Monthly Archives: June 2014

Underride Guards: Can we “sit down at the table together” and work this out?

Underride guards Great Dane trip 019

The thoughts below are also expressed in this YouTube video:

I find myself in the unenviable position of speaking up on behalf of all travelers on the road who are vulnerable and could—when they least expect it—become the next victim of an underride crash.

Jerry and I had the opportunity, on June 25, to tour the Research & Design Center of Great Dane, a trailer manufacturer. As their guests, we were able to spend the entire morning hearing about what they are doing with regard to quality control and safety, including underride guards which they voluntarily produce to meet or even exceed Canadian standards—thus surpassing current U.S. federal standards. We were able to ask questions and share our concerns about the inadequate federal standards for underride guards (otherwise known as rear impact guards).

We are perhaps better suited to ask those questions than just about anyone. After all, we had two daughters die because the car they were in rode under the back of a semitrailer.

It was an informative day. And we heard what seemed to be genuine comments that, “Cost is not a factor,” and, “Safety is important to us,” and, “We are not competitive about safety.” But what we did not see was a tangible plan to carry out their verbal commitment to create the best possible underride protection.

We provided them with several documents (all of them being public information) which included a study which was published in 2010 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21512906) and indicated the ways in which underride guards were failing. There was also a March 2011 IHHS publication (http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/46/2/1 and http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/46/2/2 ) which reported on crash tests performed on major trailer manufacturers—indicating areas where their underride guards failed to withstand crashes. The third document was a similar report, published in March 2013 (http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/new-crash-tests-underride-guards-on-most-big-rigs-leave-passenger-vehicle-occupants-at-risk-in-certain-crashes), on another round of crash tests in which the majority of the manufacturers were, once more, unable to pass all of the tests. (And here is a report by the NTSB on this topic from April 2014: http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/recletters/2014/H-14-001-007.pdf .)

Now, it is understandable, amid the multitude of demands and the tyranny of the urgent, that—without a ready solution, in fact, one which would require time and money to develop—this problem has not been given much attention. But, if those who bear responsibility for making sure that this problem gets solved (one way or another) had lost two of their beloved children—or any other loved one—I can guarantee you that they would have moved heaven and earth to find a way to prevent underride.

What makes it even more distressing is that there are many individuals and organizations, who truly seem concerned about safety, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and the trailer manufacturers. Yet, from what I can see, very little communication has taken place to move this problem forward from point A (guards that fail and result in death and/or horrific injuries) to Point B (coming up with a better design that will provide the best protection possible).

Great Dane, one of the major trailer manufacturers, observed that they passed all but one of the quasi-static crash tests—the narrow overlap. Great Dane also noted that their guard appeared to perform better on the full overlap test than Manac’s (which was the only company to pass all three tests in 2013). So Great Dane does not want to make a change which will strengthen one section of their guard but weaken another section. That’s understandable.

So, tell me: Why aren’t we getting anywhere? What will it take for an improved design to be researched and developed?

IIHS has done extensive quasi-static crash tests as well as analysis of Large Truck Crash information, and they are, in fact, champing at the bit—hoping to do further testing as improvements are made. Yet, we are told, Great Dane has not yet seen the details of their previous crash test results.

We have found DOT to be very cooperative and interested in moving forward to introduce safety measures. We know that political debate can often tie their hands and cause delays. At the same time, we are told that NHTSA has not responded to repeated petitions by IIHS for improved underride guard standards: http://www.iihs.org/media/c7069aa3-c4bd-4fd7-bcc5-1b0c7990d15e/-238847309/Petitions/petition_2011-02-28.pdf

Great Dane, one of the major trailer manufacturers, tells us that safety is a priority to them. They even told us that they want to know how they can petition NHTSA to improve the underride guard standards. But the unfortunate reality is that there is not yet a new design; there is no improved guard. And Great Dane represents perhaps 12% of the market. What about the rest of the trailer manufacturers; when will they have a design which will produce safer guards?

On our trip home from Savannah to Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Jerry and I rehashed the morning’s events. We spent considerable time observing the many trailers which we saw on the road, and I took numerous photos of the various designs and conditions of the underride guards.

While at Great Dane, Jerry had made a few suggestions for improving the guard design. He suggested putting foam in the hollow horizontal bar. Another idea he put forth was to install panels with airbags to the existing guard—providing an additional barrier/energy absorption solution. Whether with these ideas or something else, surely, a more effective design can be created.

So, in trying to process what we learned at the meeting, I kept thinking over and over: Could an independent work group of qualified individuals, such as an engineering school, take on the challenge of creating such a design—which could then be tested by IHHS, proposed to NHTSA to aid in defining improved rear impact guard specifications, and provided to all trailer manufacturers? Could we do some kind of crowd funding or grant proposal to obtain the necessary funds to support such an endeavor? Could we perhaps even approach the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA) and ask them to seek contributions from their members for such a project?

