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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Trucker gets life in prison on DUI charges from crash that killed two Naples women
Article thanks to Brent Batten and Links provided:

It was an impact statement about a moment of impact.
“In one single second, my best friend, my wife .. my entire world came crashing down,” Dan Jenkins said, describing the horror as he watched a Kenworth tractor slam into a car driven by his wife on a rural Central Florida road in 2011.
And it had the desired impact.
Circuit Court Judge Marcus Ezelle sentenced Michael John Phillips, 52, to life in prison plus 15 years for DUI manslaughter in the deaths of Jennifer Jenkins, 35, and Kathleen O’Callaghan, 34.
The two friends from their days as schoolgirls in Naples were killed as they drove toward Orlando for the birthday party of another friend.
Dan Jenkins was following in a second vehicle, the couple’s 2-month-old daughter with him.

Phillips, found guilty by a Hardee County jury in August, could have been sentenced to as little as 25 years, according to state sentencing guidelines. But eight family members and friends gave victim impact statements at Friday’s sentencing, each asking Ezelle to impose the maximum penalty of life in prison.

Ezelle went symbolically further, pronouncing a life sentence for one count of DUI manslaughter and an additional 15 years for the second.

Phillips, dressed in white and gray striped jail garb and shackles, a sharp contrast to the dark suit and tie he wore at the jury trial, sat impassively through the hearing. A few of his family members sat in the back of the courtroom during the hearing, but he didn’t acknowledge them. They left without speaking to reporters.  

About 30 friends and family members of the two victims attended the hearing.
They were regularly moved to tears as one witness after another recounted the lives of the two young women, their friendship and the futures denied to Jenkins, a nurse at NCH, and O’Callaghan, an international aid worker with Save the Children.
Jennifer Jenkins mother, Sharon Mahar, said the happiest day of her life was the day Jennifer was born. The saddest was Dec. 30, 2011, when she was killed.
“She was needlessly taken from this world,” Mahar said. “This individual (Phillips) made a choice. That choice ended two lives.”
Carol O’Callaghan, Kathleen’s sister, said the crash will affect her and the others for the rest of their lives.
“I was supposed to grow old with my sister,” she said. "I’ll never get to relive those memories with her. I’ll never get to be an aunt. I’ll never get to hold those nieces and nephews. Katie and Jen didn’t die in an accident, they were killed by the defendant."
Dan Jenkins’ brother, Doug, talked about helping his brother through the first days after the crash, including a trip to the scene.
“You never plan to help your brother plan a funeral,” he said. "You don’t plan to go with your father to the vehicle itself to find a few of the personal items. I saw the vehicle, but I kept it to myself because nobody should have to endure that."
In Florida, judges must sentence defendants based on a score tabulated in a pre-sentence investigation.
Phillips’ score was 364.4. Had it been 363 or lower, a life sentence would not have been an option. Factors that boosted his score included drug arrests dating 30 years, a refused drug test while free on bond in this case and then absconding on that bond, which delayed the case for several months while authorities searched for him.
Defense attorney Kelley Collier asked Ezelle for a sentence of less than life in prison, in part because Phillips was just over the points threshold.
He said Phillips, who tested positive for methamphetamine in his system, basically fell asleep at the wheel of the truck.
“He does not have a conscious recollection of the accident,” he told Ezelle.
Falling asleep at the wheel is not a reaction one would expect from using methamphetamine, Collier said.
“I would argue that the facts are not the kind of facts that would warrant that kind of (life) sentence,” Collier said.
Ezelle said the fact that Phillips didn’t intend to cause the crash wasn’t relevant. The manslaughter conviction, by its nature, presumes the guilty party didn’t premeditate the crime. Instead, the case was about creating risk that endangered others.
“Mr. Phillips, by his decisions, weaponized a commercial vehicle,” Ezelle said.
Collier said he plans to file an appeal of Phillips' conviction, based in part on expert testimony he said should have been disallowed at trial.
Family members had been frustrated by the slow pace of the case. It took investigators almost a year to charge Phillips. Friday’s sentencing occurred just two days shy of the fifth anniversary of those charges being formally filed in court.
After the hearing, the large group planned an outing to a local barbecue restaurant they discovered on one of the many trips they made to Wauchula, attending every hearing in the case.
“What a great day, after all this time,” Mahar said.
Dan Jenkins said the life sentence will make it easier to explain the tragedy to his daughter, Ashley, now almost 6, when she asks about her “Momma Jen.”
“Now I can tell her the man is in jail for the rest of his life. I can look at her and say that man will never hurt anybody again.”

