Monthly Archives: March 2017

DOT Regulatory Priorities for 2017

This is what I found out today about DOT’s regulatory priorities for 2017. . .

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) priorities for 2017:

The statutory responsibilities of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) relating to motor vehicles include reducing the number, and mitigating the effects, of motor vehicle crashes and related fatalities and injuries; providing safety performance information to aid prospective purchasers of vehicles, child restraints, and tires; and improving automotive fuel efficiency. NHTSA pursues policies that encourage the development of nonregulatory approaches when feasible in meeting its statutory mandates. It issues new standards and regulations or amendments to existing standards and regulations when appropriate. It ensures that regulatory alternatives reflect a careful assessment of the problem and a comprehensive analysis of the benefits, costs, and other impacts associated with the proposed regulatory action. Finally, it considers alternatives consistent with the Administration’s regulatory principles.

NHTSA plans to issue a final rule on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications in Fiscal Year 2017. V2V communications are currently perceived to become a foundational aspect of vehicle automation. NHTSA will publish a final rule on heavy vehicle speed limiters in response to petitions for rulemaking and recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board. In Fiscal Year 2017 NHTSA will also finalize rulemaking for Tire Fuel Efficiency in response to requirements of the Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007. In response to requirements in MAP-21, NHTSA plans to continue work toward a final rule that would require automobile manufacturers to install a seat belt reminder system for the front passenger and rear designated seating positions in passenger vehicles. The seat belt reminder system is intended to increase belt usage and thereby improve the crash protection of vehicle occupants who would otherwise have been unbelted.

In addition to numerous programs that focus on the safe performance of motor vehicles, the Agency is engaged in a variety of programs to improve driver and occupant behavior. These programs emphasize the human aspects of motor vehicle safety and recognize the important role of the States in this common pursuit. NHTSA has identified two high-priority areas: Safety belt use and impaired driving. To address these issue areas, the Agency is focusing especially on three strategies-conducting highly visible, well-publicized enforcement; supporting prosecutors who handle impaired driving cases and expanding the use of DWI/Drug Courts, which hold offenders accountable for receiving and completing treatment for alcohol abuse and dependency; and adopting alcohol screening and brief intervention by medical and health care professionals. Other behavioral efforts encourage child safety-seat use; combat excessive speed, driver distraction, and aggressive driving; improve motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian safety; and provide consumer information to the public.

Despite being included on the list of long-term actions, underride protection for rear guards on trailers and underride protection on single unit trucks are not included as priorities for 2017.

And, of course, there is absolutely no mention of underride protection on the sides of large trucks.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) priorities for 2017:

The mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving commercial trucks and buses. A strong regulatory program is a cornerstone of FMCSA’s compliance and enforcement efforts to advance this safety mission. FMCSA develops new and more effective safety regulations based on three core priorities: Raising the safety bar for entry, maintaining high standards, and removing high-risk behavior. In addition to Agency-directed regulations, FMCSA develops regulations mandated by Congress, through legislation such as MAP-21. FMCSA regulations establish standards for motor carriers, commercial drivers, commercial motor vehicles, and State agencies receiving certain motor carrier safety grants and issuing commercial drivers’ licenses.

FMCSA’s regulatory plan for FY 2017 includes completion of a number of rulemakings that are high priorities for the Agency because they would have a positive impact on safety. Among the rulemakings included in the plan are: (1) Carrier Safety Fitness Determination (RIN 2126-AB11), (2) Entry Level Driver Training (RIN 2126-AB66), and (3) Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (RIN 2126-AB18).

Together, these priority rules could improve substantially commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety on our Nation’s highways by increasing FMCSA’s ability to provide safety oversight of motor carriers and commercial drivers.

In FY 2017, FMCSA plans to issue a final rule on Carrier Safety Fitness Determination (RIN 2126-AB11) to establish a new safety fitness determination standard that will enable the Agency to prohibit “unfit” carriers from operating on the Nation’s highways and contribute to the Agency’s overall goal of decreasing CMV-related fatalities and injuries.

In FY 2017, FMCSA plans to issue a final rule on Entry Level Driver Training (RIN 2126-AB66). This rule would establish training requirements for individuals before they can obtain their CDL or certain endorsements. It will define curricula for training providers and establish requirements and procedures for the schools.

Also in FY 2017, FMCSA plans to issue a final rule on the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (RIN 2126-AB18). The rule would establish a clearinghouse requiring employers and service agents to report information about current and prospective employees’ drug and alcohol test results. It would require employers and certain service agents to search the Clearinghouse for current and prospective employees’ positive drug and alcohol test results as a condition of permitting those employees to perform safety-sensitive functions. This would provide FMCSA and employers the necessary tools to identify drivers who are prohibited from operating a CMV based on DOT drug and alcohol program violations and ensure that such drivers receive the required evaluation and treatment before resuming safety-sensitive functions.

