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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-16-004     Date:  May/June 2016
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-16-004
Issue No: Vol. 79 No. 6
Date: May/June 2016

 

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.

Management and Administration

USDOT Celebrates 50th Anniversary

In February, Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez hosted a ceremony to kick off a year of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Department, which was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966. The event included a panel of seven Secretaries of Transportation, including current Secretary Anthony Foxx and the Department’s first Secretary, 93-year-old Alan Boyd. Others on the panel, in order of their tenure as Secretaries, were James Burnley, Samuel Skinner, Rodney Slater, Norman Mineta, and Mary Peters.

Current and former Secretaries of Transportation honor USDOT’s inaugural Secretary, Alan Boyd (far right), at the 50th anniversary ceremony in February 2016.
Current and former Secretaries of Transportation honor USDOT’s inaugural Secretary, Alan Boyd (far right), at the 50th anniversary ceremony in February 2016.

Lynda Johnson Robb, daughter of President Lyndon Johnson, who pushed for the Department’s creation, also attended the event. Secretary Foxx presented her with a framed copy of USDOT’s 50th anniversary logo.

Each month of this anniversary year will focus on a different theme, with events including presentations, roundtable discussions, and featured employee profiles and blog posts online. Some of the monthly spotlights include advancing innovation and technology across the transportation system (June), local and State transportation solutions (September), and veterans in transportation (November).

USDOT launched www.transportation.gov/50 to host all the information related to the anniversary. The Web site includes the full list of monthly themes, details about past and upcoming anniversary events, and historic documents related to the Department’s creation.

Administrator Nadeau Kicks Off Route 301 Project

Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau recently joined Delaware Governor Jack Markell and other Federal and State officials to break ground on the U.S. Route 301 Mainline Project. The project will help relieve congestion and benefit commerce in the northeastern region of the United States.

The new U.S. 301 in Delaware, shown in this artist’s rendering, will help relieve congestion in the mid-Atlantic region
The new U.S. 301 in Delaware, shown in this artist’s rendering, will help relieve congestion in the mid-Atlantic region

The new 13-mile (21-kilometer), four-lane tolled highway will link to the existing U.S. 301 in Maryland, serving as an alternative route to I–95 into northern Virginia from south of Wilmington, DE. Locally, the project will serve New Castle County in Delaware and Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne’s Counties in Maryland.

The new U.S. 301 will provide commercial trucks with an alternative route and spare them from stop-and-go traffic on local roads.It will support economic development in southern New Castle County, one of the State’s fastest growing areas.

When completed in 2020, the route is expected to serve about 14,200 vehicles daily, with traffic rising to 15,900 vehicles per day in the following years. The existing Route 301 in Delaware will be converted into a local roadway, with improvements to accommodate the increased traffic resulting from the increasing economic development.

The $635 million project relies on a $211 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan, a $125 million Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles (GARVEE) bond, and more than $53 million in other Federal-aid funding. The remainder of the funds will come from U.S. 301 toll revenue.

Technical News

ELDs Required for Commercial Trucks and Buses

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently adopted a rule requiring the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) for large commercial vehicles. The requirements will improve roadway safety by employing technology to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations that prevent fatigue.

Photo. A driver sits in the cab of a commercial truck.
By late 2017, commercial bus and truck drivers will need to adopt electronic logging devices to monitor driving time, distance, and other metrics such as engine hours.

Previously, truck and bus drivers primarily completed duty logs, required since 1938, in hardcopy, making them extremely difficult to verify. An ELD automatically records driving time and monitors engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information.

The final rule, published in the Federal Register, is expected to result in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion--largely by reducing the amount of required industry paperwork.It will also increase the efficiency of roadside law enforcement personnel in reviewing driver records.FMCSA estimates that, on an annual average basis, the ELD requirement will save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles.

FMCSA received input on the final rule from its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, two public listening sessions, and comments from two proposed rule announcements in the Federal Register.

For more information, visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov/elds.

FMCSA

Public Information and Information Exchange

United States–Japan Collaborate to Support Trade

The United States and Japan recently led an effort to accomplish a trade and investment agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The partnership will facilitate even more trade between the two nations, as well as 10 other partnering countries (Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam). Most notably for U.S. businesses, the agreement levels the playing field for exporting goods and services to the Asia-Pacific region, which covers 40 percent of the global economy.

