• The East Coast and Midwest are at the front end of an aggressive two weeks in terms of weather. Winter Storm Hercules, the first storm of 2014, crippled the region with up to two feet of snow on the third day of the year, with an arctic blast hot on its tail and another winter storm, Ion, close behind that. From the Midwest to the Northeast, snow, sleet, and bitterly cold temperatures will all be experienced within a matter of days. With these dangerous conditions presenting themselves so early in the year, it is important to be careful if and when you and your fleet drivers are behind the wheel. Remain cognizant of the following winter driving tips and your entire fleet will manage to avoid the snowbanks and other cars this winter! 

    Ideal Driving Speed for Wintry Weather

    Far too many drivers are under the impression that the posted speed limit is what they should be cruising at, no matter the conditions. Unfortunately, it is a stated limit that should not be exceeded and there are three factors that need to be taken into consideration to determine if that speed should be attained; traffic, visibility, and traction. 

    If there is heavy traffic, then it is important to keep a safe distance from the cars in front of and behind your vehicle. This is important because the winter driving capabilities of the other drivers around you cannot be controlled, so it is always best to maintain safe distances between bumpers.

     When visibility is low due to a heavy snow storm, freezing fog, or a wintry mix, it is crucial that you stay below the posted speed limit. With minimal visibility, it is difficult to discern road conditions, road shape, and especially other drivers around your vehicle.

    Traction is the third and one of the most important factors to consider when driving. Since patches of white ice, snow, slush and black ice fluctuate as the road progresses, it is imperative to keep your speed slow enough so as to maintain traction at all times.

    Avoid Forcing the Tires to do More than one action at a time

    In questionable driving conditions, having your vehicle's tires perform more than one duty can spell disaster. Most spinouts and uncontrolled slides occur when a driver attempts to do two actions at once – steer while braking, or turn while accelerating.  This is demanding too much of the already limited traction that the tires are given in wintry road conditions; even if they are high-traction winter tires. To overcome this risk, come to a complete stop before turning the wheel around a corner, and apply light, consistent pressure to the throttle when making a turn from a complete stop.

    Do Not Panic When Driving on Icy Roads

    Many winter driving accidents can be completely avoided if the driver maintains an air of calm, cool, and collected thinking. While it is terrifying to have the realization that you are no longer in control of your vehicle, it is likely that there is more control available than you are lead to believe. Panicking when behind the wheel in icy conditions is the root cause of many accidents. As stated in the previous tip, forcing the tires to find more traction than is available will lead to an inevitable loss of control. Unfortunately, that is the gut reaction of inexperienced winter drivers; slam on the brakes and sharply turn the wheel to avoid the seemingly imminent collision. Those of you whom have been in an icy slide and tried to force the brakes and twist the wheel are aware that you will get literally no response from the tires; this is because too much is being asked of them.

    The best solution when first feeling a slide – no matter if there is a car in front of you or if you are in the midst of a turn – is to take your foot of the accelerator and lightly turn into the slide. Turning against the slide will incur a more aggressive slide in the opposite direction. While slamming on the brakes will cause your tail end to slip out even further.

    These are important tips that you and your team of fleet drivers need to be aware of for safe driving in icy, winter conditions. Stay safe, stay warm, and Happy New Year!

     

     

     

     

     



  • Cost of Traffic

    Dec 03, 2013

    Everyday across the country, millions of Americans have to drive on congested roadways. Traffic has become the bane of existence for many nine-to-fivers whose commute involves the phenomenon. However, for fleet businesses whom generate revenue from driving, traffic jams cost them billions of dollars annually due to delays, wasted fuel and unproductive hours.  

    For the average driver in America's busiest cities, an hour of their day is lost to traffic. TomTom's Traffic Index reports the most congested city as Los Angeles with a 24 hour congestion rate of 35%. This means that L.A. drivers are on the road a third more throughout the day than is designated by routes and speed limits. For rush hours, however, this number peaks at 55% in the morning and 78% in the evening. While the least congested city as reported by TomTom is Cleveland with a 24 hour congestion rate of 10%. The average congestion rate is 25% throughout the week. This much additional time on the road has an enormous impact on businesses relying on transportation for profit.