Is cost truly not a factor? Is safety really a priority and not a competitive matter? Is it possible to improve the communication necessary to prevent more unnecessary deaths? Can we “sit down at the table together” and work this out?

Marianne Karth, June 26, 2014

(Note: I thought it was interesting that, in the photo above, a circle appeared around the very area of underride guard weakness about which we are concerned.)

See the testimony in May 2009 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in which they call for tougher underride guard standards and with an attachment of the history of federal rulemaking on underride guards (pasted below): http://tinyurl.com/phlaqon

The history of Federal rulemaking on truck underride guards:

  • 1953 Interstate Commerce Commission adopts rule requiring rear underride guards on trucks and trailers but sets no strength requirements.
  • 1967 National Highway Safety Bureau (NHSB), predecessor to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), indicates it will develop a standard for truck underride guards.
  • 1969 NHSB indicates it will conduct research on heavy vehicle underride guard configurations to provide data for the preparation of a standard. In the same year the Federal Highway Administration publishes a proposal to require trailers and trucks to have strong rear-end structures extending to within 18 inches of the road surface.
  • 1970 NHSB says it would be “impracticable” for manufacturers to engineer improved underride protectors into new vehicles before 1972. The agency considers an effective date of January 1, 1974 for requiring underride guards with energy-absorbing features as opposed to rigid barriers.
  • 1971 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommends that NHTSA require energy-absorbing underride and override barriers on trucks, buses, and trailers. Later in the same year NHTSA abandons its underride rulemaking, saying it has “no control over the vehicles after they are sold” and “it can only be assumed that certain operators will remove the underride guard.” The Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety (BMCS), predecessor to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, considers a regulatory change that would prohibit alteration of manufacturer-installed equipment. This would nullify the major reason NHTSA cited for abandoning the proposed underride standard.
  • 1972 NTSB urges NHTSA to renew the abandoned underride proposal.
  • 1974 US Secretary of Transportation says deaths in cars that underride trucks would have to quadruple before underride protection would be considered cost beneficial.
  • 1977 IIHS testifies before the Consumer Subcommittee of the US Senate Commerce Committee, noting that devices to stop underride have been technologically available for years. IIHS tests demonstrate that a crash at less than 30 mph of a subcompact car into a guard meeting current requirements results in severe underride. IIHS also demonstrates the feasibility of effective underride guards that do not add significant weight to trucks. IIHS petitions NHTSA to initiate rulemaking to establish a rear underride standard. The agency agrees to reassess the need for such a standard and later in the year announces plans to require more effective rear underride protection. BMCS publishes a new but weak proposal regarding underride protection.
  • 1981 NHTSA issues a proposal to require upgraded underride protection.
  • 1986 IIHS study reveals that rear guards designed to prevent cars from underriding trucks appear to be working well on British rigs.
  • 1987 European underride standard is shown to reduce deaths caused by underride crashes.
  • 1996 NHTSA finally issues a new standard, effective 1998.

IIHS, 2009

 

Setting the Record Straight: “Too Rigid” Underride Guards is a Myth

IMG_4465

I would like to do what I can to make a bridge between those who study truck safety issues, the trucking industry, and the regulators. It seems to me that it would help if we would all take a deep breath, not get defensive, and work really hard to understand all of the factors involved in “truck safety” and make sure that the roads are as safe as possible.

Specifically, I would like to do my part in clearing up some possible confusion about underride guards on large trucks. Two aspects: the impact of rigidity and the type of trucks which need to have them.

In the fall of 2013, I read an article online written by an investigative reporter about the inadequacy of current standards for underride guards. It included some quotes from the trucking industry and one in particular caught my attention and—because of what happened in our crash—caused me consternation. It didn’t make sense:

— Response from trucking, trailer industries

If the NHTSA creates new standards, it could be expensive for the trucking and trailer industries, and some argue tougher guards are not even the answer.

‘This type of accident usually involves serious driver error, so the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association notes first that the rules already in place to prevent these accidents must be followed, including regulations against speeding or driving while impaired or distracted,’ said Jeff Sims, TTMA president, in an emailed statement to WRTV. ‘Proper maintenance of vehicle lighting equipment is also critical, both for passenger vehicle headlights and trailer tail lights and reflective tape.”‘

Sims argued that more rigid guards could lead to more deaths and more significant injuries.

‘A neck strain could become a neck fracture as a result,’ said Sims.” http://www2.thedenverchannel.com/web/kmgh/news/underride-guards-metal-barriers-on-back-of-large-trucks-often-fail-to-protect-drivers

(Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association Statement referred to in that report: http://media.theindychannel.com/docs/ttma_statement.pdf)

While that may have been true at one time, it definitely no longer is the case. Due to advances in technology, cars have become much more crash-worthy, i.e.,  they are better able to absorb the energy of a crash and protect the passengers.

