It sure would be refreshing to find that there was no more opposition to finding the best solution for truck driver fatigue–instead of a continuous battle to get this right. Maybe they should take a tip from the airline industry.
Thanks to federal regulations, pilots never fly more than nine hours at a time, always have backup “relief pilots” and designated beds on long flights, and have limits on the number of weekly hours they can work. This means pilots are among the best-rested people working in commercial transportation — certainly more so than truck drivers, for instance — and rarely deal with the issue of drowsy or sleep-deprived performance.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced a sweeping overhaul of pilot scheduling rules in 2011 in order to ensure that pilots have more time for rest before they enter the cockpit. Among other changes, the minimum mandatory downtime between flights was increased from eight hours to ten hours. One Reason Airplanes Are Far Safer Than Buses and Trucks
When will we get this right?
We had some really good news this week. Progress was made on 2 out of the 3 requests which we made to Secretary Foxx in our original AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Petition (http://www.thepetitionsite.com/957/501/869/stand-up-for-truck-safety/):
- On December 7, 2015, NHTSA announced the next step in the Underride Guard rulemaking: http://annaleahmary.com/2015/12/unexpected-events-progress-in-underride-protection/ & http://annaleahmary.com/2015/12/a-moms-knee-jerk-reaction-to-nhtsas-proposed-rule-to-improve-rear-underride-protection/ & http://www.wsbtv.com/videos/news/new-rules-help-keep-you-safer-behind-big-rigs/vDf9Rt/
- On December 10, 2015, FMCSA announced that the Final Rule was being released for the Electronic Logging Devices to log trucker hours of service (to help combat driver fatigue): http://annaleahmary.com/2015/12/fmcsa-finally-releases-the-electronic-logging-devices-rule-to-track-trucker-hours/. http://americansleepandbreathingacademy.com/the-dots-war-on-drowsy-driving/
We want to thank everyone, who signed the ALMSUFTS petition. You helped to make this impact on highway safety. Please continue to support our efforts as we wage battle and move toward a goal of Zero Crash Deaths and Zero Serious Crash Injuries through our Vision Zero Petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/ and Underride Research: https://www.fortrucksafety.com/
Thank you in memory of Mary & AnnaLeah and countless others,
Jerry and Marianne Karth
From HDT Trucking Info.
NTSB: Trucker’s Use of Synthetic Marijuana Caused Fatal Crash
November 18, 2015, By David Cullen
“As a result of its investigation of a truck crash that killed four college athletes last year, the National Transportation Safety Board issued recommendations on Nov. 17 aimed at helping motor carriers address ‘impairing substances’ that are not tested for under federal regulations.
NTSB said it has determined that the truck driver charged with killing four members of the North Central Texas College softball team by crashing his tractor-trailer into the bus they were riding in caused the accident ‘due to incapacitation stemming from his likely use of a synthetic cannabinoid,’ commonly known as synthetic marijuana. . .
NTSB pointed out that while federal law prohibits CDL drivers from operating a vehicle while impaired, federal regulations require testing for only a few impairing substances.
The board said this crash investigation highlights the challenges that disconnect presents to both employers and law enforcement. ‘Motor carriers need to know about this emerging class of drugs, and they need better tools to detect driver impairment,’ said NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart.”
What a Vision Zero policy means to me: Towards Zero. While at a Sorrow to Strength Conference sponsored by the Truck Safety Coalition this weekend in Washington, DC, I experienced support and understanding by being with other truck crash victim families. But at the same time, I felt the frustration of the same scenario playing out year after year on the roads of our nation while there continues to be a tug of war over truck safety measures.
Even though many have shared their tragic stories on The Hill and at DOT countless times over the years, still the battle continues unabated. One participant quoted Joseph Stalin in order to describe the attitude that seems to prevail, “A Single Death is a Tragedy; a Million Deaths is a Statistic.”
