Even though our efforts to improve underride protection are far from being finished, I would like to also tackle the project of organizing a Tired Trucker Roundtable. The only problem is that I have not yet identified any sponsoring organizations or potential facilities for holding such an important event.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Truck Safety Coalition were the co-sponsors with AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety of the Underride Roundtable on May 5, 2016. However, at this time, they are not in a position to participate in a similar fashion with a Tired Trucker Roundtable.
Exactly what am I envisioning with this Tired Trucker Roundtable? Let me try to summarize the highlights:
- Over and over, truck crash tragedies occur which seem to involve tired truckers.
- Of course, it is harder to measure driver fatigue than DUI — after the fact.
- Some of the solutions to this problem have included logging driver hours in paper log books (too often unreliable and, in our crash, never seen by us or our attorney or DA) and more recently rulemaking (currently in a lawsuit) has been issued to require electronic log books.
- These log books are to be connected to the official Hours of Service (HOS) requirements for truck drivers regulated by DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
- There has, of course, been ongoing debate about what is appropriate for the details of these HOS. A virtual and ongoing political tug-of-war which leaves the truck drivers in a confusing muddle and truck crash victims in the grave.
- I have read comments from and had “discussions with” many truck drivers who are convinced that these HOS rules need to have the input of truck drivers who are experienced with what works for them.
- Of course, the problem that should probably involve other players than DOT agencies — like the Department of Labor and the Department of Health & Human Services (CDC/Public Health) — is that it is to a great extent a problem of how truck drivers are normally compensated (by the mile) and their great difficulty in making a living wage without a great toll on their health.
- And it must definitely include various sectors of the trucking industry–carriers, shippers, brokers, independent owner-operators.
- Government regulators.
- Sleep apnea may also be a factor for many.
- In general, their occupation involves long hours of monotonous driving which can lead to not just falling asleep but microsleep which can be as bad or worse than driving DUI.
- Trucks take longer to brake but are traveling along with the rest of the traffic — posing a hazard to us all, especially when you add in the factor of the geometric mismatch (not merely a weight difference) of the height of the crush zone of the front of passenger vehicles vs the height of the lower edge of trucks. Underride protection (even what is currently legislated) is too weak and ineffective.
- And really, driver fatigue is not just a trucker problem — now is it?
- Fatigue, of course, is not the only problem; distracted behavior needs to be discussed as well, and other factors of what might make a truck driver inattentive and not ready to react in a timely manner to avoid tragedies.
- Let’s not forget the road system and things like electronic signs to alert drivers of upcoming traffic back-ups or law enforcement actions to divert traffic or teaching drivers how to respond, etc.
- And, of course, safety technology — to alert drivers when they are in microsleep or crash avoidance systems (but still, then the driver has to react to the surrounding circumstances) and DON’T FORGET underride protection, parking for truck drivers who do need to take breaks but so they don’t create hazards in their parking location, conspicuity, side mirrors.
- I’m sure that I have forgotten something; but I hope that you get the idea!
Now all I need is for some others (in addition to truck drivers) to catch the vision and help me out with planning this thing — finding sponsors, a facility, speakers, resources, etc.
Let’s collaborate together. Let’s make it happen. Let’s be amazed at the results.
The latest reason to do so: Semi driver was inattentive, distracted when he hit family’s minivan in I-80 crash, State Patrol says