Despite being included on the list of long-term actions, acting on our petition to raise the minimum liability insurance for trucking companies from $750,000 (per incident) is not listed as a priority for 2017.

Is it any wonder that we have taken upon ourselves the task of  doing something about it and  drafted comprehensive underride protection  legislation and are looking to Congress to mandate that DOT carry out effective underride protection rulemaking in a timely fashion?!

We are also trying to push for action on the minimum liability insurance issue — not raised since the early 1980s.

Note: In identifying our regulatory priorities for the next year, the Department considered its mission and goals and focused on a number of factors, including the following:

  • The relative risk being addressed
  • Requirements imposed by law
  • Actions on the National Transportation Safety Board “Most Wanted List”
  • The costs and benefits of the regulations
  • The advantages of nonregulatory alternatives
  • Opportunities for deregulatory action
  • The enforceability of any rule, including the effect on agency resourcesThis regulatory plan identifies the Department’s regulatory priorities-the 19 pending rulemakings chosen, from among the dozens of significant rulemakings listed in the Department’s broader regulatory agenda, that the Department believes will merit special attention in the upcoming year. The rules included in the regulatory plan embody the Department’s focus on our strategic goals.

 

“Gridlock on Anti-Lock Brakes Baffles Motorcycle Safety Advocates”

Just started reading a Fair Warning article on motorcycles and find it echoes what we have found with truck underride: cost/benefit analysis practices are going to continue to prevent the saving of countless lives and nobody is heeding my call for revamping the rulemaking to reflect Vision Zero principles. Until we do, there will be senseless roadblocks on the Road to Zero.
After a long downward trend, U.S. traffic deaths are on the rise again, and a key factor is the stubbornly high fatality toll among some of the most exposed people on the road: motorcyclists.

Nevertheless, federal regulators have balked at requiring a safety measure that, many experts say, could save hundreds of bikers’ lives every year.

Anti-lock brake systems, a standard feature on lots of passenger vehicles since the 1990s, have been touted for years as a potentially powerful tool to cut motorcycle deaths. The technology, known as ABS, works by preventing the wheels from locking up during hard braking and improving control amid emergencies or slippery road conditions.

In the U.S., major law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol and the New York City Police Department, require that all motorcycles in their fleets have ABS. Around the world, ABS-equipped motorcycles are fast becoming standard. All new large bikes sold in Europe must now have ABS. On a phased-in schedule, Japan, India and Brazil are following suit.

“It is hard to come up with something else that has the potential to be as important for motorcycle safety,” said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which estimates that nearly one-third of all fatal crashes from motorcycling every year, and many injuries, could be prevented by a federal ABS mandate.

Federal regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the officials who would be in a position to do something, have been criticized for taking an ambiguous, even mysterious stance. . . 

The bottom line was that officials decided that there was insufficient proof that the benefits, measured by lives saved and injuries avoided, would outweigh costs to manufacturers.

I still am hoping to organize and empower survivor advocates to ask for a meeting with the White House to demand a National Vision Zero Goal, a White House Vision Zero Task Force, and an Executive Order to Authorize Vision Zero Rulemaking.

Some links for further research:
Antilock braking systems make riding safer.

Irresponsible advice on motorcycle ABS

ABS Motorcycles vs Non ABS Motorcycles – Do You Need Motorcycle ABS?

How ABS Work In Bike To Save The Rider

Survey results show NC motorcycle riders focus on safety

Australian Engineer Comments on U.S. Underride Protection

See a paper by Raphael Grzebieta and George Rechnitzer here: Proposed Australian/New Zealand AS/NZS 3845.2 Standard for Truck Underrun Barriers: Design, Testing and Performance Requirements

2 Moms, Sick & Tired of Waiting, Draft Truck Underride Legislation

March Historically a Momentous Month for Truck Underride Safety Advocacy; Beware the Ides of March!

2 Moms, Sick & Tired of Waiting, Draft Truck Underride Legislation

So, what did you do today? If someone were to ask me that question, I would have to admit that I spent hours emailing legislators in Washington, D.C. — asking them to sponsor and support the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017, otherwise known as RAM CUP Act of 2017.

My partner in the process was Lois Durso, a mom who lost her 26 year-old daughter, Roya Sadigh, 12 years ago to a side underride crash. Still to this day, side guards are not required on the sides of large trucks — even though there were 1,534 reported side underride deaths from 1994-2014 in the U.S.

