New Truck Driver Hours of Service Rule Issued – Dangerous 11 Hour Limit Retained – click to view press release
A mandate to for electronic onboard recorders on all trucks and buses.
Requirement for the DOT to study and adjust the minimum insurance level for commercial carriers.
Increased financial penalties for carriers that create an imminent hazard to public health
Improved new carrier entry registration by requiring a safety proficiency examination and safety management plan as a precondition for operating authority.
Strengthens FMCSA’s tools to crack down on “reincarnated carriers”.
Support FMCSA’s implementation of its Compliance, Safety, Accountability program and give it the authority to assess the health/safety fitness of drivers.
Kraft Pushes for 97,000-Pound Trucks Called Bridge Wreckers
By Jeff Plungis – Dec 12, 2011
Emboldened by U.S. legislation allowing Maine and Vermont to keep 97,000-pound trucks rumbling on their interstate highways, Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT) and Home Depot Inc. are pressing more states to follow.
Companies including Kraft, which says its trucks would drive 33 million fewer miles a year with higher weight limits nationwide, say they need to carry loads more efficiently to combat high diesel-fuel prices. Safety advocates say more heavy trucks would accelerate an increase in truck-related accident deaths, and question whether bridges can withstand the added weight.
“You’re starting to roll the dice,” said Andrew Herrmann, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “Do you really want to keep these heavy loads, have a lower factor of safety and start wearing these bridges out faster?”
Trucks can weigh a maximum of 80,000 pounds on interstate highways under U.S. law. Maine and Vermont are exceptions under a pilot program that Congress last month extended for 20 years.
The proposed Safe and Efficient Transportation Act, sponsored by Representative Michael Michaud, a Maine Democrat, would allow every state to decide how extensively 97,000-pound trucks can travel based on economic need and the condition of its roads and bridges.
The bill may be rolled into a multiyear highway policy bill Congress will work on next year, said John Runyan, executive director of the Washington-based Coalition for Transportation Productivity. The group had 120 company members, including Kraft, MillerCoors LLC, International Paper Co., Hershey Co., Owens Corning Inc. (GLW) and Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., as of Dec. 2. Seventy trade associations also backed the effort.
States are already allowed to set higher weight limits for secondary roads and 44 do, according to Runyan’s group. Twenty- eight states also allow a limited number of heavier trucks on interstates by permit, for certain vital commodities or for shipping containers loaded from ports, Runyan said.
Lindsay Chason, senior manager for environmental innovation for Atlanta-based Home Depot Inc. (HD), told Georgia’s transportation board Oct. 19 that 97,000-pound trucks were needed to keep up with a tripling of congestion since 1982 and diesel-price increases.
The average U.S. retail price for diesel fuel was $3.93 per gallon as of Dec. 5, according to the U.S. Energy Department, up 18 percent from the beginning of the year.
Wisconsin last month passed a package of nine bills intended to loosen various truck size and weight limits. Governor Scott Walker,a Republican, said the new laws would create jobs.
Companies are trying to win higher weight limits rather than the ability to operate longer trucks, like triple trailers, Runyan said. Adding a sixth axle to 97,000-pound trucks on the interstates, as required by Michaud’s bill, would reduce road wear and improve braking, he said.
“When you’re filling a truck with a product and it’s 80 percent filled, you’re running around with a lot of trucks with extra space,” he said.
Companies can partially offset the heftier trucks’ added road wear by keeping the size of the trailer the same and spreading the weight over an additional axle, said Herrmann, head of the engineering group. The extra axle doesn’t offset the stress on interstate bridges, which were designed for 80,000- pound trucks, he said.
Herrmann’s group estimates that 25 percent of U.S. bridges need weight limits or restrict traffic because they’re not strong enough. The U.S. is spending about $10.5 billion a year to maintain bridges, and $17 billion is needed to keep up with the ongoing damage, he said.
“Those bridges already need work,” Herrmann said. “Now we’re saying let’s go back and reinforce all the bridges that need it, when we don’t have enough money to maintain the structures that we have.”
Kraft, the maker of Cheez Whiz and Oreo cookies, would make 66,000 fewer truck trips if the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act were passed, said Harry Haney, associate director of transportation planning with the Northfield, Illinois-based company. Heavier trucks in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio would help the company most, he said.
