Here's your requisite safety reminder heading into the July 4 holiday weekend.
The National Coalition for Safer Roads says the Independence Day weekend is the second riskiest summer holiday for drivers across the county in terms of running red lights. The organization released a report that finds the July 4 weekend was especially bad for running red lights in nine states: California, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Tennessee and Virginia. The most risky summer holiday, you ask? That would be Memorial Weekend. Labor Day weekend is third.
The Coalition also looked at red-light running during the Super Bowl, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve.
Speaking of the Fourth and all those people on the roads, the U.S. Energy Information Association says the average retail gas price is at its highest point this time of year since 2008 at $3.70 per gallon. But there's a silver lining.
"Although this is the highest average heading into the Fourth of July holiday since 2008, gasoline prices in 2014 have remained well below the spring peaks reached in each of the previous three years," the EIA said.
Other news you might be able to use: The EIA pointed out that Texas' monthly oil production reaching 3 million barrels per day for the first time since the late 1970s and North Dakota's monthly oil production hitting a record 1 million barrels per day.
The Obama administration on Thursday released encouraging jobs numbers as 288,000 new hires were added to payrolls in June, dropping the national unemployment rate to 6.1 percent, the lowest it's been since September 2008. At the same time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released data showing that 4,618,500 Americans work in transportation fields, a 12 percent increase (501,300 jobs) from late 2009. But Obama said this progress could be dampened if Congress doesn't find revenue to replenish the Highway Trust Fund by this fall. Obama said nearly 700,000 jobs are at risk.
Attendees of the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conference in Daytona Beach, Fla., this week received a sneak peek at a new Type B school bus from Starcraft (photo, at left). Dealer Creative Bus Sales displayed the new gasoline-powered bus with an option for CNG and (later) propane, the Starcraft Quest XL Series. The one-piece roof bus is built on a Ford F59 stripped chassis and powered by a Ford 6.8L V10 gas engine with three valves per cylinder. coming soon, The bus will come in two configurations, 47-passenger capacity or 42 passenger with a wheelchair lift. Full production is set to begin in October, a representative told us. Stay tuned for more.
You may have noticed over the past year or so that hybrid-electric school buses have disappeared from manufacturer list of options. As we previously reported, both IC Bus and Thomas Built Buses have walked away from hybrid development, at least for now, citing concern over batter development, lack of infrastructure and slow market interest. Last week, Eaton announced it was dropping both power takeoff offerings for utility trucks and fuel-saving parallel drives for delivery trucks, effective immediate. The June 26 announcement cited expiring incentives, stabilization of diesel prices and the rise of natural gas vehicles.
On the diesel front, the Diesel Technology Forum said clean-diesel trucks with near-zero emissions now make up for a third of all trucks on U.S. highways, 2.9 million out of 8.8 million total vehicles. States with the highest percent of clean-diesel trucks are Indiana (50.4 percent) and Oklahoma (44.8 percent). Meanwhile, amid advances in alt fuels diesel, whether its ULSD or not, continues to be the fuel of choice for school bus operators.
School bus stops will be discussed during a July 17 webinar presented by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, "Buses, Boots and Bicycles: Getting Safe Routes to School and Student Transportation Departments to Work Together." Speakers will discuss barriers to collaboration, strategies for overcoming those obstacles and specific ways to work together. The Partnership said the webinar will also showcase a school transportation department that gets kids to school by foot, bicycle, scooter, school bus and carpool.
Have a safe, relaxing and happy Fourth of July holiday!