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Truck Drivers Key to Driverless Trucking?

There’s a lot of talk in recent years about the threat driverless trucking poses to the jobs of truckers. And there’s definitely some truth to this possibility. After all, many companies are aggressively developing this technology. Still, the supposed take-over isn’t here yet and there is at least one company who views truckers as vital to the future of their driverless technology.

Starsky Robotics is attacking driverless trucking in a completely different way than most start-ups. This company, which is located in San Francisco, is working on autonomous trucks that are equipped with remote driving capabilities. In fact, their new campaign slogan is “The future of driverless trucking is not driverless.”

The company’s chief executive and co-founder, Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, declared that his company was different than others because it combined the “unique combination of human decision-making and automation.

He said, “While others are trying to build fully autonomous trucks, we are building a truck that drives with no person in it and is remote-controlled for the first and last mile and that’s a completely different mindset. We’re not eliminating drivers’ jobs. Instead, we are moving them from a truck to a safe and comfortable office where they utilize years of their long-haul trucking experience, but remain close to their families and go home between shifts.”

The Plan Going Forward

As of now Starsky possesses three autonomous trucks but is scheduled to increase the number to 25 driverless trucks by 2020.  Nevertheless, Starsky can’t attain this lofty goal without the revenue they produce from their usual over-the-road trucking operation. This part of the business currently consists of 36 trucks. Starky achieved its operating authority in March 2017.

So, as it stands, their current fleet of trucks are hauling for freight for money. The trucks are operating all across the country, while the autonomous trucks are going through testing in Florida and Texas.

The company’s masterplan is to eventually switch the extra qualified drivers over from the day-to-day side and have them tele-operate the autonomous trucks from an office situation.

What do you guys think? Do you think this would be an effective solution to keeping truckers employed?

Trucking Mistakes To Avoid

There’s no way to deny it. Sometimes, life as a trucker is filled with challenges. The trucker’s job allows for a lot of freedom. Still, you still need to be a professional while on the road. Additionally, there are certain rules and guidelines to follow. If you want to put your best foot forward while on the job, here are a few important things to keep in mind. Avoid these mistakes, and you’ll have a good track record on the road.

Don’t Drive While Distracted

This seems pretty obvious, but it’s important to repeat it anyway. There’s never a good reason to text, take a phone call, look at a map, or be distracted in any other way while you’re driving. The safety risks just aren’t worth it.

It’s best to take advantage of time when you’re stopped, such as refueling, resting, or loading/unloading to plan out your route and catch up on correspondence. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about these things while behind the wheel.

Make Rest a Priority

Driving while tired is another, and potentially even more form of distracted driving. When a person is tired, it gets harder for them to focus on the task they need to do. This can have dangerous, even fatal consequences. When you’re driving, you need to be 100% focused. Pull over and sleep when you absolutely need to. Your employer wouldn’t want you to risk your safety in order to make a deadline.

It can also help to make sleep a priority during your rest period, so you don’t experience fatigue while on the road. Sleep as much as you can when you have the opportunity to do so.

Take It Slow When Descending a Hill

Many truck drivers have shared scary stories of speeding down large hills. If you descend too quickly, you’ll have a much harder time engaging the brakes, and you may begin to lose control of the vehicle. You definitely don’t want that! Pick a low gear and descend slowly down hills.

If you have any other advice for truckers, drop it in the comments below!

Trucking costs on the rise. Again.

Oregon truckers are fighting against a carbon pricing bill that they claim unjustly targets the transportation sector. Cap and trade is the bill currently making its way through the Oregon Legislature. The trucking industry is deeply concerned about the unfair effects the bill will have on costs.

Cap and trade

House Bill 2020 seeks to limit greenhouse gases and fight climate change by capping emission levels of various industries and factories. The proposal would impose a 52-million metric ton cap on emissions from polluting industries. In addition, companies that emit more than 25,000 tons per year would have to purchase pollution allowances from the state.


Opponents of the law say that the bill will result in higher fuel prices. If the bill passes, emissions will be strictly controlled and cannot go over the cap amount. Cap and trade will affect trucking like a tax, although it isn’t one.