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Matt Kenseth celebrating on top of his car after capturing
 the checkered flag. Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images.
Nice article thanks to Christian Espinoza and Great to see Matt go out with a victory this season. Links provided:
Nov 13, 2017  45-year old Matt Kenseth has experienced a rollercoaster-ride like none other in what will most likely be his final year competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The Cambridge, WI native broke the news back in July at Kentucky Speedway that he wouldn’t be returning to compete at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018 as Erik Jones is set to take over the No.20 ride. Jones, a talented 21-year old, has competed sort of “on loan” for Furniture Row Racing in the No.77 car this year. Many knew that Jones would return to JGR at some point in the near future, but for some the idea of him replacing Kenseth in 2018 was hard to swallow.
Contrary to what normally happens to veteran drivers, Kenseth’s on-track performance hasn’t been waning any as he has gotten older. Bad luck has bit the No.20 team on numerous occasions throughout the past few years, most recently at Kansas Speedway in October where Kenseth’s championship hopes were crushed after a pit road violation. But in the last three Monster Energy Cup seasons combined, Kenseth has racked up eight victories and led over 2,000 laps. Kenseth has the second-highest win total at JGR since 2015, only behind Kyle Busch’s 14 victories.
With successful numbers still on his side, Kenseth hoped he’d be able to land a competitive ride for the 2018 season, but that hasn’t been the case. Many competitive rides were open at other organizations, but they were filled up with other drivers. Two rides at Hendrick Motorsports were filled with young drivers, Alex Bowman and William Byron. The No.10 at Stewart-Haas Racing got filled with Aric Almirola, who brought along a full-time sponsor. The No.77 ride at Furniture Row Racing isn’t going to be used next season as the team wasn’t able to secure sponsorship. Long-story short, none of the dominos fell in Kenseth’s favor for 2018.
Knowing that he was still one of the most competitive drivers in the series, Kenseth wasn’t going to settle for a lower-tier ride. On race weekend earlier in the month at Texas Motor Speedway, Kenseth confirmed to NBC Sports what many saw coming.
“I’ve put a lot of thought into it and pretty much decided after Martinsville, which I kind of already knew anyway, but we decided to take some time off,” said Kenseth during an NBC Sports podcast episode. “I don’t know what that means. I don’t know if that’s forever. I don’t know if that’s a month or I don’t know if that’s five months. I don’t know if that’s two years. Most likely when you’re gone, you don’t get the opportunity again. I just don’t really feel it’s in the cards.”
While Kenseth has avoided calling it an official retirement, many know that it’s most likely the end to the Monster Energy Cup veteran’s career. He may still have the talent to win races and compete for championships, but that doesn’t really seem to matter in today’s racing world. A huge youth movement has overtaken the sport in recent years, and Kenseth has unluckily fallen victim to it.  Sponsors and teams are looking to work with young drivers who’ll normally take rides for less money than veteran drivers, and who’ll be around the sport for many years to come. A 45-year old veteran like Kenseth, who’s still highly competitive, just doesn’t appeal to teams and sponsors in the long-run.