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t naively believe that something could be done to result in never ever any crash deaths. What I believe is that a Vision Zero policy–with a vision statement of Zero Crash Deaths & Zero Serious Crash Injuries–would impact decision-making to the extent that, when options were identified, choices would be made and strategies would be followed which would lead ever closer to that vision of zero.
The opposite attitude always ends up compromising human life and health. It gives power to the lure of the almighty dollar and the promise of efficiency and an improved economy. It means that too many people like my daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13), are unnecessarily cheated of the opportunity to naturally live out their lives because their lives were deemed too costly to spare.
Yesterday, I was at Panera Bread in Arlington, Virginia, having some breakfast before going to The Hill with other Truck Safety Coalition volunteers to talk with my U.S. Representative and Senator about safety concerns. I saw a poster about Panera’s clean food vision statement/strategy and quickly memorized it:
“By the end of 2016, we ‘re removing all artificial preservatives, colors, sweeteners, and flavors from our food. Learn about our clean food journey and our No No List.” https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/company/food-policy-no-no-list.html
Are we, as a nation, really more concerned about healthy foods than about the safety of our roads? What will happen with our Truck Safety Legislative No No List?
I shared those thoughts with my Democrat congressman’s office staff and it was well-received along with this 33-second video:
There was not quite as much openness to the Vision Zero idea from my Republican senator’s staff. Hmmm . . . wonder what’s up with that?
I thought that we generally had a productive visit to my nation’s capital but came home yesterday with too many frustrations. And aftergoing out for breakfast with my husband this morning to update him on what he had missed (because he had left DC before I did), I drove home and weeped and yelled as I passed by the entrance to I-95 where we had started our fateful journey on the morning of May 4, 2013–wishing desperately that that day had never unfolded and taken my girls from me.
I also wished that somebody had let me cast a vote for Vision Zero when it might have meant the difference between life and death for Mary and AnnaLeah.
Please sign & share our Vision Zero Petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/
FMCSA has been collecting data on truck driver hours of service; now they will analyze the data. Let’s hope that they will find clear answers to the driver fatigue dilemma.
“DOT enters next phase of 34-hour restart study” http://tinyurl.com/ppfwfpx
Driving While Fatigued (DWF) is definitely dangerous!
For more information on driver fatigue:
This is a photo which the Georgia State Patrol took when they arrived at the scene of our truck crash. Truck driver fatigue may have been a factor; we never saw his paper log books.
Earlier this month, I met with Congressman George Holding’s Constituent Services Representative, Doug Wegman, in Sharpsburg, North Carolina. I was the only one at the “Town Hall meeting” and was able to share the story of our truck crash and some of our concerns about truck safety. It seemed like a productive meeting.
I had emailed Congressman Holding’s office in June asking for an opportunity to meet with him while he was in recess in North Carolina. That never came about until I emailed my contact again early this week and repeated my request. I was then asked if I could meet with him in Raleigh on Friday, August 21, at 11:00 a.m.
Actually, that worked out very well (couldn’t have planned it better myself) because I was dropping our son off at the airport to go back to college in Texas that morning and then proceeded to the meeting with Holding. Doug Wegman was also there along with Holding’s District Director, Alice McCall.
I shared with Congressman Holding that I had grown up as a Republican and was quite surprised after our crash to find out that, in general, the Republican party line related to truck safety legislation consistently appeared to be pro-trucking industry and anti-safety. I am puzzled why there cannot be bipartisan solutions to these issues.
His response — a typical one — was that Republicans generally oppose government involvement and regulation. The problem I have with that is the reality which I have painfully discovered that “safety is not an accident” — it doesn’t just happen by itself. Without rules and regulations and enforcement and justice and requirements, chaos and injury and death are more likely to occur.
At least I have not seen a better alternative. Have you?
