STATEMENT OF SAFETY ADVOCATES AND TRUCK CRASH VICTIMS’ FAMILIES CONDEMNING FMCSA PLAN TO WITHDRAW IMPORTANT RULE ON TRUCK DRIVER FATIGUE

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

STATEMENT OF SAFETY ADVOCATES AND TRUCK CRASH VICTIMS’ FAMILIES CONDEMNING FMCSA PLAN TO WITHDRAW IMPORTANT RULE ON TRUCK DRIVER FATIGUE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 7, 2017

Truck Drivers Suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Fatigue are a Clear Threat to Themselves and Other Road Users

Dropping Rules to Screen and Assist Drivers with OSA Puts Lives at Risk

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is threatening the safety of all motorists by abandoning plans to require screening and treatment for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). FMCSA’s plan to withdraw an important safety rulemaking which is already underway ignores the advice of medical experts, fellow federal regulators and even the agency’s own advisory committees. The move comes at a time when the number of truck crashes, fatalities and injuries continues to skyrocket.

Fatigue is a well-known and well-documented safety problem.  Large truck and motorcoach drivers frequently work long shifts with irregular schedules, often without adequate sleep. Compelling and consistent research from groups like the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has shown that OSA-afflicted drivers who are not properly treated are more prone to fatigue and have a higher crash rate than the general driver population. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also considers OSA to be a disqualifying condition unless properly treated. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is so concerned about fatigue-involved crashes that the Board included fatigue on both its 2016 and 2017/2018 Most Wanted List of safety changes because fatigue has been cited as a major contributor to truck crashes.

Ignoring the threat of fatigued truck drivers is particularly dangerous at a time when annual truck crash fatalities are comparable to a major airplane crash every other week of the year. In 2015, crashes involving large trucks led to the deaths of 4,067 people and left 116,000 more injured. Moreover, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), fatalities in large truck crashes have increased by 20 percent since 2009 and large truck crash injuries have increased by 57 percent over the same time period.

It is especially disappointing that FMCSA is failing to heed the warning of its own advisory committees regarding OSA screenings. In 2012, the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) and its Medical Review Board found that drivers with a body mass index of 35 or greater are more likely to suffer from OSA and recommended that they undergo an objective evaluation for the condition.

FMCSA’s move to kill this vital rule threatens the safety of truck drivers and the public at large. Basic safety protections are critical not only to help identify CMV drivers with OSA and get them the treatment they need, but also to provide clear rules to the industry, drivers and medical professionals on how best to deal with this significant safety risk.

Henry Jasny, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and a MCSAC member, said, “In abandoning its effort to screen professional commercial drivers for the serious medical condition of obstructive sleep apnea, the FMCSA fails to protect public safety on our highways from those who drive while fatigued due to this condition. The agency also shows a callous disregard for the health and well-being of drivers who suffer from OSA. This is yet another example of the FMCSA throwing its mission, to make safety its highest priority, under the bus.”

“Today, FMCSA showed, once again, a lack of commitment to improving commercial motor carrier safety at a time when truck crashes, injuries, and fatalities continue to surge,” said John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition and member of the MCSAC. “The agency’s misguided move also demonstrates a refusal to listen to the advice of advisory boards with experts on this issue – the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and the Medical Review Board. The withdrawal of this lifesaving rule that would establish requirements for sleep apnea screening is baffling given the agency is charged with improving motor carrier safety and, according to one of the largest sleep apnea studies, up to 50 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers are at risk this health problem.”

Jane Mathis, a board member of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) who also serves on the MCSAC, stated, “Sleep apnea is a scientifically proven sleep disorder that causes a brief interruption of breathing during sleep. People with sleep apnea are at risk of becoming fatigued as their body and brain are deprived of oxygen and the restorative effects of sleep. Policymakers at the FMCSA should be doing more to prevent truck crashes, which have skyrocketed 45 percent since 2009, including preventing truckers with OSA from getting behind the wheel and driving tired because of their sleep disorder. My son David and his wife of five days Mary Kathryn were driving home from their honeymoon when they were rear-ended and killed by a truck driver who had fallen asleep behind the wheel. Withdrawing this rulemaking is a step in the wrong direction for the safety of all motorists.”

