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Law enforcement agencies throughout North America will engage in heightened traffic safety enforcement and education aimed at combating unsafe driving behaviors by commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and passenger-vehicle (car) drivers as part of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Operation Safe Driver Week, Oct. 16-22, 2016.
Unsafe driver behaviors by CMV drivers and passenger-vehicle drivers continue to be the leading cause of crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) "Large Truck Crash Causation Study" cites driver behavior as the critical reason for more than 88 percent of large truck crashes and 93 percent of passenger-vehicle crashes. CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver program was created to help to reduce the number of crashes, deaths and injuries involving large trucks, buses and cars due to unsafe driving behaviors. During Operation Safe Driver Week, there will be increased CMV and passenger vehicle traffic enforcement.icle traffic enforcement.
Examples of unsafe driver behaviors that enforcement will be tracking throughout Operation Safe Driver Week are speeding, failure to use a seatbelt while operating a CMV or in a passenger vehicle, distracted driving, failure to obey traffic control devices, traveling too closely, improper lane change, etc.
Operation Safe Driver Week is sponsored by CVSA, in partnership with FMCSA and with support from industry and transportation safety organizations, and aims to help improve the behavior of all drivers operating in an unsafe manner – either by or around commercial motor vehicles – and to initiate educational and traffic enforcement strategies to address those exhibiting high-risk behaviors.
To find out about Operation Safe Driver Week enforcement events going on in your area, contact the agency/department responsible for overseeing commercial motor vehicle safety within your jurisdiction.
View the results from last year’s Operation Safe Driver Week.
For more information about the Operation Safe Driver Program and this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, visit CVSA’s website.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) held its annual, unannounced brake check day on May 4, 2016, as part of its Operation Airbrake program. CVSA-certified inspectors in 31 participating U.S. states and Canadian provinces and territories checked brakes on 6,128 commercial motor vehicles.
Brake-related violations are typically the largest category of out-of-service items (representing 43 percent during Operation Airbrake’s companion International Roadcheck campaign in 2015). Improperly installed or poorly maintained brake systems can reduce the braking capacity and increase stopping distances of trucks and buses, which poses a serious risk to driver and public safety.
Most participating jurisdictions also reported the number of trucks with anti-lock braking systems (ABS) as well as ABS violations observed (out of 5,991 inspections). Our members found that most vehicles were equipped with ABS but some exhibited fault codes (lamp stayed on) or non-functioning ABS lamps. Trailers requiring ABS were twice as likely to exhibit ABS violations as straight trucks or tractors requiring ABS.
Why Check ABS?
Anti-lock braking systems help vehicles remain in control in most cases where there is the possibility of wheel slip when braking. ABS reduces the chance of jackknifing and increases control in braking situations. ABS also provides a platform for stability control systems that help prevent loss of control or rollover crashes. Furthermore, newly available and future safety systems all rely on functional brakes, tires and ABS. Just as foundation brakes must be well maintained and tires must be properly inflated, ABS and safety systems that rely on ABS cannot help keep the vehicle in control, even prevent crashes, when they are disconnected or poorly maintained.
Operation Airbrake is a CVSA program dedicated to improving commercial motor vehicle safety through brake system safety, awareness and compliance throughout North America. The campaign's aim is to help educate drivers and technicians, encourage regulatory compliance and enforce the regulations designed to ensure safe vehicle operation.
CVSA's next Operation Airbrake event is Brake Safety Week, Sept. 11-17, 2016, which is a week-long brake safety campaign aimed at improving commercial motor vehicle brake safety through education and enforcement.
Learn more about Operation Airbrake.
In a report released today on corrosion inside diesel fuel underground storage tanks (USTs), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found moderate or severe corrosion that could affect metal components inside both steel and fiberglass underground tank systems. Corrosion inside USTs can cause equipment failure by preventing proper operation of release detection and prevention equipment. If left unchecked, corrosion could cause UST system failures and releases, which could lead to groundwater contamination.
Underground tank releases have historically been a leading cause of groundwater contamination. Groundwater is a source of drinking water for almost half of the people in the U.S.
EPA’s report shows that 35 of 42 – or 83 percent – of the USTs studied exhibited moderate or severe corrosion, but less than 25 percent of owners were aware of corrosion prior to the internal inspection.
Although EPA cannot project the actual percentage of USTs storing diesel that are affected by corrosion nationwide, the Agency is alerting owners of USTs storing diesel fuel about risks from corrosion. EPA’s notification recommends owners check inside their tank systems and further investigate the condition of their diesel fuel tanks. Owners’ awareness and early actions could help protect them from higher repair costs and help protect the environment from contamination from releases. EPA’s UST website (https://www.epa.gov/ust) provides information on actions tank owners can take to minimize corrosion and associated risks.