The bitter part of it all for Kenseth is that he isn’t ready to hang up his helmet, and most everyone knows it. While many of his peers have enjoyed retirement tours in the past few years after personally deciding it was time to quit, Kenseth has experienced the opposite. When he announced that he wasn’t going to have a ride for the 2018 season a few weeks ago, it meant he only had three races left – possibly in his entire career. A three race retirement tour isn’t the most ideal situation for any driver, but Kenseth proved that he’s making the most of it on Sunday in Phoenix.
The middle-aged driver took on young phenom Chase Elliott in an exciting battle for the lead late in the race at Phoenix International Raceway. Shortly after a late race restart, Elliott wrestled the lead away from Kenseth. It was a crucial pass for Elliott, because if he won the race he’d advance to the Championship Four. But with all that had happened recently to Kenseth, the victory meant much more. Kenseth didn’t let Elliott get too far out of his sights. With nine laps to go, Kenseth took the youngster to school and battled the race lead back away. On seemingly the penultimate event of his career, Kenseth drove off into the sunset – pulling away with the race lead before capturing the victory.
Emotions immediately began to pour out from the 45-year old, who’s normally reserved and kept-to-himself. Kenseth climbed out of the car at the start/finish line and jumped up and down on top of his car, pumping his fists while the sold-out crowd cheered and hollered.
“I don’t know what else to say except thank the Lord. It’s been an amazing journey and I know I’m a big baby right now,” Kenseth told NBC after the race. “Just got one race left. Everybody dreams about going out a winner. We won today and nobody can take that away from us. It was a heck of a battle with Chase (Elliott) there. Golly, just thanks DeWalt, Circle K, Toyota, all our sponsors and JGR for a great five years. It’s been quite the journey here the last 20 (years).”
In true walk-off fashion, Kenseth was able to bring home a victory in restless, troubled times. Despite all that had been going on – all the talk about Kenseth being out of a ride after 2017, he was able to put it all behind him and compete like everything was alright.
Many of Kenseth’s competitors came up and congratulated him during the post-race festivities. Elliott, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney and others came to pay their respects to the veteran. Dale Earnhardt Jr. sang his praises for Kenseth after the race in an interview with NBC.
“Proud of Matt. How about that,” said Jr. “Win, going out. He kind’ve had to announce his, not retirement, he don’t want to say retirement. He had to say that he’s heading on out and might not be racing anymore. Pretty awesome for him to get a win, and I know that made him really happy.”
Sunday’s victory at Phoenix was Matt’s 39th career victory in the Monster Energy Cup series. With only one race left next weekend at Homestead-Miami, Kenseth hopes he can win one more, for a special reason.
“I’ve raced against great drivers, so, you know – but last year, we won a couple races and I usually never look at stats and I saw Mark (Martin) had 40 and I was like, ‘I just want to get 40 so I can tie my hero Mark.”
Whether Kenseth captures his 40th career win next weekend or not, he was still able to end his career on a high note. His impromptu retirement tour has may not be the ideal way to end a career, but the 45-year old Wisconsin native has certainly made the most of it. In a time where Kenseth is slowly being pushed out by younger competition, if Phoenix ends up being his final career win, he’ll be able to say he went out and beat them one last time.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Using the Clutch on a Big Rig
I ran across this article on the internet a couple years ago. It has some good pointers for newer drivers who may not have a total understanding of the clutch and clutch brakes on today's big rigs. The author's handle is Jeffro and you can link to his blog below:

