STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION, ON RELEASE OF NAS REPORT ON U.S. DOT’S CSA CARRIER RATING SYSTEM

In 2015, 4,067 people were killed in large truck crashes in the United States

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION, ON RELEASE OF NAS REPORT ON U.S. DOT’S CSA CARRIER RATING SYSTEM

The National Academy of Sciences released a report, Improving Motor Carrier Safety Measurement, which confirmed much of what the Truck Safety Coalition has been saying about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) carrier rating system and truck safety in general:

  1. The CSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) is “conceptually sound,” and
  2. That well-compensated drivers and drivers who are not paid per miles travelled, have fewer crashes.

Our goal is to reduce truck crashes, prevent injuries, and save lives, which is why we have always supported continuous improvement to make the rating system even more effective in determining which motor carriers are safe and which motor carriers pose a risk to public safety. By embracing a more data-driven method of scoring the safety of motor carriers, the agency can build on the success of CSA and continue to enhance it. Additionally, transitioning to a more statistically principled approach will make the program more transparent and easier to understand, further justifying why both the data as well as the rankings should be public.

The report also underscores a need for improved data collection by and collaboration between motor carriers, states, and the FMCSA. The agency should enhance data collection regarding vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by trucks, and can do so by working with relevant tax agencies given that all motor carriers report their VMT for tax purposes. The FMCSA can also improve data collection regarding crashes by continuing their efforts to standardize post-accident reports that vary state-by-state, an effort that I have worked on as a member of the FMCSA’s Post-Accident Report Advisory Committee.

While the report highlights opportunities for the FMCSA to improve CSA’s SMS, members of the industry must recognize their own responsibilities and role in improving this safety rating system. Collecting data on “carrier characteristics,” including driver turnover rates, types of cargo hauled, and the method and level of driver compensation, will allow the agency to establish a fuller and fairer determination of safety. This requires motor carriers to share even more data, not attempt to hide it.

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Entry Level Driver Training

Requiring Comprehensive Training for All Entry-Level Commercial Driver License Applicants Is Long Overdue

One of the first curricula on entry level driver training (ELDT) for commercial motor vehicle drivers was developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in the mid-1980s. Yet it was not until 1993, that the agency published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). Following this initiation of the rulemaking process, regulatory action stalled again until 2002, when the agency that is now responsible for this regulation – the FMCSA – was sued by safety advocates.

In response to the lawsuit, the agency produced an inadequate final rule in 2004. The training requirement was 10-hours of classroom instruction on four topics; there was no BTW training required. And once again, safety advocates sued the agency – this time for producing a capricious rule. The court agreed with plaintiffs and remanded the FMCSA to produce an ELDT final rule that included behind-the-wheel training. The agency finally published a Notice of Propose Rulemaking (NPRM) in 2007, however, the FMCSA once again failed to promulgate a final rule.

ELDTAC Brought Together Parties with Different Interests and Arrived at a Consensus

The ELDTAC was formed to negotiate a proposed rule to establish entry level driver training requirements. The committee consisted of 26 members, all of whom have varying interests in and ideas about entry level driver training, to work together and with the agency to craft the rulemaking. Members included family members of truck crash victims, safety advocacy groups, motor carriers, driver organizations, state licensing agencies, training schools, labor unions, state enforcement agencies, and several other parties. In the end, 24 members of the ELDTAC agreed that there should be a required amount of time for BTW training; the two dissenting members represented industry interests.

The Curricula Requires Knowledge of Skills and Minimum Hours that Will Ensure Truck Drivers Are Adequately Trained

The negotiated rulemaking will outline the requisite skills that candidates applying for a Class A or B CDL should have in order to be certified as a professional driver that is capable of operating his or her vehicle. The Truck Safety Coalition is pleased that both curricula require that candidates learn more than 19 different topics while on the range and/or road. We also agree with the agency’s assessment that “…a hybrid approach combining minimum BTW hours requirement with detailed curriculum requirements is the best way to ensure that drivers will be adequately trained in the safe operation of Class A and Class B CMVs.”9  

The minimum hours requirement for BTW will help the agency make sure that CDL applicants have sufficient time to learn the wide array of topics in the proposed curriculum. This commonsense move will modernize the trucking industry to be more in-line with other licensed professions that use hours-based entry-level training or continuing education to promote best practices and reduce bad actors. In addition, requiring that candidates receive a minimum amount of BTW training is not something new to the industry. Leading CDL training schools, certain states and the largest trade association, The Commercial Vehicle Training Association, all mandate a minimum number of BTW hours.  

Standardized Training Will Improve Safety Outcomes

Given that some training schools only cover some topics, while not requiring BTW, and other schools require BTW training, while not covering as many safety issues as other training schools, setting a standard curriculum will reduce truck crashes because the drivers will be better trained to operate a truck. TSC is pleased that all A and B Class CDL applicants will need to study fatigue awareness, hours of service, trip planning, operating a vehicle under various conditions to name a few of the topics, and then demonstrate how knowledge of that topic translates to safe operations.

Moreover, harmonizing various driver training facilities and establishing a database of training providers will also help the FMCSA enforce this rule. The NPRM requires the agency to set up a registry of the facilities that meet the proposed qualifications. This will help the FMCSA identify training schools that are more concerned with money than with graduating safe driver by allowing them to remove CDL mills responsible for churning out inadequately trained truck drivers who cause injurious and fatal crashes.

Continued Delays and Removal of Minimum Hours of BTW Training 

The Truck Safety Coalition and our volunteers, many of whom are families of truck crash victims and survivors seeking truck safety advances, are extremely disappointed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA, agency) final rule requiring entry-level driver training for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.

After languishing for 25 years after it was mandated by an Act of Congress, we were hopeful that the Entry Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC), which brought together law enforcement, safety advocates, and members of the industry, would be able to produce a negotiated rulemaking that included a minimum number of behind-the-wheel (BTW) training hours. After meeting several times throughout the past year, the ELDTAC negotiated a proposed rule that included both a theoretical curriculum as well as a minimum number (30 hours) of BTW training hours. Unfortunately, the years of waiting and the participation of the ELDTAC members has been for naught. The final rule will not mandate a minimum number of BTW training hours, severely blunting the potential safety benefits of it.

Without a minimum BTW training hours requirement, the agency will not be able to ensure that CDL applicants have adequate time to learn the wide range of topics in the proposed curriculum. Given the overlap between trucking companies and training programs and an industry turnover rate above 90 percent, the FMCSA is naïve to think that a “BTW training standard based solely on a driver-trainee’s proficiency in performing required range and public road maneuvers is a more flexible, and thus less burdensome option than required minimum hours because it recognizes that driver-trainees will complete BTW training at a pace that reflects their varying levels of individual ability.” The driver-trainees will not complete the BTW training at their own pace, they will complete it at the pace of the training school they attend or the trucking company that runs it, which is how the current, safety-deficient system operates.

The FMCSA’s latest attempt to produce an entry-level driver training for CMV drivers has been a colossal waste of time. This final rule is both insufficient in terms of advancing safety and an insult to the memories of those killed in crashes caused by inexperience and untrained truck drivers. In particular, our thoughts are with Ron Wood, who served on the ELDTAC and at each meeting revisited his grief associated with losing his mother, sister, and three nephews in a terribly tragic truck crash in Texas in 2004.  

 

 

 

Minimum Insurance Levels for Motor Carriers

The Minimum Level of Insurance Required for Large Trucks was Set in 1980 

The Required Amount of $750,000 Has Never Been Increased

Background

In 1980, as Congress deregulated the trucking industry, there was great concern regarding the imminent increase in the number of trucking companies that was sure to follow the removal of the barriers to entry into the industry. Congress believed it would be difficult for the federal regulators, alone, to provide effective oversight for safe operations for such a large number of companies. Congress intended the Secretary of Transportation to set insurance minimums at a level significant enough to provide an appropriate means of compensation to truck crash victims if crashes occurred and also to cause the insurance companies to provide effective, on site underwriting so that the insurance market would provide incentives for safe operations of motor carriers.

