Tag Archives: hours of service

Ongoing Tired Trucker (HOS) Controversy on The Hill Proves Need for Vision Zero Rulemaking

It didn’t take me long — after our family’s tragic truck crash — to grasp the futility of lobbying on The Hill as a truck safety advocate in an attempt to push for safer roads through safer regulations.

And then I learned a secret (shh). . . DOT’s safety agencies have their hands tied by an Executive Order (12866) which requires stringent cost/benefit analysis during rulemaking that too often undervalues human life & health and effectually allows industry lobbyists to sabotage and snuff out regulations which could make our roads more safe to travel on.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the DOT agencies which were meant to be our protectors — the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier SAFETY Administration) & NHTSA (National Highway Traffic SAFETY Administration) — have not proven to be consistently effective voices for our SAFETY.

That revelation — in combination with my own experience in wasted lobbying hours and my realization that others had tried unsuccessfully for decades before me to push for truck safety rules which might have saved my daughters — spurred me on to launch the Vision Zero Petition in 2015. It garnered over 20,000 signatures online in support of our requests for:

  1. A National Vision Zero Goal.
  2. A White House Vision Zero Task Force.
  3. A Vision Zero Executive Order to authorize Vision Zero Rulemaking (which would favor saving LIVES over saving PROFIT).
  4. An Office of National Traffic Safety Ombudsman (an independent but influential and vigilant voice for vulnerable victims of vehicle violence who could facilitate these goals).
  5. A nationwide network of Vision Zero/Traffic Safety community action/advocacy groups.

Although we took this Petition to DC in March 2016, we have not yet received a response to our requests. And, as I expected, the month of December 2016 has presented us with one more example of the need for this essential strategy: a resurrection of the Tired Trucker hours of service tug-of-war.

All of this, and more — most especially my daughters’ truck crash deaths which might have been prevented had all of this nonsense been addressed appropriately — has led to my efforts to work with others to organize a successful Truck Underride Roundtable and an upcoming Tired Trucker Roundtable.

And I really do keep hoping that a national traffic safety advocate will be appointed and Vision Zero Rulemaking will become a thing. . .

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Congressional Action Could Decimate Trucker HOS rules; What will end this tug-of-war?

December 6, 2016, Press Release from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Truck Safety Coalition of truck safety advocate organizations:

Washington, D.C. – Tonight, the text of the FY 2017 Continuing Resolution (Rules Committee Print 114-70) was released revealing that the Obama truck driver hours of service (HOS) rule will be decimated with the removal of the two safety provisions, a two-consecutive night off requirement and a one-week limitation on the use of the 34-hour restart. 

The saga continues. And, it is my opinion that a resolution to this endless tug-of-war over trucker hours of service will only come through a more comprehensive strategy to deal with the underlying issues which lead to truck driver fatigue.

In fact, I am working with others to organize a Tired Trucker Roundtable, with the same goal which led us to organize the Underride Roundtable: to bring together in one room all those who are impacted by this issue and those who could do something about it.

Tired Trucker Roundtable: If we plan it, they will come. Can we pull it off?

Tired Trucker Roundtable

The press release continues:

Safety groups responded to this news:

Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), said, “In a major assault on the safety of families and truck drivers across the country, the House and Senate Republican leaders just delivered special trucking interests an early Christmas present. Language inserted in the year-end government funding bill repeals key safety features of the Obama Administration’s truck driver hours of service rule intended to combat truck driver fatigue.  The Obama rule requires that after a grueling week of 75 or more work hours, truck drivers, who take only the minimum 34-hours off duty between work weeks, must get two consecutive nights of rest during the 34-hour off duty period.  Studies show that nighttime sleep is much more restful than attempts to sleep during daytime. Special interests succeeded in getting this rollback despite the growing problem of truck driver fatigue in the industry, unabated increases in truck crash deaths and injuries, and overwhelming public opposition. 

