Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, April 1, 2021:
ATA skeptical of infrastructure plan while NATSO lauds effort
After the White House released its $2-plus trillion American Jobs Plan infrastructure funding proposal Wednesday, some groups in the trucking industry applauded the effort to improve the nation's infrastructure but were hesitant about parts of the plan.
American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear commended President Biden and his "vision to modernize and revitalize our nation’s aging transportation networks," but noted “[we] do not believe the Administration’s funding proposal is politically tenable nor a reliable long-term solution to the shortfall facing the Highway Trust Fund."
A large portion of the plan focuses on creating quality jobs for Americans. As part of the plan, Biden is calling on Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to benefit unions. Part of the PRO Act, however, would nationalize the ABC test for independent contractors, putting the owner-operator model in trucking in jeopardy.
"We also disagree with certain provisions – especially those related to labor – that are counterproductive to economic growth and will only serve as political poison pills," Spear added. "However, the President’s broader plan is an important marker as Congress begins work on a surface transportation reauthorization bill. ATA recognizes this is the beginning of the legislative process, not the end."
A spokesperson with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said the group is holding off on commenting until more comes out about trucking-specific provisions in the plan.
Even though electric vehicles currently represent only 1% of the entire U.S. fleet, Biden's plan earmarks more money for electrification than repairing roads and bridges. Biden's plan puts forward $174 billion to encourage and support the purchase and use of electric vehicles, including incentives and tax breaks for individuals that buy American-made electric vehicles. Also baked into the plan is money to support the construction of 500,000 electric charging stations around the country and replace diesel-powered transit and school buses with ones powered by electricity.
Lisa Mullings, President and CEO of NATSO – the trade association representing the nation’s truck stops and travel plazas – said her organization and its member locations "are eager to work with the Administration to advance its infrastructure objectives, including building a reliable and safe nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations," adding her group was also pleased that Biden's plan did not incorporate tolling existing interstates and commercializing rest areas as funding sources.
Biden's plan will still need to move through Congress, where it likely will face intense opposition from Republicans.
“Our nation could use a serious, targeted infrastructure plan. There would be bipartisan support for a smart proposal," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), calling the proposal "a liberal wish-list."
“This plan is not about rebuilding America’s backbone," McConnell added. "Less than 6% of this massive proposal goes to roads and bridges. It would spend more money just on electric cars than on America’s roads, bridges, ports, airports, and waterways combined."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) called the American Jobs Plan "a visionary, once-in-a-century investment in the American people and in America’s future," noting the package "is about jobs, jobs, jobs: creating millions of good-paying union jobs, investing in American workers and turbocharging America’s global competitiveness – all while reimagining and revitalizing our infrastructure in a transformative, resilient way."
Peterbilt's new electric-vehicle cost calculator
Peterbilt Motors introduced an Electric-Vehicle (EV) Operating Cost Calculator for prospective Peterbilt electric vehicle customers interested its model 220, 520 and 579 EVs. Customers can evaluate Total Cost of Ownership on both a per-mile and per-hour basis, and view side-by-side comparison to comparable diesel model costs.
The calculator, available for a test spin via this link, compares power consumption and fuel costs between electric and diesel vehicles for multiple configurations. Customers can choose between using the convenient slider functionality or directly input their data for key variables such as mileage per year, electricity cost, vehicle price, charging stations, rebates and other expenses such as annual maintenance and insurance. The calculator automatically populates the costs as users complete each section and provides a detailed summary once complete that outlines total electric costs and operating cost per vehicle.
Telematics supplier makes Lytx's AI-powered in-cab video monitoring program available
Electronic logging device and other telematics systems supplier Geotab has made an integrated video-camera platform called Surfsight, by the Lytx company, available on its Geotab Marketplace for fleet customers. The Surfsight AI-12 camera solution is specifically designed to help improve fleet safety through its continuous recording and advanced machine vision (MV) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
Surfsight easily integrates with Geotab’s telematics platform, the company says, providing access to a dashboard camera solution. Though a combination of MV+AI, sensors, and live video streaming, the company says, fleet operators can help identify in-cab behaviors including smoking, eating and drinking, handheld device use, an unbelted driver and a distracted driver. The connection with Geotab’s GO9 device enables capture of video evidence of sudden acceleration, sharp turns, and harsh braking.