Congress set the absolute minimum level of insurance to be applied to motor carriers of property and of hazardous materials at $750,000 and $5,000,000, respectively, and gave the Secretary of Transportation authority to increase such amounts to appropriate levels that would achieve the intended purpose.  Unfortunately, the minimum amounts set by Congress as the absolute floor were too low to provide the intended underwriting supervision and too low to provide protection for the public. Nonetheless, in spite of an exponential growth of the number of authorized motor carriers (approximately 27,000 prior to deregulation compared to more than 500,000 in existence today), the Secretary has never increased the bare minimums set by Congress, and the low original minimum amounts, over the past 35 years, have provided less and less of an incentive to operate safely and have become almost insignificant when compared to the damages caused by the huge trucks now allowed on public highways.  Indeed, many “minimum” policies are already written at the $1,000,000 level because the $750,000 amount is so absurdly low.

Crash Costs

When the above numbers were set as part of the deregulation process, the amounts were considered to be the absolute minimums necessary for protection of the public. Since then, not only have all of the expenses associated with truck crashes increased dramatically, the sheer disparity in size between cars and trucks has increased resulting in more severe crashes. In that same time, trailers were allowed to expand first to 48’ in length, and then to 53’. Truck weight increases, both across the board and through exemptions, have also occurred. Combined with the increase in crash expenses and damages, such as lost income and medical expenses, the lack of any adjustment since 1980 has caused a greater disparity between the original amount and current costs.

The common approach by an insurance company for a trucking company with only the required minimums in liability coverage, when the trucking company causes a catastrophe with damages that far exceed the insurance, is to “interplead” the insurance limits. This is done by the insurance company suing all of the people injured and the families of those killed in one suit, with the insurance company offering to pay the ridiculously low limits of the policy into court and to require those injured and those who have lost loved ones to fight (or “interplead”) among themselves as to who should get what. The number of interpleader actions has risen dramatically as the required minimum insurance levels have fallen significantly short of the damages actually caused by truck crashes.

The effect of the lack of adequate insurance is that the damages caused by certain segments of the industry are not borne by those causing them. The damage caused by the underinsured are spread out among the innocent motorists who are killed and injured, who frequently have no effective recourse against the companies that caused their losses.

A common type of truck crash involves a fatigued truck driver who crashes into traffic that has stopped on the highway due to congestion, a prior crash or a construction zone. These crashes typically involve multiple vehicles, multiple deaths, and multiple injuries. The total damages caused in such cases can easily exceed $20,000,000, but an insurance company with minimum limits will simply sue everyone involved in an interpleader action and the unprotected crash victims are left to do the best with what they have to try to put their lives back together. Frequently, the injured and disabled end up relying on Medicaid, Social Security or other government programs because smaller trucking companies do not have to pay for the cost of the damages they cause. This amounts to a taxpayer subsidy for the companies that don’t carry enough insurance to cover the damages they cause, while adequately insured companies bear such expenses as part of their business.

Unfair Competition

The low limits allowed by law are frequently carried by trucking companies that have minimal owned assets; companies that lease their terminals and equipment or otherwise leverage their operations. Even if an injured person obtains a legal judgment in excess of the low insurance limits, the companies have simply gone out of business and the owners have started up a new business under another name. This dangerous practice, referred to as reincarnating or chameleon carriers, was described in a July 2009 report by the GAO.

Larger, nationwide companies, which are adequately capitalized on the other hand, have much higher limits. It is common for the larger carriers to carry multiple layers of coverage, sometimes with a significant self-insured retention, with totals exceeding $30,000,000. These companies carry adequate amounts because they have “something to lose” and they know too well the significant damages that can be caused when a commercial truck hits a passenger vehicle or vehicles.

The larger companies have significant incentive to make their operations as safe as possible rather than simply gamble against the risk of a catastrophic crash. As a result, they have higher insurance overhead costs to protect against potential losses, yet they have to compete with companies that have nothing to lose (and others willing to put the public at risk) that carry the minimum basic coverage. The companies with “nothing to lose” are effectively subsidized by the victimized motoring public and government programs that absorb the uninsured losses. The low limits, then, create exactly the opposite effect that minimum insurance levels were intended to provide. Rather than increasing overall safety within the industry by creating an economic incentive to operate safely, the low levels create a more dangerous situation through unfair competition by allowing the losses of the most irresponsible companies to be subsidized by the public while responsible companies pay the full amount of the damages they cause.

Minimums That Should be Required

The industry should have to absorb the losses it causes. Crashes involving multiple deaths and injuries, along with any property/infrastructure damage, with total combined damages far exceeding the current minimums happen every week. In order for the minimums to serve the purpose for which they were intended, the limits need to be set sufficiently high to give the insurance companies a reason to set realistic underwriting standards that would reward safe companies and identify unsafe operations. The limits should also reflect the real devastation and damages that are caused when an 80,000 pound truck slams into traffic stopped or slowed in a construction zone. In order to have these effects, property-carrying motor carriers should be required to carry at least $10,000,000 per occurrence. If inflation alone were to be addressed the amount would need to be $2.2 million.

FMCSA Report on Minimum Financial Responsibility

In April 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a report on its review of minimum financial responsibility that found current levels to be inadequate. It found that costs for severe and critical injury crashes can easily exceed $1 million.  The study only identified a small number of crashes that exceeded minimum insurance levels due to the lack of available settlement data. Insurance settlements for amounts that exceed the minimum levels often contain a nondisclosure agreement, and this information is not publicly available. In summary, the report noted that current limits do not adequately cover catastrophic crashes and acknowledged that medical care inflation would increase levels to at least $3.2 million.

Findings from Other Reports on Minimum Financial Responsibility

Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) – This report found that the upper range for liability awards involving death or catastrophic injury is $9–10 million, and recommended that DOT set limits per crash of at least $10 million.

Trucking Alliance Review of Crash Settlements – Member companies of the Trucking Alliance voluntarily tracked 8,692 accident settlements between 2005 and 2011. According to the Trucking Alliance, 42 percent of the injury claims could have had no avenue for offsetting all medical costs.

Conclusion

Congress’ concern of an explosion in the number of motor carriers and the consequential inability of regulation and enforcement to keep our highways safe has become a reality. The intended protective mechanism of federally-required minimum levels of insurance, however, has never adequately performed its intended function.  The amount was never set at a sufficiently high level to require insurance companies to seriously underwrite motor carriers and require safe operations before agreeing to insure them and, over time, the minimum amount has become totally inadequate. Death and catastrophic injuries have become accepted as part of the cost of doing business, with most of that cost being shifted to non-industry members of the motoring public and to the American taxpayers. The Secretary of Transportation has the authority and the responsibility to ensure the Congressional intent of the required financial responsibility is achieved.  The Secretary should exercise her authority in this regard and set the minimums at responsible levels that will encourage safe underwriting and safe operations as was intended by Congress.

Summary

Minimum levels of insurance for trucks have not been increased in over 35 years and are woefully insufficient.

Consequently, a large portion of the damages and losses caused by motor carriers at or near the minimum is imposed upon the American motoring public.

The underinsured segments of the industry are effectively subsidized by American taxpayers through unreimbursed social welfare programs including Medicaid and Social Security.

If all of the industry were required to absorb more of the losses they cause, significant changes in the industry would occur, resulting in safer highways for all.

 

Require Side Underride Guards

Side Underride Crashes:

NHTSA has reported that large truck side impacts comprised 17 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles during 2015. One reason why collisions with the sides of tractor-trailers are hazardous is that there is a large area of the trailer where underride may occur during these collisions. In addition, bicyclists and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to side underride interactions because of their size and the lack of protection. As the length of a truck increases, so does the size of the blind spot area. These interactions can occur when a truck is turning or making an illegal U-turn, and the cab or trailer obstructs the driver’s view.

