  • Conducting a 90- to 100-psi brake application and listening for leaks
  • Measuring chamber stroke at each wheel-end to ensure proper brake adjustment
  • Examining friction for good condition and minimum thickness
  • Measuring/inspecting each rotor and drum for wear and heat cracking and/or leopard spotting

Also essential is checking the condition of friction for compliance, whether during maintenance or pre-trip. This means inspecting for issues including lining cracks, missing portions of the lining, oil or grease contamination of the lining, and compliant friction lining thickness.

“Should you need to replace air disc brake pads or drum brake shoes, select components that will ensure the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) requirements are met, so that your vehicle remains compliant with the standards required of reduced stopping distance (RSD) braking systems,“ said Keith McComsey, director of marketing and customer solutions at Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake (BSFB). “For example, not all friction that is marketed as acceptable under today’s RSD regulations will actually perform to that standard, so Bendix recommends replacing like-for-like OEM friction. This is the best way to maintain your vehicle’s braking performance in stopping distance and wear when replacing linings on vehicles equipped with RSD brakes.”

In addition, Bendix recommends remanufactured drum brake shoes that have been coined back to their OEM-engineered shape, as opposed to those that have simply been relined with new friction. Relining a shoe that’s been exposed to the extreme force and temperature changes of normal use without having been coined can lead to reduced stopping power and premature wear.

“Getting the most out of each part is key to achieving the best and safest performance from a braking system. Don’t let inferior friction or a twisted shoe undercut the stopping power of a high-performance brake,” McComsey said. “And you can draw a direct line between a braking system and connected safety systems: A full-stability or collision mitigation system will be negatively affected if brakes aren’t performing at their peak.”

Fleets spec’ing drum brakes and incurring repeated violations because of out-of-adjustment brakes might consider air disc brakes instead, McComsey noted, citing the Bendix ADB22X air disc brake as an example. “The ADB22X includes an internal self-adjustment mechanism that can help lower the risk of brakes being found out of adjustment during inspection, which can affect Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scoring.”

Tire Time

Roadcheck’s focus on tires serves as a reminder of the importance of proper tire pressure: Industry research shows about 90 percent of tire failures can be attributed to underinflation, and nearly half of all emergency service road calls are tire-related.

“Underinflated tires also experience greater stress and generate a higher internal running temperature, which compounds the risk of a tire blowout,” said Jon Intagliata, Bendix product manager for Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS). “In fact, the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council estimates that 20 percent underinflation can shorten a tire life by 30 percent.”

Use of a system such as the SmarTire Tire Pressure Monitoring System by Bendix CVS – or the SmarTire Trailer-Link TPMS by Bendix CVS for trailers – can help reduce that risk by providing real-time pressure alerts to the driver. Bendix SmarTire systems use a wheel-mounted sensor that continuously monitors temperature as well, allowing alerts that compensate for changing operating conditions, and can point to other potential wheel-end issues that lead to high tire temperatures, such as a dragging brake.

Tires also impact the performance of advanced safety components and technologies, such as RSD-compliant brakes, air disc brakes, full stability, and advanced driver assistance systems such as Bendix Wingman Fusion.

Keeping Current

Staying informed on regulations, as well as remaining knowledgeable about today’s ever-advancing commercial vehicle safety components and technologies, is an important part of keeping vehicles on the road and operating safely. Fleets aiming to equip their technicians with the most current and in-depth training and information can turn to a variety of options.

The in-person Bendix Brake Training School – an annual series of multiday courses offered across North America – is among the industry’s longest-running educational programs. At the Bendix On-Line Brake School (brake-school.com), participants can access more than 70 courses for free, including Bendix’s comprehensive and interactive Air Brake Training course. The company also offers a host of 24/7/365 post-sales support options, including webinars, podcasts, blogs, video tech talks, and much more.

At the heart of Bendix’s training education programs are its field-tested sales and service professionals, along with its veteran field technical support team and the Bendix Tech Team at 1-800-AIR-BRAKE – an expert technical support group providing service advice, brake system troubleshooting, and product training. Bendix also provides technical materials – including archives of the Bendix Tech Tips series – through the Bendix Knowledge Dock multimedia center at knowledge-dock.com.

“Roadcheck demonstrates how being prepared and running safe, well-maintained trucks requires year-round attention,” Hansen said. “Bendix is there to support the industry with maintenance know-how and resources. It’s another way we are working together to shape tomorrow’s transportation.”

 

 

 

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TuSimple’s self-driving trucks go postal, on 2-week trial with USPS

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The United States Postal Service is using Peterbilts fitted with self-driving technology by TuSimple to make five round-trip mail runs between Phoenix and Dallas over the next two weeks. (Courtesy: TuSIMPLE)

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Most people think that is the official motto of the U.S. Postal Service. It isn’t. It was engraved over the entrance of a New York City Post Office branch in 1914, and it just sort of caught on everywhere.

Actually, the phrase was written by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, describing the couriers who served the Persian army in a sixth-century war with the Greeks. So with no ancient Greek copyright laws to worry about, after 1,500 years the motto may soon need a reboot: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor bathroom breaks nor meals nor sleep nor Hours of Service …”

On Tuesday, May 22, USPS began a test run using self-driving trucks to transport mail between distribution hubs in Phoenix and Dallas. It is the first of five round-trip runs over a two-week period in a partnership between USPS and autonomous vehicle startup TuSimple.

Founded in 2015 and based in San Diego, TuSimple has been on the leading edge of development of SAE Class 4 commercial truck technology. Having raised $178 million in funding since its inception, in 2018, the company, expanded its Tuscon, Arizona, testing facilities from 6,800 to 50,000 square feet and began and began making commercial deliveries in August for about a dozen customers along the I-10 corridor within the state of Arizona. The company currently has 12 contracted customers and is making three to five delivery trips per day.

After its last round of funding in February, TuSimple announced plans to have 50 vehicles on the road in Arizona in June. The pilot program with the Post Office will mark the company’s first foray into interstate delivery, as well as its first venture into Texas.

The mail deliveries will be done in Class 8 Peterbilts fitted with TuSimple technology, including its eight-camera array, which uses lidar and radar to “see” 1,000 meters in all directions. The route will run a shade over 1,000 miles each way over I-10, I-20 and I-30.

TuSimple will have a safety driver behind the wheel, as well as an engineer in the passenger seat monitoring the autonomous systems.

“It is exciting to think that before many people will ride in a robo-taxi, their mail and packages may be carried in a self-driving truck,” said Dr. Xiaodi Hou, TuSimple’s founder, president and chief technology officer. “Performing for the USPS on this pilot in this particular commercial corridor gives us specific use cases to help us validate our system and expedite the technological development and commercialization progress.”

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