However, thankfully, I came away from the meeting feeling that it was productive — a thought echoed by another son who attended with me. We had the opportunity to raise several truck safety concerns, including driver fatigue (electronic logging devices and hours of service), underride guards, and the minimum liability insurance for truckers.
We concentrated on the minimum insurance issue — which has not been raised — for 30 years and therefore certainly has not kept up with inflation. (Is that any surprise?!) The current level, $750,000, set in in the 1980s — adjusted for inflation — would now be more like $3.2 million for the medical CPI adjusted level according to p. 11 from this document: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Financial-Responsibility-Requirements-Report-Enclosure-FINAL-April%202014.pdf .
And the statistical value of life is $9.2 million: VSL Guidance-2013-2 DOT value of life
I had a binder put together to leave with Congressman Holding. It had numerous articles about the insurance issue, including what the opposition (the trucking industry) has been saying about premiums skyrocketing if the minimum liability is raised — from $5,000 to $20,000. I showed him what I had found out from a couple of insurance companies which indicates that it would be more likely to go up to maybe $9,000. A bit of a difference.
This kind of potentially inaccurate and misleading information has been publicly disseminated and has influenced many truckers (most vociferously by representatives of OOIDA, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which by the way happens to sell insurance to truckers, http://www.ooidatruckinsurance.com/) and legislators. In fact, I showed him the House Roll Call in which he had voted to freeze the funding for FMCSA to study this issue — even though Congress had previously authorized them to do so.
I was gratified that Holding took the time to look over the roll call and examine the 10 Republicans who had supported the need to allow FMCSA to proceed with rulemaking on this issue. He indicated that he intends to make some contacts for us, asked Doug to write down some of the names and the people both in the Senate and House with whom he is willing to connect us so that we can continue to shed light on this concern and ensure that the truth of the matter is uncovered.
I was also appreciative of the District Director’s input. When we discussed our pursuit of underride research to support the improvement of underride guards, Alice McCall mentioned that they could help with some contacts at universities, among other things.
In addition, she asked me how to pronounce AnnaLeah’s name (An-na-Le-ah) and said that it was beautiful. I told her that AnnaLeah loved her name and its uniqueness–although she had planned on publishing any written works under a pen name. I had showed them Mary’s braids and said that I was thankful that the nurse saved them and gave them to us. I had also brought along a shoulder bag which AnnaLeah had knit from a pattern in her head.
It reminded me of the many triggers which daily life brings of the loss we bear; as we drove to Raleigh I had seen a car on the side of the road. There was something sitting on top of the trunk of the car and for some reason that reminded me of our car after the crash — demolished with broken bodies inside. And it took my breath away once more to think of AnnaLeah’s life instantly snatched away. And the joy and creativity that were abruptly cut short.
Alice also mentioned that she has several daughters. And, I had noted that Congressman Holding has 3 young daughters and a son himself. It is helpful to know that people understand that this is not just a matter of corporate profit but a life and death matter which could happen to anyone at any time.
Interesting articles, letters, and documents on the minimum insurance topic:
- Safety Advocates JOINT STATEMENT 7-10-2015
- Letter to Senate on Safety Title 7 22 15 FINAL
- Marianne Karth statement press conference May 11, 2015
All in all, we felt that we were heard and are hopeful that Congressman Holding is likely to make decisions and take actions in the future to positively affect road safety as a result of the time which we spent with him.
p.s. Just read an Op-Ed (by a former executive of the American Trucking Associations) in today’s New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/22/opinion/the-trucks-are-killing-us.html?emc=edit_tnt_20150821&nlid=37926955&tntemail0=y&_r=0
p.p.s. Just scanned this OOIDA brochure–found at a truck stop while we were on a road trip.
AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Petition
Current Rulemaking Stage
Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)
The Petition’s 11,000+ signatures were added to the Public Comments for the Electronic Logging Device Rule. The comment period ended May 27, 2014.
Final Rule is scheduled to be published by 9/30/15.
Companies would then have 2 years from that date to comply.