Side Underride Crash Test:

The Truck Safety Coalition’s Underride Initiative, consisting of families of truck underride crash victims and survivors, is extremely pleased with the results of a recent crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that assessed a side underride guard for the first time ever.

The IIHS conducted two tests of a midsize car traveling at 35 mph colliding with the center of a 53-foot-long dry van at a 90-degree angle – the most difficult type of side underride collision to prevent.

In one scenario, the trailer was equipped with a fiberglass side skirt intended (only) to improve aerodynamics, which did nothing to prevent the car from riding underneath the trailer. The car was decimated, the roof sheared, and any passengers would have been killed.

In the other scenario, the trailer was equipped with an AngelWing Side Underride protection device –manufactured by Airflow Deflector Inc. Instead of riding under the trailer and allowing for passenger compartment intrusion, this innovative side underride guard allowed the car’s airbags to deploy and its crumple zone to help diffuse the kinetic energy transferred upon impact. These safety features have been rendered ineffective in the past due to the lack of crash compatibility between cars and the sides of trailers.

 

Truck Underride Roundtable

Electronic Stability Control

Federal Mandate in Effect on December 2017

Prevent 40-56 Percent of Rollovers

Prevent 1,800-2,300 Crashes Annually

Prevent 649-858 Injuries Each Year

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) seeks to reduce crashes by applying selective braking to prevent rollovers and mitigate loss of control. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that ESC on large trucks would prevent 40 – 56 percent of rollovers and 14 percent of loss of control crashes. The agency also estimates that the ESC final rule has the potential to prevent 49- 60 fatalities, 649- 858 injuries, and 1,807- 2,329 crashes annually. The final rule takes effect in December 2017, and all trucks manufactured after December 2019 will be required to have ESC. TSC supports the full implementation of the life-saving technology.

Link to Federal Register: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2015/06/23/2015-14127/federal-motor-vehicle-safety-standards-electronic-stability-control-systems-for-heavy-vehicles

Safety Groups Respond to U.S. DOT IG Rubber Stamping Study on Truck Driver Hours of Service Safety Protections

Study Created with Pre-Determined Outcome of Failure

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Late last week, the Office of the Inspector General (IG) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) sent a letter to Congress regarding a study of safety reforms to the truck driver hours of service (HOS) rules. By sending this letter, the IG essentially gives the imprimatur of this well-respected office to a study that was set up for failure at the onset and will ultimately result in the continuation of the widespread industry problem of truck driver fatigue.  Parameters of the study and what it was charged with finding were widely attributed to being crafted by corporate trucking interests in an effort to undue safety reforms which took effect in 2013.  While the IG may have signed off that the study was carried out as mandated by Congress, the IG did not assess the underlying data used.  Rather, the IG simply “rubber stamped” that the “junk science” study checked off all the boxes required by Congress when it created the study.

As part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill, corporate trucking interests and their friends in Congress inserted legislative language that suspended enforcement of the 2013 HOS reforms until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) completed further study on the effectiveness of the provisions.  Concerned that the study would not produce results favorable to their agenda, these same interests inserted additional language into the FY 2016 THUD bill which raised the bar on what the study had to find. This backroom industry rewrite all but guaranteed the preordained outcome that was realized today.  These policy provisions were inserted to a funding bill behind closed doors without any public input. Further, they belie decades of irrefutable data that shows that driver fatigue is a serious safety problem within the trucking industry.  “When I began advocating for truck safety after a truck driver fell asleep while driving and killed my son Jeff, I never thought I would still be fighting on the issue of fatigue more than two decades later,” said Daphne Izer, Co-Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), “Truck drivers should not be forced to drive and work such grueling schedules, and the public should not be subjected to the risk that tired truckers pose to all road users.”

The study, while yet to be made available for public review, could have only examined 15 months of data as the Obama reforms went into effect in July of 2013 and were suspended at the behest of the certain segments of the trucking industry in December of 2014.  The fact that the study was fatally flawed from the start and reached such a dubious conclusion is totally unsurprising. “This study does nothing to shed light on the serious problem of truck driver fatigue,” said Jackie Gillan, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.  “But, it does shed light on the power of special trucking interests to run to their friends in Congress and repeal important health and safety rules.  Sadly, the U.S. DOT IG has become yet another political pawn in this tortured process.”

Common sense and real world experience clearly show that truck driver fatigue is a serious and pervasive safety problem, no matter how much special trucking interests wish to believe otherwise. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has repeatedly cited fatigue as a major contributor to truck crashes and included reducing fatigue related crashes on the 2017-18 Most Wanted List of safety changes.  In addition, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has warned that drowsy driving can have the same consequences as driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  “Since 2009, truck crashes have shot up by 45 percent, resulting in a 20 percent increase in truck crash fatalities and a 57 percent increase in truck crash injuries,” stated John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition. “Instead of focusing on requiring crash avoidance technologies in large trucks that would have actually reduced crashes, FMCSA was forced to spend time and money conducting an ill-conceived study based on flawed data.”

While high profile crashes like the one that killed comedian James McNair and seriously injured Tracy Morgan grab national headlines, fatigue-related crashes happen to families all over the country every day.  Until leaders in Congress are willing to face the real facts about truck driver fatigue, far too many Americans will continue to be needlessly killed by tired truckers.

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STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING FOR HEAVY VEHICLE SPEED LIMITERS

Arlington, VA (August 26, 2016) – After ten years since a petition for rulemaking was filed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) just released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiter rule. TSC supports a rule that extends the set speed requirement to all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds that are already equipped with a speed limiting device, and that requires the speed limiters to be set at 65 miles per hour. Unfortunately, this proposed rule fails to outline either of these requirements.

As TSC has stated before, this technology has been built into most truck’s engine control module (ECM) since the 1990s. The agencies reaffirmed this in the NPRM. Nevertheless, they have chosen, so far, to only apply this rule to new trucks, while asking for comment “on whether to require that the speed limiting devices in these older CMVs be set to a speed not greater than a maximum specified set speed.” It is unreasonable that in the ten years since the petition was filed and after acknowledging in their NPRM that ECMs “have been installed in most heavy trucks since 1999,” that NHTSA and FMCSA were unable to propose a rule that extended to older CMVs with this technology already installed.

Furthermore, it is discouraging that after all of these years the agencies were unable to decide upon a speed limit, 60 mph, 65 mph, or 68 mph. That is a range of eight miles per hour. This may seem like a minimal difference in speed, but as the agencies note in their NPRM – this can have a huge effect on the impact force during a crash: “As speed increases, so does the amount of kinetic energy a vehicle has.” So how can the agencies note that a difference of five miles per hour can greatly enhance the kinetic energy of a vehicle, while considering setting speed limiters at 60 mph or 68 mph? The fact of the matter is that the agencies should have selected a speed to set the limiters before publishing the NPRM so that the public could have commented on their choice; asking for comments on all three options should have been asked when the petition was granted back in 2011.

We hope between now and the publication of this rule, NHTSA and FMCSA remember that their primary goals are to promote safety, and will implement a commonsense, life-saving rule.

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Statement on Announcement of Notice of Proposed Speed Limiter Rule

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Requiring Setting of Speed Limiters in Large Trucks to be Released;

TSC Encourages Agency to Apply Regulation to All Large Trucks

Arlington, VA (August 18, 2016): The Truck Safety Coalition, a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), is pleased that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) promulgated a Proposed Rule requiring speed limiters to be set on large trucks. This standard equipment, which is built into the truck’s engine control module, has actually been manufactured in large trucks since the early 1990s. While requiring speed limiters will advance truck safety and prevent needless truck crash injuries and fatalities, if the agency decides to only apply the rule to new trucks, it will greatly blunt the potential safety benefits.