Notice—in direct contrast to the  quote above—what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) said in their March 2011 Status Report on underride guards (written two years prior to that 2013 quote from the trucking industry):

“Meanwhile, the passenger vehicle fleet has changed dramatically since NHTSA wrote the standards. Regulators then were concerned that ‘overly rigid guards could result in passenger compartment forces that would increase the risk of occupant injuries even in the absence of underride.’ The agency also recognized the need for balancing energy absorption with guard strength because ‘the more the guard yields, the farther the colliding vehicle travels and the greater likelihood of passenger compartment intrusion.’

The Institute’s latest analysis indicates that guards too weak to adequately mitigate underride are a bigger problem than overly stiff guards.http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/46/2/2

Another IIHS report describes it this way:

“Underride crashes can be catastrophic for people in passenger vehicles that run into the backs of heavy trucks. The steel guards on the backs of big rigs are supposed to stop smaller vehicles from sliding underneath trailers, but a new Institute analysis of real-world crashes indicates that too often rear guards intended to prevent underride buckle or break away from their trailers — with deadly consequences. To understand how this happens, the Institute ran a series of crash tests and discovered that guards meeting federal safety standards can fail in relatively low-speed crashes….

Cars’ front-end structures are designed to manage a tremendous amount of crash energy in a way that minimizes injuries for their occupants,’ says Adrian Lund, Institute president. ‘Hitting the back of a large truck is a game changer. You might be riding in a vehicle that earns top marks in frontal crash tests, but if the truck’s underride guard fails — or isn’t there at all — your chances of walking away from even a relatively low-speed crash aren’t good.‘” http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/46/2/1

Another area of concern is that the current federal standards allow for certain types of large trucks to be exempt from these underride regulations. IIHS has indicated that this is a big mistake.

“Many of the cases of severe underride involved trucks and trailers exempt from underride-related safety standards. More than half of the trucks in the study weren’t required to have guards, although many had them anyway. The two largest exempt groups were trailers with rear wheels set very close to the back of the trailer and straight trucks (single-unit trucks with a cab and cargo body on one chassis). Dump trucks represented a particularly hazardous category of straight truck. They accounted for about one-third of the straight trucks but half of all the straight truck crashes involving severe or catastrophic underride.” http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/46/2/1

How much of the opposition to change in safety standards is due to a misunderstanding of the factors involved? It is very distressing to me that somebody could die as a result.

June 18: Call to Action

Petition Photo Bags at DOT, best

If you live in these states, please call or email ASAP:

Reid (NV): 202-224-6244, josh_finestone@heller.senate.gov

Murphy (CT): 202-224-4041, jesse_young@murphy.senate.gov

Durbin (IL): 202-224-2152, trevor_deal@durbin.senate.gov

Coons (DE): 202-224-5042, blaise_sheridan@coons.senate.gov

Boxer (CA): 202-224-3553, kyle_chapman@boxer.senate.gov

Nelson (FL): 202-224-5274, nick_russell@billnelson.senate.gov

Warner (VA): 202-224-2023, ken_johnson@warner.senate.gov

Levin (MI): 202-224-6221, alison_pascale@levin.senate.gov

Sanders (VT): 202-224-5141, david_weinstein@sanders.senate.gov

Schatz (HI): 202-224-3934, ryan_martel@schatz.senate.gov

Support the Booker-Blumenthal Amendment to Stop Tired Trucking

Booker-Blumenthal Amendment Will Strike Dangerous Language in Collins Amendment That Would Weaken Truck Driver Hours of Service Rule

 

The Collins amendment would weaken the 34-hour rest period or “restart,” and:  

  • Dramatically increase the allowable driving hours of truck drivers from the current average of about 70 hours a week to more than 80 hours a week. This is equivalent to adding an additional work day to the work week of a truck driver.
  • Allow shippers and supervisors to once again push drivers to work an average work week of up to 82 hours every week. This is double the normal work week of the average American worker and without any overtime pay or compensation.
  • Ignore a scientific study required by MAP-21 and conducted by the FMCSA to evaluate the 34-hour rest period provision. This study showed:
    • “Having at least two nighttime periods from 1 a.m. until 5 a.m. in the restart break helps to mitigate fatigue as measured both objectively and subjectively. This constitutes evidence in support of the efficacy of the new restart rule” (FMCSA, Report to Congress (2014)).
    • The quality of night-time sleep is far superior to sleep obtained during the day-time period. The FMCSA study confirmed the findings of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies on rest among night shift workers in numerous industries, and the conclusion is the same and significant. The natural circadian cycle favors sleeping at night.

This week, the Senate will vote on the Appropriations Bill. Please call or email your Senators today, and urge them to support the Booker-Blumenthal amendment to strike the Collins Amendment language that weakens the HOS rule. The recent tragic truck crash in New Jersey is just one example of the devastation that occurs when a driver, behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound truck, falls asleep or is inattentive due to fatigue.

