Time is money and when it comes to the amount of time Americans waste sitting in traffic each year, the total cost is significant – $166 billion.

Texas A&M Transportation Institute recently published its 2019 Urban Mobility report and the picture it paints is of an urban gridlock issue that has only been getting worse each year since 1982, the first year with official data on the subject.

In its report, TTI also lists ways that congestion can be addressed. The group advocates for more of everything, roads, transit, squeezing as much efficiency out of the existing system as possible, reducing demand through telework, better balancing demand and roadway capacity by adjusting work hours, and smarter land use. But TTI also admitted that there is no silver bullet when fixing the nationwide problem.

“No single approach will ever solve this complex problem,” says Tim Lomax, a report author and Regents Fellow at TTI. “We know what works. What the country needs is a robust, information-powered conversation at the local, state and national levels about what steps should be taken. We have many strategies; we have to figure out the right solution for each problem and a way to pay for them.”

Part of the problem is actually the result of a good thing, more Americans are working and driving to work. From 2016-2017, the U.S. added 1.9 million jobs, according to TTI, and with unemployment near all-time lows, more Americans are joining the workforce every month.

Since 1982, the nation’s workforce has grown almost nonstop by just over 50% to the current total of 153 million. The average number of hours per commuter lost to traffic delay has nearly tripled in that time, climbing to 54 hours a year per person. And the annual cost of those delays has nearly doubled to its current rate of $1,010 per person, per year.

“Simply put, travel demand is growing faster than the system’s ability to absorb that demand. Once considered a problem exclusive to big cities, roadway gridlock now afflicts urban areas of all sizes and consumes far more of each day, making rush hour a long-outdated reference,” said David Schrank, a TTI senior research scientist and report author.

Part of that total is due to the inefficient fuel mileage of driving in gridlock traffic. The amount of fuel wasted in stalled traffic has more than tripled since 1982, to 3.3 billion gallons a year.

TTI said that the average freeway traveler has to allow almost twice the expected trip duration to ensure dependable arrival for time-sensitive events such as medical appointments, day-care pickup and airline flights. Instead of the 20 minutes needed in light traffic, it’s best to plan a 34-minute trip, according to TTI.

Of course commuters are not the only ones using our roads with time sensitive appointments. The problem affects manufactures, carriers and shippers and those delays are also passed on to the consumer.  While commercial trucks make up only 7% of road traffic, they account for 12% of congestion cost, according to TTI.

“Those minutes don’t sound like much, but they add up quickly over a year,” said Schrank “Eventually, we’re talking billions of wasted hours, and the cost of delay at that scale is just enormous.”

The 2019 Urban Mobility Report, which examines conditions in 494 urban areas in every state and Puerto Rico, is available online.

Source: Work Truck Online

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Chevron hasn’t been just resting on its laurels since it re-engineered its Delo 400 product line in 2016 to meet the new API CK-4 and FA-4 heavy-duty engine oil specifications, and it’s highlighting a new customer-driven focus with the Delo Traveling Technology Lab.

Since the new oil standards were launched in late 2016, the industry has seen a lot of growth – and a lot of challenges, said James Booth, commercial sector manager, in a conference call. Economic growth and a strong labor market mean more freight but also shortages in drivers and skilled technicians. Truck operators are faced with regulatory changes in the forms of electronic logs and changing emissions requirements.

In this environment, Booth said, “what we hear in feedback from maintenance managers, operations managers, is the need for suppliers to help partner in terms of the application of technology” to help them solve their problems.

Booth said Chevron’s new customer-focused campaign “Engineered with Purpose,” is re-affirming its commitment to moving customers’ business forward through application of the most advanced technology. “We’ve really taken a leap in the last six to 12 months in pushing a customer-focused culture within our organization, in terms of the conversations we have with our customers, as well as the products and content and information we deliver.”

That push revolves around two areas: products and information.

Protection beyond API standards

“It can be easy to get into the cycle of, a new industry specification comes up, you need to meet it, and then you’re waiting for the request from the industry to update the next specification,” Booth said. “We really didn’t sit on our laurels in this instance. We looked to see what else is in the pipeline in terms of [truck] hardware and technology, to make sure we are fully protecting and enabling the use of that hardware in the future.”

Chevron’s goal is to not only exceed API requirements, but also to solve customer issues not currently being addressed in the market. For instance, Booth said, just this year, Chevron has launched a number of products, including:

  • Greatest number of heavy-duty engine oil products with API SN Plus, protecting both heavy-duty vehicles and modern gasoline pick-up truck engines
  • Delo 400 XSP-FA 5W-30
  • Delo ELC Advanced Coolants, which the company said solve recent issues with nitrited coolants and new aluminum radiators.