Kraft trucks would drive 33 million fewer miles a year and put 2.1 billion fewer pounds on roads with higher U.S. weight limits, Haney said. The biggest savings would be in shipments of products like Miracle Whip salad dressing, Oscar Meyer meat and Capri Sun juices, he said.
“We need to find ways to use our existing infrastructure more efficiently,” Haney said. “Members of Congress increasingly agree.”
Congress last month extended a one-year pilot program to allow 100,000-pound trucks on interstates in Maine and Vermont for 20 years, with support from Weyerhaeuser Co. and other forest-products companies.
Trucks are the only transportation mode that logging companies and paper producers can use to carry felled trees, wood chips and biomass from leaves and branches from forests, said Neil Ward, communications director of the Forest Resources Association in Rockville, Maryland.
Minnesota, like Maine, is a border state where industry wants heavier trucks from Canada allowed on the interstates, Ward said. Ohio’s legislature is debating higher weight limits to accommodate agricultural products, depending on what Congress does, he said.
“In the cases where a state already has a state limit similar to what we’re proposing for the interstate highway, then it’s a quick and turnkey operation to get an opt-in” to the proposed House bill, Ward said.
In Minnesota, where a bridge on Interstate 35 collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people, the state transportation department supports allowing either 97,000- or 99,000-pound trucks with six axles on interstate highways, according to a March statement. Interstate bridges are equal to or better than those on state highways where heavy trucks already travel by permit, the agency said.
Maine and Vermont officials downplayed concerns raised by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration about the ability of interstate bridges to stand up under 100,000-pound trucks, according to officials at The Truck Safety Coalition, Parents Against Tired Truckers and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. The three safety-advocacy groups obtained documents about the two states’ pilot program under the Freedom of Information Act.
“If one assumes that greater than a 10 percent ‘overstress’ is unacceptable, then these results show that every 100,000 lbs. truck is a problem,” a FHWA analysis concluded.
Justin Nisly, a spokesman for the highway administration, declined to comment, saying the agency’s analysis wasn’t final.
Extra fees proposed for overweight trucks won’t cover the costs of reinforcing or rebuilding bridges that weren’t designed for the higher weight, with car owners and taxpayers picking up the tab, said John Lannen, executive director of The Truck Safety Coalition, based in Arlington, Virginia.
“The ripple effect will be catastrophic,” Lannen said of the pressure on other states to increase weight limits. “The entire country’s motoring public will be put in grave danger.”
Commercial truck-related fatalities, including people in cars struck by big rigs, rose 8.7 percent in 2010 to 3,675, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Dec. 8. The American Trucking Associations said the same day that 2010 was still among the safest years on record and the trucking fatality rate, adjusted for miles driven, has fallen over the past two decades.
In Pennsylvania, John Rafferty, the Republican chairman of the state’s Senate Transportation Committee, and John Wozniak, the panel’s senior Democrat, warned the state’s congressional delegation that Pennsylvania already needs $3.5 billion a year to upgrade and maintain roads and bridges. More than 5,000 bridges remain structurally deficient, they said in a Nov. 14 letter.
“We cannot afford larger trucks on our roads and bridges,” the senators said.
The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act is H.R. 763.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Plungis in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at email@example.com
Jackman, ME: The Mahaney Family lost their 5 year old son Liam, parents Christina and Gary were badly injured and their home was destroyed when a 100,000 + lb. logging truck crashed and dumped its logs onto their home. The truck driver admitted that he had falled asleep behind the wheel.
This fall the Mahaneys were shocked to learn that the Somerset County District Attorney’s office would not press charges against truck driver Christian Cloutier. To read more click here.
The Mahaneys, seeking to prevent another family from suffering the needless loss and pain that their family is enduring, reached out to community and state leaders to make their roadways safer. To view story click here: http://www.wabi.tv/news/25910/5-months-after-tragedy-jackman-residents-trying-to-slow-log-trucks-down.
AAA Mid-Atlantic says Congress should resist lobbying efforts, protect state’s drivers and roads by saying no to huge new vehicles
In meetings with members of Congress and their staffs this month, I was very clear about my reason for being there: AAA Mid-Atlantic is strongly opposed, on behalf of its members and all motorists, to any increase in the size and weight of tractor-trailer trucks. The trucks we see every day on I-95 and the Baltimore Beltway are plenty big already.