 

TAKE action now: 

Please call your Senators ASAP and urge them to:

 

SUPPORT THE BOOKER-BLUMENTHAL AMENDMENT TO STOP TIRED TRUCKING

Strike Senator Collins Amendment That Would Weaken the HOS Rule Restart

Truck Driver Fatigue is a Serious and Deadly Problem

 

Talking Points:

We urge you to strike the Collins amendment. This dangerous amendment will exacerbate truck driver fatigue, and increase dangers on our highways.

 

STRIKE THE COLLINS AMENDMENT

  • Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years.
  • Every year, on average, 4,000 people die in truck crashes and about 100,000 more are injured at a cost of at least $87 billion, a large number of them due to driver fatigue.
  • FMCSA studies reveal that 65% of truck drivers report they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half admit they fell asleep while driving in the previous year.
  • Truck driving is consistently listed as one of the top ten most dangerous jobs in the U.S. In 2011, fatalities among large truck occupants increased 20 percent, and by another 9 percent in 2012.

DO NOT DE-FUND, REVISE OR REPLACE THE HOS RULE

 

The current HOS Rule will:

  • Prevent approximately 1,400 crashes each year — saving 19 lives and avoiding 560 injuries;
  • Provide $280 million in annual savings from fewer crashes and $470 million in annual savings from improved driver health (i.e., reduced mortality).

SUPPORT THE BOOKER – BLUMENTHAL AMENDMENT TO STOP TIRED TRUCKING

Urge your Senator to Support the Booker – Blumenthal Amendment

  • The public health and safety community, law enforcement, the Trucking Alliance, and labor jointly support the Booker – Blumenthal amendment to Stop Tired Trucking.
  • This amendment will strike the Collins language to suspend the restart provisions, and will retain the CMV Driver Restart Study instead of a roll back on safety regulation.
  • The CMV Driver Restart Study directs DOT to conduct a peer-reviewed study of truck driver fatigue with specific deadlines based on objective data produced by electronic logging devices (ELDs) that will be installed in 2015.

 

DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE

 

The current hours of service rule DOES NOT:

  • Restrict a driver from driving at night. In fact, the current rule places no restrictions on when a truck driver must drive. Unless a driver is absolutely maxing out their driving time and trying to drive more than the 60 or 70 hours currently permitted, there is also no restriction on when they have to take a break. Moreover, the rule does not specify when that driver must go back on the road after the break.
  • Add More Trucks to the road. Changes to the requirements for rest periods do not have any effect on the amount of freight shipped.

 

Every minute and a half of every day, there is a large truck crash.

  

SAY NO TO MORE TIRED TRUCKERS WORKING EVEN LONGER WORK WEEKS! 

 

Wake up, America: Let’s make our roads safe–together!

Mary's Life

How many people could we save from an untimely death due to a truck crash,  if the U.S. would wake up and follow the example of other countries like the United Kingdom or Canada? Look at how much tougher they are on truckers in Britain – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/10904178/Foreign-truckers-to-be-fined-for-driving-while-tired.html

And take a look at Canada:

https://canadasafetycouncil.org/safety-canada-online/article/driver-fatigue-falling-asleep-wheel

“…Driving while fatigued is comparable to driving drunk, only there is not the same social stigma attached. Like alcohol, fatigue affects our ability to drive by slowing reaction time, decreasing awareness and impairing judgment. Driving while sleep impaired is a significant issue, and is no longer tolerated. Legislation {in Canada} is beginning to change by handling collisions cause by a fatigued driver as seriously as alcohol-impaired crashes.”

http://www.saaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/documents/pdf/prevention/html/fatigue_management.html

Maybe, here in our country, we need a different, less-fragmented approach to solving the problem of truck driver fatigue–one that would bring together Public Health (Driving While Fatigued is a public health issue), Labor (truck drivers need to be paid and scheduled differently), and Transportation (the many factors that go into monitoring our transportation system–including CDL programs, technology, insurance, & safety measures like underride guards) experts. Let’s get the States to work together on this, too, so that the solutions which are created can be more effective through consistency and enforcement.

See how governors are working together: http://ghsa.org/html/issues/impaireddriving/index.html.

And look at this recent enforcement activity: http://cdllife.com/…/troopers-target-trucks-make-59…/

Let’s face it: we can’t get along without the trucking industry, so let’s make it the best it can be!

“Our current consumer driven economy is driven by our ability to offer a wide choice of competing products with wide scale or ‘intensive’ distribution. Consumers take for granted the choices available whether for a ‘commodity’ such as milk or high value products such as electronics. Store direct delivery and delivery of Internet purchases would not be possible without the trucking industry….