However, none of this mattered to trucking interests and their friends on the House and Senate Appropriations Committee.  This attack on safety comes at a critical time.  Last year, 4,067 people were needlessly killed in crashes involving large trucks, representing an increase of 4 percent from the previous year and a 20 percent increase from 2009.  This is the first time truck crash deaths have exceeded 4,000 since 2008.  Further, preliminary 2015 federal government data shows 116,000 people were injured in crashes involving large trucks — an increase of 57 percent since 2009.  The annual cost to society from crashes involving commercial motor vehicles is estimated to be over $110 billion.

It is simply unthinkable that any industry with such an abysmal safety record and responsible for so many innocent deaths and injuries could actually find so many willing partners in Congress to push their greedy anti-safety agenda.” 

Joan Claybrook, Chair of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, stated, “This action to rip out essential safety protections for hard-working truck drivers who deserve a weekend off for adequate rest and recovery time is yet another example of the grip that corporate trucking interests have on some Members of Congress.  The American public is scared of sharing the road with exhausted and overworked drivers behind the wheel of a big rig and with good reason.  In fatal crashes involving a large truck and a passenger car, 98% of the deaths are the occupants of the car.  The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have held more than 100 congressional hearings this year.  However, the Republican Committee leaders never allowed a single hearing on this important issue. Instead, the repeal of the truck safety provisions was secretly attached to a must pass spending bill because they knew it wouldn’t pass muster.  This action will literally have life and death consequences for truck drivers and all motorists sharing the roads with them.  This ‘tired trucker’ provision has no place in this bill and Congress has no business coddling trucking interests using a backdoor legislative maneuver to circumvent public debate and conceal safety impacts.”

Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.), responded, “Once again, our lawmakers caved to special interests and put everyone who travels our roads at risk by including the “tired trucker” provision in the Continuing Resolution. As a mother who began advocating to make trucking safer after my son Jeff was killed by a truck driver who fell asleep while driving, I am devastated that language to increase the number of hours that truck drivers can drive and work was included in a must-pass bill. This rollback of the Hours of Service rules will do nothing to address the issue of driver fatigue and will certainly not reduce the number of fatigue related crashes. It does, however, show a disregard for the nearly 100,000 people who have been killed in truck crashes since I began working to make trucking safer, and the families like mine who are left to cope with the grief that decisions like these cause.”

Lou Lombardo, Care for Crash Victims, provides this tool:

An information resource is the map of all Congressional Districts (114th Congress) with a tally of a decade of vehicle violence deaths in each district over the past decade.  Available to the public at https://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=e21e612d64654d75943f85a1a6035472

More on deadly drowsy driving:

 

Tug-of-War Continues: Letter to U.S. DOT Sec. Foxx on “Tired Trucker” provision in gov’t spending bill

Yet another example of the tug-of-war over truck driver Hours of Service and one of the many reasons why I want to organize a Tired Trucker Roundtable. . .
And why Vision Zero Rulemaking is so necessary!!!!
Safety advocates sent a letter to Secretary Foxx today:
Hang in there. I’ve found some people who are eager to help me organize the Tired Trucker Roundtable.  We hope to tackle this problem by bringing many interested parties together around the table to discuss and work toward resolution of this life & death problem.
Tired Trucker Roundtable

“Trucking Regulations Don’t Address Biggest Risk – Unsafe Behavior” by a husband/wife trucker team

You will want to read this in-depth article on truck safety full of practical knowledge and insight — written by a trucker husband/wife team.

Opinion: Trucking Regulations Don’t Address Biggest Risk – Unsafe Behavior, Trucks.com, by Jeff & Linda Halling, September 8, 2016

Written by Jeff and Linda Halling, a husband-and-wife driving team based in Missouri. This is one in a series of periodic guest columns by industry thought leaders.

While the federal government is adding new trucking industry regulations — including speed limiters for big rigs and electronic logging devices for drivers — these moves don’t really address the root causes of truck crashes.

If we really want to improve safety for truckers and the motoring public, we need to focus on the base reasons for unsafe behavior. We believe better training is key — teaching drivers good work habits. That will reduce the frequency of truck crashes. . .