I am supported in this position by a December 2010 Maryland public opinion poll, commissioned by AAA Mid-Atlantic. The poll showed 85 percent of Maryland drivers opposing any increase to the size or weight of tractor-trailer trucks, with 70 percent of respondents stating they are “strongly opposed” to any such move. Yet, Congress is being heavily lobbied to do just that. A measure to increase the maximum weight of these giant trucks — currently 80,000 pounds — by an additional 17,000 pounds (that’s 81/2 tons) is being considered for inclusion in the upcoming national surface transportation funding bill. Lobbyists are also urging Congress to lift a freeze on triple-trailer trucks — vehicles that move across traffic lanes in a snakelike motion and can stretch longer than 110 feet.
Despite significant improvement in truck crash rates, large trucks on the road today have a fatal crash involvement rate 40 percent higher than that of passenger vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Increasing the weight or size of trucks will only make trucks more dangerous. In its 2000 Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) pointed out that heavier trucks tend to have a higher center of gravity because the additional weight is typically added vertically. This higher center of gravity increases the risk of rollovers and creates concern about the ability of truck operators to maintain their brakes with heavier loads. This could drastically affect the stopping distance of these trucks. The Department of Transportation also found that the risks of long-doubles and triple-trailer trucks increased the likelihood of trailer sway, as well as the possibility of a higher overall fatal crash rate than single-trailer trucks.
In addition to motorist safety, there are also concerns about the impact heavier trucks would have on our roads and bridges, which are already severely stressed. As it is, there is not enough money to repair or rebuild our transportation infrastructure. Maryland, for example, has more than 1,322 highway bridges classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, according to the Department of Transportation’s 2010 National Bridge Inventory. That’s an important part of the equation, because Congress is considering pushing our roads and bridges past their breaking point with these big-truck measures. We cannot, in good conscience, allow that to happen without a fight. At minimum, Congress should comprehensively study the impact of such a move before even considering passing such laws. Decisions on increasing truck weights by 81/2 tons or allowing huge triple trailer trucks will impact the safety of everyone.
I urge all Maryland motorists to make their voices heard on this issue. It is time to put a roadblock in front of the bigger-truck lobby — and public participation in the process is the best way to do that.
. Find out more about this issue at http://midatlantic.aaa.com/PGA/issuesactioncenter.
FMCSA Fines American Welding & Tank Company Nearly $4 Million for Violating Federal Hazardous Materials Safety Standards
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced $3,876,000 in fines against American Welding & Tank, LLC (AWT) of Fremont, Ohio for violating federal hazardous materials safety standards. The company was fined for manufacturing and selling unsafe nurse tanks – a type of cargo tank used to store and transport anhydrous ammonia, a hazardous material used in farming operations.
“Safety is our highest priority, and we are committed to protecting motorists from accidents involving the transport of hazardous materials,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We are sending a strong message that companies will face serious consequences when they do not make safety a top priority.”
FMCSA conducted a thorough safety investigation of AWT’s Fremont manufacturing plant following reports of safety defects with recently manufactured nurse tanks. After investigating the company’s welding practices and safety records, FMCSA discovered a clear pattern of AWT failing to manufacture, maintain, repair and sell nurse tanks that meet federal hazardous materials safety standards.
“When cargo tank manufacturers are not living up to federal safety standards, we will take action,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “Our agency is committed to using every resource available to keep our roads safe and save lives.”
For more information on federal safety regulations for cargo tank manufacturers, as well as truck and bus companies transporting hazardous materials, visit the agency’s website at www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America (APITLA) honored US Rep. James McGovern, D-MA, with its Promoting Highway Safety Through Legislation award for his work as a champion of safe highways. Westborough attorney Ted Bassett, Jr. of Mirick O’Connell, LLP presented the award on Sept. 16 during APITLA’s National Interstate Trucking Summit in St. Louis.
According to a press release issued by Mirick O’Connell, APITLA is a national association of attorneys who have joined forces to help eliminate unsafe and illegal interstate trucking practices and reduce the number of serious trucking accidents throughout the United States.
“The recipient of the Promoting Highway Safety Through Legislation is an elected state or federal official who has demonstrated a strong commitment to promoting interstate trucking highway safety through legislation. As chairman of APITLA’s legislative committee, Bassett selected this year’s recipient,” the statement read.
“Congressman McGovern has led the charge against the trucking industry’s push to allow heavier and longer trucks onto our highways,” Bassett said. “The Congressman shares our concerns that increasing size and weight limits will lead to more accidents, since bigger trucks are harder to stop. APITLA applauds Rep. McGovern’s efforts to make America’s highways safer.”