Steve Owings, Co-Founder of Road Safe America and a MCSAC member, stated, “As the father of a young man who was killed in a truck crash, I know how dangerous large trucks can be and how critically important safety protections are. Drivers suffering from OSA are at risk from the effects of fatigue which pose a real danger to all those who share the road with large trucks. I am disheartened and dismayed that the FMCSA is ignoring the advice of its own advisory panels and other experts by withdrawing plans to require OSA screenings for commercial truck drivers. In fact, a survey prepared for the FMCSA found that almost two-thirds of drivers often or sometimes felt drowsy while driving and almost half had said they had fallen asleep while driving the previous year. Instead of taking action to remedy this problem, today’s action fails the motoring public.”

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Electronic Stability Control

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

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… Overweight Dump Truck Crashes into Tractor-Trailer in NY, Multiple Citations Issued

An overweight dump truck failed to yield at a roundabout, crossed over the center median, and struck a tractor-trailer. While it is fortunate that neither driver was injured, it is unfortunate that the dump truck driver was allowed to operate given his blatant disregard of the law. Aside from disobeying traffic laws, the dump truck driver also failed to follow the rules governing trucking. The State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit found that the dump truck’s brakes were out of adjustment and that the truck was five tons too heavy. TSC supports stronger commercial motor vehicle enforcement to identify and remove truck drivers who disregard safety and imperil the public.

http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Police-Overweight-truck-caused-Malta-roundabout-6871246.php

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

Auto safety is Not Alone: Truck safety Also Suffers from NHTSA’s “Tiny” Budget and Workforce

In response to reports released that show how regulators failed to identify an ignition defect in millions of G.M. cars that has been linked to at least 19 deaths, The New York Times published an editorial discussing how Congress needs to strengthen the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), the federal agency responsible for investigating auto defects.The editorial points to a lack of funding from Congress as a reason for the agency’s failure to identify this defect.

Truck safety also suffers from NHTSA’s small budget and staff. We are overdue on rulemaking for rear underride guards, side and front guards, speed governors, forward collision avoidance and mitigation systems and electronic stability control technology. Each year that these rules are not released results in serious injuries and loss of lives.

Rep. McGovern Receives the Promoting Highway Safety Through Legislation Award

September 21, 2011

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.”

http://westborough.patch.com/articles/mcgovern-recognized-with-truck-safety-award

30 percent of tractor-trailers, dump trucks overweight

In ‘cat-and-mouse game’ with truckers, FDOT has dull claws; As many as 30 percent of tractor-trailers, dump trucks overweight
By: Fred Hiers / Star-Banner (Ocala, Florida); Monday, October 22, 2007

OCALA – Carlos Reinoso sat with the door of his dump truck slung open and his legs dangling over the side. He couldn’t have looked more bored.

Continue reading “30 percent of tractor-trailers, dump trucks overweight”

Hours Of Service Regulations: (FAQ’s)

1. Do trucks pose a significant safety problem?

Yes. More than 5,000 people have been killed annually in truck-related crashes for the past several years. Large trucks are severely over represented in annual crash figures. Although they are only 3 percent of the registered vehicles, they are responsible for 12 to 13 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths each year Continue reading “Hours Of Service Regulations: (FAQ’s)”

THE DANGERS OF FATIGUED, SLEEP-DEPRIVED TRUCK DRIVERS

Fatigue Is A Killer: Operator fatigue and sleep deprivation are serious, worldwide safety problems in all transportation modes. Operator fatigue has been identified by national governments and the European Union as a major contributor to air, maritime, railroad, and passenger vehicle crashes. In the United States, the Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board have cited fatigue as a major factor in truck crash causation. These crashes lead to losses of life Continue reading “THE DANGERS OF FATIGUED, SLEEP-DEPRIVED TRUCK DRIVERS”