Our freight transportation system enables consumers to enjoy the availability of goods which are not produced in their immediate locale because of climate or soil conditions, the lack of raw materials, utilities, or labor, or the cost of production. Such a system allows consumers a choice of goods which would not otherwise be available….

One of the challenges of the motor carrier industry is to maintain tightly scheduled transit times to meet customer requirements….If you don’t believe transportation is important, just ask Etoys.com or KidsRUs.com. Better still, ask Santa Claus who operates the most efficient transport we have ever seen.”  http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/freight_planning/archive/weart.cfm

LET’S ESTABLISH A WHITE HOUSE TASK FORCE TO PROTECT TRAVELERS FROM TRUCK CRASHES! See my detailed recommendations here: Establishing a White House Task Force to Protect Travelers From Truck Crashes (1)

It’s a Wonder Anything Ever Gets Done to Improve Safety on the Roads

websiteheader5.jpg

Last year, DOT was given the authority to study the question of raising the minimum liability insurance for truckers. (In our case, some of the insurance money from our settlement is still tied up because so many stakeholders wanted a portion of the pot.)

Now, members of the U.S. Senate and House have been asked to introduce and vote on amendments to legislation which would undermine this authority and cause a setback in attempts to more adequately cover the costs of truck crashes.

Minimum insurance requirements have not been increased once in thirty years, and should be increased immediately for medical care cost inflation. Families, like ours, should not have to cover the uninsured damages resulting from truck crashes.

Furthermore, at the same time, members of the House and Senate have also been asked to back legislative amendments which would suspend some of the Hours of Service (HOS) rules which were put into place last summer—until further study can be done. The suspension of the HOS provisions would allow truck drivers to increase their work week to 80+ hours and would increase truck driver fatigue.

Both of these actions are being taken (reportedly backed by the trucking industry) at the last minute when legislators are getting ready to vote on the budget, and both will have a negative impact on truck safety. 2 steps forward, 3 steps back

When I asked if this flurry of opposition was par for the course, I was told that it is particularly well-organized and aggressive.

Expect to hear soon about how you can help halt these actions. We do not want them to undermine 2 out of the 3 improvements which we asked for with our “AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up for Truck Safety Petition!”

For more details about these two legislative amendments, go here:

The Truck Safety game 001

 

Fact Sheet on the Daines’ Amendment to Halt Minimum Liability Insurance for Truckers

 This is Daines’ argument on which he based his amendment:

 “The small businesses that make up the majority of the truck and bus industries not only provide jobs for thousands of Americans, they play an important role in moving goods and people and supporting our economy,” Daines said. “It flies in the face of common sense to put people’s livelihoods at risk without any evidence that it would improve the safety of our roads or better meet the needs of catastrophic accident victims. I’m glad the House joined me in supporting this measure to protect small businesses and the jobs they provide.”

  http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Financial-Responsibility-Requirements-Report-Enclosure-FINAL-April%202014.pdf

 “EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21; P.L. 112-141). Section 32104 of MAP-21directed the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue a report to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives on the appropriateness of the current minimum financial responsibility requirements for motor carriers of property and passengers, and the current bond and insurance requirements for freight forwarders and brokers.

  Section 32104 also directed the Secretary to issue a report on the appropriateness of these requirements every 4 years starting April 1, 2013. The Secretary delegated the responsibility for this report to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

  The legislative history of minimum insurance requirements for commercial motor vehicles (CMV)indicates that Congress recognized that crash costs would change over time and that DOT would periodically examine the levels and make adjustments as necessary. A variety of recent studies indicate that inflation has greatly increased medical claims costs and related expenses. In conclusion, FMCSA has determined that the current financial responsibility minimums are due for re-evaluation. The Agency has formed a rulemaking team to further evaluate the appropriate level of financial responsibility for the motor carrier industry and has placed this rulemaking among the Agency’s high priority rules. The FMCSA will continue to meet with the stakeholders, including impacted industries, safety advocacy groups, and private citizens, as it moves forward with developing a proposed rule.”

Media Coverage of the Daines’ Amendment:

 http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2014/06/13/331775.htm

 “The 214-212 vote was largely along party lines with 210 Republicans and only four Democrats voting in favor.

 The FMCSA concluded in a recent report to Congress that current minimum financial responsibility limits for the commercial motor vehicle industry — including the $750,000 limit for general freight carriers— are inadequate to meet the costs of some crashes, mainly because of rising medical costs.

The regulatory agency stopped short of recommending specific new limits but could have a proposal by the end of June and new limits could be published in November.

The minimum limits have not been raised in more than 30 years.”

 http://fleetowner.com/regulations/update-house-votes-block-higher-minimum-liability-insurance-level

http://fleetowner.com/regulations/house-passes-dot-funding-bill

http://annaleahmary.com/2014/06/the-daines-amendment-passed-contact-your-u-s-representative/

 

Fact Sheet on the Collins’ Amendment & its impact on Hours of Service Rules

I made a YouTube video of the debate and vote over the Collins’ Amendment to suspend part of the Hours of Service at the Senate Appropriations Committee Meeting . You can listen to it while watching video clips of AnnaLeah and Mary.