Additionally, the bill could change when and where pesticides may be sprayed in Oregon. Senate Bill 853 would require pesticides containing neonicotinoid on a list of restricted pesticides. Other laws would ban aerial spraying on state-owned lands and certain pesticides used to kill insect and worms. Logging industry officials have expressed similar concerns over the effects this bill will have on cost.

Industries affected

The bill also targets the use of plastic bags and food containers. House Bill 2509 would prohibit plastic checkout bags. Besides this, it would also allow the Department of Environmental quality to fine business up to $250 dollars a day if they choose not to comply.

Furthermore, Senate Bill 90 would prohibit restaurants from giving single-use plastic straws to patrons unless they request them. The city of Eugene is seeking a similar regulation, which would additionally prohibit ketchup packets.

Ultimately, these potential regulations leave trucking industry officials wondering how much these legislations will cost their businesses and if they will be left to recoup the costs.

Why Oregon Regulators Relaxed Smog Rules on Trucking Companies

California created state regulations that require cleaner trucks to ensure a cleaner environment. While Texas, New Jersey, Connecticut, Georgia and more followed their lead, Oregon did not. Oregon, set to follow their lead, eventually backed down on their initiative. Why? Because although the Oregon government’s goal was once diminishing hazardous pollution from diesel engines, that’s no longer the case.

Truckers detested California’s idea. Even though the new initiative helped the environment, the new engines got terrible mileage. Bob Russell is the chief lobbyist of the Oregon Trucking Associations Inc. He established that he would slash the agency’s budget if cleaner trucks were required.

Unfortunately, pressure tactics play a large part in the Department of Environmental Quality’s decision-making process. The environmental regulators must pay an extreme price for one false move. Interestingly, in Oregon, corporate interests aid the average lawmaker more than anywhere else in the nation. During the period of decision making for cleaner trucks, the trucking association donated $250,000 to winning Oregon campaigns.

The facts…

A person can see, when comparing states, just how much power these trucking industries have with lawmakers. The industry, as a whole, funneled 74 percent more money for legislators in Oregon than in Washington. States like Washington limit campaign contributions to keep any private industry from gaining too much political control.

Many claim this issue is surrounded by the majority of Oregon’s attitude towards climate change. Most regulators don’t take environmental mandates very seriously. Then, lawmakers can easily influence policymaking inside the Department of Environmental Quality. Therefore, regulations for cleaner trucks are not going to made in Oregon anytime soon.

So, how do you feel about the Oregon trucking regulations? Do you value mileage and transport? Or do you put worth in the environment and shed concern for the smog that a truck emits?

Volvo’s First Electric Truck Released to the Public!

Wondering what is to come for the future of electric trucks? Well, Volvo has made electric trucking a present-day phenomenon. With its new unveiling, on Tuesday afternoon, Volvo Trucks didn’t disappoint customers. The company delivered on their promises of functioning electric trucks by 2019. As of Tuesday, the company released its first electric truck to consumers.

One of the companies who purchased the first among Volvo’s electric trucks was Renova. Renova, a waste and recycling company, purchased an electric refuse truck. Meanwhile, another company that capitalized on the new commercial vehicle was DB Shenker.  This truck was not a refuse truck but contrastingly, a distribution truck. The company has yet to leave their reviews of the trucks. The Volvo FL Electric Truck and the Volvo FE Electric Truck are the results of a pre-series. Renova and DB Shenker were among the first to get them. The series was only available to a limited amount of customers for its launch date.  

Why are electric trucks so important?

Interestingly, these Volvo electric trucks scratch the surface on the developments of the trucking industry. It wasn’t too long ago until Tesla released plans of a semi-truck.  The benefits of electric commercial vehicles are substantial. These vehicles, running solely on electric energy, provide great benefits. Battery electric vehicles do not produce pollution, are cheaper to fuel, and they minimize wasted energy. They are also conveniently quiet.

Drivers often revere the trucks’ quick acceleration and lack of noise. It also helps that these trucks are relatively easier to drive than fuel powered cars.