As part of EPA’s ongoing collaboration with the UST community, the Agency responded to concerns about reports of severe corrosion in USTs storing diesel fuel by working with industry and scientific experts to develop this research. The results are leading to a fuller understanding of the issue and possible causes, as well as laying the groundwork for future research efforts for identifying a solution.
Scientific evidence has not identified a specific cause of corrosion in diesel tanks, although microbiologically-influenced corrosion is suspected to be involved. EPA is continuing to work collaboratively with partners in the UST community, industry, and scientific experts on additional laboratory research about the cause of corrosion.
More information on underground storage tanks (USTs) and today’s report: https://www.epa.gov/ust
More information on corrosion in USTs storing diesel fuel: https://www.epa.gov/ust/alternative-fuels-and-underground-storage-tanks-usts#tab-5
The FMCSA has announced additional delay to the implementation of URS, which was set to take effect on September 30, 2016. As most in the industry know, once URS is implemented, the U.S. DOT number will be the sole designator assigned to any entity subject to FMCSA jurisdiction (including, for example, for-hire motor carriers, private carriers, property brokers, freight forwarders, passenger carriers, for-hire exempt interstate carriers, etc.).
The new effective date is January 14, 2017. On that date, currently issued “docket numbers” such as the “MC” number designating for-hire motor carrier and property broker authority will no longer be assigned or used by the FMCSA and will be replaced by a DOT number. The announcement is also expected to delay associated changes to FMCSA regulations regarding transfers of operating authority. To the extent URS requires regulated entities to make filings for the first time (for instance, filing of BOC-3 forms from entities that were not previously subject to filing requirements), FMCSA is providing a 90 day compliance window to make such filings, which will conclude on April 14, 2017. For entities that are currently regulated, no action is required at this time. For instance, freight forwarders that do not currently hold a U.S. DOT number are not required to proactively seek one. They will be assigned by the agency.
Click here to read the Federal Register notice.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) today approved a six percent toll increase for both E-ZPass and cash customers; the increase is set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 8, 2017. PTC Chairman Sean Logan said this toll increase — like other annual increases since 2009 — is necessary to pay back the borrowing required to meet the PTC’s funding obligations: rebuilding and widening the PA Turnpike system and providing funding to the commonwealth to support public transportation.
“Last fall, the PA Turnpike observed our 75th anniversary; while that is a great accolade, it means that parts of our system have outlived their design life and are in dire need of replacement,” Chairman Logan said. “Revenues from this increase will fund a newly approved, 10-year spending plan which invests more than $5.77 billion in our system in the coming decade — a large part of which will support ongoing total reconstruction and widening projects.”
Revenues from the 2017 increase will also allow the PTC to fund its annual requirement to support off-Turnpike ground-transportation enhancements. Since 2007, the PTC has been providing supplemental funding to the commonwealth that is invested by PennDOT into non-tolled highways and public-transportation providers. Starting in Fiscal Year 2015, PTC payments have funded transit exclusively.
Commissioners today also ordered a system-wide reassessment of all Turnpike improvement projects in both the design and construction phases to confirm that the best decisions are being made on capital expenditures.
“I have directed executive staff to perform a comprehensive reevaluation of all highway and bridge projects, including those now under way, to ensure we are focusing on projects that are the most relevant to our strategic objectives,” Chairman Logan explained. “Every project will be analyzed as part of this review. No project will be exempt.”
Logan added that the commission has been pondering such a measure for some time.
“We are obliged to reassess capital spending today because of concerns that more than half of our revenues go to pay down our debt service each year,” he said. “Toll revenues are forecast to reach $1.1 billion in Fiscal Year 2017, while debt service is $573 million. And that debt service obligation will grow as long as we are required to continue borrowing.”
Logan said the project review is intended to fortify the commission’s financial position.
“Without guarantees from the general assembly that relief is on its way, this is the most judicious step for the commission’s economic viability,” Logan said. “We simply cannot continue to burden customers each year because of the obligation the general assembly has imposed upon the Turnpike Commission and our customers.”
The PTC continues to focus on cost-cutting measures to mitigate future increases. For instance, it implemented a strategic plan with renewed emphasis on controlling operating-expense growth; it has held the line on operating costs; and it has reduced headcount by eight percent in the last decade — and by 20 percent in the fare-collection department in the same timeframe due to E-ZPass usage. Logan today asked executive staff to evaluate the need for a hiring freeze during the current fiscal year.