Read more here: Trucking Regulations Don’t Address Biggest Risk – Unsafe Behavior

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One Trucker Team’s Ideas For Needed Changes To Make Trucking Safer

Jeff and Linda Halling, a husband/wife independent owner-operator team, recently made some comments on a facebook page about what they think needs to be done to make trucking safer:

While we totally agree with the dangers increasing with trucks putting even more regulations is not the answer. There are more rules and regulations in the trucking industry then there are in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Micromanaging every move never works. Here is the list of changes that we feel need to be made:

1) Better training for new entrants into the industry. Way too many of the mega carriers give their new drivers two weeks classroom one week driving and turn them loose on their own. Part of the problem is that the government classifies us as unskilled labor. Really!!?? A heavy equipment operator is considered skilled labor but a person driving at 80 thousand pound rig is not. Bullshit! By reclassifying Trucking as a skilled labor will increase training and better pay.

2) The hours of service have to be totally redone. One size does not fit all. 11 hours of driving and 70 hours in 8 days is more than enough. However the 14-hour rule is what causes the most safety problems. A driver starts working at 6 a.m. He goes to make his delivery and sits at the dock for 5 hours waiting to be unloaded. He gets paid nothing for that time. He then drives 45 minutes across town to make his pickup. He sits at that dock for 4 hours waiting to get loaded. He gets nothing for that time. The load he picks up goes 500 miles for delivery the next day. But he can only work for another 4 hours because his 14 hours are up. All the time that he spent at the dock was spent resting. But under the current rules he can only work four more hours before he is required to take a 10-hour break. The rule should be if you are in your sleeper for 4 hours or more you can extend the 14-hour clock.

3) There needs to be much more safe secure adequate parking for us to take a required rest period. A lot of drivers that fall asleep are not doing it because they’re pushing themselves to make a delivery they are doing it because they couldn’t find a place to park. All the electronic gadgetry in the world telling the driver to park does no good unless there is a place to park.

Those are the three main things that Linda and I see that will improve safety. We have also been a firm believer that the answer to this industry is not company drivers but independent owner-operators like us. Pride in ownership means a lot more than driving a truck for somebody that thinks you are nothing more than a number. Owner operators have much more flexibility in their pickups and deliveries than a company driver. They also have much more to lose if they mess up.

The bottom line is you’re right — changes need to be made — but the RIGHT changes need to be made.

Facebook post on which Jeff Halling was commenting:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/494507530713925/permalink/682662138565129/

Talkin together

Let’s all get together and talk about how to make the roads safer.

“KeepTruckin ELD now on FMCSA’s registry”

Take a look at one company’s option for an Electronic Logging Device app to satisfy requirements for electronic logging of truckers’ hours of service.

Makani notes the KeepTruckin ELD remains a $20/monthly subscription product, with an ELD Plus option at $30 that includes mostly automated IFTA collection and reporting. Other features, Makani notes, are coming to that package, from vehicle diagnostics to driver performance monitoring and other features.

KeepTruckin’s self-certification on FMCSA’s device registry means it joins three others also detailed in Overdrive‘s quick-glance comparison chart for a variety of ELD vendors old and new.

http://www.overdriveonline.com/keeptruckin-eld-now-on-fmcsas-registry/ from Overdrive|August 10, 2016

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More information on Electronic Logging Devices, Hours of Service, and Driver Fatigue: http://annaleahmary.com/driver-fatigue/

I propose a Tired Trucker Roundtable to more comprehensively address driver fatigue crashes.

After the truck crash which killed AnnaLeah and Mary, we never saw the truck driver’s paper log books and he was not able to tell us why he hit us. We suspect that drowsy driving may well have played a part. But it is a very difficult thing to prove.

I can’t go back and re-do that day and make sure that truck driver is fully alert throughout his entire work day on the road–especially that stretch of I-20 in Georgia near Exit 130. But I can advocate for the widespread public health problem of driver fatigue to be recognized and tackled.

Tired Trucker Roundtable

I am soooo tired of the political tug-of-war over truck driver hours of service. It isn’t solving the basic problem, folks. And the problem isn’t going to go away if there is no change in how it is addressed.

Just like with the deadly underride issue, we need to gather together people and organizations from all over the board, including truckers, truck companies, sleep doctors, regulatory officials from DOT and the Department of Labor and CDC’s Department of Injury Prevention, sleep researchers, safety advocates, and victims of tired trucker crashes.