Minimum Liability Insurance
ANPRM was issued on 11/28/14 meaning: FMCSA announced that it is considering a rulemaking that would increase the minimum levels of financial responsibility for motor carriers.
Public Comments closed on 2/26/15.
Those Comments are now being reviewed.
Trucking industry has attempted to get an amendment passed this summer on the THUD Appropriations Bill which would take away funding from FMCSA for continuing the rulemaking process.
“Based on the petition, available information, and the agency’s analysis in progress, NHTSA has decided that the Petitioners’ request related to rear impact guards merits further consideration. Therefore, the agency grants the Petitioners’ request to initiate rulemaking on rear impact guards. NHTSA is planning on issuing two separate notices—an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to rear impact guards and other safety strategies for single unit trucks, and a notice of proposed rulemaking focusing on rear impact guards on trailers and semitrailers. NHTSA is still evaluating the Petitioners’ request to improve side guards and front override guards and will issue a separate decision on those aspects of the petition at a later date.“
Proposed Rulemaking was issued for rear impact guards on tractor-trailers on July 10, 2014. This is the rulemaking stage in which an agency proposes to add to or change its existing regulations and solicits public comment on this proposal. Recommendations for revision of existing regulations are expected to be issued for Public Comments before the end of 2015.
The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for Single Unit Trucks was issued on 7/23/15, with the Public Comments Period closing on September 21, 2015. This will be followed by an analysis of the Comments and a determination about whether or not, or how best, to initiate a rulemaking.
Here is an outline of the rulemaking process: https://www.federalregister.gov/uploads/2011/01/the_rulemaking_process.pdf
Update on Electronic Logging Devices: “FMCSA advances e-log mandate, rule sent to OMB for approval”
This means that the Electronic Logging Devices rule could be going into effect by September 30 and the industry would have to comply with it within two years.
“Still seemingly on target for its projected Sept. 30 publication, a Final Rule to mandate the use of electronic logging devices has been sent from the DOT to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for final approval before being published.
The DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sent the e-log rule to the OMB July 30, along with a Final Rule that will implement stiffer penalties for carriers, shippers, brokers and others who coerce or pressure drivers to not abide by federal safety standards like hours-of-service limits.
The OMB legally has 90 days to approve the rules or send them back to FMCSA to be changed, which is unlikely.
The rule, which will take effect two years following its publication in the Federal Register, will require all truck drivers who are required to keep records of duty status to use an electronic logging device, formerly known as electronic onboard recorders.”
Battle over Truckers’ Hours of Service: http://www.overdriveonline.com/report-fmcsa-cant-effectively-study-2013-hours-of-service-safety-conclusions-likely-skewed/
“In responding to the report, the DOT noted the GAO had recognized achievements associated with the hours rule: A decrease in the frequency of long work schedules, lower risk of driver fatigue generally, and reduced fatal truck crashes. It agreed with the GAO recommendation to adopt guidance outlining research standards for future analyses and promised a detailed response to the entire effort within the next 60 days.”
Please call your Senators and ask them to say no to the anti-safety provisions in the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy, DRIVE Act (S. 1647). We need to make sure anti-truck safety legislation does not pass. For more details please see the letter that the Truck Safety Coalition just sent to the Senate: Letter to Senate on Safety Title 7 22 15 FINAL
Click here to find phone numbers for your senators.
The bill, in the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy, DRIVE Act (S. 1647):
- Allows 18-20 year-old drivers to get behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound truck and drive to neighboring states. This provision is extremely dangerous because teen drivers have a higher crash risk, and do not have the experience or training to handle trucks.
- Requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to remove from public view the Safety Management System scores from the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. It also requires a determination on crash fault, but the FMCSA conducted a study, at the request of Congress, and found that a crash weighting process is not viable, necessary, or cost justified.
