A pair of new reports examines how the design of large vehicles—such as fire trucks, garbage and recycling vehicles, and freight trucks—impacts traffic fatalities in cities. These types of vehicles have a disproportionate impact on urban roadway safety for all users. However, vehicle design changes and new technology could significantly reduce that impact.
Federally mandated driver rest periods are coming up against a truck parking shortfall, and leaving drivers scrambling to find legal parking, or park illegally. When drivers need to rest, but cannot find suitable parking, they may choose to park in unsafe or illegal locations such as roadway shoulders or entrance and exit ramps. Several states are trying to solve this problem.
The Washington State legislature and the ports of Tacoma and Seattle are struggling to balance the air quality and health concerns of neighborhoods close to port facilities with protests from independent truckers who cannot afford to upgrade their equipment. The deadline to require all trucks serving the port to have newer, cleaner engines has twice been extended. Other states have tried to set rules for clean engines, with varying degrees of success.
A recent survey by the American Transportation Research Institute found that over half of commercial truck drivers are willing to pay to reserve a parking space at a rest stop. Over the past twenty years, numerous studies on commercial truck parking have concluded that parking spaces for drivers to rest are inadequately located and supplied; fatigue-related crashes, difficulty finding safe and legal parking, and overcrowding at existing parking facilities are cited as consequences.
As part of its continuing Vision Zero efforts, New York City is considering a requirement that all trucks delivering in the city have side guards installed. This safety feature is required in Japan and many European Union countries and helps prevent pedestrians and bicyclists from slipping under the truck and being run over by the rear wheels. In the U.S., cities have taken the lead with regulations because of the importance of pedestrian and bicyclist safety in congested urban areas.
The booming oil and natural gas industry is bringing jobs and economic development to states across the U.S. But along with the money and jobs come lots and lots of trucks. Many millions of additional dollars in road funding are often required to keep roads near oil and gas fields in good condition. However, road maintenance isn’t the only factor related to the energy boom that is increasing the cost of road infrastructure. High housing costs near booming oil and gas fields drive up costs for roadwork in those areas, while less competition between highway contractors in neighboring states is increasing costs there.
During the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, city officials scrambled for ways to accommodate the additional traffic as well as Angelinos’ normal daily activities. Today, the L.A. area is even more congested than it was in 1984, and some lawmakers are looking back to that time for ways to improve the situation. The strategies that have gotten the most attention are those that shift truck traffic to off-peak hours.
With high diesel prices consuming profits and growing concern surrounding the impacts of diesel emissions, more trucking companies are experimenting with liquefied natural gas as a fuel.
Congress set the current 80,000-pound weight limit for trucks on Interstate highways in 1991. For years proponents of raising the limit have argued that it would reduce the number of trucks on the road, shipping costs, and congestion. On the other side of the argument are those who believe these benefits are outweighed by the fact that heavier trucks are more difficult to control and stop, and that heavier trucks cause greater damage to roads and bridges.
The Dutch city of Utrecht has a new way to remove trucks from the central city in order to improve air quality and reduce congestion. While some freight is already being delivered directly to stores …