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November 2, 2015

Traffic Congestion Far Outweighs Fuel Economy Mandates

While there’s no complaint about raising fuel economy through mandates, Daimler Trucks North America President Martin Daum says the potential gains wrung from truck and engine manufacturers are trivial when compared with fuel wasted in the nation’s traffic congestion.

Speaking at a press round table during the American Trucking Associations annual meeting in October, Daum said 3 billion gallons of fuel is wasted annually through congestion, while the EPA/NHTSA GHG Phase II standard aims to reduce fuel consumption by 1.8 billion gallons during the 10 years of the program and will cost the industry millions of dollars.

Traffic bottlenecks account for 40 percent (1.2 billion gallons) of the wasted fuel and 25 percent of accidents (750 million gallons). Many of those accidents can be avoided if safety technology available today was mandated, he said. “We need roads for trucks not cars.”

Daum said regulators should go after road congestion and not just vehicle manufacturers to reduce emissions. And he warned against any further reduction in NOx standards, which he said would only drive up the cost of new trucks with no customer or societal benefits.

“We need EPA to cooperate with other agencies to change trucks i.e. remove technical issues with an emphasis on national standards,” he said. Further NOx reductions will harm the economy, he said. “NOx is the biggest enemy of GHG.”

Americans spend 5.5 billion hours stuck in traffic each year, at a cost of $120 billion in lost productivity and wasted fuel, according to a recent report by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. If traffic continues to escalate at the current rate, the projected impact on our economy and environment by 2030 grows alarmingly.

Vehicle and infrastructure researcher Inrix estimates that by then the estimated cumulative cost of traffic congestion will be $2.8 trillion – what Americans collectively paid in federal taxes in 2013.

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