Your Nov. 2 Pre-Trip: Highway bill fires up trucking fights

Here are five things worth knowing today:

1. Proposed changes to truck safety regulations – 33-ft.-long trailers, 91,000-lb. weight cap, lowering the minimum age of drivers to 18 – are sparking controversy as the House prepares to bring its version of a long-term highway bill to the floor next week. According to The Hill, safety groups oppose the proposals, while trucking companies push for them. The House is expected to vote on a bill as early as Tuesday once it clears the Rules Committee, according to The Hill.

2. Truck driver salaries are on the rise amid a truck driver shortage, CNBC reports, noting the average pay for long-haul drivers has increased 17% to an average of $57,000 in 2015. The ATA reports that the shortage of truck drivers has grown to nearly 48,000 and is projected to grow due to industry growth and a retiring workforce. According to the report, the industry may need to hire an average of 89,000 drivers per year over the next decade.

3. Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D) has introduced an amendment to nearly double the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax, The Hill reports. According to the report, Blumenauer is trying to attach the proposal to the $325 billion highway bill that the House is expected to consider next week. He said increasing the gas tax is the “best way to close a multibillion-dollar transportation funding shortfall that has bedeviled lawmakers for a decade,” The Hill stated. Currently, the gas tax brings in about $34 billion per year, but the government typically spends $50 billion a year on federal transportation projects.

4. The New York City Council’s Progressive Caucus is backing a proposal to add tolls to the four southern East River bridges and at 60th Street, according to Curbed’s Toll Watch. The plan, Move NY, was created by traffic engineer Sam Schwartz as a way to raise money for the MTA and to help reduce existing tolls on crossings such as the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, according to the report. The proposal is expected to generate $1.5 billion a year, the New York Daily News reports.

5. Nissan has announced its zero-emissions, electric vehicle, the IDS, at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, according to Clean Technica. According to the report, the vehicle features two different driving modes – manual and piloted drive. The car also sends messages via its dash-mounted scrolling LED screen that it uses to relate to the driver, passengers and even pedestrians on the street, according to the report. “The IDS is, at its core, the next iteration of the mainstream consumer vehicle that the LEAF is in the EV market today – but perhaps 10 years into the future,” the report states.

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