Natural gas Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Natural Gas Vehicles, has introduced legislation to offer incentives to expand the use of natural-gas-powered vehicles. The bill, the Natural Gas Vehicle Incentives Act of 1997, offers inducements including tax credits, decreased tax rates, and an emissions credit.

How clean? The Foundation for Clean Air Progress has released results from two national studies showing that while the majority of the American public believes that the air is getting dirtier, EPA data shows that the air is really getting cleaner and will continue to improve. Major reductions in emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compound, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and lead were reported.

Flat tea The Clinton Administration's plans to reauthorize its surface transportation program drew the ire of the trucking industry for diverting fuel taxes away from driver safety and highway improvement. ATA lobbied for increased safety funding, allowing police officers to conduct post-accident alcohol testing, more flexibility for pilot safety programs, more rest areas, and overhauling hours-of-service regs.

Crashworthiness SAE research shows the key elements in the crashworthiness of trucks to be the structure of the cab and its ability to maintain space for the occupant; the ability of the restraint systems to limit the occupant's contact with interior components; and the effect of interior components such as steering columns and door panels contacting the occupant. The recently completed final phase of the study provides recommended practices resulting from the development of test procedures for restraint systems, cab structure, and cab interior components.