- Forces already overworked drivers to maintain even longer shifts on the road. Providing a permanent exemption for various groups from hours of service regulations will allow trucking companies to force drivers to be behind the wheel for even longer hours per day and per week.
Tell Your Senator To Put Public Safety Ahead of Corporate Interests and Protect the American Driving Public.
In case you did not know it, the minimum level of liability insurance, which trucking companies are required to have, is $750,000 and has not increased in over 35 years. It has not kept up with inflation as Congress intended when it originally authorized the Secretary of Transportation to set that limit.
“The Motor Carrier Act of 1935 first directed the establishment of Federal rules and regulations for interstate motor carrier operations that govern “security for the protection of the public.” Over time, both Congress and the Federal government have taken numerous actions to address the levels of financial responsibility, most recently with the recent enactment of MAP-21. The current minimum levels of financial responsibility for commercial motor carriers were established by Congressional legislation in the early 1980’s. Recently, there has been interest in determining whether the current mandated levels continue to accomplish these goals and whether victims of truck- and bus-related crashes are adequately compensated.” p. xi http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Financial-Responsibility-Study.pdf
As one daughter of a truck crash victim has said, “That’s $750K for each incident, not each person injured or killed in a crash. So if several families or cars are involved all those injured and all the families of those killed must share the $750K if that is all the truck company has.” http://trucksafety.org/dawn-kings-journey-2011/
In contrast, check out this DOT document which they prepared in order to determine the value of lost life and injury and its impact on rulemaking decisions: VSL Guidance-2013-2 DOT value of life .
In the fall of 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in order to study, among other things, the question of whether the minimum liability level should be increased in order to more adequately compensate for lost life and injury due to truck crashes.
- The Federal Government has long required motor carriers to maintain certain levels of financial responsibility, either through insurance, a bond, or other financial security, as a means to protect the public in the event of a crash. An April 2014 Report to Congress found that while catastrophic motor carrier crashes are rare, the costs for resulting severe and critical injuries can exceed $1 million; current insurance limits do not adequately cover these costs, which are primarily due to increases in medical expenses and other crash-related costs. – See more at: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/fmcsa-seeks-comment-public-insurance-providers-motor-carriers-revising-minimum-levels#sthash.dQV1v0AQ.dpuf
- “A copy of the ANPRM and instructions for submitting comments is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/11/28/2014-28076/financial-responsibility-for-motor-carriers-freight-forwarders-and-brokers.” (Public Comment period is now closed.)
- From a study released in April 2014, FMCSA says that, “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.” http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/mission/policy/report-congress-examining-appropriateness-current-financial-responsibility-and
- See some of the previous posts written which I have written on this topic: http://annaleahmary.com/tag/minimuminsurance/ and http://annaleahmary.com/tag/minimum-liability-insurance/
Unfortunately, despite the insistence of many that this increase is necessary, the trucking industry is lobbying against it–declaring it unnecessary–and, at present, has put a rider in the THUD appropriations bill now being voted on. If the bill passes with that rider intact, then FMCSA will no longer be funded to complete the rulemaking process which has already been authorized.
What is the truth in this matter–necessary or unnecessary? That is what I would like to know. And I think that truckers and lawmakers and the public need to know this as well. And that is why I set out on a quest recently to find the answer to that question.
The support for halting the rulemaking which is coming from the trucking industry includes the Independent Owner Operators, who in particular are being told that their premiums will skyrocket if the rule were to pass. According to Jami Jones from OOIDA (Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association),
“An increase such as the one Cartwright is proposing would cripple small-business-truckers. Currently, the national average cost for a small-business trucker insuring one truck is about $5,000 per year.
It’s virtually impossible to project what the cost would be if the minimum liability requirement were increased more than 500 percent.
