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ATA opens nominations for America’s Road Team

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ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations today opened the nominating process for professional truck drivers to serve on the 2019-2020 America’s Road Team. America’s Road Team, a group of accomplished professional truck drivers, promotes the trucking industry by educating the general public, media, and elected officials about the industry’s strong safety record and importance to the economy.

“Trucking continues to see professional drivers as the most important safety factor on the road and, as such, we have the upmost respect for the millions of skilled truck drivers who serve America’s economy with pride,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “For the past 32 years, America’s Road Team has elevated the visibility of truck drivers and their important work in communities throughout the country, so we look forward to selecting a new group of passionate trucking advocates and welcoming them as the next generation of captains.”

Every two years, the trucking industry welcomes a new group of captains to join the ranks of America’s Road Team and serve as industry ambassadors.

America’s Road Team Captains become the face of the trucking industry, attending key events alongside elected officials, appearing on national media broadcasts and championing the industry at schools and community events in every state. The professional drivers, all of whom have millions of accident-free miles, take a few days away from their companies each month to meet with the motoring public, students, transportation officials and public policymakers to perform truck safety demonstrations and explain the sustainable role that trucking plays in the nation’s economy.

ATA members are invited to nominate professional truck drivers who exhibit strong interpersonal skills, have impressive safety records, and demonstrate a positive attitude toward the industry and their careers as professional truck drivers.

“There is a potential America’s Road Team Captain at every truck terminal in the country. There are drivers with decades of experience who are anxious to get their message out to the public and tell their stories about trucking,” said America’s Road Team Captain Scott Harrison (pictured above) of K-Limited Carrier, a member of the 2017-2018 class. “Truck drivers, like me, are passionate about what we do and we get excited about telling people about our rewarding careers and the true professionalism with which our colleagues in the industry work each day.”

For decades, truck drivers have held an important role in the American public’s identity. ATA and its members in the trucking industry are increasingly seeing a revival of the authentic view of truck drivers as hardworking, patriotic men and women who are willing to lend a helping hand to neighbors and fellow motorists while ensuring freight is delivered safely and securely to homes and businesses from coast to coast. America’s Road Team Captains are expected to exhibit these qualities in order to promote the industry’s image and advance the industry’s policy goals.

Since America’s Road Team’s inception in 1986, captains have traveled the country educating millions of individuals on highway safety, trucking’s essentiality and the importance of pride and professionalism in the industry. Nominations for the 2019-2020 class of America’s Road Team are due August 20.

“As longtime champions of safety and the trucking profession, Volvo Trucks knows how important it is to recognize truck drivers who not only practice safety every day at work, but advocate for safety in their communities and workplaces,” said Magnus Koeck, Volvo Trucks North America vice president, marketing and brand management. “Volvo Trucks is committed to improving performance in the trucking industry and one of the ways we do that is by sponsoring America’s Road Team and making sure Interstate One, their Volvo VNL tractor, is equipped with the latest safety technologies and comforts.”

The 2017-2018 America’s Road Team consists of 20 professional truck drivers who together have more than 49 million combined accident-free miles and 531 years of professional truck driving experience. Members of the 2017-2018 America’s Road Team, alongside veteran captains and trucking executives, participated in a marquee event with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on March 23, 2017. America’s Road Team also participated in an October 11 event with President Trump in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. ATA’s Interstate One tractor-trailer was used as the backdrop for the president’s national address about tax reform.

“Having the opportunity to serve as an America’s Road Team Captain has really been a highlight of my career,” said America’s Road Team Captain Rhonda Hartman of Old Dominion Freight Line. “I get to work with my team of Captains to spread positive stories about trucking to people who are really receptive of our message and open to learning about highway safety.”

To nominate a professional truck driver for America’s Road Team, read the eligibility requirements and fill out the nomination form found at americasroadteam.com.

Finalists will be announced October 15, with the final selection taking place January 27-30, 2019 in Arlington, Virginia.

 

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The Nation

9 semis involved in accident on I-80 in Nebraska

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Of the 30 crashes reported to the Nebraska State Patrol Wednesday morning, the biggest took place near Aurora, Nebraska where 11 vehicles, nine of the big rigs, were involved in a large-scale accident on Interstate 80 (Courtesy: NEBRASKA STATE PATROL)

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — At least three people were injured in a large-scale accident on Interstate 80 Wednesday morning that involved nine semi-trucks and two passenger vehicles, The Grand Island Independent reported Thursday.

The vehicles were involved in multiple crashes on I-80 between Giltner and Aurora.

The paper’s report said five vehicles took part in a chain-reaction crash and that because of the pileup, I-80 was closed to eastbound traffic for about three hours while emergency crews worked at the scene and cleared the road.

Weather conditions were a factor in the crashes.

The paper said that at about 9:10 a.m., Hamilton County received a 911 call that two semi-tractor/trailers had crashed and jackknifed, blocking eastbound traffic near mile marker 328. As troopers and officers were en route to the scene, additional vehicles became involved in a chain-reaction crash. The first crash scene involved four semis and one passenger vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee.

After the initial incident, a pair of semis that were traveling together came upon the scene and were unable to stop. One struck the other, pushing it into the Jeep Cherokee.

Both occupants of the Cherokee were transported to the hospital in Aurora, but the passenger, Jason Palmer, 29, of Indiana, was flown to Kearney with life-threatening injuries. The driver was evaluated and has been released from the hospital.

One of the semi drivers, Jeffrey Clark, 56, of Colorado, was also transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The paper reported that as traffic was stopped for the first crash scene, another semi jackknifed while attempting to avoid the stopped traffic. Moments later, another crash occurred a short distance to the west involving two more semis and a minivan. No injuries were reported in those crashes.