John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition, explained the importance of this rule applying to all large trucks rather than just newer units: “According to findings from the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, more than one out of five large truck crashes were coded as ‘traveling too fast for conditions.’ By capping the speed at which large trucks can travel, this will not only reduce the occurrences of truck crashes, but will also greatly reduce the risk of death or injury by decreasing the impact of the collision.”

“Additionally, the safety benefits of speed limiters have not just been studied, but have also been realized by companies that equipped their trucks with this life-saving technology,” Lannen continued. “One company found that their non-speed limited vehicles were involved in over 40 percent of potentially severe crashes, despite only constituting 17 percent of their fleet. In Ontario, Canada, there was a 24 percent reduction in truck crashes within one year of mandating speed limiters to be set at 65mph. And when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) studied speed limiters, the agency determined that trucks equipped with speed limiters were nearly 50 percent less likely to be involved in a crash. Clearly this regulation will produce safety benefits, but the extent of those benefits can only be maximized by applying this rule to as many large trucks as possible.”

Lannen, concluded, “While we welcome this safety advancement, we find it necessary to point out that this rule took far too long to be published. The petition to initiate the rulemaking was filed in September of 2006. After a decade and almost 30 delays, it is clear that there is a problem with the rulemaking process. Unfortunately, one of the consequences of this broken system are the thousands of unnecessary speeding-related truck crashes that have occurred between then and now. We look forward to the United States catching up to other leading countries on the implementation of speed limiters, and will continue working to ensure that rather than following, the United States will lead on other safety advancements in trucking, in particular – automatic emergency braking.”

Two People Critically Injured Due to Truck Crash in Licking County, Ohio

On April 12, 2016 at approximately 8:40 a.m., State Trooper Rodney A. Hart, 45, was parked in the right lane of I-70 east of Buckeye Lake helping Shanice J. Parker, 23, with a disabled car when they were both hit by a semi-truck.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Rodney A. Hart and Shanice J. Parker were both inside the cruiser when the semi-truck drifted into the right lane, drove through the flares, and hit the patrol car. Ms. Parker was airlifted to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. Trooper Rodney A. Hart was transported to Licking Memorial Hospital in Newark for his injuries and later released.

The truck driver, Eric Miller, 36, of Montrose, South Dakota, was not injured and was charged with failure to maintain an assured clear distance ahead, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and driving a commercial vehicle with impaired alertness.

The crash is under investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years. Studies sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                           WE ARE HERE TO HELP

 

From the Truck Safety Coalition… FMCSA Shuts Down Wyoming Truck Company for Numerous Safety Violations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an out-of-service order to Bar D Bar Trucking. The agency ordered the motor carrier to cease operations after an investigators found violations including:

  • Failing to conduct pre-employment background checks on drivers
  • Failing to ensure drivers were qualified before dispatching them
  • Failing to properly monitor drivers to ensure compliance with hours-of-service requirements
  • Failing to conduct random drug and alcohol tests on drivers
  • Using a driver who tested positive for a controlled substance
  • Failing to ensure its vehicles were regularly inspected, maintained and repaired and that they met minimum safety standards

Additionally, the FMCSA also found that the company’s owner-operator was driving without a valid commercial driver’s license and is subject to a lifetime CDL disqualification.

TSC supports the regulation of legal Schedule II prescription drugs, in particular, those which list drowsiness and fatigue as side-effects. We also support monitoring or eliminating the use of any substance that impairs cognitive or motor ability for operators of commercial motor vehicles.

Link: http://www.ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=41367

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

From the Truck Safety Coalition… FMCSA Issues Out-of-Service Order for Defective Volvo Trucks

Volvo issued a recall for nearly 16,000 trucks due to a defect caused by the steering shaft missing a pin. Because these defective vehicles are likely to cause a crash or break down, the FMCSA has ordered inspectors to perform Level IV inspections and place any unrepaired truck out-of-service. Truck drivers operating these trucks may subject to civil penalties or criminal prosecution, but being placed out-of-service will not affect a carrier’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) score. TSC encourages a swift response, like this one, to reduce the dangers that could be caused by a defective truck.

Link: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2016-06880.pdf

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

 

From the Truck Safety Coalition… Speed Limiter, CDL Clearinghouse Rules Delayed Again

The Department of Transportation recently announced that two long overdue truck safety rules have been further delayed. The rule to require speed limiters on heavy-duty trucks is projected to be published on April 22. The Final Rule for a CDL Clearinghouse, which will develop a database of truck drivers who have failed a drug or alcohol test, is projected to be published on July 28. TSC is disappointed with the delays and will continue monitoring the progress of these regulations.

Link to Article: http://www.overdriveonline.com/dot-announces-further-delays-in-publication-of-speed-limiter-cdl-clearinghouse-rules/

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

 

 

From the Truck Safety Coalition… FMCSA Restores Raw CSA Data to Its Website

Following the passage of the FAST Act, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was prohibited from posting a carrier’s performance scores compiled under its Safety Management System (SMS) as well as the comparative scores among carriers. Upon making the required changes to become compliant with the new law, the agency restored the raw data the agency uses to compile safety scores for its Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) initiative to its website. Publishing the raw data, once again, is beneficial to public safety and the right thing to do. The scores are collected by taxpayer-funded law enforcement officers on tax-payer-funded roads

Link to CSA Webpage: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

Truck Safety Coalition Responds to Release of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Requiring Entry Level Driver Training

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published today in the Federal Register requiring training for entry-level commercial motor vehicle drivers is a welcome development in the effort to enhance truck safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) release of the NPRM, which is based upon the negotiated rulemaking conducted by the Entry Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC), comes 25 years after Congress passed a law requiring a rule on entry level driver training. While we are disappointed that this commonsense regulation has been stalled for so long, the Truck Safety Coalition looks forward to the safety benefits it will produce.

Ron Wood, a member of the ELDTAC and Truck Safety Coalition volunteer said, “This regulation will greatly enhance safety for truckers and the motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclist they drive alongside. Requiring commercial driver’s license applicants to train using a specific curriculum and behind-the-wheel training before they can attain a CDL will help make sure that new truck drivers are prepared to operate their vehicles. The theoretical component mandates training on fatigue awareness, hours of service, trip planning, operating a vehicle under various conditions, and several other safety issues that a professional truck driver needs to address. The requisite 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training will further ensure that CDL applicants can translate their theoretical knowledge into practice for what they may encounter on our nation’s roads and bridges.”

“Although I am eager that this rulemaking will lead to more well-trained drivers, this achievement is bittersweet as it comes too late for some of us.” Wood said. “In 2004, my mother, my sister, and her three children were killed by an inadequately trained driver who fell asleep at the wheel; he killed a total of ten people and injured two others in this crash that occurred 13 years after Congress required action on entry level driver training.”

John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition and also a member of the ELDTAC noted, “This negotiated rulemaking is a step in the right direction, but I would be remiss if I did not recognize the delay since the Congressional mandate was issued in the early nineties. Nevertheless, the Truck Safety Coalition is pleased to see that the FMCSA proceeded with the rulemaking that the advisory committee reached through consensus. Aside from the theoretical curricula and behind-the-wheel hourly requirements, there are other much needed safety improvements included in this rulemaking. Establishing standards for FMCSA-approved driver-training providers and a registry of those providers will help the agency ensure that this rulemaking is properly enforced. The Truck Safety Coalition will continue to monitor this NPRM moving forward, and will also continue applying pressure to make sure that this rulemaking becomes a Final Rule as quickly as possible.”

The Truck Safety Coalition (www.trucksafety.org) is a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT).  The Truck Safety Coalition is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating public policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.