I've talked before about how to shift a "big rig," and I did mention the clutch - but only a little bit about it. Clutches in a truck/tractor are different than one in a car with a manual transmission.

The main difference is the clutch brake. Since the heavy duty gearboxes do not have synchronizers, when the engine is idling, the truck is parked and the transmission is in neutral, the gears all spin. So, the clutch is locked in, the gears are spinning, and the driveline isn't moving. When the clutch is pushed in, the gears still spin. The transmission will not shift into gear until the spinning gears speed matches the non spinning driveshaft. Which means the gears have to be stopped by grinding them until they do. Or, you can use the clutch brake. When the clutch pedal is pushed all the way to the floor (Peterbilt or Volkswagen Beetle) or firewall (pendant style), the brake is engaged and stops the gears from spinning. The operator usually has the gearshift "riding" the gears waiting to "catch" the moment when the teeth mesh - it is just as likely that the gears will stop in a position where they will not mesh than if they do. So, as the gears slow to a stop, one tries to slip it into gear without grinding - just enough to help the clutch finally stop the spinning, successfully getting the thing into gear. If the gears don't line up, one eases off the brake to allow the tranny to roll over a bit until the gears do mesh.

These brakes do wear out, and they are adjustable. I hear a lot of gears getting rounded off in truck stops because of out of adjustment brakes - or they are just worn out. Years ago, the transmission had to be pulled to replace the brake - it is on the input shaft right by the clutch. But, a good mechanic can take a "blue wrench" (cutting torch) to the old brake and a install a two piece unit. The skill is not cutting up other things whilst waving the torch around in the small access hole.

So, a good driver gets into the habit of only using the bottom end of the clutch travel to stop the tranny when getting the thing into gear - if said driver likes to use the clutch to shift, then only the travel required to disengage the clutch is used.

The other thing that is different about using the clutch in a big rig is that starting the truck rolling when idling is the recommended course of action. In a gasoline engine, we all gun the motor just enough to reach the necessary torque level required to launch the vehicle in the proper gear, feathering the clutch so the motor keeps running. Well, in a diesel truck, the motors are all about torque - considerable amounts of torque. Comparing torque curves of a gasoline motor vs a diesel would show the gas motor peaking at a fairly high rpm level, while the diesel will have a fairly flat curve that spreads over a narrow rpm range.

So, winding up the motor and dumping the clutch is a very very bad idea. A gas powered vehicle might smoke the tires, but a diesel? With eight huge contact patches compared to two small ones? Not so much. Plus, we are talking a lot of torque, multiplied by the lower gears. Enough torque to twist driveshafts in two, or break universal joints, strip splines on axles or just plain shear them, or break teeth in a rear end. In short, there are a lot of bad possibilities.

So, a good driver selects a lower gear that experience has taught him/her that will start the truck and it's load easily without undue stress or excessively slipping the clutch. It isn't necessary or all that great on equipment to start a truck rolling in the lowest possible gear each and every time - that super low gear is generally specced for moving the truck as a very slow speed for some special reason rather than sprinting from a stop light.

So, a driver starts the truck in a lower gear without slipping the clutch much, the truck is launched and rolling. What next?

Well, it isn't "gouging" on the loud pedal and winding the motor to it's cut off, like I see so often in truck stops. Yep, pulling out of the fuel island in first gear, winding the motor, twisting the chassis and shifting six or seven times is less than impressive. Because they are unduly stressing the driveline. All a good driver should try to do is ease into the throttle enough to roll the truck up to speed just enough to be able to shift gently into the next gear, until the transmission is in some of the higher gears. Then, the torque isn't multiplied so much, and the driveline can stand the full measure of the power the motor has available. Only "pour the coals to 'er" in the higher gears. Unless, you as the consummate trucker, enjoy sitting in the waiting room of the truck repair shop cooling your heels until the parts are shipped in from across the country.

One of my pet peeves is a "throttle blipper." You know the type. They can't do anything with a manual transmission vehicle without stabbing the throttle several times before taking off. This is actually pretty fun with a Harley equipped with straight pipes, and most riders can't seem to resist. But, a diesel isn't a freaking Harley, and blipping the throttle while trying to get the tranny to stop is counter productive, plus having the motor wound up when starting to release the clutch is going to cause excessive clutch wear, among the other hazards mentioned above. Most guys that do it have it so ingrained they don't even realize what they are doing - it's like a dog turning around three times before it lies down.

What inspired this post was a dumbass at the west Flying J in OKC the other day. When the throttle is opened on a lot of the newer motors, you can really hear the air being sucked in. The sound is louder than the exhaust - and it almost sounds like a turbine engine in some respects. So, I hear this truck at the fuel island working up rpms sounding exactly like a plane building thrust before takeoff. Suddenly, he dumped the clutch and the truck leaped forward - until he cleared the pumps, then he stood hard on the brakes, stopping the rig just past the pumps so he could go inside to get his fuel receipt. I had to wonder what was the point? He only had to move the length of the rig - why wind 'er up, launch like a drag racer about two or three gears too high, and shut it down all in about ninety feet?