Lois and I met after the February 7, 2017, airing of the Today Show investigative report on side underride. Ever since, we have been meeting with truck industry and government leaders to raise awareness on the problem of deadly truck underride and the solutions available to prevent these tragedies.

At the end of our time in Washington, D.C., last week, Lois and I decided that enough was enough! We were sick and tired of waiting for someone else to resolve this decades-old problem. So we took the bull by the horn and drafted comprehensive underride protection legislation. And, today, we introduced the country’s legislators to our proposal.

We are hoping to get widespread, bipartisan support. We welcome participation by citizens willing to contact their legislators — urging them to sponsor and vote for this life-saving bill, the RAM CUP Act of 2017.

If they have not heard of this bill yet, please send them to our website (annaleahmary.com) for further information:

Lois Durso and Marianne Karth getting ready to attend the Senate hearing on Continuing to Improve Truck Safety in Washington, DC, March 14, 2017
Beginning to draft the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act, at Union Station, March 15, 2017

Sudden Unintended Acceleration: Are you prepared for it?

If Sudden Unintended Acceleration — like my son had to face — is a possibility for any car or driver, then we need to be better prepared for such an eventuality.

Some links to consider:

Here is a 2016 patent for a Throttle valve for preventing sudden unintended acceleration https://www.google.com/patents/US9322338

Are automotive companies making use of such a thing? Should they be?

“Sleepy Behind the Wheel? Some Cars Can Tell”

Nvidia, chip supplier to Audi, Mercedes, Tesla and others, is developing the Co-Pilot, an artificial-intelligence tool that can learn the behaviors of individual drivers and determine when they are operating outside their norms.

The system will eventually learn a driver’s standard posture, head position, eye-blink rate, facial expression and steering style, among other indexes. Based on a vehicle’s capabilities, the driver will be warned or automatically driven to a safe spot when conditions warrant.

Until vehicles can drive themselves, it will be up to drivers to pull over once they feel drowsy. But drivers tend to make excuses, believing there is no danger because they are just a few minutes from home, or they are not really as tired as they may feel.

“The more tired you are, the less able you are to change your behavior,” such as by pulling off the road for a short rest, said Mikael Ljung Aust, a technical specialist working on drowsiness mitigation technologies at Volvo’s Safety Center in Gothenburg, Sweden.

See more here at this article on Vehicle Technology to Detect Microsleep in a Driver: Sleepy Behind the Wheel? Some Cars Can Tell, By

Sounds like a good technology to discuss at our Tired Trucker Roundtable.

Public Health Supplement: Global Road Safety; Monitoring Risks and Evaluating Programs

A source of articles related to road safety and public health issues: Supplement: Global Road Safety: Monitoring Risks and Evaluating Programs, Public Health, March 2017
Volume 144, Supplement, S1-S70, Edited by David Bishai, Adnan A. Hyder

Truckers need working conditions which foster their own personal well-being & safe driving behavior.

Editor’s Picks from Trucks.com include these recent articles:

 

  • All these programs are funded locally and don’t rely on federal dollars. Nagrani said federal green truck grants, for example, will amount to just one tenth the level of what California offers and are split among all 50 states.He expects continued interest.

    “Everybody wants clean air regardless of what the Trump administration has said,” Nagrani said.  Alternative Fuel Trucks Abound at Industry Show, But Buyers Sparse, JERRY HIRSCH MARCH 17, 2017 EDITOR’S PICKS, TRUCKING TECHNOLOGY, Trucks.com

Will truckers be provided with working conditions which foster their own personal well-being as well as safe driving behavior?

Side guards on trucks could provide fuel savings and save lives by preventing deadly side underride.

Does everybody want safer trucking? Do we?

2 Moms Share Their Safer Truck Message in Hallways & Hearings on The Hill

I’m not sure that Washington, DC, was ready to be invaded by 2 moms prepared to do battle for safer trucks in memory of their daughters. So much happened in three days that I’ll simply summarize it here:

