Statement of the Truck Safety Coalition on Release of 2018 Truck Crash Fatalities

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

    Statement of the Truck Safety Coalition on Release of 2018 Truck Crash Fatalities

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) release of the 2018 Fatality Analysis Reporting System data shows that crashes involving at least one large truck claimed 4,951 lives in 2018.

    First and foremost, we extend our deepest condolences to all of the families whose lost loved ones are so much more than a statistic. They were parents, they were children, they were loved ones, and they should still be with us today.

    Unfortunately, this increase in truck crash fatalities continues a trend that has persisted for nine years. Since 2009, fatalities from crashes involving at least one large truck have gone up 46.5 percent.

    To make matters worse, the Administration has advanced unstudied proposals that seek to remove a 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of work and make it easier for truck drivers to be coerced into a 17 hour day. Neither of these actions will reverse these devastating trends. All the while, the Department of Transportation has done nothing to finalize safety rules, like requiring automatic emergency braking and speed limiters set at 65 mph for large trucks, that would actually save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce the unconscionably high number of truck crashes in the United States.

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      Statement of the Truck Safety Coalition On Proposed Rollbacks to the Hours of Service Rules  

      The Truck Safety Coalition, and our volunteers, who are truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, oppose the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) proposal to drastically weaken the hours of service (HOS) rules. Claiming that these changes “provide greater flexibility for drivers subject to the HOS rules without adversely affect safety” is a departure from reality as well as the agency’s main mission: improving truck safety. Instead of moving forward on these rollbacks, the agency must produce compelling data to demonstrate that these changes will not lead to more health problems for truck drivers, more coercion of truck drivers, and more crashes involving trucks drivers operating while fatigued.

      Below are the five rollbacks that the agency is proposing that will chip away at the effectiveness of the life-saving Hours of Service rules:

      • Changing “the short-haul exception to the record of duty status (RODS) requirement available to certain commercial motor vehicle drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.”
      • Modifying “the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by 2 hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.”
      • Increasing “flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time), and allowing the requirement to be satisfied by an on-duty break from driving, rather than requiring an off-duty break.”
      • Modifying “the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10-hours off duty into two periods: one period of at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than 2 consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window.”
      • Allowing “one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than 3 hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.”

      We will be submitting comments in opposition to these proposed changes as we did when the agency first requested comment after releasing an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). Please see here for our comments to the ANPRM on why the above changes would diminish safety:  https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FMCSA-2018-0248-5191.

      We urge members of the public to join us in stating clearly:

      The FMCSA’s proposed changes to the hours of service rules for truck drivers will not improve safety. The agency is offering flexibility without regard for the fact that it could be exploited by the worst actors in the industry, including drivers who will operate while fatigued and motor carriers who will coerce them to do so. The FMCSA should immediately rescind these proposed changes and focus their time, resources, and efforts on advancing proven safety solutions such as speed limiters and automatic emergency braking.