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GAO: Federal agencies should take additional steps to prepare for potential workforce effects of self-driving trucks

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Based on interviews with technology developers, the GAO identified technologies of self-driving trucks that could impact the workforce including light detection and ranging sensors, GPS, cameras, accelerometers and gyroscopes, and radar. (Courtesy: DAMILER TRUCKS NORTH AMERICA)

WASHINGTON — Even though deployment of automated heavy-duty trucks, including self-driving trucks, being developed for long-haul trucking operations is likely years or a decade away, the General Accounting Office Thursday urged federal agencies to take additional steps to prepare for potential workforce effects

“Most technology developers said they were developing trucks that can travel without drivers for part of a route, and some stakeholders said such trucks may become available within five to 10 years,” the GAO said in a report on a study it had conducted. “Various technologies, including sensors and cameras, could help guide a truck capable of driving itself. However, the adoption of this technology depends on factors such as technological limitations and public acceptance.”

The GAO said it conducted the study because automated vehicle technology may eventually make commercial trucking more efficient and safer, but also has the potential to change the employment landscape for nearly 1.9 million heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, among others.

The GAO said it was asked to examine the potential workforce effects of automated trucking, but didn’t say who requested it.

The report noted that the U.S. Department of Transportation had been consulting with the Department of Labor to conduct a Congressionally-directed analysis of the workforce impacts of automated trucking by March 2019.

The GAO said stakeholders it interviewed predicted two main scenarios for how the adoption of automated trucks could affect the trucking workforce, which varied depending on the future role of drivers or operators.

“Technology developers, among others, described one scenario in which self-driving trucks are used on highway portions of long-haul trips,” the study report said. “Stakeholders noted this scenario would likely reduce the number of long-haul truck drivers needed and could decrease wages because of lower demand for such drivers. In contrast, groups representing truck drivers, among others, predicted a scenario in which a truck would have an operator at all times for complex driving and other non-driving tasks, and the number of drivers or operators would not change as significantly.”

However, the study found that those stakeholders lacked consensus on the potential effect this scenario might have on wages and driver retention, adding that most stakeholders said automated trucking could create new jobs, and that any workforce effects would take time — providing an opportunity for a federal response, such as any needed policy changes.

For the study, GAO interviewed officials from DOT and DOL, as well as a range of stakeholders, including technology developers, companies operating their own trucking fleets, truck driver training schools, truck driver associations and workforce development boards.

As a result of the study, GAO made four recommendations for executive action:

  1. The Secretary of Labor should collaborate with the Secretary of Transportation to continue to convene key groups of stakeholders to gather information on potential workforce changes that may result from automated trucking as the technology evolves, including analyzing needed skills and identifying any information or data gaps, to allow the agencies to fully consider how to respond to any changes. These stakeholders could include, for example, representatives of other relevant federal agencies, technology developers, the trucking industry, organizations that represent truck drivers, truck driver training schools, state workforce agencies, and local workforce development boards.
  2. The Secretary of Transportation should collaborate with the Secretary of Labor to continue to convene key groups of stakeholders to gather information on potential workforce changes that may result from automated trucking as the technology evolves, including analyzing needed skills and identifying any information or data gaps, to allow the agencies to fully consider how to respond to any changes.
  3. The Secretary of Transportation should consult with the Secretary of Labor to further analyze the potential effects of automated trucking technology on drivers to inform potential workforce-related regulatory changes, such as the requirements to obtain a commercial driver’s license or Hours of Service requirements (e.g., the maximum hours commercial truck drivers are permitted to work).

4. The Secretary of Labor should consult with the Secretary of Transportation to share information with key stakeholders on the potential effects of automated trucking on the workforce as the technology evolves. These stakeholders could include, for example, representatives of other relevant federal agencies, technology developers, the trucking industry, organizations that represent truck drivers, truck driver training schools, state workforce agencies, and local workforce development boards.

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Bendix set to deliver Safety Direct event video with new app

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In addition to enabling full SafetyDirect access, the forthcoming SafetyDirect Mobile app will also allow drivers to securely identify themselves in the vehicle. (Courtesy: BENDIX COMMERCIAL VEHICLE SYSTEMS)

ELYRIA, Ohio — Video information and other data captured by today’s commercial vehicle systems is both valuable and vital as fleets and drivers aim to improve safety on the roads.

A new mobile device application from Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems will deliver quicker access to that information, pairing with Bendix’s leading-edge hardware and its SafetyDirect system to enhance fleet safety and driver training efforts.

“The app is called SafetyDirect Mobile. It is fully compatible with our powerful new fifth-generation SafetyDirect processor and our AutoVue LDW 5G platform, and it has been developed to enhance the new features provided by our new hardware,” said TJ Thomas, Bendix director of marketing and customer solutions – controls. “It means when you are standing next to the vehicle, you will be able to directly connect to the SafetyDirect processor – using Wi-Fi – and stream SafetyDirect video directly to the app. That’s a very powerful tool – and an industry first.”

Bendix expects to launch the app in the third quarter of this year.

SafetyDirect by Bendix CVS is Bendix’s user-friendly web portal that provides fleet operators with comprehensive feedback on their fleet and drivers, along with videos of severe events, Thomas said.