In total, there were nine semis and two passenger vehicles involved in the incidents near mile marker 328.

The State Patrol said within 24 hours after the storm began, troopers handled 166 motorist assists, responded to 30 crashes and assisted other agencies with 17 incidents. Motorist assists can include slide-offs, flat tires, etc.

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The Nation

White House ends California talks on mileage standards

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Democratic Sen. Tom Carper said the Trump administration's negotiations with the State of California over fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards have been "superficial and not robust at best, or duplicitous and designed to fail at worst." (Courtesy: U.S. Senate)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration broke off vehicle mileage standards talks with California on Thursday, moving the two closer to a possible court battle that threatens to unsettle the auto industry.

The White House said in a statement that the administration, which wants to freeze mileage standards, would now move unilaterally to “finalize a rule later this year with the goal of promoting safer, cleaner, and more affordable vehicles.”

California officials and the Trump administration each accused the other of failing to present any good compromise proposal in the mileage dispute, which comes as President Donald Trump feuds with the Democrat-led state over his proposed border wall and his threats to take back federal money.

The administration announced last year it wanted to freeze what would have been tougher, Obama-era mileage standards for cars and light trucks. It would be one of a series of rollbacks targeting Obama administration efforts against pollution and climate change.

Under the administration proposal, the standards would be frozen after slightly tougher 2020 levels go into effect, eliminating 10 miles per gallon of improvement to a fleet average of 36 miles per gallon in 2025.

As part of the proposed mileage freeze, the administration threatened to revoke California’s legal authority to set its own, tougher mileage standards, a waiver granted that state decades ago to help it deal with its punishing smog. About a dozen states follow California’s mileage standards.

Lawmakers and automakers have urged the two sides to settle, warning that a split could divide the auto market, bring years of court battles and raise costs for automakers.

“This administration’s negotiations with the State of California over fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards have been superficial and not robust at best, or duplicitous and designed to fail at worst,” Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat in the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement late Wednesday, as the formal negotiations breakdown loomed.

“Litigation is not the best option here. It wastes time, money, creates uncertainty for American automakers, and harms the environment,” Carper said.

California officials say the administration never offered any compromise and that it broke off any contacts around December.

“We concluded at that point that they were never serious about negotiating, and their public comments about California since then seem to underscore that point,” said Stanley Young, spokesman for the state’s air board.

It’s the latest shot by the White House in its escalating feud with California. The Trump administration earlier in the week said it planned to cancel nearly $1 billion for California’s high-speed rail project and would seek the return of $2.5 billion more. Gov. Gavin Newsom said it was political retribution for the state’s role in leading a 16-state lawsuit against Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to get funds for his proposed wall at the southern border.

Since it takes several years to design vehicles, automakers have been planning to meet higher mileage requirements under Obama-era standards, as well as those in other countries.

For now, “essentially the industry is ignoring what Trump wants to do,” auto-industry analyst Sam Abuelsamid of Navigant Research said. “We know at least until this thing gets settled in the courts, we have to deal with California and the other states and have product that can sell there as well as products that can sell overseas.”

 

 

 

 

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Ohio governor’s administration proposes gas tax increase

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Ohio's Department of Transportation director, Jack Marchbanks, introduced the governor's $7.43 billion transportation budget proposal to the House Finance Committee. (Courtesy: OHIO DOT)

CINCINNATI — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration on Thursday recommended increasing the state gas tax by 18 cents a gallon beginning July 1 and annually adjusting that tax for inflation to provide sufficient funding for maintenance of roads and bridges.

Ohio’s Department of Transportation director, Jack Marchbanks, introduced the governor’s $7.43 billion transportation budget proposal to the House Finance Committee. The gas tax included in the two-year budget would be adjusted annually with the consumer price index to ensure sufficient funding going forward, Marchbanks said.

He said revenue raised the first year, by increasing the current 28-cent tax to 46 cents, equates to roughly $1.2 billion and will be split between the department and local governments.

Marchbanks told legislators that without more revenue in the face of the “impending transportation crisis,” there will be no funds for any highway improvement projects in the state and roads will deteriorate. Statistics show that deteriorating road conditions lead to more crashes, which lead to more fatalities, he said.

“Governor DeWine understands that maintaining the integrity of our roads and bridges is not only important to our economy; it is important to the health and welfare of our citizens,” Marchbanks said.

If the Legislature approves the recommendations, the proposal would provide the department in fiscal year 2020 with $750 million additional dollars in revenue to pave roads, fix guardrails, fill potholes, clear snow and ice, maintain bridges, and improve safety, Marchbanks told the committee. He said it also will provide local governments with a significant increase in the funding, including $1.6 million for every county in the state.

Marchbanks has previously said that contracts for road maintenance that totaled $2.4 billion in 2014 may drop to $1.5 billion in 2020, and a $1 billion gap remains in the department budget.

A transportation crisis is looming despite “all of ODOT’s multi-million dollar cost-saving efforts to make our agency leaner and more efficient,” he told committee members Thursday.

The department realizes that asking Ohioans to pay higher fees for roadway use is “no small task,” but hopes that most will understand the importance of responsible and sufficient transportation funding, the director said.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Tom Balzer, president of the Ohio Trucking Association, and Grace Gallucci, president of the Ohio Association of Regional Councils, commented on a potential tax increase in testimony to legislators this week.

Balzer said that the state and local governments have immediate transportation needs, and the gas tax raises immediate revenue.

Gallucci pointed out that while questions remain about whether the gas tax is the fairest way to assess users of Ohio roads, it is a way to get needed money right away.

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