Volvo’s electric vehicles provide a simple solution to the driver shortage. Thus, fewer trucks doing more work. Electric vehicles can usually drive greater distances, perform more efficiently and carry more cargo. Also, the trucks’ ease of difficulty can help bring more people into the trucking trade.

Only time will tell the long-term benefits of Volvo’s electric trucks.

You Can Help Build Self-Driving Trucks in Oregon!

Daimler recently released their first class 8 truck with “level 2” driver’s assistance.  So self-driving trucks are a long way coming. Although, Daimler claims that they’re aiming for the development of a self-driving truck within the decade. As of now, the company plans to hire 200 people in the Portland area, to develop self-driving semi-trucks.

The company is currently searching for engineers and robotics specialists with software programming skills. This “level 4” truck will be the first self-driving truck. Although minimal, the truck will be able to drive itself in certain situations.

Daimler has set aside $570 million for this venture. These trucks reduce the chances for human error. Artificial Intelligence must come a long way for trucks to inherently drive themselves. Although, with this level 4 update, the roads will be significantly safer. It is possible though, for the truck to guide itself on predetermined roads between stops with the help of a watchful human eye.

Even so, technological trucking updates depend on the advancement of technology itself. Unfortunately, trucking technology will level 3 automation because with today’s current technology it isn’t a viable option.

Daimler is one of the reasons trucking technology has advanced to where it is today. Because of their developments with platooning trucks, mass amounts of energy has been saved. Platooning trucks use electronics to pair the truck loads together. This saves both aerodynamics and fuel energy, similar to bicyclists drifting while trying to save energy.

Maybe if you’re looking forward to the development of these self-driving trucks, you can see Daimler testing on Interstate 84 in Oregon!

Students Making Santa’s Nice List in Eugene – Handing out Toys for Tots

The holiday spirit is all around Oregon! High school students in Eugene are experiencing the gift of giving this year. The best part? They gave up part of their Saturday morning to do it. A group of eight students from Willamette Leadership Academy volunteered with the Lane County Toys for Tots program this weekend.

Toys For Tots Volunteers

One of the volunteers, 14-year-old Brighton Robertson, said: “Doing this sort of stuff helps out the community and its’s a nice thing to do. I don’t know why you wouldn’t do it.”

The Marine Toys for Tots has been a highly ranked charity group for years. Every year, they collect new, unwrapped toys and give them out to less fortunate children during Christmas. It has been an extremely successful program throughout the country.

In the Eugene-Springfield area, there were almost 20,000 toys given to families this weekend. This number comes from the Lane County Toys for Tots program. The students from Willamette helped distribute some of this large number of gifts.  

Another one of these student volunteers, 13-year-old Isaiah Alvord, said: “I wanted to volunteer because I knew it would make a lot of children happy and actually have gifts for Christmas, and I just wanted to be a part of that.” He also said that he had experienced a Christmas without gifts in the past.

Children Helping Save Christmas

But, the Lane County Toys for Tots program actually experienced a shortage in donations this year. By mid-December, they have usually received 15,000 toys.

This year, they only had about half that. So, another group of students, these from Madison Middle School, helped out when they found out about this. They donated hand-made model planes to the organization. After that, they helped spread the word about the need for donations.

A program director at Willamette, Kate Klontz, was surprised by how many students signed up to volunteer. She said: “I didn’t make an announcement or anything, I just put the sign-up sheet outside my door and was surprised at how many students were interested. I think it’s important to have the cadets volunteer to give their time to others, but also to get out there in the community and let people know we’re here.”

So, it seems that these students are full of the Christmas spirit this year. And because of them, many children in Eugene got to experience the joy of the season as well!

Don’t let it rain on your Thanksgiving Day Parade…

Winter Weather Arriving

Attention, Oregon residents! Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and there are multiple things to look out for. First, the weather. This unusually dry November is officially over. Rain and snow are moving in to take its place (but there are still fun Thanksgiving events to look forward to).

According to the National Weather Service in Portland: “A series to frontal systems will bring occasional valley rain and Cascade snow to Western Oregon.” Additionally, “rain is expected to continue into the weekend with heaviest rainfall expected Thanksgiving afternoon.”