But, like "they" say, be careful what you ask for. I'm pretty sure I don't want a look inside a mind like that.
Posted by Jeffro at 5:41 PM

Labels: trucking

Saturday, November 11, 2017

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Weigh Station Bypass Service
The following from the blog posted Oct. 30, 2017. They have a bypass service that integrates with electronic logs like Peoplenet eliminating the need for a separate transponder in the vehicle. Links provided:

If you’re in the market to purchase a weigh station bypass service for your fleet, you know that there’s a lot of value in weigh station bypasses, from saving time and money, to keeping drivers happy and safe on the road. All bypass programs provide these core benefits (albeit to different degrees), so you might be asking yourself “what else should I consider in my search for a weigh station bypass provider?”
Here’s 5 suggestions to get you started:

1. Coverage

Start by thinking about where your vehicles regularly drive, and then find out if the bypass service you’re considering has bypass coverage in that state, or at sites along a particular route.

For example, if your drivers are operating throughout the lower 48, you’ll want to choose a program that supports the most number of states, so you’re giving your drivers as many bypass opportunities as possible.
However, if you only drive within one or two states, or a particular corridor, you will want to find out which bypass service supports the most sites along those particular routes. Take North Carolina for example: PrePass supports 2 sites, whereas Drivewyze supports 16 sites – so if your drivers travel extensively throughout this state, there’s a better chance of them getting a bypass opportunity if they’re using Drivewyze.
Here’s a table showing some of the most popular weigh station bypass services, and their supported state and site count:
Bypass Service
Supported States
Supported Sites
Drivewyze PreClear
Each company has a coverage map and site list on their website, so you can easily compare.
Hint: If you want to learn more about where your trucks are traveling, being pulled in, and how much time they’re wasting at scales, Drivewyze’s free Weigh Station Activity Report can show you – to get yours, start by selecting your device type here, and filling out the form.

2. Driver Experience

When you’re planning on implementing any new technology, it’s important to consider the end-user experience. In this case, your drivers. So here are some user experience questions to ask your drivers when considering bypass services:
  • Is the service intuitive?
  • Is the service easy to use?
  • How much training is required?
  • How does the product’s experience compare to other options?
Consider the fact that some weigh station bypass services, such as Drivewyze, offer a free trial. With the trial, you can ask a handful of your drivers to test the product for a couple of weeks and then provide you with feedback. This allows the drivers to get past the learning curve, and experience the bypass service in everyday scenarios. A positive driver experience is a very important aspect of any technology investment, and if you do your homework, it will almost certainly pay off in the long run.

3. Customer Support

The quality of customer support should be of high importance when considering any kind of in-cab service, including weigh station bypass. We suggest finding out if the service provides fleet support only during certain days and hours, or if it’s 24/7/365 support. Response time is also an important aspect to consider – are issues often solved right away, or does the company take a long time to respond? As well, if the service has physical infrastructure (transponder-reader poles), how do they deal with infrastructure issues when they arise?
Quality of customer support goes beyond solving technical issues. Though it’s rare, sometimes a driver can get pulled over even when they’ve been granted a legal bypass. Be sure to ask the weigh station bypass service provider how they deal with this type of scenario – the last thing you want is a company that doesn’t stand up for your drivers.
You may also want to see if the bypass provider you’re considering will let you can speak to a current customer It is always important to speak with current customers about their customer support experiences. Is their feedback positive, or negative?
If you have many drivers to train and onboard, you’ll also want to know that the bypass company has a training and onboarding process in place, and can help you implement the new service. Some questions you could ask include:
  • Do you have training materials that I can hand out to my drivers?
  • If my drivers lose those materials, is there a way to find this information online?
  • What are best practices for getting all my drivers onboarded?
  • Would someone at the bypass company be willing to present information to my drivers?
It is a daunting task to adopt new technology in any business, and you want your rollout to be as smooth as possible. Make sure the bypass service prover you choose is ready and willing to help you through your onboarding process.