The senators were given a copy of the amendment as it was introduced  and then expected to vote on this issue despite confusion.
http://youtu.be/JeuOqy_lOEc

Media Coverage on the Collins’ Amendment attempt to change the Hours of Service (HOS) Rules:

 

“None of the industry arguments ring true to Daphne Izer, the founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers, which has pushed for tighter rest rules for 20 years. The Lisbon, Maine, resident founded the group after her 17-year-old son, Jeff, and three of his friends were killed by a fatigued truck driver.

Collins hasn’t spoken to her constituent as she has been crafting the Senate amendment, which Izer describes as a ‘back-door way of sneaking it in.’

‘This is fighting the battle all over again,’ Izer said in an interview. ‘I’m mad, but I’m not doing this just to be angry. It’s hope for the future. It’s sparing others from going through what we’ve been through.’”

Basic Information About the Collins’ Amendment

& Its Impact on the Hours of Service (HOS) Rules (From the Truck Safety Coalition)

 Talking Points

HOS and Truck Driver Fatigue

  • Every year, on average, 4,000 people die in truck crashes and about 100,000 more are injured at a cost of at least $87 billion, a large number of them due to driver fatigue.

  • Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years.

  • The 2006 Large Truck Crash Causation Study reported that 13 percent of Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of a serious crash.

  • FMCSA studies reveal that 65% of truck drivers report they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half admit they fell asleep while driving in the previous year.

  • Working long daily and weekly hours on a continuing basis is associated with chronic fatigue, a high risk of crashes, and a number of serious chronic health conditions in drivers.

  • Truck driving is one of the most dangerous occupations in our country, and is consistently one of the top ten most dangerous jobs in the U.S. In 2011, fatalities among large truck occupants increased 20 percent, and by another 9 percent in 2012.

  • Every minute and a half of every day, there is a large truck crash.

  • Truck crashes are on the rise. From 2009 to 2012, truck crash injuries increased by a staggering 40 percent, resulting in 104,000 injuries in 2012. During this period, truck crash fatalities increased three years in a row, a cumulative 16% increase, with nearly 4,000 deaths in 2012.

  • The current HOS Rule will:

    • Prevent approximately 1,400 crashes each year — saving 19 lives and avoiding 560 injuries;

    • Provide $280 million in annual savings from fewer crashes and $470 million in annual savings from improved driver health (i.e., reduced mortality).

  • We cannot roll-back the restart provisions in the HOS rule and cause more deaths and injuries when saving lives should be first and foremost.

  • Support the CMV Driver Restart Study instead of a roll back on safety regulation.

    • The public health and safety community, the trucking alliance, and labor jointly support the Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Driver Restart Study. The CMV Driver Restart Study directs DOT to conduct a peer-reviewed study of truck driver fatigue with specific deadlines based on objective data produced by electronic logging devices (ELDs) that will be installed in 2015.

 

Restart provisions:

 

  • The restart provision ensures that truck drivers cannot take another 34 hours restart until 168 hours or 7 days have passed. 

  • This provision is necessary to reduce the cumulative, chronic fatigue that results from working 80 plus hours, week in and week out – nearly twice as many hours as the regular 40 hour work week.

  • Under the new HOS rule, drivers can continue to work 70 hour weeks. The restart limits the 80 and 80 plus hour work weeks to every other week.

  • The 34-hour provision is scientifically valid:

    • One of the largest naturalistic field studies to measure fatigue among commercial motor vehicle drivers provided further scientific evidence that the 34-hour restart provision in the current hours-of-service rule for truck drivers is more effective at combatting fatigue than the prior version.

  • The two consecutive 1:00 – 5:00 a.m. rest periods are absolutely necessary to reduce fatigue. After working 7 days in a row, and nearly twice as many hours as the 40 hour work week, truck drivers need and deserve two days off.  Even working at the reduced 70 hour work week, truck driving continues to resemble a sweatshop on wheels.

  • Drivers with only one night of rest (as opposed to the two nights in the restart provision):

    • Exhibited more lapses of attention, especially at night;

    • Reported greater sleepiness, especially toward the end of their duty periods; and

    • Showed increased lane deviation in the morning, afternoon and at night.

  • The restart provisions do not prevent drivers from continuing to drive at night.

 

Additional points:

 

  • Senator Collins is misleading when she claims that her amendment will not make a big change.  It’s a significant change that will perpetuate fatigue, and especially the cumulative, chronic fatigue of the most overworked truck drivers.

  • With one amendment, Senator Collins will undue 25 years of research and input from thousands of stakeholders representing a broad range of interests.

