Monthly Archives: July 2014

Driver Fatigue Needs To Be Recognized As A Public Health Problem

I have tried to get the attention of the Department of Health and Human Services and requested them to address driver fatigue as a public health problem. So far, no one seems to be listening.

Here is a letter which I received from them yesterday in response to my letter to them (the Secretary of HHS) requesting that they address driver fatigue as a public health problem.
Letter from DHHS related to driver fatigue 001

They determined that they are not the best agency to address my concern and indicated that they are sending my letter to the Department of Labor. That is because, I suppose, I mentioned in the letter that I think the Department of Labor ought to be involved as well. Why? Because how truck drivers get paid and scheduled for their work are also factors in truck driver fatigue.

In other words, I think that driver fatigue will not be fully eliminated until we work together to address this complex public health problem that impairs drivers in much the same way as drunk driving. That is why I have called for a federal task force to work in a more coordinated fashion toward better protection for travelers on our roads.

Canada, at least, seems to be getting the idea and passing relevant legislation to take driver fatigue more seriously:

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.”

The Governors Highway Safety Association is supporting a Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. I would like to see them do the same for driver fatigue. I realize that it is a more complex issue, but does that mean we should just ignore it and pretend it does not exist?

http://ghsa.org/html/issues/impaireddriving/index.html

Here is an excerpt from their website:

“Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving

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GHSA has joined MADD and others to support the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. [http://ghsa.org/html/issues/impaireddriving/cedd.html] The campaign has four components: technology, tougher enforcement, stronger laws, and grassroots mobilization. The goal is to ‘completely eliminate drunk driving…making it the public health equivalent of polio.’

GHSA Policy

Excerpted from GHSA’s Highway Safety Policies & Priorities http://ghsa.org/html/publications/pdf/13-14PP.pdf [115 KB, 27 pgs.]

E. Impaired Driving

Impaired driving is a serious problem threatening the safety of our nation’s highways. There are, however, methods of combating this crisis, particularly in the areas of law enforcement, legislation, training programs and evaluation and treatment for offenders.”

“Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is a major public health problem.” http://www.attcnetwork.org/explore/priorityareas/science/tools/asmeDetails.asp?ID=684

DWF = Driving While Fatigued

It is time that we recognize it for what it is: a Public Health Problem.

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CNBC Reports on National Truck Crash Problem

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CNBC Reports on National Tragedy of Truck Crashes http://www.cnbc.com/id/101875063

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CDL Training: Another Area Needing Change in Truck Safety

Last week, Jerry and I met with Charlie Gray, CEO of the Carolina Trucking Academy. He had written to us soon after we launched the AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up for Truck Safety Petition sharing his thoughts with us:

Charlie Gray Letter from him in March 2014

At the time, we were focused on the petition and the three truck safety issues which it addressed: 1) combatting driver fatigue through use of Electronic Logging Devices; 2) improving underride guards; and 3) raising the minimum liability insurance for truck drivers.

Finally, the time seemed right to correspond with Charlie and we were able to set up a time to meet together and discuss our shared concern about the lack of adequate requirements for CDL training. We enjoyed getting to know Charlie and look forward to working with him to promote better standards for CDL training programs.

Earlier this week, Jerry received an email which contained a letter from Charlie sent out to his friends with whom he shares devotional thoughts on a regular basis:

Charlie Gray Letter from him in March 2014 page 1

Charlie Gray Devotional Letter our meeting 001

Leader at FMCSA to Leave the Agency

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Photo of our meeting at DOT on May 5, 2014. . .Anne Ferro third from right

I have just learned that Anne Ferro, head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has resigned from her position and will be leaving in August. We recognized her genuine support for safety when we met with her and other DOT officials on May 5, 2014.

I hope that she is effective in promoting safety in her new position as President and CEO of the American Association for Motor Vehicle Administrators. Please pray for her replacement at FMCSA to understand and promote safety and to receive the support and backing of the trucking industry, as well.

 http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/213383-dot-official-resigns-after-trucker-scheduling-flap

Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., Comments on NHTSA & Underride Guards

Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., makes note of the NHTSA initiation of rulemaking on underride guards.

 http://www.safetyresearch.net/blog/articles/nhtsa-finally-tackles-rear-underride#overlay-context=blog/articles/nhtsa-finally-tackles-rear-underride

While they provided a good summary of the history of underride guard regulation, I would like to note that they apparently overlooked NHTSA’s mention of an underride guard petition from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the Footnotes of the Federal Register announcement.

 https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/07/10/2014-16018/federal-motor-vehicle-safety-standards-rear-impact-guards-rear-impact-protection

 

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More on Side Guards

My daughter just set up a Twitter account for me (@MaryandAnnaLeah), so yesterday I tweeted this: SIDE Underride Guards in Canada & US. A Solution to Save Lives. Not yet required: http://tinyurl.com/lgnddkx  #trucksafety #underrrideguards

Today, I was going to talk about how I wanted to make sure that I was not giving the impression that my advocacy efforts were fueled by vengeance or unforgiveness. In fact, the passion behind my relentless pleas for change are based on the growing awareness and belief that an alarming number of deaths have occurred, and continue to occur, due to what are largely-preventable truck crashes—for any of a long list of possible reasons.

Well, there I did talk about it, didn’t I—but only because I do not want to be misunderstood and because I want to make you equally aware.

And now I want to talk about side underride guards, which I am just beginning to learn more about because our crash was a rear underride and that is mainly what I have been focused on. Thankfully, NHTSA has initiated the rulemaking on rear underride guards but our request for them to require side underride guards–which very few trucks have– is still under consideration.