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Rulemaking to Improve Rear Impact Guards and Protections

This NPRM proposes to upgrade Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 223, “Rear impact guards,” and FMVSS No. 224, “Rear impact protection,” which together address rear underride protection in crashes into trailers and semitrailers. NHTSA is proposing to adopt requirements of the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) for underride guards (CMVSS No. 223, “Rear impact guards,”) that became effective in 2007. The CMVSS No. 223 requirements are intended to provide rear impact guards with sufficient strength and energy absorption capability to protect occupants of compact and subcompact passenger cars impacting the rear of trailers at 56 km/h (35 mph). As the current requirements in FMVSS Nos. 223 and 224 were developed with the intent of providing underride crash protection to occupants of compact and subcompact passenger cars in impacts up to 48 km/h (30 mph) into the rear of trailers, increasing the robustness of the trailer/guard design such that it will be able to withstand crash velocities up to 56 km/h (35 mph) represents a substantial increase in the stringency of FMVSS Nos. 223 and 224.

This NPRM also proposes to adopt Transport Canada’s definition of “rear extremity” to define where on a trailer aerodynamic fairings are to be located to avoid posing a safety hazard in rear underride crashes.

Rear underride crashes are those in which the front end of a vehicle impacts the rear of a generally larger vehicle, and slides under the rear-impacted vehicle. Underride may occur to some extent in collisions in which a small passenger vehicle crashes into the rear end of a large trailer or semi-trailer because the bed and chassis of the impacted vehicle is higher than the hood of the passenger vehicle. In excessive underride crashes, there is “passenger compartment intrusion” (PCI) as the passenger vehicle underrides so far that the rear end of the struck vehicle collides with and enters the passenger compartment of the striking passenger vehicle. PCI can result in severe injuries and fatalities to occupants contacting the rear end of the struck vehicle. An underride guard prevents PCI when it engages the striking end of the smaller vehicle and stops the vehicle from sliding too far under the struck vehicle’s bed and chassis.

The occupant crash protection features built into today’s passenger vehicles are able to provide high levels of occupant protection in 56 km/h (35 mph) frontal crashes. (1) If guards were made stronger to remain in place and prevent PCI in crashes of severities of up to 56 km/h (35 mph), the impacting vehicle’s occupant protection technologies could absorb enough of the crash forces resulting from the impact to significantly reduce the risk of fatality and serious injury to the occupants of the colliding vehicle.

Link: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA_FRDOC_0001-1548

FMCSA Steps Closer to Correcting Insufficient Minimum Insurance Requirements for Motor Carriers

FMCSA STEPS CLOSER TO CORRECTING INSUFFICIENT MINIMUM INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR MOTOR CARRIERS

Truck Crash Survivors and Families of Truck Crash Victims Support Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Urge FMCSA to Ensure that Truck Crash Damages are Adequately Addressed

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 2, 2014) – On Friday, November 28, 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an advanced noticed of proposed rulemaking to evaluate options for increasing the level of minimum insurance requirements and for future rulemaking. Minimum insurance is the absolute bare minimum amount of insurance coverage that trucks are required to carry in order to operate, and should adequately cover the damages resulting from a truck crash. Minimum insurance on motor carriers has not been revised for over 30 years since it was set at $750,000 for carriers of property. Increases to minimum insurance for 30 years of medical care inflation are necessary and long overdue. Current minimum insurance levels for motor carriers frequently fail to adequately cover the property damage and human costs caused by truck crashes.  As a result, private citizens are forced to unfairly subsidize motor carriers that comply with federal rules yet still lack sufficient insurance coverage. Last week’s step toward rulemaking follows decades of truck safety advocacy by families who have been personally impacted as a result of insufficient minimum insurance requirements.

Kate Brown, Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) Illinois Volunteer Coordinator and Illinois State Freight Advisory Committee (ISFAC) member after her son Graham was permanently, partially disabled in a 2005 truck crash said, “Our families’ losses are two-fold.  First, we are forced to bear the costs of a lifetime of grief and suffering when loved ones are needlessly killed and endure debilitating injuries. Second, we are forced to assume a tremendous financial burden that drains our savings and threatens our financial security.”  Brown added, “Graham’s medical bills exceeded the carrier’s insurance within the first couple of months of his hospitalization. Our personal savings and retirement accounts were sacrificed to get him the care he needed.”

Minimum insurance requirements should be increased immediately to compensate for 30 years of medical care cost inflation. Additionally, the minimum insurance level should be reassessed on a yearly basis to ensure that it is fulfilling its intention. Truck crashes have the capacity to inflict catastrophic damages on multiple victims and families. Motor carriers should be required to carry adequate insurance per claimant, rather than per crash so that each person involved in the crash has access to sufficient resources in order to cover the loss of their loved ones, their medical expenses, loss of income and loss of property.

Jackie Novak, TSC Volunteer, said, “Some segments of the motor carrier industry choose not to have sufficient insurance to cover all of their damages caused in a crash. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is aware of the gap between insurance coverage and costs, and has been exceedingly slow to issue a rule to close the gap. Every day that they fail to do so is an unconscionable burden on our families.”

Novak’s son, Charles “Chuck” Novak, and his girlfriend, Theresa Seaver, were killed in a 2010 truck crash that claimed the lives of three others. A total of 15 were killed or injured in that crash. Novak added, “The motor carrier that caused the crash only held a $1 million policy, slightly higher than the minimum now required under federal rule.”

Marianne Karth, a TSC Volunteer, after losing her daughters AnnaLeah and Mary in a 2013 truck crash that also injured Marianne and her son, launched the “AnnaLeah and Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety” petition. The Karth family gained more than 11,000 supporters seeking to improve truck safety and specifically to raise minimum insurance level requirements. The Karths delivered the petition to the U.S. DOT in May 2014.

Karth said, “We urge the FMCSA to heed the groundswell of support to increase minimum insurance levels that is evident in our petition. Act expediently! Thirty years of insufficient coverage is long enough. Families that pay such a high emotional price should not be forced to also bear the financial burden for their loss from a truck crash.”

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Safety Advocates, Teamsters Sue U.S. DOT for Failing to Issue Long-Overdue Truck Driver Training Requirements

For Immediate Release:

Sept. 18, 2014

Contact:

Karilyn Gower (202) 588-7779

Beth Weaver (301) 814-4088

Safety Advocates, Teamsters Sue U.S. DOT for Failing to Issue Long-Overdue Truck Driver Training Requirements

20 Years, Two Lawsuits and Two Congressional Mandates Later, Inexperienced Truck Drivers Still Hit the Road With No Behind-the-Wheel Training

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A federal appellate court should order the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue a long-overdue rule outlining training standards for entry-level truck drivers, safety advocates and a union told the court in a lawsuit filed today.

Congress initially told the agency to finish a rulemaking process on driver training by 1993, but the agency still has not done so.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters filed the suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia against the DOT and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency charged with issuing the rule. Public Citizen is representing the groups.

“People are dying needlessly while the agency drags its feet,” said Henry Jasny, senior vice president and general counsel with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “New truck drivers need to be properly trained before they get behind the wheel. This is a dereliction of the agency’s duty.”

“Enough is enough,” said Adina Rosenbaum, attorney for Public Citizen. “Twenty years, two lawsuits and two congressional mandates have not been successful at prodding the DOT into issuing the entry-level driver training rule. The court should step in and order the agency to act.”

There are 3.9 million commercial motor vehicle drivers in the U.S. with commercial driver’s licenses, and new drivers get on the roads daily. Drivers need only receive 10 hours of classroom lectures and pass a test to get their commercial driver’s license to drive a truck.

Large trucks that can weigh up to 40 tons when fully loaded are more complicated to operate than automobiles. Inexperienced truck drivers have higher crash rates and should have hours of supervised, behind-the-wheel training before they are allowed on the highways.

Approximately 4,000 people die and nearly 100,000 more are injured annually in truck crashes, according to government data. Large truck crash fatalities increased by 4 percent in 2012. This follows a 2 percent increase in 2011 and a 9 percent increase in 2010, despite a decline in overall motor vehicle deaths. Further, there was an 18 percent increase in 2012 of those injured in large truck crashes. The annual cost to society from large truck crashes is estimated to be more than $99 billion.