    The Texas A&M Transportation Institute researched the impact of traffic throughout the country in 2011 and the results are staggering:

    ~  5.5 billion extra hours of time is due to traffic

    ~  There are 2.9 billion gallons of fuel wasted due to idling in traffic

    ~  56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide are released into the air due to congested conditions

    ~  $27 billion caused for truck operations which was primarily passed onto consumers as higher retail prices

    This $27 billion from trucking operations in congestion has an even greater impact upon subsequent links of the supply chain. Across the 15 most congested urban areas, the average commodity value transported was $208.9 million in 2011.  However, with an average 12.3 million hours of truck delay, this $200 million was increased to a value of $933 million due to the negative repercussions of congestion.

    Intermodal terminals, warehouse districts and urban or rural corridors are the heaviest cause of truck congestion.  Unfortunately, until definitive plans for an upgraded interstate system and road surface network are produced by congress, there are few opportunities for businesses to reduce these costs of traffic. Technology utilization and scheduling or regulation enhancements can levy some of the burden congestion has on the bottom line, but the biggest relief will come from an updated national highway system.

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  • While discussion of fuel consumption has always been a topic of concern, the most prevalent issue that is currently swirling through the transportation industry is the FMCSA's recent adjustment to the hours-of-service regulation. Safety administrators are praising the policy change for its structured increase of off-duty time requirements. However, Fleet managers, drivers, and business owners alike are up in arms about the massive reduction of available working hours. In our last article on the topic, which summarized the full policy, we calculated that each individual driver is having 624 hours cut annually due to the change. To put that into greater perspective, if driving at an average pace of 60 MPH for 624 hours, 37440 miles will be traversed; equivalent to starting in Seattle, WA and circling the contiguous United States 4 times. If this reduction was spread across a fleet of drivers, the business would feel the repercussions. However, this is for each of the nearly 6 million Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers in the United States, so "it's only a matter of time before these impacts ripple throughout the nation's economy." (K. Burch)

    The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently released a 60-pg, thorough analysis of the "Operational and Economic Impacts of the New Hours-of-Service". Utilizing results from a 2300 driver survey and 40,000 commercial driver logbooks, the research established a few noteworthy operational and economic impacts from the HOS update.

    ~  Greater than 80% of motor carriers are in the midst of a quantifiable productivity loss since July.

    ~  Nearly half of the businesses surveyed have had to employ more drivers to deliver the same amount of inventory.

    ~  Even though the updated HOS policy reduced a driver's weekly hours from 82 to 70, 66% of the drivers are experienced greater levels of fatigue while just over 82% of commercial drivers have had their quality of life negatively affected.

    ~  Unchanged deadlines have required drivers to operate at more time periods of greater traffic a financial risk to fleets that we discussed last week.

    ~  Annualized loss of wages is around $2 billion due to the drop in hours

    The research also provided the key outcomes related to productivity which are as follows:

    ~  More Drivers are now Required to Move the Same Amount of Freight: To comply with the HOS rules carriers have shifted driver schedules. Many of these new schedules have resulted in a decrease in the number of weekly miles a driver can log. Due to the decrease in miles, carriers have a choice of turning down freight or making up the miles by incorporating additional drivers and/or equipment into their operations. These options are less efficient than operations prior to the new HOS rules, and are a central component of the productivity loss.

    ~  Driver Shortage and Turnover: Prior to the July 1st HOS rules, qualified drivers were scarce with an estimated shortage of 20,000 to 25,000 for-hire truckload drivers.7 As a result of the changes more drivers are required and the level of scarcity has increased. To attract drivers after the HOS change, some carriers have opted to increase pay8 and some may increase rates for shippers. Rate hikes are challenging, however, due to strong competition among industry participants. If rate increases do not fully compensate for driver pay increases then carriers raising pay will assume an additional financial burden.