This is what I read today: http://www.treehugger.com/bikes/cyclists-and-pedestrians-keep-getting-killed-trucks-when-solution-easy-mandatory-side-guards.html and http://www.treehugger.com/bikes/another-cyclist-gets-right-hook-its-time-sideguards-trucks-north-america.html .

Also, see the Mercedes-Benz solution: http://www.treehugger.com/cars/mercedes-benz-unveils-large-trucks-12-18-reduction-air-drag.html 

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Bloomberg BNA Reports on the NHTSA Proposed Underride Guard Rule

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After the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiated a rulemaking process which would improve safety requirements for rear underride guards, Rebecca Kern, reporter for the Bloomberg BNA’s Product Safety & Liability Reporter, interviewed me to find out what I could tell her about this significant stepping stone.

Bloomberg BNA granted me permission to share the article here: bloomberg bna article .

After reading the article, please also read my comments about the quote in it from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and my communication last week with Ted Scott, the ATA Director of Engineering Services: http://annaleahmary.com/2014/07/clarifying-the-ata-position-on-underride-guards-2/ .

Reproduced with permission from Product Safety & Liability Reporter, 42 PSLR 808 (July 21, 2014). Copyright 2014 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033) <http://www.bna.com>

From life's first cry to final breath

Photo collage: From life’s first cry to final breath: AnnaLeah & Mary.

Projected Date for Rulemaking Process on Minimum Liability Insurance Increase

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Some good news: It looks as if FMCSA plans to move up rulemaking for minimum insurance from a November projected date to September 19 (before bills to defund the process could go through).

 http://www.overdriveonline.com/fmcsa-speeds-work-on-raising-carrier-insurance-minimums-slows-on-safety-fitness-scoring-rule/

There is, of course, opposition to this potential rulemaking. And other projects might be moved back. How unfortunate that needed truck safety changes are too often unnecessarily slowed down by constant political wrangling.

Wasted resources. Wasted time. Wasted lives.

Clarifying the ATA Position on Underride Guards

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After last week’s announcement by NHTSA of their initiation of the rulemaking process for underride guards, I have had four interviews. So far, I have seen two of the articles and both of them included a statement, obtained from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which disturbed me when I read them. I posted about it and you can read my thoughts here:

 http://annaleahmary.com/2014/07/underride-guards-in-the-news/

Not wanting to misrepresent the trucking industry, yesterday, I decided to call the person who was quoted, Ted Scott, the Director of Engineering Services with ATA. I told him why I was calling, shared our story, and we spent some time discussing underride guards. I then asked if I could send him the article, in which he was quoted, as well as information about our website and links to underride guard information. In my email, I also asked him to write a few sentences to clarify his statement about underride guards.

In response, this morning I received this email from Ted Scott:

 Ted Scott, ATA, email July 2014

 Well, I was excited to have him get back to me on this matter and quickly let him know that I appreciated it:

 Ted Scott, ATA, email July 2014 My Reply

 

From what I have observed, too often, needed changes have been prevented or delayed by resistance or opposition–for whatever reason, whether it be misunderstanding, misinformation, or differing priorities. In my mind, that makes this promise of support and cooperation by the American Trucking Associations super significant!

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Yes!

(p.s. I hope that Mary would think that I am making good use of her joie de vivre!)

Underride Guards in the News

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Truck safety issues are certainly in the news of late…

If ever I realized how important it is to say what you mean and mean what you say, I surely do so now! Following last week’s announcement of the NHTSA rulemaking process on underride guards, I have had 3 interviews–two via phone and one in person. I appreciate the willingness of these reporters to give this topic coverage.
Here is the newscast from one of those interviews with Kara Kenney RTV6:
http://www.theindychannel.com/news/call-6-investigators/feds-evaluating-safety-of-truck-underride-guards

I am again disturbed by industry comments such as I see in this newscast:

“The trucking industry and manufacturers are not sure stricter federal regulations are needed – especially since many are voluntarily using tougher underride guards.

‘Underride guards are helpful in reducing the impact of cars crashing into trucks. We would however much prefer to see NHTSA focus on providing automobiles with the capability of preventing cars crashing into trucks,’ said Ted Scott, director of engineering for the American Trucking Associations, Inc. ‘Crash or collision avoidance technology can go a long [ways] in helping to eliminate rear end crashes. Educating automobile drivers on how to share the road with a truck is also very helpful in reducing rear end collisions.’

Jeff Sims, president of the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, said TTMA supports the review.”

What is Ted Scott saying? Is he actually saying he wants NHTSA to do the one thing [crash avoidance technology] instead of the other [improved underride guards]? Sure, that would take the pressure and focus off of the trucking industry’s responsibility.

It seems to me that what he said is kind of like saying, “It is more important to concentrate on eliminating crashes, so don’t worry about protecting people who experience crashes (for example by doing such things as inventing and requiring the installation of things like airbags, seatbelts, and IMPROVED underride guards).” Is it really an either/or situation? Why is he presenting it as if it is?

On top of that, the ATA and TTMA statements convey the impression that if many manufacturers [Note: Not All.] are already exceeding federal standards, then everything is hunky dory, no need for change–hundreds of deaths a year from underride crashes are meaningless, especially if we can decide to lay the blame on the car driver anyway.  And what do they have to say about the fact that most of those same manufacturers, who may be exceeding the current federal standards [perhaps 7 out of 8], did not pass all of the IIHS crash tests in 2013 (i.e., if their trailers had been in real crashes, the occupants probably would have died)?!

 

If, as a spokesperson of the trucking industry, he is reflecting a general attitude which impacts daily decisions and actions, this is very distressing to me.

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