  • Some truck drivers work 70 hour weeks – nearly double a typical American work week – and they are controlling 80,000 pound trucks. They should be given a weekend off to spend time with their families. The Collins amendment pushes truck drivers even further beyond their limits. These sweatshops on wheels must be reformed.

  • Senator Collins needs to stop doing the bidding of the trucking industry and protect her constituents.

  • The hours of service (HOS) rule is based on years of scientific research and this amendment is a backdoor attempt to ignore the research and evade the rulemaking process.

  • There have been absolutely no hearings, no public input, and no adequate safety review of removing the truck driver weekend off provision.

  • This rule is not even 1 year old. Striking it will lead to confusion in the industry and to law enforcement. If police officers don’t understand the rules, how are they going to enforce them?

  • The safety of motorists and truck drivers should come before the economic demands of the trucking industry.

  • Who is Senator Collins doing this for and why?  It’s certainly not for Maine families and her constituents – the people she represents – so then who?

  • Senator Collins is creating a legacy of plowing over truck safety rules and regulations. She’s already assured that her legacy is bigger, more dangerous and damaging trucks.  Why is she determined to add fatigued truck drivers?

 

 

 

 

Debunking the Myths on Federal Hours-of-Service Rules for Truck Drivers (from DOT)

   Myth: There was no need to update the Hours-of-Service rule.

  Fact: Thousands of people die in large truck crashes each year and driver fatigue is a leading factor. In 1995, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Transportation to address fatigue-related motor carrier safety issues. Through a series of rulemakings, FMCSA attempted to do so but was embroiled in litigation for nearly 10 years, creating uncertainty for the industry.

In 2011, after years of research and public input from industry and safety advocates, FMCSA finalized the rule that took effect on July 1, 2013 and is in place today. In August 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the current hours-of-service rules, after twice overturning previous versions. The Court said, “…our decision today brings to an end much of the permanent warfare surrounding the HOS rules.”

 

  Myth: The latest rule was put into place without proper research, study or public input.

  Fact: Before finalizing the current Hours-of-Service rules, FMCSA held six public listening sessions, an online question and answer forum and carefully considered approximately 21,000 comments that were also submitted from drivers, carriers, and industry associations.

The 2011 final rule lists 80 sources of scientific research and data considered by the Agency and the Regulatory Impact Analysis cited nearly 50 scientific sources. All of this was on top of hundreds of studies regarding fatigue and hours of work that were considered in past HOS rulemakings.

 

 A third-party also conducted one of the largest naturalistic field studies to measure fatigue among commercial motor vehicle drivers that concluded the current 34-hour restart provision is more effective at combatting fatigue than the previous version.

Researchers measured sleep, reaction time, subjective sleepiness and driving performance, and found that drivers who began their work week with just one nighttime period of rest, as compared to the two nights in the updated 34-hour restart break:

 

  • Exhibited more lapses of attention, especially at night;

  • Reported greater sleepiness, especially toward the end of their duty periods; and

  • Showed increased lane deviation in the morning, afternoon and at night.

 

  Myth: All truck drivers are negatively impacted by the updated rule.

  Fact: Less than 15 percent of long-haul truck drivers — those who worked the most extreme schedules– are impacted by the current rule, according to the Regulatory Impact Analysis. Those extreme schedules, averaging more than 80 hours per week, are limited in the revised HOS rules by requiring these drivers to adopt schedules averaging no more than 70 hours per week. Short-haul truck drivers who operate within a 100 or 150 mile radius are not even required to take the new 30-minute break.

 

 Furthermore, working long daily and weekly hours on a continuing basis is associated with chronic fatigue, a higher risk of crashes and a number of serious chronic health conditions in drivers. A recent study by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that 69 percent of truck drivers were obese and 54 percent smoked. Additionally, 88 percent of long-haul truck drivers reported having at least one risk factor (hypertension, smoking, and obesity) for chronic disease, compared to only 54 percent of the general U.S. adult working population.

 

 Myth: Crashes, injuries and fatalities were lower under the old Hours-of-Service rule.

 Fact: While the rate of fatal crashes involving large trucks per 100 million vehicle miles traveled decreased each year from 2005 through 2009, it rose, along with increased demand for freight shipping, from 2009 through 2012.

Myth: The Hours-of-Service rule is hurting a trucker’s ability to make money and trucking companies’ bottom lines.

 Fact: This rule has been in place almost a full year; a year in which the industry has seen higher profitability than any year since 2009. Only those drivers who were working up to 80 hours per week before may be affected by having their work limited to an average of 70 hours per week, which is still nearly double the national standard of a 40-hour work week. Such long hours of work can lead to ailments and disabilities that would greatly impact the driver’s income.

Myth: The Hours-of-Service rule is forcing truck drivers to be on the road during the day and rush hours.