    ~  Decreased Flexibility to Meet Customer Requirements: Meeting customer requirements is more difficult under the new HOS rules. In particular, drivers are limited to one restart per week and must take those restarts across two nighttime periods. Shippers, however, may require delivery at any point on a given day, and with little notice. The data show, particularly those data describing the variability in driver weekly work time, that flexibility has decreased. As a result, drivers are less able to accumulate hours for unanticipated shipper requests via the 34-hour restart. In many instances carriers must either turn down business or increase driver capacity.

    This valuable research will likely be presented in some form at the subcommittee hearing on Thursday, November, 21. Chairman of the Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce of the House Small Business Committee, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) stated that the hearing will "examine the economic and operational impact of the FMCSA new Hours of Service regulation on small businesses". Hanna went on to add that he "looks forward to learning from the witnesses how they are operating under this rule and examining how we can better balance the needs of our economy and the important goal of highway safety." These witnesses will represent both sides of the argument as Anne Ferro of the FMCSA is scheduled to be heard alongside carrier executives from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Association.

    It will be interesting to see the outcome of this hearing, so stay tuned to FleetCardsUSA.com for all your industry updates.

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  • As colder weather approaches the farmlands spread across the bread-basket of America, Farmers begin the routine of harvesting and drying grains to prep for distribution. This process is a simplified chain of order that begins with the planting season, and ends in the grain elevators. Unfortunately, there have been three events this year which have disrupted the supply chain and are now a cause for concern throughout the Midwest.

    There was a delayed start to the planting season, which pushed back harvest from the get-go, while heavy rains in September and October have increased the moisture in the corn harvest by as much as 7% (source: INFORUM). This increase in harvest moisture is the generation of most worry.

    A propane shortage has swept through the region with many crops' harvests occurring at the same time. Being the primary medium for drying crops in preparation for storage and distribution, this shortage has put many farmers between a rock and a hard place; store moist grain over the winter in hopes that it won't spoil, or leave crops in the field with fingers crossed that the weather won't shift to winter cold to early and freeze the grains.

    Major propane distributor, Kinder Morgan Company, has stated that they are reaching out nationwide for truckers to assist in distribution to minimize the impacts of this drought.  With a three-fold increase of propane through its Cochin Pipeline, Kinder called upon the state governing bodies of Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Montana and other Midwest states to relax the recently stringent hours-of-service regulation for truckers. The propane is available, but because of the high demand throughout the region, in addition to the new hours-of-service policy enacted in July, it is proving difficult to get the propane from the pipeline to the grain elevators.

    Hopefully this issue will clear up so that we all have plenty of cornbread and stuffing this Thanksgiving!

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  • Many mountain ranges throughout the country are already capped with snow; resorts in Colorado and Vermont are already open for the snowsports season.  With the heart of winter right around the corner, is your fleet ready to transition from the summer heat to the coldest months ahead? Fleet managers should use the following AAA Winter Care Checklist to prepare all vehicles for the winter months:

    Winter Care Checklist

    Battery and Charging System – Have the battery and charging system tested by a trained technician. A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather.

    Battery Cables and Terminals – Check the condition of the battery cables and terminals. Make sure all connections are secure and remove any corrosion from the terminals and posts.

    Drive Belts – Inspect belts for cracks or fraying as these issues will compound from the cold contracting the material. If your fleet has utilized multi-rib belts, replace them every 60,000 miles because they will not display obvious signs of wear.

    Engine Hoses – Observe all hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps, as well as squeezing various points along each hose to check for any that are brittle or excessively spongy feeling.

    Tire Type and Tread – In areas with heavy winter weather, changing to snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. All-season tires will work well in light to moderate snow conditions, providing they have adequate tread depth. If any tire has less than 3/32-inches of tread, it should be replaced. Uneven wear on the tires can indicate alignment, suspension or wheel balance problems that should be addressed to prevent further damage to the tires.

