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NewsBlitz: The ‘watch out for 4-wheelers’ edition

May 19, 2015
This week’s round-up of this and that from the wide world of trucking actually focuses more on the four-wheelers truckers must share the road with: headlights, robots, marijuana, baby fish and cat fights--it's all here.

This week’s round-up of this and that from the wide world of trucking actually focuses more on the four-wheelers truckers must share the road with. Poor headlights are everyone’s problem, of course; autonomous vehicles are about to be; some delivery app entrepreneurs are hoping to smoke the competition with a new specialty service; what are millions of baby salmon to do if there's not enough river water to get to the coast; and a cat fight has broken out between a luxury car maker and an expedited trucking company over logos.

Into darkness. The headlights on most cars do a poor job of illuminating especially dark roads, according to testing by Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center.

Halogen headlights, which the auto club says are on 80% of the vehicles on the road today, fail to safely illuminate unlit, typically rural roadways at speeds as low as 40 mph, the LA Times reports.

Better technology is available in European vehicles, but U.S. regulations limit the light output for vehicles sold in the United States.

The auto club will ask U.S. policymakers to revise federal regulations to keep up with changing technology, AAA’s engineering director said.

Not my fault. Will using a turn signal to give your autonomously driven car permission to pass other cars protect automakers from liability? That’s what electric car company Tesla is counting on, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Tesla will begin activating semiautonomous features, including the capability to pass other cars without driver intervention, in its Model S sedans. A driver can trigger the passing function by hitting the turn signal, according to sources cited in the WSJ story.

“Tesla is venturing into the mushy middle of automation, where the human still performs part of the driving task, the computer performs other parts,” said a law professor who has carved out a specialty on autonomous vehicles.

The use of the turn signal to pass another car shows the human is staying engaged. The question is whether  the car can handle most tasks, and if so it could be considered a Class 3 autonomous vehicle, which would require special licensing in some states.

There’s an app for that? Need your marijuana delivered to your front door? Yes, there’s now an app for that, as the LA Times reports.

On-demand transportation company SideCar has partnered with a “full-service cannabis concierge” to do medical marijuana deliveries for patients in the Bay Area, the San Francisco start-ups announced last week.

The opportunity appealed to SideCar, its CEO said, because the company had been looking to dabble with “highly curated” deliveries.

All drivers who handle the medical marijuana deliveries will also have to be card-carrying patients of the dispensaries for which they deliver, according to the Times report. Drivers will not deliver more than the legal carrying limit of eight ounces of medical marijuana, and the packages will be in a locked box in the trunk. To ensure the safety of the drivers, all transactions are cashless, and customers using the service have to be verified card holders.

Fish story. Talk about specialized delivery services … The drought in California is so bad, the rivers don’t have enough water for the baby salmon to swim downstream to the Pacific. So what are the wildlife management agencies going to do? Call in some tanker trucks, and give the fish a ride, so says a report in the Washington Post.

Drought and heavy use of water by farms and cities have devastated key native fish in California, the story says. Last year 95 percent of the state’s winter-run of Chinook salmon died. The fish is vital for California’s fishing industries and for the food chain of wildlife.

So the big government hatcheries are now trucking the endangered species to the coast in 35,000 gallon tankers. Getting the fully grown fish back upstream is a whole different problem.

Cat fight. It seems that Jaguar Land Rover Ltd. thinks the big cat featured in the logo of Panther Premium Logistics looks a little too much like the luxury car maker’s historic brand, and the issue is being decided in court, according to a report by the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette.

"There's special protections for trademark owners who can establish that their mark is famous and has reached such wide, broad, publicly accepted status," a patent attorney told the newpaper. "They now can stop someone from using a mark that is not confusingly similar, but in a way that would tend to tarnish or take away from their famous mark. Normal, nonfamous marks are not allowed to flex their muscles this strong."

The companies tried to resolve the matter amicably, according to court documents. During those discussions, Jaguar objected to Panther's use of the single leaping feline alone or in conjunction with the Panther Premium Logistics word mark.

About the Author

Kevin Jones | Editor

Kevin has served as editor-in-chief of Trailer/Body Builders magazine since 2017—just the third editor in the magazine’s 60 years. He is also editorial director for Endeavor Business Media’s Commercial Vehicle group, which includes FleetOwner, Bulk Transporter, Refrigerated Transporter, American Trucker, and Fleet Maintenance magazines and websites.

Working from Little Rock, Kevin has covered trucking and manufacturing for 15 years. His writing and commentary about the trucking industry and, previously, business and government, has been recognized with numerous state, regional, and national journalism awards.

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