At this life-changing event, let’s communicate about every possible factor which can contribute to drowsy driving–including, but most certainly not limited to, the truckers’ hours of service on the job and research on driver fatigue. And then, let’s brainstorm together about how this Goliath can be conquered through collaborative strategies and solutions.

A Tired Trucker Roundtable. Now that would be worthy of shouting, “Awesome!” Eh, Mary?!

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Vision Zero collaborative creativity can achieve amazzzzing results!

 

Life & Death Traffic Safety Problems Deserve Proper Treatment: Not Political Tug-of-War Game!

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Life & death traffic safety problems deserve to be handled appropriately and not like some political tug-of-war game played by industry lobbyists, administrators, and legislators!

I have offered what seems to me to be a reasonable alternative when I petitioned President Obama to resolve our national traffic safety travesty in this way:

  1. Set a National Vision Zero Goal (which would serve to raise national awareness and direct national priorities with the goal in mind of doing everything possible to move our country ever closer to zero crash deaths & serious injuries).
  2. Establish a White House Vision Zero Task Force to address these traffic safety problems in an interdisciplinary, non-political manner.
  3. Sign a Vision Zero Executive Order to pave the way for Vision Zero Rulemaking that could truly make Saving Lives a priority rather than an afterthought.

See more here about this ongoing problem & my recommended solution:

  1. An ongoing battle over trucker hours of service and its impact on truck driver fatigue and inevitably fatal crashes is addressed in two recent articles: Maine Voices: In the long haul, tired truck drivers result in hazardous highways and Trucks Are Getting More Dangerous And Drivers Are Falling Asleep At The Wheel. Thank Congress.
  2. I wrote about the congressional truck safety legislation fiasco here: “Trucks Are Getting More Dangerous And Drivers Are Falling Asleep At The Wheel. Thank Congress.” and, of course, here we have addressed the driver fatigue problem at length on our website: Driver Fatigue on annaleahmary.com
  3. We delivered over 20,000 Vision Zero Petition signatures to Washington, DC, on March 5, 2016, in the form of a book which we distributed to key leaders asking for bottomline change and a major paradigm shift in how all traffic safety problems are addressed: Tell Obama you are standing with us in this: “Family Continues Fight for Trucking Safety”

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End Driver Fatigue: Illinois State Police conduct 1650+ truck inspections during “OPERATION SAUTER”

Motor vehicle inspections should be done this thoroughly on a regular basis–not just one day. Monitoring and enforcement plays a big role in preventing crashes due to truck driver fatigue–an ongoing problem. Illinois State Police conduct over 1650 inspections during “OPERATION SAUTER”

And it should be done in every state. Why on earth don’t we establish National Traffic Safety Standards & require them to be adopted by States?

Driving While Fatigued

Somebody has to take personal responsibility & be accountable for the danger of the trucking industry.

“At some point, somebody has to take personal responsibility & be accountable for the danger of this industry. More truck drivers are killed on the job than any other occupation. More than 500 truck drivers are killed every year in truck crashes. . . I don’t know any other industry where that’s allowed .  .  . and people are looking the other way.

“We need to have this prosecuted at the industry or company level, because that’s where the problem lies. . . The industry drives them harder and longer than they should. The result is catastrophic death and injury all across the country

“If we could get a change in some of the laws. . . to the point where company executives are criminally responsible for the violations of their drivers’ Hours of Service, you would see a lot of things change in the industry. You might see some changes that are long overdue,”  says Jeff Burns, Truck Litigation Attorney.

Jeff Burns, National Transportation Counsel for the Truck Safety Coaltion, discusses the issue of truck crash prosecutions and the challenges facing victims of truck crashes. Prosecutors across the country are choosing not to prosecute those responsible for deadly truck crashes. Furthermore, drivers and companies are facing only minimal fines, much less than a speeding motorist, for reckless driving that results in an accident and/or death. Visit www.trucksafety.org for more information on how you can help in the fight to make our highways safer for everyone. June 14, 2011

Some previous posts which I have written on the issues of justice related to truck crashes:

Responsibility