    Tire Pressure – Due to the cold, it is necessary to check tire inflation more frequently in the winter. Generally tire pressure will drop 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  For proper tire pressure, refer to the vehicle owner’s manual or this can be typically found on the inside of the driver side door. 

    Air Filter – If light can be seen through the filter, when held up to a 60-watt bulb, it is still in working order. If the light is blocked from shining through, though, make sure to install a replacement.

    Coolant Levels – Check the coolant level when the engine is cold. If the coolant level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. Check the protection level with a test kit that can be purchased from any auto parts store.

    Lights – Check the operation of all headlights, taillights, emergency flashers, turn signals, brake lights and back-up lights. Replace any dead bulbs.

    Wiper Blades – Blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace blades that leave streaks or miss spots. In areas with consistently snowy conditions, there are winter wiper blades available which have a rubber boot wrapping the frame to prevent ice buildup.

    Washer Fluid – For the winter months, fill the washer fluid reservoir with a solution of cleaning agent and antifreeze to enhance function during freezing days.

    Brakes – Ensure that brakes are manually inspected and that fleet drivers note when there is any issues present with braking.

    Transmission, Brake and Power Steering Fluids – Verify that all fluids are at or above minimum safe operational levels.

    Emergency Road Kit – In case any unforeseen breakdowns or impassable natural disasters occur, it is important to carry an emergency kit that is equipped for winter weather. The kit should include:

    • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
    • Snow shovel
    • Flashlight with extra batteries
    • Window washer solvent
    • Ice scraper with brush
    • Cloth or roll of paper towels
    • Jumper cables
    • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
    • Drinking water
    • Non-perishable snacks (energy or granola bars)
    • Extra warm clothes and blankets
    • First-aid kit
    • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)
    • Mobile phone and car charger with numbers for fleet dispatch, family and roadside assistance

    In addition to the above the checklist, if there are vehicles in your fleet that are not regularly in use, be sure to swap out the fuel as the chemical make up of summer fuel is different from winter fuel.

    Protecting your fleet for the winter ahead will not increase the longevity of fleet vehicles but will also act as general maintenance to improve fuel efficiency.



  • In late December, 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published its new hours-of-service rule. While this policy was formed nearly two years ago, compliance was split between two deadlines: the effective date of February 27, 2012 which applied to all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and, more recently, July 1 of this year which dictates policy only for property-carrying CMVs.

    Earlier this week, in Florida, the American Transportation Research Institute revealed the top ten issues that are facing the North American trucking industry as the new year approaches. With the full extent of the new hours-of-service policy having started July, 2013, and the ripples this has been sending through the industry, it is no surprise that this concern tops the list followed, respectively, by: the FMCSA Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, driver shortage, the economy, and the recent electronic logging mandate.

    The reasoning behind the mounted concern of this new policy is due to provisions that place limits on 34-hour restarts and rest breaks. In the prior policy, there was no ruling on 34-hour restarts. However, as of summer 2013, there must be two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. and can only be utilized once in a 168 hour period; i.e. 7 days. This new ruling effectively reduces possible driving hours in a week from an average of 82 down to a maximum of 70. While safety advocates are lauding this new rule for the possibility of safer roadways, fleet managers and operators are worried about the annual reduction of 624 hours per driver (for the sake of comparison, there are 730 hours on average, per month). A decrease in available hours means that fleets will have to offset the impact by either increasing payload size or hiring more drivers. Unfortunately, both of these options are costly; heavier payload will result in higher fuel costs, and on-boarding new drivers will create an additional salary, add the expenses of on-boarding, and additionally increase fleet fuel consumption. In addition to this, the new hours-of-service policy stipulates that a driver rest for at least 30 minutes every 8 hours of driving.