4. Reporting and Business Intelligence

When you’re investing in a bypass service, it’s always best if you can provide accurate and actionable data that will help prove your return on investment (ROI). At a basic level, most bypass providers will provide you with a report that shows the number of bypasses your fleet has received, and an estimate of how much money you’ve saved, so you can determine your return on investment.
This is important information, but some providers can give you much more data than just a bypass quantity. Ask the bypass provider if you can view a sample report, so you can see exactly what data the bypass company delivers. As an example, Drivewyze provides GPS-based data – showing you where your drivers are being pulled in the most, and which sites are pulling your drivers in the longest. Drivewyze reporting can also show you your hours saved (based on historical data from each site), and the actual time your trucks waste as scales every month.
Reporting and business intelligence can add a lot of value above and beyond bypasses, so be sure to ask the bypass service provider what kind of actionable data they can provide to help you improve your business.

5. Value

It goes without saying that cost and value are two large deciding factors when you’re evaluating weigh station bypass options.
Of course, you’ll want to get the best price possible. However, don’t discount the overall value offered in each service. You may consider paying more up-front if the  bypass provider offers better:
  • Reporting
  • Convenience
  • Technology
  • Bypass opportunities
  • Time savings
Then it is well worth considering a more expensive option, when the additional benefits outweigh the additional cost. It’s also important to consider some less obvious value-adds such as:
  • Dedicated customer support
  • Time savings beyond bypass (for example, more on-time deliveries – which means happier customers)
  • Money savings beyond bypass (for instance, Drivewyze eliminates transponder inventory)
These value-adds can often deliver an even better ROI than just bypasses alone!

Final Word

That’s it, our top 5 things to consider when you’re looking for a weigh station bypass service. We hope this list will help you evaluate the various weigh station bypass services available. We hope that you find the right bypass service for your fleet!
Click here to learn more about Drivewyze for Fleets.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Truth in Numbers: Tesla Motors Kind of Lied to Us

Image: Tesla Motors
Article thanks to Matt Posky and Links provided:

Oct. 24, 2017  Yesterday, we mentioned how Tesla was behind schedule with its everyman Model 3 — delivering only 220 units to the half-million reservation holders since the start of production in late July. While we knew it would get off to a slow start, CEO Elon Musk previously assured the public that production would increase exponentially through the end of the year by way of a “production hell” trial by fire.
Musk claimed there should be “zero concern” about Tesla achieving a production rate of 10,000 cars a week before the end of next year. But many wondered if that was even possible. Despite Tesla making serious strides to increase production volume this year, we remained dubious that the proposed numbers were even feasible for a fledgeling automaker.
As it turns out, they weren’t — and the company knew it. 
In an application for sales tax exemption from the CAEATFA program filed early this year, the California Treasurer revealed that Tesla had production capacity of the Model 3 pegged at 226,563 units per year over a five-year span. But that wasn’t what was being promised by Musk or the rest of Tesla’s executives.
Brought to light by the Daily Kanbanthe filing shows quite a disparity between what the automaker told the California Treasurer and what it told its investors. The figure in the tax exemption documentdoesn’t meet Musk’s 10,000-unit week nor the company’s 5,000-per-week goal for the end of 2017.
Granted, 5,000 units is a nice round number to hang your hat on. So Musk can be forgiven for not explicitly stating the number will be closer to 4,356. But it’s misleading when you take into account the company’s 10,000 unit claim — even if you throw both the Model S and Model X’s expanded production volume into the mix.
At the very least, Tesla should be condemned for being mildly deceptive. It’s either low-balling the data being given to the California State Treasurer’s Office or puffing up product claims for its investors. Either way, it doesn’t look to be genuinely confident that it can hit Musk’s target volume of nearly 1 million vehicles in 2020.
Teething issues with the Model 3 aren’t the issue. We all knew the company has set extremely ambitious production goals for itself in a fairly short timeframe. Falling incredibly short of September’s target of 1,500 cars isn’t a big deal. But it might be worth considering that Tesla is telling two groups entirely different stories.
From the Daily Kanban:
“To understand just how misleading Musk’s statement was, some context and math is necessary. A previous [sales tax exemption] request, reported exclusively by Daily Kanban, revealed that Tesla is expanding annual production of its “Gen2” vehicles (Models S and X) to 195,000 units per year, or about twice current sales levels. Add that to the 226,563 average in the most recent [sales tax exemption] application and you get a total annual production rate of 421,563 units per year for Tesla’s entire product line. Divide that number by 52, and you get a weekly production rate of 8,106 vehicles per week.”
However, we’re still a long way from that becoming a reality. Tesla only delivered a total of 47,077 vehicles through the first half of 2017. Yet the company told the media prior to the January filing that it planned to build 500,000 vehicles in 2018 — a five-fold increase from its current production schedule.
We get that you have to play the hype game to compete in the car-building business. But Tesla might be playing a little too fast and loose when it comes to estimating its production volume.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Infotainment Systems Further Distract Drivers, Study Finds