For starters many insurance carriers may quit offering insurance because of the increased amount of financial resources they would have to have in place to even write the policies. Secondly, there is no straight-line increase that can be drawn. But early estimates place annual premiums at $20,000 or more for a one-truck owner-operator for a $4.2 million liability policy.” – See more at: http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryId=25702#.VXoxp_lViko
In contrast, check out this opinion on the potential premium:
http://annaleahmary.com/2015/06/the-future-of-trucking-who-pays-for-the-costs-of-safer-roads/ “John Lannen, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition, has shared background information with us which he has gathered from numerous sources, presentations, and conversations regarding the economics of additional insurance coverage for motor carriers. It turns out that the first million dollars’ worth of trucking insurance is the most expensive and each incremental amount is cheaper. . . . ” (For more details, go here: http://annaleahmary.com/2015/06/trucking-minimum-liability-insurance-trucker-wages-a-facebook-conversation/ )”
Additionally, I have been having online conversations with truckers and have not found any evidence to verify the validity of that $20,000 estimate. Many people in the industry pooh-pooh safety advocacy which they consider based merely on emotion. But do they hold themselves to the same standard and insist on FACTS?
I am certainly motivated strongly by emotions to be in this quest for safer roads for the long haul. But I hope that I am basing my statements and my advocacy on facts and logical reasoning. In fact, I am not content to accept at face value statements by the trucking industry which influence both those whom they represent and also lawmakers who make decisions on truck safety legislation. I am, therefore, concerned about decisions being made on matters which impact victims of truck crashes and which quite possibly may be impacted by misinformed fears.
Because I feel so strongly about getting to the bottom of this question, I have spent many hours this week trying to find out what the new premiums will actually be for truckers if the minimum liability level is eventually raised. In order to educate myself on this topic, I have spoken or emailed with:
- Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of OOIDA–the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (awaiting a response from him)
- National Association of Insurance Commissioners (who explained to me that as liability limits go up, rates go down. He also told me that insurance companies are required by law to file their rate tables with the state and that I should be able to contact a state department of insurance and ask for that information. He said that the rate tables would list the options for liability limits and that each level would indicate a figure which would be a multiplier–to be multiplied by the trucker’s base rate in order to find out the new premium at higher levels. I have yet to get access to these tables.)
- North Carolina Department of Insurance (still have to check with the Property and Casualty Division)
- Numerous insurance agencies
- Several truckers, including: http://annaleahmary.com/2015/06/trucking-minimum-liability-insurance-a-facebook-conversation-with-truckers-continues/
Many independent owner operators are concerned that they would bear the brunt of increases — being at a disadvantage to the larger self-insuring trucking companies. FMCSA’s rulemaking addresses this issue. http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryID=28110#.VXozEPlViko
Along that line, please read this paper written by an independent owner operator: Tilden Curl Paper on Trucker Insurance
Finally, I contacted FMCSA, to whom, on May 5, 2014, we originally presented our petition request for raising the minimum liability. At that time, they indicated that in order to get access to proprietary insurance information to determine estimated premiums they would have to initiate the rulemaking process–which they did in November 2014.
However, when I emailed FMCSA today to find out if they had gotten access to that proprietary information, they let me know that they did not yet have the information to estimate the increase in insurance premiums. In order to get that information, they have recently published a rulemaking entitled “Confidential Business Information,” which would “help encourage insurance companies to share some of their proprietary information” for use in the agency rulemaking process–without disclosing confidential information to the general public.
The evident lack of transparency really bothers me, especially with all of the rumors going around–rumors which are swaying decisions and actions that impact life & death matters.
Meanwhile, who pays the price for this issue being stuck in limbo? Some would claim that, “In the end, if minimum liability insurance is increased to $4.2 million, the only winners would be the trial lawyers and large motor carriers – with small-business trucking suffering an expensive, wildly burdensome and completely unnecessary mandate.” – See more at: http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryId=25702#.VXo3XvlViko
Really? What about those who already bear the brunt of unexpected, unnecessary tragedy and untimely death? Aren’t they the ones that the insurance is intended to benefit?