    Even though this hours-of-service policy was fully effective July 1, 2013, legal proceedings began months prior and have reached federal appeals court to nix several provisions, including the aforementioned 34-hour restart restriction, and 30-minute break requirements. A summary of the hours-of-service rules for both property- and passenger-carrying drivers are as follows:

    Property-Carrying Drivers:

    11-Hour Driving Limit

    Fleet drivers are allowed a maximum 11 hours behind the wheel only after 10 consecutive hours off duty.

    14-Hour Limit

    The 11 hours of driving must be completed in a 14 hour window.

    Rest Breaks

    A 30 minute rest must be taken after 8 consecutive hours of driving.

     60/70-Hour Limit

    A maximum 60/70 hours of driving in a 7/8 day period. Upon reaching the limit, drivers are required to take at least 34 hours off duty. These 34 hours must include the 28 hours from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. the following day and can only be used once every 168 hours.

    Passenger-Carrying Drivers:

    10-Hour Driving Limit

    Drivers have a maximum of 10 hours of driving after 8 consecutive off duty hours.

     15-Hour Limit

    This is the same as the Property-Carrying Drivers' 14-Hour Limit, but with an additional hour.

     60/70-Hour Limit

    Fleet Operators can only drive for 60/70 hours in a consecutive 7/8 day period.

    Sleeper Berth Provision

    Drivers operating vehicles with an equipped sleeper berth may accumulate 8 consecutive hours in the berth to satisfy the off duty hours requirement or can split into two periods of rest provided that neither period is less than two hours and that driving time surrounding each period does not exceed both the 10-hour driving limit and 15-Hour Limit rules.

    Read the full hours-of-service policy to become familiar with how regulations have changed for the transportation industry.



  • Just hours after the 2013 government shutdown ended last week, President Barack Obama signed into law a succinct sleep apnea bill.  While only three sentences in length, the bill sets forth legislation which has been desired by all those invested in and employed by the trucking industry.  In the past, the issues of sleep apnea impacting the safety of fleet operators have only been addressed by regulatory guidance. However, after unanimously passing through both the House of Representatives and Senate, it is now law that:

    "a requirement providing for the screening, testing, or treatment (including consideration of all possible treatment alternatives) of individuals operating commercial motor vehicles for sleep disorders only if the requirement is adopted pursuant to a rule-making proceeding."

    This piece of legislation (Public Law #113-45) is so highly touted throughout the industry because it requires that the FMCSA must execute a full cost-benefit and regulatory impact analysis before setting policy regarding sleep apnea as opposed to the loosely adhered to 'guidance'.

    Prior to this bill being signed into law, the FMCSA could set policy without taking into account the high costs to the industry (estimated to be greater than $1 billion) – which would most likely fall on the shoulders of the safer fleets controlled by small businesses. Now, with the law passed, Todd Spencer of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has thanked Representatives Bucshon and Lipinski for their efforts and stated that this law "is common sense legislation that has the support of the entire industry." Spencer went on to say that "anything FMCSA does regarding sleep apnea should absolutely consider the costs such a policy will pass on to truckers."

    While it was explicitly announced that a rulemaking process will be followed, the FMCSA stated to the press that "Congress should still weigh in by passing legislation and guaranteeing that a transparent and sound process is used."

    While this Sleep Apnea bill is important for the costs imposed on the industry and passed through Congress in record time, don't expect the same ease of passage to be seen next year as the Highway Trust Fund reaches its limit.

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  • Think your fleet is one of the best in the trucking industry?  The Truckload Carriers Association's (TCA) 6th annual Best Fleets to Drive For® award is right around the corner, so now is the time to see how your fleet stacks up against the rest.

    Best Fleets to Drive For® is an annual evaluation of North American for-hire trucking companies that provide an exceptional workplace environment for drivers and owner-operators.  Conducted by CarriersEdge in partnership with the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), the Best Fleets to Drive For® award highlights the best employers in the trucking industry.