SafetyDirect, the only fleet camera system available as a factory-installed option at all major truck manufacturers, gives fleets key insights into common driving behaviors and trends across their operation. It wirelessly transmits the driver performance information and event-based data – video, vehicle, and sensor information from a vehicle’s J1939 network – to a secure web portal, providing fleets the necessary tools to help enhance their safety program.

In addition to enabling full SafetyDirect access, the forthcoming SafetyDirect Mobile app will also allow drivers to securely identify themselves in the vehicle, Thomas said. The app is part of a phased introduction of new features and advanced functionality expected to occur throughout 2019.

Because no advanced driver assistance technology can replace the need for safe and alert drivers practicing safe driving habits, Bendix stresses the importance of comprehensive, proactive driver training, and providing fleets with actionable information and tools to support their safety efforts.

“Informed fleets and drivers help enable safer fleets and drivers,” Thomas said. “The easier we can make it to reinforce good driving, sharpen training programs, and support the men and women behind the wheel, the safer our highways become.”

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, a member of the Knorr-Bremse Group, develops and supplies leading-edge active safety technologies, energy management solutions, and air brake charging and control systems and components under the Bendix brand name.

For more information, visit .

 

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Trailer orders down 9 percent from January, ACT says

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February net orders slid 9 percent from January volume and were 29 percent below the same month last year. (Courtesy: GREAT DANE)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — ACT Research’s preliminary estimate for February 2019 net trailer orders is 23,800 units.

Final volume will be available later this month.

ACT said its methodology allows the company to generate a preliminary estimate of the market that should be within +/- 3 [ercent of the final order tally.

“February net orders slid 9 percent from January volume and were 29 percent below the same month last year,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV transportation analysis and research.

“The sequential net order decline matches the industry order pattern of the past two years. With the majority of this year’s build slots already committed, and many OEMs unwilling to open next year’s order board this early, the potential for higher gross orders is somewhat limited at this point. Additionally, cancellations were roughly 1 percent of industry backlog last month. While not excessive, that generates some headwinds for net order volumes as well”

Maly said the order number was still solid, but a softer order count combined with stronger production volumes in February resulted in a 1 percent decline in industry backlog at month-end. “Backlog has remained relatively stable for the past four months, reaching an all-time high in December,” Maly said. “At current production rates, the order board commits the industry into November on average, although dry vans backlogs stretch into mid-December, while reefer commitments actually edge into next year.”

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets.

For more information, visit .

 

 

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Cummins X12 Wins truck writers’ Technical Achievement Award

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Krista Toenjes, Cummins’ North American manager of on-highway sales and marketing, accepts this year’s Technical Achievement Award from Jim Park, chairman of the truck writers committee which determines the annual honor. (Courtesy: ATATMC)

ATLANTA — Cummins’ lightweight but powerful X12 diesel has won the annual Jim Winsor Memorial Technical Achievement Award.

The honor was presented recently by a group of trucking news writers during the American Trucking Associations Technology & Maintenance Council meeting.

“As in previous years, there were a number of very worthy candidates nominated by members of our awards committee, and debate was lively,” said Jim Park, chairman of the Award Committee who writes for Heavy Duty Trucking and Today’s Trucking magazines. “But in our voting, the X12 emerged as the top product from a final field of four.”

The runners up were the Peterson Pulse electronic system for trailers, Stemco’s automatically deploying Trailer Tail and the Stemco-Webb Trifecta wheel hub.

Weight is always an issue in spec’ing and operating trucks, especially with bulk haulers and in vocational applications, and the X12’s comparatively low weight, along with millions of miles of previous service in Asia and South America, make it a standout among diesel offerings, members of the awards committee agreed.

The 11.8-liter X12’s dry weight is 2,050 pounds, 150 to 400 pounds less than 11- to 13-liter competitors, yet it makes up to 500 horsepower and 1,700 pound-feet of torque, according to Cummins. Innovative engineering trims pounds from the cylinder block but maintains high strength for long life, while advanced combustion design and effective air and fuel handling and promises high efficiency.

The X12 went into North American production and became available to customers in 2018, which made it eligible for the latest Technical Achievement Award, Park said. The engine is now an option from Autocar, Freightliner and Western Star.

Cummins, the industry’s sole independent engine manufacturer, won the award twice before, in 2017 for its X15 Efficiency Series diesel, and in 1998 for its Signature 600 diesel. In 2007, Cummins Filtration earned the award for its Fleetguard User Friendly filters.

The Truck Writers of North America, predecessor to today’s Award Committee, gave the first Technical Achievement Award went to Grote Industries for its red LED marker lamp, a technology that has become standard on trucks and trailers and across the automotive world.

Two years ago, the committee named the award after the late Jim Winsor, a 50-year veteran of the trucking trade press. He served as editor-in-chief at Commercial Carrier Journal and executive editor at Heavy Duty Trucking, and was active in the Technology & Maintenance Council and its forerunner, The Maintenance Committee.

Aside from Park, members of the awards committee included John Baxter, a freelance technical writer; Tom Berg, with Construction Equipment and Land Line magazines; Jason Cannon, Commercial Carrier Journal; Seth Clevenger, Transport Topics; James Menzies, Truck News & Truck West; Jason Morgan, Fleet Equipment; Jack Roberts, Heavy Duty Trucking; John G. Smith, Today’s Trucking; Suzanne Stempinski, Land Line; and Steve Sturgess, freelance writer.  8

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