Dorothy Wert’s husband, David Wert, Sr., was killed in 2011 in a truck crash caused by an inexperienced truck driver who left his broken-down truck parked in the middle of a dark Pennsylvania highway at 3 a.m. with no lights on and no warning signals or flares. After the crash, David, a truck driver with 35 years of experience, managed to drive his truck safely onto the side of the road in spite of suffering fatal injuries.

“We have waited far too long for a requirement to ensure that truck drivers know what they are doing and have been tested before we allow them behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound truck,” said Wert, a CRASH volunteer advocate who lives in Montrose, Pa. “Truck drivers should not be allowed to drive without a required understanding of the regulations and a minimum number of training hours behind the wheel. I know that my husband would be alive today if the driver that caused Dave’s crash had been better trained, had more experience and had taken the proper precautions.”

“Proper training is absolutely necessary for new drivers to operate their rigs safely,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president. “The agency is shirking its responsibility by not issuing this long-overdue rule.”

The path to the rule has been long. In 1991, concerned about truck crashes, Congress passed a law requiring the DOT to complete a rulemaking by 1993 on the need to require training of entry-level commercial motor vehicle operators.

In 2002, when no rule had been issued, safety advocates went to court to force the agency to act. The DOT agreed to issue the rule by 2004. While it did issue a rule that year, the rule was grossly inadequate, requiring only 10 hours of classroom lectures, none of it on-the-road training. That is the rule that is still on the books.

Safety advocates returned to court, and in 2005, the court ruled that FMCSA had disregarded volumes of evidence that on-street training enhances safety. In 2007, the DOT issued another proposed rule, but the agency never finished it.

In 2012, Congress passed a second law (the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” also known as MAP-21) requiring the DOT to issue the entry-level training rule, this time by Oct. 1, 2013. Congress specified that the rule had to include behind-the-wheel training.

During the next year, FMCSA held listening sessions. Then, on Sept. 19, 2013, it withdrew the 2007 proposed rule that had been in limbo and said it was going back to the drawing board. On Aug. 19, 2014, FMCSA published a notice indicating it had not begun work on the new rule and did not intend to anytime soon. Instead, it said that it was exploring conducting a negotiated rulemaking, and that it had hired a “neutral convener” who would interview all concerned parties, balance all the interests and issue a report before the agency decided what type of rulemaking to undertake. No timetable was given for completion of the rule.

“The FMCSA’s inaction to release a new notice of proposed rulemaking for entry-level driver training is perpetuating a hazard for everyone on our roadways by permitting inexperienced drivers to interact with the unknowing public,” said John Lannen, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition, a partnership between CRASH and Parents Against Tired Truckers. “This hazard will only grow in scope as the turnover rate for truck drivers continues to remain extremely high – over 90 percent – and the current truck driver work force ages out.”

Read the lawsuit here.

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Read Our Letter to Secretary Foxx in Response to the Motor Carrier Industry’s Letter Regarding FMCSA’s CSA Program

Dear Secretary Foxx:

On behalf of the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), the thousands of families who have lost loved ones, and the tens of thousands more who have been injured each year in truck crashes, we are writing in response to the August 22, 2014, letter sent to you from members of the motor carrier industry regarding the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. In this letter members of the trucking industry request that the Department, “remove motor property and passenger carriers’ CSA Safety Measurement System scores from public view.” Our organizations and volunteers strongly oppose this request to hide lifesaving safety data from the public. The safety-focused culture engendered by CSA greatly relies on the accountability it produces by making its data publicly available. We urge you to protect the current system and ensure that the CSA Safety Measurement System scores are not removed from public view.

In 2010, the FMCSA replaced their SafeStat Program with the CSA program that includes the Safety Management System (SMS). From the beginning, SMS and CSA were rolled out with the understanding that they would undergo improvements and modifications, and FMCSA has followed this plan. FMCSA has made changes to the SMS system to reflect stakeholder concerns and suggestions. The most recent changes occurred in July 2014, when FMCSA announced a package of enhancements to the SMS website resulting “from feedback solicited from motor carriers, law enforcement personnel, industry representatives and other stakeholders who were given an opportunity to critique various website enhancement proposals.”[1] As changes continue to be considered and made to hone the CSA Program, it is essential that CSA retains the ability to efficiently analyze data for timely intervention, that it is cost effective given FMCSA’s limited resources, that it remains fair to truck crash victims and their surviving family and friends by retaining the current Crash Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) system of including all crashes regardless of fault, and that it includes public access to carrier safety data.

In 2006, the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) was formed to provide advice and recommendations to the FMCSA Administrator on motor carrier safety programs and motor carrier safety regulations. As you know, MCSAC is composed of motor carrier industry stakeholders including industry representatives, law enforcement, family members of truck crash victims, and safety organizations. In MCSAC meetings, when CSA benefits have been discussed, committee members noted that the system “is dispensing more data and giving the agency the ability to reach more carriers without a dramatic increase in resources” and inspiring “the start of a cultural change in the industry by forcing carriers to focus on the details of safety management.”[2] A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on CSA supports this assertion. The report identifies that industry stakeholders have found “that CSA’s greater reach and provision of data have helped raise the profile of safety issues across the industry. According to industry stakeholders, carriers are now more engaged and more frequently consulting with law enforcement for safety briefings.”[3]

Moreover, independent analysis indicates that MCSAC and other industry stakeholders’ assessment is accurate and that the CSA Program is a significant improvement over the prior system. Several key points from FMCSA’s own evaluation include:

  • CSA is effectively monitoring the industry with an interventions model that demonstrates an overall 35 percent increase in the number of carriers reached per Safety Investigator;[4]
  • From the CSA rollout in December 2010 until the end of 2011, violations per roadside inspection declined by eight percent and driver violations per inspection declined by 12 percent;[5] and,
  • Compliance improved while being less intrusive and time-consuming for all motor carriers (both large and small).[6]

These results show the most significant improvement in violation rates in the last 10 years. The advances achieved with the CSA program are necessary and long overdue and should not be modified in ways that will hinder their effectiveness. As with a previous attempt by the motor carrier industry to pressure FMCSA to hide and remove safety data (from the CSA Crash BASIC), removing data from public view will serve to reduce, rather than promote, safety.

The GAO report agrees with CSA’s “data-driven, risk-based approach.”[7] The GAO believes that the CSA “holds promise and can help FMCSA effectively identify carriers exhibiting compliance or safety issues—such as violations or involvement in crashes.”[8] Additionally, the report confirms FMCSA’s claim that the CSA program has helped the agency contact or investigate more motor carrier companies and that it is an improvement over the previous SafeStat system.[9]  Although the GAO did include recommendations to improve CSA in its report, they were issued to help CSA to become a sharper, more useful tool. The GAO never recommended or suggested the removal of the SMS scores from the CSA website.

The next step in enhancing the SMS system is a revised safety fitness determination (SFD) that reaches significantly more carriers than the approximately 12,000 yearly SFDs that FMCSA is currently able to perform through onsite compliance reviews. The SFD will more effectively use FMCSA data and resources to identify unfit motor carriers by analyzing the CSA BASIC data and other performance data to determine a carrier’s level of safety, and will address many of the motor carrier industry’s concerns. Although FMCSA indicated in their August 2014 Significant Rulemakings Report that a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the SFD will be issued in February 2015, we urge FMCSA and DOT to expedite the release of the revised SFD NPRM.

We urge the Department to continue to preserve and improve the efficient and effective CSA program including its essential public access to data which has, in a relatively short time, already helped to elevate the safety culture within the trucking industry. As FMCSA improves the CSA program and expands its data collection and delivery of safety information, we encourage FMCSA to ensure that the results produce greater oversight for both large and small carriers.