The partnership will make it easier for U.S. entrepreneurs, farmers, and small businesses to sell products abroad that are produced in the United States by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes and other trade barriers on those products. Transportation will play a significant role in that U.S. exports must be able to get from where they are produced to port.

Other collaborative efforts between the two countries include connected vehicle technologies and bridge engineering research.

For more information on how the United States and Japan are collaborating on bridge engineering research, see “Partners Across The Pacific” in the May/June 2015 issue of Public Roads.

Data Show Increase in Older Drivers on the Road

The Federal Highway Administration published data that show a record-high 214 million licensed drivers in the United States, including 95.9 million aged 50 or older, in 2014. These figures align with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx’s 30-year framework for future transportation, “Beyond Traffic,” which predicts a 77-percent increase among drivers over age 65 by 2045.

The data, collected from all 50 States and Washington, D.C., show drivers aged 85 or older increased by 2.9 percent over 2013. They remain the Nation’s fastest growing demographic group among licensed drivers.

Photo. An older woman is driving a car.
The number of drivers age 50 and older increased by more than 2 million from 2013 to 2014, including a 2.9 percent increase in drivers 85 and older.

FHWA researchers have pioneered a variety of safety enhancements for U.S. roads, such as cutting-edge retroreflective laminates that make highway signs brighter and more visible from greater distances. These improvements address the needs of older drivers, which range from declining vision, decreased flexibility, and psychomotor performance to changes in perceptual and cognitive performance.

Published in FHWA’s Highway Statistics, an annual compilation of information about drivers, vehicles, and roads, the data reflect the growing demands on the U.S. highway system and inform decisions by transportation policymakers, researchers, and academia.

Additional information about how FHWA designs roads for older drivers can be found in the Handbook for Designing Roadways for the Aging Population (FHWA-SA-14-015), which is available at http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/older_users/handbook.

NHTSA Launches Public Awareness Campaign

In January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a new public awareness campaign calledSafe Cars Save Livesthat urges consumers to check for open recalls at least twice a year and to have their vehicles fixed as soon as parts are available. Last year, close to900 recalls affected 51 million vehicles nationwide. Every year, on average, 25 percent of recalled vehicles remain unrepaired.

Web advertisement. A text ad for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recall campaign includes the agency’s logo and the text, “Safe Cars Save Lives: Check for Recalls.”

“Recalls are a serious safety issue that should be promptly addressed,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “An informed consumer is one of our strongest allies in ensuring recalled vehicles are repaired. Do not wait to act if your car is under recall and the parts are available.”

The Safe Cars Save Lives campaign features online banner ads. The messages urge consumers to get into the habit of checking their vehicle identification number (VIN) using NHTSA’s free VIN lookup tool. To remember to check, NHTSA suggests timing it with the changes in daylight savings. If there is an open recall, the safety agency advises owners to contact their local dealer to schedule an appointment for repair as soon as possible.

The recall awareness campaign also includes asuite of safety videosto help inform consumers on how to check their VINs, how recalls and investigations work, and information on what every car owner should know.

The campaign builds on NHTSA’s current efforts to provide consumers with safety information, including the 5-Star Safety Ratings System and mobile apps that provide on-the-spot information on crash protection features and recalls on new vehicles and many older models.

NHTSA

Cover of the report, SHRP2 – Moving Us Forward: The Second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) Implementation Highlights 2015.Report Highlights Successes of SHRP2

FHWA released SHRP2– Moving Us Forward: The Second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) Implementation Highlights 2015 (FHWA-OTS-16-0001), a digital report exploring 3 years of implementation activities and progress.

As of late 2015, SHRP2 had successfully delivered financial and technical assistance to recipients in every State, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico on more than 350 projects. SHRP2 Solutions have been deployed through the Implementation Assistance Program, a joint effort of FHWA and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. This program enables State DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations, local and tribal agencies, utilities, and other agencies to benefit from SHRP2 innovations.