A researcher documents the distraction of a study participant
 who is using a vehicle infotainment system. Photo courtesy of AAA
Article thanks to and AAA. Links provided:

Oct, 2017  New vehicle infotainment systems take drivers’ eyes and attention off the road — and hands off the wheel — for potentially dangerous periods of time, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

During the study, drivers using in-vehicle technologies such as voice-based and touch-screen features were visually and mentally distracted for more than 40 seconds when completing such tasks as programming navigation or sending a text message, AAA said. And removing eyes from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk for a crash, according to previous research.
With one in three U.S. adults using infotainment systems while driving, AAA cautions that using these technologies while behind the wheel can have dangerous consequences. AAA said it conducted this new research to help automakers and system designers improve the functionality of new infotainment systems and lower the demand they place on drivers.
“Some in-vehicle technology can create unsafe situations for drivers on the road by increasing the time they spend with their eyes and attention off the road and hands off the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “When an in-vehicle technology is not properly designed, simple tasks for drivers can become complicated and require more effort from drivers to complete.” 
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned researchers from the University of Utah to examine the visual (eyes off road) and cognitive (mental) demand as well as the time it took drivers to complete a task using the infotainment systems in 30 new 2017 vehicles. Study participants were required to use voice command, touch screen and other interactive technologies to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio or program navigation — all while driving down the road.
Programming navigation proved to be the most distracting task, taking an average of 40 seconds for drivers to complete. At 25 mph, a vehicle can travel the length of four football fields during the time a driver can spend entering a destination in navigation — all while distracted from the important task of driving. Programming navigation while driving was available in 12 of the 30 vehicle systems tested.
None of the 30 vehicle infotainment systems produced low demand, while 23 systems generated high or very high levels of demand on drivers, according to the study.
“Drivers want technology that is safe and easy to use, but many of the features added to infotainment systems today have resulted in overly complex and sometimes frustrating user experiences for drivers,” said Marshall Doney, AAA’s president and CEO.
Frustration arising from unsatisfactory use of these systems increases cognitive demand and raises the potential for distracted driving, researchers found.
“AAA has met with interested auto manufacturers and suppliers to discuss our findings. We welcome the opportunity to meet with other interested parties to discuss the report’s recommendations and ways to mitigate driver distraction,” Doney added.
According to a new AAA public opinion survey, nearly 70% of U.S. adults say they want the new technology in their vehicle, but only 24% feel that the technology already works perfectly.
“Some of the latest systems on the market now include functions unrelated to the core task of driving like sending text messages, checking social media or surfing the web — tasks we have no business doing behind the wheel,” Doney said. “Automakers should aim to reduce distractions by designing systems that are no more visually or mentally demanding than listening to the radio or an audiobook. And drivers should avoid the temptation to engage with these technologies, especially for non-driving tasks.”
Researchers developed a rating scale to measure the visual (eyes off road) and cognitive (mental) demands and the time it took drivers to complete a task using each vehicle’s infotainment system. The scale ranged from low to very high levels of demand. A low level of demand equates to listening to the radio or an audiobook, while very high demand is equivalent to trying to balance a checkbook while driving. According to AAA, a safe in-vehicle technology system should not exceed a low level of demand. 
Researchers concluded that most infotainment systems tested could easily be made safer by simply following federal recommendations, such as locking out text messaging, social media and programming navigation while the car is in motion. In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a set of voluntary safety guidelines advising automakers to block access to such tasks when vehicles are not parked.
“These are solvable problems. By following NHTSA’s voluntary guidelines to lock out certain features that generate high demand while driving, automakers can significantly reduce distraction,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “AAA cautions drivers that just because a technology is available while driving does not mean it is safe or easy to use when behind the wheel. Drivers should only use these technologies for legitimate emergencies or urgent, driving-related purposes.”
A total of 120 drivers ages 21-36 participated in the study. They drove 30 new 2017 model-year vehicles. The latest report is the fifth phase of distraction research from AAA’s Center for Driving Safety and Technology.
Click here for the full vehicle reports.
Click here to download the full study.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