“While we will continue to mitigate toll increases through boosted efficiencies, we have no option but to increase tolls annually moving ahead,” said Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “Right now, traffic and revenue predictions estimate increases of up to six percent per year will be necessary until 2044.”
During the last nine years, the PTC has provided $5.2 billion to PennDOT, of which $2.25 billion has supported highways while $2.95 billion has supported transit.
As a result of a transportation law enacted in 2013, the PTC’s funding obligation to PennDOT will drop from $450 million a year to $50 million a year beginning in Fiscal Year 2023.
“While this measure provides some relief, it does not wipe out the Turnpike’s debt or requirement to help fund PennDOT; we are still obligated to make further payments through 2057 totaling approximately $5 billion,” Compton said. “Therefore, the Commission is bound to increase tolls each year.”
As a result of today’s measure, the most common toll for a passenger vehicle will increase next year from $1.16 to $1.23 for E-ZPass customers and from $1.80 to $1.95 for cash customers. The most common toll for a Class-5 vehicle — a prevalent tractor-trailer class — will increase from $9.59 to $10.17 for E-ZPass and from $13.60 to $14.45 for cash.
Toll rates will not increase next year on the Turnpike’s Delaware River Bridge cashless tolling point northeast of Philadelphia. Tolls at that location will remain at 2016 rates.
While the 2017 increase equally affects cash and E-ZPass rates, PA Turnpike customers will continue to save time and money with E-ZPass. Today, more than 77 percent of transactions on the 552-mile PA Turnpike are paid via E-ZPass. The PA Turnpike manages 1.7 million E-ZPass accounts with 2.7 million PTC-issued transponders in circulation.
Motorists can buy E-ZPass at www.paturnpike.com or by calling 1-877-PENN-PASS. The E-ZPass GoPak is offered at nearly 500 retailers, including most Pennsylvania AAA offices and at stores in these chains: Acme, Giant Eagle and GetGo, GIANT Food Stores, Karns Quality Foods, Kuhn's Markets, MARTIN'S Food Markets, Walmart, Wegmans in central and eastern PA and Sunoco A-Plus stores at Turnpike service plazas. It costs $38 to open an E-ZPass auto-replenishment account using a credit/debit card; the cost includes a $35 toll balance plus a $3 annual service fee. E-ZPass retailers charge a convenience fee but there is no such fee to join online or by phone.
Nearly 3 Million Vehicles Expected on Pa. Turnpike Over July 4 Holiday
Turnpike travelers are reminded to slow down and stay alert.
Millions of vehicles are expected to be traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike this Independence Day holiday weekend. Traffic projections show approximately 2.9 million vehicles will be on the system from July 1 through July 5. The heaviest travelled day on the Pa. Turnpike is expected to be Friday, July 1 with more than 700,000 vehicles on the roadway followed by Tuesday, July 5 with 600,000 vehicles.
Pa. Turnpike Chairman Sean Logan reminds travelers to be prepared with the right tools to ensure a smoother Turnpike experience this Independence Day. “Holiday traffic is a good reason to take advantage of our award-winning smartphone app called TRIPTalk, available for Android and iPhone users,” Logan says. “TRIPTalk helps travelers steer clear of delays caused by holiday backups or accidents while letting you keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.” He also advises motorists headed for the Turnpike to check conditions before they leave by visiting www.paturnpike.com or calling 1-866-976-TRIP (8747).
Due to the increased volume of traffic on the roadway, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) is asking motorists to stay alert and be courteous. In preparation for the traffic surge, Turnpike maintenance will suspend its work and keep all available lanes open beginning at 5 a.m. on July 1 through 11 p.m. on July 11 except in case of emergencies. In the event of emergency-lane closures, the Turnpike will activate its Variable Message Signs and Highway Advisory Radio to alert motorists.
“With increased traffic volumes on the Turnpike, we will have additional Turnpike personnel patrolling the roadway and assisting with any emergencies that may occur,” says Pa. Turnpike Chief Executive Officer Mark Compton. “Our men and women are out there working on the roadway to keep it safe for our customers; we urge motorists to keep our workers safe by paying attention and driving safely.”
As holiday traffic increases, so will the patrols by the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), which plans to have troopers out enforcing the speed limit, no-texting and seat belt laws.