  Fact: This rule does not prevent drivers from setting their own schedules or restrict them from being on the roads during any time of the day. Only if a driver exceeds 60 hours of work in 7 days (or 70 hours in 8 days) does he or she have to take at least 34-hours off duty including two periods from 1-5 a.m. in order to “restart” the clock on a fresh work week. Even then, there is no requirement that such a driver “hit the road” at 5:00 a.m. The revised HOS rules provide considerable operational flexibility.

 

  Myth: The rule’s drive-time restrictions are forcing some drivers to shut down their trucks when they’re just a few miles from their destinations.

  Fact: That will always be the case, no matter what the limits on driving and work hours are, if the motor carrier and driver plan the schedule so tightly that the driver can barely complete the run legally.

 

  Myth: This rule is exacerbating the driver shortage.

  Fact: As the economy strengthens and demand increases, more truckers are needed to transport freight. However, high driver turnover is endemic in the trucking industry due to the difficult working conditions, low wages and the demands of the job. The American Trucking Associations determined that in 2013, driver turnover averaged 96 percent compared to 2005 when it reached an all-time high of 130 percent. Shortages of drivers, when and where they do exist, depend more on salaries and working conditions than on other factors.

(Note, 12/8/16: I think that this is from here: http://annaleahmary.com/2014/06/fact-sheet-on-truck-driver-hours-of-service-from-dot-fmcsa/)

 

Fact Sheet on Truck Driver Hours-of-Service from DOT (FMCSA)

 

We cannot roll-back the Hours-of-Service rule and cause more deaths and injuries when saving lives should be first and foremost.” — Daphne Izer of Maine, whose 17-year-old son and three other teenagers were killed by a trucker who fell asleep at the wheel.

 

 

Fatal Crash Rates

 

While the rate of fatal crashes involving large trucks per 100 million vehicle miles traveled decreased each year from 2005 through 2009, it rose, along with increased demands for freight shipping, from 2009 through 2012.

 

 

Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that in 2012 there were:

 

  • 10,659,380 large trucks registered in the United States;

  • 317,000 traffic crashes involving large trucks – an average of 6,100 each week, or 868 per day;

  • 3,921 fatalities involving large truck crashes – an average of 75 per week, or 11 per day;

  • 73,000 large truck injury crashes – an average of 1,400 per week, or 200 per day.

 

 

Driver fatigue is a leading factor in large truck crashes. The 2006 Large Truck Crash Causation Study reported that 13 percent of Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of a serious crash.

 

 

The Revised Hours-of-Service rules from the FMCSA went into effect in July 2013 to reduce fatigue-related crashes and ensure that drivers get the rest they need to be alert, safe and awake when operating up to 80,000-pound vehicles on roads they share with the traveling public. The regulations reduce the maximum average work week for truckers to 70 hours from 82 hours and require them to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of their shift.

 

 

Analysis shows the revised rules:

 

  • Prevent approximately 1,400 crashes each year — saving 19 lives and avoiding 560 injuries;

  • Impact less than 15 percent of the truck driving population;

  • Provide $280 million in annual savings from fewer crashes and $470 million in annual savings from improved driver health (i.e., reduced mortality).

 

Scientific study of the 34-hour provision:

 

One of the largest naturalistic field studies to measure fatigue among commercial motor vehicle drivers provided further scientific evidence that the 34-hour restart provision in the current hours-of-service rule for truck drivers is more effective at combatting fatigue than the prior version.

 

 

Scientists who measured sleep, reaction time, sleepiness and driving performance found that drivers who began their work week with just one nighttime period of rest, as compared to the two nights in the updated 34-hour restart break:

 

  • Exhibited more lapses of attention, especially at night;

  • Reported greater sleepiness, especially toward the end of their duty periods; and

  • Showed increased lane deviation in the morning, afternoon and at night.

 

 

Working long daily and weekly hours on a continuing basis is associated with chronic fatigue, a high risk of crashes, and a number of serious chronic health conditions in drivers.

 

 

A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health survey found that 69 percent of truck drivers were obese and 54 percent smoked. Additionally, 88 percent of long-haul truck drivers reported having at least one risk factor (hypertension, smoking, and obesity) for chronic disease, compared to only 54 percent of the general U.S. adult working population: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-01-16-14.html.

 

The Daines Amendment Passed: Contact Your U.S. Representative

J, M, I The Hill

See how your U.S. Representative voted yesterday—for or against the Daines Amendment, which would block increases to minimum liability insurance levels for trucks. It passed 214 – 212: http://trucksafety.org/see-how-your-representative-voted-the-daines-amendment/

Make a difference…Tell your Representative:

  • “Thanks for your vote!” OR
  • “Please reconsider your vote! The minimum insurance levels have not been raised for over 30 years. Who will suffer? Independent Owner Operators. Accident victims & their families. Taxpayers.”