3 Big Changes and Their Effect on the Trucking Industry
Article thanks to Scott Miscall at
Links provided:

America's trucking industry has gone through a lot of changes since the first trucks hit the roads during the early 20th century. Some of the most profound have occurred just in the last 20 years. We have seen the trucking industry go through a severe driver shortage that peaked at about 20,000 prior to the recession, a significant contraction of the market once the recession hit, and a return to a new shortage that now sits at tens of thousands of drivers. Along the way, there have been numerous changes to the way truckers do their jobs.

Experienced truckers are the ones most affected by the dramatic changes. Take technology, for example. Seasoned drivers who began working prior to the mid-1990s barely recognize the jobs they do today compared to what they did before modern technology.

From an industry perspective, there have been three significant changes in the last two decades that have profoundly affected trucking:

1. Increasing Federal Regulations
Drivers licenses in the U.S. are the domain of the individual states rather than the federal government. But because trucks carry freight across state lines, the federal government is free to regulate the industry under interstate commerce rules. And regulate they do. The feds control everything from how many hours a day a driver is allowed to work to the certifications required for specialized loads.

A special certificate is needed to drive a tanker truck, something that was not required back in the day. Drivers also need certifications to haul hazardous materials or operate rigs with double or triple tandem trailers. Regulations covering everything from load securement to safety procedures have tightened up.

2. Rapidly Changing Technology
The trucking industry is not immune to the technology revolution either. All sorts of new technologies are making truck driving easier and more efficient on the one hand, yet somewhat complicated for older drivers who were not born and raised on it. Indeed, technology is where younger drivers excel.

Companies are using technology to track their equipment, save fuel, and determine the best routes for the drivers to take. The government is requiring industry to introduce electronic logging technology. And, of course, drivers deal with technology in everything from electronic freight tracking to keeping track of their expenses on the road.

3. Baby Boom Retirements
The third change is one of age. The first crop of baby boomers is now on the verge of retirement, poised to take with them a body of knowledge and experience that is hard to replace quickly. Drivers that have been on the road for the last 30-40 years are special, and they will be missed.

With all the changes in the trucking industry over the last 20 years, experience is still a premium for drivers who want the best jobs. Companies value experience like nothing else. There is a lot more to trucking than putting a rig in gear and going, and employers know that the most experienced drivers have what it takes to get the job done.

Competition among employers for experienced drivers can be fierce. Companies are having to up their pay, increase their benefits, and provide other perks that veterans are looking for. At the top of the list for many of these drivers is more home time. They will snap up a job offering a dedicated route and lower pay over a higher-paying OTR job most of the time.

There is little doubt that the trucking industry will continue to evolve. And as it does, experience will become an even more valuable commodity. Experienced truckers are definitely in the driver's seat.