    This annual contest and survey promotes positive elements and great opportunities within the trucking industry. In addition to these accolades, this award sets higher employer standards for companies to follow through the documentation of success stories and showcase of fleets providing exceptional workplace environments.

    "This program publicly recognizes and celebrates the fleets that are working to provide exceptional workplace environments," said Mark Murrell, president of CarriersEdge. "As we survey the participants, we're documenting a series of success stories that model best practices for other companies to adopt or follow. It's good for the carriers, the drivers, and the image of trucking, which is why the number of nominations seems to double every year. As we head into the next round, I have no doubt that this trend will continue."

    The contest guidelines are straightforward for drivers or owner-operators: nominate your fleet for the award and complete the driver survey which is conducted to gain deeper feedback. In addition to the operator submitted metrics, company safety and driver retention data are collected, as well as corporate interviews of each nominated company. After data is compiled of all applicable fleets, it is reviewed to determine the Top 20 Best Fleets to Drive For®. Before voting, read the full list of evaluation metrics.

    There is no fee to nominate a company and the Best Fleets to Drive For® 2013 survey is open to all North American, for-hire trucking companies with 10 vehicles or more. Since this is a vote of the best fleets to drive for, only those employees that operate the vehicles can complete a nomination; i.e. office staff, management, and company owners cannot nominate their fleet.

    To nominate a fleet, drivers can fill out the nomination form  or send an email to Nominate@BestFleetsToDriveFor.com, and include the full name and contact info for both the nominated fleet and the individual submitting the nomination.  Nomination deadline is 5:00 pm EST November 1st, 2013.

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  • On October 1, 2013 the government figuratively "shutdown" due to bipartisan disagreement in regards to the proposed budget. This inability of Congress to provide a federal budget has impacted millions of Americans in a myriad of federally funded industries. Is the transportation industry, a staple in the American economy, going to come to a halt because of this shutdown?

    According to the Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, the trucking industry will not be directly affected. In a statement to Department of Transportation (DOT) employees, Foxx mentions that "some employees will be excepted [from the shutdown] because their work directly addresses emergency circumstances". He goes on to address that in addition to these "emergency circumstance" employees, there is another segment of employees whom are not "subject to furlough because their positions are not supported by annual appropriations". While the DOT employs 58,000 people within varied sectors of the transportation industry, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, agencies regarding trucking and safety programs are funded by the Highway Trust Fund and not the Federal budget.

    With funding being provided in grants from the Highway Trust Fund, and state agencies, these safety programs that appear in the form of roadside trucking enforcement, weigh stations and inspection stations will not be affected by the shutdown.  However, there are agencies that conduct business in tandem with the trucking industry that are impacted by the impasse that is seen in Washington, D.C. this week; most notably the Federal Railroad Administration and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The effect that this halt in production has on the shipping and logistics firms of the country has yet to be seen due to the shutdown still being in its infancy.

    Americans have numerous questions regarding the 2013 Government Shutdown. USA Today is a great reference and has provided access to a slew of questions and answers regarding the 2013 Shutdown.  CNN also provides a list of agencies being affected the shutdown and to what degree. 



  • In a recent study by Robert Poole, revealing information was brought to light on the status of the United States National Highway System (NHS). Most notably of which is the lack of inflation indexing for the current pre-gallon fuel taxes. This is an issue for the interstate infrastructure due to the road surfaces reaching the effective lifetime of 50 years, thus providing a need of modernization and replacement.  Unfortunately, the national average fuel tax of forty-six cents per gallon of gasoline or fifty-two cents per gallon of diesel (Source) in conjunction with the state and federal highway trust funds is not nearly enough to adequately finance the near one trillion dollar project; aptly named "Interstate 2.0".  According to Poole "reconstruction is estimated at $589 billion, in 2010 dollars, and lane additions at $394 billion, for a total 2010 cost of $983 billion." For sufficient funding of this project, Poole has proposed a per-mile tolling system which will garner enough revenue to provide 99% of the net present value of the project's proposed cost.