At higher elevations, a few inches of snow can be expected as well. This could include Santiam and Willamette passes. There may also be heavier snowfall higher in the ski areas. Forecasters warn: “The first front will move into the area Wednesday. Another stronger front will move into the area on Thanksgiving, bringing rain, gusty winds to the coast and snow to the Cascades.”

So, if you are traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, plan accordingly. Winter driving conditions begin now. But, if you’re spending the weekend in Eugene, temperatures are expected to be in the high 40s to low 50s. There will be rain on Thursday.

Eugene’s Thanksgiving Activities

Despite approaching winter-weather, however, Thanksgiving festivities are still underway. For example, Eugene’s annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot! Runners (and walkers) will follow the loop along the Ruth Bascom Trail network, along the banks of the Willamette River. Also, donated dry and canned food products will be brought to FOOD For Lane County!

Meanwhile, during a calm between the storms, check out the Festival of Trees! This is also occurring in Eugene: today through Sunday. This holiday tradition showcases 50+ decorated trees, wreaths, and candy cane forest. The Festival of Trees will lead you into Oregon’s holiday season.

So, rain, snow, or shine, Eugene’s Thanksgiving festivities are sure to please residents and visitors alike. Stay safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Eugene Young People Donate their Blood for the Wellness of the Society

Eugene blood bank has recently been filled thanks to a mobile app. Bloodworks Northwest is a smartphone app with its headquarter in Seattle that motivates younger generation to support the blood bank through donating blood.

The app is available both for iPhone and Android. The application enables the users to find local blood drives and schedule an appointment for the donation.

The startup has recently announced that the blood bank in Eugene has reached out to millennials.

Bloodworks Northwest covers almost 920 hospitals across the Pacific Northwest. There is a need of collecting 800 units per day to meet the growing demand of the hospitals.

The survey shows that the main blood donors are baby boomers. However, with age their health gets worse, which prevents them from being valid donors. The blood bank needs to be refilled by younger people. However, many millennials are unaware of the process and where they should go for it.

The app was created with the help of Bill Harper, a millennial and University of Oregon graduate who was diagnosed with leukemia at 20 while working on a research project in Africa.

He needed 267 units of blood within the course of his treatment, which took him three years and included 32 surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and, finally, a stem cell transplant. He knows well its significance and hence emphasizes the youngsters’ involvement in the project.

Through strong marketing efforts, Eugene millennials started actively participating in the project and donating their blood to support eh blood bank.

The project owners believe that information should be available and one click away. The sensitiveness of the topic will motivate many people to help their beloved ones and complete strangers.

Donate your blood and give health to people.

Smokey Air in Eugene Forces Indoor Practices and Healthy Warning

Due to the smoke that the air is filled with from distant wildfires, the Millers girls’ soccer team went through drills in the hot but clear air in the Springfield High School’s major gym. The other high school teams around the Willamette Valley are preparing for their upcoming fall seasons. The games include soccer, football, cross country, cheer. They are wither canceled their practices or stayed out of the smoke.

Cliff Shutte, head coach of Springfield High’s girls’ soccer team, said that it is a complete nightmare and inconvenience, as far as you’re trying t pull all fall sports into the same venue.

The air quality will likely continue to worsen until winds shift later this week. Eugene schools changed the way they do sports practices, according to the poor air quality.

Southern Willamette Valley air on Tuesday was at a level considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups”. And especially for a team of sports girls. It includes the very young, the very old and those with breathing problems. Northerly winds have been sending smoke into Eugene from fires in Washington and Canada.

Poor air quality on Tuesday forced the wading pool at Emerald Park to close for an hour after It opened.

For many people, the smoke and heat can be hard to escape. The homeless already face the problems during the summer heat. What is more, the smoke and the heat make the situation even worse?

Lane County Public Health has a list of places where residents can find relief from the smoke, such as a local library or community center.

Wildfire smoke last summer caused the worst air quality in decades. The results of the pollution are being shown on its website as its Air Quality Index. Air quality begins to be considered unhealthy, first for sensitive groups, when levels exceed 100.

Schools and other public spaces are keeping a close watch on monitors that count the air pollution degrees.

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