  • Monday, March 13, we met at DOT with nine staff members from the NHTSA and FMCSA. We were thankful to be able to share our stories and recommendations for underride protection. But the lack of transparency and ability for them to discuss their rulemaking (or not) activities was once-again frustrating. We did find out that side underride has become a topic of discussion there recently. What that will mean, I do not know.
  • Tuesday, March 14, the streets of Washington, DC, were covered with snow and government offices had a three-hour delay. We had originally planned to drop by some senate offices before an afternoon meeting. We got a late start with that but were actually able to arrange a meeting with Commerce Committee staff from the office of Senator Nelson (FL). We talked about both the need for trucking minimum liability insurance to be raised from its 1980’s level and the need for improved truck underride protection.
  • We also stopped by Senator Marco Rubio’s office and arranged for a meeting with his staff the next morning.
  • Then, we attended a Senate Hearing at 2:30: Continuing to Improve Truck Safety on our Nation’s Highways, U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security, will convene a subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. titled “Continuing to Improve Truck Safety on our Nation’s Highways.” The hearing will examine truck safety advancements in the bipartisan Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act that passed last Congress and potential reforms moving forward. The hearing will also hear from a range of perspectives on the implementation of safety programs and other opportunities and challenges facing truck safety
  • Witnesses:– The Honorable Christopher A. Hart, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board
    – Captain Chris Turner, Kansas Highway Patrol and Vice President of Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
    – Dr. Paul P. Jovanis, Professor Emeritus, Pennsylvania State University; Chair, Transportation Research Board Committee
    – Mr. Jerry Moyes, Chairman Emeritus, Swift Transportation
    – Dr. Adrian Lund, President, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
  • Other than Dr. Lund’s announcement of the IIHS Toughguard Award for trailer manufacturers, I’m not sure that there was a whole lot of new information shared. Same old, same old. I could hardly stand not being able to share about the need for side underride protection.
  • Fortunately, afterward, I was able to speak with Lane Kidd director of The Trucking Alliance, say hello to Dr. Lund who is retiring (I found out from Senator Booker), and speak enthusiastically with Jerry Moyes who founded Swift Transportation and who, with a Swift VP, seemed very interested in the pieces of Aaron Kiefer’s side guard invention which I had brought along with me (polyester webbing & side skirt plastic).
  • Lois Durso and I also had a chance to speak briefly with Senator Cory Booker (who had made important mention of the minimum liability insurance issue).
  • Then, at 5:00 p.m., we were able to meet with Commerce Committee staff from Senator John Thune’s office. That seemed to go well.
  • The next day, we had a 9:00 a.m. meeting with Senator Marco Rubio’s staff to enlighten them especially on the side underride problem.
  • Then, we discussed what other offices we could stop in at. We had a binder full of almost 10,000 Side Guard Petition signatures. When I woke up, I thought, “To whom shall we give the signatures?” After considering several options, I thought, “They should go to Senator Thune, since he is one of the ones it is directed to and we would be on The Hill where his office is located.” But his staff had told us that we would not be able to meet with him.
  • We also had some information packets which we wanted to give to Senator Richard Burr and Senator Cory Booker. We could not meet with their staff, but we dropped off the information at their offices.
  • In the midst of going to and fro in a maze of Senate office buildings (Dirksen, Hart, and Russell), getting lost and making spontaneous decisions about where to go next, we passed by a meeting room where there had been a “Sunrise Breakfast” — must have been kind of a meet & greet affair. Senator Thune’s name was included on the sign. We asked staff at a table outside the door if Senator Thune was still there. They didn’t know. I said, “Could you please check.” They figured he probably had some other meeting he needed to be at.
  • Then, all of a sudden, I looked up and he was walking out of the door and starting down the hall. I quickly went over to him, he introduced himself, and we shook hands. By that time, Lois was there, too. I don’t know what all we had time to tell him. It happened so fast. But Lois said to me, “Give him the book.” And his assistant took it. The book being the binder with the 10,000 signatures* which we told him we got after the Today Show broadcast on side underride for which he had been interviewed.
  • Senator Thune had seen the video and we showed him the pieces of the guard and he actually appeared genuinely interested. After that short and unexpected meeting, we parted ways. Lois and I continued down the hall. We kept looking at each other and grinning! And grinning.
  • Clearly, though we had tried for several weeks to get a meeting with Senator Thune (Chair of the Transportation Committee) to no avail, the task was not too hard for the Lord, who had no trouble arranging that serendipitous meeting in the Capitol halls.
  • Man makes plans and the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9
  • *The Petition shows less than 10,000 signatures (9,577 signatures as of 3/17/17), but I had started another side guard petition last summer (which has 9,071 signatures), so two petitions for side guards are online. Some people have actually signed both, but together the two petitions actually have more than 10,000 people calling for better underride protection. I have to get my tech people (my family) to help me do an analysis of how many signatures we actually have to date! In any case, Senator Thune is now fully aware of the support this issue is receiving.
  • Before we left our country’s capital to go back to our respective homes, Lois and I plotted to take further action, which I began as soon as I got to Union Station and waited to board Amtrak. Stay tuned for exciting news about the Roya, AnnaLeah and Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act!

Road Safety Audit (RSA); One way to make our roads safer

It is heartening to know that there are many people working to make the roads safer. This video gives a glimpse of how tribal leaders are trying to protect their people:

What can you do to make the roads safer?