In May, McGovern co-sponsored the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act (SHIPA), which will extend truck size and weight limits already in place on Interstate highways to the entire National Highway System. Specifically, SHIPA will extend truck weight limits to 80,000 pounds, cap the length of tractor-trailer trucks at 53 feet and freeze the operation of long double and triple trailer trucks on the National Highway System. SHIPA will not take any truck off the road that is currently operating.
“I am honored to receive this award, which recognizes the importance of making our highways a safer place for all of us — and the next generation,” McGovern said. “We do not need bigger trucks on our highways, we need safer ones. Longer and heavier trucks require more stopping distance, have larger blind spots and increase the risks of rollover and of trailers swaying into adjacent lanes. I look forward to working with APITLA members on many other highway safety initiatives in the years to come.”
by Kelsey Pfeffer – Sept. 9, 2011 06:16 PM
The Arizona Republic – 12 News Breaking News Team
Authorities on Friday identified four people who were killed in a collision involving semis along Interstate 10 north of Tucson.
Three of the victims were from Pittsburgh, Texas, and were riding in a minivan that was struck by a semi Thursday. They were identified by the Arizona Department of Public Safety as driver Derrick Bryan Reynolds, 46, and passengers Wendy Reynolds, 42, and Joachim Reynolds, 20.
Sierra Transportation driver Rickey Duffey, 61, of Fayetteville, Ga., also was killed. DPS said he lost control of the rig, crossed a dirt median and slammed into the minivan.
Sierra Transportation employs 75 drivers and operates an average of 39 vehicles, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, adding that the company has a safety rating of “satisfactory.”
Those injured in the crash include semi driver Steve Murphy, 58, who was in critical condition and transferred to Maricopa Medical Center; Dennis Robinson, 56, the co-driver of the Sierra truck who was taken to the University Medical Center in Tucson; and Samuel Molina, 50, the driver of a two-door Honda sedan who also was taken to University Medical Center.
As you deliberate on the surface transportation authorization bill, I urge you to retain current federal truck size and weight limits and reject any special interest pilot projects or other attempts to increase these limits. I ask that you support the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act (SHIPA) H.R. 1574/S. 876 which would “freeze” truck weights and lengths in every state and prevent dangerous overweight trucks from being on our already compromised roads and bridges.
On average 4,000 people are killed in truck crashes annually and 100,000 more are injured. The annual cost of truck crashes exceeds $19 billion. In the past 10 years more than 48,000 people have needlessly died and over 1 million have been injured in truck crashes. In fatal 2-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck 98% of the deaths are occupants of the passenger vehicles. Adding even more weight to a big truck dramatically increases the risk of death and serious injury.
[INSERT PERSONAL STORY]
It is time for Congress to say enough is enough. Please take action now to protect innocent motorists and truck drivers from the inherent dangers of overweight trucks which would also further damage our infrastructure and lead to more fuel consumption and more emissions. Please support SHIPA. Thank you.
- Press Release
- Media Advisory
- 2009 Truck Crash Deaths Per 100,000 Population (100KP) by state
- Support Proposed HOS Rule with 10 Hour Limit Provision
- Lake Research Partner National Survey
- Minimum Insurance Levels for Moter Carriers Needs to be Increased
- Protect Current Federal Truck Size and Weight Laws: Support SHIPA
- Status Report: UnderRide Crashes
Click Image below for a Photo Gallery from Conference
BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. – It has been six months since Matthew Slattery suffered a traumatic brain injury after a tired trucker fell asleep at the wheel and barreled into his family’s car on an Ohio interstate.
Crash-test analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that underride guards on tractor-trailers can fail even in relatively low-speed crashes, and the group is petitioning the federal government to require stronger guards that will remain in place during a crash and to mandate guards for more big rigs and trailers.
Rear-impact guards on trucks are meant to guard against car crashes.
Arlington, VA (February 1, 2011): The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) supports the proposed rule issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requiring that within three years long-haul commercial vehicles, trucks and buses, be equipped with Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs). The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have repeatedly cited driver fatigue as a major factor in truck crash causation. EOBRs which objectively document driving time and on-duty status will help reduce driver fatigue, eliminate fraudulent paper log books, and improve hours of service (HOS) rules enforcement.