By the end of the year, Booth said, Chevron will be introducing a “major breakthrough in oil technology” engineered to solve aftertreatment issues brought to light by its OEM partners and customers.

Delo traveling technology lab

Chevron also unveiled a new take on its mobile education center, the Delo Traveling Technology Lab, with interactive technologies, including virtual (VR) and augmented (AR) reality exhibits.

As Booth said, in addition to products, the other piece of Chevron’s customer focus is knowledge sharing. “The relationship doesn’t finish at that transaction. It goes into how the end user can extract the most value out of it, and it’s helping with the training requirements for technicians, it’s thinking about how they may change their maintenance scheduling, and it’s also bringing forward information on what’s down the road and helping be better prepared for that. One area that we see a great way to deliver information is through the mobile exhibit.”

The Delo Truck, of course, is nothing new. Since its launch in 1999, this mobile educational center has traveled nearly three-quarters of a million miles in the United States and Canada, visiting thousands of people in the process.

Following 15 months of work with top agencies, Chevron’s Delo Traveling Technology Lab includes 11 exhibits, including state-of-the-art VR and AR equipment to allow customers an interactive experience to learn more about Chevron’s offerings from engine maintenance to proper lubrication practices. Some of the exhibits, Booth said, are “Delo-agnostic,” applying to engine and lubrication technology in a broader fashion.

Chevron is using virtual reality in this new rolling educational exhibit. For instance, a virtual engine fly-through gives users the opportunity to pause at various locations through the engine to understand what detrimental processes or conditions the lubricant can experience and why the specific formulation is important.

“The user has the option to be able to continue through in a passive manner, or can take control and act like a lubricant trying to prevent wear or contaminants and reacting with other molecules,” Booth said. “It’s an experience that’s really trying to drive that [message of] why a lubricant technology matters.”

Source: Work Truck Online

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Tires are one of a fleet’s most important assets. “A proactive tire maintenance program supports safety on the road and helps fleets capitalize on long-term performance. From Class 8 trucks to passenger vehicles, proactive tire maintenance helps fleets identify and address problems before they happen, potentially avoiding costly downtime while multiplying savings through optimized tire performance, including improved tread life and fuel economy,” explained Kyle Chen, brand manager, truck and bus radial tires, U.S. and Canada, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO).

By managing a tire throughout its lifecycle – from selection to removal – fleet managers can make a big impact on the bottom line, all while making mobility more efficient for their fleet.

Tips for tire safety

Before they hit the road, every driver should conduct a pre-trip inspection to ensure there are no tire-related issues that need to be addressed before a haul. “For example, visually inspecting tires for irregularities such as cuts or penetrations is a simple and effective pre-trip tire maintenance step that every fleet should perform,” Chen added.

Below are some other best practices that Bridgestone recommends fleets implement before, during, and after a haul to promote safer driving conditions and efficient operations:

  1. Select the right tire for the job. Fleet managers should consider the proper tire size, load carrying capacity, and service type. According to Bridgestone, tire selection is the foundation of tire performance. Fleet managers should also consider additional factors when choosing a tire to make sure performance expectations are met, such as application, size, load carrying capacity, and route. Once a tire is selected, proactive maintenance, operations, and inspections are critical to ensure a tire’s long-term safety and performance over time.
  3. Ensure and maintain proper cold inflation tire pressure. Tire inflation pressure is a critical and often overlooked aspect of a tire maintenance program, according to Bridgestone. Improper tire inflation pressure can lead to downtime and damaged tire casings. Proper tire inflation pressure can help to ensure even weight distribution across a tire’s contact patch, which can maximize treadwear life and fuel efficiency. It is important to remember to check tire inflation pressure when a tire is cold. According to Bridgestone, cold inflation pressure is most accurately measured when tires have been parked for at least three hours or driven less than one mile at a moderate speed. Bridgestone also recommends fleet managers and commercial truck drivers use a calibrated tire pressure gauge at each wheel position.
  5. Inspect tires often. Hands-on inspections are helpful to identify irregular wear issues, low tread depth, and road-related damage. Before each trip, fleet managers should ensure drivers look for such issues as irregular wear, flat spotting, cuts, cracks, bulges, or penetrations. Frequent, manual inspections will help drivers address any issues before they impact tire performance.
  7. Abide by a tire’s recommended speed rating. Fleet managers should always reinforce drivers abide by each tire’s maximum speed rating, which may be lower than posted highway speed limits. By not exceeding the speed rating of a tire, drivers can help avoid various tire-related incidents that could potentially cause downtime or create additional road hazards for the motoring public.

