Dear HVTT subscriber,
In November 2023, the HVTT Forum will join forces with the International Society for Weigh-in-Motion (ISWIM) to produce a joint international scientific conference under the theme: Technology Convergence 2023 – Setting the wheels in motion – Reimagining the future of heavy vehicles, roads and freight. As a member of both sponsoring organizations, I am particularly pleased to see this initiative come to fruition. To help promote the event and considering the upcoming deadline for abstract submissions (October 31, 2022), I decided to share some reflections on this theme in this month’s newsletter.
Reimagining truck size and weight policy with systems thinking
I spent much of the early part of my research career thinking about truck size and weight policy. In that time, I became fascinated with some rather thorny policy questions:
- Can we design more productive trucks that impose less wear on pavements and bridges than existing trucks? What happens when a truck configuration is beneficial for pavements, but not for bridges? Or vice versa?
- How should we assess the safety performance of existing or proposed truck configurations—based on dynamic performance? Crash frequency? Crash severity? Public perception? And, how do we rely on crash history if we have very few alternative configurations actually in operation?
- How do we model the freight diversions amongst alternative truck configurations and between trucks and other modes?
- How much policy emphasis should be placed on the potential energy consumption and emissions benefits of more productive trucks?
These are not easy questions to address, but the pursuit of answers requires advanced analytical and technological tools, multidisciplinary expertise, and an ability to consider and reimagine the systems-level implications of policy options. The HVTT Forum has been wrestling with these issues since its inception, and judging from the proposed topics in the Call for Abstracts for the upcoming conference, I am certain that we will hear about the most recent innovations in these areas!
Heavy vehicles and highway infrastructure (but how heavy are they?)
As a civil engineer, my work has naturally focused on the impact of heavy vehicles on highway infrastructure—both pavements and bridges. Evolutions in design practice, as represented by mechanistic-empirical (ME) pavement design and load and resistance factor design (LRFD) for bridges, share a common driver: the need for much more detailed information about the volume, type (i.e., classification), and mass of trucks. The weigh-in-motion (WIM) community plays a critical role here, as WIM technologies represent a key resource for these data types. Of course, acquiring quality data—especially vehicle mass data—is not straightforward. So, I invite you to the conference to hear about the latest innovations in WIM technologies, quality assurance approaches and standards, and data applications.
Data governance in a connected world
As technologies converge in an increasingly connected world, the need for data-driven solutions is obvious. This theme permeates throughout the topics listed in the Call for Abstracts for the conference. I draw your attention to the topic of data management, governance, and stewardship. In my mind, this is somewhat new territory for both the HVTT Forum and ISWIM. Whether our application is truck safety, vehicle design, traffic management, infrastructure, enforcement, or sustainability, we do well to consider research needs and learn about innovations in how to govern the data that underpins our work. Here, like in our experience dealing with those thorny truck size and weight policy questions, I suspect a collaborative approach across the government, trucking industry, and technology sectors will be essential. Join us at Technology Convergence 2023 to be part of this important work!
Finally, the obligatory weather report to close. As I write, Hurricane Ian has just made landfall on Florida’s west coast. Not even a week ago, Hurricane Fiona caused major destruction in Atlantic Canada. Here on the Prairies, we have enjoyed a nice autumn season so far, with the first touch of frost coming in late September.
HVTT Vice President, North America