“We want to remind people to drive carefully, pay attention and do not drink and drive,” states Lt. Edward C. Murphy of PSP Troop T, the unit in charge of Turnpike patrols. “Troopers will be watching for aggressive drivers, anyone driving under the influence and people driving while distracted.”
To promote safe driving during the Independence Day holiday, the Turnpike is sponsoring a "Safety Break" event on July 1 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sideling Hill Service Plaza at milepost 172 in Fulton County which serves both eastbound and westbound travelers. Turnpike staff, the State Farm Safety patrol as well as representatives from our emergency responders; Breezewood Volunteer Fire Company, Interstate Emergency Services, Hustontown Area Volunteer Fire Company, Hustontown EMS, Pa. State Police and the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program will be on hand to answer questions.
Turnpike officials remind travelers on the Northeastern Extension (I-476) that a single-lane pattern will be in effect for a three-mile stretch in Luzerne County from mileposts 101 to 104, where the pavement is being completely replaced. Delays and heavy traffic are expected between the Pocono Interchange, Exit 95, and the Wilkes Barre Interchange, Exit 105.
To report an accident or other emergencies on the PA Turnpike, dial *11 on your mobile phone. To learn more about PA Turnpike conditions or to contact us, use one of these resources:
ON THE PA TURNPIKE
· Variable & Digital Message Signs — nearly 100 signs along the Turnpike
· Highway Advisory Radio — 1640 AM (tune-in near interchanges)
· Turnpike Roadway Information Program (toll-free) — 866-976-TRIP (8747)
· Customer Assistance Center (toll-free) — 800-331-3414 (weekdays, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.)
ON THE WEB
· TRIPTalk — free, travel-alert smartphone app; download at https://www.paturnpike.com/travel/trip_talk.aspx
· Travel Conditions Map — live, interactive conditions map; view at https://www.paturnpike.com/webmap
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced today that passengers riding in large commercial trucks will be required to use seat belts whenever the vehicles are operated on public roads in interstate commerce. Effective August 8, 2016, the final rule revises Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and holds motor carriers and drivers responsible for ensuring that passengers riding in large commercial trucks are using seat belts.
“Seat belts save lives – period,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Whether you’re a driver or passenger, in a personal vehicle or large truck, the simple act of wearing a safety belt significantly reduces the risk of fatality in a crash.”
In 2014, 37 passengers traveling unrestrained in the cab of a large truck were killed in roadway crashes, according to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Of this number, approximately one-third were ejected from the truck cab.
FMCSA’s most recent Seat Belt Usage by Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Drivers Survey, published in March 2014, found that commercial motor vehicle passengers use seat belts at a lower rate (73 percent) than CMV drivers (84 percent). Federal rules have long required all commercial drivers to use seat belts.
“Using a seat belt is one of the safest, easiest, and smartest choices drivers and passengers can make before starting out on any road trip,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “This rule further protects large truck occupants and will undoubtedly save more lives.”
Click here to read a copy of the final rule.
Truck Drivers Honor Fallen Soldiers by Promoting Highway Safety
Arlington, Va. – Today, American Trucking Associations and America’s Road Team Captains are turning their attention to highway safety in anticipation of a busy Memorial Day weekend. According to AAA, this year’s Memorial Day weekend will see the second highest traffic volume in the holiday’s history, with more than 38 million Americans expected to take to the highways this weekend.
“During busy weekends, our job as professional truck drivers gets a little more challenging, but we have the skills and training to deal with the extra traffic,” said America’s Road Team Captain Kirk Weis, of ABF Freight. “We want everyone to have a safe summer of driving and, to me, that starts with having a safe Memorial Day weekend on the highway. Keep these tips in mind while you’re traveling this weekend.”
The trucking industry is remembering the fallen soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending the nation’s freedoms. Trucking companies take great pride in providing meaningful, rewarding work for veterans of the military who want to continue their service to the country by assisting in the transportation of its most essential goods.
“There is no greater responsibility than protecting the lives of others,” said America’s Road Team Captain Henry Bruster, of UPS Freight. “I learned how to protect others and drive a truck while in the military, and I think those responsibilities have carried over to my job as a professional truck driver. We are all called upon to make safety a priority when using the highways, especially during busy holidays when more vehicles are on the roads.”
America’s Road Team Captains offer these safety tips to remind motorists about some key elements of safe driving, especially relating to operating small passenger vehicles near large tractor-trailers.
America's Road Team, sponsored by Volvo Trucks, is a national public outreach program led by a small group of professional truck drivers who share superior driving skills, remarkable safety records and a strong desire to spread the word about safety on the highway.www.americasroadteam.com.
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