President Obama made some headlines earlier this year in regards to the trucking industry on a couple of different fronts. These changes will have a trickle-down effect throughout the whole trucking industry from new truck sales to your diesel engine spare parts needs.
First, he has called for “$302 Billion over 4 years to reinvigorate the Federal Highway program” referred to as the GROW America Act.
Details on funding still need to be worked out and Congress will still need to approve this as well. Part of the funding, $150 billion, is set to come from corporate tax reform and will fill up “The Trust Fund” which the D.O.T. (Department of Transportation) pulls funds from to help individual states work on the Interstate Highways & roads. The Trust Fund could end up in the red by this summer, which could potentially delay multiple road improvement projects across the country.
Proposals for the remaining funds are still in question. Obama’s version would allow individual states to increase the amount of “Toll Highways” in their state to help fund road improvements. The American Trucking Association (ATA) would prefer to see a federal fuel tax increase as a way to fund “GROW.”
The ATA is worried that individual state “highway tolls” could potentially add over $9 billion in extra costs to the trucking industry. Also, it appears the states would regulate their own toll fees, instead of being federally regulated. Other funding options are being discussed, but not likely to be accepted.
Here are some key components of the “GROW America Act”
- Should reduce project approval timelines
- Greater emphasis on intermodal shipping
- More rapid environmental reviews
- Funding to bolster efficient and reliable freight networks
- Giving the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration authority to recall electronic logging devices if the devices fail to meet certification requirements; and
- Making sure that drug offenders do not receive a commercial drivers’ license until they have completed a rehabilitation program.
There is still a lot of “kinks” to work out with this Act, but it’s great that the president is working to help improve the nation’s highways. Better road conditions mean less stress on trucks and longer lasting diesel engine spare parts.
Second, the president is calling for the next round of fuel efficiency for medium/heavy duty trucks. Approximately 1/3 (32.5%) of heavy duty trucks currently on the road have met ‘phase I’ or first-generation of clean diesel standards for model year 2007. It has also been reported that 15% of the trucks meet the more stringent standards for model year 2010.
The effects of this ‘phase I’ has shown significant improvements. Customer demand for fuel improvement have sparked OEM manufacturers to redesign/improve certain diesel engine spare parts to meet these standards, and more improvements are set to come.
In 2012 alone, it’s been estimated that clean diesel trucks on the road have reduced emissions of Nitrogen Oxides by one million tons and have reduced particulate matter by 27,000 tons.
‘Phase II’ plans to further improve on these reduced emission numbers as well as an increased mpg.
Over the last 10 years, reported emissions from heavy-duty diesel trucks and buses have been reduced by 99% for nitrogen oxides and 98% for particulate emissions. As it stands now, it would take 60 clean diesel trucks to produce the same emissions as a truck that was manufactured in 1988.
Sometimes government regulations can spark technology growth. Without these regulations, would the trucking industry have made these improvements to their trucks and replacement diesel engine parts?
Maybe, but the growth would have been at their own pace.