Sincerely,

Ed Slattery Board Member, Parents Against Tired Truckers Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee CSA Subcommittee (recently disbanded)

Tami Friedrich Trakh Board Member, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee CSA Subcommittee (recently disbanded)

John Lannen Executive Director, Truck Safety Coalition Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee CSA Subcommittee (recently disbanded)


[1] “FMCSA Announces Enhancements to SMS Website.” Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Duane DeBruyne Office of Public Affairs FMCSA, 25 July 2014. Web. 27 Aug. 2014.

[2] “TopNews.” New Advisory Panel Broadens Access to CSA Planning. Trucking Info Publisher David Moniz, 27  Aug. 2012. Web. 26 Aug. 2014.

[3] United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Federal Motor Carrier Safety: Modifying the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program Would Improve the Ability to Identify High Risk Carriers, GAO-14-114, Feb. 2014, page 14.

[4] FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION BEFORE THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON SMALL BUSINESS, 112th Cong. (2012) (testimony of Wiliam A. Bronrott). Print.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Federal Motor Carrier Safety: Modifying the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program Would Improve the Ability to Identify High Risk Carriers, GAO-14-114, Feb. 2014, page 31.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid., page 13.

Anne Ferro’s Letter to FMCSA Colleagues

The longest-serving administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Anne Ferro, announced her resignation on Friday, July 25. Here is the full text of the letter to her colleagues announcing her resignation.

Dear FMCSA Colleagues,

It has been my greatest privilege to serve side-by-side with you to advance FMCSA’s life saving mission. And in keeping with my pledge to be open and transparent with you about the things that affect your workplace, I’m writing to personally let you know that I will be leaving the agency towards the end of August to take on a new role as President and CEO of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

While the opportunity to assume this position at AAMVA is another personal dream come true, no job can match the immense honor I have had serving President Obama, and Secretaries Foxx and LaHood with you — the dedicated individuals who persevere every day to make safe transportation a reality for all of us.

Together, we have made a difference for countless families across the country by raising the bar for safety in motor carrier operations. We have worked to ensure that companies and drivers are more accountable for their actions, strengthened our oversight of high-risk carriers, created better tools for our law enforcement partners, and opened up a new world of useful  data to educate both businesses and consumers alike.  On a daily basis we have also recognized the significant contributions that commercial truck and bus drivers make to roadway safety and our nation’s economic vitality. As part of that effort, we have highlighted the daily demands and economic pressure drivers often face because they are paid by-the-mile or load instead of their total time on-duty. In the GROW AMERICA Act we are seeking to change that compensation model so drivers receive fair wages for every hour they spend working — including time detained unloading and loading at the mercy of shippers and receivers.

I hope you are proud of the life-saving work you accomplish and look forward to tackling more tough challenges ahead.  I certainly am proud to have served as your Administrator.  You are professionals united in a single mission — to save lives — and I encourage you to continue to rely on each other’s strengths and redouble your energy toward that highest of goals.

With about a month left in my federal service, I will get to thank many of you in person.  For today, please accept my sincere gratitude and admiration for the remarkable work you do and for what we have accomplished together.

Thank you!

Anne

 

Celebrating Daphne Izer, Champion of Change

On May 13, 2014, Daphne Izer, founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), was honored by the White House as a Transportation Champion of Change for her 20 years of truck safety advocacy and commitment to reducing truck driver fatigue. PATT was founded in 1994 by Daphne and her husband Steve Izer after their teenage son, Jeff Izer, and his friends were tragically killed by a fatigued truck driver. Daphne directed the grief and anger over the loss of her son into advocacy and change.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) praised Daphne’s tireless work and efforts and congratulated her on this tremendous honor. In a recent article, FMCSA Administrator, Anne Ferro, stated,

Her work to create a national standard for the use of Electronic Logging Devices is a tribute to her son, Jeff, and the thousands of others who have been killed in truck crashes. Daphne’s efforts to improve highway safety have created an awareness of truck driver fatigue and enabled FMCSA to gain support for our Electronic Logging Devices proposal. I’m proud to say that in March, FMCSA announced our proposal to require motor carriers to use Electronic Logging Devices to improve the quality of logbook data and compliance with hours of service safety rules. The uniform use of Electronic Logging Devices is an important step for saving lives and preventing serious injuries.

President Obama also commended Daphne, thanking her for the hard work she does every day.

 Congratulations on being selected as a White House Champion of Change.From the earliest days of our founding, our Nation has been shaped by ordinary people who have dared to dream and use their unique skills to do extraordinary things. Americans like you help carry this tradition forward by reaching for new ideas that will help our country win the future.

Read the rest of the letter from President Obama to Daphne below.

Congratulations to Daphne on all she has achieved—and will continue to achieve—as a Champion of Change.

 

FMCSA Report Confirms Minimum Insurance is Too Low

Contact: Beth Weaver

301.814.4088/beth_weaver@verizon.net

 FMCSA Report Verifies Financial Responsibility Requirement Deficiency

Safety Groups and Truck Crash Victims Urge FMCSA To Act Quickly To Increase Requirement Level

Families and Taxpayers Should Not be Forced to Bear Uninsured Costs

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 22, 2014) – Truck crash victims and safety advocates responded positively to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) report on commercial motor vehicle financial responsibility requirements, Examining the Appropriateness of the Current Financial Responsibility and Security Requirements for Motor Carriers, Brokers, and Freight Forwarders – Report to Congress, and at the same time rejected the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) claim that increases are unnecessary. The report, directed by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (P.L. 112 – 141, Section 32104), found that current financial responsibility minimums are inadequate, and supports efforts by Members of Congress, safety groups and responsible truck industry participants to secure an increase in financial responsibility requirements.

“Over 30 years ago, Congress set the minimum insurance rule for trucks and motor carriers at $750,000 to cover everyone impacted in a crash, whether it’s two, ten or twenty people killed and injured,” said Kate Brown, Illinois Volunteer Coordinator, Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) and Member, Illinois State Freight Advisory Committee, whose son was severely injured in a truck crash. “The amount of coverage has not changed in over 30 years. During that time, trucks have gotten bigger and heavier, inflation has gone up, medical care costs have skyrocketed and many truck crashes now result in damages that exceed several million dollars. When the insurance coverage falls short, the American public is left to foot the bill for these injuries and losses like I had to do when my son was injured.”

In 1980, the Motor Carrier Act was passed in response to deregulation of the trucking industry, setting financial responsibility levels for motor carriers to “assure that public safety is not jeopardized,” and to reduce concerns that safe drivers would be pressured to cut costs in order to be competitive “…by operating in violation of minimum safety standards.”  Financial responsibility levels were to be set at a level “sufficient to require ‘on site’ inspection by the insurance company, with minimums to be updated regularly.” Unfortunately, levels were not set high enough to accomplish this goal, and regular updates have never occurred. In effect, this lowered the minimum required, and allowed undercapitalized carriers to enter the market with minimal or no underwriting from insurance companies, which is the complete opposite result that was intended when the federal government set a minimum level.

Jackie Novak, TSC North Carolina Volunteer, whose son Chuck Novak and his girlfriend Theresa Seaver were killed in a crash in Henderson County, North Carolina said, “The total number of fatalities and injuries in the crash that killed Chuck was 15. The motor carrier that caused the crash only held a $1 million policy, slightly higher than the minimum now required, which had to be split among five families who lost loved ones and ten injured, as well as all other parties who had a claim to the settlement, such as emergency responders. The insurance did not come close to covering medical costs, or providing for surviving families and children, like my grandson.” Novak added, “The American people unknowingly subsidize the uninsured costs of the trucking industry through programs such as Medicaid and Social Security. When financial responsibility is set so low, and costs are passed on to the victims, there is no deterrent for unsafe behavior.”