    Included within these costs is the estimate for executing the tolling system. One of the overt drawbacks of the current toll booth/ toll plaza system is the traffic congestion that builds up behind the checkpoint. Within the proposal for 'Interstate 2.0' adjustments to this antiquated process have been delineated. State-of-the-art All-Electronic Tolling (AET) equipment will allow fleet operators to travel throughout the United States with a single transponder linked to the fleet's account without having to reduce speed for a toll plaza.

    Value-Added Tolling

    Recognizing that regular interstate users would be more than perturbed at the concept of being tolled on a surface that was already paid for with fuel taxes, Poole has proposed that the practice of per-mile tolling "be implemented on the principle of 'value-added tolling." This principle means that tolling would only begin after a corridor has been brought up to 'Interstate 2.0' standards. In addition to quelling the population's nerves, this will effectively limit the risk of redundant taxation that has the possibility to occur if states are slow to remove the gas tax currently in place. However, if there is an event of double taxation, the system permits "rebates of fuel taxes generated by the miles driven on the tolled Interstates".

    Advantages of Per-Mile Tolling

    Since the current system of fuel taxes supports the funding of all roadways at an average rate, light passenger vehicles and long-haul tractor trailers all pay the same average price to utilize the entire nationwide transportation surface. In this outdated system of taxation, a fleet that operates primarily on inexpensive local streets pays the same fuel tax as the fleet of long-haul tractor trailers that spend a majority of its miles on multi-billion dollar bridges, interchanges and expressways. However, with the per-mile based AET proposed for Interstate 2.0, toll rates will be "tailored to the cost of each highway."

    Cost dependent toll rates is just one of the advantages of per-mile tolling, in addition to this, Poole describes six other reasons for per-mile tolling creating greater benefit than per-gallon taxation:

    Per-mile tolling reflects greater fairness, since those who drive mostly on Interstates will pay higher rates than those who drive mostly on local streets.

    If per-mile tolling is implemented as a true user fee, it will be self-limiting, dedicated solely to the purpose for which it was implemented (and enforceable via bond covenants with those who buy toll revenue bonds).

    Per-mile tolling will guarantee proper ongoing maintenance of the tolled corridors, since bond-buyers and other investors legally require this as a condition of providing the funds.

    Per-mile tolling also provides a ready source of funding for future improvements to the tolled corridor.

    Toll financing means needed projects, such as reconstruction and widening, can be done when they are needed, and paid for over several decades as highway users enjoy the benefits of the improved facilities.

    Finally, a per-mile tolling system using AET can easily implement variable pricing on urban expressways to reduce and manage traffic congestion.

    Roadblocks to Interstate 2.0

    For the wheels to be set in motion on modernizing the NHS, Congress needs to provide permission due to current federal law prohibiting tolling of existing lanes on Interstate highways.  In the
    current pilot program, only three states – Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia - have the opportunity to implement tolls on interstates for funding of reconstruction. Local politics for each of these states has created a stalemate in the process which is inhibiting the system from being tested. Fortunately, the Federal Surface Transportation Program is up for reauthorization in 2014 which would expand the immobile pilot program from Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia nationwide. This expansion could be the necessary catalyst for both individual states and the federal government to realize the benefits of 'value-added tolling'.

    Impact for Fleet Owners

    Like all political decisions, Interstate 2.0 will have a ripple effect throughout the transportation industry. Whether this will be a positive reaction from small fleets or large has yet to be evaluated. Fleetcards USA has reason to believe that fleet owners and fleet managers will look upon this favorably after open-mindedly reviewing the study. With fuel taxes being removed, the cost of fuel will be reduced while the tailoring of toll rates will create an ecosystem of fairness for fleets that travel hundreds of thousands of miles annually. Fleet Owners should approach the study with objectivity rather than stubborn bias for the long-standing system of per-gallon fuel taxes.

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