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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-05-006    Date:  July/August 2005
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-006
Issue No: Vol. 69 No. 1
Date: July/August 2005


Along The Road

Along the Road is the place to look for information about current and upcoming activities, developments, trends, and items of general interest to the highway community. This information comes from U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.

Policy and Legislation

FMCSA Evaluates Rulemaking on Hours Of Service for Truck Drivers

USDOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced that it will reexamine the 2003 hours of service (HOS) rule that regulates the amount of time commercial truck drivers can operate their vehicles. During the winter of 2004, FMCSA encouraged truck drivers and operators, law enforcement officials, safety advocates, and others to respond to a notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register. FMCSA asked respondents how the current HOS regulations have affected driver quality of life, whether naps improve driver alertness, and whether working 11-hour shifts—instead of 10—is detrimental.

FMCSA will use the information to enhance a comprehensive scientific review of the HOS rule and its physical effect on drivers operating commercial vehicles. The 2003 HOS rule increased the daily driving limit from 10 to 11 hours, continued drivers’ use of sleeper berths, and allowed a 34-hour restart period—the period of consecutive offduty hours that a driver may take before initiating a 60- or 70-hour onduty period.

FMCSA initiated the evaluation in response to a July 2004 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that directed the agency to specifically consider the 2003 rule’s impact on the health of drivers. Since the HOS rules issued in April 2003 will remain in effect only until September 2005, FMCSA is working under a compressed schedule to upgrade the rulemaking.

Public Information and Information Exchange

WSDOT Evaluates New Winter Weather Approach

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is collecting feedback on an improved road weather information system (RWIS) and highway advisory radio (HAR) deployed recently on a remote section of U.S. Route 395 north of Spokane, WA. The evaluation began with a baseline survey involving data collection during the winter of 2000-2001, at which time Internet weather information covered only the immediate Spokane area, and broadcast radio reports were limited to general information on traffic conditions. Closed-circuit television camera coverage and onsite highway advisory radio systems also were not yet available.

In 2002 WSDOT integrated two environmental sensing stations, along with an RWIS and transportation management center. The agency disseminated the information collected by the environmental sensor stations and closed-circuit television cameras to travelers via the WSDOT traveler information Web site,
www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic. In addition, two mobile HAR systems provided travelers with updated information in the areas of Loon Lake and Laurier on U.S. Route 395, and at Sherman Pass on State Route 20. Since then, the agency has been conducting an evaluation of the project using customer satisfaction surveys to evaluate the impacts of the new technologies on the behavior, safety, and efficiency of commercial vehicle operators with regard to trip timing, trip routing, and level of preparedness. The evaluation team identified approximately 40 carriers in the project corridor who were willing to participate in before and after telephone interviews.

Following the deployment of the new systems, 39 operators were surveyed and asked, “Has the availability of HARs, camera images of key roadway segments, and enhanced Internet information affected driving safety for you in this region compared with last year?” Eleven of the respondents said they did not know whether their drivers used the information sources, or they themselves did not use them. Of the remaining 28 operators, 16 (57 percent) said the availability of the new information made them “somewhat” or “a lot” safer. The remaining 12 (43 percent) said the safety benefit to them was “about the same as before.” No one reported a reduction in safety.

To view related information on the benefits and costs of these systems, visit www.benefitcost.its.dot.gov/ITS/benecost.nsf.

Winners of Work Zone Safety Awards Recognized

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and National Safety Council (NSC) recently recognized several public and private transportation groups for their commitment to work zone safety. The 2005 Roadway Work Zone Safety Awareness Awards, given in the categories of private outreach, government outreach, public-private collaborations, and safety training, recognize efforts to help reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities at roadway work zones.

In the private outreach category, ARTBA and NSC recognized the New York State Chapter, Inc., of the Associated General Contractors of America for its involvement in promoting State legislation on work zone safety in 2004. The organization developed a radio advertisement campaign and held news conferences to coincide with the introduction of the act in the New York State Legislature. The proposed legislation would impose a 30-day license suspension for drivers who exceed work zone speed limits and would establish a fund for programs promoting education and advocacy for work zone safety.

In the safety training category, High Temp Repair and Inspection, Inc. (HRI) was recognized for its collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and law enforcement officials to address safety issues relating to lane closures during a major repair project in eastern Pennsylvania. HRI coordinated daily preshift meetings with contractors and State troopers to review traffic patterns, traffic control plans, and potential hazards that could stem from the replacement of 42 bridge decks on I-81 in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties. HRI also developed a unified warning system for workers and troopers in the event of a crash. The system paid off when a properly positioned trooper spotted an intoxicated driver entering a closed work zone lane and immediately radioed another trooper stationed near the workers.

For more information on the Roadway Work Zone Safety Awareness Awards, visit www.artba.org/foundation/2005_Roadway_Workzone/index.htm, or contact Rhonda Britton at 202-289-4434 or rbritton@artba.org.

American Road & Transportation Builders Association

FHWA Issues New Compilation of Freight Statistics

Freight transportation has expanded dramatically with the growth of population and economic activity in the United States and with the increasing interdependence of economies across the globe. The U.S. population increased by 27 percent between 1980 and 2002, while the economy, measured by gross domestic product, nearly doubled in real terms during the same time period. Other indicators of growth, such as employment and household income, also have risen by 37 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Foreign trade has grown faster than the Nation’s overall economy, more than doubling between 1980 and 2002, reflecting unprecedented global interconnectivity.

Freight Facts and Figures 2004

To illustrate how these trends have affected freight transportation in the United States, the FHWA Office of Freight Management and Operations recently released Freight Facts and Figures 2004 (FHWA-OP-05-009)—a snapshot of the volume and value of U.S. freight flows, the physical network through which freight moves, the economic conditions that generate freight movements, the industry that carries freight, and the safety, energy, and environmental consequences of freight transportation. The statistics help planners, decisionmakers, and the public understand the magnitude and importance of freight transportation in the U.S. and global economies.

The report offers several key predictions for the industry, such as growth in demand for freight transportation outside the Nation’s northeastern manufacturing belt. Population, employment, and income figures also show greater variance in the geographic concentration of economic activity throughout the country. Over the next 10 years, the U.S. economy is projected to grow by 38 percent, while the U.S. population will increase by 9 percent. At the same time, transportation and warehousing employment is expected to increase by 22 percent over this period, faster than employment as a whole at 15 percent.

To view the report, visit www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/


Lettiere Becomes AASHTO President, Linnenkohl Named Vice President

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) recently named new officers, including Commissioner John F. “Jack” Lettiere, Jr., of the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), as president and Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl as vice president. Lettiere, who recently stepped in to fill out the remainder of J. Bryan Nicol’s 2004-2005 presidential term, becomes the first president of AASHTO from New Jersey. After serving NJDOT for 30 years, Lettiere received a Governor’s appointment to the role of commissioner in December 2002. As commissioner, he oversees 16,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $3 billion.

Following his own appointment, Lettiere named GDOT Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl as vice president of the association. Linnenkohl has served GDOT for 36 years, acting as both assistant State bituminous construction engineer and State aid administrator. As commissioner, Linnenkohl directs a department of 5,800 employees and manages a budget of more than $2 billion.

For more information, please contact Sunny Mays Schust at 202-624-5800.





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