Marianne Karth, who lost her daughters AnnaLeah and Mary nearly one year ago in a truck crash that also injured Marianne and her son, said, “I couldn’t believe it when I learned how low financial responsibility requirements were set and that they hadn’t been increased in decades. No one, and that includes truck drivers, should have to deal with astronomical medical costs and potential personal financial ruin on top of the tragedy of losing family members. I ask OOIDA to reconsider their position on this issue, and to acknowledge that they sell truck insurance and are therefore not themselves a neutral party.” Karth continued, “My family and I have launched our ‘AnnaLeah and Mary Stand Up for Truck Safety’ petition to urge Secretary Foxx to immediately increase minimum insurance levels to, at the bare minimum, account for 30 years of medical care inflation, as well as, to address outstanding truck safety improvements. We hope to personally present him with over 15,000 signatures in a couple of weeks, and that the message we bring will prevent other families from unnecessarily suffering when there are readily available solutions to truck safety issues.”

To add your signature to the “AnnaLeah and Mary Stand Up for Truck Safety” petition, please go to: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/957/501/869/stand-up-for-truck-safety/

The Truck Safety Coalition is a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.) dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public, policymakers and media about truck safety issues. More information is available at www.trucksafety.org.

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Truck Safety Advocates Respond to the ATA’s Push to Remove Crash Data From the CSA Crash BASIC

Click here to read the press release.

NTSB recommends 10-year employment database for truck drivers

NTSB recommends 10-year employment database for truck drivers

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor

2/1/13

A fatal crash involving a truck and an Amtrak train in Nevada in 2011 could significantly affect the employment screening process for truck drivers if NTSB gets its way.

Citing the crash that killed six people including the truck driver on June 24, 2011, near Reno, the National Transportation Safety Board rolled out a list of recommendations to agencies including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Topping the list, NTSB Administrator Deborah Hersman is urging the FMCSA to create a national database for commercial drivers and require motor carriers to screen 10 years of driver employment history prior to hiring.

Hersman framed the three-part employment screening request, along with an additional recommendation on brake monitoring, in a letter to FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro, dated Jan. 28, 2013.

NTSB investigators noted that the driver of the truck that collided with the Amtrak train, Lawrence Valli, 43 of Winnemucca, NV, had an “erratic” employment history including citations and crashes.

In addition, Valli was reportedly using a cellphone just before the crash, and was within 300 feet of the intersection before applying his brakes.

The NTSB noted that 11 of the 16 brake drums on the Peterbilt that Valli was driving were “worn beyond specified limits.” That led to a citation of Valli’s employer, John Davis Trucking, for failing to provide a safe vehicle.

Hersman requested that Ferro take action on the four specific recommendations within 90 days.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said current and future truckers have reason to be concerned with the recommendations for what they do, and what they don’t do. He says technology and regulations – some that show negligible or no safety benefit – are no substitute for adequate training and experience behind the wheel.

“People want to latch onto this ‘gotcha’ mentality that technology and enforcement can improve safety, yet we’re not even requiring people entering this industry to have any training or any assurance that they can be safe and successful behind the wheel,” Spencer said.

“A database that would keep records on millions of drivers for 10 years would be a big undertaking,” he adds. “While I’m assuming it’s their belief that it might have an improvement on safety, I would assume that most of the drivers being entered into the database would not have anything like 10 years of experience. A driver without experience is not likely to have any blemishes on their records, but that is not an assurance that they would be safe drivers.”

Specifically, the four NTSB recommendations to FMCSA are as follows:

  • H-12-54: Create a mechanism to gather and record commercial driving-related employment history information about all drivers who have a commercial driver’s license, and make this information available to all prospective motor carrier employers.
  • H-12-55: Using the mechanism developed in Safety Recommendation H-12-54, require motor carriers to conduct and document investigations into the employment records of prospective drivers for the 10 years that precede the application date.
  • H-12-55: Require motor carriers to retrieve records from the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) and the National Driver Register (NDR) for all driver applicants so that they can obtain a complete driving and license history of prospective drivers.
  • H-12-56: Inform commercial vehicle inspectors of (1) the importance of taking pushrod stroke measurements within the specified pressure range, (2) the relationship between pushrod stroke and specific air pressure, and (3) the consequence of taking measurements outside of this range.

The FMCSA already collects data from roadside inspections as well as crash reports and stores that information in the Motor Carrier Management Information System. The MCMIS database populates the Pre-Employment Screening Program and data is also used in the CSA enforcement program. The agency currently maintains records for five years on crashes and three years on violations on drivers.

“From what we’re hearing from our members, the data in that system is not even close to accurate,” Spencer points out.

Should the FMCSA respond with proposed rule change for a 10-year database, the public will get a chance to comment. OOIDA would file comments, Spencer said.

Copyright © OOIDA

http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryID=24726

Speed limiter report: Trucks with devices had 50% lower ‘speed-limiter relevant’ crash rate

 
WASHINGTON — A report detailing research on the safety impact of speed limiters device installations on commercial motor vehicles shows that trucks equipped with speed limiters had a 50 percent lower speed limiter-relevant crash rate compared to trucks without speed limiters.
 
The report, requested by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Office of Analysis, Research and Technology and conducted by MaineWay Services of Fryeburg, Maine, was recently released by FMCSA.
 
The report says that assessing whether a crash was speed limiter-relevant was based on four types of information found in the dataset:
 
• Location of the crash (e.g., highway with speed limit less than 60 mph)
• Crash type (e.g., rear-end truck striking)
• Contributing factor(s) in the crash (used to exclude crashes; e.g., weather-related), and
• Crash narrative.
 
The speed limiter-relevant crash rate for trucks without speed limiters was five crashes per 100 trucks/year compared to 1.4 per 100 trucks/year for trucks with speed limiters.
 
In addition, the report showed that the overall crash rate for trucks without a speed limiter was higher compared with trucks equipped with a speed limiter — 16.4 crashes per 100 trucks/year for trucks without a speed limiter versus 11 crashes per 100 trucks/year for trucks with a speed limiter.
 
“Results from multiple analyses indicated a profound safety benefit for trucks equipped with an active speed limiter,” the report concluded.
 
The American Trucking Associations, the Truckload Carriers Association and safety advocates support the creation of a federal regulation requiring speed limiters on commercial trucks.
 
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration late last year officially issued a “grant notice” on petitions filed in 2006 by ATA and another group, both of which seek a rulemaking that would require speed limiters on commercial trucks.
 
The notice appeared in the Federal Register late last year and says that NHTSA will initiate the rulemaking process on the issue with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2012.
 
On the federal rulemaking management system, NHTSA says this about the proposed rule:
 
“This rulemaking would respond to petitions from ATA and Roadsafe America to require the installation of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks. In response, NHTSA requested public comment on the subject and received thousands of comments supporting the petitioners’ request. Based on the available safety data and the ancillary benefit of reduced fuel consumption, this rulemaking would consider a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard that would require the installation of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks. We believe this rule would have minimal cost, as all heavy trucks already have these devices installed, although some vehicles do not have the limit set. This rule would decrease the estimated 8,991 fatalities caused by crashes involving heavy trucks and buses. It would also increase the fleet fuel efficiency of these vehicles.”
 
Although listed timetables are rarely realized, NHTSA says it plans to have a proposed rule to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation this month.
 
Estimates on how many fleets use speed limiters ranges from 60 to 80 percent, the report says.

Update: Commerce Committee passes Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act

Great Safety News!
Yesterday, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act as part of the transportation authorization bill.   Thanks to your efforts, we have won a significant safety victory.
The bill includes:
  • 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.
We thank Senators Lautenberg, Rockefeller, and Pryor for their leadership on truck and highway safety.  If you would also like to thank the Senators for their leadership and commitment to truck safety, please send us an email note at info@trucksafety.org and we will be glad to pass them on to their Transportation Legislative Assistants.
Of course our work is not done yet – the bill still needs to get passed by the full Senate and then the House.  Please continue to stay in touch with your Members of Congress during winter recess and express your support for these safety provisions in S.1950.

FMCSA Fines American Welding & Tank Company

 

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.