Fleet managers and their drivers should always be on the same page when it comes to tire maintenance. By managing a tire throughout its lifecycle – from selection to removal – fleet managers can make a big impact on the bottom line, all while making mobility more efficient for their fleet.

“Everyone benefits from proper tire maintenance practices. Training and education can help ensure that everyone behind the wheel and in the yard understands their role in a fleet’s tire maintenance program. When everyone knows their role and what proactive maintenance steps to take, fleets are better prepared to avoid downtime and improve safety on the road,” Chen added.

Debunking tire myths

Myths are abundant when it comes to tires. Misinformation is spread so much more quickly today than ever before, and it’s essential to know the truth related to truck tires.

One myth is that all tires are created equal. “Tires are highly specialized pieces of technology engineered for specific vehicles, equipment, and applications. With this specialization in mind, selecting the right tire for the application and use is critical to tire safety and performance. Fleet managers should consider the vehicle type, Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR), speed requirements, service conditions, and tire specifications such as size, load range, and intended application,” Chen said.

Tire selection with application and position in mind is particularly relevant today, as fleets are running heavier loads for longer hours of operation, according to Bridgestone. Another myth is around retreading, or the practice of replacing the tread on a tire casing instead of removing the tire from service after one use.

“Retreading helps extend the useful life of a tire casing by replacing the tread two or more times, which, in turn, helps lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) per mile,” Chen said. “Many people still believe a common tire myth that retreads are of lesser quality than new tires and are a contributor to tire debris seen on highways. In reality, rubber debris most often is the result of human error and poor tire care such as underinflation, overloading, and tire abuse,” Chen said.

Today’s high-quality retreads can provide performance and reliability benefits for much less than purchasing another new tire. “It is easy to see why many of the largest fleets in North America incorporate retreads in their tire programs. Again, safety and performance come back to tire care best practices, which are critical for both new and retread tires,” Chen said.

The bottom line

It can’t be said enough: Tires are one of a fleet’s most valuable assets.

“A proactive tire maintenance program encourages fleets to monitor their tires every day and address issues proactively before they impact operational efficiency, increase incremental operating costs, cause safety concerns, and unplanned downtime. A proactive tire maintenance program treats tires like the important asset that they are, and more importantly, supports the safety of a fleet, its operators, and other drivers on the road,” concluded Chen.  

Source: Automotive Fleet

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If you’re at fault in an accident, there’s a good chance your insurance rates are going up. But just how much more money can you expect to shell out? A new study by Insurance.com ranks the best and worst states for car accident claims, based on the average rates drivers pay following an at-fault accident.

Michigan is the worst state for accident claims, according to the study. Drivers here can expect their premiums to jump to an average of $3,502 after an at-fault accident, a 48 percent increase over pre-accident rates. Louisiana and California are not far behind, as drivers will pay an average of $3,348 and $3,081, respectively. In Louisiana, that’s a 50 percent increase from the average insurance rate in the state, and in California, it’s a whopping 73 percent hike.

Worst states for car accident claims

Best states for car accident claims

1. Michigan ($3,502)
2. Louisiana ($3,348)
3. California ($3,081)
4. Florida ($3,045)
5. Delaware ($2,592)
6. Rhode Island ($2,591)
7. Connecticut ($2,589)
8. Georgia ($2,552)
9. Minnesota ($2,503)
10. District of Columbia ($2,438)

1. Maine ($1,058)
2. Ohio ($1,170)
3. Virginia ($1,250)
4. Indiana ($1,259)
5. Idaho ($1,294)
6. North Dakota ($1,338)
7. New York ($1,360)
8. Vermont ($1,405)
9. Hawaii ($1,414)
10. Alaska ($1,458)

Michigan drivers can expect their premiums to jump an average of $3,502 after an at-fault accident.

Maine is the most forgiving state where drivers pay an average of $1,058 after an accident. This is a mere 20 percent increase over the average insurance rate of $884, which is also the lowest in the nation. Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, and Idaho also ranked high on the list of best states for car accident claims.

According to Insurance.com, rates increase by an average of $450, or 31 percent, after one at-fault accident involving more than $2,000 in damage. Many factors play a role in how much you’ll pay after an accident, including your insurance company, driving record, and where you live. Some insurance companies increase your rate considerably after a claim, while others do not.

Insurance.com says the cheapest car insurance company before a claim may not be the cheapest after you file a claim, so you can really benefit from shopping around for a new policy. “Our data research shows that for the insurers surveyed, a driver can save up to $4,300, the average being about $600, by comparing car insurance quotes after an accident claim,” said Penny Gusner, Insurance.com consumer analyst.

Source: MotorTrend

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