The publication highlights the successes of the early implementation efforts, including groundbreaking SHRP2 safety research and the first three rounds of the Implementation Assistance Program. Subsequent reports will cover later rounds of projects and explore SHRP2’s long-term impact on the state of practice in the transportation industry and benefits to the traveling public.

For more information, visit https://issuu.com/shrp2/docs/shrp2_2015_eoy_progress_report_01.0.

Transportation Research Board

Safe Routes to School in Tribal Communities

A new information brief, issued by the National Center for Safe Routes to School, provides an overview of successful strategies for implementing Safe Routes to School programs in tribal communities. Cities and towns throughout the United States are improving community health and safety and reducing negative effects on the environment through programs that increase walking and bicycling by children and adults. Tribal communities also have much to gain from increasing active transportation, but they often face particular challenges to implementing infrastructure, programmatic, and policy changes to support active transportation.

These elementary school students in Pryor Creek, OK, can walk and bike to and from school as part of Walking Wednesdays. For programs like this to succeed, communities need to work to ensure the children’s safety.
These elementary school students in Pryor Creek, OK, can walk and bike to and from school as part of Walking Wednesdays. For programs like this to succeed, communities need to work to ensure the children’s safety.

The publication provides an overview of some of the considerations unique to implementing Safe Routes to School programs in tribal communities, such as school governance, responsibility of multiple parties over land and roads, and funding sources. It showcases three tribal communities in Montana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma that have successfully improved safety for walking and bicycling to school and describes the tactics these communities are using.

The information includes an overview of issues that are not specific to tribal communities, including rural conditions, loose animals and wildlife, limited staff capacity, and the difficulty of collecting and evaluating program data.

For more information, visit http://saferoutesinfo.org/sites/default/files/SRTS_brief_tribal.pdf.

National Center for Safe Routes to School

USDOT Plugs in to Energy Challenge

In late 2015, USDOT became the first Federal agency to join the U.S. Department of Energy’s EV Everywhere Workplace Charging Challenge. The challenge encourages employers to provide charging access for employees’ electric vehicles, helping owners double their vehicles’ all-electric daily commuting range.

Electric vehicles and workplace charging are key components of a clean transportation future. USDOT took the first step by launching a pilot program in the parking garage at its headquarters in Washington, DC, that set clear policy to enable workplace charging for employees.

Photo. Closeup of the rear of an electric vehicle plugged into a charging source.
USDOT installed electric vehicle charging stations at its Washington, DC, headquarters as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s EV Everywhere Workplace Charging Challenge.

“Building on this pilot, I want to expand our program and make workplace charging available at DOT facilities across the country,” says Jeff Marootian, chief sustainability officer for USDOT.“From Florida to California, I believe by 2025 we can have more than 500 workplace charging outlets available to our employees.”

As a participant in the Workplace Charging Challenge, USDOT receives free access to technical guidance for expanding workplace charging, including assessing employee demand, developing internal policy, and procuring and installing charging stations.

More than 240 U.S. employers have joined the challenge as of late 2015 to provide charging access to more than 1 million workers at hundreds of worksites around the country.

For more information about USDOT’s electric vehicle workplace charging program, contact DOTsustains@dot.gov. For more information about the Workplace Charging Challenge, visit http://energy.gov/eere/vehicles/ev-everywhere-workplace-charging-challenge.

Improving Driver Understanding of Safety Features

With more people buying new cars, a significant opportunity exists to increase the use of new safety technologies that hold the promise of reducing fatalities. A recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study shows that vehicle safety technologies, such as electronic stability control and other equipment, saved nearly 285,000 lives between 2002 and 2012. But with the latest safety technologies also comes a learning curve.

Screen capture. Home page of the Web site, “My Car Does What?”

Innovative vehicle technologies like crash-avoidance systems only work when drivers know how to use them.As vehicles become more complicated, the likelihood increases that drivers might not understand everything their cars can do--or all the information the car can offer to them. The National Safety Council and the University of Iowa are changing that with a new Web site, “My Car Does What?”

The site offers clear, understandable explanations--many of them with visuals--of a wide range of safety features, such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and blind spot monitoring. It includes information on how best to use certain features, such as whether to pump the brakes with an antilock braking system, and what various warning or indicator lights and sounds mean.

For more information, visit www.mycardoeswhat.org.

 

 

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